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Of note for Semiconductors (SOX), Japan is aiming to invite Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) or other global chipmakers to build an advanced chip manufacturing plant jointly with domestic chip equipment suppliers.
Of note for Automakers (F, GM, FCAU, TSLA), Volkswagen (VOW3 GY) CEO Diess reportedly told the Executive Board that the Co. is expecting to return to pre-COVID sales/profit at the commencement of 2023.
This week’s Barron’s articles argues that chains like Dollar General (DG) and Dollar Tree (DLTR) are focused on value, and as a result, they are a growth story when other retailers are not, noting that when economic conditions become more difficult for consumers, the dollar stores get going. A separate article notes that SoftBank (SFTBY) considering an IPO of its Arm Holdings makes sense, and it’s an important signal for investors about the future of the chip business. Chipotle (CMG) should “crush its earnings” this week, and Barron’s notes one sell-side analyst stating investors should buy the August USD 1,150 call option to cover the July 22nd earnings report. On banks (XLF, BKX), It might be time to embrace the uncertainty around bank names and consider Wells Fargo (WFC), the worst-performing of the big banks this year, noting that Wells has something the other banks don’t have: problems to fix. Goldman Sachs (GS) is a rare big financial company with an improving business and earnings outlook, Barron’s said, and it has a stock that looks reasonably priced at little more than 10x forward earnings. Barron’s argues that while shares of index providers MSCI (MSCI) and S&P Global (SPGI) aren’t cheap, both stocks could keep rising as new products and services translate into higher sales and profits

DOW JONES

Boeing Company (BA) is running out of space to stash newly-built 787 Dreamliner’s, with dozens of the planes sitting on the company’s premises, sources said; one BA watcher puts the number at 50, more than double the number of jets typically awaiting customers along Boeing’s flight lines. Elsewhere, Boeing and Etihad broaden its sustainability alliance by testing innovations on ecoDemonstrator 787, which flies on sustainable fuel made from vegetable oil, and waste animal fat. Meanwhile, NASA administrators are very confident in the SLS flying during 2021.
Chevron Corp. (CVX) is to acquire Noble Energy (NBL) for USD 5bln in an all-stock transaction, or USD 10.38/shr, with a total enterprise value, including debt, of USD 13bln; the deal marks a 7% premium for Noble, which trades at 50% below its 52-week high.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Senior Executives flew into Malaysia for talks with the government on the recovery of 1MDB assets; Malaysian prosecutors have charged GS and 17 current and former directors of its units for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales totalling USD 6.5 billion that the US bank helped raise for sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) signed an agreement with the UK to secure 90mln doses of two possible COVID-19 vaccines from the company and French Group Valneva. Note, the two Cos also announced early positive update from German Ph1/2 study; generated strong t-cell data; supports and expands upon early results from the corresponding US trial reported earlier in July.

NASDAQ 100

Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) had its PT raised to a street high of USD 3800 at Goldman Sachs and Jefferies. Goldman Sachs maintains a conviction buy rating on the shares, rising the PT to the street high from USD 3,000. Analyst Heath Terry updated his estimates ahead of earnings to reflect the accelerating e-commerce growth. Revenue estimates are increased by 3% per year on average, while EBTIDA is left unchanged due to COVID expenditure and for an increase in infrastructure spending due to faster growth in retail and AWS.
Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) NBCUniversal is reportedly planning broad-based layoffs to offset losses from the pandemic.
eBay Inc. (EBAY) Classifieds business auction has been awarded to Norway’s Adevinta for close to USD 9bln, where eBay will keep a minority stake in the unit, according to a source. Earlier reports noted it would be USD 8bln or above. Elsewhere, eBay (EBAY) is to begin expanding its management of payments globally; expected to deliver USD 2bln in revenue and USD 500mln in operating income in 2022.
Facebook, Inc. (FB) has had its advertising expenditure by Disney (DIS) dramatically cut, according to sources. Disney was Facebook’s top US advertiser for the first six months of 2020, research firm Pathmatics estimates. Meanwhile, The FTC is considering taking sworn testimony from Facebook (FB) CEO and COO as part of its investigation into whether the social-media giant has violated US antitrust laws, sources said; top Facebook officials are preparing for potential depositions and some are worried about the possibility.
Tesla (TSLA) is being probed by South Korean Fair Trade Commission, who launched an internal review of its advertising that described its autopilot as self-driving technology, according to Korea Herald citing sources. Meanwhile, it has also pulled another “demand lever” for it Model Y and has begun offering a lease agreement to customers for the vehicle.

S & P 500

Celanese (CE) announced it has raised its share repurchase authorisation by USD 500mln to USD 1.563bln.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) told its pilots that furloughs could be avoided if they agree to a cut in guaranteed minimum pay, according to CNBC.
Ford Motor (F) and MobilEye have expanded its relationship to offer better camera-based collision avoidance in vehicles.
Halliburton Co. (HAL) Q2 20 (USD): Adj EPS 0.05 (exp. -0.12), Revenue 3.2bln (exp. 3.34bln). It recognised USD 2.1bln of pre-tax impairments and other charges in the quarter. North America revenue -57% Q/Q to USD 1bln.
Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) has been awarded a USD 15bln contract for C-130J development.
Quest Diagnostics (DGX) received the FDA’s green light for pooled testing, using the same COVID-19 molecular diagnostic first authorised by the agency in mid-March.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) – Almost a quarter of pilots accepted either early retirement or voluntary leave offers, according to CNBC.
Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) is expanding capacity for those developing new and existing therapies for COVID; now supporting more than 200 projects globally.
Twitter, Inc. (TWTR) announced the hackers on last week’s attack did more than cryptocurrency fraud, but they also walked away with some users personal data, according to WSJ. The report notes that data was taken from eight users.

OTHER

Alibaba (BABA) Ant Group is to plan simultaneous IPOs in Shanghai and Hong Kong, according to reports.
AstraZeneca (AZN LN, AZN) to publish eagerly anticipated COVID-19 trial results today. The FDA authorised its first COVID-19 diagnostic test for pools of samples, to let laboratories conserve resources by evaluating several people at once
Eldorado Resorts (ERI) USD 17.3 billion acquisition of Caesars Entertainment (CZR) received approval from The New Jersey Casino Control Commission, the last regulatory approval needed before the deal can close; the deal will result in the formation of the largest gaming company in the US.
Nikola (NKLA) chairman filed a new stock offering of up to 53.4mln shares related to warrants, but later noted it was just part of the process, adding “it’s difficult going ipo and after this, we’ll be full steam ahead”. Deutsche Bank note that the S-1 filing became effective, meaning 24mln warrants are now exercisable, which provides holders the right to buy shares for USD 11.50 and the 53.4mln shares owned by PIPE investors, enables them to be traded on the market. The analyst believes the potential for a portion of these 77mln shares to hit the market could create large technical selling pressure.
PTC Therapeutics (PTCT) and Royalty Pharma (RPTX) announced an agreement to acquire a portion of PTC’s royalty interest in risdiplan for USD 650mln in a one-time payment.
Samsung (SSNLF) is reportedly struggling to improve 5nm process yield, according to Digi Times citing sources. The article notes “It remains to be seen whether unsatisfactory yield rates at Samsung Electronics’ 5nm EUV process may affect the launch of Qualcomm’s next-generation flagship 5G mobile chip series.
Uber (UBER) and Alphabet Google (GOOG, GOOGL) announced a four-year agreement with Alphabet’s unit to use the Google Maps Platform Rides and Deliveries Services; Financial terms were not disclosed.
Yum China (YUMC) named official retail food services sponsor of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games, also becomes an official sponsor of the Chinese Olympic Committee through 2024-end.
Edit 10:00AM

Additional US equity stories

Walmart (WMT) is restarting talks of a potential sale of its UK supermarket unit, Asda - potentially of note for Tesco (TSCO LN), Sainsbury's (SBRY LN), Morrison's (MRW LN), Marks & Spencer's (MKS LN)
Sorento Therapeutics (SRNE) FDA has cleared the co.’s Abivertinib for Phase Two safety and efficacy study in hospitalized patients with moderate to severe coronavirus.
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) announce early positive update from German Ph1/2 study; generated strong t-cell data; supports and expands upon early results from the corresponding US trial
Crown Castle International Corp. (CCI) - Elliott Management calls upon CCI to outline a five-year plan for its fiber segment on its July 30th earnings call.
Halliburton Co. (HAL) CEO says international business is continuing to be a more meaningful contributor to the company going forward; believes North America production will remain structurally lower in the future. The CEO Expects to see a more disciplined market with stronger operators and
submitted by WSBConsensus to wallstreetbets [link] [comments]

OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…10

Continuing…
“Well, if that doesn’t throw the damper on things.” Dax remarks on our trip back down to the ground floor.
“Yeah. How rude. Up and deceasing your own self without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.” I noted.
“This is going to be a bloody balls-up. Trust me. This is going to be inordinately messy. A bog-standard botch job. A total dog’s dinner, just wait and see.” Cliffs adds.
“First, we have to contact IUPGS. Then what? Does Bulgaria have a consulate or embassy here? I wouldn’t think so…Then what?” I grieved. For once, I was rather low; both emotionally and on ideas.
“Let’s go back to the conference room and let everyone know. We’ll pull a brain session together. We should be able to sort out what needs to be done. The hotel already knows, so the state security forces also do as well. Be prepared for lengthy interrogation sessions, Gentlemen”, Cliff advised.
Back in the conference room, we relayed the sad information. All were taken aback and there were general notes of commiseration. However, since no one knew Iskren too well personally, it was more detached professionalism rather than overt weeping and wailing.
“Let us toast to our fallen comrade!” was accepted as both entirely appropriate and a damn good idea.
I got on the conference room phone and ordered up some more sandwiches, mixers, and bottles of booze. The moment was obviously structured that way, I reasoned.
We made our toasts to our fallen comrade and we had half a chalkboard filled with suggestions of what to do next.
The main consensus was: “Nothing.”
As in there was not much we could do. We were foreign nationals in a strangely foreign land. Our comrade was the sole member of his country, that is, Bulgaria, and the closest geographically we had aboard was Dr. Academician Ivan. No one wanted to loose Ivan on the DPRK security forces and have to deal with all that international fallout.
After some number of hours, after I suggested we all remain in the conference room as we’d (A.) be together, as in unity there is strength, (2.) we’d have each other’s backs when and if it came to interrogations, and, (iii.) this is where the free booze was.
Then there was a polite knock on the door.
I, as the den mother of this special education class, slowly got up and answered the knock.
It was a cadre of DPRK internal security forces, kitted out in their spiffy, tailor-made, and actually, quite smart-looking uniforms. Shoes and buttons polished to mirror-finishes, pants creases that could cut flesh, and enough polished brass to construct a spittoon.
“Hello? Yes?” I said through the semi-opened door.
“May we please come in? If the time is convenient.”, the head military type, very treacly asked.
“Of course”, I replied, “Please, do come in.”
Four of them entered as one. They did a quick-step, tight-march formation together and went to the head of the conference table.
“Good day, gentlemen. I am Colonel Hwangbo Dong-Hyeon of Internal State Security. First, we must offer condolences on the loss of your comrade. It must have come as a shock.” He intones.
There are mutters of “Thanks.” and “Damn right it was.”
“I have been entrusted to update you on the, ah, ‘situation’. First, Dr. Iskren Dragomirov Dinev, recently deceased, has been examined by the best medical practitioners in the country. He was obviously a foreign national and state guest, and we do not wish this to be a cause of suspicion or mistrust, especially during this auspicious Festival season.” He asserted.
We listened with rapt attention.
“I am authorized to tell you that it does not appear that the late Dr. Dinev expired of any untoward circumstances; or ‘foul play’, I believe is the western term. It has been ascertained that he expired due to wholly natural causes; namely massive myocardial infarction. Given his age, apparent health, and, ah, mass, this does seem a most reasonable explanation. This has been verified by no less than three DPRK medical professionals; one of which is the Emeritus teaching professor of Cardiology at Pyongyang Medical University. Again, you have our deepest condolences on the loss of your comrade.” He continued.
“I do remember Iskren complaining of gas pains the other night at the bar,” Joon agreed. “Thought nothing of it, given the change in all our diets.”
Colonel Hwangbo studied Joon like an entomologist examining a particularly fascinating new species of beetle.
“Which has been fine! Just rather rich compared to our usual food!” Joon hastily added.
Satisfied that Joon wasn’t making light of the ‘fine’ North Korean cuisine, Colonel Hwangbo continued, “As such, the Bulgarian Embassy here in Pyongyang has been contacted and apprised of the situation. They have taken over the case, as well as recovered the mortal remains and possessions of Dr. Dinev; all of which were conserved and authenticated by his Bulgarian national counterparts.”
“Ah, that’s good”, I said, “I’m pleased that there actually is a Bulgarian embassy here.”
“Ah. So.”, Col. Hwangbo continued, “Yes. They have already taken possession of Dr. Dinev’s mortal remains and possessions as I had noted, and will handle their repatriation to his country and family. As you can see, we have acted in the best of faith and with the utmost respect for your lately departed. Again, our condolences.”
There were some “Harrumphs”, and “Yeah, rights”, from the crowd, but since I was the team leader, it fell to me to handle this situation from here on out.
“Yes, indeed”, I replied, “We see that and do so deeply appreciate your efficiency and your keeping open the lines of communication. We have absolutely no room to complain. You, your team, your country, and your services have acted to the highest degree of professionalism and decorum. Let me extend, for the team, our heartiest appreciations in this most unfortunate matter.”
That seemed to please the Korean security forces. So much so they didn’t see the rolling eyes and smirks of grudging compliance from the crowd. I gave the evil-eye to several who were twittering quietly at my delivery of a load of over-the-top twaddle in the name of international goodwill.
“Thank you, Doctor…? Doctor…?”, he asked.
“Doctor Rocknocker.” I replied, “It’s spelled just as it sounds,”, I chuckled a knowing chuckle.
Colonel Hwangbo cracked a small smile for the first time since we met.
“As long as our orders of business are concluded, “ I inquired, “Might we offer you and your men a drink or sandwich or…”
“Cigar?” he suddenly brightened.
I smiled the sly, smirking smile of one of those used to the old duplicitous game of international diplomacy.
“Why”, I replied smilingly, “Of course.”
Col Hwangbo gratefully accepted a brace of fine Oscuro cigars. Probably more tobacco he’s seen in one place at one time since the last he rousted a snozzeled Western journalist or hammered European tourist with an overage of custom’s tobacco allowances.
His team eschewed cigars, but gladly accepted a pack each of pastel-colored Sobranie cocktail cigarettes.
It still slays me to see these battle-hardened, armed-to-the-teeth, unsmiling servants of the great state of Best Korea mincing about the courtyard smoking avocado, baby-blue, and peach-colored pastel cigarettes.
The Colonel and his team left after a couple of quick smokes, sandwiches, and surreptitious beers. I even enticed the Colonel into a couple of convivial vodka toasts when his team was otherwise occupied.
“Well, gang”, I said, closing the door, “Looks like that situation has been handled, most appropriately at that. We’ll miss ol’ Iskren, but at least he went fast and hopefully painlessly.”
I knew that last one was but a load of old dingo’s kidneys as I’ve had run-ins with cardiac disorders in the past and they are anything but painless. In any case, that was, as I noted, in the past. What was done is done. It was as it was. It is as it is.
“So, gentlemen”, I say, “Let us get back to work. Reality calls. Now, we’ve given you landlubbers the lowdown on our seismic pleasure cruise. Now we’d like to hear what you who had stayed onshore have come up with.”
Erlan, Graco, and Viv fill us in on the regional geology of Best Korea and lay out a plan to examine the sedimentary piles closest to the few paved roads in the north and east of the country.
We’ll be traveling by bus, as my request for four or five off-road vehicles was denied due to timing and lack of availability.
Yeah. Right. What a massive pile of bovine biogenic colluvium. A country with a military as huge as Best Korea’s and they can’t spare a few jeeps or Hummer reproductions?
Truth be told, they still don’t trust us and don’t want to let us out of their sight.
However, we did manage to snag some internal publications from the Central Geological Survey of Mineral Resources, which we figured as a major coup. Never before were Westerners allowed to even know of the existence of these materials, much less be able to research (read: slyly copy) them.
That ‘personal shaver’ I carried was actually a sneaky personal copier, a Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner with all the external stickers peeled off, and any serial numbers abraded away.
Hey, they photograph us from every angle on the sly, listen in on our conversations, record our phone calls…hell, turnabout isn’t just fair play, it’s almost expected.
It’d be rude to refuse to play along.
Anyways, we learned that The Korean Peninsula (KP) occupies a junction area of three large tectonic domains that are the Paleo-Central Asian Orogenic Belt, Paleo-Tethyan Orogenic Belt, and the Western Pacific Orogenic Belt.
Tectono-fascinating.
To summarize:
  1. The Archean Rangrim massif is divided into the Rangrim and Kwanmo submassifs, high-grade region and greenstone belt, respectively.
  2. Early Paleoproterozoic rocks underwent metamorphism up to granulite facies, which may be correlated to the Jiao-Liao-Ji mobile belt in the North China Craton (NCC).
  3. Proterozoic rift sequences in North Korea are similar to those in the NCC with rare late Paleoproterozoic strata and more Neoproterozoic strata.
  4. Mesozoic igneous rocks are extensively distributed in the KP.
  5. The main Paleozoic basin, the Phyongnam basin in NK, have a similar Paleozoic tectono-stratigraphy to the NCC.
Of most interest is item #5. The Phyongnam basin is the only sedimentary and depositional basin of mention in the north of the Korean peninsula; and therefore the center of our attention as it pertains to oil and gas.
The potential source rocks, and possible reservoirs, include the Paleozoic Late Ordovician Miru Series was identified as the Koksan Series and subsequently renamed. The 170-meter thick limestone and siltstone centered around the P'yongnam Basin have extensive crinoid, coral, and gastropod fossils. Paleogeography researchers have suggested that corals formed in the Miru Sea-a branch of the South Yangtze Sea. At the base of the Taedong Synthem is the P'yong'an Supergroup, which lies disconformably atop older Paleozoic rocks.
In the Pyongyang Coalfield it is divided into the 650-meter sandstone, shale, and conglomerate of the Nogam Formation, the 500-meter Kobangsan Formation, 350-meter coal-bearing Sadong Formation and 250-meter chert-bearing Hongjom Formation, all typically assigned to an Upper Permian shallow marine environment.
In the Mesozoic, north of Pyongyang, Precambrian basement rocks are unconformably overlain by a Jurassic limestone conglomerate ascending to layers of siltstone and mudstone. The Upper Jurassic Shinuiju Formation northwest of Shinuiju has sandstone, conglomerate, and mudstone up to two kilometers thick.
Offshore drilling in the West Korea Bay Basin indicates these rocks are the onshore extension of offshore units. It is subdivided into fluvial rocks and Upper Jurassic black shale, limestone, conglomerate and sandstone formed in a lake environment.
There are very few Cenozoic sediments are known in North Korea, likely as a result of erosion due to uplift of the peninsula. Submarine normal faults along the eastern coastline may have driven crustal tilting. The 350-meter thick Bongsan Coalfield in Hwanghae Province on the west coast preserves and coal-bearing layers dating to the Eocene.
Further to the north, in the West Korea Bay Basin Eocene and Oligocene sedimentary rocks up to three kilometers thick unconformably overlie Mesozoic rocks, formed in lakes and coal swamps during the Paleogene.
What this meant is that we’d need to travel mostly northeast and/or southwest. This was fortuitous as the paved roads in the country were created in structural valleys formed by the primary fault trends in the country. The main trans-tensional set trended NE:SW and the conjugate set trends approximately 900 to the main set at NW:SE.
The topography was heavily dissected by drainages and the terrain consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys. The coastal plains are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east.
The plan was to take the bus north to Sunchon, then hang a right off towards Unsan and Yongha. There were outcrops between the last two towns and they appear to be upper Paleozoic to Lower Mesozoic clastics. Ideal oil and gas hunting grounds.
From there, we’d head north-northeast towards Yangwon. There appeared to be some fair to excellent outcrops of rocks that are as of yet, unidentified as to age. From there, we’d continue to follow the outcrop belts either to their termination at the basin’s edges or at international borders with China or Russia.
But, once we hit the field, time goes into relative warp. Put a bunch of geologists out on some relatively virgin outcrops and just stand back as they spend hour after hour after hour first looking for evidence of the formation’s provenance, it’s age and field relations. Then begin the heartfelt, stalwart, and sometimes vicious, arguments between all concerned about each and every one of those salient points.
We were all looking forward to it and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s our intellectual and scientific equivalent of meat and potatoes.
We all agreed on a way forward and generated a document to deliver to those in charge of our logistics on this trip. There would be a total of 11 Western geoscientists, four guides, perhaps a couple of national geologists or geophysicists, and whatever cadre the shiny suit squad wanted to include.
There would also be a driver, his relief, and a couple of extra translators. Good thing it was a large bus, as it’s going to be a huge crew.
We needed to allow our handlers a full day to arrange room and board for us while in the field, as we had to be bivouacked somewhere outside our fine hotel. It needed to be secure, pass sanctuary muster, and be ‘controllable’, referring to both Western scientists and nosy locals.
One thing we found odd was the lack of concern for long-term logistics, not to mention the end of our self-ordained indentured servitude. When this trip and all the Western geoscientists were contacted, we were all assured of an opportunity to meet with the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un once our trip was completed.
We were to personally deliver one hell of an international photo-op. A ‘hey look how progressive we are’ meeting and our findings in this wonderful and progressive country.
But lately, with what we thought was the fallout of the Festival washing out all the usual propaganda, we’ve heard nothing about Herr Comrade Leader Supremo, K1J1-Un. Nor had we heard one iota about our intended final meeting with him before we left for China.
Since there are “absolutely no” COVID-19 cases in Best Korea, it seemed, well, odd that Beijing was our only possible current exit port of call, and onward to our individual homes.
There were all flavors of rumors flying all throughout the basement bars and casinos of the hotel. One claimed that Kim was now receiving treatment at a villa in the Mount Myohyang resort north of the capital Pyongyang after cardiovascular surgery. That he was near death and that his sister, Kim Yo Jong, is already warming up in the North Korean political bullpen if her brother kacks it.
Others said Kim is believed to be staying at an unspecified location outside of Pyongyang, with some close confidants. It was said that Kim appeared to be normally engaged with state affairs and there has not been any unusual movement or emergency reaction from North Korea's governing party, military, or cabinet.
There was also one other that tries to cover up any conspiracy rumors by shouting over a raspy bullhorn: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"; but most ignored that little crank.
We all thought that rather odd, but of fairly low concern. In the final analysis, it would have little impact on our studies and their outcome. In other words, it wouldn’t affect our pay one way or the other. We all felt like we’ve given more than what was called for on missions such as this.
And we still haven’t a clue as to when this will all come to an end.
However, we all agreed to the consultation, it would have been fun to meet with him and have our pictures taken with the Supreme Leader. Dr. Academician Ivan Ivanovich Khimik. was especially cheesed that he might miss the opportunity to make finger-vee bunny ears behind the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the DPRK during one of our photo sessions.
We all agree if we do somehow find ourselves in the same room with Ivan and Kim Jong-Un, we’ll form a human shield around the latter. We want to get back home; as we’ve all heard the rumors of the horrors of ‘political realignment’ camps here in Best Korea.
