With all eyes on him, Stephen felt cornered, as if he’d done something wrong. He had done some questionable things in his life, some shady things, some things he had to atone for, the biggest of which was seated at the table with him, but creating a character, and abandoning him was not something he felt he had to answer for.

He was tempted to tell them all to go fuck themselves, with their accusing glares, but caught himself before doing so. He reasoned that maybe they weren’t accusing him of anything, just looking for answers, so he gave them one, “I have no answers for you. I can’t tell you anything more about VoV than what you already know. I created him, tried him in a few stories. I couldn’t make the character, or the stories. work, so I moved on. And based on the only encounters anyone has had with him, I’d say he’s on our side. He was born into darkness, but I never intended for him to dwell there forever more. And, apparently, he hasn’t.”

King’s other abandoned creation looked at him, and asked, “Do you remember what story you left him in? Was it dark?”

Stephen laughed, “Well, I’m not exactly known for writing feel good fairy tales, so I imagine it was dark. But, no, I don’t remember the story. Don’t remember anything about it. I’ve written so many, and I’ve abandoned at least as many as I’ve finished, if not more.”

Kitty and Margot looked at each other. The two were forging a telepathic relationship which was sufficiently strong enough for them to understand that they both believed what King was saying. Margot left it to Kitty to speak.

“I see no reason to worry about VoV. If Stephen remembers anything more about her, he will tell us.”

“Wait,” Margot interjected. “Did you endow VoV with any super natural powers?”

“I don’t remember,” was the answer.

Margot was disappointed. “No? The power to act as a kind of emotional mirror, reflecting back what people she encounters are feeling. Absorbing what they are putting out, then magnifying it, and reflecting it back at them.”

The idea amused Stephen. “Wow! I like that! But, no. I could have made VoV work in all sorts of stories with that power.”

Again disappointed, Margot pointed to Kitty, who said, “The bigger question, Margot, is: why had Steve not gone back into the tunnel until today. The tunnel is the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever heard of on this planet. The ability to go anywhere you want, anytime you want, in no time at all, is a gift too good to simply abandon, without good cause.”

“He won’t even be out of the labyrinth yet,” Margot said. “Actually, maybe it was just my phone that died. I tried calling him when he had to still be making his way out. I’ll try him again in a bit. But, I honestly don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I doubt there’s anything evil lurking in there. If Steve had experienced something really dark and twisted, he’d still be radiating the emotion, and I’d have felt it. I reconnected with his soul as soon as I saw him again. Once upon a time, we had a very powerful connection. If he was afraid of anything, I’d have felt it, and he likely would not have let me walk into danger. Our split was messy, tragic, even, as they all are, but it was not ugly. There was never malice between us.”

Now, all eyes were on Kitty Kaboodle. “I see no reason not to proceed, as planned, then. I believe that VoV is on our side, and that’s a very good thing. I don’t believe there is anything sinister waiting for us inside the tunnel, or even the labyrinth, or Steve would not have gone in with Margot. We may never know his reasons for not going back there for twenty five years; they may be very personal, and we have no rigt to pry. But… I say we give it another half hour, to see if he either shows up here, or can be reached by phone. If not, I say we get on with the show, unless someone has a valid reason not to, and the definition of a valid reason includes a legitimate fear.”

All at the table looked ‘round the table, but no one said a word. “Okay then,” said Kitty with a genuine sense of excitement, “in about an hour or so, Stephen and I will be in Ottawa, Lance and Madonna will be in Vancouver, Margot will be in London, and you three heroes… wait, where the Hell are you puckheads going? Who are you going to see first?”

The brothers looked at Margot, and she spoke for them, “They were headed to Houston, to see George Foreman, but there’s a change of plans.” Eyebrows were raised around the table. “The four of us are going to stay here, for a couple days, to take care of some pressing business.”

“Ah ha!” said Stephen. “There’s more going on in Montreal than meets the eye! I’ll have to inform Bruins Nation of this mysterious development!” Stephen was being playful. The brothers weren’t having it. They glared at him, without saying a word. In case he didn’t get the message, which he did, Margot made it clear, “No one in Bruins Nation should ever know about how you came to suspect there is more going on in Montreal than meets the eye, Stephen. That would be a betrayal of faith. And…”

Before she could finish that thought, Stephen interrupted, “I was joking. Only joking. I can wait to read about it in The Hockey News.”The brothers turned their glares into grins, and thanked him. The Bruins fan returned their grins, and said, “But it’s a fuckin’ eh beauty, ain’t it?”

Once again, Margot spoke for the Staals, “You’ll read all about in The Hockey News, and everywhere else, when it happens. But, until then, you’ll just have to speculate, to yourself, and wait.”

“Sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?” Lance asked no one in particular. “Speculate and Waite, attorneys at law.”

“That’s good, kid,” said his father. “Real good. What areas do they specialize n?”

“Probate,” laughed Lance. “ Speculate on how much money the baby boomers in the family have, and who’s gonna get what, and wait for them to die to find out.”

“Very good,” Stephen exclaimed. “Really good. But… if I may… Mssrs. Speculate and Waite’s services include more than matters strictly legal. They are, in fact, a one stop shop. Undertaking services, and… familial grief enablers and facilitators. For those who have to speculate, but simply cannot wait! The best in the business, for more than two hundred years. Strictly boutique. Strictly by referral only, of course.”




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“Let’s not freak out,” Kitty told the gang. “Six and half minutes is no time to panic. She couldn’t get a call off, or the call couldn’t get through. No need to panic.”

“Or something went wrong in Wuhan,” said Madonna.

“You’re both rigt,” Margot said, walking into the middle of the room, rigt out of thin air. “Something did go wrong in Wuhan, and there’s no need to panic. Not for us, anyway. Not yet. But I could use a beer. Where’s Daisy? Oh, there she is. Daisy dear, can you bring me a Mr. Canoehead, please and thank you?”

Daisy shook her head, and rubbed her eyes. She’d seen Margot walk in, from out of nowhere, but couldn’t believe what she’d seen. She had no idea what to think, so she did what she was asked to do.

No one said a word as Margot took a long tug on her beer. Once again, Daisy lingered, very much wanting to know just what the Hell was going on. Once again Margot told her, “Sorry, Daisy, this is…”

“I know, I know… a family affair.” Reluctantly, Daisy turned, and walked away from the table.

“VoV was waiting for us, before we got to Wuhan. She told us the lab had just been evacuated. Red alert. We got close enough to look inside. Empty. Alarms still blaring. Robots scurrying around, scanning equipment, and taking samples, I assume.”

“Holy shit!” said Stephen. “That’s not good.”

“We went out to the hub, then back in again, to check the streets outside the lab. Robots on the ground, drones in the air, a small group of people in NBC suits huddled together.”

Madonna interrupted, “NBC?”

“Nuclear, biological, chemical. Hazmats, by another name,” Marc informed.

