This story is all original. All characters are property of mine. Continued from Knight and Dae
Communication in the dream lands can be a tricky thing. Citizens of the joke category tend to be more sensitive then other dream landers. Be sure you never laugh at an off duty joke. Never give Old Advice any attention, or it will never shut up. Basically the best advice is to stay friendly, be polite, never buy anything off the street, and always be ready to duck. ---Excerpt from the Dream Land Companion, chapter 2.
Jeff's Diner was a small place to chill, relax, and get some mediocre food. It was opened a while back by a Humor refugee called Jeff the penguin, after he was awarded placement in the citizenship. No unplaced dream lander was allowed residence or business until the Council approved.
Jeff was categorized as a joke, though in truth he was more of a free floating conversation character. He had been birthed in one of those 'it would be funny if' type conversations. And for a few months he was popular enough. But then the joke died, and Jeff returned to the dream lands. Probably to stay, as there wasn't a great call for hypothetical penguins with imaginary race car experience. But he stayed upbeat about it. Mostly.
Jesty led Meemee to the counter that stretched the length of the colorful diner. "Jeff, two half-glasses of milk. Make them.... Two percent."
"A little early for the strong stuff. Must be a rough day ahead." Jeff poured the milk without further comment. Being friendly got tips. Being nosy did not.
A couple of other dream landers sat nearby at the counter. One was a top hat filled with water. A carrot and a few lumps of coal floated in the hat, vaguely giving the appearance of a face. Next to the hat was a crab siting in a Tupperware bowl and wearing a party hat. The crab caught Meemee looking and raised his hat in a friendly manner. Meemee blushed though her makeup, then smiled and waved back shyly.
The hat sighed to itself miserably. "Don't mind him." The crab said cheerfully to Meemee, indicating his hat friend with one small claw. "He's been gloomy since the downfall of novelty popularity. That and the Florida snowman gets more work." Pause. "He's a Mississippi Snowman. I'm the Tuna Surprise."
"But you're a crab." Jesty couldn't resist pointing out. Jokes have a certain pull just before they spring themselves.
"Surprise!!" The crab yelled, blowing a noise maker. Jesty tried very hard not to laugh as the Mississippi Snowman glared up at him. He tried to look away, but Meemee was miming someone caught in the throes of laughter, and Jesty lost it himself then, shaking with laughter as the Tuna Surprise smiled to itself.
"You know, every time you make someone laugh off the clock it hurts our union." The Mississippi Snowman gurgled, as Jesty and Meemee composed themselves.
"Lighten up. We're jokes." The Tuna Surprise replied without animosity.
"You're barely a joke." The Mississippi Snowman retorted. "More like a play on words. But I still prefer you to those young pranks..."
"And you're a novelty joke that gets less work then Rubber Chicken and Fake Vomit."
"I am a satirical humor novelty." The Mississippi Snowman bubbled in retort.
"Jokes can be a delicate bunch." Jesty mouthed silently to Meemee, who nodded her understanding. On the other side of the diner, a figure with a large set of teeth instead of a head was reading the Dream Land Companion, and licking occasionally at some peanut butter stuck to its upper palate. Jesty suspected it was a phobia.
"Arachibutyrophobia." Jeff confirmed quietly, following his gaze. "Comes in occasionally. Quiet phobia. Or maybe its condition makes talking hard. I never asked." The phobia checked its watch, then tucked its copy of the companion into its suit jacket and walked out. Jesty noticed it had left a nice tip. Specialty phobias like it got paid more. Or so he had heard. "Oh boy. This guy again." Jeff quickly backed away and pretended to be busy as Curiosity stepped up beside Meemee and sat down.
"Whats new? Whats up? Whats shaking?" He licked a big paw and wiped at his face a moment. Curiosity was a good and bad Concept. Bad because he could possibly discover about the princess before Jesty could get her back. Good though, because he never divulged info unless directly asked. And given his annoying nature, he was usually avoided by dream landers.
Curiosity was a large cat that walked on his hind legs and wore an old, tailored green suit that went well with his orange fur. His green eyes almost shined with anticipation at the possibility of something new to discover. "Hello" he purred to Meemee. "I'm Curiosity. Pleased to me you."
Meemee smiled and nodded. Jesty could tell she was a cat person. "Say Curiosity," Jesty stared quietly, signaling Jeff to bring over another milk. "Heard any good gossip today? Maybe something scary?"
"I've heard Nightmares are finding work here in Knight. That's frightening." He licked at his free drink.
"Politics aside..." Jesty said.
"Nothing new, and I would know." He replied. "It's rude not to introduce your friend Jesty." He smiled.
"Oh, my manners. Curiosity this is Meemee. She is a mime recruit from the kingdom of Dae."
'Royal mime cadet.' Meemee signed proudly. Her moment lasted only seconds though as Curiosity fell from his stool to the hard floor.
"Don't worry about him. He's just dead." Jesty said as Meemee quickly kneeled down beside the still cat. "Satisfaction will bring him back soon."
"I'm expecting her any minute now." Jeff added to calm the obviously distressed Meemee. "He's always dead and alive at the same time anyway."
"Elevate his legs." Old Advice called from one lonely booth as Jesty gently led Meemee away, but was ignored by everyone.