So the meeting breaks up and I’m left with Dax to take the final inventory. Two loads of sandwiches gone, piles of used napkins, ketchup-y table linens, bacon rinds and chicken bones, drippy ends of ice cream cones, prune pits, peach pits, orange peel, gloppy glumps of cold oatmeal, pizza crusts, and withered greens, soggy beans and tangerines, crusts of black burned buttered toast, gristly bits of beefy roasts…
“The hell with this”, I say, I grab the last nearly full bottle of vodka and hand Dax a bottle of Royal Navy dark Rum.
“Tally’s good”, I say, not really giving two tiny shits at this point. “At least, I think it is. Let’s make like horseshit and hit the trail.”
“I’m headed back to our floor and going to zone out in front of some old, looped BBC for the next few hours with a cold drink and hot cigar.” I proclaim.
“Oh, hell”, Dax says, “I agree. It’s been a weird couple of days. Let’s go.”
And so we do.
On the way, I leave the logistics concerns and itinerary for the upcoming field trips with the front desk clerk. I slip her 1000 won as its Festival! and I had a bulgy pocketful of same. She smiled and quietly said there’s be a surprise waiting for me in my room when I got there.
“Rock, you fucking old hound!”, Dax exclaimed as he punched me lightly on the shoulder. “Taking a dip in the hotel secretarial pool?”
“Dax, you surprise me”, I said in my defense, “I have been, and continue to be, happily married for the last 38 years to the most loving, most intelligent, most well-connected, and most accurate snap-shot with a Glock .380 Automatic I know of.”
“Well, me ol’ mucker”, Dax smiles slyly, “If one has been happily married for 38 years, one must have a little something on the side. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge, ‘eh, Squire?”
“Oh, nothing like that”, I replied, while waiting the obligatory 30 minutes for the fucking elevator to arrive. “I couldn't break my word to Esme, and not because I don’t believe in a God that will send me to Hell without an electric fan or because it's not the right thing to do. I simply don't want to. A man is only as good as his word; and if he loses that, he loses too much. I couldn’t function without people thinking that I’m square and on the level. My business would crumble to dust. As would my marriage.”
“Yeah, there is that”, Dax agrees, “You say something is going to happen and God damn, it fucking happens. That’s what makes you honest and honestly scary.”
I stare intently at the annunciator that tells me the fucking elevator is stuck on 4 again.
“You’re not mob, are you?” Dax harshly whispers, snickeringly.
I turn to face Dax and smile wistfully.
Я с уважением отказываюсь отвечать, потому что я искренне верю, что мой ответ может обвинить меня”, I reply quietly.
“What the hell does that mean?” Dax demands.
“I respectfully decline to answer because I honestly believe my answer might tend to incriminate me”, I calmly reply.
“Oh, look. Bloody elevator’s finally here.” I note and stride aboard.
Dax gets caught up in the tsunami of the crowd and is carried bodily inside. It was so remorseless, he almost lost his grip on his bottle of Dark Rum.
Up on ‘our’ floor, I go to key open my room. Dax is just down the hall and looking around to see what special surprise might show up. I was too tired to wait so I just push in, and see all my field clothes fully laundered, pressed, and either folded or hanging.
Someone broke into my room during the day and committed a compound neatness.
“POUND! Pound! POUND!” Hmm, appears to be someone at my door.
“Yes, Dax?” I said.
“You too?” he fumed, “Everything, cleaned to within an inch if its life. They even polished my bloody field boots.”
“Oh, fuck”, I said and ran to find mine re-pristinized.
“FUCK! FUCK! FUCKITYFUCKFUCK!” I swore. They had polished my field boots and removed the fine years-of-work-to-acquire near-subsurface of the leather’s oil layer. They polished the water-proofing and conditioning out of the leather of our boots.
“OK. OK.”, I said, “Minor emergency. Cool out. I have the solution.”
I toss Dax a small can. It was brown, oily, and claimed to be “Neatsfoot oil”. It was the SPF- 500 of field leathers.
“Go ahead and oil them up with that”, I told Dax, “I’ve got another can, so don’t worry. Use what you need, don’t be shy, but if there’s any left, let me know. I’ll combine ours and offer it to anyone else in the team who had their boots steam-cleaned.”
So, a bit later, I’m sitting on my hotel room’s floor, on several sheets of newspaper, rubbing Neatsfoot Oil into my ancient, multinational size 16 EEE Vasque™ Tracker field boots.
Then there’s a knock at the door.
“It’s open. Enter carefully”, I say aloud.
It’s a bell clerk with a room service cart. On the cart are a bucket of ice, a bowl of sliced limes, I think, several gimlet glasses, some Best Korean ‘Air Koryo’ carbonated citrus drink, and a fresh bottle of “Kaesong” vodka.
“Compliments of the front desk”, the bellman says.
I stand up, tip him a few thousand won, and set a new record in mixology; a fresh brace of drinks in less than 7.3 seconds.
I offer the bellman the lighter one and he accepts with a wide smile.
I say “건배” (geonbae) literally means 'empty glass', which is similar to the expression 'bottom's up'. For you see, my Korean’s coming along a treat.
We clink glasses and send those drinks to the places that they’ll do the best.
The bellman smiles offloads the cart onto the table in my room, shakes my hand, and departs.
I finish my boots, my drink, and my cigar. After another drink or seven, I crater early. Dax was right; it had been a long, weird day.
The next day, Festival! is still going strong, but still no word on the whereabouts of El Líder Supremo. I find that odd, only slightly interesting, and since it will impact the day’s events zero, I file it away for maybe later use.
I go to the hotel pool around 0530 and there’s no one there. I’m able to get in a good 100 laps, unburdened with either small talk or by yammering kids blocking my lanes. I go early as I don’t wear gloves in the water, obviously. Statistically, there is less chance there will be others, adults and kids included, that would get freaked out by my gnarly left hand. I really don’t feel like recounting the old Russian Rig Accident story again.
After a brisk shower and double shower-scotch back in my room, I dress casually and wander down to the casino and bar level. It’s essentially breakfast time, but with the revelers not giving two hoots to AM vs. PM, it’s surprisingly busy. I find a perch up on Mahogany Ridge and order a classical breakfast cocktail of one liter of beer and 100 milliliters of chilled vodka.
I see Mr. Ho is manning the bar. I ask him to ring the massage parlor down the hall and see if Ms. Nang Bo-Hee is free sometime this morning.
He does and reports that she has an open hour and a half at 0900. Would I like it or any portion of that time?
“I’ll take the lot”, I said. “Tell them I’ll be there spot on 0900.”
“That’s great.”, Mr. Ho says, hanging up the phone, “Doctor Rock, they tell me that with the Festival discount and you taking the full 90 minutes, they can cut you a very special deal.”
“I’ll bet”, I replied, “Like what?”
“Oh, I cannot say for they did not tell me”, he smiled, “They will tell you when you arrive.”
“Marvelous”, I exhaled tiredly. “Another, Mr. Ho; make it a double, if you would please.”
The massage center here is run by a group not employed directly by the hotel. It’s a separate entity altogether. They run specials and have different discount programs that are not only not controlled nor advertised by the hotel, but they’re also not in any way beholden to the hotel, except for rent, I suppose and run it like their own little fiefdom.
Ms. Nang, my preferred masseuse, is a little, tiny Korean lassie about 5 feet tall and probably all of 90 pounds soaking wet. However, she is amazingly well trained and could probably put me in the hospital for a lengthy visit with her wiles and methods of flesh, bone, and muscle manipulation.
She offers a whole suite of different massage genres: Swedish, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep tissue, sport, trigger point, reflexology, shiatsu, Thai, and Rolfing.
Oh, fuck. I know Rolfing. I tried that nonsense back in grad school with an old east Indian lady that could have linebackered for the Minnesota Vikings. That shit fucking hurt. Today, it’d incapacitate me permanently. That’s a definite no-go.
I decide that it’s going to be the Hot Stone-treatment today. A geological-manipulation inquiry.
At 0900 I’m the only client at the massage ‘store’. It’s early, day two of the festival, and people are either sleeping off the previous night’s festivities or too wobbly to even think of partaking in a massage.
I’ve had several major back surgeries over the years, including one bilateral laminectomy about seven years ago that removed 7.5 kilos of overgrown bone and muscle from my lumbar region, so I’ve been very cautious about soliciting a massage. The masseuse has to know that area is strictly verboten and will do everything to avoid annoying that particular piece of bodily real-estate.
I’ve walked or limped out of massages before where the practitioner said they understood my reticence, but went ahead and kneaded and provoked that land of keloids and deep-body scar tissue.
However, based on past experience, Ms. Nang knows full well my reluctance as well as my desires. That’s the reason I’m returning. She’s very, very good; a consummate professional and has a never-ending series of jokes and observations while she’s pummeling you into submission.
Today, we retire to a private cubicle and she hands me a small robe or napkin, not sure which, of Korean manufacture.
She tells me to get au natural and to wear the robe while she prepares the tools of her trade.
OK, I’m not a small person; not by a long shot. This robe, however, is made for a sprite, not even for a small person.
She returns to our massage cubicle as I’m sitting there, at the end of the massage table, sipping my drink clad only in my dapper red-and-white checkered boxers.
“You need to be unclothed, Doctor. Use the robe. OK, sir Rock?” she says.
“Ms. Nang,”, I said, shaking my head, “It’s one or the other.” I show her how laughable the robe is as I can’t even get it over my upper arm. It’s not even as a tea towel when it comes to covering my expansive acres of exposed epidermis.
“I can close door.”, she says, “I’m used to it. I am professional. Does not bother me if it does not bother you.”
I lost all forms of bashfulness, timidity, or prudery long, long ago. After years and years of Russian banya, Swedish massage, Turkish baths, and surgery; well, if it don’t bother you, it don’t bother me.
“OK”, I say, using the robe as a small two-dimensional breechcloth. She tells me to ‘hop’ up on the massage table and lie down, facing the floor.
After chuckling about the fact that I haven’t hopped for decades, I wander over to the nicely padded and extremely clean massage table and lie down. She rearranges the ‘robe’ to cover my backside and tells me to relax. She’ll be right back with the stones.
I’ve never tried this type of massage before, but as a geologist, I must; if for nothing else, progress in the name of science.
Ms. Nang returns with a large parcel consisting of many sizes of steamed stones. They were river-washed and tumbled basalt from the looks of them, all wrapped in a large fuzzy towel.
Now she finds the large towels…
She selects them one by one and places them in ‘special, strategic’ spots on my exposed back. From the lower 2/3rds of the nape of the neck, down the spine, over the fundus mountains, and down the back of each leg.
It’s a warm, almost hot in some places, but not an uncomfortable feeling. She returns to adjust them, grind them in a bit in places, and flip them to extract all that igneous lithological thermal goodness.
I have to admit, at that point, it was feeling quite delightful. Relaxed; I had my drink and was being kneaded My dorsal musculature was being de-lithified by the application of hot rocks and expert point massage.
All was going quite well as Ms. Nang was building a huge tip in her ‘job well done’ bank.
Then the rocks had all attained room temperature. She excused herself to reload with another minor outcrop’s-worth and told me to flip over for round two of the process.
“In for a dime, in for a dollar”, I said, as I flipped over and use the robe as a laughable forward-facing breechcloth.
Ms. Nang mentioned that she was always fascinated by Westerners and their surplus of bodily fuzz. With my long, shoulder-length silver hair, full Grizzly Adams beard that drooped down to my sternum, and torso that picked up where my beard left off; she was quite unprepared to see the beached silver-gray panda that awaited upon her return.
“Dr. Rock!’, she exclaimed, “You are as a bear! So much hair. And silver color!”
“Yeah, sorry”, I replied, “Just the hand genetics dealt me. I guess it’s an adaptation for ethanol-fueled organisms that never feel cold.”
“I will soon return.” She titters excitedly and almost runs out of the room.
“Hmmm. I wonder what that’s all about?” I muse as I lie largely undraped in the massage cubicle.
Suddenly, the door bursts open and every female massage practitioner there herded into the room. They simply had to see the specimen upon which the delightful Ms. Nang was working.
OK, truth be told, I was a bit taken aback. Here I am lying on an elevated, and heavily padded, massage table. I’m ‘wearing’ only a crooked, worried grin and a sheet of a cotton washcloth that measures about 12x12 inches.
They Oohed! and Ahhhed!
I did feel like some form of an alien animal suddenly thrust out into public view. It was a bit disconcerting, but as usual, I just tried to deflect any unease with jokes and idiot remarks. At my age, not much is going to bother me, and this I found all the more laughable than troubling.
Suddenly, I was fielding their barrage of questions:
“You are American? All American men so…hairy?”
“Yes and no”, I replied. I also mentioned I hadn’t undertaken a study in that particular subject.
“Why you so big?” one tiny lass asked, eyes as big as dinner plates.
“Genetics”. I replied. “Just a corn-fed Baja Canadian doofus. We grow ‘em big back home.”
“Can we touch?” one particularly brave little lass asks.
“Touch what?” I asked. Look, I might be over 6 decades old, but there are still some areas reserved for my one and only betrothed.
I did tell Esme of this whole event later that evening during our nightly call. She laughed herself silly.
“Your beard! Oriental men never have such beard. We touch maybe?” she implored.
I was going to say “Go nuts”, but I decided that a simple “Sure” would be more fitting.
So they did. They were enthralled. They had never before, from what I was told, seen such a large silver-gray ZZ Top-style beard, especially here at the hotel. That part was weird enough, but when they started in on working their way south toward the equator, I had to say something to dissuade them.
“Where were you girls 45 years ago?” I laughed.
I don’t think they got the joke. They became somewhat bolder in their austral exploratory activities.
“OK! Time out! Ms. Nang! We have an appointment to keep”, I said as I shooed the rest of the lassies away, “We need to finish what we started.”
By the time that the third syllable of that last sentence came into being, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to say.
They all laughed and tittered as Ms. Nang ushered them out of the room. I could have sworn I heard the door lock behind them.
Ms. Nang reprieved her earlier stone placement therapy, with a couple of strategic detours.
She wasn’t that type of masseuse, and I wasn’t looking for that type of massage. She did, however, knead and pummel me mercilessly.
I’ve been bruised less from barroom brawls.
Finally, she announces that she’s finished. She’ll leave while I shower, as she used essential aromatic oils, and would await me out in the lobby.
After showering, I felt like a large bowl of pummeled Jello. I felt relaxed, and for the first time in weeks, my back was silent. My head was clear as a spring Sunday morn in Reykjavik.
The full 90 minutes, plus sideshow, was 4,500 won.
I paid the owner the required sum and handed Ms. Nang an additional 15,000 for a job well done. And for another anecdote that goes into the hopper.
I left the massage parlor feeling quite fine, thank you. I wandered over to the bar to see if I could augment and prolong this feeling of harmony with the universe. The mental picture even now of all those cooing Korean lassies in the massage room never fails to elicit a laugh and head shake.
A few hours later, I’m back in my room, tidying up my field notes and making certain all my paperwork was heavily encoded and up to date. It was, so I placed a number of expensive overseas calls to catch up with everyone on the outside.
I’m thinking of calling room service to have my mini-bar repaired when my room phone rings.
“Now who would be calling me at this hour?” I wondered.
It was the tour group leader. He informed me that the itinerary had been worked out and we’d be leaving tomorrow for the field at 0600. We were to arrive with all our luggage and be prepared to check out. We would spend at least a week in the field, if not two, depending on our results, and be bivouacking in different places in the interior of the country.
I thanked him for the information and said I’d inform the rest of the team. He told me that wouldn’t be necessary as they would come up to or floor, deliver the notice verbally, or by note if they were out of their rooms. If I wanted to later call each participant and ensure they were apprised of the situation, that would be most appreciated.
I assured him I would do so and that we’d be ready, to a man, at 0600 the next day.
I whip up 10 Post-it™ notes and stick one on each member’s door.
“Leaving for the field. Check out 0530. Wheels up 0600. Bring all luggage. Road trip!”
To be continued…
submitted by Rocknocker to Rocknocker [link] [comments]

