Chapter 2: A Trip Uptown
"Ready?" Felony Carl asked as he turned his spike and flame-covered motorcycle on.
"Almost," Globby said as he was about to get on the idling vehicle. It was almost 10am now and they were about to head out on their drive. In the next moment, the gelatinous mutant transformed into Dibs again and fabricated a violet bike helmet for himself. "No point in having you get a ticket for my lack of proper headwear, even if I don't really need it," he stated with a wink as he put it on. "I also don't think your bike would like it if I gunk up your rear wheel."
Felony Carl finished putting on his black helmet and added, "I doubt the people driving behind us would appreciate it either." He then gave his boyfriend a wink too and gestured to hop on.
With Dibs secured in the back and holding onto Felony Carl's torso, the two were on their way through the mid-morning traffic. They could hear the wind rushing by as they made their drive north. The weather was as the news reported: pleasantly warm in the mid-70s with a light breeze to keep things from getting too hot. It had been a while since Dibs had ridden on Carl's motorcycle, so it was nice to feel that familiar humming the vehicle created as it moved. It was also nice to have an extended period of hugging Felony Carl, even though he couldn't always have a conversation.
As they went, they passed by a few street cars packed with people off to run errands as well as various cars ranging from trucks to minivans to taxis. Every now and then, the disguised shapeshifter would wave at people as they drove by, garnering mixed reactions ranging from a wave back to a "Do I know him?" expression.
At one point, they came to a stop light that was on top of a hill. From their position, they could see the street stretch and branch off in the distance while it was lined with buildings of different sizes and colors; there were even a few parks one could make out to provide some greenery to the view. Dibs gave a contented sigh and commented, "Gotta love the views we have here." Felony Carl nodded in silent agreement as the light turned green and they were moving again.
As they neared the market, the bay became the main view on the horizon as the salty air smell increased. They were almost there when the husky biker made an early right turn on Bei St. and away from their destination. Dibs looked a little curious and confused as he asked, "Hey Carl, isn't the Marianas Market that way?" while pointing with his thumb.
With a knowing smile, Felony Carl answered, "It is, but I have a preplanned detour to perform." Since he was along for the ride and wanted to be surprised, he didn't press further. The reformed mutant would get his answer a minute later as they parked in front of an outdoor shopping mall, where there were many people bustling about.
"Aww Carl," Dibs said as he got off the motorcycle, removed his helmet and reverted to his normal form. "Chihiribli Square. You shouldn't have," he told Felony Carl with a tender, appreciative look.
The motorcyclist disembarked his ride now and took off his headwear too. "I presumed you would enjoy a confectionary treat from a place you seldom visit, especially before we spend an indeterminate amount of time at the market."
"Why Felony Carl, are you suggesting having ice cream this early and before lunch? You must be some kind of evil genius," Globby lovingly teased/flirted as he took the larger man's hand. "Well, no time like the present when it comes to dessert," he added with a wink.
The two of them proceeded to walk into the busy area, passing by many other people as they gazed at the various shops and restaurants. Admittedly, there were some out-of-town folks (who hadn't seen Globby before) staring at him as he walked by, but many others just waved or did nothing and went about their day as if he was like everyone else.
"You know what? Being out here today of all days, and just being able to be me with you by my side with no one really judging my appearance, it feels kind of…surreal. Wait. Is that the right word?" Globby said while checking with his boyfriend that his vocabulary was right.
Felony Carl nodded and remarked, "Surreal is an apt choice. Perhaps, the presence of so many other bizarre events combined with your personable demeanor has helped aided this level of acceptance."
"Yeah, this city's crazy. That's probably why we fit in so well," the gelatinous mutant added with a playful nudge. They were almost across the plaza when an alarm could be heard blaring. Almost everyone stopped and searched for the source, including Globby and Felony Carl. A few moments later, there was a young man seen running down the stairs and away from the Mi Precioso Jewelry Store. He was wearing a dark brown jacket, black shirt and wearing a black facemask that covered the lower half of his face. As this man was running, he kept bumping into people as he carried a dark blue duffel bag; seconds later, out of the store came two security guards in white and blue uniforms searching for the runner.
