29 April, 2006

A Visit from my Folks, Farshtaist?

My parents.
My parents are special. And yes, they are still alive. See... I was adopted at a very young age. I was never told what happened to my birth parents, but we never talked about it. I 'lived in the moment' and didn't really want the thoughts of the parents I have to be tarnished by stories about people I never even met.
My parents are old world. They speak in the old tongue and observe all the old rituals. They're Druids. Druish through and through.
When I was little, I was raised in the Druish faith. I wore the Yarmulke and played with my little druidldel. I also was taught one of the most descriptive and rich languages, Druiddish.
I got word that my folks were going to stop by for a visit. I krotzed myself out, and put the chinik on and made some tsimmis, just like Bubby used to make.
What follows is what we talked about during their visit. I've translated where needed for all you Goyishe kupp. Don't worry, man, it's nisht geferlich!
My mother came in. "Bubbellah! (sweetheart)" Incorporeal hug, kiss kiss. She called to my father, "Moishe Kapporeh! (Good for nothing) Get your tuchas (butt) in here and see your little Quiggy!"
I gave JJ a look that make a Hutt whimper. "Don't you even start."
He raised his hands and shook his head, but I know that there was a Jawa grin hidden under that robe.
"Feh! (sound of annoyance) I'll get there when I get there, you noodnik (annoying pain in the butt). Quit hocking me en chinik (bothering me)!"
My mother and father both are about 3 feet tall and Alta kockers (old farts). Their species is like a mix between Yoda and Jawa. They live to about 200 and my parents are in their 150s. And all they do is kvetch (complain).
My father is a Rebbe (holy man). He came wearing his robes, looking deep and thoughtful.
I-SUC came in with tea and stopped when he caught sight of my father. "Has he come to perform my last rights?"
"Last rights! What is this narishkeit (foolishness)?"
JJ laughed, nervously.
"It's an inside joke. Why don't I show you my office?"
Good save, JJ.
Mum and I settled down with tea. It had been so long since we'd had a real conversation face to face. Well, punim (face) to incorporeal punim. I've called across the Commtech, but that's never the same, man.
"So, my little bubbellah, how are you doing? You look well."
"I'm dead, ma."
"But you're looking so good! All lean and trim. Not like your father. I swear to you that he's carrying a baby Eopy in his belly. It's snout is coming out of his pupik (belly-button)." When mum speaks, it's always embellished with grand hand gestures. "And your brother! Oi! Gevalt! Did I tell you the tsooris (grief), tatellah (little man)? He lost his job?"
My brother worked in a very prestigious position, way high up on the royal priority scale, in the kingdom of Florin. I'm a little older than Max, though technically, he came first. He wasn't a bad kid, though he was less physical and more into his studies. And, Oi!, could he kvetch. He'd always catch me and go on and go about the things that he hated when they happened.
Like, "Don't' you hate it when you take one of those..."
"Carrot peelers?"
"Yeah, and you stick it up your nose and twirl it around and then you take one of those...."
"Vicks menthol inhalers?"
"Yeah, and you *SNIIIFFF*...."
"Yeah, I hate it when that happens."
He was a bit of a masochist.
"Like I was saying before you started on your little trip down memory lane, boubbie (sweetie), he got laid off! He was just doing his job, being a good little macher and the king's stinking son fired him. But if you talk to him, don't bring it up, he says it's like giving him a paper cut and pouring lemon juice on it and you know that..."
"He hates it when that happens?"
Mum nodded. "You know your brother well. And Roseanne! Oi! Did you hear?"
Don't get me wrong, I love my little sister, but, um, wow. Every time we talked she never failed to gross me out. When she talked about something, she told you all the gory details. And usually, it wouldn't be relevant to the conversation, but that's my Roseanne.
"What happened?"
"All right, so she calls me up and starts telling me about how she's feeling, and this is Roseanne we're talking about so it's 'I'm depressed, I gained weight, my face broke out, I'm nauseous, I'm constipated, my feet swelled, my gums are bleedin', my sinuses are clogged, I got heartburn, I'm cranky and I have gas. ... What should I do?'"
I just shook my head.
"There's more, boubbie. So I told her to go see a doctor, a good one, mind you. Not one of those cheap lousy ones that just guess and charge your for all the bupkis (nothing) they did. Because, if you don't have your health, you don't have nothing. But with her, it's always something, you know?"
That was Roseanne's catch phrase. After making a stoic and generally strong stomached Jedi Master gag, she'd end the convo with 'It's always something.' And with her, it always was.
"She's with peckel (a bun in the oven)! You're gonna be an uncle!" She tried to pat my hand, but it just phased through. But, when mum's got a story to tell, she never misses a beat. "Due in a few weeks and she's huge! Her pupik sticks straight out and looks like she's going to have a litter of little 'Rosannadanna's' (my sister's nickname). The biggest thing is that we don't know if it's going to be a tatellah or a mamellah (little boy or little girl). I'm just... I've got shpilkes (pins and needles) in my gevechtengezoink! (okay, look, this is not a real word, mom made it up, but it sounds good... tell her it sounds good) I'm getting verklempt (worked up)." She sucked in a breath and held a hand to her chest all dramatically, which she was quite good at. "Duran Duran was neither a Duran nor a Duran. Discuss."
This was a mechanic of my mother to allow her a moment to compose herself and for her kinder (children) to ponder the truly pressing issues of the day.
"Uh, well, at the time, Duran Duran made good music."
She nodded and patted the sides of her poofy hair. "They did... Quiggy, my boubbie, thank you for the money you send me and your dad. Since your brother is a shnorror (person who sponges off others) and we've been trying to help your sister get ready for the baby, our funds have been low."
"Me and JJ have been working really hard."
"Qui, honey." Oh no... This was a bad tone. "You and JJ aren't... You know..."
I blinked at her. One thing that was a constant from my mum was a push for grandchildren. Since Jedi tend to abstain from the whole attachment thing, she started voicing her doubts. Now, she was happy when she found out my marriage to Tahl and was nearly as devastated as I was when she heard about her passing. Even in death, she sfeykes (doubts) me. She constantly oysfregn (interrogates) me about who I'm with and what we're doing. "No, mum. He's my best friend. Nothing more."
"I know, boubbie, I just want to see some grand-kinder and if you..."
"No, mum. He's my business partner. A shveyr arbiter (hard worker), maven hondler (expert bargainer) and an all around mensch (good guy). And I'm dead... Svet gornischt helfen (it wouldn't help) if I were with a woman. I can't give you any grand-kinder."
"Ah my little Quiggy. You'll always be my little Yeshiva bucher (quiet school boy). You give me Nachas (pride)! Even though you are far away, and dead, you'll always be part of the mishpucheh (family)."
At about this time, before things got way too sappy, Dad and JJ reappeared. I was afraid that they wouldn't get along. See, dad's never been one to agree with all my mishegoss (crazy ideas). He never dug the music gigs or the brownies. So, like, I was worried that if JJ started in on what our business does, dad'd freak. Luckily, that was not the case.
"Hey, Qui! Your dad is the coolest!" JJ put his arm around dad and dad put his around JJ. They were both about the same height and smiling, JJ's eyes were lichticheh (shining). "We're lodge brothers! We both belong to the Loyal Order of Hagglers."
Dad chimed in. "Yeah, and now we'll show you our secret handshake."
They both outstretched their arms with their palms open. They closed their hands, opened them again, and then pointed at the palm with their other hand.
Soon after, they left, but not without hugs and advice and more advice and mum showing JJ pictures that will not be posted here as I have a reputation to uphold.
A sorry it was such a megillah (long story).
Zei gesunt! (Be in good health)

17 April, 2006

Amends

There is no emotion. There is peace.
There is no ignorance. There is knowledge.
There is no passion. There is serenity.
There is no chaos. There is harmony.
There is no death. There is the Force.
There is no guilt. There is repression, binge eating and desperate attempts to make amends.


