Episode Two: Roommates
George sat at his kitchen table, head resting on his hands, staring at the butterfly he had just drawn. He waited impatiently, feet bouncing. It had been a week since his sketch of Jockular, his LARPing character, had come to life.
My life was boring! Can’t say that anymore. What the fuck is happening? This shit is crazy! Amazing! But, insanely crazy!
The shock had worn off. But, his body refused to relax. Instead, it continually idled, awaiting the next adrenaline rush. He knew he wasn’t hallucinating. Yet, he still had no explanations.
Wonder why the timing is so inconsistent.
George had brought other things into existence; nothing monstrous as Jockular requested. He had been exceedingly judicious with his choice of subjects. First an apple, then a rose, followed by a ham and cheese sandwich and a housefly, all eventually became reality. He had googled butterflies, searching for a picture of a type common to this area. George selected the spring azure. Its periwinkle, blue wings with traces of purple had enchanted him. Peering closer, he sensed all the waiting was about to pay off. The monochrome sketch, still only shades of grey, appeared to shimmer. The perspective seemed deeper, stretched.
Yes! Come on…
George held his breath, willing his jangling body still. Despite all attempts to maintain complete focus on the drawn images, he had yet to witness the transformation. The final jump to life alluded him.
How is this happening? God, please, let me see it!
George startled as a loud crash reverberated from the other room. Reflexively looking towards the living room, then back to his sketchpad, he cursed observing the luminous, indigo butterfly wings flutter into the air.
Damn it! He’s worse than my nephew!
It was quite an adjustment, rooming with a barbarian. Jockular was constantly fumbling about with common household objects, attacking and destroying things when they startled him. Hoping to contain the damage, George had taught Jockular to play video games on his Xbox. “Witcher: The Wild Hunt” was currently the barbarian’s favorite. Unfortunately, ever forceful and energetic, the man tended to readily knock things about. George had explained there wasn’t any need to jump about, but Jockular complained of getting soft. Incensed, George hurried into the living room, forgetting his improvised cane. He found Jockular shrugging and grimacing apologetically. Suddenly, the barbarian’s eyes were drawn to the floor, his face beaming with excitement.
“Georgie! Yar foot! It’s all healed up! What did I tell ya, lad! Mam’s potions and ointments alway work wonders!”
George regarded his foot, astonished he had just run on it without a hint of pain or stiffness. It had been just shy of a week since falling down the stairs. His ankle was now, miraculously, good as new. Forgetting his anger and the butterfly, he grinned up at Jockular.
“What else can your mam cure?”
“Oh, just ’bout anything. She’s got strong magic in har blood. Me granpappy was an incubus!”
“Your grandfather was a demon?”
“Aye. And from the sounds of it, a good lookin one, too.”
George stood, twirling his injured foot, marveling.
“Mam talks of how he appeared to Gram as a harmless will-o-wisp one midsummer night.”
Jockular laughed heartily.
“Magine the surprise on me gram’s face as he changed to the lusty devil he truly was! No mistakin’, she fancied him. Nary a year later, after har tryst in the woods, under the full moon mind ya, me mam was born.”
Jockular hooted, grunted and gyrated about. George scolded the barbarian.
“Stop that! People will hear you.”
“Ah, they’ll suppose Georgie’s awhorin’ with a saucy tavern wench.”
“Ugh! Honestly, dude. Just stop.”
Jockular pursed his lips thoughtful, studying George.
“Ya’ve never been with a woman have ya, lad?”
George reddened, sputtering.
“What? I… I don’t see how that’s any business of yours.”
Jockular guffawed loudly, slapping the young man on the back.
“Nothin’ to be shamed of, Georgie. I can help.”
George turned purple with embarrassment, raising his hands in protest.
“I’m good. I’m good. Honestly, it’s all good. Got everything under control. See, there’s this girl…”
“Girl, eh? Ooh. She’s a beauty?”
“Where’s she live?”
“We work together at the restaurant.”
“Restaurant. It’s what locals call the tavern.”
Jockular’s smile spread across his face. He slapped his hands together, rubbing them excitedly.
“Oh, Georgie. Now, ya’re mended. It’s high time we have our fill of ale at this tavern or rest…place. I’m wantin’ to greet this fair maiden ya’re wooin’.”
