Friends who remember the print version of the cartoon might recall the little novella that came at the end of the second anthology, "The Steps". This was Doc and Raider's best friend Elliot's story, told through events at a now-gone Toronto landmark, of his life before he met Doc's brother Gilles. Because I'm in the process of reframing the Doc and Raider universe a bit, "The Steps" is slightly rewritten for geographic changes, but the story remains the same.
I've always had a sweet spot in my heart for this tale. Now that it's been re-illustrated in the new style, it's time to share it with all of you again.
ON MONDAY, it was French Roast. It's always French Roast on Mondays, you see, and, well, this being a Monday... we all had French Roast. Eliot complained as usual: he prefers Dark Irish. But we drink Dark Irish on Thursdays.
And this was a Monday.
And on Mondays, we drink French Roast.
The very best place to catch up on the local news -- or gossip, as others might call it -- is on the Steps, outside the Starbucks at the corner of Fifth and Monroe. Like, who's dating who, who's sleeping with who, who's living together, who's not living together, who gave who the boot when he caught him playing with him in the dark corner at end of the hallway at the Black Eagle.
And you can find all of this out at seven-thirty in the morning on the Steps where, on Monday, Gordie, Elliot, Doc and I all have French Roast.
What had brought us all together those many months ago was, strangely enough for a bunch of fags, a mutual love of football. We'd all played, either in high school or college. Gordie had been a center, as was Doc. I was a defensive lineman. Elliot, ever Heaven's accidental joke, was a tight end. We followed our favorite teams with near-religious fervor and an enthusiasm that others in our circle reserved for Barbra or Renata or Diana or GaGa. We could reduce our conversations to a string of statistics, a shorthand so arcane it left the outside observer bewildered at best.
Somehow, over the months, this obsession evolved into an elaborate ritual. First, we would check to make sure the day's preferred blend was being served, along with a guilty (and self-denying) check of the pastries. Then we would grab the papers left by earlier customers and scan the sports pages to see how the Cowboys or the 49ers or the Browns had done the night before. Then, and only then, it was time for coffee.
On Tuesday, we had Imperial Blend. Normally, it would have been Iced Colombian, but it was Gordie's birthday, so we made an exception.
On Wednesday, it's Cinnamon Hazelnut. And on this particular Wednesday, Elliot still hadn't shown up at eight-thirty, which was somewhat unusual for him. Despite everything else, Elliot was relentlessly punctual, no matter whom he might have picked up the night before. Even some of the regulars, who lived in vain hope of ever catching his eye, saw fit to make comment. "Now just where could that girl be? Overslept in the steam room again?"
Gordie and I chose to ignore them, but Doc refused to let it pass. "Some of us dont need to immerse ourselves in our friends' private lives, so dry up."
To be continued...
Editors' Note: You can find the rest of this series here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5