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Volume 2, Number 7 -- July, 1997

Sympathy for the Devil - Book III

by Dean Shutt

 We barreled towards Phoenix as fast as the Übergeo would manage. It was nearly midnight and I was tired, cranky and more than a little worried. My associate was lapsing in and out of consciousness and we had at least an hour to drive. Even with all of the tranquilizers I had pumped into him at the casino, he had been out for less than an hour. I could only imagine what sort of sick and depraved things he would be capable of when he finally awoke. I wasn't concerned about the restraints holding, I'd paid top dollar for those. In my business you soon learn that certain things can't be skimped on. No, my concern was what my obviously lunatic associate would do to the seats of the Übergeo. This is a car that is built for performance, not for restraining psychotic professional journalists. He would probably tear through the seat like tissue paper when he came around.
 Unfortunately, I wouldn't have to wait long to find out. I could feel his twisted glare on me before I even turned to look at him. It was time to put the experience to work.
 "Thank God you're awake, I'm pretty sure we lost them!" I said without even looking at him.
 "Huh, lost who?" he mumbled at me in reply.
 "Those damned Indians man, what on earth did you do to them at the Casino, I thought you were a goner."
 "What the hell are you talking about! I don't remember doing anything!"
 "That isn't surprising, you're probably just blocking it out, I know I would."
 "So what happened to me back there?" He asked, more confused than angry now. It was working.
 "Well," I said, "The Indians seem to have gotten the idea that you were counting cards or some such thing. When I got to you, they were about to smear you with jelly and strap you over an anthill. You're just lucky I was able to talk them out of it."
 "What do you mean they thought...I...was..." his voice trailed off as he realized what he was about to admit.
 "So once I talked them out of practicing their savagery on you we had to leave." I explained as pleasantly as possible.
 "So how did I get knocked out? And why am I in these restraints?"
 "Well, I thought that I had the situation diffused. Then you got a little wild on the way out and one of them clubbed you from behind." I told him, "I had to put the restraints on you because they got mad again. Those bloodthirsty heathens tried to follow us and I had to evade them. It's a good thing for you someone was thinking of your welfare."
 He looked at me for a long time, weighing the situation I suppose, before asking if the restraints could come off now. I explained that there wasn't time, we had a schedule to keep and were nearly in Phoenix. All in all I have to admit he handled it well. I guess he realized that there wasn't anything he could do about it just yet, and besides, he would plenty of time to get rid of me over the weekend. I was well aware of his little plan though, I wasn't overly concerned about him getting rid of me. Many had tried, none so far had succeeded.
 We pulled into Phoenix at around one in the morning. As we drove through the slumbering burgh, I was struck by the apparent lack of coffee shops. These are the nineties after all, and since they've taken all of the other drugs away, caffeine is pretty much all I have left. Besides, when you walk the high anxiety tightrope of professional journalism as I do, you occasionally need that boost that a triple espresso brings to the party. As you can tell, the absence of coffee shops was no small matter. Yet it was one of many, would the story be here after all of this? Could I avoid the worst of my associate's nefarious schemes? How long was I going to have to walk this knife edge with a crazy man in tow? Were there any decent strip clubs in this city? My mind swam in a sea of worry and angst as we made our way to the hotel.
 The motel was a fairly seedy affair, but I had slept in worse. I remember a hotel in San Francisco that required half a dozen shots of Wild Turkey before you would even think of climbing between the sheets. Compared to that flea trap, we were entering the Ritz. My associate stumbled along behind me, unable to make his legs work properly. It might have been the muscle relaxer that I'd mixed in with his tranquilizer, but who can really tell? As we entered the lobby, the old desk clerk glared at us in that special way that only small town, semi-authority figures can. It was a look that said, "I may be dumber, poorer and a whole lot more pathetic than you, but I'm in charge here, Slick." I'd dealt with this type before and knew that I didn't need my associate's help in the matter. Always a quick thinker, I dropped my bag in his path. In his drugged state, he preceded to do a beautiful header into the front desk. He was out like a light before he hit the ground. The poor, dumb clerk was in a state of stunned silence at this display. How often does he have to deal with obvious drug fiends bashing their heads against his desk, after all? I had my associate's wallet out in an instant and produced the Gold Card he'd booked the room with. The clerk took the plastic without removing his eyes from my prone associate. I patiently explained that there was nothing to worry about as I was his doctor and these fainting spells of his were fairly common. I also mentioned that the sooner I got him to his room, and into his sleeping restraints, the better off we all would be. The clerk moved with surprising efficiency through the check-in process after that. Thanks to my associate's well-timed bout of unconsciousness, we checked into our room without incident.
 Once the clerk's overgrown son-in-law deposited my associate on his bed, I set to work getting things ready for the morning. I strapped him to his bed with the restraints and p