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Chapter #13

Declan 1.1 (Rigged Dice)

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Perhaps the best thing for me to do is to get out of this hotel room, take
the chance and go. Surely I’m going mad from being cooped in this room too
long. It’d be good to get out of here for a little while.
My stomach and my skin were feeling better. I was probably well enough
to take part of this pile of dough down to the casino, maybe order up a Ron
White and see what gives. Who knows, maybe Cherahontas has a twin sister
out there who was dying to meet me.
I brushed my teeth, got undressed, and eased into the shower. Yeah, it
still stung a little—okay, it stung like a bitch, but I survived—then I printed
some cheesy, touristy clothes, including a Geronimo’s Casino T-shirt. It was
black, of course. You never know when you might have to make a break for it
and run for cover in a dark desert night.
Listen to me. I sound like James Bondo or something. I missed the
simple life, sitting around visiting with Mom in the mornings, drinking my caf-
buz and watching her play poker or The Jetson's. I even missed her thumping
me on the head once in a while, just to show me that she cared. I wanted to go
back to FAU and learn about stupid physics and relativity.
I bet Professor Swansont would freak out if he knew the things I’d seen
in the last few days.
I walked out, leaving Mr. Jizmeister behind. I felt a little nervous. But I
was cool. I had me a pocket full of change.
I found my way to the bar and bellied up for a stiff one. I looked around
at the small crowd of people, and it looked about the same as any hotel bar this
time of night, I suppose. It was early, and most of the tourists were on the
runway or in the casino gambling.

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I ordered a double fireball, and then this big, tall fella sat down next to
me. I acknowledged his presence with a head nod, like men do sometimes. He
was a little older than me, and I was taught to respect my elders. His comband
signaled, and he answered it. I knocked down my two shots, and then ordered
a jolly roger with a floater. I was feeling a little homesick, and it’d be nice to at
least taste a little bit of home.
The guy next to me kept talking louder and louder to his friend on the
comband. It was getting kind of annoying. He had a very thick accent that
sounded like English and a European language mixed together. I wasn’t sure
what the other language he was speaking was, but it must have very few
words, because every third one out of his mouth was ‘coordvagh.’ He gestured
to end the call and then turned his head, laughing at something he saw behind
I turned to look, and it was Jose What’s-His-Budts, flicking his forked
tongue as he walked by.
I told the stranger, “That’s an old trick. Believe me.”
“Coordvagh, listen to this,” he said, calling me Coordvagh. Then in his
thick accent, he said, “Listen, dat guy pissed da holotech. He is good friend of
mine. I know both of dem.”
And here I thought QD’s powers were unique. That’s what this world
needs, another holotech playing tricks on people. It was pretty funny, though. I
wondered what he did to piss off the tech.
“So what did the good doctor lie about?” I asked the guy.
“Nut’n’. Coordvagh, I mean, I don’t know,” he replied.
I got the feeling he knew but didn’t want to talk about it. It was
interesting, though. Maybe the good doctor wasn’t so good after all?
“So, ya winning?” I asked.
“Nah, I’m not playing tonight. I’m here on big business,” he said, placing
emphasis on the last two words.
“Yeah, what’s that?” I asked.

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He answered, “Augh, you know, I am cabby. I come in and gamble once
in while, but mostly just on sports. You know Jose da Medicine Man?”
I answered, “Yeah, the guy that was just flicking his tongue.”
“He is nutcase, first class. He talks about going back in time and all
kinds of wacko stuff,” he said, shaking his head back and forth.
The guy seemed funny, friendly, and extraordinarily animated. You know
the type—talks with his hands and a lot of body language. He reminded me of a
familiar cartoon. You know, sarcastic and witty, like the kind of guy that'd be a
lot of fun to know.
“My name's Dubock,” I said. “What’s yours?”
“People call me Pumba-yaugh mostly. You know who Pumba was, don’t
“No man, but I’m afraid you're about to tell me,” I answered.
“It’s da pig from dat show. You know, da one that farts all the time.”
What an idiot.
He asked, “How you know the doc?” Then he took a sip of his beer.
With a smirk on my face, I answered, “Well, you know, we time traveled a
few times together.”
He laughed beer right out of his nose. It was pretty funny.
We talked about the doc for a while, but I didn’t really reveal too much
about my relationship with the Medicine Man. I played off the whole time travel
We parted ways after a few laughs and whatnot, and I moseyed over to
the casino. I’d never been in one before, and I’d heard rumors that this one was
pretty wild. Some say it killed Vegas, but I’d heard the Strip downtown there
was starting to make a comeback.
I walked through the large glass doors into the casino's foyer and looked
up, and the hostess about knocked me out with these huge breasts. She was
nine feet tall, and them hooters were standing straight out and staring right at

