Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cutting Honesty


When you've been through what I have, and you're a little marked up by what life has thrown at you, you tend to overthink EVERYTHING. However, she was right; the hair cut came out pretty okay.

The dating adventures continue!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Pants off the merriest of merries!


Hey, when you are allergic to milk, these little culinary inventions can really brighten your festivities, let me tell you. For fun, Station House Radio has put together a little show dedicated just to the sounds of winter. We hope you enjoy your holiday with friends and family and look forward to seeing you in the new year with brand new adventures of the crew of the No.7, as well as yours truly.

All the best!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Once more with feeling...


I've spent the last sixteen months bouncing back from a catastrophic complication from beating cancer almost twenty five years ago, climbed out of near financial ruin, and just on this side from re-establishing Grand Central Station, my art career, and getting some stuff published. So naturally the pangs of loneliness and the urge to share life's adventures would get to tugging on my withered heart strings.

And, once again, jumping on line for a look-see has reduced me to a quivering mass of romantic fear. Look familiar? Why, just a little more than five years ago I went through pretty much the very same thing... though then it was a little more kilt and a little less pants. (Oh, you've come a long way, Charlie.)

But this time I'm sticking to it, and chronicling my misadventures thanks to the inspiration of Victoria Ying, a Los Angles based animator who I follow on Twitter. Newly single, herself, she's turned her dating "adventures" into a comic she posts on Tumblr.

So, here I am, about to dive back into the world of bars, awkward first dates, and insecurities. And I'm going to take you all along for the ride.This should get... interesting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Inktober Confessional

So October is the social media hash-tag season of "#Inktober"; where artists are challenged to create a new composition every day during the month using pretty much nothing but ink pens and/or brushes; no Photoshop, no paint, no pastels, no anything else.

It... can be quite the challenge, indeed; let me tell you what. It's also a great exercise for older folks like me getting back to their roots of old ash can comics and other inking tricks we had to use because we couldn't afford three color process printing or zip tone shading.

Ah... memories. (Kids, ask your artistic parents or elders.)

Today's edition of Stuff - which did really happen to me during Inktober - could be any artist (Cartoonist, Illustrator, "drawer", whatever.) and any bystander, anywhere. Especially when we are challenged to create on the spot, without our various editing tools and crutches we may have added to our palette of tools. It's also  an interesting study in personal perspective. After all, why do I think my work is crap, but other's crap is art?

Today's Stuff was created almost exclusively using pen and ink (with just a little help from the old trusty blue line pencil) in the spirit of the season. If you'd like to see what I've been whipping up for Inktober, check out either my Instagram or my Twitter.

And don't forget to check out all the great work under the hash-tag #Inktober, too!

----------------------------------------------

From The Conductor's Office:

For the few of you who have been reading Galactic Gun, it will be returning in December. Sorry for the delays; life is... well... life. And, as always, thanks for your ridership on NTA Comics!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hey, Mr. Wilson!


Everybody's favorite "Merc with a Mouth" has him an unusual issue...

No, it's not his love of chimichangas.

You see, through some extent of events, along with getting his "super powers", Deadpool has become self aware. That is, to say, he knows he's a fictional character. And not just in one book, but in all his books, in every appearance, every fanfic, fan video, in the adverts for his upcoming movie, and - we assume - in the upcoming movie, itself.

While I personally cannot wait to see how this gets tackled in the movie it's by no means an original idea. Many times comic book and cartoon characters have broken the infamous Fourth Wall to speak to their audience. Though, usually it's part of the punchline or gag, and not an outright part of the
character's ability.

It's been proposed before by old religions and even some more modern philosophy about the idea that the whole of existence could be nothing more than someone's dream, and that we could all be running around, going about our business, the background engine that fuels that dream. It's such a thing that a whole branch of science has broken off to uncover any truth to their personal thesis; we are all living in nothing more than a giant hologram.

If you've every stumbled upon a glitch or a "blue hell" in a video game, you can imagine how frightening that idea may be. And remember, when developing a computer animated cartoon, you are essentially building a small world unto itself with its own rules and dimensions.

Personally, I don't really want to delve too much into this whole idea. The mechanics behind such an awareness would be mind altering, if not downright shattering. (Which might actually explain Wade Wilson's particular various instabilities.) But I do wonder what someone like the late Alan Watts would make of a cartoonist's own creation perplexed about the nature of his creator. 

