My Writing When I ask myself "what am I writing really", the Oracle of Delphi answers "nothing that hasn’t

been done already." Is my world radical different from those of Carlos Castaneda, in his best selling novels? Are my comic overtures any different from those of Tom Robbins, Christopher Moore, or Douglass Adams? Are my ideas any stranger then Burroughs’ Naked Lunch or my hero’s gifts any different from Dune’s Paul Atreides? And if I take five years to write something, and another five to perfect it, isn't that the same amount of time "Gone with the Wind" took? I always thought the man who said "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" (a similar though shared by some readers of mine) was a cad, until I saw the movie and thought – “Yes, she deserved it." Perhaps I should reminisce, like the Grateful Dead, on what a long strange trip it’s been. Then one day I woke up, and in a flash of enlightenment, remarked: "That's it. The creator builds a cosmic cartoon factory, and nobody gets it but me. I either must be crazy, or I discovered the secret of life. I need to share this, but it needs to be aged a bit – like a fine wine, with a distinctive taste, and an expensive price tag." Story Background Since antiquity, Indian epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana have concerned themselves with spiritual heroes overcoming the forces of demons and darkness. If such a hero were transported to contemporary American pop culture, the tale might unfold like a cosmic comic book. Filling such a role, Adrian Albright escapes from a mental institution just in time to witness Dr. William Alter’s murder. The villain, Scorpion, has killed the doctor, and Adrian, as a reluctant witness, is forced to hide in the criminal biker underworld lest he become the next victim. Recovering from a coma, Adrian also regains his sanity and discovers he has acquired the gift of healing and the ability to communicate with a mythical coyote figure. Aiding Adrian are his friends and allies: Ann Cutter, former psychologist and current love interest; Rumi Rosenkreuz, mystic philosopher and man of mystery; Danny (Doc) Holliday, black blues pianist and gunslinger accompanied by his antic monkey Bubbles; and Coyote, the Native American totem of mischief.

Adrian’s mission, should he wish to remain alive, is to unravel the mystery of his metamorphosis from mental patient to spiritual hero before unsavory criminal elements can do him in, and to live out the Beatles’ tune, I’ll Get By With A Little Help From My Friends. REBIRTH New Beginnings Tonight, Death, a regular aboard ambulance six, was waiting to welcome another passenger. Enter the patient from Montana Psychiatric Hospital, an institute that developed experimental therapies to treat the mentally ill. The two attendants, Barney and Harry, had worked this routine for years. They had seen everything—gunshot wounds, knife wounds, limbs nearly severed in auto accidents and patients screaming in pain, begging for quick release from their misery as Sam the driver drowned their cries in country music. They thought they had seen it all. They hadn’t. As Sam squinted through the blinding rainstorm, he moved the patient to Montana Central, Great Fall’s metropolis for trauma care. He was performing a routine task instead of watching professional wrestling. The drive always failed to generate excitement. Except for tonight. He drove with sirens blaring. Sure it was stormy, but he had driven this route so often he could have done it blindfolded. Suddenly a slender shape, dark yet luminous, jolted across his path. Sam slammed on the brakes, and the ambulance skidded on slippery pavement. He avoided hitting the sleek shape, but the sudden slamming of brakes played dominoes with the passengers. “Shit!” yelled Barney. “You trying to kill the patient?” “He’s probably dead already”, Sam muttered to himself. “You moron!” exclaimed Harry. “Are you drunk?” The patient convulsed and Harry administered the Valsalva maneuver and an injection. The convulsions subsided. Sam picked up the intercom radio. “Quit swearing, you bastard”, he said. “An animal was in

the road.” Harry’s hand twitched. “A dog or a cat?” he asked. “Looked like a shiny coyote”, flared Sam. “Radioactive coyote, my ass!” screamed Harry. “You been sipping the sauce on duty?” asked Barney. “Look fellows! I swear!” shouted Sam. “The thing looked like a glow-in-the-dark coyote!” The ambulance braved the storm towards the hospital grounds, holy ground where high priests of medicine performed their miracles. A citywide blackout had also struck the hospital, causing emergency generators to kick in. The paramedics wheeled their patient towards the emergency room door. A doctor making rounds joined them. “Symptoms?” the doctor asked. “Convulsions”, responded Barney. The doctor shouted to a nearby nurse. “Prepare emergency room detail!” The patient was hooked up to an array of devices and attended by a crew of doctors and nurses. The chief doctor and assistant examined the patient, while others cracked jokes. “Coma?” asked a doctor. “Comma?” replied a bewildered nurse. “I’ll take a semicolon any day”, whispered another nurse. “No prob”, piped a third. “They got semicolons in the vending machine. Dried –up little squiggles. It says fruit salad, but that’s a joke.” “You’re a joke!” yelled the chief physician. “I’m talkin coma! If you want punctuation, go stick it in your walking papers!” “How can he have a coma patient?” another doctor calmly asked. “He was showing signs of movement, according to the paramedics.” Again the Chief examined the patient.

“It’s probably a coma,” he said wearily. “I need a CAT scan, now!” The Journey Everything seemed normal for the hospital staff, but in the hospital bed, surrounded by instruments and nurses, the patient’s mind wasn’t just a chemical factory. It was a different world. Some assert that dreams are just an interaction of body chemicals. Others say images from the mind are very deep and even explore another world. Whatever reveries consist of, they can only be experienced. The patient today was experiencing hell. The institute faxed the Chief his case records. Adrian Albright was a writer who had produced some likable poems. He had lived in Japan for several years, learning Aikido, a self-defense art that redirects a person’s force back upon the attacker. He had wanted to learn Japanese-style poetry and supported himself by teaching English to Japanese students. But a mental malfunction occurred upon returning to the USA. The official classification was schizophrenia from an unknown cause. Thanks to experimental psychiatry, Adrian was temporarily responding to therapeutic measures. But today’s events were cause for concern. Adrian lay inside Dante’s Inferno. Instead of devils and burning shovels, there were straps needling his bellybutton and a table pressing at his spine. The Inferno chief was not Satan, but a man dressed in white that prepared to give him a shot. ‘It will just sting a minute,” the thick ghost said, matter-of-factly. Pain resonated through Adrian’s body. His stomach contracted and head waxed volcanic. Dizziness escalated, wound in tightly coiled loops from his mind’s skin to the soles of his feet. The doctor sipped cold lemonade and sang “Yankee Doodle” absent-mindedly. Despite the

intense paid, Adrian strained to hear the words, his mind trying to focus. He struggled to remember his Aikido training to ignore the pain and reach a state of inner calm through intense concentration. Momentarily at peace, he braced for more. The doctor drank his lemonade as if all the time and lemonade in the world were at his disposal.

At last he finished the glass and refilled it from the refrigerator. Adrian continued to focus. He began to feel that he knew this room, and then he knew why, for it was where he had experienced several hours of intense drug therapy – a long time ago. A pinnacle of concentration left him peering deeply into the past. He had lived this scene before. “I was here,” he cried. “I remember!” He remembered an institute and years of pain and suffering. He remembered the devil he had known headed the institute. With a flash, the devil sipping lemonade disappeared. A light surrounded Adrian, a rainbow spectrum sea of light, rotating in green, red, blue, yellow, gold on the sea’s lapping fringes, and blue deep inside. A figure, a young woman, moved through the light. Was she part of the past, or a dream of now? The lady glided towards him. “This is not a memory,” a voice replied. Was it a dream, then? If so, it was beautifully unfolding soft and sweet. The doctor nightmare was fading even from memory. Adrian felt gentle warmth as the woman approached, warmth

regenerating him, leaving him feeling stronger and alive. The lady extended her hand and Adrian felt himself reaching towards it. He felt a deep inner peace with no thoughts or concerns, inhabiting and embracing him and reminding him of the Biblical phrase, a peace that surpasses understanding. He only wanted this peace to last forever, but it started to flicker. The lady pulled her hand away. “Don’t move your hand,” he begged. The figure ignored him. “Who are you?” he asked. The lady ignored him. “Who are you?”

The lady stared at him and his insides pulsated with gentle warmth. “I have a present,” she said. “What?” She pulled something from her robe and presented it to him. Adrian saw a rose stem with partial rose petals and expressed surprise. “What is this?” he asked. She didn’t answer but handed him the stem. “Is this part of a rose?” The figure responded by nodding. “What happened to the rose?” “Later – in time,” she replied, fading back into the light. The little people Clarence had worked in hospitals for twenty years, cleaning rooms and trying not to disturb patients. Brandishing his mop and sudsy bucket, he daydreamed he was swabbing the deck as the skull and crossbones snapped in the salty breeze above his head. As he cleaned up around Adrian, he crossed the high seas for gold, surviving an otherwise boring job with pirate duty. Suddenly he stopped mopping and studied the floor. He picked up what looked liked rose petals and noticed its texture and smell. “Strange,” said Clarence to himself, “I don’t recall seeing a rose in this room.” Clarence held the rose petals and remained puzzled. He noticed the coma patient’s hand holding something long and thin and he violated protocol by removing it. This small mystery was a break in his mundane life, for he had become Sherlock Holmes, the esteemed detective in the process of solving a famous mystery. He rotated the stem up and down and explored every millimeter with his trusty magnifying glass composed entirely of air. Through the magnifying air the clock on the wall also loomed large, its hands a trinity of stems against which the stem in his fingers pirouetted. He pocketed the stem, a prior engagement beckoned. It was lunchtime, 2:00 AM.

At 2:05 AM, Clarence joined his friend Joe, another redeeming quality of his existence, like his imagination and his newfound stem. Joe worked security detail and made rounds every hour. As they sat for coffee, Joe interrupted Clarence’s thoughts with a meteorological observation. “This weather is fucking freaky.” “How so?” asked Clarence. “You heard of werewolves?” “Shit, who hasn’t?” replied Clarence. “Vampires too. They’re in the papers all the time.” “Papers wouldn’t wrap a dead fish in those fucking weekly tabloids!” Clarence got red with embarrassment and anger. Joe became cooler and tried to defuse the situation. “They do have interesting stories though, I guess,” he said haltingly. “I just wouldn’t wrap a dead fish in ‘em, that’s all.” “Forget fish. What about werewolves?” “On Halloween people are supposed to see werewolves. But seems like tonight they’re seeing something different, a mysterious monster kind of thing you can’t quite pin down, sorta like.” “You don’t say,” Clarence prodded, eager for clarification. “Some say a dog. Others a wolf.” “Tell me more. Want another coffee?” “Sure”. Clarence loped to the vending machine. Each night the two dreamy workers treated each other to caffeine madness and got into heated arguments over the battery acid latte. Clarence carried the steaming acid and sat down. He took a sip of reconstituted fertilizer and remembered the animal story. “So some say a dog, some say a wolf? But you say not a werewolf? So what’s this thing somebody says they see, do you think?” “Well, most people who saw it say it looked like a coyote,” Joe said.

“O.K., but I don’t get it,” said Clarence. “What’s so strange about a running animal in the night and who’s all seeing this animal thing anyway?” “Well, I overheard guys talking and then that Sam, the ambulance driver, he saw me and figures since I’m on security, I ought a know about anything fishy goin’ on, so he comes right out and tells me he bumped into that animal tonight in the rain. Right on the highway. There it was, and there it wasn’t. Like it disappeared.” “Well”, mused Clarence, “it’s dark, so it goes into the shadows or the moon goes under and the thing looks like it’s gone, so there it is and there it isn’t and there it still is.” “Only thing is” Joe blurted windily, a huge glug of stimulant having just cleared his throat, “Sam says the thing was lighted up like a Christmas tree -- its fur was a jinglin.” This knocked Clarence into wonder. “Who - who was it in the ambulance?” “The patient? Can’t really say. Some guy, I think. No name I remember. Coma patient, if I recall correctly. Why?” Clarence removed a rose stem from his pocket and rotated it in the stark florescent light. “What’s that?” asked Joe. “I’m not too sure,” Clarence replied. “But just look at it. I found this crazy stem on a coma patient just now.” Joe gave Clarence a puzzled look. “You need some sleep. Probably a visitor dropped it on the way out.” “Probably,” said Clarence, and they proceeded with their lunch. DEVIL STORMS Friends in Low places The hideaway was a bar and grill catering to lowlifes – a caliginous den for biker gangs, a place of Cimmerian corners and deep secrets. The Devil Dogs hung out there and from it recesses controlled a huge chunk of Montana’s drug trade. A five-year turf war between the Devil Dogs and Skull Slashers

had ended two years earlier when they forged a truce and divided the turf. A new enforcer rose through the ranks: Theodore Frisk. Theodore was not the beaver, mind you. No mammalian characteristics whatsoever. The Devil Dogs called him Scorpion. Theodore, a decorated Green Beret and former head of military intelligence, possessed strong physical and intellectual skills. He had long ago mastered karate and could have applied himself to academic pursuits with great success, but he coasted like Mick Jagger. He breezed through ROTC, but his promising military career had one drawback. Theodore was a psychopathic killer, a trait of some value in wartime. Not so in the peacetime military, especially when the enemy is a fellow officer. He’s not the Beaver Theodore suffered from Al Capone behavior, creating disaster with each breath. A fellow officer’s girlfriend danced in a strip club off the base. The officer stopped by after work and caught Theodore hitting on her. Harsh spoken words escalated into a fight. Theodore quickly overpowered three military policemen. The officer attempted to defend himself with a beer bottle and ended up kissing the floor. The Army had treated Theodore’s psychopathic tendencies before the officer bashing occurred, enlisting its top shrink, a Doctor William Alter. Alter, a promising young psychiatrist specializing in experimental drug therapies, had attempted to rehabilitate him. During the trial, Theodore’s military accomplishments impressed the tribunal. But peacetime psychopaths are an oxymoron and Theodore was given a dishonorable discharge. Legitimate job prospects were dim, but the Devil Dogs needed a new enforcer and quickly hired him. Theodore became a Scorpion and used his talents for business protection and crime enforcement. background and intelligence kept the Devil Dogs one claw above the law. Scorpion’s talents were needed. Independent agents were attempting to infiltrate the market dominated by the Devil Dogs and Skull Slashers. Butcher, the Devil Dogs’ leader, was discussing business with Scorpion in a secluded corner of the bar. The independents were creating drugs in His

Oregon and transporting them to Montana for sale to the Canadian market. Tonight Scorpion would travel to an Oregon seaport. Butcher and he discussed prospects in pinched sentences that barely escaped their smoke-dried lips. “Brave souls, right?” questioned Butcher. “Should I preach to them?” “Inspire them, like Capone!” “They’re meeting tonight?” “Yeah. What’s the plan?” “Paul Revere by sea!” Beat the Odds Independents courted the drug arena with disastrous results. Many reaped the harvest of death. Others infiltrated this lucrative arena with middling success. Lucky felt lucky. Tonight he was meeting a distributor in an abandoned warehouse. His two top guards, Slicker and Ape-Man, were posted outside, patrolling the dock. “This place sucks,” said Ape-Man. “Shove it. We got work to do,” replied Slicker. It tastes great French, a distributor of top designer drugs, was showing a selection of assorted merchandise. Lucky sampled with his nose. “Good shit!” “Good price!” Lucky and French negotiated. To beat bigger suppliers, Lucky needed to supply merchandise at a better price. He would cut or dilute stock and pass on inferior products to customers. Lucky needed to establish territory. I like the sea

Ape-Man and Slicker patrolled the warehouse. They were the best guards and killers for a sawbuck. From their vantage point, they could see everything. If a car approached, their night vision scopes caught it. If a plane or helicopter flew overhead, they spotted it. If a ship bumped up the bleak horizon, they calibrated the bump. The men had the best pistols available. With Ape-Man and Slicker at the helm, this warehouse should have been a secure fortress. Slicker watched the road while Ape-Man watched land and water. The dark sky tended to overpower a strangely dim half-moon. The location and meeting time were a closely guarded secret, and the waterfront seemed swollen with an enforced hush. Land and sea: these were the mainstays of Ape-Man’s watchful mind, a drone of landscape. Then he heard a frog croak and began to sing a little song. “Froggie went a courting and he did ride.” He saw nothing unusual, but heard the frog sound again. Ape-Man wasn’t a rocket scientist and he had flunked high school biology, but he was sharp enough to know frogs weren’t part of this particular ecosystem. Yet he held the danger of that fact at bay. Memory was exerting a peculiar pull on the normally wary Ape-Man. He thought the sound was coming from beneath the dock and peered over its edge for a closer look. Nothing! The frog sound recurred. Ape-Man pulled out his gun. Froggie went a courting and he did ride. He thought frog killing was clever. As a kid, he had inserted M-80 explosives underneath frogs and ignited the frog blasters. Now, as if striving to revisit his debased childhood, Ape-Man leaned closer to the water – close enough for his last breath. A scuba diver’s spear pierced his chest. A quick tug from an attached line pulled him under. Before being dragged to a watery grave, Ape-Man fired one muffled shot. Inside the warehouse, keen-eared French drew his pistol. Lucky, immersed in his luck, heard nothing – except a frog croaking.

“Hey, Slicker! Go investigate!” yelled Lucky. “O.K., boss!” Lucky poured a drink to calm his nerves and French held a Cuban cigar. With light and gun, Slicker combed the dock and found nothing. But when he cast his light on the water, he found Ape-Man’s body face down, his chest pierced by a spear that quivered in the flashlight’s beam. “Shit!” yelled Slicker, his last word sucked into silence by an obscure South American weapon called the bola, two heavy balls tied together by several thickly corded sections. Traditionally, a hunter threw this weapon to snag animal legs. Sadly breaking with tradition, Slicker was the animal tonight, for a fast and silent bola snapped his neck. Slicker never saw the wet-suited figure that, having whooshed him into another world, now kicked his crumpled body into the water. “Slicker!” yelled Lucky. “What’s happening?” Slicker would have followed Lucky to hell, loyalty tattooed on his skin and clogging his arteries. Lucky sweated. “Where are those fucking goofballs?” he said. The next few seconds dropped into place like bricks of eternity shaped to fit snugly against the end of the world. Lucky was a good shot as was French, but the security and allure of guns evaporated as the electric current feeding three naked light bulbs snapped into memory and left murk wide open. A surgeon’s knife quickly retreated from the circuit breaker wires it had just severed. Lucky raced to the window. The half-moon was all that remained of sea and sky, its beams grounded in gloom before they could touch the waves. His heart raced. He held his hand to his chest to calm himself, a useless attempt. A light flashed behind him. The echoes of shattering glass encircled the thud of a small object hitting the floor. “Incoming!” yelled French, too late.

A classic explosion would have offered closure, but Lucky and French were the victims of a gas grenade designed to immobilize. Their lungs burned, each breath screaming agony and sighing

eternity. Their eyes filled with fire and tears. Lucky’s designer watch ticked 75 seconds as the mysterious assailant broke every window within earshot. Lucky wondered why the windows were breaking, as if the panes themselves might be angry, but French knew instantly. Whoever threw the gas grenade was visiting. Lucky’s past escapades formed a procession behind a banner of hope. He could beat the odds. He could blast out of Hell’s kitchen and trounce death in a chess game, checkers, dominoes, anything. His ability to escape disaster and secure profits was legendary. Lucky the legend. The legend was Lucky. Another moment and the legend was gone. The parade of legendary misdeeds was usurped by a solitary wet-suited figure slicing through a deep shadow. A knife in the wet suit’s right hand caught a speck of moonbeam as it rushed in a slant past Lucky’s eyes and into his neck. The terror of the moment didn’t escape French, but he tried to focus and regain coherence. He’d seen the figure take the gun from Lucky’s folding body. The figure was walking toward French, who hugged the floor as if already wounded. “Your gun, please sir,” requested the figure standing over him. “What?” “Your gun, please, sir.” French handed the gun, butt first, to the figure, which yanked it from French’s hand and walked to the window. Both guns cleared the shady frame and hit the water below. French had already decided he would die like a man. “Kill me. Get it over with!” “I have a present for you,” said the stranger. The figure dropped a laminated business card on

the floor, then positioned a small waterproof flashlight next to it and walked to the door. French heard a faint splash as the figure dove into the water. He waited a minute or two before getting up. When he did, he saw the body of Lucky with its nearly severed head. French went outside and immediately walked on to the dock. The stranger was nowhere in sight. The water revealed nothing, except for the floating bodies of Ape-Man and Slicker. French wondered why his life had been spared. Then he remembered the card. He held it up to the moonlight and was able to see that it was both a business card and an offer. It invited the bearer to free drinks at the Devil Dogs’ Clubhouse. Lucky had approached him with quick profit promises. Cutting the red tape would have meant more profits for everyone, and anything to enhance the bottom line was good and exciting. But the ordeal of business prospects and sudden violence made French a bit groggy. Turning the card over absent-mindedly, a message was hand-printed on the back. “Come join the winning team – Scorpion.” The words kept repeating themselves like a demented mantra in his disheveled brain. Come Join the Winning Team. No matter how he strove to block it, his mind repeated it nonstop. Perhaps it was the shock of witnessing three quick deaths in a sliver of time. Perhaps it was the aftertaste of the grenade or the overwhelming relief of having his life spared. Whatever the reason, his mind kept repeating the words, come join the winning team. French placed the card in his wallet. He couldn’t imagine how the Devil Dogs had known of Lucky’s meeting here. It was a mystery useless to ponder. The sensible thing was to go and accept the free drink. VISITOR Such a lovely lady Adrian was arriving home from the hospital. Also the home of William Alter, the institute director, and Ann Cutter, the chief caseworker, it had been Adrian’s home for eight years, thanks to federal

money. The facility appeared the same, yet it was different. He himself felt different but didn’t know how. The voices were gone, but maybe he was still reorienting himself and they would return. Many schizophrenics lived with the voices their entire lives, and his current knowing might be a hallucination. Maybe he wasn’t getting enough medication. His world seemed rife with maybes. Today, in the midst of the maybes, his favorite orderly, Fred, accompanied him. “Good to see you, old friend,” said Fred. Everyone liked Adrian. He was very polite and helpful and was returning home. “Ann will stop by today,” said Fred. Adrian remembered his main caseworker. She had visited him during his coma; somehow he always knew when she was there. Hearing her name, he again thought of how different he felt but didn’t know how. He must clear his head, return to his poems. Your room, Mr. Elliot,” uttered Fred with a sly smile. “You’re too kind, Fred,” responded Adrian, nearly sly himself. Fred departed an Adrian settled in, but the poem and its secret hiding place, the bottom drawer, had suffered no motion and was quickly found to be undisturbed. It was his prized poem, written for her. He was fond of Ann, but couldn’t say anything. It wasn’t normal for patients and caseworkers to cross the threshold. But Adrian’s eyes spoke fluently to the poem called Lady in the Wind. The images portrayed a lady, surrounded by a blue sky, as the wind blew her hair back slightly. The season was autumn and the subject her soul. Some day he would present it to her. Night vanished into day. Afternoon found Adrian reading Catcher in the Rye and drinking tea. He had already consulted a physician regarding medication levels, attended a group therapy session, and done some poetry. Now he had a visitor. “May I come in?” asked Ann. “Please.’ Adrian offered her a chair. She sat down and looked vaguely depressed. “What’s wrong?” asked Adrian. Ann found it slightly amusing to find a patient inquiring about her condition.

“I had a down day,” she responded. “Nice to see you back and well.” Adrian sipped tea and offered Ann some as he considered strategies to cheer her up. The poem. Now was the time to act. He stood up, went to the drawer, and retrieved the poem from its solitude. “A present for you,” he said. For a moment Ann found herself without speech or thought. She recognized herself and cried. Then, after a small eternity through which she accessed her bearings, she found her professional self again. “It’s beautiful,” she said. “But I can’t accept it.” “Why? I spent three days writing it.” She sighed deeply. “Company policy forbids it.” “Company policy. And you? What is your policy? “You’re right.” Ann hugged the painting. She knew it was a great treasure. Now it was her turn. She too had a present to give. She leaned forward and kissed him on the forehead. “You’re so sweet,” she said. “Doesn’t this violate regulations?” “Call it transference. He smiled slightly and glanced down from her eyes to the slender fingers curled over the poem. A small bandage interrupted their smooth grasp. “Cut your finger?” he asked. “Yes,” this morning, cutting some onions.” “Please remove it.” “Why?’ It may bleed. “Please!” he pleaded. Ann knew it was crazy, but she didn’t protest too strongly. After all, he had spent three days creating the poem. No need to make a common band-aide come between them. He put his hand over the cut, and Ann felt warmth flowing around her injured finger. He held her hand for only a minute. When he removed his hand, the bleeding had stopped. “Feel better?” he asked. “It stopped. How did you do it?” Does it matter?” “Yes, it does. Is this a Japanese healing technique?” Since Ann had been Adrian’s chief caseworker for eight years, she

knew his life in Japan intimately. But she never heard him mention healing arts and prompted him for a clue. “I don’t know. Just a small talent I picked up,” he replied. “Where? How?” Ann was a scientist and knew there were scientific explanations. Perhaps it hadn’t been bleeding deeply or the pressure, like a tourniquet, had stopped the bleeding. Maybe it had been essentially sealed before the bandage was removed, the warmth only heat from his hand. She would let it remain plagued by scientific premises. Now was the time to leave. “Got to run. Thanks for the poem.” Can we resume treatment tomorrow?” Adrian asked. Ann flipped through her appointment calendar. She marked him down for 10:00 AM. “Yes, of course.” Ann walked away wondering. She had known Adrian for eight years, but tonight he had given her a wonderful present and she suddenly saw him in a different light. WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? Adrian retired for the evening. Today's routine consisted of medicine checks with William Alter, therapy with Ann Cutter, painting and group therapy with Frank Jones. Adrian lay down on the bed, dimmed the lights and turned on some classical music. He practiced this routine for years. It normally lured him into a deep sleep. But as he drifted into dreamland, he was awakened by a terrible singing noise outside. "Since my baby left me, I have no place to dwell, I spend my time on lonely street, At heartbreak hotel." Adrian stood up and rushed towards the window. His melodious Bach was defiled by a horrendous rendition of Elvis Presley. He opened the window and examined the terrain. All he could see were a couple of cats and the light of a half moon. Then an animal appeared directly in the window path. At first glance, it looked like a German shepherd. It disappeared beyond the window view before it

dawned on Adrian - it looked like a coyote. Again Adrian heard a voice from nowhere singing. "I'm so lonely, Oh, I'm so lonely baby, I could die." Adrian recognized the tune as "Heartbreak Hotel". He needed to examine his perceptions. Was it a voice inside his head or a resident singing? Adrian yelled for his friendly orderly, Fred. "Hey Fred," cried Adrian. "Come here please." Fred rushed to see what the problem was. "What's the matter?" "Look through this window. Did you see anything? Perhaps a dog?" Fred looked though the window and around the room. "I only see a couple of cats." "Thanks anyway." Fred walked away and Adrian lay on the bed. His ears were again focused on classical music, but he heard a fading remark by Fred. "By the way," Fred called in the distance. "You do a pretty good Elvis impression." Adrian was curled over on his side, his rear extended near the bed's edge. If his eyes had been open, he probably would have seen a coyote walking around the room. The coyote opened his mouth and sank his teeth into Adrian's rear. Adrian was abruptly awakened from a semi-conscious slumber. "Ouch! Someone bit me in the ass!" cried Adrian, whose yell sent Fred running. Fred rushed over to see what was happening and found nothing in the room. Adrian pulled down his pants and Fred examined his rear. "What do you see?" "Nothing but small puncture marks, like small nail marks." "How did I get them if no animal were present?"

"I don't know. There is no bleeding. Have the doc examine them tomorrow." Adrian lay on the bed rubbing a sore posterior, thinking his psychosis was returning. He flipped the knob on his radio to the country station and was entering slumber when the voice interrupted him. "Hand me my blue Suede shoes." Adrian walked to the window and took a peek. He spotted nothing but two cats and moonlight. A few stars lit the blackness. "Anyone out there?" "No" "Am I hallucinating?" "I'm real. I'm the king." "Elvis?" "Thank you very much." "Who are you?" "Watch the outside garbage can." Adrian observed the can, never removing his bloodshot eyes from it. Then the lid slowly moved, revealing a coyote head. Then the lid lowered itself, leaving a puzzled Adrian. "Are you a coyote? Are you talking?" The garbage can echoed silence then started reciting poetry. "Water, Water, everywhere, And not a drop to drink! Where do I go to quench my thirst? But to the kitchen sink." "That's poetic blasphemy. It defiles the classics." "Calling Doctor Mariner. Calling Doctor Mariner.

Please report to rhyme." This poetic twisting confused Adrian. He demanded perfection. "If you're going to butcher something, at least be original." "When trouble comes a calling And you seek free advice, Meditate on a mantra Coyote Come is nice.

The answer lies inside you, Surprising is my land, A clue will be provided, With guidance close at hand. Sometimes I pay a visit, So unexpectedly! I really am of service Though dimly do you see." The poetry confused Adrian and he questioned whether his subconscious was generating this befuddlement. Tomorrow he would consult with Doctor Cutter. He waited for more poetic outbursts but none were forthcoming. He felt compelled to initiate a response. "More! More! I must hear more!" "Remember the poem, son. Adieu." Adrian pleaded with the garbage can, begging it to inspire him with poetic wisdom to check his perceptions. It was apparent the garbage can had put a lid on further outbursts of poetic metaphors. He needed a reality check and Fred would provide the grounding. "I need some help, Fred"

Fred came running over to aid his friend. "What's wrong?" "Did you hear anyone talking to me?" "No! I can't say I did, although it sounded like you were conversing with someone." Fred only convinced Adrian that his experiences were imaginary. Adrian would have ended on that note, except he needed reassurance that no animal was prowling. "Can you check the garbage can for raccoons?" "Hey, man. There are no raccoons out there." "Please! Will you check for me?" "If you promise to go to bed." Still, Fred was a cautious fellow. He used a broomstick to lift the lid and a flashlight to examine the porthole. He waited a minute or two to pacify Adrian that no tigers or wolves ere present. The mission ended with no animal attacks or sightings. Fred walked inside to say goodnight. "See! Nothing! But I need to report that cleaning woman." "Why?" Fred aimed the flashlight towards the floor and a few stray animal hairs. Fred picked them up. "Looks like dog hairs. Hey, man, it's against regulations." Adrian returned to Sleep with no animal interruptions. Tomorrow he would relate his experiences to Ann. WHAT’S WITH THE DOC? Adrian's appointment with Doctor Cutter was at ten o'clock. She seemed extremely interested in his tale of coyote antics and engaged herself in note taking, making eye contact when needed. It took almost twenty minutes to relate the details. Ann placed special emphasis was placed on recalling the poem's details. Earlier in the day, Doctor Alter had heard his tale and increased his medication. "Did I experience a hallucination or a spirit?"

"Perhaps neither!" "Should I consult with just a therapist or include a priest?" "Perhaps both!" Adrian found Ann more confusing than the Coyote. He thought she evaded the core issue - was this a hallucination or a spirit? He came to her for answers but she prompted more questions to surface. Now was the time for blunt confrontation. "If it's not a hallucination or a spirit, then what did I experience?" "An archetype." "What the hell is that?" Ann explained that archetypes are part of a psychotherapist's Jungian theories. Being primary unconscious ideas and images, they really belong to the collective unconscious. These images are inherited components mankind lives with. The collective unconscious is the unconscious aspect mankind collectively shares. Jung did believe in psychic phenomena - and Adrian's experiences crossed this border. "What archetype did I experience?" "The trickster god of Native mythology - Coyote." "Trickster?" Ann walked towards her reference library. She pulled out a reference work on mythology. She flipped through the index until she located the coyote reference. She wasn't sure if this archetype was good or bad, but the excitement of a live case drowned out her objectivity. "This archetype has character." "Such as." "He's a thief!" "Thief?" "He's an adorable buffoon."

"Adorable? He's deplorable." "He's also a glutton!" "Glutton? A pig?" "He's a notorious outlaw!" "Outlaw?" "And a lecher to boot!" "Lecher? Gads Ann. Does he have any redeeming qualities?" "He's a god, creator and hero. He's clever and cunning." "You mean I contacted an archetype who's both angel and devil?" "I'm afraid so. Please don't let that scare you. Focus on his good qualities." A CHURCH SURPRISE Dorothy Hessling cleaned St. Michael's church. Robert O'Connor, the resident priest, would invite her for tea. Today she would join him at 9:00 AM. Now she was clearing the church floor, ensuring that the practitioners would enter a clean holy area. The statue of Our Lady remained a beacon of hope. Many downtrodden approached Our Lady, praying for her intercession between God and Christ. Something descended from her hand, landing near Dorothy’s feet. Dorothy picked it up and immediately called Father O'Connor. "Father, come quickly. Come quickly!" Father Robert was in the rectory wing but could hear her voice. He ran quickly to aid her, arriving shortly inside the church door. "Dorothy, my friend. What is the matter?" "Look at this, father!" Dorothy dumped them into Robert's palms. Robert examined the contents. Two rose petals became a curious reflection of Dorothy’s excitement. "These are just rose petals."

"I know, father. But they came from Our Lady." Father O'Connor was confused and asked Dorothy to explain. "They materialized from Our Lady's hand!" "Maybe you're right, Dorothy. But there may be a scientific explanation. Perhaps a practitioner left them there." "No, father. It's a miracle." Father O'Connor had a big teatime chore. He needed to explain the difference between miracles and Science. He needed to explain that miracles must be verified and tested. It's easy to explain it to highly educated practitioners. The simple faithful would be a difficult challenge. RENDEZVOUS HAVEN’T WE MET SOMEWHERE? Doctor William Alter is dead; while Theodore Frisk killed another man, making Coyote is a hero and a villain. Adrian Albright is a wanted man and there's a huge reward for his death. The police seek to question him and killers seek to collect a huge bounty, prompting Adrian to wonder how his life turned upside down. It was eleven o'clock and Adrian was in slumber. Beethoven was playing his Song of Joy, luring him into a peaceful slumber. Fred was eating lunch in the cafeteria. The night stillness was disturbed by a horrendous singing voice. "Froggy went a courting and he did ride. Aha! Aha! Froggy went a courting and he did ride. Aha! Froggy went a courting and he did ride, He took Miss Mousy by his side," Adrian awoke and rushed toward the window. "Is that you, Coyote?" The outside garbage lid floated up to reveal a coyote head. A couple of seconds passed and the lid

closed over the garbage can. "It's me, kid. Want to see a frog?" "Shit, no! I seen enough as a kid" "This frog look's like a man." "This better be worth it!" "Get dressed, kid. Meet me at the pond." The pond lay in the wooded surroundings adjacent to the Montana Psychiatric Hospital. Daylight found many workers eating lunch and walking trails. Nighttime found desolation with the occasional sound of an owl. Adrian grabbed a pair of blue jeans and a flannel shirt. "Hey, kid. Put on Grandma Eden's tie." "That tie's horrible. It's blue stripes with white polka-dots" "This occasion calls for appropriate dress." "I wouldn't wear that to a clown convention." "Please, kid. It's appropriate for the occasion." Adrian really didn't feel like discussing that tie. He only kept it around for Grandma Eden's sake. Curiosity about the frog and lack of time prompted him to comply. "Where to again?" "The pond. I'll meet you there." "How do I get out?" "Door's open." Adrian discovered all the exit doors open. He knew the building terrain and walked the corridors softly, for this sounded crazy. If they caught him, who would believe a coyote led him to a frog? Doubts were creeping into his head. He wanted to turn around, but his curiosity nudged him on. He entered the outside and walked toward the pond. He was probably three hundred feet before a bush started whispering.

"Hey kid, over here." "Why are you whispering?" "I don't want to disturb the frog." "I don't want to go." "Let's play a game. If you win, you go over this bush." "Okay." "Rock, paper, scissors. Pick up the first object you see. A rock is a rock - stick is scissors - grass is paper. Go!" Adrian grabbed a stick lying beneath him. He raised it up and sighted a rock tossed from the bush. He knew the game rules and had to find the frog. Adrian walked the remaining distance, stopping behind a cluster of bushes. He stepped past the bush, only to be shocked beyond belief. Doctor Henry Alter lay horizontally across the ground. A man stood over him holding a handgun equipped with a silencer. Adrian knew he had been tricked and didn't have time to think. The apparent killer pointed the gun his way and Adrian turned and ran. He thought he would die but no bullet penetrated his skin. He ran deep into the woods, yelling Coyote. Damn Coyote! DAMN COYOTE!" REDEMPTION St. Michael's church heard confessions daily. Father O'Connor had heard every conceivable sin and rendered penitence and resolution. Today he is hearing confession from a psychiatrist. Father O'Connor was trained in both pastoral psychology and theology but was treading on shaky ground. No one in theology school had prepared him for murder. Two days later, Father O'Connor would find himself wondering how he could have saved this dead man. "What is your sin, my son?" "I murdered my wife, father." The rectory was silent for a moment or two. Father O'Connor briefly lost his composure. "Damn

"That is a grievous sin. Would you like to confess?" The confessor told a story about marrying a rich woman. He married her for money and the marriage fell on shaky ground. He hired a hit man to kill her and make it appear a robbery attempt. The police and insurance adjusters closed the case and never found a solid suspect. He kept paying the murderer monthly stipend. "Now you want to stop?" "Yes, father. My conscience is bothering me". "You are right to confess this hideous crime. Christ forgives all." "Thanks, Father. I feel much better." "Please confess this to the police." "I will, father, but I need to see the killer tonight." "Is that a good idea, son?" "Maybe not. But I feel compelled to talk to him." Father O'Connor could not persuade the confessor from confronting the killer nor could he coax him into naming the killer. Father O'Connor prescribed penance and forgave him with the authority of Christ. William Alter was extremely nervous at work the next day. Today he was seeing Adrian regarding his coyote experiences. "You taking the medication I prescribed?" "Yes" "I know Ann likes both holistic and Jungian approaches." "She told me to attend to the archetype." "Medication will adjust the problem." Alter worked late into the evening. It was near eleven o'clock and time to confront evil. William felt clean inside, having purged himself of the reoccurring guilt. He would turn himself in tomorrow but

tonight he would kill Theodore. He knew it was his word against Theodore's. Doctor Alter loaded his thirty-eight-caliber revolver and positioned it in his pocket. He walked through the hall hoping to avoid all contact. He bumped into Fred going to lunch. "Evening, Dr. Alter. Going home?" "No, Fred. I'm going for a walk." "Clear the head?" "Something like that." When William reached the pond, he had his hand in his pocket, holding the revolver. He looked around and saw nothing. Suddenly he scrunched over, his heart pierced by two bullet holes. THE VILLIAN Theodore Frisk, commonly know as Scorpion and Lenny Lewis, known as Butcher, were laying wreaths at the gravesite of Spike Martin. It would seem strange to outsiders. Scorpion was lighting a candle besides a small picture of Spike, the undisputed head of criminal operations for twenty years. He had been gunned down in a fight with federal agents. Scorpion and Butcher held the same reverence for Spike as Catholics held for Saints. Today Scorpion was talking to both Spike and Butcher. "I need your guidance, Spike. I remember how you helped us as kids. Took us in. Guided us. I need your help today." Butcher lit a candle and placed it near the picture. Scorpion knelt facing the picture. He lit a cigarette, took a puff and passed it to Butcher. Butcher puffed on the cigarette and positioned it next to the portrait. Butcher opened a beer bottle and emptied it around the portrait. This was their way of paying respect to a great figure. "What happened?" asked Butcher. "I aced the wife for a price. Now the shrink has a change of heart." "So you will kill him?"

"What choice do I have?" Both men stood up and honored Spike with a minute or two of silence. Butcher lit another cigarette and Scorpion whittled with a pocketknife. He completed whittling a wooden knife and inserted it into the grave. The plan was clear enough. He would park his bike a couple of miles away. After scouting the area, making sure no cops or security were present, he would hide behind some bushes. Then he would shoot Alter with a silenced three fifty seven Magnum. Scorpion spent the next several hours shooting pool. He had to keep a sharp wit and pool was the vehicle for mental clarity. At ten PM, he cased the area surrounding the Institute and he rode his bike into a wooden ravine and hid in a secluded patch of bushes. At eleven, he spotted Doctor Alter coming up the walk. When William ascended the pathway, Scorpion fired two shots through the heart. He stood over the dead body and prepared to depart. A man with a horrible tie interrupted his attention. He thought it was a mental patient that had witnessed the crime. Scorpion ran into the bushes and aimed the gun. As he fired, he felt a sudden push on his right arm, causing him to miss the target. He swept around to kill the intruder but found no one present. A quick sweep around the pond produced nothing. Scorpion retreated and would attend to the witness later. WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE? Two days had passed with news of the murder and Adrian's disappearance creating a sensation. Police performed an autopsy and experts matched gun ballistics. Local police felt themselves over their heads and secured state assistance. An APB was placed for Adrian. Scorpion quickly learned the witness's identity. He needed to silence him before police discovered him. A price of ten thousand circulated within underworld hideouts. Scorpion felt confident Adrian would shortly be found and killed. The only place Adrian knew safety was among the transients. ROBIN HOOD A MAN OF MYSTERY Who is Rumi Rosenkreuz? Folks in the town of Great Falls constantly ask that question. Some think

he should be committed to the Montana Psychiatric Hospital. Others say he is a con man. It's well known he preaches to the homeless and destitute. Many say he is a mountain man and a few feel he is a holy man. Tonight he couldn't care less about town gossip. He has some watches to sell to a passing wayfarer. A tired and ragged stranger approached, wandering in his alleyway. Rumi shoved open a suitcase and stopped the traveler. "Can I interest you in a Rolex? Only twenty dollars?" asked Rumi. Rumi had an imitation gold Rolex and positioned it under Adrian's face. "Hell, no." "How about an Omega? Two for thirty," asked Rumi. He positioned two Omega imitations in his face. "Get that junk away from me," yelled Adrian, pushing the case away gently. "How about a Radd? Three for thirty?" said Rumi, showing Adrian three imitation Radd watches. "Please quit with the watches, already," said Adrian. Adrian attempted to push the case away. "You can't pass up a Movado. Only fifteen dollars." He showed him an imitation Movado. Adrian stopped and pushed the case back. days without food and water. "I don't want a damn watch!" "I'll trade you that tie for a Burning bush." Adrian spotted a water jug and pointed to it. "Is that water fresh?" "Fresh as a mountain spring." "Let me drink my fill and you have a deal." The two performed a gentleman's handshake and closed the deal. Adrian opened the jug and emptied half. "Hey, son. Are you hungry? Care for some dried buffalo?" He spent two

"Thanks! I could use some food." "Have some more water, boy." Adrian opened the water jug. His face showed a mild confusion, eyeing a full water jug. He dismissed it to fatigue. "My name's Adrian Albright," he said, extending his hand. The older man extended his hand and he felt an extreme muscular grip. "Pleasure. Rumi Rosenkreuz." "Do you have a German or Middle Eastern background?" "I'm like the mutts - I'm a mixture." Adrian pointed to the Bible. "You read a lot?" "I preach, son. I uplift the downtrodden plebeians. Have some more water." Adrian opened a full water jug and he expressed extreme surprise. "What's the matter, son?" asked Rumi. "Should I fill it up?" "I'm just tired. My mind's confused." Rumi handed him a Burning bush with an embedded rose. "What's this?" asked Adrian. "Your exchange for the tie. Remember?" "But it's a rose - no – it has a rose," retorted Adrian. Rumi explained the color represented Christ's blood. The rose represented the divine elements of blood. He handed him some buffalo meat, which Adrian devoured quickly. "You look troubled, son. Care to unload your soul?" Adrian needed to talk to someone. He told Rumi everything, starting with his artwork. He told Rumi about the murder, Coyote, his fondness for Ann, and his illness. He talked of his doubts: Coyote's reality, his sanity, hidden healing talents, medications and his flight. Rumi sat silently for a spell,

striving to answer the troubled lad. "When was the last time you took medication?" asked Rumi. "Two days ago?" "Any hallucinations during your two-day flight?" "Can't say I did." Adrian was careful not to mention the water jug. Rumi exclaimed that he was cured. He went on to tell Adrian some unpleasant news. He had heard about the murder and the price Adrian carried. The news frightened Adrian and Rumi patted him on the back. He offered Adrian some more water. Adrian opened the jug only to find it full. He started to inquire about the water jug, but was interrupted by a figure approaching. A thug was approaching with a gun. "Well, look what we have here. Ten thousand bucks." The thug pointed his gun, preparing to kill Adrian and Rumi. Rumi raised the Bible up and spoke. "A moment of prayer, please." "One minute, grandpa." Rumi motioned for a minute of silent prayer. Adrian closed his eyes and prayed. He prayed for help and justice. He prayed for a painless death. He sat and waited for death. He waited. He continued to wait with eyes closed. He thought the minute was too long. He opened his eyes and sat in disbelief. Rumi was standing up and the thug lay unconscious, hugging the ground. "How?" "Drunk, son," retorted Rumi. "Confront that archetype. Get some answers. See that shrink." "What about the thugs? Won't others come?" "Never mind, son. I'll throw them off." Adrian knew he must find Ann and confront that damn Coyote. He started to depart when Rumi handed him ten hundred-dollar bills. "What? How?"

"Thug's money. You need it more than he does," said Rumi. "Will I see you again?" "I'll find you, son." Adrian fled the scene, determined to find Ann. Many questions and doubts floated though his mind: Perhaps he was cured of his schizophrenia. Maybe Coyote was more than an Archetype. Maybe the water jug did replenish itself. Perhaps the old man overwhelmed the thug. So many questions - so few answers.

HELP IS HERE? After Rumi helped Adrian overpower the thug, Adrian was supposed to return to Ann. Instead, he went to the Dry Gulch Oasis, a wayfarer inn for crooks and transients, to hide out from the thugs. Rumi went out to gather some friends, handing out money to lead criminals off Adrian’s trail. They were supposed to spread stories about seeing Adrian in various locations. The man rendered unconscious in his earlier encounter went back to the bar to review the evening’s events with his friends. The Watering Hole is a bar and grill catering to scumbags, thieves and other highway riff raff. Tonight, Daniel is relating his encounter to Barney, a fellow crook at heart. "I tell you, Barney, he floored me." "How?" Daniel talked about an easy killing and collecting ten thousand cash. An old man, who was mountain man and preacher, asked for a moment of prayer. Daniel felt it proper to grant a last request. He observed both men praying, the younger one closing his eyes and exhibiting an extreme sweat. He noted something strange about the old man's eyes. The eyes were like poppy seeds, inducing him to sleep.

"He hypnotized you - you idiot," Barney replied, lighting a cigarette. "Hell no! They tried before. Failed miserably." When Daniel was young, his father had taken him to a carnival. The amazing Presto Blinks, the master hypnotist, would hypnotize an audience member. "I will change," challenged Presto Blinks, "this young lad into a chicken." Daniel wanted no part of his smoke and mirrors. If he were to be hypnotized, then he wanted to be a lion or tiger. His father encouraged the lad to try for a promise of cotton candy. Presto Blinks tried two or three times. He made some lame excuse about a rare exception and transformed the next contestant into a chicken. "I tell you - I can't be hypnotized," replied Daniel, sipping a cheap, American brew. "Okay, you idiot. If he didn't hypnotize you, then how did you become unconscious? “I don’t know.” How did he rob you?" "He drugged me. He slipped me a Mickey." "How? You were ten feet from him." Barney recalled how a farmer hypnotized chickens. He rolled the critter face down and moved a pencil across his beak. The chicken was transfixed - stoned to the gills. When the pencil was removed from his beak, the chicken sprawled upright and continued his chicken ways. This same critter was so dumb; he told Daniel that if a fence was in front of him, he lacked the common sense to go around. "That's why you can hypnotize them. They're such dumb clucks." "Are you inferring I'm a dumb cluck?" "Hell no. Like the chicken, you didn't know you were hypnotized."

ANY FRIEND OF MINE Rumi finished conversing with three transient acquaintances. Homer, Henry and Harry were about

the three homeless musketeers. After handing them money to spread stories where Adrian was, he went into details about Adrian’s appearance. Homer mentioned seeing someone matching that description at the Dry Gulch Oasis. Rumi went off to rescue his friend while the transients discussed their new assignment and good fortune. Sometimes the trio stumbled upon a good bottle of ten-dollar vintage and swapped panhandling tales. "Hell," said Harry, "a good panhandler combing a bus station could clear two hundred a day." He recollected the story of his sick Aunt Francis. "Good for fifty clams." Henry swapped a sea story. He had a sick uncle stranded in Singapore, who needed some money for a passport, since his own had just been lost. "The man gave me a hundred bucks." About a month later, Henry told a man a story about his starving baby. Turned out his audience was the same fellow who heard his Singapore story. "How can I recognize everyone I trick with a sob story?" The bloke got mad and stopped a passing policeman and Henry received thirty days of lousy food. "I wouldn't feed it to a bum.” "One hundred clams. Easy picking," exclaimed Homer, sipping a bottle of cheap wine. “Let’s toast Rumi.” Rumi had given each one hundred. He told them to spread stories about seeing a man with a horrible tie. Create a ridiculous story about seeing him somewhere else. Throw the thugs off the trail. "Where does the old man get this cash?" asked Harry, grabbing the bottle and having a drink. "I heard he robs the thugs," said Henry. "Give me that damn bottle." Henry grabbed the bottle and savored the big gulp. "He's a mountain man. He can sneak up on a deer without them knowing it." The three men continued swapping stories, drinking budget wine and smoking bargain cigars. Homer struck a match across his boot and lit his stogie. He took a puff and passed it. His turn came to spin another yarn. His mother needed an appendix operation. Homer needed only a few hundred more to pay her

medical bills. One day, he passed the story onto a passing stranger. The man was well dressed and brimming with money. He nibbled at the bait, and then he turned and asked point blank, "Where is the appendix located?" Homer was taken aback and said something about near the heart. The man signaled for a policeman and they arrested Homer. The story listener was a medical surgeon. "Could have fooled me," exclaimed Homer. "It's downright dishonest. How can a panhandler make a decent living?" asked Harry. "That Rumi is different. He's not like us," said Henry. "How so?" asked Homer. "I can't say. Really! Rumi is just different," said Henry, taking another swig of wine. A full gallon of wine, costing ten bucks, would last the night. Tomorrow they would spread more Adrian sighting stories, but tonight they would share Rose, the woman who came in the bottle. HIDEOUT Welcome to the Dry Gulch Oasis, a hotel for Great Fall's impoverished ranks. A Canadian moose oversees the hallway, and women of the evening tempt patrons wandering by. The clerk plays country music and thumbs through Soldier of Fortune. Adrian secured himself inside for two days, masterminding his food delivery three times a day. He offered some lame excuse of health readjustment. The clerk couldn’t care less, as long as money kept greasing his palm. Adrian sat chewing dried beef and canned prunes. He booked his hideaway using a Slicker Smith alias. His most pressing concern was returning to Ann, but the thugs frightened him. He noticed his watch displayed five PM and his thoughts were interrupted by a voice from the intercom. "Gentleman here to see you," the clerk's voice echoed softly. "Who is it?" responded Adrian, perspiration dripping across his forehead. "A Mr. Rosenkreuz." "Send him up." Adrian had several questions for Rumi, but the knocking at the door drowned out his thoughts. He looked through the keyhole, noticed an elderly figure dressed in sunglasses and a suit,

carrying a large suitcase. Adrian opened the door, inviting the well-dressed gentleman inside. He invited Rumi to sit down and seated himself across from him. "I have some questions," Adrian said. "Fire away." "How did you find me?" "This was the only logical choice. I would hide out here." "Explain that water jug. It kept refilling itself. I'm sure it did." Rumi pulled out a Bible and quoted a verse from the gospel of John - "Except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe." He explained that God offered him signs to convert unbelievers. Rumi then opened his coat pocket and pulled out a camera. He placed it in Adrian's palm. It looked like a common Kodak. "What's this?" Adrian asked. "A spirit camera." "What?" Rumi pulled a picture from his pocket. It was a radiant picture of Christ. One day, when Rumi had picked up a film roll from processing, he found a surprise picture of Christ. Rumi mentioned one night he had a dream in which God informed him this camera could capture the spiritual world. "Would you like to borrow it a while?" he asked, offering Adrian the camera. "I prefer a way out without being noticed." "I have just the thing, son," Rumi replied, opening the suitcase. Adrian looked inside and immediately pushed the case back forcefully. "No way! No sir! No way!" "It's brilliant. It's foolproof," Rumi replied, pushing the open case back in Adrian's face. "It's absurd! It's preposterous! Worst idea I ever heard!" Adrian pushed the case back toward Rumi.

"It's a great and wonderful idea." The two wrestled back and forth, pushing the suitcase, each alternately gaining the upper hand. Finally a dress and wig fell out. "No way I'm dressing in drag!" "You’d rather be shot?" Adrian reflected upon his options and decided playing a living drag queen was better than being a bullet-ridden corpse. He rolled up his pants legs and slipped on the dress, a fashion relic predating the Civil War. The long hemline covered his hairy legs. The wig reminded him of a beehive with layers of dripping honey. He looked in the mirror, wondering if he were vaudeville player or a circus clown. "Where did you scrounge up this appalling thing?" "You like it? My family was in vaudeville." "Frankenstein would have second thoughts," he said. Rumi pulled his hand, motioning him towards the door. He reminded him that thugs were scanning the lowlands, hoping to collect an easy bounty. This was all the push Adrian needed. They exited the room, heading toward the lobby, only to be greeted by the desk attendant. "Man, as you get older, the pickings get slimmer," the attendant mumbled to himself. "Pardon?" ask Rumi. "I was just remarking on the beautiful lady," he said, turning to the bedecked Adrian. "What's your name?" "Alexandra," Adrian said, trying for a high-pitched voice. "I'll see you later, dear,” said Rumi. “Use the phone outside. Call your girlfriend, Ann." Adrian walked outside to phone Ann and Rumi exited through the fire escape. "Now I have seen everything. Grandpa wants a twosome," the hotel clerk mumbled to himself. LADIES OF THE NIGHT Felicity and April were outside the hotel, scouting for men, exhibiting cleavage and striking

provocative poses. They hung out for months, engaging transients and outlaws passing through town. Adrian passed by and put some change into the pay phone - aware the women were eyeing him. "Hello, Ann," he said in a high voice. "Who is this?" "Your therapy patient - the writer," replied Adrian. "Where are you? What happened to your voice?" "I'm in front of the Dry Gulch Oasis. I'm wearing that dress you like." "Dress?" "Can you meet me? I need your assistance," said Adrian. "Stay there and I’ll be right over." "I’m walking the streets tonight and want to avoid police. Understand?" "OK. No police! We will talk later." Felicity nudged April, signaling they should help this new lady, green to their profession. "What's your name, dear?" asked April, nudging Adrian's arm. "Alexandra," he said. “You must be new to this work. You got to ditch that outfit,” said April, “unless you do just kinky stuff.” "You need more sex appeal," exclaimed Felicity. She opened her purge and amidst a stack of condoms was some pink lipstick. She proceeded to apply it to Adrian's lips. "I'll kill that Rumi," Adrian mumbled. "Who's he?" asked Felicity. “A client?” "Let's help the girl screw a client," April said, applying some powder to Adrian's nose. Two men in a cab were cruising and stopped to chat with the ladies. "Hi, ladies," said the passenger. "What's the cost?" "Depends, honey!" replied Felicity, bending over to show some cleavage. "What tricks do you like?"

