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Chapter Eighteen

"Daughters of Lovely Lenexa"



    Complex imagery from Granny's verbage on ambillectuality filled my REM time. By late morning, with my eyesight only marginally better, I read twelve pages of Numbers to make up for not studying ten Bible pages the night before (20% late duty).
    After the usual morning rituals and several dried-out donuts, I headed up to Babylonic to see if my ambillectually ambitious brain might lend a helping hand. With the melted roads now slippery and the motorists probably still inedpt, Moses and I pounded the pavement, wondering how anybody not selfishly driven could label such metropolitan mayhem progress.
    On arriving at JR's impotent enterprise, I discovered Lucky had turned April onto some excellent Maui Wowee marijuana. Both were stoned out of their ever-loving gourds.

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     When April begged me for a screen test, I told her I had other things on my mind, but she should stop by Poor Richard's after she got straight. "Bring your forms over to my place where you can stay sober and we'll lay out some advertising for Babylonic."
    Squeezing her body in various places, April claimed she needed a steak dinner before she could do any heavy duty thinking. When I promised to have a big one waiting, she said she'd be over at eight that very night, then galloped clumsily out the door. Lucky followed.
    While he was gone, I tracked down his coke stash, diluted it with sugar, and thumbed through a couple merchandise catalogs. Lucky returned with some of JR's pizza and spaghetti for me, then dropped onto an unsold air mattress for a business nap.
    After consuming JR's Italian delights, which tasted suprisingly good, I returned the watch to Lucky and limped across to Ling's joint to get a couple fortune cookies for April's dessert. The 10¢ cookies were 99¢ for a Chinese Dozen, so I opted for the twelvesome. Beside the cash register, I noticed a miniature Statue of Liberty poised in a square ash tray of catsup and soy sauce.
    With a sober little smile, Ling claimed that very soon, like the Russians, all Orientals would be free. "But not befowe many pewish at Goddess of Democwacy's feet. Once Genie of Fweedom fly fwom bottle, nobody can put back."
    After wishing her people the best, I made my way back to PR's. I got my cantankerous Chevy cranked over and motored cautiously up to Smitty's Market on the Sante Fe Trail.
    The old-town grocery store smelt great. Its wooden fixtures and floors seemed to have permanently absorbed the friendly aroma of baked bread, simmering clam chowder, harsh green peppers, not to mention homemade sausage.

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     A kid with a skateboard asked the bulky grocer for his usual. "How about an extra big Joe's Special? Heavy on the mayo and onions."
    The grocer stood half a crusty baguette on end, then split it lengthwise with a razor-like downstroke. The kid applauded and the grocer adjusted his aquamarine sunglasses, then started to thin-slice a bermuda onion. He asked if he could help me, but didn't turn his head in my direction - appearing to be blind.
    When I asked if he was Herbie, he said he wasn't. "Blind Herbie's my kid brother. We both lost our vision when we were very young. I'm Smitty. You sound like the man who saved Granny from the two punks." He sliced on. "I'll be with you in just a minute."
    Spinning his skateboard's wheels, the kid told Smitty that he was sorry, that he never knew he was blind. "Gee Mr. Smitty, how d'ya fix such great sandwiches if you can't see?"
    The gastronomic wizard sniffed like a seasoned schnauzer. "I slice by sense of smell."
    I watched as he finalized the assemblage: slice after juicy slice of chicken bologna and turkey ham, hard salmon salami, provolone cheese, oily peppers, wafer-sliced tomato, and a tad of shredded lettuce. The generous gourmet topped it all off with a ton of raw onion and slapped soyonnaise on with a white wooden spatula. My mouth watered as he wrapped the so-called Joe's Special in recycled paper and drilled the tantalizing torpedo into the kid's open arms.
    Slapping down a couple coins, the kid told Smitty that he was the neatest. Rolling toward the door on his ball-wheeled board, the youngster yelled out. "Gee whiz, I wish a kid could have two dads."
    Looking straight ahead, Smitty sighed with satisfaction, then grimaced as he told me how nauseous he got whenever pink-haired punks wandered into his store. "Everytime I see one of the spoiled pinkies, I wonder if they're what my step-father Joseph died on Hamburger Hill for. What do you think?"