“But, not a block away, people were dancing. Looked to be young people. Casually dressed, wearing simple, cloth germ masks, dancing the night away. It was absolutely surreal.”

“Whaaat?” Lance said. “They were just dancing, as if nothing else was going on?”

“Yeah. As I say, absolutely surreal. And there was a boy. A teenager. He had a big, stuffed panda bear in his arms. Looked like he’d been late to meet his date, and found her dancing with another boy. Poor little thing.”

“And?”asked Kitty.

“And we came back. We went back out to the hub. I knew you’d be worried. It would take another half hour to get outside, for me to make a call, so I walked back into the tunnel, and came here, while Steve went out to the car.”

“Why didn’t Steve take the tunnel to the car?” Lance asked.

“Can’t,” Margot answered. “For some reason, you can’t exit the tunnel within… I don’t know, maybe five k of an entrance to the labyrinth. We tried, a couple times, way back when. You can bet close enough to see outside, but you can’t exit.”

“You have to call your brother,” Kitty reminded Margot.

“Rigt! Thank you, Kitty.” Margot pulled out her phone, plucked at the screen a few times, and announced, “It’s dead. Completely dead. I had a full charge before I left.”

“The tunnel is a phone killer?” Lance pondered out loud.

“Looks like it,” Margot replied. “There were no cell phones, the last time I went in. Steve’s boombox worked fine, the one time we brought it in. Our watches kept time. I don’t know.”

“Steve’s never mentioned it?” Kitty asked.

“He says he hasn’t been in there for more than twenty five years.”

“Why?” Kitty asked.

“Don’t know,” Margot answered. “We haven’t been tight since we split up. Last night was the first time I’ve even seen him in… more than twenty five years. Few people change drastically over their lives, so I knew I wasn’t gonna get an answer out of him, when I asked, and he clammed up, so I dropped it. But he didn’t hesitate, for a second, when I told him why we needed to use the tunnel. And he was more than happy to take me back in, so… I don’t know.”

“This could be important,” Kitty pointed out. Can you get it out of him?”

“I don’t know,” answered Margot.

“Is he coming here?” asked Kitty.

“I don’t know. I’ll call him. Ah, shit,” Margot cussed, dropping her phone on the table. Eric handed her his. She called her brother, first, telling him she was back, assuring him she was fine, and promising to fill him in later. She plucked Steve’s number in and, “No. Of course not. His phone must be dead, too.”

“In Riff n Raff, Basher and Taffy are in the hub, when Taffy finally manages to contact Sandman,” said Kitty. “Maybe there are other spirits in the labyrinth. In the hub. Maybe they’re not all from the light. Maybe that’s what Steve’s not talking about.”

“Maybe,” agreed Margot. “Maybe.”

“What about VoV?” Kitty asked.

Margot repeated Kitty’s question, “What about VoV?”

“She told you the lab had been evacuated. Nothing else?”

“VoV’s not a big talker. She told us, then disappeared. But we both felt her presence with us, the whole time. So, I’m not the person to answer the question.” Margot turned to Stephen, and repeated Kitty’s question, “What about VoV, Stephen?”




dj jc cover front102

102 A

102 B



“That’s some funny stuff,” Marc told the funny boy. “And you’re 110% rigt about it all.”

“I don’t understand why soccer doesn’t put more zebras on the field,” said Eric. “We have two refs, and two linesmen. Hockey’s a lot faster, and a Hell of a lot more physical than soccer, but there’s no way one guy can see everything that’s going on, on a field that big, with twenty two guys on it. It’s just stupid. Stubbornness.”

Jordan intervened, “Obviously, that’s not the part of Daffy Donald’s routine that we might find a bit offensive, though.”

The look on Lane’s face was part grimace, art grin, when he admitted as much. “No. No, it’s not.”

“Don’t worry, kid,” Eric said, holding up his fists, “we don’t have the foil on.” His brothers held their fists up, as well. Nope. They did not have the foil on.

Lance had no idea exactly what that meant, but took it as a sign that weren’t going to pounce on, and pound him into a bleeding mass of ground round, if he did, indeed, offend them with some more hahaha. “Okay,” said the funny boy, “but I want it noted in the record that I am not talking about jocks with your obvious intelligence at the start of this.”

Eric laughed, “Don’t worry, Lance, we’ve been surrounded with them our whole lives, so we know there ain’t many MENSA members to be found in the dressing rooms of the world.”

Satisfied that his life was not in any danger, Lance said, “Okay, why not? This isn’t really so much about jocks, anyway. It’s Daffy Donald’s  ideas about how TV broadcasts of live games can be a lot more entertaining for viewers.”

Lance tapped his imaginary microphone a couple times, and began:

Why do sportscasters interview athletes when they’re going onto, or coming off of the field of battle?

‘So, what do you have to do to win this game today?’

‘Well, our backs are against the wall, and we’re gonna have to give it 110%. Leave it all out on the field. We have to remember the basics, and execution is the key.’

‘Tell the folks at home, how did you win this vitally important match today?’

‘Well, our backs were against the wall, but we gave it 110%. We left it all out on the field. We remembered the basics, and execution was the key.’

It’s the most inane shit on TV!

Wouldn’t you rather see them interview drunken fans, instead?

Huh? Wouldn’t ya?

Wouldn’t that be so much more fun, and interesting?

‘We fuckin’ killed those faggots! We fucked their mothers in their asses, and those whores loved it! Who’s your daddy, bee atch?’

Get some busty babes flashing their titties for the boys?


That’ll put the ratings through the roof. Hell, I’d watch high school water polo if that shit was going down.

Actually, let’s go all in on this one.

Let packs of slobbering drunk fans do the whole broadcast.

Play by play and colour commentary.

‘Brady’s in the shotgun for the snap.’

‘Brady’s in the shotgun with your mother, Bob. Brady’s in the shotgun with your mother’s snapper. Her snapping turtle. That’s where you came from Bob. From your mother’s snapping turtle. Her snapper. Her snatch! You came from your mother’s snatch, Bob. And now Tom Brady’s in the shotgun with yo mama, and her snapping turtle.’

‘Brady’s getting some pressure He’s gonna get his ass creamed. No, he scrambles away, he rolls out of the pocket, and riffles a fuckin’ bullet to Gronk! Holy fuck, Gronk dropped it.’

‘What the actual fuck, Bob? Is Gronk drunk? Fuck me, he is! He’s more pissed than I am. What’s he been drinking? I want me some of that shit. I could have caught that fuckin’ ball. And you don’t have to pay me ninety million fuckin’ bucks a year to do it. Fuckin’ faggot, get off the field.’

Now, imagine them doing a soccer game.

‘Ronaldo passes it to Messi. And Messi passes it to Ronaldo.’

‘Ronaldo passes it to Messi. And Messi passes it to Ronaldo.’

‘And Ronaldo passes it to some fucker whose name I can’t pronounce, who passes tit to Messi, who passes it to Ronaldo.’