"What dirty deeds does the girl do?" the driver asked, pointing to Adrian. Felicity opened her purse for some chewing gum. Her arm tilted sideways and a batch of multicolored condoms dropped around the sidewalk. Adrian stooped over to pick them up. He tore open a green one and inflated it with a single exhale, securing the end with a sharp twist. The next unraveled package was a blue one, which he blew slowly and let sail away from his hand. The last package contained a red one -- he blew it up and secured the end with a bow. With condoms positioned in both hands, he gently rubbed the two together as the other ladies stared open mouthed in disbelief. Adrian pulled a red French tickler and placed it on his thumb. He walked over and touched the man’s chin with the condom. “You’re so cute,” said Adrian. The man was becoming agitated and tried to lunge out the window, while his companion restrained him. "I just got to have that woman," yelled John, the passenger. "Does anyone have a pin?" asked Adrian, giving a direct stare into Felicity's eyes. She opened her purse and pulled out a safety pin and handed it to him. "And now for my next trick." He opened the safety pin and proceeded to pop the condoms, one at a time. John watched the show with glowing eyes and wanted to get out of the car, but was still restrained by his friend. “Cool it, dude,” his friend replied. "That woman makes me hot," yelled John. "Just imagine what she does in the bedroom." Felicity took Adrian's hand and led him a few feet away, whispering into his left ear, "let me nail down the price." She returned with him toward the car. "What tricks do you like, sugar?" asked Felicity.

"Give me something spicy," replied John. Adrian needed to stall for time, hoping Ann would arrive to the rescue. He pointed to the broken condom and towards Felicity's purse. She understood his request for another one and handed him another. He opened it up, stretching it back and forth and proceeded to sing. "Way down upon the Swami River, Far, far away, That's where my love is turning silver, I hope that Ann is on her way." "She's my sunshine!" exclaimed John. "I just got to have her!" John's outburst stopped Adrian's singing, but the others stared at Adrian in disbelief. A Volkswagen emerged from the distance, bringing a smile to Adrian's face. It stopped outside the front entrance and the woman driver eyed the three girls and the two boys in the taxi. "Anyone seen Adrian?" asked Ann, rolling down the window. Adrian started in a fast pace toward the car - slow enough not to startle Ann but fast enough to escape his predicament. "I’m your asylum friend,” he said, when was ten feet away when. "Is that you?" asked Ann, expressing surprise. "It's a long story," he replied. "Let me inside and I'll explain." Ann opened the passenger side door. Adrian got in and said, “Floor it!” He waived to Felicity and jokingly blew a kiss to John. As they drove away, he explained the disguise, which he had needed to save his life. He went on to say he needed to get away. "Must be her lover," said Felicity. "She's so hot!" exclaimed John. COYOTE LAND THE LADY TO HELP

Adrian had much to tell as Ann drove the car. She needed to assess her client and formulate some conclusions as to his mental state. She would take him back to her house, twenty minutes away. Adrian talked about the murder, his coyote experiences, and his friend Rumi and the price the criminal world put on him. Ann knew a couple of state boys were aiding the local sheriff and the only conclusion the state boys had reached was regarding the type of murder weapon. To learn more, her job was to keep him talking and listen attentively. The Volkswagen reached the driveway. Turning in, Ann switched the motor off. She held a candy in her hand for Adrian, who grabbed it, tore open the wrapper and allowed it to melt in his mouth. She got out of the car and motioned for him to follow her. They entered the doorway, where she opened the door and switched on the light. Her gut instincts, based upon her eight-year history with him, told her Adrian that was safe. They entered the living room. She offered him a chair and seated herself on the sofa. "You really have quite an adventure there," she said, trying to maintain objectivity and keep Adrian calm. "Adventure? It's my life that's on the line!" he said. "Do you have any chocolates?" Ann excused herself and went to the refrigerator to obtain a half-empty box of Hershey's kisses. She returned with the box and offered him some. He grabbed a couple, opened them and lost himself in the delectable flavor. "What should I do?" He asked, gazing at her. "One of two options," said Ann. "Either seek help from the police or ask the coyote." "Shit! One option will kill me and the other will bring me to the asylum." “First change out of that dumb dress. My brother visits sometimes and he’s about your size,” said Ann. Ann went to retrieve some clothes and sent Adrian to the bathroom to change. He returned with

some men’s casual clothes, sporting an almost perfect fit. “Much better,” said Ann. “Not sit down and let me know what you want to do.” Adrian thought a minute. The police may not be able to protect him, especially with a steep price on his head. The coyote had put him in this mess and at least owed an explanation. He reached into his pocket, found a coin and flipped it. Heads would stand for the coyote and tails for the police. The coin landed on the floor, face up. "What are you doing?" Ann asked. "Making decisions." "What did you decide?" she asked, moving a bit closer. "To see the coyote," he said. Ann picked up the coin and turned it over. Her face was a bit puzzled and she flipped the coin back and forth, examining both sides. "What's wrong?" Ann handed the coin to Adrian, who turned it over and over. "Damn!" he said, putting the two-headed coin in his pocket. “How does he do that?” ENJOY YOUR FLIGHT A half-hour passed, with Ann asking Adrian questions in an attempt to assess his psychological makeup and sometimes she would phrase a question two or three different ways, trying to trip him up. “How are you feeling about all this?” she asked. “How does the murder make you feel?” she asked later. Yet pieces of the puzzle didn't fit. Coyote was going beyond the category of archetype, but appeared too consistently for a hallucination. Rumi has all appearances of a con man, but he had attempted to aid Adrian. Why? Ann decided to step away from the problem and allow Adrian to contact Coyote. Adrian sat upright in a plain chair, eyes closed and softly echoing, “Coyote, come.” His dozed deepened with each repetition and his breathing was shallow. It became harder to concentrate on the

words because the sound was making him sleepy. Finally, he dozed off, still repeating the words, “Coyote, come”, in his mind. He felt his body drifting, relaxing to repetitions of words so mundane and boring. He felt as light as a feather uplifted by a gentle breeze. A force was pulling him upward, but he saw no visible mechanism. His continual drifting finally subsided, bringing him face to face with a grassy landscape. He saw a tree stump in the distance with a coyote sitting on it. A surge of anger overwhelmed him and he rushed to tackle the coyote. Instead, he passed right through a holographic image and landed on his face. Adrian turned around and spotted another log with the coyote sitting on top. This time he would outsmart him by walking towards the log. Every time he ventured a step forward, the log ventured a step backward. A minute or two passed, with each step forward triggering the log to take a step backward. To vary the pace, he took a couple of steps backwards and the log matched the same distance in reverse. This dance with the log frustrated him. "Damn it! Quite playing games. Why did you set me up?" The tree stood still and only the silence answered Adrian. Finally, the coyote disappeared and the log started speaking. "If it weren’t for you, the killer would have staged a clean getaway." "Me? He wants to kill me, you idiot!" The log started bouncing. It continued to oscillate between ground level and a foot away from the surface. The more frantic Adrian became the greater the frequency of oscillation. Finally, Adrian became frustrated and clenched his fists in frustration. "Now cut that out! I need your help." "Why didn't you say so?" asked the log, which now maintained a still position at ground level. "Let's play trick or clue." "What in the hell is trick or clue?"

The log explained the game rules. Essentially, three cups would be mixed up on top of the log. Adrian was to pick a cup. Two of them would contain a trick and one would contain a clue. The clue would provide him with an answer. "Okay. Let's get this game over with." Three upside down Dixie cups appeared on top the log and began to rotate position. Adrian watched for a minute or two, trying to detect a pattern. Finally, he pointed to a cup. The cups stopped rotating and he removed the cup from the log. He spotted a paper inside it, which he picked up and unfolded, holding it up at face level. "Squirt? You mean I seek a little squirt?" A bottle materialized to squirt Adrian. "I mean a big squirt," said the log. Adrian wiped his face with one hand and felt it becoming redder. "Another round?" asked the log. "Roll them." The cups rotated again and Adrian, being a bit wiser, decided to allow about fifty seconds to pass before yelling, "Stop!" The cups lay motionless while he carefully pondered his options. Reaching for the middle cup, he lifted it up and carefully unfolded the paper inside. "’Bop’? What's a bop?" A rubber baseball bat materialized above his head and gave his noggin a couple of firm love taps. "Ouch! Damn it! That hurts! I quit!" Adrian rubbed his head with his hand. He started walking away, but the log stump kept following him. "All right, already. Quit following me." "Will you have another crack at it?" "Quit following me and I'll try again."

The cups appeared on top the log, this time rotating counter clockwise. He waited for just about a minute before lifting up his hand. He rotated his right hand slightly in a clockwise direction before pointing to the middle cup. Lifting the cup, he grabbed the paper and unfolded it. "’Poem’?" "Look for Skulls and Scooters, As the midnight bell does ring, Seek the skull of destiny, And hear its partner sing." "Enter the den of vipers, Seek out the music tune, A doctor there will help you, If you just grant a boon." Adrian scratched his head in wonder. "Okay, Mr. Log. Explain it." "Time to go." A door opened in the ground behind Adrian and the next thing he knew the log was bumping him through the door. He felt himself falling back into his body. "Damn Coyote!" he said, waking up. TEA FOR TWO Her teakettle was boiling and she was set to make Earl Grey - her favorite beverage. She was flipping through psychology texts, looking for answers to Adrian's experiences. Ann heard Adrian waking up and came running over. Adrian seemed groggy, as if awakening from a deep sleep. "You OK? Care for some tea?" "Please," He replied. Ann brewed some Earl Grey and came back with two steaming cups. She turned on a lava lamp and

then some new aged music. Adrian bobbed his tea bag up and down, keeping tempo with the music. A minute or two passed before Ann broke the silence. “So?” “So what?” “What did he say?” Adrian related his tale, providing details of the landscape, tricks and goings on. Ann sat, sipping her tea; her eyes were peaked but brimming with curiosity. She picked up a pretzel and started to nibble on it. Her hand reached over with a pretzel, placing it in Adrian’s hand. He gladly accepted it, paying particular attention to the texture and flavor. Finally, he got to the poem Coyote gave him. Ann listened intently and had him recite it twice. “What does it mean?” asked Adrian. “I know a line or two from the poem. Skulls and Scooters is that notorious biker bar.” Adrian chewed on the pretzel, biting it in half. He took a moment to examine his broken half. “Midnight. I should go there at twelve.” Ann leaned over and placed her hand on Adrian’s. She gazed into his eyes and stared softly. He responded by firmly grasping her hand and holding it. A minute or two passed before she started to speak. “This has been hard on you, hasn’t it?” “It’s been a nightmare of the highest magnitude.” Tears rolled down her cheeks, triggered by the memory of the picture Adrian painted and Adrian’s tenderness. She recalled how she entered psychology to deal with being dropped by a former fiancé. One day he left her, causing her to become depressed for months. Her fiancé abandoned her for a woman in Florida, who danced in a strip club. From then on, she was very guarded in her dealings with men. Adrian leaned over to comfort her and before he knew it, he gave her a light kiss. Ann did not resist

but gently accepted his savory gift. “I shouldn’t have done that.” “No harm done. I didn’t mind it – really.” Inaudibly to Ann but clearly audible to Adrian was a sound from the kitchen. “That’s my boy who said that,” echoed the Coyote. Adrian picked up some chocolate candies and threw them towards the kitchen. His antics did not escape Ann’s attention and she looked at him with surprise. “Why did you do that?” Adrian didn’t want to lose the majesty surrounding the moment but he needed to keep a pest in check. He needed to re-spark the moment and knew the truth was in order. “It’s that dumb Coyote,” he said. “Where is he?” “Out in the kitchen. I hope you choke on a chicken bone,” he yelled. “I thought he was your friend.” HOLLIDAY TIME WHAT A REVOLTING DEVELOPMENT THIS IS Doc was playing piano at Skulls and Scooters; a bar situated on the outskirts of Great Falls, accompanied by Bubbles, his monkey sidekick. Home to the biker gang Barbarians and Saturday night party time, on this particular night, the bar was, as he expected, filled with alcohol, smoke seeping through the cracks, cocaine inhaled in seedy corners and women catering to the base desires of men. What better atmosphere to explore his musical genius? Tonight Danny Holliday, better known as Doc, who provided tonight's piano entertainment. His mind drifted to recall his family. He thought about the original Doc, but realized he had a life is as colorful, except, of course, the famous one was white and he was black. His family, the collection of

scattered rejects, grew up around guns. Uncle Chester taught him hunting, criminal tricks came from Uncle Leroy, while Doc’s father played blues piano and passed down the legacy. Doc’s only companion, besides the ladies of the evening, was Bubbles. As he tapped some musical notes, he thought about his crowd of friends. Doc began hanging with the wrong crowd, selling his skills at intelligence gathering and firearms expertise. The Barbarians prize his firearm and information gathering skills, and his piano playing is the shining light of Skull and Scooters. And then there was Rooster, he thought. The Barbarians, Doc’s other adopted family, became acquainted with him through Rooster, the high school football pall, who used to drink beer, fight and chase chicks with. Rooster is a sporting friend who belonged to the Barbarians and gradually got Doc hanging out with them. As with all extended families, the Barbarians became mother, father, sister and brother to Doc. In fact, Rooster presented Bubbles as a gift to Doc for helping him beat up a Mad Dog member, the rival biker gang, who was making time with Rooster’s chick. The piano in the corner he played was a jet black upright Steinway, with a crystal skull positioned on top during performances. Doc had a fascination with death and he periodically uses it to inspire blues tunes he composes about death and destruction. Tony, the bartender, poured a shot of fine Scotch. Dianne, one of the servers, gave it to him to savor. A current rendition of "Smokestack Lighting" permeated the smoke filled room. A woman was strutting around his piano, flashing her cleavage in his direction. Doc was oblivious to everything except his fingers striking the keyboard and the music overwhelming his soul. Doc noticed a strange woman and man enter the bar and his life was never the same again. The man wore a red hunting jacket and a green Sherlock Holmes cap while the woman wore a blue dress. Their soft footsteps carried them to a far corner and he caught all they were saying. "This is a bad idea," said the woman. "And to top it off, you had me carry this stupid camera." Adrian watched the man coughing from the smoke and signaled the server, Dianne, over.

"Pick your poison," Dianne sneered. "Gin and tonic," said the woman. “What will you have Adrian?” "Sassafras tea," said Adrian. “You know I don’t drink alcohol, Ann.” "One gin and ton and one knockout special," said Dianne, rushing off before anyone could hear her response. Back by the piano, Doc ordered two drinks, one in a blue and another in a red shot glass. The waitress brought the drinks and set them on the piano. He gulped down the drink in the red glass, followed by the one in the blue glass. He turned to the audience and said: “The party begins when the Mexican ambassador meets the US ambassador: Jose Cuervo meets Jack Daniels.” Doc asked for requests and a young blond asked for Fever. Doc patted the skull with his left hand. “This one’s for you, Loretta.” “Shucks. I’ll bet you say that to all the gals,” the skull replied. Doc is surprised that it’s talking, as the skull was just a prop and had no hidden gismos to let it talk. Doc became fascinated with this new toy and thought someone played a trick. But he was surprised and tried to alleviate his tension with some subtle humor. “We have a comic ventriloquist,” replied Doc, staring around the audience to find the perpetrator. He thought the talking skull upset his monkey and noticed she became agitated. He watched Bubbles started screaming and jumping up and down, and walking in circles around the skull. “Go away, kid. You bother me,” the skull said. Doc reached for his thirty-eight and waved it in the air and the monkey began jumping on the skull. “That’s just a scare, folks. But if the ventriloquist spooks Bubbles, I will find him and talk privately outside.” He watched the monkey continue to circle the skull, trying to find the comedian. Finally she started to mellow out and sat on it. Doc put the gun away and started playing the tune on his piano.

“Spoiled brat,” said the skull, provoking Bubbles to hit it. Doc observed the two strangers, Adrian and Ann, in a dark corner, were sitting away from the crowd but close enough to watch the show. Adrian was eyeing everything with intense scrutiny. He turned to Ann and nudged her shoulder. “That’s the tune,” said Adrian. “If that’s the skull of destiny, then I’m a monkey’s uncle.” Ann started to snicker but Adrian gave her a gentle jab. “That skull talking must be Coyote,” Adrian whispered, causing Ann to be silent. While Doc tried to discover who the comedian was, he played Fever while the crowd’s attention was focused upon his fingers, opening up the arena with a melodious windfall. He alternated between high and low scale renditions. With fingers hammering the keyboard, he started to sing. “Never knew how much I love you, Never knew how much you care, When I put my arms around you, You give me Fever that’s so hard to bear.” Doc watched Bubbles dance around the skull, bobbing up and down “Ouch. My head hurts. I promise it won’t spoil tonight’s fun,” the skull said. He observed the crowd went wild over the combination of the monkey, skull and his musical skill. Doc bellowed out the chorus: “You give me Fever.” Doc continued to echo the chorus with the audience joining in; Bubbles grabbed the skull with both hands. She hopped back and forth across the piano top, smiling and holding the skull very close. “You dance divinely, my dear,” the skull whispered. Doc was observing everyone, feeling the rhythm of Fever and his voice echoing the Fever melody. Everyone paused – bikers, hookers and other misfits, and then looked at Doc and joined Adrian and Ann in an enraptured state. The audience started clapping along and joined Doc in echoing the chorus:

“You give me Fever, Turn on your love light, Let it shine on me.” Doc watched Bubbles place both paws on the skull and kiss it twice. The first kiss was quick and the second one lasted a couple of seconds. Doc, wrapped in his music, was observing the exchange between Bubbles and the skull. “We’re ‘hot’ tonight,” the skull exclaimed. “Let’s you and I get it on later, baby.” Doc pounded

on the keyboard, echoing out the final chorus of Fever. Everyone in the audience joined in singing the chorus. “You give me Fever, You give me Fever.” He observed Bubbles bow over and over as the audience resonated with tremendous applause. Patrons waved their drink mugs up and down, shouting, “Encore, encore!” “Bubbles, my dear. We make such beautiful music together,” the skull said. Five minutes passed and Doc saw Dianne return with two drinks and placed the smaller drink in front of Ann. As she left, Ann was stirring her gin and tonic. Doc watched Adrian pick up the tall blue glass with a skull logo. "Here's to you," Adrian said, taking a big gulp. He started coughing and wheezing and spilled his drink. Doc thought Adrian might not be drink alcohol, but tea, Doc chuckled to him, and knowing Adrian was unaware that Sassafras Tea was a code name for the house liquor special. The Sassafras tea was very potent and began to have an effect on him after about five minutes. Doc watched Adrian’s head shake and he walked with vision blurred. He looked disoriented and he stood up to clear his head. He looked at Ann and she looked back at him. He saw Adrian stumble and grabbed the table for support. Doc noticed Tiny, the leader of the Barbarians, was guzzling Jack Daniels and playing poker with

his pals. Doc knew nothing at the bar escaped his eyes and his glance turned toward Adrian. He knew Tiny never needed a good reason for a fight nor did he especially hate everyone he fought with. Doc thought Tiny was overcome by the desire to bust Adrian for ordering the house special, wasting good liquor, and having his stumbling insulted Doc’s music act. He watched him pick up a pool cue. “Hey, punk, “ said Tiny as he walked towards Adrian. Ann sat frozen with fear. Doc thought the alcohol in Adrian’s bloodstream prevented him from thinking clearly. He thought Adrian was attempting to clear his head. Tiny placed the pool cue over his head and angled the handle towards Adrian. “I don’t like you,” Tiny said. “In fact, I plan to bust your head open.” Adrian did not reply, which only infuriated Tiny. He swung the pool cue towards Adrian’s head. Adrian reacted on instinct, grabbed the cue and followed up with an arm lock, sending Tiny flying towards the floor. Doc saw this martial art demonstrated on TV and concluded it was aikido. Tiny, taken by surprise, was infuriated and he stood up and grabbed a chair. “I’m going to bust your skull,” he shouted. Doc watched Tiny swing the chair and Adrian sidestepped him, grabbed his wrist and swung Tiny onto the top of the table, spilling the drink and catching everyone’s attention. Normally it would be a fair fight, if fights in this bar followed the rules of fair play. Unfortunately for Adrian, as Doc knew, bikers ganged up on their victims. The bartender had his hand on a shotgun under the bar. He looked ready to have the fight taken outside. “The kid’s good,” Doc said to himself. Bubbles was sitting on the skull, but sensed her singing companion had disappeared. Tiny's biker companions were seated, ready to aid him anytime. Five of them had been playing cards with Tiny and while Doc eyed Tiny’s movements, all readied themselves with knives and brass knuckles. However, underneath the table, some shoelaces were mysteriously being untied and tied to another gentleman's shoelaces or the leg of the table. A mysterious voice started singing Blue Suede Shoes but substituting Swede for suede.

“It’s suede – not Swede,” said Adrian. “You’re crazy, buddy,” yelled a bar patron. “It’s the ventriloquist again,” said Doc. Doc saw two of the Barbarians pulled out knives and rushed towards Adrian. One tripped over the first, landed on the floor and pulled the table behind him. Another had brass knuckles on his right hand and tried to avoid the first two. His shoe was tied to the table leg and the table tipped over, crashing on the heads of the first two. The last two tried to avoid the fallen biker, but their shoes were tied together. They tripped on top of the table, tangling each other and falling down onto the floor. “Hey, you damn idiots,” said one biker underneath. “Get the fuck off of me.” “Holy shit,” said another. “Someone tied our shoes together.” The crowd’s attention was now focused upon the fallen Barbarians. Two were knocked out and the rest were disoriented. Their shoes were entangled and the table was broken into several pieces. Doc watched as Tiny stood up. Tiny pulled out a knife, pointed it towards Adrian and said: “Later, punk. We have some unfinished business.” Tiny went over to help untangle his fellow Barbarians. One red head had his shoelaces entwined with a table leg and when he attempted to stand up, the table leg hit another fallen one on the head. A bearded criminal had his head stuck in a chair and as he turned around, the chair hit another one in the stomach. Tiny started grabbing the broken pieces of furniture and tossing them away from his fallen companions. Tiny eyed Adrian, and Adrian appeared too stupefied, while Ann appeared frightened and remained glued to her seat. Bubbles climbed down from the piano and started walking towards the pile of broken furniture. She grabbed a table leg and started swinging. First she jumped on a Barbarian’s head and moved the table leg around. She dropped the table leg and started jumping between the shoulders of two Barbarians. She went over to a third and kissed him on the cheek. The kissed Barbarian picked her up gently and handed her to Tiny.

“Get on your feet, you idiots,” yelled Tiny. “How in the fuck did you guys get tangled so bad?” The Barbarians rose to their feet and Tiny grabbed the monkey and handed her to Doc. Tiny then reached for his knife and motioned for the other Barbarians to man some weapons. Adrian stepped backward with the six Barbarians stepping towards him. A sudden sound of a shotgun being cocked made Tiny stop and turn around. He saw the bartender pointing the shotgun his way. “What the fuck is going on?” asked Tiny. “Take it outside!” screamed the bartender. Tiny waited and stared in the bartender’s direction, but the bartender just kept still and pointed the gun. The only element able to affect the outcome was a bottle of Wild Turkey whiskey on the liquor shelf behind the bartender. The bottle was positioned over his head and an invisible force slowly began to propel it off the shelf, along with the song Turkey in the Straw. “Who’s that ventriloquist?” asked Doc. The bottle fell on the bartender’s head, knocking him out and causing the gun to fire. The shot grazed Tiny’s shoulder, so he yelled. Doc observed a flashing light turn itself on inside Ann’s purse. He saw her open the purse and pull out and examine a camera. The shot grazed Tiny’s shoulder, so he yelled and pressed one palm to the injury. From across the bar, Doc watched the blood begin to seep between Tiny’s fingers. Wincing, Tiny slowly pulled his palm on his shoulder. Doc observed Adrian’s left arm was showing spasms his right hand began to vibrate. “I can heal his shoulder wound!” Adrian announced. Doc’s mind flashed back to magic men his family went to. They claimed to work with spirits and thought about the ventriloquist. Perhaps the kid was a genuine healer and was another magic man. “Crap. We might have us a hoodoo voodoo man here, folks,” said Doc, addressing the audience, and feeling a bit excited over the prospect. “A woo do?” asked one Barbarian.

“A who do?” asked another Barbarian. “Shit, doc, my arm’s on fire!” said Tiny. “Let’s see what that little guy can do,” said another Barbarian, looking in Adrian’s direction. Adrian stood still while Doc pulled a thirty-eight out of his holster, as Doc was always ready to let guns do the talking. He flipped it around his hand and pointed it towards Adrian. “I want to see the hoodoo voodoo man,” said Doc. “You better be the real McCoy, son – else I will kill you for interrupting my music.” Doc signaled one waitress to watch Bubbles and another one would help Ann. He told the other bartender to get some whiskey, a couple of Barbarians to examine and help the unconscious bartender and Fred, a Barbarian who used to be a paramedic, to accompany him into the back room. He motioned for Adrian to follow him and grabbed the whiskey bottle. Doc had a change in plans, handed the whiskey bottle to Joe and holstered the thirty-eight. “Joe, take Tiny in the back and look after that wound. The hoodoo voodoo man and myself will see to the bartender.” Joe went with Tiny into the back room. Adrian went over with Doc to the bartender, who was still leaning on the counter unconscious. Doc examined the bartender’s head, looking for cuts and signs of glass embedded in the skull. He looked at Adrian, stood back and pointed his middle finger towards the bartender. Doc poured himself a shot of scotch and proceeded to sip it. His other hand was stayed on his holstered gun. “He’s yours, kid. Consider this a trial run.” Adrian laid his hands on the man’s head and a couple of minutes passed, with Doc observing both hands vibrate. Adrian lifted his arms away and the bartender began to regain consciousness and slowly looked around. “What the fuck happened here?” the bartender asked. “Shit. The kid’s the real McCoy,” said Doc. He went over and patted the bartender on the back. “The next round’s on me, gang.”

An overwhelming cheer came from the audience as everyone rushed towards the bar. Doc finished his scotch and motioned to Adrian to follow him. While an old-timer explained things to the bartender as he served drinks. Adrian and Doc slipped into the back room. “See that his girl gets special treatment,” said Doc to everyone, just before he closed the door. “You’re leaving me all alone?” asked Ann. “Just relax,” said Adrian. “Everything will be all right.” Doc closed the door and Joe was cleaning Tiny’s wound with a piece of cloth saturated in whiskey. Tiny was biting on a bar towel and blood was still flowing from his arm. “How’s the arm, Joe?” asked Doc. “Just grazed, but he needs a doc,” said Joe, still washing the shoulder with the whiskey-soaked cloth. Doc grabbed the whiskey bottle and took a sip. He slapped Adrian on the back with his right hand, saying,” this whiskey is cheap shit. But don’t worry. This hoodoo voodoo man will fix him up.” Tiny grabbed the pencil from his mouth and motioned Doc to pass the whiskey. He grabbed the bottle from Doc and took a big swig of a bottle labeled Royal Fire Water. He observed Adrian looking at the label and Tiny motioning for Adrian to come over and saying: “You better know your shit.” Adrian put his hands around Tiny’s shoulder while Doc and Joe watched, as Adrian’s body began to twitch. At first, it looked like a mild spasm. The body movements became more rapid and Doc thought he was witnessing a revival preacher. A minute or two passed as Adrian continued and a surprised expression flooded Tiny’s face. Joe’s face expressed an amazed look as the blood stopped flowing and the wound started to seal itself. “Well, I be damned!” said Tiny. “Where did he learn that hocus pocus crap?” “The asylum,” said Adrian, attempting to be truthful but not realizing the statement’s impact. Tiny looked dumbfounded and Doc and Joe just stood there, wondering if they had heard correctly. “What the fuck did you say?” asked Tiny. “I learned this in the asylum,” said Adrian. “That was before my escape.”

“The kid’s such a comedian,” said Doc. Tiny shook his head but Joe lit up a cigarette and extended the pack, offering a smoke to Tiny, Doc and Adrian. Joe grabbed a smoke but the others declined. Doc grabbed a lighter from his coat pocket and lit Joe’s smoke. “You know what, Doc,” said Tiny. “This kid’s cool. His shit’s cool. Fuck. He may even fit in.” Doc watched Joe check the shoulder again, expressing amazement that the wound had stopped bleeding and appeared healed, except for a visible scar. Doc knew Joe had seen many medical emergencies with the Barbarians. “I’ve seen gunshot wounds but never any that had healed instantaneously. Mind if I ask a few questions?” asked Joe. “I wish to have a private conversation with the kid,” said Doc, so the Barbarians left. “Send his old lady in,” said Doc, as the Barbarians headed for the door. “She’s not my old lady,” said Adrian. “She’s my shrink.” “Doc, you know how to pick your friends,” said Tiny. Tiny gave Adrian another surprised look and then departed with Joe. A half-minute passed and Ann opened the door. Doc noticed her looking around the room at a round table with a few chairs. Adrian and Doc were standing up. “Sit a spell,” said Doc. “Let’s get acquainted. I’m Danny Holliday, but folks call me Doc. Doc extended his hand to Ann and she shook it. “Ann Cutter.” “Hey Kid,” said Doc, turning to Adrian. “What’s your formal name?” “Adrian Albright.” As Doc took his hand, he noticed a Burning bush with an embedded rose showing though a buttonhole slot on his shirt. He became excited and pointed to the Burning bush. “May I see that?” he asked. Adrian removed the Burning bush from under his shirt, with the chain still around his neck. Doc

examined the front and back, carefully looking at the rose color. “Shit man, you know Rumi. He thinks you’re special, ” said Doc. “What is so special?” asked Ann. “He knows Rumi,” said Doc. “He’s my good buddy.” “Oh, brother,” said Adrian, appearing more bewildered than ever. “How did you meet him?” “Sid down, gang,” said Doc. “I’ll grab a beer and we’ll shoot the shit. Name your poison.” “Coke with lemon and lime,” said Adrian. “Red wine,” said Ann. Doc went to the door to the bar area and opened it. He whistled for Diane, who stopped her normal serving round and came over and take the drink order. “I’ll have a pitcher of beer,” said Doc. “A red wine,” said Ann. “Diet Coke with a twist,” replied Adrian. Diane returned with the drinks and Doc motioned for Diane to leave. She left the room and closed the door behind her while he poured the wine for Ann. Adrian dispensed the lemons and limes inside his Coke pitcher before slowly filling his glass, being careful not to let the foam rise too high. Doc spun a tale of helplessness and rescue. About two years ago, he was in crossfire between two members of the Devil Dogs. It was a trap and he would normally have shot his way out. Except that one of the Devil Dogs had decided to light a Molotov cocktail. Doc would have embraced his beloved death, except the member holding the cocktail bomb couldn’t move before throwing it. There was nothing that could explain his temporary paralysis, and it faded when he circled around him to insure he was disarmed. He turned to one side and saw a mountain man carrying a Bible. They became close friends, with them getting together regularly, believing Rumi was responsible for saving his life by disabling the bomber. The two members were renegades violating the Devil Dogs’ and Barbarians’ forged truce, as he would later turn them back to the Devil Dogs for disciplinary action.

“Some story,” said Ann, sipping her wine. “What’s your story, kid?” asked Doc, turning to Adrian. He related his story, referring to Coyote as a spirit guide but not referring to his physical manifestations. He continued to relate his story about the murder, escape and encounter with Rumi.

Doc appeared to be very interested in the story. Ann provided a few missing details regarding the police investigation and the need to question Adrian, bringing similar thoughts to Adrian’s mind. Finally his curiosity forced him to blurt out a question. “Should I have contacted the police?” asked Adrian. Doc was silent and suddenly burst into a round of hysterical laughter. He slapped his knees and responded like an addict in a Stooge convention. “Contact the police…” said Doc, and proceeded to burst again into laughter. A couple of minutes passed with Doc in hysterics. Ann and Adrian watched in complete surprise. “Sorry, kid,” said Doc. “I haven’t had a laugh like this in ages.” “I don’t get it!” gasped Adrian. “What’s so funny?” “It’s like putting mascara on a pig,” said Doc and succumbed to another minute of howling laughter. When the laughter died down, it was Ann’s turn to question. “What does mascara on a pig mean?” asked Ann. “It’s a saying of Rumi’s,” said Doc. “It’s putting cosmetic changes to fix a major problem. You see, kid, the sheriff is on the take. He’s the Curly puppet of Scorpion. ” “Scorpion?” asked Adrian, putting down his coke glass. Doc pulled a cigarette from his pocket and he glanced at Ann. “Do you mind?” “Please go ahead.” Doc lit the cigarette and took another sip of beer. “Scorpion’s a murderer. He’s a new renegade killer for the Devil Dogs but I think he has dangerous ambitions.” “He’s an assassin?” asked Adrian expressing mild surprise.

“It reminds me of a Rumi story,” said Doc, dragging on his cigarette before starting his story. “There were a fox and scorpion who met on a riverbank. The scorpion asked for a ride across the river. The fox, worrying that the scorpion would sting him, refused at first. The scorpion put the fox’s mind at rest by stating if he does, they’ll both die. The scorpion got on the fox’s back, and the fox started swimming. When they were about halfway across, the scorpion stung the fox. As the fox started to lose consciousness, he asked the scorpion why he stung him, since they now would both drown. The scorpion replied, ‘I can’t help it, it’s my nature.’ Quite a story, right?” asked Doc. “I heard it in Japan,” said Adrian, “from a Zen Buddhist monk.” Doc raised his glass to toast Ann and Adrian and proceeded to speak. “ I can help you with this problem in exchange for a favor.” “Name it,” replied Adrian. “I have HIV and the virus was just detected. Use that hoodoo voodoo healing and I will help you.” “You’re not serious?” asked Ann. “That’s a heavy trip. It may be beyond me,” said Adrian, showing apprehension. “Will you try, kid?” “A deal,” said Adrian, extending his hand to shake Doc’s. Doc proceeded to tell a couple more stories but he noticed Ann eyeing her watch. “Let’s fix this problem with Scorpion,” he said. “ Drink a few beers, shoot the breeze, play some cards and dice.” He stood up and signaled it was time to go back into the bar. “This may sound dumb,” said Adrian. “But how does enjoying myself solve my problem? Furthermore, I don’t drink, gamble or smoke.” “Not you, Adrian,” said Doc. “We go talk the matter over with Scorpion.” Adrian’s mouth almost dropped. A moment of silence passed before Adrian had the courage to speak. “But…But…” said Adrian. “ Leave it to me,” said Doc. “I’ll fix everything.” He extended his right arm and lightly slapped

Adrian on the back. “But…But...what about…” repeated Adrian. “No problem. You can thank me later,” said Doc. “Time for my music gig. You can thank me later, kid,” as he motioned the couple toward the door. Back in the bar, Doc asked Diane to reset the table for his honored guests and reached for Bubbles. He placed the monkey on the piano next to the skull. The monkey started rubbing her mouth across the skull’s surface while Doc turned to address the audience. “Ann and Adrian are my friends”, said Doc. “Since we were interrupted before, I will repeat my rendition of Fever.” The audience stood up and gave a thundering round of applause. Ann and Adrian watched from the corner table while Doc reached for the keyboard. Bubbles was becoming glassy eyed and staring at the skull with a lovesick expression. A Matter Of Spirit Adrian accompanied Doc home after a few musical songs and Ann headed back to her place. Ann had Doc’s phone number and knew the two of them planned on meeting Scorpion tomorrow night. She had trouble sleeping that night and spent considerable time tossing and turning. Saturday morning arrived and she found herself half-asleep. She dressed and went to fetch her newspaper from the

front porch. As she lifted the paper, she saw an envelope under it. Upon opening the envelope, she was surprised at the enclosed handwritten note: If you are seeking answers to spiritual matters, come to St. Michael’s today at 9 AM. Ann needed some answers to Adrian’s condition, so she purchased some strong coffee from a fast food chain and drove to Saint Michael’s church. She hoped to talk to Father O’Connor about the note she thought she wrote. Ann parked her car in the church lot and went inside in the dimness of the sanctuary. She saw a woman walking back and forth, looking at the floor. She watched for a minute as the woman walked around a statue of Mary. Figuring she may have lost something, Ann said, “Did you drop something?

Can I help you?” The woman seemed oblivious to her and continued searching. Ann finally walked over to where the woman was looking and bent down so the woman would notice her. “Have you lost something?” Ann asked. “It only happens for me, you know.” The woman started moving her arms up and down and Ann began to wonder if she suffered from mental illness. The person was in her forties, dark brown hair, and glasses and was about five foot six. “Who are you?” asked Ann, extending the hand toward the woman. “My name’s Ann.” “My name’s Dorothy,” the lady replied, breaking open a candy bar. “Care for some?” “Sure,” said Ann, extending her hand. Ann broke the candy bar and gave Dorothy half, which she proceeded to eat while bent over, still searching the floor. Ann watched as Dorothy ate the candy bar and circled around the Mary statue. “Where’s Father O’Connor?” asked Ann. Dorothy finished chewing a bit of chocolate and looked up for a moment. “In the rectory,” she said. “He will return in a few minutes.” “What’s your problem?” asked Ann, ever the psychologist. Dorothy sat down and related her story. “ I was a Christian Scientist, following the healing church of Mary Baker Eddy and witnessed many healing miracles until I married my current husband, who was Catholic. I converted to the Catholic faith and prayed to Mary, Christ’s mother. On my altar at home there is a picture of Mary Baker Eddy, who is my patron saint. This caused much conflict with my husband and the priest, because Mary Baker Eddy was not a canonized saint or even Catholic. One day, I had a vision in which Mary Baker Eddy instructed me to go to Saint Michael’s and look for rose petals with healing properties near Mary’s shrine, put them in water and drink the combination. I believed that the petals materialize from Mary’s hands. The first time I found them, I drank the rose water myself and was cured of the flu overnight. Each Wednesday, there are rose petals and I’ve been looking for them when you arrived.”

“The petals are over there,” Ann said, noticing petals on Mary’s hand at the same time that her purse suddenly flashed. She realized she had forgotten to remove the camera and it must have gone off again. “Have you told Father O’Connor?” asked Ann. “Yes. He said to wait and see and it is too early to tell. My Christian Scientist friends think I am a heretic.” At that moment, Father O’Connor came in and smiled at the two. “Good morning, ladies,” he said. “Can I help anyone?” “Did you write this note, Father?” asked Ann, holding out the note she received that morning. “I didn’t,” he said. “Perhaps a friend wrote it.” “I don’t recognize the handwriting,” said Ann. “I don’t know, Ann,” he said. “But you are welcome to stay and talk, if you wish.” Ann felt no need to stay and she thanked Father O’Connor and said goodbye to Dorothy. Father O’Connor walked back to the rectory and Dorothy gave the rose petals to Ann. “For me?” asked Ann. “Please keep them,” said Dorothy. “I think Mary wants you to have them.” She walked over to the shrine of Mary and Ann placed the petals in her purse. Ann opened the door and headed down the flight of wide stairs. A beggar on the stairs wearing sunglasses and holding forth a tin cup stopped her. “Alms for the love of Allah,” he said. Ann was puzzled and tried to brush past him. “Alms for the love of Allah,” he said again, grabbing her arm. Ann jerked her arm out of his grasp and stared at this panhandler who was so bold as to touch her. He was wearing a long black cloak, which he pulled tightly around him, but she could see Levis and a pair of black cowboy boots peeking out of the hem below.

“Allah is the Christian god,” sneered Ann, dropping a nickel into his cup. “You’re standing outside a Catholic Church.” “No! Allah is Arabic for God and God belongs to all people,” he said. “I have both Arabic and German blood in my veins. Anyway, you look troubled. Care to talk?” His weathered face cracked a faint smile. Ann laughed in spite of herself and then gasped softly. The beggars sparkling lack eyes held her gaze, radiating a love and compassion she hadn’t felt in a long time. She would have just brushed it off, except for the burning bush with the embedded rose embedded under his partially buttoned shirt. Adrian had told her there was only one burning bush like that in the world. No, this can’t be Rumi! She thought. But then she noticed the hypnotic eyes Adrian described and know without a doubt that Rumi was standing in front of her. Her heart leapt to her throat as she realized that she might be in danger. She knew Adrian vouched for her but her training as a therapist told her to proceed with caution. Don’t tell him anything personal! Maybe if I mentioned Adrian’s name. But Rumi’s eyes were so hypnotic – were luring her into releasing her mind’s secret. “I have this friend called Adrian,” she said. “Does a spirit trouble him?” Rumi asked. “Why yes,” Ann replied. “An animal spirit.” She was a bit puzzled by his knowledge but remembered Adrian had mentioned that he had confided in Rumi. “Do you like this guy?” asked Rumi. “Why yes…sort of,” she replied, wondering if he might be psychic. “But the animal spirit is what concerns you more,” he said. “So?” asked Ann. She decided to take the plunge. “If Coyote is not a Jungian archetype or a product of Adrian’s imagination, is he a demonic spirit?” “None of those,” said Rumi. “He’s neither a spirit of heaven or hell, but an earth spirit. He’s been

around since the beginning of time.” Ann was puzzled at Rumi’s words but due to his handling of the question, felt he had some wisdom others lacked, so she proceeded to ask more questions. “What is happening to Adrian?” asked Ann. “Go back to his first visions and you will have your answer,” he said. The words puzzled Ann and she decided to reflect upon them later. “Is he cured? I can’t find any symptoms of schizophrenia,” said Ann. “Did this Coyote cure him?” “The Coyote did not cure him and you will find a heavenly spirit cured him,” Rumi said. “You have a souvenir from her.” Ann realized he was referring to the rose petals. Now she was more confused then ever. She needed some more answers about Adrian. She remembered the vision Dorothy had told her about and wondered about the figures she saw. “Do Christians have visions now?” she said. “Did Rip Van Winkle sleep? Is now any different than two centuries ago? Jacob Boehme, a Lutheran shoe cobbler in Germany, looked into a water bowl and he was flooded with spiritual knowledge. Clarence Fox, the Quaker, was saturated with light in the midst of darkness. Emanuel Swedenborg, a scientist, was flooded with visions of heaven and hell. Meister Eckhart, a Dominican, had a vision of God’s omnipresence.“ Now Ann was beginning to wonder if the beggar might have some spiritual insight. She wanted to ask more questions, but Rumi motioned that he needed to leave. A nearby car horn distracted Ann and she turned her head. She turned back around and the beggar was gone. She opened her purse to get some gum to soothe her nerves and noticed the camera was missing. She saw the note she picked up that morning and decided to read it again, but the contents were even more surprising. “I need to take back the camera to develop some pictures. Tell Doc and Adrian I will be in touch shortly,” said Rumi.

“How did he do that?” Ann asked herself. MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME IT’S MY PARTY The time was 9 p.m. and the annual Devil Dogs bash was going to start soon. The Devil Dogs and the Barbarians were on a friendly basis because of an established truce and it wasn’t uncommon for them to attend each other’s parties when they weren’t fighting. Tonight, Butcher, the head of the Devil Dogs, and Scorpion, the Devil Dogs’ chief assassin, were discussing both the party arrangements and the problem with Adrian – his witnessing a murder committed by Scorpion. “How does he do it?” asked Scorpion. “How does he end up making friends with Holliday, that crazy mountain man Rumi and become friendly with the Barbarians?” “They think he’s a crazy

rebel,” replied Butcher. “Like in that book, by Kook-away called Dumber Bums. He’s like that beatnik poet Ginsburn.” “It’s Darned Bums and Ginseng”, said Scorpion, attempting to remember his literary works. “He’s a role model to them,” Butcher replied. “Like that writer Salamander. Oh…what did he write…Oh, yes…Ketchup on the Rye.” “But how do we handle him?” asked Scorpion, drinking a drab American brew and puzzling over the turn of events. “That’s the brilliance of it all,” said Butcher. “He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he rats, hey, he’s a mental patient and no one would believe him. If he’s silent, then we continue with business as usual. ” “And I have an alibi,” replied Scorpion. “I was playing cards with some of the boys. Nothing is pinned on me and the Barbarians would consider him a stoolie and wipe him out for us.” “Remember,” said Butcher, “Humor Doc…Appease him…He’s a buddy of mine.”

Tattoo, one of the Devil Dogs, who drums up new business, was responsible for engaging the escort services. Normally they engaged two or three escort services and five women from each service for the annual bash. One of the usual prospects had been yanked away to attend a political convention at the last minute and Tattoo needed Butcher’s approval for any new acquisitions. He stopped by and related this last-minute snag. “What should I do?” asked Tattoo nervously, knowing he would be killed if enough female entertainment were not provided. “What are the choices again?” asked Butcher, pulling out a cigarette and lighting it while appearing lost in deep thought. “It’s a choice between Heavenly Ecstasy and Sinfully Delicious,” said Tattoo, overwhelmed by the demanding decision facing him. “Shit, it’s easy,” said Butcher. “Both names sound good. Hire them both.” By eleven, the party was rolling and bikers were engaging in conversation by the bar. Some were in the back, snorting cocaine and smoking weed. Others were talking with the escort whores, arranging a time for fun. Some were playing cards and shooting dice. Eleven thirty found Doc, Adrian, and Bubbles arriving to join the festivities. Everyone knew Bubbles and she was a welcome guest at all Barbarian and Gladiator functions. Butcher came over and made the introductions. “Doc, so nice to see you again. You remember Scorpion,” Butcher said, shaking Doc’s hand. Scorpion, in turn, shook Doc’s hand. “My friend Adrian,” said Doc. Adrian was a little nervous as he shook the hands of Butcher and Scorpion. If Sodom and Gomorrah arranged tours, this would be their first bus stop. If Noah paired these goofs with the animals, the animals would commit suicide. Noah would have a good reason to get drunk afterwards. The skunk would have thought her suitors were coming out of the woodwork.

They’ll probably kill the porcupine for toothpicks and string up the goose for a doorbell. The poor sheep couldn’t sit down the entire trip, he thought. “Let’s shoot the shit a while,” said Butcher. “Sit a spell and guzzle some brews.” Doc and

Adrian joined Scorpion at a table, while Bubbles played with a bag of peanuts near the bar. She liked to mimic the dancing or make faces at the bikers. Tonight she would have her own escort. The ashtray next to her caught her attention as it spoke to her in language only chimps could understand and only she could hear. She held the ashtray with an affectionate grip. “Hey, kid,” said Coyote, “Let’s liven up the party and have some fun. Grab that book of matches and meet me under the table by the bar.” Bubbles was delighted her companion had come back to play. She grabbed the box of unattended matches and snuck under the table, unnoticed by anyone. When she was underneath, she noticed the matchbox contained the persona of her friend. “That shoe has a hole in it,” said Coyote. “Let’s have some fun.” Bubbles watched as the matchbox in her hand opened itself and a match floated out, positioning itself inside the shoe’s hole. Another match floated out and lit the first one. She watched, as the match kept burning closer to the foot. Suddenly, out of the din of conversation, a roar erupted. “Damn! Son of a bitch!” Scumbag yelled, pulling his foot up to see what was causing the sudden pain. The movement caused Bubbles to panic. She ran out from underneath still holding the box of matches, and scurried over to Doc. Scumbag came over to discuss Bubbles’ behavior, while Doc held the frightened Bubbles and Adrian sat silently, figuring out what happened but not wishing to alert anyone to Coyote’s presence at the party. “That crafty monkey gave me a hot foot,” said Scumbag. “I didn’t know she could do that.” “That surprises me,” said Doc. “She’s smarter than I thought.”

While Butcher and Scorpion were focused upon Scumbag, Adrian tried hard not to let his face turn red. That Coyote is playing Bugs Bunny, he thought to himself. “You sit and behave yourself,” Doc

said, looking sternly at Bubbles. Bubbles gave a smiley face and sat silently by the table. Doc knew it was time to discuss Adrian’s situation. He lifted his beer glass and said, “We need to talk, my friend. My buddy here is still a live target.” Doc gave Scorpion a look that said -- “I mean business.” Scorpion noticed a couple women of entering the stage. He knew the floorshow was starting and business could wait. He raised his whiskey glass and all the bikers followed suit. They yelled snide comments like “Wow, baby” or “Shake that butt.” Adrian just sat there, wondering how he got into this mess. But he practically had a panic attack when Scorpion stood up and yelled, “Let’s have Doc play some tunes for the strippers.” The bikers were cheering in unison while Moose, a keyboard player, unpacked his electronic keyboard. “All right folks,” yelled Doc. “You guys pour the drinks and I’ll crank the tune. How about Fever?” While the bikers raised their glasses and cheered, Adrian sank back in his seat. I’m stuck in this dumpy bar, next to Genghis Khan trying to kill me, watching strippers, while my protector, Quick Draw Mc Draw, is playing piano and Son Number One is playing tricks. I feel like Alfred Hitchcock is the master of ceremonies. Doc walked to the keyboard, plunked down his drink and motioned the strippers over toward him. He kissed one on the check and another on the mouth. The strippers -- Juicy Jane and Sexy Susan -gazed at the audience provocatively. Doc motioned them over towards center stage while he played the keyboards and sang. “Never knew how much I love you, Never knew how much I care,

When you put your arms around me, I get a Fever that’s so hard to bear”. Juicy Jane danced around a center pole and took off her top piece. Sexy Susan squatted down, moaning slightly and slipped a garter to a nearby biker. “Oh baby”, he yelled, “let’s play together tonight.” “Later, Hon,” Sexy Susan said sweetly, shining her bedroom eyes around the room while Doc continued the concert. “You give me Fever. Fever, in the morning, Fever all though the night.” A biker standing near Sexy Susan yelled, “Oh baby, save some Fever for me.” She gave him a teasing look and turned to the biker adjacent to him. “Oh, sweets,” she said in a sexy tone, “give me some sugar.” Sexy Susan turned her rear towards his face and shook it back and forth. The biker and his companions were heating up. Some eyes were focused on Susan and the others on Jane. Now Doc was oblivious to everything but the music. The sirens of Olympus could dance seductively around him and he would ignore their enticements during his gigs. He melodiously echoed another chorus. “You give me Fever, You give me Fever.” Scorpion momentarily forgot Adrian had seen his murder antics and said to him, “Hey kid, those babes are hot! That Doc can crank out a tune.” Adrian’s mind started to drift, filled with rambling thoughts. What am I doing here? This is nonsense. A party for the Jessie James gang with chicks dancing to seductive music. The Lone Ranger

playing for this den of hedonistic pigs. Jack the Ripper standing beside me – enjoying this party. That weird Coyote causing trouble – playing Professor Dingbat. And the monkey…Bubbles…becoming the understudy of Coyote. Adrian started looking around the room, looking for the monkey. A lump ran down his throat. It was like looking for a misbehaving dog that hides in the closet chewing a shoe. While Adrian wondered about the monkey, Bubbles was sitting underneath the bar. Coyote was talking to her though a drink glass, in a telepathic language she understood. “Reach into the jar. See the firecracker? Good! Hold the jar and matches and we will have some fun!” The jar lid floated down towards the floor. The matchbox opened up and several matches were lit. A few dozen firecrackers floated towards the matches and the fuses ignited. While the audience was focused on the strippers, an invisible force pushed several firecrackers softly onto the floor area. Bubbles -- not knowing what to expect -- held some firecrackers and matches. The next few moments seemed like an eternity for Adrian. He was the only male not making bedroom eyes with strippers or lost in a Fever tune. He watched and cringed as each lit firecracker landed on the floor – some landed near strippers, others near bikers, and one right by Scorpion. The firecrackers exploded, disrupting the music and strip teasing. Jane and Susan screamed, creating a confused climate. Scorpion and Doc had guns pulled and eyes swept the room, looking for party crashers prone to attack. Igor, the Devil Dogs’ security chief, thought he heard gunshots and panicked. One moment he was gulping beer and whiskey chasers and being frisky with strippers. Now, guns pulled, he ran across the room. “We’re under attack! Take cover!” he screamed. “Igor says hide,” another Gladiator yelled. Doc ran toward Adrian and pushed him down. In a moment of existential dread, Adrian was situated between his protector and greatest enemy. He started reflecting on his dilemma. Who

dreamed up this party, anyway – Rufus T. Firefly? I’m so frustrated. My feet are hurting and I’m stuck. Professor Moriarty is on my right and Sherlock on my left with Dr. Watson sitting between them. If they fire at each other, guess who ends up a pincushion? Where’s Goofy and Tinkerbell? Igor and the security detail swept outside and found only a lap dog and alley cat. Frustrated, Igor looked inside for unfamiliar faces. The same ugly mugs were present and all the escorts had been checked beforehand. A full two minutes passed with no noises. Bubbles emerged from behind the bar, carrying firecrackers in her right hand and a matchbook in her left. Igor looked straight at Bubbles and started laughing. The bikers and escorts turned toward Bubbles and Igor and started cracking up. The next few minutes had the party crowd erupting in hysterical laughter. “You little stinker,” said Igor laughing, as he picked up Bubbles. “You’re full of piss and vinegar tonight.” Doc emerged from Adrian’s table, walking toward Bubbles. Igor handed Bubbles over to Doc, who cradled her with extended arms. Doc removed the firecrackers and matches and handed them to Igor. Igor held the firecrackers and matches up while Doc held up Bubbles, who was making faces over the unexpected attention. “Folks,” said Doc, “Bubbles will be a biker yet.” Adrian sat down – noticing Scorpion calmly watching the show. Now what? Next Chop-Chop invites me for a drink. I don’t want to be Humpty Dumpty, shot off the wall while Coyote teaches Bubbles to be Chicken Little. Who’s that Igor character? He reminds me of the Mad Hatter having a bad day. Here I am – Peter Pan partying with Captain Hook, protected by Sir Lancelot who knows the Wizard of Oz, while Merlin and Toto entertain everyone. And those ladies aren’t Goldilocks and Red Riding Hood. Who are the Devil Dogs anyway? They’re misfits that Tolkien’s enchanted forest would spit out. Wonderful!

The crowd rolled in hysterical laughter. Igor, taken back by events, was initiating the beer dunk ritual: bikers would laugh for ages and empty beer cans over each other’s heads. Doc carried Bubbles over to join Adrian and Scorpion. He sat down, lowered Bubbles toward the floor and waited for the beer dunk to subside. Then he turned to Scorpion and said: “You know, my friend, my pal here has some trouble. Can you help him?” Scorpion pretended he was imitating the Thinker. He looked first at Adrian then his eye shifted in Doc’s direction: “I hear someone put a contract on him. Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about that.” “Of course,” said Doc, returning the glance. “But can you help my pal or shall we dance the Tango?” Scorpion again postured deep thought. He allowed a minute or two to pass. He poured a shot of whiskey and offered his guests a drink. Adrian politely passed and Doc took a shot, toasted Scorpion and both promptly drank the shots down. “Doc. Seeing I have respect for you and the kid is cool, consider it done.” “You’re a pal. Let’s seal it,” said Doc. “How do you seal it?” asked Adrian, wanting to seal the deal. He wondered why Scorpion gave in so easily but would think it through later. “We smoke a cigar together,” replied Scorpion. “But I don’t…” he stopped when he felt Doc tapping his shoulder. “The kid said that he doesn’t mind. Now let’s get a cigar.” Doc fumbled in his pockets, but only produced a cigarette case. Scorpion looked into his coat without success and Adrian kept his fingers crossed because he hates smoking. Doc felt a tugging on his pants leg. First he ignored it but the tugging continued. He glanced down and eyed Bubbles. Her

eyes twinkling with a mischievous gleam, her left paw pulled on Doc’s pants and her right paw held a cigar. “What’s this?” asked Doc, holding up the cigar for all to see. “A cigar. Bubbles is Einstein.” Adrian began to worry about a tampered cigar and hoped to stop the smoking ritual. He looked at Doc and said, “We can’t smoke that cigar.” “Why not?” Scorpion asked inquisitively. “I’m supposed to smoke first.” “Well …perhaps…the monkey handled it. It may be contaminated.” “Kid’s got a point,” said Doc. Doc put the cigar down and Scorpion promptly picked it up. He looked at the label and exhibited a faint smile, which caused Adrian to worry. “Shit. This is a Cohiba.” “A what?” “Cuban,” said Doc. “Let me see.” Scorpion handed him the cigar and he positioned it under his nose, smelling the pleasant aroma and feeling the texture. He looked at the label and his eyes lit up. Bubbles looked exhilarated and Adrian wanted to crawl beneath the table. Doc held up the cigar and said, “it’s a Esplendido. Among the best -- highly illegal, of course.” “Of course. Let me light it,” said Scorpion. “No!” yelled Adrian. “Kid,” said Doc. “This is good. Why not?” “Yea…why not?” inquired Scorpion. “Because…because…because Bubbles probably put it in her mouth,” he said, happy that he had applied quick thinking to a difficult situation.

