Interlude 2B: The Surrogate

koifishbishhh: hey

Aileen_de: I need a few minutes, sorry.

koifishbishhh: it’s important

koifishbishhh: not an emergency, but

koifishbishhh: well it’s a thing and we need to talk about it

Aileen_de: I was setting up for the show.

koifishbishhh: now? not even four yet, lol

koifishbishhh: you have like six hours

Aileen_de: Oh, you didn’t hear?

koifishbishhh: no what

Aileen_de: The night before yesterday something happened. You know Mike?

koifishbishhh: no

koifishbishhh: OH WAIT

koifishbishhh: the big guy

koifishbishhh: with the like

koifishbishhh: the finger thing

Aileen_de: You mean the guy missing his thumb?

koifishbishhh: yeah

Aileen_de: That’s Keel.

koifishbishhh: oh

koifishbishhh: then I don’t know who Mike is

koifishbishhh: does he do standup

koifishbishhh: actually guessing not if he was going to the karaoke night lol

Aileen_de: No, he’s not a comedian, just a regular. Super nice person, though. I think he had some management position at the botanical gardens.

Aileen_de: He comes in sometimes on the weekends and most Tuesdays to drink and sing, almost always with his girlfriend.

Aileen_de: Wife, sorry.

koifishbishhh: okay

koifishbishhh: what happened

Aileen_de: Well, he was making his way on the stage to sing and was a tiny bit drunk, and he fell flat on his face after accidentally knocking a speaker over.

koifishbishhh: oof

koifishbishhh: he okay?

Aileen_de: Um, no.

Aileen_de: He stopped moving as soon as he hit the floor. Wasn’t breathing. We called 911 immediately, and they arrived crazy fast, but by the time they got here it had been way too long, if there was anything they could do in the first place.

koifishbishhh: holy fuck dude

koifishbishhh: i am sorry for being jokey i legitimately did not know

Aileen_de: It’s fine.

koifishbishhh: wait so he DIED?

koifishbishhh: omfg are you okay?

Aileen_de: I’m fine, thanks.

Aileen_de: And he didn’t.

koifishbishhh: oh thank god

Aileen_de: I’m sorry, shit wording. He’s in the hospital and is functionally brain dead. My understanding is that the damage is from the fall itself, since he didn’t have any super extended period without oxygen, but I don’t know that for sure.

koifishbishhh: omg

koifishbishhh: dude i am so sorry

Aileen_de: I’m fine, really.

koifishbishhh: fuck dude that’s so scary

koifishbishhh: i don’t know him or his wife, but um shit

koifishbishhh: is he going to be okay

Aileen_de: Brain cells don’t heal.

koifishbishhh: oh

koifishbishhh: i knew that i’m sorry i don’t know why i said that

koifishbishhh: fuck dude I’m sorry

koifishbishhh: is she gonna, um

koifishbishhh: you know

Aileen_de: From what I was told yesterday by a friend of his, almost definitely. He has a brother and sister who live up in another state and they’re coming down to see him before they do it. They each have young kids and had to find someone to leave them with, which took a day.

koifishbishhh: holy fuck i’m so sorry

koifishbishhh: did he have kids too?

Aileen_de: Stop apologizing, you didn’t do anything.

Aileen_de: And no, he didn’t.

koifishbishhh: i mean i know but, jeez dude

koifishbishhh: is she okay

koifishbishhh: i mean obviously not sorry

Aileen_de: I want to say that she’s doing as well as she can, but that’s not true from what I’ve heard. I didn’t really know her so I don’t want to comment. Obviously she’s going through hell. I know she definitely has people to be around right now, at least. It’ll probably be easier for her once it’s finished.

koifishbishhh: fuck fuck fuck

koifishbishhh: how did that even happen FUCK

koifishbishhh: it’s not even a stage, it’s like a single small step off the ground what the fuck

Aileen_de: Real life isn’t an action movie, Leah. Falls are really dangerous. Even if you’re standing on solid ground, if you get unlucky and land on your head in the wrong way like he did, that can be it.

koifishbishhh: fuck

koifishbishhh: um, shit

koifishbishhh: do you want to talk about it

Aileen_de: I really appreciate the offer, but I’m good.

Aileen_de: Talked out by this point.

Aileen_de: I was the person who gave him CPR while we waited, so a lot of people have been calling to ask if I was alright.

koifishbishhh: oh

koifishbishhh: okay

Aileen_de: I don’t mean to come off as an emotionless robot.

koifishbishhh: no no no you’re totally not

Aileen_de: Never, like, a random person dying in my bar, but I’ve lost people before, so it’s not my first time going through the motions. And those were family/friends. He was a regular and I saw him a lot, but I didn’t really “know” him, if that makes sense.

