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Ch. #3: Anaphylactic Shock
Bill stands in front of the bathroom mirror and unbuttons his pajama top, examining the blotchy bumps on his chest... and arms... and back: "Shit. Shit. Shit."

Vicky stands behind him, looking concerned: "Omigod, your hives are back. But the allergists said..."

"Those fucking allergists don't know squat. They just keep throwing new drugs at me. They don't know the cause, and they certainly don't know the cure."

"Do you still have some of those pills that were blocking this?"

Bill's getting visibly angry: "Nope. I took the doc's advice and tapered off to the last one. I'm completely screwed."

"Do you want to go to the emergency room again?"

"Um.... let's see... no. I can't spare any time this morning. The Williams interview comes first, then a couple of phone calls when the doctor's office opens, then a quick dash to the pharmacy. If my timing is right, I won't end up dead." He laughs, with an evil cackle.

Vicky's worried: "You've got a weird sense of humor. Bill, are you sure this is smart?"

Bill looks at the hives again: "No sweat. I've got at least two or three hours before anaphylactic shock sets in."

"You'll carry the emergency needle, just in case?"

Bill has already started shaving: "Sure. Can you give me a refresher course on how to use it?"

Vicky opens a plastic cylinder, removes a hypodermic injector, and reads the instructions: "Pull off gray safety release." She demonstrates to Bill, in the mirror. "Jab black tip firmly into outer thigh, so it clicks. Then HOLD on thigh for approximately ten seconds."

"Let me see that." Bill grabs the emergency hypodermic and jabs it towards Vicky's rear end. He laughs again, with the same evil cackle.

She giggles, and sidesteps away: "Your thigh, not my butt!"

Bill splashes off the shaving cream and heads for the closet: "Remind me to send the boss an eMail. I should warn him about a possible mad rush to the E.R."

"Will he be upset?"

"What can he do? Fire me for trying to avoid death? Deceased employees aren't half as productive." Bill laughs with another evil cackle, but then turns serious: "I've really got to get out of that place. It's wrecking my health."

"As soon as you land another job..."

"Easier said than done..." They've had this conversation many times. After a brief silence, Bill picks up his jacket and says, "OK. Time to grab a bite and head out."


Later that afternoon, Bill opens the front door, and Vicky runs to greet him: "Why are you home so early?"

Bill walks slowly to the couch and sits down. Vicky wants to say something, but Bill holds up his hand. Finally, he speaks: "I knew the end of my employment with those idiots was pretty darn close." Vicky moves to comfort him, but Bill stops her again: "I never dreamed they'd terminate me on a day when I was struggling just to stay alive." He laughs with the same evil cackle, although slightly softer than before: "But I was wrong..."
Ch. #2: God's Waiting Room
"We've just come here to die," Charlie grumbles, rummaging through a pile of cardboard boxes. As he glances outside the window, a grey-haired man walks briskly into view, then clutches his chest and falls to the ground, lifeless.

Mae is relentlessly upbeat, the counterweight to his foul mood: "Charlie, it's an active adult community. Fifty-five or better!" She reads from a thin magazine: "Ooh, they're organizing a trip to Algodones, Mexico! And they have an Okey-Dokey Karaoke Club!!" She squeals with delight.

Charlie smiles, in spite of himself. "You're going to sing?"

"Sure, why not?"

"YOU'RE going to sing. In front of people." Charlie briefly wonders if she can overcome her natural shyness.

"I've always wanted to try."

"I'd pay good money to see that, Mae."

"Oh, stop pulling my leg."

Charlie draws his reluctant wife into a warm embrace: "But it's such a cute leg."

"Charlie, think about it: we're free! No more 9-to-5 for you. No more commuting..."

"But what do we do with the rest of our lives?"

Mae picks up the thin magazine: "Algodones!"

"And karaoke?"

"Not just plain karaoke - Okey-Dokey Karaoke!"

"And golf?" Charlie's face shows his obvious distaste. "Chasing a little ball around a big lawn? Is that an acceptable use of time for grownups? At least with the 9-to-5, I felt... I don't know, like I was doing something useful. Playing a part. I was only a cog in the machine, but at least I was a cog. Now what am I? A free-spinning cog, with no machine."

