“Wuhan? He sells bunk Viagra that is made in Wuhan?”

Before Stephen had a chance to respond to Kitty, Lance came running into the dining room, laughing and pointing at their table. “You! You are a genius! That is absolutely brilliant!”

He was pointing at Miss Kaboodle, who smiled, and explained to Stephen, “I do believe your clever boy has figured out the secret to KILLGOD!.”

Pulling up a seat at the table, Lance looked at his father and said, “This girl is the Dorothy Parker of gaming.” Then, turning his attention to the Dorothy Parker of gaming, he said, “It’s so smart. So simple. So profoundly simple, that it’s simply profound. But you’ll never make any money from it. As soon as someone else figures it out, they will tell the Internet, and everyone will know.”

“I told you, I am not a money worshipper. The point is not to make money. The point is to make the point. Before the game even goes public, the Internet will be all about it. All the phony baloney religious nuts will be braying like drunken donkeys. They’ll be screaming for it to be banned, demanding legislation to stop its release, accusing me of being a hate criminal, sending death threats by the thousands, tens of thousands. Then, when someone finally figures it out, and no one will do so as quickly as you did, all those lunatics are gonna have to eat every one of their words. But, wait a minute. How far did you get? Did you actually get to Heaven and KILLGOD!?”

“No. No, I just figured out the first level. I had to come and find you as soon as I got it. But all the rest of the levels have to be the same. If not exactly the same, then pretty much the same, rigt?”

“Kinda, but not really. Certainly not for the Vatican, and Heaven levels.”

Stephen interrupted to ask what the Hell they were on about.

Kitty explained, “The purpose of the game is to KILLGOD! You have to kill him, before he kills all of us, or forces us into submission, mindlessly worshiping him, at the insistence of his oversized, and voracious ego.

“One of the archangels has discovered that God is going to unleash Armageddon on Earth. He is tired of people not worshiping him 24/7, and has decided to kill us all.

“The archangel, who may, or may not be part of a fifth column, tells Satan about God’s evil plan. Satan says that’s enough of God’s shit. It’s time to kill the narcissist, once and for all.

“Satan calls Jesus on the carpet, and tells him the job falls to him. Satan explains the mission to Jesus. Jesus says, ‘Jesus Christ, what an asshole!’

“Jesus is all for killing the old man. So, the player’s character is Jesus. In order to get to the old man, Jesus must first go back in time to his birth, and avenge the deaths of all the people who have been killed in his name.”

Lance took it from there. “And I was thinking Jesus has to kill all the people who have killed in his name. But I get to the first level, and Jesus really sucks at fighting. He keeps getting his head chopped off by his blood thirsty disciples who are trying to convert the heathens.”

“That’s funny,” Stephen interrupted briefly.

“Yes, it is,” lance admitted. “At first it is frustrating, because you wanna get into the action. You wanna kill, kill, kill.”

“To stop the killing,” Kitty added.

“Yes! So you can get to the next level, and kill some more!” Lance laughed. “So, it’s very frustrating, because Jesus is just so inept. Like, comically inept. The more times he fails, the more comically inept he gets. And then, after about fifty tries, Jesus accidently drops his sword, trips over it, and falls onto one of his murderous followers. He throws his arms out, and ends up with his arms wrapped around the guy. And then he hugs him! That’s when all the fighting stops. All the others killers stop killing each other.”

Stephen bowed down to Kitty, and said, “Because violence is not the answer.”

“No. Of course it’s not. Love is the answer. That’s the whole point of the whole stupid game. I came up with the idea after the first time I read Riff n Raff.”

“Of course you did,” King smiled. “The whole point of the book is that love is the answer. And it inspired you to make this game, which brings the same point to a lot more people, because more people game than read. It’s contagious.”

“Love is contagious,” agreed Kitty. “It’s the virus that has to go viral.”

“Okay, so I do need to work my way through the rest of the game,” said Lance. There’s more to be learned.”

“There is,” Kitty confirmed. “But, remember, it’s a beta. I am looking for ideas about how to improve the game. How to drive the point home, over and over again, on every level, until even the most violent miscreant understands. So, bear that in mind as you’re playing. It is a work in progress.”

“I love it!” Lance said, offering a high five, which Kitty took him up on, with a satisfied grin. Then the boy grinned maniacally and asked, “Wait! Do I get that cookie now?”

The black eyed tart laughed, “You don’t get no cookie, you don’t get this cookie,” she corrected, pointing at her cookie, “for that, kid.”

Disappointed, the boy asked, “So, when I KILLGOD?”

“Not exactly, but do let me know when you do KILLGOD!, and I’ll see if I can come up with an appropriate reward for you.”

Liking the sound of that, Lear said, “Okay. I’m on it like white on snow.”

As he rose from the table, Kitty said, “Wait. I’ll come up with you. Stephen, what’s your plan?”

King looked at the almost empty bottle of riesling, shrugged, and answered, “I am gonna finish this off, get another, or another two of these, and go see what trouble Madge has gotten into in my absence. Care to join us?”

Kitty laughed silently, thinking, ‘In your dreams, old man!’ but replied, “No. I have a headache. And need to wash my hair. When I’m done, I am crawling into bed with a good book. His,” she said, pointing at Lance.




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59 – GOTCHA!


Mr. Macabre, the King of Horror, was correct when he said Daisy had the mind of a ten year old, but the girl was discerning enough to understand that Stephen and Kitty were engrossed in conversation, and polite enough to resist the temptation she felt to flirt some more with Miss Kaboodle, when she delivered the goodies to their table.

