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Chapter #5

Declan 1.1 (Legend of the Snork)

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John walked in through the front door. He was smiling from ear to ear,
with a pair of antique Google Goggles on, the bright red model with the around
side, rearview cam on it.
I couldn’t believe it, antique Google Goggles.
Well, I got all excited and said, “No way. Where did you get those? Do
they still work? Let me try them on.”
John replied, “Nice to see you too, buddy.” Then he cocked his head to
the right a little and said, “Besides, nobody touches the GGs.”
They were just like the ones I used to have when I was a boy, except
mine were green and didn't have the side wrap. I really wanted to try ’em on, so
I begged, “Come on, man. You know how much I used to love my Google
Goggles when I was a kid.”
John laughed, “You're still just a kid, Swirly Doo.”
I introduced him to Tawana, and they smiled at each other.
I really wanted to wear them goggles. I started telling them about my old
Google Goggles—“Alien Invasion at the mall was my favorite. Everybody would
look like aliens and be shooting lasers at each other, or watching the flying
saucers cruise by as we rode down the interstate. I liked Cave Man too. When
riding around town, the cars and roloballs would look like dinosaurs running
by. Those are awesome.”
Freakin’ John, what a dick. I’ll talk him into trying them on later, after a
few beers.
With a sacastic smile he pulled his glasses down and winked at me. I was
pretty sure he knew exactly what I was thinking. How can we even be friends? I
think I hate him.

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John said to me, “Yeah, I’ve got ’em set to Naked City right now, and I
can see everything.” And he looked me and Tawana up and down a couple of
I felt like covering myself, but it wouldn’t do any good. It was just a
simulation. I think. Actually, I probably looked like a sexy woman to him right
now. Sick.
Then I looked up at Tawana and realized that she didn’t care. She was
still wearing her beach outfit, if you know what I mean.
Then John pulled his glasses slowly off and looked over at Tawana. I
think he was surprised by her real appearance, but John was cool. He never
even flinched or anything.
He said, “I just love fishing.”
I wasn’t sure how Tawana would take that, but she flirted, “I don’t mind
getting caught once in a while, Navy boy.”
And then John sat down at the high top, positioning his muscular left
arm so she could see it, and let the anchors go.
“Nice tattoo,” Tawana said.
He flexed his muscles a couple of times and said, “Yeah, I like it. It’s
okay. So what’s going on with you, Deck man? You look a little jealous.”
“Nah, nah. No, we’re just friends. I just have a lot on my mind.”
John, with a big ol’ Southern grin, said, “Yeah, like partying on down.
Man, are you ready to go?”
I looked at the time and said, “It is getting late.” Then I looked over at
Tawana and told her, “Guess I'll see you later. Don't wait up.”
She replied, “Don’t forget about me in the morning. I don’t want to go to
New York all alone. It’s going to be cold, so pick up something warm to wear.”
John looked her up and down a couple of more times and said, “Catch ya
later, fancy fins.”
And then it hit me.
Reality hit me like a ton of bricks.

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There was a hitman out there trying to kill me. I started to worry.
I was feeling kind of safe at Tawana’s, like nobody could kill me way up
there in her penthouse. For a couple of hours there, I was at peace and so
relaxed. But now I was headed out on the town. I kind of felt like a rabbit in
some woods filled with wolves and bat snipers.
I told John, “Yeah, man, let’s go.”
And John put on his GGs and said, “Let’s saddle up and ride Clyde.”
As we made our way down to the parking lot, John was rattling on about
his new roloball, the Kamikaze 9000. It apparently had jump capability.
“That’s crazy,” I said. I didn’t believe him. It was probably the
electromagnetic intersection flyovers that was on every roloball ever printed in
the last five years.
He continued, “I know! I can be driving along and just jump like a rubber
super ball fresh out of the gumball machine.”
Apparently there were settings as to how aggressive you could be.
My heart stopped when I saw this deathtrap. It was bright yellow with
black racing stripes and super coolers.
“Check this out,” he said as he gestured his hand at the contraption.
Some unusual, dull silver pipes scrolled out underneath.
“Ion thrusters, huh?” I wondered if the salesman told him that the Japs
were not well known for their inner ball suspensions or their face-forward
stabilizing gyros. They did make the best androids, though. I hate androids.
The side doors twirled up, and I looked over at John, giving him The Nod,
like I could hardly wait to climb in. I'd die if he ever found out that I was scared
of riding in a roloball, much more this contraption.
John’s a freaking lunatic, and now he was a lunatic with a rolling,
jumping death trap. This whole scenario was starting to feel like a bad
nightmare, but I climbed right in and tried to act cool about it. You know, like I
wasn’t scared a bit. No, not one bit. Holy fuck, I’ll be lucky to live through this

