I jostled my way through the dark alleyways, cobblestone street below my olive green feet. Hot steam pushed up from the various gutters at quite a speed. Turn after turn, alley by alley, I swerved my way through.
It's a late October Thursdays night at Sandhurst, for both meanings of the word late. As I make my way to a well lit corner in this cobblestone alleyway maze, I retrieve a piece of paper from one of my trenchcoat pockets. Holding it up in the light, I read the instructions written down. Three lefts, then a right, take the stairs down the concourse, turn right, climb up... blast! I'm completely lost!
I stomped by foot a few times, onto the somewhat moist stone-lined street. It's hot, it's humid, it's somewhat damp, and I'm completely lost. I resign myself to trying to find a main street, to garner myself some sort of bearing in these murky streets.
Neon signs light the way, noisily, and sometimes in rather ill repair. All sorts of rather questionable merchandise is advertised here. I pass by one shop, my tail slowly dragging on the ground as I do, the buzzing sign clearly reading “Southern Sexy Sluts”, this would only prove to be a minor indication of the street that I'd continue waking down. “Extra Spicy Bellosslut”, “Remoraid on Seaking Action!”, “XXX Greasy Muk”, “Great Southern ~Railed~”. All just a small assortment of what I came to see as I went down my walk.
It was with rather great relief that I finally did find a store that was more suited to my interests. “Grease 'n Gulp”. The name may not have been the most obvious, but the Burger and Chips painted onto the window was. I pushed my hand onto the cool steel handle of the door, pushing it open with some mild effort. I'm greeted with a whoosh of warm greasy air for my efforts, the smell of oil, grease, and meat filling my nostrils. It may've been warm outside, but it's sure as heck warmer in here.
Regardless of the temperature, I made my way to the counter, lifting my tail up off the ground as I did. It may've been silly, to feel the floor here may be dirtier than outside, but it simply felt to make sense. I take a quick glance at the menu, skimming by what's on... not much, it seems. Flake and Chips, Chips, Hamburger and Chips, Burger with the Lot and... I end up ordering that, I rummage my coat's pocket, grabbing my wallet out, muttering out “Burger 'n Chips with The Lot, mate” as I pass the $20 over.
The greasy aproned Nidoqueen behind the counter just grunts, stuffing the note into the counter and handing me the change. She walks off, and quite loudly yells some instructions to the kitchen in quite possibly the most Western suburb accent I've ever heard, near ear gratingly so. The stuffs herself onto a worn steel-framed chair, and speaks out to me, “Dinner'll be up in 10, love. Magazines on the table.”, quietly grabbing a half-read magazine, and resuming her reading.
I myself, stuff myself onto one of the leather chairs provided. It's Green, it's worn, it's got a few scratches and a tear, but it's comfy. As in tail hangs off the side if my chair and my coat crumples up, I sit there thinking to myself, the smell of the kitchen continuing to invade my nostrils. My evening wasn't really suppose to pan out this way.
I thought back. See, my friends and I had arranged to go to a show, the annual 'Psychics and Ghosts' show, the extravaganza where people mastered in the darker arts go out of their way to show off what's possible. The issue is, tickets are limited, and they constantly shift their performances every year to more and more obscure locations, to avoid the floods of people trying to force their way in. Anyone that does somehow get a ticket is also kept pretty strict on not revealing the location... it's a pretty big deal, is what I'm saying here. Either way, I am rather disappointed I won't be able to see this show, all due to getting darned lost. If I didn't know any better, I'd have sworn this city was designed as a labyrinth.
And it all comes down to this, no cheering at a large concert hall with a dazzling light show and awesome tricks performed, but a dirty old Burger joint with a clearly tired old Nidoqueen and Chef mindlessly flipping burger meat on a worn out stove. Not that the food doesn't smell good, regardless.
I look at the table next to me... the magazines, all 10 years old, whoda thunk. Magazines with covers plastered with dead people on them, even. Somewhat discerning, and yet strangely fitting, given the night.
I look out the window behind me, the rain is beginning to form... just great. The sound of rain hitting the buildings around the alleyway, the individual drops audibly hitting the thin tin corrugated roofs. I frown, I knew this storm was going to go through, I absolutely knew. The air just quite simply smelt that way, the weatherman on the radio warned of impending storms, and the weatherman on TV risked life and limb to say that there's rather an impressive storm coming through. Yet I simply didn't bother to bring along an umbrella.
