Haven’t read Chapters 1, 2, and 3?
Go back and read them now or this
won’t make one damn bit of sense.
I woke up in free fall. The chittering roar I’d heard was not a
giant bug clawing it’s way out of my third grade math teacher’s
head. It was Oprahs’s car punching through the guardrail. That’s
the thing about your more dedicated Crystal Meth freaks. One
moment they’re all "I can drive all night, shit, you think a
talk show empire runs itself? The Queen Bee don’t sleep for no
one no how, not now, not ever!" and the next she snoring like a
sawmill and you’re shooting into the darkness, wondering if the
white spots bearing down on you are headlights or just the
A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed me the most
powerful woman on daytime TV was still sleeping. I bet Miss
Manners never got asked to handle this one. Just what is the
etiquette here? I mean, if we’re plunging off a cliff and
there’s a hundred or so more yards to go, she could catch a few
more winks before being pounded into so much Book Club Fascist
Sloppy Joe. On the other, if we were about to touch down on a
rolling median strip, I’d like her to have a firm grip on the
wheel and be awake enough to turn it. Celine decided me by
choosing that precise moment of weightlessness to start
shrieking "OH MA MERE, OH MAH MERE!!!" I turned around in my
seat and popped her one in the Chiclets. I’m glad I took the
opportunity. A split second later the front tires crunched down
and my head got a quick lesson in Newtonian physics from the
dome light. If you’re interested, airbags inflating are louder
than you might think. Quicker, too. Mine got me right in the ass
and if I hadn’t been belted in I’d have crushed Celine like a
baby bird. One more thing Ralph Nader’s gonna have to answer for
the next time he calls to tell me Gore Vidal cancelled on him
I pulled myself out through the place where the windshield used
to hang out and shook like a wet terrier, spraying cubes of
shatterglass in the moonlight. Kinda pretty in that
I’d-have-never-have-seen-that-if-I’d-just-died way. Hang with
this rat ass crowd, you’ll get used to anything. Mer was already
wandering the grassy strip, her instinct for fleeing the site of
a total wreck apparently more functional now then when she’d
signed to host the syndicated "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" A
passing truck lit her face long enough for me to see her nose
was broken. It looked okay. Made her mug seem more real somehow
than the digital filtered rubber kabuki mask she’d been sporting
"We’re dead" she muttered, "We’re all dead". Thinking she had a
concussion I imitated someone who cared and told her to shut up,
we’d all made it out fine. I could hear Oprah screaming at
Celine to shut her filthy Canuck yap, but either there was a
Seagull in a nearby tree or the anorexic Quebecois Tunesmith
kept yelping "’ALP!" once every half second.
"You don’t get it, do you?" Viera asked me. Actually it was more
like ‘you don’d ged (horrible swampy sucking sound) id, do
(unintelligible squooshing sound) you?’, but she had a wild look
in her rapidly blackening eyes that suggested now might not be
the best time to make fun of her impaired speech. "We juzd
kill’d Babuh Walturth. You thing the boyth ad A B THEE are
goinguh do led you live?"
I started to tell her we’d done nothing, this was Celine’s Gig,
but Mer just made a contemptuous snort of dismissal and harked
up something that look like a mangled bull frog.
"Celide’s cob-leedly idcobadend. Ihd’d be lie-guh blabe-ig a
burder on the gud you juzd cabbed sub cob with."
"Cabbed some cob?" I asked.
"CAB-duh! CAB-duh! Cabduh a COB! Lie-gh, "I’b gudda pob a CAB in
you, Cobber’?! Jethuth, wed did you ged zo OLD?"
Mer sat down and started to cry. At least I think that was what
she was doing. It would have been more appropriate to the moment
than doing an impromptu imitation of a Bull Walrus with
Pneumonia yodeling, which was the only other thing it sounded
like. Me? I’m a sensitive guy. I left her sitting there.
Ever take a cat, dip it in scrambled eggs, duct tape it’s legs
together and use a blowdryer on it? That’s about how mad Oprah
was. She wasn’t hurt as far as I could tell, but she couldn’t
get her door open and Celine had worked herself into the kind of
frenzy generally associated with your smaller, mortally
"Get. Me. Out of here." Oprah hissed. I pretended to study my
nails in the light of a passing Semi. Celine, having reached
some sort of peak moment fell silent for an instant and then
began flailing her stick like arms and legs, her garishly
colored faux nails slicing little openings in the upholstery.
"Oh, I’ll let you out, Bookclub," I said "Just as soon as you
and me get a few things straight."
"Your lucky I didn’t break your spine after you recommended
Jonathan Franzen!" She bellowed, straining at her shoulder
harness. Celine barked three times like a seal with its ass in a
Killer Whales mouth and burst into song. I’m not what you’d call
a fan, but I think it was "Declaration of Love" off of "Falling
"Get me out of here!" Oprah shouted, her eyes beginning to
"Za riv-air, she is getting DEEEEP, believe EEEET!!" Celine
howled, thumping her knobby little sternum, "You're all zese
arms of mine zey wanna ‘OOOOOLD!!!"
"OUT!" Oprah hollered, "OUT, OUT, OUT!!"
"I’d like to help, O, honest to Christ I would, but the thing is
I’m done taking orders from you," I told her.
"I’m all wrap up wiss a riv-AAAAAAAAAIR, Mon Bay-BEEEEEEEEEE!!"
the Canadian songbird bayed madly, her jaw opening like a python
preparing to devour a large dog. Individual veins began to pop
out on Oprah’s temple. Her teeth clenched as she hammered the
"I’LL KILL YOU!!" She shouted, kicking furiously at her door.
"I’LL SLAUGHTER YOU LIKE A MONKEY!! GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
"You’re not the boss of me, you penny ante, talk show Hitler!
I’m in control now!" I said, adding thoughtfully, "ME! ME!
Celine was singing something about Romeo and Juliette and
tasting the sweetness of something or other with her ‘Leeps’
when Oprah's door suddenly gave way under her assault and burst
open. For a moment the crickets went on and then they shut up
too. The sound of Oprah’s seat belt buckle clicking open seemed
"Uhm… Listen, there, Big O" I said bravely, "About that Hitler
"Shut up and give me you cellphone" she said quietly. I did, and
she punched in a number from memory.
"Oh-prah?" Celine asked, a lost Quebecois waif, "oo are you
caw-ling? May-be per’aps you call Renee? My ‘Us-band Slash
Mana-jair? To come and get me ‘Ome, even zo ‘ee is old enough to
be my Fa-ZAIR eef my Fa-Zair, ‘ee ‘ad me vay-REE late in life?
Because I’m not ‘ah-ving zee fun no more, non?"
"Your lucky I’m not calling the cops. It’s your fault we’re in
this mess and if I hadn’t totaled the car I’d sell you to a
biker gang for half a tank of gas. Now shut up. I gotta sweet
talk us a ride."
I hoped she was being sarcastic. The Oprah I chummed around with
wouldn’t sweet talk Jesus Christ on Judgment Day. I had a very
bad feeling. Celine began to cry, and after a while, the
Crickets joined in.
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