Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scenes 1 & 2

There are two guys, named Blinky and Myron. Myron is the older, more serious, less happy one. Myron has a lot of gravity happening. He’s solid and thick. Blinky flits like a bird. He collects enthusiasms, one after another. Exotic diets. UFO coverups. Crackpot Egyptology. Everything that Blinky has learned about the world, beyond what he’s gained from his own senses, he’s gotten from cable TV, silly pamphlets, and talk radio. Said sources routinely make ridiculous claims that Blinky repeats uncritically. For example, that finely ground dandelion leaves, if you take them orally, will cure any disease in the world.

Myron broods; Blinky exults. Myron is turgid and jowly. Blinky is nimble and gaunt. Myron cites authorities, and Blinky is all caprice.

For the purposes of the story, they’re friends.


Myron owns a house. It’s a small brick number with a steep scoopy roof and white metal awnings. The lot is tiny, the yard nicely kept. Myron puts out potted geraniums. He parks his car, a rust-colored 1986 Buick Century, out front.

So one day. Birds are chirping. Traffic is sliding by the house. Inside, Myron wakes from a difficult sleep. Groaning, he draws his first conclusion of the day.

“I’m ill,” he thinks. “I’m sick!”

Myron struggles to sit up and puts on his glasses. He exhales dramatically. He indexes the discomfort, rifling through a stack of potential causes. “I suffer,” Myron concludes, not for the first time, “from a blockage of some kind.” He declares out loud, “I’m stopped up like a pipe!” He can scarcely open his eyes.

Stooped and wincing, Myron dresses and hurries over to see Blinky.

Blinky lives in a complex of outbuildings on the grounds of a big old mansion. He performs various duties for the rich occupants, but mostly he’s like an engaging pet. He comes and goes as he pleases. (Except when it rains or snows a lot; then he mows and shovels like crazy.)

Myron trudges up to the mower shed where Blinky keeps the lawn machines. He bangs on the corrugated metal and calls out. “Blink!” He announces his illness. Nothing. Then: the sound of Blinky moving the mowers. Blinky’s slender head pops into view, followed by the rest of him. He’s got a finger stuck in an estate-sale copy of Flying Saucers Have Landed, circa 1953, holding his place.

“You’re not sick,” offers Blinky, “you’re just anxious.” He gestures with a hand green from lawn care. “If you suffer from anything, Myron—and I’ve told you this—it’s a lack of experience.”

“Haw,” answers Myron, straightening. “I have an excellent position–”

“Not work experience,” interrupts Blinky. “Experience experience.”

“Don’t give me–”

“Myron, what do you do? You like plink on a keyboard. You look at numbers. Whoop-O.”

Myron reddens. “I manage databases.”

“Whatever,” says Blinky. He ducks back in the shed and pulls out a metal bucket, which he overturns to make a seat. Still holding his book, he sits on the bucket. “What I mean,” says Blinky, flipping pages, “is are you ever out there.” He looks up at Myron.

“Do you experience physical danger?”

Myron pushes back on his glasses.

“Do you have paranormal experiences.”

A giant eyeroll.

“Do you like, violate company policy? Are you getting laid?”

Myron snorts.

“See?” pronounces Blinky, as if addressing a jury.

“See what?” demands Myron.

“I’m telling you, Myron!” Blinky sets the book down and gets up off the bucket. “You need to get out of that office and smell the tuna. Have an experience, or like five.”

Myron stuffs his hands in his pockets.

“You need,” summarizes Blinky, “a vacation.”

Hmph,” replies Myron.

“And not some cruise. Instead, like camping. Or travel to a bizarre international location. Turkey. Java.”

Myron has turned away. His arms are folded, and he’s peering down at the gravel.

“Look,” says Blinky, stepping forward. “I could stand to get out of town myself. Let’s go somewhere! Let’s walk crosslots for 200 miles, and get really thirsty, and strip to the waist, like Mohicans, or Mohawks, or whoever, and hide out in a National Forest.”

“Mohawks,” says Myron flatly, insultingly.

“I’ll tell you what,” adds Blinky, retreating. “the Indians know the score.”

“Whatever you say, Blink.” answers Myron. He gestures at the book. “Whatever the aliens tell you.”

“I’m just saying. Travel would do you good.”

The subject has been exhausted. And Blinky, like some decent hunk of bread in a bad bowl of soup, has absorbed Myron’s distress.

“I’ll tell you what would do me good. A raise,” corrects Myron, with real-world self-importance. “A promotion would do me good. I could use a little recognition of the role I play–”

“Myron,” interjects Blinky, nearly whining.

“I keep that place in order.”

“And what do you get? Chronic digestive whatever.”

Blinky bends down and picks up Flying Saucers Have Landed. He points the book at Myron ruefully. “You know, you laugh at me, but I am not the one living in like Ulcer City.”

“I don’t have an ulcer--”

“I have been thinking about this. I ask you: why is it that visitors from other worlds are going to totally mop up when they get here?” Blinky tucks the book up under his arm, holds out his hand and enumerates two points. “Not enough outdoor activity is one reason. And focus on all the wrong things is the other.”

Scene 3

Myron works at the O P & Q Company, a wholesaler of machine parts. One day, along with a big shipment of aluminum rotators, comes word of changing circumstances. The floor guys are rumbling. The company’s up for sale. “The old man, he’s got a fish on the line,” says one.

A mysterious black truck has parked behind the building. Sharp-looking men in dark suits have been spotted. Lawyers.

“If he sells out to one of these big outfits, we’re on the street,” says another.

Outwardly, Myron isn’t having any of it. “Mr. Q. would never sell this company.”

O P & Q was founded by Osborne, Packer, and Quinn, three paratroopers who came back after the big war and went into business together. They got a warehouse and and a loading dock and some trucks.

Understand about Mssrs. O P & Q: they are virtual Homeric Men. In Europe, they hurl themselves of out airplanes and float down over Belgium without getting their dings shot off. They overrun Germany. Now they carry super-heavy equipment up six flights of stairs. They tolerate big jolts of electricity casually. They make handsome money. Golf handicaps in single digits. This at the height of their powers.

But hey, nothing lasts forever. Osborne, the sales guy, is the first to go. He gets bored, cashes out, and moves with the wife to Nevada. Then goes Packer. He’s at a fishfry in 1979, eating beer-battered perch at the VFW, when Alma his wife goes to the bathroom. Suddenly Packer goes blue and flops over. WHAM. Fries everywhere. Chokes on a masticated fishball. Dies.

Myron comes on after this point.

Q is a man with white hair and big forearms. Q has an actual surname, “Quinn,” but everyone calls him Q.

Q hires Myron to keep track of where things are. At first, the system involves a great many index cards, and then it changes, to an inventory software package with an awkward name. Myron learns the program. He does well, in a limited way. He works in the outer office at a desk with a computer, behind milkily windowed walls that separate the clerical area from the shop floor.

Today, on the day of scary rumors, Myron’s getting worried. He can see several silhouetted figures in Q’s office. The white-haired Q is seated. Myron broods over his data. Q’s phone line blinks from 8:30 on.

Finally, near lunch time, the door opens and Q comes out of the office wearing a casual shirt. “Good morning, Myron,” says Q. He’s accompanied by two men in dark suits. They’re carrying fat brown accordian file things. Q introduces them, perfunctorily, to Myron.

“We’re from legal,” they say. Myron nods.

“Would you get on the intercom,” Q asks Myron, “and call a meeting?”

Everybody. Immediately.

Myron obliges, feeling sick. The company staff assembles out on the shop floor. Q makes a brief announcement that O P & Q has, in fact, been sold. But--he stresses--But. “Everybody’s job is going be safe.” The guys from legal smile thinly.

Q shakes a few hands, wipes an eye, and strides across the greasy endblock wood floor to the freight elevator. He yanks on the nylon strap and opens the gray slab door, virile as ever, then, at Friday noon, disappears into the elevator. He’s joined by Viv, the office manager, who’s got broad hips and a nice leer. Word is the old man turns up in Naples.

Florida, not Italy.

Nobody blames him but a small-minded driver named Newbauer. And Myron.

Scene 4

The news spreads: the venerable O P & Q Company has been purchased by an outfit called the Sucke Brothers.That’s S-u-c-k-e. Probably they’re British, which is the only decent explanation for the silent “e.” The Sucke Brothers are diabolical capitalists. Major turnip-squeezers.

“The Sucke Brothers,” says Blinky. “I think I’ve heard of them. They move into places and buy everything up.”

Myron, who struggles with transitions, gurgles and dissembles all weekend. But come Monday, by the time he can actually string sentences together, he’s gotten on board. “Vertical integration of products and services. These Sucke men must think big!” Myron ponders the opportunity.

Blinky isn’t optimistic.

The Suckes waste no time taking control. They cut half the staff, and modify the company insurance plan to require all visits to the doctor to occur between the hours of 3 and 5 am, on Wednesdays. They also begin to charge for parking.

Contemptibly, Myron curries favor. He’s promoted. But even Myron has trouble with the Suckes. “They’re peculiar,” he admits to Blinky, “and a little scary.”

Understand, no one has ever seen a Sucke Brother, or even spoken with one. As a matter of company policy, the Suckes communicate only by fax. In lieu of an actual physical presence, they send along little busts of themselves, the kind that piano teachers give out to students. (These busts, which are made by machines and composed of solidified corn starch, are very inexpensive to produce.) They come with instructions. The miniature Suckes are to be placed around the office furniture. So they can keep an eye on things. These little figures have a weird power, and no one likes them. They survey the office ominously, while the fax machine burps and beeps. Additionally, just in case the spell wears off, and employees begin to disregard strict rules prohibiting private use of the photocopier, an unmarked helicopter hovers outside the O P & Q offices at irregular intervals.

After a period of months, during which working conditions at the O P & Q Company steadily worsen, Myron is one of a tiny handful of remaining employees. Finally the day comes when Myron too is dismissed, and replaced by a mechanical dog.

Scene 5

Myron is pacing.

“Did they give you any kind of severance,” asks Blinky.

“Fifty bucks,” admits Myron, “and the leftover coffee packets.”

Blinky is seated on Myron’s living room carpet. He’s been to the photocopy place. Papers cover the floor. A copy of Prehistoric Indian Mounds in the Eastern United States sits on the early American coffee table.

“Blinky, we have to oppose these people,” says Myron, pivoting.

“What people.”

“The Sucke Brothers!”

Myron had been able to tolerate the slow squeeze at O P & Q by distracting himself. He concocted an elaborate fantasy, according to which he would come to play an exalted future role among the Suckes: Vice President for Facts.

Then, poof.

Now he’s wearing a groove in the carpet. His plans are wrecked. His aspirational framework is gone. His digestive misadventures, which go back and forth between blockages on the one hand, and intestinal mudslides on the other, have resumed. So Myron’s a little bent over.

But he’s finding his way to a new thing.

“You mean like a boycott,” says Blinky, distractedly.