“So, tell me, what are you and I going to be busying ourselves with, while Lance and Madge are off in Vancouver attempting to conscript the royal runaways?”

King responded with a single word, “Gotcha!”

“Well that remains to be seen, but self-flattery is a form of confidence, and it’s always good to be confident”

Smiling, Stephen explained. “Gotcha is the moniker used by the loose affiliation of conspirators I am loosely affiliated with. My friends in weird places.”

Gotcha! I like it. It’s catchy. What about them?”

“We are going to see The Man from Gotcha! The mind at the centre of the grind.”

“And who, pray tell, is that?”

“I call him Gotcha.”

“Gotcha! It really is a catchy name! Who is he?”

“Gotcha is all you get.”

“You don’t know who Gotcha is?”

“Yes, I do, but you don’t need to.”

No, that kinda stonewalling was not gonna work for Kitty. “Oh, yeah? Well, then, I’ll stay rigt here, and take some cooking lessons for Daisy. Maybe get to know Thunder Babe, and the Staal boys a little better, too, pal.”

“No, that won’t do, I’m afraid. He wants to meet you. In fact, he insists on it. He’s a big fan, you see.”

“I don’t care if he’s an industrial strength air conditioner. He’s not blowing me unless I know who he is.”

Clearly, Kitty Kaboodle had him by the short and curlies, so King caved. “Okay, you have me by the short and curlies, so I cry uncle.”

“Silly boy. I’m not your uncle. You’re my daddy!”

“You’re really good at this game, girl. Especially for someone your age.”

“Baby, I was born this way. I gotta a license to thrill. Or kill. So… spill; who is he?”

“He likes to bill himself as an international dealer of shade.”

“He’s a shady dealer. Very clever. Is he?”

“Clever? Yes. He’s tougher than translating Dr. Seuss into Mongolian, and trickier than going down on a leper.”

Kitty loved that! “He should be a character in one of your books, with a description like that. Is he shady?”

“He operates from the shadows, yes. And he offers shade to those who have the money to pay for it.”

“So, why are we dealing with him?”

“He’s not purely a mercenary. He seems to have a conscience. He’s a fixer. He’s connected. And respected, by those who play big league, transnational geopolitical hardball. Those who don’t know, think he’s just a back room hack, an apparatchik, a go boy.”

“And he uses that dubious reputation to cloak himself, while pulling strings from behind thrones and curtains?”


“What’s his name?”

“What does it matter? You won’t find anything worth knowing about him on LexisNexis.”

“Don’t be too sure of that. Maybe I’ll see things you overlooked. And, if you and Gotcha didn’t know that I’m a vegan, which you didn’t, I have to wonder about your sleuthing skills, so maybe you need me to do a little more due diligence on whoever else you’re keeping tabs on, and playing footsie.”

Stephen pondered that. Not knowing that Kitty is vegan was a glaring oversight. And he had trusted Gotcha for collecting intel on the girl. So, maybe Gotcha wasn’t as good as he thought he was. Stephen was never 100% sure he could trust Gotcha. Conversely, he was 100% certain that he could trust Kitty. And it was dead obvious that the girl was much better at this game than he was, and he needed her. So, he coughed it up. “His name is Kinsella. Warren Kinsella.”

The name triggered something in Kitty. A memory. Something her mother had told her, a long time ago. Something about her father, and his mysterious assassination. She couldn’t retrieve it from her onboard database, but it would come back to her.

“Warren Kinsella, huh? International dealer of shade.”

Stephen laughed, “International dealer of shade, and Chinese bunk Viagra.”


“Seriously. It’s some kind of perverse joke with him. He makes a small fortune, which he doesn’t even need, peddling bunk Viagra around the world.”

“Bunk Viagra made in China?”

“Yes. Even better; it’s all made in Wuhan.”




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“Tell me about the Staal brothers gambit,” Kitty asked her dining companion, as they savoured their wine, and awaited their meals. “Why them?”

Stephen put his wine glass down and answered. “We were gonna be here. They are from here. Not very often you get a three brothers act in a major sport, so that’s always of interest. Jordan and Eric have both won a Cup, and Eric won Olympic gold in Vancouver, so they are genuine stars. And Marc may be the best pure hockey talent of the three.

“Thunder Bay is a hockey factory. Pound for pound, it’s the best hockey town in the world. Even in the Tarasov and Tikhonov era, the Soviets couldn’t create an organic hockey academy that could rival this place. There may or may not be something in the water here, but when it freezes, it comes to life, and magic is made. The hockey Gods summon the kids to the ponds to play, all day, every day, and the ghosts of Pentti Lund, Edgar Laprade, and Smokey Harris teach them the joys of dipsy doodle, backhand peanut butter, and the open ice, low bridge, freight train hip check into the cheap seats.”

Kitty marveled at the scene King painted in his last paragraph. “Wow! It’s criminal that this pandemic didn’t hit us in the dead of winter. I’d pay money to see what you just described.”

King smiled, “I think you’d make a great little puck bunny.”

Kitty smiled a coy smile, and her eyes twinkled at the thought. “Okay, I get all that. But what’s the bigger play? How does this ploy fit into the master plan.”

“It was never part of any master plan. There really isn’t a master plan. It’s gonna be a lot of run and gun. I just came up worth the idea when I decided we were coming here, where we have to be. Happenstance. I came up with the idea, and ran it past Madge. She loved it, so I tracked down Eric, and asked to meet. There was nothing to lose, so we just put it in front of them.”

