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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

1: The Adventures Of Simon And Billy

This is a short story by Andrew Joseph - me! - written in 1991. I only have a print-out of this story, and even now, I am unsure if I have the final version of it. My fiction writing style was in its infancy back then, and yet, this story is good, in my opinion. Or, if not not good, it is at least fun.
It began with me unlocking my bicycle under the covered bike rack on a late spring morning. There, right beside my bicycle was a dead frog - not so unusual because Ohtawara-shi where I lived has a lot of rice paddies inundated with water. There was also a family moving out of the apartment complex at that time... a mover carelessly let a set of dresser drawers tip over and from the open drawers slid a flattened mouse body. What the hell was going on? I never had a bug in my place after the first week of me living there. I got on my bike and rode around the corner and spied on the ground a flattened sparrow or something that resembled one... the circle of death gave life to my imagination immediately, and I wrote this first chapter as a standalone story as I rode my bicycle to get groceries at Iseya.
This short story quickly became a total of 19 chapters... the sum total of which I shall present over the next few weeks. Not too many people have ever seen this story that I would best describe as something for 'tweens'.

Chapter 1

These are the adventures of Simon the Frog and Billy the Rat. It should be noted that although the main characters possess what appears to be the same middle name - 'the' - they are not closely related. Yet.

The 'the' in Billy's name sounded like 'da', while Simon's 'the' was pronounced 'ribbit'. Also, the 'the' as a middle name is quite common amongst the animal kingdom, and is used in a manner similar to the way Dutch people are named: van Horne, van Burke, et al.

Animals such as Shamu the Killer Whale, Smokey the Bear and Pepe Le Pew (he's French) show the popularity of the name 'the'.

But all of this has nothing to do with our story. It's just that the Author (no relation) of this tale felt the decided lack of plot and an abundance of free time warranted the inclusion of the above useless facts. That, in all likelihood, will continue.

Blackness. It was almost everywhere. Not surprisingly, it was night time.

The stars and the yellow moon hid above a thick slice of creamy cloud cover, with the only light coming from a plethora of garish neon billboards advertising that their pachinko parlor could take your money slower than the rest.

In truth, there was no truth. They all took your money equally fast.

Sekiya Tomohiro knew that. He'd been pushing ¥500 coins into the abyss for years now. Everyday after work, he'd sit down and stare at the ringing machines and pray to any gods who would listen, to allow him to win the jackpot.

He disliked his job at Fujitsu - though he was highly respected for working late every night. Actually, everyone works late, but he worked later. This, in case you haven't figured it out, is Japan - and he really didn't want to hurry home to his spoiled brat of a wife and bawling brat of a son.

No... trying to manipulate tiny ball bearings into a winning hole via a lever seemed to give him the required peace of mind to get up each day. That, and a bottle of sake.

Today was no exception. At 1AM, on the cloudy night of April 8th, 1991, Tomohiro stumbled out of the Queen Erizabeth Pachinko Palace drunk as a skunk and just as poor.

He bobbed and weaved like a punch drunk fighter (which, in a former life he was, having lost the last bare-knuckle world heavyweight championship boxing match to Jack Johnson. But all that is academic, because Tomohiro has no current recollection of it).

Tomohiro's keenly honed instincts finally emerged from the numbness of the grey region, and directed him towards the nearest rice paddy.

Standing ankle-deep in the murky, croaking water, he lowered his fly and began to urinate. Several seconds later, he remembered to remove his spouting manhood from his grey pants. He continued to urinate peacefully and contentedly for the next 47 seconds.

Shaking himself violently, he dragged himself out of the paddy and headed for home.

A half kilometer later, he stopped to throw-up. After upheaving, he failed to wipe the spittle from around his lips, tucked his manhood back into his now dark grey pants, did up the fly, and said another prayer to any god who was listening to please kill him before his wife did. He then passed out.

More blackness.

It was early morning in downtown Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. Although the Spring's 5AM sun had just awoken, the area was already abuzz with activity.

Simon the Frog had been hopping all night.

Just a multitude of hours ago, he'd been croaking in the freshly planted rice field of his birth when a wobbly 2-Footer had pissed urine and sake on top of him. Of course, being a frog, he didn't know the exact content of what was hitting him, but it had happened numerous times before in his short lifetime.

The vile mixture was quickly absorbed through his emerald skin and into his froggy bloodstream.

Severe disorientation soon ensued.

Billy the Rat was a handsome creature. He was five-inches long from the tip of his off-white tail to the end of his whiskery nose. He took care to clean his mousey-brown fur every morning.

He lived in a luxurious apartment in some 2-Footer's cabinet. It was very comfortable living in Ohtawara-shi, even if he didn't know the name of the city.

There was never any lack of food for Billy. He had his choice of scraps strewn about the floor by the smallest 2-Footer. He sometimes tried to thank them for the food, but they always seemed alarmed when he reared back on his hind legs and wiggled his beautiful whiskers.

Had they remembered, the 2-Footer family would have welcomed Billy home, as the four of them had once romped around the mesas of Wyoming 266 years ago. Unfortunately, no one remembered.

Simon flip-flopped out of the noisy new lake. He lurched and croaked and began to hop. If someone had watched him closely, they might have noticed that he moved like former boxing champ, Jack Johnson. There probably is a reason for that, but since no one was watching Simon carefully, the correlation was not made.

With a hop and a croak, he headed out onto the Burrah-Beep's hard pathway. Destination unknown, yet he knew he was headed in the right direction.