Scheduling Note

No doubt, if you follow my on any of my social media - Facebook, Instargam, or Twitter, you know that recently, due to the economy and real estate markets here in the San Francisco bay area, we at Neverland Transit Authority have lost our Grand Central Station, and are currently working out of a temporary location in a rural, country setting. We're working hard to get things back up and running, and hope to return to Galactic Gun: The Adventures of Justin Bailey within the next month.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out our newest feature Station House Radio; bringing you all the music that keeps us rolling down the track.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Stuff: So long, Yvonne...


This week in comics and fandom we lost two big names. One of them was actress, producer, real estate broker, and activist Yvonne Craig, who lost her battle with cancer on August 17th at the age of 78.

Yvonne, in her early life, had a brilliant career as an up and coming Hollywood beauty, and actress, coming off what looked like what was going to be a career as a dancer. Appearing on both the TV screen and the silver screen, she shared the spot light with everyone from the cast of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to Elvis Presley. Of course, her most iconic role that people remember her for was the plucky, smart, and sassy Barbra Gordon - aka Batgirl, daughter of Police Commissioner Gordon on the late 1960's Batman.

But for many more in the Scifi community she had another, more impressing role; albeit too brief. (In my humble opinion, anyways.) In 1969 she played the green skinned seductive, and insanely dangerous, Marta the slave girl in "Whom Gods Destroy"; an episode of Star Trek in which Captain Kirk has to go toe to toe with a criminally insane shape shifting master mind. And though there had been many before her, and many after her, she set the tone for the prevailing science fiction fetish of the green skinned alien babe.

Flash forward a couple of decades and I am a young cartoonist carving out my own title out of the love of another franchise based off of a strong alien babe and, what at first was planned to be a throw away character, becomes a permanent addition to the stories of Justin Bailey, and I need to flesh her out. But no mere metal bikini revolutionary or skin tight white jump suit colonel will do. No, I need a certain something that harkens back to the core elements of science fiction I'm trying to tap into. I need a green skinned alien babe. I need Yvonne.

To be honest, the character of Kali is only half built on Yvonne Craig's Marta. But the elements of her look and style are the core essentials that went on to shape her, the stories she'd be in, and the nature of the characters around her. In short, Kali became the substance of content that would add so much meaning to my silly scifi adventure comedy.

Thank you, Yvonne. I never got to say it in life, but thank you.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 1 Page 9


"One is to expect," opens Doctor Mellvorne's paper on advanced applied integrated bionics, "that in a culture where the fabrication of human physiology can become so routine that its impact upon not only the medical sciences, but on the very fabric of society, will no doubt be felt in waves, not ripples."

Applied integrated bionics, also known as AIB, has been a viable and well practiced option in the repair and replacement of soft tissues and organ systems for going well past the last two centuries; now part of nearly every medical facility within the Commonwealth as well as most major worlds outside of it. Where stem-clone-specific replacement is not possible, this tried and true practice is implemented at such a level as to be considered art, in the medical professions.

Not such the case, however, in Dr. Mellvorne's day. As a pioneer in the field, he and his colleagues faced what then could only have been seen as nearly insurmountable challenges in the design and implementation of grafting artificial rebuilds into organic systems. And it's a matter of record the successes and failures he and his team achieved in their time; unlocking the intricacies of the endocrine system, learning to translate neural input and regulate output feeds, and engineering biothermal power.

Today in the Corporate Commonwealth we take full advantage of, and thrive from, his discoveries and innovations. And through the application of AIB into full cybernetics, man has been able to extend his life, cure the incurable, and treat the untreatable. Where it is the best option, it has returned functionality to the crippled and helped to return war vets into active service for their communities and their society.

And perhaps Dr. Mellvorne would be proud to see the application of his discoveries; allowing longer life and purpose to everyone; working to make a better tomorrow throughout the Commonwealth.   

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stuff: I'm so plattered...


Packing?! Is Neverland Transit Authority going away? Moving to far distant lands?

Well, no, not quite. Like many in the greater Silicon Valley, I just fell prey to the real estate market out here. And rent on my beautiful and stately home has more than doubled, to be effective September. So, here I am, desperately looking for an affordable place to live with no luck; trying to figure on moving the entirety of my stuff, or having to pack it into storage for some unknown amount of time.