“You said they didn’t buy in rigt away?”

“It all happened at the first meeting. I proposed the idea. They looked interested. Madonna did the rest.”

Kitty wasn’t gonna pussyfoot around it, so she came rigt out and asked, “Did she fuck them?”

King laughed his ass off for thirty seconds, before finally saying, “Do you seriously think she has to fuck a guy, or three of them, to get them to do what she wants them to do?  Look, guys are hard wired, through millions of years of evolution, to want to fuck beautiful girls. It comes with the dick. And let’s not get sidetracked by the queer thing, please. All you have to do is exist to have power of guys. The hope of fucking you is all the inspiration they need to do what you want.”

“Oh, c’mon, I understand that. But as well maintained as she is, she’s not what she used to be.”

“She’s still Madonna, kid .”

“Fair point. I’d still fuck Keith Richards.”

“Would you?”

“Oh, yeah, in a heartbeat. But you know what I would not want to hear him say while we are thrashing each other?”


“I’m not Keith Richards.”

Stephen doubled over in hysterical laughter. When he composed himself, he assured Kitty, “I really am Stephen King!”

Kitty doubled over in hysterical laughter. When she composed herself she said, “Oh, daddy, you’re so funny! But you didn’t answer my question. Did she, or didn’t she?”

“Why don’t you ask her yourself? Better yet, ask them, when they come for lunch tomorrow?

“Maybe I will. What are they gonna do with the fifteen million they are gonna give up? Where’s the money going?”

“That’s what they’re coming to talk about. They’re bringing their spiritual adviser with them.”

“And who might that be?”

“I don’t know her name. They call her Thunder Babe. And you’ll like this; she’s a vegan.”

Kitty loved it. “Leave it to a pack of puckheads to call their spiritual guru Thunder Babe!”

“Welcome to Thunder Fuckin’ Bay, babe.”

59 – GOTCHA!



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The waitress had been yoking it up with the cook when Stephen and Kitty walked into the dining room, and she still had an absurdly amused smirk on her face as she made her merry way to their table, taking her sweet time.

Kitty greeted her by putting out the same energy the girl was broadcasting, “Daisy is a happy girl!”

The girl started giggling again, prompting Stephen to ask, “Care to share the hahaha?”

The waitress hesitated, then started laughing, “Um… well, it’s your President.”

“Oh, dear,” said Kitty, “What has the chucklehead done now?”

“Apparently, he just signed an Executive Order clearing the way for America to mine the moon.”

King and Kaboodle did what most people did when they heard the news; they laughed. “Yes, of course he did,” said Stephen.

“What do you mean, apparently?” asked Kitty.

“Well, it could be fake news,” the waitress shrugged.

“Yes, there’s a lot of that going around,” King agreed. “But it rings true. No sense starting a space force, unless you’re gonna start a moon mining company to pay for it.”

The waitress thought that one over, and asked, “You think that’s what his space force idea is all about? I hope not.”

“Why do you hope not?” asked Kitty.

“Well, my step brother is planning to apply for space force.”

“Your step brother is American?” Stephen inquired.

The girl nodded, “Yeah. My stepmom’s from Grand Marais, just down the road. But I don’t think he wants to be a miner. He’s imagining something more heroic than that.”

“Fighting off the evil aliens, no doubt,” Stephen smirked. “I hope he’s a real life Luke Skywalker, ‘cause Kitty here says the aliens that are coming are mighty mean.”

“Oh, I think so, too,” Daisy said. “I bet they’re coming here to farm us, just like we do with cows and pigs. Stupid meatsticks, that’s all we are to them. Protein bars.”

Dumbfounded, King and Kaboodle stared at each other, then laughed hysterically.

“What’ so funny?” the waitress wanted to know. “It’s pretty scary, if you ask me.”

“It’s okay, Daisy Mae, Kitty says all you have to do is become a vegan, and the aliens will leave you alone.”

“Oh, I hope so, ‘caUSe I’ve been vegan since birth,” Daisy said proudly.

“Oh, excellent!” Kitty chirped. “No need to worry, then. I will personally make sure you are spared.”

“Really? Thank you!” Daisy gushed.

King cautioned, “But you might wanna tell your step brother to think it over, because he’s more likely to be mining the moon, than he is to be fighting off aliens.”

“I think Stephen is rigt, And I would bet that the moon mining will be done with Putin as a full partner. Except that the Russians will all be political prisoners.”

Stephen loved that, and picked it up, “Yes, the new gulag archipelago, on the dark side of the moon. You better tell your step brother to read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich before he signs on the dotted line.”

Daisy looked at Kitty, and Kitty nodded her head in agreement. “Oh, yeah. There’s a shot ton, Eldorado mother lode of zero gravity, zero calorie Cheetos and Oreos up there. If you listen to Dark Side of the Moon backwards, it tells you exactly were the biggest deposits are.”

Daisy thought it over and decided she really liked Kitty’s black eyes. Like, really, really liked them. Like, a lot, a lot. “Okay, I’ll tell him that. Thank you! Now, what can I get for you?

“I’m gonna try the penne garlic vodka mushroom,” Stephen answered. “Kitty says it is fabulous.”

“Really?” said little Miss Daisy. “That’s great. That’s my recipe. All the vegan dishes are my recipes. Are you vegan,” she asked Kitty.

“I am,” Kitty confirmed.

“I thought so! You’re so pretty, and you just exude rigteousness. Everyone here says so, even my dad.”

“Thank you, Daisy!” Kitty smiled. “You’re very beautiful, too. Who’s your dad?”