“Maybe sabotage,” counters Myron, seating himself in a worn cloth chair. “Do you realize that the Sucke Brothers are destroying the fabric of life in our city.” Blinky looks up. “They are fraying the bonds of kinship. I am telling you Blink, our children deserve better!”

“Myron,” says Blinky. “You don’t have any children. You don’t even have a girlfriend.”

“It’s a figure of speech.”

“You know, they didn’t bother you before--”

Myron rises. “It’s true, I am only now waking up to this.” He starts pacing anew. “I was mistaken about their intentions. But I’m seeing clearly now. The Suckes have bought the whole city,” he goes on. “The roads, the schools, the monuments, the radio stations. The grocery stores. The utilities. Yesterday they bought the newspaper.”

All of this true. The Sucke Brothers are hoovering up the whole metropolitan area.

“It’s not right!” declares Myron. “We will shine the light of truth on these people. Anonymously, of course.” Myron is moving more quickly. “I gotta use the bathroom.” Abruptly he ducks into a side room.

Blinky is paging his way through 19th century drawings of Indian Mounds. “Do you have an atlas?” he asks, loudly.

“They will be so sorry.” Myron’s voice is coming through the bathroom door. “They will beg to get me back on board. Because I had a clear grip on that place. I knew where everything was. What was what.”

“Hey, Myron.”

“I bring things to the table,” Myron mutters. “I have skills.”


The toilet flushes. Water runs in the sink. The door pops open. “What?” says Myron.

Blinky says “You need a vacation, man. You’re talking to yourself. We gotta get you out of town.”


“Myron! Don’t you get it? The Suckes will be looking for you.”

Myron swallows.

“You’ve got the inside dope on their game.”

Myron blanches. He sits down in the worn chair.

“Some R & R might be okay,” he admits.

“Good,” says Blinky, “That’s settled.” He gathers up his book and pile of photocopied drawings. “I’ll meet you first thing.”

“Tomorrow?” says Myron, alarmed. “We’d have to check the weather.”

“Or,” says Blinky, “I suppose you could just sit here--”

“I’d have to stop the mail--”

“--And wait for some Sucke legbreaker to appear,” finishes Blinky. He’s standing in the doorway with his coat on. “It’s up to you. I’m not sticking around, under any circumstances.” Blinky lets this sink in. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”

Myron’s eyes have gotten big.

“If you’re not ready,” warns Blinky, pulling the door after him, “I’m taking the bus.”

Scenes 6 & 7

Blinky shows up at Myron’s place around 8 with clothes in a grocery bag. Myron brings his stuff to the door in a hard plastic suitcase. They throw the luggage in the back of Myron’s 1986 Buick Century and close the trunk.

Myron has hardly slept. He’s anxious about the trip. He’s had more diarrhea.

Blinky is wearing a Turkish hat. He offers to drive.

“About where we’re going,” says Myron. “I want to go to Florida. I brought my suit.” Blinky notes this with a nod. “Just so you know,” continues Myron, “we’re not getting off the highway to look at dumb attractions. We need to make good time.”

“Why?” asks Blinky, simply.

“This is about Point A to Point B.” Myron whips out a map with a route marked in orange. It runs straight southeast, across to Chattanooga, Tennessee, then south to Atlanta, and on down to Florida.

“I’m open,” adds Myron, “about which side, once we get there. Gulf, or Atlantic. But I’m leaning Gulf.”

Blinky has looked at the map. “Mm-hmm,” he says.

“It’s my car,” says Myron. The meaning of this is unclear.

They get in the Buick and drive away, headed east. As the car passes over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Myron is already drowsy.

They pass a four-door sedan with two people in it, a man and a woman. It’s on Myron’s side of the car. His eyelids are beginning to droop, but he notices them squabbling over the car radio. They can’t agree on a station. The odd thing to Myron, who’s now tumbling toward sleep, is that they’re wearing masks. They look like squids or something. Strange.

Now Myron is dreaming of the ocean.

As the onetime senior clerk at O P & Q slumbers, Blinky aims the rust-colored Buick east, toward Indianapolis.



Blinky is driving. Myron has napped intermittently. They’ve stopped for gas and food, and for Myron’s bowels, once. Things are firming up there.

The miles are rolling by.

They’re listening to a talk radio program hosted by a person with the last name of Colfax. He’s mixing some material about healthy lifestyles with some other stuff about not trusting the government to do anything. “Let’s talk a minute,” proposes Colfax, “about the radon crisis.”

“Can we listen to some music?” says Myron. Blinky reaches over and turns the dial in seach of tunes. The vast majority of what’s available is bad country-pop. He settles on oldies, Myron’s normal preference. His passenger grunts what sounds like approval.

Blinky glances over at Myron. He looks pale and uncomfortable. Blinky says, “Myron? Are you okay?” Myron is clenching his jaw.

“You want me to pull over?”

Myron nods. “Maybe a rest area.”

“Got it,” answers Blinky. Lately he’s been reading 400 billboards about the approach of an exit with a giant RV dealership. Now he’s on top of it. Blinky makes a decision to pull off the interstate. He decelerates and slides toward the exit, which curls gently off to the right. Blinky follows it, then slows and pauses to read at the T-shaped crossroads. There is a brown sign for some historical site, with an arrow to the left.

“Go right,” instructs Myron weakly. To the right lies the biblical supply of Winnebagos. But Blinky takes a sip of his sports activity drink and turns left.

“Come on!” Myron complains.

The car speeds past a few prim houses, a rusted trailer, an old yellow ceramic brick store. They drive by the turn to Arcadia. Next they pass a sign that says: GREENVILLE 4. Myron groans. “Go back to the exit. This is too far.”

“We’re almost there,” says Blinky, racing. Myron is looking up at the weave of the ceiling fabric, jiggling his knees, making low sounds. They come upon smattering of commercial properties and billboards. “Welcome to Greenville, Ohio” say the Rotarians and the Evening Optimists, in a big blue script.

Blinky follows a sign. He turns left onto the main drag, and left again, pulling up at a small open field, the size of several lots. A few houses flank the field, plus a laundromat. There’s a billboard with a Ford pickup truck, and a Catholic school nearby.

“They’ll have a bathroom in there,” says Blinky, pointing at the laundromat. Myron swears and exits the vehicle.

Blinky looks back at the field. There’s a huge chunk of pink granite mounted on a pedastal near a tree.

The signs have led him here.

Scene 8

Myron bangs his way into the laundromat. It’s a shotgun-style space with windows along the front. Almond-colored washers and dryers face one another along the walls. Tables for folding laundry sit between the appliances, upon a plane of gummy, crap-dotted floor tiles. Except for the missing ones, the tiles conform to a checkerboard pattern of previously-ivory and blue green.

The air is filled with tobacco molecules and memories of powdered detergent.

A biggish older woman sits at a desk with a cashbox near the window, looking dumb and proud. She’s at the helm.

The woman turns to look at Myron, inhales through her nose, then looks over at a 35 year old retarded guy that Myron figures to be her son.

A grizzled man in a black tee shirt is only other person in the place.

The grizzled man is trying to get from one spot to another with a basket of wet clothes. But the retarded son is weaving back and forth in front of him, oblivious, super-determined to check the lint in the dryers.

“Ronny,” says the woman.

Ronny’s flummoxed by the fact that several of the dryers are still running. He’s paying very close attention to the orange indicator lights. The guy in the tee shirt still can’t get past him.

“You got a bathroom?” Myron asks the older woman, urgently. A large envelope sits in the middle of her desk. The woman picks up her big arm and points to the back, toward a hallway near the vending machines.

“In the back.”

She glances back at her son. “Ronny,” she says sharply. “Get out of the way!” Ronny, spooked, steps aside in a panic. He hurries down to the other end of the row of dryers, next to an aged pinball machine.

Then Ronny remembers something.

“Is nat na man?” he asks, pointing at Myron.

She sniffs another breath. “No.”

As Myron speed-walks between the washers and the dryers, the woman looks back out the window, then down at her watch.

Ronny looks over at his mom.

“Is na man hewe yet?” asks Ronny. “Is he hewe?”

“He’ll be here in a little while, Ronny.”

Myron flies into the bathroom, rips his pants down, and plants his rear on the toilet.

“Nnnnngh,” he says. Myron blasts the rectal horn a few times belowdecks. But sound and sweat are all he’s able to produce.


New blockages.

Already it’s been a long day.

Myron remains on the toilet for five minutes or so, attempting to gather himself. Then somebody tries the knob. “Just a minute,” says Myron, who finishes, hauls himself off the seat, and buttons his pants. He runs water over his hands, lathers and rinses them, then wipes them off on brown paper towels.

Myron opens the door to encounter the grizzled man holding a garment bag. “Let’s go,” he says impatiently. “Gotta drain the vein.”

Myron mutters, “All yours,” and steps past him into the hallway. It strikes him as odd that the guy has a garment bag.

Ronny the Retard has been loading soap boxes into a vending machine. Or meaning to, anyway. The single-load boxes of All are stacked, waiting to be placed in rows inside the coin-operated dispenser. But Ronny has turned away from the machine. His neck is craned toward the back of the building. Ronny looks worried.

“Na man is hewe!” Ronny declares. “Na man is hewe!”

Myron follows Ronny’s distracted stare, into the alley behind the laundromat. He sees the front end of a 24-foot truck, painted black with tasteful gold lettering on the door. Myron’s jaw drops. “Not possible!” he croaks.

Myron strides toward the front of the laundromat, just shy of a run.

The big woman is looking up from papers she’s pulled from the big enveloped. First she’s trying to figure out what is the problem with Ronny. And then Myron’s move for the door unnerves her. Anxiety waves are breaking over the place.

Ronny is walking back and forth between the vending machine and the rear door, waving and rocking.

The woman gestures with the document, suspiciously.

“Are you a building inspector?”

“No, ma’am,” replies Myron, slowing to keep from looking panicked. He notices that the heading on the document reads, PURCHASE AGREEMENT. SBE, LTD.

“Because I don’t want you people messing with my business.”

“Listen,” says Myron. The woman looks at him .

The toilet flushes.

“What,” says the woman.

They hear the sound of water running in the sink.

The door to the bathroom opens. Ronny is caught halfway back to the soap dispenser from the alley entrance, dead in front of the grimy bathroom door. Yellow light breaks over his uncomprehending face.

“You got something to say?”

Just then the grizzled man steps out of the bathroom. Except he’s completely sans-grizzle at this point. The jeans and black tee shirt are gone. He wears a light colored dress shirt with a dark suit. He’s wiping his hands on a brown paper towel like he expects to erode the skin off the muscle. And his posture has changed.

Myron thinks: a spy!

Myron says to the woman, confidentially, “Tread carefully.”

Ronny is completely freaked out, in part because the guy has come out of the wrong door. He keeps pointing toward the truck in the alley.

“Now what in hell does that mean?” barks the woman at Myron.

