As was his custom, Gotcha appeared on the street immediately in front of the Peace Tower rigt at the stroke of midnight.

The fact that he completely ignored his old friend and partner in grime, the King of Horror, despite the fact that King was clad head to toe in pink, and greeted Kitty instead, made it immediately clear to the girl that he was already under her spell.

“Hello Kitty! It’s wunderbar to finally meet you!”

The fact that he used a German word to greet her was not overlooked by Miss Kaboodle.

As soon as Gotcha spoke, Kitty was hit with her eerie vision once again. This time she shut it down before she could hear Lady Justice screaming in terror. Skipping the obligatory pleasantries, she asked, “Are you a lawyer?”

The smile came off Gotcha’s face. He didn’t much care for the contempt that the word lawyer was swimming in when it came out of her mouth, but was well aware of the fact that most people are contemptuous of lawyers, so he didn’t get his back up.

“Non-practicing,” he said, defensively. “Why do you ask?”

Kitty ignored his question, and asked another, “What are you practicing?” Then she partially answered her own question, before he could, “Sorry, I forgot, you’re an international dealer of shade. That’s funny! Shady dealer!”

Heartened that Kitty seemed to have a quick change of her about him, Gotcha said, “I’m glad it amuses you.”

“What amuses me even more is the fact that you are also an international dealer of Chinese bunk Viagra.”

Gotcha turned at Pinky, with more than a hint of surprise, and a suggestion of disdain. Pinky shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh, whatever. Get over it. You are, and if we are going to work together, she has a rigt to know. Besides, it’s mostly harmless, and she is, obviously, amused by it.”

Before Gotcha could retort Pinky, Kitty laughed, “I am amused by it. I think it’s hilarious… but I’m not quite sure why”

Noting the subtle expression of relief on Gotcha’s mug, Kitty added, “I saw a Viagra ad, on TV, a couple years ago. It was, without a doubt, the greatest ad I have ever seen.”

“Which one?” Gotcha wanted to know.

“I don’t even remember the ad itself,” Kitty admitted, but the kicker will always ring in my head: ‘”Seek immediate medical help for an erection lasting more than four hours!’” The girl burst into laughter. The old guys laughed, too, but not nearly as vigorously.

“Whoever came up with that beauty better have made a million bucks for it,” Kitty laughed. “Four hours! Ever softwood lumberjack in the forest must have been falling all over themselves to buy, online, of course, after seeing that ad. And there you are, selling them Chinese bunk that won’t give ‘em wood for four minutes!”

“And laughing all the way to the bank,” Gotcha confessed. “I really should have found out who write that one, and sent him a cheque, because my sites did get considerable spikes while that campaign was running.”

“You must have pissed off a lot of softwood lumberjack wives who had great expectations,” Kitty laughed.

“I was ready for their lawsuits,” Gotcha laughed back.

“I bet you were, counselor,” Kitty replied. “So, why do you do it?”

“Shits and giggles,” I guess.

Kitty suspected there was more to it than shits and giggles. More to it than shits and giggles and money, even. But she knew she wouldn’t get it out of him in a first encounter, even if he knew, himself. “Why Wuhan?”

Gotcha gave her a straight up answer, “The lab that makes them there gives me the best price. Pretty simple. Their packaging is identical to the real thing. They are never out of stock. Thoroughly professional.”

Kitty nodded, then floored the international dealer of shade, “What do you know about the Wuhan virology lab being evacuated today?”

Gotcha froze. WTF is she talking about, he thought to himself. “What are you talking about?”

“You heard what I said,” she said. Then she said, “That’s impossible. If that lab had been evacuated, I would know about it.”

What?” Gotcha asked, visibly confused.

“That, word for word, is exactly what you were about to tell me,” Kitty answered. She was rigt,. He didn’t have to admit it. “And now I’m gonna say, Wanna bet? And you’re gonna say, How much? And I’m gonna say, A million bucks. And you’re gonna say, Do you have a million bucks to lose? And Pinky here is gonna say, She does. Don’t do it. She got that million bucks by beating me in a bet a couple days ago.”

Gotcha said, “That’s impossible. If that lab had been evacuated, I would know about it.”

Kitty said, “Wanna bet?”

Gotcha said, “How much?”

Kitty said, “A million bucks.”

Gotcha said, “Do you have a million bucks to lose.”

And Pinky said, “She does. Don’t do it. She got that million bucks by beating me in a bet a couple days ago.”




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“You know what I don’t understand?” Daisy asked Margot, as they sat next to a crackling fire, under the stars.

“Daisy! I’m disappointed. I thought you were gonna understand everything when that acid started to kick in.”

“Oh, jeez, Miss Margot, everything is a lotta understanding. I don’t think I took that much acid. But maybe it will just keep rising, and I’ll turn into one of them Buddhist monkeys, and become one with the universe.”

