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Chapter #8

Declan 1.1 (The Blue Judas)

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He took another hit, and his eyes rolled back into his head. And then a
moment passed, and once again the vapor piped out of his ears. His chest
clunked a couple of times, and he said, “Oooh, that was a good hit.” He took
the balls back from me.
He shook my hand and said, “Hello, I’m New York’s new info droid. I like
to entertain the masses when I’m not handing out information.”
I started to get the feeling that there was a guy around the corner making
sport of me and that this thing was in surrogate mode. I played along, like I
was stupid enough to believe that an appliance could joke around. I said, “So
you’re a quantum phone booth, basically.”
“I never thought of it like that before,” he said with a laugh.
“I need to call my mom,” I told him.
To which he replied, “Think it’s free? I take every form of currency.”
I didn’t trust this thing at all, but I gave him some of the money that
Tawana had let me borrow. A VeeM popped up, and he said, “Perhaps we
should step inside of this building so you can hear her better.” Then he opened
the door of the metallic green Synopsis Five building’s foyer.
I hesitated a little as I followed the droid and his virtual monitor inside
the unusual building.
I filled out a little information so he could download my personal
contacts and information. Then I told it again to call Mom. The VeeM started
ringing, and Mom answered.
I said, “Hey, Mom. I just wanted to call and let you know I’m all right.”
“Oh, thank God! I’ve been worried to death about you. I smacked another
one of those electronic bugs with one of my fuzzy slippers. I looked it up on the

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quantacom, and they’re a relatively inexpensive bug that you can buy from any
spy store.”
“Then you best pretend you’re talking to someone else and hang up. I’ll
call you again soon,” I said.
As the VeeM faded, I heard her say, “Love ya.”
I asked the droid if he enjoyed eavesdropping on everybody’s
conversations. He said, “What do you think a quantum mind is?”
What a F-R-E-A-K. What did that even mean?
I gave it a few more bucks and told it to call John Goldman. A new VeeM
popped up and started ringing. Some Navy officer answered the phone, and I
asked, “Is John Goldman available?”
“Who is calling?” he barked. When I told him, the gentleman loudly
answered, “Private Goldman is in the brig. Call back during visiting hours.”
And then he hung up without another word.
Well, I guessed it was good to know John was alive and well, or at least
kind of well.
I told the info droid, “Thank you, sir.”
I was walking out the door when I heard him say, “Hey, buddy!”
I turned around, raised my eyebrows, and turned my palms up, asking
him what he wanted with the universal gesture of “What?”
He said, “You know there’s no such thing as an info droid, at least not in
New York City, don’t you?”
“I don’t know anything anymore,” I replied. “This is my first visit to New
York. I know you helped me out. I appreciate your services, sir, and I’m glad
you let me use your phone com, no matter who, or whatever, you are.”
“Check this out. I’m not even real,” he said with a child-like facial
expression. He walked up close to me and said, “Go ahead, run your hand
through me.”
“Ugh, do I have to?” I complained.

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But I obliged him and ran my hand through him. And he was just a
hologram. I had to admit I was slightly amazed, but I really just wanted to get
on my way.
A bit bewildered, I said to him, “But you were juggling those balls
outside. You gave them to me. I held them in my own hands. And then I shook
“Just because I’m not real doesn’t mean I can’t be real when I want to
be,” he explained unhelpfully.
I wondered if he was an angel or an alien or something.
I replied, “Wow, that’s fantastic,” and I moved my hand around inside of
his body of light, like a child playing in a pool of water.
I heard the building’s elevator door closing in the distance behind me,
followed by the familiar sound of an info droid inhaling helium vapor, but
quietly this time. Could there be two of these freaks in the same building?
Then the info-freak-a-droid told me his name. He said, “My name is QD.
It stands for Quantum Dude, and I’m the quantumiest dude around.”
“Oh yeah. I’d say more like Quantum Doof, because you’re definitely the
doofiest guy around,” I remarked.
He replied, “Nah. It really stands for Quantum Droid. Check me out.”
Then he divided into several replicas of himself. They all morphed into different
beings and began walking towards me, making zombie noises as they came
together right in front of me. Then they started growing and morphing into a
hairy, scary-looking, nine-foot-tall sasquatch that growled in a really deep and
vicious tone.
It was so real that it freaked me out. I was so terrified that my knees lost
all strength and I almost went down. But then I ran my hand through it again.
It was still just a hologram, a harmless hologram, just like the ones at the
movies or the Q-def holovisions.
The few people moving through the Synopsis Five lobby all turned and
looked to see what was going on. Then I looked around at the security guard

