January 01, 2011

January 2011, Vol. 10, Issue 1

It's a new year and with 2011 comes a brand new issue of Truckin'!

1. Waiting on Eastman by Paul McGuire
I knew Eastman was a dealer. He knew that I knew, which meant that he also knew the cardinal rule: no dealing inside the bar -- especially the bathrooms and in front of the bar...More

2. Scores by Gerald C. Cruz
"What's the craziest thing that's ever happened in your cab dude?" they'll wonder, or some variation thereof. And that's all fine and good as I don't mind indulging a curious mind from time to time. But you know what nobody ever asks me? They never ask what my favorite ride was...More

3. Creation Of Magely Green by May B. Yesno
The volume of her original utterances was such that the muted conversations of the minions seated on the floor of the hall ceased almost immediately and thereby allowing all of the two hundred assembled to follow the near musical confrontation of the Bass-like, prolong and drawn out, Belch and the slightly higher pitched Fart, as they played out their fanfare and slowly died away...More

4. Conflicted Pain by Dan England
when a bunch of large rocks swept under my feet, threatened to swallow me under their granite and bashed into me, I fought for my life, flipping through the air to stop myself and walking 17 hours after I was hurt to get help from the hospital... More

5. Lost Angle Lease by Ernest
rom the sparkling ocean, to the Dr. Seuss-like palm trees, to the not too distant mountains, the scenery was stunning. Sure, it might be chock full of self centered douchebags, but there was no denying the physical beauty of the place. Just then I looked to my right and saw the iconic Capitol Records building in the distance. Far out, man, far out... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop

2011 kicks off with a diverse January issue that includes the debut of veteran cabbie and journalist Gerald C. Cruz. I'm honored that Truckin' gets to publish his epic story involving one of four favorite topics: strippers. After a brief hiatus, May B. Yesno, returned with a gaseous tale. Dan England shared another story about living life on the edge as a mountain climber. We also have a Lebowski Fest-inspired contribution from Ernest. And lastly, I penned a bit of junkie fiction about a trustafarian dealer named Eastman.

The contributors at Truckin' write for the simple love of self-expression, which is a clever way of saying that they write for free. These writers are bold for taking an inspirational leap of faith by exposing their inner souls to you. So, I kindly ask you to help spread the good word about your favorite stories. Good karma and many blessings will come your way for exposing new readers to our amazing writers.

Contact us if you have a burning desire to being added to the mailing list. And if you happen to be a scribe (published or non-published) who is interested writing for a future issue, then please contact us.

Also, thanks to you, the readers. The long-form written word is slowly dying off, but you're keeping the spirit alive in 2011 with your unwavering support of Truckin'.

Be good,

"Sarcasm: the last refuge of modest and chaste-souled people when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively invaded." - Dostoevsky

Waiting on Eastman

Paul McGuire © 2011

I knew Eastman was a dealer. He knew that I knew, which meant that he also knew the cardinal rule: no dealing inside the bar -- especially the bathrooms and in front of the bar. Maybe Eastman skirted the rule when I wasn't working, but in the three years I tended bar at the Lodge, he never crossed the line. He met his clients at the bodega down the street and conducted deals on one of the adjoining blocks. He hung out in bar when one of his clients was running late, or if he happened to arrive early. He never met them at the bar. Always down the street. I never asked where he lived, but assumed it was within a five or six block radius.

Eastman didn't have a particular drink per se, sometimes he ordered bottled beer, sometimes he'd nurse a mug of Budweiser draft, and occasionally he's drink a vodka and juice concoction. Eastman always left a $2 tip per drink. About one-third of the time, he'd just ask for a club soda or diet coke, and he'd still tip $2. Drug dealers were good tippers. Cops? Horrible tippers.

Peggy with the Lisp was one of three Peggys who worked at the Lodge (one server and two bartenders). The server had seniority and known as Peggy, just plain old Peggy. The two bartenders were called Peggy Red and Peggy With the Lisp. Of course, we never called them that to their face, but whenever my co-workers and regulars engaged in banter, we used the three variations of Peggy for clarification purposes. Yes, it could be confusing to an outsider because neither bartenders had a lisp, nor were redheads, while Peggy, the server, at one time was a natural redhead but she constantly changed her hair different colors and styles. I have no idea how Peggy Red got her name, but the owner's wife told me a story about the origins of Peggy with a Lisp that I have yet to determine is the truth or just bar folklore. Supposedly a year before she got a job at the Lodge, Peggy with a Lisp worked in Times Squareat one of those campy-themed chain restaurants with a faux neighborhood bar up front. Peggy with a Lisp was the size of a ballerina. She's tiny and graceful behind the bar, which is why I always liked working with her because she never got in my way. As the story goes, one hot Friday afternoon in August, a couple of Puerto Rican secretaries were getting their drinky drinky on at Happy Hour before they rode the subway back to Queens. They were sloshed on Margaritas and giving Peggy with a Lisp a hard time the entire shift. At one point, one of them complained that there wasn't enough tequila in her drink and called her a "skinny lil white bitch." Peggy with a Lisp had her back to them and turned around as the secretary threw her margarita at Peggy with a Lisp, but her nimble self easily dodged the drink and in one swoop, she jumped across the bar and cold-cocked the secretary, who instantly fell off the stool. Peggy with a Lisp packed a powerful punch and fucked up the secretary's jaw so badly, that the secretary spoke with a lisp the rest of her life.

You see, I told you it was hard to believe, but that's supposedly how Peggy with a Lisp got her moniker.

Anyway, sorry for this odd tangent, but Peggy with a Lisp was the one who told me that Eastman was a trust fund kid, and an heir to the Eastman-Kodak fortune. Why he was a dealer, no one at the Lodge knew for sure. My hunch was that his lifestyle was so extravagant or his habit was so bad that his monthly checks were not enough to cover his vice, so he sold on the side just to cover the deficit. My other theories were that 1) he was bored to death, or 2) he lacked intimacy and human interaction, and we all know that known drug fiends will always call you to "hang out", and 3) he wanted to rebel against his uber-rich family, and what would be a better fuck you to his uppercrust parents than dealing cocaine and speed?

On his good days, Eastman was fun to chat with -- very intelligent, funny stories, and obviously well-read. But sometimes, Eastman showed up to the bar spaced out of his tits and floating ten feet off the ground. On those days, it was tough to talk to him because he incoherently babbled.

"Prozac," he whispered.

"What about it?"

"You're not on it? Are you?" he leaned in closer to ask.

"Never been on an anti-depressant. Whiskey is the only happy pill that I need," I proudly boasted.

