Vega Video Industries

     I was sitting in this barn that's a studio. I say it's a barn. He says it's a studio. This is what I'm learning about Vegas. There’s this radiation cloud that hangs over. It permits them to see stuff that you think isn't there. Like they say, let’s go to the country club. And you go to a shack with some sprinklers. See, to them it's a country club. To you, it's just dirt and sand. I think it's got something to do with mirages. They say, let's go out to the lake, which is just a big hole in the desert with water in it. The water ends right at the sand. There's no fringe of life around it. But to them, it's like, a Recreational Watershed Area.

     So, we were sitting in the studios of Vega Video Industries… the Worldwide Headquarters, I might add. There weren't any cameras there. No lights and no booth. There were lines on the floor… chalk marks, I guess. I was thinking maybe they were rehearsing this all, you know, like in the theatre, before all the props are in place. And I was looking at Morty sideways sort of, and I'm thinking that maybe I had taken a wrong turn back there somewhere. Of course, later I learn it’s just where they outlined the bodies.

     But I was committed. Back at the convention, I had taken the liberty to look up my Production Manager, a real idiot we call Brown-Nose Brucie, and tell him just exactly what I think. I think I probably have seen the last of the Southeast Corridor.

     So I was sitting in our Corporate World Headquarters looking out at the heat waves off the blacktop, which makes stuff look like you're underwater, which you might as well be, when in came this girl. And she was wobbling… At first I thought it was the heat, because she was like nine feet tall. And she was skinny and smiling a cross-eyed dizzy kind of smile, like this cat I had once. And way up about seven feet from the ground were an even number of the biggest Houligans that you have ever seen. And she wobbled. She wobbled from her eyes, which were off-line and, apparently, picking up dissonant information. She wobbled cause the tits were like too far up the apparatus to be really stable. And she wobbled because the air is thin and sparse out here, especially at altitude. What with her four-inch spiked heels, on which she teetered, she was better off not going into one of those super blast-frozen casinos. A line of moisture could precipitate out on her forehead, run down into her cat-eyes and ruin what little vision she had. The cat, by the way, was the clumsiest critter. The eyes gave it away, and it would jump for a ledge and slam into the wall by mistake. Didn't make its eyes any better, but it did calm it down a whole lot. This girl reminded me of that cat, which is what happens when all the breeders get kinky and breed cats to look crazy. This girl was like that. The government, remember?

     See, the gangsters came from these hot, barren places… and most of their women, after a while, say eleven, twelve years, start to look like some stubby form of cactus. Like if you went out in the dunes and covered all those little cacti with black shawls and veils, they'd wind up looking just like their sisters. In fact, Carmine, one time, was out on a hit, just dumping the lately departed down by the mines and, you know, he came across all these cacti in the moonlight. Thought it was a funeral procession, His! He made, I think, about seventeen novenas in a row, till they went in and got enough scotch into him. Thought he was back in the old country.

     Anyway, when the Petes got here, and could get 'em, they wanted those tall, Aryan kind of things. About the time of the Dust Bowl, there were plenty of them to be had. And the pretty ones that could read a compass wound up in the cities. So it's not uncommon at all to see one of these little round bowling balls with cigars pulling up in a Fleetwood driven by the Mrs. who looks like Leif Eriksson's tall cousin Grendel. Anyway, this Cherie, as I find out later, this cat-eyed Cherie was the end product of three generations of showgirl, all mutated out by that Nuclear Cloud.

     Cherie thought that everything was okay. It might have been caused by an atomic bomb neutron that passed through a T cell before it specialized itself into the tiny component of brain. It might have been since guys were always doing nice things for her, and let’s face it, to her, since she turned beautiful at age 2. It might have been since women treated her with deference, or it might have been just her. But things had always gone well for Cherie and she fully expected them to continue to do so. She had not my appreciation for weevils lurking in the bushes like garden trolls, and circumstance snapping out at you like a steel robo-spyder. Oh sure, some people tried to take advantage, but what was the worst that would happen? She'd have to walk back home? Mostly, things just worked out for her. So she thought it would with Paul, too.