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     I said that I wasn't really sure. "But why would pink hair bother you? I thought you were blind."
    Like a kid caught in the cookie jar, he smiled and told me how he began treatments a year before and now saw just fine. "But my customers still feel uneasy around my open eyes, so I keep the act up. And I see them being themselves, more than ever before." Removing his sunglasses and shaking my hand, Smitty looked me straight in the eyes. "What's that nasty twitch in your right eye, David?"
    I told him that I got flour in it the night before. "Now I think it's just strained."
    Pulling an eye patch from his apron, he explained that the best treatment for any eye problem was rest. He belched and handed me the aquamarine patch. "Take it - just in case. It's an extra."
    After I thanked him, the innovative butcher massaged his not-too-trim midsection and said he didn't have two KC Strips at the moment, that some yellow-sweatered yuppie named Stanley just had him grind up all the strips for his poodles. "How's half a butcher's dozen Clone Steaks sound, guy?"
    I told him that two was enough, but he insisted on giving me eight. He said he'd butcher the Clone Steaks extra thick and in strips, so all I had to do was punch holes in them with a fork, marinate them in Worcestershire, and beat the hell out of them with a sledge hammer. "They'll pass for KC Strips anyday - to your girlfriend's uneducated eye, that is."
    When I asked if he had any inexpensive wine, Smitty explained that grocery stores in Kansas weren't allowed to sell intoxiants. "Much less detoxicants." Pulling a plain green sack from under the butcher block, he proudly unsheathed a hand-labeled bottle: GrandMOM's Peach Relixir.

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     Granny brewed it herself, so he said. "The old owl guarantees the stuff to be -160 proof, maximum. It's yours for a buck, plus tax of course." He claimed that if we didn't pay our taxes the system would never correct itself. "Granny says there's nothin' wrong with the basic sytem, just the assholes that screwed it all up and still run it."
    As I paid my tab, I looked a second time at the so-called detoxicant's label. "Why doesn't Granny just call her peach relixir Granny's instead of GrandMOM's?"
    Smitty smiled. "MOM stands for Matter Of Mind."
    When I asked if Granny happened to be around, Smitty said she was out west, cruisin' the Flint Hills in Proud Mary, but I could find her out back in the alley aboard the Hound Dog at midnight. "Any night save the Sabbath, knock three times and when the peep hole opens say: 'I'll take four pounds of rendered brains, please.'" Smitty wiped his hands on his apron, then shook my hand again, gingerly. "Nice to have you on our side, David."
    All the slippery way home, I wondered whose side was our side. Side of what? Killing my big block's magneto, I noticed the gas guage. Running on empty again. Laden with synthetic red meat, I climped upstairs and readied the feast. The better I wined and dined Miss Butler, the better her advertising rates, I hoped. So I punctured, marinated, and beat the hell out of four of the Clones, then tossed them into the oven on looooo - to promote tendernesssss.
    Stretched out on the back couch, I sampled one of the only nine cookies in Ling's Chinese Dozen, then settled into Theta-thought to ambillectualize JR's business strategy and other, more altruistic, endeavors.
    Two heavy knocks followed by two light taps stirred me sooner than expected. My Timex showed several hours had passed, though it seemed like a matter of minutes. With the help of Moses, I made my way out into the living room, opened the door, and rubbed my sore eyes at the tantalizing vison before me. Outfitted in satin tops, blue-jean miniskirts and abundant curves, April and a younger associate smiled seductively. I nudged the door shut as they stepped over the threshold.

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     Handing me a potted cactus, April introduced her kid sister, Stephanie, a college girl who looked just as physically fit as she did. "Just call her Stutterin' Step. All her college girlfriends in Columbia do. Step goes to P.U., a special girls school for social awareness."
    I set the potted cactus on the coffee table. As Steph set her school books beside it, I noticed her horn-rimmed glasses had no lens.
    When I asked what P.U. stood for, Steph started to stutter. "Pr, pr, pr, pri, prive, priv...."
    April interceded. "Priveleged University."
    I pointed Moses at the spindly plant. "Hey, thanks a lot girls. I always wanted a cactus to water."
    Claiming they found it on my stoop, April handed me a note that presumably came with it, then said she had another appointment at ten o'clock. "So let's eat some steak and get down to business. Doctor Lump says Step needs all the red meat she can eat."
    Steph's face lit up. "Th, th, tha, that's, ri, ri, right. Th, th, tha, that so, so, sounds, sooooo good."
    I asked April if she was referring to the Dr. Lump. "Dr. Lizabeth Lump, the St. Louis psychiatress?"
    April said that in her spare time Liz ran a chain of Missouri abortion clinics, that Step met Liz at the Priveleged University basement branch at Columbia where the notorious doctoress convinced her that an abortion was the solution for an unfortunate love affair. But things got worse after the abortion, April said. "Step started stuttering so she went into analysis twice a week in Lump's P. U. Suite."