“He’s the manager. Scott. He says you’re all so wonderful. And everyone agrees, especially me. And especially you, pretty little Kitty.”

Stephen sat back, entranced. Two tasty tarts flirting with each other was about the best floor show an old man could hope for in a family restaurant.

“I think you should try the falafel wild rice pilau,” Daisy advised Kitty. “I make the sauce myself. Won’t give the recipe to no one. Well, except for you, if you want it.”

“Oh, yes, I want it,” Kitty said, with just the slightest hint of sauciness. “I’d love to let you show me how it’s done, here in Thunder Bay.”

“You just tell me when. I’ve got two tickets to paradise. If you pack your bag, we’ll leave tonight!” Daisy smiled seductively. “Anything else? We have a nice riesling that goes well with both.”

“That sounds perfect,” Kitty answered. “Thank you so much.”

“It will be my pleasure to serve you,” Daisy responded, ignoring the old man’s existence, and sashaying back to the kitchen.

“What?” Kitty asked in response to Stephen’s smirk.

“You’re a shameless flirt.”

“Gotta problem with that?”

“No, not me. But be warned, skanky jailbait is a hard habit to quit.”

“Is that experience talking?”

“A lifetime of it.”

“You think she’s skanky?”

“She hides it well. Putting on airs, for the family, and the patrons, but yeah. Skanky in the good way.”

“Okay, but she’s not jailbait.”

“Maybe, maybe not. But she’s a semitard. The mind of a 12 year old.”

“Oh, whatever. It’s not as if I’m gonna knock her up. I wonder if she fucks her step brother? I’ll find out, and let you know.”

“Just don’t let young Stephen know about all this. He’s got a jealous streak a mile wide. He got that from me.”

“Well, until young Stephen grows a pussy for me to eat, he’s got nothing to be jealous about, does he?”

“Oh, I understand that. But he may not. That kind of thing is learned from experience, and he ain’t got none of that.”

“Don’t you worry about it, old man. I’ll take good care of your bastard bad boy.”

“Yes, I think you will. In fact, I think you’re gonna take good care of all of us.”

“I’m gonna do my best, I assure you. Just don’t stumble around, getting in my way, if you’d be so kind, please and thank you. And don’t worry, if I mess up, you can spank me, daddy.”




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Madonna announced that she was done for the day. “I’m climbing into bed with Riff n Raff.”

Stephen considered his options, and settled on the obvious one, “Wanna go have a beer?” he asked his son.

Lance rejected the offer immediately, but pretended to be thinking about it. After a while, he answered, “No. I’m gonna have another go at KILLGOD!”

Masking the fact that he was disappointed by his son’s rebuff, Stephen asked, “Are you enjoying it?”

Before the boy could answer, Kitty cut in, “Do you game, Stephen?”

King grinned, and replied, “The closest I get to video gaming is computer solitaire when I’m stuck for words.”

“Really?” Kitty asked. “You’ve never even tried?”

“I have a friend. She’s an avid gamer. She got a new Xbox, five or ten years ago. I guess it was the first edition with voice command, whenever that was. She was impressed as all get out with it, and thought I would be too.

“She gave me a demonstration, ‘Xbox, open door. Xbox, close door. Xbox this, Xbox, that.’ I was laughing my ass off. She wanted to know what was so funny, so I said, ‘Xbox, suck my dick. Xbox, get me a beer. Xbox, make me a sandwich.’ Xbox, of course, did none of the above, so I concluded, ‘Xbox, you suck!’”

Kitty found it wildly amusing. “You’re hilarious. You’re a caveman, but a really funny one!”

Stephen was tempted to ask his son if he was rigt about a man’s priorities, but quickly concluded the topic of dick sucking probably shouldn’t be put up for discussion in mixed company. If he was gonna bring up dick sucking with Kitty in the room, she would be the only one in the room with him.

But King, dirty dog that he is, saw an opportunity to milk a little more fawning out of the nubile, black-eyed temptress, so he gave her the ‘Aw, shucks’ schtick. “Thank you, young lady. It’s always heartening to know that something that fired off in this massive, festering mess of looming dementia in my head has triggered a few moments of laughter for someone, somewhere!”

The King of Horror was wording, and little Miss Kaboobdle was impressed. Smitten, almost. And wanting more. “Massive, festering mess of looming dementia in my head! You know, for a caveman, you sure do make pretty words. ”

King grinned, and grunted like a caveman for a few seconds. Kitty squealed delightedly. “Okay, Grog, since our cohorts are going to be otherwise occupied, perhaps you would care to dine with me?”

Madonna was already in bed, and out of ear shot. King stole a quick look at Lance out of the corner of his eye. His illegitimate son wasn’t going to like it, but maybe the boy would learn something about the perils of rebuffing an offer to converse with one of the world’s greatest living authors, so he said to pretty Kitty, “It would be my pleasure, thank you very much. What was that you had earlier? It sounded promising.”

“The penne garlic vodka mushroom. Yes, it’s fantastic. You enjoyed it, didn’t you, Lance.”

Lance, who had enjoyed the dish, but was not enjoying this development, at all, faked a slight smile, and answered, “Yes, it was great. Ask for extra sauce, and garlic bread to sop it all up. I would bet a nice reisling would go perfectly with it.”

“Excellent,” Stephen said. “Honey, Kitty and I are off to forage for food. Do you desire anything?”

