Original sighed and leaned against the tree. They’d been walking for almost three days straight and even though there was something absolutely wonderful about camping out at night under the stars and having very long conversations with Honey, who’s sweet Southern voice fit in perfectly with the wonderful smell of her honey barbecue smoky goodness; he was a bit worried that they’d never get where they needed to go. “Honey, can you tell me again why we’re out here?”
She sighed, and O-rig thought even her sighs were somehow magical. “Now listen, O-rig. You’re more impatient than a possum waiting to stop playing dead. We’re out here because I heard from a friend of my friend’s aunt’s cousin’s gardener that Teriyaki sometimes goes fishing in the lake up yonder.” O-rig already knew the answer but it didn’t make him feel any more confident or any more ready to take the next step. He felt like there was something to be said about maybe renting an ATV or another off-road vehicle.
“What can you tell me about Teriyaki?” he asked.
Honey raised an eyebrow. This was a new question, and it seemed to please her. “Well, O-rig. He’s the best Teriyaki Beef Jerky available. See, I’ve heard he isn’t too salty and isn’t too sweet. He’s got just the right balance of flavor so nothing is overwhelming and nothing is unpleasant. He’s real beef, just like us, and why I say real like that, I mean he’s quality. He’s as authentic as a garden party with real sweet tea and fritters.”
Original couldn’t help but smile. He just loved when Honey got Southern on him. “How far away is the lake?” he asked.
“It’s just up yonder, Sugar Pie,” Honey replied. He’d learned that yonder could mean everything from right in front of them to miles away. Honey seemed to think it was enough information, though, and she didn’t add any more. So, he walked along and just hoped it would show up soon. It did. He heard it before he saw it. Rather, he heard Teriyaki.
“Hey! What are you doing stomping around like crazy? You’re going to scare away all the fish!” Honey and Original had to take a few steps forward before they made it past some shrubs and actually saw the one who talked.
“Are those sesame seeds?” Original asked.
“Don’t be rude, Sweet Pea,” Honey admonished.
Teriyaki didn’t seem offended at all. In fact, he’d been entirely focused on the water and where his fishing line disappeared into it before Original talked and after the question he set his pole down and jumped up. “They sure are. I love sesame seeds. I love soy sauce and sweet wine and… well, I love things that make teriyaki. I also love things like real beef cut from a hunk of meat and fishing and biking and being outdoors and things just like that.”
Honey laughed. “Looks like you and O-rig have a lot in common. You both love to talk about yourselves.”
Original felt a bit of embarrassment but Teriyaki responded first. “I sure do! I don’t know what I’d talk about if I wasn’t… Hey wait! You guys are kind of like me! I didn’t think there were any others like me.”
Honey laughed. “We’ve been searching for you and everyone else. What is it with you men? Of course there are—”
She never got to finish her thought because suddenly Teriyaki’s fishing pole went crazy. Well, the pole probably didn’t go crazy so much as whatever had hooked onto the fishing line did. It jerked forward and Teriyaki dived after it, grabbing it just in time to keep it from falling into the water. “Help!” he shouted.
Original hadn’t been searching for quality beef jerky for as long as he had just to refuse a cry for help from what looked like the juiciest, most tender, and best teriyaki beef jerky he’d ever seen. He rushed forward. Of course, his big attempt at heroics didn’t work the way he’d intended. His foot caught on a rock and he rolled down the little embankment, landing with a plop and staring at a little frog on the shore. The frog seemed to roll its eyes as it turned around and jumped into the water with a splash.
Embarrassed, Original got up and walked carefully to where Teriyaki was struggling. He reached down and held tightly to him, helping him get back up to his feet as he reeled. “So there are more like us?” His voice was labored from all the effort he was putting in with the pole and Original still felt pretty embarrassed about messing up his cool moment of rushing to the aid of a compatriot so he didn’t answer.
“Oh yes, Sugah,” Honey said. Original winced. He hoped there were neat Southern names Honey would only use for him. “We’re on a quest to find everyone like us.”
Teriyaki didn’t answer right away. He was busy fighting with the fish on the line. Original didn’t say anything either. He was busy holding onto to Teriyaki to make sure Teriyaki didn’t stumble or lose the pole.
“You boys look silly,” Honey said. “But I guess it’s kinda cute, too.”
Original puffed up a bit. He liked that Honey thought he was being cute. She was so pretty and so wonderful and so “OUCH!”
He said the word because that was the moment Teriyaki finally won his battle with the fish. He yanked on the pole and the fish flew out of the water and sailed over his shoulder so that it could smack Original right in the face. He backed up, sputtering and feeling foolish. Teriyaki was no help. He walked over to where the fish flopped and said, “Too small. Darn. I’ll have to throw it back.”
Small? The thing felt like a brick when it hit his face. Original sighed. Two embarrassing things in a row. This was no way to impress Honey. “So,” he asked. “Do you want to come with us to find everyone?”
Teriyaki smiled. “Absolutely.”
Honey smiled, too. “I think I’ll call you Terry.”
Teriyaki looked at Original but Original only shrugged.