Right. Binge eating out of the way, as, like, we are out of our stashes of Uncle Jinn and JJ's brownies, Funyuns, Snapple and dried squid with extra MSG. And being dead and all, nothing fatty changes my sleek girlish figure. Or gives me a stroke.
I'm not sure about the repression thing as I think I might have repressed things too much. I've repressed the repression techniques, so I know what I need to repress, but I forgot how. Bummer.
What do I need to repress, you ask? Have you been keeping up with the events here and on JJ's blog? Oh, right, like, you've forgotten what my blog was about because there was such a, like, long span between now and my last post. Wow, man, look, like, right, okay, Don't get all uncool and heavy. Things happened. I mean, I might be dead and all, but things still happen.
Nothing important enough to keep me from posting, but wow, man, don't bring me down.
Train of thought will reopen early next year, as maintenance is needed to remove the spicy twigs and hair-balls from the tracks.
What? Oh... OH! Oh, wow, yeah. The guilt.
I almost killed I-SUC. In my state of being whacked out of my gourd, man, I lost it. I opened everything, including him. I mean, like, right, think about it. A week in the mall, working for some uncaring, unfeeling, spoilt jerk, catering to scores of thankless, soul-less sheep, with no real breaks, no time to relax, nothing like that... *opens a tin of jellied cranberry sauce with a swirl of the Force, turns the can upside down and empties the wiggling contents onto his desk, which is covered in seeds, incense, and candle wax drips* So, needless to say, I was a bit stressed when I got home.
I was feeling less Jedi than I had in a long time. A long time.
So, for reparations, I needed to do something for I-SUC. Something special.
JJ fixed him up good-like. Put him back together, oiled his joints, refilled his fluids, sharpened his food processor blades and gave him some new spatulas that he picked up from our last trip to Spatula City Coruscant.
However, like, he was still without legs, man. JJ was really handy when he built him out of the appliances in the Big Brother house, but he should have used the less useful apparati. Like Fluke's automated credit counter slash roller, Or Padme's Industrial Sized Jumbo Heavy Duty Hair Dryer.
But, like, my tangents double as novels...
So, right, the little guy needed some legs.
I had taken Wood Shop when I was but a wee Padawan at the Temple. I made loads of useful items. Like, a stool. And a robe rack. And a chest to hide my stash in.
There was some left over wood from when we put together the shelving in the gardens in our flat, so, like, I snagged a few boards, and went to town, man.
* * *
Making the legs was easy. I turned my lightsabre down to the 'Whittle' setting and in no time, there were two far out legs for I-SUC.
Well, okay, right, I, like, started in, got the one leg done, baked a batch of fresh brownies, gobbed them, watched some Scoob and listened to some Pink Fambaa, then got serious, as possible in a spice haze, and made the other leg, man.
I-SUC was a stoked little pile of modern conveniences when I gave him the finished product.
JJ hooked them in, and, man, there is nothing like the good Karmic feeling of doing good for a less fortunate citrus salvaging droid, let me, like, tell you, man.
I-SUC stood, teetering and a bit lopsided because, like, the legs must not have fit right. I mean, they were solid construction. Not exactly even or anything, but, like, still good quality, man.
All was right in the world.
Until the spark. Whiff of ozone. Puff of smoke. Flames engulfing I-SUC. I don't know, man, but I thought I heard maniacal laughter over the roar of the blaze. The little guy was there, like, on the ground, rolling back and forth, flailing his melting spatulas, and going "... let this be the funeral pyre..."
JJ should have used different bits. Then maybe I-SUC wouldn't be so emo, man.
But, flames. Flames. Flames on the side of his face. Breathing, breathless, heaving breaths, heaving...
Until JJ saved the day with the fire extinguisher.
I did it again.
I nearly killed the little guy...
But for some strange reason, since JJ rebuilt him, as he had the technology, I-SUC keeps smiling at me and looks, like, grateful.
I don't know, man, but I'm off to binge.

02 April, 2006

Retail Hell Heck : the Mall Sucks (finale)