“Na man! Na man!”

“Good afternoon,” announces the formerly-grizzled man. He’s clean-shaven. He looms. The guy is a corporate shark from the prehistoric era of corporate sharks. Teeth with fins and a tail maybe 50 feet long.

“Mama! Is he na man?”

A totally savage acquisitor. A nut-buster.

“Ronny,” says the woman, flustered. She looks at Myron. “I don’t know.” Turning to the man, she asks, “Are you?”

The man stops. He’s balling his paper towel. “If you mean to ask: Am I the representative of those with whom you seek to do a transaction?”

He tosses the ball smartly into the trash. “The answer is, yes. I am.”

Ronny blinks and slobbers a little.

The man straightens his cuffs. “I’m from legal.”

“But--” says Mama.

“My superiors insist upon sound research. They like to know the people and the properties they’re dealing with.”

Ronny the Retard looks frightened.

“So as to forge lasting business relationships.”

Myron exhales deeply and turns. “I gotta go,” he says.

“Splendid,” replies the lawyer. “Have a good day.”

The door bangs behind Myron.

“Now,” says the man. “Shall we turn to the documents?”

Scene 9

Blinky is looking at the pink granite marker. Which is big enough to work as a gravestone for a bus. There’s a diagrammy picture engraved in it, showing outlined people with numbers, like a key to a photograph. The silhouetted people are characters in a commemorative painting, located elsewhere. The numbers correspond to a list of people chiseled into the stone.

Blinky learns he’s standing on the X. At the place, the very spot, of the signing of the Treaty of Greeneville, in 1795. “Wow,” says Blinky. Knowing zero about the event, he reads on. The treaty, he learns, was an 18th century deal struck between the United States and an Indian Confederacy. The confederacy included the Miami, the Shawnees, and the Delaware, and a number of other tribes. The agreement followed bitterness, bloodshed, nasty frontier business. Ongoing warfare. Finally, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, in 1794, the Army of the United States defeated the Confederacy.

The treaty opened up the Old Northwest, or the territory around the Great Lakes. “Opened up,” that is, to white settlers, and all their wagons and horses and crap. They chopped down trees at a fantastic rate, flattened fields, and otherwise got the place ready to farm.

The Indians got $20,000, some goods, plus land a little further west. AKA present-day Indiana. The marker does not provide Blinky with much more information, other than noting that the two major participants were one Mad Anthony Wayne, the American commander, and Little Turtle, the Miami Chief. Plus that Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark, was there. Other colorful figures also attended, including the Shawnee chief Blue Jacket.

Myron emerges from the laundromat and trots--an effort at nonchalance, versus a dead run--over toward Blinky across the street. But something attracts his attention. Two figures, dressed in period costume, have begun to stroll around the miniature field. They’re maybe 20 yards beyond the spot where Blinky stands, near the giant marker. “Who,” Myron wonders passingly, “are those guys?”

Blinky is already transfixed. “Wow.”

“Blink,” says Myron, nudging him.

“That is so cool.”

The reenactors are starting the show. One of them, who’s graying and portly, is gesturing excitedly. “Why NOT Custer and Crazy Horse?” demands Wayne. “Why not Penn and whats-his-name?” Little Turtle’s arms are extravagantly outstretched. A gesture of presentation.

“Blink. You won’t believe.” Myron points across the street toward the laundromat.

“The Sucke Brothers are moving in. Here.”

“It was a minor treaty,” complains General Wayne.

“They’ve already got a contract on the laundromat,” announces Myron.

“Minor, for all the press you get. Yes,” he concedes, “it was broken.” Little Turtle continues to offer his gift, as the reenactment seems to require.

“Blinky!” whispers Myron.

Blinky holds a finger up to his mouth. “Shh.”

Wayne removes his hat and turns away. “I can’t stand it! We’re stuck out here, day after day, me with the full knowledge that your biographies are full of fawning crap. ‘The apex of native leadership,’ Makes me sick. For my part, I’m bombastic and harsh--”

“And intolerant. And craven for glory,” adds Little Turtle, mischeviously. He turns to look at Myron, and winks.

Myron is disgusted and uncomfortable. “Get out of here! Freaks in costumes.” He grabs Blinky, looking back at the laundromat. “Come on!”

Blinky resists. “Cut it out!”

“You’re the wise man, the statesman,” blusters Wayne. “Goddamn it, it galls me.”

“Accept the gift,” encourages Little Turtle, arms outstretched. “Take the wampum, let’s be done for the day.”

“Keep the goddamned wampum!”

“We must accept the burden, Wayne.”

Blinky’s engrossed. Myron’s exasperated.

“Actors!” huffs Myron, raising his voice.

Wayne sighs. “Mishiekonga.”

Myron can stand no more. “Look, enough! What do you guys actually know about American history.” He steps into the performance.

Blinky, mortified, stage-whispers, “Myron!”

“Not very much, I suppose. You would have attended drama college?” Wayne and Little Turtle exchange glances. “I will attempt to make a long story short. A long time ago,” narrates Myron, “there were people living here--Indians, natives.” He nods to Yellow Turtle. “You guys.”

“Then, large numbers of other people--English, mostly--”

Wayne interrupts. “I am not a Brit--”

“came along,” Myron continues.

“Nor am I an actor--”

“and tricked or bullied these guys out of everything they had.”

Little Turtle nudges Wayne.

“Everybody knows that much.”

Blinky is beside himself. “These guys are professionals, Myron!”

But Myron continues. “What you don’t know is that the same story is unfolding yet again. Today. Here.” Myron gestures toward the storefront. “There’s a woman in that laundromat, a woman with a grown up mentally handicapped son named Ronny. And that poor old woman is about to sell her business to a huge company. A company,” adds Myron, “with which I am familiar.” He yanks on his coat.

“An organization for which I worked.” He sighs.

“Ronny the Retard, mark my words, will end up on the street.”

He returns his gaze to Little Turtle and Wayne.

“And I can tell you, because I was privy to certain things, that the laundromat is only the beginning. Before you know it, this organization will own everything you can see. Everything.

“And the people who live here?” Myron points. “In that house, and that house, and that one, and that one? They will be out of luck. Their livelihoods will be gone. Their property will be gone. Their whole way of life. Gone!”

Myron exhales self-importantly.

“Here, and the next town, and the next town after that. On a massive scale. I have knowledge of this. It torments me.”

Blinky is ready to puke.

“And gentlemen, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Which is why I’m heading to the beach for awhile to plot my next move.” He nods to Blinky. “But one thing I definitely am NOT going to do is sit around indulging stupid hobbies like playing historical dress-up while serious, serious things are happening.”

He steps toward Blinky. “We gotta go, Blink. Gimme the keys.”


“Gimme the goddam keys!”


Myron glowers at him.

Disgusted, Blinky hands the keys to his friend.

Myron walks briskly to the Century.

“Come on!” he barks.

Blinky turns back to Wayne. “Look,” he offers, “I am really sorry.” Gesturing toward the vehicle, and Myron, Blinky says, “That was totally rude. Please,” he implores Little Turtle, “keep going.”

Myron opens the driver’s side door and gets in.

“You are extremely convincing. Please.”

The Buick roars to life.

General Wayne says, “I want to speak to that man.”

Myron blows the car horn.

“Look,” pleads Blinky, “he didn’t mean it, he’s had a bad week. Sorry to mess up your performance.”

“You!” Wayne shouts at Myron, inside the car.

“Really, you guys are excellent,” backpedals Blinky.

The general begins to advance.

Myron throws the car into reverse and backs it up. He glares at the road ahead.

“Don’t mind us, we’re going.” Blinky slips around the far side of the vehicle, rips the passenger door open, and gets in. “Myron!” he barks. “What is wrong with you!”

Myron peels out and drives off.

Wayne is shaking his hat in the rear view mirror.

Scenes 10 & 11

Back inside the laundromat, the man from legal is opening a large box. Ronny is trying to help him. “I got it,” says the man. “Please.”

Ronny moves away.

The formerly grizzled man pulls out some styrofoam packing and sets it aside. He reaches back into the box. “Here we go.” He strains a little. Carefully he extracts a large fax machine. Mama pulls the box away as the man sets the machine on one of the laundry tables.

“We are almost in business now,” says the lawyer.

“Look!” cries Ronny. He’s got his hands in a small case, sort of like the thing you carry a flute in. He’s fingering something.

“Little mans!”

Ronny’s found an ensemble of small corn starch busts, identical to the those that dotted the office furniture at O P & Q. Ronny is unwrapping them.

“Little mans!”

“Hey!” snaps the formerly grizzled man. “Don’t touch those.”

“Ronny!” rebukes Mama.

“You better watch him,” says the man.

After a moment, he speaks into his watch. “Claude,” he says.

“Bring the truck around to the front.”



“Blinky,” huffs Myron, “where’s the map.”

“I don’t know.”

They are racing back toward the interstate.

“Well, you had it.”

“I threw it away.”

“You threw it away?!”

Myron is trembling with anger.

“Look,” says Blinky, “I’m not a follow the magic marker type of person.”

“Where are we, Blink.”

Blinky looks over at him.

“We’re in Ohio.”

“Ohio! Ohio is not on the itinerary!”

“Yeah, well, that’s where we are.”

“We should be in Tennessee, on the way to Florida!”

Blinky looks out the window. “I thought you’d figure it out before now. We’ve only been driving for six hours.”

“I have been a little preoccupied by my blockage problems!”

Myron cannot believe the situation.

“How could you screw this up?”

“I didn’t screw it up,” retorts Blinky.

“I don’t want to go to Florida. I want to go to Indian country.”

“They have Indians in Florida, Blinky! Seminoles.”

“There are things I want to see, okay? LIke the Serpent Mound,” says Blinky. “I’ve never seen the Serpent Mound.”

“The Serpent Mound.”


“Which you’re going to tell me,” says Myron, “is a center of paranormal activity, or a place where water flows up, or some dumb-ass thing you saw on “Unexplained Mysteries.”

Blinky brightens. “You saw that one?”

Myron seethes.

Blinky reaches into the backseat.

Scenes 12 & 13

Under the paper bag containing Blinky’s several changes of clothes, toothbrush, and mineral supplements, lie several idiosyncratic paperback books, including a truly kooky one about imminent alien conquest, and the pile of photocopied materials from Prehistoric Indian Mounds of the Eastern United States. Blinky extracts this pile of material, pulls it into the front seat and begins to flip through it, theatrically.

The amount of time that Blinky has spent with the text of this volume is not great; mostly, he xeroxed the diagrams and maps of certain ancient earthworks. Thus, at best, he is wildly fuzzy on the anthropological facts as presented by the authors, though he is very keen on the earthworks themselves.

Long before the arrival of the Europeans, in the mid-second millenium A.D., and way before the development of the historical Indian tribes the Europeans encountered, prehistoric Indians were active in the Eastern woodlands of North America. They traded across large networks, lived along stream beds, ate clams, were big on the production of stone pipes, and, most notably, constructed enormous geometric earthworks. Almost all of the most remarkable of these were built with buckets of dirt during, say, roughly six hundred years beginning about 100 B.C., in the southern half of Ohio.