“You’re too young and pretty to become a Buddhist monkey, Daisy.”

“Aw, thank you, Miss Margot, You’re so sweet.” Margot smiled, but said nothing. Daisy filled the sonic vacuum, “I don’t understand how people don’t understand kids. I mean, everyone was one, once upon a time. If I turn into a three headed, purple buffalo tonight, I’m gonna remember what it was like to be a three headed, purple fluffalo tomorrow, and every day after, for the rest of my life, so how hard can it be to understand children?”

Margot wondered if she had ever turned into a three headed, purple fluffalo when she was tripping on acid. If she had, she’d forgotten all about it, and the possibility made her just a little sad.

Daisy was too far inside her own head to be pondering what Margot was pondering in silence, so she moved a few degrees to the left, and continued, on a tangent. “People spend a lotta money on child psychologists, trying to figure out what’s wrong with their kids. But they’re just pissing away their money, ‘cause what the Hell does an adult know about being a kid? Sure, they was one once, but like the rest of the grown-ups, they forgot all that stuff a long time ago. They don’t teach anyone to be a child in university, so what the Hell? Why bother giving them all that money? They all just fakin’ it, the bunch of phony baloneys.”

“Well, what do you do when your child has psychological problems, Daisy?”

“Well, first of all, you gotta figure out if they actually do have psychological problems. So, you start by asking them, and talking to them.”

“I’m pretty sure every parent does that, long before taking the kid to see a doctor, Daisy.”

“Oh, I’m sure they do, too, but they ain’t doin’ it rigt.” Daisy turned her chair, so she could look straight into Margot’s eyes, without having to twist her neck. “The answer is real simple. The solution, I mean.”

“What’s the solution, Daisy?”

“Get the little shits drunk.”

Margot thought the idea both hilarious and brilliant. She wasn’t going to run for a seat on the local school board with it as a campaign promise, but she might vote for someone who did. “Because people talk about their problems when they’re drunk!”

“Boy, do they. You know it, Miss Margot. They talk and talk, and talk, and cry, and laugh, and cry some more. Then they have a few more drinks, and then they call their drug dealer. Then they get on Facebook and tell everyone they love them all, or hate them all, and tell them all, the ones they love, and the ones they hate, how they wouldn’t be so fucked up if their mothers had just bought them that pony they wanted, when they was little.”

Having done exactly that, once or twice, long years ago, Margot kept on laughing as she listened.

“I mean, what the Hell is Bailey’s for, if not for kids? You can drink a damn barrel of the stuff and not get drink, if you weigh more than fifty pounds, so whoever made it made it for kids. They made it to put all those phony baloney child psychologists outta business, prolly ‘cause one of ‘em prolly fucked their head up even worse, when they was a messed up kid.

“Wee Billy Bailey, the little Irish leprechaun lush, who’d had a real bad childhood, it was him. He invented Bailey’s, for to get the little kids talkin’ ‘bout what’s bothering ‘em.

“Feed the little shits a couple shots of Bailey’s, and the little shits will spill the beans, I guarantee it.

“The little shits’ll tell you all about the little boy, or little girl they have a crush on. They’ll tell ya, how the teacher be smellin’ like mommy and daddy do, the day after an Italian wedding, all the time.

“They’ll tell ya that they ain’t shit in a week, and have been fakin’ goin’ to the bathroom, ‘cause they don’t wanna get into trouble for not shittin’, ‘cause you’re supposed to do it regular like, and you’re bad if you don’t.

“And if you feed the little shits enough Bailey’s, and the little shits’ll drink it, for sure, ‘cause it tastes like candy, they’ll get so drunk they’ll shit their little pants, and half their problems will be over with.

“Then buy them the damn pony they want, with the money you’re savin’ from not payin; the phony baloneys, and everything’ll be fine with the kid.

“Or would be, if they could just figger out how to make the ones they crushin’ on fall in love with ‘em, and Bailey’s is prolly the answer for that problem, too.”

“Poo is very important, in oh, so many ways,” said Margot.

“Darn tootin’! And that you never know, until you cannot go.” The girl, who apparently had suffered from constipation at some point in her young life, looked up to the stars for five seconds. Then she looked into the fire for five seconds. Then she looked at Margot, and said, “We need a new superhero.”

Nodding her agreement, Margot agreed, “You can never have too many superheroes.”

“He comes from Planet Poo,” Daisy declared. “His superpower is that he can make anyone shit, at anytime.”

“Oh, dear,” Margot laughed, “you’ve really done it, this time, Daisy. You’ve cracked it wide open.”

