Editorial Prelude
(From Freedom To America)

We now supposedly know that well over one daez, or two thousand years, before the dawn of Christianity, seven Twolaen travelers from a Starsystem named Freedom came to Earth onboard StarFlight Salvation and we also supposedely know that one of their crew, Survivalist Hista, volunteered his soul to the devil and the spread of his selfish and greedy curse and course.

Millennia later, David Daniels, unemployed and confused but well-intentioned engineer from Kansas, is to uncover enough of Hista's evil to rescramble his own sense of reality.



Chapter One
Dinner In Kingdom City

The roadway still swelters in the late summer afternoon as David Daniels rolls down the highway of the living again. Eastbound on I-70, David is approaching Kingdom City, Missouri, when his recently overhauled motor stops running for no apparent reason. A mysterious Mercedes motorcoach, The Empire Express, nearly rear-ends David before he's able to swerve to a stop.

Unable to work on his car with all the traffic flying by, David asks a raunchy road worker named Joe Stahlings to help him push his Chevy off the shoulder. But, before the anorexic bolshevik agrees to help, he swings his rusting sickle high into the air to slay a helpless garter snake. David intercedes, and the two of them fight frantically over the destiny of the homeless reptile,

Victorious in the end, David tucks the snake under a lonely bush, ordering Mr, Stahlings to beat his spear back into a pruning hook.

Disgruntled, Joe nevertheless helps David push his vehicle down an adjoining cul-de-sac toward a decrepit construction trailer.

An old gentleman named Mena Menachem invites David inside the miasmic dwelling, Mysteriously, Mena tells David he's been waiting for him. Outfitted in biblical robe and sandals, Mena reclines in an easy chair and chats with David about his friend from over a century before, Sir A. Conan Doyle, and about an ancient Athenian vase called "The Olive Harvest."

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David doesn't know what to make of it, especially when the old guy asks about David's departed grandparents and comments on his aborted Bar Mitzvah. Though Mena looks vaguely familiar, David doesn't remember having ever met the man before.

Not long after Mena begins to chant in Hebrew from microfiche of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a young girl in black leathers dances into the disheveled room, listening to heavy metal music on oversized headphones. Sadly, Mena introduces David to the feline, his distraught granddaughter Judy.

"The old geezer said you was comin'," Judy snarls, then begins to dancingly pump in place, exposing her post-pubescent breasts.

The display brings sad memories to David and he seeks sanctuary outside. David has seen Judy's kind, and far worse, before, at Farmingdale, the Missouri State Hospital.

Menachem, sporting a walking stick of biblical proportion, joins David in the gravel drive to console him. Together, they proceed around the side of the trailer to a redwood picnic table where the old gentleman's delinquent granddaughter brings them coffee.

Judy's sarcasm turns to understanding as David unfolds a twenty year ordeal he's just endured: a medical fiasco of abusive analysis, experimental drugs, batteries of shock treatments, and eventual internment in the State Screwball Sanctuary...to cover up the malpractice of one Dr. Lizabeth Lump, a closet geriatric dominatrix.

After David's burden is lightened, Mena asks Judy to prepare a feast. Walking slowly around front, Mena tells David that he must now begin again, pick up where he left off two decades before, nurture himself, for no one else will. When David mentions suing the manufacturer of the particular drug which had subdued him for so long, Mena advises caution, noting that Hista himself may be an executive of the neo-Nazi conglomerate, Pyre Pharmaceuticals of Tennessee, producer of the widely used drug Nullium.

Inside, with the help of a cosmic Time Base Modulator, young Judy has completely refurbished both the mobile home and herself in but a matter of minutes, Mena tells David his visit has greatly accelerated her recovery, and the three of them feast on Vegetarian Chicken loaded with Garlic, while Menachem splashes himself with enigmatic Chaz cologne and offers David scriptural lessons on life and spiritual immortality.

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After they consume an entire kettle of Oolong Tea, Judy tells David about Miss JoAnn Morningstar, a good friend of theirs who washes cars in Boca Raton, Florida...and David thinks it a strange coincidence that he is on his way to pick up his parents' car in St. Louis and drive it to Delray Beach for them, only a few miles from Boca Raton.

Mena begins to chant again, hypnotizing David with a magic Egglace. On awakening, David discovers a splotch of dried blood above his brow, and Mena complains he was forced to jumpstart David's Mola for the second time in the 20th century. When David wonders what Mola means, Mena easily reads his mind and informs David that Navigatress Fela will soon be in touch and tell him about his unigue Mola.

After Judy sings "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" beside a magic lantern on the porch, Mena reminds David to tell Morningstar, the car wash mistress, that he is one of the crew. He also tells David to stop by on his way back from Florida to look at their plans for a new city and, in the mean time, to keep an eye peeled for the fat, curly haired Hista.

Finally, the old gentleman suggests to David that his car has most likely fixed itself, and, sure enough, David's aging muscle machine fires right up.

"See you at The Return," Menachem bellows as David departs, and, more confused than ever, David continues toward his parents' Mock Club mansion in St. Louis.


Chapter Two
Tri-County Histarical Society

Still not totally adjusted to sleeping sans drug, David hopes aloud not to have a nightmare, says a soft prayer for Judy, and drifts off on the deodorized and perfumed couch in the his St. Louis family's so-called family room.

David's sleep, blessed with the vision of a heavenly woman named Fela who welcomes him home to a pastoral Land of Milk and Honey, is rudely interrupted by his pork-chop father growling like an old hog that just missed his last turn in the communal mud hole.

After touring his parents' antiseptic dwelling and, for the first time, realizing that it's not a home at all, David erases pop's porno collection and jockeys the family Cadillac east. Sandwiched between the Gateway Arch and St. Louis stockyards, David contemplates the past, present, and future of all living things, including the seemingly mundane Huckleberry Finn.

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Well into his journey and coming upon the Nashville "Next Exit" sign, David recalls in lucid detail how an angry mob nearly lynched him two decades before. He'd been visiting his Uncle Izzy in Clark City, Tennessee, when someone wrecked his hot rod, knowing Arnold Hussein's Aswan Auto Salvage to be the only place in the Tri-County area where David could get wholesale body parts to fix it.

That evening, at a cocktail party in the Pyre Place's antebellum ballroom owned by Martin and Xandria Pyre, David was given an "Israel Must Live" pin for his jacket. The next morning, he headed toward Dickson for the discount car parts. Mislead by tampered roadsigns, he flipped his car into a dusty ravine alongside St. David's Field and fell into the anti-Semitic hands of the Tri-County Histarical Society (who just happened to be driving a brand new Mercedes bus donated by Martin Pyre) and narrowly escapes their noose.

Returning from memories of the past to the reality of the present, David wonders if he had indeed, so long ago, been set-up by the mysterious Hista that Mena had mentioned just the day before. After a short nap in a Georgia rest area, David discovers a $1000 coupon on his windshield, inviting him to a "Birthday Blast at Moammar's Giant Fireworks Outlet" near Dalton.

On the way to the establishment, David reflects how his Uncle Izzy used to always come to St. Louis with fireworks for the Fourth of July, an important family day, considering David's parents had been honeymooning at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed in the late fall of '41, and his older sister Victoria was born on July 4th of '42. David missed becoming a celebrity himself by only two days, born on August 16, 1945, two days after World War II ended. Better late than never??

Anyway, his family reminiscing done, David follows the makeshift signs to Moammar's. Around the side of the Pyre Technical Institution, David spots a nasty brown, ragtop VW and the same battered "Empire Express" bus which nearly backsided him in Missouri. After a closer inspection of the vehicle, he concludes it to also be the Histarical Society's aging relic. Realizing he's being set-up again, David decides to play it out. Limping horribly from kicking the tire of his Chevy when it quit running near Mena's, David enters the concrete warehouse. Yassir, Moammar's Camel-smoking proprietor, exchanges monopoly money for David's coupon and tells him that plenty of drugs and party girls await his pleasure in the back room.

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David stalls for time to think, and when he asks Yassir if Moammar's handles the big stuff, he's referring to things like M-80's and Cherry Bombs. But Yassir proudly displays a real manly steamer trunk of grenades, plastic explosives, and other instruments of terror. David tells the nervous Arab he wants to buy twenty canisters of nerve gas, but needs to go to the bank to get the cash wired from Kansas.

Yassir falls for the ploy, and, on the way out to his car to supposedly drive and get some cash, David hears a helicopter approach. Backing out slowly, David sees the chopper land on the roof and yells to Yassir that he shouldn't smoke around all the fireworks and hot asphalt. Purposely sideswiping Yassir's jet-black BMW, David takes off in a cloud of burning rubber after a fat, ugly man with curly red hair emerges from the building and bludgeons Yassir with a pair of chromed Lugers for letting David get away.

At a not-too-distant payphone, David is dialing the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, when he feels the ground quiver and turns quickly around to see Moammar's joint go up in one gigantic blast.

David is satisfied that justice has been well served and proceeds through downtown Atlanta where he's forced to fend off a gang of skinheads with a roman candle he got for free at Moammar's Birthday Blast.

Still pondering the plight of the Georgian poor, David secures a cheap room for the night at the EZ Motel. Before going to sleep, he calls Kingdom City and tells Mena his memories of Martin Pyre from Tennessee and describes how the same man just tried to tempt him with promises of free fornication and other explosive things.

When David describes an SOS logo he spotted on the chopper's underbelly, Mena tells him it's the mark of the Supreme Order of the Swizzlestick, one of Hista's organizations. David asks why Hista didn't bother him for so many years, and Menachem explains, "You were no great threat to his kind with your spirit swimming in the drug Nullium."

David bangs up his hip on a hard mattress and turns off the makeshift lamp, but the multi-colored liquor sign which bleeds through the moldy sheet over the window reminds him of that first night at Farmingdale, and his introduction to its infamous "Conduct Lights."

Finally, David finds sleep and drifts off to the Land of Milk and Honey. As hostess Fela introduces him to her two shapely daughters, Sola and Sidra, a hammering comes to David's motel door.