"My sweet cog. Now you can pay more attention to your lovely wife. And start working on all those projects you've been postponing."

"That'll take three months, tops. What'll I do then?"

"Well... we could rob convenience stores."

Charlie perks up: "The Bonnie and Clyde of Palm Desert!"

"And maybe give the money to the poor."

"Cool! The Robin Hoods of Palm Desert!! But we'll need a trusty steed."

"What do you have in mind, my liege?"

"A Harley?"

"With a sidecar."

"Excellent. And goggles." Charlie's getting into it.

"To disguise our identities." Mae looks outside the window, and watches as an octogenarian couple shuffles by, pushing their matching his-and-hers walkers. The old man clutches his chest and crumples to the ground, lifeless. The old lady stares at her dead husband's body for a brief moment, then vigorously pumps her fist at the sky in triumph, and continues shuffling behind her walker down the street.

Charlie says, "You know, robbing convenience stores to raise money for the poor will be dangerous work."

"I would risk it all for you, my dear." Then Mae cocks her head, listening: "What's Fluffy barking at?"

They search through the house, moving aside some half-filled moving boxes in their path. Fluffy, a yappy Pomeranian, is abnormally interested in something outside the sliding-glass patio door. Suddenly, Fluffy falls over, her legs pointing straight up.

Mae sighs: "We're going to need another Fluffy."

Charlie offhandedly replies: "Second one this month."
Ch. #1: 2 Women 2 Many
"Where is she?"

"Where is who?" Zack knows who; he's just not sure where.

But Sue, his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, is in bloodhound mode: "I can smell her." She snatches the fragrant bedsheet off Zack's naked body, and holds it to her nose: "Shalimar? SHALIMAR?! I thought you had more taste, Zack."

At that point, Zack figures things can't get much worse: "Well, SHE had a pretty good taste..." He licks his lips and shrugs.

Sue whacks him upside the head: "You think this is a game?"

Zack wraps himself in the blanket and sighs: "If you'll give me some privacy, I'll pack up a few things and leave."

But Sue's just getting warmed up: "Not so fast, scallion breath. Let's see where that little tramp hid."

During the panic-stricken flurry of activity prompted by Sue's untimely return from the mall, Zack had lost track of the little tramp: "I'm sorta curious about her myself. Let's check the closet."

"That's too obvious." Sue shoots him a venomous look, and heads into the bathroom.

While Sue opens the shower curtain with a dramatic flourish, Zack shuffles toward the closet, still wrapped in his blanket: "Yeah, but during times of crisis, a closet confrontation looks much safer than a 'Psycho' shower scene."

Zack opens the closet door, revealing the little tramp, buck naked: "Eeek!" She sprints for her clothes, which had been hastily stuffed under the bed, and begins dressing quickly.

Sue saunters in from the bathroom, walks to the opposite edge of the bed, and places her hands on her hips: "Well!"

The little tramp, not to be outdone, places her hands on HER hips and aims her still-bare breasts directly at Sue: "Well!"

Sue stares at the two defiant nipples--first one, then the other--for a long, tense moment. Finally, she says: "Did you get those done locally?"

The little tramp is nonplussed: "Um, Doctor Harrigan? In Rancho Mirage?"

"How much?"

"Um, four thousand?"

Sue lifts her sweater, revealing her own assets: "I went all the way to San Diego to get these. Spent six grand. And they're not as nice as yours. I wanted exactly that shape, too. Damn."

The little tramp is still a bit flummoxed: "But yours are very... attractive. Um, did you have any trouble post-op?"

Sue sits down on the bed: "Not really. Just a couple of days of not being able to lift my arms."

The little tramp sits tentatively on the other side of the bed, while patting Sue's hand: "Well see, that's worth the extra money. I was out of work for a week."

Sue and her new buddy begin to discuss cup sizes, implant weights, and which agents have the juice to really kick-start a career in modeling.

Zack shakes his head, gets dressed, and wanders out, unnoticed.

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