Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, on the planet Tatooine, the daring galactic adventurer LUKE SKYWALKER was cleaning his ray gun, when . . . poof! It went off right next to his ear. Luke was quite alright, but the accident left him a bit deaf. He has since struggled to cope. Soon, good friend OBI-WAN KENOBI finds him in a local bar.
NOW READ ON . . .
Obi-Wan Kenobi peered carefully down the dank steps leading to the Kenzabi Bar, Babes and Bistro Saloon. The rank odour of adventure and liquid mind-altering substances filled his nostrils. Luke Skywalker had to be here, he thought. Taking a deep breath, Kenobi descended into a cavern, with a dozen small wooden tables around a garish brightly-lit square bar.
He threaded his way past the tables, where various sentient beings from all around the galaxy appeared to be doing what beings generally did in bars. As usual, Kenobi found them puzzling. Some appeared to be sitting, others appeared to be standing, but he was never certain that these beings had something to sit on in the first place, and he wasn’t referring to chairs. Did all sentient beings even have buttocks? This line of enquiry ended when he spotted Luke. He definitely had buttocks, and was using them in the way nature (as it applied to human bipeds) intended – to apply them to a chair. He was slumped at a table, gazing glassy-eyed into the middle distance. At least a dozen empty shot glasses were arrayed on the table in front of him.
“Ah Luke,” called out Kenobi, “what a surprise. Running in to you here. Mind if I join you?”
It was of course not a surprise. Kenobi acted on a hunch. Luke seemed to have vanished after his accident with a raygun. But now, Kenobi had found Luke where he expected to find Luke.
Luke did nothing and said nothing.
“LUKE!” Finally he looked up, his eyes mostly out of focus.
“Puke? Wanna puke? John’s that way.”
Then a few million of his unsloshed brain cells made the correct synapses.
“Obi. Oh boy. K – Ken. Kenny Boy. It’s you!”
“Yes it’s me, Luke. And don’t call me Kenny Boy. The Force be with you.”
“Horse? Horse? What’s with a horse? Don’t want no horse.”
“Force, Luke. Force. The ethereal law that binds the galaxy.”
Kenobi sensed the light throbs of an emerging headache. He Forced them down. Luke waved a hand in the general direction of a vacant chair at his table, sending three shot glasses clattering to the floor.
Kenobi sat down, and in a thrice, a waiter glided to the table. Kenobi noted that he, she or it used some propulsion method that did not require two functioning legs. The waiter didn’t quite have arms, but they weren’t tentacles either. Not only that, the three fallen shot glasses gently rose from the floor and positioned themselves neatly on his, her or its tray.
“That’s Kevin. He’s got a bad back,” Luke explained. “He does that to avoid having to bend over. Tell ‘im what you want.”
Kenobi decided on a drink befitting an all-wise, all-knowing, man-about-the-galaxy. “A carbonated Passion Pop, please.”
At once, Kevin the waiter nodded, the gesture coming from some sort of equivalent to a human head, but seemed to be located in the torso. He glided off.
“Now Luke,” he said. “What’s up?”
“Mate, mate,” Luke looked up, tears streaking his face. “I’m deaf,” he cried. “Nothing I can do.”
“Yes, I heard that,” said Kenobi. “Such a shame.”
“Tried to do the right thing,” blubbered Luke. “Got me some advice. The Inter-Galactical Association for the Hard of Hearing. Lip-lip-lipreading lessons, they said. Learn to lipread.” Luke sagged, and buried his head in his hands again.
“Well, did that work? Luke?” Kenobi gave Luke a short tap. “Luke?”
Luke looked up, a goofy grin spreading over his face.
“Kenny Boy. It’s you.”
“Yes it’s me. Luke. Stop calling me Kenny Boy. The lipreading. Did that help?”
“Lipreading? Oh Christ, lipreading?” Luke sat up. “How the bloody hell do I lipread all these beings who don’t even have bloody lips to read in the first place?”
Luke snatched another shot glass, hurled the pale orange liquid down his mouth.
“And them storm troopers. You know. Got pulled over for a licence check. How the hell do you lipread an Imperial Forces Storm Trooper when they have this robot voice that comes through a helmet?”
“Ah yes,” replied, Kenobi, choosing his words with care. “Yes, I do understand. That would be difficult. Perhaps, Luke, I could talk to them about starting a Disability Access and Inclusion Plan. That might help.”
Luke screwed up his face, wiped his nose, took a deep breath.
“And – I was here, the other day. First time here. Needed the t-toilet. And so I did. But, you know what the toilets are like in this joint.” Luke sat up.
“You know, all the plumbing, for all the ex- execrable – excretory functions of a dozen species of sentient beings. Pipes, pans, curved tubes, weird-looking shit. I just needed something to p-pee on and I couldn’t work out where I was to go and I needed to go and I didn’t know, there was a squawk box that tells you what to do, and could I hear that? Ohhh, nohhh, course not they could’ve been talking Greek or ancient Mayan or whatever shit they speak on the planet Zygfrxx, and I was just bustin’, and . . . and . . . I p-p-peed my p-p-p-pants.”
“Ok. Luke, it’s ok. You’ll be fine. Ok, so lipreading’s no good. What, umm, what about sign language? You know, you learn a few signs, might help you.”
“Kenny Boy. You know what? You’re a good sentient being.”
Luke’s glassy-eyed gaze changed slowly as his few thousand remaining uninebriated brain cells made another late rally.
“That’s right Luke,” said Kenobi. “Try and learn some sign language.”
“What do you mean?” Luke snatched another shot glass, threw its contents down his throat, slammed it on the table.
“Kenny Boy. Listen here. Some of these beings don’t even have arms, some sort of, of tentacle shit. You expect me to understand sign language from a flapping octo-bloody-pus?”
“Now Luke. That was not very nice. That was a bit sentientist. All beings on the galaxy are created equal. We reject all forms of discrimination. And please, don’t call me Kenny Boy.”
Kevin the waiter glided up, bearing a tray. The frosted glass with Kenobi’s carbonated Passion Pop floated gently and settled precisely before the guru. A small but well-drilled squadron of shot glasses, bearing their cargo of the orange liquid, set a good course and landed in front of Luke. He stared at them, and slowly slid under the table.
“I think you’ve had enough, Luke,” said Kenobi. “Let’s go home.” He turned to Kevin. “The gentleman and I thank you for your refreshment, and will now take our leave.”
Kevin appeared to nod gravely. “Difficult, it is,” he said, in a voice that seemed to come from a tin can. Kenobi nodded.
“Strong, he is,” continued Kevin. Kenobi looked at Luke, now on the floor, cuddling the table leg and snoring. “Persevere, he will.”
“Shit, it happens,” muttered Kenobi, as he Forced Luke to his feet and helped him from the tavern.