The idea for this story came to mind when Google prompted me to review a restaurant atara
and I had visited the day before.
Also, I have attached the whole chapter of Adulterous Malfeasance!
under a cut at the end of the story in case you were interested in reading it. I'd originally included it in its entirety at the start of this story, but it dragged down the pace a bit at the start.
Masterplonq Theatre PresentsHouse of Sharts
Parte the Seventh: Adulterous Malfeasance!
The door to the bedchamber of Reginald Borborygmus, Earl of Shartsbury slammed open with a sharp retort that left it shaking in its moorings.
"Ah ha," bellowed Lady Adderley Borborygmus as she leaped into the room with a wet, indignant shart and levelled an accusing finger in the direction of her husband. In her other hand, the Duchess of Shartsbury clutched a large blunderbuss - its hammer cocked for business - against her ample bosom. "Long have I suspected your infidelity, and now I have caught you red-handed in the arms and skanky womanhood of a trollop."
The earl squeaked out a shart of surprise, and though he had his own manly blunderbuss buried to its buttstock in the fleshy holster of his paramour, he managed to roll quickly onto his back and toss the sheets over her in a smooth motion.
"What is the meaning of this?" he bellowed in false bravado as his eye fell upon, and followed, every nervous twitch of his angry wife's finger up on the trigger of the weapon in her hand. He gave a deep, rumbling shart more in keeping with his station and hastily said, "I do not know what you think it is that you saw here, my dearest, but I assure you that what you think you have seen is not what it appears to be!"
"What I have seen," said the countess icily, "is a strumpet in your bed, covered with sweaty sheets from her knobbly peasant knees on up." She waggled the flared tip of the gun in the earl's direction. "Move the sheets aside so that I may look on the full visage of this sloven hussy from the village with whom you chose to break the sanctity of our marriage vows."
"Hussy, indeed!" shrieked the woman from beneath the covers with a loose shart of indignity. She threw aside the bedsheets and leapt to her feet so that she could confront the other woman in her full, naked glory. "Look upon not just the visage, but the body of the woman who could satisfy your poor husband in ways that a chaste bitch like you could not!"
Now it was the duchess's turn to give a long, sloppy shart of surprise. She took a step back and clutched her arms in an X across her breasts. "My sister
," she cried.
Plonq rocked back in his seat, interlocking his fingers in front of himself to crack his knuckles loudly. He stretched, yawned, and then leaned forward again with his elbows on the table to re-read what he had just written. The little cat reached for his coffee and on noticing that the cup was empty, he shoved it absently to the edge of the table to signal for a refill without taking his eyes from the laptop screen. The chapter was progressing well, but the action did not play out on the screen with the same intensity as it had in his mind. He pondered on that for a moment, and then decided that he could probably fix it with a few more sharts.
"More coffee, please," he mewled absently when he saw a body of what he assumed to be a waitperson out of the corner of his eye.
"It is you," rumbled a voice from the nearby body. The snow leopard did not move his head, but his eyes slowly scanned left and up to take in the speaker next to him. Standing by his table was a tall, suited crocodile that the feline did not recognize, holding a napkin and a fork.
"Sorry," he mewled politely, "do I know you?"
"You should, but the important thing is that I
," said the crocodile, flashing way more teeth than the cat preferred to see in such close proximity. "You were in here last week, and you left that Yelp review."
The feline pushed back his chair a bit from the table, grabbed it by the edges and bounce-shuffled it to turn slightly toward the other speaker. He rubbed his chin in thought while he eyed the the crocodile up and down. "Sorry," he said, "I'm going to need a reminder. I write a lot of Yelp reviews. Every time I dine out, it pesters me for a review as I leave the restaurant, so I write a review." He shrugged. "It's not like anybody reads those anyway. People just look at stars."
"I read them," said the crocodile tersely. "I read every review, as does the owner of the restaurant. After your review he had some ... questions for me." He pulled his phone out of his shirt pocket and held it up. "Here," he said, "let me refresh your memory." The crocodile tapped and scrolled the screen, then began to read aloud.
"I dined at The Garrotted Cow
this evening, and here is a written review to fulfil my implied terms of service with Yelp. The restaurant occupies a physical space. There are tables and chairs. The food was adequately nourishing and did not taste of vomitus and dirt. The wait staff masked their disdain for me under a passable veneer of friendliness, and I left a sufficient tip to give the appearance of being satisfied with the food and service. This restaurant receives three and one half stars from me. It would have been four stars, but the crocodile standing at the back of the house is wearing a neck tie that is an affront to dignity."
"Ah!" said the snow leopard with a firm nod. He waggled his index finger at the crocodile. "If I affix a hideous neck tie to you in my mind's eye, I remember you." He tapped his muzzle in thought. "Why are you not wearing it today? Nobody wears a necktie that ugly unless it holds significant sentimental value."
"It was a gift from my mother," said the crocodile through his teeth (so many teeth!
). "I am not wearing it today because the owner banned neck ties after your review."
"Oh, I'm sorry," said the snow leopard, looking and sounding truly contrite. "Were you not your mother's favourite child?"
"No. Wait, what? How is that relevant to anything?" said the crocodile. "Look, I'm not wearing the tie now, so would you consider raising your rating to four stars? Our performance gets reviewed on the star ratings that happen in our shift."
Plonq stared thoughtfully at the big reptile for several beats, and then he glanced at his empty coffee cup, and back up at the waiter. "I'm not sure if the service is up to four stars now," he said thoughtfully. "I am still waiting for a refill on my coffee."
"Agh," said the waiter, clasping his free hand over his eyes and shaking his head. He rapped the table next to the cup with his hand that was clutching the fork and napkin. "Look, if change your rating for me now, I'll bring you a whole carafe of coffee and comp it."
