Tag Archives: reading

Hello 3.5 Readers

I hope you all have a terrific Sunday.

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Top Ten Ideas for Improving this Blog

The Bookshelf Battle Blog is sheer perfection, I know.  Sheer delight for the eyes of my 3.5 readers.

But I’m looking for advice on making this fine blog even better.

So you write this list in the comments, 3.5 readers.  You can be funny if you want but you don’t have to be.  This blog rarely is so why start now?

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Read How the West Was ZOMBED on Wattpad

Hey 3.5 Readers,

BQB here.  How the West Was Zombed has gone up and down the Wattpad horror charts.  It’s currently #610.  Comments, reads, votes, they all factor in to moving it up the charts and the higher it goes the more readers it gets so feel free to follow me @bookshelfbattle and give me your feedback.

Not on Wattpad? You can still read it and my other stuff here at bookshelfbattle.com

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 12.51.24 PM

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 22 – Welcoming Party

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

READ

AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…

I felt like I was going to vomit. Vicky already had.

Happly’s rickety propeller plane jostled us all over the place. It was such a rusty bucket of bolts that it looked like it was going to fall apart at any minute.

“How y’all doin’ back there?” Happly shouted back to us over the loud, struggling engine.  It sounded like it hadn’t been tuned up in years, if at all.

Thank you for flying with Kip Happly Enterprises.  The lap of luxury package costs a hundred bucks extra.  Actual package may or may not be included.

Thank you for flying with Kip Happly Enterprises. The lap of luxury package costs a hundred bucks extra. Actual package may or may not be included.

I looked around. We were surrounded by crates filled with live chickens, guns, grenades, and a white powdery substance that was either sugar or nose candy.

“I thought you said we’d be flying in the lap of luxury!” I yelled.

An asian woman popped her head out of the copilot’s seat and looked at us.

“Meet my wife, Luxury!” Happly yelled. “Met her in a Bangkok Boom Boom Room! A real sweet gal! Not entirely sure if she was born a man or a woman but when you’re in love, you’re in love.”

“Um,” I said. “OK then.”

“Aww,” Vicky said, clutching her right hand over her heart. “That’s so sweet!”

“Did y’all want to sit on her lap?” Happly asked. “I forgot to mention, that’s an extra hundred bucks!”

“We’re good!” I yelled.

An explosion bursted about ten feet over the cockpit windshield. I felt my butt pucker to the point where it almost sucked me inside of it.

“Holy smokes!” Happly yelled. “That’s our welcoming party! Them Pango-Tango boys do not like uninvited guests!”

“Can you radio them or something?!” I shouted. “Tell them we’re friendly!”

Happly slapped his knee and laughed. Luxury joined in.

“Son, they don’t give a flyin’ elephant patoot if you’re friendly or not!” Happly said.

“They’re not going to try to blow us up when we land are we?” I asked.

Happly turned around and lifted his goggles to reveal one tiny beady eye and one milky glass eye.

“Son!” the pilot yelled. “Who in tarnation ever said anything about landing?!”

No landing?  Say what?  Oh no he did-ent.  BQB and the Meaning of Life returns tomorrow.  Same BQB time.  Same BQB channel.  Tell your friends.  If you have no friends, make some and tell them.

Copyright (C) 2015 Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

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POP CULTURE MYSTERIES!

Pop Culture Mysteries is a new feature on the Bookshelf Battle Blog, hosted by a storytelling nerd of world renown, the one and only Bookshelf Q. Battler!

Jake Hatcher, a hardboiled 1950’s film noir detective in the tradition of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, has agreed to solve one hundred pop culture mysteries and file his reports right here on bookshelfbattle.com

LADY: Oh Detective, can you solve the Mystery of Why BQB Only Has 3.5 Readers? HATCHER:  Because he stinks worse than a swamp on low tide day, ma'am.  Now that'll be five bucks.