"Well, that's good. Because the people who are on it are fucking crazy. Stay away from them. They can snap at any moment. They are ticking time bombs. That stuff is like crack."

"Like crack? Prozac? Are people on that these days? I thought there were better happy pills, like that Wellbutrin. I think that's what Peggy Red is on."

"Keep an eye out for her. You never know when she'll just lose her shit and start stabbing customers. Every day people do crazy shit in the City and most of them flipped out because they didn't get their daily dose of Prozac or Wellbutrin, or they build up such a huge tolerance that they can't function. That's when the hallucinations starts happening, and the voices in the head won't ever go away. Instead of cops busting potheads and drunks, they should be going after everyone on Prozac, setting up surveillance on shrinks, who are their suppliers. They need to compile names of shrinks and add them to a crime database. Anytime you have mad scientists mixing chemicals together to create a new wonder drug, you're in deep trouble, because people have different reactions. You see all of those happy shiny people in commercials for drug companies, and yeah, maybe the drug improves the life of some people, but then they get hooked and become major addicts. You never see commercials warning you about the dangers of getting hooked on Prozac -- like the housewife who fell into a zombie-like trance and hacked up the family pet with a butcher knife, then carefully wrapped the pieces of Fluffy the Cat's carcass in aluminum foil, tossed the feline remains in the back of the freezer, and told the kids that the cat snuck out of the house and ran away."

"Dude, that's gross."

"Which is why they pay off the mainstream media to keep those stories out of the news. No one wants to hear that their neighbors, or the guy sitting int he cubicle next to you can explode into a fit of rage at any moment. I don't blame them. After all, we're all addicts, and a byproduct of our consumer society that does what it can to numb their senses from the constant bombardment of propaganda to get a job with corporate overlords so you can afford to buy stuff. We really need to blame the shrinks. Instead of actually teaching their customers how--"

"You mean patients?"

"No, I mean customers. When you buy drugs, you're a customer. When you see someone who wants to assist with your health, especially mental health, then they are a patient. But anyone who goes to see a shrink is a customer. OK, where was I before you interrupted?"

"Something about shrinks and customers?"

"Oh yeah, so instead of shrinks sitting down and showing these people how to dealing with life's problems, they do the opposite, they barely listen, scribble down the name of a drug and get them out of the office, so they can see another customer and repeat the process. Shrinks are quick to pawn off scripts. Problem solvers in pill form. Shrinks are the real drug dealers and complicit to hundreds and thousands of senseless murderers in our society. The kid up in Harlem hustling a few bucks for rock gets picked up by the cops and tossed into the system, never to be heard from again. But the shrink who sold the most happy pills got rewarded with a palatial Park Avenue apartment, a house in the country, and weekend getaways to St. Moritz."

All of the talk about Prozac and the evil pharmaceutical corporations was boring only because I heard his rant a dozens times already. Luckily, a blonde squeezed herself up to the bar a few spots down and I rushed to take her order.

"What'll have?"

"Um...shoot...I don't know," she asked. "Ummm....what do you suggest?"

"Anything but Prozac."

Paul McGuire is the author of Lost Vegas. Originally from New York City, he currently resides in Los Angeles.

The Photo in this short story was also taken by Paul McGuire.


By Gerald C. Cruz © 2011

Usually the first thing that happens when I tell someone that I drive a cab in Las Vegas is that they ask me to tell them a story.

"What's the craziest thing that's ever happened in your cab dude?" they'll wonder, or some variation thereof. And that's all fine and good as I don't mind indulging a curious mind from time to time. But you know what nobody ever asks me? They never ask what my favorite ride was.

"What's your best ride ever, your all time favorite?"

Well the answer to that question is simple. That would be the one that made me the most money.

I first loaded Ian and Rob at the front door at Bellagio. It was early evening when the two Brits entered my cab and the one gentlemen wearing a nice looking white suit, Ian, asked me, "Say mate what's the best strip club in Las Vegas? We were thinking about going to Crazy Horse Too, is that one any good?"

This question is music to my ears as I'm quite certain dollar signs where flashing in my eyes. Two seconds into the ride and I was already making money. Strip clubs in Las Vegas have been paying cab drivers to bring them business for decades and the Crazy Horse was no exception. In fact their payout at the time was $60 a head, believe it or not, so at this point any attempts by me to talk these guys into anything other than going to the Crazy Horse would take dumb to a new level. In reality, since most clubs pay about the same, whichever club he asked me about would have most likely been my "favorite" club.

"Absolutely," I said, "Crazy Horse has been my favorite club for a while."

"Perfect, take us there will you?"

"Sure thing," I said as we exited the Bellagio driveway onto Las Vegas Blvd. heading north. "You guys staying out of trouble tonight?"

"Fuck no are you kidding? We're looking for trouble. You wouldn't know how to find any would you?"

“I’ve been known to locate some trouble from time to time. What‘d you have in mind?”

“Splendid Mate, absolutely splendid. Well we’re gonna go get our rocks at the booby clubs for a bit and then we were thinking about getting some whores after. You wouldn’t happen to know a good way to go about that now would you?”

“Of course. This is my city my friend.”

“Well how does it work?”

“Well that depends on what you have in mind exactly,” I say, “there’s a few different ways to go about it. Some good, others not so much.”

“So how do you do it when you need some? We’ll probably just do what you do.”

“Well I stopped paying for sex a long time ago my friend, but I’m sure we can work something out for you. Did you want to go incall somewhere or do you want the girls to come to your room?”

“Fuck we don’t know. We talked to a couple of girls last night around the casino bar and it was just rubbish,” Ian said.

“Yeah I’ll bet. Don’t talk to the street walkers man, you’re asking for it. If you wanna do it and do it right you guys need to go to the legal brothels outside of town. It’s perfectly legal and perfectly safe. That’s the best way if you ask me,” I said, failing to mention that the legal brothels pay me a very handsome sum for bringing them business as well.

“I heard about that. Those are really far though aren’t they?”

“Less than an hour we can be there, we can stop and pick up a sixer for the road.”

“No no that won’t do. What else is there?”

“Well let me ask you, do you like Asian girls?”

“I love Asians, how about you Robert, do you like Asian girls?”

“I love hot girls,” the other man said.

“Well there we go,” I said, “I know a place here in town I can take you, beautiful Korean girls, great service, all your hopes and dreams come true.”

“It’s not legal here though is it?” Ian said.

“Well that wasn’t going to stop you last night was it?” I shot back.

“That’s a good point I suppose. Well how do we know we can trust you?”