Well, all but this one plate that was just a bit too slippery to hold onto as I washed the dishes. Okay, so that's one less thing to move.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 1 page 8


Stellar Regional Patrol and Peace Enforcement is a confederated union of conscripted able bodied men and women whose ideals and commitments are of the highest order; dedicated to the concept that rule of law should extend beyond the reaches of civilization, the Corporate COmmonwealth, and into the out reaches of known space.

Working from a networked set of regionally positioned central bases squads are assembled from the best of local law enforcement and armed forces of kingdoms, colonies, and nation-states in a concerted effort to rein in the criminal element that would otherwise ravage the outer rim and unaffiliated worlds outside of the Commonwealth. The goal is to insure the safety of commerce and travel for citizens of the Commonwealth outside its territories and strengthen the rule of law for those who would see a better world for it.

Or, at least, that's the line served at the recruiting stations.

Asking anyone who happens to live, work, and travel in areas under the Stellar Regional Patrol and Peace Enforcement - most commonly known as just "Patrol" - and they will paint you a picture of what is essentially an armed band of thugs with badges; violent, often misplaced war veterans and cast offs from worlds that could find no better a thing to do by them but to give them a badge and set them lose into space where they could do little harm to anyone of any great significance.

And there may be some good truth in this idea. One only needs to review such cases as the Drabmen Importers affair to see evidence of this. When Patrol originally stopped an inbound freighter under Drabmen contract it was claimed for improper registration of goods. Though, after the bodies had been removed, and the cargo cataloged, was it discovered that this was not the case at all; all papers were in order. The surviving members of the Drabmen guild... both of them... also sited in their depostion that a number of items were missing that had been accounted for at launch.

Though a complaint was launched, no charges were filed, and the officers involved were cleared of any wrong doing or use of excessive force by a department investigation. During a follow up investigation, the remaining two members of the Drubman guild could not be located despite evidence they had begun to rebuild their importing business. With no surviving witnesses the case was eventually closed.

There is also a second theory that Patrol is actually funded by The Corporate Commonwealth as a way to subvert territorial treaties and set up the ground work for a structured take over of commercial interests, to cement a world's induction. While Patrol has had joint operations with Commonwealth forces, these have been with complete transparency and following all protocols and treaty obligations. Officially the Commonwealth is all too happy to help spread the security and stability of the rule of law to the outer worlds not yet in its jurisdiction.

The rights to regulation and stability are happily shared and fostered by The Corporate Commonwealth who gladly share them with all eager life in the galaxy.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Unbridged


The last year has been a bit of an uphill battle; what with my health, money, and my education. And I thought I was finally making a couple break throughs this past month; getting both back into a working form of health, and getting accepted in Cogswell Polytechnic to further my knowledge base and earn me a Bachelors degree in Design - focusing on entertainment design.

But always be suspect of good times and easy paths, I suppose.

When there's no price tag on something out right, and you have to ask a series of questions to find out why, even with a loan, you still need to pay cash out of pocket for school...? Yeah, it's going to hurt. I mean, I could tear my life asunder trying to keep my place for next year. However, is that going to be worth the inevitable outcome of debt and damage to my social and art life?

No, probably not.

However, I am just one class from an Associates degree over at good old Footfill College. And though an A.A. isn't enough to go pro in the industry, it does have a wedge like power to open doors. Not too mention I can keep taking extra classes to further my knowledge base. making me Mr. Irons the Big Brain.

But not going to fib; this is a big disappointment. One I will no doubt rise against, of course. But it's going to make life more... interesting. Hey, at least my life is never boring... not that I couldn't go for a little change of pace after the first forty one years.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Stuff: Doing the do that old men do...


I guess there's something poetically ironic about a guy who was known his entire life for having the mop with a life of its own now facing this little gift of impending seniority.

It starts innocently enough; a few extra hairs in the shower drain. Then there's a few errant hairs here and there. And then one day you're all; "I guess it's time to get a short haircut because I don't want to be THAT GUY...". (You know who he is; long pony tail, shiny back of the head.) 