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sitting behind his desk. Clearly annoyed, he said sternly, “Turn off the
holoprojector while in the building.” He shook his head and looked back down
at his monitors.
Like I could afford a portable holoprojector that could do that.
QD returned to himself and said, “I can make you a god just like me.”
Showing me startlingly accurate stock market predictions, he continued, “You
could be the wealthiest man alive!” Then he opened up several VeeMs and
showed me everything everywhere. “You could walk on water and rule the
I’ve heard that people who inhale too much krain get visions like this,
but I hadn’t done any krain since high school. And I just did that little bit to
help me pass my final exams. What a wild rush of information. Too bad it
leaves you stupider every time you come down.
I asked, “Dude, what the fuck are you?”
“I am Quantum Man,” he proudly replied as he pointed his thumb into
his chest. Then he lowered his voice and said to me in confidence, “For a very
small fee, I can make you a god and you could live forever, just like me.”
“Are you a child of God?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered. “But I know that you think you are, even
though your baggage grows daily.” He brought up several VeeMs depicting
every sin that I'd ever committed. I didn't know how he did it, and I didn't care.
I just wanted to get out of there and far away from this freak show.
I said, “I’m just a man, and you are what you are. And that’s all well and
good enough for me.” Then I waved and said, “Good day, sir.”
As I turned to walk away, I heard him say, “You’re a strange thing,
Declan, an interesting and strange thing indeed.” I turned to see him just one
more time before I walked out the door. The expression on his face was pitifully
sad. He looked at me and then at things long forgotten. Then back at me, like
his best and only friend was moving far away, never to be seen again.
Stupid droid. I said, “Goodbye, strange thing. I’ll see you around.”

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I hate droids. What a weirdo. I wondered why he looked so pitifully sad
when I left.
Personally, I was feeling much better after talking with Mom. I really
didn’t like her worrying about me, and it was good to know John was alive and
in one piece. I’ll have to call him during visiting hours. I wonder why they
locked him up.
That droid was tripping. I couldn’t believe he tried to con me like that.
‘For a small fee, you can be a god like me.’ Ha! What a joke. That had to be him
in the elevator too. I wonder what he is made of. He looked perfectly human,
but what could withstand all that liquid helium? That was definitely a story for
the grandkids someday.
I went back to the tower where Tawana’s shoot was. She might even be
looking for me by now. I got off the elevator as she was coming out of the
dressing room.
“I've been looking for you. Where have you been?” she asked.
I answered, “Oh, I just went for a little walk around the building.”
“Did you ride the web in a peop chute? Or a rolocab? That’s what most
people do their first time in a big city like this.”
“Oh, no, I’m not getting on either one of those things. I just went for an
interesting walk around the building. I met an unusual condroid with spooky
eyes that tried to scam me out of a few bucks. He was the craziest damn thing
I’ve ever seen.” I thought about it a minute. “Yeah, I do believe he was the top
of the list, and I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff.”
Tawana just smiled and said, “I’m all done. I think we had a pretty good
photoshoot today, but I always have a good shoot when I’m a little horny.
Lucky for me, shoots always make me horny, huh, Dickey?”
I blushed and asked, “Would you like to grab a bite to eat, or should I
bend you over, here and now?”
“Yeah, I could eat,” she replied with a laugh. Then, with another chuckle,
she asked, “You brought that with you?”

