Group: Super ModEARator
Joined: April 1992
||Posted: June 27, 2006, 12:16 pm
It's time for part three of Roger Rabbit in "Stay Tooned, Folks!" by Gary K. Wolf!
Topman Tower, the highest-rised office building in L.A., headquartered
Big Bull Topman and his various gregarious and nefarious enterprises. Big
Bull designed this building in his own image. Half again too big for the size
of its footprint, the mottled color of a wastrel’s nose, with a façade the
texture of unpopped blister wrap. Two opposing, horizontal, cantilevered,
upper-story outjuttings make the edifice as plug-ugly against the
night sky as the Dog Star’s fire hydrant.
Tadbitty always felt uncomfortable in Big Bull’s office, decorated as it
was with stuffed hunting trophies, assorted lethal weapons, and books
selected for the color of their dust jackets rather than their content.
Big Bull found his son’s predicament hilarious. His laughter echoed
through the open terrace window leading out to the manicured formal
roof garden where the poisoned-ivy bushes had all been trimmed into
itchy images of Big Bull. “That Roger Rabbit,” he guffawed. “Ain’t he a
corker?” Big Bull’s contrabanded Cuban cigar produced more smoke
than Hades on a hot day.
“I found him overbearing and malicious,” countered Tadbitty. He saw
nothing the least bit humorous in this. But then he wouldn’t. Humor
wasn’t part of Tadbitty’s character. As specified quite clearly in the Show
Bible, Tadbitty was a man with a flinty shaft of sensibility where his funny
bone ought to be.
Big Bull hoisted the trombone to eye level and glared at it. Idly, he ran
the slide back and forth a few times.
B.B. Junior howled.
With a good-natured grin, Big Bull put B.B. Junior’s feet to his lips
and pantomimed a high-strutting player in a marching band. He swung
the trombone up and down, side to side, in and out. Each new motion
changed the pitch of B.B. Junior’s screeching. It didn’t take Big Bull long
to recognize the comic possibilities. In short order he had going a spirited,
B.B. Junior–screaming vocal rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Big Bull marched, parade fashion, around the room. Ike, dutifully recording
the event on camera, fell in step behind him. Mike put his hand over
his sound equipment to muffle his own giggles.
Tadbitty could not contain himself. “Mister Topman, stop it this
instant. I must protest. We are not buffoons. A stuffed trombone has no
place in social pathos. This is Tinseltown Tells Tales we’re doing here, not
some lampoony burlesque. We have our Network mandate to consider.
Not to mention our Show Bible. For the propriety of the series, we have
to extricate B.B. Junior. This instant.”
A reluctant Big Bull lowered his trombone. “Too bad you feel that
way. He’s got a real mellow tone.” He flipped on an intercom switch.
“Miss Ritz. Send in the clowns.”
Wonky the Wondrous Wizard appeared out of thin air, waved his
ebony wand, and the trombone disappeared.
After chugging a can of spinach and doing a spirited hornpipe, ape-
armed Poopdeck the Pirate grabbed B.B. Junior by the neck and bent him
back into shape.
Doctor Ignatz Cats, self-appointed Head Shrinker to the Mucky
Mucks, prescribed sedation, which he gleefully administered with an iron
What, thought Tadbitty, were all these Toons doing here? Their presence
was so terribly, horribly inappropriate.
Tadbitty possessed an IQ fashioned out of solid–Grade A+ Mensanite.
He was bright enough to know there was a reason for this upward blip
of lunacy. The Network never did anything without a reason. He was
more bothered by the fact that nobody from the Network had informed
him, one of the show’s pivotal characters, that this was going to happen.
“What, pray tell, is going on here, Mister Topman?” he asked. “Why are
we infested with Toons?”
Big Bull chuckled heartily as his son staggered around the room
like a B.B. Bobblehead on a hard trip down ninety miles of rocky road.
“Seemed like a funny thing to do.”
Big Bull reached inside his breast pocket and removed a pair of gloves.
They were bright yellow with only four fingers. He slipped them on, making
them fit by putting his index and middle fingers into the same hole.
“Call them oddballs, idiots, maniacs, nuts, loonies. Whatever. You gotta
admit, Toons are entertaining.” Big Bull threw Dr. Cats a high four.
“How can the Network permit such a travesty?” countered Tadbitty.
“They don’t countenance Toons on a humans-only show.”
“Right,” said Big Bull, not looking Tadbitty in the eyes. “They don’t.”
Uh-oh. Tadbitty surmised that his tribulations in this particular episode
were far from over.
“Sit down, Taddie,” ordered Big Bull. This was bad. This was very bad.
Big Bull had never before called Tadbitty by anything but his complete
God-given name. “Want a drink?”