Oh, dear, did she ever! “No, thank you, dear. Enjoy yourselves.” The sound of the door closing tickled Madonna’s ears, striking up Tiffany’s diabetes inducing cover of I Think We’re Alone Now! She crawled out of bed to see if her and hardboy Lance were, in fact alone, and was disappointed to find that her prey had slipped away.




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“You’re gonna love this,” Kitty promised. “When I walked through the lobby, the staff were watching the news. Trump’s been playing doctor today.”

“With Stormy Daniels, or the Russian whores who pissed on him?” asked Madonna.

“Oh, no. Much better. With the White House press corps!” The others smiled and waited. “He was advising the medical research community to look into injecting the infected with disinfectants to cure them of the virus.”

King burst into laughter. “Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the new Surgeon General of the United States of America, Dr. Donald Joseph Mengele, aka the Angel of Death.”

“Hey, I’m all for it,” Lance announced. “Dr. Trump, in his white lab coat, POTUS logo on the pocket, experimenting on all his MAGA hat wearing, mouth breathing disciples. Broadcast it live. I’d pay to watch that shit.”

“Love it!” laughed Kitty. “But Trump can’t be wearing a mask, ‘cause real men don’t wear masks.”

Stephen wanted to know, “But can he be wearing Melania’s underwear? I mean, wearing one of her bras as a mask. That’s manly man stuff.”

Kitty agreed. “Agreed. He can wear one of her bras as a mask, although one of Dolly’s wouldn’t be big enough to cover that yapper of his, but never mind that.  And he has to have a gun slung over his shoulder, like Rambo. Like all the Freedom Fries Fighters.”

“I’m not so sure we could get all that many of the Freedom Fries Fighters to volunteer,” Madge declared.

“Oh, Hell, that’ll be easy,” King said. “Goebbels would have them lined up around the block. Trump just has to say that he’s been informed that the Freedom Fries Fighters have been infiltrated by a fifth column of over compensating, closet case Nancy boys. And he don’t want none of those pussies involved in these experiments, ‘cause this is work for real men.”

Kitty managed to stop laughing long enough to say, “He could bring Putin in, by satellite, for that presser. Have him shirtless, and riding around on a bear, in Red Square, performing the same experiments on real Russian men, who ain’t afraid of no faggoty, Chinese pussy virus.”




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55 a


55 B






Allegations made by the Catholic girl in the room that Miss Kaboodle was musing on a fiendish plot to become the first female Pope were rigorously denied by the girl who insisted that she was not musing on a fiendish plot to become the first female Pope.

Understanding that the first rule of engagement when you are under attack by a scurrilous opponent is to deny everything, and make counter accusations, Kitty Kaboodle stuck her tongue out at Madge, and said, “I know you are, but what am I?”

Miss Ciccone did not deny the accusation that she wants to rule the roost at the Vatican. In fact, she laughed manically, and confessed, with an absence of contrition, “It has always been my wet dream.”

Then, getting serious, Madonna asked, “You okay?”

Kitty Kaboodle was just fine, thanks for asking. She pretty much confirmed what the others had suspected about her sudden departure, and gave the following details.

“You triggered it,” she said, meaning Madonna, “when you asked if I wanted to sue someone. It was a blinding flash. A vision. There and gone, in a second, but that second lasted an eternity, and the scene is seared into my psychic circuitry. I saw packs of scummy lawyers gang-raping Lady Justice. She was screaming. They were laughing. Dozens of them. And then… a hand. A hand smote them. The few that survived, begged for mercy, groveled for forgiveness. And then it was all gone, and I was telling the two of you to shut up, and then leaving the room.”

“The hand of God!” Stephen proclaimed.

“Diego really knows how to use his hands,” Madonna confessed, with an absence of contrition.

‘Oh my God! Is there anyone you haven’t fucked? You really are the Whore of Babylon,’ Kitty thought, with absolute admiration.

“A bolt from the Bard!” bet the boy who would, one day, be King Lear. “A challenge to write a merry murder mystery, in which all the barristers bite the dust!”

“Laid low, one and all, perhaps by a plague, exclusive to their ilk?” offered, King comma Stephen.

“No harm, no foul!”” quipped Babylon comma Whore of.

“Maybe we can see our way to sparing John Grisham?” asked one of the few authors who has outsold the master of litigation lit.

“We can see him in chambers,” smiled Lance. “I am sure he would make a very compelling case for his clemency.”

“And who, then, will play the role of Devil’s advocate, in this courtroom drama to decide the fate of Mr. Grisham?” asked the only mother in the room.

“That would be Scott Turow,” Stephen informed his honey.

“Who dat?” his honey asked, by way of reply.

“Precisely,” said Stephen, who had, apparently made himself judge, as well and King. He banged an imaginary gavel, and declared, “Case closed. Grisham lives. I call y’all in the bar. John’s buying.”




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Neither of the old folks were worried about Kitty’s state. Although he was wise well beyond his years, Lance, however, didn’t understyand what had just happened, so he was worried about the well being of the girl who would be his Queen, even though he still knew nothing of that business. So, the boy got up and turned toward the door.

Madonna, who understood that Lance was constitutionally disinclined to listen to anything his absentee father had to say that was even mildly instructional, jumped in to prevent what could be a mistake. “Leave her, Lance.”

The boy stopped. And pondered. He was acting more on instinct, than logic; he had no idea why Kitty left. Is it a girl thing, he wondered?

“She’s fine. She’s not angry. She’s not upset. There’s nothing to worry about. Nothing you can do,” Madge assured him. “She had a vision. A flash of one. Something beautiful. Something transcendent. Something unifying. And then it was gone. She’s trying to find it. She’s trying to find her way to wherever it went.