“Kid’s got a point,” said Doc. “I’ll get one,” said Scorpion. “Hey, Moose.” Moose heard his name and walked over. “Yes?” “Give me a cigar. Take this one and ditch it.” Moose gave him a cigar and took the Cuban. He walked to the coffee table where Igor sat for guard duty and put the cigar next to a Jack Daniels bottle. He picked up a stale donut, soaked it in vodka and devoured it. While Moose enjoyed his snack, Scorpion lit the stogie and savored the first puff. He enjoyed the cigar, relishing its flavor and inhaling in a long, slow rhythm. After a few puffs, he passed it to Doc. Doc examined the cigar, looking over its wrappings and smelling the burning tobacco. He mouthed the cigar, surrendering to the savory puffs. After inhaling deeply a few times, he passed it to Adrian. Adrian took one puff and started coughing. “Sorry”...cough, cough…”I’m not used to”…cough, cough…”cigars.” “Heaven takes getting used to,” said Doc. “Kid needs some time,” said Scorpion. “Look. Butcher is gonna select a tune.” The trio continued to smoke, with Adrian not inhaling and adjusting to the stinging tobacco. If I don’t smoke this, I will be killed. If I smoke this, I will be killed. Is it better to die a quick death or a slow one? Slow. Didn’t Curly once enter a contest for the Coffin Nails Cigarette Company? I either smoke this or they nail me in the coffin. What tune is Butcher getting? Butcher, the Gladiator’s leader, walked over to Moose. Butcher always concerned himself over his boys’ enjoyment. He wanted some sexy tunes to go with the mood. Moose, finished with his vodka soaked donut, welcomed the interlude.

“Hey, Moose,” said Butcher, “The boys need to party down with the whores. See that they get some sexy tunes.” “No problem, boss,” said Moose. He looked through his CD collection, trying to find an appropriate CD. He fumbled through rap and rock tunes trying to find something sensual. None seemed to fit and he was getting frustrated. If he didn’t find a tune, the boss would kill him. He had started to panic when Bubbles climbed next to him, holding a CD. “What’s this?” he asked himself. Bubbles extended the CD to him and he looked at the label – Sexy Tunes. “Shit,” he said, “Butcher will be so happy.” He put the CD in, cranked up the volume and waited for the mood tunes. Bubbles immediately scrambled away, leaving Moose alone to take the fall. The Beer Barrel Polka music began to blast through the hallways. “Doesn’t sound like a sex tune,” Moose said to himself. Everyone stopped and looked at the CD player. Adrian and Doc looked for Bubbles and found her beside their table. Butcher sauntered over toward Moose and started yelling: “I said a sex tune – not a Polka tune.” “But Butcher,” said Moose, “the monkey chose this. Blame the monkey.” “You’re right,” said Butcher. “A monkey did choose this. Now get that fucking CD out of there.” Moose pushed the eject button but nothing occurred. He turned the volume down but nothing happened. Butcher was watching the antics while the polka tune kept blasting. “Nothing works,” said Moose. The CD player kept on playing the Beer Barrel Polka. “Hey Mojo, “ yelled Butcher. “Get over here and fix the CD player.” Mojo was the fixit man and excelled at electronic gizmos. He tried pressing the eject button but it didn’t work. The volume knob was also broken and his fumbling only intensified Butcher’s anger. “I’ll need time to fix it,” retorted Mojo.

“Unplug the fucking doohickey then,” Butcher said. While Mojo looked for the plug, Moose leaned against the machine and triggered the ejection mechanism. The CD ejected and the tune stopped. “It’s working now,” said Butcher, “let’s see that CD”. Mojo removed the CD and handed it to Butcher. He examined the label and (clearly) read the title Polka Tunes. “Hey Moose,” he yelled. “Read this label. What does it say?” He shoved the CD towards him and he looked at the label. “Damn it,” he replied. “It says Polka Tunes. But I know it said Sexy Tunes.” “Speaking of sexy tunes, “ said Mojo. “It’s time I polka some sexy tunes. Get my drift?” Butcher picked up the CD and smashed it against the floor. He examined the CD collection and picked one out. After handing it to Moose, he engaged an escort in conversation. Mojo went over to another escort, happy that his turn for fun and fantasy would start. Moose scratched his head and looked at the broken CD. “It did say Sexy Tunes,” he said to himself. HOT TIME IN THE OLD TOWN TONIGHT Some of the boys were breaking the dope out. Piranha, Killjoy, and Claw, three enforcers from Gladiator ranks, were breaking in some new cocaine. In the corner, Bubbles had a slight smile. Her right paw held a bottle of Hellfire hot sauce, the hottest sauce around. She watched, waiting for the reaction from the cocaine sampling party, when they tried a Coyote substitute laced with hot sauce. “This is good shit,” Piranha said. “Snort this shit and feel the rush.” He snorted some cocaine, putting it under his nose. He smelled the cocaine and his face lit up. His mouth opened and the cocaine and hot sauce worked simultaneously, producing both an euphoric and an intense burning sensation. Shortly, the burning sensation overtook the euphoric sensation. Piranha, screaming “Holy shit,” scrambled to the washroom. Bubbles scurried into another room, unseen by everyone, leaving Killjoy and Claw looking at each other – befuddled.

“Crap,” said Claw, “that shit must be dynamite.” “Fuck, man,” said Killjoy. “I get the next hit.” Killjoy snorted the cocaine and the color was reddish white, which he had never seen in cocaine before. “Wonders of modern chemistry,” he said, raising his hand and snorting the coke. First he felt a numbing and euphoric sensation, followed by an intense burning. It took a few seconds for his brain to register. “I’m on fire,” he yelled and ran toward the washroom, leaving Claw looking on in amazement. “Must be a new high,” said Claw, wondering about the new experience. He too snorted the powder and dispensed with the ritualistic movements his companions took part in. He felt the cocaine dancing its tango of euphoria and numbness on his tongue, dulling his brain with its pleasure granules. The fire kicked in, causing his mouth to water and his eyes and tongue to burn. He rushed to the washroom to join his companions, drinking water. “Great shit,” said Piranha, now that the fire had dulled in his water-cooled palate. “Cool crap,” said Killjoy, putting his mouth under the sink faucet. “Let’s hit some more shit,” said Claw, his mouth under another sink faucet.

WHAT A CARD Another room was dedicated to porno films and gambling. While some boys were watching porno flicks, Barracuda, Ox, Hook, and Deadbeat played poker. Spike had a system where he passed leading cards, slipping them under the table to Ox, his partner. A slight of hand here and a wrist twisting there would create a winning hand or two. Ox would signal via eye moments his preferences, and Barracuda would accommodate his needs.

Barracuda read Ox’s signals for an ace and another for spades. He casually slipped the card under the table for Ox to reach. Under the table, Bubbles was hidden with a card deck. She grabbed the Ace of Spades and watched it float from her hand into the deck. She watched as another Ace of Spades floated from the deck into Ox’s hand. Barracuda then slipped an Ace of Hearts under the table. Bubbles grabbed the card and watched it float into the deck. Another Ace of Hearts floated from the deck into Ox’s hand. Bubbles then kissed the table goodbye, with nobody noticing her – they were either too busy watching porno flicks or focusing upon the card game. Ox slipped out two cards and put the aces in his hand. He grinned and folded his cards down. “Four of a kind - I win,” he said. Hook looked at the cards and said, “You’re a stinking cheater.” Barracuda was upset that Ox had been accused of cheating. He walked over to Hook, looked him straight in the face and said, “How dare you accuse Ox of cheating! What proof do you have?” Hook grabbed the hand Ox had and held it up. “What’s wrong with this deck?” “I don’t see anything wrong,” said Ox. “Nothing wrong? Nothing wrong?” screamed Hook. “The card backs have pictures of naked women. Two of those cards have clowns wearing red and green outfits.” “Clowns?” asked Deadbeat. TIME FOR THE FIGHTS A GOOD SMOKE Adrian, Doc, and Scorpion finally finished the cigar. Adrian, though green from puffing the cigar, found redemption in a french fry, cooked by this cuisine cook – Grease Pit. While Doc and Scorpion were shooting the shit, Adrian was contemplating the philosophy of a french fry. Oh, the mouthwatering succulence bathed in scrumptious ketchup. How my mouth waters for this tasty delight. His

thoughts were momentarily interrupted by a noise from the next room. “You called me a cheater, you son of a bitch!” Crash. Where was I? This savory taste makes my mouth water in ever-flowing secretions of saliva, savoring this splendid order of steamy delight. Oh, I can just picture it now. My mouth bites into this tasty morsel and I am transported into waves of sensual bliss, forgetting the cares of everyday concerns. Again, he found his thoughts briefly interrupted by a disturbing noise. “You called me a cheater, you dirty mother…” Crash. “I’ll fix you – you bastard.” Crash. I keep getting interrupted. This delightfully shaped morsel, dipping in this wonderful sauce, makes an excellent addition to my stomach cavity. There, my hunger pangs are soothed by its delightful texture and appealing flavor. Oh, how I can extract the essential elements of taste, smell, and touch, delighting in the sinful pleasure of this wonderful appetizer. Again, Adrian heard the noise and Doc and Scorpion, looking where the noise originated, interrupted his thoughts. “Call me a cheater, you miserable…” Crash. “Take this, you…” Crash. Butcher rushed toward the room, yelling, “Igor, Moose, Mojo, Scorpion, Vulture! There’s a fight in the next room! Let’s break things up!” Scorpion rushed from the table, leaving Doc and Adrian behind. Curiosity bit Doc’s arm and he strolled into the adjacent room with Adrian following behind. When they arrived, the fight had broken up. Moose and Mojo pushed Barracuda and Ox apart while Scorpion and Vulture pushed Deadbeat and Hook apart. Butcher tried to get to the bottom of things while Igor held some mace up to insure things remained quiet. Bubbles, acting like the innocent bystander, moseyed over toward Doc’s side. “What happened here?” asked Butcher. “Barracuda and Ox were cheating at cards,” said Hook.

“What proof do you have?” asked Igor. Deadbeat explained what happened and brought over the two aces and the dealing deck and showed them to Butcher. Butcher eyed both the naked women and the clowns decorating the back. Then, looking at Barracuda and Ox, he held up the two clowns. “Now look,” said Butcher. “This is our annual bash. You boys go into another room until everyone cools down. Remember this – if you’re going to cheat, you fucking idiots, make sure the decks have the same back markings. Is this clear?” “Perfectly,” said Barracuda. “I get the picture,” said Ox. “Deadbeat…Hook…You boys drink some beers and cool down. We’ll talk about this matter another day? Is this clear?” “Crystal,” said Hook. “No problem,” replied Deadbeat. Only Adrian figured out what had happened and he wouldn’t tell anyone there. Except for a

few minor tricks here and there, the party followed its typical format of drug taking, drinking, sexual licentiousness, and gambling. The only redeeming features for Adrian were the French fries and the deal with Scorpion to keep Adrian’s head intact, almost. Everyone left before the rooster crowed, though some party animals gave the rooster a shot of cocaine and he ended up crowing through the day and well into the next evening. PARTY AFTERMATH The Gladiator’s clubhouse was a three-story brick house, owned by the club and heavily fortified with video cameras, motion sensors, radios scanning different police channels and other state of the art equipment. In order to identify potential killers making clubhouse raids, they kept a video record for twenty-four hours of clubhouse activity – both inside and outside the club. Scorpion, after reviewing some tape footage, was having a meeting with Butcher, Igor, Mojo and Moose the afternoon following

the party. “This you have to see,” said Butcher. “Watch this firecracker display.” Mojo rolled the projector, slowing it down with frame-by-frame showing. The others sat in clubhouse seats, watching several firecrackers come from behind the bar in different directions simultaneously. Moose watched with a puzzled expression. “I don’t get it. I thought this might be a snuff film. Instead, I see a monkey playing Uncle Sam,” said Moose. Butcher shook his head and turned to Scorpion. “Help me out here.” Scorpion took three knives and held them in his right hand. He aimed for the opposite wall and threw the three knives together. They landed inside the wall panel about three feet apart. “I don’t get it,” said Moose. “I threw the knives and they land three feet apart. The monkey throws the firecrackers and they land several feet apart. It’s impossible for a monkey to do that,” said Scorpion. “Maybe she’s a Twilight Zone monkey,” said Moose. “The only Twilight Zone is between your ears,” said Butcher. Moose attempted to understand Butcher’s answer but quickly he became confused. Before he could interrupt, Scorpion butted in. “I examined the tapes and found the monkey present when each trick was played. She is hiding behind the bar or under a table. The video monitors can’t see all these places. Either she is very lucky or someone is directing her.” “How can they direct her?” asked Igor. “Radio transmitter,” said Butcher. “But if he has a transmitter, our receivers would pick it up,” said Igor. “Maybe Adrian is a magician – like Houdini,” said Butcher. Scorpion was thinking of the magician angle and remembered his hand being pushed away when

attempting to shoot Adrian. Moose was attempting to think and blurted out an idea. “Should I follow the monkey?” “No. I don’t want you to follow the monkey!” replied Butcher, becoming a bit annoyed by Moose. “Should I ace the monkey?” asked Moose. Everyone was silent and Butcher appeared lost in thought. He turned around and looked Moose in the eyes. “Brilliant plan. Ace the monkey. Let’s see now…Irk Doc, the deadliest shot around…Scare off Adrian, after we have him where he can be watched…Drag the Barbarians into a war with us… Wonderful idea…When can you start?” “How about tomorrow?” asked Moose. Butcher started pacing back and forth. He was fuming inside but knew he needed Moose for his size and strength to do the club’s dirty work. He stopped pacing, poured himself a shot of whiskey and gulped it down before going over near Moose and speaking again. “No…I don’t want you to ace the monkey. Don’t even think of following the monkey! I don’t want you to even date the monkey. Stay away from the monkey.” “Jeez! I’m just trying to be helpful,” said Moose, appearing a bit dejected. “Look fellows, “ said Mojo. I know surveillance electronics like my ass. We have hidden microphones all over the club. If Adrian talked to the monkey, Security would hear him.” “Point taken,” said Butcher. “But what about non-verbal cues?” “Non-herbal clues,” said Moose a bit surprised. “Like what they put in shampoos? I like the commercial with the woman having an organism shampooing.” Butcher poured and drank another shot of whiskey, attempting to remain calm. He turned to Scorpion and said, “You explain what I mean.” “If Adrian moves a hand up and down, it could tell the monkey to do something,” said Scorpion. “But how did he signal the monkey from the main hall into the gaming room?” asked Mojo. “This guy is either just an innocent bystander or more clever and dangerous than he seems,” said

Scorpion. “I vote to leave him be and keep a sharp eye on him.” The others nodded in agreement to leave everything quiet for the time being. After the discussions were finished and everyone else went home, Igor stayed around to attend to some clubhouse business. He bent down to tie his shoe and noticed something on the floor. Picking it up, he discovered it was a cigar. His eyes fell upon the label and he recognized the quality. “Who would let a good Cuban go to waste?” he said to himself. He placed the cigar under his nose and appreciated the smell. His mouth greeted the cigar with warm anticipation and he reached for his lighter. He flipped the top open, ignited the lighter and lit the cigar. BAD MOON ARISING A TIME TO HEAL Doc, Ann, and Adrian were hanging out at Doc’s pad, a two-story condominium, with a full basement and a beautiful view. Doc’s jeep was parked in the attached garage and Bubbles had full run of all floors. Tonight, Doc was entertaining company. Adrian and Ann arrived around five, the day following Adrian’s first biker party. Tonight was a night for business. Adrian was preparing for a healing session and relaxing himself with some Aikido forms. Doc was engaged in a solitary chess game in a corner, with Bubbles watching from an easy chair. Ann was engrossed in a paperback, which caught Doc’s eye before a knight-takes-pawn move. “What book is that?” inquired Doc. “Actually,” said Ann, “it’s a national bestseller, all about a magic notebook. It’s very well written and an instant hit.” “Only problem, dear,” said Doc, “Is that those books don’t reflect reality. Hey, kid, he said looking at Adrian, “what’s taking you? I waited so long thinking that the Knight’s horse needs to piss.” “I need to relax my mind,” said Adrian. Doc and Adrian had briefed Ann regarding the party, but she kept wondering about the cigar and

what happened to it. Adrian told her about a call Doc received earlier this morning from Butcher. Doc seemed to have smoothed things over but kept Adrian in the dark. Adrian had told Ann about the party and she was thinking about the cigar not getting smoked. “Doc!” exclaimed Ann. “What happened to the cigar? “ He moved the black knight over toward the white queen, confident he had her cornered – momentarily forgetting he was playing himself. His fingers picked up a white pawn, fumbled it between two of his right fingers and looked closely at the game. He really never lost a game playing solitary chess and really never won a game, either. But his fingers put the pawn down to answer Ann’s question. “Igor wanted to kill Adrian because he found the cigar and smoked it. That cigar produced smoke like a volcano in heat and smelled like the Hulk swallowing a box of help-me-shit medicine.” Bubbles couldn’t contain her laughter and started a monkey’s laugh track that lasted for two minutes. She danced around the chair, first clockwise then counterclockwise. Doc kept waiting for her to stop and her monkey eyes noticed him watching. Her mouth smiled faintly and she felt as guilty as a mongrel caught chewing a prized shoe. “You behave yourself or they can make a stew out of you,” said Doc sternly. silent nun, pretending to contemplate the nature of good behavior. Doc returned to the game. Chess taught him to relax and focus on his own wits. He rarely found any bikers who fancied the game so he usually ended up in solitary tournaments. He seemed to play chess more often recently – typically to divert his mind from his ever-present illness. He had seen his share of hokey pseudo-healers and genuine hoodoo voodoo men, but none matching the kid’s potential. The kid could make a difference, if he ever finished his Aikido crap tonight. “Can you hurry up?” he said. “ My fingers are callused from playing chess.” “If the cigar smelled worse then Igor,” exclaimed Ann. “Does Igor still want to kill Adrian?” “No, my dear,” said Doc. “ I convinced them a troublesome Gladiator was trying to set him up. It sounds more logical than Tarzan and Cheetam doing a career change as magicians.” Bubbles sat like a

All this was not wasted on Adrian. He wondered what the cigar really consisted of and was happy not to endure its smoky consequence with Scorpion. For some reason, he couldn’t get flowers out of his mind. Each time he practiced an Aikido form, a flower appeared in his mind’s eye. When he practiced another form, the flower stuck in his mind like a mosquito playing Zorro with a victim’s ass. No matter how he attempted to dislodge this image, it followed him. Finally he was compelled to yell out: “Does anyone have any flowers?” “Certainly not for you,” said Doc. “Ann is a different story.” Bubbles left the table and walked over to Ann’s purse. She started pulling on the purse and Ann pulled it back. The monkey then grabbed the handle, attempting to open it. Again Ann pulled the purse away, puzzled by the monkey’s behavior. “Keep away from my purse! Go buy your own,” shouted Ann. Doc and Adrian soon became absorbed in the give and take of purse playing. A couple more pull and tug sessions occurred before Ann became curious about what Bubbles wanted. So she opened the purse and allowed her to inspect it. “Next she’ll want me to buy her a dress,” said Doc. Bubbles grabbed Ann’s pink lipstick container and opened it. She sniffed it, thinking it might be candy. Tossing the lipstick aside, she grabbed a vanity mirror and looked at herself for a moment or two. Her eyes caught her face’s reflection and it brought a smile. A few seconds passed and she set the mirror down. Her paw grabbed an envelope and she pulled it from the purse. Her eyes lit up and she handed the envelope to Ann. “That’s it,” said Adrian, stopping his Aikido forms and coming over for the envelope. A rose sitting in a glass of water flashed into his mind when he spotted the envelope. “Wait a minute,” said Ann, looking surprised. “How did Bubbles pick this envelope and why did you ask about flowers?” “Gal’s got a point,” said Doc. “Since Bubbles started hanging with you, she acts as wild as a flock of

roosters caught in the Texas chainsaw massacre.” “I don’t know,” Adrian answered, pulling open the envelope and seeing some rose petals. He turned to Doc and said, “Bring me a glass of water.” Doc went to the kitchen adjacent to the living room where his guests were seated. He grabbed a clean glass and poured cold tap water into the glass. Returning promptly, he put the glass on the coffee table next to Ann. Adrian put the rose petals into the water glass. Bubbles sat quietly, observing everything and Ann put her lipstick and mirror back into her purse. “What is this for?” asked Doc. “You trying to make that Indian flower drink or make me a flower child?” “Neither,” said Adrian. “I’m trying to cure you.” “Hey, Ann,” said Doc. “Where did you get these flower rejects?” Things were moving a bit too fast for Ann and she was a bit bewildered. First, a woman in the church had given her the flower petals and said Mary’s statue had materialized them. Then Adrian requested flowers. Next, Bubbles just happened to grab her purse and pick out the envelope containing those

same flower pedals. Finally, Ann burst out with a loud voice,” I got them from a lady. She said they came from a statue of Mary and are used for healing.” “This stuff sounds like something Lovecraft would dream up,” said Doc. “Let Adrian have some to time to find his day and connect it to the sun,” said Ann. “OK, kid,” said Doc, “what do we do now?” “Sit in this chair and drink the water containing the petals,” Adrian told him. Doc drank the water and sat in the chair. Adrian’s right hand started to vibrate and he felt the energy coursing through Doc’s body. He then felt a different sensation. There was an expanding and contracting motion. The contracting energy was condensing the virus and the expanding energy was exploding it up. Adrian felt the rose water Doc had drunk acted like a conduit for the energy flowing through him. About five minutes passed with Doc sitting quietly and Ann and Bubbles observing

Adrian standing over Doc. Ann couldn’t see any signs, except for Adrian moving his hand and Doc’s body shaking. Finally, the energy circuit was complete and no energy flowed through Adrian anymore. “How do you feel?” asked Adrian. “Like I swallowed a vibrator and joined Ben Franklin for his kite trip,” said Doc. “The virus is gone,” said Adrian. “Now wait a minute!” Ann shouted, standing up and looking straight at Adrian and Doc. “Please don’t tell me the virus is gone! It can’t be! It just can’t.” “It is gone,” said Adrian. Adrian calmly accepted the situation. Doc was hoping it was true and Ann was looking for a scientific explanation, but none was forthcoming. Bubbles, unconcerned about the whole affair, walked over toward the chessboard, seated herself in Doc’s seat and looked at the game pieces, pretending to be the descendent of a Bobby Fisher gene. “If the virus is gone,” said Ann, “then it’s a miracle. You need to run a test to be sure. Too many weird things are happening tonight, if you ask me.” “Miracles are mirages to me!” said Doc. “I can take Hoodoo Voodoo healing, but not pop-in-thetoaster miracles. I need more signs to tell something really happened.” Bubbles dropped the empty glass on the floor, prompting the three to clam up. Before Doc could say anything, Bubbles picked up a white knight and placed it back on the board again. Doc walked over to the chess game and stood with his mouth open. Ann wondered why Doc was puzzled. “Did she beat you again?” asked Ann, jokingly. “Beat me?” asked Doc, looking more puzzled. “This little squirt just checkmated me!” “Impossible!” said Ann, rushing over to see for herself. “Did you teach her that?” He didn’t answer her question and looked over at Adrian. Ann, too, glanced over at him, looking for an explanation. Adrian, lost in his own thoughts, felt he needed a chewy candy. On the coffee table near him, there was a bowl of caramel and taffy. While everyone was watching him, he pondered this

important decision: Should I eat a piece of taffy or a caramel? Finally, he opted for eating a piece of each. Finally, he spoke to the group: “Whoever is helping me is helping Bubbles.” “Is it the Coyote?” asked Ann. “No,” said Adrian. “Healing doesn’t involve him.” “Then who?” asked Doc. “ Zorro and the singing bandits?” “Seriously,” said Adrian, “I don’t know. Maybe the lady… Wait! I need to see the statue. Can you take me there?” Ann thought a bit and looked into his eyes. “Tomorrow. Let’s go to the church tomorrow. One more thing,” said Ann. “Let’s locate Rumi. He knows more then he’s telling.” “I can locate him,” said Doc. “But if he doesn’t want to talk, then you may as well speak to a parrot with laryngitis. But one good thing is happening.” “What’s that?” asked Adrian, curious about to the good news. “As long as Butcher is alive, your biker problems are over.”

FOR THE BIRDS The parrot, Polly Morphine, is the only one who wishes to talk. Butcher is dead – he’s as dead as Jacob Marley talking to Scrooge – as cold as Scrooge’s heart. The evening started out rather routinely. The Devil Dogs partied at Pirate’s Cove -- a combination Country and Western bar, pinball arcade, hooker haven, and hangout for the swearing parrot (the owner’s pet). Scorpion and Butcher were chug-a-lugging beers and discussing business expansion. The conversation turned to an artistic difference. Butcher wished to continue the truce with the Barbarians, while Scorpion preferred a modern artistic expression – he suggested painting a portrait entitled Battered Barbarians and signing it, please don’t steal the daisies on your way out. Unfortunately, the artistic difference triggered an artist’s quarrel and Butcher, dead from multiple

stab wounds, was in worst shape than Vincent’s ear. Scorpion had grabbed a knife and Butcher, attempted to keep the knife away, ended up the dead knife holder. Curly Ouster, the owner, was a Gladiator friend and benefactor. He thought a passerby had seen the fight and would report it to the local authorities, Sheriff Goober Garrison and his deputy, Hack Hickman. Goober was on the take, but Hack liked to ask silly questions and could make things sticky. The sixty-four dollar question was how to give Goober a gift and not heckle Hack. Once they agreed upon a story, Curly would call in the murder. “Fuck!” said Curly. “What should we do?” “We pretend nothing happened,” said Moose, trying to inject a bright idea. “That’s the stupidest idea I heard all evening,” said Mojo. Scorpion was hardly ever careless. Tonight was a rare exception and he needed to fix the situation. A bribe to Goober to grease the gravy train could cover the legal tracks. Yet Hack, being a hick, could try to be slick, emulating the TV shows he grew up with – Sherlock Holmes, Charlie Chan and Andy of Hick town, North Carolina. Scorpion needed something to keep him chasing his tail for months. He sat silently pondering his options and turned around to Moose. “That idea is so dumb, it’s brilliant,” he said. “Why, thank you, I think,” said Moose, looking a bit confused. They placed the dead body on the barroom floor and reviewed the game plan. Everyone would be occupied doing something, like playing pool, while Curly would be busy serving drinks. He would spill a Bloody Mary and bend over to pick it up. Then he would notice the dead body on the barroom floor. Curly would proceed to call sheriff Goober, Scorpion would slip him a bribe and Hack would be given endless, worthless tidbits to research. After the plan was reviewed, Curly proceeded to make his call. Goober and Hack pulled up in their squad car. Goober was smoking a cigar and Hack was munching on a few sausage and cheese snack packs. The squad car, painted black and white fudge sundae color

with a cherry on top, pulled in front of Pirates Cove. Goober and Hack walked in the door. Hack immediately noticed the dead body, while Goober searched for Curly and his investigation incentive bonus. “Holy shit,” said Hack. “The ten four was correct. There’s a real dead body here!” “I noticed that, too,” said Curly. “I was pouring drinks and spilled a Bloody Mary. When I bent over to clean it up, the body was there.” “Fight! Fight! Kill the bum!” squawked Polly Morphine, who had free rein to fly around. He was now on his perch and squawking in Hack’s direction. “What does he mean by kill the bum?” asked Hack. “Big boxing match on TV,” said Curly. “He watches all the fights.” Goober was glancing at Scorpion and Curly, while talking to Hack. “Why don’t you interrogate the patrons,” said Goober, “ while I interrogate the bartender.” Hack proceeded to the far corner where a ball game was playing and he was about to ask questions. Hack’s distinctive trademark was the bright orange cap he wore. It was a family tradition that all Hickman’s wore orange hats. The practice started with his uncle, Louis Hickman, who used to wear the hat at sea. Everyone laughed at Louis, until one day, pirates attacked the ship. Everyone died except for Louis, who escaped in a rowboat. Louis attributed the good fortune to his lucky orange hat. Henceforth, the Hickman tradition continued. Unfortunately, Curly Ouster had trained Polly Morphine to do tricks with an orange light. Every time the parrot performed a trick correctly, Curly flashed an orange light and rewarded Polly Morphine with a cracker. Polly Morphine noticed the orange hat, flew across the room and landed on Hack’s shoulder. Hack, amused, turned and addressed Polly Morphine: “Doctor Livingston, I presume.” The parrot remained silent and Hack proceeded to ask Moose and Mojo some questions. Since everyone wore their names on club jackets, Hack would dispense with formalities and cut to the chase. The suspects were engaged in the Sports channel.

“Who’s playing?” asked Hack, looking in Mojo’s direction. “The best,” said Moose. “The Cubs are playing.” Hack took out his notebook and pen, preparing to take some notes. The parrot watched him, hoping for a free cracker. Hack looked at the scoreboard and noticed the Cubs were losing. His first thought was to see if these boys were really watching the game or if they had seen the murder and were constructing an alibi. The assignment unnerved him, since it was his first murder. He opened his pocket to grab a licorice stick. He bit off a piece and turned to the TV set. Licorice would help calm his nerves and help him to focus. When he went to take another bite, he noticed the licorice in his hand was half gone. “Where did my licorice go?” he asked, momentarily forgetting about Polly Morphine. “Did you ask Doctor Livingston?” questioned Moose, cracking a faint smile. “Who is-?” Hack replied, before he looked over at his right shoulder and noticed the parrot crewing on a chunk of licorice. He saw the partially chewed morsel hanging from a parched parrot palate. He gave the remaining licorice stick to Polly Morphine and continued his line of questioning. The trick was to focus upon the game and see how much the boys had been watching. “Who is winning?” asked Hack. “At least you didn’t ask who’s on first,” said Moose. “What?” asked Hack. “Moose likes educational radio shows,” said Mojo. “He met to say the Cubs are playing typical baseball.” Hack remembered his partially torn shirt pocket contained a slightly chewed pencil. This morning, he got his pocket stuck in the pencil sharpener handle and he hadn’t had time to visit the Chinese tailor. He marked down in bold letters: Cubs done it again. Now he needed to focus upon a trick question,

to catch the potential suspects in a fib. He turned to Moose and blurted out: “Did you see who killed him?”

“They been dead for ages,” said Moose. “The zombies in Night of the Living Dead have more life in them.” “No! No!” said Hack, waving his pencil back and forth like a conductor’s baton. “I mean the stabbed man.” “Cut him good! Cut him good!” squawked Polly Morphine, bobbing his head in rhythm to Hack’s pencil movements. “All right that did it!” shouted Hack. “How come the parrot says cut him good?” “When customers want ham sandwiches with beer,” said Mojo, aware of his own quick wit, “the customer asks Curly, the bartender, to cut them good.” Hack was deep in thought and the parrot pretended to be deeply thinking, too. Hack paced back and forth while the bikers eyed him. Now Hack knew he had a clue and wanted to trap Mojo. He turned and blurted out: “ Him, not them. He said to cut him good.” “Well, you see,” said Mojo. “Curly probably said to cut ham good and there was probably some church program on TV. The parrot, listening to both Curly and the TV, really is saying cut hymn good.” “That’s right,” said Moose. “It’s easy to confuse hymn with him with ham.” “Something funny is going on here and I plan to find out what,” said Hack. “You boys stay put while I check out some other witnesses.” Hack walked towards the two other suspects, and the parrot, spotting a pretty girl outside, let go with a wolf whistle. While Hack proceeded to the pool table, Polly Morphine was bobbing his head, attempting to imitate the Duncan yoyo commercial on TV. The pool area had two pool tables and Hook and Vulture were sitting around one of them, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. “You boys see anything?” asked Hack. “It’s a shame. I didn’t see a thing. Such a shame,” said Vulture. “Isn’t it, Hook? I wish I could catch the dirty killer. ”

“They should fry his balls in hot oil,” said Hook, puffing a cigarette and drinking a drab American brew. “And what – pray tell – were you boys doing when the man was killed?” asked Hack. “Playing pool,” replied Hook. Hack looked for facial twitches, like the movie heroes do. Hack wanted to make the big time someday and end up solving cases like the Maltese Falcon and stringing the fat man up by his toes while all the beautiful gals, both good and bad, attempt to seduce him. He thought that this murder case was his big break and if he solved it, girls would swoon over his amazing abilities. Unfortunately, Hack seemed to inherit the only talking witness. Polly Morphine was like a recording machine, parroting back phases heard but not knowing their significance. The parrot was taking a liking to Hack, his orange hat and the way he moved – like a waddling duck does when an artistic hunter signs his name in the duck’s ass with buckshot. Every time Hack took a waddling step, the parrot, perched upon his puny shoulders, moved his body in a similar direction. Polly Morphine squawked again: “Stab him again! Stab him again!” “All right, gentlemen,” said Hack, staring the men down with his Charlie Chan eyes. “Why did the parrot say ‘Stab him again’?’” “Why, it’s simple really,” said Hook, looking at Vulture. “I think he is saying… You explain what the fuck he’s saying, Vulture.” “Well, you see,” said Vulture. “Once we were watching professional wrestling, and The Purple Bandit was battling the Killer Ape. The Killer Ape hit the Purple Bandit with a two by four-” “That’s it,” interrupted Hook. “The audience was yelling slab him again.” “That’s hokey,” said Hack. “Since when the fuck does a wrestling dude mimic speak English?” asked Vulture. “Point taken,” said Hack. He was making some notes to visit Webster and find hidden word

meanings. He took out his pencil, marking the phrases Polly Morphine was saying. The interpretations were marked in pencil. Now he needed to find the correct way to find pattern. Hack needed to view the dead body from a distance, before the coroner came to beautify the remains. He stood a few feet from the corpse, looked at the stab wounds and made a brief notation: rigorous morph is, since he couldn’t spell the Latin term. Curly was still chatting away with Goober. Scorpion, hoping to keep Hack chasing his own tail, walked over to him. “It’s a real shame,” said Scorpion, pretending to be sad. “I hope you catch the bum who did this.” “How long has he been like this?” asked Hack. “He’s never been like this,” said Scorpion. “He’s usually a very lively person. I see you have an assistant.” Scorpion was drinking a beer, which he carried in his left hand. “The bird’s driving me batty,” said Hack. “I assume it’s a male. Does he have a name?” “He’s Polly Morphine,” said Scorpion. “He comes from a line of champions.” Polly Morphine needed some exercise and flew off clockwise around the bar. He missed the Canadian moose and then landed on the pool table. Again spotting the orange hat, he took off again and landed directly upon Hack’s shoulder. Then the parrot then flew down and landed on the dead body. Hack reached over and extended his right hand. Polly Morphine jumped on his arm and walked up slowly, finally reaching the shoulder and squawking, “He did it.” “Who did what?” asked Hack, thinking the parrot probably sat beside the bar, sniffed the drinks too often. “Curly got hitched,” said Scorpion. “All the boys teased him about it.” “How come everyone but me knows what this parrot is blabbering about?” asked Hack. “He’s a close friend,” said Scorpion. Hack ignored his reply and finished examining the corpse. He made some notes about multiple stab wounds and took some pictures with a small camera. He made notes of the key people he talked with: Moose, Hook, Mojo, Vulture and Scorpion. His work was wrapping up and they needed to have the

coroner come. There was just enough time to grab some beef jerky before leaving. Unfortunately, Polly Morphine started squawking again: “Hide the knife. Hide the knife.” “Ok! That does it!” shouted Hack. “Why did he say hide the knife?” Scorpion sat silently for a minute, pretending to reflect upon the question. He didn’t count on the smart parrot and his blabbing to the only honest policeman in miles. His mind came upon a flash of inspiration and he took the opportunity to share his ideas. “Well, you see, Doc was here playing some tunes one day. There was a request to play Mac the knife. There was a horror movie on – Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The patron, having had too much to drink, asked Doc to play Hyde the Knife.” Hack returned to writing notes and made an entry: This explanation reminds me of a sleazy car salesman’s sales pitch. “A little old lady only drove the prized car to church on Sunday.” What the customer never discovered was that the car was later taken to the drag strip on Sunday afternoons. He closed his notebook and proceeded to wind up. “Will someone remove the Perry Mason understudy?” asked Hack. Curly grabbed a cracker from a box and placed it on his shoulder. Polly Morphine vacillated between love for the orange hat and the delectable taste of a crispy cracker – for a millisecond or two – before opting for the cracker. He flew over to Curly’s shoulder. He munched upon the cracker and squawked: “Cracker good! Cracker good!” “You made a new friend today,” said Goober, looking over at Hack. “Did I provide you with enough clues?” asked Scorpion. “More than enough!” said Goober. Hack performed some more mundane maneuvers, like dusting for fingerprints, and trying to get the parrot to talk. Polly Morphine, bribed with a box of crackers, ignored the need to see justice served and preferred stomach palliation from a cracker bribe. Hack finished his investigation and was ready to vamoose. “Who’s going to run the club now?” asked Hack, before exiting with Goober.

“In honor of Butcher’s good memory and character,” said Scorpion, “I have volunteered to assume that role.”

I SEE THE LIGHT The next day there was a downpour. The sky was dark. The rain hitting the church like cracker balls thrown by vandals celebrating the Fourth. Father O’Connor turned on the lights inside St. Michael’s. He was making the parish rounds and Dorothy Hessling was mopping the floor when she noticed a faint light coming from Mary’s statue. The light flickered, and she wondered if lightning was the reason. Every Wednesday, she had continued to find the rose petals in Mary’s hand. As Dorothy looked at Mary for a moment, there was a loud knock on the door. She forgot the light and saw who wanted refuge. “Who’s there?” she asked. “I seek the light shining in the darkness,” was the reply. Dorothy turned from the statue and looked at the wooden door. The door was not locked, but maybe the visitor didn’t know it. She wondered about the reply with a kill-the-cat curiosity. She opened the door and saw an old man wearing a wet raincoat. It was Rumi, the person Ann once talked with outside the church. “Come in,” she said. “It’s cold outside. I have a teakettle on the stove. Care for a spot to warm the innards?” “A very wise man once said, ‘One could do anything after a good cup of tea’,” Rumi replied. Dorothy offered him a seat and went into the next room to turn off the kettle. The water finished boiling and she steeped the tea to perfection. She grabbed a tray and placed on it the teakettle, two cups, spoons, milk and cookies with sugar on top. Walking into the sanctuary, she sat the tray on a church pew and motioned to the stranger to join her.

“Take off your coat and sit a spell,” she said. “My name’s Dorothy.” “Rumi,” he said, extending his hand to shake hers. Dorothy shook his hand. “Sugar or cream?” she asked. “I don’t have any lemon.” “But I believe you do,” said Rumi. “Did you remove the cloth?” Dorothy usually put a serving cloth over the sugar she brought with the tea. It was an old superstition not to show anything sweet until the guests arrive. It probably came from her Irish grandmother’s side and had been passed down through the centuries. She didn’t want to risk offending any of the Celtic ancestry and followed the customs from the old country. She removed the serving cloth and her eyes almost popped from her skull. Sitting beside the sugar was a lemon, all nicely cut up. Dorothy was now in a state of extreme surprise. “How in the world?” she asked, trying to compose herself. “Perhaps God thought visitors would come,” said Rumi. “Maybe the angels are looking out for you today.” “Or maybe I did cut up a lemon,” she said, “and I am getting forgetful in my old age.” Rumi took a couple of lemon slices and a teaspoonful of sugar, while Dorothy poured some cream into her teacup. She then served the tea, first into Rumi’s cup and then her own, before uncovering a plate of sugar cookies, and they both helped them. The storm continued to pound the church, and again a faint light emerged from the statue. “Must be the lightning,” said Dorothy. “I can’t imagine what else would cause Mary’s statue to light up.” “Perhaps a little light of heavenly inspiration,” said Rumi. “So, Rumi,” said Dorothy, putting aside her cookie and setting her tea down. But before she could finish the sentence, she noticed a beautiful Burning bush around his neck, with an embedded rose design. “May I see that Burning bush, please?” “Of course.”

She had never seen the design before, but she remembered reading about it in a history book about Martin Luther. He used to wear a cross like this during his life. She then tried to recall what the design meant. “Are you Lutheran?” she asked. “Heavens, no! I’m German and Middle Eastern,” he replied. Dorothy could tell from Rumi’s accent that he was a foreigner with a thorough grounding in the English language. Yet she didn’t want to pursue the subject any further, fearing she would say something to offend his culture. Reasoning that the Burning bush had some cultural significance, she decided she would ask the priest about it later. Instead, she decided to inquire about the tea. “How do you like the tea?” she asked. “Delightfully brewed for a black tea,” he said. “But tea can be set for different moods. When I am in a contemplative mood, I like green tea with lemon. When I wish to enjoy a good book, a fine Earl Grey is quite exquisite. If it is a hot day, black tea with a dash of mint leaf is preferred. Of course, Oolong tea is the only thing with Chinese food. Did you know Japan has a complete tea ritual?” “You certainly know your teas,” said Dorothy. She noticed he had finished his and her own cup was almost empty. “Would you care for some more?” she asked. “Please,“ he said, and Dorothy lifted the pot and poured. For the next few minutes Rumi and Dorothy continued to discuss tea. Rumi knew more about it than Forrest Gump’s pal knew about shrimp, Dorothy thought. In fact, she imagined if Rumi and Grump’s pal were to get together, they could come up with delightful topics of conversation. Garlic shrimp is best served with black tea and lemon, as the garlic and lemon counter each other. Gumbo shrimp is a favorite with raspberry tea, curried shrimp with Chai tea and shrimp tempura would best be served with green tea. Dorothy kept looking at her watch, hoping either Forrest Gump’s friend or the priest would arrive. She noticed they had both finished their third cup of tea, and she would need to brew some

more. “I need to make some more tea,” she said, attempting to get up. “Actually, I think there is plenty more tea left,” he said. Dorothy removed the lid to prove otherwise and she can’t see her own face. “It can’t be,” she said. “The teapot is hardly empty! I’m sure six cups would make it emptier than this.” “Maybe you don’t recall the teapot’s capacity,” he said. “Maybe you are right,” she replied. “Perhaps I am just forgetful today.” Dorothy knew she was older and that could cause her to be forgetful. However, before this she never exhibited any signs of forgetfulness or absent-minded moments. In fact, her friends considered her to have a sharp wit and keen mind. That teapot had been used hundreds of times to serve everyone from the priest to a passing homeless migrant. Dorothy was also responsible for purchasing the tea, coffee, cream and sugar. This week, she was in such a hurry, that she remembered forgetting the lemons. Yet the lemons were present and the teapot held more tea today then the earth did during Noah’s flood. She would need to ponder these little mysteries, but in the meantime, the rain had stopped. Now she needed to get down to business. “Rumi,” she said. “What really brings you to the church on a night like this?” “I have this envelope I need to give to a lady and gentleman,” he said, pulling out an envelope and handing it to Dorothy. “Could you please see that they get it?” “I don’t expect to see anyone come out in this weather,” she said. “And if anyone does come, how would I know it’s them?” “Her name is Ann,” Rumi said. “She comes here on occasion. I expect her and Adrian in the next few minutes.” “Goodness,” said Dorothy. “I believe that’s the name of the woman I gave the flowers to.” Dorothy looked at the envelope for a brief moment. When she looked up, she saw the door closing

behind Rumi’s retreating back. Rather than fighting the storm monster to fetch him, she took the tea back to the kitchen and cleaned up the mess. About five or ten minutes passed, and she heard the door open again. To avoid making another trip, Dorothy carried the envelope with her when she went to investigate. She went out to discover a woman (whom she recognized as Ann), and a man she didn’t recognize, coming in. Dorothy looked at Ann quizzically. “What brings you out on a day like today?” “Actually,” said Ann. “My friend Adrian wanted to come. Dorothy - Adrian. Adrian - Dorothy.” Both shook hands and Dorothy held out an envelope. “An elderly gentleman said this is for you.” Ann and Adrian looked at each other briefly and both yelled at the same time, “Rumi!” Adrian reached for the envelope. Meanwhile, Dorothy noticed the Burning bush around Adrian’s neck. “Your Burning bush looks exactly like one he wore,” she said. “He gave it to me,” replied Adrian. Adrian opened the envelope and pulled out a couple of photographs and another envelope. He ignored the smaller envelope as he held up the two pictures. Ann and Dorothy looked at the first one. It was of a dark but luminous Coyote head hovering over a bottle of Wild Turkey on a bar shelf holding varied liquors. “What is that?” asked Dorothy. “This is Coyote,” said Adrian, showing the photos to both ladies. “Looks like Lassie having a bad hair day,” said Dorothy. He then looked at the second photo, which was a bright picture of Mary in a luminous form, hovering over the church statue. As Dorothy looked at the photo, her face was puzzled. “That’s the woman I saw in the hospital,” said Adrian. Ann remembered Rumi taking the camera and promising to develop some photos. She remembered the camera was supposed to be a spirit camera belonging to Rumi that was thought to have the capacity

to photograph the spirit world. The camera first went off when they were in the biker bar while Adrian was dealing with the Barbarians. The second time the camera went off was in the church, when she first visited Dorothy. After all that was happening, she still wasn’t sure if Rumi doctored the photos or if they were real. The strangeness of the photos reminded Dorothy of the lemons. “This is really a strange day,” Dorothy said. “First I serve Rumi tea without lemons. I thought there were no lemons, but then there were. Then we drank several cups of tea and the pot was still pretty full.” Adrian’s mind drifted back to his first encounter with Rumi. He remembered him trying to sell some fake watches and offering him water and food. The water jug seemed to keep replenishing itself. At first, he thought it might have been due to his insanity – yet Rumi had said he was perfectly sane. Then he just took it for granted that the water would replenish itself. Now Adrian remembered what he came for – to see the statue. “Can one of you fine young ladies show me the statue?” “If he continues to talk like that, I’ll show him the Eiffel Tower,” said Dorothy. She led the way towards the statue, with Adrian and Ann following behind her. She was sure that the light continued to flicker from the statue. As Adrian continued toward it, the light brightened. Ann thought it was the lighting also, but couldn’t pinpoint the light source. Adrian stood still and receptive, like a zombie at initiation. The ladies watched as he continued to remain still. A minute or two passed before he started speaking again. “When do the flowers appear?” “Every Wednesday, as sure as the rain is coming today,” Dorothy said. He continued to ponder the statue and the light. The light drew back memories of his hospital stay. Then he knew the light was similar to what he had experienced in his dreams while he was confined there. Then blackness started to take form in his mind. The blackness reminded him of death before the light appeared again and started dissolving the darkness. Then it came to him. He had died! For a few minutes, he had been clinically dead. The doctors and nurses had given up on him. But a light came and revived him. In the light, he saw a lady resembling the statue’s form. The lady and light

faded, and then a dark but luminous Coyote form appeared and disappeared. Now he understood. The lady was the healer and the Coyote was the protector and source of wisdom. “I’m beginning to understand. I died in the hospital and was reborn,” he mumbled to himself. “Did he say someone dyed him in the hospital?” asked Dorothy. “No! I think he said he died and was reborn,” Ann replied. Adrian remembered the envelope. Perhaps it was a piece of the puzzle from another puzzle – Rumi. Perhaps if he opened it, a clue would spring out. Slowly, he tore open the envelope while the ladies waited. His eyes found a small note, with a sentence or two describing still another puzzle: When you receive this note, you will start to know yourself. When we meet in person, it will be time to ring the school bell. Adrian showed the note to the ladies and said, “I’m as puzzled as ever.” “I think the words bell and school means he wants to teach you,” said Ann. “Perhaps he wants you to know how to make tea,” said Dorothy. “Does anyone have a cookie?” asked Adrian, suddenly overwhelmed with a taste for one. “I have some and will make some tea in the kitchen,” said Dorothy, exiting the main church worship area. While Dorothy went out, Adrian told Ann about his statue experience in the church. Ann listened patiently, like the trained therapist she was. She promised to check the hospital records to see if Adrian had died during his hospital stay. She thought the staff mentioned something similar happening but dismissed it at the time because her caseload was overwhelming and her personal feelings for Adrian had not developed. Dorothy returned with the tea and cookies and Adrian took a bite. “These cookies are as sweet as you lovely ladies,” he said. “You keep talking like that and I’ll buy you a cookie factory,” Dorothy said. “And I’ll buy him a sugar plantation,” said Ann.

I GO TO PIECES The Gladiator’s clubhouse was having an important meeting of Scorpion, Mojo and Moose. Scorpion wished to send a message that the truce was off, and business was now a Gladiator commodity. His first priority was to outline a plan and select a suitable first target and example to get the Barbarians to back down. Mojo was recruited for his expertise in electronic and explosives and Moose for his muscle. Scorpion had gathered some intelligence information and shared his findings. “We need to cut out their top gun,” said Scorpion. “It’s either Tiny, their leader, or Doc, their shooter,” replied Mojo. Scorpion held up a diagram of a jeep and pointed to a section where the explosives would be rigged. Mojo looked over the diagram and made some minor revisions. Scorpion found out Doc had a doctor’s appointment that gave his men time to plant the bomb, which would be triggered by the ignition key. Mojo and Moose would observe everything via binoculars from a hidden warehouse, since the doctor’s office was on top a hill and the warehouse was on the bottom, providing cover from the explosion. Scorpion looked at Mojo and Moose, waiting for a reaction. “That jeep will be history,” said Mojo. “I hear Adrian will be joining him,” said Scorpion. “It would be a shame if he were in the jeep also.” “A real shame,” said Mojo. “My heart bleeds.” Moose looked like he had a brainstorm. He thought about the party and how a certain monkey made a fool of him. When Butcher, the former leader, wanted a sexy tune CD, the monkey substituted Polka tunes. Now Moose would have a chance for vengeance and repay the monkey for making a monkey of him. “Can we blow up the monkey too?” asked Moose. “He’ll be singing I go to Pieces,” answered Scorpion. “Butcher never let me ace the monkey,” said Moose. “This will be fun. Instead of the Beer Barrel Polka we have blowup Monkey wearing Toga.”

“That’s fucking crazy,” said Mojo. “Who every heard of a monkey wearing a toga?” “Who every heard of a Polka loving monkey?” asked Moose. “As the old saying goes, monkey blow, monkey go.” “ Get the fuck too it,” said Scorpion, “and don’t return until you can report an explosion.” The plan was simple. Rather then driving their motorcycles, Mojo would drive a tow truck and pretend to fix a flat tire. He knew the jeep would be in the parking lot and Doc would not be able to spot them from his doctor’s office. The receptionist was the sister of a Gladiator girlfriend, and she would page them if Doc or Adrian left. The next morning, Mojo and Moose got into the tow truck Mojo drove. The doctor’s appointment was for one o’clock, and it was now noon. Moose knew his priorities and wasn’t afraid to express them. “I want a Bluntly Burger,” he said. “How come you want a damn Bluntly burger?” Mojo asked, feeling a bit frustrated. He wanted to arrive early and scout out things. Now his plans were cut short by a stupid burger. “I can’t help it, said Moose, “ I love Bluntly’s sauce. It grew on me as a kid.” “It tastes like horseshit,” said Mojo, lighting a cigarette and glancing at Moose. “Hell no,” Moose responded. “They also have wonderful cheese fries. I love a lot of gooey cheese sauce.” Moose started flipping the radio stations, and Mojo knew what that meant. Moose always listened to the oldies station with a Bluntly Burger. It all started when he was a small child and his dad took him to get his first Burger. The taste had caused a lifelong craving, and the music reminded him of the first mouthwatering bite. “The sauce tastes like melted plastic,” said Mojo, taking a puff of his cigarette and waiting for the stupid oldies to stop while Moose had his burgers. “You never give it a chance,” he said. “Wash it down with a shake.” “I’d rather drink dish water,” replied Mojo.

The truck pulled up to the drive up and Mojo opened the driver’s side window. “Welcome to Bluntly Burger’s. Would you like to hear the Bluntly Burger theme song?” The server was a seventeen-yearold boy wearing a tweeted plaid shirt and blue jeans. “Hell no,” said Mojo, aware Moose would override his voice. “YES, PLEASE!” Moose shouted. With that shout, the order taker pressed the CD button to play the jingle, while Moose hummed to the tune of Little Brown Jug. “May I take your order now,” the order taker finally said. “Three Bluntly Cheeseburgers, a large order of cheese fries and a large, chocolate shake,” said Moose. “Anything else?” the voice asked. “A large black coffee and a piece of ass,” said Mojo, frustrated at the stupid burger order but taking advantage of a large, hot coffee. “Make sure they are both hot.” “I’m sorry sir,” the speaker replied, “We can serve the first item, but I been searching for the other item for three years now.” “Ok, then,” said Mojo. “What’s the damage?” “Seven eighty-seven,” the voice replied. “Pull up to the next window.” Mojo paid the

bill while Moose started gulping down his feast. Mojo drove the abandoned warehouse and proceeded to observe the cars arriving at the medical building through field binoculars. About twenty minutes and fifteen vehicles passed before Mojo hit the jackpot. “Our chump has arrived,” said Mojo. “Has our chump, the chimp, chugged along?” asked Moose. “We have Moe, Larry and Curly, all arriving together,” said Mojo. “And Curly remains to guard the car.” Moose looked through the other field binocular set and a broad smile cracked across his face. The

monkey was left inside the jeep and Moose would now be able to watch his victim’s last moments. About ten minutes passed and they drove the tow truck beside the jeep. If anyone should inquire, they were towing a stalled car. If Doc or Adrian should leave the building, the receptionist would page them. Mojo slid under the vehicle to plant the bomb, while first he disabled the alarm system. Moose stuck his hand through the partially rolled down window, trying to taunt the monkey. Bubbles recognized him and proceeded to bite his hand. Moose went to grab the monkey and she climbed into the back, out of arm’s reach. “You son of a bitch,” said Moose. “Quit fucking up my bomb artistry,” said Mojo under the jeep. “Shit! What the fuck did I do?” “Not you,” said Moose, examining the monkey bite. “I am talking to the other monkey.” Moose gave Bubbles an angry look and waved his fist, but Bubbles just ignored him. She then turned her rear towards Moose, pointing her ass in the direction of his face. This caused Moose to pound on the window and Bubbles started to laugh. “Stop pounding the fucking car,” said Mojo, from underneath the jeep. “You want to blow us both up?” “But that stupid monkey is mooning me!” said Moose. Moose looked at the monkey and waited for her laughter to subside. He watched her quiet down and gave her the finger. Bubbles sat silently, pretending not to follow the monkey see, monkey do school of behavior. Moose then stuck out his tongue, which prompted Bubbles to return the same gesture, so he have a good reason to kill Bubbles – not wanting to make Mojo angry. He then responded with some more window pounding. “Will you fucking behave yourself,” said Mojo, “before we become Yosemite Sam doubles? What the fuck is the matter? You’re behaving worse than the monkey.” “Shit, man,” said Moose. “This asshole stuck her tongue out at me.” “Did you stick yours out first?” asked Mojo, his voice showing an angry tint.

