Art by Rabbi Tom
Daniel Clydesdale, the horse in the chair, has a very checkered past that included running away from home, getting involved in underground fight clubs, becoming a father at the age of 13, getting branded, and eventually getting arrested for participating in an illegal fight club. Older and wiser at the age of 17, he has made peace with his family, and hopes to graduate from school so he can marry the mother of his kids, Karen Percheron.
Here, Dan is doing his best not to show pain while he has the name of his son Dylan branded on his chest—if he grimaces, Jan (the brander) has an endless supply of jokes at the ready, as Dan knows well from his first time getting a brand.
Theodore Clydesdale is WAY out of his element. The high-ranking politician is used to wearing fine, flashy suits and attending galas at 5-star hotels. Instead, he's in a dingy, reeking branding parlour, wearing the cheapest clothes he could find (his suits would be utterly ruined by the smell in here), listening to two blue-collar guys share some pretty seedy jokes.
If Ted had his druthers, Daniel would never come CLOSE to a branding parlour—never mind get a brand—but Daniel's a very different horse from his father, and this is one issue Ted is willing to let slide. There are plenty others that Ted considers much more serious—like the battle he had with his MMA-loving son over steroids.
Jan Śmieżak is the branding artist here—one of the better ones in Furriston. He did Daniel's other two brands, and has gotten a few of his own. He is a żubr (european bison or wisent), and immigrant from Poland.
Normally, when someone asked to be branded with a name, he would have a holder in which he would place steel letters as if typesetting and heat that—but some names (like Dylan) are common enough that he can have a ready-made iron that sees regular use.
Jan, like Dan, is deeply into the branding subculture and knows its rules. Certain brands must be earned (A sideways-facing skull is earned by almost being killed; forward-facing is earned by killing someone). A patron who grimaces in pain is fair game for jokes, but branding should continue. If someone cries out, though, then they are considered weaklings who stupidly tried to look tougher than they were—they are forcibly branded with a mark that looks like an x with an extra diagonal line. It is a mark of disgrace, and whoever has one may never enter a branding parlour again. It is an iron that any wise branding artist keeps handy and heated at all times.
In the branding subculture, most are aware that there's a second group of people who have been branded—most of them from Alan Avariss laboratories. These are people who were branded against their will and have a lot of bad memories associated with those brands; those who have willingly gotten brands tend to avoid this second group until the smell of branding wears off.
For this reason, Dan will not go to Bev and Dev's cafeteria until he stops reeking; Bev Bruin is in this second group.
Jan will not be branding Ted, though: when he learned that Ted was a politician, he joked
Sorry: I have nothing crook enough for you.
Ted, Bev Bruin, and Furriston all belong to Gene Catlow
Thanks to Shubert for the spelling of Jan Śmieżak's last name.
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