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by: Max Burbank

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 Devil’s eyes.

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 for Canasta.

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 on TV.

"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 threatened rodents.

"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 Into You"

"Get me out of here!" Oprah shouted, her eyes beginning to protrude. "NOW!"

"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 steering wheel.

"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! MEEEEEEEEEE!!"

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 appallingly loud.

"Uhm… Listen, there, Big O" I said bravely, "About that Hitler crack…"

"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.

Continue onward to Chapter V

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