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An old nightmaid named Betty toddles in and explains her twin-sister Mary Smith's MOP theory. When David asks if she's the Fela that Mena had mentioned, the curmudgeon scoffs with a coy smirk, "I know I ain't exactly no Jeanette Harlow, but do I really look like a fella?"

After steering David to a cane someone orphaned in the hallway, Betty delivers a dissertation on destiny and providence and tells David to say hello to Mary. Mary just happens to be the librarian in Lenexa, Kansas, David's hometown. Additionally, so Betty says, Mary Smith runs a new neon casino on wheels, "The Hound Dog."

At 3:00 AM, David bids Betty good night, and, with the help of the adopted cane, makes his way down to the Seville, only to discover its wire-wheeled hubcaps have been swiped. Not in the least dissuaded from his mission, David continues south, hoping there is a very special promised land just waiting for old timers like nightmaid Betty.


Chapter Three
Morningstar's Hope

Twenty hours later, David finally arrives at his folks' brand new condo in Delray Beach, Florida. Following a difficult night of sleep amidst all its glitz, David hurries to the airport to meet the Sunbird Express from St. Louis, After dumping his over-tranquilized parents back at their Sir Loin Estates, David dutifully proceeds toward Boca Raton to have the family canoe washed.

Down at the south end of Alaska Boulevard, behind the Valdez Exxon station, exactly as Menachem had said, David finds Miss JoAnn Morningstar basking in the sun beside a tiny aquamarine work trailer. David is enthralled with her gilded youth and asks the Navajo maiden to wash and wax the car, then polish its chrome...all in order to maximize his time with her. While the athletic lady works away in a clingy swimsuit, they discuss everything from the recovered Ark of the Covenant to the fact that she attended high school in St. Louis before returning home to Arizona.

Hoping to earn JoAnn Morningstar's affections on his own terms, David doesn't tell her that he knows Menachem and Judy. After paying JoAnn for the services she so splendidly rendered, David invites her to dinner at a nearby artificial seafood buffet on the beach. But, when she suddenly runs into the trailer without an answer, David concludes he's scared her off, But just as he is about to drive away, Morningstar reappears, stuffs a folded note in his shirt pocket, then vanishes again.

Back at the condo, David unfolds the note and is surprised to discover it concerns, of all things, ousting world dictators while his present mission is more just like trying to get through the day without losing his sanity. David is further confused when he rides with his parents to bingo that night and they're almost rear-ended by the same VW ragtop he'd seen alongside Moammar's fireworks joint.

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After fetching refreshments for mom and dad, David returns to the parking lot and stretches out on the Caddie's hood under the southern stars. From nowhere, JoAnn pulls up in a battered blue Camaro, telling David she's been waiting for him all evening. David has no idea what she's talking about, but asks if it has anything to do with ousting dictators. Frustrated and sad, Morningstar tells David to read the other side of the note and races off in a cloud of oiled smoke and burned rubber.

After declining a round of ice-cream pancakes with his parents, David hurries into their Sir Loin Estate, retrieves the Morningstar's note from his shaving bag, and inspects it again. On the reverse side, it says plainly: "Meet me at the abandoned express office outside Vero Beach, any Tuesday an hour before sundown,"

The following Tuesday, after seven days of boring aggravation, David stops at Shloyman Brothers' delicatessen on the way to his tryst with Morninstar, but is shaken when he spots a Nazi serial number tattooed to the knotty forearm of his waitress, Sarah. As he's leaving, Sarah tells David she's been waiting a long time for him to come. David has no idea what in heaven's name she's talking about. Maybe he met her somewhere before but the shock treatments erased the memory of it, he thinks.

As destiny will further have it, David runs into his retired Uncle Izzy outside the deli and is given lessons on American Jewry, parents, and justice. Additionally, David discovers from Uncle Iz, Martin Pyre just moved from Clark City to Kansas City in January. David bids his uncle adieu, limps over to the Caddie canoe, and hurries toward his pre-sundown rendezvous.

When he asks an old Cuban named Ricky for directions to the Vero Beach hideout, David notices the Latino is riding an American Flyer bicycle with a fender sticker that says: "F__K FIDEL!"

Finally, at precisely one hour before sunset, David comes upon his destination, a vast and beautiful savannah, with JoAnn galloping around bareback and nude on her good stallion Hope. Inside Miss Morningstar's cozy abode, David is told the story of Stone, a gallant Navajo brave and hero. After much talk of the heavens and the future, JoAnn heals David's injured hip with an ovular amulet that dangles from an Egglace similar to Menachem's.

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As they walk rings around her abandoned office like beachcombers on the sands of time, she tells David that he, too, once had an alabaster egglace. Both their spirits and Menachem's were born, so she says, in the garden of Twola on the distant planet Edom in the Paradise Starsystem, thousands of years before.

David assumes the story to be a milarkish adjunct to the well-known Navajo origin tale, but still can't explain how his hip has been healed. In the soft silt, Morningstar draws seven stars to represent the seven crew members. One, the fallen star of Hista, is darkened and hangs below the others.

"Only the Captain of StarFlight Salvation can heal your hip permanently," Morning whispers to David as they lay on her blanket, preparing to share the pleasures of the flesh.

But their time together is to be terminated by macabre laughter and the faltering return of JoAnn's horse, falling at Morningstar's feet. Hope appears to be poisoned.

David dashes for the eastern horizon, toward the heinous laughter, only to see the same dirty-brown VW speed south into the Everglades. Turning back to the west, he sees JoAnn gallop toward the opposite horizon on her apparently healed horse Hope.

The boredom of the following weeks is lifted only occasionally by diminishing memories of his passionate meeting with the maiden. On two consecutive Tuesdays, David returns to the abandoned express office but. finds no trace of JoAnn. On the third Tuesday, David discovers someone has burned down the abode, butchered the stallion Hope, and burned an SOS into its forehead. David reverently buries the disfigured equine in a very shallow grave, then combs Indian River County for Morningstar...in vain.


Chapter Four
Baghdad and Moses

Back in Boca Raton, David finds JoAnn's carwash trailer gone and her aquamarine chaise lounge in the oil-soaked gully alongside Alaska Boulevard, twisted into a ball.

David continues the search for several days, until his parents fly back to St. Louis and lock him out of their condo in the process. Low on funds and forced to abandon the search for the time being, David phones Menachem before driving north.

After he tells the old gentleman of the horse Hope's fate, Mena says that Morningstar called just the day before and said she would stop in Kingdom City for a short visit. Menachem invites David to stop by on his way back to Kansas to look at the test borings for their new city, but David becomes impatient and says he's ready for the whole story. However, just as Mena begins the revelation, the line goes dead...and when David calls back, he gets only an ominous busy signal.

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Returning to the road north, David drives nonstop for over twenty hours before taking a break. The only establishment open for miles either side of Marion, Illinois, appears to be a Gas and Eats. Unbeknownst to David, a jet-black Porshe driven by The Raveness (the feline of the Schicklgruber triplets who drive the crappy brown VW), has been tailing him since he left Florida.

Inside the ascetic eatery, David phones Menachem one more time, only to get connected with a high-tech answering machine. After leaving the phone number of the cafe, David drops into a vacant booth for coffee.

The only other patrons in the restaurant are a big gaudy dude reprimanding a gaunt little girl, and a friendly waitress with flaming-red hiair. Upon receiving a cellular phone call, the sweaty drug pusher, whose name happens to be Little Baghdad, pretends to be Jewish and spikes David's coffee with cocaine. When David discovers the deed, he beats the crap out of Baghdad and heads for the highway, his cranium still racing from coke.

Continuing cautiously toward St. Louis, David can't help but painfully recollect the time his father's alcoholic heart doctor, Rudolph Cupp III, cancelled his prescription for Jitterlin without warning and landed him in the psycho ward.

Dropping the Cadillac off at the Mock Club in St. Louis, David has a belated breakfast with his parents and is told there will be no loan to restart his quasi-creative video production business. Furthermore, when David asks his mother if she knows anything about a white egg on a gold necklace, she yawns and says maybe it's with all the junk they shipped to Florida; but she can't swear to it. The family brunch is interrupted by a visit from neighbors, Ronald and Leona Frump, so David cranks up his Chevy and heads west.

Outside Kingdom City, David isn't surprised to discover Mena's trailer has disappeared. Only an ultra-aryan construction worker named Kirk Waldheim remains at the site. He shovels dirt from one well into another, then reverses the process...endlessly into eternity.

Just past Columbia, David spots Mena's walking stick in the median, and stops to look. Nearby is a candlestick with an inspirational note from Judy stuffed into it and a mud-covered construction sign. But, before David can kick the caked mud off the sign, a highway patrolman hurries him on his way.

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Lenexa never looked so good, David thinks as he runs out of gas less than a block from his Kansas home. Broke, David swaps some mopping at O.Henry's Emporium for three out-of-date poorboy sandwiches. After putting two of the rubbery snacks in the microwave, David tells Biff, owner of the convenience store, someone should make 'Thou Shalt Not Be Selfish' the eleventh commandment.

The microwave buzzes, just as Biff quips, "Whatever you say, Moses,"

After testing Mary Smith's MOP theory of the mind out on Biff, David collects his things from his Chevelle and pushes through the mud to his third-floor enclave at Poor Richard's Apartment House.

A potted cactus, with the small note, "To Sweets With Love," attached, awaits his arrival on the welcome mat. Confused, David props the construction sign up in the shower to rinse it off and is quite surprised to see what lurks under all the muck: Welcome to New Jerusalem. Wondering what it's all about, David, too, takes a quick shower, then crashes on the sweat-stained couch beside his impotent video equipment,

"God,' he gasps, "it's good to be alive again," Closing his eyes easily, he hopes to hear the evensong of the land promised so long ago...the Land of Milk and Honey.



Chapter Five
Out At The Park

David's dream of a snowy holiday with Sola and Sidra is rudely interrupted by a midnight visit from Raven Finance, a collection agency. Ms. Lenore S., their cross-eyed operative, threatens David. Unless he immediately pays an overdue hospital bill of $20,000, her higher-ups, who have just purchased St. Luke's Hospital and re-christened it St. Adolf's, will be forced to seize his video equipment.