Statistics abound about what is called male pattern baldness, but for a percentage of men - and even some women - hair thinning and loss is a reality, and one that can be both a source of both humor and dread. So much so that even as comfortable as I can be with my physical short comings - I mean, I am only 5'5" - this comic still sat on the back burner for quite sometime before I pulled the trigger on it. (I mean, I just turned forty, then my heart fails, and then this?!)

So the back of my head looks like Moses pulled a Red Sea on my part. That's got very little to do with anything when it comes who I am, what I stand for, and what I can do, right? And, as everyone is quick to point out, it's not that big a thing.Well... maybe not so much for my mom...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Stuff: Meeting of the Market Minds...


Sure has been a while since we've had a Stuff, here, hasn't it? Well, life's been rather busy; school, health issues, and... working on someone else's comic...?!

That's right; you're friendly neighborhood Conductor is lending his helping hands to his good friends Chunky Girls Comics. (or here, on Twitter.) I'm working with their staff to get some traction on their premiere title; The Heavy Response Unit. A beautiful bunch of ladies who are out to set things right in a body image obsessed world.

Unfortunately this has bitten into my time for Galactic Gun, and it seems Justin Bailey has gotten restless and is trying to mingle his way into some action. But don't worry, dear readers; we're getting back on track with our space worthy adventures in the coming couple weeks. Galactic Gun returns July 7th.

Hopefully I can keep him out of trouble until then...

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 1 page 6




"That I should be so far from my world, but always a friendly mug in my hand, 
then truly I am always home"
- Arlington "Hops" Yerba

Deep into the Second Space Age, man began to settle planet side where he could find habitable lands. And, while some needed a little more help than others, settle he did. In the earliest of day of the new frontier colony movement, great attention was taken to figuring out what kinds of necessities could be grown in the new alien soils. This included all kinds of vegetables, fruits, and other flora that was not either edible, or usable in fortifying the new frontier.

Many advances were made - and even founded - in off world horticulture, in regards to creating sustainable food supplies. But, it was the risky venture by one enterprising beer enthusiast that forever changed the face of deep space life. Indeed, to this day, Arlington "Hops" Yerba is still highly regarded as one of the great pioneers in the foundations of space civilization.

And all because he couldn't find a bar.

Like many before him, Hops was born on Mars, and then took to the new wave of space migration with the promise of riches and great new opportunities among the stars. And, like most, he mainly found a lot of toil, danger, and death. But he managed to make a living as a transport pilot; making cargo runs along the Sagan corridor to various outposts and settlements. Always looking to unwind from the stress and danger of his work, Hops, like many, turned to in-ship stilling as a way to produce cheap spirits.

In-ship stilling, however, could be hazardous; stilling was combustible, which is not good in an enclosed, oxygen rich, environment. Not to mention highly illegal. And, since there was no trade on non-essential food stuffs in the early days, the only time an early star hopper could find a cold pint is when he made his way back to Mars.

It was this fact Hops was pondering, after a run, in a bar in New Francisco, when he decided to take a huge risk. Settling up his shipping business, he bought some brewing supplies, got himself a small parcel of land on a smaller farming colony, and - against the advice of friends, and in the face of certain failure - began the business of brewing beer.

Needless to say, with the sudden influx of cheap, easy to get booze, Hops became a wealthy man in just one cycle. His operations expanded, he set the model for future breweries and distilleries to venture out into space; bringing with them a new culture of taverns, bars, pubs, and a supporting economic social life to trade centers across the frontier.

At the one year anniversary of his passing, close friends and admires gathered to continue a tradition started by Hops, himself; to have a pint at each new bar that sprung up among the territories. And so, the Intergalactic Pub Crawl Team was formed. Traveling in small groups, or sometimes alone, they make their way across the known universe; cataloging every known watering hole and drink served there in. Though a private club, they work to continually publish, and update their findings, in hopes of sharing Hops' love of brew with all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies Chapter 1 page 3




Rimlik is a card game that comes from the Effrin home world of Trudoc; specific to the nation-state of Ishtak which borders the expansive and desolate land masses of the southern hemisphere called “The Great Land Sea of Nothing” in the native language of the nation-state of Ishtak.

Martin Mayhew, reknowned and sometimes controversial xeno anthropologist and archeologist, noted, in his study of the peoples of Turdoc, that the game of Rimlik is deeply rooted into the ancient past of the Ishtak and has managed to remain popular despite its obscured and mystical past.

