The Opening Act

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by Scott Holliday


A single spotlight flares up, casting a wide circle of light upon the center crease of the curtains.  “Straight from the jeweled stages of Terledrom, we bring you the astonishing comedy duo that you've all heard about!  RolyPoly and Ker-Plunk!”

There are no cheers.  A few of the more outspoken patrons groan.  A pair of yazirians near the back leave a tip on their table and beat a hasty retreat.  And yet, when the curtains open, most of the audience is already smiling.  If nothing else, tomorrow they will be able to brag about the ordeal to friends and family.

RolyPoly is not large for a Dral, and all his mass is in the air since he only has one leg and four heads.  Obviously, six of the eyespots are fakes.  But all four of the upper limbs move their faces in sync, so there's no way to tell which one is which.  His skin has been dyed a garish mix of pink and green.  He's also naked, which is against the law here even for Dralasites.  A few of the women in the room avert their eyes and blush in counterfeit modesty.

In contrast, Ker-Plunk is fully clothed in layers of black and gold cloth studded with sparkling gemstones.  Even her antennae are adorned with hanging jewels.  In each hand, she holds a waving silvery pom-pom, an ancient human ritual device intended for dancing and sports events. 

Neither one has a microphone visible, but it could easily be hidden among Ker-Plunk's jewelry or somewhere inside RolyPoly.  The two pause, perhaps expecting a reaction from the audience.  But this is not Terledrom, and the crowd remains silent.

Ker-Plunk speaks first.  “Tough audience tonight RP!”

One of RolyPoly's heads says, “they're just slow.  Give them time to warm up.”

“What do you call a place where everyone is slow to speak?”

A different head responds, “A drawler-site?”

“You think that was funny?”

“What do I look like?  A droll-a-sight?”

There are a few groans before Ker-Plunk continues.  “Maybe this crowd is all business?”

“Brusque with a Vrusk?”

“We can't all be as friendly as you.  Can you imagine what they'd call me?”

“An amorous lady Vrusk?  I'd call you a Frisk.”

“You're the one all painted up for the party, can you imagine if a human did that?”

RolyPoly switches one of his heads for his leg, revealing that this one too has a face.  It even has fake nose and glasses.  “We could call him a hue-man.”

“At least you aren't singing about it this time.”

“I'm not a hummin' either.”

“How do you come up with those stupid human jokes?”

“You have to act paranoid!  It's just like they named their home system: They See Us!”

Ker-Plunk pauses in mock despair, “Sometimes I wish you were a robot.  At least then you'd have hands.”

The rearmost head extrudes a wrench.  “You'd have to give me tech-knuckle-support.”

“Or I could legally wave goodbye and throw you into the ocean.”

“Then, if I had a boat, I'd be a yacht-sea-rian.”

“So many groans!  But nobody's laughing. Maybe we should send you on a ship back to Fromeltar.”

“That's funny.  You're the one with the eggs, but you want me to enter the boid.”

“Well, before we go, I at least want to get to the meat of this act!”

“Meat?  Oh no!  Not that yak-sear-ian joke again!”

“I want to tell at least one joke!”

There is a pause.  The room grows quiet.  RolyPoly nods to Ker-Plunk with one of his heads.  The spotlight focuses in on her making her jewelry sparkle like a holoflare.

“Finally, I get my chance!”  She shakes her pom-poms in triumph and gives the Vrusk body-language equivalent of an evil smile, “A robot captures an Ul-Mor, a Kurabanda, and an Edestekai.  Since it wasn't programmed regarding what to do with captives, it ties them to the blades of it's owner's jetcopter.  But keep in mind, this isn't just any ordinary jetcopter!  It's been souped up with an enhanced type 4 parabattery for extra power.”

Even RolyPoly looks puzzled, “All right...”

“So, what do you think they say when the owner shows up and turns the ignition?”

Another pause for dramatic effect.  RolyPoly finally shrugs.