“Well, I-“ he said, looking at Bubbles. “You started this, you stupid monkey. First you bite me, then moon me and finally, you make faces at me.” “You trying to get her angry or seduce her?” asked Mojo, injecting some humor to defuse the situation. The bomb was now finished and he had just a moment or two ago finished connecting the wires. Mojo got a kick from hearing his victim’s final cries so he planted a bug to pick up all screams. The bomb rigging and bug planting took a full ten minutes and soon it was time to depart. Mojo and Moose got into the tow truck and proceeded down hill toward the abandoned warehouse. Bubbles again stuck her tongue out as Moose drove away. “Wait till they start the car, you little brat,” said Moose, giving the monkey the finger as he departed. Bubbles reciprocated by waving her ass again at Moose. “We will be able to hear every blood curdling scream, courtesy of my magic Mojo bug,” said Mojo. They returned to the warehouse and used the field binoculars to observe the jeep. Mojo hooked up the necessary equipment and soon they could hear the monkey making her typical monkey noises, the kind Mojo remembered from the zoo, when he was a kid. Occasionally, a passerby would remark something like “what a cute monkey” or “such a doll”, to which Moose would reply to himself (since the bug only transmitted conversations to them), “you shitty stinker” or “such a devil”. He was busy with binocular watch, until he spotted the victims. He became ecstatic the minute Doc and Adrian came towards the jeep. “Here come the victims, and there goes the monkey,” said Moose. Mojo picked up the second pair of field binoculars and observed Doc coming towards the passenger side and throwing the keys to Adrian. “You drive, kid,” said Doc. “It’s your jeep, you drive,” said Adrian, throwing the keys towards Doc. “I don’t care if the monkey drives,” said Moose, eager for the big bang. “Give it a spin,” said Doc, throwing the keys back to Adrian. Adrian opened the jeep door, sat in the

driver’s seat and Bubbles opened Doc’s door. As Doc sat in the passenger side, Bubbles became agitated, prancing back and forth in the jeep. “What’s wrong with Bubbles?” asked Adrian. “Probably thinks we visit the vet next,” said Doc. “Or the mortician,” said Moose, cranking a faint smile. “Start her up,” said Doc. Both Moose and Mojo waited for the big explosion, but heard instead the following voice singing. “How dry I am. How dry I am. No body knows, how dry I am. How dry I am.” Moose and Mojo looked at each other in disbelief. “What’s happening?” asked Doc. “The car isn’t starting and that’s the worst radio program I heard in years.” “I think I know, but I don’t know why,” said Adrian, seeing a picture of Coyote in his mind’s eye. “Bubbles seems to be quite happy.” “Give me the straight shit,” yelled Doc. “I need to be sure first,” retorted Adrian. “The hell with this,” said Doc, “let me hotwire the car.” Mojo and Moose watched Doc leaning down toward the starter. “Now cross these two wires,” said Doc. Mojo sipped some coffee and looked though his field binoculars, listening for the big explosion. Instead, they both looked at each other, as the bug transmitted a song. “Yodel lady, yodel lady. Yodel lady, yodel lady. “Yodel lady, a de.

“yodel lady, a de.” “What the fuck is happening?” Mojo and Doc both asked simultaneously. “That’s the worst song on the radio,” said Doc. “I need to stop listening to the oldies but goodies station.” “Hey Moose,” said Mojo. “Get the portable radio, turn the volume on low and see if you can tune in the yodel channel they’re listening to.’ “Ok,” retorted Moose, “as long as I see the monkey go boom.” Moose started fumbling with the portable radio and listened for a few moments. He picked up the latest punk music about cutting off a chicken head. Then he flipped over to a heavy metal band playing a rendition of Frank Sinatra’s My Kind of Town. The dial kept flipping to a Spanish station selling rubber ducky bubble soap, a shock radio DJ talking about a lesbian porno star becoming a soap opera star, and a country and western song about a cowboy entering the rodeo, picking up a waitress and drowning his sorrows in whiskey – all in one day. Moose kept flipping the channel and found a fire and brimstone preacher talking about the evil of society and offering instant salvation for a one hundred dollar donation. No matter where he turned, there was no yodel channel. The listening device interrupted him. “Crank the car up again, kid,” said Doc. The next radio voice Mojo and Moose heard blatted away in butchered French. “Al a wet tare, Jaunt tare al a wet tare, Al a wet tare, Jaunt for two, my babe. Jaunt a two away me boys, Jaunt a two away me boys.” “What the fuck is that?” asked Moose.

“What the fuck is going on with the radio?” asked Doc. “Bubbles is going crazy over those crazy radio programs. Down girl.” “It’s Coyote,” said Adrian. “He’s trying to tell us something.” “Who the fuck is Coyote?” asked Moose and Mojo in unison. “What does he want?” asked Doc. “I got it,” said Adrian. “How dry I am and al a wet tare means the car wants a drink.” “Let’s check the radiator,” said Doc. “Down girl! You’re behaving worse than a rock and roll groupie after lock up for a month at a nunnery.” Moose and Mojo watched Adrian and Doc exit the jeep. Doc opened the hood and flipped open the stand to brace it. They bikers watched the monkey jumping up and down, looking to be ecstatic. Adrian watched as Doc examined the radiator and the engine. “Looks full to me,” said Doc. “Now what?” “Perhaps it needs a mechanic,” suggested Adrian. “Oh fuck!” shouted Mojo, mad as a chicken given to Colonel Sanders. “I guess you’re right, kid,” said Doc. Mojo and Moose watched as the two men walked away, apparently to a pay phone. The monkey was inside, still jumping up and down. Mojo knew he would be discovered, should a mechanic check the car. He was about to exit, when he noticed the car started to move. The monkey was inside by the driver’s seat, the radio blasted out another tune – apparently heard by Doc and Adrian, who started chasing the jeep as the radio sung a song. “Merrily we roll along. Roll along. Roll along. Merrily we roll along. Over the deep blue sea.” “This shit is fucking weird,” said Mojo.

“You’re right,” said Moose. “The jeep is not by the sea.” “No, you birdbrain,” replied Mojo. “I mean the jeep rolling by itself and the radio playing the fucking freak tunes.” Moose sat silently, watching the jeep move under its own control. Doc and Adrian were walking briskly behind it, as it veered from the parking lot. The monkey still sat beside the steering wheel. But the listening device picked up two monkeys making noise – unbeknown to Moose and Mojo, Coyote was conversing to Bubbles in her language. This would be confusing enough to the bikers, except the next event floored them. They watched, in surprise, as the jeep exited the parking lot and rolled down the hill. “Fuck!” said Mojo. “I swear I hear two monkeys making noise and now the freaking jeep is heading down the hill.” Moose and Mojo watched the jeep coming towards them down the hill, with Adrian and Doc bringing up the rear. They watched as Bubbles climbed on top of the jeep, while another monkey kept making noise inside (Coyote playing a Cheetam double). When the jeep was halfway down the hill, Bubbles grabbed a passing tree branch and jumped on it. Adrian and Doc stopped to coax Bubbles down, while the radio started to sing. “Merrily we roll along. Roll Along. Roll along! Merrily we roll along. Over the deep blue sea.” “Hide behind those concrete blocks,” shouted Mojo. The next few seconds were very confusing. Mojo and Moose ran and hide behind the concrete blocks. Adrian and Doc succeeded in coaxing Bubbles down, so Doc could grab her. The jeep crashed through the abandoned warehouse and came to a complete stop. The bikers listened behind concrete blocks to the receiver picking up the victim’s last words.” “I wonder how you start this thing? Ah---,” said Coyote. “ KA BOOM.”

The explosion startled Doc and Adrian, who were safely out of the blast radius. Doc’s jeep was in more pieces than Carter’s liver pills caught in a monsoon. The bikers were buried in rubble but still breathing. Doc handed Bubbles over to Adrian and pulled out his .38 revolver. They approached the warehouse and looked at the pieces of jeep wreckage. “My jeep!” shouted Doc. “Someone is going to pay!” “Get us out of here!” shouted a voice under the rubble. Adrian moved over toward the voice and, setting Bubbles down, started throwing chunks of rubble aside. He cleared enough chunks for the bikers to emerge and see Doc pointing a .38 at them. “Moose and Mojo,” said Doc. “You boys couldn’t dream up this plan by yourselves. Who put you up to this?” “The boss asked us and we’re just doing what we’re told,” said Moose. “Good,” said Doc. “Let’s go for a ride in your car. You drive. Soon the police and fire department will come.” “Is this a ride, like in Taxi or a ride, like in James Cagney?” asked Adrian. “It’s a ride like in Bugs Bunny playing James Cagney,” replied Doc. “However you put it, we are being taken for a ride,” said Mojo. The boys parked the tow truck a couple of blocks away, before walking to the warehouse – now they were walking towards it. Mojo and Moose walked in front, with Doc, Adrian and Bubbles bringing up the rear. Doc had his thirty-eight pointed at Moose and Mojo, but kept it hidden inside his coat. Bubbles cracked a mischievous smile, unseen by the bad guys: You will get yours, buddy. Adrian was relaxed the entire trip, with his left hand on Bubbles and his right hand on a candy sucker he pulled from his pocket. He now faced an even graver dilemma – how to remove the sucker wrapper while holding Bubbles. His brain flashed with a quick inspiration and he tossed the sucker and shouted at Moose. “Catch the sucker.” Moose caught the sucker and turned his head around. “What the fuck should I do with this?” He

noticed that Bubbles stuck his tongue out at him. “Remove the wrapper and toss it back to him,” Doc said. Moose removed the wrapper and tossed the sucker back to Adrian. Adrian, the trained Aikido expert that he was, quickly grabbed it with one hand. His mind was centered on the rich cherry flavor, and the creamy caramel inside. His mind was drifting off to other suckers he had tasted before when his eyes spotted the tow truck. “Who’s taking us for the ride?” asked Mojo. “The kid is,” said Doc. “We’ll ride in back and Bubbles and Adrian will drive.” “As long as the monkey doesn’t drive and that Coyote fellow doesn’t sing,” retorted Moose – realizing too late he revealed they’d been doing some bugging. “So,” said Doc. “You were eavesdropping? You know what I do with snoops?” “You’re already taking us for a ride,” replied Mojo. “At least tell us who Coyote is.” “He’s –“ said Adrian. “He’s the big fish and Adrian is his main man,” said Doc, overriding Adrian’s answer. Adrian thought Doc was answering the question for him, but the bad guys though Coyote was a big kingpin and Adrian was his enforcer. Doc and the bad guys piled into the back and Doc waited for Adrian to get inside and drive. “I can’t do anything Elmer Fudd like,” said Adrian. “Why kid?” asked Doc. “I don’t want to get involved in violence. It’s a bad influence on Bubbles and I could never eat another sucker afterwards,” said Adrian. “You win kid,” said Doc. “We will just teach them a lesson. You gentlemen are lucky. The kid has a soft spot for animals and doesn’t mix violence and candy. To the old quarry then.” “No rough stuff, please,” said Adrian. “I like to try a Toot De Fruity lollipop next.” He grabbed open a sucker from the glove compartment and sucked on it, throwing away the first stem.

“You gentlemen are lucky today, indeed. He’s in a good mood when he eats a Toot de Fruity lollipop.” Doc sat in back with the two hoods, his gun pointing at them. Adrian drove with Bubbles sitting in the passenger seat. His mind flashed back to a cartoon where Bugs Bunny is being taken for a ride by a couple of hoods. The crook’s name was Rocky and Bugs couldn’t stop talking – except that Adrian was the quiet type. Adrian remembered many gangster films talking about going for a ride, but he never imagined he would be the driver. To relieve any anxiety, he focused upon this toot de fruity lollipop. When he got to the quarry and stopped the car, Doc had the villains get out and walk to the quarry. “Just get it over with,” said Mojo. “I give you a choice”, said Doc. “I toss a gun to Mojo and we have a duel or Moose fights the kid – no weapons.” “I get to fight the monkey?” asked Moose, hoping to extract some revenge. “No, you idiot,” replied Mojo. “He means Adrian. It’s the only way. Doc would ace me for sure.” “Him first and the monkey later?” asked Moose. “Now wait just a cotton picking minute,” said Adrian. “Don’t I get a say in this? I need to hold Bubbles and finish my lollipop.” “You heard the man,” said Doc. “He must finish his lollipop first. Set Bubbles down, kid.” Adrian sat Bubbles down and she proceeded to run over towards Doc. Moose thought Doc was getting soft, but Mojo expected a trick. Adrian wouldn’t do anything until he finished his lollipop. The next five or ten minutes found Doc calm waiting, and Bubbles was content to make faces at Moose. Adrian finally finished his lollipop and put the stem in his pocket, not wanting to pollute the environment. Moose looked at Doc, ready for the signal. “Now?” asked Moose. “Go!” shouted Doc.

“Can I eat another lollipop first---“ shouted Adrian, aware it was too late. He saw a three hundred pound mass of muscle charging towards him, like a raging bull. Moose looked like a professional wrestler, with muscles to match. His right arm came swinging at Adrian’s head, with a force capable of stunning a charging bull. Instead of connecting with Adrian’s head, he found his arm in a wristlock and his body went flying towards the ground, with Adrian sidestepping his charge. A few seconds passed, with Moose face down upon the ground. “Shit,” said Mojo. “We have Bruce Lee’s cousin.” “I’m going to kill him,” said Moose, slowly getting up. Moose came charging full force, like a pro tackler with the winning block. Adrian moved in a circular Aikido fashion, deflecting Moose’s charge and escorting him into a passing tree. Unfortunately for Moose, the tree liked where it was and didn’t want to move. Moose lay on the ground, stunned but still conscious. “Which way did that truck go?” asked Moose, dazed but slowly getting his feet. “I had enough.” “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but I didn’t see the incoming tree,” said Adrian, attempting to explain his quick reaction and tunnel vision. Bubbles took time to make more faces and Doc was slightly smiling. Suddenly, Doc busted out in fits of laughter, with Bubbles quickly emulating her master’s laughter. Adrian couldn’t figure out what was so funny and stood mystified. “You got to admit,” said Doc, “the kid has a sense of humor.” “Did I say something funny?” asked Adrian, still missing the point of everything. “He’s a real Soupy Sales,” replied Mojo. “I will leave you boys here with a message. Tell Scorpion I expect payment for this jeep, twenty grand, or Coyote and I will come looking for him.” The bikers thought Coyote was some big shot criminal and Doc knew Scorpion wouldn’t take chances until he found out more about Coyote. Adrian thought he was talking about the Coyote spirit and never made the connection everyone else made. Doc left the bikers in the quarry and the three of

them drove away. Later, he would abandon the Tow truck and rent a vehicle – as a Tow truck wasn’t his idea for a hot date. Adrian didn’t realize it, but Doc was casting him in a new light. What Happened To The Bomb? Scorpion was in the Gladiator clubhouse, waiting for Moose and Mojo to return. He drank a beer and browsed through a girlie magazine, paying particular attention to the artistic layouts. It was five pm and he expected the tow truck to arrive shortly. Instead, he was caught off guard when Moose and Mojo arrived at 7 pm, after they hitched a ride with a passing trucker. Both looked like they came from the Titanic. “What the fuck happened to you Bozos?” he yelled. “You’re not going to believe it!” replied Mojo. “Try me,” said Scorpion, putting the girlie magazine aside and looking at the two disheveled bums standing before him. “Did Doc throw the bomb back at you?” “The monkey drove the bomb to us,” said Moose, looking like Bugs Bunny’s enemy after falling into his own trap. “The monkey?” screamed Scorpion, moving back and forth, showing his disgust. “It’s not quite that simple,” said Mojo. “There is a new player in town. A dude named Coyote. He’s as clever as Eddy Haskell. And to top it off, Adrian is his main man. He’s another Bruce Lee.” “Bruce Lee? Coyote? Shit! I need another drink,” said Scorpion. “You boys look like the Laurel and Hardy stunt doubles. Go take a shower. Change into some clean duds, and fill me in over a drink.” Moose and Mojo did as they were told. Meanwhile, Scorpion grabbed a shot of whiskey and pondered Adrian’s actions at the party. His mind flashed back to the party. There were many unexplained tricks attributed to Bubbles, and Scorpion believed Adrian had set the tricks up. Scorpion had examined all the security surveillance tapes and nothing revealed how the tricks were performed. He thought Adrian may be more dangerous than imagined and this latest bomb episode might confirm it. While Scorpion pondered the current dilemma, Moose and Mojo entered the room.

“You gents look like you’re going to a social dance,” Scorpion joked. “Now enlighten me. Who is this Coyote and how did he outwit you?” “Well, you see,” said Moose, “we wanted to blow up the all three – Doc, Adrian and the monkey. But the monkey started driving the jeep after we’d planted the bomb in it, aimed it at the warehouse, jumped out of the vehicle and climbed a tree, leaving us with the bomb.” “Let me get this straight, “ replied Scorpion, lighting up a smoke and staring at Moose. “A monkey hijacks a jeep, drives it back to where you both are hiding and triggers the bomb? Do you know how fucking stupid that story is? Do you?” “But boss,” replied Moose. “It’s the monkey’s fault.” “You buy that crock of shit?” asked Scorpion, looking over at Mojo. “Here’s the scoop,” said Mojo. “We planted the bomb and hid. Doc and Adrian tried to start the jeep and nothing happened, except a few weird tunes from the Mickey Mouse station. The jeep started moving, powered by remote control, and it drove itself to our hideout. The jeep explodes, Doc captures us, takes us for a ride, has Moose wrestle Adrian – the Bruce Lee reject – then leaves us stranded.” Scorpion paced back and forth, caught up in thoughts about the incident. He turned around and looked at Moose. “What Mickey Mouse station?” Scorpion asked. “I don’t know,” replied Moose, “but it sounded like this. Oh, de lady oh la lady. Oh, de lady oh la lady. Oh, la lady a de. Oh, la lady a de.” Moose attempted to imitate the yodel tune he heard. “Fuck,” retorted Scorpion. “You sound like a goose chocking on a hot dog.” “What he’s trying to say,” retorted Mojo, “is that this Coyote character rigged up the starter to some weird radio station. Every time they tried to start the car, the radio blasted out a goofy tune and the jeep wouldn’t start. ” Scorpion paused a moment to reflect upon Coyote’s cleverness. He figured by the time Mojo planted the bomb until Mojo and Moose reached the warehouse would take five or ten minutes. That

meant Coyote was an expert at electronics and was watching both of them. From the conversation Scorpion had, he reasoned Coyote had rigged up a remote control steering device beforehand. This thought triggered a light bulb with a stray thought attached – Coyote knew their plans ahead of time. “I’ll send the men out to dig up some info – learn about this Coyote dude,” Scorpion said. “Now show me this martial art move.” “It all happened so fast,” said Moose. “I charged the little squirt. One moment, there was no tree there. Next thing, I see this fucking tree there. Suddenly, my head is kissing the tree.” “Mojo,” yelled Scorpion, “show me what you seen.” Mojo walked over by Moose and proceeded to demonstrate. “Pretend Moose is charging me. I grab his arm and do some hokey pokey, Bruce Lee grip. Suddenly I am not here but over there, Moose is over yonder and the tree is blocking his path.” “And I hurt my head,” said Moose. Scorpion again reflected on his martial arts moves. While Scorpion is an expert in karate, he has witnessed other martial arts styles. His mind races though, until he recalls the circular dance of one style. Both styles had their roots in Japan, but there were vast differences. The word blurts out before he can contain it. “Aikido.” “A key doe?” asks Moose. “It sounds like that old song, Doe, a deer, a female deer.” “But Scorpion,” said Mojo, “this Coyote dude is asking twenty thousand dollars for Doc’s jeep. What shall we do?” Scorpion again appeared to be in deep thought. His instincts told him to never battle an enemy until you know all about them. Coyote was now a mystery and seemed to be a clever opponent to boot. The appropriate thing was to send Doc his money, for the time being. Someday he would match wits with Coyote and win – but today was not that day. “I will mail him the money,” replied Scorpion, looking at the men. “We will tangle again, when I learn more about Coyote and his enforcer. Now get the fuck out of here.” Mojo and Moose promptly

exited, leaving Scorpion to ponder the situation some more.

à ENLIGHTENMENT ß
THE WIZARD OF OZ

I don’t believe I’m in Kansas That evening, Doc received an anonymous package delivery containing twenty thousand dollars cash in hundred dollar denominations. The package was left on his doorstep while he was away. Doc tracked down the delivery driver and discovered he had been paid one hundred dollars to delivery the package. The man who hired the driver didn’t know the real name of the guy who had hired him – the name he gave was John Smith – but his description matched that of Igor. Doc would not investigate any further – at least for now. Adrian, who was staying at Doc’s place, was tired from his ordeal. As soon as he got to Doc’s place, he telephoned Ann to discuss the situation. She seemed to be very interested in the sequence of events, asking more questions then usual and he perceived a difference in tone, which he interpreted as her being more concerned for him. He wondered if she was developing certain feelings for him and noticed his feelings were changing also. He knew he needed to approach this issue sometime. Right now, he needed to sleep and get some rest. Bubbles was already fast asleep and Doc was having a shot and playing solitaire. Adrian went into the guest bedroom. Before he went to sleep, he composed a poem entitled Solitude is a Shadow Visitor. He liked the first two stanzas, and they reminded him of Lady of the Lake, the poem he composed for Ann. He then went to bed and shortly found himself in a deep sleep. Adrian soon dreamt he was in a bar and noticed a considerable amount of strange characters but they weren’t dressed like the bikers he met. The clothes reminded him of a pirate movie and he noticed folks were either talking or trying to charm the waitresses. His first thought was that he was visiting Coyote’s home territory, but something told him it wasn’t so. One of the waitresses approached him. “Name your poison strange!” the woman said, putting her hand on his butt. “What is this bar called again?” asked Adrian. “This is called the Philosopher’s Stone,” the wench said. “Would you like to drink a pick-me-up or would you rather pick me up?”

“Later for the latter and a substitute for the former,” he said, hoping neither to drink a strong drink nor play with the wench. “Did you say this was the Philosopher’s Stoned?” The serving girl started laughing and rubbed Adrian’s ass a couple of times. “Honey, you’re funny. I like you. Should we have some fun in private later or would you rather join the philosophers playing cards?” “I’d rather join the gents playing cards,” said Adrian, hoping to avoid the wench’s advances. The wench took Adrian’s arm and escorted him to another room. There were four men smoking, drinking and playing cards. The wench departed and left Adrian standing up and watching the card game. There were no chips – only round circles with question marks that the men were using to keep track of their bets. Adrian knew very little about cards, but he did remember all the western and gangster movies – the boys always played for chips. Someone tapped him on the shoulder. Adrian turned around and noticed a short man with a large mustache. “Can I help you?” asked the man. Adrian extended his hand to the man and they promptly shook hands. “My name’s Adrian.” “Zeke Poonapepper,” he said. “Folk’s here call me Buddha.” “Pleased to meet you, Mr. Poonapeeper – I mean … Mr. Poonapepper – I mean, Mr. Poonapeeler … I mean…Seek … I mean … Buddha,” Adrian replied. “Who are these gentlemen and what are these funny looking chips?” “We have no chips here – only questions,” he replied. “The object is to win the most questions. As to the gentlemen – the chair facing north is Friedrich Nietzsche. The man facing south is Jean-Paul Sartre – he keeps looks for the exit door, but can’t seem to find it. The man facing west is Aristotle and the last gentleman facing east is Plato.” “How long have they been playing?” asked Adrian, a little puzzled by events. “I lost track of time. New people come in all the time to watch them play. Would you like to watch them? You may find their questions helpful.”

Adrian was becoming puzzled. He thought these gentlemen were wasting time, hoping to win questions. He was searching for answers but couldn’t find any. Perhaps if he were blunt, he might get an answer from Buddha Poonapepper. “Don’t these gentlemen ever seek answers?” he asked.

‘Heavens, no! They delight in questions. But I have some answers. My partner has some answers.” “Who is your partner?” Adrian asked. “Let me fetch him and introduce you,” Buddha replied. Buddha put his hands over his lips to make a whistle and a loud one at that. Nobody came. Again he tried a loud whistle. Again nobody came. A couple more attempts ensued with similar results. Adrian tried to find the time. His watch was missing and there was no clock around. He then noticed a grandfather clock in the corner. There was a sign that said dreamtime and made by aborigines. Buddha took out a tiny bell and rung it. Adrian turned around and said, “What is dreamtime? Why did you use a bell instead of a whistle?” “Dreamtime is the only time zone we have here.” Adrian looked around and noticed the philosophers were playing cards again. Plato and Aristotle seemed to be winning the most questions and the other two were busy smoking and drinking. Then Adrian remembered Buddha ringing for his partner. He turned around toward Buddha and noticed a cross with a rose in the center that Buddha was wearing. Adrian raised his right hand and moved it toward his chest. He felt the Burning bush that Rumi had given him and this prompted some more questions. “What happened to your partner? Didn’t you ring for him? Can you tell me about that Burning bush you’re wearing? It looks just like mine.” Buddha reached for a bell that said made in Tibet and rang it. He turned to Adrian and remarked,” I believe he went to the Philosopher’s Café. That’s where the real philosophers hang out. The Burning bush is something real philosophers sometimes wear. Hey, kid. You have one also. You must be an honorary member of the philosopher’s fraternity – like myself. It entitles you to free admittance to the

Philosopher’s Café.” Adrian tried to remember. I fell asleep at Doc’s pad and I through this dream took me to Coyote caravel land. Instead of singing, I see philosophers and swim in a movie called dreamtime. Then this strange man – Buddha Poonapepper – has a Burning bush like Rumi wears. Perhaps I put too much soy sauce on my Chinese food. “Is dreamtime another name for the Disney channel?” asked Adrian. “Not exactly,” replied Buddha. “Dreamtime is a world or a place we meet when we sleep. Some can enter it when they are not sleeping – like you do when you visit your friend.” “Now let me get this straight, “ remarked Adrian. “You know about Coyote? I am a simple person. Am I dreaming or not?” “Of course, I know about him. Hey, kid – it’s really simple. Most people are awake or they dream – in which case, they manufacture some images of events unfolding in their lives. Some can enter a world – like Plato’s cave – where the world is neither a dream nor reality – we call it the dreamtime. Others have a rare gift to bring the dreamtime world into the real world. That’s you, kid.” “Let me see if I get this,” replied Adrian. “Am I dreaming about you or are you real?” “Let me clear it up with an old story, “ said Buddha. “Chuang Tzu, a Chinese Taoist philosopher, once had a beautiful dream. He dreamt he was a butterfly, flying high into the sky. Oh, what a beautiful dream it was. When he woke up, he was confronted with a philosophical dilemma. Is he a man dreaming he was a butterfly or is he a butterfly dreaming he’s now a man?” “I once dreamt I ate a giant marshmallow. When I woke up, I discovered that my pillow missing,” said Adrian, cracking a lame joke to focus his mind. Adrian was a bit confused. But he thought, that’s to be expected, considering it’s my first visit to The Philosopher’s Cafe. He wanted to meet Buddha’s partner and perhaps have a brief chat before parting ways. Adrian thought his partner might also explain about the rose. Adrian heard a voice yelling, “Where is the exit?” He turned to the table of philosophers and noticed

Sartre standing up and looking around. He turned around to Buddha and remarked: “He can’t find the exit.” “Happens to him all the time,” Buddha remarked. “I’ll help him find the exit and the wench will escort you to the café to meet my partner.” “Wrench?” asked Adrian, not hearing Buddha clearly. Buddha whistled and the wench entered. Adrian noticed a perfume he never noticed before. It was strong and seductive. She moved in a sexy swaying. The only time he ever remembered seeing a similar walk was at the biker’s party, when Sexy Susan and Juicy Jane were dancing. Yet there seemed to be sophistication in her mannerisms. Maybe it was the room and the philosophers. Perhaps it wasn’t the wench at all. He noticed that Buddha was gone and the philosophers were still playing cards, except for Mr. Sartre – Buddha had escorted him to the exit. “Follow me, honey,” the wench said in a seductive voice. “What’s your name?” asked Adrian. The wench leaned over and whispered in his ear: “ Iris Siren.” “I is very pleased to meet you,” he replied. Iris locked her arm in Adrian’s and escorted him out into the main hall. She led him to a trap door in the floor and opened it. Adrian looked down into brightness. Now he was a little hesitant to descend the stairway. He thought there might be a subtle trap or another door leading to nowhere. Perhaps he wasn’t dreaming and was descending again into psychosis. Yet he mind was clear and he remembered falling asleep and dreaming. Now he needed some reassurances. “Iris? Who is down there and why is it so bright?” “The philosopher’s guild sometimes meets there. They look for the light while the regular philosophers play cards in the dark.” Adrian felt he needed to see what lay below. He started descending the staircase with Iris following behind him. With each step, the light became brighter. He kept descending the staircase, caught

between the lights from below and Iris’s enticing perfume, calling Adrian into sensuality. Iris was bringing out sensations in him he thought he kept in check. The stairway descent brought him between the light and the strong perfume. Finally, he focused upon the light, and the perfume no longer enticed him. When he reached the bottom, he saw two men he recognized: Buddha Poonapepper and Rumi Rosenkreuz. “Hey, kid,” remarked Rumi. “You’re looking good. Glad to see you can make it.” “This is a strange dream,” said Adrian. “What is this place I’m dreaming about?” “You see, son,” remarked Buddha. “Your dream is not a dream but sometimes your dream is a dream and other times your dream becomes reality. Simple, isn’t it?” “The kid’s confused,” said Rumi, “It’s his first visit, sort of. Sit down a spell. Iris will help you relax.” Iris pointed to a seat and Adrian promptly sat down. She massaged his shoulders and back. The scent, which he had been able to ignore briefly, returned and he fell under its spell again. He started drifting off and knew he would be fading from this place soon. He wanted to resist but her perfume kept overwhelming him. He knew he needed to fire some last questions before he returned to reality. “Am I dreaming room for Rumi?” asked Adrian. “This is the dream time,” said Rumi. “I have sent an invitation to Doc. You should visit me for three days. You will find the answers you seek.” “Who are Iris and Buddha?” “Buddha is a fellow philosopher’s guild member and Iris is a fellow traveler.” Adrian felt himself drifting back into waking reality. Before he returned, he wanted to ask about the light. The last thing he remembered was that the room was bright and he found it difficult to adjust his eyes. Now he was focusing upon the light again. He needed to ask about it before returning. Focus upon it and ask questions later.

“Why is the light so bright?” “Always has been. I like you, kid,” remarked Buddha. The last thing Adrian remembered was the light and strong perfume. Once again, he found himself in Doc’s pad. He opened his eyes and discovered it was 4 AM. He was sure Doc wouldn’t be interested in hearing about his dream at this hour. If he were interested, it would not be now. Instead, Adrian decided to go back to sleep and get up at a normal time. Tomorrow he would have time to ponder the dream. Who is your agent? That morning, Adrian arose and started composing a poem entitled Dream Time, Revisited. He drafted the first stanza and wandered over to the breakfast table. Doc was eating a liverwurst and onion sandwich, washing it down with a cold beer and black coffee. Bubbles was munching on a banana and tossing the peelings everywhere. Adrian poured himself a glass of milk, made a peanut butter sandwich on toast and sat down to join his companions. “Did you have a good sleep?” asked Doc, wondering how Adrian was coping with the bomb incident. Doc thought they had gained the upper hand, and he observed that Bubbles and Adrian were behaving normally. Doc couldn’t function until he consumed his liverwurst and onion sandwich, washed down with his optimal combination of beer and coffee – one glass of beer and two cups of strong black coffee. What was good enough for his grandfather was good enough for him. “I dreamt about a strange place. Philosophers were playing cards and I met this strange girl called Siren. On top of that, I was the guest of a Mr. Poonapepper and Rosenkreuz.” Doc light up a cigar and reflected upon Adrian’s dream. For him, no breakfast was complete until he smoked a cigar. Usually he picked a very cheap brand in the morning and changed to a more sophisticated brand towards afternoon and evening. His philosophy was that any old stinky stogie would do when he was half asleep. As he puffed on the cigar and stared at a can of pepper, he reflected upon the word pepper. Something in his mind kept pondering the significance the word brought, until he stumbled upon something.

“That’s it. I remember Rumi talking about a Zeke Poonapepper, who had the nickname of Buddha. It seems he was a teacher or something. The woman – Iris Siren – was his cousin, and she married someone called Qutub. They allowed her to stay with the boys because she was talented and belonged to Zeke?” “It’s strange,” replied Adrian. “They were in my dream, along with Rumi.” Doc walked over to his desk drawer and picked out a picture. It was an old photograph Rumi had given him some time ago. In the picture, there were three people dressed in ordinary clothes, except that tow of them wore strange necklaces – Burning bush with a rose in the center – only the girl wasn’t wearing one. He handed the picture to Adrian, who looked at it in silence for a minute or two. “These are the folks in my dream.” “Kid, you get more mystifying each day. We will revisit this later, but right now we need to visit my insurance company, Always Straight.” Yesterday, Doc reported to Hack Hickman, the investigating officer that his car had rolled down the hill hit the warehouse, and exploded. Doc then rented a car from the Timely Wreckers. The last thing he needed to do was report the accident to his insurance company. Adrian remained silent and knew Doc was telling the truth regarding the accident. He just didn’t tell the full story. “Always Straight?” Adrian asked. “Always straight,” he replied. “Their motto is straight answers are our claim to fame.” “Who is your agent?” “Rubin Twiddle,” he responded. “Did you say Rude and tweed tell?” “Friend of the family,” replied Doc. “Let me finish my cigar and we’ll grab Bubbles and be off.” Doc finished his cheap stogie while Bubbles finished her bananas. She threw one peeling on the floor, one on top of the ceiling fan and the other on top of the chandelier. Adrian knew she wanted to watch the ceiling fan fling the banana peel. He turned on the fan and it started turning around, until the

peeling fell to the floor. He picked up the banana peelings, including the one from the chandelier, picked up Bubbles and held her. By that time, Doc had finished his cheap cigar and they were ready. Doc drove the Ford pickup and Adrian rode shotgun, holding Bubbles. The trip took about fifteen minutes and Bubbles amused herself with watching the dogs and cats they passed. They turned into an alley and stopped in front of a small strip mall. Adrian spotted a sign for Always Straight and the motto Straight Answers While You Wait. After parking, they entered the insurance office to find a bald headed man wearing bifocals and carrying a book. “Doc. As I live and breathe. How’s life?” “Rubin Twiddle, Adrian Albright. Adrian Albright, Rubin Twiddle.” They shook each other’s hands and Adrian saw that the book, The Day the Earth Stood still. “Science fiction, Mr. Twiddle?” asked Adrian. “Please. Call me Rubin. I read only classical science fiction, mind you.” Adrian glanced at the newspaper rack and noticed The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The National Enquirer. In the magazine rack, he noticed Reader’s Digest, Scientific American, Mad Magazine, National Geographic and Psychology Today. “You’re quite an eclectic reader,” Adrian remarked, while Bubbles picked up a copy of National Geographic. She became fascinated with a picture of a gorilla on the front cover. Meanwhile, the phone rang and Rubin answered it. He listened for a few seconds, pulled out a tape player, and attached it to the phone and started up a tape. Every thirty seconds, the tape responded with Rubin saying Yes, dear. “Mr. Twiddle, I’m confused. Can you explain the tape recorder?” asked Adrian. “Easy, “ responded Doc. “His wife calls him up once a day to nag, but Rubin is a cleaver agent. He figures his wife talks for an hour and he responds with yes, dear. He gets a second line and recorded yes dear for an hour, making everyone happy.” Rubin went to his book self and secured a copy of H.P. Lovecraft’s greatest works. He shared all his

latest reading endeavors with Doc, since the other customers were only interested in processing claims. Today he took a book about a race of monsters that lived before man appeared on the planet, flipped open a page and showed it to Doc. “This Lovecraft, Doc, is simply delightful,” Rubin, replied. “Love craft?” asked Doc. “I didn’t know you were into seducing the fairer sex. You being married and all.” “No,” Doc, “Lovecraft is a great horror writer. He writes about monsters before mankind appears. Not about real lives, like you and Adrian lead.” While everyone was focused on Lovecraft, Bubbles was having her own amusement. She had abandoned the National Geographic and managed to slip undetected over to the tape recorder, reached for the phone and picked up the receiver. She listened to a few words of a woman’s nagging voice and proceeded to erupt in hysterical monkey laughter; enough to disrupt the Lovecraft discussion. Doc grabbed Bubbles and Rubin grabbed the receiver, just in time to receive a brief scolding from his wife. “Rubin, you miserable good for nothing. How dare you laugh at me? Wait until you get home, you good for nothing idiot!” “But dear,” he replied, grabbing the receiver. “I was laughing at something Lovecraft wrote.” “You’re reading that Twilight Zone again? You don’t think I buy that excuse about laughing at him? Last week, you were reading Poe. I will give you some real horror, you…” Rubin succeeded in hooking up the tape recorder and listened to it echoing Yes dear, yes dear. Adrian was given the task of holding Bubbles to ensure that she’d behaved herself. As for Rubin, he had discovered long ago that reading horror writers was lighthearted escapism compared to his marriage to Glades Metamora Twiddle. No monster from the imagination of Poe or Lovecraft could compete with the nagging of Glades. Rubin initially married her for money and used the money to set up his insurance agency business. He used the business and his books to escape an impossible marriage and he needed to focus upon his client’s needs.

“You say you brought a bomb?” inquired Rubin, taking out a pad to take notes. “My jeep was bombed,” said Doc. “It’s all in the police report by officer Hack Hickman. Did he fax a copy?” Rubin went to his file cabinet and looked under Holliday. He pulled out a fax report and started reading. “Hum. Very interesting. You went to the parking lot. Your jeep started rolling down the hill. You proceeded to chase after it. It struck an abandoned warehouse and went ka boom. Now the report doesn’t say bang or boom but ka boom. It can only mean that ka boom is louder than boom and bang put together. Of course, our own insurance agency would also be examining the wreckage. You have no objections?” “I don’t care if the emperor of Timbuktu investigates. Just process my claim.” “Reminds me of a crime Poe wrote about. A gorilla committed some foul murders.” “Excuse me,” said Adrian. “But I must have a cup of tea and I think Bubbles wants a banana.” “Just a second.” Rubin went to the back room. Inside, he kept some hot coffee and hot water. He also had some bananas saved for when Doc planned to visit. He grabbed a banana, two coffee cups with black coffee, some cream for himself and a teabag, sugar and cream for Adrian. Rubin handed Bubbles the banana, which she proceeded to peel and started to munch. He handed the black coffee to Doc and the tea to Adrian, who added some cream. Rubin then poured some cream into his own coffee and took a sip, while motioning for everyone to sit down. “Absolutely delicious,” said Adrian, sipping the tea. “It’s a sign of a good thinker to have only premium tea available.” “Kid likes his teas,” Doc said. The tea had a calming effect upon Adrian, filling him with thoughts about his dream. Was the dream real or just a dream? Did the references to philosophers mean anything? How could I dream about

Buddha or Iris if I never met? A more disturbing thought surfaced in his mind. I spent several months in the asylum because the doctors thought I was schizophrenic. Yet most of my visions were of spiritual realities. What if the things I saw were real and the doctors tried to make him fit their model of reality? What if their model of reality was wrong or incomplete? As he sipped his tea, he was suddenly aware that Doc was calling him. “Did you know that Rubin speaks Esperanto?” “Is that the Spanish version of espresso?” Bubbles found Adrian’s tone funny and started to laugh. Doc turned and stared at Bubbles and she sat quietly. Rubin opened a book called Esperanto made Easy and said hello there and let’s go bowling. He then continued with where are the fish biting and time to see a movie. Bubbles couldn’t make heads or tails of this incomprehensible new language and started scratching her head. Adrian looked at Rubin and was puzzled by the language. “I see. It’s a language. But I don’t recall hearing about it.” “It’s an artificial language. People speak it around the world. Would you like to see my Esperanto convention pictures?” Doc and Bubbles tried to signal Adrian to say no, but his words beat their reservations: “I would be delighted.” The next few minutes were spent looking at convention photos. Some showed the speaker holding up cue cards in Esperanto and English, so the visitors could follow the talks. There were pictures of Rubin holding conversations in Esperanto with different guests and he would explain the guests’ backgrounds in English, with tidbits of Esperanto thrown in. When Adrian would inquire about a word meaning, Rubin would gladly talk about the word and write it for him. Doc and Bubbles looked at Adrian impatiently, but he found the subject fascinating for it newness and Rubin could speak for hours. In fact, he spent about a half hour talking to Adrian about the subject. Doc pretended to look at his watch and interrupted, “My – how time flies – we really must be going.”

Would you like to see photos of my Lovecraft convention?” “I love—“. Doc grabbed Adrian’s arm and again looked at his watch. “We really must get going.” “Another time then,” said Rubin. “You are such an interesting person,” said Adrian. Bubbles turned her face to give a slight snicker. Rubin waved goodbye and Bubbles responded. Adrian again looked at the sign outside, Always Straight. He mind wondered back to his basic question. What if I saw spiritual realities and I was never really insane? Doc walked towards a pay phone before heading to the jeep. He listened to his messages, since he was in demand by the Barbarians. He looked a little surprised and whistled to Adrian. He responded with a question. “What’s happening?” “Listen to this.” The next moment found him listening to a phone message from Rumi. “Hey Doc. Tell the kid to visit me for three days. Have him follow the usual path this Friday and pick him up Monday morning around ten. I will tell him about my life and he will find out about his. And don’t forget to bring the monkey.” Bubbles appeared excited, as if she knew she was going for a fun trip. Adrian just looked at Doc and scratched his head. Doc lit a cigarette and hung up the phone. He started walking back and forth and looked at Adrian and Bubbles. “In all the time I knew him, he always kept silent about his background. Then you come around and he wants to talk.” “And he wants Bubbles to come. I need to see Ann first.” Crazy Wisdom Ann arrived at Doc’s place early that afternoon, but Doc wasn’t there - he had some business to

attend to in town. Bubbles was staying with Adrian and he brewed some tea for them and found a banana for Bubbles. His mind kept flashing back to his question and he decided to ask Ann. Ann wanted to talk about the jeep incident Doc told her about, but Adrian wanted to tell her about Rumi. “Rumi wants me to spend three days with him and bring Bubbles. He says I will know all about him and myself. What do you think?” Ann looked at Adrian and appeared deep in thought. Bubbles focused upon her banana and wouldn’t care if a world war were occurring. Rumi was the most mysterious man Ann ever met – outside Adrian. She turned around and looked at him, while sipping her tea. “I think he is a nice but unusual man. It would be nice to get some questions answered.” “Suppose,” said Adrian, “I was not really sick. Suppose all I saw in the asylum was spiritually real, but the doctors thought I was seeing delusions? Suppose that what is spiritually real becomes real enough for others to experience. Suppose my death brought that about?” “I’m puzzled,” said Ann, looking at Adrian with a confused look. Bubbles looked at him with the same look, attempting to imitate Ann. “Remember…Remember…” said Adrian, getting excited about his thoughts. “Remember when I turned myself in because I kept hearing voices? Whose voices? The maiden named Kazan, who talked about healing me. Remember the animal that never revealed his species? The one who called himself El Sabio Loco? I know who they are now. Kazan and El Sabio Loco.” Ann appeared stunned to Adrian, as if she was lost in deep thought. Bubbles continued to imitate Ann, much to Adrian’s amusement. “William Alter told me once,” said Ann, “about a tradition in the Orthodox religion where Mary is in an icon called the Virgin of Kazan. The lady who appeared in the icon called herself Virgin of Kazan and claimed to be Mary. This icon represented the loving kindness aspect of Mary. And loco! Of course! And El Sabio Loco is Spanish. I believe el means the, sabio means wise and loco means crazy.

Coyote.” “It makes sense,” said Adrian. “Virgin of Kazan is the healing and loving kindness embodiment of Mary and El Sabio Loco is the one who is wise and crazy. I think he is Crazy Wisdom.” “I remember,” said Ann. “About something Doctor Alter said, before he was killed. The Crazy Wisdom tradition is where sages act crazy according to conventional social traditions and teach wisdom to the spiritual adept. He said he has read about it in both the Eastern and the Eastern Orthodox traditions. ” “Coyote is Crazy Wisdom or El Sabio Loco. Virgin of Kazan is my healing source. I’m becoming Crazy Wisdom, just like Rumi and Coyote. I must see the statue to learn more. I need to talk to it, because tomorrow Rumi invited me to visit him and it will be a few days to see the statue again. ” Ann looked at him and shrugged her shoulders. “I suppose. Where is agent Mulder when you need him?” “Probably chasing make believe cases. Let’s go.” Ann grabbed Bubbles in her left hand and handed Bubbles her purse. Adrian opened the door for the two ladies, when Ann looked directly at the monkey. “Next thing you know, he’ll be saying you’re Hanuman, the ancient Indian monkey god.” Bubbles just gave Ann a wink with her left eye. Ann then turned and whispered in her ear. “Us girls will never understand men.” Bubbles then shrugged her shoulders and lifted up both arms half way. Ann walked to her Volkswagen, but not before picking up Bubbles and handing her back to Adrian. She needed some music and turned to a classical station. Bubbles picked up a pencil from the center cup holder and pretended to conduct an orchestra, alternating the pencil between clockwise and counterclockwise directions with her right arm. Adrian recognized the piece as being his favorite – The Canon in D minor. He commenced whistling the tune in rhythm to Bubbles’ gestures. Ann waited for the piece to finish before bringing up the jeep incident again.

“I want to ask again about the jeep the bad guys blew up.” Bubbles started laughing, slapping her left knee and Adrian looked at her. She returned the look with her left eye and sat like a Zen monk pondering a koan. “It’s nothing! Really! The bad guys planted a bomb, Coyote sang some songs and drove the jeep, Bubbles went for a ride – the jeep exploded and stunned the bad guys – Doc took them for a ride, the big guy rushed me, I stepped out of his way and he hit a tree.” “Is that all?” asked Ann, giving him a sarcastic look. “I did finish two lollipops before going home.” Bubbles flipped the radio and got a bluegrass station. The station was playing The Devil Went down to Georgia. It was really one of her favorite songs, especially the part where Johnny plays the fiddle. She could care less for the legion of demons playing and showed her disgust by sticking out her tongue. The basic theme centered on a contest between Johnny and the devil over who is the best player – the prize being a gold violin for his precious soul. When Johnny started playing the fiddle, Bubbles would start dancing on Adrian’s knees. “I didn’t know she liked that song,” said Adrian. “Is that one Coyote sang?” asked Ann. “No. He sang a yodel song, the row a boat and French wet suit song, preceded by a chorus of being dry.” “You used Aikido on the guy hitting the tree. Why did you start practicing Aikido?” “Health and spiritual reasons. Don’t you remember the conversations we had? Aikido means the way of harmony. One practices it to start mastering oneself and harnessing ki, the universal energy.” “But when you do it in an attack, you move out of the way, melt with the force and flow through the energy or ki.” Adrian was getting excited over Ann’s interest in Aikido, because it met interest in him. He always thought Morihei Ueshiba - the founder - was a very spiritual man. Adrian was so good at it, he thought

of it as a spiritual dance, like the Sufi’s doing their circular ecstasy dance. The Sufis and Aikido masters both were lost in the dance. Bubbles continued dancing with Johnny playing the fiddle. The ride continued for a few minutes, until they reached the church. She parked in the back and they proceeded towards the front door with Bubbles in Adrian’s arms. When they reached the front door, Dorothy, who just finished sweeping up the rectory, greeted them. She recognized Adrian and Ann but never met Bubbles before. “Bless my soul. Adrian and Ann. How are you? I was going to ask who this is? Will you be assisting me or the priest?” she asked, attempting to crack a joke. “This is Bubbles,” said Ann. Dorothy shook hands with Bubbles and she responded by attempting to kiss her. Bubbles was immediately attracted to Dorothy and immediately climbed into her arms. Dorothy started rocking her back and forth, like she was holding her firstborn child. Bubbles started falling into a restful state and appeared to be sleeping. Dorothy looked at them, wondering why they stopped by. “What brings you here today?” “He wants to talk to the statue,” Ann smiled brightly. “Virgin of Kazan? Figures. Everyone wants a rose.” Ann was taken aback. She looked at Dorothy, wondering how she knew that name. Adrian stood in silence, almost like he knew what Dorothy would say. Only Bubbles was unconcerned, having found a warm set of arms to rock her to sleep. “How do you know her name?” asked Ann. “My patron saint, Mary Baker Eddy, said to call her Virgin of Kazan, the embodiment of healing,” said Dorothy. She stood still and looked over in the southeast church corner, where the statue stood. Mary was about Ann’s height – five feet four – and she stood adjacent to the statue of Joseph. Bubbles was

gazing at the Virgin of Kazan, as she rested in Dorothy’s arms. Her eyes were focused on the trickling stream of light surrounding Mary’s forehead. She cracked a slight smile and became hypnotized by the light. Adrian walked over to Mary, like he was approaching a lifelong friend. After making eye contact, he placed his hand on the statue and was transported to various places, dancing in his mind’s eye. He noticed the lands where Mary appeared to different people. He felt Mary through the body and mind of one of the visionaries. Each land, he felt that a different aspect of Mary presented herself. The appearance represented a compassionate and motherly love, which he wanted to embrace more fully. He was transported back to Montana and the latest, contemporary manifestation of Mary – Virgin of Kazan. Adrian was then given insight into the Aborigine Dreamtime. He felt himself propelled to a place during the initial creation, where he witnessed various spirits or spiritual elements becoming involved and assisted the great creator with the creation. He saw these spiritual elements continue to guide the people and aid them, along with the Great Spirit. Adrian realized Coyote was one of them. He then had another insight – The dreamtime was what he entered when he talked to Coyote or, more recently, Rumi. After Adrian died, the dreamtime started to manifest itself in physical reality. He was walking in two traditions, according to scholars – but he didn’t see any artificial divisions existing. “I am bi. I am bi,” said Adrian. “Good heavens,” said Dorothy, taken a bit aback. “He does have to flaunt it.” “That’s not what he means,” insisted Ann, wondering what he really met. “I mean traditionally bi.” “Being bi is not traditional.” “I walk in two traditions and can enter the dreamtime.” “So can Bubbles,” said Dorothy, looking at her sleeping in her arms. The ladies watched while Adrian focused upon Mary.

His mind wandered to the rose and he wondered about its significance. He found two purposes coming to mind – one to heal those who needed healing and the other to connect with spirit. It is the mystical rose that all mankind should seek. Some, like Rumi, spend their whole life seeking it and others, like Adrian, have the rose given as a gift. He felt his hand drawn to Virgin of Kazan’s and put his hands on the statue. He felt something pop into his hand and his mind beheld an image of Dorothy. He handed Dorothy the rose flower in her open right hand. “This is for you,” he said. “She usually materializes these on Wednesday, but today isn’t Wednesday,” said Dorothy. Adrian again touched the statue, leaving all three ladies to ponder how Adrian got the rose and why Virgin of Kazan materialized it on a Thursday. Again a message came to him – the roses would continue to manifest and the church would become a place of pilgrimage. Eventually Dorothy would understand everything – but not today. Adrian just wanted to shout about the rose. “The rose is the poetic form of God’s light, much like Japan has the…haiku.” “Gesundheit!” said Dorothy. “Pardon?” asked Ann. Bubbles looked up and make a smacking sound with her lips, indicating she wanted a kiss. She had her arms wrapped around Dorothy’s left arm and her half-shut eyes indicated she needed a good night kiss. Her gestures distracted everyone and brought them all back to the real world of hungry monkeys and thirsty people. Nobody remembered the previous conversations, except for the main points. Dorothy felt a good spot of tea would be what everyone needed and offered the suggestion. “Would anyone care for a spot of tea? Could someone hold Bubbles while I make some?” Asked Dorothy. “Tea? Wonderful. Do you have some cookies?” asked Adrian. “As many as the wee folks have pots of gold,” responded Dorothy. Dorothy went to the kitchen to make tea and Ann ended up holding Bubbles. They joined Dorothy

in the kitchen. Adrian was busy raiding the cookie jar, while Ann went to grab a glass of water. A jar of nuts, sitting on the counter, sparked the attention of Bubbles. While Ann focused on the water, Bubbles’ hands played Houdini with the nuts – making them disappear from the container into her mouth. She let loose a sly, mischievous smile, pleased that everyone was too busy elsewhere, not to notice the nuts disappearing. “You’re the guy with the strange photos Rumi had. I remember the picture of Virgin of Kazan and one of Coyote,” remarked Dorothy, busy making the tea. “What did Mary tell you?” Ann asked Adrian. “She appears in different parts of the world, under different aspects. She has come to help the people and I also found the dreamtime. Coyote is part of it and Rumi has found the dreamtime and I like the dreamtime.” “So does Bubbles,” replied Dorothy. . Bubbles let out a big belch, having had her fill of nuts. The next time Dorothy wanted some nuts, she would find the container empty and it would leave her wondering if Father O’Connor had eaten them all. Dorothy had plenty of lemons, not wishing to have Rumi show up and not have any lying around. “What is dreamtime?” asked Ann. “Dreamtime is…well…where we go when we’re not in wake time.” “What did you learn from the Virgin of Kazan?” asked Dorothy. Adrian’s mind had a flash regarding Aesop’s fairy tales. He now understood they conveyed deep moral truths. Henny Penny was a chicken who wanted to bake some bread. Every time the chicken asked for help baking bread, no one would help. When she finally baked the bread, everyone wanted to help her eat it. Another was about a boy, crying wolf. Whenever he cried a wolf was present, everyone came. When the real wolf finally came, nobody came to rescue him. To Adrian, telling all Virgin of Kazan said would be best said another day – when people are ready to help bake bread. Now they can

hear messages about wolves coming – messages without real substance. “She appears in several places, to help those in need. She is here, in this place and time, to help heal the people,” said Adrian. They drank their tea and Bubbles opened Ann’s purse and pulled out a small vanity mirror. She admired her reflection and she started to laugh. Everyone watched her and shortly, joined her in laughter. She kissed the mirror and looked at everyone, happy for all the attention. Dorothy grabbed her from Ann’s arms and rocked her, inducing another bout of sleep. “She’s so cute,” remarked Dorothy. “Such a wonderful example of good behavior.” Both Ann and Adrian smiled faintly at her remark. Dorothy wondered about how Adrian talked to Mary. “Does she actually talk to you?” “I see images and I understand,” responded Adrian. Bubbles woke up and pulled on Dorothy’s dress and looked at Dorothy and pointed to the container of nuts. Dorothy walked over and noticed it was empty; prompting her to open another can, fill the container, and give Bubbles some. “I don’t understand where the nuts went to. It must be that Father O’Connor needs to quit snacking.” For some reason, neither lady had any questions to ask and Ann looked at her watch and remarked. “We should be going back.” “Take some cookies with you,” said Dorothy. Bubbles pulled on Dorothy’s dress again and pointed to the nuts. While she went to for more nuts, Adrian filled a bag with cookies. Bubbles was very happy and pretended to be cute and adorable, so Dorothy would give her many nuts to bring home. Adrian held the cookie bag and Ann grabbed the nuts to go, frustrating Bubbles need for immediate gratification. “Come back anytime,” said Dorothy to Adrian, “and bring those lovely ladies with you.” Bubbles put her hand on her mouth and blew a kiss in Dorothy’s direction.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road Ann, Adrian and Bubbles drove back to Doc’s place, where Doc was playing a tune on his electronic piano. Doc had no particular tune in mind before they arrived and had a mouth organ on the piano. It was a relatively new mouth organ and he pledged to learn it some day. He thought about the recent experience with Mojo and started to bang out Got My Mojo Working. Ann noticed the mouth organ. “Mind if I join you?” asked Ann, pointing to the harmonica. “What?” asked Doc, acting a bit surprised. “Since when do you play the harmonica?” “Since I was small and my Uncle Elmer taught me. I play it to relax.” “You never told me,” said Adrian. “You never know when life throws you a surprise.” Doc removed his hands from the keyboard and looked at Adrian. “Did you tell her you are visiting Rumi tomorrow?” asked Doc. “He mentioned it in passing,” replied Ann. “I now need a tune to relax.” Doc started playing Got My Mojo Working and Ann started playing the juice harp with a fury – surprising both men. While Ann and Doc played their corresponding instruments, Bubbles was playing with a Raggedy Ann doll and Adrian, standing up besides Ann, was banging a tambourine. Bubbles dropped the Raggedy Ann doll and picked up some small cymbals to play. She started clanging them together, attempting to imitate Adrian – who was as adept at playing the tambourine as a penguin riding a camel. Raggedy Ann’s eyes blinked as Bubbles was busy watching Adrian. The dolls hand grabbed Bubbles tail and gave it a gentle pull. Coyote, who was always near Adrian, couldn’t help but become fascinated with playing a trick on Bubbles. She let out a small yip and turned around. Her yip was a friendly one – not angry – and she eyed the doll, wondering if the doll pulled her tail. She picked up the cymbals again and attempted to imitate Adrian’s playing. Doc was singing the Mojo song and was very pleased at Ann’s playing. Bubbles played the cymbals while the Raggedy Ann doll blinked. The hand again grabbed Bubbles tail and gave a gentle yang.