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“Why are you wearing that stupid blond wig? I can’t believe you brought
that thing with you all the way to New York. Is this some kind of joke, Declan?”
I moved my hand over my head, and all there was my own hair.
“That’s weird. Your wig’s a hologram. It looks so real,” Tawana said in
awe. In disbelief, she ran her fingers through my hair.
The photographer was passing by us in the hall and laughed. He said,
“Another victim.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
He said, “Someone hacked into a VeemaZine’s computer a couple of days
ago. They’ve been superimposing goofy holograms on different people all over
the city.”
“I think I know who’s doing it,” I told him. “There’s a stupid condroid just
down the street—”
He cut me off, saying, “Yeah, right.” I could tell he didn’t believe me.
Then he continued, “You’re lucky. The wig’s not nearly as bad as some of the
other things the hackers are doing to people.”
“What can we do about this?” Tawana asked him.
“Just be thankful they didn’t give you a penis horn in the middle of your
forehead,” the photographer said. “Or a butt face with spread cheeks, I guess.
That’s what they did to most of the people, according to the news article.”
Tawana spun around slowly and asked us, “Do you see anything on me?”
“No, you look perfect,” I told her.
“Thank goodness,” she replied with a sigh. “I guess the wig doesn’t look
that bad. Maybe if we ignore it, it’ll go away. But we better get going. We’re
supposed to be at the Blue Judas in about an hour for dinner.”
The photographer looked impressed. He said, “Ooh la la, the Blue Judas.
Somebody’s going to be eating good this evening. What’s the occasion?”
We’d all reached the elevator, and Tawana pressed the down button.
Bashfully, she replied, “I’m trying to impress my new heartthrob, Dickey

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Declan here, by taking him to a fancy-schmancy dinner, maybe introduce him
to some of my friends and acquaintances.”
The elevator doors opened, and we all got on. Tawana pressed the sixth
floor button, and the photographer pressed his floor.
Tawana said, almost disappointedly, “There, see? Your wig’s all gone.”
And then we heard a voice ringing out down the corridor, “Hold the
elevator please!”
I reached out my hand and stopped the closing doors, pushing a little to
open them back up. Still a few steps away, a very attractive lady said, “Oh,
thank you! I’m running so late.”
As she stepped into the elevator, her attractive face and hair shifted into
a rather homely looking version of the woman, and her snappy outfit
transformed into baggy pajamas and a bathrobe. I looked at Tawana with a
what-the-fuck look on my face, and the woman, all bent out of shape and
disgusted, moaned, “Ugh, don’t judge me! I pay good money to not have to get
all dressed up. I can’t help it if there’s no holoprojector in the elevators.”
We all quietly made our way to the sixth floor, where me and Tawana got
off the elevator. Tawana busted out laughing as soon as the doors closed and
said in a nasally voice, “Don’t judge me! I look like shit, blah blah elevator.
I rolled my eyes up and pointed at my head, asking, “Am I a blondie
Tawana nodded yes and ran her fingers through my hair again. Then she
said solemnly, “And you have a dick nose and a vagina mouth.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. “I’m not going. I’m not going anywhere like
“I’m joking,” she said, laughing. “But yes, you are blond again.”
There was a transit tube attached to the building there on the sixth floor.
I asked, “Where is this famous Blue Judas restaurant?”

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“It’s a swanky little place in Manhattan,” she replied. “I got reservations.
All the big numbers go there.”
Oh joy.
Mostly I just wanted to go home and go to bed. Oh yeah, I can’t go home.
Oh fuck, what am I going to do? I better be extra nice to Tawana. She’s like the
only friend I have in the world right now.
I asked her, “Do I look all right, honey?”
“Looking good, Declan,” she assured me. “If anybody asks, tell them
you’re a physicist or an astronomer, or something that you know a little about.
I want to make the ex super jealous and give the tabloids something to talk
Aha! Make the ex jealous. Now I know why I’m here. Everybody has to
earn their keep. Right then I knew what my official duty was. I kind of had a
feeling that this was what I was supposed to be doing all along. I know things
could be worse.
As the limo pulled up, Tawana said, “I have bad news for you, Dickey.
We’re going to have to ride the transit tubes to get there.”
We got into the limoball and took off down the road. Then we entered the
chute. The vehicle climbed higher and higher, accelerating faster and faster,
and higher and faster, and holy shit, I hoped we lived to see another day. All I
could see out the window was a blurred tunnel with very few windows for
All of sudden, we descended straight down, and my stomach felt like it
was going to blow. I could feel my face turning green. The Gs pulled my face
down as we turned up again and then around and around, left and right, and
round and up, and good god, are we there yet?
Finally, the limo exited the maze by a river, and we pulled up to the
restaurant’s entrance. Me and Tawana climbed out, and the tabloid piranhas
were right there, snapping photos of us. It was as if somebody leaked out the
where and when we were going to arrive. I wonder who.

