Nov 28, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 6

The mayor of the nearest town called. He asked them to attend a banquet in their honor, and accept the key to the city. Bernhard and Lena chuckled gleefully and speculated about how much money they could get for the phony fossil, if all this interest kept up. Maybe they would even become celebrities, and get to attend Hollywood galas.
They went to the banquet that night, but behaved scandalously. They whispered about the food, as well as the ladies who prepared it, always making sure to be overheard. They scoffed at the quality of the key they were given. Bernhard made a rude gesture with it that sent a gasp through the audience. It was quite a fantastic evening they later agreed, chuckling nastily as usual.

A big-city museum in the east phoned them up. They wanted to discuss buying the specimen. Bernhard accepted their offer of a Pullman sleeping car, as well as a box-car for the bone heap, to take them to the shining metropolis.
"Hi-ho. Hi-ho. We're off to make some dough," said Bernhard.
They had to admit that the accomodations were pretty good. The porters were jolly, yet obligingly servile. Lena ordered Eggs Benedict and it was just the way she liked it (nasty.)

Museum factotums met them at the station with a flat-bed truck for the giant knick-knack. Bernhard and Lena rode behind in a Rolls Royce. They waved to the gawking onlookers, while insulting them beneath their breath.
At one point they asked the chauffeur to stop at a convenience store for cigarettes. Lena was going to lift them out of sheer habit, but the clerk presented a whole carton for free. He shook their hands enthusiastically and congratulated them on their great achievement. Bernhard and Lena snickered.

The factotums unloaded the arts & crafts project into a basement workshop beneath the Museum. Bernhard poked around among some old bones while he and Lena waited.
He knocked his cigarette ash into the brain bin of some ancient creature.
"Looks like plaster to me," said Bernhard.
"Right," said Lena. "A 'reconstruction.' "
"I can't wait to meet these guys," said Bernhard. "They're top cons in my book."
"Mine, too," said Lena. "Real pros, to get away with all this bunk."

The scientists filed down the stairs very sedately. They wore clinical white lab-coats and carried clipboards. Except for one, who wore a pith helmet and bounded down the stairs.
Pith Helmet greeted them with a huge smile and shook their hands profusely.
"Mr. Bernhard! Ms. Lena! De-lighted to finally meet you! This breakthrough of yours is going to revo-lut-ionize the field!"
"Just doing our part," said Bernhard. "Say, any idea how much these things go for nowadays?"
"Oh... er... well..." said Pith Helmet. "We'll have to examine her first... See what kind of condition she's in, you understand... But I should say, oh, $1,000,000 would not be out of the question."
Bernhard and Lena exchanged a quick lizard-like dart of the eyes. They both puffed rapidly on their cigarettes, lost in visions of themselves as $1,000,000-aires.

One of the lab-coated scientists tapped Pith Helmet on the shoulder. He excused himself and went to confer with the group. They were huddled in a circle, mumbling softly.
Bernhard and Lena tried to hear, but they could only make out snatches of the conversation:
"Mumble, mumble... outright fraud... mumble, mumble... phony as a three-dollar bill... mumble, mumble... two-bit cons..."
The blood drained from both their faces. Bernhard flicked his cigarette into the fanged grin of a T-Rex skull.
"Run," he said.
They began huffing their way up the stairs. The exit was blocked, however, by the burly factotums.

"Mr. Bernhard, Ms. Lena," said Pith Helmet, who was standing below them with his arms crossed. "I'm completely dis-enchanted. Anyway, what made you think you could kid a kidder?"
"Uh... Just wanted in the club, I guess," said Bernhard.
"Thought there might be some professional courtesy," said Lena.
Pith Helmet flashed a fanged, lizard-like smile of his own.
"No courtesy among predators, I'm afraid," he said. "The police are on their way... to pick over your carcasses."