Places to stop / stay

Hey reddit! We're driving from Vancouver, BC to San Jose in a couple weeks and we're looking for some cool places to stop towards the south end of the Oregon Coast. We will be looking to stay the night somewhere and I'd love any suggestions of cool towns and spots! Thanks for your help!
submitted by karanug to OregonCoast [link] [comments]

what the fuck do you do at night?

I just moved here from the Midwest to Coos Bay, and by day I have a lovely time, but by night... What is there to do? I don't get drunk.
submitted by phototropic00 to OregonCoast [link] [comments]

Humans don't Make Good Pets XXXII

Okay, this is late. Very late. Like, two months late. I wish I could say this'd be a one-time event but I'm pretty sure that things or going to be sporadic at best. If I'm going to go dark for a while I'll throw out an announcement, but here's a heads up that things are going to be choppy for a bit.
(I can't believe I forgot to add this in. Amended that mistake on 7/26) EXTREMELY large thank you to Hambone for helping me out with this chapter. Without his input and ideas this chapter literally would not exist. Once again I sincerely apologize for forgetting.
Proofreads always appreciated and desired. Even though I read through this multiple times I know there's still plenty of stuff I missed.
This story is brought to you by the JVerse, created by the illustrious Hambone3110.

Date point: 8m BV

In orbit around Perfection
Dear Journal,
I can count cards
Okay, not really, but I can still beat the house at their own game
So, you know, basically counting cards
“What part of ‘Contact me the moment you’ve completed the task’ confused you?” Vakno’s scowling mug stared up at me from the view screen.
I thought a moment, “Probably the part where you assumed I would willingly contact you. C’mon Vakno, I’m sorry, it just slipped my mind. You had to have learned about it pretty quick, though right? I mean, he’s an informant, it’s his job to inform you, so I figured he’d get in touch with you on his own soon enough.”
She glared back, “While you’re not technically wrong I usually appreciate knowing someone is in my employ before receiving information from them,” she huffed, “I’ll let it go, like I have with so many of your other shortcomings, and explain why you received my message asking to speak to you.”
“I’m all ears,” I took a moment to check behind myself to ensure Eallva was still out of sight behind the door frame.
“Until recently my services were employed by a reasonably affluent client who desired information pertinent to their business and future financial success.”
Her tone and words led me to grimace, “I’m guessing that ‘Until recently’ are the key words in this instance.”
“Yes,” she snapped, “Don’t interrupt. I say, ‘Until recently’ because it came to my attention that he had implied in certain circles of knowledgeable individuals that his success was entirely due to his genius and in no part because of the excellent services rendered by myself. While I would never expect him to make his dealings with me common knowledge, the particular beings with whom he voiced his incorrect opinions are potential future or current clients, and therefore already aware through deduction that he and I have had several business encounters.”
“There’s a lot of words in there,” I drawled, “Mind shorting it up for me?”
My tone seemed to annoy her even more, or maybe it was the interrupting part, “In summary,” she growled through gritted teeth, “My reputation has been impinged upon before people whose opinion I value, and therefore I feel a public example is in order to discourage similarly unfortunate occurrences.”
“Got it,” I stretched, sitting up from the slouch I’d adopted for the conversation, “Who do I have to intimidate?”
“You misunderstand,” she had a thin-lipped smile, “I don’t just want him subdued, I want him ruined,” she spat the last word like it was vinegar. “If he were as intelligent as he claims then he would have realized cutting me – one now intimately familiar with his business’ inner workings – out of my fair share of the credit was not an action conducive to his continued good fortune.”
I was thinking something along the same lines, “Yeah, about that, I thought you said your clients were usually part of the smarter bunch? I’m no Einstein and even I know not to cross you for something as minor as an ego boost.”
Her eyes took on something of a haunted look, “Most are, although there are some who I only accept because no one that dull should ever possess so much personal wealth. As to my unfortunate ex-client, he may be suffering under the impression that his particular branch of business is untouchable by someone such as myself. I believe even you yourself once voiced the opinion that I could not affect events, only know of them?”
I struggled to keep from shifting uncomfortably.
“He must learn that I do not bluff,” she finished with another glare, although this one – I was happy to notice – didn’t seem to be directed at anyone in the current conversation.
“Great, right, so what do you want me to do? Remember I’m not so hot on the whole killing people thing these days.”
She didn’t look convinced, but didn’t ask as she continued, “Then you’re fortunate that I specifically do not want you to kill anyone, although I do need you to get into a fight.”
“I’m gonna need a little more than that.”
“The ex-client is a Chehnash by the name of Juheshni. While he does have several fledgling business ventures, his primary source of income stems from training, entering, and betting upon contestants in torzo matches.”
I shook my head, “Yeah, gotta ask you to fill me in on that last part.”
She sighed in a way that told me she had expected as much, “Many of the upper echelons of certain societies find their lives to be dull and unfulfilling, and so find their excitement by watching and betting on strength and endurance matches between contestants specially trained for such exercises.” She correctly interpreted my blank look, “Prizefights,” she said wearily, “They watch prizefights.”
“Huh,” I wasn’t faking the surprise in my voice, “I hadn’t figured anyone out here would have the stomach for stuff like that.”
“Believe me,” she replied dryly, “I’m somewhat aware of humanities idea of spectator fights and what you’re thinking is probably wrong. These are fights started by bored corporate owners from species known for their somewhat aggressive natures,” her tone made her opinion of such actions clear, “You’d never find a Corti involved in these affairs.”
I shrugged, “Hey, I’m not judging,” I totally was, “You still haven’t gotten to the part where I come in.”
“Through my exemplary abilities, I was able to direct Juheshni to several individuals with excellent potential for torzo matches. One of those individuals – a rather eccentric Locayl called Uxier – turned out even better than my own projections, and has placed Juheshni at the top of nearly every circle. Shortly a tournament match will be conducted in perhaps the most influential – and most public - torzo ring. Juheshni has made it very clear that he intends to dominate this match with Uxier, and has put no small amount of his personal wealth on the line. Personally, I believe he was overly cautious with his estimates but that won’t matter. I want you to enter that tournament, reach the finals, and crush Juhshni’s reputation as a trainer by defeating Uxier in as humiliating a way as possible. I leave the choice of methodology up to you.”
“Dang Vakno, you don’t do a thing half-assed when you want to send a message. So how do I get into this match?”
“I’ve assembled the correct credentials, identifications, and references.”
“'Correct?'”
She gave another one of those weird thin lipped smiles, “What good is ruining him if it’s not clear who’s doing it? The information you’ll be using doesn’t name me directly, but anyone who looks will clearly see my influence. Now, as I said, I’ve assembled all the necessary information, all you need is a handler. It doesn’t matter who, just get someone reliable who can hand a data chip to a bouncer and keep their mouth shut. If you have absolutely no friends as I’m worried might be the case, a handler can also be provided.”
Rather than rising to the bait, I thought a moment. Could Eallva be trusted? It's been – what – eight months since the medical station? Not much had happened since then. After all my apologies we’d been sightseeing, going places I’d heard about while in the army. For a while, she’d seemed subdued, but recently I’d really enjoyed her company. It was nice to have someone to talk to. Was it time to let her try being around other people again?
Eight months is a long time.
Odd, it didn’t seem like it.
That’s because you’re turning into an old fart who reminisces about the ‘good old days’.
What are you talking about? I’m not even – holy shit.
Yeah, haven’t thought about that lately have you?
Not listening. I’m not listening. I’m still young, and full of energy, and I think Eallva’s ready to go out in public again.
You can’t avoid time you know.
I ignored the lies by answering Vakno, “No worries, I got someone,” I stuck my tongue out at her because I’m young and full of life and had just proved that I had friends, “So you going to send the information my way or what?” My communication beeped as a transmission was received.
I couldn’t help but smile as a thought occurred, “This is your last one Vakno. After this, I’m free of you.”
“Oh that reminds me,” she said in a tone that made it clear she’d forgotten nothing, “So you’re aware, should you ever be in need of difficult to obtain information, I’d be happy to take your calls anytime; at the usual rates.”
I laughed to show her how youthful I was, “Ha! I’d rather space myself than willingly come back to you for help. Nice try, but after this I’m planning on never seeing you again.”
“As you wish,” was that, smugness, on her face? “Please though, do contact me the moment it’s finished. Oh, and one final thing. Not that this will happen, but if by some incredible happenstance you manage to lose the fight with Uxier, I will personally rip your throat out. Are we clear?”
“Yep!” I tried to sound as cheerful as I could, “Hope you die. Later!” I cut the channel, opened the information package, and set the ship on course to the supplied destination.
I turned as Eallva hopped out from behind the doorframe, “Assessment?”
“Huh?”
“Last time you listened in on a conversation between me and Vakno you had some guesses as to her motivations that honestly helped a lot when going about the job, so you have any this time?”
“Oh, uh. . . well, there was that one part where she said she doesn’t bluff. That could be referring to what you did last time. She basically declared to anyone watching that crossing her could mean getting a visit from you. This Juhshni either wasn’t watching or thinks she’s lying, but either way, if she doesn’t come through with her implied threat then she’ll probably lose a lot of influence and respect since people will stop taking her seriously.
I nodded, impressed, “Makes sense to me.”
“And another thing. Doesn’t this task seem a little, trivial?”
“Not really. I mean, who else could she send and feel so sure they’d win?”
“Not that. The way she wants you to do it is obviously tailored, but I feel this guy just isn’t important enough to warrant such a response. I mean, a ‘reasonably’ wealthy individual who’s the current favorite for a semi-underground prizefighting club? Why make an example out of him? Why not wait until someone important reneges? Regardless of whether or not she’s making good on a previous threat, I’m almost certain she could exact some retribution on him that didn’t use up her last big favor. It’s like she’s just throwing it away.”
“Maybe, what’s your point?”
“I think she doesn’t see it as her last favor from you.”
“Whoa, hold up there. After this I’m done, I’m not going back to her. She has to have noticed that I don’t enjoy being her errand boy, why would she think I’d come back?”
“Probably because she thinks you won’t have a choice.”
“Well that’s . . . unsettling.”
She waved it off with her tail, “It’s just speculation. Now, unless you know someone who’s not terrified or angry at you, it sounded as though I might be joining you this trip?”
“Yup,” I nodded simply, “Think you’re up to it?”
“Yes,” she replied seriously, “Where we headed?”
I looked back at the destination, then did a double take and looked more closely. I had assumed it would be another trading station or a shipyard, maybe some influential planet. My curiosity piqued when its designator classified it as a ship.
“Apparently,” I said after a while, “We’re headed for some kind of pleasure cruiser called the Hedonist.”
“Is it special?”
“Don’t know, never heard of it. Haven’t really come across any pleasure cruisers in my time out here, though, so . . . maybe?”
“Great, how long?”
“Couple days.”
“I’ll get the chessboard.”