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I can't believe Rhonda hasn't called me back yet. She must really be
afraid of this guy. Man, Bat Sniper must want to kill me really bad. I mean, I
didn’t know how badly, but he took a chance once already. You had to have a
lot of balls to try and shoot someone in this day and age. There's cameras
everywhere and possible witnesses in sync world, not to mention future crime
profiling and now some kind of time bomb technology. But the more I thought
about it, the more scared I got, and, man, I was so scared my teeth hurt from
the grinding tension.
I couldn’t think. I couldn’t talk. I could barely move. If I could just play it
cool until we got to a bar, maybe I’ll loosen up with a couple of belts of good
scotch. I so like my scotch.
John must’ve noticed how tense I was because he looked over at me and
wrapped his fingers and thumb around the back of my neck and began
squeezing and shaking me back and forth and said, “Loosen up Jack! What’s
wrong? You’re all wrenched up like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking
My stomach was so knotted up from the trembling inside that I wanted
to puke, and I probably would have except I hadn't had anythoing to eat all
day, except those few bites of Tawana’s rue potatoes. Man, those were good. I
hope I can keep them down.
I tried. I really, really tried being cool, but to no avail. Shivering inside,
my weak voice squeaked out, “Oh, you know, I just need a little something in
the belly.” Then I cleared my throat and said, “Um, and a stiff drink.”
“Declan, are you mad at me for hitting on your woman?” John asked.
I gave him a stern look and said, “She is not my woman.”
He replied, “Well, what is it then?”
Just about the time I started to speak, his roloball jumped and flew
straight up, about forty feet into the air. I seriously did not know how I kept
from shitting my pants. Then we came down into a small space between a semi
and another roloball. The damn thing bounced up over a few more vehicles,

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and there we were, bouncing up and down the road. John was yipping and
yahooing, having the time of his life.
“Oh, looky, looky there,” he said while pointing at the dash display. I
knew what he was pointing at without even having to look. He saw the
Deerfield jump-shoot coming up fast. “Oh my gosh, we’re hitting the shoot,
Declan! We’re hitting the shoot, man!”
I don’t think they have many jump-shoots in Atlantis, where John is
He was all excited. He looked at me and pulled his GGs down his nose,
with crazy eyes as he shouted, “We're going to get shot! Haha!”
Oh, what the hell. I was probably going to die one way or the other
tonight. I might as well let John kill me with his insane toy, rather than Count
Dracula with his sniper rifle.
I wanted to tell John about the bat freak’s attempts on my life, but
somehow talking about such a serious subject didn’t seem right while riding a
bucking bronco in the middle of a rodeo. Instead I told him I needed to stop
and pick up some clothes along the way.
John said, “I know just the place.” Then he wound up some intense,
energetic music as loud as it would play. He turned off the interstate, and we
bounced over a couple of traffic lights. Then we hit the shoot.
Swooosh, we were flying. John was ecstatic, bouncing up and down in
his seat like a little kid, flapping his arms and yahooing. I had both hands on
the dash handles, gripping them tightly.
We bounced high and far after the landing, until we pulled up to a
downtown Dillard's.
I was so relieved when we parked. I got out of the Kamikaze 9000, heart
attacks a minute mobile, with wobbly legs that could hardly walk because they
felt like rubber. I was glad to have my feet on solid ground.

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At least we were at a nice clothing store. I’ve always liked Dillard’s. They
have nice things. We went in and made our way up to the adult clothing on the
third floor.
As we walked out of the elevator, I saw a woman that worked there, I’d
say in her early to mid-fifties, wearing the craziest hat that I’d ever seen. Me
and John looked at each other and smirked a little, and then we looked back
over at her. The hat was made of an assortment of fruit stacked up about thirty
inches high, and it was very colorful and weird.
The woman was chatting with a couple of her regular customers. She
turned and waived at us, acknowledging our presence, then turned back to her
discussion with her friend. She had a little toddler boy on her hip, and as I got
closer, I could hear her bragging about her grandson.
She put the boy down and held his little hand, then looked up and asked
me, “Looking for anything in particular?”
“What a handsome young man,” I commented, looking down at the child.
She laughed and replied in a genuine Southern tone, “Oh, he's a ring-
tailed tooter. That’s what this one is.”
Looking at her in the stupid hat, with that warm smile and the love she
had for that boy, made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My troubles
somehow faded in their presence.
Then she said to us, “Don’t mind the fruit. We’re just having a contest to
see who can come up with the wildest-looking hat.”
I looked around and noticed a few strange ones on the other salespeople,
but nothing like hers.
“I think you’re going to win, Mrs. Hamilton,” I told her as I read her
“Oh, you can call me Goldie.”
John was looking at the sports coats, but I could tell he was getting
anxious and ready to go.