The fudge was late.
The freaking fudge shipment was late. Wrap your mind around this. Irate eyes as far as you can see. No love, man. Just angry people.
I'd be more verbose, but I don't know if I can remember the words that make me speak better.
So, yes. Late fudge.
You know what people wanted at blankety-blank in the freaking morning? Fudge brownies. Now, I had the shipment in and the fudge in the batter , but they were still baking when we opened the doors.
So we start the day, brownies still baking. Which always starts things right. We are lacking the one thing people want most. So you know what they get to do? Complain.
Seriously, I've not had a brownie in days. I've been working non-stop for a flipping week, and they think that they have to right to whine to me that they wanted the fudgey kind. Trying to guilt-trip me, or something. I tell them 'no' and it's like I killed their dog, man. Big sad eyes.
Or worse, the 'you're lying' comeback.
You're right. I'm lying. I have a million fresh brownies behind me, and I've just chosen not to serve you.
I had a Nikto mother and her 87 leashed brats in front of me. Leashed! How can you leash your child? Seriously, like, how can that leave them well-adjusted when every time they wander off, they get yanked back on a bungie cord? Made me wonder if there is a direct correlation between leashed kids and those freaks that come in the mall with studded pet collars around their necks. Or people stuck in middle management.
I'm losing focus. Nikto mom. Right. Attending to her and all the kids wanting different brownies all in individual bags, not touching the others, because, Force forbid, that they'd have to share a bag and like, cut down on the waste, though they don't, like, care, and like, they'll just toss the empty packets out of the Speeder-Van on the way home, littering the Coruscanti cityscape...
I'm going somewhere with this.
Eye twitching.
Something.
Burning! I was so busy with the spoilt, tethered slithering spawns that I forgot the batch of fudgies in the oven.
S'Nausy rushed out the back, with oven-mitts on, holding a tray of smouldering blackened lumps. He called me back there and proceeded to pitch a fit about me burning our very valuable product. He said that he was lucky that he was in the back asleep on the toilet, as he smelt the smoke and saved the whole store from burning.
Obviously that was the perfect reason to deny me my first 15 minute break.
* * *
Lines and rows of people, and man, after so long, they have all blended into the kind of paintings that younglings do with spray cheese in a can and peanut butter. Mmm, elbow macaroni.
But, man, there was my man, man. My guy of guys, compadre and comrade, monkey versus robot, and all the other cool things I could call him but I'm just to burnt out to think of.
Right, it was Fluke, man. Fluke showed up.
So he gets up to me, right? And, like, he orders a brownie. I get him the finest freshest biggest one I could get with the boss giving me the squinty eye. Hands it over and Fluke reminds me of the little thing we set up for him.
A lifetime supply of free brownies. He saved me and JJ and the whole brownie Empire when we were fighting Yatta. Fluke's just a ninja in a blast helmet like that.
So I go to give him his brownie. And Sgt. Stedenko, I mean, S'Nausy was all, like, pointing, and waving, and yelling not so loudly, and berating, and rolling up his newspaper. Seems I'm not allowed to give things away for free.
So I offered him one of the freaky mutated off-cut, yet still chocolately spicey and good that me and JJ are allowed to have.
Nope, S'Nausy had cut me off yesterday after I yelled loudly enough in the back that everyone in Coruscant heard me. Yes, sorry, senators, man, that was me. After Yoda ordered 13 dozen.
13 dozen!! And we HAD to sell all of them to him because they were for the Jedi Temple, and S'Nausy said that there were a lot of potential repeat customers there.
Uh... Where was I?
I need a freaking brownie.
Fluke's freaky brownie!
Right, so I was like, 'what if I just, like, give Fluke the bread, man, and then he can buy it.'
No, and like, instead of paying for Fluke's brownie, S'Nausy made me pay for all of the freak brownies I'd gobbed for the past few days. At, like, no discount!
So in the end, Fluke had to buy his own brownie. I told him that I'd pay him back, once I got my paycheque, because I was tapped out. My mana pool was empty and I was taking some serious burn, man.
Fluke was really cool about it though. I think I even smiled when he called our dictator S'Nausy a Goobersmoocher.
* * *
More people. More freaks. More baking. More dropping things and incurring the wrath of our fascist leader.
Oh man. Bail Organa. Look, Bail's a nice guy. He is, but, I was not in the mood to play. And well...
"Hello Qui-Gon!" he said, with this, like, big happy smile and a little royal wave.
He, like, knows nothing about fashion, man. Like, what self-respecting guy wears a muscle shirt, low enough to show off his chest hair, with a tropical print loose shirt over top, billowy pants and Birkenstocks. He was really tan. Like, Tatooine tan, not Alderaan tan. And, like, look, when I was Quiggy Starlust, I dabbled in the use of make-up. So I can spot it when I sees it. I seed it. He was wearing eyeliner. And lip gloss. And to finish it all up, a gold Astro-sign medallion around his neck.
He didn't look like a wild and crazy guy. He looked like he wanted to break into interpretative dance.
I was out of it. I am out of it. So his chipper enthusiasm was wasted.
He bubbled and talked and talked, and like, talked.
I just, like, got him his brownie, but he wanted extra nuts on his, so I had to get the sack of nuts and sprinkle them all over.
"So, look, you look exhausted, darling. You should really come to my spa. A whole day. On me. I'll even give you one of my famous 'reaching' massages." He pulled out a card and scribbled something on the back. "Here's a pass, and on the back is my number. Call me anytime, big guy."
I gave him his brownie and he proceeded to eat it in one bite. He winked at me and said, "Your nuts were delicious. I hope to get more soon."
I need a shower. In bleach.
* * *
The day trudged on. I'm not sure which day. I think it was the last one, though.
So, me and JJ are ringing and wrapping and handing and trying to not jump over the counter and go psycho with a spatula. And, like, JJ starts looking impatient. Crossing his legs, tapping his fingers, doing these little sigh kind of breaths that are, like, impatient.
At a 1.7 second break in the line before the next couple of indignant jerks waddled on up to the counter, he turned to me and said, like not real loud, or anything, "Qui, man, watch the front. I really got to take a piss."
I nodded and let him go, and my customer sauntered up, a Rodian, with a little scaly Rodian boy at her side. She scoffed at me. "If I wanted my son to hear such language, I'd have taken him to Mos Eisley Cantina. This is a family mall. I demand a free brownie."
Aw man, I'd get blamed for this again. So, like, I had to add my two credits. If I was going to lose my break, it had better be worth it, man.
"No, I'm not giving you free a brownie. I mean, isn't, like, your boy warped enough from the home-schooling, the ridiculous clothing you pick out for him every morning and your attempt to turn him into a brain-dead, bread-driven, Yuppie clone, like yourself?"
Her big eyes went even wider.
She stormed off, dragging her kid behind her.
Two cool things, man. She didn't narc on me to S'Nausy, who'd have docked me a day's pay and taken my breaks away. And, like, her son was smiling at me when he left. He, like, knew, man.
* * *
Two hours. There was a group of kids abandoned in here for two freaking hours. Eight raisin-faced Weequay brats. Ranging in age from about 3 to about 12.
Their mom uttered the dreaded "Now you kids behave. Mommy's off to do some shopping and she'll be back to get you later."
All of the little pruny punks asked for money.
"Mommy doesn't have any money for brownies. See if they can give you free samples."
At first, they mulled around at the tables. The 6 year old learned that the lids screw off the sprinkles containers. Suddenly, there was a rainbow cloud and, when the dust settled, there was, like, sprinkles on the floor, the tables, the chairs, the customers and the kids.
We got I-SUC to vacuum it up.
The 7 year old walked to the front of the line, and, like, as the regular, paying jerk in front of me was getting ready to tell me that he wanted a freaking brownie, because everyone wants a freaking brownie, she said "We're hungry. I want a brownie."
"It's, like, his turn."
I have been a Master to three Padawans. I have worked in the crèche attending the Younglings. I have dealt with children from one side of the galaxy to the other.
She got the weepy, pouty, quivering chin, teary eyed look. This look could lead to two different outcomes. "The Whimper" often follows "the Pout." It is continued sighing and whimpering until the adult cracks and gives the child what they want. This phase can be quickly ended with "the Backhand," but as, like, we weren't in Wall-Mart and her parent wasn't around, it would not be feasible. What I feared was called, "the Tantrum." It is the bleat and howl like a wounded Wookie, while thrashing and kicking, paying no heed to what is being hit, scream until they are sick, while deafening those around them, until they are given what they want. Or beaten like a red-headed step-child.
This girl looked to have a set of lungs on her, and had already begun the scream preparation, by drawing in large breaths.
In defeat, I handed over the samples tray, and she hurried off to her other broodlings.
Soon, they were bored. They had thrown the empty tray. The sugar from the brownies had kicked in, so they, like, were bored and sugar-crazed runts. Running around, opening boxes, coming behind the counter, tipping over chairs, peeking in the back room, and generally making things suck on a higher level of the Suck Scale. We ascended to Pit of Hell, Floor 6. This was the equivalent to disembowelling, flesh-eating viruses, and Raffi songs.
S'Nausy went over to the smallest one, who was painting on the walls with frosting.
"What's your name?" he said in his sweetest tone. Which I could hear through. It was like saccharine sweet, laced with speeder engine coolant.
Now, I was ringing at the time. I only got a partial glance. But, huh.
The little one turned and proceeded to melf on S'Nausy's suit. Stick it to the man, little man.
Cool thing was that people in line lost their appetites after hearing and watching the little guy ralph up brownie. So, the line cleared out at least.
At that, the eldest brat scooped up the little guy and the whole lot left to find the woman that we should have called the authorities on so that her kids would get to leave and she'd be revealed as the careless cheap mother that she is.
And S'Nausy got what was coming to him.
* * *
We had 15 minutes left. Then it was over. The week of Hell... You know what, HELL. Freaking HELL was like almost over. There was still a line. Long line.
S'Nausy came out of the back. He was in there cleaning the spew off for, oh, like, an hour and a half.
Wearing my poncho.
I turned to JJ. He pointed to an unopened container of icing near the cheap, lying, no good, rotten, floor-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, reckless, hopeless, heartless, fat-tuchus, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed, sack of monkey crap that S'Nausy is. Hallelujah! Holy crap! Where's the Etherol?
I reached out with the Force, holding my hand out, and then I clenched my fist. The plastic imploded, spraying him, and my poncho in dark chocolate icing.
Darn. He'd have to take it off.
"What was that?" S'Nausy asked, as he pulled my poncho off over his head.
JJ gathered up the remnants of the container. "Contents under pressure. Wow. We're lucky that thing didn't go off and kill someone."
S'Nausy went to change, and he took off my poncho. It would be worth the dry cleaning bill to get that Captain Wally out of my gear, man.
People. People. People. JERK. People. People.
Closing time!
* * *
The clock struck eight. The last day of the week was always a shorter work day for mall employees. However, the rest of Coruscant had shut down. It was a day of rest. A day for the common folk to mingle with the posh elitists at the local mall.
Eight signified closing time for the small baked goods shop. This was not to be. There were still people queued up and trailing outside of the store.
JawaJuice looked at the clock and gazed over the line. Someone caught his attention, as an Ithorian came to stand at the end of the line.