2 Days Later

Hedonist
“Holy fuck that’s big.”
Eallva looked similarly shocked, not even bothering to confirm my obvious statement.
“Big” didn’t really do it justice. This thing was a whale. Nearly a kilometer in length and two hundred meters high and wide, the kinetic drives alone dwarfed my entire ship, requiring so much energy they hummed with incredible power. Had my ship not literally provided me with the Hedonist’s dimensions I would have overestimated on every count. Its shape amplified the effect, its hull being nothing more than a dome, cut off obliquely at the back to make room for kinetics, its underside slightly rounded. If I were completely honest, it was rather ugly.
The reasons behind its simple shape became abundantly clear the moment the stupefying effect of its size wore off. I’d seen battleships and dreadnaughts from both sides in the current conflict. This ship put every one of them to shame. It looked like someone had crossbred a hedgehog with an armadillo and then designed a ship from the offspring. Rows upon rows of turrets lined every inch of the outer hull, sprouting from it like so many spines. Beneath this intimidating display of offensive power, light glinted dully, reflecting off layers of thick, interlocking armor plates. The underside of the ship was similarly outfitted. The shape afforded its armaments excellent firing arcs, while providing nothing in the way of vulnerabilities to potential enemies.
My staring spree didn’t stop once I got inside the ship. If anything it became a rampage, and I hadn’t even yet left the docking bay. Every docking bay I’d been in to date had looked like an unfinished basement – walls a dull gray and covered in pipes and shit. I’d just assumed that’s how they had to be, it wasn’t really a choice. Hedonist opened my eyes to the wondrous world of designer docking bays.
Off-white light streamed from dozens of sources, challenging the single-sourced harshness of its inferior contemporaries. Walls free of clutter gleamed with a shine chrome wished it could match, and the smooth, dark floors – free of any scratch despite the numerous ships that must have landed one them – reflected my smiling face like a black pool. The only control console in the room was ergonomically built into the far wall, detracting nothing.
I was so mesmerized by the wondrous vision before me that I didn’t notice the other guy in the room until he made a quiet sound. Turning I started at the strikingly familiar figure standing quietly behind me. I’d never seen this person before – honestly, I don’t think I’d ever really seen his species up close – but what struck me was how similar to a human he looked. I mean, the guy was about three times my height and so thin I was scared I’d blow him over.
I say “Him” but I honestly couldn’t have told you either way for two reasons. Firstly if it was a guy then he had the most feminine features I’d seen on a male member of a species I’d ever seen.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Obviously, and secondly, he was wearing clothes. Like, actual, real clothes, not the tool harnesses that seemed the height of fashion with everyone working on a station. This guy’s style probably could have rocked it at any fashion show back on Earth and taken first prize every time, or whatever they do at fashion shows. I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted to wear that suit, but he pulled it off flawlessly.
Eallva apparently hadn’t noticed him either, and looked somewhat taken aback by our guest’s impressive stature. My initial surprise gone, I immediately noticed that when he spoke he didn’t do so to me, but to Eallva instead.
“Welcome, Madam, to Hedonist. I am Dacine Atise, your personal attendant for this evening.”
Judging by her lack of a response Eallva didn’t have one. I, on the other hand, opened my mouth immediately. Being able to say something at any given time is kind of a talent of mine.
“Wait, does everyone get a personal attendant here? That’s got to be insanely hard to coordinate.”
The glance he gave me was perfectly proper, but somehow I still got the impression he was annoyed by my question.
“Of course not, only guests of import receive such treatment.”
Now it was Eallva’s turn to mind vomit, although she still phrased her question in a way that seemed to meet Dacine’s approval. “Why would you believe us to be such guests?”
Once again his expression didn’t perceptibly change, but I felt as though his words were smug, bordering on patronizing, “The identification information you transmitted upon arrival, while not overtly obvious, was subtly so, and led us to believe your employer did not feel it necessary for her connection to you to remain unacknowledged by Hedonist,” his eyes narrowed slightly, “If we were mistaken, however . . .”
Eallva said “Of course not,” just as I replied “Yes.” After aiming a calculating glance my way he seemed to decide that Eallva’s opinion was the only one that mattered.
Turning to her directly he gave a bow that did nothing to reduce his prodigious height, “Excellent. Then if you will follow me, I shall show you to your room and, if you desire, guide you through the various entertainment options Hedonist has to offer.”
She didn’t even look at me to confirm whatever decision she’d made. If she had she would have seen me furiously shaking my head which, to the careful observer, would have informed her that we did not want his help beyond showing us to the rooms.
Stickman and the rat . . .
Mature
. . . were nearly out of the docking bay before they even noticed that I wasn’t following.
“You coming?” I glared at her, “Oh don’t pout,” I could tell she was struggling not to smile behind that look of mock pity, “It’s only natural he’d assume I’m in charge. Smarter, fitter, and better looking, what else would he think?”
Ha!
Shut up.
After deepening my glare at her I followed a moment later, “Fine, but there better be snacks.”
After a long hallway leading away from the exquisite docking bays, we reached a glass door that opened onto perhaps the most decadent game floor I’d ever seen. I’d never really thought the people out here to be the best when it came to interior decorating, but I instantly revised that sentiment upon the evidence before me. If Siegfried and Roy had a threesome with a unicorn the result couldn’t have matched this place for glamor. Reds, silvers, golds, and blacks melded and highlighted each other in such a way as to emphasize the fact that I was too poor to look at them and this room in general, let alone stand in it. Lights from hundreds of tables glowed softly all around, their various hues somehow complementing the surroundings.
A sound beside me tore me from my reverie. “Neat.”
I looked down at the artistic ingrate, “Neat?! You’re confronted by a room that probably took more money and resources than it would take to terraform a planet and all you have to say is ‘Neat,’?!”
She shrugged, “Yeah, it looks expensive, so what? Anyone can spend money, I was more impressed by the exterior, that at least looked practical.”
“Believe me, if you’d seen some of the things rich people do with their money back on Earth, you’d realize that just because you spend a fortune doesn’t mean it looks good.”
Stickman cleared his throat, gesturing onwards questioningly once our attention had been recaptured.
“So once we’ve seen the rooms are we going straight to business or will we have time for a few games?” Eallva whispered as we once again followed our stone-faced attendant.
“Wait, you’re asking my opinion? Aren’t you in charge, being better and all that?”
“Well of course,” she cooed, “But I want you to know that I value your input.”
“Oh, your largesse knows no bounds.”
“I know.”
“You sure you don’t want to go find something ‘practical’ to do with your time?”
“I appreciate something’s appearance by how well it works, that doesn’t mean I’m a total bore. We playing something or what?”
“We got some time before we have to check in. We can let Stickman show us around but I can say for a fact that we’re not playing any of these games.”
“Because . . . ?”
I gave a huff, “This place is a casino, you been in one of those?”
“I've diced, is that the same thing?”
“Pretty much. These out here are the luck based games. Or at least I’m guessing, I don’t really recognize any of them, but if I know one thing it’s that I’ll never play a game with my luck. Things would probably go down so poorly I’d somehow manage to blow up the entire ship.”
“You’re kind of paranoid, you know that?”
She’s right you know.
“Besides, this is a pleasure cruiser, maybe they have games based on something other than luck. I guarantee you that if we can find something requiring physical skill then we can make some easy money before we have to do anything boring for Vakno.”
“You realize you just described a prizefight as boring, right?”
That thing you just thought about saying, don’t, that’s not appropriate
True, different tack.
“With the kind of fight these guys have, I guarantee you it’ll be boring.”
Our rooms were, if possible, more decadent than the magnificent gaming room below. Wood paneling and shining stone floors left me nervous to even step on them lest I scuff their perfect sheen. I think Stickman had noticed our lack of bags and rushed us out of the room almost as soon as we’d arrived. The first thing on the tour he showed us was what we’d already seen: rows upon rows of games I had no idea how to play and no desire to learn.
The true size of the ship finally set in when he took us outside the building that we had apparently been in since our arrival. A massive portion of the ship was, in fact, empty space, creating a vaulting ceiling under which sprawled an incredible artificial garden. More tables and games were interspersed throughout the area, large and small buildings occupying crossroads and lined up all along the sides. That hint of smugness was back in Stickman’s eyes.
After what felt like an hour of his showing us various games that didn’t meet with our . . .
Your.
. . . approval he showed us to a row of machines that looked more than a little familiar. At a glance I thought they were exact replicas of skee ball, a closer inspection showed the ludicrous differences that had me laughing at the sight of them.
The ramp had been replaced by a simple barrier, ensuring the player remained the correct distance from the target holes (Until I’m informed otherwise that’s their official name). The glass had also been removed, allowing straight shots. It was almost a simple hoops game except for the rings of targets indicating more or fewer points respectively. Oh, and they were slowly rotating about the center, whose target had been removed. If that had been all the changes I frankly would have thought it would be harder to play, until I saw what I was throwing.
Hacky sacks. Honest to God hacky sacks. I could tell Eallva and Stickman were confused by my sudden mirth but I couldn’t help it.
“So have we finally found a game that met with your approval?” Eallva asked when I stopped to catch my breath.
“Yes,” I heaved, “There’s no power in hell strong enough to keep me from trying this.”
“Great,” She squeaked, hopping happily to the edge of the barrier. Stickman explained the rules and they were exactly what I had expected: get the hacky sack in a hole and get that many points. Holes worth more points spun quicker, although to me they still seemed on the slow side. Spend points to get more hacky sacks. Spend a small sum to get the initial set and turn in your points at the end to get real money in return.
Stickman hit a few buttons on something on his wrist and, per my request, two sets of five sacks were deposited into trays next to two side by side skee sack machines. As I walked to my machine right next to Eallva’s she looked at me in question, “I thought you said you were broke, where’d you get the money?”
“I assume,” I smiled, “From Vakno.”
“Won’t that technically put you in her debt?”
“I’m sure I’ll be able to pay her back with more than enough interest that she won’t mind at all,” With that I executed a perfect underhand throw borne of many a hacky-sack game, sinking my first shot into the highest point value – in and of itself capable of supplying me with another five sacks.
“Not bad,” Eallva remarked with a grin.
“So you just going to let me win or what?” I sunk my second shot.
“I wouldn’t say that,” She smiled wider. Then leaping into the air she executed a summersault, holding a sack in her tail. Whipping it around in the same way she would have thrown a javelin the sack rocketed into the highest value target. The force of the shot shook the entire machine, and it even managed to get the first reaction out of Stickman as he involuntarily flinched from the pained sounds emanating from Eallva’s victim.
Well shit.
“So you just going to let me win or what?” She remarked as she stuck the landing from her aerial assault on her skee sack machine, picked up another, and leaped back into the air.
What followed was perhaps the most intense hacky-sack based competition of my life. Stickman’s already enormous eyes grew steadily larger as we lobbed – well, I lobbed, Eallva hurled – shot after shot into what had become the only acceptable target to aim for. I think it was the hollow booms made by Eallva’s machine every time she landed a shot that drew the crowd, it was certainly loud enough.