‘Fuck me, Bob, we’re gonna need a lot more beer to get through this shitshow. Actually, were gonna need some drugs to get through this bullshit. Hard drugs. And yo mama, in the shotgun, with her snapping turtle. Yo mama still selling crack, Bob? Get the bitch up here.’

‘I’m afraid Mitch is right, America. If you’re planning to watch the rest of this shit, you best start getting into the drugs. Here’s my mother’s number. Give her a call, she’ll fix you up. And tell her who hooked you up, so I get my cut.’

‘But don’t be trying to fuck Bob’s mom.

She got da clap.

She do!

She got the clap,
she got da clap.

‘I should know, ‘cause I got it from her. That’s how Bob, he got it too.’

Bob got da clap,

claphe got da clap.

‘He got if from his moma, just like me. And she got it from Tom Brady! From that time when her and her snapping turtle was back there, in the shotgun with him.’

Lance kept them in stitches with Daffy Donald hahaha, until he took a break and asked, “What’s the time?”

Madonna answered, “Three forty. She should have called by now.”





101 b

101 a

101 c



Keenly aware of the unease in the air, Kitty called upon Lance to fill it with ringing laughter. “Funny boy,” she said, pointing at her King to be, “I think we need some Daffy Donald.”

Lance looked around the table. Mom and dad nodded, grinning. The brothers Staal knew not what a Daffy Donald was, and Marc said so, “Sounds like a duck that will quack us up!”

“Nice one,” Kitty said. “Lance, like his father, is a writer. I don’t think Stephen would challenge my assertion that Lance is more gifted than he in the art of humour.” Stephen did not challenge the assertion, so Kitty continued. “Daffy Donald is the main character in his book, Die Laughing. He’s a standup comic, with a penchant for hyperbole and a half. A misanthropic bon vivant, with a license to ill. Dee Dee, as I like to call him, has some hockey hahaha in his repertoire that will amuse you… and some that may offend you a bit.”

“Excellent,” said Jordan. “We’re always looking for new material for the dressing room.”

“Yeah,” agreed Eric, “Hit us with you haha hockey stick, kid.”

“Sure, why not? So long as you don’t hit me with your haha hockey sticks, if you’re offended.”

“Sticks on the ice, Lance. We ain’t Iron Leaguers,” Jordan promised.

“You’re not exactly Lady Byng candidates, either,” Stephen quipped.

“Oh, Hell no, coach,” Marc laughed. “We’d all get beaten up, and run out of town, if any one of us ever brought the Lady Byng back to Thunder!”

“Okay, so this comes about halfway into one of Daffy Donald’s routines. By the time he’s gotten to where I’m gonna start, he already has them roaring, and therefore has room to set up the funny to come, without worrying about laughs per minute, for a minute.” Lance got the brothers smirking by prefacing the routine, thus, “Essentially, this explains the difference between hockey players, and soccer players.”

I gots me some money now, and I’m, looking to invest. I’m gonna invest in a professional sports franchise.

There seems to be no ceiling on the value of a pro sports team in America.

But football, basketball, and baseball teams are prohibitively pricey. Even hockey teams are very expensive.

So, the smart bet is to buy into a Major League Soccer team.

Soccer is the world’s sport. The World Cup is more popular than the Olympics, and the final is watched by more than a billion people the world over.

But the only way I’m gonna put my money into a soccer team is if there is one change to the rules.

Americans will never take soccer seriously, until there is an end to players rolling around on the field, like they’ve been tazered, every time they’re touched by a player from the opposing team.

What a bunch of fucking pussies!

Back in 2014, there was a hockey player who had a heart attack on the bench, survived, and wanted to get back out on the ice.

I’m serious. His name is Rich Peverley, and he was playing for the Dallas Stars. Google it if you don’t believe me. How fucking tough is that? The fucker had a fucking heart attack, and wanted to get back out on the ice.

Back in 1999, another hockey player, a goalie for the Buffalo Sabres, Clint Malarchuk, had his throat slit by a skate.

The blood started gushing. It squirted 5 feet.

He lived to tell the tale.

He said he was sure he was going to die. And he said he felt no pain. He had his throat slit, and felt no pain. Soccer players act like they’ve been trampled underfoot, by stampeding bulls, every time someone steps on their toes!

This is what Malarchuk wrote in The Player’s Journal about the incident.

‘First, I thought about something I’d been told, going all the way back to peewee:

If you get hurt, don’t lay there on the ice like a weakling. Get up and go. Get yourself off that ice. Show that you’re tough.’

The piece Malarchuk wrote for The Player’s Journal opens with him describing an attempt to kill himself, nine years later.

He was drunk. He’d downed a couple dozen beers. He put a rifle under his chin, and pulled the trigger.

‘The bullet traveled up through my jaw, knocked out a couple of teeth, ricocheted through my nasal passages, and then kept on going until it got stuck in my skull. Somehow, I never lost consciousness.’

Now, here’s how fucking tough Clint Malarchuk is. He says, ‘I never felt a bit of pain.’

He had his throat slit and didn’t feel any pain.

He shot himself in the head, and didn’t feel any pain.

Hockey players are tough motherfuckers!

Soccer players? Soccer players are pansies.

You would think that grown men would be ashamed of themselves for flailing around on the grass like they’ve just been gut shot.

Or head shot.

But, no.

They absolutely insist on trying to fake injuries, until the ref penalizes the guy who sneezed at them.

And that’s why the beautiful game will never be big time in America.

America does not like pansy athletes.

But, I have a solution.

First of all, all soccer teams should be coached by hockey players.

I don’t give a fuck if they don’t know anything about soccer.

So long as they can get those prima donnas to cut the dramatics, they are far superior to any qualified soccer coach.

But here’s the kicker.

Here’s how you get those shameless pantywaists to act like men.

Make all those pussies start the game wearing skirts. I’m talking micro-mini skirts.

And, whenever they get caught pretending that they’ve been tazered, make them strip off their skirts, and play the rest of the game in their HELLO KITTY! Panties!

And if the fucker does it again, let the other team gangbang him, rigt there on the field. Let ‘em go double anal on their puckered, little, grunge pussies, which have been hot waxed by the pretty boys who didn’t make the cut for Latino boy bands. Let them pound away on him until he’s leaking man chowder from his grunge pussy for a month.

Let the cheerleaders strap on, and ride him like a bitch.

Hell, let everyone who bought a ticket come down, and stick something is his pussy ass.

Sodomize him with a hockey stick!

A baseball bat!

Is there anyone, anywhere – male, female, queer, strait, or other – who doesn’t wanna see Ronaldo squealing like a pig, tears streaming down his pretty face?

That’ll fill the stands, put the ratings through the roof, and make me a whole lotta money money money!




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100 a




When Matt Murray exited the Valhalla, with a lot to think about, and Jared Staal by his side, the brothers three made their way back to the dining room, where they found the gang of four waiting for a call from Margot.