Aileen_de: Found out a lot more about him and his wife now than I ever did before. His grandparents were scorchstoners, someone told me. Mom too.

koifishbishhh: shit

koifishbishhh: mf had a rough go of it

Aileen_de: Yeah.

koifishbishhh: you sure you’re okay though

koifishbishhh: also wait i thought you said you’re setting up for the show???

Aileen_de: Yeah, I am. He tipped over one of the big speakers when he fell, and that landed on the wooden casting of the stage and made a giant hole right in the center of it. There’s a repair guy here and I’m watching him work while texting with you.

koifishbishhh: um

koifishbishhh: like, for next week?

Aileen_de: I still have to hold a show tonight, Leah.

Aileen_de: As much as I’d like to, I can’t just pause my business because of this, beyond yesterday. Bars don’t operate on wide profit margins. And open mic night is almost always the most packed the place gets all week.

Aileen_de: Again, I’m not being insensitive, but even as well as we do in comparison to most places it’s a constant struggle to stay afloat financially. I have to keep going.

koifishbishhh: i’m sorry i didn’t mean it like that

Aileen_de: I know.

koifishbishhh: but still, like

koifishbishhh: i get keeping the place open but will people even come to the show?

Aileen_de: Sarah (his wife’s name, btw, don’t think I said) specifically texted me that she wanted me to keep doing karaoke and all the other events, and not to close the place down any longer than I had to. She’s not blaming me/planning on suing or anything.

Aileen_de: Tiny chance her husband’s insurance company tries to go after me, because fuck insurance companies, but they don’t have any case.

Aileen_de: And maybe a tad heartless to say but I couldn’t afford not to do it even if she said the exact opposite. I obviously feel terrible about what happened but it really wasn’t anyone’s fault. My bar is safe and the guy was maybe a little buzzed. He tripped, it happens. Sad that he was just really unlucky.

Aileen_de: Also I’ve already been called/texted by a lot of comedians and regs and some friends of his who really want the show to go on this week. Sarah won’t be there but it’s a show of support thing. Like “we won’t let this get to us, we’ll honor him by laughing at life”. I didn’t see him any many shows that I remember but apparently he was big into comedy, so.

Aileen_de: That’s kind of all you can do when this stuff happens. Laugh, treasure memories, all that stuff.

koifishbishhh: okay, I get it

koifishbishhh: want to SUPER clarify that I was not trying to call you heartless

koifishbishhh: just didn’t know the context, was confused, sorry

Aileen_de: It’s fine, Leah. Really. Stop apologizing.

Aileen_de: To change the subject, what did you want to talk about?

koifishbishhh: oh um

koifishbishhh: it really doesn’t matter compared to this, don’t worry about it, we can talk later

Aileen_de: It’s slow rn, and all I need to do is keep an eye on this dude, so this is a good time.

Aileen_de: You said it was important.

koifishbishhh: it’s not

Aileen_de: Just because it’s not as big as an accidental death doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

koifishbishhh: um okay

koifishbishhh: well it’s about Del

Aileen_de: Is she okay?

koifishbishhh: well yeah

koifishbishhh: i mean, well, it’s not about her being okay or not

koifishbishhh: so when you weren’t here during the last show she kind of um

koifishbishhh: yeah

Aileen_de: What?

koifishbishhh: del stole a joke from makin

Aileen_de: She stole a joke? Which joke?

koifishbishhh: the bit he does about robbing the computer store

Aileen_de: Which joke specifically?

koifishbishhh: like, the entire routine

Aileen_de: It’s like a full two minute thing. Seriously?

Aileen_de: Don’t mess with me.

koifishbishhh: i wouldn’t, she did, i was there

koifishbishhh: makin is REALLY fucking mad about it

Aileen_de: Understandable.

Aileen_de: Was there any confrontation?

koifishbishhh: no she was already going last like usual so almost everybody left including makin

koifishbishhh: he found out because someone was filming it

koifishbishhh: so he’s been on kind of a rampage in the group chat about it

koifishbishhh: he says he wants her banned forever, last straw kind of thing

Aileen_de: I know that she can be kind of a handful, but she never stole jokes before, right?

koifishbishhh: no

koifishbishhh: or at least, we’ve never caught her doing it if she was

koifishbishhh: considering what her sets are like i really doubt anything came from anyone else

Aileen_de: Look, it’s open mic, nobody’s great.

koifishbishhh: you know it’s different with her

koifishbishhh: also are you defending her?