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me. She was scantily clad in a little Indian outfit with a headdress adorned
with a couple of eagle feathers in her long black hair.
“Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” she said, wiggling and
jiggling. “Anything at all?” She pulled her shoulders back, dangling her
charmers about eight inches from my nose.
I blushed a little as I brought my eyes up off her breasts to meet her
eyes. “Can you direct me to the chip exchange and bring me a shot of fireball
whiskey?” I asked.
“Follow me,” she said, and then she walked an unforgettable walk
towards the window. As if she wasn’t tall enough, she had on seven-inch heels,
and her black leather skirt was so short that there wasn’t any more olive-
skinned, silky smooth leg to show underneath her perfectly plump rump.
My mouth started watering, and I began to sweat. Her looks were making
me nervous. I peeled my eyes away from her to look around, and a slight
disappointment fell over me. I realized that she was probably just a stupid
“Here you go,” she said. “We accept all forms of currency printed by the
World Reserve Bank and Trust.” Then she informed me with some artificial
excitement that Wal-Mart stollars were up today.
I looked up at her big brown eyes and said, “Well, this must be my lucky
day, because I just happen to have a fistful of them.” And I started pulling
wads of different colors out of my pockets.
She placed a shiny ring on a handle over my head, dropping it to my
neck and picking it up before rolling it over. Then she passed it down to my
neck and back up again.
She turned to walk her sexy walk back to her post and then turned her
pretty face around to look at me and say, “Good luck, good looking, and let me
know if there’s anything else I can do for you.”
“Thanks,” I said, and then I flipped her a chip tip. She caught it, and my
jaw almost hit the floor. She was real, and way too smooth to be a droid.

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About that time, another really nice-looking babe in a cowboy hat rolled
up on skates and said, “Howdy, handsome. Me and my friends are in need of a
really cute guy to help us continue our lucky streak. Do you like dice?”
I liked big breasts. “Of course I do,” I said.
Then she rolled around to the dice table. It was surrounded by
debutantes, suckers, wheeler dealers, an older woman wearing a silver cone
with an antennae on her head, and a couple of jokers, and all of them were
laughing and having a good time.
On my way to the dice table, a handsome young droid roller-strutted up
and asked politely, “Vigarette? Vigar? Vavape?” And I was all about letting the
good times roll. I was in the moment. In a calm, confident voice, I said slowly,
“Yeah, man. A Vigar’d be real nice.”
I took a puff and exhaled the excess, and the lighting made the smoke
sparkle like particles disappearing in time. It was so quantum. Eyeing the
helmeted woman, I strutted up to the table of tarts, ghosts, bots, a couple of
idiots like me, and a man dressed in a hideous outfit that didn’t fit him right.
He should visit that lady in the crazy hat back in Fort Lauderdale.
John should be here. Fuck, it was practically his money. He was the one
doing time for it.
Hmm, I was sure he’d want me to live at least one wild night to tell him
about when I give him the rest of the stack.
They handed me the dice cup, and I got excited. “Oh yeah! Let’s roll some
dice!” I yahooed like I knew what I was doing, but I really didn’t know anything
about dice. I figured I could roll ’em with the best of them, though.
They kept bringing me fireball shots and something called an Indiana
The waitress informed me that a famous actor crawled over the bar one
night and started making them way back when. He gave out rounds for the
whole darn place. She added that nobody remembers the actors name, but they

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still serve his famous drink. I’m sure the casino was much smaller then, but it
probably cost him a fortune just the same.
“That’s funny,” I told her. “His fame has faded, but his legendary drink
lives on.” And we all toasted to the legendary drink.
I kept putting the money up on the table, and they kept adding more to
it. I was having so much fun and winning so much money.
The layout of the casino was awesome; the inside was shaped like the
inside of a huge, three-ring circus tent, with poles and all. I wondered if the
legendary Geronimo himself ever saw a Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Around the middle pole was a round wet bar, and there were quite a few
people up there. Yeah, the whole place looked pretty crowded, but I didn’t know
how many of them were plants or holograms. I was pretty sure that the two
idiots at the table were hologram avatars. I wondered where they both were in
real life. Probably in some VR ward—or worse, the moon.
The night rolled on, and I just kept winning. And you know, I was feeling
pretty good, feeling high, and the tart in charge of the money and the dice, she
kept smiling at me and waggling her youthful firmness while flashing her big,
bright, shiny dark blue eyes.
I knew she wasn’t real, but the more I drank, the realer she got.
She handed me the dice and said, “You’re up, big boy.” And I had no clue
what I was doing, but I did notice that when I rolled sevens, everybody got real
happy and Blue Eyes added stacks beside my stacks. She gave me looks that’d
make a younger man die of a boner attack.
That was a lot of money. I’d give John his and have a nice stack for
myself at this rate.
That’d be quantum. We could both come out here and have ourselves a
good ol’ time.
“Oh my,” I exclaimed out loud as Blue Eyes bent over to give me another

