Excerpt from Fungus Man by David Arthur Walters

Sketch by Darwin Leon

Beware of Indigo Blue Jeans

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"Jim, we're here. It's okay to take your blindfold off now," Virginia said as she brought the Bronco to a halt. "Hi, Manny!" she yelled at the bulky bearded figure walking towards us from a rambling, two-storey log house beneath several towering pines. I climbed out of the vehicle gingerly, pained by Virginia's temptations in transit, and my back also hurt like hell from the rough climb up rocky mountain roads. "Hi, Virgin Baby!" Manny called back her, and, to me, "Hey, Jim, hot damn, it's good to see you again!" Manny looked a lot different from the last time I saw him, some thirty years prior when I visited him in prison. He'd been busted for running an LSD lab. His specialty was Little Blue Minis; they got you high for four hours, then, suddenly, you came down to Earth like nothing had happened. Rumor had it that Manny was caught trying to dump a large quantity of LSD into the local water reservoir, gossip soon discounted by his associates because Manny of all people had to know that polluting a large water supply with LSD was technically impossible. As it turned out, the story was true in a way. He was hallucinating at the time, and believed that he had discovered a way to get everybody stoned with his remaining inventory, free of charge, before retiring from the drug business for good. Acid had saved him from alcoholism and made him a bundle. He wanted to give something back to the community. The lawyers got his bundle, and he got twenty years in the pen. Prison fare and the weights in the yard had worked wonders, as I had seen in a rare photo of him trim and ripped. But that was then, and now he was downright fat. Still he strolled up to me confidently and with the elegance of a ballet dancer. He looked happy, brown eyes sparkling, full beard, not a gray hair in sight. "Nice bush, Manny," said I, painfully. "Glad you like it. Just for Men ® does the trick, works on my chest too. I'm afraid you're a sorry sight, though. What's the matter? Would you like to use the head?" he asked, observing me shuffle. "Yeah, please. My back's killing me from sitting in the car." I bent over, put my hands together, and stretched my lower back. "Ah, maybe I can fix that. Sounds like another subluxation to be adjusted. Why didn't you get out of the car and stretch along the way?"
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"I wanted to pull over but he was not into it," Virginia said matter-of-factly, then winked at Manny. "He was not into it, eh?" "Nope." "No video, then." "Nope." "Shucks. Alright, Jim, you come with me, I'll show you to your room. You can use the bathroom, and I'll get my table and give you an adjustment." "What, you're a chiropractor now?" "You'd better believe it, Jim. I studied chiropractic in prison." "Chiropractic works wonders." I said delightedly. "I had no faith in it until a chiropractor fixed my neck a few months ago. I was in serious pain and could not look to the right or to the left. He put me on the table, and suddenly dropped the end of it down. Kapow! It was a miracle. Just like that, I was fixed. But he wanted me to sign up for regular visits, and turned out to be a crook, so the town lost a good chiropractor." "Come along now," Manny gestured toward the house. I noticed two heavily armed guards standing at some distance from each end of the structure. "What was his name? How was he a crook?" "Doctor Culo, Retardo Culo. I did not go for the regular visits, but he charged my insurance company for sixteen visits. When I got the statement, I took it to him and complained, but I didn't turn him in because he had fixed me and I didn't want to rat him out, just to warn him. Then he charged my insurance company a hundred and fifty bucks for a special consultation for my little warning visit. I went to see him the next week to lay down the law, but he was gone, closed. His landlord told me he'd fled the state because the prosecutor's were on to him. He was bilking several insurers, and they found that he was unlicensed, was using a dead chiropractor’s number. Even worse, he's was an illegal immigrant. Too bad too, because he was really good, and he was giving free adjustments to the poor." "What a nice man!" exclaimed Virginia. “I think I need some adjusting too. I have road rash again."

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"Baby, I told you not to wear blue jeans but you just love rubbing cream on the rash. I'll adjust Jim, and then we'll all get into the hot tub and have some cola and snacks there before dinner. That will relieve your road rash. Doc has cooked some venison for us." "Oh, Manny, can't we have some beer or wine?” Virginia whined. “There's some locked up in the bomb shelter," Manny stiffened. "No alcohol now! You can get bombed when the time comes." Manny took the kink out of my back in nothing flat. I excused myself, went into the bathroom and unburdened myself from the pain Virginia had caused me on the drive up. When I returned, she was standing beside him in her birthday suit. “Come on, join us in the hot tub,” Manny pleaded. “Yeah, Jim, come with us,” Virginia chimed in. “Many thanks,” I averted my eyes, “but I'm up here for the interview..." "Oh, yes, you want to know about the spores," Jim said. "Right—the spores." "Well, we can do that in the morning. You're staying the night." "But..." "No buts about it. We can't get you out tonight, anyway, because of security. You want to know about the spores, so enjoy our hospitality, and I'll turn you onto the spores tomorrow." --To Be Continued--

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