by Oren the Otter

He wasn't here for the drinks. He wasn't here for the company. No one
knew him anyway. No one had ever bothered to get to know him.
Gornul Eaves had no idea why he was here, actually. Perhaps it was simply
because he had nowhere else to go.
He sat in the darkest corner of the bar and observed the patrons slapping
each other on the back, playing games, playing jokes and laughing together.
He kept to himself and sipped his water. It was fortunate that he needed
nothing more than water now. He couldn't pay for anything else. No one
wants to hire a dragon. Especially not one like Gornul.
He sat there brooding, staring into his water glass and suddenly felt a
bump on his right. He looked up to see a kangaroo on the bench next to
him. He felt a bump on the left and glanced over to see an otter. Beside
the otter, a rat slid into place.
"Um... hello." said Gornul with a look of confusion.
"Hi. I'm Oren This is Jesse-Roo and Matt the Rat."
"Hi. Gornul Eaves."
Jesse called to Edwina. "Four cokes, Ed!"
"None for me, thanks." said Gornul.
"Ppprrrr.. You don't like Coke?" asked Oren.
The dragon shook his head. "It's not that. I can't drink anything but
water, and that only to keep from drying out."
"Drying out?" Matt echoed.
Gornul nodded. "If I don't drink water, I get as hard as a rock."
"I don't understand."
Gornul pulled off one of his fingers. Everybody jumped. He then calmly,
neatly, replaced the finger. "I'm an inanimorph." he explained. "I'm not
made out of flesh and blood. I'm clay."
"Hey, wow! So you can shape yourself into whatever you want?"
"Not quite. Sure, I could be sculpted, but I keep coming back to this.
That's the C in SCABS. Chronic."
We all nodded. "So..." said Jesse. "Are you new around here?"
"So what brings you to the Pig?" asked Matt. "Looking for some other
SCABs to make friends with?"
Gornul shook his head. "I don't expect to make any friends. I'm far more
freakish than even most SCABS. No one wants to fraternize with me."
I broke out in laughter. Gornul looked at me funny until I explained. "I
used to be a major misfit among SCABs. I was... well, I won't go into what
I was, but I could pass for a norm. Most SCABs got offended that I counted
myself among them. This place was the exception. You'll find that you
always have a welcome here if you just go and tell people who you are."
"I tried that once. I went to shake the hand of that deermorph over
there. Knocked his beer over by mistake. He hasn't spoken to me since."
Edwina brought the drinks to the table. "Sorry to keep you boys waiting.
Four Cokes, no alcohol."
Oren pursed his lips. "Sure, Ed. Rub it in." he said. Edwina only winked.
Gornul decided to take the tiniest sip of cola. It would probably mess up
his clay for a while, but it felt good on his tongue, and tasted as
wonderful as he remembered. "So tell me about yourselves." said Gornul,
already feeling friendlier.
"Well," said Oren. "I'm a comic book artist and amateur scientist,
Jesse's a musician, and Matt the rat here is a... what are you, Matt?"
"I'm a novelist, you silly otter."
Gornul sighed. "I'm not much of an artist of any type." he said.
"You don't have to be."
"I wish I was, though. I mean, I get these great ideas all the time, but
I just can't get them down on paper."
"We could help you." said Oren.
"You could?"
"Sure! Couldn't we guys?"
Jesse and Matt nodded.
"You'd do that for me?"
"Why not?"
Gornul chuckled. "We just met, although I can tell we're going to be
friends. I haven't done anything for you guys, though."
"There is something you can do for us." said Jesse."
"What's that?"
"See that white fox over there nursing a glass of milk? He looks like he
could use some cheering up. How about joining us in brightening his spirits?"
The clay dragon smiled. He had a reason for being here, now. He was
going to like it here.

* * *
Copyright 1998 by Oren the Otter. If you want to post this
anywhere else, please ask for permission first. Thank you.
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