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It was really too much. I mean, what was Tawana thinking? That none of
these guys would ever find out what a loser and a dolt I am in real life? Come
Oh well. I’d probably be dead or begging in the streets soon enough.
We entered the restaurant, and Tawana was floating on air. She was
helloing and greeting everybody in the lobby, really in her element. We
informed the hostess that we’d arrived, and she said it’d be just a few moments
before she could seat us.
Tawana said, “That’s okay, Mary. We’ll be waiting in the bar.”
As we strolled over to the bar, I admired the decor. Everything was bright
white, and the walls had large, evenly spaced royal blue sconces on them,
dimly lit from behind. The tablecloths were shiny white, and the pale white
chairs were cushioned, with low arms and high backs. They were quite comfy, I
noticed as I sat down. They were more like living room chairs than restaurant
We sat down at a table that was up against a windowed wall across the
back of the restaurant. There was a deck attached to the restaurant, but it was
closed for the season. Snow was falling outside and piling up on an ornate
brick oven by the deck’s ledge. Beyond the banister I could see the dense
mirage of soaring towers entangled in the rolotubes and peop chutes.
“Are you okay, Declan?” Tawana asked.
I replied, “On top of the world, my love.”
She ordered a Manhattan, and I told the waitress that I’d have a Ron
White and some tator salad as an appetizer.
When the waitress melted away, Tawana grabbed my hands from across
the table and said, “Isn’t this great? I just love New York. You see those guys

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over there?” She pointed with her eyes and a tilt of her head to a table a couple
of rows over from ours.
“Yeah,” I said.
She said, “That’s Bob White and Charlie Darwin. Bob was the lead guy
on the team of engineers that developed some nanobots designed to attach the
spinal cord nerves to a body after a brain transplant. Charlie’s the CEO of a
body building company.”
“Funny,” I replied. “He doesn’t look like the type of guy that lifts weights.”
Tawana gave me a look and said, “They print bodies for brain
transplants, doofus.”
“Oh, well excuse me,” I said. A young woman joined them, and I asked,
“Who’s that, Miss Know-It-All?”
“No, it’s not Miss Know-It-All,” retorted Tawana. “It’s Carmine Kay. She’s
the first person to ever receive a brain transplant. She’s kinda freaky till you
get to know her.” Then Tawana waved at Carmine Kay, and she waved back.
“She's a little…” Tawana said as she twirled her finger around her ear—hiding
it from Carmine Kay, of course.
There was a really attractive young girl in the corner that kept looking
over at me. I thought she was checking me out, so I asked, “Who’s that over
Tawana answered, “Oh, that’s Rebecca Krain.”
“As in ‘The Krain Brothers’ Krain?” I asked.
“As in the KBD Krain Brothers?”
“Uh huh.”

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I got a bit of a lump in my throat. Clearing it out, I asked, “Do you know
the Krain Brothers, Tawana?”
“Oh yeah,” she said like it was nothing. “David Wayne Krain is sitting
right over there. He has the wildest parties in town, always invites me. He lives
just a few blocks north of here.”
Well, this got the wheels turning. I assumed she knew that one of the
Krain Brothers’ henchmen was trying to kill me.
The hostess came over and informed us that our table was ready. As we
stood up, Tawana said, “Oh, they have the best fish in town. The salmon is to
die for.”
You cannibal, I thought, but I held my tongue.
We paid the bartender and joked around about why they call scotch on
the rocks a Ron White. Nobody knew, but apparently they’d been called that for
a long, long time.
Tawana bumped into another acquaintance on the way to the dinner
table. She introduced her as Susan Fitch. We exchanged some pleasantries,
then made our way to our table. I pulled the chair out for Tawana, and she
thanked me. As we settled in, I inquired about Suzy, and Tawana told me that
she was an attorney and that her firm was well known for its role in the
gaggem market.
I said, “What the heck is the gaggem market?”
Tawana explained, “Large law firms sell stock in their companies, and
the value of these stocks are derived from a point system that has something to
do with the amount and quality of the lawsuits they are involved in at that
time. Some of these firms could be involved in several billion lawsuits at any

