Alright, have you heard this one? El Niño walks into a bar and orders a scotch and soda. The bar is mostly empty. A priest, a nun, and a rabbi are sitting at a table near the back. The priest is counting in a low voice, “seven-hundred-and-seventeen… seven-hundred-and-eighteen…”
Above the bar, an old TV is tuned to the Weather Channel. A lady reporter with high cheekbones is indicating that El Niño is likely to cause a slight, almost imperceptible shift in ocean temperatures between San Diego and Fresno.
The time in the corner: 11:46 AM.
El Niño is developing a nasty habit of getting drunk before noon.
The bartender picks up the TV remote. He has an eye patch and a nametag that reads: Louis. The remote makes a sticky sound as it tears free from the dark walnut bar. The priest is still counting. Louis changes the channel from weather to football.
“Wait,” says El Niño. “That was the good part.”
“The good part of the weather?”
El Niño feels a little embarrassed. “El Niño is much more dramatic in the Southern hemisphere,” he explains.
Louis looks unconvinced.
“El Niño is not even real,” says a man with a parrot on his shoulder and a Chihuahua dog sitting further down the bar. “Al Gore made it up.”
El Niño takes a long swill of his scotch, cradles his chin in his hands, and stares miserably at himself in the mirror behind the bar.
“What’s his story?” El Niño asks, gesturing to the counting priest.
Without turning from the game, Louis says, “He comes in every Sunday. I think he’s searching for God in prime numbers.”
“Has he ever found him?”
Louis nods. “Twice.”
“What happens then?”
“Mostly high-fives,” Louis says.
“That’s a fellow with concrete goals,” says the man down the bar.
“Must be nice,” El Niño says, and then he orders another drink. He is waiting for weather news at halftime. He is waiting for someone to notice him. He is waiting to be appreciated.
Unfortunately, that’s the joke.
[This story first appeared in print in The Ne'er-Do-Well #1 ]
Ryan Davidson is co-creator of Howl, a new comic about the last human living in a world of werewolves.