Aileen_de: I acknowledge that it’s really bad if she did that. I’ll talk to her.

koifishbishhh: makin wants her banned for life rn

koifishbishhh: again, he’s super mad about it

koifishbishhh: says he will never come back if she’s allowed to

Aileen_de: Did anyone talk to her about it? What did she say?

koifishbishhh: she says it’s an accident, i feel pretty confident in that it’s bullshit

koifishbishhh: she said she really liked makin’s material so she listened to phone recordings she made a bunch of times to “study his methodology”

koifishbishhh: and then that she was really really tired or something and that it just slipped out without thinking

Aileen_de: I mean, that’s not impossible.

koifishbishhh: um

koifishbishhh: maybe not for like a one-liner or something, but again, a whole two minute routine

koifishbishhh: and it’s the computer store bit

koifishbishhh: that’s like, such a classically makin bit

koifishbishhh: there’s no way she didn’t know she was going to get caught

Aileen_de: See, that’s my thinking, though.

Aileen_de: I know Del can be eccentric sometimes but I really don’t think she’d just do that knowing how quickly she’d be caught and how seriously we’d take it.

koifishbishhh: well my assumption is that she thought it was funny or something to steal it and thought he’d laugh it off

koifishbishhh: and he didn’t because, yeah, he shouldn’t

koifishbishhh: so she backpedaled

koifishbishhh: plagiarism is really fucking shitty

koifishbishhh: the BIGGEST fucking thing that you aren’t supposed to do outside of pulling a kramer

koifishbishhh: like I can forgive everything but that

Aileen_de: Can you let me talk to her before doing anything else? And can you tell that to Makin? I don’t want him going off and doing anything rash.

koifishbishhh: you don’t want HIM doing anything rash?

koifishbishhh: aileen why tf are you going out of your way to defend her

koifishbishhh: he will threaten to leave and go somewhere else and a lot will follow him

koifishbishhh: kick her out, she doesn’t give a shit anyway

koifishbishhh: no more fucking school shooting puns every night, sounds good to me

koifishbishhh: i’ll miss seeing bulbul but it’s worth it, honestly

Aileen_de: Look, I love Makin, but it’s my bar and my show. This city has a small scene, and I have the best weekly place by far. He knows that. I don’t think he’s going to try running off to make the hourly drive to Rutla or start going to the Coffee Clamp with all the beat poets on Sunday afternoons, but if he wants to, best of luck to him.

koifishbishhh: he didn’t even do anything wrong I don’t get you

koifishbishhh: like I mean this is a nice way, why not kick her out

koifishbishhh: you’re raving about business stuff being important after the literal dead body and this girl is here every week pulling her bs and annoying people

koifishbishhh: you seriously don’t think you’ve ever lost repeat business because of the jokes she’s made?

koifishbishhh: i know you shut it down but a lot of people still want the blanket ban on people under 18 being allowed to perform. they have that in a lot of places

Aileen_de: Isn’t she the only underage comedian?

koifishbishhh: yes. that’s the point

Aileen_de: Okay, listen, she’s seventeen and is clearly going through some shit. I know she can be a handful but every time I’ve spoken to her she has cold stopped whatever the problem was. She said racist jokes once and I told her to quit and she never did it again. She bothered patrons, one talk, never again. More examples, too. She’s been coming here for two years and she clearly likes being here, I’m not kicking her out over this.

koifishbishhh: you know i’m not saying this to start an argument and i have so much respect for you but if anyone else did this you’d be reeling

koifishbishhh: and if it was one of your jokes you’d be pissed too

Aileen_de: If anyone but Del was the one who did it, yeah. But again, she’s young and clearly not that socially experienced. 

koifishbishhh: yeah, i can, uh tell

koifishbishhh: “huehuehue edgy school shooting jokes lol XD!! DAE think penises are WEIRD LOOKING lolol! god religious ppl are soo dumb lulz!!!”

koifishbishhh: again this is what happens when you let in high schoolers

koifishbishhh: nothing against her personally

koifishbishhh: i mean, a little against her

Aileen_de: She has not done those really bad school shooting puns in over a year, and everyone’s still ragging on her about it. It says a lot that a group of twenty and thirty and forty somethings still feel the need to make fun of a depressed seventeen year old. 

koifishbishhh: she told you she was depressed?

Aileen_de: If she’s not depressed, she’s something. I don’t know if it’s school or a shitty home life or whatever but she comes three hours before every show and stays until way after it’s over, and I’m not going to ask but realistically speaking that’s because she doesn’t want to be at home.

Aileen_de: She likes and looks up to a lot of you, Makin especially, even when some people feel the need to talk shit about her both behind her back and right to her face. I talk to her the most out of anyone and she doesn’t offer stuff up but she’s dropped small hints about her parents being real crap people and I’m inclined to believe her.

Aileen_de: Really good chance she doesn’t have a lot of friends her age. Maybe she stole a joke on purpose for some shitty prank and said it at 1am at the end of a show when only six people are left anyway, and that’s fucked, but I’m not going to pretend that it’s equivalent to professional level theft or anything serious.