Bubbles turned around and hit the Raggedy Ann doll. The doll, inert as a lump of clay, lay on the floor – unmoving. Bubbles again looked at the doll and didn’t see any movement. She picked up the cymbals and started clanging to Adrian’s tambourine. The song was almost finished and Doc was singing the final chorus. The doll again blinked and her hand pulled Bubbles’ tail. She yipped. The tail pulling movement surprised her. She threw the cymbals at the doll just as Doc bellowed out the final chorus. “Bubbles is so excited, she smashed her instruments like the Who.” “Who?” asked Adrian, wondering if Doc was referring to the science fiction doctor. “It’s a rock group,” said Ann. “How do I sound?” “Like Muddy Waters on a good day.” “How do I sound?” asked Adrian. “Like a horse with a new set of shoes, who swallowed a bottle of Jack Daniels and took up tap dancing.” Adrian reflected upon Doc’s comment. I never played the tambourine before and horses do have iron shoes. Jack Daniels makes people like Doc relax. Gee! A horse that tapped dance would be the life of the party. Maybe Doc really likes my tambourine playing. Maybe if I played it more, he would think I have musical potential. Enough of my musical longings! I must replace them with poetic inspiration. “Shall I jam with you again sometime?” asked Ann. “Honey, you may jam with me anytime,” replied Doc. “How long have you played the harmonica?” “I discovered it the same time I discovered Nicholas Roerich.” “Nicholas Roerich?” asked Adrian, a bit surprised. “You never told me Ann. I really like his paintings?” Ann was surprised that Adrian never mentioned this in therapy. There were few people who had even heard of him. Bubbles, meanwhile, kept looking at the Raggedy Ann doll, ready to punch it in the

nose or bite its head off at the first false move. Adrian again thought about the painting. I discovered the artwork of Nicholas Roerich and Aikido at the same time. I would spend hours on perfecting an Aikido form and reflect on Roerich’s paintings. Why did I never mention that to Ann in therapy? Probably was never important. My favorite was Treasure of the World. The world is a dark and mysterious Tibetan horse, Chinta Mani, brings the sacred fire on his back to light the world. Unfortunately, hostile forces are lurking in the shadows, ready to extinguish the light. Maybe, in a way, I was acting the role of Chinta Mani and perhaps Scorpion and his henchmen reflected the hostile forces. “Have you seen Treasure of the World?” asked Adrian. “It’s a personal favorite of mine,” said Ann, her voice echoing a tone of sweetness Adrian could almost taste. “It’s not my cup of tea,” said Doc. “Bubbles looks like a boxer sizing up his opponent.” The three watched her look at the Raggedy Ann doll. She would occasionally pull its hair or slap it with her hand, attempting to elicit a response. The doll stood silent, ready to absorb the punches and surrender to the monkey’s aggressive attacks. But Bubbles, seeing no motion in the doll, lost interest after a few minutes. She skittered away, leaving the three laughing at her antics. Ann realized it was getting late and needed to go. “I need to go now. Did you say you are visiting Rumi?” “Tomorrow night Adrian and Bubbles will visit him for three days,” replied Doc. “Rumi promised to tell me about his life and I will learn about mine. Will you please come to see me off?” asked Adrian. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world,” replied Ann, waving goodbye. He watched as she drove away, realizing he was falling for her. Doc went for a drink and to play cards, leaving Adrian to flip on the radio and turn to an old time radio show and Bubbles sat in his lap. Jack Benny was yelling at Rochester and the antics caused them both to laugh. Bubbles laughed to

imitate Adrian and she found his laugher amusing. Adrian laughed because he found the timing of Jack was an art. In fact, in his opinion, Jack could run rings around comedians like Jerry Seinfeldt. When Don Wilson read the announcements, he thought of all the silly events in his life. Humor was the one element that made life palatable and provided a blueprint to view life’s elements – both good and bad. Adrian dozed off with Bubbles sleeping beside him. Doc finished his drink and cards and decided to let them sleep. He turned off the radio and went to bed. Adrian did not visit the philosopher’s café or see any philosophers, but he did have a deep and peaceful sleep. He woke the next morning and packed a few items for this trip to Rumi’s place. Doc fixed a lunch basket for Bubbles and threw some things in for Adrian. Time passed rather quickly and Bubbles appeared to be very happy. Like most animals, she sensed she would be joining Adrian on her trip. It’s one of life’s little mysteries, along with female intuition and cats landing on their feet. How it is done, nobody knows. But Bubbles followed Adrian around like a faithful puppy. Adrian passed the day writing poetry and Doc went to work with the Gladiators. When Doc arrived back, it was evening and Adrian finished three poems. An hour later, Ann arrived and brought some goodies for Adrian. They climbed into Doc’s rented vehicle and were off to an unknown location – unknown to everyone but Doc and Rumi. They arrived at a wooded area with a nature trail. Both Ann and Adrian looked surprised when Doc stopped the vehicle. “This is the place,” said Doc. “You’re dropping him off in the middle of nowhere?” asked Ann. “Relax,” said Doc. “This trail leads to Rumi’s place. I walked it many times myself. He’s waiting for you.” “What if I get lost?” asked Adrian. “You can’t get lost,” said Doc. “Follow the trail.” “But this is highly unusual,” said Ann. Adrian trusted his friend Doc, overriding Ann’s objections. He took his bag of goodies and clothes in

one hand, wearing the red hunting jacket and green Sherlock Holmes cap Doc gave him, and Bubbles, wearing her Cubs hat, in his other hand. His mind was still fresh from Ann’s kiss. He remembered her parting words as he started on the trail – be careful. Adrian wondered if this was the trail the adventurers went on in The Wizard of Oz? Would the wicked witch’s house be around the corner and would he enter it, should he discover it? His mind kept focusing upon the trail. As he turned back, he saw the headlights of Doc’s vehicle. He looked back at the trail, trying not to lose it. “How do I find Rumi?” Adrian asked himself. “Follow the yellow brick road,” responded the bush. Bubbles bounced and point to the bush. When Adrian looked, no one was there. He then focused back upon the trail. The trail continued for a ways and he again wondered if he lost it. He looked back and could no longer see the headlights. It was probably too late to turn back and he continued down along the trail, wondering if he was heading in the right direction. “I think I’m lost,” said Adrian to Bubbles. “Follow the yellow brick road,” responded a tree. Adrian stopped and looked up at the tree. Nothing was present, except for an owl asking who every few seconds. Bubbles was excited and wanted to climb the tree. Adrian kept trying to restrain her but Bubbles determination to climb the tree was overwhelming. He knew he would have to climb the tree to retrieve her, should she succeed in breaking his grip on her. The owl kept calling who while Adrian wanted to call help. Instead, his next statement was directed at the perpetrator. “Is that you, el loco gabio? Is Coyote el loco gabio?” Adrian looked ahead of him and, off in the distance perched on a rock, a dark, but luminous coyote stood. He felt Bubbles pulling away and knew she wanted to join Coyote. He let her loose and she darted over to the rock. She tried to wrap her arms around Coyote but they went right through. Puzzled, she attempted another hug with the same result. Adrian wondered how long she would keep trying. He set his supplies down and waited.

“I am also known as el loco gabio,” the Coyote said. “I have a present for you. Some Mountain Dew.” Adrian glanced at Coyote and saw a huge brown jug a few feet from him. He loved the soda pop and savored its wonderful taste. Perhaps it was the orange juice inside that hooked him on it. He wondered why it was not in a familiar can and was puzzled over the jug’s shape and size. A cold drink would taste good right now, and the caffeine would help him stay alert. Yet he suspected there might be a trick. “Is that really Mountain Dew? No tricks?” asked Adrian. “I promise you – this is the real McCoy – Mountain Dew,” replied Coyote. Adrian stepped up to the jug and noticed Bubbles was puzzled – she apparently could see Coyote but couldn’t connect with him. Every time she attempted to hug him, he was as ephemeral as Custer’s good luck charm. Adrian’s thirst and desire for a soda pop overcame any hesitation he had. Picking up the jug, he gulped down a good mouthful – then he started to gag and cough. He put the jug down and continued to gag and cough – his head exploding with neon lights. Bubbles and Coyote were busy laughing. Adrian turned and gazed at them. “You be quiet or I’ll give you some to drink,” Adrian replied to Bubbles. Bubbles just sat still and pretended she was in church. “Is this moonshine?” asked Adrian. “It’s just a herbal formula to open you up to time hopping,” said Coyote. “What is time hopping?” asked Adrian. “I’ll show you later, kid. Right now, I have a riddle for you. What walks on four legs as a baby, two in the afternoon and three in the evening?” asked Coyote. Adrian had heard this one before. He tried to recall when he heard the riddle. It must have been as a kid, when he spent time meditating under a tree. When all the other kids were playing at recess, he took the time to just meditate and enjoy nature. His school counselor walked by and saw him

meditating. She said hello and offered him a riddle. After two days of trying, she finally gave him the answer. “Man,” said Adrian. “He walks on four legs at birth, two in midlife and carries a cane as he grows older. That joke’s as old as the Sphinx,” replied Adrian. “Who do you think told him the riddle?” inquired Coyote. Meanwhile, Bubbles had a riddle to ponder herself. How could she see her friend and not touch him? Every time she reached out to touch Coyote, her hands went right through his luminous form. The only course of action left was a clever one – pick up a stone and throw it at Coyote. She located a goodsized stone and threw it – hitting Adrian in the knee. “Ouch. Come over here, you little stinker.” He grabbed Bubbles and lifted her in his arms. “As long as you are here, el loco gabio – what do you know about dreamtime?” “If you answer my question, I will take you there,” replied Coyote. This time, Adrian was ready for a deep, philosophical question. If Coyote had given the riddle to the sphinx, then he could ask about anything. He went through his list of subjects and wondered what Coyote would ask him. Perhaps he would ask about the dust on the moon or how mankind came into existence. He could ask about the religions of man and how they differed or why philosophers asked questions. Yet if Adrian didn’t answer the question, he would not learn more about dreamtime. “Give me the question,” said Adrian. “In how many Stooge episodes were there pie fights?” Coyote asked. Adrian was taken aback. Instead of some important philosophical question, he was asked about pie fights. The Stooges were such silly geese and he remembered Curly working on an automatic piethrowing gadget that kept hitting him in the face with pies. Sometimes all the rich and important people got hit in the face. Perhaps Coyote was trying to teach him that the Stooges came out of the depression era and poked fun at the very wealthy. He was ready to say I don’t know, when Bubbles raised her right hand.

“You’re right – five. Now let’s go to dreamtime.” Whenever he visited Coyote, he always did a chant called Coyote Come. In it, he entered a dream world. Yet Buddha Poonapepper mentioned Coyote was part of the dreamtime. His own insights told him Coyote was part of it from the beginning. “Should I do the chant?” asked Adrian.

“Touch my fur and I will uplift you in a thousand ways.” “I heard something like that before, but I can’t remember where. It bugs the dickens out of me. What about her?” Adrian was wondering about Bubbles and if she would tag along. He felt like Dorothy with her dog Toto, after they found the magic slippers. Instead of the wicked witch and her band of evil creatures, he had to deal with Scorpion and his merry band of cutthroats. He waited for Coyote’s answer about Bubbles. “If you hold her, she will come along.” Adrian placed his hand on Coyote’s luminous fur and noticed something different – instead of his hand passing through Coyote’s form, as Bubbles had experienced, he felt a solid form. Next he noticed himself floating though streams of light, like the opening stage shows for all the Grateful Dead concerts he saw on TV. But instead of using LSD, he was taking the Coyote express. Yet he knew if he tried explaining his experiences to Grateful Dead fans, they would ask him how much for the stuff. Bubbles was enjoying the light and her eyes were open and twinkling, and another insight stuck Adrian. These trips were not part of the material dream world but his actual spirit (along with the spirits of Bubbles and Coyote) was physically traveling. He knew if he ever were invited to Ken Kesey’s prankster parties, he would be the center of attention. His travels finally subsided and he and Bubbles looked around. It appeared to be some medieval monastery and they were all standing inside a monk’s room finished with wooden tables and chairs and flasks of liquor, perhaps ale or wine. Two monks in brown robes stood engaged in making merry and lively conversation.

“Where are we?” asked Adrian. “In your calendar, this is the Middle Ages,” replied Coyote. “Can they see or hear us?” asked Adrian. “Heavens, no. This is like the Ghost of Christmas past taking a trip, or Moose and Mojo eavesdropping, or watching Casablanca. We are watching recorded history in the dreamtime. Important philosophical history is being made,” replied Coyote. Adrian held Bubbles, as she wanted to go bother the monks or try the liquor. He noticed two engraved pens inside the room, which said Bartholomew and Eckhart. He figured they were the monks’ names. Another twist was the word philosophical history. Adrian remembered his trip to the philosopher’s café and wondered if the event was related. He stood silent and listened to the conversation. “You got it all wrong, Brother Bartholomew,” said Eckhart. “They dance like this.” Eckhart started dancing in a circle going counter-clockwise. Both his hands reached for the ceiling, as he bent his body down. When he raised his right foot, he moved his arms behind his back. After he raised his left foot, he moved his arms to the right. He performed these movements for three counterclockwise circles. “That’s how they dance,” said Eckhart. “Let me show you how they dance,” replied Bartholomew. He then raised himself on his tiptoes and clapped his hands together. When he moved in a clockwise circle, he kept yelling hallelujah. Instead of three circles, like the other monk, he made four circles. Adrian must have counted six halleluiahs said for each circle. He was still puzzled over the behavior. “It appears we don’t agree on the dance. Let’s discuss how they fly,” said Eckhart. “It’s definitely like the hummingbird.” Eckhart took a big sip of liquor and began to hum. He placed both arms on this shoulders and moved them in a rapid pace. Instead of a clockwise or counterclockwise circle, he made figures of

eight. Adrian counted six of these figures of eight. “That’s how they fly,” said Eckhart. “You got it all wrong, as usual,” replied Bartholomew, sipping a good portion of the liquor. “Here is how they fly. They fly like the falcon.” He held both arms at shoulder height. He bent his body low and high, alternating as he went in a counter-clockwise direction. Then he changed his body position, alternating high and low, to a clockwise direction. His right hand went over his eyes in a cuffed position, when changing circular direction, attempting to show the falcon’s great eyesight. “Alas! We can’t agree on how they fly or dance,” sighed Eckhart. “We can agree on one thing,” said Bartholomew. “What would that be?” Bartholomew walked over toward Eckhart’s seat and his closed hand touched his rear. “Ouch!” screamed Eckhart. “You stuck me in the rear! Why?” “You felt the sharp prick. The point is real, is it not?” asked Bartholomew. “What’s the point?” asked Eckhart. “We can agree on the reality of the pin. We still haven’t determined how angels fly or dance.” “And that is important to know, in order to determine how many occupy a particular space at once. Then we need to determine how many are dancing or flying,” retorted Eckhart. “What are they debating about?” asked Adrian. “Simple!” replied Coyote. “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” Adrian was a

bit surprised and wondered about this deep philosophical debate. He thought he was witnessing the results of mankind’s great philosophical achievements. He noticed that Brother Bartholomew was a bit annoyed with Eckhart. His face reddened and he wondered if anyone got killed over this argument. Bartholomew began inhaling deep breaths and turned to Eckhart. “Angels are big like me. They fill up their lungs with warm air for heavenly singing. This is why

fewer angels can dance on a pin’s head.” “But I agree. If hot air comes from thy bellows and carries as much weight as you speak of, then surely the pin would be crushed.” “I think you mock me,” replied Bartholomew. Eckhart picked up a quill pen and let it fall to the ground. The pen was a bird feather and the lighter weight caused it to float gently downward. He then took a piece of wood and let it fall, resulting in a hard thump. He clapped his hands together and turned toward Bartholomew. “We can see that weight is a factor. How much does each angel weigh dancing on the pin?” “Will they ever get these questions addressed?” asked Adrian. “In a century or two,” replied Coyote. “Should we wait or go back?” Adrian already knew he didn’t want to stay but pretended to be thinking it over. He released Bubbles to run to the monks. She tried to grab them but her arms went right through. After jumping on the chair and falling through, she walked to the table and discovered she could go through it. Her arms tried to touch everything, only to fade into the images. Finally, Adrian grabbed her. “Let’s go,” he said. “You know the routine,” Coyote replied. Adrian put his hand on Coyote’s fur and found a solid handgrip. He felt pulsations of light and the sensation of traveling in a tunnel. Many colors of blue, green, orange, red, yellow and white kept fading in and out. A few seconds passed and the light began to fade. The landscape of the forest reappeared and Bubbles was still in his arms. He looked around and discovered a vital ingredient was missing – Coyote. Coyote was gone and Adrian worried about getting lost, until he looked at the ground. There was a wide yellow line going before him, extending through the forest. He bent over and noticed the texture. It appeared to be sulfur and caused Adrian to ponder. “I wonder how he does that?” Bubbles looked at him and shrugged her shoulders, prompting Adrian to continue walking. He

carried Bubbles and followed the sulfur trail, wondering where it would end. His feet were tired and his muscles ached – on top of that, carrying Bubbles for any distance was a chore. He hungered for a Fig Newton or a box of raisins, but none was in the supply basket Ann had packed. Maybe Rumi might have some sweets to nibble on. His thoughts turned to sleep and he wondered why Rumi wanted to start so late. Another few feet felt like an eternity and his attention was fading. A figure waving in the horizon uplifted his spirits – it was Rumi. “Hey, Kid,” yelled Rumi. “You’re looking good. And I see you brought the adorable Bubbles.” When Adrian reached Rumi, Bubbles jumped right into Rumi’s arms. Adrian saw a simple but large cabin he figured was his host’s. He walked inside and was pleasantly surprised. The layout reminded him of a chemistry lab with chemical flasks all around, except that a person lived here. He approached a light or lantern and couldn’t find a kerosene or battery source for it. No matter how he approached the lantern or examined it, the light source still eluded him and this fact greatly puzzled him. “Japanese?” asked Adrian. “Gracious, no,” responded Rumi. “Family heirloom.” “Solar powered?” inquired Adrian. “Heaven forbid,” replied Rumi. “Perpetual motion. Would you care for a spot of tea?” “A cup would be a wonderful substitute.” Rumi brewed some tea and brought a cup for Adrian and himself. Adrian helped himself to some cream and sugar, while at the same time admiring the Sherlock Holmes chemistry lab setting. Both sipped their tea in silence, and Bubbles occupied herself with a banana. Adrian had a zillion questions and he wanted to find out more. He drank half his tea before speaking. “Tell me about your life.” “No talk tonight – just rest. Tomorrow I’ll tell you my life story.” Adrian finished his tea and wanted to sleep. Rumi escorted him to a guest bedroom with a dog bed for Bubbles. Both drifted in dreamland without a passing thought. Tonight Adrian did not visit the

philosopher’s café or talk to Buddha Poonapepper or Iris Siren. There were no philosophers’ playing cards or seductive perfume – only sleep. The next morning Adrian was served a heaping helping of venison stew and a pot of green tea. He never had venison before and thought it may have a strong flavor to it. The flavor was carefully enhanced though Rumi’s creative blend of spices. Bubbles was eating some monkey food packed by Doc and drinking some powered milk. Dying to know more about his mysterious host and benefactor and therefore, Adrian became blunt and direct. “When will you share your life’s story?” “Now, kid. We have plenty of green tea and time. “ Philosophers Run in the Family Rumi was born to a Fred and Wilma Rosenkreutz near Stanford University. He came from a bloodline of very intelligent people and the blood of philosophy ran in the family. His first name was Clarence but preferred the name Rumi, which he acquired later, in relating this tale. Fred was a philosophy professor at Stanford and philosophically approached life, rather then being an academic philosopher. Rumi quickly embraced the same traditions of the great masters. Plato was his favorite thinker and he agreed with the sayings of a contemporary western philosopher – all philosophers are a series of footnotes to Plato. He quickly excelled in his normal and specialized studies. He followed and was fascinated with the traditions of the Greek philosophers. So deep were his ponderings and beliefs that a dilemma confronted him – is it better to be a physicist or a philosopher? Rumi quickly solved that dilemma by studying both physics and philosophy at Stanford, after entering the university at the ripe age of sixteen. While other students were interested in parties and girls, Rumi read the minds of great scholars. After completing his bachelor’s in philosophy and physics, he decided upon the former for a life commitment. His next year found him completing his master’s degree. His master’s thesis on The Platonic Duck Waddle is Better than the Aristotle Quack

was winning him academic recognition and promised a bright future in known philosophical circles. He already applied for and was accepted into the Ph.D. program at Yale, Stanford Harvard, and Princeton. He thought his biggest problem was deciding which school to get a Ph.D. from – wrong! A visit to a little known pawnshop and a visiting professor would change his life forever. Hans Von Strudel was a visiting German professor and gave a lecture entitled if you are ever lost, get lost in the moment. His lectures were widely attended and he noticed three promising students in the front roll – Rumi, Adam Gardener and Eve Applebee. Adam and Eve were lovers and embraced the schools of knowledge and ethics. But Hans took a liking to these students and approached them after the lecture. “I noticed you three seemed to enjoy the talk,” replied Hans. “A delightful blend of wit and charm,” replied Adam. “Tomorrow afternoon I am launching my balloon called The Diogenes and I want you to ride along. Grab some clothes and a couple of books to read. Meet me at this address.” The three students were given the location and time for the balloon launch. Being young and brilliant, they were easily impressed by a distinguished visiting German professor offering them a balloon ride. Rumi was so impressed he immediate dashed to the nearest bookstore, an obscure one hidden in an alley – the Persephone. Rumi stepped inside the Persephone and was greeted by a sparely gentleman of British accent, spoiling customers with his collection of old and rare manuscripts. Many of Stanford’s elite visited his store, but Rumi was always busy dissecting texts of philosophy under his microscope of intellectual scrutiny. Now Rumi was in need of help and direction – at least in this winding mass of books and manuscripts. “I need help,” said Rumi. “Everyone does. My name is Uther – Uther Pendragon.” Rumi extended his hand and shook it.

“Clarence. Clarence Rosenkreuz. Well, Uther. I’m in utter confusion here.” best. You want?” “Something Episcopalian.”

“Happens to the

Uther Pendragon went to an obscure bookshelf, hidden in a far corner of the store. In the back, he picked out a thick volume and dusted it off. The door was next to his office and he was making some Turkish coffee – a favorite to keep him awake during the afternoon. He was always polite to visitors, believing that hospitality paid off in satisfied customers. “Do you like Turkish coffee?” “Is it like a Turkish bath?” “Much stronger. Cowboy coffee with a kick.” Uther went into his office and finished his Turkish coffee. While he was preparing his cups and accessories for his guest, Rumi looked at the book he pulled. The title was Aurora and it was subtitled Dawn of a New Day. It was a translation of a German author, Jacob Boehme, who was a Lutheran by faith and a Christian mystic and philosopher. One day, according to the book jacket, while working at his profession of cobbling shoes, he glanced into a water basin and the mysteries of creation unfolded to him. Uther returned with the Turkish coffee and offered a cup to Rumi. This coffee was especially stimulating to Rumi, giving him the same wired sensation of consuming several cups of normal coffee studying for finals or working on his thesis. It was much better quality and didn’t have the same disappointing taste as the coffee in the student lounge or cafeteria. In fact, the Turkish coffee was as stimulating as Jacob Boehme. “Is this guy any good?” asked Rumi. “Can Superman fly? Can Sherlock Holmes solve a case? Can Mozart compose?” Rumi was a bit cautious but Uther’s excitement appeared genuine. He again fumbled though the book, looking at the various chapters. Sometimes Rumi would stop and ponder a sentence or two,

wondering if this author made sense. He appeared to be lost in ideas but couldn’t express himself in writing. He wondered if little old ladies might digest this book at a tea party. “Are you sure this Boehme character is really hip?” “Hip? If he were any more hip, he would rename the work Hippidy Dippidy.” This caused Rumi to become excited and though he would strike a bargain for this obscure work. He noticed the price said five dollars and he knew textbooks could cost considerably more. If this Jacob Boehme character was as interesting as Alice in Wonderland, he could impress everyone on the balloon ride with some notable quotes. He reached into his wallet and handled him five dollars. “A splendid acquisition,” uttered Uther. “One more thing before I leave, Mr. Pendragon. Do you harbor any books on King Arthur?” “Call me Uther. What do you think this store is? Camelot?” Rumi waved goodbye and walked back to campus with his newfound book. Later that evening he went to pack and talked to Adam and Eve. The students, along with the professor, did not listen to any weather forecast – a mistake Rumi would learn to regret. He was mainly concerned with a good night’s sleep and setting sail tomorrow after on the Diogenes with Hans Von Strudel. The next afternoon Rumi rode with Adam and Eve to an old farmhouse. Hans was gassing up while everyone threw their gear in. In the next few minutes, Rumi would embark on a so-called three-hour tour. Hans lit a joint and offered it to the students. The other two accepted but Rumi declined. He was too busy looking down at the traffic. Something was wrong with all the cars flowing – away from the university. As the professor and the other students got stoned, Rumi noticed the weather was getting dismal, the wind was getting stronger and the sky was getting darker. Then the awful truth hit him – this was a monsoon and they were headed right for it. Hans was caught up in the moment, weighting the existential problems of the moment for a savory stoned rush, amidst the ever increasing wind gusts and the balloon bouncing, imitating the ping pong ball while the wind imitated the paddles. Adam and Eve were completely out of it and only Rumi

possessed a clear mind. “Professor Von Strudel,” shouted Rumi, “Do you know we’re in a storm – possibly a monsoon?” “I didn’t notice,” replied Hans. Rumi started to think he was doomed. Gone were his chances of achieving philosophical fame, opting for a change at academic stardom or even admiring the philosophical gems in the comics. He always though of a more noble ending – perhaps one involving him rescuing the fair damsel in distress and giving the villain a lecture in the philosophy of ethics. Now his fate hung on a stupid balloon and a wasted professor. “Professor Von Strudel,” shouted Rumi, “ did you hear the weather report?” “No, “ replied Hans. “Did you tell anyone about this trip?” “NO” “Do you have any emergency supplies?” “No!” “Why professor? Why?” “Because I don’t believe in causality.” Rumi couldn’t believe his ears. Here he was in a balloon, doomed by a goofy intellectual professor of philosophy who doesn’t believe one event causes another. He wasn’t sure he heard the professor correctly. Perhaps he was just stoned and didn’t know what he was saying. Worst yet, he may be fully conscious and be consciously aware of what he was saying. “Did you say you didn’t believe in causality?” Just as Rumi voiced his question, a big sure of wind came and blew the professor overboard. As the professor fell downward, Rumi tried to grasp his last words of wisdom. “I –don’t –believe—in--c-a-u-s-a-l-i-t-y.” Rumi watched as the balloon drifted into the monsoon and the professor continued to fall earthward.

Then a pragmatic philosophical revelation struck him. The professor is the only one who could fly this balloon and these stupid classmates are stoned to the gills. He tried to think of some comforting words in philosophy, but the only person filling his mind was Authur Schopenhauer, the philosopher of gloom and doom, which wasn’t very encouraging. His eyes watched as the balloon substituted for the ship hunting the great white whale and the crew lay in the corner, too stoned to move. “Look ma, no Hans,” said Rumi, attempting to relieve the ride of terror. Adam got up to relieve himself and Eve was combing her hair – aware they were hell in a wind basket and a wind that could turn them inside out. Rumi was trying to think of some philosophy or philosopher to comfort him but all his selections failed. He could only think about the dead philosopher who didn’t believe in causality and it reminded him of an ancient Greek philosopher who jumped into a live volcano. Rumi couldn’t think of the reason and trying to figure it out was the only lifesaver his mind could conjure up. A giant gust of wind up then surged the balloon, causing the balloon to collapse and the sudden shift in momentum caused Adam and Eve to plunge overboard. The grim thought flashed through Rumi’s mind – the pilot died, the passengers are following suit, the balloon has collapsed, a monsoon is blowing and Rumi is stuck in a basket. He looked down and noticed the ocean and choppy waves. The basket kept blowing outward until it hit the waves. Water was gushing everywhere, and Rumi was exhausted. The old man and the sea Rumi woke to a delightful smell and sand surrounding his body. The air was calm and no storm appeared for miles. He slowly focused his eyes and found an old man leaning over him. As Rumi’s eyes continued to focus, he noticed a white turban around his head and what appeared to be a white bathrobe around his body. The old man held a bowl of fish soup, which Rumi gladly accepted and sipped on. The soup had a wonderful flavor and it was restoring the strength he had lost. “Where am I and who are you?”

“This is Utopia and I am Hylas Alciphron. A better question to ask is who am I? A famous Eastern philosopher spent his whole life asking that question.” “I am Clarence Rosenkreuz.” “Clarence is a bad name, but I will name you Rumi.” Rumi started to wonder about the old man. He appeared to know about philosophy. Utopia was a book by Sir Thomas Moore; Alciphron was the Minute Philosopher and Hylas the counterpart to Philonous in the writing of Clarence Berkeley – a modern philosopher and idealist. He noticed the old man was taking out a pipe and smoking it. Rumi continued to down the fish soup and reflected upon his situation. “You are Hylas Alciphron?” “Are you a philosopher, Rumi? Got any philosophy books?” Rumi thought he would humor the old man. After all, he did save his life. And the old man was the only one who had food to stay alive. Rumi spotted his old knapsack and looked inside. He pulled out the book Aurora by Jacob Boehme and handed it to Hylas. Hylas flipped through it, pretending to be intrigued by the contents. He turned to the first page and looked by a Rumi. “This book is real hippidy dippity. You should meditate on some phrases.” The statement of Hylas was a bit upsetting to Rumi. Hippidy dippity was a phrase coined by Uther Pendragon, the owner of the Persephone. Now this man of strange tastes and particular mannerisms was uttering the same phase. Not only that, but the phase was used in reference to Aurora. Perhaps the old man had a good idea in reflecting on some phases. It would be an excellent way to understand Boehme’s philosophy and pass some time. But a subtle thought struck Rumi – maybe this man is reading his mind. “Perhaps I should reflect on a passage,” retorted Rumi. “Wonderful idea,” responded Hylas. “Where are you from? How did you get here?”

“I am from Assisi, and I come to help people in need.” Hylas was being evasive and Rumi preferred to reflect upon the book and found himself a secluded palm tree. The sun shining through the palm trees made Rumi think of a Bing Crosby movie. He spent the next couple of hours reading different passages and none of his philosophical training made the matter easier – it made it much worse. The subtitle was Dawn of a new day. He spent the next several minutes meditating upon the title. Suddenly Rumi’s mind became flooded with light. He understood that Boehme penetrated to the core of light within the darkness. Then Rumi understood a great truth – all three monotheistic traditions had mystical movements reflecting upon God as light. He saw this light in the Jewish cabbalists, in the hesychasm movement in the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. John of the New Testament, and in the Islamic Sufi movement. He then understood his life centered upon seeking this light – at all costs. Rumi returned to tell Hylas about this mystical experience and thought the old man would be thrilled. The old man was sitting down, smoking his pipe. Rumi stopped and sat beside him, pointing to the book’s cover. Instead, Hylas was holding a wooden shovel he had fashioned. “I had a great experience.” “That’s good. Now go dig a new latrine,” said Hylas, handing the shovel to Rumi. “A latrine? Dig one with a shovel? Where?” Hylas pointed to a patch of trees and continued to smoke his pipe, silently lost in contemplation. Rumi grabbed the shovel and started swearing to himself. He knew he owed the old man for saving his life and that Hylas may be his only hope for getting back to civilization. The next couple of hours found him digging a two foot cubed hole and becoming exhausted. Hylas came over with some coconut milk and offered him some – which Rumi gladly partook of. “How do you like it?” asked Rumi. “Hum,” replied Hylas. “It’s to square. Tomorrow we will dig a round hole.”

Rumi was fuming mad but decided to control his temper. As long as the old man supplied him with food and drink, he would try to put up with his idiosyncrasies. Besides, he needed to get some sleep. Hylas offered him some more fish stew and Rumi noticed it tasted different. Different roots and herbs enhanced the taste. It gave him strength and the coconut milk enhanced the meal. “Time for bed,” said Hylas. “Sleep in the hammock I man.” Hylas pointed to a hammock and saw only one. This caused Rumi to wonder where Hylas would sleep. “And where do you sleep?” “I don’t. I just wonder the isle and keep watch.” He watched Hylas fade into the sunset and felt too lazy to follow him. The hammock was so comfortable, he felt himself drifting into a deep sleep. Each wave rolling in and out kept time with the swinging hammock. Rumi dreamt he was in a cork in the big ocean, just drifting with the caressing wave. The ride was not ruff – but smooth – bringing restfulness into his dream state. Rumi woke to a wonderful food smell – crab stew and coconut broth, intoxicating his nostrils with a gourmet hunger. His benefactor kept shouting, “eats, eat”, while Rumi kept pushing his hand away. When he finished eating, he watched the old man smoke a pipe and a truth dawned on him – the old man did not eat anything. “Aren’t you haven’t anything?” asked Rumi. “Later. Later. Dig latrine. Dig latrine.” He replied. Rumi took it as a cue to humor the old man. Grabbing the wooden shovel, he went over towards the square hole he dug. The next couple of hours found him filling in the square hole and digging a round one. The temperature was very hot and the perspiration poured off him. After he finished digging the round hole, he felt a thirst and found Hylas coming with a drink inside an empty coconut. He pushed the wonderful drink in his face and Rumi’s tongue sucked up a wonderful herbal drink. “Drink good? Right?”

“Yes. How does the hole look?” “Hum…too circular. Make it an oval shape.” Rumi thought he was hearing things and asked for clarification. “Oval?” “Oval! Like M & M run over by train.” Rumi was fuming even more inside but let his anger subside in the hope of having the old man help get him rescued. Hylas responded by pointed to the Boehme book, which indicated to Rumi, he should start meditating. He grabbed the book and headed for the hill. Another passage from the book bought another vision of light, complete with its dance in creation. He must have passed another hour in the brilliant light and understood more of its nature. Rumi rushed down to tell Hylas about his discovery. The old man was stoic and did not show any emotion, as Rumi related his light experience. Instead, he handed him a shovel. “Good. That’s very good. Now dig latrine.” “Now?” “Good time and don’t forget shovel.” The next couple of hours found Rumi digging an oval latrine. He fumed and fretted under his breath, realizing that this exercise was causing him anger. He kept digging the latrine, until there was a good three feet of sand removed and the oval shape was artistically appealing – for a container to hold waste. Now he needed to show his work and Hylas was coming with a wonderful drink. “How do you like it?” “It’s very fine – very fine. The shape is wrong. Try triangle.” “What?” “A triangle is very good.” Rumi was fuming and realized he had no choice. Either he did what Hylas said or he might never get off the island. The pattern continued for forty days, with Rumi meditating upon passages from

Aurora and building latrines of all shapes and sizes. Some were rectangular, some circular, some oval shape, some triangular and others variations of the basic shapes. He dug deep and shallow holes, long and short holes. At the end of forty days, he knew quite a bit about two things – light and waste products. The first he couldn’t get enough of and the latter he got saturated with. In all this time, he never saw the old man sleep or eat. When he would ask him when he ate, he always replied later. The fortieth day brought an exciting turn of events. Rumi was sitting by a fire, while Hylas smoked his pipe. On the horizon was a ship and Rumi looked closer and noticed it was a small yacht bearing a name – The Sophia. The Sophia was coming toward the island, and so Rumi got excited. He started jumping up and down, shouting and waving his hands. He saw two men and a woman on board, with the woman piloting the yacht. The ship approached the shore and the three were watching Rumi. The person with the Captain’s hat started yelling. “I say. Are you all right? How many people are there?” “Just two,” said Rumi, “Me and …” Rumi turned around and noticed the old man had vanished. This puzzled Rumi and he needed to find Hylas. Yet Rumi noticed the ship’s crew had anchored and the captain approached him. “What’s your name?” the captain asked. “Rumi Rosenkreutz.” “I’m Zeke Poonapepper. Folks call me Buddha. The other two are Iris Siren and Qutub Qadmon. Just call them Iris and Qutub. What is the other person’s name and where is he?” “Just call me Rumi. The other person is Hylas Alciphron, but he seems to have stepped out.” Iris started giggling. Soon, her giggling became a volcano of uncontrollable laughter. The others, Qutub and Buddha, each watching Iris bursting at the seams, started bellowing in uncontrollable outbursts of hysterics. Rumi, wondering what was going on, just shook his head in a puzzled fashion. “What’s so funny?” Asked Rumi. “You must forgive me,” said Iris. “But Hylas is such a funny name.”

“And Alciphron does take a bit getting used to,” responded Qutub. “Come to think of it,” said Rumi, “his name is a bit odd. Actually, his behavior is even strange.” “How so?” inquired Buddha. Rumi spend the next few minutes describing the strange Christian garment and mannerisms of Hylas. He told everyone how he received his name, dug various latrines shapes, meditated upon passages from Aurora and was served food and drink by the strange philosopher. Rumi noticed that everyone was becoming stoic and very quiet. He also noticed something he didn’t see before – Qutub and Buddha were wearing burning bushes with an embedded rose. “Did Hylas say where he is from?” asked Buddha. “Assisi,” responded Rumi. “Assisi?” responded Qutub and Buddha in unison. Buddha reached into his pocket and pulled out another Burning bush with an embedded rose. He placed the Burning bush over the neck of a puzzled Rumi. “Who is the old man and what is the Burning bush for?” “Well, you see,” replied Buddha. “The old man is a saint that lived many years ago. People from time to time have seen him, like you have, in the physical form. This is a rare privilege and indicates that a person is a spiritual aspirant of the highest caliber. The Burning bush is a fraternity we are part of – the Rosisufists – and you deserve to join us?” “Me? Asked Rumi. “Besides,” mentioned Qutub. “Iris, my wife, has plenty of money and funds our activities.” “I need to find the old man and thank him.” Rumi wanted to learn more about the Rosisufists and would find out later. The group excused him and allowed him to search for Hylas. He searched the island, high and low, for two hours straight. There was not a trace of other human activity. There was only one set of footprints in the sand – Rumi’s. Rumi found the latrine, shovel and some pipe ashes – the only souvenirs indicating a real

being also occupied the island with him. “I can’t find him anywhere,” replied Rumi, returning to the boat and rescue party. “Darling,” responded Iris, combing her long hair and giving him a sexy glance. “When he doesn’t want to be found – he can’t be found.” “You coming, governor?” yelled Qutub from the yacht deck. Rumi grabbed his book and knapsack and headed for the yacht. Buddha took his hand and helped him aboard. Qutub was chewing on a bag of chips and Iris pulled the anchor up. She started the motor and sat in the steering column. The waves were calm and The Sophia, with its newly arrived passenger, set sail for the Atlantic coast, Land of a Thousand Dances Rumi was sailing aboard the Sophia at nightfall, wondering about his strange companions and their teachings. Qutub, Iris and Buddha would appear normal enough, if this was a traditional Holiday cruise and the passengers were stone drunk. Rumi heard about his strange group – The Rosisufists. He recalled reading that it was a secret society, belonging to the seventeenth and eighteenth century, claiming secret knowledge and power and delving into esoteric religious principles. He remembered an old philosophy professor – Startle Hosepipe – address the concern during a seminar on Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche. When a student asked what would Zarathustra said to a Rosisufist, Startle mentioned He would say nothing and just ask to nibble on their magic mushroom. Rumi took professor Hosepipe’s comment to mean the society had deluded themselves with magic mushrooms. He would take this opportunity to be blunt. “Tell me about the Rosisufists.” Qutub and Buddha were standing on deck and were silent. Buddha went below and reappeared after a few seconds, carrying a boom box and volleyball. The ball was painted with different rose patterns and was in the shape and size of a baseball. Qutub had a CD entitled Russian Dance Numbers and put in inside the boom box and set the box upon the deck. Rumi was terribly puzzled and

wondered if they were crazy. “I asked to know about the Rosisufists – Not Fred Astaire or Bo Jangles,” responded Rumi. “But,” said Qutub,” we seek the mystic rose in all we do.” Rumi was still puzzled when he noticed the music kicking in and it was one of those obscure Russian dance numbers. He saw it in the movies, when the men kick their feet in the air and dance back and forth. Buddha and Qutub were dancing back and forth and throwing the ball to each other, and the men would accidentally kick each other in the ass. The two men seemed to have mastered the dance and were throwing the ball back and forth. “Come join us,” said Qutub. “You’re one now,” replied Buddha. “Learn the dance.” Qutub threw the ball to Rumi, who stood there admiring the ball’s artwork, until Buddha grabbed his arm and Rumi imitated the Russian Cossack dance. He thought that the ass kicking resembled kickboxing, imagined it was a form of savate, and thought it originated in France. Rumi found the dance invigorating and was moving his feet up and down and threw the ball to Qutub. “The kid’s a natural,” replied Buddha. “We seek the mystic rose in everything,” responded Qutub. “In song, dance, art and music.” Rumi continued to dance and throw the ball. In later years, he would discover the rose as the symbol for divine grace or a higher power filtering into our mortal lives. Right now, he was involved in some crazy ritual – but loving every minute of it. The dance was a welcome relief from digging various shaped latrines in the desert. The latrine reminded him of the mysterious saint from Assisi – the same one who gave him the name and encouraged him to study Jacob Boehme. The same saint that would appear in dreams from time to time, to convey a teaching. “This Rumi is good – Real good!” shouted Qutub, his feet reaching toward the sky and tossing the ball to Buddha. “Did you guys just see the smoke and rescue me?” Asked Rumi, out of the blue.

Rumi was kicking the sky and really enjoying the Russian kick dance, as he called it. During his university philosophy sessions, he tried walking to imitate the great thinker – Emmanuel Kant. Rumi started to think about the philosopher. Kant was so precise about taking a walk at the same time each day; a neighbor always knew the time when he passed. One day, Kant was a few minutes late and the neighbor got worried – thinking something dreadful happened to him, when he really was just under the weather. “It is quite simple,” said Buddha. “Iris had a flash that someone – a new recruit – would be in trouble. Qutub had a feeling where to look. I organized the trip and you showed up.” “I showed up?” Qutub turned off the Russian dance music and popped in a slow, classical piece. He started moving real slow but tossing the ball, just as before. He stopped dancing but Rumi noticed Buddha kept moving and throwing the ball. Now they were the only two engaged in this exercise. Qutub disappeared for a few moments and returned with a candle and book. He lit the candle and proceeded to read a passage or two. “What is he reading from?” asked Rumi. “Deep stuff,’ replied Qutub. “It’s called the Zohar.“ “So Hard?” Asked Rumi, not hearing over the waves. “Zohar,” replied Buddha. “It’s the Jewish mystics’ top hit. You like the top hits, don’t you son? You do the Boehme Bangle and he dances the Zohar tangle.” Rumi took the comment to mean people had their specialty. He found the exercise relaxing. Throwing the ball, watching the candle and listening to the passage were very meditative. He felt himself being in another world and everything seemed so heavenly. Light was oozing out of each pore and bathing the group in radiant, glowing pulses of waves and beams. Each beam and wave was vibrating in tune with the music. Rumi was becoming the music and light. “I think he’s getting it,” said Qutub.

“He does seem to walk the walk and talk the talk,” replied Buddha. Rumi began to regain normal waking consciousness. He realized he had a mystical experience similar to those spent with the Assisi saint doing the Boehme Bangle, as Buddha so politely called it. Now he noticed that the Zohar – that mysterious book of Jewish mystical wisdom – triggered a similar experience. He had much to ponder and knew more lessons would appear – even before he reached dry land. “The kid is getting the hang of it. Time to eat,” shouted Qutub. “Lovely idea,” said Buddha. “We can talk about your future over dinner.” Rumi was hungry and the idea of dinner intrigued him. During college, Rumi tried to vary his diet considerably. For breakfast, he liked to have hot dogs with relish, onions and mustard, followed by a cherry Coke. For lunch, he ate a hot dog with hot peppers and ketchup, washed down with a regular Coke. For dinner, he usually had a hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard, followed by a Pepsi. The island adventure was a bit more varied. Usually he had some fish soup prepared with different herbs and spices. Buddha took the wheel and Qutub and Rumi followed Iris downstairs. There was a nice vegetarian meal, served with all the trimmings and courses. Rumi’s nose was lost in the spices and his stomach was dancing the hunger jitterbug. “This look’s like Bugs Bunny food,” said Rumi. “It’s good for the health. If Bugs ate this, he would be in rabbit heaven,” replied Iris. Rumi was served a hearty portion of vegetable melodies with spice surprise that he found soothing and delicious. Many questions were going through his head. Would he go back to finish his degree? What future did he have now with the Rosisufists? How would he make a living? Could he return to his student diet of hot dogs and Coke? So many questions were circulating, he felt like a jukebox in a repetitive loop.

“What now?” He asked. “You can return to school or study with us. Buddha can teach you the pawn shop trade and we can all teach you about spirituality.” As the Sophia continued to sail back to shore, Rumi knew he would only learn Real Philosophy from his new friends and not the academic madmen that pass for philosophers. His life was now profoundly changed and a new world had opened up for him. No longer would he debate philosophical propositions from academics but would seek the real answers inside himself. The Long and Winding Road Adrian sat in silence as Rumi finished his story. He founded many questions about Rumi had been answered – but none about his own destiny. Bubbles was also quiet and Adrian wondered how much she really perceived. He stirred his tea and looked at Rumi without saying anything. “Do you not believe my story?” asked Rumi. “Actually – it’s as believable as mine,” replied Adrian. “But when do I get answers to who I am?” “On the way out kid. On the way out.” Adrian wondered about that. Did he mean Rumi would inform him before his time to visit was up or would some other element tell him the answer? Of course! It must be the Coyote who would give him the answer – but it would not be straightforward. Adrian would spend the remainder of his visit learning the secrets of Rosisufist lore and how to enter the dreamtime. With that knowledge, he could talk with Rumi and his friends any time he needed – just like a telephone conference call. He would return to Ann and Doc with considerable more knowledge. Rumi would promise to continue his lessons in the dreamtime and even visit him in person. It was, in Adrian’s mind, the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship. He was drawn to the words from Robert Browning. Truth is within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness. The time passed very quickly and Adrian knew it was time to return. Grabbing Bubbles, he waved

goodbye and headed down the path – without having received an answer to his metamorphosis. His own mind was focused upon seeing Coyote and let him address the question. About halfway down the path, he noticed Bubbles jumping up and down. She reached out to grab something, with Adrian holding her back. He looked ahead and noticed the dark, but luminous coyote form. In all appearances it was an ordinary coyote – except it glowed in the dark and talked. “You here to tell me what I become?” asked Adrian. “Of course,” replied Coyote, “After we learn another teaching.” “Meaning?” Asked Adrian, noticing Bubbles trying to touch him and her hands passing right through. “You know the routine. Touch my fur,” said Coyote. Adrian touched the fur and his hand felt a solid form. He felt himself being transported, along with Bubbles, through streams of colored light. When the motion stopped, he found himself back at the monastery. Sitting at their desks, drinking ale and wine, were Bartholomew and Eckhart. They appeared to be engaged in some stimulating philosophical discussion and Adrian strained to hear more. “We are approaching this all wrong,” said Bartholomew. “We need to examine one element or variable.” “Agreed,” replied Eckhart. “Let’s focus upon what we have plenty of – time. How much time would it take for one angel to complete a dance, after making contact with a pin’s surface?” asked Bartholomew. “And how shall we do that?” asked Eckhart. Bartholomew went to his drawer and pulled out a miniature hourglass. He took another sip of ale and started looking into the sand granules. Eckhart poured himself some more wine and took a couple of sips. Bartholomew shook the glass from side to side and tried to get the sand to go into one glass portion. He then turned the glass upright and allowed the sand to flow. “How much time will pass before the sand reaches bottom?” Asked Bartholomew. “Easy – one hour.”

“There your are. Each device man invents comes from a divine idea. If man invented the hour glass, it corresponds to the time a angel completes a pin dance.” Eckhart silently sipped some wine and soaked a piece of dry bread into the wine and started to eat it. Bartholomew, soaking some bread in his ale and eating also, followed his motion. Bubbles tried to imitate the two monks and smacked her lips, pretended to eat some imaginary bread. This ritual continued three more times – each monk dunking his bread into the respective wine or ale glass. Bubbles tried to keep up with them and kept smacking her lips. “Your logic, as usual, my dear Brother Bartholomew, is flawed,” replied Eckhart. “You have not established that a divine idea gives rise to an invention – like the hourglass. In fact, I shall prove the opposite.” Eckhart grabbed a lead book weight and smashed the hourglass. Bartholomew was taken back by the action and looked flabbergasted. He poured himself another shot of ale and gulped the beverage in a hasty fashion. The sand and glass were scattered across the floor and Eckhart started sweeping them up, just like nothing had happened. He took the pieces and deposited them on Bartholomew’s desk. “If an invention is a divine idea, then what do you call the destruction of an invention?” asked Eckhart. “A devilish idea,” shouted Bartholomew. “A devilish idea. Now you broke my good hourglass.” “Watch as I illustrate a point,” responded Eckhart. He grabbed a bunch of pins and laid them out in a circular fashion. Some pins were pointed north, some south, others east, and the rest west. Eckhart took some red ink and applied it to the pins facing north. Black ink was used for the southern pins. Blue ink covered the eastern pins and a mixture of red and blue covered the pins facing west. “Now what is this about?” Asked Bartholomew. “Simple. Pretend I’m an angel looking for a pin.” Eckhart started to walk around the table, eyeing the pins and looking confused. He moved his hands

up and down, pretending to be flying. His eyes looked at the pins and he started walking backward in a counterclockwise direction. Every time he spotted a pin, he whistled a small tune. Bartholomew kept eying him, bewildered. Adrian was extremely interested and his eyes were focused upon Eckhart. “If I were an angel,” said Eckhart, “and I had my choice about which pin to dance upon, how would I make my choice?” “That’s irrelevant,” retorted Bartholomew. “Who cares what pin he dances upon?” “Ah! But the angel might,” said Eckhart. “If he chose a direction and color he didn’t like, the angel may not dance upon the pin.” “That does it,” screamed Bartholomew. He grabbed a bunch of sand and started to cover the pins. First he covered the ones facing north, and traversed the other directions in a clockwise direction. Finally all the pins were covered by sand and no pins could be spotted. Eckhart appeared to be getting angry and his reddened face matched the wine color. He filled the glass and quickly drank. “What’s the big idea?” Asked Eckhart. “My point exactly,” responded Bartholomew. “What if the angel couldn’t see the pins? How would it select which pin to dance upon?” Now Adrian was getting restless and so was Bubbles. She wanted to play with the monks and was getting frustrated, not being able to touch them. Adrian wanted a lesson to be taught – but none was forthcoming. He turned to Coyote to gather the teaching. “What exactly am I supposed to learn here?” asked Adrian. “Never to engage in philosophical debate,” replied Coyote. “Are they still debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” “Give the kid a cigar and promote him a grade.” Adrian grabbed Bubbles and went over to Coyote. He touched Coyote’s fur and was transported into another whirling mass of colors and shapes, each bringing a different sensation. A couple of minutes

passed and they were back upon the trail – minus the coyote. Adrian picked up Bubbles and looked all around – but no Coyote. Adrian was a bit upset at Coyote for leading him on a wild goose chase and not answering his questions, until he noticed some writing in sulfur – shalom, shaman. Now Adrian’s mind started puzzling over the message, but he was not thinking clearly – due to his mystical experiences with Rumi. Shalom? Now what does Coyote mean by shalom? Maybe he is referring to me. But I don’t think so! Shalom and me. Now what does he mean by shaman? I remember squeezing the monkey as we made the trip. Trip? Shaman? Of course! I think he wants me to find a shaman. But how does that answer what I am? Maybe Ann, being a woman, can shed some light on where to find a shaman. Adrian noticed the lights of Doc’s vehicle and spotted Ann and Doc inside. Another few feet, and feeling that his life was getting better he would tell his tale. Unfortunately, the bottom was preparing to fall out.