Curious as to what was so pressing that it commanded the attention of the Staals for more than two hours – on a travel day, no less – Stephen asked, “What’s the big hockey news, guys?”

Eric answered, “Apparently, Pierre McGuire is gonna be announced as the Habs’ Head of Hockey Operations, in a couple hours.”

“Nothing to do with the Bruins, then,” Stephen said.

In unison, the Staals laughed, “Bruins suck, coach!”

Lance, who didn’t know much about hockey, decided to side with the Staals, just for the sake of sticking it to his deadbeat dad, “Yeah, Bruins suck, coach!” Then he doubled down, by adding, “And so do the Pats, Sox, and Celtics, so go pawk the caw in Hawvawd Yawd.”

The ladies decided to get in on the gangbang, “Yeah, Bruins suck, coach,” Kitty cackled.

“Bruins suck dirty donkey dick, for wooden nickels,” Madonna hooted.

“You sound like Habs fans,” the Bruins fan chuckled, eliciting a roar of laughter from the brothers that King thought disproportionate to the crack.

Before another jab was thrown, Kitty’s phone rang. “It’s Margot.” King and Madonna looked at each other, both of them thinking, ‘That’s not rigt.,’ but saying nothing.

“Okay,” Kitty said. “Go, go Margot. We love you! Talk soon.” She terminated the call, and told the others, “They’re just heading into the labyrinth.”

By snubbing Stephen, Margot was making it clear that she was casting her vote for Kitty, as the leader of this conspiracy, and everyone understood it.

An uneasy silence filled the dining room, when Kitty terminated the call form Margot. No one wanted to speak of the elephant – conjured by Margot choosing to call Kitty, not Stephen – that hung in the air, but Lance smirked, as he watched the pachyderm bouncing around.

Stephen stared at the elephant, and like the abyss, the elephant stared back. As the King of Horror pictured Margot, going down the tunnel, to the Wuhan virology lab, a line from Apocalypse Now fired off from his cerebral cortex.

When Martin Sheen’s character, Captain Willis, first encounters Robert Duvall’s character, Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore, Willis’ narrative voiceover says of Kilgore, “He was one of those guys that had that weird light around him. You just knew he wasn’t going to get so much as a scratch here.”

To King, what was true of Kilgore, was true of Margot. She would get in and out of the lab without a scratch.

As King contemplated that, another memory fired off, and he heard Robert Plant singing,

There walks a lady we all know

Who shines white light and wants to show

How everything still turns to gold

That, too, was Margot, to King.

She was a fusion, a hybrid of the man who loves the smell of napalm in the morning, and the lady who’s buying a stairway to heaven.

So, if Margot had looked into the soul of Kitty Kaboodle, and determined that she, not he, was the one to lead them, as they wind on down the road, their shadows taller than their souls, he would follow the girl.




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  • so far as the author is aware, the bear who owns the paw in the pic was tranquilized, not killed



In order for readers who are not learned in Habs lore to understand the magnitude of the move to install Saint Patrick as the Habs’ bench boss, you must understand this.

Patrick Roy

  • Hall of Famer
  • many say he is a best goalie to ever play the game
  • in his rookie season, in Montreal, Patrick Roy backstopped the Habs to the ‘86 Stanley Cup championship
  • he did so again, in ‘93
  • won two more Cups with Colorado
  • only player to have won the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) three times (twice with the Habs)

But the circumstances that lead to his ‘95 trade to Colorado is what makes his appointment to the head coaching job in Montreal so much more delicious.

  • Roy was the starting goalie when the Habs faced off against the Red Wings, in Montreal, on December 2, 95
  • he gave up five goals in the first period, and should have been pulled
  • but rookie coach, Mario Tremblay, sent Roy back out to start the second period
  • Saint Patrick later stated that Tremblay sent him back out on the ice in the second period in an attempt to humiliate him
  • Roy gave up four more goals before finally, mercifully being pulled
  • as he left the ice, Roy screamed obscenities at Tremblay, and told Habs’ President Ronald Corey, who was seated rigt behind the bench, that he had just played his last game in the blue, blanc et rouge
  • indeed, he had
  • four days later Roy was moved to Colorado, in a trade that many consider to be the worst in NHL history.
  • les Canadiens have not been back to the Staley Cup finals since, leaving the club stalled at 24 championships, the most of any team, 11 better than the second best Toronto Maple Leafs.

Mario Tremblay

  • won five Cups playing for the Habs, the last coming in ‘86
  • after his retirement as a player, Tremblay, who had been Roy’s roommate on the road, went on to become a radio talking head
  • in his time behind the microphone, Tremblay was in the habit of deriding, and even mocking Roy

Therefore, you can understand why Marc, once again, asked brother Jared, “How does this get any better?”

Still smirking, Jared said, “Guess who your partner’s gonna be.”

“Weber, obviously,” was Marc’s answer. Weber.

Shea Weber

  • Habs captain
  • sure fire Hall of Famer
  • right handed defenceman
  • the Habs have been looking for a left handed partner for him since he came to Montreal in 16, when he was traded, straight up, from Nashville, for PK Subban
  • Marc Staal if a left-handed defenceman.

Jared kept rigt on grinning, and said, “Nope. But very close.”

“Romanov?” was Jordan’s guess


“Petry?” guessed Eric


Margot figured it out, but did not blurt out the insane answer, choosing instead to implore the brothers to, “Use your intuition. This ain’t rocket science. Molson wants bums in every seat. He has appointed Pierre McGuire, basically a Montreal native son, as Head of Hockey Operations, is going to name a Bowman as GM, and Saint Patrick as coach. How does he put icing on top of that cake?”

“Holy shit,” Marc said. “No way.”

Yeah way!” Jared laughed. “All the way. You and PK all the way.”

PK Subban

  • winner of the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenceman in ‘13
  • one of the most beloved players in Habs history, before being traded for Weber in ‘16
  • electrifying skater, canonating slapshot, scintillating showman, and probably the best black man to ever play the game, though many will say that title belongs to Grant Fuhr
  • the button down, ‘Keep-it-down, rock-n-roll has got to go.’ Habs brass did not like Subban’s brashness
  • strutting cock roosters, and flamboyant peacocks were not welcome at the country club, especially not a black one

“Is that a done deal?” Marc asked.

“Norm says so,” said Jared. “Can’t be done until the season is concluded, or officially written off, obviously, but if all of this goes down the way they’ve got it planned, you’re gonna be paired with PK, when the Habs start the next regular season.”

“Gotta give it to him, Molson knows what he’s doing with this one,” Margot chimed in. “He could double ticket prices, and still sell out every game, including preseason, when this comes together.”

“You’ll have to mortgage your house to get a playoff ticket,” Eric said.

“And sell your soul to the devil to get a ticket to the finals,” laughed Marc. “And sell your kids, lives and souls, if it goes seven games, and ends at the Bell Centre, for a ticket to that game.”

“Not only that,” said Margot, “but Molson-Coors sales will spike, as will the stock. People will be swilling their beers by the bucket. And merch will fly off the shelves.”