LADY: Oh Detective, can you solve the Mystery of Why BQB Only Has 3.5 Readers?
HATCHER: Because he stinks worse than a swamp at low tide, ma’am. Now that’ll be five bucks.

SOME CASES CURRENTLY ON HATCHER’S TO-DO LIST:

1)  How the hell did Doc and Marty from Back to the Future know each other?

2)  Why didn’t Rose take a seat in one of the life boats so Jack could keep that lousy piece of driftwood in Titanic?

3)  Who shot first?  Han or Greedo?

All these and more coming soon…but first up tomorrow…What happened to the original Brady Bunch spouses?

Do you have a pop culture mystery you want to put Detective Hatcher on?

Tweet it to @bookshelfbattle or leave it in #popculturemysteries (Because BQB totally owns that shit now)

Tell him on his Google Plus page

Drop it in the comments of bookshelfbattle.com

Together, we can help Jake solve 100 mysteries, earn 500 bucks and go back to 1955 where he will live like the King of Siam with his bag of green Abe Lincoln portraits.

Film noir detective and client photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 13 – Young Duffer

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

BQB croaked and now he seeks the meaning of life.  What, you want me to spoon feed it to you?

READ Parts 1-5

BQB wakes up in the hospital, interacts with the characters from his shelf who drive him nuts, discovers that a Great Guru lives on top of a mountain deep within the war torn island nation of Pango Tango.  Bookshelf Q. Battledog, who momentarily learns how to speak, alerts him to a news story that convinces BQB to make the journey.

READ

PART 6      PART 8    PART 10     PART 12

PART 7     PART 9     PART 11

“YOU SHALL NOT TRAVERSE IN THIS GENERAL DIRECTION!”

Growing up, two of my favorite kids’ books were:

Esmeralda and the Ice Cream Rendering Plant: A crackpot ice cream rendering plant manager goes off his meds, invites a group of children to visit the plant, and then one by one the children are tortured for, you know, behaving like children, through various ice cream related punishments.  (i.e. the mean kid has maraschino cherries thrown at him, the spoiled kid gets doused with hot fudge, the kid that lies all the time gets buried in a vat of rainbow sprinkles.)  I mean, they make it out alive in the end, but as a grown up, I kind of wonder how this book ever got published in the first place.

The Master of the Bracelet:  A young lad travels across a mysterious land with a magic bracelet in his pocket.  His mission?  To pawn it – because it was ugly and no one wanted to wear it but it was solid gold so it was worth a couple months’ rent.

These were two books that kept me entertained as a boy and yet once on my shelf, the characters from these tomes fought like cats and dogs.

Droppings comes and goes as he pleases.

Dropinius comes and goes as he pleases.

There was Dropinius the Sorcerer. He always popped in and out of Master of the Bracelet.  He’d offer some casual advice to the young lad, warn him against trouble, give him some orders, then claim some business that had to take him elsewhere.  In short, he was always adept at finding stuff for someone else to do.

Between you and me, I always thought Dropinius was like that weird guy in your office.  No one has any idea what he does and you never see him accomplish anything, but he walks around acting important, so he keeps drawing a paycheck.

A tiny version of Dropinius slammed his magic wand down on the bookshelf, much to the great dismay of a group of pink lumpy wumpies, who were smaller than usual, thanks to the shelf.

You might remember that the lumpy wumpies were the goofy assistants to the off his rocker ice cream rendering plant manager.  They were so cheerful that they performed every task with a song and dance routine.

“Lumpy wumpy dumpitty duck doff,  somebody tell that sorcerer to fu…”

“ENOUGH!” I yelled as I walked into my home office.

“Dropinus!” I said. “How many times do I have to tell you to stop slamming your magic wand down on the bookshelf? You’re going to crack it and it’s not like I’m going to be able to find a magic bookshelf repair shop!”

“They started it!” the long bearded, pointy hat wearing sorcerer said in his exceptionally authoritative voice. “Look what they’ve done to Schmedley!”