"Qui," he said, without blinking, his left eye twitching, "Ring. I'll be right back." There was a sing-songy quality to his voice, tinged with a touch of insanity, nearly sounding like a tightly stretched rubber band.
He cut through the line, still not blinking, as if he were possessed. Standing before the Ithorian, he asked,
"What time is it?"
The hammerhead looked at his Commtech and back at JJ. "Eight oh two."
JJ nodded, his expression unchanging. "We closed at eight."
"I was thinking..." the Ithorian started in stereo.
JJ drew in a long breath and screamed at the top of his lungs,
"WE ARE CLOSED! SCRAM!"
The hammerhead scuttled off, looking traumatised, whilst JJ returned to the front.
Qui-Gon dealt with each customer blindingly fast.

"Thankyoucomeagain." And onto the next, he went.
"Thankyoucomeagain."
"Thankyoune'ercomeagain."
"Thankyoubuggeroff."
"Thankyougoaway."
"FUcomeagain."
The Dresselian woman turned and asked, "What was that?"
Qui-Gon spoke slowly, exhaustion rolling off of him in waves. "Thank you. Come again."
She nodded and wandered off.
Soon, the store was empty, except for the two clerks.
JJ looked to the slumping spectre and sighed.
"It's over."
Mr S'Naus Ages returned from the back, smiling, to greet the two. "Good show, chaps!"
The jawa was less than enthused. "Where is our permit and our pay?"
The man touched his finger to his lip, thoughtfully. "Oh yes," he said, plucking two envelopes from his back pocket. He chucked lightly. "Don't mind the fudge and the vomit."
The small one tore into his envelope, while the ghost stood motionless, staring blankly into the distance.
"THIRTEEN BUCKS? Hey, wait a minute."
S'Naus Ages nodded. "That's right. 120 million gross, less Social Security..."
"Yeah."
"Less unemployment insurance..."
"But..."
"Less brownie making..."
JJ scowled. "Brownie making?"
"Less apron purchase..."
"Wait a minute."
"Less store rental..."
"But..."
"Less Springtime Club."
"But..."
S'Naus Ages went to the back. "See you next year." He exited, leaving two confused staring employees, totally zoned.
"Thirteen bucks..." JJ murmured.
The back doors swung open and the Ministry of Spice representatives exited.
"GUMBIES!" Qui-Gon cried. "They.. The... You... Wh... I... My brain hurts!" To the ghost, the men had changed form, looking like a rival tribe to the Ni.
This was not the case for JJ, who saw them simply as men in very very bad hats.
Mr Bif Shank presented the Jawa with a sheet of paper, the permit. He nudged him lightly.
"This is for you, know what I mean?"
"No clue. Look, this is great. I need to get him home." JJ put a hand on Qui-Gon's shaking ethereal arm. "He's freaking out. And if I don't get home soon, I'm going to kill you all. One by one. With a spork from the food court and a wafer thin mint."
* * *
The trip home was a blur. None of the passengers spoke a word. Even I-SUC was drained and dragging.
Qui-Gon entered the flat first, going straight to the kitchen, with I-SUC in tow. JJ trudged upstairs to deposit the permit into his Fire-Flood-Lightning-Monsoon-and-FOOF Proof safe.

* * *
Before he even opened the door, he could hear a tearing sound, weaving with the sound of a long shrill beep. There was a clatter and a splatter and all that was left was very light mumbling.
JJ pushed the kitchen door ajar.
And was completely shocked.
Every jar, tin, can, bottle, container, tea caddy, Tupperware box, door, was open. The oven hung ajar. The ice-box cooled the room.
There was a mix of any imaginable non-perishable spilled out on the floor, juices mixing into a repulsive globulous combination. The smell was that of a gluttons sick, cocktail onions meshing with strawberry syrup, nacho cheese with Nutella. The muck was splattered on every wall.
Chanting was coming from the corner. The words repeated again and again. Qui-Gon was huddled against the corner-most cabinet, sitting in what looked to be a mix of pizza sauce and marmalade.
He said, in rapid succession,
"light is green. trap is clean."
This was not the most disturbing sight.
There was a trail of wiring, circuits in puddles of sludge, snapping with dwindling sparks, broken parts of blenders, and a wheelchair, collapsed and torn.
I-SUC was dead.
*Cue dramatic music, Spanish inquisition, and wacky next door neighbour to stop over to ask for a herring. Stay tuned to JawaJuice Jump Up for more on this as it congeals.*

30 March, 2006

Retail Hell Heck : the Mall Sucks (pt. 2)