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     As sister Steph smiled emptily, I opened the note that accompanied my adopted cactus. Mysteriously and anonymously, it simply said: With Love to Sweets. Water not until Spring.
    The girls swore they had no idea who it was from, so I mosied into the kitchen and finalized the meal.
    April called out for me to hurry, that she needed to leave before ten o'clock to earn money for Stephanie's sessions with Lump. After filling a trio of mugs with GrandMOM's Relixir, Moses and I delivered the meal aboard a banged-up old tv tray.
    Both girls dug right into the grub. Between big bites, April applauded my culinary prowess. "These are the best KC Strips we ever tasted."
    Still satisfied from JR's pizza and spaghetti, I watched the starving twosome consume the bulk of four battered Clone Steaks, one quarter of a butcher's dozen. Their dinner done, I gestured for Steph to come and stand in front of me.
    She seemed reluctant, but April coaxed her. "Go ahead. David won't hurt you, honey. He just wants to check out your heavenly bod."
    The privileged college girl smiled nervously. "O, O, Ok, kay." Cautiously, she got up and stepped over in front of me.
    I stood up and told her that I didn't want her to say a word, to simply shake her head yes or no to my questions. When I asked if she felt guilty about the abortion, she frowned and shook her head yes. I asked if she thought it was wrong when she did it and she shook her head no.
    I put my hand to Stephanie's shivering neck and told her to relax. "You were only doing what Doctor Lump told you was right, Stephanie. She's the one to be held accountable, not you. Close your eyes and feel the guilt flow from your neck and the light of truth shine in your heart. If you had it to do over again, would you listen to your own heart or to Lump's self-serving bullshit?"

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     As I removed my hand, Steph opened her eyes and spoke plainly. "I'd listen to my heart if I had it to do over again. My heart knew it was wrong."
    I took a deep breath. "You'll never stutter again, Miss Stephanie Butler."
    While the sisters hugged and cried with happiness, I told April that since her little plain-talking sister didn't need to see Lump anymore, she didn't need to moonlight. "You can devote your full attention to the newspaper business, thanks to Granny's monograph on ambillectual healing."
    Giving me a kiss, April grabbed her briefcase and followed Steph toward the bathroom, yelling out the twosome's intention. "We're in a real festive mood. We're going to do our double-gamete dance to demonstrate our mutual gratitude."
    I told them it wasn't necessary. To no avail.
    In a flash the well-lubricated pair was back with their own little ghetto-blaster and not much clothing. The amazing island girls began a most fertile ritual, belly dancing to the reggáe classic: "GONE FOR THE GAMETE!"
    Their sense of balance was totally uncanny. Spinning in dizzy circles, their desperate pelvic thrusts and deep squats worked muscles I never knew existed. Most definitely - two well-trained and highly tuned tuchises.
    I yelled above the tape player. "You don't need to put a show on just for me!"
    Bending over sharply but gracefully, April picked up the potted cactus and balanced it on her head. Rejoining her kid sister who hadn't missed a golden beat, April moved so fluidly the cactus didn't even quiver - until she jumped way too high.