“Yeah, I think so, too. Can you imagine? Can you imagine how much suffering he could save the world? Not only the poor people who can’t poo, but all those who end up being victimized by them, when they just can’t take it no more. I bet half the wars in the world are started by people who just can’t shit.”

“You know, I think I came across a Wikipedia page about that, a while back.”

“Yeah,” Daisy said, even though she hadn’t heard a word. “But Pooman, should we call him Pooman?”

“That will probably work better than Colonic Irrigation Man. Pooman is much more kid friendly.”

“Yeah,” Daisy agreed, although she hadn’t heard a word. “But Pooman, he can prevent crime, all sorts of crime. If a bad cop is about to give you a ticket for some bullshit, Pooman can show up and make the cop shit his pants, rigt then, rigt there.

“That cop ain’t never gonna bother finishing writing that ticket. His whole fucking mind is gonna freeze, then explode.

“The only thing he gonna be thinkin’ is, ‘Holy shit. I just shit myself. How the fuck did that happen? WTF do I do about this? I just shit myself.’ Then he just gonna walk away, mumbling to himself, and trying to figure out how can fix this shit, without anyone ever finding out ‘bout it, ‘cause he ain’t never gonna hear the end of it, if someone finds out he shit himself.

“And Pooman can to that to anyone, anytime he wants!”

Thoroughly amused, but just a little worried, Margot asked, “Do you need to use the bathroom, Daisy?”

Daisy found the question hilarious. After she stopped laughing her ass off, she answered, “I do! But I can’t poo! Quick, call Pooman!”

“You know where the bathrooms are, girl. Just holler if you fall in.”

Smiling, daisy replied, “No, I’m just foolin’ with you. I don’t have to go to the loo, to make poo. But I think I need to lie down a while. Just close my eyes and shut up for a bit, ‘cause I’m getting’ really high. I ain’t never been this high before.”

Taking the girl by the hand, Margot put her down close enough to the fire to be warm. “Just hang on a couple seconds. Let me fix a tether to you, so you don’t fly away.”

Margot pout both hands on Daisy’s head, and the girl said, “Wow, Miss Margot, I can feel you inside my head. Oh, it feels so good. Thank you! I can feel you. I can feel you keeping me safe.”

Removing her hands from Daisy’s head, Margot said, “Okay, you’re clear for lift off, Daisy cosmonaut. If you feel like you’re slipping away, or if you feel afraid of anything, just holler, and I will pull you back to me.”

132 –



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‘Why?’ was the first question Lance asked himself when Madonna had said, “So, funny boy, tell me about Old Leather Pussy.”

He was so stunned that he didn’t bother noting Madge’s expression. All he could think was, ‘why would Kitty have spilled that?’

Although he’d never bothered to swear the girl to secrecy, he’d figured there was no need to. What the fuck was she thinking?

Not able to come up with a sensible answer immediately, Lance’s mind turned to Madonna, without a command to do so. He managed to focus enough to discern that Madonna had the slightest grin on her face. But what the fuck did that mean?

There was no way for him to deny that he had been calling her Old Leather Pussy, unless he lied, and said that Kitty had lied, and made the moniker up, herself.

Although tempted, he decided against taking a stroll down that cold, dark, dead end street.

But, why? Why had Kitty done it? And why had she done it without telling him she had done it? Had she set him up deliberately? What kind of insane cunt does shit like that? Was she insane?

As soon as he asked himself that question, he remembered a joke his mother had told him once, when she was drunk; “Why do doctors slap babies on the ass when they are born?” Lance wasn’t even aware of the fact that doctors did that, if, in fact, that was a fact.

He was never sure if it was true, or not. He had never checked into it. His mother was prone to minor bouts of insanity, herself, and when she was into her cups she was capable of saying all sorts of mad shit. Lance had never bothered attempting an answer to his mother’s question, but he had never forgotten her answer.

Taking a hit on her drink, she started laughing before she spat out the answer/punchline, “To knock the dicks off the crazy ones!” As soon as the words finished spilling out of her gaffawing mouth, Lance’s mother burst into a cascade of cackles that made her sound like an old hag who had just won a new broom on Wednesday Night Witch Bingo.

“To knock the dicks off the crazy ones,” she laughed again. “One day, my son, you will understand why it’s so funny. It’s so funny because it’s true!”

The boy was now fairly certain that he would laugh about the veracity of the joke one day, but not rigt here, and not rigt now, and that prognostication gave Lance no peace of mind, as Madonna continued to grin at him, as he squirmed and tried to find a way out of the corner he was trapped in.

For her part, Madonna was very much enjoying the moment. Kitty had kicked her rigt where it hurt most, when she gleefully blurted it out, poolside, back at Valhalla.

“He calls you Old Leather Pussy!” It was the nastiest thing anyone had ever said to her. And the smug, little bitch knew it. Think about that; the nastiest thing that anyone had ever said to Madonna.