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I picked up some nice slacks and told the sales lady, I have an important
date in New York tommorrow night and need something nice and warm to
Goldie said, “I have just the thing for you, young man.” Then she
wirled around, picked up a couple of things off some racks, and held them up
faster than I could say ‘no thank you.’ But they were perfect and when I tried
them on the fit, the first time.
I could see that this woman was real pro. I said to John, “They don’t
make ’em like her anymore.”
“No, I don’t think so, Declan,” he replied.
I bought the outfit and a really nice London Fog winter jacket. No doubt
it was going to be cold up there. The weatherman said to expect a lot of snow
on the news yesterday. I was thinking about staying up there and hiding out
for a few days somehow. I don’t know how yet, but the clothes cost about all I’d
As we started towards the elevator the weight of my stress started
haunting me again.
Man, I don't know what I'm doing or what I was going to do at this point.
This bat freak was serious and dangerous.
John started ribbing me about how gay I looked in my new clothes as we
made our way back down to his death trap. I snidely replied, “You’re just
jealous because I’m styling and smiling and you’re not.”
I put the London Fog in the back with my printed clothes, folded nice
and neat just like Grandma taught me when I was a little ring-tailed tooter.
Then my heart sank. We were headed to another roloball shoot. My
stomach knotted up again. Why can’t I have normal friends like everybody
We started zipping towards the insane mechanical monster, and it was
super busy. That was no surprise for this time of day.

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I told John, “Watch out for the Fasscabs. They’ll knock you right out of
the sky.”
Flum, whoosh, and we were headed straight up like a rocket.
I wanted to scream a terrifying scream, but I was cool. My face was pale
white and horrified, but I was cool. My hair was standing on end, but I was
Like a well-thrown curveball, we rounded our way to the LZ, John
yelping and yahooing all the way.
He joyfully exclaimed, “I know a really great Chinese restaurant, the best
in all of South Florida!”
Anything besides a drive-through sounded good to me.
We wound around a couple of skyscrapers and pulled into a shopping
plaza, then parked in front of the Great Geisha Girl restaurant. It looked the
same as every single strip mall Chinese food restaurant I’d ever seen.
They were all the same. They were not franchised, but they all had the
same faded menu lit up over the counter, and all the food tasted exactly the
same in every single one of them—fast, fried, and bland.
When John said he knew a good Chinese place, I thought we’d at least
wind up at an all-you-can-eat buffet, or somewhere special like Wong’s in
Wellington. Man, they had the best General Tso’s chicken ever, so spicy and
garlicky that Mom wouldn’t even let me bring it into the house with all of that
spicy aroma steaming off of it.
Oh well. I didn’t say anything. I don’t mind strip mall Chinese food. I just
hoped this one had fountain drinks, or at least a cup of ice to pour my soda
Walking up to the door, I said with a hint of sarcasm in my voice, “So
this is the best Chinese food in all of Fort Lauderdale, huh?”
John smiled and replied, “Oh, you better believe it, man.”
John opened the door as if he couldn't wait to get in and as I walked in
behind him, I saw right away why. There was the cutest little Asian girl that I’d

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ever seen, just beaming. I looked at John, who looked at me and then back
over at the girl, all starry eyed and blushing. Yeah, they were in love, or at the
very least deeply in lust.
I should’ve known.
John said to her, in a low yet boisterous voice, “How’s my li’l Bau Hong
She turned beet red, and I knew that they had ‘known’ each other once
or twice before. They started hugging and talking cute talk.
John introduced me, but I still felt like a third wheel. I left them alone
and quietly moseyed on over to the counter. Istood in line behind a young
couple with a baby in a stroller, ordering some food to go. I glanced back, and
John and Cute-Cute were in their own little world, giggling and laughing.
I glanced around the parking lot through the window. No sign of Bat Doof
anywhere. That's good.
The place was quaint. On the back wall there was an old, worn tapestry
with a building beside a brook and some trees. The building had the
stereotypical Chinese roof on it. Just in front of the tapestry and to the right
were cans of soda behind a glass door in a warm cooler, no ice machine. Why
am I not surprised?
There was a young Chinese boy sitting at the front corner table with a
coloring book and a couple of inexpensive toys. The kid was probably three or
four years old, and he was tearing and picking at the plastic on the front of a
Pop-N-Push candy card. He’d already popped all the bubbles, and now he was
trying to pick the candy out through the tiny holes left from the popped
He looked up at me, and I smiled at him, walking over and holding my
hand out. I could tell he didn’t really trust me with his candy, but Mom was
busy cooking in the back. He held it up for me to help and said, “Please,” while
exposing his tiny white square teeth. I pushed the candy through the foil on
the back of the card, and I could see joy fill his heart as understanding filled

