=========================   Last issue, we left Ralph, our talking iguana
 º   Ralph's New Recipe  º                     (who doesn't talk much) materializing in a suburb
 =========================   of St Louis.  What was surprising about this is

that it is so unlike him to navigate a landing in unoccupied space.  We now
join our protagonist where he has just disturbed a lady at a computer.

Through a few wrong numbers and some line noise, Ralph has moved back in time
to December, 1989.


"'scuse me, Lady, but where the hell am I?"

"Oh ick!  A LIZARD!!"

"Ma'am, I didn't ask what, I asked where."

"...and a BIG one at that!  Jean-Luc!!  There's a big lizard in here with me!!"

A voice drifts into the room...

"I'm busy playing space invaders.  Don't bug me now!"

Ralph takes off his shades, licks his naked eyebrows and leans toward the nervous

"Babe, I sure hope I'm a big lizard or else there's something terribly wrong with that
machine behind me.  Is this Des Moines?"

"N-n-n-o.  No.  You're in St. Louis.  Um.  South of Dead Moans.  Uh...I'm not dreaming
this am I?"

"You got weird dreams if you're asleep.  I missed Iowa altogether, huh?  Damn.  So who
are you?"

"'ve got incredible eyes for a lizard..."

Ralph reaches into his tardis and pulls a beer out of his duffel bag.

"Want a brew?"

" you.  My name's Ebony Eyes."

"Yeah, makes sense. "  Ralph pops the beer open and takes a long pull.  "So what's the
computer thing doing?"

"Oh, that.  It's my BBS.  It's got ANSI, you know."

"Does it have lime jello and rodents?"

EE gives Ralph a peculiar look.  "You're very weird.  You aren't related to this guy
named Bloose are you?  He'd come up with something like that."

"No ma'am, I'm just a lizard.  You don't happen to have a quarter handy, do you?"

"Yes, I think I can get you one.  Why?"

"I need it to get back to Barstow.  For the tardis."

EE steps out of the room, giving Ralph a cautious eye.  Ralph gives the computer a
cautious eye and presses a key.  A few moments later, EE returns with a quarter.  Ralph is
sitting innocently on the floor, checking out his fingernails.

"Here's your quarter.  I want to see that thing fly."

"Thank you, ma'am.  It can't fly.  FCC regulations, you know."

EE watches as Ralph climbs into the contraption, drops the quarter in the slot and starts to
fade away.  Just before the entire mess disappears, EE detects what she thinks is a wink.

April 1991.  Barstow, California.  A clear and starry sky blankets the town.  Church
chimes are heard in the distance tolling out 2am.

WHAM!  Crash!!

An object resembling a telephone booth crashes into a driveway, ricochets off a retaining
wall and comes to rest in front of the door to a modest ranch home in a previously quiet

"Bloose dear, I think Ralph's back."

Beyond Mom is carefully straining sterno through some bread for Bloose's breakfast.  
Bloose, comatose on the couch, twitches, jerks and falls to the floor with a thud.

"Gnizt.  Frptl vngt."

"No, I said Ralph's back.  Let him in.  He's at the front door."

Bloose crawls to the front door, reaches for the handle and is squarely smacked in the
face by the door suddenly being pushed open by a large disheveled lizard.

"Bnpt!!  Rffzzl!!  Gniblt vgb nbooloo..."

Ralph blithely ignores the writhing body on the floor, walking over Bloose to the kitchen.

"Hi, Toots.  Sorry about the mess at the door.  He'll recover in a few minutes."

"Hello yourself, you handsome lizard.  Yeah, he usually does, and one of these days we'll
all figure out what he recovers into.  I've got coffee.  Want some?"

"Nope.  I gotta do some research.  Tell brain-dead that I'll be in his office waiting."

Ralph trundles off down the hall towards a computer room-cum-asylum.  Bloose, now
awake, somewhat recovered and still twitching, stumbles into the kitchen.

"I suppose that YOU want your coffee.  Here.  Fresh batch."

Bloose misses the offered cup, grabs the sterno by mistake and downs the contents in a
single gulp.

"Bvck glp frbhs."