And it was true; no one could have come up with anything nearly as brutal, even if a council had been convened, consisting of the Pope, all his Cardinals, all her exes, and Gaga. Old Leather Pussy. Holy fuck, that’s low.

‘Old Leather Pussy, huh?’ Madonna thought to herself, staring Lance, son of Stephen, not Lance, in the eyes, ‘Well, pretty, little Kitty Kaboodle, I’ll show you that Old Leather Pussy still knows how to play this game, bitch.

In truth, Madonna didn’t really care so much that Lance had been calling her Old Leather Pussy. After she’d recovered from the shock of it, with the help of the tray full of doubles Kitty had sent Daisy to deliver, just to rub it in, she even managed to laugh about it.

She’d admitted, at first grudgingly, that it was funny. Once she admitted that, she prepared herself for the moment it might make tabloid headlines, which she was still betting it would, one day.

But before that day would come, she was determined to exact some revenge upon the Hellcat who had clawed her eyes with the three words.

Just wait ‘til loverboy Lance Lear comes at you, demanding an explanation. Hell hath no fury like a women scorned? Oh, yeah? Just wait ‘til you see an impetuous boy, who has had his confidence betrayed, coming at you like the Green Manalishi with the two prong crown, bitch.

It took some effort for Madonna to not burst into laughter, wondering if Kitty had felt the kick she had just delivered to her not-yet old leather pussy, all the way across Canada, in Ottawa, but she managed.

As for Lance, the poor, confused, crushed smartass, Madge decided to leave the little fucker twisting in the wind, until he grows a pair big enough to command that he own up to it.

The boy’s tormentor was pleasantly surprised when he did so, fairly quickly, and she was thoroughly impressed with what he finally said, “I don’t always wanna think the thinks I think; but I thinks ‘em all the same.”




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Although she was not shocked when Pinky answered her knock clad totally in several shades of soft red, she was curious to know, “Are you gonna wear nothing but pink for the rest of your days?”

“I actually hate pink, so I’ll probably get sick of it pretty quickly,” Pinky answered. “But I am determined to start a movement, and that’s gonna require Gandhian steadfastness from me. I think the simplest solution is for me to dye my hair pink. That way, I only have to see it when I look at myself in the mirror, and that’s something I have never been in the habit of.”

“Oh, I like that. The kids will be all about it. Pink hair everywhere. Up and down, carpets and drapes. Instant conversion therapy. When the bigot boys start seeing all the pink haired babes flouncing around with pink haired boys, they’ll burn their Klan robes, and sign on. Hell, those pink haired boys, the early adopters, at least, are gonna be getting it from girls of every colour.”

Nodding his agreement, Pinky said, “That’s funny! I hadn’t thought of it, but you’re rigt. If you take it a step further, and the girls start a campaign in which they will only fuck boys with pink hair, we may even be able to dodge this race war that’s been knock knock knocking on the door, forevermore.”

“Boys and girls,” Kitty was quick to point out. “We are in the earliest embryonic stage of pansexualism. Pre-embryonic perhaps. And I’m not so sure about forevermore, but if we can forestall it for a few weeks, until someone comes up with another strategy, it’s worth a shot.”

Before Pinky could mull that over and give a retort, Kitty cautioned, “I can see problems. Incels dying their hair and still not getting any, so they go ballistic. The Boogaloo boy bros and Freedom Fries Fighters fucktards getting even more insecure and confused, and having to assert their manliness with some good old fashioned violence.”

“Yeah, all possible, of course. Maybe worse things, too. Lynchings. But, if the haters go around beating and killing other whites, it will just prove that none of it has anything to do with race, anyway; it’s just hate. You don’t just hate blacks, and Asians, and Hispanics, and Indians, you just hate. You’re nothing but hate. Nasty little balls of flaming hate.”

“I see little pink houses. Little pink trailers.”

“Yeah? You see fire. Little pink houses? Burn them to the ground! Little pink trailers? Burn the fuckers down! I see home insurance premiums going way up on such dwellings, in certain parts of the country.”

“Fair enough,” admitted Kitty. “But I see pink hats.”

“Pink hats?”

“Yeah. MAGA, but in Pink. Divide and conquer. Not all Trump voters are bigots. Just because you wanna drain the swamp, doesn’t mean you wanna burn a cross. The problem with politicians is you have to buy the whole pizza. You want sun dried tomatoes, but the cook throws bacon and pepperoni on it. And you can’t just pick the meat off.”

“Bacon, pepperoni, and eye of newt and tongue of bat,” said Pinky. “I like the hat idea. Could we force trump to wear one? Would he dare not to? Seriously, could he not do a photo op wearing a pink MAGA hat? If he refuses to, he’s flat out saying, ‘You’re rigt, I’m a racist.’ But, if he wears one, he pisses on the white supremacists who love him. Pink MAGA hats!  Nice one, Super Kitty!”