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his brain. I handed it back to him, and he immediately started pushing all the
candy through the back. He looked up at me and said, “Thanks you,” in his
tiny, little voice.
“You’re welcome,” I replied.
His gills were bright pink and clean. I was pretty sure he was born here
in America. It’s just awful that an entire nation genetically modified its citizens
just to breathe. The atmosphere in China is so full of smog that if you want to
see the sunrise you have to watch it on a huge video monitor. It’s just sick.
Still, some part of me wants to go over there and see it for myself.
I walked over to the front door and gazed outside. I really don't know
what I was looking for, so I stepped back over to the counter. The young couple
was out of the way now. I looked over at the lovebirds and said, “Hey, John,
you want something?”
He looked at Whatsername—Bau Bau, I think—and said, “Yeah, I think I
do want something.”
I gave him a look and grumbled, “I meant something to eat, doofus.”
I turned to the lady at the counter, who was shooing a fly buzzing around
her ear, and said, “I’ll have the sweet and sour chicken and a can of orange
John slapped Bau Hong on her perfectly round butt as she turned to go
back to work and said, “I’ll have the lobster bisque.”
The lady at the counter gave him a ‘don’t be a tardo’ look. A little
embarrassed, he said, “I’ll have the egg fu yung, ma’am, with a couple of egg
rolls, please.”
We sat down, and I made sure my back was to the wall so I could see out
the window.
John said, “Oh man, that’s my li’l Bau Hong baby right there. Wasn’t
sure if she’d remember me or not.”
I replied, “Yeah right. I think she’s in love. You better watch out.”

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We yammered on a while about how much money they must save by
setting the A/C to ninety-five year round. Then we made some other small talk.
I finally said, “We gotta go somewhere quiet and safe. I need to talk to you
about some things.”
About that time, the food was ready and Bau Hong brought it out for us,
all smiley faced and floating on air. And you know it was the best Chinese food
in all of Fort Lauderdale.
Eventually the small talk came around to her gills. I asked, “Don’t those
bother you just a little?”
And John replied, “No more than your girlfriend’s gills and scales bother
“I told you, she’s not my girlfriend.”
“Why not, man?” he asked. “She’s rich and good looking. I can tell you
really like her, and I can tell she really likes you too.”
I said, “I don’t know. I really don’t want to talk about it.”
But he kept on and on until I finally told him that I really didn’t want to
date a fish, or any other Genetically modified freaks.
“Why not?”
I didn’t want to go into the moral issues I had with it, and so I just told
him, “They’re just weird, man.”
So we talked about GMs for a while. I started describing the one that was
at the Funky Buddha the other night to him.
I said, “Oh man, she was some freak. I truly felt sorry for her because
she was so freak'n strange. She had these beady little eyes that were up on
snail-like antennae and—”
John laughed and cut me off, asking, “Did she have a small elephant-like
nose dangling from her forehead?”
I was slightly astonished. “How did you know?” I asked.
He answered, “Man, you saw a snork, or more likely the daughter of

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I chuckled, “Yeah, she was a snork alright.”
He said, “No, man, listen. Snorks were a top-secret, genetically modified
humanoids designed by the Navy to do reconnaissance missions in swampy,
shallow-water areas.”
I never could tell if he was bullshitting me or not. John just kept on
“They were developed and deployed in some police action we were
involved in a few years ago. I’m surprised we don’t see more of them up here in
South Florida. I hear a lot of them moved out to the everglades. I'm sure they
feel right at home out there. They like to keep to themselves and seldom come
out into the open. You ever heard of Anus Moses?”
“No, not really.” I shook my head and replied.
A little surprised, John continued, “Oh, he was a legend. The most
famous alligator hunter there ever was. Listen.”
Then John gave me a serious look, and I knew by the way he said 'Listen'
that I was in for one his infamous tall tales.
He stood up and raised his hand way over his head, looked me in the
eyes and stated, “Man, this guy was nine feet tall and almost three and a half
feet wide.” He lowered his hands and spread them to show me the mans width.
Then he lowered his voice and continued, “He was nothing but muscle and
meanness from head to toe. He'd hunt gators with nothing more than his bare
hand and the stump of an arm that was left after a gator got a hold of it.”
Bau Hong walked over and cleaned the table. Then she came back to
hear the story. I felt the entire retaurant was evesdropping in on this story.
John can be quite animated when telling his tales.
I could tell he was full of crap, but it was mildly entertaining so I just
nodded as if I believed him.
He went on. “He killed a sheriff up in Louisiana that was after him for
alligator poaching and wound up out in the Everglades when he made a run for
it. The snorks were settling back there after their tours.”