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I called for all of my chips, and a robobunny rolled them out on a silver
tray and lifted the lid. I placed all of it up. It was do or die, and I was feeling
hot. I rolled them dice out there and watched them bank off the back wall and
bounce back near me. For a split instant, I saw a two and a five, and then a
one and a two.
With the innocent curiosity of a child, my reflexes cupped my hand
horizontally, moving it forward a little, and then the dice added up to seven
I looked up and noticed Miss Blue Eyes swiftly begin distracting
everybody, to keep all of the tarts and chunks from noticing what had just
happened. Then lightning struck the table, bursting it into flames. There was a
subwoofer under the table and funk particle projection speakers placed
everywhere. They even threw in a blast of heat. The holographic imagery easily
rivaled QD's talents.
Check it out. The fire subsided in the middle of the table, and fiery red
hair in a short feathered do was spinning slowly. It was rising up out of the
dying flames still burning in the middle of the table. And look, the flames on
the outer rim were getting higher.
Church bells started ringing, and a choir of young men and women
appeared all the way around us. They were singing in high-pitched tones, as
water fell from a round, slightly spiraled tube with holes in it; the tube of water
encompassed all of us, and it was squeezing us closer to the fire. It reminded
me a little of the hot tub back in New York.
It was quite the elaborate distraction for my action.
“Oh baby,” I murmured softly, looking at the red, feathered hair emerging
from the table, slowly spinning. As her round face rose up, I noticed her
flawless, smooth white skin adorned with ruby red lips and large, dark,
piercing eyes that reflected the flames from the brightly lit fire on the table’s

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They were staring me down as her slow spin accelerated faster. Her evil,
twisted grin was scaring me a little. Yet it was so strangely enticing at the same
Her voluptuous breasts rose up out of table as she spun around and
around, and as the curve of her hips appeared, I saw a tray piled high,
overflowing with casino chips.
Higher and higher she ascended from the table, revealing firm thighs and
legs, slightly spread for stability. Flashes of light pop off, reminiscent of old
Then she raised the plate of chips and said, “Ladies and gentleman, we
have a winner.”
Her ankles, feet, then heels emerged from the table, and then she kept
rising up a few extra inches above it. She floated there, smiling and waving her
beauty, and the plate of chips, around.
We were all startled and dumbfounded, still standing in shock from the
initial explosion. The space between the very tops of her inner thighs was dead
level with my line of sight. Her body was fully exposed across the flames, and
her hips started swinging around to the beat as she spun. Then she bowed her
flawless white body to give me a close-up of her short, fiery red-haired bush,
lips slightly covered by a polished silver acanthus leaf supported by a thin
silver bar underneath. It bent around and up between her perfectly smooth,
pale butt cheeks and attached to another bar that wrapped around the small of
her waist, hugging her hips and adorned with matching leaves on the left and
right. I think they call them twongs, but this was the first one I’d ever seen.
John would love it here. His face really lit up when he saw the girls going
up and down on those cock spur heels the other day.
The big show continued for everyone, except me.
My show ended most abruptly when a couple of really big muscle heads
gave me the real chips, whispering, “Come with us.” Then they paused and

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continued, “We need to escort you and your chips to the cash-out counter, Mr.
Fonzarelli? Oh yeah, that’s me. “Oh, you can call me Dubock if you like.”
I could remember that better.
“Come on.”
They escorted me towards the exchange window, where I noticed the tall,
‘real’ hostess who had greeted me at the door earlier. She was standing near a
low escalator that led up to an executive-looking door in a raised part of the
floor. I was right next to the chip counter, which had some really quantum
anti-missile lasers.
I wanted to go over there and say hello to her, but I had a feeling these
muscle heads weren’t going to let me go easily.
They were going to kill me, I thought nervously. I had just caught the
casino cheating, and they were going to kill me for sure.
Uh oh, we just walked past the cashier’s window. On the upside, we were
walking straight towards—
“Oh hey,” I said to the tall hostess. My heart throbbed as I looked up at
her with wanting eyes.
She patted me on the head as a mahogany escalator tread lifted me up
on its shiny belt.
One of Geronimo’s chunks turned around and laughed at me, “Little
fella, heh.”
I can’t believe she patted me on the head. That’s so messed up. I don’t
think I’ve ever been that humiliated in my whole life.
“Come on, little fella. We’re going to see the boss,” the guy said, laughing
at me again.
We entered a well-decorated waiting room and walked merrily across the
room and onto an electro-lift. How do I get in these predicaments?
Vump—and we were in a penthouse office, looking out across the resort.

