just outside Touristville, nursing a lukewarm brew in the sepulchral darkness of some downstairs dive waiting for an informant who'll never show. two orks sat down next to me, acknowledging my presence with friendly disregard, a step better than the bartender's unwavering suspicion and stare. they'd been going on for a while about the tightness of a certain elven ass and the various things they'd do to it if they could, when one asks the other, "bossman gave you some heat comin'n late this mornin', eh?" he chuckles.

"fucking JD?," the other says. "yeah, little scrag lives to be a pain in my tusk, I swear it. like it wasn't all square and whatever. I got my time approved, and, uh, vouched and all that."

"yeah, yeah," the first chuckles and smacks his fist, "JD. kid thinks he's a real hotshot; fuckin' first class breeder. yeah." he shakes his head and grabs a hand full of beerbugs, saying, "so what you doin' then?" before shoving them in his mouth.

the other looks at him, "what, before work?" his friend nods, crunching loudly. "oh, well, I went to the clinic."

"somethin' serious?"

"nah, nah. well, drek if I know. got some meds for it, tho."

"catchin'?" the first asks, eyes widening.

"jeeze, man, no," he sighs and says, "oh, hell," and takes off his taqiyah, leaning over to give his friend a view of his scalp.

"ugh, fuck, man. does it hurt?"

"nah, it itches now, with the meds," he says, putting the hat back on, "but I didn't notice until, uh, Monday. in the shower doing my thing, and I feel this smooth patch. had a look in the mirror and made an appointment at the clinic right then."

"and you got in this year, eh?" they chuckle.

"yeah, showed the nurse the problem right over the phone, and she agreed it probably wasn't good to have skull showing like that. so they squeezed me in this morning. doc looked at it and says it happens."

"no shit? that ain't right."

"yeah, he tells me it's my shampoo; tells me it's not formulated for ork skin, right? so I ask him who the hell Battle Axe is formulated for? it's got fucking Neal the Ork Barbarian on the fucking bottle for fuck's sake."

the friend shakes his head, "what he say to that?"

"just shrugs and gives me a script for some cream. to keep it from getting infected and all the drek. so I ask him, I ask him, 'so, doc, is this shit formulated for orks or what?'" they both laugh.

"it wasn't cheap shit, either. Jesse bought the script for me. He got all high'n mighty about the whole thing. ain't no reason for it. I told him, 'nobody's gonna do something about an old man losing his scalp,' I said. but he's got his mind set, now. I told him not to do anything stupid. that boy worries me sometimes. too much passion."

"that the one with all the girlfriens?"

"nah, that's Charlie, poor fool. had a good girl and messed it all up."

"yeah, yeah, we all cryin' over trouble like that."

"what, man? you ain't never had two girls in your life."

"why, yes I shur have. remember Daniella?"

"oh, damn, man, damn..."

"what now? girl has a nice pair'a tusks..."

"oh, damn, no. just stop right there."