“You don’t, and you won’t until you try. Understand that it’s in my best interest for you guys to have a good time. This way, every time you come back to Vegas I’ll be your first call. I’d rather do right by you and have a lifelong customer you know? Besides, I seem like I’m alright for a Yankee don’t I?”

“For a Yank he’s not too bad,” Rob said.

“Well there you go,” I said. “Tell you what, you guys go into the strip club and have a good time for a couple of hours, then call me when you’re done and I’ll take you over to that place. We’ll go in and check the girls out and if you don’t like what you see we’ll leave. How’s that sound?”

“And how much are my hopes and dreams costing these days?”

“I haven’t been over there in some time, but I can probably get you in for $300 or so,” I lied.

“$300? That’s cheap compared to what those girls were talking about last night,” Ian said.

“You know me now remember? I’ll give you my card and you just call me when you’re done alright?”

“That sounds good mate, what’s your name?”

“They call me Jerry,” I replied, “and who are you guys?”

“I’m Ian and this is my good fellow Rob,” Ian said.

“Ian and Rob ey? Well you boys have a good time tonight ok?”

Our conversation culminated just as we were pulling into the Crazy Horse Too. I handed Ian my card and reminded them to call me later.

“Fuck on mate why don’t you just come in with us,” Ian said. “Yeah come in with us and have some beers.”

“I don’t think that such a good idea Ian. I’m working,” I said.

“That’s never stopped me before.”

“That’s actually true,” Rob interrupted, “drinking doesn’t stop Ian from doing anything.”

“Thank you Rob for informing us of that,” Ian replied.

“No problem.”

“You guys are funny,” I said “why don’t we just settle up for now and you guys go have your fun ok?”

“Very well Jerry. Very well,” Ian said.

I informed the two gentleman of the fare total of just over ten dollars and Ian reached into both of his pant pockets simultaneously. Together he pulled out the largest stacks of cash that I had ever seen. After a quick calculation, it appeared that he had at least 3 large stacks of $100 bills. Three stacks of high society. At least. Very quickly Ian took one of the hundreds and handed it to me and before I could even contemplate putting his change together, he and Rob made a bee line for the front door. “Thanks a lot,” I said to no one in particular. It was obvious they were on something.

I waited for a few minutes, just long enough for Ian and Rob to have had their ID’s checked, pay their cover and actually enter the club. I opened the door to Crazy Horse and the very attractive cashier rightly assumed that I was a cabbie. After I showed her my TA permit she handed me a little slip to sign then laid out a $100 bill a 10 and two 5’s. I signed the slip and grabbed my bounty, not forgetting to pull the ten and slip it into her tip jar. I walked back outside to my cab $220 dollars richer than I was fifteen minutes ago sitting at the Bellagio. I wondered if I would ever hear from them again.

Before I could even get my cab door unlocked, I noticed the front door at the Crazy Horse opened and who walks out is none other than Ian and Rob. Their arms were draped around each other and without even looking in my direction, the same spot where I had just dropped them off minutes ago, they began walking towards the line of cabs waiting to pick up passengers. Are you fucking kidding me I thought? They totally forgot about me.

“YO IAN WHAT THE FUCK YOU DOING?” I yelled in their direction. They turned and Rob said, “oh fuck there he is,” and with that they turned around and began walking back towards my cab. “What are you guys doing?” I asked again as they got closer. “We don’t like this place man is there another strip club that we can try?”

I could have questioned them as to how could they know if it was any good or not, after all they had just walked in a second ago. I could have asked them what it was they didn’t like about it or do something else to expand on the problem in some way shape or form but all of that would be pointless. A long time ago a cabbie mentor of mine said something that I didn’t understand at the time, but which has turned into crucial advice; don’t think for your passengers, that costs extra he used to say. I didn’t understand what he meant at the time but once situations like this started popping up it became clear that my focus should not be on the Crazy Horse Too’s potential woes but rather on my own income. The only thing I needed to focus on at this point is what different strip club is going to pay me the most to bring them this business, and how fast can I get there.

“Absolutely,” was my one word reply. “Get in”

I recommended that we go to Scores and they instantly went for it. I could have had them there is just a few minutes, and collected another $120 just like that. But I was starting to like these guys, so I decided to take a minute and try and help them out.

“Say Ian, we’re friends right? Can I ask you a question?”

“We’re friends for life mate don’t you forget it.”

“Thanks buddy. As your friend I gotta ask you, what in the fuck are you doing going out on the town with that much fucking cash in your pocket? You really think that’s a good idea?”

“Thank you sir,” Robert interjected, “I was trying to tell the idiot this very thing just a bit ago.”

Ian seemed to be more responsive to my inquiry. “What you don’t think that’s a good idea? I made good money in my life and if I want to throw it around I can can’t I?”

“Of course you can, it’s not about that mate. If you were in the casino gambling and in need of the bankroll I wouldn’t fault you for that, but going out to strip clubs and flashing around that kind of cash in there like you did for me is only going to result in problems.”

“I’ve been to Vegas before, it’s safe here isn’t it? What could happen?”

“It’s very safe here,” I said, “ but you flash that kind of cash in that club and it’s not going to be about the girls wanting to give you good service and enjoying their time with you, it’s going to be a feeding frenzy with all of them doing whatever is necessary to separate you from your money. It’s just not the best way to go about things if you want my honest opinion. In all likelihood, nothing bad would happen, but why take the risk if you don’t have to. I know it’s none of my business, but what do you have in your pocket like 30 grand or some shit?”

“I left the room tonight with 40 thousand.”

“Jesus H.” I said. “That’s not necessary to take that much to a strip club, especially with just the two of you. If you weren’t a total jackass you could have just as much fun with 10 as you could with 40. Seriously. But listen man, you do want you want to, of course. I’m just telling you would I would tell my brother.”

“I appreciate that. But what the fuck do we do?”

“I know what to do,” I said. “You’re staying at the Bellagio?”

“That’s right,” Ian said.

“Okay, no problem, here’s what we’ll do, let’s just stop by the Bellagio real quick and you run up to your room and leave some of that in your safe and Rob and I will just wait for you in the cab, then I’ll take you to the other, better, strip club. How’s that sound?”

“I told you this guy was alright for a Yank,” Rob said.

Ian seemed to see the light of day as I laid it out for him and ten minutes later we were back at the Bellagio. I said specifically for Rob to wait with me because there was little doubt that if the two of them ran to the room together that I would never see or hear from them again. I wasn’t about to let that happen. While we waited, Rob tried, rather convincingly, to get me to park the cab and go into the club with them when we got there. It was starting to sound like fun. I wish I wasn’t fucking working right now. A short while later Ian returned and after he got back in the cab he immediately said, “You’re coming in the club with us aren’t you mate?”

