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Authors: Ernie Lindsey

Going Shogun

BOOK: Going Shogun
11.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Going Shogun

by Ernie Lindsey


This novel is a work of fiction. 
Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's
imagination, or, if real, used fictitiously.  No part of this book may be
reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means,
including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without the express written permission of the author, except where
permitted by law.


All rights reserved.





This novel is for anyone that has ever tried to improve
their place in life.


But please don’t use it as a How-To



Okay, so it’s Tuesday and I’m
serving two cute R11-3s their Candy Water (a glass of sparkling apple juice with
a block of Spearmint Lettuce Toffee stuck to the bottom) and an extra-large
Butter Tea Brownie.  One of them winks at me, and as usual, I freeze up like a
Sausage Gravy Ice Cube.  The most I can manage is a weak smile before I dash
behind the counter to ring up this R10’s Hot Dog Pancakes.

The head chef, Doobar, yells, “Sling
cuisine!” from the kitchen and I stride over to the pick-up window,
sidestepping Stream and Honker, a couple of newbie servers who’ve been at the
restaurant maybe a month and have no grasp on the art of waiting tables.  They
have real names, but I haven’t bothered to find out what they are.  Not to
mention the funky vibes I get from those guys.  Square peg, round hole, or like
maybe if you tried to read a magazine that said
Sports Illustrated
the cover and all the content on the inside was from
Good Housekeeping

Something isn’t right about them, big time.


I stand at the window and stare down
at two plates containing our nastiest entree.  Cactus stuffed with hunks of
pigeon meat, topped with a strawberry soda pop marinade.  It’s yet to grace my
taste buds and I’m positive they’re thankful.

Forklift is parked there too, hounding
the chefs about his order of Sugar-Seasoned Carp Filets.  He asks me, “Ready
for Thursday?”

I nod and swallow, calming my gag
reflex.  The side of Cheesy Honeydew Mashed Potatoes does it to me every time. 
“Yeah,” I say, then add, “You ever wonder why people are so crazycakes over
this nasty shit?”

“Doesn’t matter,” he whispers,
sneakily glancing around the dining room.  “They crave the rave, and we’re
gonna fill the tank for ‘em, rock-star style.  Wham-bam.  You need to keep
yourself in check when we go see LX, dig?  Don’t go shogun.”

He’s poking fun at me because I lost
my temper one time, about a year ago, and since it’s such a rare event, he’s
never forgotten it.  “I don’t go shogun,” I say, “I go hand grenade.”

“Whatever,” he says, missing my sarcasm. 
“If he gets all cocky, keep it in, Brick.  Tuck it back.”  He nods Buddha-like
and heads out to the dining room floor.

I carry the Stuffed
Pigeon Cactus to a middle-aged R7 couple and the guy orders another glass of
wine like he’s R5.  The pompous ass.

You’d think with the descriptive
names our dishes have that they’d all be easy to make.  Just get your hands on
the contents and whip it up, right?

Not so.  The first round would be a
wild stab at the totality of the ingredients, but it’s also rumored that all of
our conglomerations have this secret ingredient that make the meals what they
are.  I’ve heard stories that it’s something simple, like pepper or shoe polish
or fairy dust, and one time I almost got Carla to tell me the truth.  She’s the
hottie R11-1 chef with cherry red hair and matching lipstick.  We call her
Fireball, partly for the hair, partly for the near-constant irritability.

Fireball has been Nominated for
R11-2, and when she Ascends, I can
start dating her, because
inter-level body blending is a big no-no.  Once we’re parallel I’ll be able to
make my move.

That is, if she’ll go out with me,
and if I work up the courage to ask her out. 

Ascension is a fickle mistress, but
the rules are manageable.

But, I can’t go out with Fireball
yet because The Board heavily protects the legitimacy of the ranking system. 

“To preserve bloodlines,” they say. 

Some people, like Forklift’s friend
LX, can get enough money through various (read: illegal) means to pretend like
they’re up-level, but it doesn’t last long before they’re found out and take a
bobsled ride into Sustained P.

Most of us go through our Routine
without Ascending because we don’t know enough higher levels to get a Nomination
or excel at enough of the properties.  Fireball got hers because of me, Dorna,
Doobar, and the other chef, Flake.  The paperwork took me three hours, which
should be worth at least one date.

The one time I overstepped the legal
boundaries of inter-level flesh meshing was with this R6 girly that I met in a
bar.  She went by Unicorn, and reaching up to that level felt like I had
actually captured the mythical creature.  But she was drunk, I was drunk, and
it was a one-time deal.  I never heard from her again.  And it’s probably a
good thing because I don’t want to lose my R11-2 for one night of pie.

If I’m going down, I’m
doing it by trying to go up.

Thursday night comes and I have a
stomachache from two hunks of Wishful Thinking’s Cheesecake Meatloaf.  I should
know better by now.

I pop some antacids then take the
bus over to Forklift’s apartment on the other side of the city.  It’s an R11-1
building bordered by two R10 townhouses, so he got lucky.  I know the R10s have
complained, but it’s grandfathered in from back in the day and can’t shake its
status by law.  Still, the R11-3 landlord has to keep his place up so he
doesn’t cause the neighbors’ property values to go septic.

A knock on the door initiates a
muffled response from the interior.  I step in, greeted by an unruly stench
that immediately sinks into my hooded sweatshirt. 