If you’ve read, Master of the Bracelet, then you know Schmedley is the psychotic creature who is obsessed with the bracelet and wants it because he finds it extremely fashionable.

Schmedley sat on my shelf and sucked on a pixie stick that was taller than he was.  Between slurps of sugar, he argued with his multiple personalities in his signature creepy, screechy voice.

“Stinksy lumpsie wumpsies!” Schmedley said. “They gives us the bad sugarsies!”

Schmedley turned around to address his alter ego.

“No!” Schmedely said. “We wants it! We needs it! We needs the pixie stixie…it is our…our… pre!!!”

“Don’t finish that sentence unless you want to pay off Peter Jackson!”  I said as I grabbed the pixie stick and pulled.

Schmedley grabbed the other end. I found myself in a tug of war with the little beast.

“Why did you give this to him?” I asked the lumpy wumpies. “You know he has an addictive personality!”

“Lumpy wumpy dumpitty dask dor dit…the little jerk came right over and asked for it!”

“So?” I asked. “You wouldn’t give a beer to an alcoholic if he asked for it, would you?”

“Its ours! Its ours! We needs it!” Schmedley screeched. “Stinksy Booksie Q. Battlesy is stealing our PRE…”

Dropinius conked Schmedley on the head with his magic wand and not a moment too soon, for I could almost hear Peter Jackson’s secretary calling his lawyer.  Luckily, Dropinius’ quick thinking forced the monster to let go of the pixie stick. I grabbed it and tossed it into the trash can.

“Official Bookshelf Q. Battler decree,” I said. “No one is to give Schmedley candy ever again.”

“MY PRECIOUS!”

“Schmedley!”  I yelled.  “What have you done?!”

Schmedley scratched his head and looked up at me.  “My…um…copy of Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire?  We must watches it immediately for it is a grim reminder of the plight of inner city youth?”

“Good save,”  I said.

I opened up my copy of Master of the Bracelet and flicked the monster into the book with my thumb and forefinger.

“Alright,” I said. “Everyone else! Gather around!”

Several characters exited their respective books and took a seat on the shelf.  Others popped out of their various hiding places.

“I’m going on a trip,” I said. “And while I’m away, I expect you all to be on your best behavior.”

“Yes Papa,” D’Artagnan said mockingly.

“That means no battling on the bookshelf,” I said. “You know you all get carried away and if I’m not here to stop you, you’ll lose control and burn my headquarters down.”

I consulted a list of rules I’d written down on a yellow legal pad.

“While I’m gone, you may rent three and only three pay per view movies,” I said. “Nothing too risqué, keep it PG-13 or lower, and I swear if I come back and find you guys have run up my cable bill I’ll toss all of your books into the recycling bin!”

“What about sustenance?” Annie asked as she patted her pegasus on the head.

“The fridge is stocked,” I said. “And Antonio’s Pizza delivers. Against my better judgment, I’m leaving a credit card next to the phone. Again, use it only for emergencies. Do not abuse it. If you do…”

“The recycling bin?” Tessa asked.

Tessa's totally going to blow up BQB's compound while he's gone.

Tessa’s totally going to blow up BQB’s compound while he’s gone.

“I’m thinking wood chipper,” I replied.

I checked the list.

“My number is also next to the phone,” I said. “You guys can do that thing you do when you jump up and down on the buttons to call me, but again, only in an emergency.”

“You’re worse than Overlord Kwazlo and the corrupt dystopian regime I fight with little to no battlefield experience,” Tessa said.

“Lights out by 9,” I said. “And please do not do anything to make the neighbors suspicious or else…”

“We know, we know,” Dirk Lane said. “The government will confiscate us and cut us into pieces just to see what makes us tick.”

“Exactly,” I said. “Finally, remember that Bookshelf Q. Battle Dog, as Head of Security for Bookshelf Battle HQ, is in charge. I trust his judgment and I expect you to follow his orders.”

“He’s a dog,” Tessa said.

“Yes,” I replied. “Oh, and fun fact – he talks now. So, there’s that. Any questions?”