"Speaking of crazy, I don't think this is a drill," Globby remarked before giving a quick peck on Carl's cheek. "Be right back," he said with a smile before stretching his right arm to the nearest rooftop. Felony Carl just watched as the shapeshifter took off and letting a small, proud smile of his own appear on his face.
With more freedom to move and able to see further, he located the thief almost instantly. He then went ahead and briefly turned into his pterodactyl form so he could both catch him faster and likely take him by surprise. At this point, the running man had only been focused on making out without being caught. Once he was almost to the entrance archway, a dark grey truck started up and another man in the same getup was gesturing for his partner to hurry up. The jewel thief was almost there when all of a sudden, he found a lasso around him that held him back; Globby had transformed back to his regular self midair and with his right hand grabbing the archway to slow his descent, he launched his left arm to capture the fleeing criminal. Upon seeing this, the getaway driver tried to immediately drive away.
Now that he was on the ground, the gelatinous mutant proceeded to aim a transparent finger at the tires and shot metal spikes at them, making an immediate hissing sound. The driver then attempted to leave the truck, only to be stopped again when he got lassoed from overhead after he got out. He grunted and struggled to break free, but stopped and gave a yelp when Globby lifted him off the ground a little as he pulled him in.
"While I admire your determination, your timing was terrible," he casually said as he brought the two bad guys to him. The shapeshifter heard some running footsteps behind him, so he turned to find the two security guards finally arriving. There was then a murmur of excitement that followed, both from more people realizing what just happened and from it occurring right in front of them.
"I believe these are the men you're looking for," Globby told them as he moved the two criminals over to the uniformed officers, being sure not to let them go until they were properly handcuffed. Once he released the thieves, who were looking extremely displeased for multiple reasons, Globby quickly asked, "Need anything else?"
The two guards exchanged "I don't know" looks and a shrug before one answered, "I think we're good."
The reformed mutant smiled and replied, "Great. I've gotta go back inside, so if anything changes, you know where to find me." He then proceeded to stretch an arm to the archway again and started swinging himself over the crowd of spectators, garnering some cheers and some photography. After a few moments of searching, he found Felony Carl sitting next to the center fountain with hippocampi and catfish figurines in it.
When Globby smoothly dropped down beside him, the husky biker stood up, greeted him with a hug and knowingly asked, "Everything go well?"
"Sorry about that Carl. Where were we?"
A short walk and a 10-minute line wait later
The two former criminals finally got the ice cream they came for. Felony Carl had ordered a cake batter cone with rainbow sprinkles while Globby got chocolate chip cookie dough with a chocolate caramel ribbon. They now were just sitting next to the fountain again as they enjoyed their treat and talked.
"This was a great idea Felony Carl. I can make ice cream anytime I want, but something about actually putting in the effort to get it seems to make it taste better," Globby complimented as he took another bite from his cone. "Doing it with you probably helps too," he added with a gentle nudge to Carl.
The bandana-clad man gave a small, soft laugh before he replied, "Perhaps the saying 'Victory never tasted so sweet' would be appropriate here?" This garnered a chuckle from the shapeshifter, who then tried to keep his ice cream from dripping.
"Oh, you truly get me Carl. So, you still up for the Marianas Market?" Globby curiously asked.
Felony Carl ate some more of his dessert before nodding and saying, "It is always enjoyable to see the various wares people are selling." Globby then smiled contently as he went back to finishing his decadent treat.