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“So what happened?” I asked, trying to look interested.
John said, “Well, legend has it ole Anus Moses nabbed a little snork boy
up out of the water by his trunk, with his one huge hand and started laughing
at him. He said, ‘What the hell are you?’ Then he held him up into the sunlight
to get a better look and said, “I don't know what the hell are you, but to me you
looks like food!’
Then, just like that, the little snork boy swooped his foot around
and cut Anus' Moses throat straight to the bone with his razor-sharp
toenails. Anus' big, giant head fell back and dangled there, blood
pumping out of the jugulars in what was left of his neck. And then the
weight of his great big head pulled him over backwards until there was
nothing left of him but a big splash in the muddy swamp.”
John’s head was tilted back as he stumbled backwards,
mimicking the action as he told the story.
Then John looked at me with a his crazy-eyed smile and finished, “You
don't want to piss off a snork.” They're trained by the best.
Rolling my eyes I said, “You Listen, I gotta go get a drink somewhere.
You’re wearing me out with all this bullshit, man.”
“No, no, no, it’s all true,” he insisted, finally sitting down again.
I just looked at him square in the eyes and whispered, “I don’t care. I just
need to get out of here and get a drink before somebody kills me.”
He laughed and said, “Hell yeah, man, let’s go get ripped!” He stood back
up and told Bau Hong, “Later, baby. We’re headed out.”
She just smiled a quiet smile; the Chinese are all so humble. She said
with a thick accent, “You boys be careful.”
Well, I knew John, and I knew we were headed down to the Red Light
Fest, as I liked to call it.
Mayor Ishtar, in all of her infamous wisdom, decided to legalize
prostitution the week of Love Fest, and a lot of the girls came down early. I
guess they wanted to practice up for the pole contest. I don’t know why any girl

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would want an eight-foot obelisk being held high by the mighty Aphrodite, but
Tawana won one once and she had hers proudly displayed in her living room.
She was so proud of it that you’d think she won the Washington Monument
I wanted to spill the beans and tell John I was in trouble and that he
might be in danger hanging out with me tonight. I just needed it to be the right
time and place. So I told him, “Let’s go hang out somewhere we can talk a bit.
It’s early, and we don’t want to get all ripped up just yet.”
“I was thinking the same thing,” John said. “How about we head over to
Charlie’s, on the beach? We can kick back and relax a little before all the
action, watch a few bikinis walk by.”
I said, “Sounds good.” Charlie’s was a few minutes away. I could figure
out exactly how to tell John everything that had been going on.
I started some small talk to fill the air. I mentioned that I was thinking
about visiting my grandma on the head farm.
He laughed and said, “Head farm, huh? That’s pretty good.”
“You ever hear of anybody dying in a retirement home before their plan
ran out?” I asked.
And he said, “No, at least not at a normal old folk’s home where all the
patients are kept in simulated stasis, none except the ones that died in that
earthquake out on Cali Island a couple of years ago.”
“Yeah, I remember that newsfeed,” I said. “Heads falling out of their life
support housings and rolling all over the floor, spinal cord slime trails and goo
“Did you see the ones bouncing down the stairs?”
“Ew, yes, it was so gross.”
John said, “I hear a couple of the old timers are still alive and living
perfectly normal lives on the servers.”
Dumbfounded, I replied, “No way.”