All the characters just looked around silently.

“Class dismissed.”

The characters dispersed back into their books. I removed my big dictionary to find a spot on the shelf where Monroe was throwing a wild and lavish party.

BQB and The Incorrigible Monroe have more in common than you'd think.

BQB and The Incorrigible Monroe have more in common than you’d think.

The notorious poser was in a dixie cup that doubled as a pool, snuggling with two beautiful flappers.

Behind him, at least twenty small, well-dressed 1920’s people were jitterbugging.

“Young duffer!” Monroe yelled as he removed a tiny cigar from his mouth. “The water’s fine! I’d invite you in, but I doubt you’d fit!”

“You missed my lecture,” I said.

“Did I?” Monroe asked. “A terrible shame!”

“Listen,” I said. “While I’m gone…

“I know, I know,” Monroe said. “No parties. I’ll be good, Young Duffer.”

“Actually,” I said. “I want you to throw one great big non-stop party the entire time I’m gone.”

“Come again?” Monroe asked.

“Invite all the characters,” I said. “If they’re too busy partying, then they’ll be too busy to fight and if they’re too busy to fight, they won’t burn down Bookshelf Battle HQ.”

“That idea is the bee’s knees, Young Duffer,” Monroe said as he jumped out of the dixie cup. He was covered by a pair of swim trunks and as he walked around, he dripped water all over the shelf.

“I’ll throw the wildest, out of sight shin dig your bookshelf has ever seen.”

“Good,” I replied. “But just keep the party to the bookshelf. No parties elsewhere in the house.”

“Understood,” Monroe said.

“I mean it,” I said. “I don’t want this to turn into that time I took a day trip to wine country and came back to find hundreds of tiny well-dressed 1920’s people puking and passing out all over my house.”

“You can count on me, Young Duffer,” Monroe said. “Why, I’ll get on the horn and invite Jenny right away!”

“Yeah,” I said. “Listen, about that.”

“What’s on your mind?” Monroe asked.

“You and I suffer from the same affliction,” I said.

“We’re both a couple of larger than life go-getters?” Monroe asked.

“We both pine for women who wouldn’t pee on us if we were on fire,” I replied. “It’s not healthy. I’ve decided to do what I can to put Blandie out of my mind and I suggest you do the same with Daisy.”

Monroe nodded.

“You know, Young Duffer,” Gatsby said. “You are all kinds of smart. You’re exactly right. If Jenny doesn’t want me, then there are plenty of other gals who will. Plenty of fish in the sea, right?”

“Right.” I said.

Gatsby pointed to my copy of Missing Woman.

You seriously haven’t read Missing Woman yet?  Oh what an amazing mysterious thrill ride.  First, the woman is missing, and the author sends you on all these twists and turns but…well, SPOILER ALERT – let’s just say the protagonist, Molly, is not exactly a bowl full of sunshine.

“You know, I think I might knock on this book and invite that Molly gal over to my big soiree,” Monroe said. “I hear she’s a real looker and between you and me, her husband’s a bit of a cad. Perhaps I’ll swoop in and be her shoulder to cry on if you know what I mean.”

“NOOO!” I yelled.

I slapped my forehead and pulled my copy of Missing Woman off the shelf.

“I can’t believe I left this here,”  I said.

I know  - I think a sequel called "BQB's Rogue Gallery" in which a bunch of tiny villains escape the safe and take over the magic bookshelf would be awesome too.

I know – I think a sequel called “BQB’s Rogues Gallery” in which a bunch of tiny villains escape the safe and take over the magic bookshelf would be awesome too.

Next to my desk, I kept a safe full of books that featured characters I didn’t exactly want to see small versions of running around my home. I opened the safe and placed Missing Woman inside, right next to my copies of books involving killers, wackos, monsters, and those guys who always take a penny out of the change tray at the convenience store but never give a penny even when they have one.

“Nah,” I said as I closed the safe. “Molly’s uh…she’s not right for you. And besides, you really need to stop hitting on married women.”