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     The clay pot smashed into Poor Richard's ceiling and showered everywhere. When I turned off the music, young Steph belly danced on to her own gametic beat while her big sister helped me scoop the mess into an old news magazine.
    There it was - buried in the broken clay and dried dirt. A Tokyo Spyder. April saw it too. She seemed to know what it was and started to say something.
    Quickly covering her open mouth, I whispered into her hot ear. "It's a bug. A listening device."
    Her wet tongue whispered back. "A Tokyo Spyder. And I know where it came from."
    Dumping the mess into one of Walker's spare toilets, I purposely left the lid open and took April to my bedroom.
    When I asked how she knew where the bug came from, she claimed to have seen several in a motel suite. "The hermaphrodites' sister told me the things were called Tokyo Spyders." Reluctantly, Miss Butler confessed to posing for Brownie and Heinie Shicklegruber whenever their sister Lenore wasn't up to it. "They're the triplets I'm supposed to see at ten o'clock."
    I questioned why April pretended not to know the troublemakers in Ling's parking lot.
    She claimed she wasn't about to make it known that she associated with freaks. "At least not unclean ones like them. They got all upset when I said they'd have to give me an extra gold piece whenever one of their business buddies came along for the ride." Quite graphically, April went on to describe her bedroom duties at Hollywood's Inn. The sad scenario included shaved groins, hitleresque toupees and moustaches, Judeo-Christian religious garb - and every sexual perversion and penetration anatomically possible.

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     However - Miss Butler claimed that no one ever laid a hand on her wholesome body. "I promise, David. Not even the Raven Lenore, the cross-eyed dyke." April adjusted her tiny g-string. "I'll do whatever you want since you healed Steph."
    I told April to thank Granny for that, but that I would like her to continue to visit the sickheads. "Try to find out who they work for and what they're doing in Kansas. Any hint of their ultimate goal will be a big help."
    Wholeheartedly, April agreed to be my Personal Investigator. While she dressed for her date, I asked her to help me feed the neo-nuts some false information. After she agreed, I told her my present plan.
    Adjusting her underpinnings and smoothing her outer contours, April memorized the dialogue easily, then smiled erotically. "After our ploy, big boy, Steph wants to party with you all night. But I need to buy some partyhose up at Biff's then hustle my sweet buns over to Hollywood's."
    On the way into the living room, I told April to take Steph home.
    Little sister overheard and started to whine. "You want me to start stutterin' again 'cause you rejected me?"
    Gesturing for the collegiate to be quiet, I led April over to Walker's toilet and gave her the cue. "Honest, April honey, I just don't know all the details yet."
    April delivered her lines directly into the bugged bowl. "You said the lost Ark was buried somewhere in the Flint Hills. When will you remember exactly where so we can cash it in and party forever?"

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     "By the next Spring thaw - at the latest. You have my word."
    April sneered. "For your sake, you better not be lying. I got to get going. I have some good German friends waiting who know how to treat a real lady."
    Our skit done, I lowered the toilet lid easily, tossed a tarp over it and followed April to the couch where Steph lay in waiting.
    I told the young lady to get dressed and do her homework while I walked her older sister up to O. Henry's. "I'll give you an overdue lesson on self-respect as soon as I get back."
    She plucked at her anatomy and winked. "Whatever you say, teach."
    Opening one of the coed's books with Moses, I took April by the arm and left little sister to her own devices. Navigating the halls and stairways, I listened for anything suspicious, but heard only the usual crying baby, whining wife and bitching husband from #2FW.
    As we made our way to the Emporium, the breeze combed my hair straight back and I asked April if she thought her newspaper might swap advertising space for some of JR's pizza and spaghetti. She agreed to check on it, but said she mainly wanted to be my Personal Investigator. Suddenly, the wind reversed and snatched her long black hair forward. Like an ancient Egyptian sail, it billowed and drew us onward into the night.
    Inside the incandescent Emporium, she selected partyhose from a rear rack while I helped myself to a frozen cube of O. Henry's own charcoal-filtered rainwater w/kiwi juice.
    Rejoining her own tigress perfume at Biff's register, April handed me a key chain and said she'd walk up to Hollywood's. "Sister Steph will need the Corvette key to get home after you two tigers do the Gamete all night, Spartacus!" She paid Biff, smoothed her full belly and walked backwards toward the door. With Biff drooling, she winked. "Now that I'm David's P.I., Biff, you can call me Cleopatra too."