“Man you guys are persistent aren’t you?”

“I don’t know Ian I tried telling him too,” Rob said. “Maybe he’s homosexual, are you homosexual Jerry?”

“Um no.”

“Well he says he isn’t homosexual Ian so I couldn’t say what the problem is.”

“Alright fuckers,” I interrupted, “I’ll go in the and hang out with you guys alright? I can’t drink though for real.”

“Splendid, what do you like mate, Budweiser?”

“Yeah whatever,” I said knowing any attempts to clear the confusion would have been futile.

When we pulled into the Scores driveway there were quite of few other cars dropping off and I could see a small line, about 15 people, waiting to get in the club. While dropping the two of them off I explained to them that I had to go park the cab and that I would come in and find them when I was done. They didn’t like this very much, thinking I was going to ditch them I believe, but I finally convinced them that I would find them inide. Ian pulled out another hundred and handed it to me as they bolted for the door. “Thanks a lot,” I said to no one in particular.

As I pulled around the driveway I noticed Ian and Rob walk right past the line of people waiting to get in the club and try and enter the club through the exit door. Before Ian could even make an attempt to open the door, one of the bouncers steps in front of him and attempts to show him where the line is. Ian pulls out a hundred and handed it to the guy and the next thing you knew the two of them were being escorted in through the exit door and disappeared into the club. If nothing else it was clear that Ian had done Vegas before. In any other situation, I would have just valet’d my car and went in with them, but I was working and the important thing not to forget is that I have another $120 that I needed to collect before I meet them inside.

I parked my cab but not before I got on my two-way and explained to my dispatcher that I was going to be out of the cab for a while. I think I told them my wife was sick. Shortly thereafter I was autographing another small sheet of paper, throwing $10 into a tip jar again and dumping a new $120 into my pocket. To this point I had only known Ian and Rob for about an hour but I had already netted over $400. At the front door I was able to find the same bouncer that assisted Ian and Rob and after explaining that I was with them he quickly agreed to have me escorted to their table as well. He handed me off to one of the hosts inside and before I knew it we walked straight to the back of the club to the elevator. You know it’s a pimp strip club when there’s an elevator. Once upstairs in the VIP section, we made a left into another room which was big enough to be it’s own strip club. We walked past the DJ booth and there, nestled in a gigantic plush purple booth overlooking the main level, were Ian and Rob. A number of strippers draped alongside of them and a round of empty glasses on the table. They were both ecstatic when I arrived.

The strippers already knew the deal it appeared and it was nothing less than a feeding frenzy. Two of them jockeyed for position on my lap and a half a dozen other girls filled out the booth. The cocktail waitress arrived and Ian promptly ordered a couple of bottles for the table, whatever the girls wanted and made a special note to tell the waitress that I wanted a Budweiser. I don’t know what it was with the Budweiser but I could only reason that Ian had concluded that I’m an American therefore I must drink Budweiser.

“I can’t drink Ian I’m on the clock,” I said.

“Don’t listen to a word he says,” Ian shouted at the waitress, “This is my table and I’m ordering the drinks and my fellow there wishes to have Budweiser, if you refuse to bring him a Budweiser well then I’ll… I’ll. What will I do Rob?”

“Do about what?” Rob said.

“What will I do if the waitress doesn’t bring our fellow here a Budweiser?”

“You’d find another waitress I recon.”

“Yes that’s right! If you refuse to bring our mate a Budweiser you will be fired from this table. No longer will you be witnessing for our table, I‘ll see to it personally.”

“How about I bring him two Budweiser’s?” the waitress shot back, at which the table roared and Ian quickly ran up to the waitress and kissed her on her cheek.

The waitress walked away but not before I stopped her and asked her to bring me a bottled water. In time multiple club staff members filled our table with ice buckets, bottles of vodka and rum, mixers, glasses, and two Budweiser’s and a bottled water for me. The next two hours were a blur. I managed to refrain from drinking any alcohol, even though the waitress continually brought me Budweiser’s at Ian’s request. He also insisted the numerous untouched bottles of Budweiser remained on the table as they brought more. Ian and Rob appeared to be having an incredible time and Ian was gracious enough to buy me dances from whatever girls I wanted. I was very careful with that however. Falling out of their graces was the last thing I wanted to do.

Ian motioned for me to take a seat by him and he finally confirmed my suspicions.

“Say I’ve got some coke do you want some?” Ian asked.

“Uh I think I’m ok mate, I’m working. Thanks though.” I replied.

“Do you think it would be alright if we did some?”

“What, right here? Are you kidding?”

“Yeah why not?”

“What, you just want to line up some rails right here on the table?”

“I was thinking on some tits actually.”

“I love your style Ian, I really do, but that’s not a good idea. I promise you,” I said.

“So what can we do?”

“This is Vegas Ian, there’s always something that can be done, particularly when you have tens of thousands of dollars in your pocket,” I said.

“I don’t think I have that much anymore.”

“Well good thing you didn’t bring in 40 with you because you would have blown through that too. Listen man, there is a way, just go into the bathroom and slip one of those crisp hundreds of yours to the bathroom attendant on the way in and go into a stall and do your thing.”

“You think that will work?”

“I know it, just don’t be in there all night and you should be fine,” I said.

“You’re the greatest mate, and hey one more thing, you see that blond up on the stage there,” Ian said pointing to an incredibly large chested dancer.

“Yeah what about her?”

“Make sure she’s here when we get back would you?” Ian said and threw another hundred at me. “Rob, may I borrow you for a briefing?” Ian said and the two of them hurried off to the men’s room. I stood up and began walking over to the stage to snatch the dancer for Ian. On the way I found a $5 bill and put the $100 Ian gave me in my pocket. There’s no way I was giving this bitch a hundred just for coming over to the table knowing a fiver would do the trick. I walked up to the railing and waited for her to come over to me.

“I don’t have any money for you sweety,” I said, “but I will give you a tip- you seen the three of us sitting at that booth over there?“ She nodded. “When you’re done here you should find my friend in the white suit, there’s a few hundred for you over there at least,” I said and handed her the $5. She responded by grabbing the back of my head and buried my face in her tits.