Around 10 minutes later
"Let's do this," Dibs boldly said as he and Felony Carl were geared up and ready to hit the road again; although they were only a short ride away from the market at this point, the disguised mutant was still excited for every minute of it. The duo proceeded to drive into traffic and retracing their route back to Bei St. They passed various businesses and apartment buildings as the sidewalks were dotted with people. Most of them were dressed in casual shirts and shorts, but a few had athletic wear on and were probably about to take a jog through the park they drove by. Felony Carl then turned up Langosta St. and they were home free to the Marianas Market.
As the two pulled up, it was clearly already busy as they had to take a parking spot near the end of the lot, but a little walk didn't bother them. Once they both got off the bike and Globby shifted back to normal, they headed in.
"Must have a lot of neat stuff to bring in all these people," Globby casually remarked as the passed the rows of cars.
"They do. Any chance you recollect the last visit you had here?" Felony Carl inquired.
The shapeshifter shrugged and replied, "I don't really remember when the last time I came was, but a while for sure. Since it's been so long though, that's where the excitement comes in as it'll basically feel brand new to me. Weren't you here last month?"
The husky biker nodded and said, "I had stopped here briefly to obtain the necessary ingredients for dinner."
"Oh, was that the day you made that shrimp risotto? It was amazing," Globby complimented as they finally made it to the front of the market.
Before they even were in the thick of it, the noise from all the people walking and talking to one another was a constant presence. There were various stalls spread throughout the four aisles of shopping that ranged from fruit and veggies, fresh seafood, handmade jewelry, and everything in-between. The two reformed criminals decided to start on the left side of the market as they weaved their way through all the people (although it was mainly Globby worried about bumping into people for obvious reasons). They browsed the stalls as they went and pointed out any odd/different items they came across, with the spiked kiwano melon, mesmerizing romanesco broccoli and giant jackfruit being some of the more notable oddities.
Every now and then, they'd strike up a conversation with the sellers to see how business was going and what deals they had. There were also some people who were fans of Globby who just wanted to say hi, of which he was more than willing to oblige as long as he made sure not to ignore Felony Carl.
"Sorry if this is more attention than usual Carl. I can change to my Dibs look if it's too much, that way we can finish the rest of this time in relative peace," the gelatinous mutant offered with concern noticeable in his voice.
The bandana-clad man shook his head, took his boyfriend's hand and told him, "Nothing is the matter, and I know you enjoy the feeling of admiration given to you for your good deeds; besides, this is still minor compared to the massive influx of attention you received six months prior."
Globby's worry subsided a little and let a small smile appear on his face. "Well, let's keep exploring then."
The two had just headed back down the second aisle again to browse the third set of stalls when they spotted one selling handmade hats.
"Aww, look at these Carl. They're just adorable. They made one with pointy cat ears, floppy dog ears and this one has a rainbow mane. Oh, this hat looks like an alien and there's a ghost too. Talk about creativity," Globby fawned over the headwear. Felony Carl examined them and nodded in agreement before turning to the young crafter.
"Your work is exemplary. Where do you get your inspiration for your imaginative designs?" he inquired.
The young woman, who had black hair and looked to be in her early 20s, blushed a little at what they said and answered, "Well, I learned to crochet when I was a teenager and from there, I just started to add more detail and make new things I thought be cute or cool."
"That's just such an amazing skill! I'm always in awe anytime I see something like this," Globby continued to compliment. He then turned to Felony Carl and said, "I'll have to see if any of the guys might want one and come back; I can certainly think of one who'd like the alien hat and another who'd go for that cute cat hat."
The husky biker nodded again and asked, "Do you by chance frequent this market?"
The booth owner smiled and replied, "As a matter of fact, I do. So, just come back anytime the market's open and you'll find me."
"Sweet! Thanks for the info and we'll try to get back with you Miss…" the shapeshifter trailed off in realizing they didn't get her name.
"It's Anna," she responded in a cheerful demeanor.
"Thank you Anna. Hope we didn't take up too much of your time."
"It's fine. Plus, I'm a big fan of yours, so it's been a pleasure."