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given time. This market manipulates a nation’s currency rate more than its
gold supply and its gross national product put together.”
“Oh, so basically they’re all suing each other and all the companies,
industries, insurance companies, and governments all the time, for any and
every reason someone or anyone might think of? Brilliant!” I sarcastically
replied. “What an awesome system we’re developing for our children’s
“Wait a minute,” Tawana said, holding up a hand and shaking her head.
“You haven’t heard what a gaggem stock is yet. A gaggem stock is when a large
company like Morgan Madof or Woodrow Citi Chase accuses its customers of
owing them money that they really don’t. It creates a market all of its own, and
there are a lot of sleazy people out there who trade these interests. Most of
these false claims against the public wind up in collection agencies and really
just do nothing but destroy the integrity and trust of all the free nations
around the world. But these companies are so big and powerful that there is no
government in the world that can afford to protect its people from the financial
“I knew it! I knew I didn’t really owe them sons of bitches any money,” I
blurted out. “They’re getting rich as hell off of false claims while destroying
what little is left of my credit! Bastards! I hate ’em all.”
Tawana just nodded her head as I ranted and raved on a little more
about how Citi Chase & Wilson tried to rob me one time—before they changed
their name of course.
“I wonder how all of this got started,” I mused when I finally wound

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“Killer Coke,” Tawana answered like it was obvious.
I asked, “What?”
She said again, “Killer Coke-a-Cola. I read a book one time, The Fall of
Capitalism by Vweebee Bernon and Fry Ying.”
The book’s title reminded me of the time my granddad cut a triangle out
of the back of a dollar bill, looked through the hole, and said, “That eye is to
remind you to keep an eye on your government and the princes of this world.”
“According to the book,” Tawana went on, “the Coke-a-Cola company’s
CEOs allegedly had some would-be union officials in Guatemala murdered, and
then a few more in Columbia.”
Shocked, I asked, “Tawana, are you sure? Is this true?”
She said, “I don’t know, but I did look it up, and it’s in a lot of credible
world history journals online. Killed eight souls in Columbia. All of this
happened way back in the late nineteen hundreds. That’s when a lot of people
believe the gaggem market all started as well. Large, multi-national companies
just started doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted, with very little
repercussion. It’s really sad.”
I couldn’t believe it. “Wow, I’ll never drink Coke-a-Cola again,” I said.
“Yeah, good luck with that,” Tawana replied with a shake of her head.
Then she continued, “Everything escalated just after the turn of the century,
when they deregulated the banking industry. Some really evil, greedy monsters
left millions homeless and crippled the entire world’s economy. Everybody
knew exactly who was responsible, but none of them went to jail or suffered
any at all. The article said some of these monsters were even rewarded. I don’t
know about that, though. I read this way back when I was touring in Asia.”

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Silence settled over the table. I didn’t know what to think.
Then Tawana said, “Declan, there’s really not much we can do about it
right now. Just calm down and try to enjoy dinner.”
I could tell she was feeling a little distraught over the whole conversation,
so I agreed. I didn’t want my last supper to be spent all pissed off at somebody.
That was probably not a good way to go.
The waitress came over and asked if we were ready to order. Tawana
ordered some Russian caviar as an appetizer and some wine for us. The caviar
wasn’t on the menu. Tawana told me later that it’s very rare and highly
illegal…but so yummy! Only a few patrons even knew that they served it here.
I wondered, if Tawana ever had any children, would they come out as
I kept my thoughts to myself. Looking around, I noticed a young lady at
the bar with a large head. I said, “Look at that girl up at the bar. You think she
got that big square head from a genetic mutation?”
“You’re such a tardo, Declan. No, that’s Louise McGuilacutty. She’s a
very nice person, and I’d appreciate it if you didn’t make fun of her. She’s a
dear friend of mine. She made a lot of money off some book her granddad
published way back when. I think she said it was when people first started self-
publishing. Drum, I think was the name of it.”
Tawana took a sip of water, then said, “She showed me a picture of him
one time. He had a big square head as well.”
“Poor thing,” I replied.
We both ordered the salmon after the caviar arrived, and another bottle
of some red wine to share. It might have been a faux pas to order red wine with

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fish, I don’t really know, but it wasn’t exactly a white fish and I really like a fine
I told Tawana that the guy who wanted to kill me was an affiliate of the
KBD and that the only reason they wanted to kill me was because they thought
my dad stole some money from them. I told her about the conversation I had
with Rhonda and how she said Ozzen Krauss, one of the KBD’s henchman,
actually stole the money and blamed Dad for it before killing him.
Once I finished, she said, “They are well known for killing those who
double cross them, and their firstborn. I hear that they leave the grieving
widow to tell the tale.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” I replied. “I’m an only child.”
Tawana asked, “You think I should go over there and talk to David
Wayne about all of this? What if he tries to kill you, right here and now?”
“I don’t know what to do. Maybe you should tell him that it’s your friend
back in Florida. He probably doesn’t know what I look like since they are such
a huge operation. Besides, I am wearing a disguise,” I reminded her, pointing at
my head. “You know how great it’d be to get them off my back? I could go
home, and things could get back too normal. That would be so quantum.”
Tawana looked a little nervous about the whole idea but said, “Let’s
consider it while we eat, and then if it still seems like a good idea, I’ll go over
there and talk to him.”
As she was finishing her sentence, guess who just happened to be
walking up behind her—David Wayne Krain.

