Everyone knows what a déjà vu is -- the feeling one has experienced something before, without actually having experienced it. Véjà du could be described as the opposite: inside-out déjà vu. The awful feeling that something that shouldn't possibly have happened, just did. Accompanied by an equally awful feeling, vibrating in in foreboding dissonance with the first, that, although it conceivably may have violated every known natural law in the universe, it was fated to be.

Max and Bella plodded on the roadside, oblivious of their surroundings. They had shared this journey dozens of times. Although beautiful, it had become unremarkable through contempt-breeding familiarity. Eden-like scenery passed by them almost unnoticed. Maximilian distracted teased away his usual boredom by recalling, in vivid and charged detail, already beginning to take on the leering embroidery of wish-fulfilling fantasy, his marvellous encounter with the naked owners of the van that he now piloted toward a safer harbour.

Thus deeply preoccupied, he did not notice the bright, greenish flash that permeated the entire landscape for less than a split second, briefly rendering it translucent. Bella noticed, and brayed a startled neigh that jerked Max back from Milo and Lenore, and the ogle-able Armand. The air returned to its normal hue by the time he shook off these delectable images, but had thickened suddenly and become oppressively hot, replacing the even temperature he was used to, on the edge of The City of Eternal Spring.

Decades in the future The Large Hadron Collider had just malfunctioned. After twenty-seven minutes' delay, about the time it took for a quantum echo of the quench to ripple outward, bounce off several of the far sides of the Universe at once, and return, it popped in to visit a certain Mr. Pavlov. With a card of introduction from a mutual acquaintance.

Max involuntarily jerked his head up and narrowed his eyes to slits to adjust for the glare. After a few seconds he pulled on Bella's reins to stop her for a better look. The familiar hills of his birthplace had disappeared. They now seemed to be on a small rise, overlooking the outskirts of a sunburnt collection of low-slung houses, shimmering in the heat haze of another endless Paraguayan afternoon.

Somehow they had, in an instant, moved several hundred miles southeast, to the phonetic namesake of The City Of Brotherly Love: Filadelfia, Boquerón, population 4220, smack in the middle of La Gran Chaco.

Max removed his hat thoughtfully, scratched his head, and put his hat back on. Climbing back up his perch, he gid-yupped to Bella in Spanish and guided the crippled van down toward the little city.

He muttered softly. "Sí, ésa es la manera que es. ¿Qué usted va a hacer?". ("Yup... that`s the way it is. What are you going to do?")

Max had been to Filadelfia once or twice before on vacations. He knew his way around. Somewhere before the Filadelfia city limits, he guided Bella toward a jumble of army-surplus wall tents, ancient scarred travel trailers and road-weary automobiles. After a short conversation with the campground's (apparently) Mennonite proprietor, Max and Bella drew the van to an empty spot next to the wash house, landscaped with scrubby bushes and a single lonely palm tree, and unhitched Bella.

He shuftied in a pocket, produced a small wad of coca leaves, thrust them into his cheek. He had a good look around, checked Bella`s tether, and made sure she had enough water and grass for a few hours. Then, with a last long, too-tired-to-be-wondering look over his shoulder, knocked on the laundry van's door.

There was no response. Max was unperturbed. He yanked the door open on its squealing rollers and was fell back from the oven-like heat radiating out. Giving it a moment to cool, he climbed in, and left the door open for ventilation. He reached past the steering wheel to set the hand brake, found a vacant corner next to Armand, laid his fat, weary little body on the floor, and slept.