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“Please, have seat. Welcome to my office.” It was Michio Kaku, the iron
Indian who welcomed me the first day here by wrapping his hand around my
throat. The Medicine Man was there too. He was standing to the right, next to a
back door.
The big fella put the chips on the desk, and Mr. Kaku took out the
original wad of cash that I’d bought the chips with and gave it back to me.
“We’re going to call it even, hotshot,” he said. “Now, who told you the game was
rigged?” Then he looked down at a VeeM hovering just over the comband on his
arm. He paused half a moment and asked, “Mr. Dickey Duncan Declan? AKA,
Mr. NSA’s most wanted?”
I turned to the big fella that was laughing at me and asked, “Are you
“No, my name is Punch,” he replied. Then he punched me in the arm,
laughed, and called me ‘little fella’ again.
“Stop clowning around,” Michio barked. “Now tell me how you knew.”
“I-I-I didn’t. I saw the dice change with my own eyes and thought, ‘How
curious.’ It’s just physics—I mean, just human nature. Watch the video, you’ll
see,” I said.
He stared me down. “I saw the video, how you waved your hand back
and forth over the beam.” He stood up, turned around, and opened a large
virtual window for all of us to see.
It was the table that I was playing at.
I worked up a little courage to speak and said, “You’re the one that made
a big show of it.”
He turned around and replied, “Not as big a show as one might think.
And nobody saw the dice or even thought twice about you being whisked away.
But now there’s the matter of what to do with you.”
Scared as fuck, I manned up, looked him in the eye, and suggested,
“Why don’t you just give me the money I won fair and square and let me truck
on back to my room? What do I care if you sucker all of those people out of

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their money? They look to me like they’re having the time of their lives. I know I
We stared at each other for a few moments, until the Medicine Man
spoke up. “Let’s see if he can keep his mouth shut for a couple of days. We
could have the crew start some rumors about somebody cheating, stage a big
fight with security, and blow it all out of proportion. We’ll blame it on the Mind
I wondered why Jose was trying to protect me. Why blame someone else
instead of me? They could lock me up just as easy. I mean, if you were going to
lie anyway, why not blame the threat? This just didn’t make sense.
He continued, “If this Dubock tells anybody anything, they’ll just think
he’s a confused idiot. Nobody will believe him anyway. Besides, it’s only a
matter of time before the NSA puts him out of his misery for good.”
That was comforting.
Strangely enough, Michio agreed. He told me how he had always run
straight up games. Then the Mind Melders recruited some of their employees
and robbed him blind, along with several other casinos around the world in a
single night. I guess he felt like he owed me an explanation. Then the Medicine
Man added, “They needed campaign funds for the upcoming elections.”
Michio rolled his eyes at Jose and then said to me, “They almost put me
out of business.” He looked down and shook his head before looking back up at
me and asking, “Do you have any idea how much a telepathy sensor wand
I just shrugged my shoulders and shook my head no. I didn’t care either.
All I kept thinking was, ‘Don’t rock the boat, man. I just might get out of here
alive if I don’t rock the boat.’
Michio said, “I know you killed an NSA agent back in New York. I make a
lot of money off people like you, on the run, needing a place to hide or conceal
their identity for a while. I’ve built a good reputation for my talents in this area.

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“I’m going to let you live, at least for a few more days. We’re going to
watch and listen to everything you say and do, though. Stay out of my casino.
And if you get out of line, or say a word about all of this to anybody, Johnny
and Stinky here are going to clobber you, drag you out into the desert, and
leave you for the buzzards. Understand?”
“Don’t worry. I have my own problems to deal with. I don’t need to add to
them over this crap.”
What else was I going to say?
I did want my money, though. I’d won it fair and square. But don’t rock
the boat. You know, not now anyway.
“By the way,” Michio said, “if you’re not using your droid, I could put him
to work. I could pay you for his services.”
“I’ll think about it,” I replied.
Use my droid? That thing had the brains of a doorknob without his
helium. What was he going to have QD do?
Besides, I really planned on walking his ass up to the rooftop and
throwing him under that lead foot’s bus tomorrow. I just needed someone to
discreetly purchase some liquid helium first. I didn’t know how I was going to
pull that off yet, but we’ll see.
Then Michio handed me some chump change and said, “Now go get a
haircut. That nappy white head of yours looks like a dirty Q-tip. I’m trying to
run a classy place around here.”
Then Laurel and Hardy—I mean, Johnny and Stinky escorted me to the
local barber and afterward to my room.
I couldn’t figure out why he let me go, or why I ran my hand back and
forth over the holographic projection beam to start with. It just didn’t make
sense. But at least I was free and alive. Well, alive anyway.
I went into my room and lay back on the bed. I was sure Stinker and
Stinky were just outside of my door.
Knock, knock.