Stephen nodded in agreement. “It happens to all of us. Not just artists. Even the most wooden of dullards gets those glimpses into something better. A look through a pinhole in the fabric of reality.”

“Yes,” said Lance. “I understand. It happens to me. I’ve never thought of them as visions into somewhere else. Just ideas. And I always wonder where all those ideas disappear to. It has to be the most amazing place imaginable. The place where everyone’s amazing ideas go, not to die, but to live, and shine and laugh. I know that place is full of laughter. All the time. Laughter, laughter and still more laughter. Almost like a nadhouse. A madhouse where all the madmen are happy. Really happy, not Prozac happy.”

Stephen digressed a bit, “I had a correspondence going, a few years ago, with a guy who had an interesting idea. Canadian guy, actually. From Ottawa. Accountant. With an imagination, if you can imagine. Told me he’d embezzled a bunch of money from some government agency he’d worked for, and retired to fulfill his dream of being a writer. He had a great idea for a book, could have been a series, in fact, but he couldn’t write to save his life.”

“I love the idea of an accountant with an over active imagination,” Madonna grinned. He has a little friend, a decimal point named Danny. Danny’s got ants in his pants, and loves to dance. Danny the dancing decimal point. And one day, Danny the Dancing Decimal Point dances all over every reconciliation roll on every ledger sheet in the world, and merrily disappears down Alice’s rabbit hole, leaving the world in absolute chaos.”

“Funny stuff,” Stephen aid.

“Sure, but you had the floor. Sorry, please carry on.”

“Yes, so this guy’s idea was that there’s a parallel universe. We all have doppelgangers in the parallel universe. Nothing new, about that, but here’s his twist; the doppelgangers, our twins, get all our karma. So, if we do bad things, they get punished. If we do good things, they get rewarded.”

Lance loved it. “Oh, I love that!”

“Yes, me too.  I tried to encourage him to write it. I gnawed on it for a couple months, sending him suggestions about plotlines. His whole premise, his question, was: if we knew, would we be better people. Fear based behaviour modification, like we were talking about earlier.”

“Wow!” Lance literally gasped as he exclaimed his love of the idea. “That has so much potential.”

“Doesn’t it, just?” King asked rhetorically. “You‘ll like this, Madge. One of his plotlines involved a confessional. A doppelganger finds his way to our universe through a portal in a confessional.

“The doppelganger is the doppelganger of one of the priest’s parishioners. Someone who attends services regularly, tithes generously, but keeps to himself, otherwise. Has never even been to confession before.

“So, when he appears in the confession booth, the priest is surprised. And when he confesses to a murder, the priest is shocked.”

“It’s delicious,” Lance whistled. “So, what happened?”

“Nothing. I couldn’t convince the guy to sit down and write it, on his own, or with me. He wouldn’t sell me the idea. And I have no rigt to abscond with it, so it just disappears. Goes to that wonderful place, full of all the wonderful ideas we get a glimpse at, but never much more than a glimpse. The place Kitty is searching for, as we speak.”

Madonna, who had been waiting patiently, finally interjected. I was picturing a gloryhole in the confessional.” Neither Lance nor Stephen found the confession the least bit surprising. “I’ve always said that we will know we are truly in the End Times when the Vatican puts gloryholes in confessionals.”

“That’s hilarious. It will be the first honest thing the Catholic Church has done in a century, or more,” laughed Lance. “And it will surely queue the second coming of Martin Luther. Luther 2.0”

“I think the Pope is walking the path to meet Luther 2.0 already,” Madonna opined. “I read, a few days ago, that His Holiness was addressing the subject of confession in a time of quarantine. He advised his followers to confess directly to God, all on their own.”

No one had noticed that Kitty had slipped back into the room, so they were all delighted when she said, “If i were Pope, I’d just say, ‘Look, it’s very simple; just stop doing bad things, and we can skip all this confession and condescension bullshit, retard. If you do that, God will look away when you touch yourself, and he will give you a cookie, when you get to Heaven.”




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Betting that the conversation was about to run off madly in all directions once again, and having explained the fundamentals of Commonwealth, Lance told the others he would send them a link to a hidden, password protected page on his website, where they would find a more detailed conceptual overview of the idea. No doubt, three highly imaginative minds would have many questions, and many answers for those questions, all of which could be dealt with if and when they found, or made the time to sit down in a formal meeting, with a preset agenda, and Lance told them as much. The boy added that they should consider whether they wanted to convene such a session prior to heading down the Yellow Brick Road to see Branson, wherever he might be.

Kitty chummed the waters, “It’s a shame my father isn’t alive. He’d love this. We are now living n the most interesting of times. This story has a billion angles, and a million more develop every day. It’s a carnival on every corner, from a reporter’s perspective. A carnival and a car crash. In my mind, I can see him reading the first reports of the virus, back in January, and staring into the void, mumbling, ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’”

Madonna picked it up and ran with it, “You’re rigt about there being a carnival, and a car crash on every corner. And where there be car crashes, there be ambulance chasers. I’ve been wondering when the lawyers would enter this circus of a million rings. And now those bad clowns, with writs up their yin yangs for ladies, and gentlemen, and children of all ages, have crawled out from under their rocks, and screamed for a spotlight.”

Madge had drawn the spotlight to her, and the others waited to see the old bird sing and dance. She accommodated them.

“The Attorney General of the ‘Show Me’ state has climbed up on his hind legs, pointed a cloven hoof at Beijing, and commanded, ‘Show me the money, chinky-chinky Chinaman!’”