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Dammit, I wished I could tell when he was pulling my leg. It’s just not
We wheeled into Charlie’s and bellied up to the bar, way over in the
corner where I could watch the door and not worry about my backside.
John said, “Declan, the hot spot’s available. It’s not like you to miss the
opportunity to sit in it.”
“Not tonight, John. I gotta be in the lookout stool tonight,” I replied.
I was a bit miffed that he would notice such a detail, also that he knew
about the hot seat at a bar. Not too many guys know the best seat at almost
every bar in the world. The hot spot was not something you actually talked
about. Most of us who know this little secret keep it to ourselves.
John ordered up a beer from a rather homely looking bartender, and I
said, “I’ll have a scotch on the rocks, make it a double.”
Her tight cutoffs and curvy figure took the edge off the tension as she
gave me a standard smile that seemed to say, ‘I’m tired and my feet hurt, so
just tell me what you want.’ Out loud, she said, “It’s happy hour, two for one
for about five more minutes.”
“In that case, change mine to a Screaming Ho,” John said.
And she said, “Coming right up.”
“So what’s up, Declan?” John asked.
I could feel my heart start to pound a little harder in my chest. It must
have known I was going to have to face reality and talk about it.
I said in a low, serious voice, “There’s a guy out there who’s trying to kill
me. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with my dad’s
involvement with the KBD, or maybe some other crime family or gang.”
John interrupted, “Man, just because your pops OD’d on krain doesn’t
mean he was involved with the Krain Brothers or anybody else. Why the hell
would you think such a thing?”
So I told him the story about the bat guy, and the fight at school, and

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I don’t know why she hasn’t called by now. Hmm, I hope she’s okay.
I continued, telling him about the door at the Funky Buddha and mom
telling me dad might have been involved in something.
John raised his eyebrows sllightly and said, “Look, man. You can’t
bullshit a bullshitter. I know you’re shy and scared of the ladies, but don’t
worry, Deck. I’ll satisfy any of them that hit on you tonight and all the ones
that give me a second glance.”
“You don’t understand. I’m serious here,” I insisted.
John laughed and rubbed his knuckles on my head, giving me a scruffy.
He replied, “Sure you are, Declan. Sure you are. And Count Dracula’s going to
step through that door any minute and start shooting up the place, biting every
survivor on the neck. Ha! You’re such a bonehead, Declan.” And he laughed
some more.
What the fuck.
Then he told everybody within boisterous earshot, “Hey, everybody!
There’s a batman trying to kill my buddy here, so keep an eye out for him,
I was so embarrassed as he kept laughing at me and saying, “That’s a
good one, Declan. Not as good as my Famous Anus story, but a good one.” He
turned to the barmaid and shouted, “Hey, barkeep, give us another round. This
one’s on me, Deck.”
I wasn’t sure what to do or say, or how I could convince him. I could see
the wheels turning in his head as he said, “The KBD! You almost had me,
Declan. They are well known for killing those who betray them, and their
I remembered the twelve-year-old in the newscast yesterday morning,
and it hurt me a little.
I said, “I know, and that’s why I’m starting to think it’s them. They are
going to kill me if I can’t figure out what to do or where to go.”

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John gave me a look and smirked, “Alright, I’ll play along. So what’s the
plan so far?”
“Hell, I don’t know. I was hoping you’d have a good idea. This bat guy
can see you in the real world, even if you’re in sync world.”
John nodded and said, “Most of the military have software in their
uniforms that detect sync world frequencies. It’s not impossible. But for him to
possess a device like that is not really probable. The software is highly
controlled and not available to the public. But the KBD is a well-funded
“I was thinking of running off with the South Florida Fair, or maybe
trying to find a job in New York and just staying up there,” I admitted.
John laughed and said, “You know how cold it gets up there? Not to
mention that’s where they’re headquartered.”
My comband flashed. “Your mother is calling. Answer or ignore?”
“Answer,” I told it. “Hey Mom.”
“Declan, are you okay?”
“So far,” I replied.
She said, “The neighbor killed a bug for me last night, and when he
picked it up, he said it wasn’t an insect. It was an electronic bug. I think
they’re trying to find you, son.”
John, overhearing the conversation, looked a little puzzled.
Mom continued, “You be careful out there. I know I don’t always act like
it, but I love you, son. So you be careful out there. You hear me?”
I said softly, “Okay, Mom. I’ll call you back soon, I promise.”
I wiped a tear forming in the corner of my eye as I hung up. I could see
John felt about three feet tall.
“I’m sorry, Declan. I thought you were just kidding around. You gotta
admit the whole story does sound a little fishy.”
“Yeah, I know,” I replied as I started on the free double scotch. “What am
I going to do?”