“You sure, Young Duffer?” Monroe asked. “I hear Molly’s a fiery redhead with legs from here to Yayaville.”

“I’m sure,” I said. “Find another woman, Monroe. Literally, find any other woman.”

 

Finally!  Bookshelf Q. Battler will leave BQB HQ and venture forth in the big bad world to seek out THE MEANING OF LIFE!

But you’re going to have to wait over a week or so to read it (wah wah).

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

Wizard, safe, and man in tux photos courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

BQB’s Attorney advises “Any resemblance to other literary works or characters is purely coincidental and/or for parody purposes only.”

 

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The Writer’s Battle: The Twelve Stages of Writing Denial

1371251154-21)  This is the greatest idea in the world!

2)  Oh my God!  I can’t believe how the words are just flying out of me!

3)  And…crap on a hat.  My characters have hit a wall and I have no idea how to get them around it.

4)  Double crap.  I have new ideas to improve this but it’ll mean starting all over and adding/taking away certain details from the beginning.

5)  This isn’t as good as I thought. I’m going to put it down for a few days.

6)  This is garbage.  I should skeet shoot my laptop and never write again.

7)  Six months later – Oh.  Hey look.  That novel I wrote.  I’ll take a peak.

8)  Hey!  This isn’t that bad.

9)  Well, it might be a little far fetched.

10)  Wait a minute.  The highest grossing fantasy show on TV just had a scene with dudes trying to sell a dwarf’s appendage!  The world wants far fetched!  I’m going to make millions!

11)  Ahhh maybe I won’t make millions.

12)  This is garbage.  Smelly, dirty, raccoon infested garbage.

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Capt. Thaddeus Talbot

Capt. Talbot

Capt. Talbot

LA Police Homicide Division.  Jake Hatcher’s Boss 1947-1950.  

Often caught between his boss, the Mayor, who feels campaign donations allow LA’s criminal element free reign and his detective’s one man crusade to clean up the City of Angels, no matter how many body bags are filled.

Below, our trusty World War One veteran gets balled out by His Honor:

TALBOT:

Hello Mr. Mayor.  How are you?  What can I do you for, sir?

Uh huh…uh huh.

Hatcher did what now?

Uh huh…uh huh.

Yes, you have a point.  I’d prefer to see a lower body count before this whole hullabaloo blows over as well.

You don’t say?  Uh huh.  Shot up a night club in the middle of the day?  Why, I’d call that ingenious, sir.  If you have to shoot up a joint, the less people around the better.

Uh huh.

Well, listen Mr. Mayor…let’s be honest here, “Mugsy McGillicuddy” and “fine upstanding citizen” aren’t exactly two phrases I’d use in the same sentence….huh?

Right.  Yes.  Of course.  Campaign contributor?  All right but does mean he just gets to…I see.

Difference of opinion I suppose, your honor.  Yes.  Yes.

Uh huh.  All right don’t worry, sir.  I’ll grab a switch and tan Hatcher’s hide until it’s a size regular leather coat.

OK then.  You as well, sir.  You as well.  My best to Mrs. Mayor.

:::HANGS UP:::

:::DIALS SECRETARY:::

TALBOT:

Gretchen.

GRETCHEN:

Yes Captain?

TALBOT:

Will you tell Hatcher to get his skinny Irish ass in here so I can hand it to him?

GRETCHEN:

Yes sir.

TALBOT:

And get me some seltzer will you?

GRETCHEN:

Stomach acting up again sir?

TALBOT:

Every day since I put that shit heel on the payroll.

Hatcher starts giving Talbot pains in the old labonza in June.

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BQB and the Meaning of Life – Part 4 – God’s Waiting Room

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

PART ONE – “Oh my God! I ate a toaster pastry full of concentrated lightning then died on the toilet trying to get rid of it!”

PART TWO – “Where am I? Why am in a 1930’s bar?”