“How much does the suit ask for,” asked Lance.

“Hundreds of thousands of billions of trillions, would be my bet,” Stephen laughed. “Missouri huh? It would be a joy to have Samuel Clemons covering that shitshow. They should hold the trial on a paddle wheeler, chugging down the Mississippi to the House of the Rising Sun, where Madame Fifi La Belle and her femme fatales will be happy to take the money of the winners, and the losers, too, if they have any left, which they surely will.”

Lance piped in, “It’s interesting that a State Attorney General would file an action in one of his own courts… I assume he did, rigt?” Madonna nodded her confirmation. “Interesting because, as a general rule, sovereign states enjoy immunity from prosecution in the courts of other sovereign states, so his own courts will refuse the case, saying they have no jurisdiction.”

“So, why did he bother,” Madge asked.

“I don’t know. A piss poor attempt at election year show boating?” was Lance’s first guess. “But what he should do, if he really wants to stir the pot, and get headlines around the world, is file actions in the courts of Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Beijing insists that Taiwan and Hong Kong are parts of the People’s Republic, so the CPC could not ask for the immunity from prosecution they enjoy from other sovereign states. The CPC would be cornered, and the whole world would be laughing.”

Stephen liked it, and added to the fun, “The CPC could file counter suits, of course.”

“Yes, but if I were the Grand Wizard of the CPC, I’d file them in Cuban and Venezuelan courts. They could conjure up the ghosts of Castro, and Chavez to adjudicate.”

Chuckling, King said, “Those fucking Germans started this, didn’t they? Didn’t Merkel send Beijing a bill for a couple hundred billion bucks?”

Lance laughed uproariously, but corrected his father on the fake news folly, “It was actually a tabloid that sent the bill, but yes, the Chancellor is getting the credit.”

“Oh, I can see why she would get the credit. That’s a woman who looks like she’s always looking for someone to spank. She’d be a great repo man. You gotta know the CPC politburo boys piss their PJs nightmaring about her coming for them, with smiley face, and nasty intent.”

“She’d also be a great frontman for Ramstein,” King exclaimed. “Can’t you just see her, ‘Du. Du hast. Du hast mich!”

King loved the idea so much he got up and started doing the goose-step funny-walk, a la John Cleese in the Don’t Mention the War episode of Fawlty Towers, and singing,

Du hast
Du hast mich

Du has
Du hast mich
Du hast mich gefragt
Du hast mich gefragt


Kitty Kaboodle was laughing, and singing along with King. For some reason, Madonna felt compelled to command the girl’s attention, so she asked, “What do you think, Pretty Kitty? Are you litigious? Do you wanna sue somebody?”

A switch flipped open in Kitty’s head. And it flipped shut, just as quickly. She stopped laughing. Her face froze. Her mind tried to find the switch again. She’d seen something in the light that came with the flipping of the switch, and she desperately wanted to see it again. She wanted to touch it, to taste it, to fuse with it, whatever it was. It was electrifying. Orgasmic beyond sexuality. A mindfuck.

Madonna was aware that Kitty was elsewhere, and cautiously called the girl’s name, “Kitty?”

Kitty kept staring into the void, threw out her rigt arm with her hand signifying STOP, and commanded, “Nein!”

Lance became aware of what was going on, or at least that something was going on. He, too, felt compelled to utter her name, “Kitty?”

Lance got the left hand, “Nein!”

Unable to concentrate with the others fixating on her, Kitty got up, walked purposefully to the door in silence, and left the suite. She had to find that switch.




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52 A


51 – ANTE UP


“What goes up, must come down, according to Sis Isaac Newton,” Lance stated. “Whether he actually said the words, or not, doesn’t really matter, please and thank you, and the truism may not even be true outside the field of physics, but that doesn’t matter, either, because I am going to apply the quote to one thing, and one thing only, for the moment, namely Yooutube.

“After attempting to compete with Youtube, with Google Video, Google gave it up, and purchased Youtube for $1.65 billion, about a decade ago. Present value is estimated at $160 billion. And we are going to completely destroy it, using nothing but pennies.

“Since we have a genuine Youtube superstar here, let’s use her as an example. Give me a song, if you would be so kind, please, Madonna.”

Before Madonna could pick one, Kitty yelled, “Sorry!”

Stephen cringed, thinking, ‘Good God, she could be singing that to me, next week, when she finds out I’ve had my way with you, little Kitty cat. What in Hell possessed you to pick that, of all tunes?”

Madonna instantly flashed back to watching Kitty strip to the song at the pool. Sex started to spark and sizzle through the sexagenarian’s central nervous system, as images of Kitty stripping, teasing, taunting, stroking, smirking and finally climaxing strobed through Madge’s recall/imagination circuitry.

Kitty and Madonna stared into each other, oblivious to the boys. Aroused and afraid was Madonna. She was flooded with pure, raw, animal emotions. She couldn’t think.

When the room service knock was delivered on the door, Kitty sprang to her feet, “I’ve got it!” Mesmerized, Madonna watched the girl saunter in her direction. The Kaboodle girl stopped, and stooped, for a second, as she was walking past Madonna. She leaned into the pop star’s ear, and whispered, “When I think about you… I touch myself.”

Madge’s mind melted. Oh, she wanted the tawdry tart, in the worst way! She wanted to put the saucy, little harlot over her knee, and spank her until they were both on the verge of orgasm, and then… and then Kitty flounced past again. This time she kept moving, but made direct eye contact, and whispered, “I honestly do.”