“I’m just riffing off your brilliance, Pinky. Maybe we can get Jack Ma in on this.”

“Jack fucking Ma. Quite the move. Make America Go Away. It’s brilliant. But I wonder if it’s really him doing it. Might be a clone, for all we know.”

Looking at the clock, Kitty said, “We have to go. Maybe your boy Gotcha will know something about Jack Ma.”




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Often interested in what was going on inside Daisy’s head, Margot wanted to see what was going on inside Daisy’s head while under the influence of psychedelics. “There’s a sillysaurus living inside her head,” her son had said of his at-the-time girlfriend. “He’s big, and purple, and has a long neck. And he just runs around all night, pulling levers and laughing.” Indeed! Let’s see that sillysaurus on acid, Margot said to herself.

The guru invited the girl to spend the night at Anarchia on Candy Mountain. Daisy happily accepted the offer.

While the girl was in her bedroom, gathering some things for the overnight stay, Margot made a quick call to her house, hoping Kitty would understand the call was for her, and answer the phone. She did. Margot told Kitty all was fine, and that she should head back to Ottawa, adding that she would fill her in later. Kitty agreed, and disappeared back to her suite in the Chateau Laurier.

After listening to the top of the hour news update on CKPR as they drove south, Margot asked Daisy, “What do you make of what’s going on in the world?” She was not disappointed with Daisy’s summation.

“It’s crazy! It’s as if Alice has eaten all the brown acid. She’s jumped down the rabbit hole, wearing a suicide vest. She’s looking for the manager, with whom she wants to discuss her multiple childhood traumas, but she’s gibbering pure Jabberwocky, and no one knows what the fuck she is saying, pardon my French. Everyone is infested with fleas. No one has any Thorazine.”

Not wanting to derail the LSD fueled runaway locomotive chugging through Daisy’s head, Margot bit her tongue, and let the girl ramble.

“Life is just a circus,” Daisy told her. “Each one of us is a circus unto ourselves, but the circus masters are the sperm and eggs inside us. We’re just monkeys, trying to get off the planet. The sperm and eggs are in control of it all. They are dictating everything we do. They just want us to fuck and fuck and keep on fucking, pardon my French. The whole point is to evolve, to grow smart enough to figure out how to get out of this matrix. And deep down, somewhere inside us all, our monkeyselves are laughing, and saying, ‘Just launch the damn rockets already!’ We’re all just monkeys trying to get off the planet.”

Daisy stopped to see what, if anything, Margot thought of her theory. Margot just smiled, which was all the encouragement the girl needed to keep kicking cans down the road of existential philosophy.

“I’m gonna marry the next boy I fall in love with,” Daisy announced.

“That’s wonderful,” Margot replied. “Let me be the first to congratulate you, and the lucky boy, whoever he may be.”

“Thank you, Miss Margot,” Daisy gushed. “You’re invited to the wedding. But if you can’t make it to the first one, you’re invited to the next one, too.”

“You’re gonna spread the wealth around, marry more than one boy?”

“No, no. Just one boy. But I’m gonna divorce him. And marry him again. And again. I’m only gonna have sex with him when we’re married. When we’re divorced, I can do anyone I want, and it’s okay, ‘cause I won’t be cheating, ‘cause I ain’t married. And he can go jam it in any hole he wants to, too, when we’re divorced.”

Laughing, Margot admitted, “That’s a brilliant idea. But you’re gonna be doing a lot of paperwork.”

“I’m gonna hire someone to do all the paper work, ‘cause there gonna be a lot more than just wedding license applications.” Margot raised her eyebrows and waited.

“I’m gonna change my name. Every day.” Margot burst into laughter, which made Daisy do the same, and continue. “Ima change my name every day. So, when a cop pulls me over, and asks what my name is, I can say, ‘Fucked if I know, pardon my French, what day is it? And if I’m lucky, it’ll be the day my name is Phuk Yu. So, when the cop asks me what my name is, I can say, ‘Phuk Yu,’ and there ain’t sweet F A he can do about it, ‘cause my name really is Phuk Yu. Pardon my Vietnamese.”

Margot loved this game, so Daisy carried on with it. “And one day, I will change my name to Tairist Groop, so it will be illegal to be me, and that’ll really mess ‘em up. I mean, what are they gonna o? Put me in jail just for being me?”

Oh, yeah, it was gonna be an interesting night at Anarchia on Candy Mountain.




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Returning to where they left off before the spontaneous eruption of teen spirit consumed them, Lance asked Madonna, “Do you know the Rage guys?”

“No. Just by reputation. I could make some enquiries, but I don’t see any real need to. Why?”