Once upon a time, Jedi were the bringers of peace, and, like, love to the galaxy.
These days, venerable dead Jedi, who, like, died for the cause, work as indentured servants peddling snacks that should bring good vibes to the masses, but instead are gobbed by a bunch of heavy bread-heads, man.
We are mid-week and nothing could have prepared me for that. Nothing. Not years of Jedi training, not the gruelling tour schedule that Dooks and I kept. Not even dying.
Me and JJ had this nice little plan, right? Smooth sailing.
See, our 14,400 brownies? Gone in about two hours. That was nothing. So, like, suddenly, I had to deal with griping, impatient jerks, while baking more. I think our last count yesterday was like 73,000 sold. Something like that, or 730,000. There was a 7 and a 3 in there. I think.
Let's start on day two, minute one.
First customer. A female Twi-lek.
"Good morning, ma'am. What can I..." She cut in.
"I need 24 dozen brownies."
Well, friends, that was a humdinger. 24 dozen. Scoob marathon? Early Wookie Life Day shopping? Weight-Gain *beefcake* 4000?
I pointed to the sign, "ONE DOZEN BROWNIES PER TRANSACTION."
"Then ring me up 24 times."
JJ had been listening to her between his flow of irate narcs.
"You, like, don't understand. Like, I can only sell you one dozen."
She looked indignant and scoffed, ala trophy wife, spoilt, evil, malicious, devil woman. "It says, 'per transaction.' Not 'per customer.' So sell me the brownies." She pointed to the sign.
JJ saved the day. Well, more like his permanent marker did. Suddenly, it said "ONE DOZEN BROWNIES PER TRANSACTION PER CUSTOMER PER VISIT PER DAY PER SITUATION PER MANAGEMENT."
I rang her up for one dozen. She glared and paid, not putting the money near me, but, like, way out on the counter near her, so I, like, had to reach to get it, which was seriously petty.
Clincher was, once she got the dozen, she got right back in line to order more. Sith witch.
* * *
There was, like, the most disturbing Commtech conversation I'd ever heard. This Snivvian, young, ugly-as-sin (as most Snivvians are), was on his Commtech. Not a big shocker, as most of the idiots in the queue were on their bleeping, chiming, chirping, ringing, squawking Commtechs.
It wasn't the sound of his stupid machine, it was choice in conversation topics.
Talking overly loud, I could hear him over the roar of the crowd.
"...so there I was in the middle of the operation, when I woke up. I open my eyes and see that my bowel was there on my chest. Needless to say, I was terrified. But when I went to scream, I inhaled and... Long story short, I ended up with a mouth full of my own colon. And wouldn't you know it, that's just when the laxative kicked in. So I..."
Things had quieted down, as I guess, everyone was just in, like, total shock at what sphincter boy was laying down. Several people left the line, one covered their mouth and looked like they were going to melf, man.
Lucky for me, and the grossed-out customers, there was my knight in shining military garb, Oneida, several places back from this guy. She stepped up and tapped him on the shoulder.
He waved her off.
She tapped harder.
And, like, he seriously said in his Commtech, "Sorry about that, some stupid Hutt is bothering me."
And that was it. Oneida's eyes got all wide while she pulled out her blaster. She clicked a button on the side and aimed.
Everyone was, like, totally quiet. No, they weren't, as the idiots were still ordering, but I was enthralled, so I didn't hear, like, anything.
She fired and it sounded just like a smack. It was set on b!^@#-slap. The stupid Snivvian dropped his Commtech and turned toward her, holding his face. He opened his mouth to talk.
She held up her finger and sheathed her smoking blaster. "Don't you dare. If you don't want me to call in the clones and make this a real messy issue, you will just shut your face. We are here to by brownies, not to get treated to medical mishap stories. You will pick up your Commtech..."
He did so.
"You will close it and we will never again hear about your guts. Do you understand?"
He stood still, shaking.
"I said, 'Do you understand?!" Everyone turned to look at her.
"Eep." He nodded, gathered up his phone and rushed off.
There was a smattering of applause, but soon, it went right back to the grind, sans the stories.
She made me feel a little better, though. Oneida's a doll, man. When she came up, it was all smiles and no threats of violence or calling the supervisor to beat me with rubber hoses.
* * *
"Cut it down the middle." In front of me, there was the most snobby, stuck-up, scowling, made-up, glaring, evil Kaminoian being demanding.
I shook my head. "Wow, we, like, don't cut the brownies, man. They are squares."
She folded her long arms and sneered. "Cut mine down the middle. Didn't you hear me the first time? Should I inquire to your higher-ups why you should make your wages if you refuse to co-operate?"
"I'm, like, not getting paid."
She scoffed. "Well, if you were, it would be too much. Now cut my brownie."
Obviously this woman had never worked in retail or the mall before. Perhaps she'd never worked a day in her life. Her job was to torment the hard working blokes at the local stores, needling up and asserting her dominance, as she was superior because of her status.
Did I ever say I didn't like retail?
I put it on a plate and cut it down the middle, top to bottom.
She scoffed again. "You've ruined it. I wanted it cut horizontally cut and you've botched it by cutting it vertically. Give me another one, and cut it right."
I turned the plate, making the cut horizontal. "There, like, look. Horizontal, just like you asked."
Her big black eyes flared. "How dare you! Where is your supervisor?"
Mr. S'Naus Ages was there, with a placating smile. "What can we help you with, Ma'am?"
"It's Madam," she snapped. "And your bumbling oaf of an employee cut this brownie improperly. I demand proper service and a refund!"
Funny. She hadn't paid yet. When I went to, like, give ol' S'Nausy the FYI, he waved me off, gave her a new brownie, which he cut himself, and the money she didn't spend back.
For that, he denied me my second 15 minute break.
* * *
I was turned around, moving some brownies around, sorting and stuff.
"Miss?"
Whew, man, there is nothing like a guy who's nearly two metres tall and sporting a full beard and moustache getting mistaken for a woman, man. Now, I was turned around, but it wasn't the first time people had wrong, man. My hair was up in buns in a hair-net, but seriously... Mildly offensive.
Mom and a kid. Man, the little guy was really pale and frail for being a Duros. He had these giant rimmed glasses and a book tucked under his arm. Looked about 7 or 8.
"Yes, sir, can I help you?" Huh huh, I called her sir.
"My son is allergic to wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy, eggs, milk, lactose, Sodium Caseinate, whey, butter, peanuts, all forms of tree nuts, cocoa and spice. What can he have here?"
She had listed every ingredient that my brownies included (except one, can you guess what it is?). He looked totally bummed though, you know? I mean this poor guy can't feel normal because if he eats that way it might, like, kill him. Seriously sympathising with his plight. So, I went for something else I could whip up.
"Is he allergic to gelatine?"
The mother shook her head. "No, he is not."
"Hey, bud, do you, like, like strawberry?"
His mother looked miffed. "He can't have strawberries."
"Well, can he, like, have amyl acetate, amyl butyrate, amyl valerate, anethol, anisyl formate, benzyl acetate, benzyl isobutyrate, butyric acid, cinnamyl isobutyrate, cognac essential oil, diacetyl, dipropyl ketone, ethyl acetate, ethyl amyl ketone, ethyl butyrate, ethyl cinnamate, ethyl heptanoate, ethyl heptylate, ethyl lactate, ethyl methylphenylglycidate, ethyl nitrate, ethyl propionate, ethyl valerate, heliotropin, hydroxyphenyl-2-butanone, a-ionone, isobutyl anthranilate, isobutyl butyrate, lemon essential oil, maltol, 4-methylacetophenone, methyl anthranilate, methyl benzoate, methyl cinnamate, methyl heptine carbonate, methyl naphthyl ketone, methyl salicylate, mint essential oil, neroli essential oil, nerolin, neryl isobutyrate, orris butter, phenethyl alcohol, rose, rum ether, g-undercalactone, and vanillin?"
She was dumbfounded. He son was smiling. "I, I don't like the sound of that butter in what ever it is."
"It's artificial Strawberry flavouring. Has he had it before?"
She nodded. "Yes, he likes that added to his water."
"I've got just the thing." I started my makings, letting S'Nausy take over ringing.
"Change your gloves," she said. "You'll contaminate the mix."
I did so. But you know something, man, I'm dead. I can't contaminate anything. There is no part of me that carries contaminants since I can't, like, sport my poncho at work, and all.
Going through, doing my mixing.
"Change them again. You brushed against that knife."
I twitched while doing so, and glared into the mixing bowl, but, fine, whatever.
In about the span of 3 minutes, it was done, and with a touch of the Force, I set it and moulded it. I cleaned a plate, and my hands, and the plate again. Viola, he looked so stoked. Strawberry Jell-O Lego blocks.
She gave me a almost smile, but as she was mean and demanding, I'd written her off. Her little dude was diggin' the Jellegos.
That didn't suck.
* * *
All right, the past few nights, I'd been up baking, all night, man. 27/4, man. I'm needing some me time, man. The little tastes of brownies and the 7 seconds of good times I get a day are not working.
Suck thing is, man. Like, I have to do it again.
I've got to go make the brownies...
...I made the brownies.