Almost finished with his ritual preening, Billy's world was suddenly thrown askew! His home felt like it was being shifted high and low, left and right! Billy was airborne a few times. He quickly mused on how he had always wanted to fly, but it wasn't all that he thought it would be.

He had heard tales of movements like this, but they were only the ramblings of wharf and river rats. Billy was an urban/rural hybrid!

Simon traveled for hours. Each leap was five to seven times as long as his supple body. Unfortunately, the sake and urine concoction had messed up his brain hours ago, and continue to do so even now. That feeling, would soon come to an end.

One hundred feet for a 2-Footer was like 10 kilometers to a frog. In Simon's inebriated state, it was more like 20 kilometers.

Hop. Hop-hop. Croak. Hop. Hop-hop. Croak.

Simon's pattern never faltered. It was as though he was being driven by some unknown force.

He lurched past a group of 2-Footers clustered around a flashing, screaming white Burrah-Beep. Cries of disgust and horror vibrated through the air and into Simon's pounding little head. His throat was dry and pulsating. He hurried on.

Hop. Hop-hop. Croak. Hop. Hop-hop. Croak.

Sekiya Tomohiro was dead.

He had been run over by a navy blue  Cherry Vanette driven by Tanaka Kyoko (previously an emu in Australia).

She explained to the policeman that the deceased was apparently lying on the road. She had honked her horn for him to get out of the way, but since he didn't acknowledge her, Japanese driving etiquette allows her the option of driving over the individual. Being very polite, she chose that option.

Kyoko, however, was forced to stop her vehicle 20 meters later, as it had become apparent that the deceased was caught under her van.

As all Japanese are not in the practice of picking up hitchhikers, she stopped.... got out of her new Cherry Vanette, bowed and asked Tomohiro to remove himself from her undercarriage.

Tomohiro, being dead, ignored her plea. That was when the police car drove into the rear end of Kyoko's Vanette.

Later, after an ambulance had removed the shattered remains of Tomohiro, the police officer (he was once a beet root eaten by his mother as a child) gave Kyoko a traffic ticket for stopping her navy blue Vanettte on the side of the road where he could hit it. He said that if she had bought herself a new, white Cherry Vanette he might have seen the vehicle more easily.

Kyoko and the nice policeman bowed to each other and left the scene.

Sitting upon her Vanette's plaid upholstery, Kyoto wondered how she was going to explain her tardiness to her boss at Fujitsu. That pondering was quickly replaced by a smile, as she realized she would not need an explanation to give to her boss, as she had just run him over.

Tomohiro, meanwhile, belatedly discovered that the gods do grant wishes - only they aren't very particular about which wish they honor.

Billy squeaked in terror. The doors of his home slashed open and closed with alternating rhythms of velocity... and then... it was over.

The house was quiet, though a loud humming permeated the air outside. Billy rose on his hind legs and sniffed his surroundings. He dropped to all fours in disgust - 2-Footers were about.

Suddenly, the humming stopped and the house bagan to shake again. Up and down, left and right!

Billy squeaked loudly as the roof (perhaps the upper shelf) fell down upon him.

At about this time, Simon was about 100 2-Footer feet away. He had traveresed two Burrah-Beep paths and had followed his unknown trail for over six hours.

Simon was exhausted.


Simon froze. That was the tell-tale sign of a 2-Footer.

Simon did not even have time to emit a croak, as a shoe went spa-lorfing down upon his head.

At the same instant, Brandon Bird (no 'the', please) was flying the friendly skies of Ohtawara. He was just a bird. His species, like those of all the other animals, never thought to differentiate amongst themselves. Thus, he wasn't Brandon Sparrow or Brandon Eagle, though he secretly yearned to be one.

Unfortunately for him, he was watching the sad plight of Simon the Frog unfold. Although he had never met him, Brandon still felt some concern for his fellow being. He was about to chirp out a warning when he himself flew headfirst into a rare navy-blue Burrah-Beep. A white Burrah-Beep quickly followed and stamped its paw over the downed Brandon.

However, since Brandon is not mentioned in the title of this story, his tale ends here. The Author only mentions it because he saw Brandon's flattened body lying pathetically in front of his apartment. It's weird, though... but he looks a little like an Egyptian King the Author was once a slave under. Bastard.

Billy was dead.

The moving man, who in every previous life was a moving man, grunted as the lifeless body slid out the cabinet door onto the cool hard ground. With hardly a thought, he kicked Billy's empty shell into the apartment's bicycle parking area.

The Author watched over the next several months, as Billy slowly disintegrated. A cat (once a young lady who was hit by a bus moments before she was going to jump from a bridge over the Don River in Toronto) and a plethora of birds (more former Egyptians) ate most of its inner flesh. A sudden voracious thunderstorm washed away the rest of the innards one evening.

Only Billy's once luxurious mousey-brown coat remained - flattened and unrecognizable to no one save the Author, who once refereed a world championship boxing match.

Simone was less fortunate.

The woman who had accidentally stepped on him and had at some point in time been a mustang in Wyoming, heard the "spa-lorf" sound and shrieked. She quickly ran her shoe over the paved road, wiping Simon's brain everywhere.

Thirty minutes later, a stray miniature collie named Elvis (coincidence) walked up to Simon's body, sniffed it, piddled on it, and then ate it.

Billy the Rat and Simon the Frog did not know each other. They had never met, but both possessed the same middle name. They never had an adventure together, and they died unrelated deaths on the same day in front of the same apartment building and at the exact same instant.

Neither knew that at that particular moment in time, the area surrounding the apartment was the focal point of Death's neon doorway.

Life's funny that way.

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