Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Precognition fiction.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

"WE HAVE THE RIGHT to one phone call," Adam kept telling the cops as they forced us to walk away from the Quarter, down to Woldenberg Park. "I'm pretty certain I saw that on TV, and hey, if it's on TV you know it's for real."

The woman from the mask store gave him a little giggle and a prod with her nightstick. "And if we were real police officers you would have a real point," she said. "Alas, we are as bogus as those handcuffs you slipped." She turned to me with a tsk. "For a libertine, you certainly are a lightweight. A boy's toys for a man's play game? I'm disappointed, Ron. I thought you liked it rough."

I started to reply, then thought better of it. Never mess with someone who can slip time, change appearances and read your mind. I've learned that lesson from experience.

And time was slipping again — I could see it as we got closer to the Mississippi River. The lights of 21st century tourism started fading behind us; up ahead, the steamboat and the Imax winked out of sight. The riverfront was no longer a marketplace for tourists. We were back in a New Orleans where danger was real, not manufactured, and things like rougarous seemed plausible.

Willard spoke up: "I understand the predicament we are in. You do not seem to understand, however, that you are existing under similar dire circumstances. That your continued dalliance with us will not come to any good end. That by crossing us, you are guaranteeing your own demise." He shrugged. "But hey, I can't help it if you're too stupid to let us go and call it a night. Don't say you weren't warned."

The fake cops laughed as we got to the river's edge. They took our room keycard, unholstered their guns and motioned for us to jump.

Lauren howled at the nearly full moon.

RULE OF LIFE: Don't mess with a woman who is having a horrible, stressful weekend in New Orleans. Especially if you're the reason for her stress. Especially if she's been turned into a rougarou.

Just before we left our hotel for the strip club, Willard suggested a toast. Johnny Blue all around, with a few drops of Adam's blood added to Lauren's glass — without her knowledge, of course. I confess: I did it, but it was Willard's idea. A good one, too. Otherwise we'd all be bobbing in the Mississippi River, and this L.A. boy can't swim.

The instant the guns were pulled, Lauren went from Malibu Barbie to Manson Family Mayhem. Decorum forbids me from diving into details; let's just say that in the world of rougarous, Adam couldn't hold a candle to Lauren's ferocity. She was fast, efficient, effortless in her destruction. Gotta love that in a woman, unless you're the target.

It was all over in less time than it took Adam to say "da-yum." And once she was done, Lauren switched back to being the blonde from the 'bu — not a hair out of place. I don't think she remembers what happened. I hope she doesn't remember. She didn't say anything and I certainly wasn't going to bring it up.

We left what was left of the bodies by the edge of the Mississippi and walked back to the Quarter, back out of the past and into the present. Adam whistled a little tune from The Rocky Horror Picture Show as we passed the darkened remains of Big Daddy's. I took a jump to the left, then a step to the right. I was about to bring my knees in tight when a guy sidled up next to me and asked if we wanted to buy a little something-something to help make the evening brighter.

I said yes. He said cool. Our little tribe left the lights and huddled around a darkened corner. He showed the product. I said, "Here's a hundred bucks." He said, "You're all under arrest." And flashed a badge. This one was real.

LINDSEY PICKED UP and we breathed a collective sigh of relief when we heard her voice on the speakerphone. It's one thing to tell someone you're going to be there when they call for bail. It's another thing when you actually do it — sort of like the difference between helping a friend move, and helping a friend move a body.

Lindsey listened as we explained our situation, interjecting the occasional "oh really" as the narrative galloped forward. When Adam got to the part where he attacked a stripper at a club that no longer exists, Lindsey asked him to take her off speaker and hand the phone to Willard.

"Um-hmm ... I see ... oh yes, I understand completely," Willard said. "Yes, you can trust me to relay that message to the others. Yes. Yes. I will. Well, you have a great day, too." He rang off.

"So when's she wiring the jack to us?" Adam asked.

"Yes, about that," Willard said. "Though I do not know her, your friend Lindsey seems like a very capable and intelligent woman. She wanted me to tell you that she hopes the hallucinations end soon, and that she can't wait to hear more about your adventure when she sees you at work on Monday."

"And that's it?"

"No," Willard said. "She also told me to tell you that she thinks you and Ron are completely insane, that she thinks electroshock and involuntary commitment might be in order, and that she's sorry you guys got Lauren into this mess in the first place."

Adam frowned a little. "So I guess that means no bail money," he said. "You got any bright ideas, Davis?"

As a matter of fact, I did.

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