Author's Note: So . . . this happened. I realized I hadn't been giving Rock'n'Roll enough love and started toying with his character, but then Dusty butted in. Eventually I just wound them up and let them do whatever they wanted to do, and what resulted was the slow breakdown of relations between the nations of Tadur and McConnel.
Disclaimer: G.I. Joe and all associated characters and concepts are property of Hasbro Inc, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.
Rock on a Roll
by Totenkinder Madchen
Date: December 21st, 1987
Place: O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL
Time: 6:07 PM
"Penny for your thoughts, Rock."
" . . what about it?"
"It's not meat. It's not vegetables. What is it?"
That got a raised eyebrow from Rock'n'Roll, who pivoted in his plastic airport seat to aim his quizzical look at Dusty. "What?"
"Same principle as Jello. It's squishy, artificial, and supposedly tastes like something it isn't." Dusty slouched a little in his own seat, trying and failing to get comfortable.
"You eat lizards, man. Sue me if I don't trust your opinion on this one."
"Hey, I would've thought you'd be in favor of lizards. Free-range, all-natural, organic, nonendangered and freshly-caught . . ." Dusty slouched a little more, a small grin beginning to appear on his face. A four-hour snow delay in a civilian airport had been wearing on his normally amiable attitude (plus, some woman in an expensive jacket had taken one look at his heavy tan and decided to educate him about the perils of sunbeds and skin cancer), but arguing about anything was a nice change from sitting there and just waiting for their flight to be called.
Besides, that same woman was now seated two rows over from them, and had been eavesdropping rather obviously for about five minutes now. When Dusty began to rhapsodize about the virtues of fresh-caught lizard, she spontaneously decided that the seats on the other side of the waiting area would be much more comfortable.
Rock'n'Roll shook his head. "I don't eat anything that's still kicking."
"Really? What about when it's a matter of survival?"
" . . . It's seriously a matter of survival to eat something while it's still alive? You can't break its neck or somethin' first? What the hell kind of upbringing did you have?"
Dusty was about to reply when a burst of static crackled over the intercom, making the loungeful of assembled travelers wince and cover their ears. The two Joes sat up a little straighter, hoping for good news. The intercom crackled again.
"Mhrpaow mmuffphrl rhommphfaa helmayh," the voice over the intercom announced. Dusty and Rock'n'Roll exchanged glances.
"We should probably do what they said," Rock'n'Roll noted after a moment of silence.
Time: 7:19 PM
"Are we still delayed?" Rock asked.
Dusty craned his head. "The board says it's gonna be at least another hour. The storm's messing everything up."
"Aw, fuck, man. Storms always mess everything up."
"You're not gonna catch me disagreeing."
"You do know what I actually meant by that, right?"
"Would it happen to be a coded reference to a certain guy who thinks it's funny to hide behind a potted plant for four hours just so he can scare the crap out of passing Joes?"
"Dude, plausible deniability!"
"We're hundreds of miles away from base. Who's gonna find out?"
"The guy with international contacts, super-hearing and friends in international terrorism?"
" . . . point."
Time: 8:21 PM
"Let's pick a different game. Gin rummy?"
" . . . you play gin rummy?"
"Is that a problem?"
"It's an old-lady game. My grandma plays gin rummy. You're from Las Vegas, and you can't play a better game than that?"
"You know I spent most of my time in the desert. It's not as if the coyotes are very good at reading tells."
"Aw, fuck. Not again."
"Again with the desert, man. Change the tune for once."
"Hey, it's my job-"
"And mine is to shoot shit, but you don't see that being my excuse for not being able to play poker. You need a hobby. One that doesn't involve deserts."
"Speaking of grandmas, you're starting to sound like mine."
"Now I'm curious. Hey, what're you going to do when you leave the service, anyway? 'Guy who spent a lot of time in the ass end of nowhere' doesn't really look good on the resume."
"Hadn't really thought about it. Buy a tin shack in Utah and shoot cans off fences, maybe."
"Really? That's what I thought Beach Head and Cross-Country were gonna do."
"Nah. Beach is more the 'trailer parked halfway up a godforsaken mountain, dead squirrels on the door' kind of guy, I think. How about you? Surfing and playing bass starts to look pretty pathetic when you hit forty, y'know."
