Jogger Jogs Again
Dorfo gingerly rose from the floor and walked over to Butter-Rum while testing out his limbs for damage. “Who was that lunatic?” he asked of the innkeeper.
“That's Jogger, he's one of them rangers. Always butting in when they shouldn't and pretending to be the protectors of the world. Just a bunch of nuisances, all of them, if you ask me,” replied Butter-Rum.
“Rangers,” snorted Dorfo, “I've got no use for them either. Ruining the game of golf for the average person and now I see they're spoiling everyone's fun at the inns. It's got to stop. Anyway, all this excitement has worn me out. I'll get my friends and we'll head off to our room now. Thanks for everything, Barleywine.”
Dorfo rounded up his companions and told them about how they would be sharing the room with four other Stubbies and suggested that they all turn in. All but Mary, who decided he needed to take a walk to calm down, were in agreement and they set off for their room each with a can of beer for a nightcap. Upon entering they heard the snoring and wheezing of their Stubbie roommates who were fast asleep, but more disconcerting was the glow from a pipe bowl in the darkest corner of the room. The urge to skedaddle was upon all three when a voice came from the nook.
“Hello friends, it's good to see you could make it,” whispered the stranger. “From now on I would hope that you will use a little more caution on your journey. Those antics in the common room were quite bizarre. You really need to be a little more inconspicuous.”
“Who are you? Reveal yourself so we can have a proper conversation!” shouted Dorfo.
Jam spoke out, “Should I clobber him, Mr. Dorfo?”
“With what, Jam? We have no weapons. I really don't think smashing a Twinkie in his face would do much,” retorted Dorfo.
“I am your friend, now keep it down,” whispered the intruder. “You don't want to wake your roommates.” He got up from his chair and walked toward the Stubbies, who started to make for the door. As he neared he tripped over a throw rug, sending him sprawling toward the Stubbies as though he was trying to grab them. He landed flat on his face while his pipe delivered its contents to the runner. The quick-thinking Jam-Jar popped open his beer can and flung the contents onto the smoldering rug, missing the potential fire. Without hesitation Dorfo follwed up by rolling the intruder onto the emerging flames to smother them. As he did so he recognized the man as Jogger.
“Well, I'll be,” said Dorfo. “If it isn't that Jogger the ranger character. Fancy him talking about bizarre antics. Jam, you and Pipsqueak tie him up and gag him. I'm surprised all this commotion didn't wake anyone up. Those sleeping Stubbies must be as drunk as skunks.”
When Jogger came to he found that he was bound to the chair and saw Jam-Jar wielding his sword as though he were a Jedi Knight. “Look at me, Mr. Dorfo. I'm the all-powerful ranger Jogger battling harmless Stubbies,” he quipped as he chased phantom figures about the room. His imaginary play ended with him pretending to cut off his hand as a knock came on the door. Pipsqueak went to the door and looked through the peephole, seeing Mary and Butter-Rum waiting for entrance.
“C'mon in and see what we've caught,” snickered Pipsqueak as he opened the door.
“Well, well,” Butter-Rum chortled as he pulled down the prisoner's gag, “If it isn't my good friend Jogger. I see you've got yourself all tied up in knots again. If you don't mind, Dorfo, I'll take him out back and kick his hide all the way back to the Old Forage. That'll keep him out of the way a good long time until you can get far from Limburger.”
“Wait, Butter-Rum, please help me!” shouted Jogger, with no concern for the four Stubbies that were still fast asleep. “They're torturing me. You have to stop them!”
“Torture?” questioned Pipsqueak. “We're just flinging boogers at him while we decide what to do.” The Stubbie pulled out another wad of dried snot and flicked it, hitting Jogger in the left eye.
“All right,” the ranger whimpered, “I'll talk.”
Dorfo jumped up. “Talk? We're past talk. It's time for action! Put the gag back, Pipsqueak,” he commanded.
Before Pipsqueak could act Jogger blubbered, “I know who you are and what you're doing, Dorfo Baggypants. I was sent here to meet you by my friend Gambloss. He has pressing business and was unable to meet you.”
“Baggypants, I thought you were Underpants,” Butter-Rum snorted. “Though that name does ring a bell. I think someone may have left a message for a person by the name of Baggypants a while back. I'll go retrieve it.”
As Butter-Rum exited Dorfo questioned Jogger, “If you're here to help us then why were you hiding in the corner and why did you attack us? And what was that business in the common room?”