I push myself to my feet, and waddle my way over to the desk, leaning over to eye the Nidoqueen, “Hey, listen. Do you know any decent Hotels near here?”, I ask her, it's going to be quite clear that I'm not going home anytime soon, not with how long these storms are forecast for.
She looks up from her slightly torn magazine, “Eh, love?” she says, her nasal voice as western as ever, “Oh, yeah. Upstairs'll grab you a bunk. $20 fa t'night, since ya grabbed dinner from'ere 'lready”. She tilts her head down back to her magazine, propping it back up again, clearly showing it's title 'Womans Weekly' by now, “Put the money in the jar, room's upstairs behind the door,” she points to a faded pink door, the paint clearly beginning to fall off, “Food'll be brought to ya. Hope you enjoy your stay, love”.
I walk my way over to the door, to the Guest Room, rain hitting harder more onto the thin tin roof.
I had to give it to them, the pair make a good meal. I had my doubts, and the end product looked positively greasy. But it was delicious, absolutely delicious. As I chewed and downed the last fat chip, I rubbed my tongue at my chin, grabbing the last remaining drips of salty delicious grease into my mouth. The smell infused itself within my nose and stuck, my belly full with happiness. Yes, sure, this will probably gain me a few kilos, but it most certainly is worth it. Heck, the dinner was even delivered to the table I'm sitting at right now! The Chef delivered it himself, unsurprisingly, he was a rather fat Nidoking. I had a brief chat with him, turns out he's been with his Wife since the two were young kids, raised in the Western Plains of Sandhurst, by the time they were teenagers, they moved here.
His wife, Chelly, ended up working at the local Noctowls until she aged a bit, much to her dismay. The 'king himself worked at the southern suburbs of Sandhurst, a little place called Sandringham. He had odd bobs and jobs, but surprisingly consistent work, having had experience at the harbour, at the railways, the factories, quite a lot of hard labour.
By the time both of them matured, though, it was clear that their lives weren't helping keep them happy. They snagged a cheap Fish and Chippery and wound up here. He lamented on how he'd like to go back to the golden happy days, but ended up admitting that those're long gone.
It was a shame that another customer came in, it would have been nice to keep talking to him, but as he said, “Business is business”, his tail swagging about lazily as he walked out of the room. I never did find out his name.
I yawn. It was a decent rest, the bed soft and comfy, the blankets warm. Pillows well supporting. The dinner must have certainly helped. There was still the vague aftertaste lingering in my mouth, not necessarily a bad thing, in this case.
I glance my eyes to the blinds next to me. They're the wooden venetian type, the light filtering through in strips across my bed and body. My eye filters themselves, having three separate beams blasting across them. I frown, and grab the string at the side, pulling the blinds up, exposing the window completely once and for all. I pull my head over to the window, pushing myself off my back. It seems to be a nice sunny day, barely any clouds in the sky, not too soon after I pull the window open. I breath in deeply, the air is fresh, no smoke, no smog... a very unusually clean and quiet day, in fact. No rumbling, no dinging, no talking. Did I wake up too early?
I looked around the secluded area, the cobblestone alley below. It's quite clean, well kept, surprising, given the area. There's a rather scruffy looking Swampert down there, growling and groaning, his jacket rather scuffed up. He's clearly struggling to take any clear steps, threatening to tremble onto his forepaws with each step he dares make. No sense of balance is displayed, and his eyes clearly off focus and not looking anywhere in particular. The silence is broken near solely by him. Must just be a random drunk, off from a night's drinking... best not bother him. Poor bugger'll recover soon enough.
I push myself off the bed, feet hitting the wooden floor. Not only does the floor groan a bit, I lose my balance a bit myself. Righting myself properly, after an awkward step, I grab my coat, wallet still inside and heavy, as with my other belongings. I whack my coat on, wings tucked in as I do, the weight of the thick clothing holding itself onto my body.
I continued waddling my way through, feet stepping down the stairs, the only noise going about being the groan of the Victorian Ash flooring.