Bernhard and Lena were handcuffed and taken to the station for booking.
"They're all fake, you know," said Bernhard to the arresting officers. "You should charge them with 10 times whatever you charge us with."
"Sir, I don't know what's real and what's fake," said the cop. "That's not my job. I just book who I'm told."
"Look at this jail," said Lena as the officer walked off to grab some forms. "It'll be a cinch to bust outta here."
They recognized the mugshot photographer. It was the lady who photographed their bone assemblage.
"I just do this part-time," she told them. "When I get off here, it's back to the Badlands for me."

They made the front page again...

Nov 23, 2016

Finished "The Dinosaur Fakers" --- Available on Amazon, etc.

There's still one more segment or so to post to the blog, but this picture book is available to buy in print form via CreateSpace:

Also on Amazon:

Although I get more money if you buy on CreateSpace... Amazon gives very small royalties I have learned... 89 cents for a $7.99 comic, for example. And all of this assumes you sell $100 of the stuff in the first place, or they won't even cut you a check. So, that's how that works.

But at least you end up with a print copy... Much nicer than trying to read on screen..

Another thing I have learned, incidentally, is that CreateSpace has a $199 setup fee for hardcover books. So, my dream of printing this in hardcover, like one of those nutty little Edward Gorey books, is out the window.

There are other print-on-demand places that do hardcovers as one-offs (like, but they are limited to standard size books. This thing is an oddball landscape format.

Nov 19, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 5

"Why, uh, no, in fact," said Bernhard, sweating nervously.
"Oh, don't ye worry now---I helped plenty o' them dino fakers over the years... Lemme see now... I've some claws and 'orns might be good... An' ye're gonna be wantin' a skull, o' course... Old fish skulls kin be good, jes be sure ye mix 'em up nice..."
"But I tell you," said Bernhard, "we're not.. er.."
"Sure... sure... Ye can trust old Cap'n J. Bob Barnacle ye know... Yer secret's safe w' the cap'n... I'll go down to me watery grave widout whisperin' a word."
"Sure... sure..." said Bernhard. "The bones, please."
"Aye... Now ye're not like them college boys, any fool kin see that... But the Cap'n, 'e don' discriminate. A dino faker's a dino faker in 'is log book!"
"Wonderful," said Bernhard, as a glass snake eye rolled across the wooden floor.

"I can't imagine how we fit all those bones in that little car," said Bernhard when they got back to the motel. They were sitting out by the empty pool, in a stingy patch of shade from some pool furniture. Bones were spread out everywhere, waiting to be formed into some ancient chimera.
"Well, the Cap'n has a way with knots," said Lena. "He would be handy to have when packing for long car trips."
"Or other occasions where tie-downs are required," said Bernhard, with a thin, lizard-like grin. They both chuckled nastily and puffed their cigarettes.
"Well," said Bernhard, who was briefly plunged into shadow by a passing cloud, "shall it be a theropod or a sauropod? I don't know that we ought to stray too far from what the 'big boys' do..."
"Thera-whozit?" said Lena. "Let's just fuck with them on numerology and stuff."
"Oh god, they're so big on the numerology," said Bernhard. "I'm with you on that."

Eventually, inspiration struck. They went through much wire, and many tubes of Killian's Super Bond-O extra strength super glue. When they were done, Bernhard used the front desk phone to call the nearest gazette.
"Hello, Badlands Gazette," said the voice on the phone. "Who is speaking, please?"
"This is Bernhard," said Bernhard. "I want to report a new species of dinosauria... That's right, me and the missus have just come across an old fossil... And I don't mean me! Ha-ha..."
"Now listen here, Mister," Bernhard continued, "This is the biggest scoop you've had all year... Maybe all decade... I'd send your top man out right away, see?"
Bernhard hung up the phone. He and Lena looked at the clerk.
"Are you finding everything to be satisfactory?" said the clerk.