"Oh!" said the snow leopard, ears perking up at that. "Free coffee is always nice. Okay, you have a deal." The little cat scooted his chair around to face the table again and pulled his laptop closer. While the crocodile watched, he called up Yelp and began to edit his entry.
"Upon further reflection, I am going to overlook the soul-crushingly ugly neck tie worn by the crocodile and increase my rating to four stars. I am making this edit of my own volition, and not because they have promised me free coffee and the large, intimidating crocodile is standing over me and holding a fork."
"Hey," protested the crocodile. He waved the fork in the general direction of one of the other tables. "I'm just running this over to that other table because they requested another fork."
The snow leopard's eyes followed every motion of the fork before Plonq turned his attention back to the laptop and amended his entry. "...standing over me and
brandishing a fork."
"I am not brandishing anything
." The crocodile hissed, but he caught himself quickly and smoothed both his suit jacket and his expression. "I'm sorry if the fork is causing you alarm, sir. Look, I'll put it safely in my pocket." The big lizard slid the fork and napkin into his jacket pocket and patted it flat. "There you go, it's safely put away in my pocket."
The feline blinked up at the waiter. He glanced at the suit pocket briefly before he shrugged and began to edit his entry once more. "...standing over me and advising me that he is in possession of a concealed fork." He clicked the save button and sat back with a sigh. He stared mutely up at the waiter, who stared dumbly back at him for several awkward seconds. Neither moved, save a slight twitch that seemed to have developed in the crocodile's left eye. Plonq broke the silence first. "Can I please get my refill now?"
The waiter blinked rapidly at the snow leopard in disbelief before reaching behind himself to pull over a chair from a neighbouring table. He lowered his scaly mass into the chair, straddling it backward and crossing his arms over the top.
"I'm not going anywhere until you explain why you are throwing me under the bus like this. What did I do to deserve that kind of write-up in your Yelp review?"
Plonq drummed his fingertips together and looked to be considering his answer. "Well..." he said, and then he stopped again and took in the size of the waiter before he decided to say his bit.
"For starters, you are not a very good waiter."
"How can you say that? You don't know
me," said the crocodile defensively. "I've been waiting on people for most of my adult life. I can anticipate what a customer wants before they even identify the need for themselves. I've won multiple awards for being waiter of the year at fancier restaurants than this one." He paused for breath, and then carried on. "I've learned the art of being friendly and helpful to the best and the worst. I can disarm even the most unreasonable customer who complains that our fried halibut tastes too fried
. I can be courteous and respectful to somebody, even when they kill me a bit inside by un-ironically ordering gluten-free water."
He leaned forward, pressing his chest into the back of the chair and bringing his toothy muzzle uncomfortably close to the feline's face. "Tell me how you can justify calling me a bad waiter."
Plonq picked up his empty coffee up. "Two telling things are that I am still waiting on a refill," he motioned over his shoulder with a point of his thumb, "and the table over there is still waiting for their fork."
An obese panda at the table he'd thumbed toward waved eagerly at them. "Fork, please!" he called.
"Oh, crap," said the waiter as his reptilian eye went wide and he clapped his hand to his suit pocket. He pulled out the fork and now-crumpled napkin and stared at them aghast. "Look at what you made me do..." he hissed, but a hand clamped firmly on his shoulder before he could finish.
"I'll handle this, Josh," said a swarthy, bespectacled, suit-wearing badger. He snatched the napkin and fork out of the waiter's hand and bustled over to the waiting table. Plonq did not hear what the panda asked the badger, but he heard the latter assuring the panda that the fork was designed for one with low-carb needs. Plonq turned back to the waiter to see the lizard virtually deflating into his chair.
"That's the owner," he said softly. "I am so done for now. I hope you're happy."
"I'd be happier if I had some more coffee."
The crocodile gaped at the feline, but before he could muster a retort, the badger had returned. "Hey Josh, you're looking a bit frazzled. I can cover your tables for a bit if you want to take a break." He clapped the crocodile soundly on the back. "Good job on the 4-star rating. You're my best."
"But," said the waiter, clearly confused, "I mean, didn't you read...?"
"Shoo!" said the badger, waving at the crocodile with the back of his hands. "Who bothers reading the good reviews? Four stars are four stars. Go fetch yourself a coffee and grab some fresh air."
"Coffee," mewled the snow leopard plaintively. He cupped his coffee mug in both hands and held it up to the owner, drooping his whiskers in the manner of a cat who needed more coffee.
"Oh dear, I see you're out," said the owner, "let me go right that for you." As he turned and made a beeline for the coffee station, the poor crocodile slowly rose, looking back and forth between the snow leopard and his boss. Plonq just gave his head a little tilt and shrugged at him. Not wanting to jinx his luck, the waiter quickly slid the absconded chair back into its rightful place at its original table and high-tailed it away.
Moments later the badger returned with a carafe of coffee and topped up the snow leopard's cup. When he noticed that the crocodile was gone, he leaned in close while he poured the coffee.
"That bit with the fork was really funny," he said softly, "but if I ask really nicely, would you consider editing it out? Josh is a good kid, but he can be a little fragile at times."
Plonq held up his left hand with the index finger extended and wordlessly added a splash of cream to his coffee. He took a measured slurp of the brew, swished it around in his mouth and then swallowed. Finally he lowered his finger and gave a curt nod.
"Okay," he said. "I only added that bit because he was all up in my face while I was updating it."
The badger laughed. "I can imagine," he chortled. "I think I may have teased him a bit too much about the tie after I saw your first review." The badger extended his arm and gave the snow leopard a hearty handshake. "Don't worry about the bill - this one's on us for being a good sport about things."
When the badger left, the cat settled back in his chair to sip his fresh coffee, and turned his mind back to sharts.
( Adulterous Malfeasance!Collapse )