“Wow, look at all these famous dead celebrities – Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Liberace and so on…”

PART THREE – “Wow. Bill Shakespeare is explaining everything about this place to me…but wait, so I’m not in Heaven or Hell?

AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…

Bill plucked the olive out of his martini and ate it. I waited patiently for him to give me the 411 on the situation I was in.

“You, my good man, are in God’s waiting room,” Bill said.

In my mind, I thanked the waitress. The booze insulated me from this shocking news.

“You have yet to discover the meaning of life, Mr. Bookshelf,” Bill said. “And until you do so, Heaven is off limits to you.”

Welcome to God's Waiting Room, where drinking to excess is not only welcome but encouraged...

Welcome to God’s Waiting Room, where drinking to excess is not only welcome but encouraged…

“Wait a minute,” I said. “Abe Lincoln. Albert Einstein. Lucille Ball. Roosevelt, Cleopatra. You’ve got some pretty top notch folks walking around this gin joint. You’re telling me none of them have discovered the meaning of life? That all of these influential icons are just lollygagging around here because they’ve never answered mankind’s most elusive question?”

“No,” Bill said. “You see, the last thing God needs is for people to die and then return to the physical realm where they will undoubtedly run their big mouths about the existence of an afterlife.”

“Why would that be a problem?” I asked.

“Man’s greatest fear is that nothing happens after death,” Bill said. “That upon death, that’s all there is and nothing more. Fear of the lack of an existence after the physical life is what often produces a fire under the posteriors of the masses to get them moving…to take advantage of all that the physical realm has to offer.”

“So you’re saying that God wants people to be afraid…”

“That life is a tale told by an idiot, Bill said with a dramatic flourish. “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

“That makes sense,”  I said.  “I suppose if everyone were to learn that the afterlife exists, they’d all just sit around drinking booze and eating chili cheese nachos waiting to croak.”

I slurped from my alcohol hat straw and ate a handful of chips.  The irony was not lost on me.

Bill sipped his martini.

“Thus, when people die and arrive in Heaven, they are pleasantly surprised to find their lives have not ended but in fact, are just beginning,” Bill said.

“Heavy stuff,” I said. “Still doesn’t explain why all these brilliant historical types are in a room for people who don’t know the meaning of life.”

“When you return to life,” Bill said. “And tell everyone that you died, then woke up in a 1930’s speak easy where you were served free drinks and snacks by the most beloved female celebrity of your generation who died too soon, hobnobbed with the likes of Einstein, Lincoln, and Roosevelt and engaged in a deep, meaningful conversation about the meaning of life with William Shakespeare…”

“Everyone will just think I’m a nutcase and the secret answer to the question of whether or not there is an afterlife will remain hidden from the living,” I said.

“Precisely,”  Shakespeare said.

“All these historical figures just spend their afterlives hanging out in this bar to make people who have yet to find the meaning of life look crazy?”  I asked.

“There’s a rotation,”  Shakespeare said.  “We all take turns to help the Man Upstairs out. Had you died yesterday, you’d of seen Nixon, Elvis, the Big Bopper, and Gahndi.”

“Aw man,”  I said.  “I love Elvis!”

“I’m the only one who never gets a break,”  the waitress said, handing me a Cuban cigar.

“Thanks,”  I said. “But I don’t smoke.”

“Good thing,” the waitress said, taking the stogie back.  “These things will kill ya’ sweetie.”

“What about you, Bill?”

“Me?”  Bill asked.  “I am indeed the Bard, the one and only William Shakespeare.  But every person who ends up in the seat you are sitting in is greeted by a different person.  I have been selected to be your spiritual guide, based on your interest in a career as a writer.”

“Wow,”  I said.  That was all I could come up with.

Will Shakespeare share any more nuggets of wisdom? Find out next time on Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved.

Beer photo courtesy of a shutterstock.com license.

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BQB and The Meaning of Life – Part 2 – Twenty-Three Skadoo

PREVIOUSLY ON BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE…

PART 1 – “Oh no! I ate a toaster pastry full of concentrated lightning and died on the toilet! Ouch!”

