Being a logophile, Stephan was very amused by Lance’s anagrams. So amused was he that he came up with one of his own, although not nearly as clever as the ones his son came up with. “Book deal,” he blurted without explanation.

Madge and Lear looked at him. His grin was absurd. He was very pleased with something. Madonna took the bait, and asked, “What about a book deal? Have you been offered a new one, that you have yet to mention?”

King chuckled merrily, then replied, “No.” He looked at his son, and said it again, “Book deal.”

Lance squinted, and cocked his head to his rigt. “Book deal?”

Still grinning, King laughed, “C’mon wordsmith. What can you do with book deal?”

“I’ve never been offered one. How the Hell would I know?”

King erupted in laughter, calmed himself, grinned, and said, “C’mon, wordsmith, what can you do with the term, book deal?”

It took twenty seconds for the grin to break across Lance’s face. As it did, he laughed. “Kaboodle! Kaboodle is an anagram for book deal!”

The three of them laughed. None of them could do anything with Kitty, which in and of itself was amusing, in a puzzling way. “She’s an extraordinary girl,” King said. “She has exceeded all expectations.” Madge nodded in agreement.

“How did you find her?” Lance asked.

“We were looking for her. Or someone like her,” Stephen answered.

“There’s no one like that girl,” Madonna said, knowing no one would argue the point. “She is singularly unique, and you were very fortunate to find her.”

King nodded his agreement. Lance asked, “What do you mean you were looking for her? I assume you mean you and your friends in weird places were looking for her.”

King looked at Madge, who shrugged, meaning it was up to him if he was gonna answer. King shrugged, and said, “Yes, me and my friends in weird places were looking for someone like her. We didn’t know she existed, but we found her. What do you know about her parents?”

“She told me her father was a journalist. Got himself killed working on a story. She never knew him. He never acknowledged her as his daughter. What do you know about him?”

“What she told you is all true. He was a great journalist. A super sensitive, finely tuned bullshit detector. An encyclopedic memory. Excellent wordcraft, structure and flow to his work. Fearless.”

“And the story he was working on?” Lance asked.

“Not sure. No one is. Lots of speculation about it, in small circles. No one has put it all together, so far as I know. What do you know about her mother?”

“She hasn’t mentioned her. What do you know?”

Once again, King looked at Madonna. Once again, Madonna shrugged.

“She’s a professional gambler. Poker mostly. She’s been a pro since she was Kitty’s age. She’s good. She’s won a few bracelets. Four, I think. But she’s streaky. Reckless, at times.”

“And you met her at a table? A tournament?”

“No. I’ve never played against her. Not yet. I hope to. Maybe when this is over.”

“Maybe before this is over,” Madonna said.

“Yeah. Maybe. Who knows how weird this will get?” King returned his attention to his son. “We were looking for someone like Kitty. A possible fusion of two appealing DNAs. Her father was known to my friends. Not loved, but respected. Feared. So, they dug a little deeper into his background, and found Kitty’s mother. They really liked her. When they found Kitty, and knew without a doubt that her father was her father, they studied her.”

“How long ago was all this?” Lance asked.

“Just a couple years. The whole thing started when it became apparent that a Trump presidency was a real possibility. We knew he would be divisive. We thought that he might inadvertently do to the USA, what Gorbachev did to the USSR, namely fragment it. Balkanize it. We started imagining what that would mean, not only here,” then he corrected himself by pointing south and saying, “there, but all around the world, and what opportunities for positive change might come of it. So we started playing 3D chess in the sky. Gathering pieces, imagining scenarios.” Stephen stopped, looked at Lance, and said, “That’s all I can give you, rigt now. Don’t ask for more. Not yet.”

Lance chewed that over, and decided to drop it, for the moment. Madonna was about to say something when the hotel manager approached the table, sheepishly.

“Hi, Scott,” Madge smiled. “What can we do for you?”

Scott was visibly distraught, but managed to say, “It’s about the girl.”

“What about her?” Madonna asked.

“She’s in the pool.”

“Yes, she told us she was going for a swim. Is there a problem?”

“Well… she’s… naked.”

A roar of laughter erupted at the table. Madonna calmed herself, and asked, “Do you have a problem with beautiful girls swimming naked, Scott?”

“Well, personally, no. But it’s against the rules.”

Madonna was determined to ct this short. “Listen, Scott, we are paying a pretty penny to have this hotel to ourselves, so I suggest the rules do not apply. If you can’t make that call on your own, I recommend you get the owners on the phone, and I will do so myself.”

Scott held up his rigt index finger, and said, “Pardon this indiscretion, please,” then leaned into Madonna, and whispered so only she could hear, “It looked like she was masturbating in the pool. She was staring rigt into the camera, and smiling.”

And with that, Madonna exploded in laughter, and chanted, “Super Kitty, Super Kitty, Rah rah rah! Super Kitty, Super Kitty, sis-boom-bah!” She looked at the males at the table. She knew Stephen would laugh his ass off, too, but doubted Lance would be comfortable hearing about it, which made her laugh uproariously again.

Madonna grabbed Scott by the tie, pulled his ear to her mouth, and said, “Listen carefully. I want that tape erased, immediately. Do you understand me? Do I make myself perfectly clear?”

Scott whispered back, “Yes. Perfectly clear. I will see to it rigt now.”

“No,” Madge whispered back into Scott’s ear. “You stay rigt here. I will go with you.” Then, having second thoughts, she said, “Actually, go wait for me in the kitchen, please, if you’d be so good.”

Scott simpered, turned, and did as he was told.
Stephen, who had been distracted by a text, turned to Madonna, and raised an eyebrow. Madonna ignored him, and he got the message that she would be saying nothing in Lance’s presence.

Shifting the conversation so as to move Lance’s mind away from what had transpired between Madge and manager, Stephen said, “This is interesting,” pointing at his phone.

“Yes?” Madonna inquired.

“It’s a writing contest.”

Lance laughed, “A bit beneath you, don’t you think?”

“No, not this one. This one is from the tribe, not some mag scrounging for rent money.”

“Okay, why does it amuse you?,” Madonna asked.

“Hell of a challenge. Write the best story you possibly can in just four words.”

“Wow! That is a challenge.” Madge agreed.

But Lance grinned, as the four words flashed in front of his eyes.

“Whad’ya got, kid,” asked King. “It sure looks good.”

Still grinning, looking at Madonna, but thinking of Kitty, said, “I’m falling in love.”

Madonna threw her head back in exaltation. And confusion. Holy shit, the boy was brazen. Rigt in front of his father!

But then his father said, “Hang on a second. I’ve got a contender, although it borrows heavily from your gem.”

Lance and Madonna waited for it. Looking at Madonna, but thinking of Kitty. King proclaimed, “I’ve fallen in love.”




dj jc cover front