Tobias Bilge had, up until that point, led a most rotten life. He had been born to parents who didn't love him, to be sold to slavers who couldn't sell him, to be captured by pirates who didn't read to him as a child, to be pawned off the orphanage who didn't clothe him, to be captured again by pirates, who all laughed when they realized their blunder, to be or not to be, to be taken to court by his wench of a wife for his...indiscretions. For him to be experiencing now such good fortune was a rather rare and wonderful thing indeed.
"What a wonderful thing indeed," Tobias said to himself, overplaying a worn-out joke in this serial. "Today is the first day of the rest of my life."
"Mine too," a midget pointing to his new hat said, as he rode a tiny bicycle through Tobias' legs.
Tobias smiled a stupid grin. "Only in Bask. I love it!" he said. "Now, to my first day as ale-tester."
Tobias entered a saloon named The Dirty Oyster and sat down at the bar. A bartender, wearing two eye patches, stumbled over to him, knocking numerous bottles off of his bar onto the floor as he felt his way.
"Can I help you?" he asked, facing the back of the bar.
"Yes, you can," Tobias said. "I am here on appointment from Fenni Frog, of City Hall. I'm to test your ale."
"Test my ale?" the bartender asked. "But why?"
"To make sure you are not doing anything untoward," Tobias answered.
"Listen here," the bartender said, pointing his finger angrily at the back of the bar, "I don't appreciate you insinuatin' such things! Here!" he said, handing a beer angrily out to a shelf of liquor. Go ahead, try it."
"I will, just turn around," Tobias said politely.
"Excuse me?" the bartender asked.
"I said, turn around," Tobias repeated.
"Fine, fine, I won't watch you," the bartender said. He turned around to face Tobias.
"Good sirrah, you have mistaken my location. I am only facing you now," Tobias said.
"Oh, a wise one, huh?" the bartender huffed. "Making fun of my face for not having eyeballs, eh? I won't stand for it, not even if you are with City Hall."
"Tobias!" cried Oliver, pouncing into the bar like a nible gnome. "I've been looking for you everywhere!"
"I've been here," Tobias said. "Unfortunately. I'm trying to do my job, but this man is making it difficult."
"What's the problem?" Oliver asked the bartender.
"The problem is that your friend here is making fun of my eyesight!" the bartender said, pointing an accusatory finger at the cash register.
Oliver gave Tobias a knowing look. "I'm sorry," he said to the bartender, "but do you think I could have a drink?"
"Certainly. But none for your friend," the bartender said. He handed out a bottle for Oliver, but dropped it. It shattered. He handed out another one, but dropped it, and it shattered. He handed out a third, but dropped it and it shattered too. He handed out a fourth, but dropped it, but it didn't break, but then Oliver picked it up and dropped it and it shattered. So then the bartender handed out another one, and Oliver managed to hang on to it.
"Thanks!" Oliver said. He slipped and fell in the pool of beer and then got up and made it back to the bar where Tobias was waiting.
"That was the most magnificent display of stupidity that I have ever seen," Tobias said. He took the beer from Oliver and dropped it, and it shattered. "Shit."
"Here," Oliver said, wringing his shirt out into a cup. "Try this." He handed the shirt-beer to Tobias.
"Bottoms up!" Tobias said. Oliver fell out of his chair onto his stomach.
"Well, how is it?" Oliver asked as he climbed up the rungs of his stool.
"This scene? Terrible. The beer? Actually, pretty good," Tobias said. "Yes, I believe this place is up to code." He announced as he stood up to leave. "Barkeep, I'll see you next time."
"You bastard!" the bartender roared, heaving a heavy punch at the waitress next to him.
"Ow!" she howled.
"Sorry, love," the bartender apologized.
"Bye-ee!" Oliver called, scampering out of the bar into the sunlight.
"Paid to taste ale!" Tobias cried, joining his friend on the bustling sidewalk. "Wonderful me!"
"Wonderful indeed, old Toby. And I've good news as well," Oliver said.
"And what is that, my finite friend?" Tobias asked.
"I found us a place to stay! No more garbage dump for you and I!" Oliver sang.
"I believe it is you and me," Tobias said.
"Too bad, you can have the garbage dump then!" Oliver sang.
"Sorry, old chum. No corrections, just perfections, I promise," Tobias said. "Oh, what a wonderful world. To think, how bad it all was! And now, I'm off to The Dead Hooker to have my second pint before one o'clock!"
Oliver and Tobias kissed each other on the cheek and said ciao, and began to part company when the sky suddenly turned dark and threatening.
"Oh no," Tobias gasped. "I... I can feel her!"
"Who?" Oliver asked.
"My... my..." Tobias stuttered.
"Your wife!" Plessy Bilge cackled, appearing in a whirlwind of dead leaves.
"Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Tobias cried.
NEXT TIME: THERE'D BETTER NOT BE A NEXT TIME