Hear my Train A-Comin'...

Taking a good look around the greenroom, Milo noted more than a couple of knockout college-age women who had removed much -- all -- of their clothing. Trying to stay with Cassady, he squeezed through a narrowing gap between two small, colliding galaxies of revellers, and his shirt front filled head-on with the pillowy warmth of a topless, flaxen-haired beauty.

"Are you at the center?" she cooed. Her topaz irises, leveled unsteadily at his, evidenced a wall-eyed unfocus that Milo was realizing was common to everyone in the room.

He considered the question. "Uh. No. I think I'm about halfway up one of the spokes, or something."

"I'm at the center... I think everybody is," she burbled.

In another moment she had swirled back into the crowd, and revealed the back of a head that Milo was relieved to recognize as Cassady's.

Neal turned and, with a dazzling, unfocused thousand-watt smile, handed Milo a brimming Dixie cup. "Drink up, Johnny! Chick-a-doo chick-a-doo chick-a-doo!"

"It's Milo," Milo corrected.

Cassady's eyebrows leapt up and down, together, twice. The grin plastered across his face, impossibly, doubled in wattage. He began to chug louder.

"Chickadoo! Chickadoo! Chickadoo!"

"Jeebus! This could only get weirder if Kali and Furlonger showed up!" Milo thought.

He absently raised the cup of LSD-spiked Kool-aid toward his lips, then felt his pupils slam wide, instinctively sent to high alert by an all-too-familiar, peripheral, hot-blue flicker. Adrenaline walloped his cortex. Smoothly under the circumstances, he panned hard to starboard, desperately trying to range the scrap of Kali's unmistakable aura.

His tongue thickened with dry panic, and Milo reflexively slammed the inadequate little shot of colored sugar-water over it.

Somewhere nearby, Cassady flickered in and out of view. He was leading a make-believe freight train, arms pumping like pistons, his shouted "CHICKADOOCHICKADOOCHICKADOO!!!" nearly lost in the roar of the party, and of Milo`s jangling senses.

Milo lunged and somehow caught the train without knocking anyone over. He coupled up as the caboose, and Cassady's chickadoo choo-choo steamed out a side door...