Prologue in the First Person -- Part Three

But there were more important things to worry about. That snotty-nosed little SOB, Armand, was right outside, drooling all over the rollers on the sliding door. If I didn't let him back in, he was going to rust us in. When Lenore's slack-jawed satiety had gradually returned to its usual semicomposed expression, I carefully snagged my dungarees before she stretched them even further out of shape. She, for her part, sniffed and pulled on her tutu.

"This is going nowhere," I thought, "Soon we'll just be two chronosynclastic infidibuli, passing in the luminous night. Adios, Amiga."

But on the bright side, our scufflings had unearthed another bottle, nearly full, of foul but alcoholic stomach bitters. Things were looking up, my philosophical onanism notwithstanding.

As if reading my mind, Armand sulked back into the van, and in a piteous display of self-depreciation and apology, flipped the Dead album, anxiously glancing at me as if expecting to be hit. This enraged me, and I hit him.

Actually, it was not so much that Armand that had incurred my rage, but the fact that I had been reduced to such a sorry state; once in the vanguard of physics, and now physically guarding a van, sort of.

It was this night that I count, in retrospect, as the one night that had the most profound effect on my being, and as the impetus behind my subsequent rise to my present position as president and founder of Sugar Magnolia Corp.

A multi-faceted organization, Sugolia Inc., as we are now known, had had its humble beginning the morning after that sordid night of Grateful Dead, drugged sex, and homosexual fumbling. (Oh. I forgot to mention that Max and Armand had found each other that night, and are, as far as I know, still living happily together, co-proprietors of a combination organic biodiesel plant and holistic bakery in Oregon.)

The morning sun on that fateful day served, as far as I was concerned, only to illuminate one thing. The newspapers covering the van windows. And one particular headline, in one particular newspaper, to be specific. Running the risk of sounding simplistic and redundant, I will relate this heading, etched upon the minds of many a student of my corporate dealings as it must be, much like the story of Newton's apple.

It was, of course, "Bus Plunge Kills 37"

I knew there wasn't a moment to waste. I could, myself, die in a bus tomorrow, leaving no more of an imprint on this life than the usual detritus that flies leave on clean white tablecloths.

BUS PLUNGE KILLS 37. It electrified me. It was now or never. Screw physics, and screw Lenore. Hey, I already was batting .500. But there was only one lesson implicit in that headline. I had better get my act together now, before the devouring chromium-jawed, steel-wheeled nemesis did me in. It could happen anytime. There would be no warning. Unlike the foreboding one generally finds in existential novels of this sort. I was on my own.

It was time to shed Lenore and all the dirty laundry I'd accumulated in the macro-cosmic laundry van of life. Well, maybe I could keep Lenore... There was something about her that spurred me on to greater sexual heights. And with Armand out of the way, I knew that I could harness that sleazy energy, and turn it into something positive. Say, life insurance sales, or part time locksmithing. I knew the answer had to be in the back of a copy of Popular Mechanics.

But what became important right then was that I phone a former associate, collect, and convince him to accept the charges. No small feat, considering the laundry van was parked around the block from a pay phone in Paraguay, and old Alphonse was still in Chicago, still doing "breakthrough" research at the Enrico Fermi Lab.

I touched up Max for a quarter, and he grudgingly gave it, in the face of repeated insistence, and a smack upside the head.

Alphonse was a genius, alright, in physics at least. But he always was a sucker...