Eric the elder said, “Hang on a minute. If they want Matt, are they gonna move Price?”

“No,” Jared answered. “I asked Norm, and he says they want Matt as a rock solid back-up for Carey. They’re worried that Matt’s injury prone, but any goalie with two rings is worth the gamble. If Carey stumbles, Matt becomes number one, or they’re a tandem, with Matt being number one when Carey packs it in. Matt’s six years younger than Carey, so it would be a natural passing of the torch.”

“Does Matt know, yet?” asked Jordan.

“No. He’s on his way.”

“Is it all four of us, or nothing,” asked Eric.

“That how they want it. They have a lot of promise in the pipeline, as you know. They want all you old guys to lead the kids to the promised land, then the kids will skate with the torch.”

“It could be another dynasty,” said Margot.

“Yeah, that’s the idea, the master plan,” Jared said.

Eric asked, “Is it enough? The kids in the pipeline, Carey, PK, Gallagher, Domi, Suzuki, Kotkaniemi, and us? Can that get us a Cup?”

Jared slapped his hand on his forehead and said, “Oh, there’s something else. Norm says they will move Heaven and Earth to get Lafreniere. If they don’t win the draft lottery, they’re gonna do everything short of begging, or kidnapping him, and they probably ain’t too proud to beg, or too scared to kidnap him, because there’s not a judge, or jury in Quebec that would convict them, and you gotta know that kid desperately wants to lace ‘em up for the Habs.”

Alexis Lafreniere

  • guaranteed to be the first overall pick in the 2020 rookie draft
  • pure goal scorer
  • the most highly coveted Quebec kid since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux went number one overall in ‘84

“He’ll sell a lot of tickets, and sweaters, for sure,” said Marc. “If he’s the next Denis Savard, the Habs are contenders for the next fifteen years.”

“Who all knows about this,” asked Eric.

“According to Norm: him, Molson, McGuire, Roy, Subban, us, and whoever they’ve told, which would be precious few.”

“Not Weber?” asked Jordan.

“No,” said Margot. “Why would they tell him anything more than that he’s going to Jersey, straight up, for Subban, again?”

Eric looked at his brothers, and Thunder Babe, and said, “Marc needs a ring. Jordan and I need another. Let’s do this.”

“Ummm,” Jared interjected, “I need a ring, too.”

“You gonna come out of retirement to join us?” Marc laughed.

“Why not?” Jared wanted to know.

“Why not?” laughed Eric. “Because Margot has as much of a chance of playing for the Habs as you do.”




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Madonna and Stephen, being seasoned travelers, already knew what hotels they were going to check into, in Vancouver and Ottawa. They directed Kitty, and Lance to the websites of the five star establishments. Margot got up from the table, and said, “I’m gonna go see what’s up with my boys.”

“If the Bruins are involved, let me know, please,” Stephen requested.

“Bruins suck!” Margot laughed. “But I will inform you if your losers made a move!”

The brothers were glued to the screen, as Bob McKenzie, and two other talking heads gave hockey fans their first taste of a STOP THE PRESSES story since the league shut down, not including the brothers’ own STOP THE PRESSES announcement. Margot waited for a commercial break before asking, “What’s the story?”

Marc answered, “McKenzie says Pierre McGuire will be named the Habs’ President of Hockey Operations this afternoon.”


  • Montreal Canadiens
  • most storied franchise in the NHL, having won 24 Stanley Cups, the last coming on ‘93

Pierre McGuire

  • grew up in Montreal
  • never played in the bigs, but won a Stanley Cup ring as the assistant coach to Scotty Bowman, with the Pittsburgh Penguins in ‘02
  • as NBC’s Between the Glass colour man since 06, McGuire is the best known hockey talking head in the States.

Scotty Bowman

  • Hall of Famer
  • head coach for five of the Montreal Canadiens’ six Stanley Cup championships in the 70s
  • went on to coach the Penguins to their ‘92 Cup victory, and won three more as the Red Wings’ coach in ‘97, ‘98, and ‘02.

Margot was enough of a puck bunny to know that it was big news. “And he will report directly to Molson, and no one else?”

Geoff Molson

  • owner Montreal Canadiens
  • Vice Chairman Molson Coors Breweries

The brothers nodded their heads. “Bergevin is gone, then,” she opined.

Marc Bergevin

  • former NHL player
  • GM of the Habs since ‘12

“That’s what everyone is waiting to hear,” Eric said.

“If you can still place a bet on it, do so,” said the youngest of the Staal brothers, Jared, walking into the bar.

Jared Staal

  • only one of the brothers that never made it in the bigs
  • bounced around in the minors for years, getting no more than a cup of coffee with the Canes, when Eric and Jordan were both playing in Carolina.

“What’s going on?” Jordan asked the youngest brother, “And how do you know?”

“Bergevin is gone. McGuire will make the announcement at his presser this afternoon.”

This time Marc asked, “How do you know?”

“Norm McIvor told me, just before I texted you.”

Norm McIvor

  • Thunder Bay native
  • played for seven different NHL teams over a twelve year career
  • Chicago Blackhawks Assistant General manager since ’06

“And how does Norm know,” Eric asked.

“Because,” Margot said, “Stan Bowman will be McGuire’s new GM.”

Stan Bowman

  • son of Scotty
  • Chicago Blackhawks General Manager since ‘09
  • winner of three Stanley Cups as GM in ’10, ’13, ‘15

The three big leaguers were dubious, but Jared confirmed it. “So, Norm is going with Stan to Montreal?” Jordan asked Jared.

Jared smiled, “Not exactly. Not just yet, anyway.”

“What do you mean?” Eric asked.

“Apparently, that depends on the three of you… and Matt Murray.”

Matt Murray

  • Thunder Bay native
  • goalie Pittsburgh Penguins
  • backstopped the Pens to Stanley Cup victories in ’16 and ‘17

“Whaaat?” Marc asked.

“Molson himself wants all four of you wearing the blue, blanc et rouge next year.”

“You’re kidding?” said Eric.

“I am not.”

“Explain,” Eric commanded.

“Okay. Hold on to your hats. It’s crazy!”

“Wait a minute,” Jordan interrupted. “Speaking of crazy, where’s Daisy? I think this is gonna require a beer.”

“I’ll go get her,” said Margot. She did. Daisy pulled a couple jugs of Mr. Canoehead, placed them on the table with sleeves, and lingered, hoping to be invited to stay. Margot smiled at Daisy and said, “Sorry, girl, but this is a family affair.” Daisy tried to come up with something clever enough to be included in the family, but couldn’t do it, so made her exit, with a frown, saying, “Just holler if you need anything.”

Everyone got themselves a pint, and Jared started. On the off chance that Margot did not understand league rules, Jared explained, “If anyone from the Habs were to contact any of the guys, or their agents, directly, without permission from their teams, it would be tampering.”