“They must know about the Saud Live Nation deal. So, why haven’t they made some kinda move?”

“They could all be broke, now. It’s not like that doesn’t happen in show business. You get very accustomed to living large, and next thing you know, you’re living in a car, like Sly Stone.”

Draining the rest of his beer, Lance said, “So, maybe they’re just hoping no one calls them on their hypocrisy.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. But we’ll find out.”

“What if they really are broke. Desperate. And they’re contractually locked into doing the tour with Live Nation?”

Madonna laughed, “I don’t see how they have any choice but to back out of the tour, at least through Live Nation, or force a showdown.”

“By saying they will play, but only after reforms are made”

Madonna nodded. “Once they get called on it, they’ll be destroyed. Even their hard core fans will yell, ‘Fuck you I won’t but what you sell me.’ But they can turn the tables, and become heroes, by playing hardball.”

“Live Nation could sue them.”

Once again, Madonna nodded, but she dismissed the idea, “Their contractual obligations to Live Nation won’t even enter into it. No way is Live Nation going to sue them. That’s a circus they can ill afford. It will simply galvanize the musical community against them, and shine a thousand spotlights on the human rigts record of the House of Saud. That results in a massive devaluation of the company, and a huge share sell off.”

“Rats deserting a sinking ship.”

Madonna held her rigt hand up, palm facing Lance, and he hushed himself. “Your idea about picking up those shares, at a rock bottom price, could come into play rigt there. What if someone were to pick those shares up, all of them, and tell Suad that they will sell the shares to them, at the same price they picked them up for, subject to Saud completing reforms?”

Lance worked it over in his head, and said, “So, if they release a list of political prisoners, they can purchase the shares, a chunk of them, at a low price, which will rise because of the reform?”

“Yes. They get the shares, and a certain group of artists announce that they are willing to work with Live Nation. So, the Saudis release a hundred political prisoners, and me, Rihanna, Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa announce that we will play Live Nation shows.”

“It’s fascinating. It’s applying profit motive to human rigts.”

“Money is the only thing some people understand. So, that’s the carrot, and here’s the stick. All sorts of contracts could stipulate that the House of Saud has to hand over their shares, without compensation, if they do not release the political prisoners, or whatever.”

“Hand them over to whom?” Lance wanted to know.

Laughing, Madonna answered, “Well, we could have all sorts of fun with that. The Israelis? The Iranians?”

Lance exploded in laughter. “Somehow, I don’t think the Saudis would sign a deal with that clause in it. At least not one that says they have to give their shares to the Israelis, or Iranians?”

“I’m just having some fun, letting my imagination run,” Madge smirked, resisting the temptation to finish the rhyme with the word son.

“It’s fun, for sure, but how much of it is plausible. Who would buy up all the available Live Nation stock, to start with? Do you have that kind of money?”

“No,” Madonna admitted, “but I know people who do. And one of them will find this very… compelling.”

Thinking for no more than a moment, Lance said, “I’m sure he would,” then asked, “But would he do it?”

The sexagenarian smiled a confident smile and answered, “I have a way of getting my way with Richard.”

Opting to take a pass on commenting on Madonna’s pussy power over Branson, Lance said, “He does seem to like new ideas. High risk, high reward.”

“That’s true, but this isn’t a new idea. Far from it. Age old and dead simple: be good and you get a cookie.” Lance communicated his lack of desire to argue Madge’s point with a shrug. And then Madonna hit the kid rigt mouth, “So, funny boy, tell me about Old Leather Pussy.”




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It was not until she was once again in the hub that Kitty realized that walking into Valhalla, to look for Daisy, was not a good idea. She and the other Americans were supposed to be on Pie Island, ten kilometers from Thunder Bay’s harbour. That was the story that Margot and/or the Staals were to tell Daisy, if they encountered her when they returned to Valhalla, which surely they had.

But there was no harm in taking a boo into the hotel’s dining room, so she did. Seeing no sign of the strange girl at Valhalla, Kitty took the tunnel to Anarchia on Candy Mountain, where she found Margot flat on her back, staring into the stars, beside a roaring fire.

Not bothering to tell Margot about her encounter and discussion with VoV, for that was not immediately pressing, Kitty told the guru about the bizarre Daisy phone call carnival.

The two went into the house. Margot called Valhalla, and was told that Daisy was gone for the night. She called Daisy’s cell, but it didn’t even ring. Margot’s son had no idea where the girl was, but made a few calls, and discovered that she had scored some acid, and some DMT, earlier.

Simple probability dictated that she was more likely to be found at home, than any other particular location, so Margot headed out the door, telling Kitty to call her in twenty minutes. “If I refuse the call, it means I’ve found her, and she’s fine.”