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     With Moses, I gave her the high sign as she danced off into the turgid night. After calming Biff down by telling him it was strictly a business affair, Moses and I made our way back through the mucky woods.
    Scraping mud from my boots onto the bottom landing, I heard something upstairs - buzzing. Scaling the last flight of stairs, I felt the door knob - vibrating. I opened up - there she was.
    In all her resplendent glory, the misquided coed appeared to be the consummate courtesan queen, replete with entourage of little electric androids. Twisted into a most undignified posture, Stephanie held a textbook between her quivering knees. A bevy of chromed plastic toys littered her polyester throne.
    In no uncertain terms, I told her to put the damn things away. "And get dressed right now."
    She said she was doing research. "About UFOs."
    I was growing impatient. "You need to be naked to study flying saucers?"
    Removing her lensless spectacles, she plopped her legs apart and held up the non-book: Ultimate Female Orgasms.
    Before I could react, a big fist banged at the door. "Open up, Police!"
    I recognized the voice of authority and reflexed. "Come on in. It's not locked."
    Entering, Walker looked at Steph and bowed. "Sorry to intrude, Miss..."
    The nymphette grabbed a handkerchief for cover and introduced her nasty self. "I'm just an innocent college girl."

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     Without removing his cap, Walker scratched his head and looked at me. "Are you using these rented premises to produce pornography?"
    Steph snarled. "Saint David here won't even defrock me."
    Clearing his throat, Walker explained that he didn't mean to interrupt a family squabble, but was on official business. "I have to mirandize you, David."
    Suddenly, Steph cried out that she had to leave. Grabbing her purse and books, she headed for the door, one of her lubricated nipples smearing Walker's chrome badge along the way. "Officer, I can't stand to see anyone get mirandized."
    Walker brandished his thermos at her, pointing out that she was totally nude. "That's a misdemeanor in Lenexa."
    She claimed she wasn't surprised. "But I'd rather be penalized than mirandized." I tossed her April's keys and she scampered down the hallway, naked as a jayhawk.
    Walker swung the door shut and asked what I did to the poor girl. When I told him that I helped her to stop stuttering, he seemed to believe me.
    After I gave him a few of Fanny's stale donuts, he started to dunk and got down to business. "You have the right to an attorn..."
    "I know my rights."
    Nodding, he asked if I really stole a motorcycle twenty years before and drove it into a St. Louis barbecue stand. "Missouri's computer says you did."
    I admitted the infraction. "But it wasn't my fault."
    Thumbing his radio, Walker requested a coffee break, then told me to think for a minute before giving my explanation. "This is for the record, David."
    But I wasn't about to tell him how I came to in the middle of a shock treatment and later that day made a break for freedom, punching out two orderlies and crashing through a glass door. My fellow Lenexans didn't need to know how I commandeered an unattended motorcycle and led three police cars on a wild chase over the streets and sidewalks of South St. Louis before finally wiping out into a barbecue stand. I recalled that even in my desperate state I took a second to savor the hot sauce all over me.

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     Squelching his radio, Walker licked his lips and said that St. Louis sure had great barbecued ribs. "No wonder they got such a high C.I.Q. Real red meat makes people aggressive. Pour hot sauce on it and they get crazy. Their Criminal Index Quotient jumps 18-20%."
    When I asked to know more, Walker emptied his thermos into his mug and dithered his head. He warned me not to try to distract him, that he knew no Jewish gentleman would harm a lady, intentionally. "But the Rodriguez kids discovered a girl's bicycle seat in the sewer outback and a blood-stained shirt wrapped around it." Walker opened his weathered notebook. "A yellow Marine Corps issue, like the sweatshirt you loaned one Miss Blanche Barnes - according to your own testimony last night, on or about 4:01 AM."
    I told Walker she left while I was asleep and never even came back for her miniskirt. "I still have it in the bathroom. I can't believe someone cut her up, though. She's a little slow, but so innocuous."
    Walker stood up and tightened his patent leather belt. "The lab boys say it's turkey blood all over the shirt. That's the only reason I don't have to arrest you."
    I told Walker about the two greaseheads that followed her up to O. Henry's and back, probably the same ones he chased off the parking lot for Dottie. "I heard they're staying at Hollywood's Inn."
    While Walker rubbed his empty mug like a crystal ball, I limped into the john and fetched Brandy's stiff miniskirt. As I turned it over to Walker for evidence, he agreed that I was mixed up in something big and wanted to help. "I'll post a personal watch outside Poor Richard's and check with my Russian cousin, Goldie Hollywood. She's the innkeeper Boris Hollywood's niece and night clerk."

