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A Worthwhile Pursuit
by Oren the Otter
Oren the Otter -- all rights reserved

My work was done. I had finished my comics for two months yet. I had written stories and scripts until I was sick of my computer. I turned on the TV. There wasn't anything good on, except for "Winds of Change", and it was an episode I had seen a zillion times. It had been all reruns since they cancelled the new spinoff series.

None of my friends were on the Internet. There was just nothing to do.

I went down to the Blind Pig.

"Evening." I said to Donnie.

"Evening." Donnie signed. "Milk?"

"Nah. Gimme a Virgin Mary."

Donnie smiled at the name. He still found it funny. Thing is, Mr. Batran had helped me develop a taste for Bloody Marys, but I just couldn't handle the alcohol. I'd asked him to concoct a non-alcoholic version, and he came up with the Virgin Mary.

I sipped my drink and looked around. Brad Fox was over by the partition to the restaurant flirting with both Lisa and Jacob.

Wanderer and Carlos were at the Lupine Boys' usual table, eating cold pizza and joking about women.

Phil was attempting to lecture Mr. Batran on the social graces.

Xander was moping over his ex-girlfriend while Raven attempted to comfort him.

And in the darkest corner of the bar was the saddest looking dino-morph I have ever seen.

I finished my Virgin Mary and walked over to the piano where Jesse was attempting to teach Jack a new song. I vaguely recognized the tune as "Oren's theme". I liked that about Jesse. Always thinking of his friends. Once he had finished the refrain and turned the keyboard over to Jack, I nudged him in the tail. Discreetly calling his attention to the scaly recluse, I asked him "Do you know that guy?"

Jesse shook his head around the axis of his nose, hitting Jack in the dot with his ear. "Seen him here a few times, though. Had an unpleasant encounter with Jon and a glass of beer. Besides that, he never talks to anybody."

"That guy in the corner?" said a small rat. "I heard Edwina say his name is Cornwall or something like that. Never orders anything but water."

I knelt down to the rat. "Don't believe I've had the pleasure. Charles Matthias. My friends call me Matt the Rat."

I knew that name. "I've heard of you." I said. "You're a writer, aren't you?"

"Sure am, and so are you."

"How did you know that?"

"I recognized you from where you cast yourself as a character in your comic book series about the alien clouds."

"Oh. Ppprrrrr... Cool."

"So what about this dinosaur guy?" asked Jesse. "Are we gonna go say 'Hi' or what?

I shrugged. "Couldn't hoit." I replied.

So Jesse, Matt the Rat and I went over and forcibly cheered up the stranger. His name turned out to be Gornul Eaves, and he was an inanimorph. Seems he wasn't a dinosaur at all. He was actually a dragon made out of clay.

We became fast friends in only a few minutes. He turned out to be a very likeable fellow.

It felt so good to cheer him up that we decided to bring him along and try to cheer up Xander.

"Truth is, I never had a girlfriend." said Xander. "I was just telling Raven that the reason I'm so upset is: my car just got blown up."

"Really?" said Jesse. "That must have been frightening."

"It was. That was my home."

"You live out of your car?"

Xander nodded sadly. "I'm at the West street shelter now."

"That's a good place to be." said Jesse. "Your in good hands with Splendor."

"I just thought of something!" I exclaimed. "Jon and Maxine are renting me that extra cabin they have up north. They're only charging me a dollar a month. I was going to use it this summer. My lease gives me the option to sublet. Would you like to stay there for a while?"

Xander smiled in amazed gratitude. "That's a really generous offer." he said. "But I do have to work and I have no way to commute."


"Thanks for the offer, though, and thanks for coming over to talk. I didn't think anybody here knew I existed.

Gornul smiled. "It's like I just found out." He said. "There's a welcome here if you just let people know who you are." Oh dear."

"What's wrong?"

"That coke is seeping through my clay. Excuse me while I go and empty myself."

Gornul trudged off to the men's room, trailing little brown dots across the floor.

Chuckling, I ordered another Virgin Mary and settled on a stool to watch my friends enjoying themselves. I had made three new friends today and cheered two lonely individuals significantly.

THAT was a worthwhile pursuit. I wasn't bored anymore.

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