I’d had my fill for a bit and needed to catch up on a few things, so after the party animals returned safely to the booth I went outside to catch up on a few phone calls. The first call I made was to the house to make sure things were good to go and if the location had changed. Nothing had changed and upon request I informed the madam that we would be charging the gents $400. The actual price to get laid is $150 but the best way for me to get paid is to tell the madam what was to be charged in advance so the girls could be advised and everyone could just act like $400 was the regular price. Whatever amount I sold the customers on above the $150 would be my take. As far as Ian and Rob were concerned, I wouldn’t be making anything off of the transaction and I can keep on being the awesome guy who’s taking care of them. If it came out that I was making considerably more money than the girl and the house combined it’s hard to say how that would be received, but I’d venture most would no longer feel too good about my “generosity”. I did care for the two boys, I wanted them to have a good time and I may have even saved Ian $20,000, but at the same time I’m running a business here and now is the time to maximize profits. Even then, I’m sure I could have gotten $500 out of them no problem.

On my way back into the club I found the same bouncer from before and I asked him to get on his radio and locate Tony T. for me. Tony T. is the VIP Manager for Scores and has been my close friend since grade school. I wanted to say hi as well as let him know that I brought him some business. The bouncer told me that he’d be out soon and after Tony came out, dressed in his usual slick suit, I told him about my night and what was going on.

“Oh you brought those guys in?” Tony asked.

“Yeah, they’re probably 2 grand at the bar already.”


“Say do you have a second to come upstairs and introduce yourself? I’m sure they’d appreciate it, make me look cool in the process?”

“Yeah I’ve got a minute right now let‘s go.”

“Tony, there’s one other thing,” I said grabbing his arm.

“What’s up?”

“They’re doing blow in your bathroom. I told them what to do but if anything happens tell everybody to be cool and I’ll get um out of here.”

We walked back through the club to the elevator and when we returned to the table the big chested blond seemed to be giving Ian the ride of his life. Tony did his professional bit and threw in some nice words about me and this was perfect because Ian and Rob could go on thinking that I’m the guy that knows everyone.

A short while later I informed the boys that it was about time to wrap things up at the strip club if we wanted to get to the whorehouse before it closed. Of course it wasn’t that as much as 5am my deadline for returning the cab. They didn’t even flinch when I told them it was going to $400 instead of the $300 I mentioned earlier. I probably should have told them 5.

The best underground whorehouse I knew about, and there undoubtedly was some good ones that I didn’t, was a Korean establishment located just south of Chinatown. Simply it’s located in the middle of a neighborhood in a house surrounded by, presumably, law abiding citizens. Parking the cab in the driveway of this place isn’t a good idea for obvious reasons and the best solution is to just park in Chinatown and hike in. Ian and Rob had no complaints about this, as I had yet to steer them wrong. They even promised to keep it down during our trek.

A short while later I rang the doorbell of a brown and white single story 4 bedroom abode and looked up in the area of the hidden security camera. The door crept open with no one standing behind it and the three of us walked in, the door closed behind us revealing the house mom. We exchanged pleasantries and she directed the girls to line up in the living room.

7 or 8 beautiful women emerged. There were about 6 Korean girls, all skinny, young and hot, a couple of which had big fake tits. There was a curvy latino chick and a very hot black girl with big tits. I remember when I first starting hearing about this place, people had said how hot the girls were but I never believed it. When my friend brought me over for the first time to meet the house mom and see the girls my jaw fucking dropped. All this for $150 what the fuck? A girl that looked like these could easily grab $500 for an hour on the strip. I went back later that night and got laid.

Ian and Rob were very impressed with the girls as well which meant a big score for me. Then Ian threw the curveball.

“Which one are you getting?” he asked me.

“Oh man I can’t, $400 is too rich for my blood.”

“Fuck on I wouldn’t do that to you. I’ve brought you this far haven’t I?”

“I suppose you have, yes” I said.

“You’ve brought me this far also Ian,” Rob said.

Ian looked at me. “Are you sure?” I said.

“Yes yes of course,” he said handing me 4 crisp hundred dollar bills like they were disease ridden. “We wouldn’t have made it here without you.”

“Thanks a lot,” I said, “you guys choose first though.”

Choosing is actually not the male dominated fantasy that one might imagine. You’d think that having 8 hot girls in bikinis all lined up ready to suck and fuck you would be emasculating. But in reality most men, myself included, are overly worried about hurting the other seven’s feelings. You’re choosing one, but you’re telling seven others that they‘re gross. That’s the general reaction anyway. But in reality the girls are used to it and are very professional about it. It’s bad for business not to be. Of all the times I’ve been in these places, and the legal brothels too, I have never seen any girl react negatively to not being chosen.

Rob promptly chose the black girl and she walked up and grabbed his dick in his trousers and off they went into a bedroom. Ian chose one of the Korean girls with big tits and as they walked away the girl turned and looked at me. “Sa Bek” I said, 400 in Korean. She nodded in approval and they soon disappeared into a different bedroom. It was my turn to choose but I didn’t right away. Instead I took a seat on the couch in the living room and the remaining girls in the line-up scattered and went back to whatever they were doing before the bell rang. A few minutes passed and in that time both of Ian and Rob’s girls had returned to the kitchen to fork over all but their $100 dollars to the house mom, at which point the house mom called my name from the kitchen and I went to collect my $500. I thought very briefly about pocketing the whole $400 that Ian gave me to get laid and just tell them that I got laid too. But I was really horny by now and the last thing I wanted to do was slight Ian like that, at least, that was what rational I used to convince myself to get laid. I went back to the living room and found the cute Korean girl that I liked and reached my hand out to her. Her eyes lit up and before I knew it this beautiful creature was all over me before we even got to the bedroom.

Once inside I reached in my pocket and handed the girl $150 and then separately another $50. “Tip for you.” I said. “Thank you so much,” she said with great surprise. Tipping they say, is to insure proper service, and nowhere is that idea more true than in a brothel.

We stood alongside the bed and this super hot Korean girl rubbed her body all over mine as she slowly took off my clothes. By the time she got my underwear off, I was standing at attention. “Ooh a healthy boy,” she giggled. What can I say, I had one of those- just been in the strip club for 4 hours boners.

She instructed me to lay face down on the bed, which isn’t the easiest or most comfortable thing to try with a raging hard on but I managed. I made attempts at cock pushups while she gentle massaged my entire backside with a combination of her hands and her boobs. It felt amazing. 15 minutes later she turned me over and wasted no time in rolling a rubber over my dick and throwing her mouth on it. Yes indeed this girl was a pro and I didn’t want it to stop, but I was in for a half-n-half. “Doggy?” I said tapping the top of her head. She quickly bounced up and before I knew it she was on all fours on the bed ass in the air, begging me to take her. Hopes and dreams.