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He pulled up a chair and sat right down. “Tawanas, I’m a little
disappointed. Youse didn’t introduce me to your friend yet.” He had a hoarse,
growly voice and spoke with a thick Jersey accent.
“Oh, hi, Dave. This is, uh, my new boyfriend,” said Tawana.
He looked a bit miffed but introduced himself. “Hi, I’m David.”
I shook his hand and said, “I’m Duncan. Nice to make your
Then he turned his attention back to Tawana and said, “How long are
youse guys in town for, Tawana?”
“My plane is supposed to leave tonight, but it’s starting to look like the
weather may have other plans,” she replied.
“You know you’re always welcome to stay at my place,” David Wayne
Krain offered.
Tawana said, “I might just take you up on that offer. It is close by, and
warm and comfy.”
Yeah, that’d be great. Just kill me now. I was getting to be a pretty
nervous wreck sitting across the table from this guy.
“Say, Dave,” Tawana started hesitantly, “I may have some information
you’d be interested in. It’s regarding an incident that happened in Florida.”
“Go on,” he said, clearly interested, while dipping a cracker into the
caviar, almost ignoring her.
I just wanted to run, hard and fast, but I sat there, heart racing ninety-
nine billion beats per second.
Tawana said, “Well, you know I used to work at a taco stand down there
when I was younger. Well, I was reading in the paper that the owner overdosed

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on krain recently. That guy was the closest thing to a father that I’ve ever had,
and his son is a really good friend of mine.”
I was shitting my pants. Fuck me, I’m gonna die.
David Wayne asked, “Tawana, is there something I can help you with?”
She lowered her voice and said, “I don’t think he overdosed on krain. I
don’t want to start slinging accusations around, but let’s just say that I think
he was set up.”
He looked at me and said to Tawana, “Perhaps we should discuss this a
bit later.”
Tawana slammed both of her hands down on the table, her fins stood
straight up, and she looked him square in the eyes and said sternly, “David,
I’ve already lost a father figure.” Then she turned on the waterworks, and her
elbows caved in. “Any later and I may lose the closest thing to a brother I’ve
ever had as well.” She took the napkin off the table and started dabbing her
eyes with it.
“There, there now. Don’t cry, honey. I’ll call off the dogs,” David Wayne
said soothingly. “For what it’s worth, I believe you. I’ve already started
investigating one of my Florida delegates.” He patted her on the back.
“I’d feel much better if you did it now,” Tawana pleaded, looking up at
him with teary eyes.
“Fine,” he huffed. He gave me a look and then opened up a VeeM to make
the call.
I immediately excused myself. He kept looking at me, and I could tell he
was feeling a bit uncomfortable talking to Tawana about all of this and making

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the call in front of a stranger. I sure as hell didn’t want him to wait one more
nanosecond on my account.
I started towards the bathroom feeling all weird and uncomfortable in my
own skin. I could barely walk. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling relieved or scared,
or what the fuck I should be feeling, but I was just rushing with emotions. I
finally had to just sit down and take a deep breath to absorb what had just
happened. I was shaking and trembling, relieved and scared and anxious all at
the same time.
I pulled myself together for a few moments behind the walls surrounding
a very posh porcelain throne. It even had a sanitized seat warmer for my
protection. As soon as my heart slowed down to a more regular pace and my
nerves settled a bit, I got up and walked over to the sink to splash a little water
in my face and through my hair.
The attendant bot asked if I’d like some gum or cologne. I let him squirt
me with a little Jovan Musk. I looked in the mirror and noticed that the wig
was gone. There must not be a holoprojector in the restroom. I gave Tawana
and David Wayne a few more minutes to conclude their thoughts and
transactions or whatever at the table. Then I headed back to my seat—
trembling a bit nervously, I might add.
As I reached the table, David Wayne was getting up. “It was nice to meet
you, Duncan,” he said with a nod. “Perhaps I’ll see you later.”
“Nice to meet you too, David. Have a nice evening.”
I pulled out my chair and sat down as he walked away. “Well?”
“I had a really good talk with him about your father, Duncan,” Tawana
said. “He said he always liked your pops and that he gave him the startup