As Lenore Schicklgruber zooms away, David peers out the balconette window at her polished-black Porsche and concludes she's the very same Raveness who tailed him from Florida.

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Long before dawn, David installs an HMS (Hydraulic Mop Squeegee) at 0. Henry's Emporium for gas money, takes a video camera to Leon's Loan Office, a downtown pawn shop, then buys the necessary carpentry supplies to hide his bedroom door behind a false bookcase. Additionally, David asks his kindly landlady, Dotty, to advise anybody who might query his whereabouts to say that he's moved back to Missouri.

Living as a hermit with his video equipment in the back room, David quietly consumes dented can goods while listening to the anti-Semitic jokes that Lenore and her teutonic siblings, Brownie and Heinie, crack out in David's barren living room when they come to check on his whereabouts semi-weekly. David finds some comfort in the form of a dusty yearbook, The Lincoln Log. A picture of senior-prom queen Susan Cole, his unrequited love, sparks memories and mixed feelings of many years before.

Finally, determined to find the funds to satisfy at least some of his teenage dreams, David visits Leo Leonard, a Kansas Attorney, and fills him in on the details of the medical fiasco which cost most of his adult life. Barrister Leo, in tears, tells David that the only thing more tragic than his past medical plight would be if the law were unable to award him appropriate recompense.

After Leo's pithy secretary, Delilah, makes an appointment for David with a young specialist in Missouri law, Mr. Scott Green, David drives to Veteran's Park to nap under an old oak tree, optimistic that justice will indeed prevail.

A bunch of kids on noisy dirt bikes remind David of the first time he went in search of a promised land and found Mr. Sam Cohen instead.

Fresh out of the Marines, David was on his way from St. Louis to California when his motorcycle ran out of gas crossing Boulder Dam, late at night. Two girls, pretending to be Nevada co-eds, Rhonda and Donna, came to his rescue and led him to their uncle's amusement complex, Puberty Park. Mr. Sam the Crippled Man, a WWII Marine, after testing David's courage with a loaded .45, described how he left some of his manly anatomy on the beaches of Iwo Jima. While Rhonda and Donna showered, Mr. Sam discussed discipline and sacrifice with David.

However, something was horribly wrong, Mr, Sam and his nieces hinted, wondering why David didn't know about The Return. Mr. Sam displayed a magic egglace and queried whether David had one. When David had no idea what the seasoned veteran was talking about, Donna said mysteriously that some things must simply take longer than others, not realizing David's alabaster egglace had been confiscated by his own parents.

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The curious subject laid to rest for the time being, a mystical bird named Cyrus led the foursome out into the Big Top for a private stage show. While Mr, Sam pounded the electronic synthesizer, Rhonda and Donna performed the magnificently choreographed dance of an unfeathered eagle.

After the show, back in Mr. Sam's humid office, the group drank almond schnapps and listened to Mr. Sam explain his plans for a Magic Carpet, an anti-gravity blanket

David was impressed to no end by the old salt's technical wizardry but bilked when invited to drop down an electrified timewell to some surrealistic world called Hotel Vegas. After the well-oiled girls jumped into the pit's vertical laser beam, Mr. Sam attempted to explain that David was already standing in the time-warp of the clear hole and possibly his reluctance was caused by a precognizance of some unpleasant encounter with cranial electricity in the future. Ordering David to stop at Puberty Park when he's in the neighborhood again, the boxer-shorted crippled man dove into the Nevada timedrop himself.

A bright light flashing in David's eyes brings him back to the here-and-now. It's the flashlight of a Kansas ranger at Veteran's Park, checking to make sure nothing's wrong. David assures the patrolman that everything's kosher, then cruises back to Poor Richard's to clean up for a night on the town. Some free grub and a friendly game of pool at the Goodtime Grill in Merriarn is just what the doctor ordered (to prematurely celebrate the fruits of his pending lawsuit against Drs. Cupp and Lump).


Chapter Six (Goodtimes Again)

Anything but fine food or a good time awaits David; his favorite non-alcoholic grill now goes by the name of The Goodtime Bar. After standing in a long line of beer-guzzling skinheads and micro-skirted partay girls chewing croke, David displays the VIP card he earned by videotaping a wedding for the previous owner. When Deacon, the doorman, tells David that Bishop sold the grill to Pyre Entertainment for $250,000, David tries not to speculate whether anyone would really spend that much money just to aggravate him. He doesn't dare fall victim to DOG (Delusions Of Grandeur).

Following a less-than-warm discussion with the sultry barmaid, Silk, over why a Virgin Mary costs more than a Bloody Mary, David uses his cane to cut a path through the smog of sweat and bullshit.

Over at a wobbly table beside the warped pool table in front of the fake fireplace, David joins his former fellow patient from the miserable Missouri State Hospital at Farmingdale, Junior Jones, and his current sidekick, Lucky Kane. JR tells David that his and Lucky's fledgling business, Babylonic Appliance and Video, is doing poorly and they might have to torch it for the insurance money. David just finishes talking JR and Lucky out of the misdeed when a pudgy girl pent on self-destruction struggles atop the pool table and starts a desperate striptease.

end page #12

"I'm not very pretty, but I gotta get down," she cries out, repeatedly, as the crowd chants her on and her garments drop off.

Using his cane as a crowd prod, David comes to her rescue, falsely promising to get down with her. Off in the lunchroom alone, David gives Cassey Kinsey a lesson on self-worth, contrary to what Madison Avenue has taught her. When Cassey gives him a small kiss of thanks, David can't help but think about Kathy, the juvenile-delinquent he failed to keep from jumping off the Farmingdale water tower years before.

Back at tableside, David soberly tells JR and Lucky that he'll pay Babylonic a visit and see if he can figure a legal way out of their red ink. Big Brandy, a one-time nurse's aide at Farmingdale and now assistant cocktail waitress at Goodtimes, finishes dumping the melted ashtrays into the false fireplace and informs David that she has a very special girlfriend named Carol who she wants him to meet.

In no mood for romance, very special or otherwise, David accidentally spills JR's illicit supply of Nullium onto the floor and heads for the front door. Just as he passes the battered jukebox (which happens to be playing "Eve of Destruction") a gang of scooterheads blast their grungy machines right through the front window, yelling "Empire!! Empire Forever!!"

Crawling from the debris and mayhem, David limps several blocks to his car where he finds Brownie and Heinie's VW parked in the nightshadow of a nearby massage parlor/wedding chapel. David nicknames their beatup ragtop Shitler, but pretends not to notice it, or them. To keep from leading the Schicklgruber brothers to his video equipment, David opts to pass the rainy night in Veteran's Park.

During the days that follow, David earns a few bucks by watching things at Babylonic while Lucky goes home for lunch and dinner.

Late one solitary night, while David is snuggled under an old military blanket wondering whatever happened to his friends from high school, Big Brandy arrives unannounced. She tells David his phone is bugged and the Swizzleheads know he's there. After Brandy helps David move his furniture back into the living room, he gives her enough money for a batch of inner-city champagne. Brandy pedals up to 0, Henry's to purchase the ingredients, but when she returns she's covered with snow and horribly winded, barely able to tell David how Brownie and Heinie were tailing her bicycle.

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The agitated party girl eats a handful of tranquillizers, explains to David how his womanizing father gave her special girlfriend Carol some sort of chronic infection, then passes out.

Indeed, the first snow of the year has fallen, so David props his pillow up by the open window and drifts off. Deep-dreaming of a heavenly hike with Sola and Sidra, David arrives at Tranquillity Bay in the promised land of Canaan, unaware that Big Brandy, back in the real world, is being kidnapped as she attempts to wipe the frost from her seatless bicycle's handlebars.

Unaware of foul play, David wakes refreshed and heads up to Babylonic. As he crosses Poor Richard's snow-packed parking lot, Dotty rushes up and tells him how she caught Brownie and Heinie masturbating in the laundry room, to a nude poster of Der Fuhrer. Weiland Walker, a local police officer and part-time maintenance man at PR's, saunters onto the scene, boasting how he scared the neo-creeps away with the threat of a .44 caliber castration.

To avoid inept motorists, David walks slowly up to Babylonic, only to discover Lucky stoned, watching a porno flick and playing with a plastic doll. Just as David is about to conclude a lecture on the evils of pornography, an attractive amazon named April Butler sashays in and sells Lucky a layout in the city paper for twice the fair market price.

When the dirty deal is done, Lucky returns to Babylonic's backroom and David makes his way through the snow to the Hunan House for a lunch special of Moo-Doo-Dai-Pan. Belching discreetly from too much garlic-duck sauce, David breaks his fortune cookie open.

"Be Prepare for Real Big," it advises.


Chapter Seven (Matter Of Mind)

Out on Ling's slippery lot, the two dirtyshirts are irritating April Butler. When David approaches, they scurry back to Shitler and spin away. Miss Butler's battery is dead, but before David can explain why he's afoot, a yellow-sweatered yuppie in a matching BMW slides onto the scene and offers April a free ride.

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David makes his own way over two miles of snowy sidewalk to the cozy Lenexa Library, inspecting an awesome Superstock Dodge in the librarian's parking spot. David enters the toasty depository for self-education to find a pair of pink-haired punk rockers arguing with the little old librarian about their so-called constitutional right to smoke wherever they please. Just as David begins reading "Winter of Our Discontent," the punks play an obscene prank on the old lady.

After David runs the young cream-puffs off with his cane, Granny Smith instructs him to visit her son Smitty's market for a couple complimentary steaks. Before he leaves, Granny supplies David with a book on renewing his right brain and invites him to ride the streamlined casino, The Hound Dog, any midnight.

On the way back to PR's, David comes upon the same yuppie who picked up April. He's trashed his luxury sedan into the curb and is standing on April's coat to keep from soiling his precious Reebok's. While David asks the shivering Miss Butler to stop by Babylonic so they can work-up a new marketing strategy, the tow truck latches onto Stanley's car. As the BMW is towed away, a personalized Tennessee license plate shows itself; S. PYRE.