Naturally, I didn’t last nearly as long as I should have but it was a damn good time. She left the room for a moment and I laid down and relaxed on the bed. What a night. My girl returned with a few hot towels and proceeded to give me a thorough cleaning before standing me up and helping me put my clothes back on, making sure to give my dick a peck before tucking him into my underwear. By the time my clothes were back on I was hard again. “You want again?” she said. What’d I tell you? Unfortunately after looking at the time I was shocked to see that I was already an hour late getting the cab back to the yard. I knew the day driver was going to be pissed but there is a way to take care of that. I gave my girl another $20 and she gave me a big hug and kiss before leading me back out to the living room.

Ian and Rob were both sitting on the couch when I returned both jeering at my accomplishment. “What now?” Ian asked. “Now we call it a night. I take you home and I have to return the cab,” I replied. “Let’s do this again tomorrow shall we?” Ian said. “Fuck yeah man you guys are like my favorite customers ever. Thanks so much for showing me such a good time tonight.”

The three of us walked back out of the neighborhood to the parked cab in Chinatown and ten minutes later we were back at the Bellagio. The two shared the stories of their conquests along the way. Once we arrived I was strangely relieved when Ian didn’t attempt to give me any more money. He had done enough. Ian and Rob skipped away into the casino but not before promising to call me the next night for round two. I couldn’t wait. After dropping them off I raced to the pumps to gas up and then back to the yard where I found the day driver extremely pissed that I was well over an hour late with his cab. He had no more issues after I offered my apologies and handed him $50 for his lost time. I walked into the now empty drivers room and emptied my pockets to tally my take from my greatest cabbie adventure ever.

In the end Ian and Rob’s generosity netted me lap dances, all the alcohol I couldn’t drink, a hot piece of ass, over a thousand dollars in my pocket and one hell of a good time. A dream vacation from the normal grind and bustle. However, it was destined to be a single night for the ages. I was not surprised the following evening when I never heard from them, or for that matter, since. Maybe they got too coked up and lost my card. Maybe Ian lost all of his money at the tables. Maybe they just forgot. We’ll never know. But none of that bothers me because they owe me nothing and anytime somebody asks me what my all time favorite ride is... "that's easy" I"d say. I would even have to think about it.

Gerald C. Cruz is a veteran cab driver and independent journalist from Las Vegas, NV.

Creation Of Magely Green

By May B. Yesno © 2011

Certain things remain a staple in human life. Other things seem to be weeded out. One of the things weeded out and frowned upon in society are bad table manners. In my mixed world of mundane and magical the least desirable things may be dealt with – if the law’s governing man and magic are known and applied, correctly.

The Kingdom of Drew encompasses the entire of the peninsula of Drew. Drew as a kingdom is ruled by the Waxburn’s. The Waxburn’s came to power following the Kingdom War which ravaged the Southern Continent of Appleburn some five hundred years prior to the events of which I speak.

The occasion was a State Dinner given by the then current Ruler of Drew, one Rexis Rexis Drew. The King was an imposing man, both in physical being and of the mind, towering over other men. The Dinner was being held in honor of the Ambassador from South of Sour, and the signing of the Treaty allowing Drew access to the ports of Sour for trade and “mutual defense.”

As Principal Mage of the Kingdom, I was accorded a place at the tables and was seated just to the left of the Court Mage of the Ambassador from South of Sour. I found the visiting Mage an engaging woman and that impression lasted into the meal, when the third course arrived however, that impression was dealt a blow of reality. The incident, when it occurred, was ill timed, coming as it did immediately during a pause in the serious conversation between the principals at the tables head.

The visiting Mage expelled bodily gases; both as a Belch and as a Fart. Seemingly not content with one of each, the visiting Mage repeated, in rapid succession, three more of each.

Due to the positioning of the royal tables, the noises escaping the unfortunate Mage were reflected from the wall immediately behind her into the cavernous room, then across, there to echo back and forth ceiling to floor, wall to wall. The volume of her original utterances was such that the muted conversations of the minions seated on the floor of the hall ceased almost immediately and thereby allowing all of the two hundred assembled to follow the near musical confrontation of the Bass-like, prolong and drawn out, Belch and the slightly higher pitched Fart, as they played out their fanfare and slowly died away. The absolute silence by the floor tables during the performance was astonishing to me, I being used to the under tones of muted table conversations from that area.

My King slowly turned his attention from the Ambassador to face in my direction and once found, fixed me with a “look,” and equally as slowly raised an eyebrow. I have often wished I knew how he did that eyebrow trick. I’ve practiced it for hours but have failed the effect. I’ve attempted my arcane arts to it, and still I’ve failed. I’ve concluded it is a thing native and exclusive to the King as I’ve never seen anyone other than he successfully employ it.

His point, however, was well taken, as such a breech of protocol and good manners would, indeed, fall directly upon the Mage to cure or eliminate. Without thinking much of the effort, I wiggled my fingers and cast shield around the visiting Mage, the affect immediately terminated the beginnings of the fifth such rendition of sound, sealing the Mage from the general population, not however, from view. She remained red faced in full view of all, performing as she started, with persistence and volume. Or so one must surmise, as her body twitches would led one to believe, my shield erection having prevented the sounds and odors escaping to bother her neighbors – or the room at large.

There are certain properties of magic; certain laws which pertain to its use and by erecting the barrier around the Mage I’d violated, seriously dented if not violated them. By placing the barrier about the Mage, another magic user, I placed her within a container only I could undo. There was no means by which she could escape the confinement and there was no way now to rid the dinning area of the offensive odors or noised which would be the result of my opening the shield wall. That I could not do under the gaze and expectations of my King.

I hastily informed the Table Matron that the physical removal of the Mage would be necessary and she, the Table Matron, turned her attention to the various guard corporals in attendance, assembling a squad to carry the Mage away, she being of ample proportions.

The time element, while short, did allow me leisure to observe, with some fascination I must admit, the effect of her escaping gases, in concentration, upon her physical remnants. I was not sure, at first blush (please excuse the pun), what I was observing. However, watching a bit longer it was obvious that the garments the Mage was wearing were, indeed, turning green. Quickly; turning green, from pale green, deepening to a Hunter Green and finally began to deteriorate and fall from her body.

Simultaneously her hair, that crowning glory she so obviously prided herself upon performed in like manner. The exception here being the hair, as it fell in response to gravity, dissipated and vanished from sight before completing the journey to the floor.

As the unfortunate lady lost the last remain stitch of clothing and hair, it could be seen the person within my shield was not in reality, a female. She was an it. That is to say, the person within was a eunuch. Though such determination was troubled by the excess of flesh the body was wearing.