"Well, anytime. Have a lovely day," Globby added before waving goodbye and walking beside Felony Carl. "Did you see how cool those were? Man, I wish I could make those," he stated as they resumed their browsing.
Felony Carl raised part of his unibrow and pointed out with a touch of lighthearted teasing, "You are aware you can fabricate practically anything?"
"Oh, you know what I mean. I just think it and it happens, but to work out the pattern layer-by-layer and make them look so cute too; it's just something worth praising someone over is all I'm saying," the gelatinous mutant elaborated as he gave Carl a faux pout. Globby then winked to let him know everything was okay.
The duo finished their trek down the aisle and started up the next, where it appeared to have more food stalls and commercial items than the previous rows. There was a booth selling various sports jerseys and another belonging to a candle store owner that was called "Paraffinalia." One place that seemed enticing to both of the former felons was a food stand called "Kebobs and Such." They got closer and could see from the menu that they were mostly chicken, beef and lamb-based dishes, but with varying seasoning and dips to go with certain regions. The flavors ranged from sweet, spicy, savory, and everything else.
"Ooo. I don't think I've ever been here before. Want to try it Carl?" Globby asked as he turned to the aforementioned man.
"This place is unfamiliar to me, but a cursory glance and the smell of the food certainly seems appealing. I am in favor of sampling it," Felony Carl eloquently answered.
Globby smiled and said, "Okay, but it's my treat since you got the ice cream. What sounds good to you? I was leaning towards the Hoisin beef and peppers."
The husky biker looked at the options displayed in front for a few seconds before replying, "I feel a preference to ordering the l'Orange chicken and onions."
"That sounds yummy. Want anything else? Rice, chips, salad, soda, water, tea? I'm just going to keep listing stuff until you stop me," Globby cheekily informed his boyfriend.
Felony Carl gave a small chuckle and answered, "If you insist. I would like to add a bottle of water and a salad to my order."
The shapeshifter smiled and responded, "Okay, and I'll get a ginger ale plus a bag of sour cream and onion chips. I'm gonna go ahead and get this put in for us." Globby proceeded to take a few steps up to the front of the stand and waited as the man in back was working the grill. The cook appeared to be in his late 50s and was wearing a dark green T-shirt, jeans and a brown apron.
"Uh…" Globby started to say when the man called out, "Number 41 is ready!" He then turned around with four hot skewers in a to-go box with a scoop of rice and black beans on the side. To the reformed mutant's left, a young man in his early 30s came up and took the box before rushing off to the nearest dining area.
"Sorry for the delay. We're a bit short-handed to…" the older man apologized before pausing as he was now actually able to properly see who was ordering.
Since the staring and pausing were nothing new to him, Globby simply put on a smile again and politely said, "Hi. I uh, would like to get an order of the Hoisin beef and peppers with sour cream and onion chips and a ginger ale. Then, I'd like an order of the l"Orange chicken and onions with a side salad and a bottle of water please."
The cook finally snapped out of his surprise halfway through Globby's request and began writing it down; a few seconds later, the stand owner typed into the cash register to print out the bill. "Okay, all of that comes to $19.78. Should be ready in a few minutes."
"Thank you, my good man," the gelatinous man happily responded as he formed a gold coin the size of a dime and placed it on the counter. The other man accepted the payment with some hesitance, but after he inspected it for a moment to be sure it was real, he turned back towards the grill and looking a great deal happier. Globby proceeded to walk back to Felony Carl as they waited for their food. "It'll be out soon," the shapeshifter casually told him.
"Consider yourself lucky most establishments are fond of being paid significantly more than what their goods and services are worth," the motorcyclist stated with a small smirk.
Globby let out a short laugh and replied, "Why wouldn't they? Besides, it's not like I carry a wallet with me and it's not fair to make you pay for everything. Just be glad I know better than to flaunt it and use it for stuff we don't need."
Felony Carl then gave Globby a tender look as he placed a large hand on his shoulder. "Truly, you are a better man than most."