à ENPOWERMENT ß
The Gateway of Doom The soul has darkness, waiting to be unleashed. Sometimes this darkness can be tamed and light burns it away. Other times, the darkness is so deep and muddy, that no light will ever shine there. All creatures are surrounded by the darkness and some make it their den. When the den can no longer hold the darkness, it will expand and seek new dens. Adrian walked to the vehicle and climbed in the back seat with Bubbles. Before Ann and Doc could talk with him, he noticed Ann’s newspaper, and the front headlines read Explosion claims lives of two bikers. He started reading and every time Doc or Ann attempted to initiate a conversation, he replied, wait. The explosion had occurred in a diner and the three bikers from the Barbarians received the blast’s blunt caress. Other victims received minor cuts and bruises and Tiny, the Barbarian leader, was in a coma. The bomb had been placed under the table, where they dined and Tiny exited to the

bathroom when the bomb exploded. “I remember him,” replied Adrian. “He started the fight when I first met Doc.” “You came back in time to witness a war,” replied Doc. “What did you learn?” asked Ann. “Rumi belongs to the Rosisufists and I need to find a shaman to answer my questions.” Doc started laughing and Bubbles, attempting to imitate her master, kept laughing along with him, but Ann held a stoic face, not taking part in the laughter. “Are you trying to be funny?” Asked Ann. “No,” responded Adrian. “Rumi belongs to this club called the Rosisufists and Coyote said shalom, shaman. I figured he’s referring to me and wants me to find a shaman. Do you know where I can find one?” Ann shook her head, giving him the look of are you being dense or stupid here. Doc looked at Adrian and started smiling. He grabbed a cigar but did not light it, because Ann constantly complained of his smoking. But he rolled it between his two fingers, in preparation for smoking later. “Well, Ann,” responded Doc. “Care to shed any light on Adrian’s insights?” “I think William Alter, my murdered psychiatrist boss, mentioned both subjects. The Rosisufists are a mystical order seeking spiritual knowledge, and a shaman is a priest in primitive cultures who heal and journey to other worlds – and Adrian, you silly goose, are the shaman.” “Let’s go to that new Beatnik coffeehouse, The Gateway of Doom, to talk more. I know the manager, Juan Quixote, “ responded Doc. Before Adrian or Ann could say a word, Doc approached a dimly lit building with a brick facade. He parked his vehicle and Ann And Doc walked in front while Adrian, carrying Bubbles, brought up the rear. Doc opened the door and some musicians with bongos, beards, and mustaches spurted out garbled poetic renditions of philosophy and verse. In the corner was a shine set up with a picture of Allen Ginsburg and Jack Karouac and the place was half-filled with locals and tourists reminiscing

over times the rest of the world had forgotten. Some people were dressed in ripped jeans, sandals, dreadlocks, and peace sign necklaces, while a man dressed in an artist’s robe brought over a beatnik think cap and placed it on Bubbles, causing her eyes to sparkle. Doc and the man shook hands and gave each other the peace sign. “Why Doc,” said the man. “Come and soak up some poetic understanding.” “Who is this?” Asked Ann. “Forgive my manner, me lady,” he said, kissing her hand in a gesture of gallantry. “I am Juan Quixote, manager extraordinario, and defender of the damsel in distress.” Everyone was led to a seat in a dark corner, and people at various tables were smoking, drinking, discussing beatnik philosophy and trying to pick each other up. In between all the exchange of wisdom, Adrian told his tale and, in turn, found out more about the bombing from Doc, who mentioned that Scorpion, the obvious culprit behind the bombing, was at a social event with some other Devil Dogs suspects. When Adrian finished his story, he looked at the many bearded, pot smoking, glassyeyed faces focused upon his table. All eyes were on Adrian, since he was speaking but no one could hear the spoken words, since he was speaking in a low-pitched tone. The silence was interrupted, thought only by the booming voice of Juan Quixote as he started his next poetry reading. “We pass through the gateways of life, Some gateways we build and others we inherit, If our life is falling apart, Hang in there and find another gateway.” Everyone, except for Adrian’s party, apparently understood the cool beatnik philosophy and applauded. Unobserved, Bubbles was sitting in the back, next to the peanuts, and picked one up. She threw it in Juan’s direction, hitting him on the head. “Ouch! We have a conscientious objector present.” Juan rubbed his head and continued to read more poetry.

“As we intercept gateways of other dimensions, Our life is filled with endless turmoil, But hope is ever over the horizon, As we seek a elegant solution.” Everyone burst into spontaneous applause. Adrian, Doc, and Ann were bewildered at the reaction. Bubbles grabbing a peanut, threw it in the direction of Juan’s head. This time she succeeded in reaching his mouth and he started coughing on the projectile. “I swear,” said Juan, “We have an establishment type here tonight and I shall retire until later.” “That guy is terrible,” said Ann. Doc was having a gin and tonic, Adrian a diet Coke with lemon and lime, Ann an espresso and Bubbles a glass of milk. Bubbles drank the milk in silence, behaving like a Girl Scout performing only good deeds. Doc grabbed the front paper and underlined the word coma. “Can you heal him, kid?” asked Doc. “It’s a new territory,” replied Adrian. “I was in a coma myself and the spirit is stuck somewhere in the dreamtime. I would have to visit the dreamtime and find him – convince him to return to the body.” “How does Adrian get in the hospital to be alone with him?” Asked Ann. “As visiting clergy,” replied Doc. “Sorry,” said Adrian. “That is not right and I am not a cleric.” Doc was silent and reached for his wallet. Adrian at first thought a bribe may be coming, but no money was extracted. Instead, Doc pulled out a laminated card reading Reverend Adrian Albright of the Universal Life Church and handed it to Adrian. “Is this for real?” Asked Adrian. “A friend of mine – an established reverend – ordained you. It’s all nice and legal.” “I need someone to join me,” replied Adrian.

“Ann can join you, but I have some business to attend to. You need to take Bubbles with you.” “Why?” asked Ann. “Because she gets into too much mischief by herself,” said Doc, “ever since she started hanging around Adrian and his Coyote friend.” “No way,” said Ann. “They won’t let her in.” “I have an idea,” replied Doc. “My sister has an old baby carriage.” “Are you out of your mind?” said Ann. “Actually,” replied Adrian, “The idea is so crazy, it might work.” The next couple of hours were spent listening to various beatnik poets, including Juan Quixote. Every time he talked about life’s gateways, someone threw a peanut at him. Unfortunately for Juan, the corner where Doc’s party was sitting was too dark to see anything. Ann, Doc, and Adrian were busy watching the show, while Bubbles was being mischievous. Doc gave Bubbles some more peanuts for good behavior, Adrian admired his newly laminated cleric card, and Ann just shook her head. Has anyone seen Doctor Howard or Doctor Fine? Adrian went to sleep at Doc’s place without any dreams about Coyote, dreamtime, philosophers, or mischievous monkeys. Instead he didn’t dream about anything – not that he could recall. When he awoke in the morning, he discovered Doc had gone about his important business and there was a baby carriage in the kitchen. It had a top that could be positioned to cover the baby, which in this case was the monkey. What he didn’t see the hole in the left side, covered by a make shift flap. This loophole wouldn’t present a problem to a normal baby, but the intended baby was anything but normal. Ann arrived around 9 A.M. in her Volkswagen, and Adrian, Bubbles, and the baby carriage departed to see Larry Laborite, the head of the Barbarians, nicknamed Tiny, who was born of Jewish parents and hovering between life and death in a coma. They arrived at the hospital at 9:20 AM. Adrian put Bubbles in the baby carriage and gave her a baby bottle full of milk, hoping to keep her quiet. After he pulled the cover over Bubbles, Ann wheeled the baby carriage to the front, while Adrian

tagged behind. The receptionist was a heavyset nurse with the nametag of Matilda. “Yes,” said Matilda. “Can I help you?” “I need to see a Larry Laborite,” responded Adrian, showing her his minister’s license from the Universal Life Church and having his burning bush with the rose exposed for her viewing. “I need to say some prayers.” “He’s in room 307. Can I see the cute baby?” “Ah...” said Ann, “I believe she’s asleep.” “She better be,” said Adrian. “I mean, perhaps on the way out.” Ann wheeled the baby carriage to the elevator and Adrian followed behind. Bubbles opened the flap slightly, just enough to see through the left side. A pretty brunette nurse appeared in sight and she reached out her arm quickly and pinched the nurse’s butt. She quickly pulled her arm in before the nurse turned around and spotted Adrian pulling up the rear. The nurse walked over and slapped him in the face. “Ouch,” said Adrian. “What was that for?” “You know damn well what that’s for,” said the nurse, a bit red-faced. “And you being a married

man with a wife and kid. And girl, you better tell your man to quit pinching other ladies rears.” The nurse walked away and Ann gave Adrian a surprised look. “Mind telling me what that’s about?’ “I don’t know, but I have a theory,” replied Adrian. “The monkey is too quiet and that usually means trouble.” He opened the baby carriage and Adrian saw that Bubbles seemed asleep. They both walked into the elevator and Ann pressed the third floor. A pretty blond nurse was also in the elevator and Bubbles again opened the carriage flap, put out her arm and pinched the nurse’s butt before quickly retracting her arm. The nurse looked around and saw Adrian. She took out a pen and paper and wrote something down. As the elevator approached the third floor and the door opened, she put the note in Adrian’s

pocket. “What was that?” Asked Ann. Adrian took out the note, opened it up and noticed the name June, along with a phone number. He gave Ann the note and opened the baby carriage top, only to notice Bubbles appearing to be sound asleep. “I honestly don’t know what’s happening and I really don’t understand these nurses,” said Adrian. “Would you kindly shed some light?” “I’m completely puzzled, and I know you too well to pinch women s rears,” replied Ann. “We will figure it out later.” They entered the room and Ann was a bit unsettled upon seeing a coma patient. She took out a handkerchief and started wiping the sweat dripping from her brow. Adrian, who had been in a coma himself once, was rather calm and collected. Bubbles was now awake; she pulled the baby carriage top down and put her hand on Ann’s arm. Ann smiled and her composure started returning. “I need to go inside and find his soul. This will be new for me, since I don’t know how to find anyone lost in the dream time,” said Adrian. “The landscape of the dreamtime can be colored by a person’s thoughts and feelings. It’s hard to tell what type of person Tiny is.” “Ok,” replied Ann, smiling at Bubbles and Adrian. “See what you can do and us girls will keep watch. Ann closed the door and Adrian went over and hugged Bubbles, who surprised him by returning the hug. Adrian surprised himself, as he leaned over and kissed Ann. When he realized what happened, he was ready to apologize. Before he could utter another word, Ann surprised him by kissing him back. “Wow,” said Adrian, “I don’t know what came over me.” “Neither do I,” replied Ann, smiling at him. “Now get back to the task at hand.” think I am chasing the nurses?” Asked Adrian. Ann saw a lose flap on the baby carriage, walked over and lifted it up, only to uncover the extra “Then you don’t

loose padding. She turned around and wiggled her index finger, signaling Adrian to come over. Adrian looked at the flap, then at Bubbles, who was glancing at them both with an innocent, baby-faced look. “You!” said Ann and Adrian in unison. “Give you five minutes in a nuclear silo and you will trigger World War Three,” responded Adrian, picking up Bubbles and handing her to Ann. He then sat in a chair, preparing to enter the dreamtime. He relaxed his face and focused on the dial and gadgets attached to Larry’s motionless body. Adrian’s mind drifted back to their first meeting, when Doc had asked him to heal Larry after the bartender had shot Larry. Now he was being called to take the healing one step further and bring Larry back to the land of the living. Amazing Maze Adrian entered the dreamtime, with his mind focused upon Larry. The first sight he noticed was a maze that reminded him of a medieval puzzle. There was one circular entrance, with bushes reaching several feet over his head. An image flashed in his mind: This maze must be followed and conquered to find Tiny. Without a second thought, he stepped into the maze’s main entrance. In reality, he was entering the dreamtime, a world coexisting with physical reality, but the landscape was currently shaped by Tiny’s thoughts. Adrian followed the main entrance for a while before he encountered a fork, each containing another maze entrance. He could only go to the right or left, for when he turned around, the trail back was covered with bushes. His first thought was this was new territory, and now he could get lost. But Adrian had a compassionate side and wanted to help – regardless of the cost. “I wonder where I am?” asked Adrian. “This is the maze of Tiny’s subconscious, projected into the dreamtime, and the choices he made represent the various maze directions,” replied a voice within the maze. “Is that you Coyote?” asked Adrian, but know one answered. Adrian took a step towards the right and immediately a horrible noise sounded. Ah! No! A Nay! Nay!

Ah! No! A Nay! Nay! He then turned toward the left and heard a pleasant sound. Chirp! Chirp! Tweet! Tweet! Adrian then realized that Coyote, in his own tricky way, was guiding him through Tiny’s subconscious. Adrian continued to walk the pathway, unfettered by the dark. He noticed a swarm of dark, circular dots coming toward him. At first, he was unaffected but they started to cluster and choke his soul. He swatted a bug and heard the sound shit. Another one swarmed toward him, which he swatted and heard the word murder. These bugs must be Tiny’s thoughts and they are all the dark and terrible deeds he contemplated or carried out. He started moving his hands and noticed his body looked like his shadow but was composed of light. I must have a body made of light that I use in the dreamtime. Adrian felt the black dots stinging him like mosquitoes, and he was helpless to stir them away. When he felt himself being overwhelmed, he heard what sounded like a maiden singing. The maiden’s singing caused the dots to buzz around Adrian, like the rats in the piped piper. As Adrian put his ear closer, he heard the following words and started to sing along. There was a maid in kitchen town Where all the fellows tell them He likes the maid of tinsel town The girl named Barbara Allen. The words were being butchered and he recognized it as a medieval folk tune talking about the virtues of a lovely maiden, with the voice as belonging to Coyote and realized, in his own crazy and tricky way, Coyote was helping the thoughts to hypnotize them, if such a thing were possible. Now his chief task was following the maze until he came to a branch with three directions. Now what should I do? I guess I try each one and hope for a clue. He entered the first maze and a sound like a big fart echoed all around him. Next he was subjected to a horrible smell and backed up to the entrance. I guess that is not the way to go. The next one he entered didn’t bring an immediate sound but then he heard a big belch and it started hiccupping. Again

Adrian backed out and was overcome with a horrible smell. The last entrance was his only choice. He entered the last maze and heard a canary singing. Wait a minute. This is not Coyote this time. I actually perceive the real nature of these mazes via intuition, and the light is a small ray of redeeming virtue Tiny possesses. I guess I made the right choice at last. Adrian kept going though the maze passageway and entered the path. He felt himself approaching something very dark, like a pool of oil. The light was fading from his light body and he felt the thick, black substance sinking him deeper and deeper. He asked himself what had he gotten stuck in and a thought struck him. This is the dark essence of what was Tiny’s path of crime. As soon as the thought struck him, he was infused with another one. This darkness may do me in? As he continued to sink, but in his mind he created a lasso of light, and threw it around a rock form ahead. I didn’t know I could do this. “Well, if it isn’t wonder woman.” “See what I did, Coyote. I guess I should now tie it around me?” “Tie it around your ass, for all I care – just move it.” Adrian tied the lasso around him and the lasso started pulled him out, until finally he was free of the black pool of filth. As soon as his feet were solidly planted, the lasso vanished as he continued to follow the trail, until he came to a fork with four branches. He started through the fourth one, only to hear a lion roar. Adrian backed up and entered the second gate, only to hear a snake hiss. He then tried the third one, only to hear an alligator chomping on some food. Finally, he entered the first one and heard a hummingbird. Deciding that this gate was probably the one, he continued to walk forward, only to hear Coyote singing. “I loved the maid from tinsel town, Upon her features I kept dwelling, If only I could stay around, And make love to Barbara Allen.”

Again Adrian recognized the song, and Coyote kept butchering the words, but noticed they were fading; causing a sinking thought stuck him. I’m nearing the end of this trail and Coyote will allow me to continue alone. He continued walking until he reached the maze end and was confronted by a door. On the door was a sign. Four sages entered through this door. One went mad, one died and one became an apostate. Only one emerged from the experience with knowledge and awareness. Adrian couldn’t believe the words. Then his mind started filling up with thoughts. I only have one in four chances of getting the right outcome. Here I am and I don’t know what apostate is. Maybe it is a PO state or a post office distribution center. What is a post office distribution center doing here? I am sure it is better then dying or going mad. What should I do now? I have a life to save and I can’t worry about the aftermath. Maybe I should sing that Coyote song. “Oh, where is my fairest darling girl, The one in time’s a telling. With deep blue eyes and long blond hair, The babe named Barbara Allen.” Adrian listened to his own-butchered singing, fading in the background. He took another step, opened the door and stepped inside – only to wish he kept the door closed in the first place, so he started singing the song again. “The was a maid I liked a lot But her feet I hated smelling. I brought her some foot deodorizer For the lovely Barbara Allen.”

Carnival of Lost Golems Inside the room, Adrian saw several brown, clay figures, molded in the shape of a five foot six man, yet with no distinguishing colors, other then brown, moving around without talking. Some were busy with mechanical tasks, like picking up bundles of paper, sweeping the floors, or just hitting others. Adrian thought this was some silent creature feature movie and he was the minority race. Imagine being the only person in a land of monsters, he thought. It reminds me of Frankenstein fights the wolf man, who battles Count Dracula. “I say,” said a voice in the distance. “You look lost and wanting some popcorn.” Adrian turned around, expecting to see the Coyote. He was surprised to spot Rumi, who was sitting upon a chair while the claylike monsters roamed. “How did you get here – and what are these things?” asked Adrian. “You sent a mental cry for help and I came, for these things are called golems.” “And what are golems?” asked Adrian. “Extras for the monster movies?” “The Jewish mystics created them with letters from the Hebrew alphabet. Unfortunately, when they killed them off, their essence landed in the dreamtime. Tiny, being a Jewish biker with many bad deeds, is lost here.” “Like me?” asked Adrian. “Come now,” said Rumi. “We just need to find him and bring him back.” As they walked around, Adrian noticed many golems running carnival acts, just like at the carnivals he experienced as a kid. The first act he watched was an acrobatic act, where the golems stood on top of each other’s backs. The formation reminded him of a pyramid, with four in row one, three in row two, and two is row three and one at the top. One of the bottom row golem’s sneezed, and the whole structure collapsed. “What happened?” asked Adrian, looking at Rumi.

“The golem, pretending to be a column, wasn’t very solemn.” “Oh, I get it,” said Adrian. “The bottom golem sneezed a bit and his partners had no place to sit.” The next act was a knife-throwing act, where one golem handed another golem a knife and he threw it at a blindfolded target. Adrian noticed something different about the target, for instead of being the brown like golems, it looked like a human silhouette and it was squirming to avoid the knives. Adrian watched as the first two knives were thrown and neither one hit the target. The golem positioned the third knife, just as the target spoke: “Let me out of here.” “Rumi, that’s Tiny.” “We need a plan,” responded Rumi, whispering in Adrian’s ear. Rumi tapped the golem handling the knives on the shoulder and pointed to the knives. The golem, mistaking Rumi’s tapping for a desire to participate in the game, allowed him to examine the knives. He took his time, trying to find the perfect knife to throw, thereby allowing Adrian to sneak around and get behind Tiny. “Who are you?” asked Tiny. “I’m trying to rescue you,” replied Adrian. “Wait!” replied Tiny. “You’re that hoodoo voodoo friend of Doc’s.” “Same,” replied Adrian, untying Tiny from his makeshift prison. “We can make hoodoo or do voodoo, but if we stay here, we will be doodoo.” As soon as Tiny was untied, the golems turned their focus from Rumi examining knifes, unto Adrian and Tiny, trying to sneak away. A crowd of a dozen golems started chasing Adrian and Tiny, who circled around to meet Rumi running toward them. With the golems closing in, the men passed a sign saying house of mirrors and hid inside. The golems entered the House of Mirrors and their reflections became distorted. One had a fat body, the other a thin one, a third had a midget shape, and a fourth an elongated body. Every golem was busy admiring their reflections, giving the trio time to hide by some empty mirror frames.

“What’s the plan?” asked Tiny. “Pretend to imitate their movements,” whispered Adrian. “Ah!” replied Rumi. “They will think they are seeing their own reflections.” “Craziest thing I ever saw!” replied Tiny. A golem came over to Adrian and he responded by imitating its movements. First it rubbed its head, so he responded with head rubbing. The next set of movements included moving the arms and lets in alternating up and down movements. A second golem went over to Rumi’s mirror frame and started clapping its hands, which invoked a similar response in Rumi. The golem, pleased, started jumping up and down and Rumi followed suit. A final golem came over to Tiny and pretended to kiss his reflection. Tiny, thinking it was a male golem, punched it in the nose and it fell backwards. “You’re not supposed to punch it!” shouted Adrian. “What should I do to a homogolem?” asked Tiny. Adrian looked around and saw the carnival background, and his mind was filled with childhood images of riding the merry-go-round, and these thoughts prompted his next question. “Why is this layout like a carnival?” “The golems extracted the image from Tiny’s brain,” replied Rumi. “It was probably the last thought he had before entering a coma state, probably experiencing a childhood memory.” Adrian came on a set of boats with oars, a tunnel, and a sign reading Tunnel of Love. Adrian and Rumi jumped into the boat, but Tiny stood on shore. “Join us in the Tunnel of Love,” said Adrian. “No way!” said Tiny. “I’m not joining a bunch of guys in the Tunnel of Love.” “Fine!” said Rumi, starting to push the boat away, “either party in the Tunnel of Love with the good old boys or grab a golem to go.” It didn’t take long for Tiny to weigh his options. He pushed the boat off and the three rode the currents, entering the tunnel, only to be followed by a boat of six golems. Rumi keep looking forward

while Adrian and Tiny looked behind, trying to see the outline of golems in an enclave of darkness. All they spotted were red, glowing eyes, which lit up in the dark tunnel. The golem boat looked like an ancient, Greek monster with twelve glowing eyes. “Great!” said Tiny, “now we’re being chased by Merlin’s pet dragon.” “Or a twelve eyed Lovecraft reject,” replied Adrian, trying to alleviate tensions. “Oh, grandma, what big eyes you have,” responding Rumi, causing the other two to bellow out in laughter. There was a light in the horizon and Adrian’s started wondering. Here I am, being chased by the twelve-eyed, Lovecraft reject. Here I come to find Tiny’s soul, save him from his coma state, and where do I end up? Tracking through a goofy maze of perverted thoughts and darkness, only to end up in a carnival of golems – misfits created by some Jewish mystics with too much time on their hands. And how do we find our way back? It’s not like the golems have a road map they can loan us. As they approached the tunnel end, a voice started singing in the distance. “There was a maid, who lost her way, But she heard a fellow singing. Will I find my Barbara Allen this day? I’m sure the golems are grinning.” “Do you hear that horrible singing?” asked Tiny, as they reached shore. “It’s Adrian’s friend,” said Rumi. “He’s singing our way out. Follow that voice.” The three got out of the boat and started running toward the voice, followed by the golems. “I found two doors to enter in, One is a room that’s for me. The other is a tiny aid, For Barbara Allen serves tea.” The three came upon two doors, with the golems seconds behind, with Adrian noticing one door

said highway and the other said low way. “I got it!” said Rumi, jumping though the door labeled low way. “Well!” Said Adrian, pushing Tiny through and following behind, as Adrian noticed the door sealed itself from the golems followed. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out our ticket home, and he started to sing.” “You take the highway, And I’ll take the low way, And I’ll be in Scotland before ye.” The next feel seconds found Adrian drifting with Tiny through streams of light. Tiny arrived back into his coma body shell and Adrian opened his eyes, only to see Ann, Bubbles and all the monitors lighting up on Tiny’s bed. Adrian felt tired and looked into Ann’s eyes. “It looks like you succeeded,” said Ann. “What was it like?” “Mazes, carnivals and golems,” responded Adrian, putting his arm in Ann’s and looking into the baby carriage – to ensure Bubbles was behaving herself. The nurse came in as the couple, together with their unusual baby, made their way to the elevator. Once outside, they went over to Ann’s car and she started it up. Adrian held Bubbles and sat in the passenger seat, while Ann opened a Tootsie Roll, passing one to Adrian “What do you mean by mazes, golems, and carnivals?” Asked Ann. “Well, it’s a long story. In the dreamtime, Tiny’s dark past and history manifested itself as a maze. Coyote helped me through, but Tiny’s soul is really Jewish. He got lost in some realm where golems, creatures created by Jewish mystics, held him captive. Tiny’s mind turned dreamtime into a carnival, but I was able to save him, with some help from Rumi and Coyote.” “Sounds complicated,” said Ann. “Let’s save it to later and get back to Doc’s place.” Monkey see – bird do Ann, Adrian and Bubbles arrived at Doc’s place and Doc met them at the door. He was smoking a

big, stinky cigar and had a bottle of beer by the sofa. He closed the door, put the stinky stogie in the ashtray, which had a picture of Freud inside the tray. The radio was playing blues music, filling the room from the corner speakers. “Did you succeed in your mission?” asked Doc. “Tiny is back to the land of milk and honey,” replied Adrian. “Wonderful,” responded Doc. “Tiny can skip the milk but he needs plenty of honey to keep him going.” The living room, where everyone was seated on sofas and chairs, had a staircase leading to the bedrooms. Ann was blushing a bit and Adrian himself was a little embarrassed at Doc’s crudeness, while Bubbles was resting in Adrian’s arms, pretending to be Rip Van Winkle. A squawk caused Bubbles to jump up and everyone to look into the adjacent room, wherein Doc walked into the kitchen, and returned with a parrot cage, which he placed on the floor. “Needs honey to keep him going. Here, honey!” squawked the parrot. “Doc?” responded Ann, looking over at the parrot and cage. “Where did you get that?” “Him?” Asked Doc. “I played cards with Curly Ouster, trying to get some information. He lost and couldn’t pay in cash, so I ended up with this stupid parrot named Polly Morphine.” Doc opened the cage to let Polly Morphine fly around. The parrot, used to freedom in a bar setting and not accustomed to being a caged bird, flew around the room and landed on the ceiling fan. Bubbles with a new arrival to get into trouble with, jumped from Adrian’s arms and climbed up the bookcase, and then she jumped up and caught the chandelier. “Great,” said Doc. “Now we have Laurel and Hardy doing a trapeze act.” “Laurel and Hardy,” repeated the parrot, bobbing his head up and down. Bubbles was swinging with her left hand, trying to grab the parrot with her right hand. Doc poured a shot of whiskey, as he pondered how to subdue the pets. Adrian and Ann were trying to coax the monkey and parrot down, with Adrian whistling and Ann yelling, “Here Bubbles, nice girl!”

Bubbles, now swinging on the chandelier with her legs, was blowing a kiss to the bird. With every swing, she blew a kiss and Polly Morphine, trying to return the kiss, kept bobbing his head and yelling “pretty bird.” Adrian and Ann kept whistling and Doc grabbed a broom and used it to coax the parrot from the ceiling fan. His right hand held the drink and the left hand held the broom, as he moved the straw end toward the bird. In the next few seconds, events happened so fast that none of the humans had time to react. Polly Morphine flew from the ceiling fan, out the open door and flying up the second floor stairway. Bubbles, enchanted by her new friend, swung from the chandelier, onto the bookcase, climbed down to the floor and started running up the staircase also before any human could stop her. Doc, frustrated by the chain of events, echoed oh shit, only to have it echoed back to him from the second floor balcony by the parrot. “Those two are about as useful as ice cube salesmen on the Titanic,” replied Doc. “You two go upstairs and try to capture Jessie and Frank James, while I stand guard down here, in case they try to escape.” “Well, Calamity Jane,” responded Adrian, “would you like to escort Billy the Kid in rounding up these desperadoes?” “First they give me Laurel and Hardy and now I’m sending Abbot and Costello to capture them,” retorted Doc, putting the broom aside and drinking another sip of whiskey. A minute or two passed before Adrian and Ann walked up the stairway, with Adrian taking the lead. He saw globs of shaving cream decorating the walls and he thought Picasso had come back to decorate Doc’s townhouse. Ann quietly stayed behind Adrian’s back, waiting for a surprise. Adrian heard a parrot squawking and a monkey sound. He turned his eyes toward the right, only to see an empty shaving cream top, Polly Morphine flying away, and Bubbles trying to squirt the bird with the cream. “What’s going on?” shouted Doc.

“What’s going on?” echoed the parrot. “I have a mess I need to clean,” said Ann, as she pushed Adrian’s shoulder. “Sir Galahad will return the prince and princess.” Adrian walked into the guest bedroom where he normally slept and found a whole bunch of feathers on the floor. Did Bubbles try to kill the bird? She can’t be a cold-blooded killer. When he glanced into the room, he noticed Bubbles tearing apart a pillow and throwing it at the parrot. Polly Morphine kept flying around and was shouting a stooge phase he remembered from his barroom days, “Woo! Woo! Woo!” “What happened?” shouted Doc. “Did Curly Stooge join the party?” “Woo! Woo! Woo!” squawked Polly Morphine, as he flew away from Adrian’s reach. Adrian tried

to grab Bubbles, but she jumped away and started laughing. Every time he tried reaching the parrot, it flew away and shouted, “Woo! Woo! Woo!” Only the monkey laughter competed with the parrot sounds. Adrian was drifting into his own thoughts. I wonder what Elmer Fudd would do in a chase like this? Would he just grab a goofy shotgun and try to shoot them both? Yes! Of course! “Hey, Adrian,” shouted Doc. “Quit watching The Stooges and catch the bird and monkey.” “But Doc! Never mind,” shouted Adrian, shutting the bedroom door. “I need a can of nuts, a box of crackers, a plastic bucket, a stick, some string and that Indian monkey vase you have.” “Have you lost your mind?” asked Doc. “I think he has an idea,” said Ann, busy cleaning up mess. Doc brought the requested items and they laid them on the top stairs, before returning downstairs for another whiskey. Adrian opened the nut can and tossed the nuts on the floor, before he slid the nuts into the vase and turned it on its side. He then opened the crackers and put a bunch under the bucket, after propping it up with a stick attached to a few feet of string. The remaining crackers he scattered around the bucket. “You remind me of Rube Goldberg going out on a toot and coming back with a brainstorm,” said Doc, looking at the contraptions.

“I think you underestimate the perseverance of Elmer Fudd,” replied Adrian, aware that Ann and Doc were watching his every move. He went over to the bedroom door and opened it, before going into the bathroom and Ann and Doc followed him. Polly Morphine flew from the bedroom to the floor, and started munching on the crackers, and walked over to the bucket. Adrian waited until the parrot came under the bucket and pulled the string, causing the bucket to fall over Polly Morphine, the parrot to squawk and Bubbles to laugh. She looked at the vase and smelled the nuts inside the vase. Reaching inside the vase, Bubbles grabbed the nuts and Adrian came over by her. Rather then release her hand, which was stuck in the vase, she kept it tight around the nuts and couldn’t move her hand away. “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle,” said Doc. “How did you ever dream that idea up?” “I saw it on a PBS program once,” said Adrian. “Now we can get the bird back in his cage and Bubbles away from her.” Doc grabbed some gloves and put the parrot back in the cage, while Ann picked up Bubbles and pointed to the mess of shaving cream. Adrian, aware of the mischief the animals could cause, wanted to rest a spell. He went down and turned on the television and flipped on the animal channel. “I have a job for you, kid,” said Doc. “Fight the dragon? Climb Mount Everest? Play the role of Superman?” “No, kid,” said Doc. “Teach the monkey and bird to get along.” “Couldn’t I fight the dragon instead?” Nasty is as Nasty does The Mad Dogs clubhouse was having a meeting on criminal activities with Scorpion directing the planning and Igor, Moose, and Mojo eagerly awaiting the action plan. Earlier in the day, Scorpion had directed two other teams to plan hits. One was designed to blow up the Gladiators’ clubhouse and the second to steal some Gladiator funds held in an old warehouse. Now one more plan needed to unfold.

“We will strike deep into the Gladiator territory,” said Scorpion. “Now we need to flush out this Coyote dude and see what his racket is.” Scorpion, like the others in the room, believed Coyote was a criminal kingpin hidden in the background and that Adrian was his chief enforcer. “But boss,” said Moose, chewing a big slice of pizza. “This Coyote dude and Adrian are dangerous. We almost got ourselves blown up the last time.” “Which is why my plan is perfect. We kidnap his girlfriend Ann and set a trap for them.” “How do we get past Doc and Adrian?” asked Igor. “Doc is a sharpshooter and Adrian is a martial arts expert. And Coyote, boss…we’ve never seen, and is extremely clever.” “Which is why we need a decoy,” replied Scorpion, lighting up a stogie. Moose walked over to the corner bar and picked out the decoy. Some of the club members liked to hunt duck and moose, and there was a spare duck decoy kept there for nostalgia’s sake. He held the decoy up. The action caused him to cut a big fart, which promptly stunk up the room. Fortunately, the cigar smoke neutralized the unpleasant aroma. “I assume,” sneered Scorpion, “that you intend to take Doc and Adrian duck hunting and stink them to death?” “Hell, no,” yelled Moose. “I intended to bring a decoy to reinforce your point.” Mojo and Igor were busy crunching on peanuts and pretzels, washed down with a flat American brew. While Moose was chewing on another pizza slice and drinking a beer, Scorpion brought out a blackboard and a piece of chalk. He drew a picture of Ann in one area and Adrian and Doc in another by filling in stick figures with names. Meanwhile, Moose let out another big gasser. “Moose,” yelled Scorpion. “You stink.” “Why, thank you,” laughed Moose, thinking he was being complimented. “I think...*crunch*…*crunch*,” replied Mojo, chewing on a pretzel, “that we need…crunch…to get Doc and Adrian to take a wild…*crunch*…goose chase and give…*crunch*…Ann…a simple task to

do.” “You boys got the manners of a bunch of pigs,” said Scorpion, without taking his eyes off the blackboard. “Thank you, boss,” replied Moose. “I got it,” replied Scorpion. “We send Doc a note to arrange a truce and Adrian must accompany him. We arrange it when he takes that parrot for a checkup. Doc doesn’t want to cancel, because it takes too long to reschedule.” “How do you know about the parrot’s checkup?” asked Mojo. Then he remembered that one of the bikers’ old ladies was a receptionist at Harry Horseneck, the only veterinarian for miles. “Oh,’ he mumbled, suddenly feeling stupid. The time of the appointment was 2 PM and they needed to send Doc and Adrian on a wild goose chase. Scorpion drew route diagrams from Doc’s place to the vet’s and marked certain sections with an X, which would indicate a good place for a kidnapping. “Should we bring the parrot back with us?” asked Igor. “What if she brings the monkey?” “The parrot, monkey, and Ann all receive royal treatment,” yelled Scorpion. “They are not to be harmed while we barter with Coyote. Is that clear?” “Perfectly,” screamed everyone in unison. “But boss,” yelled Moose. “That monkey made a monkey out of me during our last encounter.” “That monkey thinks you’re her father,” sneered Scorpion, cranking a faint smile. “Gee, thanks,” replied Moose. “Now I know why she’s so rebellious around me.” Igor was appointed to lead the operation and ensure Mojo and Moose didn’t screw up anything. Before they could start, they needed a game plan to corner Ann, lead Adrian and Doc on a wild goose chase, and discover what Coyote’s plan was. Scorpion would lead another plan to destroy the Gladiators clubhouse while Vulture would lead a party to rob the Gladiator funds. Each was precisely planned and Scorpion broke out a whiskey bottle to toast the plans.

“Get the hell out of here,” said Scorpion. “You mean right now?” asked Moose. “No, go take in a movie first,” screamed Scorpion. As the men exited, Moose turned and whispered to Mojo, “what movie should we see?” Mojo just shook his head and replied, “Gone with the Wind.” The Ransom of Red Bird The next morning, Ann stopped by Doc’s place to visit Adrian, since it was Saturday. Rumi had come to stay with Doc for a few days, so he could teach Adrian about spiritual topics. This afternoon, Doc planned on taking the parrot for his checkup and had Adrian accompany him. Bubbles was playing with an erector set and Polly Morphine was admiring his image via the cage mirror. “So, Rumi,” said Ann. “You said Buddha Poonapepper, Qutub Qadmon and Iris Siren are the last true Rosisufists?” “Other than myself and Adrian, who is an honorary member, besides being the resident shaman,” responded Rumi. “Many groups hang a shingle out that says Rosisufist, but we’re the real McCoys.” The doorbell rang and Doc, after first looking through the one-way peephole, opened the door. The UPS man, who stood there clutching what looked like an overnight letter, said, “Are you Doc Holliday?” “I’m Doc Holliday in need of a holiday.” Doc signed for the overnight letter. While Rumi was talking to Ann and Adrian, Doc opened the letter and Adrian noticed his face stood stoic for a moment or two. Rumi, Adrian and Ann looked at Doc. “I hope nobody is sick or passed on,” said Ann. “Read this,” said Doc, passing around the brief letter, which Adrian reviewed. It is time to talk a truce, so Doc and Adrian should meet me at Falcon Pass at 2 today, and I promise no violence. Scorpion.

“What do you make of this?” asked Adrian. “He has his seal there, so it is real. I think we should go,” said Doc. “ I think this may be dangerous. What about the bird appointment? Who will…Oh,” said Ann, realizing she was getting stuck with the bird. “If you take Polly Morphine and Bubbles with you,” said Doc to Ann, “I will go with Adrian.” “Let me watch the home front, Doc, while you go with Adrian,” said Rumi. “How is Tiny doing?” asked Ann. “Rumi recommended a good acupuncturist and homeopath living in town. He’s helping him make the transition back to normal life,” said Doc. “I need some tea to calm my nerves,” replied Ann, still not sure what to make of Rumi, Adrian or Coyote. Adrian brewed some green tea and brought a teakettle brimming with a fresh batch, including lemon for Rumi, sugar substitute for himself, sugar for Ann, and a shot of whiskey for Doc, which he needed to make the green tea taste palatable. Bubbles got some milk and a banana, while Polly Morphine got a few crackers. “Is the tea getting any better?” asked Adrian, looking at Doc. “It still looks like the Jolly Green Giant took a piss and tastes about as good,” replied Doc. “If you throw in a shot or two of Jack Daniels, I can become adjusted to it.” Doc opened a local map and studied the terrain, looking for spots where people could hide out, trying to uncover what Scorpion was up to and find a way to circumvent any disaster. Ann held Bubbles, while Adrian talked to Rumi, and Polly Morphine admired her mirror image, while Doc lips elicited a faint smile. “We can go up the canyon pass and see what they are doing before meeting them,” said Doc. “I trust you think it’s still safe,” said Ann, a bit concerned over the new chain of developments. “Safe as Curly’s head being hit by Moe’s hammer,” said Doc.

Ann’s watch showed 1:30 pm, and it would take her about fifteen minutes and needed to get trucking, so she grabbed Bubbles in her left hand, while Rumi grabbed the parrot and escorted it to Ann’s car. She put the bird in the back seat and watched Doc and Adrian get in Doc’s truck. Ann’s Volkswagen left the driveway and Bubbles was busy waving goodbye kisses to everyone, prompting a stop at a Burger King to order a large coffee and waited for the loudspeaker to tell her to place the order. “Can I take your order please?” said the loudspeaker. “Can I take your order please?” squawked Polly Morphine, causing Bubbles to start laughing. “I don’t like people making fun of me,” growled the loudspeaker. “It’s not me,” said Ann, “I have a parrot and monkey accompanying me.” “It’s quite understandable,” said the loudspeaker. “My roommate behaves like a parrot and my boyfriend behaves like a monkey. What would you like?” “A large black coffee,” said Ann. With the payment window open, Ann threw down a dollar and grabbed a large black coffee. The customary “thank you” had Polly Morphine squawk, “Thank you, and thank you,” while bobbing his head up and down. She continued her drive and finally reached the vet office parking lot. A couple of gentlemen in uniform approached the car and Bubbles started jumping up and down and howled. “We are the valet parkers,” said Moose, talking to Ann from the driver side window. Bubbles shook her fist at the large man, whom she recognized from her previous encounter. Ann opened the door to allow the man access to the car, only to feel something that felt like a stick pressed against her back by a smaller man, holding a gun under his coat. “You guys are not valet parkers,” said Ann, who thought she felt a gun. “You’re bikers, so what do you want with me?” “We need to talk to Adrian and Coyote,” said Mojo, still pointing the gun at Ann. “Work with us and

no harm will befall you or the animals.” Ann’s options were limited. Her psychological training and dealing with difficult patients over the years gave her a calm perspective on things. Since her goal now was to stay alive and find out more about the kidnappers, she allowed her rational mind to keep a cool lid on the situation. “What do you propose?” asked Ann. “We go for a ride and you stay with us a while. We then set up a meeting with Adrian, Doc, and Coyote to discuss territorial concerns.” “Who do you think Coyote is, given I never met him?” asked Ann. “He’s the big kingfish carving new crime areas and Adrian is his hit man,” blurted out Moose. “Oh,” said Ann, realizing that the crooks thought Coyote was a criminal. Igor, careful to ensure everything was going smoothly, grabbed Polly Morphine and had Ann carry Bubbles, while Moose parked Ann’s car. Next they directed Ann and Bubbles into a limo. Mojo rode in the back seat while Moose sat on the passenger side and Polly Morphine perched in back, while Igor drove the limo from the vet parking lot. The limo drove along wooded back roads, while Ann noted the terrain and started formulating plans for staying alive, and how she, a psychologist, could get inside their heads when necessary. The animals were calm, partly due to Ann’s cool demeanor and the crooks’ relaxed mannerisms. The drive lasted about a half hour before they pulled up into an isolated farmhouse. There was a two story, older ranch house and an old barn, which was freshly painted. One of the bikers had inherited it from his grandfather and it was used chiefly for bike repair and parties. Today it would function as Hostage Hostel and Ann would be the first guest, followed by the animals. The limo drove into the driveway and Igor opened his door and waited for the bikers and hostages to exit. “Here’s the plan,” said Igor. “I escort Ann to her quarters and you boys take the animals into the barn and exercise them, so they won’t be so frisky. Remember to close all the doors and don’t harm the animals.”

“It’s a cake walk,” responded Mojo, who carried Bubbles while Moose got the bird and heavy equipment. Igor and Ann went to the house while Mojo, Moose, and the animals went to the barn. Mojo set the monkey down while Moose closed the doors and positioned the birdcage on the rafters. Bubbles sat like the rock of Gibraltar while Polly Morphine appeared to be a taxidermy model. The boys, remembering the instructions to exercise the animals, just looked at each other. “Come on, you dumb son of a bitches,” screamed Moose, “exercise and enjoy yourselves.” “You’re supposed to use psychology,” responded Mojo. “Give them some positive reinforcement.” “If you animals exercise, I won’t beat your brains in,” said Moose, attempting to use positive reinforcement. “What do you suppose the animals want?” asked Mojo, scratching his head. Bubbles face elicited a slight smile and pointed to the cage, prompting Moose to think she wanted to play with the birdcage and took it from the rafters and handed it to Bubbles, who pretended to cry, like she needed attention, prompting Mojo to pick her up and notice that he actually liked the monkey. “What’s she trying to tell us?” asked Mojo. “Ah! I know! We should let the bird out of its cage to fly.” Bubbles, smiling and jumping up and down, signaled to Mojo and Moose she wanted to play with Polly Morphine. Mojo opened the cage and the parrot, recognizing its chance at freedom, flew out of the cage and up to the rafters. Immediately Bubbles, spotting a ladder leading to the rafters, took off like Flash pursuing the Road Runner. Before Moose could react, Bubbles was on top of the rafters laughing while the parrot said, pretty bird. Moose grabbed a shotgun and pointed it a Bubbles. “I’ll bring you down, you damn…,” said Moose, when he felt Mojo pushing the gun away. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” asked Mojo, his hand on the shotgun. “I’m getting the monkey down,” replied Moose. “Scorpion and Igor said not to kill them – besides the gun shot may arouse suspicion.”

“So how do we get them down?” asked Moose. “We outsmart them. You go into the kitchen and get some crackers and bananas. Remember the net and chloroform we brought? While the monkey are parrot are eating, you cast the net over the bird, and I apply chloroform to the monkey.” “Brilliant!” Moose felt happy to outsmart the monkey. Moose walked toward the kitchen to retrieve the bananas and crackers. Upstairs, he heard Ann talking to Igor, who had become a patient exposing his soul to a shrink, but Igor couldn’t make out the words. He left the kitchen and returned to the barn, only to unpeel the banana and put it on top of the hay. Next he opened the crackers and scattered them over the hay around the banana. Mojo grabbed the ether and a cotton gauze pad, while Moose grabbed the net. While the two men hid behind some hay bails, Polly Morphine flew down and started eating the crackers. Bubbles saw the banana and quickly climbed down the ladder to grab it. While the animals were busy eating, Mojo snuck around with his chloroform soaked cloth and Moose snuck up with the net. The parrot flew on top of Mojo’s head, and Moose aimed the net. Bubbles did a forward roll, causing Mojo to trip and his right hand containing the cloth landed on Moose’s face, while the net became tangled around Mojo’s body. The chloroform took effect immediately, so Moose fell backwards onto the hay. While Mojo was struggling with the net, Bubbles started running around laughing while the bird flew around saying, woo, woo. “Shit!” said Mojo, noticing that Moose was out cold and the more he struggled, the worse he was getting entangled in the net. Each time he tried to break it, the ropes became tighter. He tried to awake Moose with his right foot, but the big lug was in slumber land. Bubbles just watched silently while Polly Morphine repeated, “pretty bird” and bobbed his head. Mojo was able to reach into his pants pocket and grab his pocketknife. For the next several minutes, he cut the strings while Moose passed the hours in slumber and the animals enjoyed running and flying around the barn.

Head them off at the pass Adrian and Doc were taking a shortcut to Falcon Pass, using the woods as cover. They planned to scout and see how many bikers were waiting to meet them and obtain an element of surprise. Unfortunately, something in the bushes or the air was having an adverse effect upon Adrian and causing him to sneeze. “Ah Choo!” Adrian sneezed. “How can we sneak up on the bad guys if you act like the hay fever commercial?” asked Doc. “I can’t help it,” said Adrian. “No matter what I try, there is something here making me—ah choo – sorry.” Doc took the lead with Adrian slowly walking behind him. The bushes needed to be parted and Adrian kept getting them slammed into his face. His thoughts drifted into a Three Stooges episode. I remember when the Stooges were going after Indians. Every time Curly and Larry pushed a bush, Moe kept getting hit in the face. At least, I think it was Moe. He’s always getting the brunt of these misguided efforts. Gee, I’m hungry. I wonder if you can eat these berries? They’re probably poisonous or, in the least, will give me an upset stomach. “Ah choo!” Adrian had been trying to hold his sneeze by putting pressure on his nose with two fingers of his right hand. “Pretend I’m James Bond and you’re my assistant,” said Doc, stepping his way through the bushes. “You mean Q?” asked Adrian. “If he were here, he could tell me how to stop from sneezing or give me a gadget.” “Can’t you use that healing ability on yourself?” asked Doc. “Not if I can’t focus and right now, I am thinking about this truce,” responded Adrian. They continued to walk through the forest until they reached a clearing. Doc motioned for Adrian to hit the deck. Both crawled upon their hands and knees for the next five minutes or so. From the ground position, Adrian was not in contact with the bushes and his sneezing subsided.

Doc finally reached an overhead spot and he took out his binoculars, and he looked down into the valley. Scorpion, Moose and Mojo hidden behind a cluster of bushes, and Doc watched for about five minutes, and the men didn’t move or talk. The men appeared to be looking at the bridge, waiting for Doc and Adrian to show up. Doc handed the binoculars to Adrian, who watched the men for a couple of seconds before returning them. “They look like they’re waiting for us, but they’re as still as duck hunters,” replied Adrian. “I’ll bet they thought they could fool Doc Holliday, but little did they know.” “What’s next?” asked Adrian. “We sneak up on them and I pull my guns. This way, we talk on my terms.” “Lead the way!” They traveled over various rocks, as the two kept getting closer to the three bad guys. Since there were no bushes, Adrian didn’t have to sneeze, so he felt much better. When he was about a half mile from the three men, Adrian was again on his stomach following Doc’s lead. Doc watched the men through the binoculars for a couple of minutes. “That’s strange,” responded Doc. “They don’t appear to be moving at all.” “Let me see,” replied Adrian, reaching for the binoculars. “Something’s not right,” said Doc, pulling out his thirty-eight. He snuck up on the bad guys with Adrian right behind them. When he got to the thicket of bushes and put the revolver to Scorpion’s head, he yelled out, “Damn!” “What’s happening?” asked Adrian, quickly running to Doc and believing everything was under control. Doc pulled out his gun, and kicked Scorpion from behind, only to watch him fall over. “Dummies!” shouted Doc. “They set us up!” The dummies were dressed in biker outfits, with hair and clothes added to make them look like Scorpion and a couple of his henchmen. “Why?” asked Adrian.

Doc pulled out his miniature cell phone and called his home number, Rumi answered. “Rumi,” replied Doc. “They set us up, and we been stalking dummies.” “But isn’t that normal?” asked Rumi. “I mean real dummies,” said Doc. “Anything unusual happen there?” “Just that Fed Ex delivered a letter,” said Rumi. “Open and it and read it to me,” said Doc, putting the phone on speaker mode. “Oh, dear,” said Rumi. “It says by the time you receive this letter, Ann and the animals will be our guests. We wish to meet with Coyote to discuss territorial terms.” “What?” asked Adrian, getting a bit excited. “They kidnapped Ann, along with Bubbles and Polly Morphine? What do we do now? How do we even know they’re safe?” “They’ll be safe as long as they haven’t talked to Coyote yet,” replied Doc. “I think we need to get back and think this through. Don’t you think so, Rumi?” “We need a plan,” said Rumi. “In the meantime, I’ll call Tiny and have the boys start digging around,” said Doc. The next few minutes Adrian spent in silence, wondering what to do. I need to have Ann and the animals come out of this safe and sound. Perhaps I need to wait until we talk about this some more. I need to speak to Coyote. If anyone can help me with this mess, it’s that crazy dude. “Hey, kid,” said Doc. “We can’t do anything now. Let’s get back so we can talk to Rumi and Tiny.” “And I will talk to Coyote,” replied Adrian. Chili Beanie When Adrian and Doc arrived back home, they briefed Rumi about what happened, and Doc in turn called Tiny to discuss the situation. Tiny’s men were killed in an explosion, and a robbery that netted a substantial portion of cash and valuables and killed Gladiator guards. A police investigation was being conducted but Doc and Tiny knew that Sheriff Gomer Grant, who was on the Mad Dog payroll, would just pay lip service to any investigation.

“Tiny will try to find out what he can,” said Doc. “But given the recent losses they suffered, things look pretty grim.” “Can you get any psychic impressions?” asked Adrian, looking in Rumi’s direction. Rumi stood silently a few moments before responding. “I get the impression that Ann and the animals are safe and are being treated well. I don’t get any impressions of their location.” Doc went into the kitchen phone Tiny and Rumi went to the living room for a telemental conference call with the Rosisufists, and Adrian went into the upstairs bedroom to talk to Coyote. He closed his eyes and entered the dreamtime. He saw a fortune-telling booth with two seats and a dark but luminous Coyote sitting on the main chair. Overhead, he saw the words Chili Beanie and the subtitle knows all, sees all. “Have a seat, my good man,” said Coyote. “Can I read the bumps on your head?” “You can’t fool me that easy,” said Adrian. “I’ve seen the Warner Brothers cartoons. If I say I have no bumps, you hit me on the head with a hammer.” “You’re getting too smart, kid,” replied Coyote. “In fact, you become more like me each day.” “I’ll never be like you,” responded Adrian. “You don’t take life seriously.” “But I do,” said Coyote. “I just supply a cosmic, comic twist. It’s like having a rum and Coke without a lime.” Before Adrian could respond to Coyote’s answer, he noticed cards spinning around of their own accord, in front of Coyote. Each card had a picture of Coyote on the back and Adrian couldn’t see the card’s face. When the cards completed their spin, a voice spoke in Adrian’s head and said pick one. Adrian picked up the middle card and turned it over. On the face of the card was a man in a farmer’s hat that said Mc Donald. “Are you telling me to take up farming?” asked Adrian. “And why is this place called Chili Beanie… but of course…it’s from a Bullwinkle cartoon.” “You get cleverer each day and do you remember which cartoon?” asked Coyote, smiling at Adrian.

“The one where he is doing some magic from the hat and says the words chili beanie,” responded Adrian. “Wait a minute. You’re not telling me to take up farming but to look for a farm.” Coyote flashed another set of cards Adrian’s way, and one card had a picture of a hat and another contained a cornfield. Adrian tried to think the clues through. Should I buy a new hat? What about the corn? Maybe I should eat some corn flakes in a hat. But he can’t mean to eat corn from a hat. I know! I should put the two words together. Corn hat! Hat Corn. Both are sounding corny and who ever heard of putting a whole field of corn in a hat. Ah! Of course! Hatfield. “Hatfield,” said Adrian. “Close, but no cigar,” replied Coyote. “Maybe you should think in opposites.” “Now you are talking in riddles and eluding me. Wait. Wasn’t there a big feud between the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s?” “Give the man a cigar,” said Coyote, and a lit cigar floated into Adrian’s mouth. “Maybe you don’t mean feud, but field. So I need to find a farm run or owned by Hatfield,” replied Adrian. “Simple, but it doesn’t help me rescue her.” Before Adrian could ask further questions, Coyote kissed him on the forehead. Adrian felt his senses come alive and flooded with sight, sound, and smell sensations, which he was picking up in his mind. He felt Coyote fading from view and Adrian drifted through a spectrum of various light shades, only to find himself back in his own body. He felt somehow he was different, he had a clue where Ann was, and some newfound abilities. Standing over him was Rumi and Doc. “Did you learn anything?” asked Doc. “Does the words farm and McCoy mean anything?” asked Adrian. “Wait a minute. One of the Mad Dogs had an Uncle McCoy who left him a farm. That’s it.” “Would you mind going in the other room, closing the door, and doing what I say?” asked Adrian. “If it amuses you, kid,” said Doc. He went into the kitchen and closed the door. Inside, he poured himself a glass of whiskey and lit a

cigar. Adrian focused on his third eye and pictured the glass pouring the whiskey, and the smell from the cigar Doc was smoking. “Are you drinking Jack Daniels and smoking a Cuban?” asked Adrian. “What?” asked Doc. “Are you looking through the keyhole?” “Say some phrase real softly,” said Adrian, talking loud enough for Doc to hear. Doc, being hungry, picked up a can of tuna fish and opened it. He placed some hot pepper sauce on top, followed by squeezing a lemon, sprinkling on black pepper, and adding a shot of vodka. Inside the kitchen drawer he obtained a knife and fork and started mixing the tuna with the pepper uppers. With fork drawn to his mouth, he ate the next three forks of tuna delight before whispering a phase. “Piccadilly Prunes.” “I see you are eating an interesting snack. Tuna fish sautéed with hot pepper sauce, black pepper, lemon, and vodka. In addition, you expressed a desire for a pickled, dill prune. Doc opened the kitchen door, hoping to find Adrian or Rumi looking through the keyhole. Instead, both men were standing several yards away and couldn’t either see or hear what Doc said or did. He carried the plate of tuna delight with him and was busy devouring it. “What’s happened to the kid?” asked Doc. “Enhanced mystical senses, which are a gift from Coyote,” said Rumi. “What about the word farm and McCoy?” asked Adrian. Doc scratched his head and pondered for a moment, allowing a minute to pass before finishing the tuna delight and having a cigarette. “It’s a Mad Dog property and that’s probably where they are hiding Ann. You’re not thinking of doing what I think you might do, are you?” “I’m going to rescue Ann and the animals,” responded Adrian. “Otherwise, they will kill them when they get what they want.” “Adrian’s right,” said Rumi.