Most of these things are very formal-looking enclosures, involving squares, circles, and octagonal shapes, some as big as 1000 yards across. In certain cases, as in the Great Serpent Mound, the earthworks were built to form images, but most are of the geometric variety. Some scholars have suggested that the enclosures function as portals, from this world to the next. Blinky is on board with this idea.

When the Europeans arrived in the New World, they asked the Indians where the earthworks had come from. The Indians were mostly clueless about the mounds, but they did attribute them, however vaguely, to their ancestors. The Europeans were skeptical.



Wayne and Little Turtle are standing in the street. The general is holding his hat.

“What do you make of all that,” he asks. “A repeat of history.” He looks at LT, then back down the road. “Is it possible?”

“I believe,” replies Little Turtle, “that it happens all the time.”

The two costumed figures walk back onto the lot with the granite marker.

“I’m sorry, General,” offers the Indian. “But we’re not done for the day.”

Scene 14

The tension in the car is still pretty bad. Myron has stopped to buy a new map and some highlighters, none which Blinky is permitted to touch, back at the Nine Thousand RVs exit. Myron has a new itinerary planned, which involves traveling east on Interstate 70 as far as Interstate 75, near Dayton, which will take them south.

Blinky is back driving. Myron is staring at the map, as if by doing so he could control events on the territory described by it.

“You know,” says Blinky suddenly, “the Indians believed in spirit animals. Your spiritual self had an animal counterpart.” Myron looks out the window at a tomato farm. “So we have like a corresponding thing going with a given creature,” says Blinky. “I think that’s cool. Question.” Blinky looks over at Myron. “What do you think yours is?”

“My what.”

“Your spirit animal.”

“Aw Blink, I don’t know. Why didn’t you ask the goof in the Indian costume when you had the chance?”

“I think in your case, there’s an obvious answer: the beaver.”

“A beaver. I’m a beaver.”

“Yes,” answers Blinky. “One, they are dogged creatures. Like you. They do not give up. Second, they concentrate really hard on one single thing, which is they chew on trees. I think you’re a total tree chewer. And then they take those trees, and what do they do? This is three: they make dams. Which are what? Blockages. Am I right? So it’s obvious. Beavers.”

Blinky permits this to sink in.

Myron rubs his head. “I see.”

Point of fact, Myron’s recently interrupted office life has been extremely beaver-like. He knows this, even if he couldn’t have come up with a metaphor for it in a hundred years. Which he can’t, or couldn’t. He’s bad at metaphor.

“Now,” adds Blinky, “I will interject this.” He’s being serious and playful at the same time. “I will bring to your attention that you were just an extremely rude butthole back there, at the historical reenactment.”

Myron is silent. “Hysterical,” says Blinky. “Obnoxious. You were.”

“But,” continues Myron’s friend. “I will concede that, from your perspective, you were obnoxious for a point.”

“Thank you.”

“Which, when you think about it, maybe isn’t so beaver-like. Which brings us back. To that fact that maybe, in your case, the obvious answer is totally not the correct one.”

Myron is lost.

“Forget the beaver. You, my friend, are truly a more dominant animal. But you are only beginning to suspect this. I’m thinking maybe an elk. A buck of some sort. Seriously, you are one big buck, Myron.”

Myron is flattered by this. Antlers. Leadership. His mind is playing nature-film clips of dueling bucks.

“You just gotta get those antlers going.”

“What do you mean?”

The landscape slides by. Wet brown fields, isolated Victorian houses, most of them derelict. Signage.

“You know,” says Blinky, surveying the scene, “during the time of Little Turtle, I’ll bet all this was forested. Because the Mohicans were a woodland tribe.”

Myron sighs.

Blinky begins, “Can you imagine--”

Myron cuts him off. “Miami,” he says. “Little Turtle was a Miami chief.”

“No, I think it was Mohican.”

“I just read it on the marker.”

“He was definitely Mohican.”

Myron starts to lose it. “Blinky, it’s Miami! I can read!”

He’s quiet for a moment, but then he can’t help it. “I’m not even interested in this stuff, and I know the guy’s tribe! This is your problem! You read like every other word, and then you yak about it like you know something. Half that junk you watch on TV, and practically everything you read, it’s just people making things up! They don’t know! You don’t know! Have your ever checked a source in your life? Do you even know what a footnote IS? Beavers! Spirit animals! It’s all stupid!”

Myron’s arms are folded.

“Stupid? I’m stupid? You’re the one who’s gonna go from a wholesale clerk to like the vanquisher of a giant, powerful corporation, and I’m stupid!?”

Myron is unable to reply. He looks to his right, and spends the next several minutes reading signs. PROTECT YOUR SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS. FAMILY BUFFET. REST AREA 1 MILE. Then, suddenly: “Pull off here. I gotta get out for a minute.”

“What is it with you and normal life?” demands Myron. “Why can’t you have a job and a house and not like your work? You do all this goofy exotic stuff.”

Blinky tries to respond. “Because,” he offers, “I have. . . a fervor. . . that I don’t know what to do with. I don’t like it, that all the milk comes in cartons. You can’t get honey, except in plastic containers. I want it from the bees, or like, right from the cow.” Blinky looks at his hands. “I don’t know. I want to fly, too.

“I want, like, a super-actual existence.”

Out of nowhere, the car begins to hiss. Smoke pours out from under the hood. The temperature gauge is buried in red. “Goddammit!” shouts Myron. Luckily, they’re on top of an exit. “Damn, damn, damn!” Myron guides the 1986 Buick Century onto the ramp, and coasts all the way into the Fuel King Myron is pounding on the steering column. “Why have a plan, if you don’t follow the plan! What is a plan for? An orderly result! Florida! It’s such a simple thing!” He’s winding himself up into a genuine tantrum. “I want my Goddamn plan back, Blink! I want it back!” He’s bellowing inside the car, which has come to a stop next to the gas pumps.

Scene 15

The corporate advance of the Sucke Brothers, the mysterious fax men, is well underway. They start in a selected fifteen or so cities, and then, like blots of ink leaching on paper, they spread out from there. Buying things up. The whole thing is financed with small amounts of cash and stacks of fancy notes. It works like this. A lawyer shows up with a proposal. You get a certain amount up front, and piles of stock to go with it. The stock is backed by the giant corporate enterprise that is Sucke Brothers Enterprises, Ltd. Except there’s a catch. You’re not really getting SBE stock, your thing--which is your ice cream stand, your bank, your auto repair shop, whatever--your thing is placed into its own fund, a local fund, along with the enterprises that your neighbors sold. The diabolical Suckes then hook up a vaccuum tube to the local fund of Winnetka, or wherever, legally hoover it out, then leave it there like a dessicated sac. Aside from the modest bit of cash he receives at the beginning, the seller gets nothing. The Suckes, then, are sort of like business vampires. The liquidation of O P & Q, for example, produces some nice short term bloodflow to SBE, Ltd. But then old Mr. Q. wakes up one day in Naples and finds that the SBE Sub e) Bullet 9) Line 4) Supercapitalized Holding Company--the corporate vessel into which his life’s work has been placed--cannot issue him dividends. His shares can’t even be sold for the cost of the transaction.

Q gets an empty bag.

A handful of properties from every inkblot on the map do get handled differently. Because they keep paying forever. So SBE, Ltd., holds onto the utilities, the energy outlets, and the communication organs. The owners of the TV stations are in on the deal. Enough people do well to keep the whole thing from exploding into a giant scandal.

Scene 16

Mad Anthony is trying to sound reasonable. “Come now, Mishiekonga. Must we persist in this? It’s inglorious.”

“Put your hat on and let’s sign,” answers Little Turtle.

“Why? I detest this treaty!” thunders Wayne, waving the document. “This treaty was abrogated, at great cost to you!” Mad Anthony lowers his voice. “You died in disgrace. They settled Indiana out from under you.”

The Chief is silent.

“They were supposed to leave you alone. The government was going to roust out settlers on your land, and you had the legal right to do it yourselves. Article Six; it was a fair provision.”

“Agreed. But it was not enforced.”

Wayne turns away. He gestures at the neighborhood. “The bastards kept coming! There were too many!”

The chief nods.

Across the street, the big black SBE truck pulls up in front of the laundromat. Claude and another guy get out and walk back to the rear of the truck.

“It grieves you,” acknowledges the Indian. “To have signed your name to worthless document.”

“Well, you did the same,” retorts Wayne.

Claude pulls an aluminum ladder out of the back of the truck and sets it up against the laundromat. He goes up the ladder and begins pounding nails along the front of the building. The other guy pulls out a second ladder, sets it up, and bangs in a few nails on his end. Then Claude gets down, goes back to the truck, and drags a roll of rubberized canvas out of the back of the truck. Working together, the two of them hang the roll of canvas over the nails.

“We both failed,” declares the General. “And so we’re stuck here.”

“Having our faces rubbed in it, day after day.”

Claude and his partner let the canvas go. It rolls down over the window, covering the old hand-painted lettering for the Olde Miami Laundromat. A new sign has been printed on the canvas. It reads: Suck ‘M Dry Laundry.

“Unfortunate,” replies the Indian.

Claude and his buddy go in the laundromat.

“Don’t give me that stoical crap. You can stay on through eternity if you want to, but I’ve got places to be. I’m ready to make a move, LT.” Wayne moves in on the Indian. “I have been pondering those two men who stopped here. They may need assistance.”

The door of the Suck ‘M Dry opens. Ronny is standing in the door, wailing frantically. Mama’s snapping like a turtle in the background.

“Maybe, Mishiekonga, we can reverse our fates.”

“How?” asks Little Turtle.

“We could strike a blow for the Red Guy.”

“I believe they say ‘little guy.’”

Claude wraps his arms around Ronny’s chest. Ronny’s flailing and howling and jerking his head and flinging drool.

“Whatever the expression is--”

“You’re thinking of ‘Red Man.’”

Claude carries Ronny down the steps of the stoop, sets him down on the sidewalk, turns around and goes back in.

“There is no color with guy,” explains LT. “Just size. He’s little.”

Ronny is honking and wailing. He tries to get back in the door, but can’t. He’s yelling for Mama. Then his eyes get big like he’s got an idea, and he chugs down off the stoop and runs around the back.

“For example, that person would be the little guy.”

The laundromat door opens again, and Mama gets shoved out onto the stoop. The door closes with a slam. Mama vibrates with rage. The whole scene is like an opera, except the music is replaced by swearing. Mama bangs and yells for Ronny and tears at herself. Now she runs around to the back.

“Listen to me!” demands Wayne. “I’ve had it! I’ve watched it all go by. Two centuries’ worth. The fort, the settlers, the farmers, the town going up. The rise of shopping malls. Buggies, cars, jet trails--it all keeps rolling by, the total triumph of the white man, which I had a hand in producing. And it’s all held against me.”