Globby gave a small smile in response before slyly remarking, "There are some of those that would argue I'm not technically a man now." Upon hearing this, Felony Carl playfully nudged Globby as if to say, "You got me there."
The two of them then waited by the stand as they watched people go by with their various bags, some full of market goods while others were still empty. They could also see a few parents walk by, either pushing their baby strollers or actively holding their child's hand so they wouldn't get lost.
"Number 42 is ready!" Only took a few minutes as promised. Both former felons turned and walked a few steps to pick up their meals before offering their gratitude.
Now they just needed a place to sit; fortunately, they had a dozen small tables and chairs set up near the end of the aisle and only about forty feet away. Once they made the small trek to get seated, Globby and Felony Carl finally opened their boxes and began eating their lunch.
"Looks good," the gelatinous mutant commented as he went for the bag of chips.
The unibrowed man nodded as he twisted the cap of his water bottle off and took a sip. There were a few minutes of them just chewing and enjoying their food while the incoherent chatter of the other people played as ambiance before Globby spoke.
"So, we've been through most of this place. Anything speak to you Carl?" he wondered as he drank some of his soda.
Felony Carl appeared to ponder for a moment before answering, "The produce section offered a bounty of options. It would be remiss of me not to try the romanesco and get some shallots too."
"Do you mean the spirally-green thing? I'm up for trying it, but you'll have to prep it because in all honesty, I can't stop staring at it. I mean, I'm a mutant and I still can't believe it just naturally looks like that," Globby admitted with a small laugh and taking a bite from his skewer.
Felony Carl chuckled and replied, "Nature is full of both intricate and simple beauties. I was also tempted to revisit the coffee and tea booth since these types of gatherings typically offer a rarer variety."
"Ooo, you thinking of trying that coconut cream one? I thought it sounded good and that truffle one too. They also had that grog one, which sounded interesting, but what does grog even taste like?" the shapeshifter questioned as he got a bit off track.
His boyfriend raised part of his unibrow and cheekily responded, "I have heard it tastes like butterscotch, but there is only one way to be sure."
Globby gave another small laugh and said, "Yeah, there is only one way." He proceeded to munch on a couple chips while he and Felony Carl briefly went back to people watching, all while trying to think of what to say next.
"So, is there perhaps anything you would like to purchase from these various establishments?" Felony Carl asked first, beating Globby to the punch.
"Well, I guess you know what coffee I want to try," he answered with a wink. He then was silent for a little while he contemplated. There was that orange blossom tea we could share, but I also wouldn't say no to those cotton candy grapes either; the booth that made fresh pasta and bread looked delicious too. So many choices.
Globby sighed as he weighed his options, making the husky biker inquire, "Having a tough predicament?"
"Uh-huh. Lots of wonderful stuff here like you were talking about. Best I can figure is getting a little bit of each item on my list so we don't miss out on anything," the pink and purple man offered as he gave a shrug.
"Sounds like a reasonable arrangement to me and you do tend to have good taste," Felony Carl stated before winking too.
The gelatinous mutant chuckled a little and joked, "I don't think 'good taste' means the same thing as 'tastes good.'" He then leaned forward a little as he asked his next question. "So Carl, what did you want to do after this?"
I recommend you look up some of the fruits/veggies I mention in this because they truly do look interesting. ;) Also, you probably already guessed that Globby and Felony Carl went to their world's version of Ghirardelli Square, but I got "Chihiribli" from Chihiro and Ghibli combined since I love the Miyazaki movies. ^_^ It was a lot of fun (as usual) to come up with the fake names, so I hope you got some laughs or possible "?" faces out of reading them. In addition, I thought doing some world building with seeing Globby and Felony Carl outside of Joe's would give the chance to see that although Globby is different, he at least isn't facing the same judgement and screams he got when he started out.
The next chapter will have Felony Carl and Globby drive out of the city, but have to make a change of plans to go somewhere different in order to have some fun.