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(Transcript and visual captions below)

Stars glittered in the winter sky, all the colder with only the wispiest clouds to block the cold radiating from outer space. Imagine, Theodore thought, People can go there now. Perhaps it would be a fine place to live once the grim task was complete, if he survived. No worse than the bottom of the ocean, and less likely to hurt anyone but passing space aliens.

Far away, car tires hit gravel, and he sat up, rocking the boat against the dock’s moldering posts. There was no mystery, no worry an enemy was about to strike. Even at this distance he could sense his friend. Jack strolled up to the dock, jingling his keys nervously.

   “You could have flown,” Theodore said with a friendly wave. “It must be dreadfully slow to travel by land.”

Jack approached the rowboat warily. “I know, I just like having... feet.”

  Always with the boats.

“Ah, you don’t gotta talk about it,” Jack said. “If it’s weird for you. You never said anything about me being into dudes so I just thought--”

Theodore let out a mild chuckle with his next row, bringing them further to the center of the lake. “I suppose you may think me as old-fashioned as those stodgy old vampires. I might not be on-trend but I’ve got so many libertines in my mind I can’t be scandalized by much.”

Jack grimaced at the thought; he had his own pool of strange memories and opinions not his own. He still refused to think of trenchcoats as the height of fashion, despite some secret inclination.

   “But continue,” Theodore said. “Romance... Is it with a vampire?”

   “No!” Jack cried. “God no...”

Theodore’s powerful rowing took them to the dead center of the lake in just a few strokes. Perhaps it helped for the contents of the boat to be so weightless.

   “A human,” Theodore said with a small smile. “That is what the romantic stories prefer. I’m glad for you, and won’t weigh you down with an immortal’s concerns. Life is short, even for our kind.”

   “Thanks,” Jack said. “It’s new. It’s been to crazy to think about consequences much. Guess I should worry about surviving another week before I worry about forever.”

Theodore set aside the oars, the boat drifting gently in the frigid water. He wondered briefly whether lakes froze solid in Glenland. He couldn’t remember. Maybe the water would freeze around them and they’d never have to leave.

   “I’m happy for you to to be happy,” he said. “I want nothing more.”

   “Man, I wish I was happy,” Jack splashed a finger over the side. “Maybe my mood will improve if I don’t get mangled for a few days.”

   “What do you mean?”

  Always with the boats.

Theodore tucked up his knees, looking ever smaller as he lost himself in a roaring static of thoughts.

   “C’mon,” Jack said. “I didn’t mean anything. You just surprised me...”

   “Am I really so different from them?” Theodore asked. “I’m sure they imagine their motivations are as pure as mine.
How would I discern my own thoughts from theirs? My friendly touches corrupted by their perverse desires--”

   “No! Man!” Jack covered his face.

   “You have every right to be disgusted by me,” Theodore said. “I’ve more than earned it.”

   “Stop it!” Jack’s shout reverberated over the rippling waters, answered by the miffed chatter of a distant nightbird.

Theodore said nothing, his quiet sobs gently rocking the boat.  

  Always with the boats.

Theodore’s wispy body felt like a boy-sized doll, nearly weightless. Just a musty sweater filled with bird bones. His sobs became ever lighter, until the pair were left in silence, only broken by the lapping water and the creak of the boat’s old wood. Something about it washed a nostalgia over Jack. Maybe it was Theodore’s boyish voice, reminiscent of a long-ago evening with a young Karl. Comforting him after a vicious bout of angst, tears wetting the shoulder of his sweater.

But he wasn’t with his teenaged boyfriend, he was holding the body of a lethal, alien predator. Who knew what dreadful powers Theodore could unleash at any moment. He could tear Jack apart on a whim, he could probably turn the lake to blood and flatten the trees around them if he were in a worse mood. But that thought didn’t seem real, didn’t seem possible when you were floating along on the quiet waters, embracing a teary-eyed boy who maybe only got a hug every few decades. Unreal as it was, Jack couldn’t make himself forget it completely. 

  Always with the boats.