“But General,” says the Indian. “We have our duty. Let us sign the treaty again.”

“We’ve already signed the damn thing 73,000 times! It hasn’t done any good. But something else might.” He looks over at the laundromat. “That pathetic display we just observed. Does it not confirm what the obnoxious visitor predicted? There is distress in the land.“

“Yes,” agrees LT.

“We could make a gesture.”

The Indian frowns. “Not a gesture,” he replies. “Gestures are cheap.”

“Alright,” answers Wayne. “An action, then.”

“An action sounds better,” says Little Turtle.

“Fine, an action! We’re men of war. We specialize in action.”

Wayne strides across the lot. “We must find those two. They know the details. We must put a stop to this thievery.” He’s totally energized. He’s tugging on his uniform and looking at the billboard, the one with the pickup truck on it. “A little industry is required, that’s all. A little imagination!”

Scenes 17 & 18

Myron is driving again. Blinky has dug back into the pile of stuff in the backseat and gotten a second book out. It’s a non-fictional volume, that describes evidence of cosmic colonization. The publisher--extremely obscure, and located at somebody’s dining room table in California--provides some terrifying liner notes about Alien adventures in the American Middle West. On the basis of this, Blinky buys the book.

Apparently, the visitors in question are able to assume humanoid form until they become angry or aroused, or simply impatient. Then there’s a cephalo-morph thing that occurs, which reveals their true, above-the-neck form. They have octopus heads. Or things that resemble octopi, at any rate, very moist, with tentacles and googly, gelatinous eyeballs.

The author, who claims to have interviewed some survivors of telepathic encounters with the Octos, reports that many incidents have occurred at convenience stores and laundromats. The survivors, naturally, are cowed into silence by a contemptuous and disbelieving public, which totally plays into the hands of the Aliens. Speculation on the causes for their arrival center on insect-like social organizational models. Why octopi, much less bipedal ones, are speculated to have anything to do, sociobiologically speaking, with honeybees is anybody’s guess.

But the author, who’s name is Darryl, contends that the evidence does in fact point to a connection. There is some argument concerning the relationship between six and eight, the numbers of legs and tentacles that insects and octopi possess, respectively; likewise there is some consideration of enzyme signatures in the erotic secretions of same; finally Darryl cites a special feeling that the disquilibrium in our world affects these two sets of species in much the same way.

Where all this goes is tied up in a galactic nesting thing. Potential mass death, captive homo sapiens, forced labor, etc. Blinky is entertained, even thrilled by the dynamic possibilities of such dislocation. “What,” he’s wondering, “would that be like?”



Little Turtle and Mad Anthony Wayne walk into a Ford Dealership. A salesman named Trent walks up, looks them over and says, “And how can I help you gentlemen.” Trent has about five pounds of gel in his hair. Wayne is very direct. He offers some livestock, four rifles, and several shiny pieces of metal for an F-150. The salesman looks at them. “Guys,” says Trent in an oily voice. “This is an unusal offer. I’m gonna need to talk to my manager.” He walks back to an office. Laughter erupts from the rear.

Before Trent gets back they’re gone with a truck.

They zip over to the local historical society and break in. Soon they’re driving down the road with an 18th Century cannon and a rack of twelve pound balls in the back. Little Turtle is smoking a cigarette. Wayne says, “I’ve always wanted to drive one of these.” LT takes a drag and says, “In certain respects, it beats a horse, doesn’t it?

Wayne is bouncing up and down on his rear end. “More give in the seat.”

The pickup drives past a row of homes. There’s a guy outside washing his driveway. Around the side of the house, some neighbor kid is crimping the hose, just to annoy him. The guy is looking back toward the spigot. All of which is normal. Except the guy’s got an octopus for a head.

PART TWO Scenes 19 & 20

Blinky has begun to subject Myron to M. Darryl’s lunatic disquistions on interplanetary horseplay. Myron can bear no more.

“What is it with you and normal life?” demands Myron. “Why can’t you have a job and a house and not like your work? You go in for all this goofy exotic stuff.”

There’s a very long pause, that begins to feel serious. Myron looks over at him.

Blinky tries to respond. Almost gravely. “Because,” he offers, “I have. . . a fervor. . . that I don’t know what to do with.”

Blinky presses on his hat.

“I don’t like it, that all the milk comes in cartons. You can’t get honey, except in plastic containers. I want it from the bees, or like, right from the cow.” Blinky looks at his hands. “I don’t know. I want to fly, too.

“I want, like, a super-actual existence.”

Out of nowhere, the car begins to hiss. Smoke pours out from under the hood. The temperature gauge is buried in red. “Goddammit!” shouts Myron. Luckily, they’re on top of an exit. “Damn, damn, damn!” Myron guides the 1986 Buick Century onto the ramp, and coasts all the way into Tom’s Fuel King. Myron is pounding on the steering column. “Why have a plan, if you don’t follow the plan! What is a plan for? An orderly result! Florida! It’s such a simple thing!” He’s winding himself up into a genuine tantrum. “I want my Goddamn plan back, Blink! I want it back!” He’s bellowing inside the car, which has come to a stop next to the gas pumps.



Exit 49. Looking down on it, you’d see a light-colored line marking the interstate against the browned-over fall fields. A weaker, thinner line would demarcate the state road running perpendicular to 70, making a cross like package string on the bottom side of a box. Irregular rectangles of pavement would be laid out cattycorner to each other at the crossing point. It would hardly occur to you to think that the exit, dressed in low cheap architecture and sectional wire fences, would provide a setting for anything, let alone biographies of compulsion, tales of danger, and time traveling historical figures. It would just look like a half-hearted and three quarters-thoughtless arrangement of crap.

Scene 21

Myron stomps into the gas station. He sees a woman from behind, standing in the door of the garage. There is a metallic pounding sound coming from beyond the door. “Aw, baby, I can’t believe you did it!” she’s saying. “You haven’t even met these people!” The pounding stops for a moment. A gravelly voice comes from the garage. “Now listen to me, Charlene. I done it cause I think it’s a good idea.”

The woman turns and sees Myron. “When is he coming?”

“None of your damn business, is when.”

“Okay, baby,” says the woman. “I sure hope that envelope don’t get put somewhere funny. Like to get lost.” The woman turns around and sees Myron standing at the counter. Suddenly a menacing-looking man pops in the door holding a big tool. “It ain’t gonna get lost, Charlene. Or somebody’s gonna get her ass beat. You hear?”

Myron is dumbstruck. The man looks at him. His face is all folded up with anger--long term anger, 24 hour anger mad multiplied by weeks times years. His eyes poke out to the sides, and his forehead looks like a hammer. He’s wearing a work shirt. His name is on the sewn-on oval over the breast pocket. It says, “Tom Thick.”

“What in hell do you want,” says Tom.

He’s terrifying.

Myron, who came in the door mad, is backing off a bit. “My car overheated. It has to cool down. I’ll need some antifreeze and some gas.”

Tom says gruffly. “Leave it out there. Couple hours.” Then he turns to Charlene and takes her upper arm in his enormous, greasy hand. “I mean it. Nothin’ better get lost.”

She’s unfazed. She puts one hand on his, and with the other, touches his chest lightly. “I know, baby. Nothing’s gonna get lost. It’s behind the register.”

Tom Thick releases her and turns around to look for the envelope. Charlene places her hands on his back and looks at Myron.

“Good. I’m almost done with this job,” Tom says over his shoulder.

“I’ll watch for him,” says Charlene.

“I’m gonna go over everything one more time.”

“Okay, baby,” says Charlene. Tom walks back out to the garage.

Myron is still getting over the spectacle of Tom, when he truly begins to get an eyeful of Charlene. He’s almost afraid to even look at her. Charlene has dark hair that runs down to her shoulders and licks up in a weak curl. Her complexion is dark. Her eyes are brown and black, and she’s got a mouth that you can’t believe. There’s some serious swivel on her.

She’s 35, 40. Magic and mileage, both.

The pounding sound resumes in the garage.

She’s wiping the grease off her arm. Now Charlene is sizing him up. “You need something else?” Myron pushes his glasses back. He looks out the window at Blinky, who’s plopped himself down next to the smoking car. “Why are simple things so hard sometimes?” says Myron, spontaneously.

“Because nothing’s simple, that’s why.”

“No, some things really are simple. Most things are simple, if you ask me.”

“I wish you were right.” She’s friendly and rueful and dangerous, all at once.

“How long do you think it’ll take for that to cool down.”

Charlene shrugs. “Awhile. You have time for a beer.” There is the tiniest hint of challenge in her voice. “Take a little edge off.” She points out the back door, across an enormous parking lot, to a sign that says “Star-Lite Lounge.” It’s a low commercial building.

Myron doesn’t drink much, beyond a once-a-year spiked egg nog on Christmas Eve. He’s about to say this, when something tells him not to. “Thanks,” he says, and pauses. Subconsciously, Myron puffs up a little. “You’re really nice,” he adds.

“No, I’m not,” says Charlene.

“Is it that simple?” Myron has no idea where he gets this sentence.

Charlene smiles. “Of course not. I’m a woman, aren’t I? Women are complicated.”

“I know that,” says Myron, as if he’s speaking from wide experience. He thinks about winking at her, but can’t actually. He never learned how. Even so, Myron’s freaked out that he gets the idea at all. “I’ll be over there,” he says, pointing to the Star-Lite.

“We’ll know where to find you,” says Charlene.

Myron walks out the back door.

Scene 22

“Goddamn it,” barks Wayne. He’s driving the truck. Behind him, twelve-pound cannonballs are rolling around the bed, clinking up against each other and pounding the truck. Little Turtle is gazing out the window at the landscape. Brown fields shaggy with cut stalks and metal barns dominate the landscape. The farms are contrasted by explosions of signage and outbreaks of commerce around the highway exits. Auto care, fast food, equipment rentals, bottomless cups of coffee.

“We never stood a chance,” says Little Turtle.

“What?” says Wayne. Some car pulls ahead of him and changes lanes, and he brakes. Too hard. The cannonballs go flying--WHAM--against the back of the cab. Wayne swears again. The cannon, at least, is stationary.

“I said,” replies Little Turtle, “that we never had a chance. Look at this,” he says, gesturing at the land.

“I don’t know about that,” replies Wayne. “You had quite a run.”

“No,” says Little Turtle.

“Mishiekonga,” says the general, “you were very cunning. You put us on the defensive. President Washington personally charged me to raise an army, to replace the one you destroyed.”

LT leans over and pushes in the cigarette lighter.

“You thrashed Harmar. You annihilated St. Clair.”

The lighter pops out.

“Seven hundred men. You sent old St. Clair hobbling off to retirement.”

Little Turtle lights a butt and puffs on it. “These are weak.”

“But then. Then. You begged off the big one at Fallen Timbers. They all went off to fight, and you stayed home.”

