I was dozing in my chair, hat pulled down over my brow, feet up on the desk, when I heard the knock. I tilted my head and looked at the door.
“Enter,” I said.
Jimmy and Simon bounded in and plopped down in the chairs in front of my desk. They had spent the last week hanging out together, getting drunk, playing video games, and patronizing strip joints under the pretense of searching for Portia, who we never did find, by the way. I was happy for them. Their relationship had come a long way since the beginning of this case.
Jimmy still had a big bandage on his forehead, but was otherwise in good repair. Simon, well, there wasn’t anything wrong with Simon. At least nothing a good swift kick in the butt wouldn’t cure.
I could tell by the look in their eyes what this was about.
“Heading back?” I said.
“Yeah, I think it’s about time,” Simon replied. “Pricilla keeps calling me on my cell. I think she’s getting suspicious that I’m just goofing off. Wants me to come home. Put on my suit and go to the office and start working again and all that. I guess I probably should.”
“Probably. What about you Jimmy?”
“Yeah. I’m feeling the need, you know? Tubes are calling, dude. Hard.”
“Indeed,” I said.
I looked at my partners and thought about all that we had been through in the past few weeks. Or maybe months, who the hell really knew when it came to time anyway? So much had happened, it seemed like forever since Burroughs had first walked into my office so long ago.
Jimmy had taken a bad hit to his head on the coaster, and an even nastier fall, but nothing any worse than he hadn’t already been exposed to by surfing into piers, jetties, or luxury yachts, all of which he had done on numerous occasions. If nothing else, the whole experience gave him a few more entries into his ‘scar log’.
By the time I had gone down to the entrance of Space Mountain to get Simon and make it back with him to the floor level of the coaster room, Jimmy had been a little woozy but at least conscious and walking around, albeit in slow motion since he thought he had landed on Saturn and was space walking.
Zodar, however, had no prior experience surfing into inanimate objects himself, and as such, had suffered the hit and fall much harder. He had still been alive when we got to him, but that was about it.
Luckily, I knew just what to do with him. So we loaded him up onto a service truck (this took a while), drove him over to Animal Kingdom, and left him in the African wilderness. The Disney staff found him early that morning and, thrilled at getting a free animal, especially a specimen of his size, nursed him back to health and had him out there thrilling the kids in no time, albeit under an extremely watchful eye and boatloads of heavy sedation.
I found it ironic that his well-being and care were now being provided by the very institution that he had been trying to overthrow. But I wax philosophic that way sometimes.
There was, of course, some controversy during his first few days there; some of those rather prissy tourist types (the kind that seem to know everything except the fact that nobody can stand them) questioned whether a moose was actually an animal indigenous to the African continent. But everyone generally ignored them and pretty soon the whole ruckus died down since the moose didn’t really seem to mind being there and everyone thought he was a fine looking animal on the whole and so what if he wasn’t from Africa anyway?
“So,” I said, “you guys be needing a lift home?”
“That’s okay,” said Jimmy, “I’ll just hitch a ride with Simon. Since he’s heading that way anyway.”
I looked at Simon with surprise.
“Yeah, well, I kind of bought a car the other day,” he said.
“Yeah. ’71 Caddy convertible.”
“Sweet. Not quite an Impala, mind you, but sweet no less.”
“I think so.”
“Well, gentlemen,” I said, “it’s been quite the adventure. I guess the only thing left is just to let you know how much I appreciate all of the help.”
“Hey dude,” Jimmy said, “No problem. And like, if anything gnarly comes up in the future, just let me know, okay?”
“Me too,” Simon said. “This whole thing was a little weird, and I still have lots of problems with it, don’t get me wrong, but it sure beats the hell out of my regular life.”
“Good to know,” I said. “I’ll make a point of it.
The three of us stood up and after exchanging a few brief “Goodbyes”, Jimmy and Simon headed out of the office. Just as he was about to shut the door, Simon paused and stuck his head back in.
“Say, Dick,” he said, “are you sure that Zodar is going to be okay in there? I mean, you don’t think he’s going to be able to escape or anything, do you?”
“We’re talking about Disney here. He’s worth too much to them. Between the staff and the meds? No. No way he gets out.”
“Yeah, I know. But still . . . I mean, he’s not in a cage or anything . . . and he’s not, you know, a regular moose. Are you sure he won’t be able to get out?”
“Simon, there’s a better chance of the Earth being attacked by a couple of teenage space aliens than there is of Zodar escaping. Okay?”
The concern melted from Simon’s face. “Yeah, you’re right. Well then, hey, take care, huh?”
“You too Simon,” I said. “And be sure to give my love to Pricilla.”
The door shut and I was left once again with just my thoughts. My calendar was empty for the foreseeable future, but after what I had just gone through, that was just as well. Both in mind and body, I felt I deserved a little R&R.
I lit a cigarette and smoked it in silence. Looked around my office and felt comfort in the familiar surroundings. Feeling a calm that I hadn’t felt in a long time, I turned to my potter’s wheel and flipped the switch for the motor. Once spinning, I wet my hands and gently caressed the cool clay.
Soon I was fast asleep.
Berzdod and Xynelthorpe were up to no good again. The two young Barzanians from Sector BB34 had once again taken their father’s Anti-Plasma Dissimilator without his permission, intent on ridding the galaxy of a few unnecessary stars. Dazed and confused, they bounded off drunkenly into the cosmos in the family Strato-glide, the Barzanian equivalent of a ‘72 Impala.
Several hours later they found themselves sitting next to the smoking hull of the Strato-glide, having crashed into a small white moon that Berzdod had mistaken for a small white hole. Although Berzdod frequently made this type of error, it really wasn’t his fault this time, since Xynelthorpe, ever the prankster, had secretly replaced three of Berzdod’s eyes with energy pellets.
Berzdod finished treating his radiation burns and looked up to see Xynelthorpe hopping about, still searching for his missing leg.
“Dad’s gonna be pissed,” Berzdod said.
“You’re the idiot who keeps driving into planets,” Xynelthorpe snorted.
Berzdod’s scales bristled but he said nothing in his defense, knowing that if he did his brother would once again bring up the time he “winged” that Diridian spacestation, penetrating the hull and sending the whole outpost blowing about the galaxy like a balloon.
Fuming, he stood up, surveyed the surroundings stars, and the tried to get a bearing on where they were. At that moment, however, one of the energy pellets in his eye cluster decided to spontaneously hyper-fuse, and the resulting jolt knocked him back to the ground.
Xynelthorpe snickered. “What a dork.”
Really mad now, Berzdod stood up again and unstrapped the Anti-Plasma gun from his back. He sighted in on the yellow star to his right.
What the hell, he thought.
He shifted his footpods to plant himself better against the coming kick of the dissimilator and suddenly felt one of them slide away, causing him to stumble and inadvertently pull the trigger. On the ground once again, he looked with disgust to see what he’d tripped on and saw a small white orb covered with dimples and bearing strange markings that he didn’t recognize; Titleist.
A crackling ‘boom’ echoed back through the vacuum of space. Both Berzdod and Xynelthorpe looked up. The 90 megaton plasma orb had hit home alright, but not into the ugly yellow star. Instead, it had plowed neatly into a nearby blue and white planet.
“Nice shot, moron,” Xynelthorpe noted.