Daisy did not answer their knocks until Margot announced herself. As soon as Daisy opened the door she smiled and asked, “To what do I owe the pleasure of you esteemed company?”

Relieved that Daisy wasn’t out of her mind, Margot returned the smile, and answered, “Well, girl, I had a premonition. I don’t know where it came from, but something was telling me you were in some sort of distress.”

“Distress? Really? Oh, no, Miss Margot, I am not distressed at all. In fact, I’ve never felt better.”

Laughing, Margot said, “You’re high as fuck, Daisy!”

“I am high as fuckity fuck, Miss Margot, pardon my French!”

“What are you tripping on?”

“Acid! Nice, really clean acid. I smoked some DMT a while ago, but that doesn’t last, so when I came down, I dropped five tabs.”

“Interesting. I’ve never done DMT. What’s it like?”

“Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s kinda like acid, but kinda not. Words can’t really describe it, kinda like acid, or an orgasm. It was really trippy. I had visions of Hitler in a tutu. Thousands of him. Dancing. Maybe Swan Lake, I guess, but that’s just ‘cause it’s the only ballet I know the name of.”

“You sure it wasn’t the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies?” Margot laughed.

“Oh, you know what? It was! It was the Dance of the Sugar Plum fairies! How the fuck did you know that, Miss Margot? pardon my French.  Are you inside my head?”

Margot’s phone rang, and she quickly refused the call.

“You didn’t wanna answer that?” Daisy asked. “It might have been me calling.”

“What do you men, Daisy?” Margot wanted to know.

“Oh, nothing, I’m just being silly. But I was trying to call Miss Kitty, with my mind, when I was tripping on DMT. Dimitri is good for that kinda thing. It makes you kinda… clairvoyant? Or telepathethic. Or somethin’. It just connects you with the universe, and everyone and everything in it.”

“That’s fascinating, Daisy. Why were you trying to call Kitty?”

“Oh, Miss Margot, I just love her so much! And I saw her face, and I’m a believer! I saw her face a million times. She always looked different, but it was always her, and she was beautiful. She was every colour, and every flavour of beautiful. I just wanted to call her, to tell her how much I love her.”

That’s beautiful, Daisy. I know she loves you, too.”

“Really? Do you think so, for true? ‘Cause I think so, too!”

“Yes, Daisy, I believe it to be true, because Kitty loves everyone.”

“She does, doesn’t she? But she loves some of us more than others. Like Madonna. I don’t think Miss Kitty loves Madonna as much as she loves me and you.”

“You may be rigt, Daisy. You may be rigt. Hey, were you listening to music when you were tripping on DMT?”

Daisy thought about it, and answered, “Yeah, I was. Why?”

“What were you listening to?”

“Just some random psychedelic channel on Youtube.”

“Old stuff? New stuff?”

“Yes. Both.”

“Was there any Stones on the channel?”

“Maybe. Yeah, I think so. Wait. Yeah, there was.” Daisy sang, “It’ so very lonely, I’m ten thousand light years from home.”

Margot grinned, and corrected her, “Two thousand. Two thousand light years from home. It’s one of my faves.”

Daisy laughed, “It may be one of your faves, Miss Margot, but I don’t care what Mick says, I was ten thousand light years from home.”




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After handing Lance a beer, Madge made herself a double White Russian form the Royal Suite’s mini bar, sat down at the piano, and started playing Landslide. She sang not a word until she got to the chorus,

Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changin’
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes bolder
Children get older
I’m gettin’ older, too

She kept playing with her left hand, while drawing a long hit on her drink, downing half of it, then sang the chorus again. When she sang

‘Cause I’ve built my life around you

Lance was certain she was singing to herself, a new soul emerging, and talking to a caricature on its way out the door.

She finished the chorus and switched songs. Looking at Lance she sang,

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
It takes a lot to change a man
And it takes a lot to try
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

Madonna was radiating melancholy. Lance sensed it, but fought against her vibe, because he was speed walking to a place of creative delight; he’d heard something she hadn’t.

When the bad boy’s waxing smile met the withering woman’s waning denial, the child in Madonna perked up, peaked out, and waved, “Hi Lance! What’s going on in that marvelous, mischievous, merry mind of yours? It looks fun. Share with Mama Bear?”

Part of the boy cringed at Madonna calling herself Mama Bear, but he shrugged it off. “Maybe nothing. Maybe nothing good, I mean. But I can hear that as a mashup.”

“What do you mean?”

“The two choruses. They both have five lines. The sentiments are similar. They may mashup real good.”

Madonna heard it in her head, and smiled. “You may be rigt! Wanna try?”

“I’m not much of a singer.”

“Neither am I, or so I was told, a million times, before I shut them all the fuck up,” Madonna laughed. “C’mon, try it with me. Don’t be shy.”