“I knew we would lose,” says Little Turtle. “I argued not to fight.”

“You denied me the chance to kill you honorably, in battle. Instead I got to negotiate with you.” Wayne is resigned. “I won, but I lost.”

The farms are zipping by. The day is getting grayer by the mile.

“If we hadn’t wasted ourselves a hundred years earlier in wars with the Iroquois, we might have been more ready to defeat you. Still, it would not have mattered. You would have overwhelmed us. You would have dragged us off.”

“You are correct,” agrees Wayne. He looks out the window. “And all for this.” The truck is passing an exit. There’s a Gas N Go and a sign for a 99 cent Burger Doodle. A giant red balloon proclaims some other thing.

Wayne looks beyond the restaurant. He spies a liquor store, just as the truck is flying by the exit. He begins to perspire.

All of a sudden, a deer comes bounding out of the brush next to the highway. Like something out of an Audobon book, the thing springs out into the roadway in slow motion. It hovers so long in the air, you’d think you really could paint if before it comes down. But Mad Anthony Wayne cannot stop the truck, and he can’t swerve, either.

The truck plows into the deer. The impact makes a hideous noise, a low violent clap. Like what he actually hits is maybe an airborne sofa, as opposed to a living thing. The animal snaps back and bounces off into the median.

The vehicle gets clobbered. The bumper bends back, and a huge fold in the hood pops up. This partially obstructs the driver’s view. Muttering oaths, Wayne limps off onto the shoulder. Little Turtle hops out and runs back to the animal.

It’s a buck, relatively young, a three-pointer. Dead. Its tongue is lolling out to the side, and blood’s coming out. Wayne lumbers up as Little Turtle kneels over it. The Indian stoops down and gets it on his shoulders, sort of. He half drags, half carries it to the edge of the road. Traffic is whizzing by.

“Back it up,” instructs Little Turtle. Wayne complies. Together they throw it into the back of the truck. They arrange its legs so it slips in around the sides of the cannon. The deer’s head pokes up a little over the side.

“I’d like to find myself a whiskey, if you don’t mind,” says Mad Anthony. “Maybe a tavern.”

The Ford F-150 pulls out into traffic. The bashed hood vibrates loudly. Wayne keeps to the right.

Scene 23

Blinky is leaning on the 1986 Buick Century, out by the pumps. A growly voice erupts behind him. “Where’d she go?” Blinky wheels around to behold the fantastic figure of Tom Thick. Blinky gasps a little. “Who?”

“Charlene.” Then Tom looks at Blinky quizzically. The creases in his giant forehead fade for a moment. “Hey. What kind of hat is that?”

“Oh,” says Blinky. “It’s Turkish.”

“What?” says Tom. ”What does that mean.”

“Made by Turks. In Turkey.”

“Not no birds, though.”

“No, no,” confirms Blinky. “Absolutely not.”

Blinky sticks his hand into the peculiar silence that follows.

“I’m Blinky.”

Tom ignores him.

“What’s taking her so long?”

“Who’s Charlene.”

“Black hair.”

Blinky nods. “Haven’t seen her.”

“This your car? That boiled over?”

“Kind of.”

“You with that other guy? With the glasses?” Blinky nods. Tom Thick darkens. “He’s a goddamn clown.” Blinky shrugs.

“She said she was goin’ to the store,” says Tom.

“Take a minute, she said.”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s always gonna take a minute.” Tom glowers at the overpass, then looks toward the Star-Lite. “I’m waitin’ for somebody,” announces Tom. “I gotta be in the office.”

Blinky nods empathetically. The guy does not look like his natural environment is an office. The guy does not look like he necessarily knows how to read.

“Keep a watch out,” barks Tom.

Blinky agrees.

Tom starts for the garage. Then he looks back toward Blinky.

“You want a pop,” he growls. “Something to drink.”

Blinky waves appreciatively. “Thanks, man, no.”

“Hey,” adds Blinky suddenly. “Do you have any good Ohio maps? That show the counties?”

Tom grunts and nods, apparently yes.

Blinky bounds over to Tom and follows him back into the station. He says to the back of Tom’s head as they cross the threshold, “Do you know if the Great Serpent Mound is anywhere near here?”

“What in hell’s that,” asks Mr. Thick, reaching into the map rack.

“Here,” says Blinky. He digs in his pocket and produces a postcard. He shows it to Tom, who stares at it furiously. The old engineer’s drawing traces the route of a unfurling snake down a gentle hill, swooping back up a second rise, up toward the snake’s mouth. The earthen beast opens wide to ingest a big egg.

This if you know how to read topographic junk. Otherwise, it’s some curlicues. Tom turns the postcard over. Nothing. The big man snorts.

“Never mind,” says Blinky, retrieving it. As he puts the card back in his pocket, Tom slaps his chest with a map.

“Thanks,” says Blinky. “I’ll keep an eye out.”

Blinky walks back to the rust-colored Buick. He opens up the map and locates his destination, very isolated, out in the sticks well east of Cincinnati. He reaches into the car and pulls out one of the forbidden highliters. He draws a bright green line from Interstate 75 to 275, along State routes 32, 41, and 73 to the Great Serpent Mound.

Scenes 24 & 25

The Star-Lite Lounge is located in a metal building that began life as a printing plant, with a couple of windows cut in the siding. The bar has a big seating area, ringed by stools, two-tops, and a row of booths. There’s a bunch of video games. The light is pretty good, for a bar, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Beyond the bar proper and up three steps is a larger food service area, with a sandwich counter and two dozen four tops. There’s a giant salad bar, about the size of a 1974 Chrysler New Yorker, that features six varieties of macaroni salad, a creamed soup, worn-out iceberg lettuce in a big bowl, onions, and any number of canned vegetables. The salad bar is strategically positioned to block your view of the bar from the restaurant.

Myron starts out in the bar. Charlene comes in on some pretext and relocates them to the restaurant area. She’s positioned herself like a mobster, with a wide view of the room. She can see the bar from her seat; she can also shift her weight and disappear behind the salad bar. Myron’s a got a beer in front of him, for lack of a better idea. Charlene is working on a whiskey sour.

She’s watching the door and speaking distractedly.

“The blockage thing. Lots of people have trouble with stomach acid,” she says, lighting a cigarette. “Try eliminating dairy.” She puts down her bic. “I’m very interested in healing. Different approaches to diet. Massage therapy. Stuff like that.” She exhales a plume of smoke. “I think touch has a great effect on people.” Charlene puts her hand lightly on his forearm. “Don’t you?”

Myron is thinking he might die before seeing Florida. But he stays put.



Over at the Fuel King, Blinky reclines on the back of the Buick, alternately daydreaming about spaceships and watching the overpass. He does not notice the approach of a large black 24-foot truck as it thunders up from the exit, until it’s practically on top of him. The truck pulls into the station and drives beyond the pumps, stopping out front but off to the side. Suddenly aware, Blinky reads “SBE, Ltd.” as it pulls past. He’s aghast. “A Sucke truck!” he exclaims quietly.

A man in a business suit and overcoat gets out of the SBE, Ltd. vehicle. His manner is crisp. “I”m looking for a Mr. Thomas Thick,” says the formerly grizzled man.

“Just a sec,” says Blinky.

Blinky bursts into station and says, “Is your name Tom?” He sees the name in the shirt oval. Tom is looking at a complicated document.

“You’re not getting involved with the Sucke Brothers, are you?”

Tom’s hammer-head is sweating; he’s looking pretty nervous. Tom holds up the papers. “I don’t know what this means,” he says. “A bunch of stuff about parties.”

Through the window, Blinky can see the man walking toward the door. Blinky scoots back outside. “Sir. Can I ask, are you an actual Sucke Brother?”

The man looks at him guardedly. “No. I’m from Legal.”

“Ah,” says Blinky. “Because you know, it’s funny, I’ve got a friend from out of town who’s had a bad experience with--”

The lawyer, who’s carrying a big envelope and one of those brown accordion folder things, smoothly redirects Blinky by ninety degrees, turning him away from the door.

As Tom steps outside, a new Ford truck with a squashed front plus an antique cannon and a dead deer in the back roars past the station and drives around the rear.

“Son,” the lawyer is saying to Blinky, “have you ever been on the receiving end of litigation? Have you ever been deposed under needling, deeply personal questioning for weeks at a time?”

“No,” says Blinky.

“Have you ever had your ass kicked in a dark alley by semi-pro hockey players?”

“Can’t say that I have.”

“How does that idea grab you? Would you like to meet Claude?”

Blinky’s silence says No.

“Now, I’d like you to go stand over there by that car, where you can mind your own beeswax. Thank you.” Blinky blinks.

The lawyer turns back to the business at hand. He and a worried-looking Tom go into the gas station. “I’m sure we can get this signed quickly, Mr. Thick,” the lawyer is saying.

Scenes 26 & 27

Mad Anthony Wayne and Chief Little Turtle walk into a bar. General Wayne steps up and orders a drink. “What’s with the outfit,” says the bartender. Wayne ignores him. He drains his whiskey and orders another. “Who’s your friend,” asks the bartender. “The Indian.”

“He’s from Cleveland.”

The bartender smiles. “Hey, Chief Wahoo,” he calls out to Little Turtle. The Indian ignores him. He’s busy looking at a video poker machine. Wayne finishes his second drink. “200 years is a long, long time,” he says to nobody at all.

The general steps to the bar and reaches over it to spear a bag of Doritos with his sword. The bartender is not amused. “Hey Pirate Man. That’s not approved conduct here, buddy.”

Wayne ignores him, and plucks the bag off the end of the blade. “I said, HEY,” yells the bartender. Keep your toy out of my snack rack!”

Wayne whips the sword around and backs the barkeep up against the liquor shelf. “I am the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army,” he thunders. “And you’re an insolent sloth I’d have flogged.” The bartender’s eyes are big as saucers. “I’ll have you know,” announces Wayne. “I’ve killed Redcoats with this sword.” People are staring. “And Creeks,” continues the general. “And some of his lot, too.” He nods toward LT. “I can’t recall running through an ill-bred barkeep, but I think I ought to have.”

“General Wayne,” says Little Turtle.

Mad Anthony returns his sword to its scabbard. LT turns back to the video poker machine in disgust.

“May I have another drink. My good sir,” says Wayne. The barkeep obliges him. Nervously.



Blinky is hovering outside the station, popping up in the window every time the lawyer looks away. He’s waving his arms like he’s calling an incomplete pass, and mouthing DON’T DO IT!” Tom is staring at him, trying to understand, when the lawyer stands up and says something into his watch. Behind him, Claude and the meaty guy get out of the back of the Sucke Brothers Truck and start toward him.

Blinky shakes his head one more time at Tom and slips around the back of the station.

Claude and friend stand guard in the lot.