Bernhard and Lena were sitting outside by the empty pool when a lady reporter arrived by bicycle.
"It's about time," said Bernhard. "What took you so long?"
"Yeah," said Lena, exhaling a cloud of smoke at the lady reporter.
"I have another job," said the lady reporter. "I can only do this part-time."
"Sounds like a real dinky operation," said Bernhard.
"Strictly two-bit I'd say," said Lena.
"Is this the fossil?" said the lady reporter, gesturing with her pen at the giant bone conglomeration.
"No," said Bernhard, "I'm the fossil; that's our dog, Fido."
The lady reporter opened her notepad and asked them to describe the find.
"It was nothing, really," said Bernhard. "Any boob would've recognized the 5th meta-tarsal protruding from the cliff-face like that."
"Yes," Lena agreed. "It was so obvious. Even a louse-ridden child would've done the same."

"It does take skill," added Bernhard, "to release the fossil from its matrix. But nothing your average nincompoop can't do with a little practice."
"Thank you," said the lady reporter after a few more questions. She put away her notebook and retrieved a large-format Hasselbad from her bike basket. Bernhard and Lena puffed their cigarettes and stood by as she struggled with the sensitive equipment.
A loud pop accompanied the flashbulb, and that was that:  the story was immediately picked up by the wire service and went nationwide. It was on the front page of every newspaper the following morning. The desk clerk had to keep buzzing them to take calls from reporters, curiosity-seekers, and even the governor of Utah (he wanted them to come find a fossil in his state.)

Nov 13, 2016

"The Dinosaur Fakers" - 4

"Yes," said Bernhard. "But let's not mix the Kingdom of Heaven up in this; might jinx our hunt for dino bones. (Not that they really exist.)"
Bernhard was new to the use of explosives. He was laying the charge based on "feel."
"I'd say that's about yea-right, wouldn't you?"
"How the hell should I know," said Lena.
Bernhard knelt down and lit the fuse with his cigarette.
"Run," said Bernhard.
They ran a good ways from the charge and knelt behind a boulder.
"Oh and plug your ears," said Bernhard. 

 The cliff exploded in a massive cloud of dust and debris. For several minutes a silty mix of pulverized stone and ash rained down on the two miscreants.
"On the plus side---" Bernhard began, but a long coughing fit cut him off.
"WHAT?" said Lena, who could barely hear from the ringing in her ears.
"On the plus side, it sort of blocks the sun. You know, the dense clouds of debris," said Bernhard.
"SO," said Lena, "WHERE ARE THE BONES?"
Bernhard was poking the debris around idly with one foot. An unlit cigarette dangled from his mouth.

Bernhard rushed over to see.
"What?" he said. "I don't see anything."
"No, look," said Lena, whose ears were settling down. "It's like one o' them... Whaddaya call 'em... vertobras or somet'in... You know, back bones, spinal thingies."
"Hm," said Bernhard. "You must have a good eye. Looks like a plain old rock to me."
"No, no," said Lena, puffing on her cigarette with the serene air of the great discoverer she was. "Definitely some sort of back doohickey."
"Well," said Bernhard, yawning, "I don't see anything else. Guess we can call it a day. The rest we can---you know---fake."
"Right," said Lena, expelling a big puff of smoke into the waning daylight. "We'll fake the rest."

With some difficulty, they lugged the stone into their seedy motel room and placed it on the dresser. It looked like a pagan idol of some sort. They lay on separate twin beds, looking at it, chain-smoking, exhausted.
Bernhard casually glanced in Lena's direction.
"No," said Lena. "Forget it. Not tonight."
Bernhard sighed and went into the bathroom.
"Heh-heh," chuckled Lena nastily.
The next morning though found Bernhard whistling as he groomed his oily, pencil-thin moustache. He was wondering, as he often did, if he should let the ends grow out so he could twirl it villainously. The chief consideration against this plan was that his line of work mitigated against being too showy.
Lena was in a good mood too. She was still lying in bed, smoking as always---but very contentedly.
"Forget about your moustache and work out this scam of ours," she said, reading his mind. "That's what you're so good at."
"You're good at something, too," said Bernhard.
"Heh-heh," chuckled Lena nastily, again.