Neither of the great writers in the room were using their amazing powers of observation to observe what the girls were doing rigt in front of them.

Takin’ a sippa his cuppa, King interrupted, before Lance could even restart, ““Wait a minute. What if Google, or Amazon, Facebook, Miscrosoft, or any of them want to buy Commonwealth?”

“It’s not for sale,” said both the kids, Lance matter-of-factly, Kitty defiantly.

Everything is for sale, for the rigt price,” King countered.

His son took him on, “Wrong. That’s your generation’s bullshit. Greed is good, and all that Masters of the Universe tripe is all done. You know what Abbey said about growth, rigt?”

King nodded that he did, but Madge asked, “Abbey who?”

“Edward Abbey,” Lance clarified. “Writer, He said, regarding economics, ‘Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.’ Well, wealth for the sake of wealth is the ideology of the dinosaur money zombies.”

Kitty blew Lance a kiss, pointed at the old people, and sang:

But everybody’s like

Cristal, Maybach,

diamonds on your timepiece

jet planes, islands,

tigers on a gold leash

Kitty alternated her pointing from the King of Horror, to the Queen of Pop, and back again, and back again. She was mocking them. She was mocking their whole generation.

Then, she pointed first at herself, then at Lance, and finished the chorus

We don’t care,

we aren’t caught up in your love affair

Trusting the point was made, Kitty let Lance get back to it.

“The video of Sorry at the top of the page, which claims to be the official release from you yourself, has 33 million views. Do you know how much money Youtube owes you for that?”

“Thirty three grand, I believe.”

“I believe you’re rigt. If you could make ten times that on a Commonwealth video sharing platform, would you pull it from Youtube?”

“Of course I would. Everyone would. But who’s going to pay?”

Pulling a pretty penny from his pocket, Lance Lear threw it over to the multi millionaire. “I am,” he said. “I am willing to pay you a cent to watch that vid. If I’ve got as much money as the three of you do, I might even pay two cents, maybe even a nickel, but let’s not get carried away. Let’s keep it to a pretty penny. I can watch a hundred videos for a buck. Five or more hours of entertainment for a buck.”

Stephen was adamant that, “People will hate that. No one’s gonna wana pay.”

But Madge understood. “You’re wrong. Our people will be happy to pay. When artists start making money, because of Commonwealth, they will see the shift that’s happening. And they will understand it’s all good for them. All good for all of us.

“And if the public don’t like it, fuck ‘em! Fuckers have a firm grip on their entitlements, don’t they? Well, if they wanna see what we are creating, they gonna have to put a penny in the hat, ‘cause our stuff ain’t going up on Youtube no more. What do we call it?”

“I’m kinda liking Penny Ante,” said Lance, “but if someone has something better, I’m not married to it.”

Stephen had questions, the first of which was, “So, Penny Ante is exclusive to Commonwealth members?”

“Not necessarily. We could simply allow posters to say whether their posts are free, by donation, or either or. But you have to be a member to post.

“If you’re just consuming stuff on the platform, you don’t need a membership. If you wanna consume vids that require a donation, or straight up payment, you can only pay with our own internal coins. Pretty Pennies, or Money Pennies, or something cute and clever. You don’t have to be a member to buy the coins, but you get better deals if you are.”

Stephen was satisfied with his son’s answer, so he moved to his next question, “When you pulled up the vid for Sorry, you said the official one was at the top on the page, but there are others, and Madge doesn’t get a hundredth of a cent for views of them.”

“I understand, said Lance. “ It won’t take long before Youtube is out of business. But, while it still breathes, we have to not only deprive it of content, but of advertisers, too.

Their ad rates will drop immediately; when we tell the world we are out to destroy their bad business model. But let’s say someone is still posting Madge’s songs on Youtube. They are doing so to make money, mostly. But what happens when Madge tells her tens of millions of fans that Rusty’s Root Beer is ripping her off? Bad news for Rusty and his rotten root beer.

“Every artist has to police their own stuff. But we have to help each other pounce, when Youtube allows this fuckery to go on, as it clings desperately to life.”

“But how long can Youtube cling to life, once we start Penny Ante?” asked Kitty. “I vote for Penny Ante, if you hadn’t guessed. Penny Ante for the platform, and Money Pennies for the coins. They have no content. No advertisers. That’s checkmate, mate.”

Madonna looked at Kitty, and asked, “Are you sure you wanna call the coins Money Pennies? If we call them Pretty Pennies, we can put your pretty face on them.”

Madonna winked at Kitty, and blew her a kiss. Kitty reciprocated in kind, and replied, “Maybe. But if we do, I get to decide what is written on them.”

“In God we don’t trust?” Lance guessed.

“I like it. A lot. But no,” Kitty answered. “We pick a fight with someone bigger than God. We take on Google. We take the gem they threw in the trash two years ago, the Arkenstone, and stick it rigt back in their face!”

Lance laughed. He knew.

King asked.

Lance laughed, “Don’t be evil.”

“Rigt!” Madonna said. “That’s the best corporate slogan in business history. What the Hell possessed them to drop it?”

“Bill Gates,” said Kitty.

“Huh? King grunted.

“Gates punked them. Pretended to be Sauron. Offered them total tax free status, in perpetuity if they relocated to Mordor. But they had to drop DON’T BE EVIL. When they dropped it, Gates revealed himself, and laughed. The Google guys howled indignation, and impotent rage. Gates laughed, ‘Don’t like it? GO TO HELL, evil fuckers!’”




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