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John looked at me and asked, “He can really detect somebody in sync
world, huh?”
I nodded. “Yep. And not only detect you. He looked right at me.”
“Maybe you could go hang out in the swamps with the snorks,” John
I chuckled, “Yeah. I’ll sharpen my toenails to get ready.”
My comband flashed with another message. “Private number is calling.
Answer or ignore?”
Great, just what I need right now. A call from somebody trying to sell me
“Answer,” I sighed.
“Declan!” It was Rhonda, finally. “Declan, you gotta move! Ozzy’s headed
to Charlie’s right now.”
“What?” I asked, confused. “Who is this guy? Why does he want to kill
“He’s my boss,” Rhonda replied, talking fast. “His real name is Ozzen
Krauss. He’s a new recruit for the Krain Brothers.”
I knew it. “What the hell is going on?” I asked.
She answered, “You really don’t know, do you? They lent your dad the
money for the first taco stand. In return he had to launder drug money for
them. He got a cut at first, but they made him start paying protection service
when the place got popular and started making a lot of money.”
I remembered the boom. It was when Tawana started working the
Rhonda continued, “Ozzy stole a shitload of both the protection money
and the laundered money. Then he paid off the coroner and killed your dad. I
tried going to Ozzy’s boss, but he didn’t believe me. He might have paid him off
too. I tried to tell ’em not to kill you, but they just beat the hell out of me and
locked me up in my own house for days. They’ll kill me when they find out I
warned you. Somehow they always find out.”

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Fuck me. “How can I help you?”
She said, “Don’t worry about me. I have a plan, but you need to run,
right now.”
I hung up, and John was already headed to the door. I caught up to him,
jumped in the Kamikaze 9000, and off we went. We zigzagged through a few
blocks and through and out a residential neighborhood, and we both decided it
might be a good idea to turn our infocoms off. Batman might’ve used them to
track us to Charlie’s.
We looked at each other, then the road, and then each other. Then, at
the same time, we said, “Fuck.”
“John, where are we going?” I asked.
He looked at me, and with a nervous voice he said, “To the red light
district.” He paused a few seconds and added, “Of course!”
I had no better idea. Public place, lots of people.
“To the whores and twirlers,” I said, raising my finger and pointing it
high and forward. “What a way to go.”
And I hoped he knew I meant that if you’re gonna die, what a way to go.
I asked, “Do the girls still dance on the streets with pompoms, fishnets,
and umbrapoles?”
John said, “Dude, you live right down the street. Three twenty-six
Glouchester is just ten minutes from there.”
I reminded him that I didn’t own a Kamikaze 9000.
He said, “Dude, sync world is right there under your isopod halo. You
haven’t seen the latest?”
A little embarrassed, I replied, “Well, I haven’t visited it in a while.”
He probably knew I hadn’t been down here since the spring before last,
when he took me to Love Fest. I was too embarrassed to tell him I was in love
with Marshella, the three-breasted virtual girl on Mars.

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He said, “The old hags are the only ones with those outdated tricks.
Except the fishnets. Those are classic. The new thing they’re doing is called
“Say what?”
“Yeah, they have these high heels, and the shoe’s stem is just behind
their heel and extends from the ground up past their calves, which have a little
belt for support, and then it keeps on going up past their thighs to just below
their butt cheek. I’ve only seen them in sync world,” John explained excitedly.
“I’ve been dying to get down here and check ’em out in the real. When they
dance for you on them, a motor in the bottom of the shoe lifts them right up
into the air, and they twirl around and slide up and down while scantily clad.
They’re awesome.”
I said, “I guess they get their name from the spurs that chickens fight
with, huh?”
“I guess,” he said.
Imagining all of this rigmarole, I almost forgot we might be being followed
by a thief and a killer. Damn, I wished I could tell if John was lying. I sure hope
not, because those shoes sounded like something I’d like to see before I die.
We got down to the strip, and sure enough the girls and the peepers and
the johns were all there, right along with the vendors selling Cupid bows and
arrows to the little ones and chocolate hearts to the lovers.
It was like a circus, or more like a zoo, that looked like it was about to
explode into an all-out orgy any minute.
My gosh, is this what the world is coming to? If one of these girls was my
daughter, I’d get out and bust her ass.
As we looked for a place to park, an umbrapole dancer caught my eye. I
couldn’t believe it. It was a three-breasted, dark-haired beauty with bright blue
eyes, and she was casting glances in my direction. She got off the stand and
twirled around. Her little skirt flew up, and I almost gagged. Not only did she
have three breasts, but she had three penises as well.