“So, Norm is going with Bowman, but not until he lines up one Hell of a blockbuster, and just to be safe, he is using you as the intermediary,” Margot said.

“I figured you’d have that figured, but figured I’d say it, just in case. Sorry, Margot.”

“Nothing to apologize for. Carry on, please.”

“Molson is really, really troubled by the fact that the Bell Centre isn’t sold out every game. He wants to make sure the place is packed to the rafters, when things get back to normal, whenever that may be.”

“And bringing a Bowman, one with three rings, back into the Habs family is a good start,” said Eric.

Making a Bowman the GM of the Habs would cause explosions in the greatest hockey town in the world.

“Oh, it gets better than that,” Jared promised. The other brothers grinned, and waited. “Guess who’s gonna be behind the bench?”

“Lemaire?” was Marc’s guess.

Jacques Lemaire

  • Hall of Famer
  • won eight Stanley Cups playing for the Habs between ‘67 and ‘79
  • won another ring, in ‘05, as the head coach of the New Jersey Devils

“That would be good,” Jared laughed, “but it’s even better!”

The table went silent for three seconds. Then Margot said, “No fucking way! Are you kidding?”

Jared finished his pint, laughed, and answered, “Dead serious. I almost shat myself when Norm told me.”

“You’re shitting us?” Marc said.

“Just to be perfectly clear,” said Eric, “Norm told you that Saint Patrick is gonna be behind the bench, working under Bowman, who will be working under McGuire?”

“And they all want the three of you, and Matt, to be there when they win number 25.”

It was crazy. The really good kinda crazy, if you’re a Habs fan. The brothers, all stunned, sat silent, until Margot yelled, “Yeeee hawww!” She pushed her pint glass up, over the centre of the table, and laughed, “I think w can all drink to that!”

Eric, Marc, and Jordan snapped out of their collective daze, clinked their sleeves against Margot’s, and Jared’s, and laughter filled the air.

Marc, the only of the three big league brothers without a Stanley Cup to his name raised his voice, singing,

Na na na na

The others picked up on it rigt away, and joined in. “Wait! Start again,” Marc instructed, then counted them down. “One, two…”

“No, no, no,” Margot laughed, “En francais!”

Marc obeyed, and counted, “Un! Deux! Trois!”

Na na na na
na na na na
hey, hey, goodbye!

Na na na na
na na na na
hey, hey, goodbye!

After a minute of that, Jared shushed everyone, and said, “I’m not finished. It gets even better.”

“How does this get any better?” Jordan asked. “Is Patrick gonna name Mario Tremblay as the Habs’ new stick boy?”

Jared just grinned, prompting Margot to holler, “Daisy! Get your sweet ass back in here!”




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Having consulted the stars to determine exactly when a new venture should be birthed, Margot determined it was precisely 3:33:33 p.m. The gang of four, and brothers three joined her for lunch at Valhalla, three hours, thirty three minutes, and thirty three seconds before the moment she and the man once known as Mighty Mite would plunge into the no time tunnel.

Margot told the conspirators as much as she could about how the tunnel works. “As I said before, you have o know where you are going. At least one of you, that is. When I tripped with Steve, way back when, he always knew where we were going. But, once, when Steve was taking me to see penguins in Antarctica, I had kangaroos bouncing around in my subconscious mind. We came out in neither Australia, nor Antarctica.”

“Where did you come out?” Lance asked.

“Cairo,” was the answer. “Another time, we ended up in India.”

“Taj Mahal?”, Madonna asked.

“Not exactly,” Margot laughed. “I don’t know where we were, but it was bizarre. There was a water tower. A cow had somehow gotten to the top of the stairs the went up the outside of the tower. There’s no way that cow could have climbed those stairs.”

“How did it get there,” asked Kitty.

“No idea. A couple years later, when I was living in Vancouver, I thought maybe the UBC Engineer kids put it up there, somehow. They were always pulling pranks like that, at the start of Engineering week. It usually involved ca VW Bug in strange places. The had one hanging off the bottom of a major bridge, one time. But I don’t imagine they actually got that cow to the top of the staircase in India.”

“You never found out how it got there?” Madonna asked.

“No. But India is one Hell of a strange place, especially when it comes to cows.”

“Wait,” Stephen said. “How did it get down?”

“Indian Air Force helicopter,” Margot answered. “There must have been fifty thousand people there by then. It was insane.”

“You can get fifty thousand people to watch two dogs fucking in India,” Stephen laughed. No one challenged him on it, so he kept talking, “That’s really cool. Kinda like Bugs Bunny always missing the left turn at Albuquerque, and ending up anywhere but Miami Beach.”

Madonna laughed, “Great! Now I can just see myself popping up in the middle of a bullring!.”

“It is funny,” Margot agreed. “But you don’t know where you’re going to get to, if you don’t know where you’re going.” Looking at Kitty, she said, “You could end up in a prison cell, in Turkmenistan.”

Kitty nodded, then shook her head, and said, “That doesn’t sound like a whole lotta fun.”

“No. No fun at all,” Margot concurred. “Fortunately, there’s a failsafe built in, so if you do end up in a prison cell, in Turkmenistan, you can simply walk back into the tunnel, so long as you are able to walk. Here’s the Catch 22 to the failsafe: If you land chest deep in a pool of quicksand, you’re hooped. If you end up physically restrained from moving, you’ve got trouble with a capital T, which rhymes with G, which stands for ‘Get me the fuck outta here!’”

Margot looked around the table, to make sure all understood. Satisfied that they did, she continued. “As you are reaching your destination, you can see it. But, if there’s nothing to see, you can’t see nothing.”

“Huh? What do you mean,” Lance asked.

“Steve once took me to the Sahara Desert. It was light, here in Thunder, when we walked into the tunnel.”

“But it was night, in the Sahara, when you came out, which was the same time you went in, so it was pitch black,” Kitty said.

“It would have been pitch black, but there was a full moon, and the skies were clear.”

“OH MY GOD! That is so romantic,” Kitty gushed. “So, you made love, all night, under the full moon, and the stars, in the middle of the desert.” Kitty was looking at Margot, so she didn’t notice that Stephen was looking at her, and Madonna was looking at Lance, while she cooed.

Margot smiled demurely.

“So, the moral of the story is, don’t go to the darkness,” said Lance.

“Literally, and metaphysically,” said Margot. “Unless that’s where you wanna be.” She paused to see if anyone had a question, or a wisecrack, then continued. “To get back, you have to go back into the tunnel at the exact same place you came out of it. The portal is kinda like a two way mirror. It’s a circle, about 20 feet in diameter.”

“Can someone follow you, if you’re being chased,” Stephen wanted to know.

“No. Because they don’t know where they are going. They will not even understand where you just disappeared into, never mind knowing where they are going, so the portal is closed to them. If you disappear into a wall, they will run into the wall if they try to follow. If you disappear into thin air, they will run rigt through thin air.”

“It’s very exciting,” Madonna smiled.

