Something to make you think twice about jumping on that first goomba [Bowser pic taken from http://www.screwattack.com]
It’s a cold night in the Mushroom Kingdom.
There are three stars in the sky, none of them shining as bright as they used to.
Next to one of the stars, a flag with the dragon king; its shell military green, its eyes fiery red.
The only other thing in the sky, the moon, shines a spotlight on a small cottage, bunched with other small cottages and a control tower, on an estate just past the mini-castle on World 1, Level 1.
We go in closer, swooping like a Stazi spy in a bird costume until we’re all the way inside the kitchen.
‘I told you, I can’t…’
‘He’s our leader, Aidan.’
‘It’s my job to follow his orders. You know that. He’s the leader, he makes the laws.’
‘I didn’t choose him.’
‘None of us did. He just took over.’
Goomba Joanna glances at the poster of the dragon’s face on the wall, pinned up beside another poster that’s either a child’s scribbling or modern art. The dragon’s eyes are paper and colour and don’t seem to be moving.
‘Quiet,’ she whispers.
‘Why? He’s not here.’
‘Nuh-huh.’ Goomba Aidan shuffles to the fridge and pulls out another beer. ‘He’s on World eight, Level four, fucking that princess.’
‘Aidan, please…shut up.’
‘I won’t. Not in my own house.’
Goomba Joanna points at the beer. ‘Haven’t you had enough already?’
Goomba Aidan opens the can and drinks half of it before answering. ‘Nuh-huh.’
‘You say that a lot.’
‘It’s very annoying.’
‘Bowser’s beard…okay fine, whatever you wanna think, think it, I don’t care. Just don’t say it out loud, okay?’
‘It’s a free kitchen.’
‘I’m serious. This world’s hard enough as it is…’
‘The words of an apologist.’
‘Hey, that’s not fair.’
‘The words of a sheep.’
‘That’s not…okay, you know what, if that’s the worst thing you can say, fine. Sheep. I can live with that.’
‘Of course you can. You’re BSP, that’s your motto.’
‘I’m police, not BSP.’
‘And the difference is…’
Goomba Joanna shuffles out of the kitchen and into the living room, where a baby goomba is standing [sitting?], half watching ‘Koopa Beach’ on TV, half flicking bits of fluff at another dragon poster next to the window.
Goomba Aidan shuffles after her, beer still in hand.
‘So you’re actually going through with it then?’
‘We’re done talking about this.’
‘No, I wanna know…are you going through with it?’
Goomba Joanna pats the baby with her feet. ‘Are you putting him to bed or am I?’
‘It’s half ten already. Bed time.’
‘Don’t change the topic…’
‘Okay, fine, I’ll do it. As usual.’
Goomba Joanna kicks the portable infant slope until it’s leaning against her side then nudges the baby.
‘Hey, I asked you a question, Jo.’
‘And I answered it already.’
The baby shuffles up the tiny slope and onto his mother’s head.
‘So, you are…’
‘For the fifty-first hundred time. Yes, I’m going.’
‘Going to get yourself killed.’
‘No, I’m going to patrol, like every other trooper…the same route I do every day, the same route I’ve always done, red demon or not.’
‘At the first question blocks…right next to the portal where he…’
‘Yes, at the portal. Next to the first set of question blocks. And if the red demon does come…’if’ being the operative word as he hasn’t come for over a year now…but if he does come then I’ll talk to him, tell him to turn back. And if he tries to resist then I’ll…’
‘Don’t be melodramatic.’
‘You’ll die and leave us here alone…’
‘All because that fucking dragon…turtle…whatever he is, says so.’
‘Aidan, please…the baby.’
Goomba Aidan drinks more of the beer. ‘Fine, forget it. If you’re going, just go.’
‘Don’t be silly. It’s not time yet.’
‘Why wait? You’re so eager to die, just go now, what’s the point of waiting?’
‘Just go and die for your precious turtle king rapist…’
‘Look, I told you, stop speaking so loud…’
‘Why should I? Shouldn’t I…it’s my house…my living room…’
‘If you wanna march out and have your head caved in by the red demon, go ahead. But don’t tell me to stand here and pretend like it’s…like it’s justified…like it’s the right thing you’re doing.’
‘You’re upsetting Bowser Jr.’
‘He doesn’t understand any of it.’
‘He understands raised voices.’
‘So what…he’s not crying.’
Goomba Aidan takes another swig and sits down on the sofa. Well, more like rolls…goomba legs aren’t long enough to necessitate a goomba word for ‘sit’.
‘Look, I don’t wanna argue with you…’ says Goomba Joanna, trying to strategically tilt her head so the baby goomba doesn’t fall off.
‘I just wanna put Boswer Jr. to bed and then rest a little before going to work tomorrow…is that okay with you?’
‘I’m not stopping you.’
‘Why don’t you roll back and watch Koopa Beach for a while…take your mind off things.’