“Say, what’s that light over there?”

AND NOW BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER AND THE MEANING OF LIFE CONTINUES…

The light at the end of the tunnel grew brighter with every step I took towards it. Suddenly, the light took over, and all the darkness surrounding me faded away. I found myself in a sterile white hallway, staring at a door. I tried the knob. It wouldn’t budge.

I knocked on the door. A slit in the middle opened and a pair of angry eyes stared out at me.

“What’s the password, see?” the man behind the door asked.

“Umm…password?” I answered.

“Bah!” the man said. “I suppose they’ll just let just any old mook in here, see?”

I was transported to a 1930's speakeasy.  The joint was lousy with flappers, see?

I was transported to a 1930’s speakeasy. The joint was lousy with flappers, see?

The bolt snapped and the door opened. The man who had let me in was nowhere to be found. I stepped through the threshold and was instantly transported to an old-timey 1930’s speakeasy.

I was no longer in my pajamas. I was wearing a black zoot suit with wide white pinstripes, a spiffy fedora, and a pair of shoes so shiny I could see my reflection in them.

I took a look around. On stage, there was a big band playing The Charleston. On a couch to my right, a group of flappers (you know, those women in the fringe skirts and head bands with the one feather in front) were lounging about, calling each other “Dah-ling” and smoking through foot long cigarette filters.

It was odd. The whole scene felt like it was straight out of a 1930’s gangster flick. Yet, the inhabitants of the joint were all famous historical figures from every century imaginable.

At the bar, Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, Abraham Lincoln, and Jim Morrison were pounding shots like nobody’s business. They were in some kind of rousing competition to see who could drink the most without getting sick.

Einstein was drinking them all under the table.

“E=MC YOU ARE ALL SQUARES!” Einstein yelled just before tipping another brew down his throat.

“Four score and seven years ago, this forefather was ready to puke,” was Honest Abe’s reply. He pulled off his infamous stove pipe hat and used it as a barf receptacle. Jim and Cleopatra passed out. Albert just kept on drinking.  That scientist sure could hold his liquor.

Utterly confused, I took a seat on a couch in the back corner of the room and sat down in the hopes that eventually it would all make sense.

Twenty minutes later, it still did not.

“Need a drink, doll face?”

I looked up. The waitress was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. I couldn’t remember her name, but I was certain I’d seen her somewhere before.

“No thank you,” I replied.

“Let me rephrase,” the waitress said. “You NEED a drink, sweetie. Newbies always freak out if they’re not sloshed.”

She took a shot glass of whiskey off her tray and set it on the table before me.

“Anything else just ask.”

And then she was gone.

Ed Sullivan took to the main stage and introduced Liberace, who was clad in his finest white fur coat.  He waved to the crowd then proceeded to tickle the ivories of a majestic white piano.

Three songs in, a balding British gentleman with a Van Dyke beard and a cod piece walked up to the couch and parked himself in a seat right next to mine.

Assuming I was trapped forever in the 1930’s, I did my best to blend in.

“Say, whaddya think yer tryin’ to pull, see?” I asked. “This spot is reserved for my keister, see? Twenty-three skadoo somewhere else because I’m the cat’s pajamas in these here parts, see?”

What can I say? I felt threatened and said the first words that entered my mind.

The gentleman downed the last sip left in his martini glass.

“Forsooth! Gather and be merry, kind sir!” the man said. “To offer a proclivity of disrespect? ’Twas not my intention. Fi! For a jest in the name of foolery is a source of amusement but a jest at the expense of the dignity of my fellow man is an utterance that deigns to make fools of us all!”

My jaw dropped.

“Yeah,” I said. “Just mind your P’s and Q’s buster or I’ll have to jitterbug the foxtrot all over your face, see?”

The man set his glass on the table.