“My advice is to book yourselves into a hotel, before you leave. I’ve booked myself into a specific room with a view of Big Ben. When I come out of the tunnel, I will be in the room. I’ll just open the door, head to the lobby and check in.”

“How will you get back into the room, into the tunnel, once you’ve checked out?” Stephen asked.

“I won’t check out. If I am done with the room, I will just call, saying I have to leave immediately, and that I’m at the airport.”

“It’s the opposite of Hotel California,” Madonna laughed. “You can’t check out, anytime you like, but you can always leave!”

All at the table loved that. “I want a room with mirrors on the ceiling, and pink champagne on ice,” Kitty chuckled. Stephen liked the sound of that; his son did not.

“You cannot directly get to any destination when you go back into the tunnel,” Margot explained. “You have to come back to the hub. Then, and only them, can you go somewhere else.”

“But that all happens in the absence of time,” Lance pointed out. Looking at Madonna, he said, “So, we can leave Vancouver, and get to wherever Branson is, at the same time we left Vancouver.”

“Yes, so long as you spend zero time at the hub,” Margot clarified. “That’s pretty much it. If I earn anything new today, I will tell you as soon as Steve and I get back from Wuhan. “Any questions?”

“How far is the entrance to the labyrinth from here?” Lance asked.

“There are three known entrances. Once is out on Pie Island. Another, out at Silver Islet, under the Sleeping Giant. The third, which we will take, is just ten minutes from here. Underneath Mount McKay. Any other questions?”

There were none, but Margot noticed Eric was staring at his phone, so she said, “Eric?”

“Sorry, Margot, but this came in as urgent. No, no questions.” Summoning Daisy, he asked her, “Can you get TSN up on the TV, in the bar, please?” Daisy dashed off to the bar. Eric looked at Jordan and Marc, and said, “Let’s go. Big news breaking.” Looking at the others, he added, “Pardon the interruption, s’il vous plait.”




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While Kitty and Margot were having their tete-a-tete outside, Stephen dropped into the lobby, and engaged with Daisy.

“Howdy, Mr. Stephen. How you doin’?”

“Well, truth be told, I’m feeling my age rigt now. Feeling old.”

“You come to the rigt place, then. I can fix that for you.”

“No fooling?”

“Honest Injun.”

“I’d appreciate all the help you can give me, girl.”

“It’s real easy. Y’all still use the Fahrenheit scale down under, but we use Celsius. So, when you cross the border, you gotta convert. So, how old are you in Fahrenheit years?”

“Seventy two.”

“Lemme see, that makes you… ‘bout twenty two, or three in Celsius.”

The King of Horror was wildly amused. “You’re a genius, Daisy! I’ll feel better already. Thank you.”

“Oh, it’s my pleasure. We do that for old Yanks all the time. Never fails. They never wanna go home.”

“I saw you scribbling on a pad before I so rudely troubled you with my problems. Did I interrupt anything important?”

“Kinda important. I’m working on an economic recovery plan.”

Fascinated, Stephen said, “That’s a mighty big undertaking, Daisy. Is it similar to FDR’s New Deal?”

“Well, I ain’t got far, yet, Mr. Stephen, but I got a pretty good start, so we’ll see where it goes.”

“How far have you gotten, Daisy?”

“Well, seein’ how the ultra high net worth caste hates the middle classes, and the middle classes hate the working poor, I think we have to start with the homeless.”

“You gonna give all the homeless free housing, and then charge them property tax?”

“Kinda, but not really. It’s a little more complicated than that, but in a real simple sorta way.”

“I’m Ross Perot, Daisy. Hit me.”

“Okay, Ross, here goes. We have to start by fining the homeless for not social distancing.”

Laughing, Stephen said, “That’s brilliant.”

“Well, there are gonna be lots and lotsa people losing their jobs, and defaulting on their mortgages, so there’s bound to be a pretty big spike in homelessness. And if the virus sticks around, that spike ain’t gonna be no bubble, neither. So, for my plan to work, everyone will have to stop wearin’ masks, which will make the Freedom Fries Fighters guys happy, and shut ‘em the fuck up.”

“It would be prudent to not piss on the corn flakes of guys who have guns, and drink ‘shine for breakfast.”

“Don’t I know it? By the way, have you noticed they ain’t demandin’ that the bookstores, and libraries be re-opened?”

“I had not,” Stephen admitted, with a chuckle. “Bookstores and libraries will be anomalies following the mass extinction of the literate. Writers and readers will be pariahs to the phone addicted zombies, who will have their herd word immunity set to 140 characters.”

“Yeah, it’s all true, Mr. Stephen, and you know it better than me. The zombies might even burn the libraries, like they did to Ray Bradbury’s library in Alexandria.”

“That truly was a crime against humanity.”

“It sure was.”

“As for all the people saying everything should re=open rigt away, they’re not people.”



“Some people, mostly the gun guys and their biddies, I suppose, say Chinese people come from insectoids, not humans. That’\s why they’re communists, and have slanted yes.”

“Jesus. Even I couldn’t make that shit up. That shit is the product of a really sick mind. I just make up weird shit, but it’s fiction. Those people actually believe the shit they make up.”

“So, if they’re not humans, and they’re not insectoids, who are they?

“Bots. Boss bots. Fake social media accounts.”

“Okay. That makes sense Bosses are losing money, and boy=ts don’t get CORONA,  so what do they care if people die? They’ll find a way to make money of that, too.”

“That’s what they do.”

“Well, I got a way to make money off of people who are just homeless, not dead.”

“Yes, you were saying….”

“So, anyway,, the homeless numbers will just keep growing, so it’s long term sustainable. And they’ll all be huddling together, to keep warm in the winter. So, BAM! We make a killin’ off ‘em. Hell, it will fill the vaults, rigt away, in a place like India. Africa, too.”

“Anyway. So, the homeless numbers will just keep growing, so it’s long term sustainable. And they’ll all be huddling together, to keep warm in the winter. So, BAM! We make a killin’ off ‘em. Hell, it will fill the vaults, rigt away, in a place like India. Africa, too.”

“You should get in touch with Bono about this.”

“Nah, he ain’t done nothin’ for too long, and he’s a liberal, anyway, so probably pretends to like the homeless, even though I bet he never gives ‘em any money. Probably steals out of the begging bowls of buskers, when he catches them playing one of his songs. So, I’m gonna go round to the churches, ‘cause no one hates the homeless as much as the churches do.”

“The churches hate the homeless?”

“Do they ever! Like no one’s business, they hate ‘em. I mean, there they are, preaching Jesus – and baby Jesus loved the poor, and the whores – and they know the baby Jesus cries every time they close their doors, and don’t let the homeless inside his houses, even when it’s like thirty below zero. And they know baby Jesus can send them straight to Hell, but they don’t give a flying fuck ’bout that, “cause they’d rather lick lepers, all day, all night, while roasting in the treehouse they built in the Burning Bush of Ignorance, Indifference and Hypocrisy, than give the poor a place to sleep, even when it’s freezing cold outside.”