Limping hurriedly home, David wonders whether Stanley could really be the aspiring offspring of Martin and Xandria Pyre, the same little whiner whose second birthday party David attended the eve of the incident in St. David's Field where he barely escaped the hangman.

Intrigued and befuddled, David telephones Puberty Park for the fourth time in half as many months. Palooka Cohen finally puts David through, but warns that her husband Sam is still very sick. Not wanting to disturb the old Marine with belated news of the Menachems' disappearance, David asks whether the magical bird Cyrus is still alive,

When David agrees to come for a visit just as soon as he can accumulate some surplus capital, Mr. Sam orders him to be up at the post office for a special delivery on Thursday at exactly 4:01PM, says he'll see David at The Return, then hangs up.

After a long evening of introspective detective work, to no avail, David visits 0. Henry's. Biff fills David in on a topless donut joint in Merriam where they sell all the two-day-old sweets you can carry for 59cents, if you're there at exactly 2AM.

It's already past midnight and David just barely makes the multi-mile snow trek to Merriam in under two hours. Daisie's Donuts is operated by a sad, big-hearted anorexic. Annie's hardly eaten since a couple jaded jokers in brown trenchcoats and dirty panama hats caused topless Daisie's mother to perish from angina pectoris. When David discovers skinny Annie hasn't been out of her tiny donutery since early summer, he sequesters the door key, gives her his coat, and escorts the fragile lady across the street to her step-father's house.

end page #15

After promising to bring the key back in a day or two, David pushes back toward Lenexa, singing to lighten his spirit and rubbing his sore left eye (from flour dust, he thinks). As he crosses the city limits, Weiland Walker appears in a polished police cruiser and offers David a ride. They stop at the Emporium for coffee, but Biff is nowhere to be seen. Suspecting foul play, Walker draws his .44 magnum and starts checking the premises.

"Freeze!!" Walker yells at a floor-shadow, only to discover Biff down on his knees scrubbing up a mess around the new mop sink. It seems as if the local newsboy suffered a horrible accident, Blind Herbie mistook the hydraulic gizmo for an automatic commode and nearly ripped his gonads off.

After some good teasing and laughs, Walker tells Biff he's been working the nightshift ever since the city annexed 144,000 acres out west. Walker mentions an Israeli construction company purchased an option on the land the previous summer, but hasn't been heard from since. David remarks that it was most likely Prescott Construction owned by Menachem, whose disappearance David's already brought to Walker's attention.

A couple cups of coffee and many donuts later, David is giving Annie's key to Walker, when his walkie-talkie blurts out a "209 in progress," Dropping his mug and Sara Lee's, Walker dashes outside and launches his Crown Vic into a blur of burning smoke and flashing lights.

A 209, Biff comments, is a lady in labor at home.

The next day, when David runs into April again, getting stoned with Lucky, she says she'll stop by Poor Richard's that evening to discuss advertising and have dinner. Making his way up to Sante Fe Drive, David gets free vegetarian club steaks from Smitty's Market and goes home to prepare them (per friendly Smitty the butcher's specifications, to look exactly like KC strips). Additionally, Smitty notices David's squinting left eye and furnishes him with a patch.

Tight-suited April arrives with her denim-skirted college sister she introduces as Stutterin' Stephanie. It turns out that Steph's been outfitted with a vibrating kidney belt by none-other-than Dr. Lizabeth Lump, the same dominatrix who subjected David's brain to countless jolts of direct current. It seems Liz now runs a string of full-birth abortion clinics across Missouri. When David disconnects Stephanie's belt and she stops stuttering, April doesn't know how to repay him.

end page #16

In celebration, she begins a wild belly dance with David's mysterious potted cactus balanced atop her head. When it crashes to the floor, April sees the Tokyo Spyder listening device that's planted in it, and tells David she's seen identical units at the Hollywood Inn. Explaining how she puts on explicit shows for Brownie, Heinie, and whomever happens to be their current chums-in-arms, she tells David her next appointment with the boys in brown is that very night.

David asks April to spy for him, to try and see if she can discover why the brownshirts are in town. She agrees and leaves for her semi-weekly twisted tryst.

Later that night, just as Steph disrobes (despite David's displayed disdain), Walker drops by. Panicky when Walker mentions marandizing David, Steph runs out stark naked.

Walker informs David that Blanche Barnes, alias Big Brandy, has been reported missing. However, when David says he was sleeping when she left, Walker believes him, mirandized or not

Following a discussion of how red meat increases one's CIQ (Criminal Index Quotient), Walker tells David he's going to post a personal watch outside Poor Richard's, and check if his cousin, who happens to clerk the graveyard shift at the Hollywood inn, can dig anything up on the teutonic neo-chickens.

The next afternoon, David stops by 0. Henry's for a nicotineless smoke to honor the birth of an idea. He's figured out most of the details on how to convert Babylonic Electronics to Amore Pizza, Pictures, and Pasta. Just as David adjusts his eyepatch and lights his Kansas Straight, the Rodriquez kids come in squealing about two dirty old men who said nasty things to them.

Escorting them home, David encounters Shitler just around the corner. David rips off their rotten ragtop and beats up on one-eyed Brownie, but his toothless buddy flourishes a gaudy Luger. As David tries to wrestle it from Heinie's greasy grip, it discharges through the windshield.

Finally, David snaps Heinie's skinny wrist and tosses the still-smoking weapon into the storm drain, just as a strawberry-haired policewoman drives onto the scene with a bald-headed Doberman.

end page #17

When the female enforcer inspects the Swizzletwins' drivers licenses, she finds them foreign, and expired. Commenting on the Schicklgrubers' birthdate, six days before Hitler's demise in '45, she warns them that if they don't behave themselves in Kansas, they'll have to deal with her good dog Ike, the bald-headed Doberman.

Shitler hums away and the shapely officer makes her true identity known. With hair dyed red and swirled into a tight bun, face adorned with artificial freckles and eyes covered with chrome sunglasses, she's the lovely Miss Morningstar. She explains to David how she escaped her captors and is working the beat in disguise to try and get a local lead on Mena and Judy's whereabouts.

When Morningstar invites David for coffee and donuts, he excuses himself. Unable to stomach telling his love how he's down on his financial luck or how he's been suffering from double vision, David goes for a solitary walk in the snow-swept park, satisfied just to be in the same city with Morning.

The winter-wonder of it all.


Chapter Eight (Dealing Out Justice)

Late Sunday night, David gets a second call from lawyer Logan's pithy secretary, Delilah. Seems his Monday appointment at the Lincoln Arms in Independence has been cancelled and rescheduled with a more cunning legal-eagle in the KCMO Empire Building.

The following noon, when he discovers the building's given name is actually M. Pyre Bank and Trust, David knows he's being set-up, but plays along one more time, hoping to get a lead on Menachem's whereabouts. As a mindless oriental secretary named M. Tee shows David into Martin's thirteenth floor office, the poorly disguised nazi is seen holding the grips of a chrome gatling gun, practicing for the coming of his fourth reich.

Noon recreation done, Martin Pyre (alias P. Martin) tells David that statutes of limitation will make it impossible to sue Drs. Lump or Cupp. Unless David also agrees to sue Dr. Riddle, the courts will laugh his case out of court, so M, Pyre says. David explains that Dr. Riddle is the one who weaned him off Nullium and such action is out of the question.

Smiling devilishly, Martin informs David that his mother telephoned his office from St. Louis, threatening to testify that David needed to be medicated all those years, if he should decide to sue Drs. Lump or Cupp against legal advice.

end page #18

David plays it cool for awhile. But, when M. Tee totes in a tray of croak (50% crack, 50% coke), for M. Pyre to parcel out to The Judge and The Senator, she drops the costly merchandise. Grappling for the snowy venom, Martin's silver toupee drops off, exposing red pubic hairs transplanted into the purple scar tissue of his scalp. Certain it's the same Hista who got burned at Mommar's birthday blast, David excuses himself, telling M. Pyre he'll get back with him after the holidays.

Finding his car towed away by the Pyre Patrol, David limps home a step at a time, more determined than ever to see justice done.

Thursday afternoon, his electricity disconnected again, David goes up to O.Henry's for a hot shave and is pleasantly surprised to see Morningstar filling in for Biff. But he's even more surprised when she tells him it's Thanksgiving and invites him to the club for dinner. After resisting the urge to make love between the cooler and the commode, David decides he can't accept a free Thanksgiving dinner, heading up to the post office for the package coming from Mr. Sam instead,

Precisely two hours late, the special delivery arrives with the eastern winds; a colorful bird lights atop the floodlit flagpole, then settles onto David's shoulder. A nylon leg-band offers no name but identifies the fowl as a descendant of Mr. Sam's Cyrus. In no mood to return to his cold apartment on a family holiday, David decides to take his feathered friend on a tour around the Lenexa Triangle,

As it turns out, the bird does more of the leading than David does. In the alley behind Smitty's Market, David gets his first look at Granny's glitzy road-cruiser, The Hound Dog. When Granny drops Doc Riddle and Smitty off to get the Pipe Club ready for Thanksgiving dinner, David's invited to help out.

Passing under the Sante Fe Trail in a mysterious tunnel built by Lewis and Clark, David and Doc (who needs two canes to ambulate), discuss everything from brain chemistry to mind evolution and beyond.

Once inside the cozy Pipe Room, Smitty serves the three-caned twosome his special chowder and they drift off to sleep in over-stuffed chairs before a roaring fire.

On waking, David sees all the members have arrived and the bounty is being served. As he's busy in the Commons vestibule, loading his plate with giblet dressing, April emerges from an adjoining room reserved exclusively for females and starts to pick from his plate. She shows him the time-lag lipstick camera she intends to use to spy on the neo-nasty chickenheads, or the Hollywood inn Consortium, as she calls them. Morningstar, too, shows up to partake in the feast, appearing more divine than ever. She invites David to ride The Hound Dog later, then returns with April to the D.O.L.L. House annex (Daughters Of Lovely Lenexa).

end page #19

Back in the Pipe Room, with David's still-nameless bird perched in the chandelier, Doc Riddle reveals how two smelly thugs in stocking masks recently assaulted his clinic's cleaning lady and stole David's medical file. On a lighter note, Walker joins the good group and sings an off-Broadway love song to his favorite donut-girl, Annie.

After a brief dissertation on the purpose of laughter and how it ties in with Doc Riddle's TOE theory (Triange Of Emotions), the gathering adjourns, to join Granny behind the market for the midnight run of her gambling casino on wheels.

Waiting in the alley, David eyes a little moped just the like the one he rode as a kid. Granny's late, so David offers to go look for her, aboard Smitty's old moped.

Blasting down the Overland Incline at a top speed of 35+, David sees he's being pursued by the Shitlerites. David swerves into the local graveyard and jockeys the nimble bike up to a foul-smelling mausoleum at the top, but the nasty little brown VW gives easily up and hums away into the drizzly night.

Hoping the neo-nuts haven't buried Big Brandy in the mausoleum, David motors back to the alley behind the market. The Hound Dog is loaded and three customized Harley's are parked in front of it, their long-stroked engines idling in neutral and shaking their chassis.

Inside the plush gaming cabin, Granny introduces David to three Hollywood bikers: Al Pino, Sal Stone, and Suzanne Sunshine. When David learns the down-to-earth superstars need a place to crash for the night, he offers them his apartment key and Sunshine accepts.

As soon as Paco, Sly, and Sunny leave for Poor Richard's, Granny buttons up The Hound Dog's hatch and heads for the highway. While everyone else bets on lady luck, David relaxes with Miss Morningstar, in a comfortable seat beside a teardrop window, listening to an Elvis look-alike named Jessie blowing on a bubbling sax.

When Jessie plays "Fools Rush In," David peers out the tiny teardrop port and can't help but remember how, even with only a few days remaining before his discharge, the desire to smash through the window and run away from Farmingdale was nearly overwhelming.

Feeling so very fortunate to be free, David wraps his arm around Morning and cracks the cabin window open. A cool mist sprays in and they both float on dreams as the miles and music slide by.

end page #20

But they wake to a yuppie yelling out, "I win again! S. Pyre is showing you all !!"

As The Hound Dog rocks to a gentle halt in an open field, David sees it's none other than M. Pyre's insolent son Stanley (S. Pyre), accompanied by his drunken matriarch, Xandria (X. Pyre).

Granny announces it's time for a breakfast break, and David helps Smitty and Doc erect an awning on the outside of the coach. Not in the mood for more food yet, David goes for a walk in the rain with Morningstar, only to be rudely interrupted by a picture-taking helicopter. Returning with Morning to The Dog after she scares the creeps off with her service revolver, David wishes the heathens would quit bedevilling him and be done with it, whatever it is.

Back at breakfast, David roughs Stanley up for trying to butt into line and tripping Doc Riddle. In the process, David learns that M. Pyre owns, and lives at, the downtown Missouri Duck Club.

After the forced debriefing, Granny feeds David's bird and discovers its name is Polly. But Granny's in a bad mood; S. Pyre's beating the daylights out of her at blackjack. David steers the subject to something lighter, the Lewis and Clark Jewels, and Granny offers up the details of the local lore with great gusto.

When The Hound Dog gets underway again, David tells Riddle he's sorry about Doc's crushed Dalmations. Asking David how he knew about the unfortunate incident, Doc Riddle subjects him to a lecture on P-Waves. It seems that David Daniels is the only clinically documented case of Precognizant Waves on medical record, other than an old gentleman named Menachem in Freud's time.

With some reluctance, Doc says David's P-Waves were discovered while testing for Multiple Sclerosis. David figures that if he had MS and there was something that could be done about it, Doc would say as much. If he didn't have it, though, Doc would certainly also say as much, so David has no reason to ask the diagnosis,

As the coach rolls back into Lenexa at dawn, Granny outguns Stanley by successfully hitting a $300,000 soft-seventeen and everybody but the Pyres give seasonal thanks.

end page #21

David invites Morningstar for Christmas eve at M. Pyre's Duck Club, then heads home on Herbie's moped. The stars are gone, but Sunshine's left David a pair of train tickets for the New Year's run of Lenexa's Great American Freedom Flyer. David opens his rear window, inhales the cool morning air, and relaxes in solitary satisfaction, happy to be among the living again.


Chapter Nine (Holiday in Hell)

For some mysterious reason, David can't get the sweet smell of Sunshine's jasmine oil out of his mind as he motorbikes up to The Pyre Company's business office in the morning and pays his electric bill with roulette winnings from the night before.

Monday is Amore's grand opening and David shows JR how to do the paper work and helps Lucky deliver pizza, pictures, and pasta (aboard Blind Herbie's moped). By Friday David's ready to blow his first paycheck in many moons,

The New York Hi-Cholestrol Kosher Deli over on the Missouri side is just what the doctor ordered. David picnics across the street from the friendly delicatessen, in an alley beside an unattended synagogue. Waiting for a rabbi to arrive, David stuffs himself with quasi-kosher salami on rye bread with horseradish mustard and reflects how rabbis had helped him cling to reality and/or overcome it, on three previous occasions.

No rabbi this time; only a black limo chauffeured by goodtime Gert from the Marion, Illinois, Gas and Eats (the same garish carriage David anointed with garbage the summer before). After exchanging unpleasantries with David, Little Baghdad does a drug deal behind the temple with a WWII Mercedes (occupied by M. Pyre himself), The deal done, a tire blows on Baghdad's stretch limo as it navigates a left turn too sharply and careens into a fire hydrant. When the fire department and police come upon the watery miasma, they bust Baghdad with the merchandise, but not before a computer check on his expired Washington D.C. tags show a real name of Sadam Berry.

Back in Kansas, with Polly on his shoulder, David helps Herbie use the library's mainframe to search for the long-lost Lewis and Clark Jewels.

A couple weeks later, David is just reflecting on how pleasant all his moped pizza parlor customers seem when he makes a deliver at a weathered mobile home in De Soto. The converted construction trailer looks familiar and smells fishy, especially when its present owner, Butch, says he bought Menachem's dented dwelling at an M. Pyre auction for next to nothing. Butch didn't order a pizza, but when David offers him a free one for the inconvenience, Butch finds the whop-pie cold and brandishes a shotgun.

end page #22

Polly looses a few feathers while David gets away relatively unscathed. On the way out of Desoto, David painfully recollects the strange case of Cowboy Carr, the rural Missourian who pulled a shotgun from his pick-up and blew his unfaithful wife away on the steps of the Farmingdale Processing Building.

The week before his first unmedicated Christmas in two decades, things seem fine. Amore's business is booming; April Butler's lipstick camera has caught the boys-in-brown in the act; David is spending an occasional afternoon on Morningstar's rented ranch and is even looking forward to attending his nephew Marshall's winter graduation in St. Louis.

But, just the day before Christmas, David discovers Butch has bought out Amore with a personal-interest loan from M. Pyre Trust. Butch's Christmas gift to David is half a paycheck. Butch doesn't want to spoil anyone. With barely enough cash, David escorts Morningstar to the Duck Club for Christmas Eve dinner.

Morning's in a bad mood and won't say why, but nevertheless agrees to eat at the high-dollar restaurant in the sky, to help David snoop on M. Pyre and maybe find Menachem. After David has a few heated words with James, the stoned doorboy, the three lovebirds (including Parrot Polly) ride a glass elevator up the side of the M. Pyre building while Morning tells David how immature he is.

When the maitre d' asks for their membership cards, Morningstar tells Starling they're researching a special holiday feature for Time/Life. Starling escorts them across the nearly empty dining room and seats them between a pair of splashing champagne fountains. Vance takes their order; a bald-headed little jockey-boy named Boss serves bitter mineral water.

David gives Boss a tip and learns M. Pyre's office is on the far side of the Duck Gallery. While sad JoAnn stares at monochromatic sketches of ducks in flight, David hands a note for M. Pyre to the musclehead guarding his office. It threatens something horrible will happen if Menachem and Judy aren't released by midnight.

David chats with Samantha, the pleasant young lady at the house-harp, then returns with Morning to the table for Christmas dinner. After Vance uncovers their platter of Double Duck Shot, David tosses the shrivelled unborn ducklings into the champagne fountains (burial at sea with a touch of class). David is charging the meal as an advance on his pending malpractice suit, when he spots Yassir, the pyrotechnic clerk at Moammars, skulk into Martin's office carrying an aluminum suitcase.

end page #23

When David tells Starling to have a happy holiday, Starling appears less than merry. It seems that business has been so bad at the Duck Club the past year, that, unless a miracle happens, M. Pyre will be forced to go into receivership.

Back at ground level, David discovers the drugged-up doorboy's had his Chevelle towed away for parking in the luxury lot. Despite a chronic neuro-muscular affliction, David is still able to punch James' lights out while Morningstar summons help.

Walker arrives in his Crown Vic and gives the lovebirds a ride back to Legler Park where Morning has taken to living in the watchtower. Before she turns in for the night, David is shocked to discover that she's really Rhonda, Mr. Sam's niece from years ago at Puberty Park.

"Your crew had to keep an eye on your quixotic adventures," is the only explanation she gives before hustling up the ladder.

Walker drives David back to Poor Richard's and tells him that Morning probably has some sort of female problem.

Determined to attend his nephew's graduation, David loads up Herbie's moped for a latenight trek to St. Louis. After escorting him to the Kansas line, Walker advises David to ride on the shoulder for his own good.

With only a couple hundred miles to go, David stops at a roadblock in downtown KC; the Duck Club is ablaze. David tells the officer-in-charge how he thinks M. Pyre had his good buddy Yassir set the blaze to collect the insurance money.

Just as the saucer-shaped restaurant explodes and plummets twenty stories in a fiery spectacle, Polly directs David's attention to both Moammar's and M. Pyre's fleeing automobiles. David passes the information onto the officer and a quick arrest is made.

"Herr Hista," David yells through the officer's bullhorn, "this is David Daniels and I hope you have a happy holiday in hell!! You no-good scumbucket."

The urban bells of St. Pedro's Cathedral ring in Christmas as David cranks up the little moped and proceeds on his merry way across Missouri, with Polly paddling along dutifully in the wet turbulence above his shoulder.

end page #24




Chapter Ten (Horatio's Alley)


After a long, bumpy night of bottomless coffee cups and wondering whether some of his past troubles and/or present difficulties are really linked to an intra-galactic past and/or celestial future, David climbs the Wright City incline. Missouri's last rest stop looks good, so he camps under the overhang on the wind-free side of the restroom. Carefully peeling off his frozen eyepatch, David pretends the free-running urinals and occasional stool-flushings inside the brick bunker are the sounds of the pounding surf, the tide breaking against the quiescent boulders of the beach, and drifts off dreaming of the promised land. Prematurely roused by an old curmudgeon in hip boots, David is told by Freddie, the fireman, that someone's messin' with his li'l motorsicle.

Across the wet lot, King, a tanked up Texan in a pickup truck begs David to give his stoned son's pet monkey a moped ride for a Christmas gift. When David complies, King and company speed merrily away, leaving David the adoptive father of a five-pound primate named Jerry,

As semi-retired Freddie hauls Jerry, Polly, David, and Herbie's moped toward St. Louis in his old Ford pumper, he reveals himself to be Mary Smith's grandson. As the mile markers march shakily by, Freddy tells David how good folk don't get older with the years, just a little wiser and closer to the finish line.

Learning David's U. City birthplace has a Biblical name (Mt. Olive), Freddie further advises, "Maybe you best read the golden text and quit bein' so analytic in your thinkin' and put a little more faith in it."

Finally at the Mock Club, Freddie helps unload the ungainly moped, recommending David visit his niece Rosie's downtown eatery, O'Grady's Grill, a real clean and awful well-lit place.

After a friendly exchange of holiday hopes, David slips quietly into his parents' house. As he slumbers, his crew-cut sister, the youngest and only family member in the house, kidnaps Jerry to her bedroom.

At dawn, frustrated sister Bitsey Bob gives David an old shoebox of junk that once belonged to him. Inside the crumpled Buster Brown box, David discovers an empty foil pouch on a rawhide strand, identical to Morningstar's and Menachem's. But no alabaster egg.

end page #25

Late that afternoon, when he meets the Sun City Express at the airport, David learns his mother, Kay, got lucky at roulette and is staying over an extra day. His father, Ray, has picked up a blond bimbo named Coleen Baxter who's coming to the house to supposedly process his memoirs.

Bug-eyed Ray and barely clad Coleen take Jitterlin, slurp cheap champagne, and hunt and peck at the word processor all night. David tries not to think about the blonde bachelorette's bouncing bra and get some sleep.

The next evening, after David makes another roundtrip to the airport to fetch mother Kay, father Ray pilots the family canoe to the Mock Mound for a belated Christmas dinner.

Traversing the couple blocks to the clubhouse, Ray wrecks into Ronald Frump's parked Imperial, but blames it on juvenile delinquents. Older sister Victoria, her husband Flip, son Marshall, and daughter Kimmble have already arrived at the bourgeoisie biscuit-bucket, sitting at an oblong table beside Horatio's Alley (a jewelry display for blind children designed as a tax write-off for the wealthy).

As the evening progresses, it becomes obvious that the Mock Mound is but a St. Louis edition of the Kansas City Duck Club. Instead of tuxedos, three-piece business suits are the uniform of the day. Gelterstain replaces Starling as maitre d'. Shine Boys, instead of Jockey Boys, pour chicken bouillon instead of sparkling mineral water, while a Negotiable Mediterranean Petroleum Security, in lieu of an Empire Bank Note, is legal tender on the elitist premises.

After dinner, Marshall talks money-matters with his father Flip and grandfather Ray. Limping around the recently refurbished clubhouse with sister Victoria and niece Kimmble, David sees Samantha, the young harpist from the Duck Club, playing the Mock Mound's electronic mood-synthesizer (donated by Dr. Rudolph Cupp III). Victoria explains how Samantha, who's graduating with Marshall the next day, is the abandoned daughter of David's unrequited sweetheart from high school, Susan Cole,

Back at the table, David is joking with Kimmble when Dr. Cupp shows up and issues cat calls at Samantha. David drags drunken Cupp into the men's room, drops him in the slop sink, and sets the record straight. "Quit giving my parents drugs, or else."

end page #26

When David tosses Cupp into the latrine, the alcoholic doctor's wallet falls to the floor. An old Kodachrome photo catches David's eye: a picture of Drs. Cupp and Lump with three little cross-eyed aryan tykes.

Sure enough, mother Kay stirs from her Nullium-stupor only long enough to confirm David's suspicion that they're the Shicklgruber triplets. Actually, med-school sweethearts Drs. Cupp and Lump, are kissing cousins who adopted the three little German refugees (Brownie, Heinle, and Lenore) after WWII.

Just as Victoria asks David to give Marshall a lift to his pre-graduation party, melodic Samantha comes to the second verse of David's alma mater; "And when we get to Heaven, we'll find the streets are guarded by United States Marines."

With his chest still pushed out, David chauffeurs mundane Marshall downtown in Bitsey's high-strung CVX. The quasi-sports car self-destructs, piece by piece, as they bounce over the urban-renewed boulevards and come into view of Busch Stadium, site of Lincoln High's Snow-Ball Party.

The byway circling the stadium is blocked with civil unrest, alienated teens demanding equal education. But the insolent Marshall says they're only pretending to be poor to get pity.

When the police tell David to turn around and come back later, he decides to take his natty nephew for a look at old Sportsmen's Park, with Polly leading the way. But the old stadium's been razed. Across the inner-city street from where it once stood is an all-too-typical bemired lot cradled between the Salvation Army and O'Grady's Grill.

Marshall wants to get back to his party, but David needs to locate Polly first. In the middle of the muddy field, David finds his bird perched atop a blanket draped over an old motorcycle frame. Inside the makeshift hutch is a Korean and a Vietnam veteran, both crippled but determined.

After a brief chat with the abandoned vets, David makes them a twenty dollar loan, a promise that their day is very near, and trudges back to the street. He bribes Marshall to take Bitsey's coat to the homeless vets, then waits under a disconnected streetlight, for over an hour.

When the graduate-to-be finally returns, his mohair overcoat and pin-striped suitcoat are gone. While David steers west, Marshall licks his lips from the sardines he shared with the vets and explains how he gave all his party money to them. Following a friendly root-beer float, David drops his newfound nephew Marshall at home before heading back to the mock house.

end page #27

When father Ray announces there will be a pool party the next night, following Marshall's commencement, David makes his way down to the rathskellar. Even with a featherweight cue stick, it's not easy to practice pocket billiards with only one good eye, a cramped left arm, and a greatly diminished sense of balance.


Chapter Eleven (Freedom's Not Free)


After swindling a new Eldorado from his friendly Frump Insurance Agent, father Daniels jockeys the replacement canoe toward Marshall's graduation.

Pops parks in a handicapped spot as usual, and, except for an outdoor pool populated with semi-nude swimmers, the school looks pretty much the same as two decades before.

As the dysfunctional family moves past the Olympic pool, David remembers how, while his mother balked, he barely saved six-year old Bitsey from drowning.

Down at the end of Lincoln High's computer-coded hallway, just outside a stainless steel vending area which used to be a cafeteria serving roast beef and mashed potatoes, Coleen is selling strawberry milkshakes for Ron Frump. She tells David that his father dropped her off at the emergency room after she took too much Jitterlin and Ron picked her up. She whispers she'll be at pop's pool party later, and the motley crew moves into the spit-shined gymnasium.

It smells the same as always, David reflects as he sits between Kimmble and Victoria who've arrived early. Ray snores, Kay knits in slow motion, and Bitsey reads a paperback on sexual options, as Dr. Cole, the aging principal and estranged father of Susan Cole, opens the pithy proceedings.

Garter-belted party-girls deal out gold leaf diplomas from fishnet satchels as the nickname-calling commences. Kimmble grooms Polly while David daydreams of his own socio-political career which ended shortly after grammar school.

After a final pair of jock-strapped graduates named Zono and Zulu grab their gold, Dr. Cole accepts the remaining diploma for his grand-daughter Samantha who's working. The student body cheers as their valedictorian, Marshall Mars, marches up to the podium. Everybody expects a self-serving discourse on wealth and success, but Marshall removes his conventional cap and gown to show a white sailor's cap, and navy-blue jumper. He's just joined the Navy and Victoria cries with pride as David's nephew delivers a moving "Freedom is not Free" address.

end page #28

When everybody applauds, Ray finally wakes his wife. "Kay, I told you so; one night with David and Marshall's all screwed up just like him."

As the proud crowd pours out of the gymnasium, David asks the principal about Susan. Dr. Cole hasn't heard from her in years; but she does send a big check for Samantha every month. After comforting the old timer, David limps down to the library to peruse old faculty photos.

Surprised enough to see that Mena Menachem was actually his wrestling coach Prescott Mathews and Granny was Ms. S, his language arts teacher, David is further baffled when he discovers both left Lincoln High right after his commencement.

That evening, back at the mock house, Marshall chats with Collen behind the bar as dear dad tries to hustle David. They agree to one game of freeze-out: David's Macintosh computer against dad's two grand. Ray gets lucky and just as he's about to stroke for easy victory, the doorbell rings and he miscues.

Walker, Annie, Granny, Smitty, and April have come calling all the way from Lenexa. David excuses himself from the pool duel and follows them upstairs and outside.

Walker tells David that Big Brandy's grizzly body has been discovered, impaled on three German beer bottles, one in each major body orifice. The SwizzleSticks seem to be playing for keeps.

Granny gives David the keys to her Superstock Dodge and orders him to drive it, instead of Herbie's moped, back to Kansas. She also informs David that. Morningstar has mysteriously disappeared and left a note for him. David pockets the keys and the note, but turns down a pearl-handled .45 that Granny offers him.

April's gotten friendly with Coleen and decides to stay in St. Louis. As the others drive away west in Walker's Crown Vic, David unfolds his cryptic message from Morningstar; "Follow the track of Stone!"

end page #29

David returns to the rathskellar and outguns dear dad with a beautiful curve shot, only to be bilked out of 90% of his winnings. Pressing on, David agrees to escort Kimmble and Victoria to the Startime Marathon down at the Fox Theatre the next day.

In the emantime, David decides to take Polly for a latenlght spin in Granny's Dodge and ends up at the moonlit Mt. Olive cemetery. A miniature egg on Granny's Chrysler keychain glows gently as David visits the site of his grandparents' final rendezvous.

On his way back to the suburbs, David rents a second cane at an all-night drugstore. Finally crashing on an upstairs couch in the Daniels' house, David wonders where Heaven really is, while the others play pocket billiards downstairs.

Morning comes early and David escorts his parents to the airport again, for the New Years junket to Vegas. Their Sandbird Express has been held up in Detroit so Ray pays Blackie to carry their bags to the Skyhigh Martini Club.

Driving the rented Eldorado, David collects April and Coleen from the mock house. On the way to pick up Victoria's family, David asks Coleen if any of his father's memoirs mentioned an alabaster egglace. As Kimmble and Marshall climb into the backseat, Coleen refuses to answer on grounds of client confidentiality.

When the good group finds the marathon at the Fox has been delayed, they vote to kill some time at the art museum. In the Egyptian room, David discovers more than mummies and jewels. Granny's miniature egg heats David's pocket as a queenly soul in sandals, burgundy robe, and horn-rim glasses tells him he has a keen eye for the ages.

After a brief, but inspirational exchange, David accompanies the regal lady to a rented white Omni. The queen calls David by his given name and he realizes that she's Susan Cole, his unrequited love and Samantha's runaway mother. But she disappears into Forest Park before he can question her.

What was she doing at the St. Louis Art Musuem? David wonders as he hauls the others toward the Fox. David drops them off under the star showcase, then parks in a distant pothole of urban blight, in front of the infamous Midwood Hotel where he roomed after Farmingdale, David gives Wilver and Orbille Wrong a lesson in self-defense when they call him Captain Cripple and come at him with a grizzly ginsu.

Finally inside the relatively safe confines of the refurbished Fox, David descends a purple-velvet aisleway into the very womb of Hollywood herself, so he thinks, as he sinks into a seat beside Kimmble and Victoria.

end page #30

As soon as Spartacus runs its last reel, Kimmble asks her mother why the martyr had to die. Victoria says that at least he had his day in the sun, all that anyone can ask for in this life. "Or any life," I cynically thought to myself.

After going for refreshments with Coleen and April, David steps outside under the marquee for a breath of fresh air. He spots a chartreuse bus topped with chicken coops parked near the Skinker intersection. It looks like the Tri-County Histarical Society's Empire Express and David limps hurriedly towards it. Just as the battered coach pulls away, a much different motornoise shakes the night from the opposite direction.

Coleen and April emerge from the Fox lobby as three fire-belching Harleys come around the turn from Market Street and skid to an asphaltic halt at the curb. It's Stone and Company.

Granny's three biker friends from Tinsel Town ask David to steer them toward a good place to eat before their appearance in the Fox's Star Showcase. Coleen craddles David's pine cane on back Paco's charcoal-lacquered Lowrider; April hauls David's fiberglass staff aboard Sly's matching machine; David himself pilots Sunshine's candy-apple Sportster.

Bound for inevitable glory of some sort, David and Polly lead the nostalgic nightriders toward O'Grady's Grill, the roundabout way...of course.


Chapter Twelve (Blizzard Of Oz)

As their group scooters across Skinker, David's uncovered eye is peeled for the Empire Express, but catches no sign of the elusive chicken-coach. Taking the night-troupers onto the highway, David circles the city from the south, pulling countless childish wheelies in the process. Before too long, the star-studded cartel bounces back onto the inner-city byways and squeals to a halt against the Salvation Army's craggy curb.

Sunshine escorts a friendly old timer into the soup kitchen while David introduces Paco and Sly to the vets. They've mail-order purchased a Big Top teepee from Mr, Sam with the money Marshall loaned them and their war wounds seem miraculously healed.

After Paco and Sly get the whole scoop, they join Sunshine at the bus stop in front of O'Grady's Grill. The Salvation Army's kitchen is overcrowded, so Sunny sends the needy to Ruggeri's steakhouse until Pentacular Productions can build them a new facility.

end page #31

Inside the toasty and greasy O'Grady's, as the crew sits at a cigarette-burned roundtable and Rosie fills them in on her grandmother's famous 1904 World's Fair burgers, David can't help but remember the day his father ate too many raw onions before dropping him at Farmingdale and crapped in his pants and almsot got locked p in the asylum himself.

Returning to the subject at hand, David listens to Rosie explain that her grandma's Jewish boyfriend originally came up with the idea of steamed onions and pyramid containers, "Anybody that got to know Menachem seemed to automatically get smarter."

After the good group chows down, the boys catch April and Coleen smoking dope in the girls' room. Following long lectures by all parties present, the three stars finalize their plans to build a Vets Center and float Rosie a loan to reopen her condemned main dining room.

David's muscles are getting more cramped with every exertion and he's barely able to pilot Sunny's bike back to the Midwood Hotel to pick up the Cadillac. Paco scares off the Wrong brothers with his saturday-night special before the group hurries toward the Fox for showtime.

David parks in the Celebrity Corral. While the others ride the Stellar Elevator up to the showcase, David leads Sunny across the lobby to say hello to his family. Sunny invites Kimmble and Victoria up to the showcase, but hurries away when Samantha and Dr. Cole approach. Marshall leaves with the Coles for a clamroll at Howard Johnson's after the show. Victoria and Kimmble follow David over to the elevator and up to the glitzy open-air balcony.

David barely has time to introduce his sister and niece to the stars before showtime. The silk curtain lifts on the elevated veranda and Sly welcomes the maddening crowd that's assembled down on the avenue. Everyone cheers wildly, until the spots flicker off and sirens fill the night.

A rookie crowd controlman runs is yelling, "Snipers!! Snipers on the Diamond Exchange!!"

Everybody in the showcase hits the deck and David wonders if it's the Swizzlenuts. Alas, a rumpled police lieutenant named Gumbo arrives and announces it's not snipers at all, but two teenage jumpers. Victoria saves the day by using Polly to ferry notes back and forth to the troubled youths across the way.

The ordeal done and the show resumed, David queries Kimmble as to the content of her mothers' messages to the suicidal twosome. It seems that Kim's mom's been having dreams lately that turn out to be from the Bible, even though she's never read it. Victoria has simply told the teens to go home and wait for the New World.

end page #32

David hopes the New World will come before he's too crippled with pain to appreciate it. He takes leave of the stars and double-canes his way downstairs and into the streets where he listens to a special song Sunshine has arranged just for the occasion. Up in the showcase, April and Coleen shake a pair of tambourines as Sunny strums a balalaika and leads the crowd in a new rendition of "Dancin' in the Streets." The words which scroll across the Fox's marquee declare, "We'll demonstrate in Moscow, in Washington and Warsaw, too. We'll yell atop the Berlin Wall; 'What we want is Freedom, sweet Freedom, 'til there's elections everywhere.'"

David limps over to the Celebrity Corral and crawls into the Cadillac with Polly, hoping to hide from his worsening muscle cramps. He closes his eyes to keep from seeing himself cry in the mirrored elevator door.

But his pain melts under a soft blanket of sunlight as they open into the dream Land of Milk and Honey. Circling a campfire on the beach of Tranquility Bay, David, mother Fela, and sisters Sola and Sidra are joined by Mena, keeper of the Evergreens, and Suma, guardian of the Olive groves. They tell David a tale of seven travelers from another starsystem who came to Earth thousands of years ago. With the exception of Survialist Hista who quickly fell in with the devil, the others lived as Abraham, Moses, and many other biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Their Captain, though, has now been waiting along the Rainbow of Souls, close to Gola, for over two millenia, to return when he is most needed again. Fela charges David with the mortal mission of finding their so-called Captain, just as sirens and screams pluck David from his heavenly vision.

The rookie cop is knocking on the overhead door and tells David someone's shot the stars. While the rookie searches the garage, Lenore Schicklgruber drives by in her black Porsche, throws an Uzi submachine gun at David's feet, then zooms away.

But the rookie's seen it all, and the cross-eyed vixen's attempt to frame David fails miserably. Discovering Paco and Sly have suffered minor flesh wounds, David tells Lieutenant Gumbo all he knows about the Schicklgruber triplets and the Empire Express bus.

Gumbo gives David and the stars a police escort out to the mock house, and after finding suitable accommodations for the others, Sunny and David opt for a latenight spin in Granny's over-powered Dodge. Stopping at the all-night pharmacy to pay another day's rent on his second cane, David tells Sunshine about Good George...his onetime schoolmate who's been hanging out by the newspaper vending machine for the last thirty years.

end page #33

As he waves to George, Sunshine insists that David show her where he was born. A few minutes later, motoring up Mt. Olive, Sunshine sees a big ranch house with a cabin for rent and asks David to stop. As it turns out, the ranch house still belongs to the Connell family. David's good friend Grant Connell is home from Stanley, Kansas, for the holidays and invites David and Sunshine in.

It's been twenty years since David and Grant have seen each other and they shake hands and slap each other's backs with great gusto. Grant's gifted son, Kurt, his wife and Grant's wife, and two multi-generational babies come together for toasted bagels, cream cheese, and strawberry jam.

Following the latenight brunch, Kurt and Grant escort David outside and around back to the Connell racepit. Inside the immaculate machine shop and laboratory, Grant shows David some of their pet projects. After David supplies Kurt with the missing link to his gravolectric mill, Grant unveils the prototype to their Blizzard of Oz, a bomb designed to burst in the upper atmosphere and replenish the ozone.

Summoned by Grant, Sunshine helps David ambulate across the backyard and down the long flight of wooden steps to the cabin. After closely inspecting The Connell Garden, a miniature ultraviolet ecosystem, David crashes his weary bones on the lowest bunk.

Sunny showers while David closes his good eye and wonders if both he and Sunny, not to mention Morningstar, Menachem, Granny, and Mr. Sam, might afterall be the descendants of Twolaen travelers.

Before David gets too deep in thought, though, Suzanne's footsteps return to his side and he looks up. Long ringlets of wet blonde hair cover both her square shoulders and the outer hemispheres of her healthy breasts; an alabaster egglace dangles below the deep cleavage, glowing gently against her smooth abdomen.


Chapter Thirteen (St. David's Field)

As they walk into morninglight only three passion-filled hours later, David wonders how he can be in love with two wonderful women at the same time, both Morningstar and Sunshine.

end page #34

When David stops at the drug store to purchase his second cane outright, Good George is no where to be seen. After checking the back room to no avail, M. Pride, the pharmacist, tells David he saw a dirty green bus out front just before dawn. David tells the pharmie to report George Quail kidnapped and proceeds, with great anger, west to the mock house.

While Sly and Paco load Herbie's moped into Granny's trunk, Coleen Invites David into the study and tells him that his father Ray raped her. She also says that pop's memoirs mentioned a magic egg in a kitchen wallsafe.

Before David can search for it, Sunshine summons him into the master bedroom. Assuming a simple disguise, she shows herself to be the same lady David saw in the museum, not to mention Susan Cole from Lincoln High and Samantha's mother. She says Samantha was born nine months after graduation and she thinks David's the father. Though David never even kissed Susan, they both had the same lusty dream on graduation eve...a metaphysical conjugation, or something like that, David thinks.

Before David can make any sense of the mutual dream-turned-reality, Bitsey calls him to the kitchen telephone to talk with his parents who are still stranded out at the Skyhigh Club. Just as mom's telling David that a banker friend has offered them a free ride to Vegas on his private jet, the house explodes.

Nobody's hurt seriously, but the house is demolished. Behind the refrigerator, a wallsafe has been conveniently blow open and David finds his alabaster egglace inside. Paco, who's really Dale Goldberg from high school, tosses David his .25 automatic while Susan slips the egglace over his neck. Sly, actually Eddie Weiss, finds David's canes in the debris and helps his old high school friend out to the Dodge.

With Polly on his shoulder, David blasts rearward through the garage door, leading the Schicklgruber triplets' VW and Porsche on a wild chase. After both nazimobiles end up in a ditch, David motors west toward Columbia, to visit his nephew Herman at the UMC infirmary before heading home to Kansas,

UMC's closed for the holidays and Herman's been moved to Private University on the other side of town. PU is operated by TLC, The Lump Corporation, On the second floor David finds his recuperated nephew packing his things while a familiar young lady writes at the receptionist's desk. Herman introduces David to his new girlfriend, Stephanie Butler, April's sister.

end page #35

When straight-talking Steph finishes what she's penned, she hugs David warmly and they proceed downstairs. In the cold basement, Herman holds the parchment and the nail as David uses Dale's .25 to hammer Steph's Proposed Equal Life Amendment to the U.S. Constitution onto the plywood door of Liz Lump's abortion clinic,

The deed well done, a long-handled German grenade comes banging down the escalator and across the concrete floor. David handily grabs the grenade, hurls it through Lump's door, and the full-birth abortion clinic is gone for good. Emerging from the debris, unscathed and all the more determined, David's adrenalin surges as he ambulates upstairs and out onto the parking lot.

While the Schicklgruber triplets cackle to each other beside a jet-black Pyretechnix van parked near a foreboding tree, David makes his quiet way to Granny's Dodge. Armed with a MAC-10 machine gun that Granny left just for the purpose, David challenges his three foes to an awesome firefight.

With Heinie and Brownie temporarily incapacitated, Lenore surrenders. The Empire Express arrives on the bloody scene and tangles Heine and Brownie's already mangled bodies in its undercarriage. As the elderly group piles out, looking like refugees from the Tri-County Geriatric Home, they too surrender to David's well-handled weapon.

The day not yet done, an SOS helicopter hovers nearby. M. Pyre threatens to throw David's parents out if he doesn't drop his weapon. With mixed emotions, David concedes. In a matter of moments, David finds himself atop the bus, his head in a noose hung from the tree.

"I sez we finish up what we started in St. David's Field twenty yar ago," a rheumatic Jasper yells to Jethro.

M. Pyre directs the proceedings, wielding a pair of chrome Lugers. When everything seems ready, David stares into M. Pyre's bloodshot eyes and speaks deliberately, "Herr Martin Pyre, if you really are Survivalist Hista from Twola, I, acting as your captain, order you to put one of those Lugers to your head and pull the trigger. Now."

When M. Pyre obediently blows his own brains out, the Histarical Society wants to free David and go home to Tennessee. But Lenore has other ideas. She takes the wheel of the bus, guns the motor, and yells, "Dahling David, we shall finally see if you are really the Captain Kirk the Jews have been waiting all these years for."

end page #36

With chicken feathers everywhere, the messy roof slips out from under David and he closes his eyes, prays for a quick death and redemption, and drops to his fate....


Chapter Fourteen (The Return)

David's rigid legs jam against the ground, then snap at the knees before he finally comes to a crippled state of rest. When his pain becomes too bad to bear, David's eyes open, upon what he mistakenly takes to be an out-of-body experience.

A bearded soul of Old Testament days, Judah Maccabee, beckons David to stand at his side. In a rolled and pleated knee-length robe, David stands proudly beside his partner of old, his body vibrantly renewed. Together they travel through history, sifting the sands of time as they go from continent to continent, year to year.

In the ashes of Hiroshima, David and Judah watch a young girl named Faith bury her family before joining their noble journey. The three of them visit a domed city of chrome and turn its pagan citizens to stone before drifting across America, where they muster the soldiers of both North and South from their Gettysburg graves.

From a high field to their front, come two white horses and a tan mule. They name the white chargers "Truth" and "Trust." Lancing her right thumb with Judah's long sword, Faith writes "Determination" on the side of a Persian caisson. The mule with no name pulls Faith and a newfound Lamb in the two-wheeled wagon.

In a 1945 Berlin courtyard, David and Judah resurrect Herr Hitler from a burning pit, to spend eternity in hell, wide awake above beds of burning coals, on a meat hook through the back of his neck. From Nero to Stalin to Saddam Hussein, all who mock the Lord's Covenant share a similar fate.

Hovering high above once more, the three travelers and their naked Lamb look down upon Berlin, then southeast to Baghdad. Their bombed out streets resemble the final smoothings of a master wheelwright along the inner rim of time. The living souls of six million Jews lead the way to Heaven as the Hebrews lift with every other oppressed people from the lifeless stacks of the dead reiche.

When clean air shines on their caisson, Judah points. "Look, down there, the curtain, the wall, and every other man-made barrier to universal freedom come down."

end page #37

Lifting the fallen warriors of Belleau Woods, Omaha Beach, Guadacanal, the Chosen Reservoir, and the Mekong Delta, the mighty armada grows, raising the souls of the ageless battlewagon Arizona and freeing the angels of Spaceshuttle Challenger.

After traveling for many more days, Judah says they should finally rest in a sunny field for awhile.

When David awakes from his post necktie party dream, Judah, Faith, and the Lamb are nowhere to be seen. It's a beautiful spring day and a familiar bird paddles the sky above. Polly leads David east, between a pair of polished railroad tracks into old town Lenexa. Granny waits with open arms, and leads David on a stroll around the Lenexa Triangle, filling him in on what's transpired while he's been away, both on the local and international scene.

So many good things have happened. Indeed, the New World has finally arrived, David decides. The Cold War is over; peace is breaking out everywhere. Birds chirp in the trees and butterflies flutter in the meadows as Granny tells David how Herbie's vision has returned.

Continuing to a peach tree opposite 0. Henry's Emporium, David and Granny came upon their crew, standing in a semi-circle. Tears of joy fill all their eyes as Mr. Sam, looking more fit than ever, takes one step forward and squares his broad shoulders. "Suma, Survivalist Two of StarFlight Salvation, prepared for duty."

Sunshine/Donna/Susan Cole steps forward. "Sola, Culturist of StarFlight Salvation, prepared for duty," She smiles, "Samantha's waiting for us out at the park. She's helping Judy with the musical arrangements."

JoAnn Morningstar/Rhonda/Joan Cole moves to her half-sister's side. "Sidra, Navigator of StarFlight Salvation, prepared for duty." She rests a hand on her bulging belly. "As soon as our little co-pilot is born."

Granny Smith/Miss S. joins them, turns toward David, and adjusts her bonnet, "Fela, Flight-Engineer of StarFlight Salvation, prepared for duty."

Mena Menachem/Prescott Mathews moves two steps forward. "Mena, First-Officer of StarFlight Salvation, prepared for service, Captain Danu."

"First-Officer Mena," David asks, "have you properly initiated the digitized cerebral vision-code to summon Salvation for our timely return to distant Edom?"

end page #38

"Yes, Captain," Mena responds. "But I was forced to send Salvation away from Venus and out of Earth's solarsystem with the advent of Voyager and Soyuz spaceprobes. It will take a little while to return."

Granny smiles, "In the mean time, David, I suggest we all go to the park and sing praise to Gola."

"Then, if you like, we'll take a look at our New Jerusalem," Mena adds.

So, with Joan on his one hand and Susan on the other, David leads his crew toward the spring sun, Polly rides on Granny's Easter bonnet.

Well beyond the 87th Street berm, they see a pair of white and gold flags wave freely in the clear blue breeze, blowing outward from their center into the winds of time,

Thus, David Daniels has indeed come to savor his days in the sun, at this place, in our time; or so the tall tale is told.

end synopsis


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