“We’re not dating…wooing. She doesn’t even know my name.”
“Oh rally? She ain’t payin’ ya no heed? She’s all fancy and highborn is she? A lady? A princess?”
“She’s a hostess.”
“Hmm. Sounds noble. What’s the lady’s name?”
“Lad, nobility can be mighty uppity. Worry not. I’ll help ya impress har with feats of strength. I can train ya. Meantime, please, have pity on a poor barbarian. Ale! I must have it. Been searchin’ yar magical, wintry box. I ain’t seen nothin’ much resemblin’ any food I know.”
“It’s called a refrigerator. We’ve been over this.”
Jockular waved his hand in disgust at George.
“And only water from yar enchanted well. I need somethin’ more potent, boy. And.. I’m needin’ outside. I ain’t meant for fine livin’. Though, takin’ a piss and shit in the…what’s it called?”
“Toilet. And thank you for not using the wastebasket anymore.”
Jockular gazed pleadingly at George.
“Shall we ride to the tavern? I long to be ‘bout in nature, to quench me thirst for ale and glimpse upon the Lady Stacy of Hostess. Oi! I can start a brawl. It’ll have ya lookin’ more the hero. Been a week since I’ve bashed anyone’s head in.”
Jockular jumped into a fight stance and grappled at George playfully.
“Alright. Alright. Let go! Put me down!”
“That a boy! Georgie, ya’re a charitable man!”
“Let me grab my wallet and keys. I could definitely use a drink and a break from the inside of this apartment. Starting to stink like a locker room. I don’t know why you won’t use the shower.”
Jockular sniffed at his armpits and beard.
“Don’t smell nothin’. Honest, I told ya. I bathed a month ago.”
“Well, in this world. People, men… barbarians use soap and shower at least weekly.”
“Bah! Let’s go already! I need to punch someone. Maybe, we’ll find a bear along the way!?”
“We’re going for ale. No, fighting. Promise or I won’t take you.”
“Ahh, ya’re a cruel man. Fine. But, I need practice. Ya can walk good now. What about conjuring up some monstrous ogre? I do love wrestling ogres!”
“We can go to the state forest tomorrow.”
“Do I have yar word?”
“Yes, promise. Let me grab my wallet and keys.”
George led Jockular out the front door into the parking lot to his car. The barbarian had wanted to bring his axe, but George stood firmly against it.
“Look at these strange wagons. What idiot wastes good metal on a wagon? Poor horses will die of exhaustion. Hey! Where’s the horses?”
George looked at Jockular stony-faced, slowly shaking his head.
“No horses. These wagons are magical. Get in.”
George opened the passenger door for Jockular, who stood there staring apprehensively.
“Ah, think I’ll walk.”
“It will take you hours to walk. Get in.”
George walked over to the driver’s side, opened the door and got in. He knew exactly how to trick the man into the car.
“Unless… you’re scared.”
Jockular roared, slamming his fists atop of the Toyota Corolla’s roof. Inside, George winced hoping the barbarian hadn’t dented his car’s roof.
“Listen, wizard. I’ve been very kind to ya, curin’ yar foot and this is how ya treat me?”
George had given up trying to explain he was a dishwasher and not a wizard. He had also grown accustomed to Jockular’s frequent tantrums. Some of the barbarian’s antics had been downright hysterical. George had to show Jockular how to avoid burning himself on the stove and to use a doorknob properly. The brute had leapt into the air, landing in a fighting stance, after first hearing the phone ring. George still found Jockular cautiously circling, muttering quietly to the television when it was on. The barbarian insisted the people on the screen should be freed and returned to their normal size. Consequently, he was respectful of George’s nonexistent powers and mostly complied with George’s instructions.
“It’s a bit cramped. Could ya do some of yar magic to make it larger?”
George was the one, who laughed heartily this time. His giant friend sat bend over in the passenger seat with his knees touching his beard.
“Sorry, it’s a compact car. It’s all I could afford.”
George regretted having to focus on the road, the look of terror on Jockular’s face as the car sped down the road was comical. But, out of respect, he managed to stifle his laughter and keep a straight face.