"Me? I'm staying in. Work my way up the ranks, get myself a cushy posting . . . or if not, fuck up and get me and my surfboard a transfer to Okinawa."
"They've got surfing in Okinawa?"
"They've got water. I'll make it happen."
Time: 9:41 PM
"The blonde at the coffee shop is checking us out."
"Your point being?"
"My point being . . . I don't give a damn."
"So why'd you bring it up?"
"It's this airport, man. I think it's sucking my life out. There's a hot barista girl giving me the invade-my-territory eye, and I'm too tired to give a damn."
A snort from Dusty. "That's not the airport, Rock. That's life. You're bored and tired and on edge, so you get irritated. Anyway, you said she was checking us out."
"Fuck off, I saw her first. And you get laid enough already."
"Well, maybe if you followed my example, you would too."
"Your example? Eating lizards, you mean?"
"No. Confidence and kindness. Women may respond initially to a show of aggression, but it never lasts."
" . . . you sound like you're talking about a pet."
"Hey, humans are animals. And we're social creatures. It's in our nature—well, most of our natures, anyway, I don't have a clue about Storm Shadow—to seek out friendly companionship. You could go over there looking for a quick screw in the bathroom, or I could go over there and tell her a pretty woman like her is a wonderful thing to see in the middle of this hellhole of an airport. See which one of us she likes better at the end of the night."
"Hah! I knew it!"
"You sappy motherfucker!"
" . . . the hell are you talking about?"
"This is too fucking funny. Thanks, man—you just won me fifty bucks off Ace. We knew you were marshmallow under that whole 'look at me, I eat lizards' shit."
"Sorry, not my type."
Time: 10:57 PM.
"Hurunagh phaa lurphom hall reggha."
"All hail Cthulhu!"
"Dammit, Rock, I'm trying to sleep over here!"
"No you're not."
"Of course I'm not. Whoever's doing the announcements is clearly dealing with some kind of demonic possession, and you expect me not to make fun of that shit? That's like asking me not to breathe, man."
"Well, if you couldn't breathe, you couldn't talk either. And then I'd be able to get some sleep."
"Aren't you mister look-at-me, I-can-survive-anywhere-and-sleep-while-riding-a-ca mel?"
"Camels are more comfortable than these seats. And at least if I was riding one I'd be getting somewhere, instead of listening to your crappy idea of humor."
"Fuck, somebody's got his keffiyah in a knot."
" . . . how the hell are you supposed to wear one if you don't knot it?"
"You are too fucking literal-minded. Relax. Chill out, dude. Embrace the irony and stupidity of it all. The world's gonna end in twenty-five years anyway; you really want to spend your last quarter-century on Earth complaining about the way I talk?"
"If we're still in this airport in twenty-five years, I'll have killed you long ago. Anyway, the world is not going to end."
"Sure it is. Today's December 21st, right? Well, the world ends on December 21st, 2012. Twenty-five years exactly."
" . . . you got weed through the security check, didn't you."
"Not this time. You know Lifeline's gonna spring those 'random' drug tests on us when we get back. But seriously, everyone's talking about it! The Mayan calendar runs out in 2012, and the world ends."
"Because the Mayans said it would?"
"Yep. There was a prophecy and everything."
"If the Mayans could predict the future, why didn't they see Cortez coming?"
"Hey, the Mayans were killed by climate change!"
"Scientific fact, asshole. Look it up."
Time: 12:42 AM
"Hall board—zzk—flight 20—shht—alibu, California—"
"Holy shit, that's us! Wake up, dude!"
"I said wake up! They're finally calling our flight!"
"You watch that tone, man. I don't want you talking like that to my mom."
"Rock, I'm not going to be rude to your mom. I'm just tired. It happens. I'd rather be in the Rub' al Khali right now."
"Well, in four hours you'll be in Malibu. It's awesome, man, you're gonna love it. Best surfing ever, even at Christmas."
"Yeah. You gotta watch out for the sharks, though. When you're out there in a wetsuit, they kinda see you as a shrink-wrapped snack."
" . . . I don't like sharks."
"You'll get used to 'em."
"I don't like surfing."
"I don't like water."
"Then why the hell are you coming home with me?"
"Because you gave me the puppydog eyes and said you needed somebody stable for your grandma to pick on instead of you."
"Hah! Forgot about that. Oh, right. You're dead, man. So dead."
"Merry Christmas to you too."