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And now they’re knocking.
“Come in,” I yelled, and it was Jose Enochus, the Medicine Man. “Thanks
for saving me back there. I can’t believe I’m still alive.”
“We’re not killers like you, Declan.”
My heart sank. In that exact moment, for the first time since the escape
from New York, I fully realized that I had murdered a man. I took him away
from his wife, and his children, and the rest of his life. Forever. He was
probably a stand-up guy with friends and people that counted on him to be
there for them, day in and day out.
My eyes watered a little, and a slight chill fell over my body as vivid
memories of his face flashed by in my mind.
“Your haircut looks nice,” the Medicine Man said, chasing the memories
away. “You still look like a Q-tip, though. How’s your radiation poisoning
doing?” he asked.
“Thanks a lot,” I replied. “And it’s much better. My stomach still gets
upset a little, and my skin still stings when I take a shower, and my hair’s still
snow white, but it’s all much better thanks to them pills and the aloe.”
“Good,” he said. “It took my hair a while to grow back to its natural color,
but don’t worry, it will. You can’t color it either.”
“I know,” I said.
He added, “I just shaved mine off and wore a lot of hats. Then I let it
grow back out when I found the lizard suit.”
The forked tongue flicked a couple of times. I remembered the Coordvagh
at the bar.
I told the Medicine Man, “You know, that guy Michio is a real prick. I
won that money fair and square. It’s one thing for me to tell my friends and
family about how I was cheated, but he stole my winnings right in front of me.
That isn’t right.”

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Jose answered, “Yeah, well, I guess he thinks it’s cheating to catch him
“So the Mind Melders came in and raked y’all’s casino over the coals,
huh?” I asked.
In reply, he asked me to pee in cup and then injected me with a biopsy
bot. Finally, he said, “Oh yeah. They hit everybody in one cold shot. Only a
couple of places in Vegas saw it coming. We never even really heard of Mind
Melding way out here before. Although, I think I do remember hearing a
commercial for it a few days ago. I remember liking their slogan, ‘Why be one?’”
“Yeah,” I said, “it sounds pretty weird. I just hope there’s somebody left
to hand out the aluminum foil hats after the fad.” Changing the subject, I
asked, “So you time travel often?”
“No, not really. They just started the testing recently. I tried to tell
everybody what was going on, but they all thought I was nuts and eating too
many peyote buttons,” he replied. “I remember the first time it happened. I was
dating this girl named Patty, and we were out gathering some peyote together
one day, you know, a few months back, when all of a sudden there was this
flash and everything went black and white. It was pretty intense.”
“I know,” I replied.
“The biopsy bot’s back,” Jose declared. Then he drew some blood and
said, “I’m going back to the office to run this through the analyzer. I’ll be back
in a little while. Will you still be here?”
“Yeah. I don’t feel like escorting Johnny and Stinky all over the resort
just yet,” I told him. Then I asked, “So what happened to Patty?”
“Oh, she’s still around. They put her in the mental ward at a nearby
hospital. She's getting out soon.” His forked tongue flicked a couple of times,
and then he pulled out two more of those pills and handed them to me.
They looked like salt and pepper that had been pressed into cubes, or
maybe a pair of dice.
I distinctly remembered the first two looking almost snow white.

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I looked over at Gizmo and then back at Jose, and when Jose turned to
look at the droid, I faked taking the pills.
A few moments later, Jose looked me in the eyes and asked, “Any
hallucinations yet?”
“Nope, I’m feeling fine. Everything seems normal.” I put on my best poker
face as I gazed at the confusion on his.
“Anything yet?”
“No spinning eyes or time traveling hallucinations this time?” he asked.
I answered, “Maybe I’m all better.”
He just nodded and replied, “Maybe.”
Then he asked about my diet and how much I had to drink today. I told
him, and then I asked about Peyote Patty. He said he missed her and was
looking forward to visiting her tomorrow.
I don’t know if he knew that I didn’t really take the pills or what, but he
finally got up and dismissed himself. He said he’d have the biopsy results in a
little while and that he’d go over the results with me in the morning, and that I
seemed to be healing just fine.
As he left, he cautioned, “I wouldn’t advise leaving the room for a while.
You could start hallucinating at any minute. You might just be experiencing a
delayed reaction for some reason. Call me if you need me.”
“Okay, I’ll see ya later,” I said, and the door closed behind him.
Should I take them now? I pulled the pills out of my pocket and gazed at
them. I wonder if they're addictive. Or FDA approved. Hmm. They didn’t have
any markings. I didn’t really feel like tripping out right now.
I wondered if I’d time travel without that forked-tongue freak around.
These things are freaky. I wondered why I’d never heard of them before.
This shit kicked krain’s ass. Not that I ever did a lot of krain before, but I have
tried it.