The place is trashed.  Pizza boxes
are littered about like a battlefield rife with wartime casualties and my copy
The American
is floating in the fish tank.  Damn him.  I paid good money
for that Board Banned Book.  I change my mind about sitting on the couch when I
see an unidentifiable brown stain so large it covers half of a cushion. 
.  His vintage Marilyn Monroe photograph serves as a lampshade, and
cigarette butts poke out of the carpet like mushroom stems without their caps.

The place gets worse every time I
come here.  He says he’s not cleaning it until he gets R10 and whenever I
remind him that won’t likely happen for a while, he sighs and spits whatever
he’s chewing at the television screen.

Forklift comes out of the kitchen,
sweaty, with his buckteeth sheltering his bottom lip.  The t-shirt he’s wearing
is too small and I tell him he’s not a pop star.  “What’s that smell?”

“I tried making the Tuna Watermelon
Cobbler.  It got all beefcake on me, so I went shogun and gave it a
razzle-dazzle into the trashcan.”  He makes some sort of animated slam-dunk
motion and finishes with a high five to his Bruce Lee poster.

“Do you always have to talk like

“Talk like what?”

“Like you’re speaking your own

“Reputational fortitude.  Gotta roll
with the slaw.”  He looks concerned.  “Are we jelly?  You’re not gonna wear
flip-flops on me, are you?”

I burp and taste a mixture of
ketchup and cheesecake.  Ignoring his apprehension, I ask, “You’re sure this
gonzo can get us rolling and ready for tomorrow night?”

“Cool as freeze-water,

For a big pile of nacho dollars, he could get us R4 in about two planetary
rotations.  Freeroam The Board’s system and we’re greasy.  But, the metal bracelets
on that are P15, simple.”


I look around the room.  “Where’s
Ricky?” I ask, taking a closer look at the fish tank.

“Walked in this afternoon, found him
pushing up daisies beside Henry James.”

“Oh God.  Cobbler?”

“Razzle-dazzle into the trashcan.”

“Your own goldfish?  I don’t even
have words for how disgusting that is.”

“Undeniable.  Want a beer?”

“I’m good.  Let’s head out.  We’re
supposed to be there at 9PM, right?”

“Yeah.  Let me roll up a new canvas
and we’ll rubberize the blacktop.”

Seems like it’s going to be another
Thesaurus Night in The World of Forklift.  He’s constantly reinventing his own language
and the dictionary that comes with it, and then coming back to stuff he’s used
before, and then switching that up to mean something else.  It’s hard to keep
up.  A few staples come with his vocabulary, but most of the time, I have to
play nice with cryptography to figure out what he’s saying.

I assume he’s going to change
clothes because he walks down the hallway to his bedroom.  I leave its state to
my imagination and stand patiently.

A couple of minutes later, he
emerges in a white karate gi and black combat boots.  Ready for battle.


Hang on.  Let me back up a little

Here’s the deal:  I sling cuisine at
Wishful Thinking, an ultra-popular restaurant with this specialty called Butter
Tea Brownies.

And I know this sounds crazy, but
getting your hands on the top-secret recipe could be worth
, as
long as you know where to sell it.  One hundred percent truth.

It’s been rumored that Butter Tea
Brownies are made out of butter (a lot of butter), peppermint tea grounds,
grape jelly (possibly strawberry), soy sauce, arugula, gun powder, non-dairy
coffee creamer, one platypus egg, and flour.  Puree it in a blender, high
speed, then pour it in an empty pan and toss it in the refrigerator at 39°
degrees Fahrenheit.

I’m kidding.  Total bullshit, that
guess, because only the three chefs and the owner know for sure.  None of the
waiters are allowed in the kitchen, ever, so we’re clueless about the real
identity of the ingredients.  The same goes for all of our recipes.  Whatever
the contents of Butter Tea Brownies truly are congeal into this ruddy, yellow
catfish color with brown speckles and an odor that’s surprisingly quite
tempting, considering those blocks of mystery seem fit for scrubbing shower
stalls.  Yet somehow, they continue to be absurdly popular and sell faster than
our Blue Crab Syrup Fries, our Mango Starfish Pudding, and our Bacon Cucumber
Ice Cream.

Why are these atrocious-sounding
meals so
?  I have no clue.  Neither does anyone else.

But, Forklift and I, we’ve got a
plan.  Big risk, bigger reward.

You don’t get to the top by being
satisfied with mediocrity.


We specialize in the
at Wishful Thinking, or whatever the R7 and R8 customers (who pretend like
they’re up-level R3s, but we all know they aren’t fooling anyone) are currently
drooling over on our menus.  The owner, this overweight, cantankerous, R9 woman
named Dorna with a head like a puffer fish—she creates these clandestine concoctions.

And they
, well enough
for her to be declared R8 easily, once her Ascension Nominations get Approved. 
One more Butter Tea Brownie craze and it’s hers.

Before I get too far ahead of
myself, my name is Chris.  People call me Brick.

I’m an R11.

Specifically, I’m R11-2, with
aspirations of making it to R10.  Further, if possible, and here’s how it’s
going to happen:  my best friend, an R11-1 waiter that we call Forklift (poor
guy has the largest buckteeth) came up with this scheme to steal and sell
Wishful Thinking’s secret recipes on so we can get enough
capital to start our own highbrow café called
Dream Chasers

That part is going down Friday
night, but the thing is, not that many people know about RollerNinja, so in
order to bolster the bank account, quickly, we also have to broadcast the fact
that the recipes are available online to anyone with an internet connection. 
And, we have to provide access codes to get into the site. 

BOOK: Going Shogun
11.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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