‘Yeah, just stay here and let the soap wash over my brain…’
‘I’ll be back in a bit.’
‘Sure, can’t wait.’
‘Five minutes, okay?’
‘Maybe when you get back, we can sing songs lauding the rapist…’
‘Open the windows wider and shout it out…then all your BSP friends can sing it too…’
Goomba Joanna glances over towards the window, panicked. She kicks herself mentally for not doing it sooner. But it’s okay, the window is pulled all the way down. Whatever Aidan thinks, he’s not that stupid.
‘I’m not letting you go, Jo…’
‘Come on, little guy,’ she says upwards, hoping the baby isn’t already asleep.
‘I’m not. I won’t.’
‘Daddy’s being difficult again.’
‘I’ll lock the door and tie you to the bed if I have to…’
Goomba Joanna shrugs and carries Bowser Jr down the corridor, past the four other dragon posters, to the second bedroom. She tries to make some noises to entertain the baby, but she’s not really putting any thought into it. How can she? Aidan’s right. The dragon is a rapist. And a monster. And it’s his fault the red demon keeps coming into their kingdom…
‘Goomba goomba goomba boo boo,’ says Bowser Jr, tapping his feet on the top of his mother’s head.
But what choice is there? When the dragon tells you to walk, you walk. Even if it is next to the portal, you go out and you walk. That’s the job of the police…was the job of the police. Now it’s the job of the Bowser Special Police. ‘Same job as before, different boss, that’s all,’ said her superior when things first changed. ‘Any questions, just ask and I’ll forward them to the KSP on World 8, Level 3.’ Far as I know, she thinks, the only goomba who ever asked anything was found a week later in World 4, his face cut off.
‘Goomba goo goo.’
‘Goomba ga boo doo. Gaga goomba goo doo.’
‘Goomba goo goo…’
‘Goomba goo goo.’
‘That’s right, little guy.’ Goomba Joanna lowers her head and tilts thirty degrees, letting Bowser Jr. slide into the cot. ‘You’re a cute little goomba, aren’t you?’
‘Goomba goo goo.’
‘Yes, you are.’ Goomba Joanna looks into her child’s eyes, trying to ignore the eyes on the dragon poster pinned up behind him, the poster all parents are “encouraged” to put in their children’s bedrooms. ‘When you grow up, you’re gonna be a brave goomba, aren’t you? Yes, you are. Braver than Daddy, isn’t that right.’
‘Goomba goo goo.’
‘Yes, Daddy doesn’t understand things like bravery and duty because he’s an architect, isn’t he?’
‘Goomba goo ga ba.’
‘Goomba Daddy stupid…’
Goomba Joanna checks the doorway behind, then the dragon’s eyes. No movement.
‘No, Mummy might’ve been a bit harsh there, little guy.’
‘Yeah, Mummy bad. Well, a little bad. Not that bad.’
‘Goomba daba daba.’
‘Daddy’s gonna take good care of you, I promise.’
‘Yes, Mummy too.’
‘Goomba ga ga. Gab goo boo goomba.’
‘Okay, little guy. Just make sure Daddy doesn’t drink so much, okay?’
‘Good, good.’ Goomba Joanna leans against the cot and tries to kiss her child on the head, but the cot’s too low down. Instead, she rubs his side with her foot. ‘You remember…don’t do what Mommy did, okay?’
‘Goomba ga ba boo boo.’
‘Don’t join the BSP.’
‘In fact, don’t join the police either, if that’s what it’s called. Don’t make the same mistake Mummy did okay?’
‘Goomba Mummy mistake?’
‘Ah, never mind. I’m sure Daddy would let you set his feet on fire before he ever let you follow Mummy.’
‘Okay, sleep time now.’
‘Goomba mummy goo ga?’
‘Night, little guy.’
Goomba Joanna shuffles backwards until she’s beside the door. The baby stares at her and she stares right back, making stupid faces, saying ‘goo goo goomba gaba’ a few more times before turning out the light and closing the door.
12 Koopa Way
World 1, Level 1
We regret to inform you of the death of loyal citizen, heroic Bowser Special Police trooper and your wife, Goomba Joanna. Please accept this letter as official confirmation, as well as the personal condolences of your leader, King Bowser.
Goomba Joanna was killed yesterday while on patrol next to the portal. It is official procedure not to reveal details of BSP casualties, so we will refrain from doing so. All you need to know is that she met her fate quickly and bravely.
Do not be sad.
Your wife was a loyal servant and died as she lived, doing her duty. Thanks to her sacrifice, the Red Demon was not easily able to progress to World 1, Level 2. Because of this, we must not mourn her, but celebrate her. She was a true patriot who had the courage to stand up for her kingdom, and our glorious leader, King Bowser.
Long Live King Bowser
[Koopa 145, officer of the Koopa Special Police, World 8, Level 3]