“There’s no arguing that. The churches do hate the poor.”

“Hell yeah, they do. I mean, they tell their people to not give money to the homeless. They put it up on signs, rigt on their doors. They tell ‘em to give their money to the church instead. They say they will take care of the poor with the money. But they don’t, unless you call buying candy for little boys taking care of the poor. And they got so much money, too. They got more money than God with a wallet full of credit cards, and bitcoin, and big boxes of Canadian Tire money. And the cheap bastards don’t pay any taxes. So, Ima tax ‘em. Back tax ‘em!”

“How far back?”

“The whole two thousand years. Imagine; two thousand years of back taxes! And I ain’t just talking ‘bout property taxes, neither. I’m talking capital gains, inheritance, and especially sin tax, “cause you know them hypocrites been doin’ shitloads of sinnin’ for the last two millennia.”

“That’s a hefty tab to pick up.”

“Hell, yeah, it is. We’ll get all their money, and plenty more. They’ll never be able to pay everything they owe, just like the government can’t never pay that devil Bill Gates all the money they owe him. They’ll be lucky if they can even keep up on the interest. And it’s a bottomless well, ‘cause the rubes will still keep lining up, every Sunday, to throw money at ‘em. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself.”

“That’s okay, Daisy. I’m still picking up what you’re putting down, so if you have to rewind a bit, you go rigt ahead.”

“So, once we wallop ‘em, wallop ‘em good and hard, the first time, and get all the money they have rigt now, which ain’t everythin’ they gonna owe, we’ll give it all to the homeless people, ‘cause that will make the baby Jesus happier than a case of the clap in a Catholic trailer park, on welfare day. So, the baby Jesus will quit with the boo-hoo-hooing all the time, already, thank fucking God, pardon my French. So, anyway, when we get all the money from the churches, we’ll give it all to all the homeless people, so they can pay the fines we’re gonna slap ‘em with.”

“You’re gonna do all this when you become Prime Minister of Canada.?”

“Nah. Miss Kitty says she gonna talk to her secretary, get me the job, make me General of the UN. I guess that’s why you’ve all come together, rigt now, over me.” Daisy’s face screwed up all weird as she asked no one, “Toe jam football? Miss Kitty ain’t got no toe jam football. I seen her toes. They real clean.”

“Okay, that all adds up, Daisy. But you’re not gonna tell the churches all this when you go see ‘em.”

“Hell no, I ain’t. They call me Crazy Daisy, not Dumb Daisy! I’m just gonna get ’em to rubber stamp the new war on the poor. And they gonna love me for it, ‘cause…”

“Because they hate the poor.”

“They prima facie hate the poor. So, they gonna love me, so Ima be able to discover where they hidin’ all their money. You just gotta know that anyone who loves money as much as the churches do ain’t trustin’ it to the only crooks in town who love money even more than they do.”

“The banksters.”

“Darn tootin’ the banksters. So, if we’re gonna get all the churches’ money, I gotta figure out where they hidin’ it all.”

Stephen’s massive, festering mess of looming dementia did the computations. Then it double, and triple checked the unassailable logic of it all, and concluded that Crazy Daisy ain’t crazy, at all, just like Margot had said, just a few minutes earlier.

“That is, without a doubt, the greatest voodoo economics scheme ever,” Stephen declared. “You let us know if you need any help with any of it.”

Daisy smiled a delightful, delighted smile, and said, “Thank you! I think I got it all covered, so far. But, like I say, I’m just gettin’ started, so I will take you up on your most kind and generous offer, if and when I get a bit confused ‘bout somethin’.”




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Once again, Margot was pressed for time, which she regretted, because she really wanted to delve into Kitty’s mind, and search her soul. Alas, ‘twas not to be on the eve of her tunnel trip to Wuhan.

“I have to get going, Kitty.”

“Yes, of course. You’re on some sort of mission of mercy, yes?”

“You sense that?”

“I do.”

“Yes, you do, and yes, I am. I have to visit a distraught friend. Her daughter is a doctor, working in a hospital in Italy.”

“Oh, dear. That would be distressing.”

“They speak, every day, and then she, my friend, talks to me about it. It’s very intense, as you know, in Italy. The frontliners are holding up. Bending, not breaking, but they need every scintilla of support they can get, material or spiritual.”

“And what’s the situation here? Is it bad?”

“Certainly not as bad as it is in Italy, or Iran, or Spain. But there is fear. Fear that we are not prepared for what may happen.”

“Fear among frontliners, or the general community?”

“Both, but more so among the frontliners, who know that they don’t have the materials they need, test kits, PPE gear, beds, to fight this, if it erupts.”

“Is there spiritual support here, at least? Is the community demonstrating its support for frontliners?”

“There is. Every night, seven p.m., people open their doors, or hang out their windows, and make a racket. It resonates. The frontliners really feel it. And tomorrow, we are all gonna get a show. A show of stupidity, but some will take comfort in it.”

“Show of stupidity?”

“Yes. The Snowbirds will be doing a flyover.”

“The Snowbirds are you version of our Blue Angels, and Thunderbirds, I take it.”

“Yes, but we use fifty year old jets.”

“Very Canadian of you, not to piss away ridiculous amounts of money for that kind of circus.”

“It’s all insane. The money and scientific genius we have all pissed away on militarism, when we could have been using it to fight poverty, and find cures for diseases that ravage us daily, never mind in a pandemic, is nothing less than a scathing indictment of our priorities as a species.

“A hundred years ago, during the Spanish Flu pandemic, people were using the same kinds of cloth masks that we are using today for personal protection. But look at the assault rifles that people are using for their alleged personal protection these days. They bear no resemblance to the guns people had a hundred years ago. We just keep inventing better ways to kill people.”

Kitty cringed, “And it’s all glorified by the warmongers. You wanna be a man? Be a hero? Here, take this gun, go over there, and kill those people, just like the guys in the movies, and on TV. If you come back, we’ll give you a medal. But we’d rather you not come back, because we don’t wanna spend any money trying to fix your broken minds. So, do us all a favour, and stay wherever we send you, or if you have to come back, come back in a body bag.”

“And tomorrow, people will be looking up in the sky and cheering, as the pretty war machines fly over, doing an aerial ballet. Kids will be looking up, and saying, ‘I wanna do that when I grow up!’ None of the cheerleaders will be even vaguely aware of the fact that they are cheering on the disease of militarism, which robs us every day, and in every way.”

Kitty shook her head in disgust, and scowled, “Meanwhile, we don’t even have the money to properly protect the real heroes who are fighting an enemy that has no religion, no ideology. An enemy that needs no propaganda campaign to spur it on.”

“Kitty, my friend, we are all subject to that greatest of Chinese curses.”

“Indeed, we are living in interesting times.”

“Time. Time. Time. I have to go, Kitty. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love you tomorrow.”








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