In his initial, and subsequent follow up reports, Mayhew found historical record of the game, before a darker period in the planet’s history, when Rimlik was the courtly game of kings, and often played in place of war as much as a civil past time among courts. As the peoples of Trudoc pressed forward after a world war of great devastation the game entered the common homes to be enjoyed by families and communities.

However, at one point in time, shortly after this great period of war, during the reconstruction the game took on a mystical and spiritual meaning as a divinational tool called the “Okka ee Umra T’Pak”; rough translating to “Seerer of the Dark Bringer”. (There are many translations depending on your dialect of Weamer, the predominate language of the Ishtak nation.)

Over time the game has gone through many iterations. Cards have come and gone, changed meaning, lost its mystical qualities, and gone from a simple party game to high stakes gambling event. Probably one of the more interesting features is the incorporation of tactile technology and a randomizer that allows players to manipulate the cards based off of a series of probabilities, hand prowess, and cards in play that are connected in network. This has made the game especially popular in various playing communities across Territory for the added layers to game play and risk/reward.

All but to anyone of human decent. The use of this tactile technology is especially difficult for a five fingered human hand to master. And though among themselves humans are at a near level playing field, in mixed company no human has ever recorded a high stakes victory in a tournament.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies: Chapter 1 Page 2




It’s a documented fact that throughout the known and established territories there are quite the great number of social and negotiation rituals. These have spanned everything from formal dinner parties and ceremony down to the trading of trinkets and even animals.

Each one has its own unique symbolism and tradition, traceable all the way back deep into the Second Space Age of Man. They can be as complex and as diverse as the histories from which they are birthed. When reaching out to begin deep space trade routes, the first ambassadorial parties from the Corporate Commonwealth encountered and noted them all. However, one that stands out, now, in reading is the signing of what has come to be known as the Parvel Treaty; granting access to the then young  Commonwealth of various established trade routes through a contested area of space.

Parvel, in those days, was the strategic flash point around a territorial skirmish between two systems; each claiming heredity rights over the moon of Parvel, a gas giant whose orbit took it close to a mineral rich asteroid field. Looking to settle a town facility on the moon, neither side was willing to share with the other, leaving Captain Dore with a unique opportunity to try at some diplomacy.

Unfortunately for the captain, he was much better at command than he was at being a diplomat, and his actions unintentionally made the situation even worse; as he didn’t understand the histories and customs of the two parties involved.  All seemed lost, and the captain’s team was about to give up and withdraw when a very unorthodox approach was attempted.

The exact turn of events that lead to it are argued over, but the next result was the same; Captain Dore suggested, and then presided over, a poker tournament.

As the neutral arbiter, Dore supplied the few decks he had from his ship’s rec room. The better players of his crew dealt, and the specific points and concessions over the moon of Parvel were hammered out over the following 72 hours; resulting in a shared joint venture between all three parties. When Parvel finally fell under Commonwealth control, its moon a bustling business center, a monument was erected to the auspicious, if not out-of-the-ordinary negotiations. To this day, the three day memorial card tournament is known to attract players of all levels across the Commonwealth with dreams of fame and fortune.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pocket Full of Posies: Chapter 1 Page 1




As a bartender, Dixie had seen his fair share of odd balls come and go through the door of his pub on the little ball of rock he called home. He chalked it up to an occupational hazard serving drinks in an out of the way… no, scratch that… middle of nowhere mining community. Hovering this close to the edge of nothing, on top of some strong surplus of natural resource, you’re bound to have run-into’s with all manners of folk. Mostly still just humans, but the occasional Efferin or Scrill, too.

But sometimes there’s this thing when a someone tends to not stand out too much. When they are so tidy and pure and right-as-all-rain that they just look… wrong. And here was just one sort of fellow, at the end of Dixie’s bar, getting quite particular about the flavor of his beer’s taste. Pining over a head wasn’t so much the thing, nor how he was going about it. No, it was more how he carried himself; how his clothes were just so clean, and had all the fasteners still intact and working. It was in how well-groomed his hair was with that just perfect smile when he made his order.

Or, maybe it was in how, though he was trying so hard not to obvious, he was obviously more interested in his surroundings than in his choice of refreshment.  But he had reached the end of his mug, and Dixie had to make good on his apron to tend to his customers. So, he took to stepping to the end of the bar.