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     As Walker moved toward the door, I started to collect the dirty dishes and reminded him not to forget about Daisie's Donuts, or my coat. "You'll really like Fanny."
    Smiling weakly, Walker holstered his notebook and shouldered his thermos. "Okay, bud. Keep your door locked and faith intact." Making a quiet exit, the enforcer marched steadfastly down the hall.
    Wondering whether the turkey blood on Brandy's shirt had anything to do with her "Tom the Talkin' Turkey" routine, I tossed Steph's plastic playthings into my portable electro-pulse-powered petro-deprocessor. Once upon a time, I had invented something very useful. No investor though.

    Extra early the next morning, I shook a leg up to Babylonic to recommend a marketing strategy. But Lucky Kane had bad news all around. It seemed that JR called while Mr. Kane was on the morning can and left a message with his wife.
    Lucky was near tears. "JR was afraid to tell me hisself. We're goin' bankrupt - tomorrow."
    I told L.K. not to worry, that I had a workable idea. Calling JR on the speaker phone, I outlined my ambitous plan. We could exchange the televisions and microwaves for a large commercial oven, two motorscooters, and a case of disposable pizza cutters, plus a couple portable CD players. After we traded the PG and R movies for old classics and new family films, April Butler would hopefully arrange for us to swap pizza and pasta for advertising space.

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     I described our modus operandi. "A delivery person on a motorscooter delivers a pizza and movie the first night. Two nights later, that same person picks up the movie and drops off some pasta - a second movie if it's a chain consumer."
    JR liked the idea. "But why the pizza cutters and disc players?"
    I explained that JR's pizza would be delivered unsliced. "While the delivery person demonstrates the complimentary cutter, Dean Martin will sing 'That's Amoré.' - Amoré Pizza, Pictures, and Pasta."
    After asking JR and Lucky to think about it over the Sabbath, I headed to Biff's for an ice cold Springer and a smoke - to celebrate the birth of an idea.
    Lipping my first smoke since summer, a denicotined Kansas Straight, I watched Biff wait on what appeared to be a large woman with overblown jugs, undersized hips, and a contrived voice.
    As she sashayed clumsily out with his last pair of Head Pins, Biff set the record straight. "It was one of them Missouri tranvestibules."
    In the middle of our discount banter about how, for every thousand misfits that drag us down, there could be one that lifts us up, Biff's face went blank.
    He told me not to turn around. "Your Shitlermobile is out on my lot right now."
    I pulled out my wallet and put on the patch Smitty had given me - just as the front door swung open and the Rodriguez kids scrambled in, crying. I knelt beside Moses and asked what was wrong. Sally squealed something about two nasty men talking dirty.
    Danny said the freaks were scary. "We don't want to end up on a milk carton, Mister. Ain't you the mister with the pinball machine who lives upstairs from us?"

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     I nodded and offered to walk them home. After Biff gave them maple suckers, we walked outside. Shitler was gone. As we rounded the corner, though, the chickenheads came into view. They let out a shrill cat call and the Rodriguez kids scurried off toward the Kill Creek sewer.
    As I approached, the misfit in the passenger seat pointed at me. "Eine Kindermadchen!!"
    Having just called me a nurse maid, he and his pal giggled as I limped up to the brown ragtop and banged Moses on their rear bonnet. "What do you piss-ants want?"
    The cross-eyed passenger shrugged his narrow shoulders and pretended not to speak English. The one-eyed driver rubbed the tip of his butthole buddy's cigar. "Lichte, bitte?"
    When I tossed my smouldering butt into his lap, he calmly transferred it to the overflowing ashtray and pulled a gold lighter from his wrinkled vest. Scratching the scar where his right eye once was, he started to laugh. "Der Jude haben keine Geld für uns."
    I told them how it was. "I think your jack-off fathers got enough gold bullion from my peoples' teeth in Treblinka." Calmly, I ripped open Shitler's rotten top with Moses, then reached in to strangle the driver's slimy neck, hooking the passenger's neck with Moses in the mean time.
    Before I could eliminate anyone, though, the passenger pulled a Luger from the glove compartment and brandished it in my direction, laughing. Poking Moses into his ear, I jumped halfway into the car and wrestled his hand. In short order, his arthritic wrist snapped. As I pressed the pistol to the driver's head, his mouth opened and eye closed. Quickly, I unscrewed the loose silencer, stuffed it in his toothless mouth, and discharged my anger (and the greasy gun) through the windshield. Tossing the weapon under the trash bin, I collected Moses and crawled out of the backseat.

