Louse stood at the head of the room. He was a tall, extremely furry Toon. His reddish head-fur was slicked back into a pony tail. He was wearing a vest and shoes that looked far too small for a Toon of his bulk. "Ahem," he said. Everyone else in the room ignored him, either because they were talking to one another or texting on their phones. "A-HEM!" Louse said louder. He was still ignored. "PAY ATTENTION!" he finally bellowed.
In the silence that followed, you could hear a pin drop. Or someone knocking a spoon off the snack table, which opposed to the former, actually happened. "Sorry," someone whispered, shuffling to their seat.
"Well, everyone, welcome to the group. Our motto here is I can do better, one day at a time. Most of you know each other from previous meetings, but we have a new friend with us tonight. Why don't you introduce yourself?" he said.
"What do you want me to say?" the pink-haired creature asked. "Is this like an AA meeting? My name is the Collector and I'm only here because Louse promised to stop asking me to come if I tried it once."
"That's good enough. Now, for the first part of our meeting, we all check in on how we've done this week not committing acts of villainy and the challenges we've had staying on the good path. We don't judge, we don't make comments, and we don't talk over one another. We're here to listen and uplift. And we don't check our phones while others are talking, Al," Louse said, putting a strong emphasis on the last word. The Toon roach put away his phone. "Since you have my attention, why don't you start?"
"This week, I robbed the jewelry section at a big-box store instead of a local independent jeweler," he said.
"Well, that's… a step in the right direction… but the goal is to not steal, not to only steal from big corporations. Flaps, would you like to go next? When we last checked in, you had gotten a job."
"Yeah, but I got fired. Some bratty kid insulted Dumbo and I kind of lost myself. Oh, don't worry, I didn't hurt him! Apparently, though, my employers look down upon forcing him to listen to a half an hour lecture on why Dumbo is the greatest movie ever made."
"You know what they say about Rome not being built in a day. You're trying, and you're still seeing your anger management coach. That's what matters in the end, right? Gloomy, how has the party business been lately?"
"Drunk college hipsters love ironically gloomy clowns. My schedule is booked solid."
"How uplifting! See? We can all follow Gloomy's lead and find lawful employment," Louse praised. "We just have to give it time and give ourselves understanding that sometimes we make mistakes and back slide, but in the end, we can keep moving forward."
"The nice thing about these parties is that when they pass out I can drink the rest of their beer to drown my sorrows," Gloomy threw in. Louse made a face, clearly not expecting that epilogue.
"Why don't we… um… why don't we go over to Cheryl Germ and see how things have been in the drug advertising industry?" he said, gesturing over to a seemingly empty chair. "Go on, Cheryl." He was met with silence. "Cheryl? Are you there? Huh, Cheryl seems to be gone."
"NOT IT!" all of the Toon except Louse and Collector shouted, suddenly jumping up on their chairs.
"Not… it?" Collector said in confusion, following their lead.
"All of you get down from there," Louse ordered. He sighed. "The last time Cheryl went missing at a meeting, it turned out she was inside Flaps."
"My entire trunk was stuffed up so bad I couldn't breathe for a week! And when I tried, it sounded like someone stomping on a sick trombone," Flaps said in response, right before his chair collapsed under his weight.
"So now every single time we don't know where Cheryl is, they all jump on their chairs and yell not it," Louse sighed. "Guys, how do you think this makes Cheryl feel?"
At that moment, the door behind them opened and a Toon porcupine hustled into the room. "Sorry I'm late, my bus didn't come," he said. "I'm also supposed to tell you Cheryl won't make it tonight, as she's visiting some friends in the hospital."
"Winston, it would have been very helpful to know that earlier" Al said as they all got down off their chairs.
"How has everything been going for you, Winston?"
"Pretty good. I've started dating a possum named Jen who works at a bakery. Jen sent over a bunch of stuff that was going to be thrown out as day olds," Winston said, pulling a box out of the bag he was carrying.
Louse stopped, absolutely frozen in his place. "Are those… those… doughnuts? MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!" He roared. Winston squeaked in terror, dropping the boxes and fleeing as Louse dove on them. Louse proceeded to eat all of the baked goods still in their boxes, a chair, and then he finished it off by eating the coffee maker.
When he had finished, he looked around the room, face turning red with embarrassment. "You see? We all have our bad days, even me. We can't beat ourselves up over it, though, we can only keep moving forward and resolving to try harder," he said. He then burped up the chord from the coffee maker. "Sorry about that."
"It was pretty bad coffee anyway. My minions make better coffee," Al said.
"They're- burp- they're called employees, Al, not minions. Unless they actually are minions, but they work for a different union than we do. I- excuse me, guys, I think I have to go the bathroom," he said, darting out of the room at top speed.
"That's what happens when you consume that much of that awful coffee," Al shrugged.
"Is this what usually happens at these meetings?" Collector asked.
"Pretty much, except that usually it's a fist fight that breaks up the meetings, not our mediator eating a coffee maker," Flaps said dryly.
"If we get past this point Louse makes us make goals for the next week," Winston added. "But we've only gotten past this point twice in the last year."
"So what do we do? Do we wait for him?"
"I don't know about you, but I don't want to be in the building when he passes the pot."
"I find that a very compelling argument. Do we all just go home now?"
"It'd be kind of a bummer if I rode the bus all the way over here for a two minute meeting," Winston said.
"And I parked in a flat-rate ramp so it'd be a waste of money," Flaps agreed.
"So we'll do what we usually do when the meetings end like this," Al said. "Go to karaoke!"
And that's the story of why half the Toon villains in Hollywood end up at the same karaoke bar about once a week.