Blinky wanders over to the Star-Lite, walks in, looks around, fails to see Myron for one of two possible reasons: a) because he’s sitting on the far side of the giant salad bar, and/or b) because he may have been peeing at the time. Blinky sits down for a game of video golf. He’s a quick study. After a string of early bogeys, he shoots a 29 on the back nine. He turns and scans the bar again, looking for Myron. No luck. On his way out he walks past a booth where Little Turtle is sitting. “Hey,” says Blinky. Wayne sits opposite the chief. They’re looking at a newspaper.

“I saw you guys earlier. Yeah, at Greenville. You guys were great.” He gestures to the costumes. “This is very intense. The work that goes into those things. Amazing. You play Little Turtle, right? And you’re that pompous guy. The General.”

“Where is your friend?” asks the Indian. “The sour one.”

“I don’t know.”

“He mentioned going to the water,” says LT.

“Are the two of you headed somewhere?” asks Wayne.

“We’ve been debating that,” says Blinky. “Myron says we’re on vacation. But I don’t think that describes it.” Blinky leans in and whispers, “We’re making a passage,” confides Blinky.

“What do you mean, a passage,” asks Wayne.

“Going from one state to another. But not like say, Illinois and Indiana. Like a state of being. This is my philosophy. You can drive around, or you can go somewhere serious.”

Scenes 28 & 29

Myron sits back down, oblivious, his back to Blinky across the food area. Myron’s a combination of woozy and aroused. Across from him, Charlene is playing with her drink straw. She’s an explosive piece of fruit, an apricot injected with gin.

“I could throttle Tom.” She’s been going back and forth between focusing on Myron and talking about her dumb-as-box-of-rocks husband. “He’s not the sharpest guy,” she says. “He thinks he’s a wheeler dealer, but he ain’t. If you wanna know, he’s a dumbass. He’s buying into a franchise deal. But I fixed it. I rewrote some stuff in the contract and put it back. It won’t be legit.”

Myron is not really listening. He’s awash in sexual thoughts.

He’s not exactly well-traveled. His last go-round was with an evangelical schoolteacher named Becky who drew the line at medium petting. That was three years ago.

“I gotta go the girls’ room,” says Charlene. She’s pulling out a lipstick as she walks away.



Based on what he’s heard on the radio and absorbed from the O P & Q saga, Blinky is giving a rundown on the Sucke Brothers to Mad Anthony Wayne. The General is listening, switching back forth from Blinky’s testimony to the newspapers spread out in front of him. The papers contain exciting news of acquisitions, projected expansions, economic zoominess. The bad parts, which include mass local layoffs in neighboring towns, are in the back. There’s a big story in the Mechanicsburg Crier about a new playground complex with brightly colored plastic parts. The fancy equipment and the park in which it will sit have been donated by SBE, Ltd, which is totally focused on community betterment. Although somewhat buzzed, Mad Anthony is getting the picture. He has concluded that Blinky is possibly a giant goofball. But slow-motion economic mayhem is afoot.

Scene 30

Myron is watching Charlene swing her way to the women’s bathroom. She disappears behind a divider. Sighing, Myron turns back to his beer.

Little Turtle has materialized in Charlene’s seat.

“Jesus!” gasps Myron.

The Indian nods.

Myron looks dully around the table. “Where did you come from!”

“My Indian name is Mishiekonga. You know me as Little Turtle.”

“What?” Myron claws back through the alcohol to something like a clear head. He remembers something. “Hey. Yeah, you’re an actor. You’re that guy from the reenactment.”

“That is where we met, so to speak.”

“Is this your hobby? You dress up and pretend to be some famous chief.”

Little Turtle shrugs.

“But what,” asks Myron, “are you doing here?”

“We have come to see you.”

“Oh, you have.” Myron cranes his neck to see if Charlene has emerged from behind the divider.

“She’s going to be back here any minute, Chief.”

Little Turtle is unmoved.

Myron turns away from him. “Come on. Go find some other--”

“You are full of anguish.”

Myron looks at the Indian.

“There has been a betrayal. Yes? The men you worked for. They are brothers.”


“You have been mistreated, you seek redress.” Little Turtle picks up one of Charlene’s cigarettes and lights it. “Ecch,” he says. “Menthol.”

LT stabs the cigarette out and waves at the smoke. “Listen to me, Myron.”

“How do you know my name?”

The Indian shrugs. “I know things.”

Myron drains his beer.

“I know your heart,” says Little Turtle. “You wish to right wrongs.”

“These jerks marched in and bought things up. The company where I worked, and nearly everything else in my town.” Myron gestures grandly. “Wanton theft. Even if they did pay cash.” Myron looks at the Indian.

“What do I call you. Injun Joe?”


“Misheh--. I’m drunk. Mish. That’s all I can handle.”

“You are dispossessed.”

“Mish. You’re a clever one. You have the lingo down. Blinky would love you.” Myron leans in on him. “I’m telling you, they’re still at it.”

“These brothers.”

“They will not rest. No.They want it all.”

“I know the story,” offers Mishiekonga.

“I bet you do.”

“Treaties. Pledges. Promises.”

“That’s right,” agrees Myron. “At first, what do you do, you go along. You cooperate with them. Because they make assurances. You believe them.” Myron is pleased with the sound of his story.

“But then they betray you,” adds the Indian. “And you resist.”

“You’re damn right you do.”

“We resisted bravely. We did not surrender for a long time. We shed blood. We defied them.”

“That’s better than I did.”

“We stalked St. Clair’s army. 1791. We ambushed them in the woods. We filled them with terror, Mr. Myron. The screaming. They ran headlong, afraid, but we caught them. We killed them among the oaks. We cut them down. We peeled their scalps. We butchered them.”

“Who are you, really?” asks Myron.

“And later Wayne butchered us.”

Little Turtle takes a drink of Charlene’s whiskey sour.

“I sought peace.” He looks at the drink. “Firewater. But fruity,” says Mish.

Myron is stupefied.

“Defeat followed victory. Ah, the indignities. I was lucky enough to die before they relocated us. But later my grave was defiled. Two men digging a basement in Fort Wayne, Indiana disturbed my grave. They played with my bones. They sold my effects.”

“When was that,” says Myron, a little flatly.

“1911,” answers Little Turtle. “Fort Wayne. Think of it. My ancestral home, renamed for my foe. The man who vanquished me. The humiliation.”

Myron leans in toward the Indian. “We’re not going to let them get away with it, Mish!” Then he says, “I’m going to run for office. Or get appointed, or something.”

“Here is what I have to tell you, Myron.”


“The righting of wrongs. The redress. Forget it.”

“What do you mean,” says Myron.

“Cut the best deal you can, and figure it won’t last.”

LT motions with his eyes. “She’s coming back.”

Myron looks back toward the restrooms. Poof, the Indian disappears. Myron turns back around, and he’s looking at an empty chair. “Jesus!”

Charlene is walking back to the table.

LT reappears down on the bar level, at the video poker machine.

Scenes 31, 32 & 33

Blinky exits the Star-Lite. The relentless gray of the day has yeilded to the beginnings of a sunset.

He walks through the exhausted commercial smattering of the exit. He passes a venison-prepping business with a yellow sign showing an elk head. There’s a trenchdigger dealership, and a derelict Hen House restaurant. Blinky looks at the blank cinder block walls and the dumpsters and the spinning fan things atop the flat roofs. He picks his way across the enormous, littered lot behind the Fuel King.

Blinky squats for a moment at the base of a giant streetlight. He looks across at the overpass.

He watches a semi-truck hauling a big load of steel coils disappear down the highway. Then a car with a canoe tied to its top, and a pickup carrying debris. Next comes an Extra Wide Load, jeeps with bikes, a man with a sack. Blinky, so accustomed to all things quick and light, is beginning to discover gravity. He’s weighed down by the spectacle. He labors under the concept.

Myron’s anxiety has nested right in between his shoulder blades.

The sun casts long blue shadows across the earth. The engines groan. Orange light inflames the asphalt and the signage. Blinky trudges back to the station, stooped over a little, like he’s got osteoperosis or something. Or possibly an anvil on his back.



“Did you see that guy that was here?” says Myron.

“What guy?”

“The Indian.” Charlene makes a crooked face.

“I think maybe I just had a hallu--. I hallucinated,” says Myron.

“Oh,” says Charlene. “Of an Indian?”

“Never mind,” says Myron.

Chalene is blowing over the hole in Myron’s empty beer bottle, trying to produce a sound. It’s working, sort of.

“I think I want another drink,” he says.



Old Mr. Quinn is sitting at his breakfast nook in Naples, Florida.

Q has a bunch of law books out, and a legal pad. The guy is up there in age, but he’s still got his shock of white hair and his can-do fighting spirit.

Like many victims of the various Sucke swindles, Q has tried to reach someone inside the organization; also like the others, he’s gotten lost inside the Byzantine SBE, Ltd. voice mail systerm. But Q has not let up. He’s working on the beginnings of a class-action lawsuit against Sucke Brothers Enterprises, Ltd. He’s writing letters with a fountain pen.

In the meantime, Q’s condo is on the market. And he’s looking for commerical opportunities.

Scenes 34, 35 & 36

Blinky walks around the front of the station, just as the lawyer is coming out. “After all that,” he’s saying. “errors in the contract! Well, have no fear, Mr. Thick, I have fresh copies.”

The guy gets some more files from the truck and goes back in. Blinky watches through the window as Tom signs.

Then the lawyer speaks into his watch, and the door on the back of the SBE, Ltd. vehicle opens up, and the two guys get back out with a ladder and a big plastic sign that reads, “SUCKE BROTHERS PETROLEUM PRODUCTS. We’ll Fill You Up.” In what seems like seconds, they have surgically removed the existing Fuel King placard, which lands with a plasticky thunk on the ground. The new sign goes up just as fast. Meanwhile the lawyer is carrying a cardboard box back into the gas station. He pulls out a brand new fax machine and installs it quickly. Then he pulls out a bunch of little things wrapped in tissue paper.

Soon, there are eight or ten corn starch busts, just like the ones Myron described from O P & Q. They’re watching the inside of the station. One of them is sitting on the cash register. Another has a good view of the pumps.

The lawyer opens a cellophane package and hands Tom a SUCKE BROTHERS PETROLEUM PRODUCTS work shirt. He puts it on.

He looks ridiculous. And very alone.

The lawyer and the two signage guys get back in the truck and drive off. Now it’s gotten to be twilight.


Myron’s guard is so down it’s at his ankles. He drinks from his plastic cup and looks back at Charlene, who’s got her shoes off. “It’s not your gall bladder, Myron. I think,” she says, smiling, “it’s something else.” Underneath the table, she puts her foot on Myron’s wiener. “I know what’s all blocked up.”

On the far side of the salad bar, Mad Anthony Wayne has gone back for another drink.

“Let’s go, baby,” says Charlene. She drags him out of his chair. As they move, Wayne gets a good look at Myron, and vice versa. “Hey,” thinks Myron, “I know that man.” Wayne points at Myron, and barks in a slurred sort of way, “You!”