“But even if he has mystically enhanced senses, how does he not get shot?” asked Doc. “I think I can solve that problem,” replied Rumi. “Since you are an official Rosisufist, it’s time to learn how not to be seen.” “This I got to see, after getting some data from Tiny,” said Doc. “It seems Ann and the animals were taken in a limo by Moose, Mojo and Igor. We still need a plan, and I’m the man to craft it.” Adrian turned around to see the TV and a man in white robes, and wearing a long beard and hair. The other person he recognized as Oprah Winfrey, talking to some philosopher who said he could solve the world’s problems. He listened to the question-and-answer session for about five minutes, trying to correlate what the Zar, the interviewed philosopher, could help him address the current situation. “I think we should just ad lib,” said Adrian, “and allow the mystic energies to do their thing, and craft the plan as we go along.” Candle in the wind Midnight and no souls were stirring, not even a parrot or monkey. The corn, planted in the fields surrounding the McCoy farm, could hide members of the NBA elite. Instead the corn was cover to the three Musketeers and their daring rescue. Adrian was using his new mystic senses, picking up visions in his third eye, with Moose snoring and cutting a fart, Bubbles giggling, Polly Morphine yelling, “Pretty Bird”, Mojo pacing back and forth, Ann’s breathing, and Igor smoking a cigarette. He turned toward Doc and Rumi. “What’s the situation kid?” asked Doc. “Everyone looks to be alive and breathing.” “Do you concur, Rumi?” asked Doc. “Fit as a fiddle,” responded Rumi. Doc pulled out a couple of hunter calls – one to bag ducks and another for turkeys. He handed them to Adrian. “You send a telepathic message to Rumi if you get in trouble. If you can’t, then sound the duck call.

Use the turkey call to flush out the kidnappers. Now let’s start this disappearing hocus pocus.” Adrian repeated a mystic phrase Rumi shared with him. He remembered Rumi saying it must be repeated every twenty minutes or he would be seen again. The mantra had a telepathic effect on human minds and caused them not to notice the person. Shortly Adrian would disappear from Doc’s sight. “I see it, but I don’t believe it,” said Doc. “You don’t see it but you do believe it,” replied Rumi. “I got my bird calls, and I’m ready to go,” said Adrian, disappearing into the corn. “Sometimes the kid’s as sharp as Sam Spade and other times as befuddled as Jethro Bodine,” said Doc, shaking his head. Rumi and Doc watched the corn moving in a fixed spot, like a blip dancing on the radar screen. But Adrian’s mystic senses were focused and he could see shapes in the dark. Two were sitting on a scarecrow and he noticed four pairs of crow eyes. The crows saw the corn moving and, taking a liking to Adrian, flew down to investigate. Each one landed on Adrian’s shoulders and simultaneously became Adrian’s shoulder ornaments. As Adrian kept walking through the cornfield, the crows were enjoying a free ride. As the crows kept up their midnight ride, Adrian reflected. I wonder if this ever happened to the invisible man? Rumi teaches me this mystic phrase and what do I get? Two crows are hitching a ride and not paying for the fare. How am I supposed to rescue anyone with these two varmints hanging around? I suppose I should give them a name. I believe I’ll call them Hackle and Jackal. All right, you goldbricks, you can catch a free ride. But if I need to swing into action, you fellows go join the owls. How can you tell a female crow from a male crow? Hey! Maybe these birds are good omens, and I should let them tag along! Adrian reached the farmhouse and barn, but was still hidden in the cornfield. He heard Mojo snoring, and saw Moose walking outside standing guard and Igor flipping cards in the kitchen. Inside, Bubbles woke up and started laughing. The crows still on top of him, Adrian pulled out the turkey whistle and

started blowing out turkey calls. Moose looked around to where the invisible Adrian stood. “Something doesn’t add up,” said Moose, looking at the crows. “I heard a turkey but see two crows. I know a crow doesn’t sound like a turkey, unless they’re one of them genetic tinker birds those mad scientists crank out. That’s got to be the answer.” Moose pulled out his gun, forcing Adrian to lie down flat but failing to shake the two crows. As he lay in the corn, he felt the birds on his back and started thinking. These birds want a free ride and must think I’m the wind or something. And Moose thinks I’m a genetic turkey crow or crow turkey, depending on how you look at it. If only I could get scare these crows and… Adrian crawled over to the scarecrow and cut some rope off with a Swiss army knife. He then crawled over to a big cornstalk and pulled it toward himself. As Moose passed by with his flashlight and gun, Adrian let the cornstalk fly forward and the corn struck Moose in the face. Before Moose could react, Adrian knocked the gun away, and Moose flew through the air and landed on the ground. Moose felt strands of strong rope binding his arms and legs and every time he tried to get up, he felt himself being forced back to ground zero. As he tried to look back, all he could see were crows dancing around. “Wait a minute,” said Moose. “Since when does a turkey crow bind my arms and legs? Yet I can’t see any humans.” The last thing Moose felt was a big ear of corn stuffed in his mouth, wrapped by a piece of cloth across the back of his head. Adrian heard Mojo flipping through a magazine and Igor playing cards. Adrian had put the turkey call in his pocket to capture Moose. He reached for the turkey call and couldn’t tell the call by feeling it. He pulled out the calls and found himself with three, instead of two. Now which is the turkey call. The Duck call has this little duck image on the surface. Doc handed me three calls instead of two and I’m lucky to pick the turkey call on my first try. Perhaps if I put the duck call back and just try one of these. I have a fifty/fifty chance. Here goes nothing. Adrian circled around the barn and blew the whistle, “Cock a do dodo do. Cock a do dodo due.” This whistle sounds like a sick rooster on an all night toot with a splitting hangover, Adrian thought.

“Hey Mojo!” Igor yelled out the window. “I didn’t notice a rooster in this farm. Can you or Moose put it out of its misery?” “I don’t know where Moose is,” replied Mojo, opening the barn door and sticking his head out. “Should I go look for Moose or the rooster?” “Find them both,” yelled Igor. Outside was an abandoned outhouse, and Adrian stood behind it, blowing the rooster call. Mojo walked around the barn, just in time to see two crows turning a corner. He heard a rooster call echoing in the background, pulled out his revolver, walking toward the next corner, but unaware that Adrian had set a trap, and thinking the rooster was inside, opened the door and positioned his revolver, only to have Adrian grab his arm, swinging him forward. The movement dislodged his revolver and forced him into the upright seat and down into the smelly interior. “Someone’s going to pay for this,” yelled Mojo from the commode bottom, but the rooster call drowned out his yell. Adrian focused his third eye toward the house, listening to Igor play cards and Ann breathing normally upstairs. He needed a plan to distract Igor, but first he would check on the animals. Hackle and Jackal were still hitching a ride and he felt like Noah, going to retrieve the monkey and parrot. He snuck into the back door and Bubbles jumped into his arms, while Polly Morphine kept yelling, “pretty bird.” While Adrian was focused on the animals, Igor was curious about what was causing Bubbles to act up. He grabbed his gun, and Ann and headed for the barn. Adrian was so caught up with the animals that he wasn’t focusing on his mystic senses. Even worse, he was losing concentration, rendering him visible to Igor. Igor had the gun pointed toward Adrian, and Ann was in the line of fire. “What do we have here?” Igor asked. “Doctor Doolittle?’ “What?” Adrian asked, surprised at Igor sneaking up on him. “Ann, are you OK?” “She’s fine for now,” Igor said to Ann. “Go over there and join Prince Charming.”

Ann walked over to Adrian and hugged him and Bubbles. Igor clicked the gun and Bubbles started to smile, with Adrian shortly joining her. Above Igor’s head were stacks of baled hay. One of the stacks decided to try bungee jumping and use Igor’s head as a net. As the haystack fell, it knocked Igor out and a song echoed from the barn top. Adrian walked over by Igor and scanned his energy field, looking for any broken bones or injuries. He again looked up and heard a singing voice. “London haystacks falling down, Falling down, falling down. London haystacks falling down, My fair lady.” “Coyote?” Ann asked, looking at Adrian. “Who else? Igor appears to be all right.” “What do we do now?” Ann asked. Again the barn roof provided a musical answer. “Take the keys and lock them up, Lock them up. Lock them up. Take the keys and lock them up, My fair lady.” “Find something to tie Igor up, while I signal for help,” said Adrian, becoming Donald and Daffy duck with his call. Ann found some duct tape in the barn tool kit and proceeded to tie Igor up, while Adrian opened the barn door and started quacking away, and heard Doc and Rumi in the distance. “Everything’s under control!” shouted Adrian, who was aware that Doc was surveying the area with infrared binoculars while Rumi was attempting telepathic contact. “Rumi,” said Adrian telepathically. “Tell Doc I got the situation under control and need his help wrapping things up.”

Adrian heard Rumi speaking to Doc and he observed Doc and Rumi coming through the corn. Adrian was also aware he had Hackle and Jackal on his shoulders, and Bubbles was pulling on his leg and he picked her up and held her. Doc exited through the corn and shone his flashlight on Adrian. “Who are you trying to be?” Doc asked. “Doctor DoLittle? And where are Mojo, Moose, and Igor?” “Igor is in the barn, knocked out by a haystack. Moose is tied up in the cornfield and Mojo fell into the latrine.” “Latrine?” Doc asked, cracking up. Shortly, Bubbles and Rumi joined him in a good round of laughter, while Ann stepped out of the barn. “You all right, Ann?” asked Adrian. “I was so busy before, I forgot to ask.’ “I’m fine, thanks to you,” Ann said, as she kissed him, Doc took out his cellular phone. “Who are you calling?” Rumi inquired. “Tiny and company, to clean things up,” said Doc. “Wouldn’t they kill them?” Adrian said, a bit worried. “They will trade them for the money Scorpion stole. Believe me. These gentlemen will be too embarrassed from this whole incident to bother us for a long time.” Adrian looked over his left and right shoulders and noticed Hackle and Jackal were still hanging around. Bubbles noticed Ann’s kiss, tried to give Adrian one also, but he kept turning his head around. Doc finished the phone call, then left to find Moose and Mojo. Ann grabbed the parrot cage, only to notice Polly Morphine had learned a new song that he continued for the next two hours. “London haystacks falling down, Falling down. Falling down…” We Got to Get Out of This Place Several days passed after Adrian made his daring rescue and he found himself alternating his time between courting Ann, learning from Rumi, and attempting to teach Bubbles and Polly Morphine to exercise good behavior. While he was succeeding with the first two chores, the latter was proving to be

a challenge. Tiny and his gang managed to exchange Moose, Mojo, and Igor for the money Scorpion stole from the Gladiators. Everything was quiet for a few days and Doc was indulging in his usual pastimes of smoking, drinking, gambling, and chasing women. One day, about a week later, Doc arrived home as Ann, Rumi, and Adrian were eating dinner. “I’m afraid I have some bad news,” said Doc. “There was a major explosion at the Gladiator’s clubhouse and many didn’t make it. Tiny suspects a mole in his organization.” “That’s not good,” responded Adrian, while nursing a diet Coke with lemon and lime slices. “That’s not the worst news,” said Doc, lighting up a stinky stogie. “Tiny heard that Scorpion is planning a Farewell Charlie Party for us because he’s angry at your rescuing everyone and embarrassing him.” “What’s a Farewell Charlie Party?” asked Adrian. “It’s the worst of the worst,” responded Rumi, chewing on a garlic pickle. “It’s where several heavily armed men plan a going away party.” “I get it,” said Ann. “The ones going away would be us – permanently.” Adrian noticed Bubbles was silent, as if she sensed the darkness approaching. Polly Morphine didn’t utter a word, and everyone spent the next few moments in n thoughtful silence. Rumi put down the garlic pickle. “We need to hide out for a few days,” he said. “Fortunately, I have a large cabin my uncle uses for hunting,” said Doc. “It’s the perfect hiding place. My uncle named it the OK Corral.” Adrian’s mind drifted. Isn’t that where Wyatt and Doc had a showdown with the Clanton gang? I’m hanging around with Doc Holiday. Does that make me Wyatt? And the bad guys all know how to shoot six-shooters. I couldn’t shoot a six-shooter if Doc held my hand and pulled the trigger – nor do I want to. And whom do we have on the side of good? We have a piano player, psychologist, mystic,

shaman, parrot, and monkey. Why can’t he change the name to the Never Mind Corral, the Casablanca Corral, the Cheery Cheese Chunks Corral, or the I’m OK They’re Not OK Corral? “You look deep in thought,” said Rumi. “I can’t help thinking about this name,” said Adrian. “It’s like getting a date on Friday the thirteenth, and going into a pet store that specializes in black cats, or being chased by a bull in the house of mirrors.” While Adrian was pondering his situation, he noticed Bubbles was busy flipping through the phone book, browsing the yellow pages. Polly Morphine, meanwhile, was admiring a female parrot aiding a bad pirate on the TV. While the parrot was emulating a wolf whistle, Bubbles dropped the phone book on the floor beneath Ann’s feet. The sound made her look down, and the phone book was open to a section on automobiles. In an ad filling three quarters of the open page was a picture of a minivan. “It’s bad enough our lives have a price tag on them,” said Ann, picking up the phone book and looking at the picture. “But if we have to hide, I want to have room for my belongings.” “Leave it to a woman to want to ride to a funeral in a limo,” said Doc, looking at the picture. Adrian’s mind drifted again. Suppose they are following us? If we go in two parties, they would have a slimmer chance of getting everyone. I need to voice my thoughts here. “We shouldn’t get a minivan,” said Adrian. “They may be following us and we would be sitting ducks. Instead, we should split into two teams.” “The kid’s a genius,” replied Doc. “Rumi and I will go in one team. He is the mystic and I am the gunman.” “But who will watch out for Ann and the pets? Oh…” said Adrian, looking at Doc. “Who better to watch over them? A shaman, guarded by Coyote, an Aikido expert with enhanced senses and a Rosisufist?” asked Doc. “Besides, you and Rumi can keep in touch.” “Wonderful,” said Adrian sarcastically. “It’s settled then,” said Rumi. “We will draw a map and go over the directions. Doc and I can leave

tonight to throw any thugs off the trail. The rest of our group will leave tomorrow and Ann can take some time off.” Adrian took another sip of Coke. I still don’t like the idea of hiding out in the OK Corral. The Cross Dressers Convention. Adrian spent the night at Ann’s, sleeping on the couch. Bubbles slept downstairs with Adrian, and Polly Morphine slept in Ann’s room. A telepathic message in the morning from Rumi let Adrian know they took off and were on their way. After breakfast, Ann pulled her VW into the driveway and Adrian spent the next few minutes loading Ann’s things and the pets. While he munched on some cheddar crackers, Bubbles held out her hand, looking at him with sad eyes, prompting him to share some crackers. When they got going, they were on the road for a few minutes when Ann stopped the car by a convenience store. “I’ll get some supplies,” said Ann, kissing him on the cheek. “You can tell me if anything is wrong. Will you exercise the animals?” “Consider it done,” said Adrian, wearing his red hunting jacket and green Sherlock Holmes hat. He watched Ann enter the convenience store, then across the street. The sign there said the Shady Rest, and a desire for water overwhelmed him. I need to get a drink. I suppose no one will know if I am a guest or not. I see another sign that says ‘pets welcome’. If I go in the side door, no one will know if I am coming in or going out. What does that other sign say? It says ‘Cross Dressers convention’. I know Ann would like a present, and she would like a cross. I didn’t know they had conventions where people wear different crosses to show off. It’s funny what you can find at a convention. I’ll leave Ann a note and tell her I went for some water. He took out a pen and note pad and scribbled a note: I have gone to the Shady Rest to get some water and took the pets with me. The note covered the steering wheel, as Bubbles became his right and Polly

Morphine’s cage his left hand focused, he headed toward the Shady Rest. Stepping through the side door, Adrian pretended he was just a guest and noticed a sign saying this way to Cross Dressers Convention. When he reached the convention door, there was a room full of females, powdering their noses, combing their hair, drinking tea or catching up on girl talk. I can’t see any crosses on these ladies. Shouldn’t there be some display cases or something? I hate to be rude but these are really ugly ladies. Some look like they could be weight lifters or professional wrestlers. Perhaps I can ask those two ladies at the front door. “I say,” said Adrian. “Am I at the right place? Is this the cross dressers convention?” “The one and only,” said the short redhead, bearing the nametag ‘Trudy’. “Let’s get him a nametag,” said the tall blond lady, bearing the name ‘Corky’. “I am Corky Crupperrake and this is Trudy Tuplidpot. Who are you and what names do the pets have?” Adrian extended his hand and the ladies shook it. “I’m Adrian Albright and the monkey is Bubbles and the parrot is Polly Morphine.” The two ladies started laughing and Bubbles joined in the laughter. These ladies have such masculine voices and the sex appeal of a T-rex. “I’m sorry, Adrian,” said Corky. “But Polly Morphine is such a strange name for a parrot. You need to get dressed up to come in. The Sherlock Holmes hat and red hunting jacket have to go.” “But I don’t have a suit and tie. Where are they selling the crosses?” Adrian observed Trudy and Corky staring at him. “It does say cross dressers convention, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t you ladies have a cross display case?” Trudy and Corky started laughing again.

“You’re a real comedian, honey,” replied Corky. Bubbles proceeded to open the parrot cage door Adrian put on the floor. Polly Morphine, unnoticed by the others, took advantage of his freedom and flew on top of Corky’s head. While Corky turned his eyes upward, the parrot started pecking her glasses and said. “Hey babe. Hey babe.” “Where did the parrot learn to talk like that?” asked Trudy, putting a ribbon in her wig. “At the biker’s bar,” said Adrian. Nobody was paying attention to Bubbles and she climbed onto the table and grabbed Trudy’s wig, exposing a crew cut. Polly Morphine saw Bubbles run with the wig and followed suit. Climbing on top of a set of folded chairs, Bubbles ended up on a light fixture, with the parrot flying by her side. With the wig on her head, she started laughing, while Polly Morphine kept squawking hot babe. “I lost my wig,” yelled Trudy, causing everyone to look her way. “I’m truly troubled, Trudy,” said Adrian, appearing a bit surprised. “I’m a bit confused since you’re a man!” “Adrian,” said Corky. “What do you think a cross dressers convention is?” “Well,” said Adrian. “I wanted to buy my lady a cross. Then I saw a sign for this convention, and it suggested to me that people would be modeling crosses.” Corky looked at Trudy and they both started laughing, causing Adrian to wonder what the joke was. What are they laughing at? If they weren’t selling crosses, they should not have deceived the public with the sign. And to top it off, I have to get that monkey and parrot down, in addition to returning Trudy’s wig. Now what should I do? “How do we get them down?” asked Corky.

Adrian began mulling over the question, when an announcement was made. “I’m Irene ThistleBrotton and I’d like to get this party going. So let’s put on some music and let’s start the beauty contest. “ Bubbles turned her eyes toward the announcer, and dropped the wig. Trudy walked over and grabbed it, while Polly Morphine kept yelling “hot babes”. A brilliant thought came to Adrian on how to get the pets down, while everyone was preoccupied with the beauty pageant. The men, dressed in ladies’ dresses and wigs, lined up for the contest. A mischievous monkey scurried down, avoiding Adrian, and moved into the line of men, leaving Adrian stranded, with the crowd pushing his way, and Bubbles slipping under the men’s legs. Now what do I do? Ann is probably waiting and I have Bubbles entering the contest and Polly Morphine is still beyond my reach. And here I am, trapped in this strange beauty pageant. What should I do? Perhaps if I wait a bit, Bubbles will get tired and I can grab her. Each man walked in a sexy fashion, in pick, blue, red, and yellow dresses, sporting jewelry and shaking their rear ends, with Bubbles was behind the first five, duplicating the ass wiggling, evoking audience laughter, with Irene madding another announcement. “It looks like we have a new contestant,” said Irene, in a pink and yellow dress. “What’s your name, dear?” “It’s Bubbles,” shouted Adrian, standing in the audience. “Bubbles,” said Irene. “That is a pretty name, and since you’re new here, we’ll let you go first. Is that acceptable, girls?” Everyone was clapping, and Bubbles walked over to Irene. Polly Morphine repeated a wolf whistle, and Adrian found himself stuck in the crowd. The parrot landed on Irene’s shoulder, while Polly Morphine’s head bob up and down and he spoke into the microphone. “Hi babes. Care for some fun?”

Bubbles blew a kiss to everyone and Adrian’s face was turning red. How did I ever think they were selling crosses? Now I have the two brats up on center stage and I’m stuck and can’t get through the crowd. And…” Adrian head become filled with a voice that said, “We need to talk.” But a frustrated Adrian replied to Rumi – not now. I’m in a very sticky situation with the pets, and I need to get it settled. “There’s danger, kid,” said Rumi. “I’m sending a friend to look in on you from time to time. “Who is it?” asked Adrian mentally. “And how will he find me?” “His name is Francis,” said Rumi. “He is an elderly friend, Christian and smokes a pipe.” “But the Coyote,” retorted Adrian. “Can aid you, yes,” said Rumi. “But if he shows himself, his glowing in the dark and talking might get people to take notice.” “Point taken,” said Adrian. “You mentioned danger.” “I sense it,” replied Rumi. “Nobody wants to see us get to the OK Corral.” “Thanks,” said Adrian. “I look forward to meeting Francis and welcome his help. Now I need to resolve this problem.” Adrian felt Rumi had mentally stopped communicating, and his thoughts drifted. This talking to Rumi is better then using the phone. I’m looking forward to meeting Francis and getting to know him. Where did met him? I have my hands full with these two clowns, taking the center spotlight. Rounding them up and getting back before Ann arrives is Mission Impossible. She should take a bit of time shopping. Adrian watched and felt a lump enter his stomach, as he heard Irene utter her next words: “And to see how our lovely ladies fare in dexterity, we bring you the square dancing contest.”

Again he was aware of the crowd pinning him back and observed Irene, in her pink and yellow dress, pick up a CD and put it in the sound system. The words like bow to your partner or bow to your corner filled the air, but he couldn’t make out the whole song. The contestants danced in a circle and Bubbles standing in the center, clapping her hands, while Polly Morphine was infatuated with one phrase: chase that pretty girl. The parrot kept echoing the phrase or eliciting a wolf whistle. Wonderful, thought Adrian. They are square dancing, and I’m stuck between a cross section of the WWF meets the Miss America Pageant. What kind of nutty convention did I end up in? How do I get to those animals and bring them back before… “Adrian,” shouted some woman (or reasonable facsimile), which prompted him to turn around, only to be totally surprised. “How did you find me?” asked Adrian, seeing it was Ann in her plain blue dress. “I asked the front desk if they noticed a monkey and parrot and they pointed to this convention. What are you doing here anyway?” “Well,” said Adrian. “I wanted some water and thought people would think I’m a guest if I took the pets, since the sign said pets allowed. When I saw the sign cross dressers convention, I thought I’d get you one as a gift.” “What,” said Ann, surprised. “You’d get me a convention ticket?” “No,” said Adrian. “A cross.” Ann laughed out loud, while Polly Morphine kept up the wolf whistle and Bubbles exchanged partners in the square dance. Two feet tall Adrian wanted to hide under the table. But he also wanted to gather the pets up and looked to Ann for help. “How can we get the pets through this crowd?” asked Adrian. “Easy,” replied Ann. “We dance with the crowd on opposite sides?” “Ah,” said Adrian. “Whoever gets closes to them can grab them.” The square dance music was blasting the sound system, and h went over to the right, while Ann went

left. After waiving to Ann, he started to square dance, keeping his eyes on Bubbles and Polly Morphine. A dancing monkey kept clapping her hands, as the contestants square-danced around them. And a goofy parrot kept bobbing his head and moving on Irene’s shoulders. The crowd confined Ann and Adrian looked around, trying to determine where Bubbles was, since he couldn’t see past the swirl of skirts. Figures moved through the crowd, yelling pardon me, sorry partner or excuse me, for every person he bumped into. In a few moments, he was pushing though the line and was dancing near the contestants, blending into the crowd. While Bubbles was watching the ladies, Adrian sneaked up behind her and lifted her on to his shoulder, pretending to be part of the act. Polly Morphine saw Bubbles and flew on Adrian’s shoulders, squawking, “Grab your partner”. “You have a wonderful act, Sherlock,” said Irene, as Adrian danced his way from center stage to Ann, constantly saying pardon, sorry, or excuse me while the crowd was dancing to the calls. It felt like an eternity and he wanted to go hide. He went over to Ann and promptly handed Bubbles to her. His next move was to lunge towards the parrot cage, which he’d left near Trudy. His long hand reached down, opened the door and put the parrot inside. “Now I know they don’t sell crosses here, but cross the dressing line,” Adrian said to Ann. “You sure dance wonderfully,” Trudy remarked, in her sporty green outfit, eyeing Ann and Adrian. “He needs to dance home now,” said Ann, grabbing his arm in hers, with the other hand around Bubbles and Adrian’s other arm carrying the parrot cage. “I don’t think I can take another convention,” Adrian whispered to Ann. “We have a ways to go before arriving at the OK Corral,” said Ann. “Just watch these two more closely.” As Adrian and Ann were inching their way towards the exit, an excited Trudy came running after them, carrying a trophy labeled first prize. “I had to tell you the wonderful news,” Trudy explained, handing the trophy to Bubbles. “The

judges decisions were unanimous, and Bubbles won the beauty contest.” As Trudy went back to the party, Bubbles held up her trophy and smiled, while Adrian shook his head in disbelief. “I guess she is the most beautiful contestant,” replied Adrian. “Now she believes she Marilyn Monroe,” Ann responded. They exited the hotel and ended up back at Ann’s car. Inside was a bag full of goodies, including crackers for the parrot, a banana for Bubbles and some jellybeans for Ann and Adrian. Stranger in a Strange Land Highway 45 is a lonely stretch of dirt and Adrian began to crave some water chestnuts and Earl Grey tea. It was seven PM and they were about thee days from reaching the OK Corral. The radio was playing an old Straggler Brothers tune, causing Bubbles to clap her hands and Polly Morphine to yell nothing to do, which was a commonly repeated line. Ann had been driving for the past three hours and she was planning to trade places with Adrian after they found a town in which to purchase Adrian’s water chestnuts. “There’s a town ahead and I see a billboard that says fresh farm produce and try our famous water chestnuts,” said Adrian. “Leave it to you to find water chestnuts in the middle of nowhere. We need to rest for the night and there’s a hotel. Separate rooms, of course.” “Of course. Who gets the pets?” asked Adrian, noticing Ann was giving him a stern look. “I see.” “OK. We go to the Farmhouse truck stop, restaurant and produce market, eat dinner and stop at the Shady Rest.” The small VW pulled into the parking lot, and parked between huge rigs. The parking lot was home to truckers, drunks and derelicts. A couple of truckers caught drift of Ann and started whistling as she exited the VW. Adrian opened the door and left the pets inside, but could smell alcohol. Polly

Morphine echoed back the wolf whistle and one trucker with brown cowboy boots, blue jeans and a ten-gallon hat put his arm around Ann. “Why not join me?” said the Cowboy. “No thanks,” said Ann, pushing his arm away. “I have a man.” “Hey pipsqueak,” said the other man in a torn shirt. “Take a hike.” Adrian saw Bubbles smile from the car window and the torn shirt man grabbed Ann’s arm. “Let’s go for a drink,” said the torn shirt man. “I’m busy,” said Ann, pushing his arm away. “She’s helping me buy some water chestnuts,” explained Adrian. “You are a nut,” said the ten-gallon hat man. “I’ll teach you some manners.” The ten-gallon hat man took a swing, only to be caught in a wristlock and being whirled in a circle toward the ground, as Adrian began his dance. The torn shirt man lunged at him, only to find his body carrying him forward and toward the ground, lying on top of his fallen companion. Adrian grabbed the ten-gallon hat and carried it to the owner. “Your hat, sir,” said Adrian. Bubbles laughed. “I just don’t believe it,” said the hat owner. “Where the fuck did you learn that shit?” “Japan,” said Adrian. “Are you fellows OK?” “Depends,” said the torn shirt man. “You just trash and blew us both away, so what is that shit called?” “Aikido,” said Adrian. “You just earned our respect, kid,” said the hat man. “My name is Jed and this is my partner Fred.

We didn’t mean any harm, lady. We always chase the ladies.” “We need to go,” said Ann. “Nonsense. The kid earned our respect and the beer, and water chestnuts are on us.” “Thanks, but I’m kind of dead, having a dreaded trip ahead and longing for bed, when all is said and done,” replied Adrian, straightening his red shirt. “He means we are tired and prefer a rain check,” replied Ann. “Suit yourself,” said the torn shirt man. Ann put her arm in Adrian’s and watched the two men walk into the trucker’s haven. Ann and Adrian walked inside, and became immersed in the smell of smoke and stale beer. Over to the left was the convenience store, with a sign saying water chestnuts, and ahead were the washrooms. “I need to powder my nose,” said Ann, “You go buy your water chestnuts.” He walked over and found a barrel containing glass jars of water chestnuts, enticing prompted him to grab one, when he smelled pipe smoke. He turned around and noticed an older man smoking a pipe and looking at some apples. “Care for a peach?” the man asked. “Don’t mind if I do,” replied Adrian, accepting it and taking a bite. He didn’t know why he ate the peach but he felt an overwhelming desire to do so. There was a round object around the man’s neck and noticed the Christian symbol of a partial moon embedded in it. Gee, thought Adrian. This man looks like the one Rumi described. Now what was the man’s name? I remember. It was Udi Kareega and he is supposed to help me, so perhaps I should find out. Now how can I do that? “Thanks for the peach,” said Adrian. “By the way, my name is Adrian.”

“Udi,” said the old man. “Udi Kurega.” “Are you a friend of Rumi’s, and have you come to look after my well being?” asked Adrian. “Both,” said Udi. “Let’s just say I will guide you, from time to time.” Adrian looked around and noticed only a lady at the counter, who appeared more interested in observing the cowboys. Ann still was busy in the washroom and the animals would be his companions, so he turned back to Udi. “Look Adrian,” said Udi. “The two cowboys were trying to see if you if you were the man they were paid to find. Word is out that Scorpion would pay money for anyone seeing you. Unfortunately for those two cowboys, nobody told them you knew Aikido.” “What should I do?” asked Adrian, eating the peach. “Just keep your eyes and ears open,” said Udi. “Now you should pay for the water chestnuts.” “Thanks,” said Adrian, as he walked toward the counter. “Water chestnuts?” asked the checkout lady. “And the peach,” said Adrian. “We don’t sell peaches,” said the lady. “But the old man…” replied Adrian, turning around and not observing anyone. He looked for the basket of peaches, and they were also missing. “What old man?” the lady asked. “I don’t see anyone.” The cash register rang up one dollar and twenty cents and he paid the bill without answering the lady’s question. Now what should I do? I’m stuck with people watching me, and these two cowboys now know where I am. It would be suicide to stay here “Ann,” said Adrian, as he approached her and whispered. “We need to go.”

“What?” asked Ann, who looked surprised. Adrian noticed Ann coming out of the washroom. “We need to go,” pleaded Adrian. “Those cowboys are on to us.” “How?” asked Ann. “I’ll explain outside.” They walked toward the car with Adrian talking about Rumi, Udi and the warning. Bubbles was leaning against the glass and Polly Morphine was observing his image via the cage mirror. Adrian opened the door and picked Bubbles up, only to notice her look at the water chestnuts. He handed her some and she devoured them. He put his hand near the parrot cage and directed some light healing energy toward the bird, which had a tranquilizing effect on him. He then did the same for Bubbles, who began to fall asleep. Ann then started the car and they traveled down the road. The Baits Motel Two hours passed and it started to rain. They could see nothing but endless woods, rain, and lightning. Adrian was holding Bubbles, who was bouncing in his arms and Polly Morphine was uttering fifteen men and a dead man’s chest. Adrian thought he’d picked it up from a pirate movie. The visibility was dismal so Ann’s car was going twenty miles an hour. “We need to find a hotel soon,” said Ann. “I’m too tired to continue.” “At least no one will follow us,” said Adrian. Adrian continued to watch the highway and he saw a sign saying The Baits Motel, fisherman’s paradise. “Ann,” said Adrian. “I see a sign that says hotel two miles ahead.” “Good,” said Ann. “I’d settle for the mummy’s tomb right now.” “Turn up ahead,” said Adrian, seeing a neon sign flashing the letters Baits Motel.

Ann’s VW pulled into the side road and came into a driveway with several small motel rooms on one floor. They parked the car and Adrian went to the end, where the sign said office. Ann and the pets waited inside the car, while Adrian arrived inside, noticing the light was on and the office had several stuffed animals hanging around, including a stuffed bass over the entrance. He looked around and could hear a man breathing in the next room. “Anyone here?” yelled Adrian, his voice competing with the thunder. The door opened and a man with glasses, wearing his fishing hat and carrying a fishing knife, opened the door connecting the office. “Can I help you?” asked the man. “I need two rooms for the night,” said Adrian. “Will you allow animals to stay here?” “We don’t get many visitors now,” said the man. “Fishing season has ended. As long as you don’t have a pet elephant, it will be OK. I insist on seeing all guests, including the pets. One has to be careful, you know.” Adrian waived his hand and yelled to Ann, “Come inside and bring the pets.” “What?” yelled Ann. “Come inside and bring the pets. The manager wants to see them,” yelled Adrian, going out to help Ann. Ann carried the monkey and Adrian went and grabbed the parrot, shielding both with umbrellas. When they got inside, he noticed the man was smiling as he eyed the bird and monkey. “Such lovely specimens,” said the man. “They would look nice in someone’s collection.” “Collection?” asked Adrian. “I don’t understand. Do you have a name? I’m Adrian, the lady is Ann, the monkey is called Bubbles, and the parrot is Polly Morphine.”

“I’m Norman Baits,” said the man. “Just call me Norman.” “Just show us the rooms,” said Ann. “We want two rooms.” Norman put his fishing knife down and grabbed a flashlight from his desk drawer, as he picked up two sets of keys and opened the front door. Ann and Adrian followed, carrying the animals with them, as Adrian opened the first room, next to the office. The room appeared clean, and had a basic bed, chair, dresser, TV and radio. “We’ll take them,” said Ann. Ann went back to the car to get the luggage and Norman opened the adjacent room, which Adrian inspected after the light was turned on. The same basic cleanliness and furniture decorated this room, as he put the pets down and turned to Norman, closing the hotel room door. “Let’s process the paperwork and pay for the rooms,” said Adrian. “You can let the animals stay with me, if you like,” said Norman. “I live up on the hill, in that old house. I watch TV a lot, and I find many excellent heroes. Imagine a world where Murdock of the Ateam is looked up to as a behavioral model, Curly stooge as a role model, or Hannibal lector as a mentor.” Adrian looked up and saw an old house, straining his mystical senses to see if anyone was living there, but all he could hear was the voice of an elderly lady. He wasn’t sure if it was a real person, or a TV or radio voice. “I’ll pass on that,” said Adrian. “How much do I owe you?” “Thirty dollars per room,” said Norman. At that moment, Ann entered as Adrian was paying. “Anything good on TV?” asked Ann.

“Channel three has a good movie in thirty minutes,” said Norman. “Thanks,” said Ann, watching Norman grab his fishing knife and walk away. “Those animals would make lovely specimens,” said Norman again, as he walked up the hill, carrying his fishing knife and flashlight, dressed in his orange rain poncho. Adrian watched Ann head to her

room and she turned around and said to him,” I really like to watch a movie. Would you like to watch it with me?” “No thank you,” said Adrian. “I’ll probably fall, asleep but I’ll turn it on in here.” He waved goodnight and went to his room. Bubbles was sitting on the chair, waiting for Adrian to turn on the TV, while Polly Morphine was sitting on his perch. The lightning, thunder and rain were blotting out any background noise and he thought a movie might relax him. The TV was turned to channel three, just in time for Psycho. They were advertising another movie staring Peter Lowry. Unbeknownst to Adrian, Polly Morphine would latch on to the phase: “I don’t want to kill you. I just want to stab you with my knife.” A few words would eventually get chopped off and become kill you, stab with knife. Adrian started drifting off to sleep. The bed was situated next to Ann’s bed, with only a wall in between. The rain over the years had seeped into the plaster and made the walls weak, causing a hole to be made in the wall section. Normally, the hole would be unnoticeable with the beds hiding it, but an exploratory monkey can discover the weaknesses in anything. Bubbles started moving under the bed after Adrian fell asleep. She discovered the hole and climbed through, into the room where Ann was also dozing off. On top of the nightstand was a rattail comb, which she picked up. She walked over to the sleeping Ann, gave her a kiss and poked her with the comb’s end. Ann immediately jumped up screaming, which caused Bubbles to climb under the bed and back into Adrian’s room. The scream awoke Adrian, who put on some pants and rushed toward Ann’s

door. “Ann,” he yelled, “you all right?” Ann, breathing heavily, opened the door and let him in. “Someone’s in this room.” Adrian started searching, but the TV was still playing inside his own. Peter Lowry started repeating

the line I don’t want to kill you. I just want to stab you with my knife. The parrot started saying Kill you, stab with knife. With the thunder and lightning, the phase was echoed through Ann’s room. “You hear that,” said Ann. “It must be that Norman. He’s saying kill you, stab with knife.” “You stay here and lock the door,” said Adrian. “I’ll go out and check around.” Adrian took an umbrella and flashlight and searched the grounds around the hotel. He tried to pinpoint the voice but the storm masked the source. A good five minutes passed and he didn’t see or sense anything. The old house caught his attention and he could hear a woman’s voice but could not tell the age or anything else. He returned to Ann’s room and knocked. “Did you find anything?” asked Ann. “Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” said Adrian. “Let’s go back to sleep and lock the doors. Yell if anything comes up.” “Great plan, Sherlock,” said Ann. “I’ll stay up and watch that Peter Lowry movie.” Adrian went back to his room and started watching the movie and noticed that the parrot and monkey appeared to be sleeping, while he watched the hypnotic eyes of Peter and he found himself dozing off. Ann was also dozing, too tired to watch the movie. Bubbles decided to take the opportunity to slip under the bed and into Ann’s room. Ann’s purse in the bathroom, which prompted Bubbles to open it, pulling out things and dropping them. Squeezing the top off the lipstick, she took a bite and threw it in the toilet. The mirror held her reflection and she

dropped it, watching the plastic item bounce. The last item she examined was a siren whistle, which was supposed to emit a loud noise and scare away criminals. The pulled string emitted the noise “u-ugga” sent her to scurry under the bed, while Ann woke up screaming, sending Adrian to grabbing for his pants and come rushing to the door. “He’s in my room,” said Ann, pointing to the bathroom. Adrian moved into the washroom and turned on the light, glimpsed at the purse, and noticed everything was scattered about, while Ann saw the disrupted handbag and started to fume. “First he tries to kill me, and then he makes a mess of my purse,” said Ann. “If I didn’t know better, I’ll say Bubbles was involved in this,” replied Adrian. “How could she?” asked Ann. “She’s with you!” Peter was saying his line when Polly Morphine started echoing it. The voice was echoed and distorted by the storm. Adrian and Ann were left with a murderous voice, echoing kill you, stab with knife. Ann grabbed on to Adrian and he held her tight, as he tried to get a fix on the voice, but all he could sense was that it was close by. “Go find him,” said Ann. “I can’t sleep until we settle this.” “All right,” said Adrian, collecting his umbrella and flashlight. He shined the light into the woods, looking in the parking lot, but couldn’t see anything. The next few minutes he spent looking around the hotel, examining every inch of ground and discovering nothing but rain, thunder and lightning. He returned to Ann’s room and knocked, prompting Ann to look through the peephole, and then opened the door. “I couldn’t find anything,” said Adrian. “I examined every inch of ground.” “How do you explain that voice or my purse?” asked Ann.

Adrian looked at the ground and noticed some hair that wasn’t Ann’s. He examined it closer. It was monkey hair, which led to the bed, prompting him to look under it and noticed the hole. “Ah ha,” said Adrian. “Sherlock has done it again.” “Please enlighten Watson,” said Ann. Adrian pointed to the bed, causing Ann to look under it. “That explains the purse but…” said Ann, interrupted by Polly Morphine saying kill you, stab with knife. Ann put her robe over her nightgown and they both ran into Adrian’s room, to hear the parrot echoing the phase. He turned to the TV and saw Peter Lowry. His mind tried to remember the movie and he put the pieces together. Now Polly Morphine was listening to Peter Lowry, so what line was he mimicking? I think it was something like --- hum.” “That’s it,” said Adrian. “Didn’t he say, I don’t want to kill you, I just want to stab you with my knife?” “Of course,” said Ann. “And the parrot picked up on the key words.” The next few moments found Ann and Adrian laughing hysterically and Bubbles looking quizzically at them both. “So much for these silly Psycho movies,” said Ann. “I’m going to bed.” Ann kissed Adrian goodnight and he too turned off the TV and went to bed. The rest of the night was uneventful, with the storm still plummeting on the hotel. About three AM, he was awakened by a loud voice outside imitating Peter Lowry. Adrian turned around and noticed both Bubbles and Polly Morphine were sound asleep. He heard Ann scream and quickly put on his pants and ran to her room, closing the door behind him. A good knock on Ann’s door, along with a shout, prompted her to open it. “Listen,” she said. “Someone is out there, maybe that goofy Norman.”

Again he strained his senses and heard the voice say Peter’s famous line. The storm was dulling his senses and he couldn’t tell where the voice was coming from. He listened for voices in the house and he heard the woman’s voice again. “I’ll try to track it down. Scream or shout if anything occurs,” he said. Adrian took his raincoat and flashlight and went outside into the woods and rain. The storm made it difficult to track the voice’s location. When he moved southward, he could heard I don’t, westward he heard want to kill you, eastward brought I just want to, and northward he heard kill you with my knife. He was befuddled and couldn’t understand how a voice could echo in fragments and in the four directions. It doesn’t make sense that a voice is divided into four fragments. Nothing like this would happen in conventional physics, unless…hum… He continued to walk, looking for a visual clue. Since the parrot said kill with knife and that phrase was coming from the north, he traveled in that direction. Drops of red trailed the ground and he thought it was blood. Fearing someone was being killed or injured, he sped up and tried to follow the blood, which was scattered by the storm. He looked at his watch briefly and realized ten minutes had passed since he left the hotel. There stood a large rock and what appeared to be a body hidden beneath it, with the arms and legs extending from behind the rock. He tried to sense a human presence nearby but couldn’t detect anyone. Running toward the rock, Adrian looked behind it, only to discover a scarecrow and empty ketchup bottle. The first thought that came into his head was Coyote. A few feet ahead of the rock sat the familiar, glow in the dark, coyote form. “What’s the idea?” asked Adrian. “We’re being chased by strangers wanting to kill us, and you play the morbid mime.” “I can’t resist,” insisted Coyote. “Here you guys are letting yourselves get spooked by a movie and a couple of fun-loving animals.”

“Fun loving to you,” shouted Adrian. “But they are spooking everyone.” “Sit down, kid,” said Coyote, “Bad people are looking for you.” “Tell me something I don’t know,” said Adrian, looking at Coyote and realizing he was getting soaked and his umbrella was on the ground. Coyote sat quietly and Adrian noticed a suitcase beneath the scarecrow labeled tricks. He opened it up and found a magic apparatus and an instruction book entitled Coyote Con. Thumbing through the book, his fingers stopped on a page naming the author Coyote. The scarecrow stood up, propelled upward by Coyote, and as Adrian moved closer, a water balloon was thrown in his face. “Who did that?” asked Adrian, looking around. “The scarecrow or you?” The wizard of Oz reject fell back to the ground and Adrian gave it a kick to insure it wasn’t moving. As he looked down to examine the scarecrow more closely, another water balloon landed on his head. Looking up into a tree and noticed an owl above him. Here I am, standing in the pouring rain and being pelted by water balloons. Water balloons, for Pete’s sake. “I see you are having fun,” said Coyote. “Right. Murderers, spooked by a monkey, and being tricked by you, are chasing me.” “You just butchered your grammar,” responded Coyote. On the ground sat a package of balloons and a pool of water. Adrian opened the package, took out a balloon, filled it with water from the pool, blew it up and tied the end. The balloon he threw at Coyote, only to watch it go through him and disappear. In a few seconds, another water balloon hit him on the back of his head. Immediately Adrian started laughing and kept the laughter up for a minute or two, due to the absurdity of the moment. “Now you’re starting to understand Coyote humor,” said Coyote. “Now get back to Ann.”

Adrian grabbed the book Coyote Con and the package of water balloons. Returning to the hotel, Adrian turned around to just see the lightning. With the book under his poncho and his flashlight to guide his footsteps, Adrian – accustomed to the night – searched until he found a hotel. A knock on Ann’s door prompted her to open it. “Did you find him?” asked Ann, looked a little on edge. “Actually it was the Coyote,” said Adrian. “Coyote?” asked Ann. “What did he want?” “I think to give me a book,” said Adrian. “Can we talk in the morning? I’m tired.” Before Ann could respond, Adrian heard a voice outside saying, I plan to skin them alive and eat them for dinner. Adrian and Ann looked at each other, and he scurried over to his room, only to notice the parrot and monkey were asleep. Returning to Ann’s room triggered the voice to again say; I’ll cut your guts out and mount the big one in my office. What tasty morsels they’ll make. “Is that Coyote?” asked Ann, frightened. “It sounds like Norman,” replied Adrian, knowing he’d have to investigate. Adrian walked

into the storm, focusing his senses on the human form. He could pick up the scent of fish, probably bass or bluegill. A man in a raincoat was walking through the woods, saying, “Skin them alive.” A long fishing knife was seen with flashing lightning, with Adrian hid behind some bushes, ready to grab the knife and disarm the killer. As the man came closer, Adrian saw a bucket of fish and a fishing pole on his back. Standing up a few feet behind Norm, he asked, “You gone fishing?” “Who’s there?” said Norm, turning around. “Oh, Adrian. What brings you out in this weather? Are you a fisherman too?” “No,” said Adrian, laughing his head off. “I want Ann to see these fish.”

Norm followed Adrian to the hotel and they went to Ann’s room. A knock prompted Ann to look through the keyhole, and open the door for him. Norm’s huge bucket of fish prompted Ann to laugh. “Will someone tell me what’s going on?” asked Norm. “It’s just that we’re imagining things, since we watched that Psycho movie,” replied Adrian. “I need to clean these fish,” insisted Norm, heading toward the door and out toward the house. “I’ll see you folks in the morning.” “I need to get some sleep,” replied Adrian. “See you in the morning.” Ann kissed him and he returned to his room. Taking off his wet clothes, he turned into bed but left the TV on. The morning came and Adrian was awakened by the words of Peter Lowry, I don’t want to kill you, I just want to stab you with my knife. He quickly turned around to look at Polly Morphine, only to find him sleeping. Bubbles was sleeping also, but the TV was playing a move with Peter Lowry in it. An elicited brief smile for a playful monkey signaled it was time to wake up. All Along the Watchtower The day continued with Ann and Adrian checking out of the hotel and getting the animals exercised. They were on the road again, and Adrian was looking at the map, trying to determine the time remaining before reaching the OK Corral – perhaps another day or two. He set up a mind link with Rumi and found himself drifting into the Philosopher’s Café. Inside he saw Zeke (Buddha) Poonapepper, Iris Siren and Rumi Rosenkreuz sitting around, drinking tea and talking. Nobody else was present, and there was an empty chair. They couldn’t be heard audibly, but a voice from Iris beckoned him to join them. Sitting down and with a feeling of peace and tranquility overcoming him for a few minutes, he was transported into a sea of calm. “It feels pretty peaceful, kid,” said Rumi. “I’m in the woods now and your body is in the car.”

“What are Zeke and Iris doing here?” asked Adrian. “It’s like this,” replied Buddha. “Iris doesn’t really like Doc’s plan, and she has this bad feeling. She feels you need to be sharp because survival depends on you.” Adrian turned around and saw what looked like Jean-Paul Sartre wandering the halls. Sartre was the first outsider he’d seen, outside the current Rosisufist group. Of course, Adrian remembered what the problem was, got up, and walked over to Sartre. He took him by the hand and showed him the exit sign, something Sartre was always looking for. “You remember his problem,” replied Rumi. “Who is this Francis?” asked Adrian. “A teacher of Rumi,” replied Buddha. “You will understand more later.” Adrian was stopped by music, playing in the background. The song, All Along the Watchtower, a tune sung by Jimmy Hendrix, was unusual for the Philosopher’s Café and it caused him to ponder. A table bore a Jehovah Witnesses magazine called The Watchtower. Behind him lay a wall shelf containing a pile of watches, in the form of a tower. “I believe someone here is telling me something,” said Adrian, looking at the group. “He catches on fast,” said Iris. “It’s an important clue, and that is all we know.” Adrian drifted back into consciousness and turned around to watch Bubbles and Polly Morphine in the back seat. Both were behaving themselves and he stuck out his hand to pet the monkey, when she snatched his watch off, and started looking at it. The back seat became a scene for a tug of war, as Adrian grabbed the watch, only to have Bubbles pull it away, while Ann was watching in the rear view mirror. “What did she grab?” asked Ann.

“My watch,” he said, turning to look at Ann. “It’s a bit unusual, since I just visited the Rosisufists, and found a strange warning about watchtower.” “Watchtower?” asked Ann, noticing Adrian was still trying to grab his watch. He did not have an answer to Ann’s question. Is Bubbles trying to tell me something? Maybe she knows something about this watchtower or perhaps she just wants a shiny watch. Here I am, wondering about a tower and making sense of this mess, when I feel like the monkey, and Bubbles is the organist. Is the watchtower a place, person, or thing? When Adrian stopped his thinking, Bubbles threw the watch back to him and he quickly caught it. “Maybe I don’t know what the watchtower is,” said Adrian, “but I am sure the answer will come.” “Watchtower,” responded Polly Morphine. “Watchtower. Watchtower.” “Not you, too,” said Adrian, looking back at the parrot. “Let’s worry about this later,” said Ann. “I need help with directions.” Adrian took out the map and was having trouble reading it, until Bubbles pulled on his arm. Closer examination found the map was upside down. Ann was driving and her eyes were on the road. Placing the map right side up, he turned to Bubbles and whispered. “You be quiet, now,” he said softly. “You be quiet, now,” said Polly Morphine, causing Ann to look at Adrian. He gave her a blank look. “You be quiet, now,” said Polly Morphine. “Don’t look at me,” said Adrian. “I don’t have control over his vocabulary.” “So where are we?” Ann asked. Ann’s question prompted Adrian to look and he tried to find highway 45 on the map. Highway 47 was about ten minutes away, and he knew they had to turn right. A glance to the right, looking for a

familiar highway sign, found the hidden jewel. The sign said Watchtower Engineering Company and Free guided tour. I’ve never seen an engineering company before and haven’t the foggiest notion of what they do, he thought. “I saw a sign,” said Adrian. “It said Watchtower engineering company. Maybe I can get some clues there.” “All right,” said Ann. The next few minutes Adrian was watching highway signs, while the pets and Ann were taking a nap. Counting signs gave him a headache still, and for a brief moment in time, he felt a moment of peace. No worry about killers, mystical fraternities, misbehaving animals, confusing Coyotes, or bad Psycho invitations. Here he was, falling in love with his former therapist, and even accepting his identify as shaman. But the sign, Watchtower engineering company, interrupted his daydream. “I see it,” said Adrian. “Turn over there on that highway.” “Oh, all right,” said Ann, “I plan to take a nap while you go explore that goofy engineering company, looking for clues.” Ann drove to the engineering company and parked the car, noticed a sign saying open house obstructing her vision. She turned off the car and drifted off to sleep, while Adrian headed toward the front door Meanwhile, Adrian stopped at the front gate, wearing his red hunting jacket and green Sherlock Holmes hat. The guard, whose nametag said Tim Tweeter, greeted him. “I’m here for the open house,” said Adrian. “Sign in,” said Tim. “I wish somebody would crash this open house, so I can blow my official whistle.” “Not me,” said Adrian. “Where do I go?”

“Just follow the sign. I just wish to once I could blow my official whistle.” Adrian’s mystic senses kicked in and he heard in his mind breathing behind a closed door. Something seemed familiar in the breathing sound, and he recalled the biker party. Fearing that someone was in the shadows, he thought he would surprise the villain and quickly pushed the door open, only to confront Igor. “Chill out, kid,” said Igor. “I just want to talk to you.” Adrian kept watching him, while looking around the distribution center, where watches were probably stored and shipped. His first reaction was to remain calm and hear him out, as his intuition turned to Ann and a he saw a version of a slumber land beauty. “It’s your nickel,” said Adrian. “What do you want?” “I seek asylum,” responded Igor. “What?” asked Adrian, surprised. “It’s like this, kid,” said Igor. “I been following you, and I got in here with a fake press credential. I know my past is not clean, and I am not a saint, but this war is claiming innocents. Women and children will become victims, and I know now you’re not an ordinary person, even though Scorpion believes you are. And your girlfriend, Ann, is quite the doctor Freud. She helped me see into my soul, and spot the darkness.” Adrian remembered the kidnapping of Ann and he realized the warnings could mean beware of Igor, but turned and bluntly blurted out, “Why should I believe you? You kidnapped Ann.” “Hey, kid,” said Igor. “I was just doing my job. Look, you have the advantage. You’re the Aikido expert, and you have some extraordinary gifts that I don’t understand. There are stories circulating of healing gifts, a sixth sense, and a mysterious guardian angel called Coyote.”

“Assume for a moment,” said Adrian, trying to be clever, “that you were correct. What is it that you want from me and what can you offer me?” “I’ll help you get Scorpion, break up his organization, become a free person, in exchange for your protection and guidance.” An awe struck Adrian wondered why such surprising turn of events happened. Two penetrating eyes looked Igor in the face, and tried to understand his real motives. A guard whistle, which preceded an announcement on the loud speaker, signaled the demonstration would commence in five minutes. “I’ll tell you what,” said Adrian. “Let we watch this demo and think it over. I’ll meet you after the demo in the North parking lot and give you my answer.” “Deal,” said Igor, extending his hand. Adrian watched Igor walk away and sent a message to Rumi for guidance, expecting an instant acknowledgement – but nothing happened. A repeated attempt at the sending process received nothing but a blank reaction. His mind began to become flooded with thoughts. Perhaps I am losing it, now when I need his advice the most, I can’t contact him, so maybe I am losing my touch. “Maybe the touch is losing you,” said a voice in the background. There stood a janitor cleaning up, but the area he was sweeping in was dark. His mystic senses couldn’t detect anything. Now a befuddled Adrian thought he would kill about five minutes talking to the janitor. “I tried to contact a friend, but he isn’t returning the call,” said Adrian. “Your friend went to a cave, so he insured Doc safely arrived and went into retreat,” said the janitor. “How do you…wait a minute…are you Udi?” asked Adrian. The janitor remained silent and Adrian thought the silence confirmed the answer.