Aileen_de: I will talk to her about it and I’ll use my serious voice and 99.99% chance she’ll apologize to Makin and stop because that’s what she always does. She just hasn’t learned boundaries for whatever reason. That’s really all it is. 

koifishbishhh: she knows not to steal after coming for two years

Aileen_de: Yes, but that’s probably not what it actually was meant to be, and I feel that you know that. She needs to be told stuff a little more directly than most people and that never happened with this, I’m guessing. Implied rules don’t totally work with her. She’s just desperate for attention and if she’s not constrained she reaches out for it in whatever way she can, I think.

Aileen_de: I get the impression that she considers the place a second home and I don’t want to put her in a dangerous mindset because I’ve been where she’s been and it’s really really shit when you’re that age. She might’ve fucked up and I promise I’ll talk to Makin and calm him down but can you please understand me valuing the feelings of someone who’s in a bad position versus the minuscule artistic awfulness of her one screw up? Please? I’m asking as a favor to me.

koifishbishhh: okay, fine, I’m sorry

koifishbishhh: that’s pretty reasonable

koifishbishhh: you’re a better person than me, thinking about people on this type of level

Aileen_de: Again, just have been there myself and I know what it’s like. Comedy was a great escape for me and a way to meet cool people and that’s probably what it is to her. Or what it can be.

Aileen_de: Can, like, we also not make a habit of mocking her, especially for things she said literally over a year ago? Not calling you out specifically but I doubt even a fraction of the comedians here had the courage to go up at fifteen. I did not, I know you didn’t, and Makin for sure didn’t. Literally nobody is good when they start out, and all teenagers love shock humor. I have seen people forty years her senior walk up to the microphone and do exactly what she did, and I know you and everyone else has too at some point, so I don’t want people to act like it’s an age thing because it’s really not. Beginners and even most long standing people at open mics are universally shit and you all know that.

Aileen_de: And I want to be fair to Makin. If she does it again after I talk to her, and she has never done anything again after I’ve talked to her, I’ll ban her for a month or longer or something, depending. Okay?

koifishbishhh: okay

koifishbishhh: sorry again

koifishbishhh: i’ll try and give her more consideration/pushing others to do the same

Aileen_de: It’s fine, again, please don’t apologize.

Aileen_de: I just want everybody to get along and have a nice time.

Aileen_de: And buy more drinks

Aileen_de: Well, except her bc I’ll go to jail

koifishbishhh: lol

Aileen_de: Can you give me Makin’s phone number? I’ll call him. Would text but jfc my thumbs hurt now

koifishbishhh: yeah, i’ll send it over in a bit. sorry about mike again

Aileen_de: Thanks.

Aileen_de: And stop apologizing!

koifishbishhh: lol sorry

koifishbishhh: whoops lol

koifishbishhh: sorry about that sorry

koifishbishhh: no i’m in a loop help sorry sorry sorry

koifishbishhh: aileen heeeeeeelllllppp meeee sorrrrrrrrryyyyyyy

Aileen_de: I really hope that’s not your material for tonight Leah

Aileen_de: Also fuck my thumbs, I need a drink. Ttyl

koifishbishhh: ttyl, peace


6 thoughts on “Interlude 2B: The Surrogate”

  1. Awww! ZB! I can’t believe it took me half the story to realise it was her. I admit I was coming down on the side of “kick her out, it’s not worth it”, but I was persuaded by Aileen, especially knowing she had difficulty fitting in and knowing that present-day ZB is 80% pretty fun even though 20% an utter asshole, I hope she does mellow. If she’s as bad in ten years time, then maybe it’s not worth trying to talk her out of it 😦

    And (if these flashbacks are basically true and not more of By’s imagining) it at least tells us that ZB’s history is also fairly real-world.


  2. I guess I’m always going to be wondering if an interlude is more of By’s friend fiction? This is a pretty plausible backstory for how we’ve seen ZB act though, even if it isn’t actually true.

    Either way I’m concerned for ZB, she’s raised a few death flags. Although in this serial maybe they are life flags instead and Polycarp is about to die. I keep trying to figure out what level of subverting expectations teddy is on, but I suspect I’ll be bad enough at it that 1D6 will end up being a better predictor.

    And Surrogate? Is ZB subbing for someone in the game? Gamemakers could have just asked ZB directly, but maybe she swapped with whoever was actually invited. Or, here’s a thought, Del is a surrogate for ZB and is someone else By knew before the game? Koifish mentions someone named bulbul in relation to Del, and By does have an interest in Judaism. That could be why By has such a high tolerance for ZB, she’s already spent a lot of time with an edgy asshole teenager.


  3. Do people really text like that? I once spent a whole year limiting my self to 1 character replies — very few people caught on (though that probably says more about how rarely I text [or how few people text me {possibly because of how few friends I have…}])


    1. Lol i have had convos with people that sometimes end up a couple paragraphs on both ends. Jyst depends on who’s talking with who, subject, etc.


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