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Maybe I should just stick with scotch. Yeah, that’s what I need. That,
and I need to sit down and figure my way out of this situation. Maybe I should
go over to the bar, order up a scotch, and do just that.
I put the pills in the nightstand, under a napkin. Nobody would ever look
for them there, now would they?
I went out and walked down the hall towards the lobby. I decided to go to
the outdoor pool bar, see if there were any bikinis running around this late.
Sometimes they lingered around after sunset just to show off.
Uh oh, there they were, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, right on cue. Come
on. Really, they were really going to follow me. I stopped dead in my tracks,
right there in the center of the lobby. Johnny almost ran into me, he was so
close behind, and Stinky was close enough to sniff Johnny’s slightest bowel
I spun around and put my finger right up to that fathead’s face. I hissed,
“You guys stole from me. I won that money fair and square. But I promised to
keep my mouth shut about it, so just give me some elbow room at least.”
Freaking dumbasses.
I turned around and started walking again, and that son of a bitch
patted me on the head. I couldn’t believe it.
“Little fella,” he said.
I had to get out of there. There just had to be a way. I walked out the
back door and headed around the pool, my entourage still close behind. There
was a small crowd and a couple of acoustic guitar players. Everybody looked
real, including the bartender.
Funny, but a bar filled with real humans was comforting. I must be
getting old.
I sat down at the hot spot, and the bartender gave me a smile. It was like
she knew that I knew about the proverbial hot spot at the bar.
Washing a couple of glasses, she leaned over and asked, “What can I get

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“I’ll have a Ron White,” I replied.
Looked like Something Special was the house scotch here. I like it. It isn’t
bad for cheap scotch.
The muscle heads sat at a table just behind me. I took a sip of scotch
and glanced around at mostly gray-haired older dudes. The one sitting next to
me looked as if he had time traveled quite a bit. In one direction, that is. I bet I
fit right in with my Q-tip do.
What am I going to do? What to do…
The older man sitting next to me looked at my hair and asked, “You one
of our field techs?”
I wasn’t sure what to tell him. So I replied, “Think I could afford to drink
in a place like this on their salary?”
He laughed and said, “I thought so.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I called the bartender and asked for a
menu and what the specials were. At about that time, Michio Kaku walked by
and told her, “Give this guy whatever he likes.” Then he kept walking.
Weird. He must be feeling a little guilty about ripping me off.
I hesitated and then said loudly, “Thanks, Michio.”
He walked over to my escorts and talked to them about something, and
then he moseyed out of the courtyard and back into the resort.
I told the bartender, “Light up the place. Tell the whole bar to order
whatever they want.”
She gave me the evil eye, so I shrugged my shoulders and asked, “What?
He said to give me whatever I like, and I like everybody happy, drunk, and well
She put her two fingers in her mouth and whistled loudly. Then she
shouted, “Hey, everybody! Drinks on the house! The boss is buying everybody a

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round, as per this man’s request!” And she raised her arm and pointed her
finger down at me.
“Thanks,” I said, noticing her sarcasm.
I could buy rounds all night and it still wouldn’t add up to anywhere
near what I had won this morning. Man, that was one serious stack I should’ve
walked away with. Like hitting the lottery or something.
The old guy sitting next to me paid his tab, stood up, and said, “Thanks
for the drink, lizard man. See you at the office tomorrow.”
I must look like someone he works with or something.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll see ya there.” I hoped he wasn’t driving anywhere
manually. He looked pretty wasted, and there were a lot of older cars and
trucks way out here in the middle of nowhere, like Bella Unitooth’s old Chevy
Glancing up, I noticed the weather report on one of the holovisions
across the bar. The anchorman was talking to the weatherman about the local
drought. Apparently they’d been trucking water in on trains and semis from all
over the country for quite some time.
Of course there’s a drought. Hello, we’re in a freaking desert, man.
Apparently even deserts could suffer from extreme lack of rain, though.
Then the view changed from the water tankers to a deceased coyote. They
said he passed away from severe dehydration. I was glad there was enough
water to make the ice in my drink.
Just then, I heard a very boisterous voice rattle my ear drums. “Hey,
Coordvagh, what’s you doing?”
This guy had a very friendly and familiar voice, but it was hard to
understand him with that thick European accent. I knew I liked him when I
first met him, though. He was a big dude, and a bigger joker I could tell, with a
good ol’ boy’s personality and a big mouth that I recognized immediately
without even turning around.

