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by: Max Burbank

Haven’t read Chapter 1? Go back and read it now or this won’t make one damn bit of sense.

"Long time no see," Viera mumbled coyly, her just slightly too large for her leather pants right hip cocked at an angle suggesting a broken left hip. I told her it worked that way if you were hiding from someone and you did it well. She moved a little further into the quarter inch of personal space I had left, arching an eyebrow in what I assume she meant to be sophistication, but maybe it was just a small stroke. The scent and color of her Slurpy made me think of the liquid my Greek barber used to soak his combs in, and the cup was so big it should have come with complimentary mover’s straps. Her pupils shrank and expanded, shrank and expanded, as sure a promise of danger as a Preying Mantis asking if you’ll respect her in the morning. I began to sweat and not in the good way. "You smell nice" she husked.

"It’s Vapo-Rub!" I shrieked suavely, backing into a chip rack.

"Is this son of a bitch giving you twouble, Mewedith?"

Either the Pringles were talking or I was in deep shit. Three things come instantly to mind that a chip rack won’t shield you from. A Rabid Tiger, a Howitzer and Barbara Walters. I was praying for the Howitzer but I think I’ve already mentioned how the Big Guy feels about me.

It was old 20-20 all right. She’s shorter in person than you’d think, but a hell of a lot wider through the shoulders, like an adult male Silverback Gorilla in an Armani suit. They use a video toaster to make her look less freakish on camera and I thought of telling her today’s technology could wipe her speech impediment just as easily, but she didn’t seem like she’d take constructive criticism so well just now.

"Nice to meet you Babs," I ad libbed, "I understand you View Chicks are making one of those Women behind Bars flicks." I think Mer almost laughed until she saw the frost crystals forming on Walter’s tear ducts.

"You cwack wise," she said, slipping a tooth pick into the corner of her mouth, "I find that most… unpweasant… in a man."

"S’okay, Babs," Viera slurred, "he has to crack wise. He’s a Comedian. Old… ‘boy’friend of mine."

"Oh, a Stand-Up, eh? Tell me a joke, joke-boy. See if you can make me waff."

I started to tell her I wasn’t that kind of Comedian but Viera, never good at social cues when cold sober, chose the moment to assert her independence. She’d always had crap timing. I was reminded of a nasty little trick she had with a wet knuckle.

"Aww, lay off him Walters. I was just gonna see if the boy needed a ride home."

"your dwunk, Mewedith" the diminutive powerhouse stated, her claw like fingers tightening on a ‘big grab’ of Cool Ranch Doritos.

"What, this?" said Mer, gesturing perhaps too violently with her slurpy, blue amoebic blobs of ice escaping through the hole in it’s plastic dome, tumbling like Klingon blood in zero G in "Star Trek XI; The Undiscovered Country".

"I SAID YAW DWUNK!" 20-20 thundered, and then laying a disturbingly gentle hand on my shoulder, "What about it Stand-up? Cayw for a cwuise?"

"No thanks, babe. I’m solo tonight" I tried, but the space between my voice box and mouth was blocked by my craven liver which had taken a sudden desire to ‘light out’ for the ‘territories’. Note to self: Ask why rest of self can’t be more like liver. Then the Big Grab popped and a little cloud of Cool Ranch Flavor dust hung around Walters fist. For a second I felt pretty good I could get the old Broad going like that, but it had nothing to do with me.

"Why don’t you back away from the joke boy and go get yourself a couple dozen chili dogs like you came for in the first place, Walters? They on special." Said O, standing smack in the doorway. Behind her, I could read Dione’s pursed little Canadian lips whispering ‘Sacre Merde’ and then she crossed herself, backwards and with one two many horizontal strokes.

"Wehw, wehw, wehw. If it isn’t Opwah Winfwey. Stihw got that daytime show, Opwah?" Viera’s eyes had gone all jiggy, like two sparrows trapped in an attic looking for a way out. Two Sparrows that had had one double latte too many. Each.

"You mean the one they pay me twice as much per show as you get all year? Yeah, I still got that for a while, between movies and what all. You still got that sixteen stitch scar under your wigline from the last time we met up?" There was a tiny little ‘snick’ that might have been the Pakistani counter guy clipping his nails under the counter but more likely came from the ladylike stiletto Walter’s now turned to catch the light.

"Hey, Barbara, hey now," said Meredith, "It doesn’t have to go down like this. Come on, let me buy you a Nachos."

"Shut up, dwunk. Opwah needs hehw wittle wed wagon fixed. I bwought my toohws."

"You brought your what?" Oprah said, snatching a lighter from the counter, "I can never understand a God damn word you say, Mush Mouth." I sailed her a can of Arid Extra Dry, but she didn’t jump and it went right through the plate glass store front. Barbara smiled, showing ancient dentures the size and color of and Elderly Great Dane and that’s when Celine sneezed.

I don’t know what flavor the Jelly Bean was. It was moving too fast fro me to get a real good look. Fuzzy Peach maybe, or Mandarin Orange. I do know it left a tiny red dot on Walter’s forehead. The Jackson Pollock on the Arizona Iced Tea cooler behind her, however, hinted at a somewhat larger exit wound. 20-20 had just enough time to say ‘God Bwess You’ before she tumbled over dead.

"Shit." Said O, "Shit, you Mongoloid Tundra Crooner! You killed her!"

"Non, Non! Eet wazaint MOIS! Eet waz ze zsel-lee BEAN!" Meredith put her hands to her mouth and started to cry the way a baby does went it gets hurt real bad, silent, but with the clear message that when the sound finally came it would be loud. Oprah had turned the color of Michael Jackson and just stood there as the automatic door kept trying to close on her. Our fearless leader was on the express bus to Panicsville and all I could do was hope like hell she’d bought a round trip.

Continue onward to Chapter III

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