"There's no time like now," said the grizzled and salty old sea captain behind the counter. Bernhard and Lena were standing in his taxidermy shop, a converted old schooner.
"How's that again," said Bernhard.
"To buy a stuffed beaver. Or pick-your-rodent. No time like the present."
"We were actually thinking more along the line of some old bones," said Bernhard.
"Anything in particular?" said the sea captain.
"Oh, a little of this, a little of that," said Bernhard. "Sort of a mixed bag would be nice."
"Dino fakers, ain't ye now?" said the sea captain with a knowing twinkle in his one good eye.
Lena dropped a jar of glass eyeballs.

Nov 5, 2016

"The Dinosaur Fakers" - 3

"And how," said Lena, twirling her tea around with a spoon, "do you propose to get us in that club?"
"We'll hot-wire an auto," replied Bernhard, "and drive to the Badlands of Montana. There probably are some sort of old bones out there. The rest we can fake."
"It can't hurt to try," said Lena, who found her role as lookout to be too much like a real job.
They left the cafe and surveyed the street.
"There's one," said Bernhard. "You jimmy the trunk and see if there's any motoring gear. I'll work on the ignition wires."

The street was dead quiet, nobody around. Everything went smoothly and soon they were on the road.
"I've never been to the Badlands," said Bernhard. "See if you can lift a map at the next fuel stop."
"Right-o," said Lena, as she shielded her Zippo flame from the rush of air.

Several days later, after nights spent in disgusting flea-bag motels, they arrived at the Badlands.
"The name suits it, I think," said Bernhard, who was sweating profusely in the hot sun. They had acquired picks and chisels at a hardware store in Duluth.
"This seems exactly like work," said Lena. "And what's the idea, anyway? Ya just start diggin' and up comes an ichthyosaurus?"
"No," said Bernhard. "The idea is to look about sharply... To peruse the rocks and cliff-faces intently... in hopes that some unusual conformation may indicate the presence of fossilized bone."
"Well listen to the big dummy," said Lena. "Sounds good on paper, but I'd like to see ya spot a stegy stickin' outta some old stone, just like that."
"Nice alliteration," said Bernhard. "But I see one now, in fact. Or, if not a 'stegy,' then some ancient creature's bony rump."
Lena followed Bernhard's gaze.
"I got nothin'," said Lena. "Looks like plain old gray stone to me."
"Then stand aside, wench," said Bernhard, "as I reveal what is surely a magnificent new contribution to human understanding."

Bernhard laid into the cliff-face.
"Ungh!" he grunted. Sweat was dripping off of him in rivers now. His clothes were drenched. The pick-axe made little, if any, impact on the stone.
Lena chuckled nastily. If she had had a thin villainous moustache she might have stroked it; in lieu of that she took leisurely drags on her cigarette.
"Behold... wench..." said Bernhard, summoning his strength for another blow.
"Ungh! Ungh! Ungh!" he grunted, striking the implacable stone repeatedly.
"Heh-heh," Lena chuckled.

Exhausted, Bernhard tried to huddle against the stone in a thin sliver of shade, but the sun was almost directly overhead.
"This isn't working," said Bernhard.
"No," said Lena. "Just as I told you. I suppose it's back to the daily grind for us."
"There is one thing we could try first," said Bernhard.
Lena waited.
"Dynamite," said Bernhard. "I picked up some dynamite too at that hardware store. See can you get it out of the trunk. And don't jostle it too much: I'm not sure how sensitive it is."
"See can you get your own damn dynamite out of the trunk," said Lena, tossing her cigarette on the ground. But she went anyway.
"Say," Lena said, "there's enough sticks in here to blow the whole valley to Kingdom Come and back."