Lance said nothing, so Madonna said, “Silence is acquiescence,” paused a couple seconds, and sang

Well, I’ve been ‘fraid of changing

and pointed at the boy, who, somewhat reluctantly, sang

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

“Cause I built my life around you

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

But time makes bolder

It takes a lot to change a man

Children get older

And it takes a lot to try

I’m getting older too

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die.

Although it was clunky, it worked, so they worked it over, over and over, until it was music to their ears, and to Madonna’s expanding soul.

Biting her bottom lip, Madonna rose from the piano stool, walked to Lance, and threw her arms around him. The boy returned her hug; not with nearly as much intensity, but enough to make her weep, and whisper, “Thank you.”




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Walking back to the Chateau Laurier, Kitty passed a bank of old pay phones. She took note of them, and chuckled at the idea of living in the world before everyone had a phone on their person at all times.

An errant thought, that she found particularly funny, flashed into her mind; what if someone from the past called one of those phones, rigt now? And rigt then, one of the phones rang.

The girl spun in a circle to see if anyone nearby was watching her, and laughing. Nothing. No one. Not even VoV. But since VoV wasn’t there, there could be no danger in a ringing phone, rigt?

Having already wasted five seconds that, so far as she knew, would never come back, Kitty made the decision to leg it to the phone.

Shoe got the receiver in her hand just in time to hear a female voice urging her to, “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.”

Scanning the phone for some kind of slot to slide some kind of card into, Kitty saw none. Just a coin slot. Who the fuck carries $25 in coins with them? Is this some kind of Canadian prank?

“Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call,” the female in her ear. Now, behind the operator’s voice, Kitty could hear someone breathing. Breathing fairly heavily.

“I don’t have twenty five dollars,” Kitty pleaded, hoping for a response, not even sure if there was another human on the line, or a bot. The breathing got a little faster, and heavier, in the background. “Hello? Hello? I can hear you breathing. Who are you? Where are you? What is your name? What do you want?”

“Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.”

This time Kitty screamed, “I don’t have twenty five fucking dollars. Just put the call through. This is an emergency!”

The pace of the operator’s voice picked up, never giving any indication if it was flesh and blood, or AI, “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.” Faster, “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.” Faster, “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.” And then the phone went dead.

Kitty slammed the receiver into the cradle, then picked it up again, putting it to her ear. She repeated the process twice more, before she heard another pay phone, this one fifty yards away, ringing. She bolted for the ringing phone, lunging for the receiver when she got to it,” Hello?” she screamed.

“Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.” And, again, in the background, heavy breathing. “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.” No card slot on the phone, there was nothing else for Kitty to do, but stare at the machine in disbelief.

The voice dropped off, and the phone went dead. As soon as it did, the first phone rang again. Kitty was in no hurry, this time. As she sauntered towards it, however, the coin return slot started spitting out coins.

When Kitty got to the phone, it was still paying out like a cheap Reno slot machine. She picked up the receiver, but the phone kept ringing, as it rained nickels. They poured out of the phone as if the machine had a direct connection to the Royal Canadian Mint, a kilometer away.

The moment Kitty bent down to the ground to pick up the coins, she knew there would be five hundred of them.

Sure enough, there were. Five hundred shiny, new five cent coins, every one of them minted in the year 2025, five years into the future.

The moment she stopped counting was the moment the phone stopped ringing.

Kitty waited, hoping that the phone she was standing at would be the one to ring. It was not. It was, I fact, another phone, twenty yards away.

Tired of the game, Kitty, flipped the bird at the ringing phone, then spun in a circle giving the finger to anything, and anyone who might be watchdog from anywhere, including space.

As soon as she completed her 360 degree turn, the phone she was standing next to rang. “Please deposit twenty five dollars to accept this call.”

It took her just over seven minutes to jam all five hundred of the nickels into the phone. While Kitty was plugging the machine, she repeatedly told the breather to hang on, just a bit longer.

“Please deposit fifteen cents to accept this call. Please deposit five cents to… thank you. Go ahead.”

“Hello?” Kitty said. “Hello?” Breathing. Nothing more than breathing. “Hello? Can you hear me?” Then a bit of laughter came to her ear. Shrill laughter. “Oh, fuck you!” Kitty Kaboodle yelled. “Fuck you, you fucking fuck!”

Then there was s a voice. Just a voice. No more laughter. Just a voice, singing, “It’s so very lonely, I’m ten thousand light years from home.” It was Daisy’s voice. There was no doubt about it. But before Kitty could speak, the operator cut in again, “Please deposit twenty five dollars to continue this call.”

Kitty finally noticed the graffiti scrawled above the phone:







Underneath the message was a signature; questionMark.

Before she hung up and walked away, Kitty could clearly hear the sound of a snort coming from the operator.




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