“Beer okay,” he asked.

“The beer’s mighty fine, thanks; “he answered with that near perfect, clean toothed smile. “Just what I needed. It’s nice to find a place like this tucked away out here. Very refreshing. It’s almost like a little piece of civil paradise in a dark, cold galaxy.”

“Thanks, I do what I can.” Dixie’s senses popped. He was sure what was coming next, but he was hoping he was wrong.

“In fact, you know what would make it perfect,” he asked, waving around with his hand to the small pub, “modernizing it up some. Have you thought about getting the latest in serving bar tech? Not just a bar bot or a servi-stand, but something nice like those fixtures they have in the core systems.”

Damn it, Dixie thought to himself. “Oh,” he said with just the hint of faked interest. “Like what?”

“Well, I just happen to know a guy who deals in the latest in repulse and hover serving surfaces. Probably get you a great deal on some three and four chair sets, complete with table center holo-tube viewers. You could have sports, news, and all the latest shows piped right to your customers while they eat and drink. Bet that would put a lot more butts through the door.”

More than any odd ball or drifter come through these parts adding to the heap of trouble town saw, from time to time, the traveling salesman was, by far, the worst. And here was yet another one, come to get his wares all up in Dixie’s face. He leaned in across the bar to meet the man face to face, a halfcocked smile across his lips.

“Say, tell me; about how long, you figure, it took you to get to these parts on your sales rounds?”

Dixie figured the salesman was unprepared, and very unhappy, to have been made, and made so quickly. He rocked back, sitting more upright on his bar stool. His face told Dixie that he was considering if he should keep beating this path, or step more truthful like.

“You know I’m not wrong, though. I could put a touch of something more modern in here and they’d be coming from two, three, maybe four towns over just to have a swig of something here.”

Dixie asked, again; “how long did it take you to get here on your rounds?”

“Not to see how it’s relevant, but about three months; give or take. It is, after all, the edge of territory out here.” 

“Exactly the point; the folk out here like it that way.  Nice, clean, and simple. They get in, do what they have to, or need to, maybe stop in for a brew and a chew, and then get to going. What am I to do with a whole plate of attention no one wants around here?”

The salesman looked like he had a counter thought to his question. Or, maybe another argument in rebuttal. Whatever it was, Dixie didn’t even give him the chance to offer it.

“More to the point; suppose I do fancy me a set of your floating holo-doo-hickey table and chair sets. What am I to do if it suddenly is less of a floaty table and more a crash to the ground table? Hmm? Wait three months for someone to come out and get me a new one while I’m down a table and, what; four seats ain’t no one gonna sit in now?”

Once again the lips of the salesman parted, as if to add or rebut. And, once again, Dixie saw to it he didn’t. “Now, lest I figure it don’t come down on one of my most loyal and quiet patrons, I’m not to suppose you’ll come straight out to my rescue, will I?” The salesman had no reply. “Exactly. See, out here we got no need for anything we can’t do for ourselves.”

Dixie scooped up the empty mug from in front of the salesman. “That one’s on the house if you can find yourself to the door in the next couple minutes. And I’d be obliged you a kindness not to be seeing you in here on any future date, sir. Good evening.”

The salesman adjusted himself on the stool. Maybe he had considered one last sales pitch before he realized it had become a little too quiet for this quiet, out of the way pub. Looking around, he could see some of the patrons had taken more than a passing fancy in their discourse. The sound of shuffling cards could be heard from the side room where a lone young lady sat with a deck. It became very clear it was time to cut his losses.

“Well, I thank you for the hospitality of the free drink, sir, and sorry to be a trouble.” Gathering himself up off the stool he made for the door, turning one last time to Dixie. “You have a lovely establishment, here. Have a good evening.”

Outside, on the makeshift dirt street, the salesman made a notation on a digital pad. “Hey, this looks promising,” he heard a voice say. Looking back he saw a mop headed man in a jacket was looking in through the doorway. The back of the jacket had some sort of patch on it in a language he didn’t read; a skull with fiery wings biting on what looked like a wrench. 

“Nah," he said to the stranger in the jacket, “just another hole in the wall run down hick joint. Seen one, you’ve seen them all.” And he strode off into the night, thinking about his next stop.

“Perfect,” the jacketed stranger said to himself.