©Ernest Hogan 2014
When they got a good look at me, the homeboys -- as Little Richard would put it -- screamed like white ladies.
"Allah have mercy!" "What the hell!" "Let's get out of here -- he might be radioactive of something!" "He's bleeding --he's gonna give us AIDS!" they yelled as they flowed back into the Cadillac and left in a cloud of dust and grime.
I felt my bandages, carefully. I must have looked like an old-fashioned horror movie monster. If there was a mirror around, I'd probably scare myself. Dumb luck saved me.
Or was it the Krell chip?
What was this thing they put in my head? And who are they, while I'm at it. Just another Information Age problem. The right data could solve it, but where to look . . .
The hospital-bunny-suit pajamas I was wearing didn't have any pockets. I didn't have any underwear. No sign of my wallet or my pager. I was downtown, miles from home. What was I supposed to do?
My throbbing brain (or was it the chip?) lurched into action. I found myself looking around, scanning for information. I wasn't really that far from the Mercado. Maybe an offering to the concrete Quetzalcoatl would help. My girlfriend Vampiko would be proud. I picked a flowering weed from an eruption in the asphalt and walked.
In the middle of an unpaved parking lot was a saguaro, a phoney-looking one, like the gun-totters that chased us out of the desert. I waved at it. It didn't wave back. I walked on, and when I looked back the giant cactus was gone.
The Mercado was empty, as usual, and hot from all the pavement, the pseudo-Mexican architecture, and the lack of shade. Nobody noticed when I tossed the flower into the larger-than-life replica of the feathered serpent's mouth. A bus with the Great God Barkley painted on the side passed. If I didn't feel like I was going to die it would have been like a religious experience or something. Vampiko would have seen it as a sign of spiritual development.
Vampiko. If I called her she'd come get me. She did love me, as she often said.
I wandered around for a few blocks, trying to bum a coin. A dressed-for-success citizens took off at the sight of me. Finally, a toothless homeless guy gave me a quarter.
Suddenly, something hissed. A lizard the size of a pit-bull was licking up a trail of blood that I was leaving. It looked at me, then licked its lips and leaped.
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