The Laws of Barrelbottom

“Do not utter that phrase. All of Barrelbottom shall declaim you the bringer of plague and suffering.” Bertha the Genteel Viking Queen sipped daintily at her tea, her large horned helmet sitting at a jaunty angle on her head. She stared daggers at Suzanne.

“I don’t care.” She shrugged. Tonight she wore a gold sequin flapper dress that complimented her dark bobbed hair. Before her sat two empty martini glasses. Suzanne couldn’t wipe that stupid grin off her face. “They all say he’s a gentleman. My rent is paid up. I’m finally moving on from my story.” She sang, “I think my life is finally coming together!”

Bertha clamped two hands the size of hams over her ears. “I have warned you, Suzanne, do not utter such a curse within my hearing!”

“Bertha, you’re so superstitious!”

“Tis not superstitious to know the Laws of Story! When a character has her life in order, then it shall scatter like dandelion seeds in the wind!” Bertha stood from the café table. “I shall not be in proximity when the Law takes you. I shall pray to Wotan that the stories are gentle with you, dear one.”

Bertha turned and strode stiffly out of the pink café, her fur cloak vanishing out the door.

Suzanne raised her hand for the waiter, a shifty fellow in a tuxedo and trench coat. “Can I get another one of these? Martini? Just the basic. Thanks, hon.”

The waiter raised a mysterious black eyebrow. “Perhaps madam should consider. Three martinis are often sufficient to cause… disasters.”

“Shush, you. I’m from a gangster story. I can’t get drunk unless it’s at a part pivotal to the plot.”

The waiter stood. “Very well, madam.”

Really? Get drunk? Never happen. Not anymore. Ever since Suzanne got kicked out of that awful gangster book, her life had gone nowhere. Heck, the author had even had her date some bland c-list character, a musician in the same bar. But now, she was finally starting to break out of the mold.

Magisaur had asked her out!

All the ladies said he was a true romantic. True, he was a dinosaur, and that might pose some problems down the road, but to go on an actual date!

The waiter returned. “Madam.”

“Thanks, hon.”

He nodded and retreated to his other tables.

The bell over the door jingled as someone came into the busy café. Suzanne glanced up.

No. No way.

Apparently the author had been busy. Apparently he’d cut some other people.

Black-Note Benny stood in the doorway, gazing over the sea of customers.

Of course her old boyfriend would be back. The one she never broke up with, because she got written out. And now he was written out.

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe he’d moved on.

As he looked around, he caught her gaze. His eyes slipped past her.

Maybe he wouldn’t notice!

Nope. His eyes shot back. They widened. He almost fell down. He darted to her table. “Suzanne!”

“Uh, hey, Benny.”


“That’s my name. Come on. Sit down.”


“We got that part. Come on. You’re making people look at us.”

“But… that’s right! He replaced you with someone else! That means – oh, Suzanne! I thought I was alone with my dimwit sister, but you’re here, too! That means – that means we can start over!”


This is a Barrelbottom Tale. 


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