Inches Nitely and the Lizard’s Id by Tim Rocks
“Would you look at that!” said a Boomer man to his wife as the Camaro peeled out in the parking lot. “Nice of them to visit, I suppose, but they could at least have the decency to act like they enjoy it…”
Back on the road. Inches tossing ad pages and articles onto the floorboard until he held the Funnies in his hot little hands. What was left of the funnies, anyway… “What is this?” he said, his clenched hands shaking, almost tearing apart the desperately sought pages. Or page, rather. “Just one page? And it’s not even all comic strips!”
Bobby taking it in out of the corner of his eye, saying “Yeah but I kinda like the Word Jumble. Them boogers are tough, lemme tell ya… ”
“Fuck the Word Jumble!” said Inches. “And horo-fucking-scopes! That’s bullshit, dropping strips for goddamn word games and… New Age mumbo jumbo. I can’t believe this… ”
“Hey, take it easy… It’s not the Good Old Days, alright, I get it.”
“Yeah but this… ” Inches sighed, leaning back in his seat and relaxing his death grip on the travesty of a Funnies Page. “I mean, you can barely even read the word bubbles they’re so tiny. What kind of men would do this, Bobby? What kind of subhuman beasts would present this as an offering of cartoon artistry…”
“I dunno,” said Bobby. “I think they’re called ‘editors’, but I ain’t no expert on journalism.”
“Wait a minute,” said Inches, bent forward again and poring over the pathetic little postage stamps. “Where’s ‘Calvino and Hobson’? How can they not have ‘Calvino and Hobson’?”
“Shit, you’re right,” said Bobby, chuckling appreciatively. “Calvino and Hobson! You’d always see those little pissing Calvinos everywhere, I remember that…”
“Don’t tell me that fucker didn’t have some loser kids to pass the strip on to,” said Inches. “Not that it woulda been the same, but still… Can’t believe it’s gone. That guy was a stone-cold comic strip genius, my friend. Real fucking throwback to the glory days.”
“Yeah,” said Bobby. “Guess things change, don’t they. Oh well… ”
“Screw change,” said Inches. “What was his name? I bought Becky a collection, but she didn’t really get into it.”
“The fucking manga, huh,” said Bobby. Cruising along, not really sure where they were going. He guessed they should report back to El Racha, but wasn’t too crazy about that idea. Seeing as how Inches was in some messed up headspace. Liable to get them both killed if he gave El Racha any hint of this lunacy.
“Batterson. Will Batterson, that was it,” said Inches. “I wonder…”
Oh no. What now?
“I wonder where that guy is these days? I’d sure like to have a talk with him. Yeah, maybe look him up… ”
Bobby shaking his head in wonderment and dismay.
Inches saying “Yeah, might not be a bad idea. Ring up Batterson and get his take on our Lizard’s Id reboot. I am kind of a novice when it comes to the comics biz. So yeah… ”
“Kind of a novice? I’d say you’re kind of soft in the head, is more like it.”
“Listen, Bobby, you think you can track down this Oscar beatnik while I lookup Batterson?”
Bobby sighed deeply. The problem was, he didn’t want to go talk to El Racha. And he didn’t have any other plans. He generally relied on Inches to give him some direction.
The executive planning functions of his brain were rusty and covered in cobwebs. Firing them up was a pain in the ass.
“Fuck…” he said with a sigh, knowing that he would ultimately go along with whatever deranged plan Inches had.
“Great,” Inches said. “Sounds like he’s an island hopper, so you’ll get a little vacation out of it anyway. Say hi to the pretty island senoritas for me while you’re down there, okay?”
“Down there where, kemosabe? He could be anyplace!”
“So could Batterson,” said Inches. “I actually remember now, he’s some kind of recluse. Like Howard Hughes or some shit. Have to tap into my network, see where the old boy’s hiding at.”
His network’s connected to the cartoonist underground? Bobby thought but kept it to himself. With luck, it would be a dead-end and this plan would stay at batshit level Delta, not get up to bat guano Alpha. When guano was involved, so was El Racha.
They pulled up in front of a two-story faded pink motel in a neighborhood that had stopped pretending it gave a fuck about 30 years ago. Inches’ current crashpad while he was in another extended falling out with his wife. A giant rusty sign that was once Fifties cool cast a long shadow over their ride.
“Why do you wanna find that guy anyway? If Oscar’s writing, and Becky’s drawing the damn thing.” Bobby feeling himself becoming fully enmeshed in the gears of Inches’ mad plan.
“I think he’d be… ” Inches searched for the phrase “sort of an ‘artistic
conscience’ of the strip.”
“And he might give Becky some tooltips, too,” said Inches, standing up into
the blue dusk of the evening, sounds of hip-hop music rolling past, traffic noise, a woman on the second-floor walkway saying something in Spanish to her children running ahead, holding a crying baby in her arms.