Inches Nitely and the Lizard’s Id by Tim Rocks
The Great One gave his pretty little Guatemalan nurse a big wet smack on the lips and pulled her closer to him. She tittered shyly but didn’t resist. Then–
He startled and woke up from his dream. Clatter. Racket on the stairs, mens’
voices. He tried to sit up, but the effort was too much. He collapsed back down, wondered what the hell was going on out there. Workmen maybe? Just so long as they didn’t come in here—
Damn! Knocking on his door. Couldn’t people just leave him the fuck alone? Was that too much to ask for, at his age? “Jonathan…” He tried to shout it, but it was barely a croak. Dissolving into coughs and drool.
The door creaked open. “Sorry to disturb you, sir… May we come in?” said a man silhouetted in the doorway. His Greatness tried to say “NO! Where’s Juanita?” but it came out as more unintelligible croaking. Two guys traipsed in sheepishly, looking like they’d have their hats in hand if men still wore hats, but of course, they didn’t. And where were their uniforms? Why didn’t workmen wear uniforms these days, that’s what he’d like to know.
Wait a minute… No way these were workmen. Or friends of Jonathan. Now Oscar maybe, Oscar would know guys like this. Was he back in town for some reason?
“Sir, this is a great honor for us,” said one. “We’re sorry to bother you, just wanted to pay our respects. You see, your comic strip, it was a great influence on me as a kid. Really impacted me, ya know? Made me the man I am today.”
“Yeah?” said the Great One. Not sure if he should be flattered, or brought up on charges of child abuse.
“Yessir! I used to make copies of it. Heck, I even got suspended once for drawing the Lizard on the bathroom stalls!”
Wonderful. His adoring public, a bunch of reprobates and juvenile delinquents.
“You could say it put me on the path I’m on today. And now, we’re happy to be in business with your son, continuing the legacy you started. A great honor, sir. I hope we may have your blessing.”
The Great One said “You mean you’re helping . . . wheeze, wheeze . . . Oscar?
Where is he now?… Wheeze, wheeze… Tahiti or someplace?”
Inches glanced at Bobby. Jonathan had caught up to them now, come in the room and was helping the Great One prop himself up on a pillow.
Jonathan said “No Pop, they’re, uh, they’re helping me… Long story, maybe best not to get into it right now… ”
“Who’s Oscar?” said Inches.
“Er, my brother,” Jonathan said. “Well, we should let him rest, he doesn’t like a lot of excitement… Sorry Pop, we’ll let you be…”
“Oscar,” said the Great One, now propped up and feeling a little more in command of his faculties, “is my talented son. But he’s a worthless sot! Unfortunately. If I’d had my druthers I’d o’ given the strip to him. This one here–”
But a coughing fit interrupted him. Jonathan was blushing. “Pop’s right, my brother could’ve been a great cartoonist. A great anything, he’s brilliant. But he never got over his adolescent party-animal phase.”
“Those are the only strips I read!” said the Great One. “The ones Oscar writes! Haha… Oscar is the Lizard’s Id. I mean, he has the id of a lizard. If you follow. Er, not to say you don’t try, Jonathan…”
“Thanks, Pop. Appreciate the vote of confidence.”
Inches’ eyes grew wide. He began to pace the room. “So this Oscar . . . He still writes some of the strips? And they’re genuinely good, really funny?”
“Not just funny!” said the Great One. “Deep. Insightful. Rich in human foibles and the human condition. He’s a sage, damn him.”
“That’s it!” said Inches.
“Uh, what is?” said Bobby, a cigarette dangling from his lips, flicking the wheel on his Zippo, a little flame playing around the tip. Jonathan then- “Hey, hey, do you mind? My Dad..!”
Bobby gave him a heavy-lidded look of contempt as if to say, “Dude . . . You think the long-term risks of second-hand smoke are very relevant to this geezer right now?”
Inches reached over and took the smoke from Bobby’s mouth, slipped it back in the pack in his shirt pocket. Bobby said “I was gonna put it back! What, you don’t believe me? I was…”
“Anyway, as I was saying,” Inches went on “We’ll get Oscar to come back, and make him write the strip full time… And we’ll get my baby girl to draw it!”
Silence. Just the beeping of machines and the gentle sucking of the oxygen pump for what seemed an eternity. Then it was broken, finally — by a prolonged fit of near-death sputtering from the Great One.