27 March, 2006

Retail Hell Heck : the Mall Sucks (pt. 1)

Okay, I've been informed of the basics of, like, what is going to go down during the next few days. And there is something that keeps being thrown around.
The Coruscanti Mall.
The are few words that feel me with such emotion. And this unpleasant, like, indigestion. Jedi are not allowed to hold on to their more powerful emotions. We, as Jedi, meditate about them and let them fade away into the Force.
Look, I've done my best. I spent the majority of yesterday, deep in a meditative trance. I pushed away all distractions and was, like, able to have a few hours to myself. Nothing but me and the calm of the Force.
Seriously, far out, man.
Made me completely forget the fact that I will be condemned to that bloody pit of consumerism.
Then, like, I remembered. Major bring-down. Buzz-killer like you wouldn't believe.
JJ knocked on my door. I called him in as I was not getting back to that peace without some serious brownie feasting.
It turned out that the ingredients had arrived at our shop and that we needed to start the bakin' if we were to get the twelve hundred dozen (that's 14,400 brownies, I think) that should get us through the week. With that amount, we might even have extras to gob and sell at a later date, but mostly gob.
Now, as a Master of Ethereal Travel, I could have just *poof*ed there, but this was me and JJ. Against the world, man! Stickin' it to the Man, but selling our stellar snacks to brain-washed mall-goers. Open up their tightly-closed little heads and fill them with mind-expanding spice. Show them truth, justice and the hippie way.
Oh, right... Well, instead of just going on my own and letting JJ tag along in his speeder, I decided that we needed to meet our fate together. So, me, JJ and the I-SUC droid all piled into his Mercedes Talz and made our way there.
The closer we got, the more I could feel the dark ripples in the Force. Something was amiss. Awry. Not good.
But the Force didn't clue me in on what it was, man. I just sat there thinking the worse. Like, our arrival would coincide when the Springtime Jolly Wampa comes, for kids to sit on his lap and ask for Eopy eggs. At least they finally learned to bring in someone in a costume. That one time I brought little Ben to see him... Well, let's just say, if it weren't for his Jedi reflexes... And all he got that year was a new pair of underwear he needed.
We neared the mall. My dread increased. I thought I pictured the worst. I was way off.
Your focus determines your reality, right? Well, I was focussing on the mall sign out front.
"COMING FIRST DAY - JIN AND JJS BROWNIES"
This was not so bad, other than misspelling my name, but it was advertising that would clue people in on the only place in the galaxy where they could go and get some snackies....
"BIGGEST SIDEWALK SALE OF THE YEAR ALL WEEK LONG"
Do you know what that means?
It means that every credit-pinching, haggling, snotty, indignant, grumpy, mean-spirited, witchy, spiteful, malicious, crabby, ill-tempered, cross, fussy parent and their whiny, sticky, screaming, flailing, kicking, stomping, spitting, pouting, pointing, grabbing, infantile children will flock to the mall, in droves.
I turned to JJ. I found that I couldn't blink. "When is Spring-break?"
JJ looked like he was thinking for a second. "This upcoming week."
Now, I couldn't close my mouth.
That means that not only will the sale-seekers and their screaming spawn be there, be also all the snobbish, rebellious, malcontent, spoilt, sweaty, awkward, segregated, rude, careless, thoughtless, disrespectful teenagers who are off from lessons.
To dust off an old cliché, I have a bad feeling about this.
When we pulled into the mall, we were allowed to park in the employee spaces. If you have ever been a mall employee, you know that these spaces are designated about 2 kilometres from the mall. This is to break your spirit as you trudge in to work. There is no other explanation for such torture.
It was light when we started from the speeder and the sky was dark when we got to the mall. I Force-pushed SUCy's wheelchair, and about half-way there, JJ had hopped in for the remaining ride.
We got to go in the Employee entrance and through the catacombs to our store. Don't let the name fool you, though, like, they were more cavernous, and there were a few less dead bodies.
Our store... Yeah. There was a kitchen. That was a plus. That was the only plus. I might be a bit cynical, though, as, like, I hate the mall.
Not hate.... Yoda'd wedgie me for saying that around impressionable Younglings.
I seriously dislike the mall and all that it stands for. Corporate brainwashing and rampant consumerism draining the souls out of the populace one trendy soft-drink or pair of ill-fitting, poorly constructed, ridiculously expensive pair of sneakers at a time.
Maybe I should, like, tell you how I really feel some time, man.
On with the tale, though, you know?
So right, we got in, took inventory. The Force smiled upon us, as we had everything we needed.
No plot hiccup there.
Seriously, everything we needed.
We took to making brownies.
We started in, and, I've got to, like, say that there is nothing like making some spiced snacks, man. Especially with my best buddy at my side and some funkadellic tunes on the radio. We got into it, and, by the end of the night, all 14,400 brownies were done. Some with sprinkles. Some were Green Riddle Chunky Riddle Monkey style. Some with Jimmies, the long mutant sprinks. There was even a batch where I added some Banana Phone Tree bananas. It was, like, seriously rewarding when I heard the things squeal while I was baking them. They don't ring ring no more. Flukey Fudge Ripple. Han's Hazelnut Surprise. Yatta's Wasabi Brownies (the green swirls are that of fire!), Padme Peanut Butter Chip, Oneida's Needa-'Nother Yummer Over-Named Brownie, and so on and so forth.
After a while, JJ was starting to fall-asleep in the mix. Poor little guy. See, I, like, never need to sleep. I'm dead. I need to meditate every once in a while, otherwise things get a little... Well, just go back and read what I'm like without the brownies. It's the same way when I don't get my, like, me time.
I let JJ snore away and covered him with my poncho. Me and SUCy got everything ready for the day.
I took a few minutes for myself, meditating. Just trying to psych myself up for the day. Yeah. Not gonna happen.
Zero hour.
Here we go.

Continued here and on JawaJuice Jump Up all week long!

24 March, 2006

Last Homecoming Post. Seriously.