Things looked grim right from the beginning. I mean, I’m good, but I’m not perfect. I miss, I’m human, it happens to everyone, except apparently the amazing flying rodent beside me sinking three pointers all night long. They were more like 10 pointers but you get my drift. She didn’t miss a one, and her little crowd of lackeys kept cheering her on and making me all flustered. Probably because they’d all placed bets on her winning, which was also why my group was rather subdued, but it was there fault for betting on the guy that couldn’t jump several times his own height straight up.
Okay so look, I know the official record will show you that Eallva had the technically higher score when all was said and done, but I would like it to be known that I think she called it off because she saw that I was catching up.
She was always ahead, she could have called it off at literally any time and she would have won.
Sure, fine she had a good start, but I was gaining on her.
No you weren’t.
Why must you speak when no one is talking to you?
Wait, are you serious?
The result of the match was Eallva managed to permanently affix a smug grin to her face while I was even more determined to find a game I could beat her at. And I got my chance several minutes later when Stickman, now putting a bit more distance between himself and Eallva than he had before, showed us to another pavilion with another vaguely familiar game.
I’d never played it before, but the closest comparison I could give it would be Pachinko. The key differences were while I still had a pool of balls to draw upon, only one was launched at a time. That and I could rotate the board. A ring of grips around the outside of the board allowed the player to turn the table as the ball fell, giving the control that every Pachinko player had desired since the beginning of time. The troughs the balls fell into also turned with the board, and to make it even easier there were multiple holes it could enter, like skee ball, for different point values. Admittedly the null-point hull had a larger trough than any of the others, but it was still frightfully easy to navigate the Fauxchinko ball where I wanted.
I guess the board might have been a bit heavy and cumbersome to someone with significantly less upper body strength, which may or may not have been the reason I chose it. That smug grin quickly faltered when the skee sack all-star learned that her tail just didn’t cut it as far as leverage was concerned when pitted against my “inferior throwing appendages”.
You’re kind of a sore loser, you know that?
Now it was my turn to have the cheering crowd behind me, while Eallva struggled and, might I add, failed to catch up to me all the while listening to her group grow sullen and quiet. Ah, sweet sweet vengeance.
I was halfway to doubling my already sizable skee sack fortune when my machine abruptly powered down. Actually, it wasn’t just my machine; it was all of them in the row. Stickman seemed distant as he listened to something I couldn’t hear, then rushed up to us, his hands spread wide.
“My sincerest apologies, but we seem to be having technical difficulties with these games at the moment. Perhaps you would like to try your luck at some of our other tables?”
“Technical difficulties?” Eallva’s eyes narrowed, “You’re sure it has nothing to do with the fact that we’ve both set record high scores for both these games our first time trying them?”
Stickman looked outright offended, which kind of made me suspicious as he rarely looked outright anything at any given time. “I assure you, Hedonist does not employ such underhanded tricks. I was told there were technical difficulties so I promise that is the truth. Now, as to trying other games, I would be happy to set you up, and with the wealth you have already amassed it would be simple to prepare one of the higher stakes games should you desire.”
“Actually,” I interjected, “We should probably check in with our other business venture, I don’t exactly have the time and we wouldn’t want to be late.”
Now I knew something was up because I could actually see a shadow of sullenness flit across Stickman’s demeanor. “Very well,” he droned, “Follow me.”
“Wait, you know about why we’re here?”
“Obviously,” was all he deigned to reply.
Not bothering to see if we were following, Stickman turned, heading towards the centerline of the ship. After several minutes of walking I could tell that we were actually heading for the far wall, and after another several long minutes of walking I could even deduce which building.
Every building in Hedonist had its own unique architecture to the point I almost felt obligated to give each and every one a name. Had I named the building we entered behind Stickman I probably would have called it Black Needle or something similarly lame. Look, if I was naming every building in the entire ship than by the time I got to this one I would have run out of original ideas.
Inside the elevator Stickman placed his hand on a nondescript part of the wall, looked sternly at another blank section, then held that pose for several seconds. I was about to ask him if everything was okay when the elevator started moving without any voice commands having been given.
We had started on the ground floor, so wherever we were going was near the top, because the elevator felt fast, but we kept climbing for nearly a minute. When we finally stopped, Stickman allowed, for the first time, Eallva to take the lead, although he kept closely in step with me. The elevator doors had opened up onto a long, dimly lit hallway. A couple sharp turns and we were confronted by a heavy door guarded by a stocky looking White giraffe. Well, stocky as far as White giraffes go. . .
You realized they’re called Rrrrtktktkp’ch?
Do you honestly expect me to try pronouncing that? And since when have I ever called anything by its real name except Eallva? Hell, sometimes I still call her a rat.
A fact I’m sure she would find quite interesting were I to reveal it to her.
Don’t you dare.
Just kidding.
That’s what I thought.
The heavy-looking doors opened. I’d been so preoccupied with the traitor inside my head I hadn’t even noticed as Eallva handed the White giraffe a small data chip, which he promptly shoved into a small apparatus on one of his wrists before stepping out of the way to let us pass.
I don’t know why, but I had kind of assumed that the room beyond the doors would have matched with what I had thought all prizefighting rings looked like; dirty, dimly lit, kind of dusty, reeking of sweat and probably blood. Because that’s how they always looked in the movies. One day I’ll learn that expecting everything to look like it did in the movies will leave me sorely disappointed.
The ring and stands looked exactly like you’d expect them to look in a place as classy as Hedonist. Large, comfortable seats with enough armrests and elbowroom for everyone regardless of their anatomy, lighting perfectly highlighting the ring while still allowing the spectators to see their own hands in front of their eyes, and dim screens unobtrusively placed to allow spectators easy access to a bookie.
I turned to Stickman, “So do we need to register somewhere or is there some kind of waiting room . . . ?”
He looked at me incredulously, his professional manner cracking “This really is your fist torzo match isn’t it? I know you humans are supposed to be stocky and from what I’ve seen that seems to be more than likely but I had heard better things about your employer.” He shook himself, “Yes, there is a waiting room for fighters and their handlers, just down that hallway,” he gestured to a door on our left, “You’ve already been registered, but you’ll still need to be in that room when the tournament starts, which it will in bit. I had thought they were joking, but it seems your employer really did want me to explain the rules of the match. They’re simple; a fighter is disqualified when they are either unconscious, dead, or thrown from the ring. No weapons allowed.”
“Great,” I clipped, “So tell me again why you’re still here?”
He sighed, “In what is looking to be an increasingly foolish move on part of your employer she placed several small bets in your favor. I am here to witness and facilitate the transfers in her stead once the tournament is complete.”
I didn’t really have a reply to that, so instead I just nodded disinterestedly, then followed Eallva to the waiting room door. I hadn’t even made it past the threshold when a quiet alarm went off right inside the waiting room. I looked up expecting to see something exclaiming I was the 1000th customer, but instead was greeted by a haggard looking Corti as he bustled out from a side room. Heh, so much for Vakno’s statement that I’d never find a Corti here.
“Prosthetic?” he asked in a bored voice.
“Um . . . yes?”
“This way,” he gestured for us to follow. The room he led us to was a rather impressively stocked and equipped medical bay, complete with scanner, which he promptly had me lay upon. I tried to sit up to get a clear look at what he was doing but at an annoyed growl I stayed flat on the scanner. When he let me up I looked down at my left leg and found the entire prosthetic had been removed, replaced instead by a simple metal strut, locked into the socket that had previously held a working robotic leg.
“So you gonna tell me what this is about or what?”
He gave me a flat look – so he gave me the look that all Corti learn in the womb, “You honestly didn’t think you’d be competing with cybernetic enhancements did you? These are strength and endurance tests, not 'Who has the deepest account' contests."
“You couldn’t just give me a leg that matched my current biological one’s strength?”
“Not in the time we have. I’m surprised you even managed to get into this tournament on such short notice, let alone acquire a cybernetics waiver. You must have some pretty powerful backers to be able to get into this match so late.” Apparently done with the conversation, Peggy turned and walked away.
Peggy?
Yeah, he gave me a peg leg and took my real one, so Peggy.
You really need to work on your names.
Hey I didn’t even have his real one this time, and he spoke for less than a minute, you can’t expect me to come up with a masterpiece with so little information.
With Peggy gone we walked into the common area, where another attendant checked our names and showed us to a small room with some equipment I didn’t recognize.
“So you going to be okay?” Eallva squeaked once we were alone.
“I think,” I said, trying not to show how the simple appendage was getting to me. I didn’t need anything fancy, but an ankle and a knee would have been nice. At least it supported weight. I suppose it was great for pivoting.
“You think Vakno knew?”
I grimaced, “Yeah, she usually knows everything I can spot. This answer any questions based on your previous assumptions?”
“Um, I suppose this could be why she picked such a low key target. I mean, there are still people here whose opinions matter, but if you fail it wouldn’t really ruin her, just be a minor setback really. For her bigger clients she could probably play it off as an inconsequential venture she didn’t really care about. Also I’d guess that if you were to fail you’d fail before you had to fight Uxier, so your defeat wouldn’t add to her ex-client’s prestige.”
“Great,” I monotoned, but she wasn’t finished.
And, I’m guessing if you did lose to Uxier she could use that as leverage for extra favors, if she played it right. But if you do win it would humiliate her ex-client even more because you’re so obviously handicapped. Really, she could probably make it so she’ll win either way.”
“Perfect. Well no use worrying about it until the actual fight starts. Any pointers?”
“Huh?”
I smiled, “Well you are my handler, so you’re supposed to say something. I won’t listen to it, but I like you to know that I value your input.”
She stuck her tongue out at me – which, funnily enough, was her version of the middle finger – but then grew serious for one of the first times since boarding Hedonist. “Actually, I do have a request. Or rather a challenge, if you want it.”
Intrigued, I shrugged, “Sure, shoot.”
“Try winning without hurting anyone.”
I was somewhat taken aback, “Oh . . . um . . . okay, you do realize I’m working with a peg leg here right?”
“I know,” she was talking quickly, “And if you can’t win without it then forget it, but I have a hunch you’ll manage even with the handicap, and if I’m right, do you think you could at least try?”
I thought a moment. I mean, what was there to lose from trying? Who knows, maybe it’d even be fun.
She’s trying to help you, numbskull.
What?
You asked her to help keep you in check. That’s what she’s doing. Say yes and stick to it even if it means losing.
You sure?
Just do it.
Fine. “Sure, I’ll do it. But if I win then when we get back to the ship we make another game called checkers and you have to play that until I say we’re done."
She smiled, “Deal.”
The first match went out, one I wasn’t a part of, and I decided my remaining time was best spent acclimating myself to my newest appendage. I was hobbling around at a steady pace when they finally called my name. Eallva in tow, we exited the waiting area and back into the arena. Shadowy figures lined the walls, none distinct enough to tell what species they could be yet still I could hear their hushed voices as we walked to the ring. Well, I guess neither of us was really walking. Eallva hopped, I hobbled.
submitted by guidosbestfriend to HFY [link] [comments]