When the fact became obviously visible, the Ambassador of South of Sour raised his voice in alarm, proclaiming the captive Mage no person of his acquaintance or citizen of his country.

I looked to my King, in light of this information, and my King grinned. “You have, Principal Mage;” he said, “a problem, as I do not recognize this person as a citizen of this realm either, and wish, errs, him removed.”

The corporal having arrived with his detail, I directed him to take the visiting Mage to an isolated area some miles removed from the Keep. The area selected was hilly and cut with ravines, being used mainly by Shepherds. When my party arrived in the area I selected the crest of a hill and told the corporal to take the wagon and detail back to the keep.

Once they had gone, I addressed the visiting Mage: “You know do you not, what is going to happen when I release the shield?”

I received a nod of acknowledgment from the visiting Mage indicating his understanding. I then retired a large number of yards up wind of that location and released the spell binding the shield. I was later informed that two mules of the slow moving corporal’s detail died of falling rock and a fair number of sheep tended by Keep personnel died in the resulting explosion and gas releases which leveled the hill top.

I was pleased to inform the King, at a somewhat later date that an area some acres in extent had been created and was usable for parade ground or practicing maneuvers. He smiled his smile and informed me he knew.

He had, he said, caused the area to be known as Magely Green.

And thus it is to this day.

May B. Yesno is a writer from Fresno, CA.

Conflicted Fun

By Dan England © 2011

I was asking myself what the last day of my life would be like.

I wondered Saturday morning if that day would be the day.

I never thought about death before I had kids when I went mountain climbing. I don't think that's because I never considered the possibility. I think that's because there was no real consequence if it happened.

Even after I got married, I figured Kate could find another guy. She was young, beautiful and without issues. Those women are rare. She'd be fine.

I valued my life. I wasn't cavalier about it in the least. Ten years ago, when a bunch of large rocks swept under my feet, threatened to swallow me under their granite and bashed into me, I fought for my life, flipping through the air to stop myself and walking 17 hours after I was hurt to get help from the hospital. When, four years later, I slipped and rolled toward a ledge, I desperately looked for a rock to wrap my leg around and found it.

But I knew, deep down, that if I did indeed die, I'd die doing something I loved and that it was my choice to put myself in danger to do it.

Thing is, these days, when I prepare to do something like Saturday's Little Pawnee-Pawnee traverse, I know I'm no longer making a choice for myself but for my family.

And I still don't know if it's fair.

• • •

The day looked to be another glorious one in the mountains. At least that's what weather.com said. I saw something completely different.

I saw a sullen sky that spit droplets of water on my climbing partner's windshield as she swept down the highway. Hmm. Lighting is always the biggest concern, and days like the one the clouds were predicting rarely produced lighting. But on a route like the one were planning to tackle, the rain is almost as bad because it soaks the rock, and wet rock is slick rock. If it was raining when we got to the trail, the hike would be over before it started.

But as we got higher, the sky got clearer, and by the time we reached the trailhead and parked, the sun and blue sky were pushing us to go on. In fact it looked like exactly the kind of day you need to do a long, dangerous traverse like the one that faced us.

• • •

Rules, like the one I discussed above (1. Never climb a tough route in the rain) helps salve my guilt over doing something dangerous when I've got twin 3 year-old girls, a 5-year-old boy and a haggard wife, but only some. It helps because you can convince yourself you're being smart, and when most climbers die when they're not being smart. Climbers die when they go off the route, don't stick with their plans, push their luck with the weather, forget to bring the right equipment or make a thousand other fairly easy mistakes that seem small and yet can turn really bad too quickly. It's happened this year. It happens every year.

In fact, it's easy to convince a guilty mind that EVERY death is because of some error that, of course, you would never make. But believe that and you're lying to yourself in the way addicts lie to themselves about just needing one last hit, or one last fling, or one last bet. A young guy died this year on the Maroon Bells when a rock hit him, causing him to fall. Another climber was severely hurt just this year on the very traverse we'd be attempting that day. In both those instances, no real mistakes were made by the climbers. They just got hurt, or killed, doing what they loved.

• • •

The day started out with some map reading, trying to find the best route up the mountain before we could start our climb of the ridge. Despite 200 climbing trips, this is still one of my biggest weaknesses. This time probably still took longer than it really should. It's a little tricky because the start isn't an obvious, jutting peak you can identify through any photos, and there was two alternative routes, neither one which stuck out or looked all that promising. You could either wander through a forest until you reached a grassy ridge or take a more direct route through cranky bushes and a growling boulderfield. We chose the second option.

Once we reached the ridge, it started easily enough, with some easy class 3 climbing. If you don't know, class 2 means walking off a trail, and class 3 or above means you'll need to use your hands as well as your feet. Class 4 is essentially hard class 3 climbing that's usually exposed, meaning a fall could hurt or even kill you.

I wish sometimes that I didn't love hard, class 4 routes as much as I do. But as we started into the trickiest part of the day, an exposed downclimb that many prefer to use a rope on, my voice shook a bit. I was afraid, of course, but the shaking, I have to admit, came from something.


I was pumped.

• • •

I'm not a junkie. Not really. I'm not the maniac I used to be, when I was doing 20 peaks a year, some of them difficult, even dangerous. I'd look at a weekend at home during the summer as a wasted opportunity. I climbed three peaks this year because I needed to be home more than usual this summer, and I honestly didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. Running is a good challenge for me now, and it seems to fulfill that other side of me. The side that needs some sort of adventure or goal. Maybe even a touch of pain.
But that other side needs a trip like Saturday's once a year. I still wish I didn't. But as we scampered across ledges and climbed our hearts out, I was giddy, like a teenager in love. It was just so much FUN. It's fun to get scratched by the rock and fun to have your foot graze open air and fun to be out there. Just out in the open. It's fun to accomplish a cool feat. It's fun to solve the puzzle of a route and use your whole body and be thoroughly exhausted. It's fun to see such beauty and rely on yourself.

And, yes, it's fun to go through something dangerous and make it through unscathed. I have felt a much deeper fear, too, now that the consequences of me getting hurt or killed is much more severe. Occasionally, that fear brings me to tears, as it did last year on what I consider to be the toughest 14er in the state.

I know if I die climbing, it's an incredibly selfish act, perhaps the most selfish act ever. It leaves my kids without a father, and even if someone else stepped in, it could scar them for life. And I'm taking a chance that that could happen. It's a small chance. I never felt like Saturday was beyond my abilities. But even a chance is also selfish.