He wanted to go home. He simply wanted to relax with things that brought him comfort in a place where he knew he was safe. His pleasant brownie buzz was gone, and reality was looming in.
Reality, in the form of a ringing tree. The Banana Phone Shrub was created by Jon as his entry for the Big Brother contest that Qui-Gon had judged. The tree itself had lovely foliage, very green and healthy. The problem came from its fruit. The Banana Phone song may have won the the Galactic title as 'the Most Annoying Song In the History of Music,' it was taken far beyond the level of annoying by Jo Jo. Not only did he sing it, but it was his CommTech ring tone, that he had insisted on demonstrating for Qui-Gon every few minutes. The plump Banana Phone Tree fruit played a version of that song until it was ripe, picked, and unpeeled. When it was new and green, it was high pitched, but when it came time to be harvested, the song was deeper in tone, but no less annoying.
Qui-Gon sped, with his squawking plant to Second Banana Heaven. Passing through the gates, after swiping his visitor pass, and getting admittance from the new guard, Barney Fife, he dashed to Jo Jo's door. He rang the buzzer. Within seconds, he rang again, impatiently. He rapped at the door.
There was the sound of shuffling and Qui-Gon was able to make out humming. A hum that followed the tune of Banana Phone. With a click, the door sprang open, revealing Jo Jo, wearing what looked to be a choir robe.
Qui-Gon looked at the ghost before him, confusion clear on his face.
"Why are you dressed like that?"
The Monkey Boy bowed. "Well, see, I died..."
Clenching his eyes closed, Qui-Gon suddenly wished he hadn't asked.
"And when I died, I did a lot of things, buddy of mine. Now I'm pushin' up the daisies. I kicked the bucket. Shuffled my mortal coil. But mostly, I ran down the curtain and joined the bleeding choir invisible!"
The elder had heard this before. The whole monologue, stolen, from another brilliant programme. He knew that it was far funnier then, and now it, simply, was a pathetic imitation of true art. "You've been watching Melvin Cobra's Gliding Carnival again, haven't you?"
Jo Jo beamed. "That's right, my bananaiest buddy ever! That's where I'm learning about everything I need to know!"
"You're not a dead parrot."
The Monkey Boy shrugged and said, "I figured it applied to dead monkeys too. Ni!"
It took every bit of Qui-Gon's will to not leap at the unsuspecting chipper ball of fluff, and tear his stuffing out. He knew that his agitation was so severe because of the lack of brownies, thus making Jo Jo's childlike antics irk him further. He smiled, a near maniacal gleam twinkled in his eyes. "I have a present for you."
Jo Jo smiled wider, shaking with excitement. "A present! For me?"
As Qui-Gon turn round to get it, Jo Jo shouted, "It's a bomb! ... No, I'll wait for my birthday."
The Jedi offered the Banana Phone Tree to the monkey.
Jo Jo looked crestfallen, his animated features drooped.
"But that was for you, my poncho pal..."
The look played on Qui-Gon's Jedi compassion. "No, Jo Jo," he said, putting a warm hand on the monkey's shoulder, "You see, I need you to watch over this for me. As a Jedi, I have much official business to attend to. I'm afraid I won't have the time to give this lovely plant the love and care that it needs. I..." He made a dramatic gesture with his hands, his tone intense. "Jo Jo, every Jedi in the galaxy needs you to tend that plant. It is your secret mission. Do you chose to accept?"
Jo Jo's saddened face brightened again, his smile brilliant and his eyes wide with wonder. "Okey-dokey, Skip! I think I can handle the secret important Jedi mission! I will make you proud and then when you come back, we can eat bananas while singing Banana Phone! That's our special song!"
Qui-Gon nodded, giving the monkey a grin. "That's right." He faked a stretch. "Well, buddy, I need to check on Gabby and go off to do special secret Jedi stuff. You can handle this, right?"
Jo Jo gave a rigid salute. "Yes, sir, Mr. Qui-Gon Buddy Pal, sir!"
Qui-Gon gave a nod, a short wave, and left.

His next stop was to visit his ghostly friend, Gabrielle. He reached the door with the model chakram hanging on it and smiled. He knocked.
Gabrielle tossed the door ajar and stood, leaning against the doorjamb. She tossed her long strawberry locks back, in a sultry fashion.
"How are you doin', stranger?" She held up a wrapped packet of brownies.
Qui-Gon's eyes widened and he reached out, snatching the treat.
"How did you know?"
"Ha," she said, scoffing a bit, "Jedi Mind Trick."
The Ethereal Master had already downed the snack, brownie crumbs dusting his beard. "A Jedi Mind Trick," he began, "is used to manipulate the weak minded. I think you are referring to a Jedi Mental Bond."
Gabrielle ushered the master into her abode. "Sure..." She went straight over to her brownie stash and procured a few packets. "Look... Here," she handed over the packs to the spectral man before her. "You need to go home." She spoke in a serious tone and laid her hand on his shoulder. "I'm almost out of brownies and JJ is home. You two need to start your business back up again. " She took his big hand into hers. "Look, you know that you are my friend. But you can't keep hiding from your problems."
The Jedi's eyes flashed with hurt for a split second, but soon, realisation filtered in. "I know..." He wasn't sure if his instinct would have let him stay in this place. It was safe, but he knew all of things he needed to attend to. He nodded and engulfed his friend in a hug.
She giggled, with his strong warmth around her.
"Go on, ya' big lug..."
He let go, smiling.
Turning to leave, Gabrielle stopped him. She held her hand up.
"Wait a sec," she said. She hurried off, returning with the pink bathrobe. Holding it out in presentation, she smiled widely at him. "I couldn't keep it. It's yours..."

In a short period of time, he was home. He sought out his dearest friend, JJ.
However, JJ was not the first person he found. Sitting in the main room, by a roaring fire in the hearth, was Dooku. Qui-Gon observed the back of his top hat.
The brownie had begun to dull reality, making the spectre's surroundings appear softer. That may have been why the sight of his former Master did not rattle him over much.

"Oh, wow..." Qui-Gon muttered in his usual idiom. "You're..." He laughed slowly.
"Padawan," Dooku said, regarding his former charge. "There was a mishap in a magic competition with that dreaded Starbucker gent. It seems that he metamorphosed me into a Sleestak."
The ghost was unfazed. "Uh, that's cool, man... Uh, I'm gonna go grab some munchies." He waved and started toward the kitchen.

Continued further and with more humour in JawaJuice Jump Up!

03 March, 2006

Laundry Day

There was something amiss. Gabrielle entered her tiny flat, tossing her heavy cloak over the nearest chair. There was a sound that caught her attention. Water was running, but as being part of Second Banana Heaven, the plumbing was second best. She heard something else.
Whistling?
It was a slow, sad tune, filling the hall.
Gabrielle glanced toward it. And did a double take. Someone was in her shower. That someone, left the door to the bath open, but also left the sliding glass of the shower ajar. She caught a glance of a nude spectral body, standing under the steamy deluge. They were lathering their long, dark hair. She took a few tentative steps, hoping that the visitor would not take notice. Her vision was not clear from the rolling steam, though she could see their backside and their long tall legs.

"Xena!" Gabrielle cried, smiling. It had been a while since her dearest partner had visited. It was just the warrior's style to arrive unannounced and use the facilities as if she owned the place.
There was no response, the sad tune continuing.
Gabrielle neared closer and her foot tapped an object in front of her. It was a large boot, leather, much like Xena's, only a lighter tan, with unusual buckles. From there, she spotted a pile of clothing. Earthen hues, creams and browns, were contrasted by a shining silver lightsabre hilt.