"You're welcome, dear.  Watch your step...oops."

Bloose trips over the small step to the hallway and skids down the hall, leaving a sticky
green trail.  Entering the office, he finds Ralph holding an object in his hand.

"If you're going to help out with my research I expect you to speak normally."

The lizard presses a button on the object and at once a dart, trailing a wire, strikes the
twitching human squarely in the forehead.

"Thanks, Ralph.  I needed that.  How's the research going?"

"Fine...fine.  I understand you've found me an assistant?"

"Sort of.  Did you find anything interesting in the tapes?"

The tapes Bloose refers to are, of course, the results of Ralph's research into the effects of
the harmonics of whale farts on the space-time continuum.  Ralph had recently finished
inspecting the tapes for back-masked satanic messages.  There weren't any, but the
Breaking Wind recording studio was still interested in the masters for a new release of
their environmental sounds albums series.

"Only a few rumbles.  Nothing in there that would prevent a rodent attack, though.  Oh,
yeah.  The tardis needs a new door."

"Hit the retaining wall again, huh?  No big deal.  I suppose I should widen the driveway
so I could get the car out."

Bloose grabs a length of garden hose, shoves one end into a three-pound can of coffee
grounds, and shoving the other end up his nose, begins to inhale.

Ralph jumps to the keyboard of a nearby computer.

"I see here that there's a user gathering coming up.  I have an idea..."

A loud pop breaks the tapping of computer keys.  Coffee grounds spray through the air.  
"But Ralph, the Bloose-juice is already toxic.  Why make it unstable?"

"Pure research, man.  Never bug a scientist."

Bloose peers at the formula displayed on the screen.  "Where the hell are we going to find
hydrazine in this end of town?  And what about a container?  Ralph, this stuff would eat
through anything!"

"You don't mix it up until it's ready to be served.  Let's go out and mix up a few test

Bloose and the lizard head out of the house on foot, down several streets and off into a
crisp, clear desert dawn.  Spectacular dawn.  Every color imaginable leaps into the sky,
blending, spreading out ahead of gorgeous streaming sunbeams.  Motorists within a 60
mile radius stop their cars to gape at the spectacle.  Early risers stop in their tracks and
gaze in awe at the sight.  Bloose grunts and points at the sky.  "I see they're messing
around at the army base again."

Ralph glances up, nods concurrance, then removes his shades and starts to clean them
with his shirt.  "Don't worry about it.  They'll get theirs."

Stopping at the local 7-11, the duo pick up various and sundry items necessary for
Ralph's new formula.  The grocery order resembles an arms deal.

"Sure glad those foreign nationals are running these stores now.  Never can find
plutonium down at the market, but they've always got plenty here.  No, I got the cleaning
fluid with the armor plating right here."

Ralph grunts approval at the clerk and handing Bloose one of the sacks, heads out of the
store into the morning sun.

Three hours and several devastating blasts later, the pair emerged from what had once
been a spectacular mountain range.  Both were stained with a pungent red substance and
were grinning quite stupidly.  Beyond Mom, now out in the deformed driveway, had been
repairing the tardis and looked up as the two tattered beings approached.

"New recipe, huh?"


"Blzkt gbnt."

"Glad to hear it worked out.  Ralph, the tardis is working again...Here's a quarter.  Bloose,
all kinds of people have been reporting rodent sightings again.  I think Lollita's headed
back this way."

Ralph, still grinning, took the quarter from Beyond Mom and without hesitating, stepped
into the now upright tardis and disappeared.

"Where's he off to now?"

"Lknzt idno glk wqist muff."

"An assistant?  He thinks he can find one in western San Berdoo county??  That stuff
must have affected him worse than usual."

"Glyk bbn dspk."

"Oh.  New recipe.  Well, you'd better get in there and answer your mail.  I don't want that
rodent slut showing up here!"

Bloose walked slowly to the door, bits of smoldering clothing trailing his still overheated
body.  He knew all too well that the rodent had some evil plan in mind and that the new
recipe might be his only hope of escape...

Next...Part V, "Lollita Gets Hers"
The Story of Ralph - Part 5