Tadbitty shook his head. Big Bull had one himself but, mercy, not the
expensive cognac dispensed from a Spanish-leather-wrapped decanter
as his Show Bible–specified characterization required. Rather, he took a
shot of Toon Up from a crock secreted behind his wooden file cabinet,
guzzling it straight from the container, cradling the jug in the crook of his
arm. Something was definitely wrong. “Tadbitty, you’ve been with Topman
Enterprises how long? Six, seven years?”
“Nine? Really? Ever since we been on the air. I don’t need to tell you
that during all that time you’ve been a big help to me. Seeing my boy
through his … troubles.”
“Sorry I gotta be the one to deliver the bad news. The Network says
you gotta go.”
“Sir?” Tadbitty noticed Big Bull wasn’t as meticulously dressed as
usual. Ink splatters dotted his shirt. One shoe was noticeably bigger than
the other. Most ominously, his Armani glasses sported bloodshot plastic
eyeballs dangling from twin springs.
“In the past few months, the show’s ratings have fallen way off. The
Network honchos hired a hotshot research firm to do correlative
analyses. Their findings say the show’s format’s outmoded. Audiences
don’t empathize with grand operaesque, slice-of-life narratives anymore.
They’re tired of reality. Viewers want chuckles, laughs, giggles, grins.
Light on the thinking. Adios to social conscience. Heavy on the ZAP,
BLOOEY, POW. The Network’s decided to give it to them. Smack in the
old keester. Kerplop in the face with a custard-cream pie.
“The Network’s upping the show’s boffola quotient. They’re switching
over to a different structure, a combination of humans and Toons. As
the Network programmers envision our new roles, they see B.B. Junior
as head dumbbell. That should be no great reformulating problem. Max’s
taking over the role of the Network’s Major Mogul. They’re trucking in
a load of Toon stars for comic relief. I’ll act as interlocutor and keep the
fun moving. But Tadbitty, there’s no place for you. The Network thinks
you’re too … staid for the new format. You’ve been cancelled!”
Tadbitty gulped. He knew what that meant. His means of exiting the
series was covered quite clearly in his contract. His exodus had been
prescripted to generate the highest possible ratings. He never expected
his departure clause would ever be invoked. He was, after all, the series’
binding glue! He never envisioned that Tinseltown Tells Tales would one
day switch to Silly Putty.
Yet here it was. Time for his big, and fatal, finale.
Big Bull drew a pistol from his desk, one of the bigger-bored models
he used to administer the coup de grâce to wounded elephants. “I’m
going to leave the room to take a whizzer. I’ll expect you to do the
decent contractual thing before I return.”
Big Bull headed for the door. “Over the wastebasket if you wouldn’t
Swallowing every vestige of pride, Tadbitty dropped to his knees and
clasped his hands. “Give me a chance. Try me out for a month or two. I’ll
change. I’ll be zany. I’ll be asinine. I’ll be Toonish. I know I can do it.”
Big Bull shook his head sadly. “If only I could believe that.”
The door burst open.
“Beep beep.” A fairly good-sized Toon bird, two-thirds legs and one
third neck, roared into the room. It stopped in front of the open, streetview
window. The bird peered out. It motioned Tadbitty and Big Bull
over and instructed them to look too.
On the sidewalk, many floors below, a cluster of people pressed autograph
books at a famous Toon coyote. The bird put a bony shoulder to
Big Bull’s oversized mahogany desk and shoved it toward the window.
“Would you look at that little tyker,” roared Big Bull approvingly.
“That’s what the Network Hoodaddies call a winning contemporaneous
The bird got as far as the windowsill and stopped. With only its
scrawny wings for leverage, it was unable to heft the desk up and over. It
turned imploringly toward the two men and tilted its head.
Big Bull curled his lip, cocked an eyebrow, and stared at Tadbitty.
Tadbitty took Big Bull’s meaning. Decisively he grabbed the desk by
the legs. He hoisted it up, rested one end on the windowsill, walked to
the other end, and pushed.
The desk hit the ground with a resounding CRACK! Tadbitty looked
down at it, imbedded in the sidewalk. A shaggy coyote tail and several
human hands, some clutching autograph books, poked out from beneath.
The rat-a-tat sound of an index finger tapping a microphone emerged
out of Big Bull’s stereo loudspeakers. “Attaboy, Tadster, sweetie baby,”
said Max. His gruff, whiskey-warbled voice still sounded pug ugly, albeit
now imbued with a forceful, dynamic, take-no-prisoners, top-executive
quality. “You are keeper material. We up here at Network are mightily
impressed by what you just showed us. We’re looking down and seeing
a survivor, an actor who’s adaptable, a main man who knows how to go
along to get along. Congrats, Tadstool. If you’re willing to play Wiffle ball
instead of cricket, have your people call our people about restructuring
your contract. Otherwise …” Max flipped off his microphone. The action
produced a large-caliber BANG.
Stay tooned for the exciting, Jessica Rabbit-appearing conclusion of "Stay Tooned, Folks!" -- right here on the Disney Echo, real soon! It will be on page two of this topic.