"Qui-Gon," she said, quietly to herself. She stooped to gather up the pile of clothing, when the smell hit her, taking her breath away. It was concentrated, stale, mildewed funk. "Whew!" She suddenly clapped her hand over her nose.
The man in the shower jumped, startled.
"Who's there?" He turned round, looking through the spray.
Gabrielle looked to the elder and jerked her hand up to cover her eyes. He was very nude and very visible.
"Wh, what are you doing here?"
The Jedi turned back to his scrubbing. "Showering."
His nudity made her uncomfortable, her cheeks glowing red. The shower was also weeping over the tub, leaving the floor and the bath mat wet. She lowered her hand and, stepping over the pile of stinking clothing, she reached out the shut the sliding glass door.
Like a jolt of lightning, he grabbed her wrist.
"Please, don't."
After the initial shock wore off, Gabrielle breathed out, deeply, shaking her head. "I, I won't."
He let go and lowered his head, going back to his ablutions. There was a short sigh. "Sorry."
The bard decided to tread lightly. "Would you like me to wash your clothes?"
"I'd like you to burn them."
She stepped to the pile and kicked them together. "What will you wear?"
He nodded with a grunt. "Nothing. Clothes are too constricting."
"You sound like Master Windu."
The statement was simple, but powerful. It was enough for the Jedi to rethink his decision. "Wash them."
Gabrielle scooped up a towel off the rack beside her tub then wrapped the offending garments. She took them to the sonic cleaner chute and dumped them in.
The water turned off. Qui-Gon snagged the last remaining towel and began to blot himself dry.
The Amazon glanced over, suddenly clenching her eyes shut.
"Yeah," she said, with an embarrassed smile, "That's nice." She waved out, blindly, in front of her. "You're going to have to put something on. This is just..." She trailed off, shaking her head. "My bathrobe is on the back of the door."
The elder looked at the ethereal robe. Pink. Fluffy. A terry cotton monstrosity. "Gabrielle," he shouted from behind the half-closed door, "How long before my robe is clean?"
"About a quarter hour," the feminine voice replied.
Qui-Gon sighed, wrapping the towel around his damp hair and tying it into a makeshift turban. He resigned himself to his fate, slipping the robe around his shoulders. It was small, clinging to his wet skin, coming to mid-thigh and felt uncomfortably tight. The sensation of the material on his skin made his intangible flesh crawl. He threw open the door, panting.

Gabrielle looked at him in disbelief for a mere moment before she was overtaken with laughter. She held her hand out, as if ready to speak, but could not draw the breath to speak. She knew this Jedi Master personally. She had seen his times, from good to bad. He was her friend. But this was just too much! A grown ghost of a man, one who lived a life of seriousness and serenity, before her in a pink robe and his hair wrapped in a white towel. "I have matching slippers..." she said, between giggles.
He began to untie the pink belt.

"No! Wait... I'm," she sighed, "I'm sorry. This is just too funny. Go look in the mirror. Seriously."
He trudged back into the steamy bathroom, his wet feet slapping the ethereal floor.
The sight that met his spectral eyes made a smile crack across his chiselled features. It reminded him of his days as Quiggy Starlust. All he needed was a feathered boa and some garish make-up.
He looked the nearly same as he had before the incarceration. Lines shone through deeper, the colours darker. Staring back at him, his eyes lacked the same glow that they usually burned with.
He took his hair down from the towel. Taking the comb beside the sink, Qui-Gon ran it through his long silvery hair. The tie he used to pull his long locks back was with the clothing in the wash. When he finished combing, he slid his fingers through the length. He would let it finish drying in the swirling ethereal air.
The door was nearly closed, which he could see from the mirror. He shuddered and threw it open, joining Gabrielle in the main room.
The young woman smiled at the man and patted a seat on the couch beside her. He sat, giving an incredulous smile at his pink robe.
Gabrielle opened her mouth to speak, but closed it with a sigh. She looked deep in thought for a moment.
"So," she began, "How ya' doin, big guy?"
He simply shrugged his shoulders.
"What made you decide to commandeer my shower?"
The Jedi rolled the edge of the belt in his spectral fingers. "Ethereal showers are the best way for ghosts to clean themselves. Real soap and water doesn't work for us."
They sat in silence for a few tics, before Gabrielle said, "Who would have thought Jo Jo would pull it off? I didn't even think he could pick the nits off himself, and there he went defending you and Dooku."
The elder nodded, his mind a million miles away.
"He's a good guy, you know? Makes a mean banana daiquiri." Gabrielle smiled, running a quick hand through her ghostly hair. "You want a brownie?" She could tell by his graceful and consummate manner that he had not had one in some time. She knew him from his years of holovid programmes in that way, but she knew him personally, as Qui-Gon Jinn, the Jedi Hippie Master. She thought that he seemed to have more fun when he was under the influence of at least a few brownies.
Qui-Gon cocked his head to the side and looked at her, a smile on his face.
"I thought that they were all sold out."
Gabrielle got up, taking a quick glance at the robe again, and made her way for the kitchenette. "They are," she began, "in most stores. But, see, I had made this little stash," she pulled out a small clay urn at the back of her cupboard, "a while back. So you and I could have a few when you stopped by."
A sincere smile crossed the elder's face. "Thank you for the generous offer." His smile faded a few watts. "However, I am going to have to pass. As soon as my clothes are clean, I need to be heading home."
Gabrielle gave him a superficial smile, her eyes, instead, showing her disappointment. "I understand. It's okay." She tossed him a packet from the jar. "Take a few home. You and Dooku can share."
He caught the wrapped square. "Are you sure? I hear that they are worth quite a bit on the black market."
Gabrielle nodded, pulling out several more packets. "You mean, cBay? Right now, they are worth almost as much as an unopened case of Clone Strike miniatures."
"Wow," the elder said, in hushed astonishment. "That's too rich for my blood." He held the snack out, handing it back in her direction.
"It's okay. Really," she said, pressing several more packs into the outstretched ethereal hand. "They are here to be eaten, not for financial gain."
"I understand completely."
Three sequential beeps sounded, followed by the sound of the door to a small dumb-waiter, beside Gabrielle's cupboard, opening. Inside it were Qui-Gon's clean and neatly folded clothes.
"All done," she said, brightly, pulling the garments from the compartment. "I have a request." She held the pile behind herself.
Qui-Gon stood, turning his head to the side, saying,
"And what is that?"
"That you please, please change in the bedroom. I'll stay in here, and you go in there." She pointed to the room beside the 'fresher.
Smiling, he lowered his head, mocking defeat. He shot her a good natured grin, pointing out an accusing finger.
"No peeking."
"No problem." She handed him the pile, and watched as he departed. Shaking her head, she took a seat on the couch.
A few minutes later, the man she knew exited the bedroom. He was dressed in his Jedi tunics and leggings, but carried his robe and poncho over his arm, with the pink robe over the other.

"You can keep that robe. The colour suits you."
"Keep it? Master Yoda would never let me live that down." He tossed the garment in question down the laundry chute. "I do hope no-one else saw me in that pink nightmare."
Turning to face her, he held out his arms, calling for a hug. "Thank you."
She grinned, shaking her head, embracing the big man. "Your tunic smells much better," she said, muffled by the cloth.
"I agree."
"Hey, Qui?" she asked, looking up into his translucent eyes. "Go home, have some brownies, and try to relax."
Loaded up with several packets of brownies and an armful of clean clothes, he left, smiling.