Caterpillar 5: Ever After

part 1 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8kgviz/caterpilla
part 2 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8m2ubg/caterpillar_2_transformation/
part 3 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8o4v1a/caterpillar_3_love_in_bloom/
part 4 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8qpxeq/caterpillar_4_trial_by_fire/
It’s me, Johnny V and apparently having a trip to the other side (complete with angel wings) inspired me to make the crazy decision to move my family from California, back to Wisconsin. And not someplace nice like Madison, Milwaukee or even Green Bay. No, for whatever reason I was forcing my family back to Beloit, the small town that we fled all those years ago.
While I was breaking my lease over the phone and quitting my nurse position at the Los Angeles hospital my demon-fairy wife, Azzy, picked out a house and paid in cash. Her ability to do that was an impressive feat even for the small town of Beloit. But I knew she wasn't happy. In fact, she was downright pissed.
I was kinda forcing her to remain on speaking terms with Remy, her gay best friend who raped her into unconsciousness back before he surrendered his demon powers. I know I need to be supportive of my wife, but Remy was not the same person who attacked her. He deserved to be forgiven. And he was, technically, the biological father of Lucas, the baby Azzy and I consider to be our son. So the deal was made, he would pay for half the house in exchange for a place to live and time with our son.
It only took Remy and Azzy a few days to pool their money and buy a house in one of Beloit’s nicer neighborhoods. It was a three bedroom, two bath. Azzy and I took the main room, my sister Olivia took the second and the last one was made into a nursery where Remy would stay with Lucas. Remy had given up on being apologetic. But there was no doubt that Lucas loved him. And I loved my son. Part of me felt like I was choosing his happiness over Azzy's. Luckily I had school to distract me.
I enrolled in medical school at University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would require a significant commute, leading my family to ask why I requested we live in the small town of Beloit. It felt right. It was where we needed to be (or maybe I just needed the commute time to clear my head before entering the lion's den.)
Olivia got a job as a substitute teacher for the Beloit school district. She was still working on finishing her degree but her story was so compelling the people in charge decided that it would be good publicity: The remarkable young woman who survived a brutal attack that cost her arm and leg, returning to Beloit to make a difference.
Azzy took a job at Walmart, working as a cashier while Remy stayed home with the baby. My wife made it clear that this was not her choice. She would have preferred Remy to get a job so she could stay at home. But since Remy had no desire to go back to work, it fell to her to get a job. Or else Azzy would be forced to spend the day with her ex-friend, competing for the affection of her only child.
After my first day of classes, I came home to Azzy cooking dinner, Olivia grading papers, and Remy sleeping on the sofa with the baby in his arms. I picked up my son. He giggled as he opened his big blue eyes. “Did you have fun with Uncle Remy?” I had decided that was the ‘title’ I was going with and so far Remy had no objections. I made my way to Azzy and put my arms around her waist.
She flinched. “Get him away from me, the baby smells like Remy.”
“If you need to kill him I’ll help you get rid of the body,” I said jokingly.
“Not funny,” she said as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. “I can’t be in the same room as my own son without thinking about what that asshole did to me! My childhood best friend raped me in a catatonic state. And you invited him to live with us?! You should have killed him!”
“You’re free to,” I replied in my same jovial tone, hoping to lighten the mood.
Azzy turned to me with a glare. “Do you even love me?”
“You know I do.” I took her hand placing it on Lucas's soft little face.
Our baby smiled as if to assure me I was making the correct decision.
“We need to do the right thing, to be good role models.”
“Role models?” Azzy suddenly stopped her tears. “Not a bad idea.”
I paid it no further mind, simply glad that I managed to calm her. But the next evening I came home to a much stranger sight. Olivia, Remy, and little Lucas were on the front porch. “You might not want to go in there,” Olivia muttered as she organized files in a large box.
“Why?” I pushed open the door to find my wife holding a cocktail party for a diverse group of people all of whom were heavily armed.
“Hi, Johnny,” she said in a cheerful voice. “I’m going to run for city council.”
“Ok...”
“My platform will be revolutionizing and re-envisioning gang warfare.”
“Oh,” that confirmed my suspicions.
“Beloit is a hub, gangs from all over ship their product through here, on the way to more profitable cities. The trouble arises when certain gangs become territorial and then bodies end up in the river. All of which contributes to our city’s crime statistics.”
My first thought was how she managed to get such a diverse group of people to agree to a meeting under one roof. Then a looked closer, they were all young, attractive people. “Are these your father’s friends?”
“His very powerful friends, who are going to help me change the world.”
I rolled my eyes, too tired to argue.
Over the next few days, Azzy quit her job at Walmart to devote more time to her campaign, but that also meant spending more time at the house. Even with her new friends to keep her company she still had to tolerate Remy and the baby.
I'd hoped things would begin to work themselves out. But one night, a week later, the situation came to a head, and not in the way I would have expected.
I awoke to my son’s cries. The sound was terrifying as if he was screaming for his life. I ran into the room to find Lucas on the bed kicking and screaming. I didn't even bother to turn on the lights. By the light of the window, I scooped up my terrified son, rocking him in my arms. That was when I stepped on Remy's arm.
Remy was on the floor, his body was in spasm, he might have even been foaming at the mouth. Gripped in his hand was an empty plastic bag that smelled like bleach, next to a mostly full bottle of vodka. What had been in the bag; powder, pills?
“Are you fucking serious?” I cried. I was sick to my stomach. How could he Remy do this? How could he hurt our family? Then I remembered Azzy’s father’s friends.
I reached for the closet landline phone to dial 911. Upon hearing the words “drug overdose” the operator informed me that an ambulance was on its way and for me to stay with Remy until they arrived. Rocking my son in my arms, I knelt down beside Remy’s shivering body. “What the fuck, man?”
“I-I’m sorry,” he gasped, reaching for my hand. “I just needed something to help me sleep.”
"You have Lucas, you have my family!"
Remy's closed his eyes as he shook his head "Everything hurts."
Suddenly I could hear Azzy giggling. She entered the room and took the baby from my arms. “Come to Mommy. I’ll make you a bottle.”
“Azzy?” I wanted to follow her but Remy was convulsing.
Luckily Olivia appeared. “I’ll stay with Remy, you need to talk to your wife.”
I thanked her and hurried to the kitchen. Azzy was calmly feeding the baby. She coo-ed and stoked his chubby cheeks. “You’re Mommy’s little angel.”
“What did you do?” I whispered, not wanting to upset Lucas.
“Funny, I could have sworn someone said I was free to kill that bastard,” Azzy replied with a gleeful smile.
“What did you do,” I repeated.
Azzy shrugged. “I just told my new friends about what Remy did to me. So if my ex-friend came to any of them asking for a ‘free sample’, to make it extra special.”
"And you knew he would..."
"Because he's a f-ing loser and always has been!" Her tone caused Lucas to cry as she forced the bottle into his mouth. “The only reason you’re protecting him is out of some promise you made to the ghost of his dead boyfriend! Let him die. I’ll take care of my son!”
I put my arms around my wife and child. “Our son.” I could feel the warmth of the bottle against my skin, as Azzy cried on my shoulder. “I love you, my devotion is only to you. If you don’t want Remy here I will make him move out but you need to remember the person he is now, was not the person who hurt you.”
“That’s what’s even more messed up. The old Remy was my best friend. I knew him for years!”
“But over time his mind became corrupted by power.”
My words caused Azzy to pause, looking into my eyes. “And you don’t want that to happen to me.”
Now I was the one crying. “You are so strong but so angry.”
Azzy nodded. “Just like my father was.”
“Like anyone who works in retail,” I said with a laugh. “I will stand by you no matter what you choose to do. But I want to plant the seed of forgiveness.
You don’t have to forgive him, I certainly don’t, but you can’t just murder your problems away."
“I can’t?” she asked with a smile.
“You shouldn’t.” I smiled back and kissed her cheek. “But I’ll love you no matter what. I promise.”
Remy was taken to the hospital where he was put on dialysis. He was suffering from severe blood poisoning, and it was entirely possible he would never walk again.
For the next few weeks, Olivia and I visited him as often as our schedules would allow. She even decided to decline any substitute teaching jobs until Remy’s fate was decided.
“He wants a DNR,” Olivia told me as we sipped coffee in the hospital cafeteria.
“Do you think it’ll come to that?” A 'Do not resuscitate' form was usually reserved for patients without hope.
"Remy ingested some really bad shit, the damage is pretty severe. Even if he survives, what could he do with the rest of his life?"
"Says the employed substitute teacher missing two limbs," I muttered with a smirk.
"But I have a fully functioning brain."
"Yeah,” I sighed.
"Well, Nurse Jamie said that maybe bringing Lucas by would lift Remy's spirits."
“Jamie?”
“You haven't met Jamie, the day nurse? He is the coolest!”
"I guess our paths just never crossed. “ with my upcoming residency schedule my time was limited to nights and weekends. And since Remy was not in the ICU the ratio of nurses to patients appeared to be one for every dozen or so. But Jamie sounded like someone special. “Do you think Jamie could put in a good word with Azzy?”
Olivia shrugged. “If we could here get her down here.”
Azzy had taken to spending more and more time with her new friends, keeping Lucas with her at all times.
We returned to Remy’s room. When I arrived at eight he had been asleep, hence why Olivia and I went for coffee. As we opened the door I saw a tall African American man with long braids, strumming a guitar. Although he was clearly wearing hospital scrubs, he looked like an artist, and part of me expected him to speak with a Caribbean accent. That was not the case.
He sang soft and slow, his voice deep, seductive and distinctly American.
"Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
Never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it
Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
I've never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it..."
(*lyrics- Whenever I Call You Friend, by Kenny Loggins)
Remy’s hand was placed on the body of the guitar. His eyes were closed, but I could tell by his movement, he was savoring the vibration of the music.
“Hello, you must by Johnny,” James said with a slight southern twang. “Your sister has told me so much about you. I’m James Proudstar, but my friends call me Jamie.”
"Hi." I shook his hand, unsure what to say. Olivia was right, there was something really unique about him. "Are you a Christian?"
"Why, because I’m a brother, from Atlanta, who can sing?" He asked with a wide grin.
I shrugged nervously. "You give off a Christian preacher vibe."
Jamie laughed. “I would hope not.”
That caused Remy to smile. "You've got a mouth like a preacher." Remy blinked his eyes slowly as Jamie’s lips met his. The kiss was tender and sweet.
I coughed to clear my throat. “Jamie, could I speak to you outside? One medical professional to another?"
"Sure, man..." Jamie said as he slowly pulled away from Remy's embrace, and followed me out the door. “What’s up?"
"Olivia told me about the DNR."
Jamie's expression changed from bliss to anger. "That’s not going to happen, not on my watch."
"Do you know about what happened between Remy and my wife?"
Jamie nodded. “A cousin of mine went through something similar. Her boyfriend was high on meth when he beat her into a coma."
"Did she ever forgive him?"
Jamie sighed. "They had three kids together. Forgiveness was the right thing- the necessary thing to do. But only after he got clean and a few years of therapy for both of them. My point is, I’ve seen pain; someone so blinded by anger that all they can see is what hurts. Do they have a right to hurt- yes. Does your wife have the right to hate Remy with every fiber of her being? Absolutely. But where will that get her?"
I had to agree. Remy repaid his debt, at least in my opinion. “Do you think you could convince Azzy to visit him?”
"I could try."
I took out my phone and switched to speaker mode as I dialed Azzy.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hey, Johnny.”
“Hey. Guess where I am?”
“Visiting Remy: you have a break in your classes, where else would you be," she said in a clearly annoyed tone.
"I’d like you to speak to his nurse."
"Fine."
"Hello Azzy, my name is James Proudstar."
"Your name is what?" Azzy paused and chuckled. "James Proudstar, like the Marvel character?"
It was only then I realized how strange his name was.
Jamie only smiled. “You can’t change what you are.”
"And what are you?" she asked.
“An angel, a superhero. I’m what happens when you ascend; leave behind who you were, to become the person you were meant to be.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “So, Miss Azzy, do you think you can find it in your heart to pay your old friend a visit?”
"Yeah, I guess," she replied in a meek voice.
Azzy arrived twenty minutes later with entourage in tow. “You don’t have to go in there alone,” said a punk Asian girl with a massive dragon tattoo on her arm.
Azzy held baby Lucas close. He appeared to be sleeping on her shoulder. “I won’t be alone.” To my surprise, she reached for my hand. “Johnny, You ready?”
“Um, yeah. Of course.” I took her hand, and lead her through the door. "Remy, Olivia look who finally made it."
“Hey, Azzy.” Remy's voice was breaking. “How goes the campaign?”
“Good,” Azzy’s replied as she took a seat beside him. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Remy nodded and took a labored breath. “W-We w-were seven, and your dad took you to Hawaii.”
“Because your dad requested that he bring along a babysitter so they could party all night long." Azzy laughed as she wiped tears from her eyes. "That's what Dad told me. I remember getting off the plane, and this big breasted Barbie doll of a woman introduced me to a little island boy with long hair and chubby cheeks."
Remy sighed. "Nanny Clara: she was a nanny the way a... " He blinked a few times, appearing to have lost his train of thought. "She was a nanny the way audio books are still considered books..." Remy chuckled at his own joke.
Azzy nodded. “I remember."
"You and me, while our dads got laid and wasted, we stayed at the hotel arcade playing Street Fighter and Gauntlet Legends. When it got late, you snuck into the hotel kitchen and stole all the food you could fit in your backpack.”
“You picked the lock to the roof so we could sleep under the stars.” Azzy put both arms around Lucas, holding him like a teddy bear as she sobbed. “What happened to that sweet little boy?”
“Life happened; my father, my sexuality, my f-ed up choices.” Remy’s hand was trembling as he reached for her. “But you were always there for me. Azzy you were like a sister to me."
Azzy caressed his hand, stroking his palm like a fortune teller. “I don’t forgive you.”
Remy nodded weakly. “I know.”
“But I love you.”
There was a long silence. Remy started to weep as hard as Azzy was. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Azzy pursed her lips, she rocked the baby in her arms as if to comfort herself. “But I don’t want you in my home. If you want me to give you back your portion of the money-”
“Of course not, I would never do that to you. Consider it a gift for your family.”
Azzy gave Remy's hand a firm squeeze. “You are my family.”
She turned the baby to face Remy, his sweet blue eyes looking at Remy with nothing but love.
“I want you in my son’s life. I want my son to know the person I knew.”
Lucas was reaching out to Remy it was clear that he wanted to be in Remy’s arms. So I guided Azzy’s hands to place the baby on Remy’s chest.
Lucas giggled and cooed.
Remy patted his little back. “I love you too.”
From that day forward, time seemed to fly by. The next month Azzy, of course, ended up winning her bid for city council. During her downtime, she was a doting mother. but she never gave up her powers. And I never again broached the subject.
On little Lucas’s first birthday we celebrated in style at the Ho-Chunk Indian casino. The Ho-Chuck nation had been waiting nearly a decade to get a resort open in Beloit. The council always voted them down, saying things like “a casino in town will cause gambling addiction, split families- our town is too wholesome for that!”
Azzy knew the real reason: the Ho-Chunk were asking for use of land that they were not entitled to and the people who owned the land thought that a better, more wholesome option might come along. But like I said, it’d been over ten years. Now, thanks to Azzy the land was theirs and they would be breaking ground later that month.
I don’t know what she did, or what strings she pulled. I would like to think she simply baked the governor and other council members a vegan chocolate cake on par with the one she made today. But looking around at the array of armed men and women drinking at my son’s party, I can assume “non-violence” was not the chosen route.
I looked over and Remy and Jamie. Remy walked with a cane, struggling to maintain his balance. Jamie lifted his face and kissed Remy's lips before taking a sip of red wine. Their happiness was contagious or maybe that was just the benefit of being in a relationship with an angel.
After Remy was discharged he'd moved in with Jamie. His condition was not as debilitating as Olivia and I first thought; Remy could walk, feed himself, etc. He could even be trusted to babysit Lucas.
I learned that Jamie grew up in Atlanta, but his mother moved to Beloit as her ‘calling’. Apparently, she had been an elder spirit working as a social worker. But she passed away due to stage four ovarian cancer. Or “... called back to the home office,” as Jamie said with a chuckle the first time my family visited.
He inherited a house that he shared with Candy, his late mother’s Chipit. Chipit apparently stands for Chihuahua /Pitbull, which is as terrifying as it sounds. At least it was to me. The large-eared guard dog seemed to have the demeanor of an over-caffeinated Chihuahua with the roar of an angry pit bull. But Candy loved Lucas from the moment they first met.
Lucas had taken his first steps at around eight months (of course he still preferred to be carried,) but at the sight of the dog, he squealed with glee practically begging Azzy to put him down. My chubby little toddler had waddled up to the dog, giving it a big hug.
That moment is seared into my mind because that was the first time I saw my son’s wings. His shirt lifted revealing plant-like appendages similar to Azzy’s. I watched as the thin green branch stroked the dog’s fur before quickly retracting.
I dared not mention it to Azzy. Although I'm pretty sure she knew,
Now, at his high-class casino party, Lucas was being carried around by Azzy, wearing a little blue suit with a jacket. I could see his shoulders quivering; his wings want to come out. His body wanted to show off who he really was.
I made my way to the open bar and ordered a shot of vodka on the rocks. Drink in hand, I faced the window looking out into the beautiful Wisconsin sky. Then I felt a tree branch stroke my lower back. “Hey, Azzy.”
“Hey,” she said sweetly, holding a glass of red wine. “So what do you think? Am I using my powers for good?”
I put my arm around her waist, I could feel her wings retracting. “I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you too.” Her smile felt genuine. “I mean, with you starting your residency. You act like it’s no big deal.”
To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I was on my way to becoming a pediatrician. It would be a nice calm job, unlike my work as a nurse. I would not be on call 24/7, so I would have plenty of time to be a good husband and father.
Still looking out the window I could feel Azzy’s arm around my waist. She rested her head on my shoulder. “So when are you taking me to Alaska?”
“Huh? You remember that?" I had not thought about my promise or even my tattoo for a while. I discreetly looked at my reflection in the window, with the top part of my shirt unbuttoned down to my collar, I could see my upper-chest. The image, Azzy's mark, was gone.
I could feel my wife's wings touch my back, the branches moving under my shirt to caress my skin.
I flexed my shoulders, stretching my back. A warmth caressed my body as if I was pulling on a jacket.
Azzy giggled.
"What?"
Both Azzy and Lucas were looking at me with huge smiles. "I love your wings."
"You can see them?"
"So can Lucas." She untucked the baby's shirt allowing his little vine wings to flow from under the bottom of his shirt. Azzy put her arm around me, positioning the baby between us.
I glanced at our reflection in the window. We were the ideal, stereotypical family photo. But there was something was forming above our heads. At the spot where Azzy's wings touched mine, Lucas's wings seemed to come through the middle to create a rather cute five-petaled flower.
"A wood violet," Azzy said whispered. "The state flower of Wisconsin."
I didn't know what that meant. Was I standing next to the future governor or maybe even president? As the old saying goes, 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I found my calling. I would be responsible for keeping my family on the right path. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Johnny.”
https://dourdan.wordpress.com/
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(HOPEFULLY) FINALIZED LINEUPS!!!

