Déjà senti

Downtown Filadelfia was pretty disappointing as burgs go; but then, it was founded by a religious sect that considered black homespun pants, plaid workshirts and long gingham housedresses the acme of haute couture.

Aside from speaking the emphatically iconoclastic and archaic Plautdietsch dialect, a main Anabaptist claim to fame through the ages, it seemed, had been unfathomability in the logical realm. Filadelfia's main business street took no exception to this rule of thumb.

Its builders appeared to have gotten off to a fine start. Then, evidently, the economic development committee began blowing off meetings, before the business sector got anywhere near up to snuff. Finding a good cup of coffee was next to impossible, for instance. So was finding a lousy one. In the residential burbs, however, yards evidenced their owners' hard-wired work ethic. They were kept impeccably.

Furlonger was not at all amused by this. Not that he visited much.

Milo, with hard practice, had pretty much nailed how to keep the decomposing old spectre at bay. Typically, he started his days late, invariably by grinding down a page from Lenore's book of orange sunshine blotter acid. It was easier to function on LSD than on mescal, and the acid seemed to ward off the visions more effectively.

Milo didn't get high any more, really. The acid seemed to work much like a long-term morphine drip, taking him to just where he needed to get to function, as long as he didn't slam in too much at one hit. He was gaining the hang of titrating just enough in the course of his day to keep life looking like something that could, ironically, almost pass for normal.

"Take a couple of well-deserved days off and the goddamn train falls right off the rails," Furlonger growled, glowering at the neatly-groomed boulevards, "Christ, I hate that Plautdietsch!" He spat his violent contempt upon the ground, and his helmet slipped wildly askew, momentarily exposing his gaping superiority complex.

Milo had also noticed that Molina's greenbacks didn't seem to stretch nearly as far as he thought they should. Generally speaking. Given South America's chronically-depressed economy. As near as he could figure, there were at least a thousand Paraguayan guaraníes in a Yankee quarter - yet even the local hard homebrew liquor was costing him five bucks a bottle... and Kinder chocolate was especially expensive for some unfathomable reason.

"What's the exchange on an American dollar here?" Milo had asked the clerk in a small grocery store.

"Twee," the clerk had replied. "Two."

It seemed they knew English well enough. Spanish too. He could hear the music of both languages following him at a whispering distance, as inhabitants spoke with each other, probably about him, wherever he went in the town. Yet when he faced them, they only uttered obstinate Plautdietsch.

Milo had stared blankly at the clerk, who stared blandly back, just barely smiling. He knew he was being ripped off, but there was no way of knowing by how much, exactly.

Milo had done the mental calculation, concluded that his anonymity was worth the extra cost and paid. It was a symbiotic relationship of sorts; an understanding that a rather large number of Nazis on the lam had established, then carefully nurtured after arriving a couple of decades back, in the course of trading in black leather trench coats and jackboots for plaid and gingham, the better to sink anonymously into their surroundings.