“No one rejects dinosaurs. No one. Every author who has ever conceived of a story with dinosaurs retains them.” Magisaur sipped at his brightly-colored straw, allowing the alcohol to burn his throat. T-rexes really weren’t created to consume any kind of alcohol, and it always went straight to his head. “Think upon it. Any novel that exists that could include such terrible beasts chooses to do so. I am the sole rejected dinosaur. I am alone.”
The bartender shook her head, her black bobbed hair swinging. “Look, Maggie, you gotta get over this. You’re not the only dinosaur. Look, there’s some terrordactyls right over there, drinking some cornvodka.” She set another tankard of champayne in front of Magisaur and inserted a straw.
“You see? I am unable even to imbibe without the use of a straw.” He waved his useless arms. “I am a miserable specimen, Suzanne.” He slurped.
Suzanne picked up a rag and scrubbed at the bar again. “You know the only time I ever see you is when someone’s making fun of you. I hear you’re a good guy. It’d be nice to meet you when you’re not tipsier than a stereotyped private eye.”
“Mm.” Magisaur stopped sipping. “My lady, I fear you are correct. You have never seen me at my best.”
“And that’s why I mentioned it. I wanted to guilt you.” Suzanne rolled her eyes. “Hold on.” She hustled over to the terrordactyls and took some orders.
Magisaur gazed into his tankard.
“Hardly a drink befitting a king.” The voice was friendly.
“I am no king, sir. I am simply wise.” The royal beast didn’t bother shifting his gaze.
“And a wise guy like you is getting drunk? That hardly seems smart to me. But then again, no one ever accused me of having brains.”
“The Teacher advised to enjoy life while it may be found. And thus, I listen to one wiser than I.” Magisaur sipped more, letting the little bubbles tickle his massive tongue.
“Look, come take a walk with me. I got work, and you might be the right one for it.”
“Sir, I come here to drown my sorrows, not seek employment.” Magisaur finally turned his head to see who addressed him with such persistence.
Next to him at the bar sat a gentleman in plain brown slacks, a dirty white shirt, and a leather coat. A craggy face with a few days’ worth stubble smiled below a dusty fedora. He folded his hands before him. Each lengthy finger sported seven knuckles.
“Well, good,” the man replied. “I’m not looking to employ you. I don’t have the money, anyway. I said I have work. Work that might interest you.”
“I doubt that.”
“I know you’re no pauper. You hire yourself out for consulting on this or that. You don’t need pay. But I also know that you don’t cotton to anyone preying on innocent children.”
“There are superheroes upon every roof that might interest you more. I will make introductions if you seek such assistance.”
“The Mother is gone. The Orphanage at the End of the World. It’s gone.”
Magisaur’s eyes snapped onto this man’s. “Speak.”
“I take a shipment out there every few months. Toys, some food, and usually any kids that need a place. Last time I went out there… the place was empty. The only thing nearby was a dead subway.”
The beast blinked at him. “A subway? What could slay such a creature?”
“I don’t know. But I know this: If something out there is that powerful, I don’t need brawn. And I don’t need smarts. I need someone with wisdom. And that means… I could use you. And I hear you and the Mother have a history.”
A growl rumbled in the back of Magisaur’s throat. “Yes.”
“Will you help?”
“I shall accompany you. I must put my affairs in order.” He heaved himself to stand. “Suzanne.”
The bartender returned. “Yeah?”
“I shall be departing Barrelbottom soon. When I return, may I have the pleasure of your company for dinner? It would bring me joy to see your face when I am not, as you say, tipsy.”
She smiled. “Yeah.”
Magisaur turned back to the man. “Your name, sir.”
“Jeradice Massimla. Jer for short.”
“Jer, I shall return in the space of an hour. And then, we shall depart for the Asphalt Sea and the Orphanage.”
This is a Barrelbottom Tale.