“I was trying to keep from disturbing the other Stubbies by staying in the corner, and I wasn't attacking you. I tripped on the rug!” shouted Jogger. He sheepishly continued, “I seem to have a habit of doing things like that. Anyway, Gambloss asked me to meet you Stubbies at the Overburdened Pony and on my way I saw these huge footprints that I thought were from bigfoots. How was I to know it was you and your friends?”
Dorfo was befuddled. “You claim to be a ranger yet you can't tell the difference between a bigfoot footprint and that of a Stubbie?” he queried.
“I don't think anyone has noticed yet,” Jogger said in a hushed tone, “but I'm not very experienced at this outdoorsy heroic rangering thing. The golf course management part of the field is more my specialty.”
Mary, who had been waiting in silence for an opening to the enthralling conversation, finally was unable to contain himself. “I saw one of those bigfoots a short while ago while walking towards the stables,” he interjected. “It was with a slimy dirtball human that the townsfolk called Hans Oleo. These bigfoots must speak telepathically because all the thing ever said was UUROARRR and this Oleo guy could understand it. He replied by saying the likes of you're right, Gummy, we should go there; or, I don't think there are any blasters in Piddle Earth, Gummy. It was uncanny how they communicated.”
“Well, we'd better not stay in this room tonight,” warned Jogger. “You never know who they may be working for or speaking with. It's too dangerous.”
The three left the room and made their way toward the outside when they were stopped by Butter-Rum.
“I found the note I got from Gambloss. It says I should only give it to a Dorfo Baggypants and I should demand proof of identity. Being that you said earlier your name was Underpants, I must demand some verification,” he said to Dorfo.
Dorfo thought long and hard. He looked into his wallet and found only a couple of dollars. He didn't have any credit cards and driver's licenses hadn't yet been invented. Of course, he thought, “It's a good thing I have monogrammed underwear.” The young Stubbie lowered his britches enough so that he could show Butter-Rum the name Dorfo Baggypants sewn into his underpants below the word Sunday.
“Whoa, that's all the proof I care to see! Now a little advice, young man. I know you're a ways from home and all, but today being Saturday, I'd suggest you change your underwear every once in a while,” commented the innkeeper. “Now, here is the note from Gambloss.”
Dorfo took the note and then looked down at his underpants. “Well I'll be,” he said with surprise. “We left the Landfill yesterday and I'm sure it was Sunday. So today, by my calculations and the Landfill calendar, should be Monday. This means that the hack writer must have somehow distorted time with its foul ink spray.”
The Stubbie opened the note and found it to be Gambloss' unpaid bill for two nights at the Overburdened Pony. “This isn't a note, Barleywine, It's a bill! Gambloss has stiffed you,” he said.
“I'm sorry, Dorfo,” Butter-Rum replied. He reached into his pocket and found a wad of crumpled paper. “This must be the note. Forgive me, I almost tossed in in the trash.”
Dorfo unwrinkled the paper and read aloud.
Dorfo, do be a dear and pay my tab. I have to run out on official business and can't wait for you slackers to show up. Honestly, it's just a quick trip from Stubbietown to Limburger. What could have kept you?
When you do show, seek out the ranger Jogger. But be sure he's the right Jogger. There are many running nuts out and about in these strange times. Make him prove himself by telling you his real name, Error-Prone son of Error-Throwing. He is a good man, though he does have a habit of botching everything he does. That's another way you can tell if he is an imposter. The real Jogger will make a mess of any test you give him, no matter how easy.
He should be able to lead you to RibofElvis, in his usual roundabout seat of the pants way. I'll meet you there if you don't get killed first.
May the Farts be with you.
“That old chiseler,” grumbled Dorfo, “he told us to meet him here in a week. By the looks of this bill he never had any intention of making the rendezvous. He just wanted to live high on the hog for a couple of days and then skip town. I'm sorry, Barleywine, but we don't have enough money to cover these expenses.”
Butter-Rum looked at the Stubbies with disdain and snapped his fingers. From out of the dark corners appeared two thuggish looking men with hands on their swords. “Well,” he sighed, “it looks like you Stubbies will be washing dishes tonight. There's a whole mess of them so you'd better get cracking if you want to finish by dawn. Jogger, you can join them, seeing as Gambloss is your buddy, too.”
As thunderstorms raged through the night the companions soon began the task of scrubbing dishes so filthy that only Jam-Jar had the courage to eat any of the scraps. “I think the Landfill pickings are certainly better,” Jam said as he paused from licking a crusty plate as though he was a stray dog, “but it sure beats missing predawn snacks.”
Copyright 2013, John Keefe
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