A Quarrelsome Query

“U, ma man, ma main man, how’s it going?”

“Morrie, it’s Q.”

“. . . oh . . . ummm . . . hey, Q . . . numero uno, how’s living the dream?”

“Morrie, you can drop the act. I know you’ve been avoiding my calls. I had to tell your secretary I was U just to get through.”

“Q, baby, you wound me! I haven’t been ducking your calls. I’ve just been busy, real busy. You know how it is. I’m out there, every day, hitting the pavement to find you work.”

“That’s just the thing, Morrie. I haven’t had a new gig in years. So what are you doing for your thirty percent?”

“Q, come on. I work my tail off for you! But you know how it is. Things have settled down over the last hundred. There just aren’t that many new opportunities out there.”

“That’s a load of shit, Morrie, and you know it. Maybe it’s time I talk to another agent, see if Caroline thinks there’s nothing out there.”

Q, now, you don’t mean that.”

“Why wouldn’t I? No new work? Caroline got her client X-games. And I see people spelling it ‘X-treme.’ They’re fucking headlining X! X! Fifty years ago, that no-talent tepee couldn’t get work if his phonic depended on it. He was begging E to take jobs with him! It was pity work! Now he’s the fucking up-and-coming.”

“E and X have a good thing going. Is that what this is about, Q? You don’t like working with U?”

No, I’m not complaining about working with U. But come on, Morrie, I don’t need every job to be with U. Jesus, you get U solo work without me all the time!”

“Look, Q, I’m not gonna feed you a line here. We both know U is a better collaborator.”

“Fuck you, Morrie. What about qi? Sheqel? Faqir? I nailed those! And qwerty!? Find me someone who can work like that with W!”

“Q, you gotta understand—those were indie projects. When you told me you wanted to branch out from the normal trends, I told you it wasn’t a good idea. But I did what you asked. I pulled in some gigs for your ‘experimental’ phase. That may have made you the toast of the town with a few groups, but it just alienated you from the mainstream, made you come off as pretentious.

Now X? He stayed true to the brand, bided his time, and people came to him! He wasn’t pushing for the new age shit or trying to impress his fringe friends. You made me shoot us in the foot!

And U? If you had played ball like U did, I could have had you on supporting roles with the big guys: R, S, T.”

“You want to talk about supporting roles, Morrie? You’re going to pull that shit with me?! While you were doing such a fine fucking job for U, I got passed over for cucumber! Fucking CUCUMBER! How is that even possible?!”

“We talked about this. They were going in a different direction. You just weren’t a good fit.”

NOT A GOOD FIT?! NOT A GOOD FIT?! MY FUCKING NAME IS THE ENTIRE FUCKING FIRST SYLLABLE! That asshole C had to do an impression of me just to make it work!”

“You’re missing the point, Q. You were on the verge of something big then. That gig was peanuts, beneath you. Let C do his little impressions on the small stuff, save you for the major deals.”

“ . . . small stuff?! Cucumber is huge! The health nuts ran with it. The sushi people put it in everything now! Hell, the trophy wives put it on their eyes!”

“No one could have seen that coming. When that job opened, cucumber was a nobody green vegetable that tasted like water and grass. Zucchini had the market.”

“Well it doesn’t have the fucking market anymore, Morrie! You know what I hear every time I see that word? I hear C, that smug shit, ordering another margarita as he’s sitting on a beach, thinking about the royalties rolling into his bank account!”

“All right, fine, Q. You want me to spell it out for you? C was a media darling, spending all that time working with H on charity. And you? What were you doing? You were filling the tabloids. No one would touch you. I did damage control, for what it was worth. But Q, they had pictures! We were on the verge of something big, man. Was it too much to ask you to keep your descenders off of j and i’s tittles? They were lower case, for punctuation’s sake!”

“That was a set-up and you know it! How was I supposed to know they weren’t capital? You know lower case these days—they doll themselves up with a stroke here and there, and you can’t tell it’s not an ascender! I wouldn’t be surprised if C was behind it. Next time I see him, I’m going to close his counter and turn him into nothing!”

“Q, Q, Q, okay, take a comma…so what if C made good on a longshot? That’s all paragraphs ago. I’ll get you some new work, Q. You just need to be patient.”

Patience. You tell me to be patient while you let everything go by. Why isn’t it Qtube? Q-mail? The Q-phone? I pulled in QWERTY myself, got in on the ground floor, then where were you? Where was the follow-up? Everyone’s getting a piece of the tech action but me.”

“I got you QQ!”

“QQ? QQ?! You want to talk about alienating?! You put my name twice on communist Facebook! I’m double-shifting for socializing socialists and I didn’t get so much as a nickel in overtime! Thanks a million, comrade! Now no tech group will touch me!”

“It’s the age of tweets and fame, Q, brand recognition. We needed to get you out there, get some exposure. No press is bad press.”

“Oh, really? Maybe I should run that little theory by N. His agent was getting her thirty percent putting him on anything no one else would touch. Look where that got him? He’s damn-near cornered the market on negatives in a dozen languages, there’s an entire word referenced by his name that people can’t use, and he spent over a decade constantly working for fascists! Was that your plan to get me recognized?! Is that your ‘brand recognition’?”

“Hey, no one’s saying N’s agent did right by him. But it was the Third Reich too. You see T and R being type-cast now? It was work in a slow economy and international exposure.”

“ . . . ”

“Look, Q. We waited out some bad press and I’ve been easing you back into the industry. Give it time.”

“You keep saying that, Morrie. I’m tired of waiting for you. This just isn’t working anymore. Goodbye, Mor . . . ”

Wait, wait, wait. Q, come on, don’t be hasty. Look, I…yep, here it is. I got a gig for you right here.”

“ . . . ”

“Now, remember—it’s good exposure and money in the bank until we get a bigger gig. This is just a transition.”

“I’m listening.”

“And it’s Disney! We’re talking A-list company here!”

“ . . . ”

“For a new ride they have. Major press!”

“I swear to congees, Morrie, you better not be pitching me sign work for Quidditch.”

“ . . . ”

“Fuck you, Morrie.”

Race Garber

Under a variety of job titles and post-nominals, Race has written public speeches, court decisions, and formal pleas for (varying degrees of) justice. His work has been widely distributed, most often under the names of or on behalf of his previous employers. He is very proud to take credit for his own work this time.

Tyler Champion

Tyler Champion is an illustrator and designer working in Nashville, TN. He graduated from the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic art in 2010. He has worked on an array of projects including gig posters, concept art for video games, comics, shirt designs, and advertisements.

First Featured In: No. 6, winter 2016

The Adventure Issue

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