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I replied in a low tone, “Not much, Pumba. Just sitting here watching the
news about the drought.”
He ordered a beer and said, “I have stordy about that. You ‘member da
guy wit da forked tongue we were talking about earlier?”
“Jose Enochus? The Medicine Man?” I asked.
He chuckled a little, then said, “Yeah, I went over to his house one day,
couple months ago, to fix his commode. I’m doing handy work for him here and
dere for years, Coordvagh.
“Anyway, I knocked and walked in, and I saw him in da backyard
through da sliders, wearing a full-blown Indian outfit. His face was all painted
white, wit black on his eyes and all kinds of feathers and things And there was
Indian music with drums and rattles and I don’t know what all turned up real
loud.” He was waving his hands and his arms around to help describe the
scene as he was talking. He looked the bartender up and down and then
continued, “He was bopping around the backyard and dancing and singing,
‘Hey yagh! Hey yagh, hey yagh. Hey yagh!’ Heh, looked like stupid chicken or
something. He must’ve been out there for hours. He came in sweaty and beat,
makeup running down his face and his body. Coordvagh, I had to laugh at
“I asked, ‘Coordvagh, what’s you doing out there, man?’
“He said, ‘I was doing a rain dance.’
“I wanted to laugh even more, but I could see he was feeling like idiot
already. So I asked him, ‘How’s that working for ya?’
“He said to me, ‘The first time I finished the dance, I looked up to the sky
and held my arms up high and tried to pull down the rain with all of the
strength I could muster, and I cried right out loud for the rain to come. And as
I gazed up into the clear, bright, sunny blue sky, I felt a single crisp, cool drop
land dead center on my forehead.
“‘So I danced the dance, and I danced and danced several more times,
but nothing came after that. Just one tiny little doink.’”

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Imitating his accent, I said to him, “I hope you had better luck wit da fix-
da-toilet dance.” Then I asked him, “What are you still doing here? You don’t
have anything better to do?”
He said, “Nah, I had couple of fares earlier, some young kids. Dey like da
ride more dan da casino. A lot of them do. It is a… I don’t know, different.”
“Dude, it’s a taxi ride, right?” I asked. “You told me that you drive a taxi.”
He replied, “I know, I know, but it’s not ordinary taxi. It’s luge taxi. You
gonna see soon enough, I tink. Let me know if you need a ride. I’m going take
“Yeah, I will. I just don’t know where I need to go or what I need to do. I
gotta get out of here, though.”
He said, “Dubock, it is free country. You can go and do whatever you
“So you live here or something?” I asked.
He answered, “No, I’m just down for da night. I have to take Jose to see
his girlfriend Patty tomorrow morning. He lets me stay in his guest suite up in
one of the penthouses. His family runs everything. Cherahontas is his niece.
She and Michio live down the hall. You know Michio became the tribe’s chief
and the owner of the resort when he married her? Her father’s father started all
of this, but Cherahontas and her dad really made it take off.”
“Her dad lives up there too?” I asked.
Coordvagh replied, “Not too much. He likes da moon. Lost his ass on a
casino he opened up there a while back. I hear he’s into real estate and
whatnot these days.”
“Real estate?” I scoffed boldly. “Why would anybody buy real estate on
the moon? The place is backwoods, and everybody’s leaving. I hear everybody’s
investing in ocean property. You know, the materials we have these days, the
“I know,” he said. “Buy low and sell high. What do I know, Dubock?”

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I was a little surprised he remembered my name. Hell, I could barely do
Coordvagh. That’s so retarded. I wonder what it means. Probably
‘hombre’ or something. Funny, I got caught up in his accent and caught myself
wanting to say it. Coordvagh.
Maybe it was just the scotch. Maybe it was all of these lovely beauties all
around me. I looked around the crowded little patio bar and thought, All of
them look like raving beauties tonight, even that biggun over there with all of
that cleavage, laughing, having fun with her friends.
“Coordvagh,” he said to me, gently kicking my ankle and nudging his
head to show me something. It was the Amazon that patted me on the head
earlier. She was coming around the corner over near the pool, wearing a racy,
tight, shiny bikini that reminded me of Tawana walking down the beach.
“Did you see that?” I laughed.
With a what-the-fuck look on his face, Coordvagh turned his head to look
at me and said, “I can’t believe it.”
A waiter holding a tray high over his head clobbered her right in the
forehead while rounding the same corner.
Glasses of beer went crashing to the ground as dinobites and sliders
went flying through the air. The Amazon slipped and grabbed some little old
bald guy’s head to keep from going down, but there was just too much
momentum. She wound up on the ground with him and the food and the beer
all over the place.
That made my night. I couldn’t believe it.
Laughing, I looked at Pumba and then hollered out, “Hey, barkeep!
Another round on Michio, and give the tall one on the floor a double.”
“You know Michio?” asked Pumba.