“What should I do about Igor,” asked Adrian. “Even the thief on the cross had a change of heart,” replied Udi. The whistle blew again and an announcement signal one minute to show time. Turning around to talk to the janitor, he noticed he was gone and a piece of candy sat on the table. The candy was sweet so he ate it, and he went through the door, back to the engineering company. Inwardly, he was pondering over the message of Udi and he took the message to mean he should give Igor a chance. Then he pondered in his mind how Ann and Doc would react, but would deal with the issue when needed. Once outside, he noticed Igor smoking a pipe, and initiating a conversation. “Well, kid, what will it be?” “I can’t turn my back on you,” said Adrian. “But I will be watching my back.” “Fair enough,” said Igor. “I’d do the same, if I was you. Scorpion has organized a hunting party and strike force and I’m afraid it’s not good.” Adrian was silent and pondered the situation. They walked over to Ann’s car and he noticed her sleeping. A few taps on her shoulder caused her to awake from a deep slumber, only to cringe at the sight of Igor. “What is he doing here?” asked Ann. “That’s the idiot that kidnapped me.” “He’s reformed,” said Adrian. “He needs our help and he can help me.” “I don’t like this and I don’t like him,” shouted Ann. “I’m sorry, madam, but I was only doing my job when I kidnapped you.” “And that makes it right?” asked Ann. “Please!” exclaimed Adrian. “Let him come with us.” “I don’t like it,” said Ann. “And what will Doc say? “

Ann started the car and didn’t say a word, which indicated to Adrian she was pretty ticked off. The next couple of hours were spent driving to Doc’s hideout, the OK Corral, while Igor was sharing information regarding the kill. Adrian found out that a hit squad of thirteen assassins was looking for them. It was around seven when they arrived at the hideout and Doc came out from the bushes, armed with his guns. “Is he a prisoner?” asked Doc, pointing the gun at Igor. “Actually, he is my guest,” responded Adrian. “He has requested asylum and I granted his request.” “Asylum? Request? Are you losing it, Adrian? First Rumi goes on retreat and now you bring the enemy to our hideout?” “I don’t like it either,” said Ann. Doc paced back and forth and finally put his gun down and pointed to the hideout. It looked like a normal wooded, two-story rustic house, except that it was a steel framework, with a wood exterior, and invincible to small arms gunfire. Everyone entered fort OK Corral, hoping for some peace and quiet. “I’ll be watching you, son,” said Doc to Igor. “If our roles were reversed,” replied Igor, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Shootout at the OK Corral It was around nine PM, and Adrian was reading Coyote Con, the book given him by Coyote. In the book, there was a quote by Basil King. Be Bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid. Something about the quote struck him, but he couldn’t place his finger on it. The hideout had many bedrooms and Adrian shared one with Bubbles and Polly Morphine. He fell asleep around nine thirty, only to be awakened around two AM by Bubbles. She didn’t appear to be in a playful mood and Adrian wondered what was wrong. She is trying to tell me something. He

switched on his mystic senses, which allowed him to pick up things from a distance. It’s almost like watching a TV movie, filmed in a remote setting, except that he could see the impressions in his mind’s eye. What he detected wasn’t pretty. There were several men in infrared goggles and sporting large weapons, led by the villain Scorpion, hiding in the surrounding woods. He didn’t believe Igor would bring them here and risk his own life. He took the animals and ran downstairs, yelling for everyone to get up. Doc and Igor were busy playing cards and Ann was awakened from a sound sleep. “Kid, this better be good,” replied Doc. “They’re here,” said Adrian. “Thirteen men, including Scorpion, heavily armed and set for the kill.” Doc waved his gun at Igor and shouted, ”You brought them here.” Adrian pushed Doc’s hand down and replied,” If he did, he would be committing suicide. Either you would kill him or his own men would by accident.” “Good point kid. Take Ann and the animals and go into the kitchen. Igor and I will start firing and take the initiative. The next couple of minutes found Igor and Doc initiating gunfire, while a heavy contingency of artillery battered down on Doc’s house. Both vehicles were destroyed in the gunfire and shortly Adrian knew the forces of evil would triumph. His hand motioned to Ann to watch the animals, as he knew he had to summon help. Since Rumi was gone, the only other person was Buddha Poonapepper and Adrian needed to meet him in the dreamtime. Who’ll stop the rain? Adrian was now in the Philosopher’s Café, except that the café was dimly lit. There was an array of

candles lighting the room and all were about the same length. A thousand candles were lit and a tune kept playing in the background. Back into his memory was the Theme from the Alfred Hitchcock Show kept circulating in his mind. A thought stood inside his mind, like a fly stuck to sugar, while the tune Funeral March of the Marionettes echoed in his mind. The next thought that entered was, this is not good. Inside, an elderly gentleman with a long mustache and baldhead was sipping tea, and Adrian recognized him as Buddha Poonapepper. Buddha was the current head of the Rosisufists and a friend of Adrian’s, an honorary member. Only the figure inside could aid him. “It’s not good, is it?” asked Adrian. “Sip some tea, as a last request?” asked Buddha. “Surely you, of all people, don’t concede eventual defeat by Scorpions hoards? There must be something we can do?” “The only thing I know is prayer,” said Buddha. “Let’s try praying together.” A passage from the Bible mentioned, where two or three are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them. All he knew was that his human and animal friends would die shortly and there was nothing he could do. The last thing he read was a passage from Coyote Con, where the book highlighted the quote, be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. It was a quote from Basil King, and he wondered why it was there. His hands joined Buddha’s in prayer and felt a strange light illuminate the room. Both turned around and noticed an old man carrying a lantern that Adrian recognized as Francis, a friend Rumi had sent to guide him. Buddha was silent, as if he had spotted a ghost. This puzzled Adrian. The old man joined their table and held their hands. “May I join you in prayer?” asked Udi.

“Please,” said Adrian. “We could use the help.” Adrian closed his eyes and felt a storm emerging. It was not in the café but some distant place that was not part of the dreamtime. He opened his eyes and Udi was gone, but Buddha Poonapepper was still there. A miracle had passed, this much Adrian knew, but he wasn’t aware of its nature, as he turned and looked at Buddha. “My prayer was answered, wasn’t it?” asked Adrian, looking into Buddha’s eyes. “You’re needed back there,” said Buddha. “I’ll contact Qutub and Iris and get some state police out there. Hopefully, Doc and the newcomer can hold out till then.” “Who is the old man?” asked Adrian. “You really don’t know?” asked Buddha. “That is the man who saved Rumi’s life from the storm and the patron saint from Assisi.” Now Adrian knew who the stranger was and left the dreamtime quickly, only to notice a huge storm with rain, thunder and lightening exploding across the night. Bubbles was holding on to him, along with Ann, who had hold of Polly Morphine. In the background was gunfire and the yelling of Doc. “I don’t know how you did it, since the weatherman predicted sunshine, but you just brought us some breathing room.” “But it won’t count in the long run without help. Who’s going to save us, the Lone Ranger?” yelled Igor. Bubbles looked at Adrian and he knew what was on her mind. Polly Morphine kept echoing Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger. Adrian’s mind went back to the quote, be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid. One force was the saint from Assisi and he knew who the other force must be. A call to Coyote came, but something different had happened.

Ring of Fire Coyote was standing, glowing in the dark, and watching the rain, except that Adrian was watching the rain in Coyote’s form. Somehow, he could perceive what Coyote was sensing, even though he had no control over his movements. There were horses nearby, which is how the villains sneaked up without being heard. Outside were a pack of ordinary coyotes and Adrian noticed a mysterious force was loosening the ropes tying the horses down. Coyote turned to the coyotes and said, “OK, children. You go play with the horses, while I go entertain the guests,” prompting the horses to scatter and the coyotes to chase them. Adrian’s mind was linked with Coyote’s. He could see his thoughts flow, even though he couldn’t control them. It was like watching a movie, except the movie was real. The rain, thunder and lightening were pouring down on everything and Adrian could see Moose and Mojo with high power firearms, pointed toward Doc’s hideout. Reconnaissance teams of two surrounded the woods – and Coyote was aware of the plan, and would work with two at a time. It started as a normal battle, until Coyote’s next thoughts echoed in his mind: I wonder what song I should sing? Hmm? Next thing a banjo was playing and Coyote started singing she’ll be coming around the mountain. Adrian could hear his own voice echo oh no and he saw Moose and Mojo turn around to see only the rain pouring. There was a dumbfounded look on both their faces, as they looked at each other and straight ahead. Mojo fired a round of ammo in the singer’s direction, but the banjo kept playing, and Coyote kept singing. “A fucking thunderstorm and some idiot is singing coming around the mountain,” yelled Mojo. “He’s in the bushes,” replied Moose. “Let’s sneak around and corner him.” The two men walked towards the bush from opposite directions, while Coyote sung the mountain song. Mojo pulled out a pistol and fired at the bush. There was nothing to corner and Mojo went to

pick something creeping in the bush and yelled. “Damn it,” said Mojo, holding his right hand. “It’s a damn porcupine.” “But I found something and it feels smooth. It’s the same color as the night, except for this white line down its back and…oh, shit!” said Moose. Coyote shifted his voice to the bush behind the men and they turned around and fired a few rounds. While Coyote sung the sleep with grandpa chorus, Adrian noticed a bunch of branches covering what appeared to be a hole. The men snuck toward the bush and Adrian noticed a rope tied between the crooks’ right legs, and Coyote then summoned his mojo to shove Moose into the hole, which was about seven feet deep, with Mojo being dragged in on top. The impact knocked them both out, and Adrian listened as Coyote continued to sing. He’s worse then Daffy Duck, thought Adrian. The storm filled the hole with mud, courtesy of Assisi help, covering the men in a slushy prison. Adrian was sure that if they regained consciousness and tried to climb out, they would fall back down, due to the slippery slopes. A startling laugh filled his mind at the thought of porcupines and skunks, thinking it would be good to indulge in humor – if nothing else, it would relieve the strain of battle surrounding them. The song kept dancing in his mind, and he started to sing. The singing increased his Coyote connection and he was aware of what Coyote experienced and the activities of those in Doc’s pad. The next event surprised even Adrian. Coyote, in his glow-in-the-dark form, walked over toward the hole where Moose and Mojo had fallen. Coyote looked inside and noticed the two men were starting to regain consciousness and were disorientated and confused. “I’m sorry, fellows. I really didn’t mean to put that skunk in the bushes. The porcupine was a different matter, but the skunk? The idea stinks, if you ask me.” “What the fuck is that,” asked Mojo, looking up a Coyote.

“A Twilight Zone reject,” responded Moose. “Stay away from us.” “Gee, fellows. This mud will keep you slipping for hours and I must entertain the others. Goodbye, you all!” She’ll be coming around the mountain While Adrian was experiencing everything in Coyote’s form, he was also aware of being with Ann, Polly Morphine, and Bubbles, experiencing the storm and the gunfire all around. Ann and Bubbles held on to him, with Polly Morphine sitting besides him. Then a new experience totally surprised him, as he burst into song. “She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes, She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes.” Adrian was singing and really getting into the song. Ann was looking at him with a puzzled expression and Bubbles started to smile, almost as if knowing what was happening. Firing guns kept Doc and Igor busy, when Doc burst out, “What is happening there? Has Adrian lost it?” “I’m not sure,” responded Ann. “He may be trying to give us a message.” “Looks like he lost it,” shouted Doc, as he continued to fire. Adrian kept singing the song, like he was flooded with euphoria. “She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes, She’ll be riding six white horses when she comes.” A new surprise occurred, when Bubbles picked up a pan and wooden spoon and started banging. Ann, who was watching them both, suddenly echoed one word. Coyote. Yet Adrian was unprepared for what happened next. Ann started singing along with Adrian, and he wasn’t sure if it was due to her being scared, knowing that Coyote was helping, or just to divert her mind. Whatever the reason, he

was happy to have another singing partner. “Oh, we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes, Oh, we’ll all go out to meet her when she comes.” “Is everyone losing their minds?” yelled Doc, firing away. “Either that, or they know something we don’t,” responded Igor, who was also busy firing. Rocky Top Oh, no! Please let this be a bad dream. You can’t be serious, are you? What do you think this means? Here we are, in the mist of a heated battle, and you want to do this. Have you no shame? Have you no pride? Why do you have to pick this, of all possibilities? I hate this! I really do! All my friends hate this. The world hates this. Only people down in Tennessee love this. Why are you doing this? Why? While Adrian’s thoughts kept trying to change the outcome, he knew that Coyote made up his mind. Nothing could stop him from singing Rocky Top, which is filled with moonshine stills and life in the hills of Tennessee. Vulture and Killjoy were closing in, inching their way towards Doc’s hideaway, despite the storm. But a banjo melody and a terrible voice singing Rocky Top stopped them in their tracks. They turned around and saw a glow-in-the-dark coyote singing Rocky Top and reacted with bursts of gunfire, only to watch the bullets fly right through him. “What the fuck is that?” asked Killjoy. “I don’t know,” said Vulture. “It may be one of them David Copperfield tricks, an hallucination caused by combat fatigue, or something from a Jim Carrie rendition of an Alfred Hitchcock film.” As the two men backed away, Coyote kept singing about a moonshine still, the disappearance of the federal revenuers, and how Tennessee boys like their corn in a jar. Adrian still couldn’t believe this was

happening, and then Vulture did a move that surprised him. From his side, he pulled out a perfectly rounded hand grenade and threw it at Coyote. While Adrian waited for the explosion, as did the two criminals, Coyote kept singing Rocky Top. There was no hand grenade explosion or even physical evidence of such a device. The two men started running towards Coyote, but he scurried away, pretending to be frightened, but kept on singing his song. More bullets shelled Coyote’s body, and they just passed right through. The men approached a clearing and didn’t notice Coyote or any other abnormal phenomena, only the storm and gunfire. “I just don’t get it,” said Vulture. “I feel like I’m in a cartoon or something. First I see a radioactive Coyote singing a hillbilly song, then our grenade disappears.” “And to top it off,” replied Killjoy, “these grenades are really expensive.” “I’m really sorry, fellows,” echoed a voice in the background. “I know how expensive good explosives can be these days. You can’t go to the nearest WalMart and buy one, so I’m returning this to you.” As they saw a hand grenade fly towards them, Vulture and Killjoy started running. The grenade exploded a few feet behind them, but the resulting blast knocked them both toward the ground, and the resulting concessionary force knocked them both for a loop. Coyote appeared again in his normal form. “I’m very sorry, fellows. I didn’t know how expensive these things could be; otherwise, I would never have taken it. As soon as I realized the error of my ways, I attempted to return this item promptly. Did you know that Abraham Lincoln once took a penny back to a farmer, and walked several miles in the snow, just to help him chop down a cherry tree? Or was that George Washington, who crossed the Delaware to return a spare oar? Oh, I get so confused by American history. Will you boys

join me for tea sometime and give me a few pointers? Maybe we should make it coffee, since the colonists revolved against the tea tax and threw the tea overboard. Fellows, forgive my manners. I could gab for hours about important subjects, like whether the colonists secretly preferred coffee to tea, but I see you boys are tired and need a nap. Let me go entertain the others with some song and dance.” Adrian was happy that one thing was over – he didn’t have to hear another chorus of Rocky Top and wished Coyote would stick with She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain. Instead, two more men were down for the kill and he thought that there were eight more, not including Scorpion. Before this night would end, Adrian would have his fill of mountain, bluegrass, and country music. Blow the Man Down Snake and Viper were two of the deadliest killers around, and if you so much as squint, they would kill you for disturbing their view. When Coyote started singing his Blow the Man Down, he sounded like a frog pleading for his life in a biology lab. Even Adrian thought it was the worst singing he ever heard, and he was busy pondering what was worse: dying at the hands of killers or listening to Coyote kill the frogs with his voice. The villains were being truthful, since they didn’t spot Coyote yet. “What the fuck is that?” questioned Viper. “It sounds like a patient whose anesthesia gave out.” “Where in the fuck is it coming from?” asked Snake. “Did they revive the Spanish Inquisition?” “The Spanish what?” asked Viper. “Is that some new sexual position?” “It’s coming behind that rock,” said Snake. “Let’s check it out.” The next couple of minutes Coyote devoted to the ship song. Yet in the coming moments, Adrian found some stanzas from the song hilarious, given the circumstances. He was especially taken with the lines, if you give me some grog, I’ll sing you a song, I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot, and his favorite was you’d split your sides laughing at the sights you will see. And now these dumbbells will turn around, and shoot the rock, thinking they caught the singer.

The two villains crept up on the rock, and started to fire upon it, only to confront the bare ground. The song ceased to be, much to Adrian’s relief, only to be sung from an overhead tree. The two men looked up and saw a Coyote head in the tree, singing the song. “I’m terribly sorry, fellows,” replied Coyote. “I heard the Three Tenors are getting together and may need a fourth tryout. Do you think I’ll qualify becoming a quartet?” The men started shooting at Coyote, with the bullets having no effect. Viper was careless where he was stepping, and triggered a rope that snagged his ankle and suspended him upside down from the tree. Snake stopped shooting and tried to reach Viper, but couldn’t grab him or climb the tree to save him. “I’ll kill you for that,” shouted Snake. “I wouldn’t worry too much,” replied Coyote. “I think he wants to hang around a bit.” “I’ll kill you when I catch you,” screamed Snake. While Snake was looking at his partner, a branch flew down from the tree, knocking him out. Viper was swearing and swinging upside down, while Adrian was happy Coyote momentarily stopped singing. And now this goofy friend wants to lecture the bad guys on musical scales. I think it is do, ra, me, fa, so, la, tee, do. “I’m really sorry about this key,” said Coyote. “I don’t follow the sheet music. Is it in B flat, or C sharp or F minor? If I start singing the scales, I find the deer but not the doe. Ray went to find the gun, so he can shoot me. Me am that wonderful singing creature, who does the fa la la, but doesn’t run a long ways. How does the rest of that go? Oh, yes. You take tea with jam and bread, and la follows a note doe wrote, see is something I said, which will bring us back to doe. You don’t have a five I can borrow? I’m all out of doe.” “Get the fuck away from me, you freak,” said Viper, swinging upside down from the tree.

“You don’t have to get upset,” replied Coyote. “I wonder if it’s something I said. I mustn’t keep the customers waiting.” The Yellow Rose of Texas I don’t believe Coyote is doing this. Here is this storm a blowing and all, and these bad guys with all this firepower are getting wet, and he finally does something right. He’s singing a song about a pretty land from Texas. Instead of a goofy song about making moonshine in Tennessee or revenuers who have lost their way, looking for a moonshine still, never to be seen again – or a Tennessee lady that’s wild as a mink and sweet as soda pop, he’s singing the song The Yellow Rose of Texas. Finally he’s getting something right. I really like this song. Of course, Wolverine and Badger, two of the deadliest killers this side of Frank and Jessie, didn’t appreciate a song about a yellow rose. Their only thoughts were concerned with destroying everyone inside Doc’s cabin. As they kept battling the weather and firing away, Badger was the first to break his fire and look around. Now he does his I want to be a head and sing. In the distance, was a glow-in-the-dark Coyote head, positioned on a rock and wearing a ten-gallon hat, singing The Yellow Rose of Texas. “Hey, Wolverine. Did you slip a drug in my beer a couple of hours ago?” “Hell no, man. But someone else may have done so.” Both men took some shots at the singing head, but the bullets passed through. Wolverine took out a knife and inched forward, while the head sung about this beautiful girl from Texas, who was such a beautiful gem and how this man craved her so. Is this guy so dumb as to try to stab Coyote? As Wolverine came within reach of the head, he took his knife and tried to stab it, only to have the head disappear before his knife connected. And I know what is coming next. He will imitate a goofy grade B movie where gas overcomes everyone. As if on cue, both men were covered by a mysterious gas,

which caused them to burst out laughing. “It’s so funny,” laughed Wolverine. “Imagine a singing head that glows in the dark?” “And not only that,” snickered Badger. “He’s singing a terrible country song, about a yellow tulip.” “You fool,” laughed Badger, slapping Wolverine’s back with his hand. “It’s not a yellow tulip. It’s a fucking green rose.” The next five minutes, the two men were laughing and arguing about whether the flower was green, red or blue and if the flower was a tulip, carnation or stinkweed, while The Yellow Rose of Texas kept playing in the background. And this gas is Coyote crazy gas, which should keep them busy for hours, As they kept laughing, they rolled around on the ground, like Curly on a toot. And before you know it, he will give me a doze of that medicine, and I’ll become as crazy as he is. Now I like being able to see though both Coyote’s eyes and my own, back at the ranch. This is really neat. But Adrian was in two worlds, seeing through the eyes of Coyote and being physically inside the cabin. He was singing the song, with Ann accompanying him vocally and Bubbles banging on a pan with a wooden spoon. The storm continued in the night and Doc and Igor kept shooting. “Has everyone lost their fucking minds?” asked Doc. “Is everyone singing The Yellow Rose of Texas?” “I don’t know what the fuck Adrian’s up to,” shouted Igor, “but whatever it is, I hope he keeps singing. Have you noticed for every song he sings, there are fewer gunshots around us?” “Come to think of it, the kid must be doing some hoodoo voodoo trip,” replied Doc. “Keep singing, kid. I didn’t mean anything, Honest.” What do you do with a Drunken Sailor? It seemed like the appropriate song, and one Adrian was definitely familiar with. What do you do

with a drunken sailor talks about a sailor having a few too many and the crew wondering what do, so they lock him up to dry out. Slick and Ox were the typical muscle men, and would be caught by surprise to see a glow-in-thedark, singing coyote. As with the other gunslingers, they tried filling the coyote with lead, which passed right through him. Ox saw something flashing underneath his feet. It was a boomerang, which glowed in the dark – flashing on and off. Inscribed in the boomerang were the words hit coyote with boomerang. Ox started to move his arm, when Slick held on to it. “What are you doing?” Asked Slick. “Hey, look man. We have this singing hallucination or someone playing a trick. But this boomerang should do him in.” “And if it’s a bomb? Just back up a few feet, just in case,” replied Slick. “You are always the brain,” said Ox, as he stepped back a few feet. As Coyote continued to sing about the drunken sailor, Ox cocked his arm back, like a major league pitcher, and threw the boomerang. It came within two feet of Coyote and disappeared. Both men looked for the weapon. A laughing Adrian anticipated what would happen next. “Where did the boomerang go?” asked Ox. As he addressed the question, it came speeding from behind, hitting him in the head and knocking him out. As Ox fell, Slick grabbed the boomerang and addressed Coyote. “You’re probably a trick of Doc’s or Adrian, to scare us off. Well, you don’t scare me and you won’t get me to fall for that trick. I’ll stand in front of this tree and if it comes from behind, it will hit the tree.”

Slick threw the boomerang and watched it reach Coyote, and disappear two feet from the animal. Slick’s smiling form looked for the boomerang to hit the tree. Instead, it fell from the sky, hitting him in the head and knocking him out. “I’m terribly sorry,” said Coyote, looking at the two unconscious victims. “I know that I need to study physics sometime. Never quite got the hang of it. All I know is that Newton was taking a nap under an apple tree, when an apple hit him in the head. And Einstein couldn’t tell the difference between matter and energy, and he thought he was a square – or is that squared? And someone invented the Quantum world – or is that discovered it? And they can believe things like a particle can be in two places at once, and you can travel backwards in time and space, and a thousand strange and unusual puzzles. Yet if you tell them about glow-in-the-dark, singing coyote, they think you’re crazy. But the quantum world is much stranger and harder to believe. And boomerangs, mind you. Never could figure out those things.” The two villains awoke, and started rubbing their heads, only to have a boomerang fly past them, hitting them on the head, and sending them back to slumber. “I hope I’m not boring you fellows. Fellows? I didn’t mean to put you asleep with my physics lecture.” If the men heard a word of the lecture, they didn’t acknowledge it in any way. Before Adrian became aware of more bad guys, he heard Coyote sing an Elvis Presley verse. She wrote upon it: Return to sender, address unknown. No such number! No such phone! Oh my Darling Clementine About a mile from Doc’s hideout, there was a creek guarded by Bear and Tiger, and patrolled by a bloodhound named Chopper. The plan was to track down and prevent any escapees, should any survive the assault. But Chopper started barking and pulling on his leash, with Bear attempting to

restrain him. In the distance, a glow-in-the-dark coyote head, stuck out of the bushes across the creek, singing Oh my Darling Clementine. The song talked about a man loving the woman Clementine, working in a mine, and pining over his lost love. The worst part for Adrian was the song was sung in B flat, with a C sharp background, and the poor girl died – probably from Coyote’s singing. Tiger pulled out a pistol and shot at the singer. The head disappeared, only to emerge to the men’s left. Chopper sniffed the air, trying to catch a non-existent scent. The singing head was positioned on another bush, with Tiger taking another shot. The bush head sung about Clementine, while Bear unleashed the dog collar and Chopper ran across the creek, where the Coyote sang. Bear listened for the dog to tear the coyote apart, but no barking was heard. Instead, the bloodhound came back toward them, with something tied to its tail. Tiger and Bear noticed a lit stick of dynamite taped with duct tape to the bloodhound’s tail and started to run. Chopper thought the men were playing and chased after them, in the pouring thunderstorm. They ran about five miles and the bloodhound was beside them. There was a sound that resembled a firecracker, but no explosion. When they turned around, there was a white cloth that said bang in big black letters. “We been suckered,” said Bear. “By what?” Asked Tiger. While the men pondered the trick, a big net descended from the tree under which they stood. The more they tried to free themselves, the tighter the net became, entangling them. They squirmed like flies wrestling in a spider web. What they didn’t hear was a silent dog whistle, and what they didn’t see was the dog’s leash tired around his neck and to the net. The dog kept pulling in the whistle’s direction, with the men getting more snagged with each moment, and the mud kept the men sliding and falling down. Adrian couldn’t help but laugh. All but Scorpion were accounted for, and he probably realized his plans went haywire and started retreating. Coyote wouldn’t stop the escape, but would leave Scorpion

to Adrian for a direct confrontation. All Quiet on the Western Front The music had stopped and with it, Adrian’s singing. And when Adrian decided to stop, so did Ann’s singing and Bubbles’ playing. He was focusing his mental hyper senses on a couple of helicopters, containing a state police strike force. The efforts of Buddha and company succeeded, along with the rain subsiding, and the gunfire sounds. It didn’t take Doc and Igor long to discover that nobody was shooting back. Within a minute, Doc and Igor reached Adrian. “Don’t tell me you stopped them,” said Doc, looking at him and a smiling Bubbles. “It’s over,” said Ann, watching Adrian going over to the window. Igor, Doc and Ann walked toward the window, only to discover an old man waving, as he disappeared into the bushes. Francis was saying goodbye to everyone, only to allow a more mysterious sight to spring forth. In the distance, a coyote form glowed in the dark, front paw waving, and then disappeared into the night. A couple of helicopters landed, and everyone watched the police disperse and scout the area. “There’s only one thing I don’t understand,” said Doc. “How did they find us?” “I think I can answer that,” said Adrian, blushing. “I lost the map in the cowboy bar.” “You know, son,” said Doc. “It’s times like this when I don’t know if I should shoot you or nominate you for the Nobel Prize.” About five minutes later, a couple of officers knocked on Doc’s pad, and Doc answered the door. “What happened out there?” asked one officer. “It looks like world war three took place.” “Those men were trying to kill us,” said Ann. “It’s about time we tell the story.” “On the way back,” said the officer. “Now we need to get everyone to the station and get some

statements.” Everyone was accounted for except Scorpion, and Doc told Adrian he scored a major victory. Down at the station, lawyer friends of Doc’s, from the firm of Shyster, Cheetam, and Chisel, met Adrian and friends. The lawyers convinced the officers that Adrian was suffering from mental hallucinations, while the others were drawn into his daydreams. But the bad guys told tales of being outfoxed by a singing coyote, who glowed in the dark. The district attorney quickly arranged plea bargains with the bad guys’ attorneys. Everyone would plead guilty, in exchange for suppressing details of a glow in the dark, singing coyote. Couple of state psychiatrists examined Adrian, found to be perfectly sane based on their observations, and ruled that he made up the singing coyote story. Others just started to believe him, due to his ethical nature. The offered him police protection from Scorpion, but he declined. Police issued an APB for Scorpion, but he either fled the area or was in hiding. Adrian went back to Doc’s pad, and Igor gave operational details of Scorpion’s plans in exchange for entering the witness protection program. The long arm of the law is finely catching up to the bad guys Adrian thought. Because the criminal operations extended into other states, the FBI was assisting the investigation and aided Montana state police in shutting down the bikers. But Scorpion was still at large, so Ann accepted and was given police protection. The sheriff committed suicide when police arrived to question him. His assistant, Hack Hickman, was immediately made acting sheriff and would continue working with state and federal officials to track Scorpion. Yet Adrian knew Coyote left Scorpion for him to deal with, and no police, Coyote, or Rosisufists could aid him. He needed to outwit Scorpion and draw him into a trap – but how? He would ponder this later.

Folsom Prison Blues Sam Shyster, Chuck Cheetah, and Clarence Chisel personally met their clients down at Folsom county detention center, where county and state officials were detaining the bikers. Hack Hickman was in charge of questioning, with Adrian, busily reading Coyote Con, waited in an adjacent room with Doc, Bubbles, and Polly Morphine. Ann was in the questioning room as a witness, accompanied by the lawyers. “Don’t worry, kid,” said Doc. “They’re the best lawyers in the state – maybe in the country.” “I’m sure they are,” replied Adrian, busily reading the book. “This is a great trick. It’s called a kick in the ass of time.” “Kick in the ass of time?” Asked Doc. “What in the hell is that?” “If you take a bad guy, like Moose,” said Adrian, “you can send a remote kick in the ass that will manifest a short time later.” “Kick in the ass of time. Kick in the ass of time,” parroted Polly Morphine. Bubbles started cracking up, rolling around on the floor in circles. Doc bent over and gave her a stern look, inspiring her to mosey to a corner chair and sit down. The door from the interrogation room opened, and Ann walked into the room. A deputy yelled in a stern voice, “next.” “I know I shouldn’t do this, but I could use some company. Do you mind if I take the animals with me?” asked Adrian. “Why not?” Asked the deputy. “We have enough animals caged here already.” Adrian held Bubbles, and Polly Morphine sat on his shoulder, as he walked into the room. “This is the district attorney, Tom Terrific,” said the deputy. “Your lawyers are Mr. Chisel, Mr. Shyster, and Mr. Cheetah. The deputy is Hack Hickman.”

“Please to meet you all,” said Adrian. “My name is Adrian Albright.” Hack was wearing his orange hat, and Polly Morphine caught sight of it, remembering its attraction from the bar. He flew on top of Hack’s head and started bobbing his head, while Hack looked up into his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t tell me you’re mixed up in this,” replied Hack. “If it’s not enough for me to be involved in my biggest case, you show up.” “You two know each other?” asked Adrian, looking a bit surprised. “Unfortunately,” he responded. “I have gotten some statements for the others,” responded Tom Terrific. questions?” “No,” said Adrian. “Pretty bird. Woo, woo,” responded the parrot. “Chuck and Clarence need to talk with Ann and Doc,” said Sam Shyster. “I will be here to represent you.” Adrian watched the door open and the two gentlemen exit. Bubbles, sitting in a chair, waved goodbye. Now the only three gentlemen with Adrian were Tom, Hack, and Sam. While Hack took out a pen and paper, ready to take notes, Polly Morphine flew down to his shoulder and spotted a piece of licorice hanging from his pocket and grabbed it with his beak, prompting Bubbles to burst out in laughter. “Now cut that out,” said Hick, trying to look professional. “Let me look at my notes. These men said Scorpion hired them to kill your group, but they were caught in a downpour, met up with a singing coyote, which glowed in the dark, and were ultimately defeated and outwitted by this cleverish fiend. And they claim this critter is friends with you, an escapee from the insane asylum. Is this correct?” “Do you mind a few

“Objection, your honor,” said Sam. “Tom and myself have agreed that all references to this story would be officially stricken from the record.” “You see,” said Tom, looking at Hack. “If we brought this case to court, and say how these men were defeated, we would be the laughing stock of the state, maybe even the entire country. I thought we clarified that when we interviewed Ann.” “Laughing stock. Woo! Woo! “ Crackled Polly Morphine, causing Bubbles to laugh. “How come, with you and that monkey around,” said Hack, looking at the parrot, “I feel like I’m in a Marx Brothers movie?” Hack took some notes and looked at Adrian. He poured a cup of coffee and offered Adrian a cup. Adrian walked over and took a decaffeinated brew with cream. As Hack continuing with his notes, a loud scream occurred. “You kicked me in the ass,” shouted a prisoner. “I did not kick you in the ass,” shouted another prisoner. “Yeah? Take that,” was the reply. Hack heard a police whistle blow and a fight from the lockup, and an announcement over the loudspeaker. “Send reinforcements. We have a riot in the holding cell,” the speaker said. “Now what?” Shouted Hack. “First I hear someone say kick in ass and the next moment, I hear a riot is taking place and they need to send in reinforcements to break it up.” “Kick in ass. Kick in ass,” parroted Polly Morphine, bobbing his head up and down. Bubbles was

rolling around her chair, while Tom and Sam stood silently, wondering what the problem was. A deputy opened the door and spoke. “There’s a brawl taking place. A fight has broken out and the officers are breaking it up, even as we speak.” “Do you know what started it?” asked Adrian; putting on an innocent Bubbles look.

“One of the prisoners claimed another kicked him in the ass,” said the deputy. “Can you believe that?” “Kick in ass. Kick in ass,” echoed the parrot, as the deputy shut the door. “You shut up,” said Hack. “Whenever you show up, trouble is always hanging around.” Adrian continued to maintain his innocent look, while Bubbles continued her crazy laughter. As Adrian sipped his coffee, his mind drifted into thought. What do you know? The kick in the ass of time works like a charm. I need to continue to read that Coyote Con book a bit more. I wonder where Hack met Polly Morphine? I remember that movie where Stan Laurel is lost in the war, knocked out for twenty years, and goes back and visits his friend Oliver Hardy. Those two get along in a similar fashion. Scorpion is still among the missing, waiting to touch base again. Until I address that problem, nothing is really solved. “You look lost in thought,” said Hack. “Just thinking how you and the parrot get along. Where did you meet him?” “Unfortunately, it was a murder investigation,” said Hack. “He was the only one volunteering information, and if I put him on the stand, it would be worse then that coyote story.” “I remember where the Stooges were in court, and a parrot was the main witness, both in the case and the center of court attraction,” responded Adrian. “That’s one of my favorite episodes,” said Sam. “Remember where Curly was asked to remove his hat, and kept putting it back on, when he kept confusing what the judge said?” “I remember that episode now,” said Tom. “The parrot had a note tied to his leg, and he got out of his cage, and flew around the court house.” “And Curly got the water hose stuck, trying to get the parrot wet, and got everyone in the court drowned in water,” responded Adrian. “Woo! Woo!” said Polly Morphine. By now, everyone was laughing, except for Hack, looking around at three men, a monkey and a

parrot, beside themselves in laughter. “I hate the Stooges,” said Hack, looking at the parrot. “For all I know, it could have been your father staring in that episode,” “Father! Father!” squawked Polly Morphine. A deputy opened the door and announced, “the prisoner situation is now under control.” After the deputy closed the door, Hack continued to pace back and forth, with the parrot continuing to bob his head and squawk. The routine questions continued, with the investigators trying to learn what happened, without bringing in the supernatural. The main focus was the death warrant the group has been a part of, and the resulting ambush the bikers initiated at Doc’s pad. Doc’s legal team kept the questioning brief, and would continue to work with them afterwards. When Adrian’s questioning subsided, he took Bubbles in his arms and Polly Morphine flew unto his shoulder, as he headed toward the door. “One more thing,” said Hack. “Yes,” responded Adrian. “Send Doc in and don’t bring the parrot back.” Doc went into the interrogation, while Adrian talked with Ann and the other two defense attorneys. His mind drifted. I find myself inside a prison, thinking about how things turned out. The head is still out there, and he is probably coming for me. I know they offered police protection, and Ann will be accepting it, but Doc and Rumi will decline, and I probably should also. If Scorpion is to be dealt with, it has to be me doing it. The only element is how. Buy Me A Rose There were two things Adrian had to do. He had to visit the church, and accompanied Doc to the insurance office. Rumi had returned from his retreat, and he traveled with Adrian, Ann and Bubbles to the church. Polly Morphine was staying with Doc and Ann’s police guard followed them and remained outside. Rumi knocked on the front door, only to be greeted by Dorothy.

“As I live and breath,” said Dorothy. “Now we have all the mystery men, together with a lady and monkey. How are you doing?” “I don’t suppose we can join you for tea?” asked Adrian. “I would be upset if you didn’t,” responded Dorothy. “And I have something interesting for you. It was found in Mary’s hand – you know, the statue.” She handed him a rose, with a note attached to it reading everything is now complete, which he passed around to everyone, while Bubbles pretended to be studying it, as she held the note. “Let me prepare the tea, while you folks talk,” said Dorothy. “Follow me into the parlor.” While Dorothy went to prepare tea, Ann looked at Adrian. “What does it mean?” she asked. “Perhaps my spiritual journey is complete,” Adrian said. “Or unfolding,” said Rumi. “Notice the rose is open.” Bubbles looked at the rose and nodded her head. The group made their way towards the parlor, where Dorothy had the tea kettle boiling, and all the amenities laid out: lemon, cream, sugar, and sugar substitute. There was a plate of cookies for the humans and a banana for Bubbles. She poured everyone a cup as they all helped themselves. Adrian sipped his tea, as the group talked about spiritual matters, like Rumi’s recent retreat and receiving the rose. Nothing was mentioned about the singing, glow in the dark coyote or the battle with armed villains. Bubbles focused on her banana, while thoughts kept ringing in Adrian’s head. What does the full rose mean? What should be done about Scorpion? If only Sherlock Holmes were alive and well. I’ll bet Doctor Watson and Sherlock would apprehend Scorpion and fix this problem. I remember all the old books I read, where Doctor Watson… Is Doctor Watson a blooming idiot, like the

old American movies portray him, or his he almost as smart as Holmes, like the British movies portray him? Wasn’t Holmes modeled after an old professor of Doyle’s? If only…hum… “Penny for your thoughts, Adrian?” asked Dorothy. “I was just thinking about Sherlock Holmes, and all the books and movies he starred in,” replied Adrian. “I see you are wearing your green Sherlock Holmes hat and red hunting jacket,” replied Dorothy. “He likes that jacket and hat,” replied Ann smiling. Bubbles, who was sitting on the table, grabbed the hat and put in on, causing everyone to laugh. “I think our Holmes has an assistant,” responded Rumi, who was also caught up in the laughter. “If we borrow one of Doc’s pipes, she be a dead ringer,” replied Ann. The minutes passed and everyone finished his or her tea and conversation. Adrian wanted to see the statue, and walked over to where Mary was, while Rumi joined him, as the others waited by the door. Adrian felt a gentle light and warmth embracing Rumi and himself. Both stood still, as the seconds passed, while the radiance was overwhelming then ended a while later. Nobody else felt anything but Rumi and himself, but both were uplifted by the experience. “We should be going now,” said Rumi, walking toward the front with Adrian. “Come back for tea anytime,” said Dorothy, waiving goodbye. The Lovecraft Insurance Haven That afternoon, Doc, Adrian, and Bubbles traveled to the insurance office of Rubin Twiddle, Doc’s personal agent. Doc had to file a claim and Rubin wanted to ask some questions. When they arrived, Rubin was flipping through an H.P. Lovecraft book. He looked up for the book and saw the three familiar faces.

“Sit down and let’s review this claim,” said Rubin, sipping coffee. “It’s an open and shut case,” said Doc. “Open and shut, my ass,” replied Rubin. “According to this report, you were on a vacation retreat from some bad men, who ambushed your vehicle and turned it into Swiss cheese. And I understand that your pal Adrian was the intended victim. Now this car, when I examined it, make the car Bonnie and Clyde met their end with look like a BMW, fresh from the assembly line. First you file a claim when a bomb blew up your first vehicle, and now you file one when they need an auto stunt double for the next James Bond flick.” “It’s not all his fault really,” responded Adrian jokingly. “It’s an open and shot case.” While Rubin was arguing with Doc and Adrian, Bubbles picked up the book Rubin was reading. The book was filled with pictures, which she founded amusing. There was a pen on the desk, and she began drawing pictures. For the Innsmouth Shadow, She drew an x. The Dunwich Horror received a circle; Cthulhu got some zigzags, while the rest got dots and dashes. Rubin turned around and noticed his book being artistically embellished. “Oh no,” he cried, grabbing the book away from Bubbles. “She’s defiling the defilables.” “Maybe she’s acquiring a taste for Lovecraft,” responded Adrian. “I need to review this claim,” said Rubin. “You say your vehicle was filled with enough holes to make Swiss cheese crumpets. Now I am familiar with Swiss and cheese, while crumpets are a delicacy British folks eat with tea. But for the life of me, I have never seen a Swiss cheese crumpet, as your report states.” “I think he met trumpet,” said Adrian. “ But the most unexplainable thing is this water. The officers mentioned the ground was wet. There were reports by the prisoners that it rained; yet it was perfectly dry that day. Then there were the

reports about a glow in the dark coyote singing songs. And all the men were either immobilized or out of commission, by some strange and unexplainable means. Then they tell me Adrian can talk to this creature, since he escaped from the asylum. What should I make of these reports?” asked Rubin. “From what I understand from my attorneys,” replied Doc. “All that will be stricken from the records, since the men are cutting deals with the district attorney.” “Do you believe in Lovecraft?” asked Adrian. “What do you mean?” asked Rubin. “Did he write from his imagination or was he reporting what he experienced?” “You see,” responded Rubin. “Lovecraft crafted some of the best horror fiction. Yet that’s all there is, son – fiction. Yet all his stories could be believed. I can certainly believe in a text called The Necronomicon or the Music of Erich Zann, before I would entertain a singing coyote.” While the men were arguing, Bubbles turned to the introduction, picked up a pen and started marking. Doc noticed her scribbling and quickly grabbed the pen and book. Adrian then looked at the book and held it up. It was part of the introduction, where Lovecraft is making a statement that Bubbles marked. The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown. “Now don’t tell me that monkey can read Lovecraft,” said Rubin. “And you, Doc. Don’t file any more reports of vehicles blown up by bombs or filled with machine gun fire.” “Well, Doc,” said Adrian. “I won’t tell him Bubbles can read and you keep your car away from bombs and guns.” “Point conceded,” said Doc, who had to complete the insurance forms. The Empty House

Now that evening Adrian got a bright idea, like the type Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam might get together entertaining a toot. Everyone begged him not to do it, but he wouldn’t listen. Ann pleaded with him, reminding him of their mutual love. Doc said it was foolish and dangerous, while Rumi said it lacked common sense. Only Coyote seemed to approve, but would not say why. Once everyone realized Adrian was settled in his decision, they conceded. Adrian felt that poetic inspiration could only come at night, while sitting in a rocker and seeking fresh air and light from the window. But this new routine didn’t go unnoticed. Scorpion was aware the police were seeking him, but he needed revenge on the person who ruined him. For days, under a suffocated disguise, he had been monitoring Adrian. In a wooden area overlooking Doc’s pad, he was positioned on a hillside, with a rifle. Adrian’s silhouette reflected off the moonbeams, and every few minutes, which changed positions to alleviate boredom. Scorpion positioned the rifle at Adrian’s head and fired, knocking his prey to the ground and scoring a clean hit. Tonight, for all practical purposes, Adrian was dead. With his chore finished, Scorpion watched for any moment and didn’t see anyone get up. Yet the next few seconds would shake that confidence. Someone knocked the gun from him and a wristlock sent him rolling along the ground. He recovered quickly and positioned himself in a karate stance, only to yell out two words. “You! How?” The figure stood silently and Scorpion lunged at it, with a flying kick, only to have the figure duck underneath, so the biker lost his balance. There was a ferocious battle-taking place, and the biker was an excellent martial artist. But the figure not only countered the moves, but also appeared to sense how his opponent moved. In the darkness, both men relied on instinct – only one was better adopted at using it. A karate kick, perfectly executed, was deflected and the kick’s momentum carried the villain rolling along the ground. Scorpion quickly stood up, and rapidly executed several kicks and punches in succession, only to have the figure avoid them, and use the biker’s momentum to propel him to the

ground. The fight continued for ten minutes, with the opponent gaining the upper hand, and using Scorpion’s own momentum each time to move him towards the ground. Inside Scorpion’s left boot was a small derringer. He pulled out the gun, only to freeze momentarily upon hearing a gun hammer click. Looking up, Doc Holliday was pointing a thirty-eight straight at him. He dropped the derringer, and looked into the eyes of Adrian, still trying to figure out what happened. “Smart move,” said Doc, “Dropping the gun that way. In case you are wondering, the police are on their way and will arrive any minute.” “But I shot him,” screamed Scorpion. “I saw him die.” “A dummy disguised like him, thanks to an artist friend Ann knows and a robotics professor I know,” said Doc, still pointing his gun. “But how did you know I was here?” asked Scorpion “While you were stalking me, I was stalking you,” said Adrian, ready to resume his Aikido moves, should Scorpion move wrong. It sounded like a good idea, especially when we were at the insurance office and Sherlock Holmes came to mind. When the folks thought Sherlock was dead, there was a big demand to revive him. The end result was a story called the Empty House, where a dummy was used to trick a sharpshooter. I’m been using my enhanced mystical senses and I could pick up Scorpion. When I talked to the others about it, they thought I lost my mind – but if it worked for Holmes, it will work for me. After a bit of persuasion, everyone agreed to help me. I stalked Scorpion in the woods, waiting for him to strike, before ambushing him. I sent a message to Rumi, who sent Doc up, while Ann called the police. A siren interrupted Adrian’s thoughts and he saw three armed men approach, one being Hack Hickman and the other two state policemen.

“I see you got everything under control,” said Hack, as the two state boys handcuffed Scorpion and took him away. “I don’t suppose you have that parrot hiding somewhere nearby?” asked Hack. “Would you like to visit him?” asked Adrian, trying to be helpful. ”When the Cubs win the pennant,” replied Hack. Adrian watched, as Scorpion was lead away. My life has come full circle, and it began with a meeting with Scorpion and ended with another meeting. Now I realize my life is to be a shaman, but lead the mystic Christian life, and help others with that role. Inside all of us, there lives a Rumi, Adrian, Bubbles, Doc, Coyote, and Scorpion. Only one can be our dominant personality. I had to go through the darkness in order to uncover the light. But there are a few loose ends to tie up first. I need to have some quiet time with Ann and Rumi mentioned a journey I need to take, to find some final answers. “If that is the only villain and the parrot is far away,” replied Hack. “I’m going back to the office. Stop by tomorrow for a statement and don’t bring the parrot or monkey.” Adrian watched as Hack walked away and turned his head, looking at Doc. “Do you think he likes Polly Morphine?” I Hope You Dance. The next day, Adrian made a statement for Hack and returned to Doc’s place to see Rumi. Tomorrow Adrian would be seeing Running Deer, a Native American medicine man Rumi knew, who would help Adrian find answers. It would be an ordeal for him, since Adrian would be on a quest for four days – without food or water. But tonight, he would be taking Ann on a date – to a swing dance club – without dragging along Bubbles or Polly Morphine. Rumi and Doc agreed to baby sick the two pets. Tonight would be a time for deepening a budding romance.

Ann arrived at seven, and Adrian waived goodbye to Rumi, Doc, Bubbles, and Polly Morphine, as he walked towards Ann’s car. She was dressed in a nice, blue dress, with white shoes, and a red ribbon covering her hair. Adrian was in a blue suit, with a red tie, when he opened the passenger side and got in. “You look lovely, Ann. In fact, gorgeous,” he smiled. “You look quite the handsome gent yourself,” replied Ann, blushing. “Just think. We get to spend an evening without Coyote, Bubbles, Polly Morphine, or criminals. Just the two of us,” said Adrian. It took them about twenty minutes to arrive and park the car. Adrian took Ann’s arm and together they walked into Swing City, a roaring twenties club and speakeasy. The waiter, David Mothproof, took them both to a secluded table at a section near the band. “That’s a fiend of my cousin Vinnie,” replied Adrian. “He promised to get a good discount for us.” “Allow me to present the menu,” said David. “We have some fine wines and great appetizers. Would you care to savor our wine list or review our appetizer list?” “Yes, please,” said Ann. “Who is the band tonight?” “They are called the Chattanooga Chowchow Irregulars,” replied David. “They are a great band and my cousin manages them.” “It sounds like a professional band, judging by the name,” said Adrian. He spent the next hour engaged in small talk, in addition to ordering wine for Ann and appetizers for both. When they got ready for dinner, Adrian signaled David to the table. “We are ready to order,” said Adrian, seeing David stop by. “Do you have frog legs?” “No, I just wear tight pants,” the waiter replied.

“Oh, great,” said Ann. “Everyone’s trying to be Jack Benny. Just take our order and save the comedy for prime time.” “I’m terribly sorry,” responded David. “I’m studying to be a stand up comedian. With this waiter gig, I’m doing half the job anyway. I’m always standing up.” “Anyway,” Adrian replied. “I’ll have the halibut and the lady will have the chicken cacciatore.” “One order for the hell of it and another for the chicken satchel Tory,” responded David, with nobody replying to encourage his comedy. The band got to the stage and set up their equipment, which was a six-piece orchestra with Sax, piano, horns, and base fiddle, whom the m.c. introduced as the band from down under, the Chattanooga Chowchow Irregulars, with prompted many dance couples to start and Adrian asking Ann to dance. “Would you care to chew the Chattanooga?” asked Adrian. “I would be delighted to accept this dance with such a charming gentlemen,” replied Ann. The next few minutes found them joining other couples on the dance floor, having a great time, even if neither knew how to dance – but neither did the majority of dancers. Most of the tunes played in the succeeding two hours found them dancing, except when they ate their meals. Now they carried on like lost lovers to be parted. Tonight Adrian would dance and enjoy himself, but tomorrow he would begin his final quest. “I see the waiter coming back with dessert,” said Adrian. “We told him to wait half an hour, so we should go back.” “Sounds good,” said Ann. They book got back to the table, in time to meet the waiter. “I bring cheery pie and care it cake,” said Dave. “But the coffee got fresh, so we had to ground it.

Feel free to crème it, but just don’t stir things up too much. They look black enough as it is.” “Are you going to school for your comedy lessons?” asked Adrian. “Why, yes. I’m taking lessons at Second to Last City,” responded David. “If you hadn’t have told me, I would never have guessed,” said Ann. “Be careful of the pie. It’s kind of sweet on you,” David said, as he poured the coffee and exited. They both finished their desert and spent the rest of the evening talking and bonding, when a couple of the band members stopped over too their table. The tall one took over a wig, revealing Doc Holliday, while another sagely looking one removed his hairpiece, to reveal Rumi. “We thought we surprise you,” said Doc. “The band members are friends of mine, so we took your idea about disguises, and decided to surprise you. Isn’t this wonderful? And Bubbles and Polly Morphine are back behind the stage.” “Wonderful, wonderful!” responded Adrian, with his thoughts caught between David’s corny jokes and spending more time with his friends. So much for a romantic evening! Adrian’s visions It was morning and Doc took Adrian and Rumi to a remote forest, where Adrian was instructed to look for a burning fire, with the smell of burning sage, while Ann would baby-sit the pets. As Doc’s vehicle passed along a country road, Adrian spotted the fire and smelled sage through his rolled down window, while Rumi raised his hand and motioned to stop. “This is where we go,” responded Rumi. “I pick you both up after four days?” asked Doc. “Four days,” responded Rumi. Rumi and Adrian took their backpacks and traveled a clearly marked trail Rumi took many times

before. About two miles up, along a creek was a trailer, with a Ford pickup next too it, and where an elderly gentlemen, Running Deer, came up to meet them. He was about five four, Native American Lakota, with a long poncho and cowboy hat. “Light Runner, how are you doing?” asked Running Deer, giving Rumi a hug. “So this must be Adrian. I heard so much about you. You’re the friend of the crazy and wise one.” Running Deer reached out to hug Adrian and he returned the gesture. “Light Runner?” asked Adrian. “My name given to me by Running Deer, signifying my enlightenment in the Island,” replied Rumi. “Has Rumi briefed you regarding your vision quest?” asked Running Deer. “Yes, but I wouldn’t mind learning from you,” responded Adrian. The next few minutes, Running Deer pulled out his pipe to bring their prayers and God closer together. The pipe was lit, Adrian was instructed on how to smoke, and the pipe was passed among the three. Each took a turn praying for Adrian’s success in his vision quest, while Running Deer finished smoking the pipe, and put it back into its carrying case. “I give you a blanket that you wear around yourself. Take care, my friend,” responded Running Deer. The night sky surrounded the landscape, and Adrian waived goodbye to Rumi and Running Deer, heading out into the forest. He came across a tree he felt comfortable with, and sat cross-legged. It was the afternoon of the first day, without food or water, and Adrian was still in quiet meditation. He opened his eyes, when he envisioned a faint light. Inside he saw two figures, lighting up the sky. One was Mary, surrounded by roses, each giving off a radiant glow, and the other was Francis, the Christian saint of Assisi, with a radiant ash flowing from him. Mary’s right hand opened and she dropped a medallion, being bathed in the light from the roses and ash, with the word gatekeeper

engraved on it. Both figures looked down at the medallion, and Adrian knew he was to have it. He picked it up, examined it, and found an engraved dove on each side, with a small hole to insert a chain, along with the word gatekeeper. Mary and Francis blessed the medallion, so he put it around his neck, which prompted both figures to banish. He knew the dove the redeeming power of the Holy Spirit,

and spent the night in meditation. Everything was peaceful, as the sun appeared to rise. The second day brought another vision. In the horizon, was a door with Francis holding a torch found in ancient Greece. Francis then lit a pipe with the torch, and offered it to Adrian, whom he invited to smoke with him. Upon lighting the pipe and inhaling the smoke, Adrian was filled with an expanded oneness of God and the universe, which he perceived as an invitation to embrace the ancient path of meditation and contemplation. Another nice of peace, with owls hooting in the background, guided Adrian through the night, and into the next day. The morning of the third day found Ann approaching a Catholic church, with Adrian by her side, and a wedding procession taking place, officiated by a priest. In the background, behind the priest, was a vision of Christ and Mary, who in unison said “welcome home Adrian.” As Adrian reflected on the words welcome home Adrian, he knew he would always be visited by the mystical forms of Christ and Mary. Another day and night passed, and he continued his meditation. This time, he was awakened by another vision. In it, he saw Coyote, Bubbles, and Polly Morphine laughing and enjoying life. Then he came to a realization: The Coyote was leading Bubbles and Polly Morphine in their tricks. Then he saw something that surprised even him. Coyote came closer in his glowing form, raised his paw, and a glowing rose appeared, as it transformed itself into a thousand shooting light forms, meaning his spiritual journey was almost finished. Adrian then felt his form merge with the Coyote, as Bubbles and Polly Morphine faded in the

background. Suddenly there was only a Coyote, glowing in the dark and looking around him, ready to burst out in song. An Australian melody was coursing though his mind, and he opened his mouth. “Dine me kangaroo, down sport, Dine me kangaroo, down. Dine me kangaroo down sport, Dine me kangaroo, down.” When he uttered the verse, Adrian felt the Coyote spirit leaving and he found himself in human form, looking at the world around him. His mouth felt another Australian verse coming forth, so this time he sung it loudly. “Tan me hide when I’m dead Fred, Tan me hide when I’m dead. Tan me hide when I’m dead Fred, Tan me hide when I’m dead.” Adrian smiled, jumped up and down, and started laughing hysterically, before echoing loudly: “I got it! I got it!”

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful