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The Frinx Connection


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Boredom in High Places

It was quiet in the Star Chamber. Too quiet.

Councilor Number Six swiveled back and forth. His bland features suggested mild discontent. Only two of the nine chairs surrounding the Ring of Sorrows were occupied. Number Four slumped in her chair, snoring. Six signaled the First Assistant. “Smedley, I'm bored.”

FA Smedley pasted a smile on his ugly phiz. His circular desk sat in the center of the Ring, ten feet below the Chamber floor. At the end of busy days he often suffered from excruciating neck pain. He touched a button. His desk obediently turned so he was facing Six.

“Bored, sir? How may I be off assistance?”

“Have we no assassinations scheduled? An invasion? A nuclear weapon accidentally dropped on a crowded city?”

“Nothing like that, sir?”

Six sighed theatrically. “Not even a hostile takeover?”

“I'm afraid not.”

“Blast.” Six swung his chair back and forth, completely unaware of the irritating squeak it made at each movement. Smedley gritted his teeth. He tried to think of some way to divert the Councilor. Only one thing occurred to him.

“Sir, might I suggest a random action?”

“Random action. Hmm. I haven't done one of those for a long time. Can we kill someone?”

“Um -- not directly, sir. Against the rules, you know. However, an RA sometimes does set off a chain of events ending in murder, suicide, or even the occasional massacre.”

“Right.” Number Six stopped swinging his chair and smiled. Smedley stifled a laugh. Filed teeth were so uncool, so gauche. Six never kept up with current fads. He didn't even have the de rigueur pocket protector. His black pinstripe suit and slicked back hair were so yesterday.

“Let's do it,” said Six. He frowned. “How do we get started? Who do we choose? I forget. It's been years and years.”

“There is no personal choice, sir. You select a location and the type of action. Events cascade from there.” Smedley activated a spinning hologram of the Earth. It rotated a few feet above his head, just at Six's eye level. “Any place in particular?”

“Yes, by golly!” cried Six, pounding the Ring with both hands. “Owww. Oh, owwww.”

“Careful of the Ring, sir,” cautioned Smedley. “Are you injured?”

“I'll have nurse Trixie take care of my wounds. Even thinking about that place makes me mad enough to hurt myself.”

“What place, sir?”

“Didn't I say? Cedar Rapids, Iowa.”

“Ah. Yes. Several Councilors have expressed a certain ambivalence toward the city. We've performed any number of RAs there.”

“Hah! Well, this will be another. What else do you need from me?”

“Method of delivery, sir.”

“A mysterious package. I love that one. Is that a problem?”

“No, sir. We have contractors who handle the actual random event. Will you be staying through the whole episode?”

Six slid down from his chair. “First I'll see Trixie. That may take -- uh -- some time.”

“No problem, sir. The cascade of activity usually takes a few hours to develop.” He smiled as the ugly little man crept away. No doubt he'd be back in five minutes sporting bandaged hands and a hangdog look. Trixie was an expert.

Smedley picked up the phone. “Grendel, who do we have under contract for Iowa? Okay. Advise them we have an RA to implement in Cedar Rapids.” He listened for a moment. “I know. The place does seem to attract more than its share of randomness. I'll send them an email with details.”

(tbc)

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The Delivery

“Donnie! Answer the doorbell! I've got my hands full.”

“Do this, do that,” grumbled Donnie -- not loud enough to for HER to hear. Raising his voice, he replied: “Yes, dear.” He shuffled toward the front door. The bell rang again. “I'm coming. Keep your shirt on.” He had little idea how apt those words were.

The woman on the step smiled fetchingly. “I have a package for Donster.”

Her uniform consisted of short shorts, a perky cap, and a blouse open to her navel. Donnie saw no shorts, no hat, no fetching smile. He missed her perfect legs and the name tag displaying BOOPSIE in large letters. His eyes locked on her overflowing uniform shirt and the delicious orbs barely concealed within. Somehow, a few unfrozen brain cells responded to her words. “Beeee -- I -- Donsterrrr -- me beeee. Boooobs.”

“Sign here,” cooed the woman. She handed him a small electronic tablet. He fumbled with the thing and dropped it. The woman leaned over to retrieve it, sending additional shock waves through his warped mind. She indicated the signature block on the screen. “Just use your finger.”

Mechanically, he scrawled something on the tablet. “Use ma -- finnnner. In spite of his mental lockup, his brain managed to produce detailed images of how he could use his finger, ALL his fingers, and his WHOLE HANDS to manage those lovely orbs.

When Lottie found him, he was locked in a trance, eyes following the delivery woman as she swayed back to her van and got in.

“Not again,” groaned Lottie. “What is it this time?” She hadn't seen the woman or the van. Only as the vehicle pulled away did she notice the name on the side. “Acme Delivery. What on earth were you expecting from Acme?”

No answer. She turned him roughly and dragged his unresisting body away from the door. He stood quiet, slack face set in a foolish grin. Drool splotched his shirt. A small package was clutched in one hand. Her attempts to pry it loose were to no avail. Finally, she gave up and left him there, leaning against the wall. “Had to be truly large boobs,” she mused. “A delivery driver with gigantic boobs?”

Hours later, Donnie farted suddenly and looked around craftily. “It was the cat.”

Of the delivery he had no memory, though a vision of a uniform shirt open to reveal magnificent hooters haunted his dreams for a long time. Always he would wake up sweating and mumbling something about not being able to read the name tag. It was terribly frustrating.

“What have you bought now?” inquired his one-and-only.

“It was the cat,” he repeated. Then her words penetrated the sticky substance coating his synapses. “Uh -- I dunno.” Denial seemed the best option. “I didn't buy nothing.”

“Right. Let me see that package.” She twitched it from his numbed hands. “Addressed to you. No return address. No company name.”

“I didn't buy anything. At least not that I recall.”

“Oh, that's a big help. Your memory is riddled with images of boobs. Sometimes you can't even remember my name.”

Stung, he answered back without thinking -- an all too common habit of his. “Well, I wouldn't have that problem if you'd wear a name tag -- like I've asked you a million times.”

“Take your package,” she snarled, shoving it into his hands. “Go to your corner and don't you even think of moving from there until I say you can.”

Ensconced on his little stool in the corner, Donnie examined the package. It was wrapped in brown paper. For a moment his eyes glazed over. The porn videos he'd ordered a few months ago came wrapped that way. With shaking fingers, he began the unwrapping process.

“If you'd learn to think before opening you big mouth we wouldn't be stuck in this corner,” lectured that VOICE at the back of his mind.

“Shut up,” whined Donnie, speaking just above a whisper. “Just shut up.” He always whispered to the VOICE. Lottie didn't understand about VOICE. She said anyone with voices in their heads ought to be in the loony bin. He didn't like the idea of a loony bin, so he said nothing about the other guys back there amid all the boobs and beer and odd objects he couldn't identify.

“I want to get back online,” sulked VOICE.

“You're sick,” murmured Donnie.

“Yeah, right. You're the guy obsessed with boobs. The guy talking to invisible beings. But I'm the one who's sick. That's logical.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Donnie. VOICE vanished into a dark place and refused to come out.

“Are you talking to those voices in your head again?” asked Lottie. He didn't like the hopeful tone of her question.

“No, dear. I was just telling you I got the package unwrapped. I don't know what to make of it.”

“About what?” She stepped closer. “That's all it was?”

He held up a folded piece of paper. “That's it. I'll bet Old Guy had something to do with this.”

Lottie mumbled a few choice words. “I wouldn't put anything past him. Well, read it. Let's see what the old fart has to say.”

Though some instinct warned him to burn the note RIGHT NOW, Donnie did as she asked. He shook his head and handed it to her.

“Meet me at Veteran's Memorial Park at 2100 hours, Tuesday. Bring a lunch and a buffalo nickel. Don't forget the nickel or all will be lost. Boopsie.” Lottie looked daggers at her husband. “Who is Boopsie?”

“No one I know.” His reply was completely honest. Not in reality nor in dreams did he ever read the name tag on the delivery woman's chest.

“Right. What's all this about a buffalo nickel?”

“Beats me. I tell you Old Guy has to be behind this. It's some kind of a prank.”

She thrust the note into his shirt pocket. “Call that bastard. Find out what's going on.”

“Yes, dear.”

(tbc)

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Slippery Logic

“I have no idea what you're talking about.” Old Guy's words had the ring of truth, which could either mean he wasn't lying or, more likely, that he was a very good liar.

Donnie glanced at his wife. “Sounds like he really didn't send the note.”

“Ask him about Boopsie.”

Old Guy searched his failing memory. “The only Boopsie I ever knew would be about sixty years old, if she's still around at all. Wingwalkers tend to have short lives.”

“So what the hell is going on?” Donnie only asked the question because Lottie was close by. He was already tiring of the situation. No encounter with fantastic hooters seemed likely. Besides, he had research to do. Choosing a Boob-of-the-Day wasn't easy. The process was made more difficult, of course, due to his frequent blackouts along the way.

“Wait a minute,” said Old Guy. “The note says to bring a buffalo nickel?”

“Yeah. So what?”

“I'm getting a glimmer of an idea.”

“Oh sure,” scoffed Donnie. “Now you're remembering why you sent the package.”

“No. Some buffalo nickels can unlock the passages between different timelines in the multiverse. There are aliens on Earth who seek just such a key.”

Donnie covered the mouthpiece. “He's spouting scientific jargon and going on about aliens looking for buffalo nickels. Can I hang up now?”

“Aliens?” Lottie chewed her lip for a few seconds. “We know they're around. You get picked up at least once a year by those morons from Hork. There could be others. Would they be willing to pay for buffalo nickels? I think we have a few lying around somewhere.”

Old Guy wasn't sure. “The Frinx are shady customers. A timeline key would be worth a good deal but I wouldn't trust any Frinxian as far as I could throw one, which wouldn't be far. They seldom mass less than three- or four-hundred pounds.”

Avarice awoke in the Donster household. “What harm could it do to meet with them?” asked Donnie. “Are they dangerous?”

“No. They might fight over a cheeseburger but otherwise the Frinx are cowards to the gristle. They're also known as the worst petty criminals in the multiverse. That's why they need timeline keys, which happen to be an attribute of some buffalo nickels in this version of reality.”

“Now don't go talking science again.” Donnie tried to think. Nothing managed to get past the boob barricades. “Um -- why do we need to take a lunch?”

“Beats me. Unless it's for the Frinx. Or . . .” The old fart fell silent. “It could be . . . Nah. I was thinking it could be some kind of code. The whole message might be encrypted. Or maybe not.”

“What the hell are you talking about? Shall we go or not?”

“Tuesday? That's day after tomorrow. I'll be there.”

“Okay,” said Donnie. “Lottie says to bring your own nickel.”

(tbc)

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Shady Characters

Old Guy showed up late Tuesday afternoon. He brought a companion.

Lottie gave Old Guy a black look as he sidled in, trying to stay out of easy reach. She smiled at the alien accompanying him. “Good to see you, Chief U.”

The short, green creature waggled all three eyestalks in greeting. “Honored, madam. Honored.” Once second in command to Lobki, a being of possibly human descent, who caused mayhem in the Simian version of reality on several occasions, his moniker was short for Chief Underling. Stranded as he was far from females of his species and under sentence of death in several timelines, he elected to remain on Earth. Chief U found work at a northeastern woman's college where political correctness was rigidly adhered to. Most of the college staff and students pretended not to see his odd body shape complete with leg things, a few pseudopods, three eyestalks, and an ever-changing number of tentacles. Others figured he was the victim of corporate poisoning of Mother Earth and avoided any overt comments out of sympathy.

“Donnie,” said Lottie. “Get Chief U a plastic bag to stand on. I don't want any more protoplasm spots on the carpet.” Her tone was uncharacteristically mild. She liked the ugly green alien. He'd brought Donnie home several times after rescuing him from the Horks. The only thing she didn't like about Chief U was his taste in friends. He hung around with Old Guy.

“Can we see the note?” asked that old fart.

Donnie rummaged on his desk until he located the creased bit of paper. Old Guy studied it carefully, then handed it to Chief U. “What do you make of it?”

The alien stepped on the plastic sheet Donnie placed on the floor. He bent two eyestalks toward the note. “High quality paper, torn from an expensive note pad.” A tentacle touched the paper. “It has a barely detectable aroma of overweening ambition and exotic courtesans. I think we can safely say that this missive originated in the Chamber.”

“What chamber?” asked Donnie. He decided not to ask what a weenie had to do with ambition. And the only exotics he knew danced down at the Purple Pussycat.

“The Star Chamber,” explained Old Guy. “One of several organizations who believe they control all events on the planet. But I don't know why Donnie would come to their attention.”

“I'm sure it was unintentional,” mused Chief U. “Sounds like one of their Random Action things. Let me study the wording. It may contain an encrypted message.”

“I don't like crypts,” said Donnie, happy that he at least knew what those were.

Lottie served coffee. She had already flavored Chief U's with a dash of cinnamon. He had a craving for the spice. Old Guy got his usual black coffee in a chipped mug. Donnie had to get his own. She refused to touch the battered, stained mug he kept on his desk. He refused to wash it, claiming that the dark residue clinging to the inside provided essential vitamins and minerals.

Chief U nodded an eyestalk in thanks. “The specified time and place seem straightforward enough. The rest of the message might be in code, but I don't know why it would be. Is Boopsie a name or perhaps the code key? If there is a code.”

Someone put Donnie into shock when the package was delivered,” said Lottie. She told them what little she had observed.

Acme Delivery?” Old Guy glanced at Lottie. “Is there such a company?”

Donnie laughed. “Acme sells all kinds of stuff. Don't you ever watch those Roadrunner -- uh -- what do they call them? Documentaries? Acme has been around for a long time.”

Chief U turned all three eyestalks toward Donnie. “I don't think those are real. Cartoons, aren't they?”

Looked real to me,” muttered Donnie.

Lot's of things look real to you,” said Lottie. “Including things that are physically impossible.”

Be that as it may,” said Old Guy. “Let's see if we can make sense of the message.”

In the end they decided the thing was a simple invitation for Donnie to meet someone for a late lunch at the Veteran's Memorial Park. The requirement for him to bring a buffalo nickel made sense only if Frinxians were involved. The phrase “or all will be lost” presented an insoluble mystery, much like the signature, “Boopsie”.

It's getting late,” said Old Guy. “We'd better get going.”

Are you guys coming with me?” asked Donnie.

We are. Who knows? This whole affair might be a plot hatched by the Horkians to grab you again. How long since the last time they picked you up?”

Lottie laughed and shook her head. “They don't work that way. The last few times they landed right in the back yard in broad daylight and sent a crew member to get him. Came right to the door!”

They've become more civilized,” observed Chief U. “Landing during the day is not illegal, but doing so contravenes the spirit of the Galactic Council's rules concerning alien abductions.”

What's a conter-veen?” asked Donnie. “Some kinda alien doohickey I bet.”

Meanwhile . . .

“Nothing's happening,” whined Number Six. He kicked his feet irritably. “Make something happen.”

“Much is going on,” replied Smedley. He spoke in a soothing tone, as if quieting a child. “The Event Cascade has only just begun.”

“I don't get it, Smed. Who will that Donster clown meet in the park?”

The First Assistant hated to be called 'Smed'. He counted to ten before replying. “That's the clever bit, sir. He won't be meeting anyone. However, the local Frinxian Joy Club is having their monthly Chow Down Pig Fest in the park at about that time. Mixing Donster with Frinx should yield surprises.”

“What kind of surprises? Will someone get shot?” A feral smile crossed Six's face. “Eaten?”

“Violence could ensue, sir. Too bad that Old Guy creep got involved, along with Chief U. The Chief recognized our Random Action right away. Nothing much they can do about it, though.”

“Old Guy. Where have I heard that name before?”

Smedley stalled for a few seconds, trying to decide how to give Six with a reasonable answer without revealing too much about previous Chamber dealings with that rotten skunk now known as Old Guy. “He -- ah -- that is the person called Old Guy has been a thorn in our side for -- um -- a very long time. We've run a number of Obliterate That Bastard ops on him and they have all -- well none of them succeeded, as you can see by his continued involvement.”

Six nodded. He'd been a Star Chamber Councilor for twenty years and had never worked up the ambition to peruse the Required Reading for new members. The only knowledge he'd managed to acquire came at the hands of Trixie and her predecessors. No sense letting Smed know he didn't have a clue. “Maybe it's time to run another OTB on him.”

“Hah. As if.” Smedley stifled himself. Six didn't understand sarcasm. He decided to apply his usual technique when pressed to do the impossible. Lie. “We already have plans in the works, sir.”

“So.” Six understood Smed was lying, but pursuing the issue would likely only expose his own lack of knowledge. “So what happens at the park?”

“Frinxians don't like to be disturbed during Pig Fests. Donster, Old Guy, and Chief U will definitely be disturbing. And they will be carrying buffalo nickels, which will complicate matters even further.”

“Good, Smed. Very good. I look forward to confusion and mayhem. Murder even.”

Smedley couldn't help bragging about HIS tactical operation. “Once things are moving along, sir, I've arranged for the contractor to send Boopsie into the scene. “A drive-by boobing, as it were.”

“Drive by boobing?” Six began to drool. “I love those.”

(tbc)

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Veteran's Memorial Park

“I don't see any aliens,” said Donnie. “Just a bunch of really, really fat people.”

A huge canopy had been erected in an open area of the park. Several large wood-fired smokers were in operation around the pavilion. A sign announced: PIG FEST - PRIVATE - MEMBERS ONLY. A few ordinary looking people tended the smokers. Under the canvas canopy a number of rotund individuals wearing bright colored robes sat at heavily laden tables. Others wandered from table to table, looking for all the world like drifting hot air balloons.

“NFL linemen ain't in it,” observed Old Guy. “None of these folks go less than a quarter ton.”

“I still don't see no aliens,” complained Donnie.

Old Guy handed him a pair of glasses. “You'll need these.” The lenses were blue and quite thick. “The Frinx use a shape generator to give themselves the appearance of -- humans, in this case. The glasses are sensitive to the tachyon particles given off by the generator.”

Donnie wanted to ask how tacky stuff got on things, but the view through the glasses caused him to forget about the question, the note that brought them here, and even about boobs -- for all of half a second. “Wow! Those are some ugly suckers! Jeez. Even Horkians look better than that.”

“Ordinarily,” murmured Chief U, who needed no lenses to identify the Frinx, “I'd say that the word ugly has no place in dealings between beings from different planets, but in this case, you're right. Even the Frinx know they're ugly, squared. That's why they eat so much and hide their shape.”

“So what happens now,” asked Donnie. “I mean, we're here, the Frinx are here. I don't know why we brought a lunch. After looking at those things I couldn't eat a bite.”

Chief U produced a buffalo nickel and held it up. He instructed his companions to do the same. The effect was instantaneous. The seven Frinx in the crowd all turned toward the three and began moving in their direction.

“One of us must have a timeline key nickel,” said Old Guy.

“It's mine,” said Chief U.

Donnie lowered his nickel. “How do you know that?”

“Simple, I cheated. I've had one for years. Chances were slim that either one of yours was the right kind of nickel, so I brought mine.”

Old Guy put his nickel away. “The Chief always thinks ahead.” He didn't bother to explain that his nickel was also a timeline key. Once back in its tin case even the Frinxians would never know about it.

Seven creatures with an appearance so bizarre descriptions are impossible shuffled to a halt a few feet from our heroes. One moved slightly forward. “Who you dudes? That thing for sale?”

“It's not for sale,” said Chief U. “We were instructed to meet someone here.”

The seven Frinx shifted uneasily. The spokes-thing continued speaking. “You wanna rent it? We need to slip away and leave no forwarding address, if you know what I mean.”

“I can take you away if that's what you want,” offered the Chief. He pointed a tentacle at the pavilion. “You don't seem to be in any hurry. Who's after you?”

The speaker waved one fat arm dismissively. The lenses displayed the movement as a nauseating blend of tube, hairy fibers, and greasy worm-like icky things. Both men removed their glasses.

“One can always eat,” said the thing. “It's those pesky Galactic Enforcers. Somehow they picked up our trail back on Zib and followed us to Earth. Ggggg here spotted one a couple days ago. We gotta get away before they track us down.”

“I'm sure we can arrange something,” said Chief U. “I have my own problems with the Enforcers.”

“Me too,” said Old Guy. “But I'll just hide out at the Symbiotic Saloon until the heat dies down.”

“Good idea,” said the Chief. “I'll meet you there after I take these lads to safety.” He turned all three eyestalks toward the spokes-thing. “When can you leave?”

“Well, Zog take me, this is so sudden. We've only just gotten into the sausages and fritters. The hams and roasts won't be ready for some time.”

“The Enforcers are known to be lamentably diligent,” said Old Guy. “You'd better get a move on.”

“Well . . .” The Frinx milled around uncertainly.

“Yoo-hoo, Donnie.”

The greeting came from a scantily clad woman riding a bicycle. Even Chief U marveled at the twin orbs she sported. His interest stemmed from a lifelong interest in natural things that seemed to repel the force of gravity. Old Guy liked the whole package. It reminded him of younger, happier days.

Donnie went slack jawed. His eyes glazed over. “Booooobs.” He collapsed.

It was Boopsie, of course. Mission completed, she rode away. Every male eye in the area watched as she peddled along. Several auto accidents occurred, as usual.

Right then, with our heroes variously distracted and the Frinx gabbling in confusion, the Enforcers arrived, blasters blazing. They had no intention of arresting the Frinx. A few scraps of body tissue was all they needed to claim the rewards various worlds were offering for the criminals, preferably dead.

There were three Enforcers. They were obviously equipped with cloaking devices. All Old Guy could see was a misty shimmer containing shadowy shapes. Blasters pulsed orange. Two Frinx went down in the first volley. One blaster bolt struck a tree, shattering its trunk. Old Guy put his glasses back on. Then he could see the three shooters as dark images limned in the glow of tachyon particles. More bolts lanced into the Frinx horde. He grabbed Donnie and started to drag him out of danger.

Chief U bounded to one side faster than one would expect for such an odd-shaped individual. He drew a short stunner and opened fire. One by one, the Enforcers sagged to the pavement.

The tree toppled over, smashing into the pavilion. Large people waddled slowly out of the wreckage, each clutching handfuls of sausage and fritters.

The surviving Frinx huddled in a forlorn, if gaudily dressed, glob. Four figures lay on the sidewalk. Dead Frinx. Chief U trundled from one body to the next, disabling their shape generators. The remains looked like nothing other than misshapen chunks of wood. He beckoned Old Guy. “Toss this stuff into a trash bin.”

Old Guy picked up a dead Frinx. “Are they recyclable?”

The Chief laughed, then glanced toward the milling crowd at the pavilion. “Maybe. Toss 'em on one of those piles of wood next to that smoker.”

“An apt ending,” observed Old Guy. He stacked the Frinx as instructed then returned, dusting his hands. “Now what?”

Chief U nodded toward the downed Enforcers. “We'll have to do something with . . .” His voice trailed off as the three Galactic cops vanished, one by one. “Ah -- they've been transported back to their ship.”

Old Guy grimaced and shook his head. “Too bad. Let's hope the transporter reassembles them in something resembling their original shape.”

“Now I think it's time for me to take the remaining Frinx and get out of Dodge, to use that quaint old expression you're so fond of.” Chief U crossed two eyestalks in a see-you-later configuration.

“How am I going to explain this mess?” asked Old Guy. He indicated the scattered bits of Frinx-wood, the downed tree, and the confusion around the pavilion.

“Don't. Just get Donnie and clear out. I'm sure the authorities and the media will come up with some kind of logical explanation.” Chief U began herding the Frinx toward a nearby restroom. “Come on, come on. We'll use this little building for our getaway.”

Thus it was the Old Guy, leading a somewhat bemused Donster, left the park in the normal fashion, while the aliens vanished into a gateway generated in the Veteran's Memorial Park ladies restroom. A Miss Gladys Overholt, occupant of the second stall inside the facility went along with them and was returned a few minutes later, somewhat mussed and confused, but unharmed. No one gave credence to her story of going to Heaven and being squired back by an apologetic green angel who explained that she'd suffered a wrongful death and had gone to the wrong Paradise all due to a computer failure of Afterlife, Inc. She also claimed that the event cured her constipation.

*****

“Look at this,” said Lottie, thrusting a newspaper at Donnie. “Lightning struck a tree in Veteran's Park yesterday. Was that when you were there? Did you see it?”

“Search me. We met them aliens and I passed out -- probably because they was double-ugly. Triple-ugly. I dunno what happened after that. Old Guy and I were in a bar when I work up. I had to drink one of them damn MGDs before he'd bring me home.”

“I'll bet he knows what happened,” muttered Lottie. “Too bad he left so quickly.” She had a pretty good idea of what might have put Donnie into a coma. But that didn't explain the destruction of the tree or what happened to the Frinx, or anything else.

“Yeah. I was hoping all the goings-on were a cover for the guys giving me another present -- like my leather flying jacket.” Donnie sighed. “I guess I was wrong.”

“Well, what did you want?”

“I was expecting one of them CombatSimian t-shirts.”

“The one with the leering monkey?”

“It's not just any monkey. It's flying monkey.”

“You'll get one of those over my dead body.”

Donnie's jaw dropped. “I don't want nobody killed over a dang t-shirt. Least of all you -- ah -- um -- what was your name again?”

End

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