“Wait here,” Billy said. He nervously adjusted his tie. He felt somewhat out of place in a navy business suit. His partner, Red, was a burly five-foot clown with blue rubbery strands for hair. “I’ll negotiate, you’ll only be in the way.” The pair stood just inside the door of a crowded diner; both kept their eyes on a clown couple seated at one of the larger booths. A dozen colorful clowns dotted various groups throughout the restaurant. Billy approached the table he’d set his eyes on. As he neared it, he felt the gaze of every clown in the place watching his every move. He reached the table and both clowns, a male, and female looked up at him. Billy focused on the balding one with a horseshoe of bright blond curls around the white top of his head.
“LaughTrack?” Billy asked.
“That’s who I am, my good man.” The clown smiled. “And this lovely pet is known as WaterJet,” he introduced the clown with bright blue tears painted on her white face. “What can we do today to get you on your way?” Billy shook his head and sighed.
“I have a…”Billy paused. He almost said, ‘friend’ but he did not want a friend like Red. “…an associate that wants your name. What would it take for you to release it?”
“My name? Preposterous, insane!” LaughTrack raised his voice. Billy realized all the clowns in the restaurant gathered around him expecting trouble. LaughTrack glared. “This name is my claim to fame. It belonged to a powerful clown, but he’s temporarily down. When he returns to the AlterNet, he’ll come find me. That’s a bet.”
“What happens when he does?” Red stepped out of the crowd of clowns that surrounded Billy.
“IT’S YOU! IT’S TRUE!” LaughTrack bolted from the table and knelt before the short clown as fast as he could. Most of the clowns in the restaurant followed suit and bowed. Billy looked around at the display. Over a dozen clowns were bowing to Red. The rest of the patrons in the restaurant kept eating as if nothing interesting was going on.
“Are they NPC’s?” he asked WaterJet; the only clown not bowing. She nodded.
“This is the Clown Patrol guild hall. We like the restaurant look.”
“Great, so you’re gonna give me my name back, right?” Red looked down LaughTrack. The blond, balding clown sat up on his knees and shook his head.
“Forgive me, great one, normally it’d be fine. But this isn’t just about fun. Our guild is on the line.” Red sighed at LaughTrack.
“Do you have to rhyme everything?”
“I’m RP’ing! It’s very freeing!” Red and Billy both looked at WaterJet.
“What’s the situation with the name?” Red asked her.
“Dana Sharp is holding a big derby tournament,” she shrugged. “We signed up so that means LaughTrack has to compete. If he changes his name then you have to compete in his place; we won’t have a full roster otherwise.”
“Derby, huh?” Red glanced at Billy. The lean, suited man nodded in approval. “Alright. I’ll join you for the tournament. ONLY for the tournament.”