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     But the driver hadn't had enough. He opened his eye wide and cocked his crooked arm for martial artwork. "Karateee, Ich sage!! Karateee!!"
    I reflexed. "No Jewdough??" Slugging him in the jaw with a hard left, I hurt my wrist as much as his face. I belted him again and again - until a siren wailed and a polished K-9 police patrol bounced to a nearby halt.
    A redheaded officer slipped out, sheathed her nightstick and led her bald-headed doberman over. "What's up, boys? Biff reported a gunshot."
    As the Shitlerites mumbled German, I knocked off their putrid Panama hats and directed my comments to the healthy police woman. "It must have been a backfire, Officer."
    Checking Heinie Shicklgruber's license, she directed her comments to the still-bleeding bastard. "You best get Kansas operators' licenses unless you want me to sic my good dog Ike on you and your brother Brownie."
    When she directed Brownie to open the glove box, he suddenly spoke butchered English. "Yie haven no search varrant."
    She slammed her nightstick into the dash. "Yes I do." The box popped open and she pulled out a bundle of gold-label Diablos cigars. "I should turn you two creeps over to the FBI or Interpol. These Cuban cigars are illegal contraband." She flopped quiet Ike's ears and cleared her bedroom larynx. "What about this hole in the windshield, gentlemen? A rock from a neighbor's lawnmower, I guess?"
    I grabbed the silencer from the dash and tossed it in the sewer. "The lawn mower must have had a loose muffler."
    Winking at me, the police lady told the screw-eyed worms to get out of Lenexa. "Furthermore, if you don't take a serious shower before you come back, I'll scrub you myself - in formaldehyde over at the Hotel Rigor Mortis."

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     I petted Ike as the scud-buckets started their unbalanced motor and vibrated away.
    As soon as they were out of sight, the policelady removed her cap and let down a long flow of thick hair. "Walker asked me not to move in. That's why I didn't make a bust, David." Her soft brow furrowed for recognition.
    It was the marvelous Margot Morningstar, disguised - but alive and well. Elated, I dragged her behind O. Henry's and renewed our acquaintance.
    Shortly, after catching her heavenly breath, she described how she escaped from her kidnappers and was now working the beat to hopefully get a lead on what happened to Menachem and Judy. "This red hair and these artificial freckles are enough to fool the Swizzlebrains." She tucked her white blouse into her blue velvet skirt. "So Danu, what sort of short-range skulduggery do you think the little neo-chickens are up to?"
    Adjusting my patch, I told her I wasn't sure, right then and right there. "In the long run, though, it's got to be their same old misguided dream of world domination."
    Morning rubbed Ike's cue-ball scalp. "Our asylums are already overflowing with would-be hitlers and false Messiahs."
    "I know." I swallowed deeply. "Isn't it a beautiful day though?"
    Swiping smooth waves of vermillion hair from her temple, Morningwonder's voice softened. "How about a big beaker of black coffee and a giant ice-cream honey roll?"
    I needed to save my last two dollars for gas; I remembered my appointment for justice with Rabbi Green was on Monday. "I just had a whole Paupers Pizza, Morningstar."

end page 327

     Kissing me hard, she buried my hand in her bosom and whispered that she would see me in the days to come. Telling Ike to heel, she led him down the shadowed alley.
    Watching Lenexa's most wonderful daughter and dedicated dog stroll into the secondhand sunshine, I wondered for an instant whether she knew about her stallion Hope, then called out. "When my boat comes in, I'll buy you every donut from here to Abilene. Dinner too!"
    As her Scout churned dutifully away, Ike licked his side window and my vision went double. All the way to the public park, I recalled simple verse, streams of running words that wash one's soul of worry.
    Knowing Morningsoul was safe and sound, I thought that love sure is a wonderful thing. It turns your world into one sweet dream, takes your heart and makes it sing.

end chap 18



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