An owl hooted, feeling safe to cry out without the risk of a human in earshot. The night was for nightbirds and crickets, far from city lights and noise. Jack closed his eyes, wishing he could nap. At least he could appreciate this calm moment, unbroken by violence and trauma. Maybe some monster would come toss a grenade at their drifting boat, break the stillness of the gentle waters. But for now it was quiet.




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     October 30th, 2020
     By:  Joe

BET U DIDN'T SEE THIS ONE COMING!! I just had to do something special for the TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! And this is an exciting one, because this isn't gonna be the usual single page every two years. That's right baby, there is more Kingfisher to come soon. I don't want to promise any regular schedule, but there are multiple pages in the works, and the next part of the Anselm story which is about 99% done. I'm so grateful for all of who you have stuck around for this decade (!) and put up with my long absences. It feels great to have something up again, and I hope to bring more funtainment to you soon. I've got a few more ideas kicking around that I will discuss in the future.

By the way, I've decided to unify my usual writing pen name (Joseph Kelly) with the comic. So you can still call me Kelly if you want but you'll sound like a military dude or something. :P Love you all as ever, Happy Halloween, and Happy Kingfishermas!!

       TRANSCRIPT: This is the text of the comic, for purposes such as translation and internet searches.


(Theodore is ready with the oars while Jack us just getting situated in a little boat. Both are in light
 sweaters, Theo's reddish salmon over a lavendar collared shirt, Jack's leopard print over nothing.)

THEODORE: I'm so glad we can be here, in this peaceful place.


(It's a long shot of Theodore rowing the boat away from the dock, Jack settled in. The colors are vivid, the water swirling purple.)

THEODORE: Here with a friend.

JACK: Yeah...


(Theodore has remembered his manners. This night he seems pleasant, if a little blank.)

THEODORE: Ah, I talk too much about myself. What's new with Jack?

JACK: Where to even start...


(Jack is ready to regale Theo with the haps.)

JACK: Well, I started seeing this guy...

THEODORE: (from off panel) Where did you see him?

JACK: Huh? I meant seeing him romantically.


(Theodore clearly not sure what to think in this moment, though not shocked by any means.)

THEODORE: Romantic- Oh...

JACK: (from off panel) Umm, don't want to hear about that? I mean, you saw me with men before...


(Theodore is still rowing, and averts his eyes while he casts about verbally.)

THEODORE: With men- No! No, that's not it. I don't know what I- Please go on.


(Jack sits at his end of the boat, pondering recent unpleasance.)

JACK: Remember Vitus? My- ugh, 'father'...

THEODORE: (from off panel) The sporty one, yes! What happened?


(They converse earnestly. Theodore has moved onto a closer seat within the little boat.)

JACK: I think he figured out what I did, with the heart... He attacked me.

THEODORE: Oh no! Attacked? How badly?

JACK: Well, my friends had to scrape me up afterward...


(Jack looks shocked at Theodore's hand suddenly on his shoulder.)

THEODORE: Oh Jack, I'm so sorry! I never wanted to-


(Jack looks away but Theodore realizes he's done wrong.)

THEODORE: To hurt you...


(Jack looks sympathetic as Theodore draws back his hand.)

JACK: Sorry, I didn't mean-

THEODORE: No, it's sensible to flinch. Straying hands deserve to be bitten.


(Theodore shrinks away from Jack, drawn his arms close, one hand over his mouth.)

JACK: (from off panel) It's not you, it's just vampires touching me...

THEODORE: I know, I know so well. I shouldn't be surprised. My intentions are nothing, even monsters have good intentions.


(Jack has a comforting hand on Theodore's arm, as the little guy is crumpled and crying.)

JACK: Hey, come on. I'm your friend, really...


(Jack is startled by Theodore lunging in for a deeper embrace.)


(Jack's expression softens as he holds Theodore.)

JACK: Aw man... You poor fuckin' guy.


  (Jack looks serene now, draping a comforting arm over Theodore. Theodore is
looking small, his eyes now doing the spooky vamp glow. Is his expression sheisty?)

JACK: C'mon, no reason to cry... I'll always be your friend, no matter what.

THEODORE: And I am yours, always... No matter what.


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