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I looked over at my guardian angels to see if they were watching, and
then I looked back and whispered, “I hear he’s an Indian giver.”
“Ha!” he crowed, and his face lit up. “What he did?”
“You know, nothing really. Let’s just say Mr. Enochus is not the only one
with a forked tongue around here, if you know what I mean,” I replied, smiling
and nodding.
“Oh, you must have lost some money when you went gambling earlier,”
he said knowingly. “Now it’s everybody else’s fault. I know. It’s called denial,
“Oh no, it’s not that. I’m buying drinks for everybody on his guilt,” I
Then Coordvagh said, “Yah? I’ve heard rumors, Coordvagh. I like
gambling. I always bet on sports, a variety spread out with diverse point
spreads, dis and dat. It’s complicated, but impossible to rig, I think.”
“Sure,” I replied snidely. Then I said, “Listen, I think I would like to take
a ride into town tomorrow. I have an appointment to see Jose, the Medicine
Man. He’s been treating my, um, severe sunburn.”
“Ha! Sunburn? Coordvagh, just put some aloe on there and forget about
“I know, I know, but this is a very special, highly classified sunburn,” I
hinted, smiling and nodding my head.
“You the one he told me about, aren’t you? Out in the desert for days,
yah?” he asked. “How you like them pills, bonehead?” He rested his chin on his
“What pills?” I asked.
He opened his hands, palms up, and he said, “Don’t be stupid. You the
bonehead. I knew first time I saw you. Jose told me he found bonehead to try
some new pills out on.”
“No way,” I breathed. “I can’t believe it.”

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“Yah,” he said. “Dat idiot thinks he time travels, Coordvagh, and he said
the pills are made from peyote buttons and some tree dat’s always there when
he goes back.”
He was dead serious. I thought the guy was a real doctor.
Those pills were a freaking trip, though. And I have two of them in my
pocket, or somewhere. I felt around for them all through my pockets, but they
were gone.
Oh man. Oh, oh. Oh yeah, I left them in the nightstand, under the
“So he thinks he time travels, huh?” I said.
“Can you believe it?” he answered.
“I don’t know,” I replied. “But those pills are a trip.”
About that time, a guy walked up and sat down next to Pumba and said,
Pumba turned around and said, “Hey, Tonto.”
Tonto? This guy’s going to clobber him. Call an Indian Tonto, that’s like
calling a black person black.
“Dis my new friend, Dubock.” Then Pumba turned and said, “Dubock,
dis my old friend Tonto.”
Oh, that’s his real name.
Pumba continued, “Dis’s da hologram guy I was telling you about.” Then
he laughed and whispered, “He did the forked tongue.”
It turned out Tonto was quite the joker and loved to party. We all
proceeded to get quite wasted. Johnny and Stinky didn’t look too happy about
Tonto drinking with us, especially me. I’m pretty sure he was the one that
programmed the holoprojectors that rigged the dice.
We all shot the shit and got to know each other over several drinks and
colorful stories. I finally found out why Jose had the forked tongue.
Tonto said, “I was trying to buy some peyote, but it’s been hard to find
since the drought hit epic proportions.”

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Wow, even the cacti were running short on water.
“Jose said he didn’t have any, but Patty said that he did and showed
them to me. Then Jose said that they came from the past and that he wanted
to test them out somehow before letting anybody else take them.”
Pumba smiled and pointed at me with his finger behind his glass as
Tonto completed his story.
“Peyote from the past,” he scoffed. “He didn’t have to lie to me. All he had
to say was go find your own.”
I could die. Michio probably knew it too, that I was Jose’s guinea pig.
That was why Johnny and Stinky didn’t drag me out into the Badlands and
leave me there to burn up and die…
… like I almost did when I arrived at this fine establishment.
And that was probably what they were still going to do when my guinea
pigginess was finished. I’m going to die.
Fuck, it’s like every time I turned around.
Paranoia set in, and I got scared. I had to get out of there. I had to go to
bed. Maybe things would seem better in the morning.
I told the guys goodnight as I got up to go back to my room. Billy and
Mandy—I mean, Johnny and Stinky followed right behind as I staggered back. I
wondered if they were going to follow me into town tomorrow.
Guess we’d find out tomorrow.
“G'night, Klink. G'night, Klank,” I said as I walked into my room.