I have a response for the conflict. Climbing is a part of me and has been since I was 13. So how can I teach my kids how to live if I can't feel alive?

But that's an easy statement. And so it's not really an answer. It's just something I say to soothe my nerves before I throw on my backpack and head out into the wild.

Dan England is a writer from Greely, CO.

Lost Angle Lease

by Ernest © 2011

John Goodman once said he realized just how fat he was when he needed to lose weight to play Babe Ruth.

I realized just how fat I was when I needed to lose weight to play John Goodman. (Of course, I didn't actually lose any weight. I just needed to.)

The year was 2007, and I was going to Lebowski Fest as Goodman's character, Walter Sobchak. What better place to attend a tribute to The Big Lebowski than in the city that inspired the movie: Los Angeles. Also, I had a couple friends in L.A. who I hadn't seen in a few years. They say it's the city of angels. I didn't find it to be that exactly, but I'm getting ahead of myself. First I had to get there, and that proved to be a little more tricky than I had anticipated.

A friend of mine worked at Jet Blue, and she offered to get me a "buddy pass" from Boston to L.A. for $198 round trip. I jumped at the chance. There was one catch though; I'd have to fly stand-by. Shouldn't be a problem my friend said. Those flights never fill up she said. Never. Even though you'll have the lowest priority behind all other stand-by passengers like Jet Blue employees etc., there will be plenty of seats she said. No worries she assured me. Well, I started to worry when I checked on my fight a week before my departure date to find that there were only 22 seats left. Three days before the flight, that number was down to 12 seats, and the night before, only two seats left. My worry had turned to panic. It was the only Jet Blue flight to L.A. that day, and if I wasn't on it, there was a chance I would end up missing half the Fest. Plus, I had a hotel reservation that it was too late to cancel, and I couldn't really afford to buy a ticket on a different airline at last minute extortion prices. To try and reassure myself I kept saying nothing is fucked, dude, nothing is fucked....

After a sleepless night, I arrived at Logan airport at 7:45am for an 11am flight. I checked in and sat down at the gate for three hours of agony. As 11 o'clock approached, the waiting area was completely packed. Standing room only. My heart was sinking. The money I had saved on the "buddy pass" was moot at this point because I would have gladly handed somebody $300 cash for their seat on that flight. After the agonizingly long boarding calls, there were still 30-40 people standing around the gate eyeing each other like contestants at the elimination ceremony of a particularly cruel reality show. I tried to be positive and stay relaxed. Calmer than they are....calmer than they are......

"Would Jet Blue employee Blah B. Blah please report to the gate," the voice said over the intercom.

One seat left. I breathed slowly and hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. When I heard my name next over the intercom I stumbled to the gate in an incredulous daze as the other people standing around glared at me like I had just choked a puppy to death in front of them. I had won the travel jackpot by the slimmest of margins and it felt great as I walked down the aisle of the plane. The last remaining seat on the plane was a middle seat with a broken TV of course, but I could care less. I was headed to Lala land, and nothing could bum me out, man!

My friend Noah picked me up at the delightfully small Long Beach Airport and we sped down the 405 with the newly downloaded In Rainbows blaring in the car. I was prepared to dislike L.A. from all the negative shit I had heard, but the first thing that struck me was how beautiful it was. From the sparkling ocean, to the Dr. Seuss-like palm trees, to the not too distant mountains, the scenery was stunning. Sure, it might be chock full of self centered douchebags, but there was no denying the physical beauty of the place. Just then I looked to my right and saw the iconic Capitol Records building in the distance. Far out, man, far out.

The hotel I booked was in....ahh..... let's just say, a lot less nicer neighborhood than the internet had led me to believe. It's amazing how photos taken from a certain angle can be so misleading. We did have a great view of the Hollywood sign, as well as the massage parlor across the street. It must have been a therapeutic massage, because the customers looked furtive and stooped over as they ducked into the door. They looked much more relaxed and happy as they left 20 minutes later. The masseuses must have been very good doctors. And thorough.

The next night we met up with a couple more friends and headed to the House of Blues in Hollywood for the screening party. We checked out the Walk of Fame, Mann's Chinese Theater, and Musso & Frank's where Bukowski used to drink. At the party we met Pete Exeline, who's stolen car was the inspiration for that plot point in the movie, as well as the real life little Larry, who was the chief suspect in the theft of said car. He still hadn't cracked.

The funniest moment of the party came when we watched the harried and over-worked bartender making about a zillion white Russians.

"You must be sick of making those!" my friend Dan said to the bartender.

"Oh my god, you have no idea!" said the sweating bartender, relieved to finally have a sympathetic ear.

"Well, make two more," was Dan's cold response as he slapped a twenty dollar bill on the bar. Very un-dude of him.

Night two was the bowling party and costume contest. Even though those assholes at the league offices scheduled it on the Shabbat, I decided to go anyway. Noah dressed as The Dude with an eerily authentic sweater, and Foster went as a damn Nihilist. I opted for "ransom delivery Walter" since I knew there would be a ton of "white vest Walters." I was right, but it was irrelevant because we showed up late and missed the contest. I was a pretty damn good Walter right down to my dog tags that read "I too dabbled in pacifism. Not in Nam of course," and would have given the winner a run for his money.

We got our picture taken with Liam, the Rug, and even a female Walter. The best costume was an ATM machine with a $1,000 withdrawal on it's screen. After bowling and listening to some CCR karaoke, we capped the evening by wandering the aisles of Ralph's at 1am to buy booze, and then a couple hours of poker at the Hustler Casino in Gardena (still in full costume).

On Sunday we hit the In-and-Out Burger of course, and then spent the rest of the day doin' jays and watching football as well as the comings and goings of the massage parlor. For dinner, we headed to the Fatburger on Santa Monica. The only customers in the place, other than Noah and me, were Dante from Clerks and J.K. Simmons. Only in L.A. would the celebrities almost outnumber the muggles. After dinner we took a sunset cruise on Mulholland Drive and just abided.

The next day I was able to switch to a later, emptier flight so I wouldn't have to repeat the stress of the first leg of the trip. Foster and I hit the Santa Monica Pier, and I got to play Addams Family pinball 30 feet directly above the Pacific. Leaving the pier, I twisted my ankle, and it was getting really sore by the time I made my way across the tarmac at Long Beach Airport. Unbelievably, I had an entire row of seats to myself for the return flight. Exhausted from the weekend and a little woozy from drinking too many Caucasians, I put my ankle up, stretched out, and drifted off, dreaming of flying carpets and Viking women......

Ernest is an achiever.