“Good and noble sir,” the man said. “Doubtless am I that spirits of the alcoholic variety doth embolden thine own spirit to an uproarious crescendo but I pray thee- do not turn a potential friend to a foe. For the world is filled with little more than men in search of friends who do nothing to find them but everything within their power to find enemies in every corner.”

“Why the expletive deleted are you talking like that?” I asked.

“Me?” the British man said. “Good sir, you are the one saying ‘twenty-three skadoo’ and ‘see!’”

“I thought that’s what I’m supposed to do!” I said. “It looks like Al Capone’s gin joint in here!”

The waitress returned. Under normal conditions, her bright eyes, long hair, and perfect smile would have been welcome. However, my heart was already racing from the strange circumstances I found myself in, and her gorgeous appearance only exacerbated my malady.

“Another martini Bill?” the waitress asked.

“Bill,” I thought. “Who do I know who is British, speaks fancy, wears a codpiece, and is named ‘Bill?’ Hmmmm.”

“Please,” Bill replied. “Shaken…not stirred.”

“That joke never gets old, Bill,” the waitress said as she rolled her eyes.

Skyfall!” Bill said. “Have you seen it yet, dear?”

“Not yet,” the waitress said. “Been too busy keeping the newbies soused to the gills.”

“Oh you must!” Bill said. “It is a delightful romp!”

The waitress smiled at Bill and placed another shot in front of me.

I wasn’t fighting it anymore. The waitress was right. Booze was the only thing keeping me from going completely bonkers from the stress of not knowing what was going on.

I drank the shot immediately. Bourbon this time. She was changing it up.

“Good sir,” Bill said to me. “Hast thou gazed thine eyes upon Skyfall?”

“Yeah, like three years ago,” I said.

“Ah yes, well we do get new releases a bit late here,” Bill said. “I have nary an idea how they do it but the fellows in charge of Hollywood manage to bleed every last six-pence from these moving pictures before they are finally released here for us to watch for free.”

“You get free movies here?” I asked.

“Free everything here,” Bill answered. “The waitress hasn’t charged you for a drink yet, has she?”

“She has not,” I said. “Should I tip her?”

“Why bother?” Bill said. “Everything here is free so a tip would be meaningless. Besides, there is no currency here so what would you tip her with?”

“Applause?” I asked.

“I suppose,” Bill said. “Or a general display of exuberance over her prompt serving abilities would do just the same.”

Bill's drink of choice.

Bill’s drink of choice.

The waitress returned and handed Bill a fresh martini. She took the empty shot glass from me, removed the fedora from my head, and replaced it with a yellow construction worker hard hat. Attached to either side of the hat were two forty ounce plastic containers, each filled to the top with beer. Each had a straw that dangled down until they merged into one straw. She placed that into my mouth.

“Listen sweetheart,” the waitress said. “I’m not trying to turn you into an alcoholic here. I’m just saying I see about a hundred of you guys a week..and..well..just trust me.”

“I trust you,” I said as I sipped from the straw.

Across the room, a fight broke out. The three of us watched as a team of bouncers moved in to control the situation.

“Lucille Ball just punched out Teddy Roosevelt over a fixed card game and I still feel like I’m the most ridiculous thing in this room,” I said.

“Indeed, good sir,” Bill replied. “But fear not, for we have all walked in your shoes before.”

“I notice you keep switching back and forth between fancy old English talk and a plain modern style,” I said.

“Which do you prefer?” the man asked.

“The plain style is easier to understand,” I said.

“Then I will do my best to speak plainly,” Bill said. “Although know that what you call plain I call lazy.”

“I did like the old English style though,” I said. “It almost made you sound like…”

My jaw dropped. Again.

“Like who?” the man asked.

“Like the greatest writer of the English language,” I said.

I sipped from my beer hat vigorously.

“Oh my God!” I said. “Are you…”

Who the heck is this guy? Find out next time on Bookshelf Q. Battler and the Meaning of Life!

Copyright (C) Bookshelf Q. Battler.  All Rights Reserved

Flapper and martini photos via a shutterstock.com license 

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