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I turned to John and asked, “What did the guy with five dicks say to the
girl with five vajayjays?”
“Fits like a glove,” he said, laughing. “Man, that joke’s so old.”
John wasn’t lying about the cockspurs. We got out and started walking
down the street, and this young, blond-haired girl with well-toned thighs and
large, perky breasts turned, shook it down low, then pointed her buttacus
toward me and started twerking. She was slowly sliding up and down her
spurs, inching closer and closer toward me with dizzying, mesmerizing moves
until I felt its smoothness twerking, twerking up and down my legs and up
against the chubby that was bulging in my pants. Then she slid all the way up
to give me a close-up of what a few bucks might get me.
“Freeze!” a man’s voice in a bullhorn blasted loudly. I think it disrupted
time itself, or so it seemed.
I turned to see what was going on, and—POP! A policeman’s autocop
partner shot a shocknet out of his skinny, shiny arm to capture some guy. He
struggled, but those nets are so sticky and strong that there was just no way. I
think if the autocop were human, he would have tasered the guy a couple of
times to keep him from struggling. All you can do is make the net ball up
around you, like a spider’s prey, and all that does is make it hard for the cops
down at the station to get you untangled. He’d be lucky if they didn’t leave him
like that for a few hours.
I turned around to say something to John, but he was gone. I glanced
around to find him, and sure enough there he was, walking off with that
cockspurred, fishnet-wearing, skinny, little blond. So I shouted, “John!”
He turned and said, “Get one of your own, or just wait by the pool,
chicken man,” as they walked towards one of the one-hour hotels on the
He knows I don’t really like working girls. I’m afraid of catching
something Ajax won’t wash off or that fate would punish me somehow or
someday with a prostitute for a daughter or wife.

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Still, I like the atmosphere, all those young, pretty girls and all the freaky
deaks. Oh man, what a strange place we made out of this earth. I wished I
could find me a nice girl, one that liked to bang but wanted kids and a family
too, someone to grow old with that wanted to be a grandma someday. Maybe
someday, if I escape and live through this nightmare.
Just then I saw a familiar car out of the corner of my eye, about a block
away, the same one that had been in Rhonda’s driveway earlier. I’d been
tracked down. The red light district, a crowded public place with the cops all
around keeping the peace—I was no killer, but this would be a place I’d look for
somebody on the run. In hindsight, this wasn’t such a good idea.
I walked as swiftly as I could to be fast yet unnoticed, then crept up the
stairs and discretely knocked on the door where John had disappeared with his
lucky companion.
I whispered loudly, “Hurry up! They’re here!”
The skinny blond opened the door half naked and said, “Come on in, big
She had skinny banana boobs with hard dark red nipples that seemed to
be staring right at me. She put her finger under my chin, lifted my head up to
meet her eyes, and said, “I’m up here.”
I glanced over at John, who was buttoning his pants. The tail of his shirt
was sticking out of his zipper, and it looked like a huge schlong in the shadow
on the wall next to him.
Nanner boobs saw it too and busted out laughing. It was pretty freaking
funny, but I had no time for it. It was go-time.
John turned a little red and fixed his junk, and we lit out down the fire
escape. I didn’t know why. On the way down, I was thinking that this was way
too obvious. We were gonna get killed for sure. Blondie must have figured out
we were on the run because she yelled down and tossed her wig. Turned out
she was red head all along.
Then she said, “John, this might help.”

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I yelled back, “Thanks!”
I turned to John and asked, “You told her your name?”
“I think she calls all the guys John. She’s a call girl, doofus.”
I knew right away that he was one of her regulars. No call girl would redo
her hair for a customer she didn’t know. But I didn’t say anything. I just put on
the wig and kept my trap shut.
We made our way back to the roloball and hopped in, and just like that,
a couple of bullets ricocheted off the clear graphene roloball body. We lit out of
the parking garage and hit air as soon as we cleared the door, landing a couple
of streets across and over from the main drag.
As the ball skidded around a corner, John slowed down and yelled,
“Jump!” And he opened my door while making the turn.
I went flying out and rolled down the side of a steep canal bank into the
water. I guess the plan is to have them chase him so I could escape.
I hope he is gonna be all right. Gotta admit, that was pretty fast thinking
on John’s part. I eased myself into the water to avoid detection. A car sped
around the corner that had to be the bat mobile.
Then the ickiness of my swampy, nasty condition disgusted every fiber of
my very being. I oozed out of the slime and peeked over the bank. Coast is
clear. I wonder where the heck I am.
All I know for sure is, that I need to decontaminate, find some dry
clothes, and head north somehow. And, of course, a new wig would be nice.
It was late, and all the stores were closed. Public transportation wasn’t
available either.