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money for the taco stand himself. Then he said that you were still in diapers
when he loaned your dad the money. He said you were a big crybaby. Cried all
the time. It drove him up the wall every time he visited your mom and dad.”
Embarrassed, I looked down and mumbled, “I had a sensitive stomach.”
Then I realized, “Hey, wait a minute. I was almost twelve years old when
Dad opened the taco stand.”
“Tawana, get to the point. Am I going to die if I go home or what?”
“No, but hold on. I’m getting to that,” she said. “After he made his phone
call, he told me that your mother was on the way to the beach this afternoon
and that your bat friend tried to kidnap her.”
“No way,” I said.
Tawana chuckled and continued, “Your mom smacked him in the face
with her sunbrella.”
“No way!” I exclaimed.
“Yeah, no kidding!” she replied. “She broke his nose, then kept beating
the hell out of the guy. Your momma is one tough gal, Declan. Apparently, Mr.
Krauss was just leaving the medical clinic when we called him.”
“Shit fire!” I said excitedly. “Shit fire, and save the matches. Now he’s
going to want to kill me and Mom.”
“Don’t worry,” Tawana said. “David told him that you were being
investigated for some bank robbery and that the Feds are all over you.”
“What? A bank robbery? Me? You have to be kidding. No way he’s ever
going to believe that.”
“Calm down, Dicky. It doesn’t matter. David’s sending Ozzen to his
hometown to take care of some business up there. That’s what he told him,”

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Tawana explained with a shrug. “I think David wants to send some guys down
there to find out what really happened. Bat Boy seemed pretty happy about the
transfer, though. Said it’d be nice to get out of South Florida and fly around the
old homestead, see some old friends and whatnot. I think he’s just scared of
your mom.”
“So it’s done,” I murmured. “I’m really free again—fatherless, but free to
go home finally. God, I can hardly wait.”
The salmon came as we started talking about Dad and old times at the
taco stand. We moved on to how good the salmon was with the garlic sauce. We
both agreed it was a bit overdone, but overall it tasted pretty good.
The trying day, a full belly, and the wine had me ready for nap.
Instead of leaving, Tawana started talking about Dad again and how she
admired his work ethic. She always thought of him as a good-looking man. “I
don’t know what happened to you,” she giggled. We laughed and cried and
drank wine until they came to clean up the table.
Tawana got up then, grabbing my arm, and said, “Come on, Dickey. Let’s
go dance out on the balcony.”
“What? You gotta be out of your mind! It’s frickin’ freezing out there.
Look, there’s a blizzard going on!” I protested as I looked out the window.
She insisted, “Come on, Dickey. It’ll be nice.”
“No way. Forget about it,” I replied.
“Well, then let’s go dance in the bar. Come on.”
I was too tired to argue, so reluctantly I agreed. They were playing soft,
slow music. There wasn’t much of crowd because of the weather, but there

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were a few people hanging out, chatting and drinking. Mostly couples. David
Wayne and his gooneys were still at the bar.
We started dancing at arm’s length, but it didn’t take long before we were
close. I think Tawana might be high on the wine, and I know I was too, but
mostly I was getting tired. My eyelids were getting heavy. I was just about to
drift away, right there in her arms, when I heard her say, “Declan, is that a
wiener dog in your pocket, or do you just really like dancing with me?”
We laughed.
And then Tawana told me softly, “I heard the CEO made a bet with the
receptionist’s son that he couldn’t hack into their printers.”
“That figures,” I mumbled, head on her shoulder.
“You must be getting tired,” Tawana said. “I know you haven’t had much
sleep. How ‘bout let’s go sit down and get some coffee or some caf-buz or
We sat down at a nearby table, and she asked me, “Where ya want to
sleep tonight, Deck?”
“It’s your dime, honey. Besides, I’ve never been to the Big Apple before,” I
reminded her.
She said, “I was thinking about taking David up on his invitation. He has
the most amazing hot tub. It’s in a podtower that sticks out of the side of his
building. It just dangles out there, bobbing around in the wind. It’s so cool.”
“It bobs around in the wind? Are you kidding? No way! I’m not going.”