“Come on,” says Charlene. Myron throws money on the table and lets her guide him. They stumble out the Star-Lite through a side exit, using a fire door that says it’ll set off an alarm, but doesn’t. It occurs to Myron, fleetingly, that she’s done this before. They scamper across a parking lot and past a bowling alley, to the Deluxe Motel.

They get a room. The sheets are old.

Charlene takes her shirt off. Myron is thinking maybe it’s all a big tease, or even a scam that will lead to his own death, when Charlene starts to get down to it.



Wayne stumbles out of the Star-Lite just as Tom Thick is headed in. They collide. The General barks about the decline of manners and what an insufferable oaf etcetera. WHAP!—Tom slams him up against the door jamb six inches off the ground. Wayne puffs up like a surprised fish and flops around for his sword. The Hammerhead bears down on him and growls, just as the jukebox hops to life inside. Tom lets go and stomps inside. Wayne gasps for air.

A third of a mile away, Blinky is gathering dead grass. He’s pulling stuff up in a miniature prairie next to the Fuel King. He’s dancing with his woodland creature friends. He’s stooping over plants. He’s breaking pieces off a dead tree. He’s making a pile on the concrete. He’s opening the car door, and pushing in the lighter.

Scenes 37, 38 & 39

“Where is she,” demands Tom Thick. The bartender says, “Left a while ago, Tom. Hey, nice shirt.” He gestures at the Angry One’s Sucke Brothers Petroleum uniform top. “Where’d you get that shirt?” Thick Tom glowers at the guy. “Who was she with?” The bartender shrugs. “She was up on the restaurant side. I couldn’t see. I think she was alone.” Tom’s great head kind of vibrates and folds over on itself, he’s so mad. The man needs his wife. “I’m gonna find her. I’m gonna tie her to a sonofabitchin’ chair.”

The bartender says, “Take it easy now.”

Tom wheels and stomps. “Clown,” he says darkly.

Because even now the guy is unaware of the fake fire door trick, Tom goes back out the front door. He’s about to stomp over to the Deluxe when he notices a funny glow to his right, back toward the station. It’s very small, but bright.



Charlene is sliding up and down on Myron. It’s almost dark out. Myron’s all splotchy with excitement, and breathing through his nose.

She slips off, sits astride him and leans down to nuzzle and talk.

“You know,” she says in a murmur, “I have the funniest dream.” She runs her nose along his neck. “It’s not really a dream dream, though. Because it happens when I’m awake.”

“Hmmm,” replies Myron. “What happens. In your dream.”

“I have a vision.” She rears back for a moment, stressing the final word, pressing her arms to pooch out her boobs. Myron inhales and reaches up for her, but she takes his hands and pins his arms.

“In my vision,” she says, “I see the garage.” She’s working his neck at this point. “At the Fuel King.”

Myron makes a positive noise, on the order of “Uh-huh,” but less articulate.

“And I see my husband.”

The mention of Tom Thick interrupts the rapid relocation of Myron’s brain to his weiner, now fully underway. Zot! goes the message to Myron’s amygdala, the structure that manages fear and operates the klaxon horn. Myron’s eyes get big. Charlene, observing this, is quick to get the process reversed again, using a variety of procedures.

“Oh, Myron,” she says, and etcetera.

“Now in my vision,” Charlene resumes, “there’s a certain person in the garage. Mm-hmm. Working on a car. That’s right,” she continues, nuzzling and kissing him tirelessly. “And do you know what?” she adds. “That old garage door is down.”



“...Dumb bastard!”

Someone is shouting at Blinky. “Run! Run!” His eyes labor to fix on a figure in the dark. “You...stupid bastard!” The guy looks like Napoleon. He’s bellowing, and he smells like bourbon. “Get up!” Napoleon is hitting him with his hat. “Get up and run!” Blinky is conscious of warmth and light. His feet are scrambling under him.

Blinky is beginning to ask himself where this Napoleon guy gets off, but most of his brain is occupied by making his legs move. He’s traveling into the cold.

Wayne! he thinks, racing instinctively. Turning back, Myron sees the big man with the hammerhead thundering on to the scene. Sprinting like a wild man.

Scene 40

“And the car,” mumurs Charlene, “is running.”

Myron is beginning to get the plan.

She’s biting his chin. “Hnnn.


She’s nibbling his ear.

“What,” purrs Charlene, “do they call that gas?”

“That comes out,” intones Myron.

“Mm-hmm.” She’s massaging him like a pro. “It comes out. Of the car.”

“Mon. Oxide,” Myron says, breathlessly.

“It puts you to sleep, doesn’t it.”

Myron sucks in air.

She corrects herself. “Certain people, it puts to sleep.”

Myron is wondering about her interest in healing.

“Mm-hmm,” coos Charlene, not pausing for a moment.

“It’s just a little nap,” she breathes, “for Tommy Thick.”

She remounts Myron and moans.

“Do you think,” she asks, “that would be hard?”

She kegels him a good one.

“Hard to do, I mean.”

KABOOM! Myron climaxes.

“It wouldn’t be hard for you, baby!” groans Charlene. “Not for you!”

Myron growls in satisfaction. Grrrrrr!

Charlene slumps, giggling weirdly.

“You know I’m serious. Don’t you baby?”

Then, KABOOM! again.

And KABOOM! KAPOW! KABLAM KA BABABOOOOM! The room shakes. The glass in the sliding doors pops. Orange light pulses into the room. There’s a terrible rushing sound outside.

Charlene scrambles off Myron and out of the bed to the window. Myron pops his glasses back on and pulls himself along behind her. Their mouths are open. They’re staring past the cracked glass.

Half a mile away, flames are gushing from what used to be the Fuel King. Black smoke is billowing up. Charlene is breathing in and making noise. Sort of a klesping sound. Now she’s screaming. Myron is racing to get dressed. “Charlene!” he says sharply. “Get your clothes on!” Charlene is hitting him. “Tom!” she’s shrieking. “Tommy!” She’s clutching at herself and grabbing garments. “Taaahhhhmmm!”

The alcohol is wearing off.

Now they’re running full blast through the cold to the scene. Myron has forgotten his coat. He’s shouting for Blinky. He’s thinking about the Indian. He’s running toward the flames. Charlene’s four steps behind him, still shrieking.

Scenes 41, 42 & 43

The dead eye of the deer is full of firelight. The carcass shifts slightly, as the truck accelerates from a stop. The gears go back and forth. The deer trembles artificially. Now the animal’s hair starts to singe, and the fire in its eye gets bigger yet.



Myron races up to where he can barely stand it, 70, 80 yards from the fiery crater where the pumps used to be. He’s shouting for Blinky. Charlene is shouting for Tom. The crowd from the Star-Lite is tumbling out. The gush of flame is roaring like a train. The signpole is bent back, and the new plastic SBE Petroleum sign is melting off the top of it, like a burned marshallow falling off a stick. Shredded lottery tickets flutter in the air. Beer grenades and plastic motor oil bombs are going off. And it’s raining Buick parts.

Inside the remnants of the station, the little corn starch men are strewn about and fried to crisps. The fax machine is a pool of plastic and circuits.

Charlene is hysterical. She and Myron are trotting around the heat as best they can. Over the sound of Charlene and the fire and the exploding beverages, Myron hears a terrifying sound: whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb whobb. Right away, the guy knows what it is. He grabs Charlene and whirls her to face him. Shouting, he says, “Who was Tom selling the station to? Who!”

Whobb whobb whobb whobb. . . .

Charlene is sobbing and catching her breath. She’s making that weird klesping sound again. “To . . . the . . . Sucke Brothers!” she manages, just as the first of the copters sweeps low around the column of flame. It has “SBE, Ltd.” written on the fuselage.

“These are not,” Myron says loudly, “people who handle property damage well.”

The copters are swarming. They are beginning to strafe arbitrarily. Myron is scanning the landscape for any sign of Blinky. “I shouldn’t’ve left him,” he’s muttering again and again. He’s beginning to entertain the possibility that Blinky’s been atomized, or shot, when he notices another sound, this one lower and more percussive. Boom! Boom! He follows the sound to its source, and discovers, to his total amazement, Mad Anthony Wayne standing in the bed of a Ford pickup. The guy is firing an antique cannon. The copters are turning like angry wasps.

Some guy with a loudspeaker in one of the helicopters is reading from a prepared statement about the legitimate rights of the Sucke Brothers Petroleum Distribution Company and Sucke Brothers Enterprises, Ltd. to pursue legal remedies to the destruction of company property and, secondarily, the loss of corporate personnel.

A door from the Buick comes down with an awful thunk. Myron wheels around just in time to see Blinky’s head slowly rising from behind an overturned refrigerator. He’s scorched. Smoke is coming off his eyebrows. Little bits of his skin are gone. He’s like a red-spotted Blinky. Myron dashes over to him. “Blink!” he shouts. “Are you okay?!”

Blinky’s in shock.

Whobb whobb whobb. . . .

Myron is looking frantically for a way out. The copters are strafing Wayne.

Then, out of the flame and the fluttering debris, something--some animal?--emerges. Myron is squinting into the smoke. A magnificent three point buck trots out into the light. A copter swoops by. The deer takes a few steps, looks around, then picks its way over to Myron and Blinky. It stops for a second, snorts at Myron, then trots off in a direction away from the fire. It stops, looks back, then trots a little further. Myron is beginning to get the idea when a large orange truck pulls up just beyond the deer. It’s a Department of Transportation vehicle, a salt truck, the kind they use to salt the roads in the winter. Which it’s getting to be. Winter that is. Myron is really cold.

The buck walks around to the back of the salt truck and looks up at the gate. Myron grabs Blinky and hustles him toward the vehicle, staying low. They’re starting around toward the back, when Myron looks in the cab. Little Turtle is driving. He’s sipping on a cup of coffee and looking at a map.


Mad Anthony Wayne is bellowing into a manufactured wind of the copters. “You bastards! Come on and get me!” He’s lighting the cannon with a cigar. “Try this one on!” Rounds of machine gun fire rip across the bed of the Ford. BOOM! goes the cannon. He’s already bending down to get another ball. “Goddammit! Too low.” They swing around for another pass.

For a cavalry guy, Wayne is getting the hang of artillery pretty fast. “200 years,” he’s hollering. “200 years with that goddamn savage!” He’s trying to jack the cannon up, to get more loft. “Get down here, you cowards! You goddamn greedy Britishers!” He loads the next ball. The copter is swinging into position for a run. He’s holding the cigar off the taper. “You are my ticket out!”

The lead copter is bearing down on him. “Lower,” he’s coaching it, “lower . . . and fire!”

He jabs with his cigar. The stogie lights the taper, the taper lights the powder, the cannon erupts. Helicopter disappears in a fireball. KABLAM!

The guy with the megaphone stops talking.

Wayne is hooting and dancing.

A rocket from the second copter slams into the Ford. Kablooey. Annihiliates it.