fedoraman59:
  1. Wildfire - Kolmården (Norrköping, Sweden)
  2. Formula Rossa - Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
  3. Piraten - Djurs Sommerland (Nimtofte, Denmark)
  4. Cú Chulainn - Tayto Park (Ashbourne, Ireland)
  5. Smiler - Alton Towers (Alton, England)
  6. Grand National - Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Blackpool, England)
  7. Incredible Hulk - Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Orlando, Florida)
  8. Jetline - Gröna Lund (Stockholm, Sweden)
  9. Euro Mir - Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
  10. Great Desert-Rally - Happy Valley Chengdu (Jinniu, China)
  11. Patriot - Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri)
  12. Thunderation - Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)
patrick-k:
  1. Fury 325 - Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina)
  2. Cyclone - Luna Park (Brooklyn, New York)
  3. Coaster Through the Clouds - Nanchang Wanda Park (Xinjian, China)
  4. Karacho - Erlebnispark Tripsdrill (Cleebronn, Germany)
  5. Phaethon - Gyeongju World (Gyeongju, South Korea)
  6. Switchback - ZDT’s Amusement Park (Seguin, Texas)
  7. Loch Ness Monster - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  8. Bat - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  9. Winjas - Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
  10. Space Mountain - Magic Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
  11. Bombora - Lagoon (Farmington, Utah)
  12. Woodstock Express - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
wjw42:
  1. California Screamin’ - Disney California Adventure Park (Anaheim, California)
  2. Do-Dodonpa - Fuji-Q Highland (Fujiyoshida, Japan)
  3. Top Thrill Dragster - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  4. Ultimate - Lightwater Valley (Ripon, England)
  5. X2 - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  6. Crystal Wing - Happy Valley (Chaoyang, China)
  7. Expedition Everest - Disney’s Animal Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
  8. Titan - Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, Texas)
  9. Space Mountain - Disneyland (Anaheim, California)
  10. Giant Dipper - Belmont Park (San Diego, California)
  11. Revenge of the Mummy the Ride - Universal Studios Hollywood (Universal City, California)
  12. Sierra Sidewinder - Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California)
dirkdiggler1992:
  1. Lightning Rod - Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  2. Goliath - Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)
  3. Prowler - Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri)
  4. Silver Star - Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
  5. Great Bear - Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  6. Dominator - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
  7. Manta - SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego, California)
  8. Poseidon - Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
  9. Apple Zapple - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
  10. Teddy Bear - Stricker’s Grove (Ross, Ohio)
  11. Python - Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherland)
  12. Vild-Svinet - BonBon-Land (Holme-Olstrup, Denmark)
PeterPiperPizzaMan:
  1. El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
  2. Tatsu - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  3. Kumba - Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
  4. Alpengeist - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  5. Giant Dipper - Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (Santa Cruz, California)
  6. Revenge of the Mummy - Universal Studios Florida (Orlando, Florida)
  7. Parrot Coaster - Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Xiangzhou, China)
  8. Ninja - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  9. InvadR - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  10. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster - Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
  11. Polar Explorer - Chimelong Ocean Kingdom (Xiangzhou, China)
  12. Jet Rescue - Sea World (Surfers Paradise, Australia)
mrbearblue:
  1. T Express - Everland (Yongin-si, South Korea)
  2. Kingda Ka - Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
  3. Thunderbird - Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
  4. Banshee - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  5. Valravn - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  6. Gravity Max - Lihpao Land (Houli Hsiang, Taiwan)
  7. Atlantis Adventure - Lotte World (Songpa-Gu, South Korea)
  8. Skull Mountain - Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
  9. GaleForce - Playland’s Castaway Cove (Ocean City, New Jersey)
  10. Bandit Bomber - Yas Waterworld (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
  11. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train - Magic Kingdom (Lake Buena Vista, Florida)
  12. Pipeline Express - Wild Water & Wheels (Peterborough, Canada)
Version_1:
  1. Expedition GeForce - Holiday Park (Hassloch, Germany)
  2. Troy - Toverland (Sevenum, The Netherlands)
  3. Galactica - Alton Towers (Alton, England)
  4. Monster - Walygator Parc (Maizières-les-Metz, France)
  5. Fluch von Novgorod - Hansa Park (Sierksdorf, Germany)
  6. Superman / la Atracción de Acero - Parque Warner Madrid (San Martín de la Vega, Spain)
  7. Flug der Dämonen - Heide Park Resort (Soltau, Germany)
  8. Oblivion - Alton Towers (Alton, England)
  9. Vliegende Hollander - Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands)
  10. Dragon’s Fury - Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, England)
  11. Psyké Underground - Walibi Belgium (Wavre, Belgium)
  12. Colorado Adventure - Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
nevastop:
  1. Maverick - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  2. New Texas Giant - Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, Texas)
  3. Mako - SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
  4. Renegade - Valleyfair! (Shakopee, Minnesota)
  5. Raptor - Gardaland (Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy)
  6. Shivering Timbers - Michigan’s Adventure (Muskegon, Michigan)
  7. SheiKra - Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa Bay, Florida)
  8. FireChaser Express - Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  9. Nemesis Inferno - Thorpe Park (Chertsey, England)
  10. Tremors - Silverwood Theme Park (Athol, Idaho)
  11. Gemini - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  12. Skycar - Mysterious Island (Zhuhai, China)
Lil_Pumpinq:
  1. Twisted Colossus - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  2. Gold Striker - California’s Great America (Santa Clara, California)
  3. Cheetah Hunt - Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
  4. Acrobat - Nagashima Spa Land (Nagashima, Japan)
  5. Diamondback - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  6. Bizarro - Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
  7. Tranan - Skara Sommarland (Skara, Sweden)
  8. Intimidator - Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina)
  9. Hydrus - Casino Pier (Seaside Heights, New Jersey)
  10. Vampire - Chessington World of Adventures (Chessington, England)
  11. The Walking Dead - The Ride - Thorpe Park (Chertsey, England)
  12. Jungle Flying Squirrel - Yichang Joy World (Wujiagang, China)
_scott_m_:
  1. Skyrush - Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  2. Balder - Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  3. Steel Dragon 2000 - Nagashima Spa Land (Nagashima, Japan)
  4. Red Force - Ferrari Land (Salou, Spain)
  5. Volcano, The Blast Coaster - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
  6. Baron 1898 - Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands)
  7. Tennessee Tornado - Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  8. Hydra the Revenge - Dorney Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
  9. Flying Turns - Knoebels (Elysburg, Pennsylvania)
  10. Swarm - Thorpe Park (Surrey, England)
  11. Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster - SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
  12. American Eagle - Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)
lillibonni:
  1. Intimidator 305 - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
  2. Mystic Timbers - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  3. Hades 360 - Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park (Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin)
  4. Superman: Escape from Krypton - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  5. Apollo’s Chariot - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  6. Verbolten - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  7. Kraken - SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
  8. Tornado - Parque de Atracciones de Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
  9. Jungle Trailblazer - Oriental Heritage Wuhu (Jiujiang, China)
  10. Fahrenheit - Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  11. Desert Race - Heide Park Resort (Soltau, Germany)
  12. Big One - Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Blackpool, England)
sonimatic14:
  1. Twisted Timbers - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
  2. Black Mamba - Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
  3. Goliath - Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)
  4. Legend - Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
  5. Manta - SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
  6. X-Flight - Six Flags Great America (Gurnee, Illinois)
  7. Screamin’ Eagle - Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, Missouri)
  8. New Revolution - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  9. Falken - Fårup Sommerland (Saltum, Denmark)
  10. Iron Dragon - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  11. Adventure Express - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
hmrapp:
  1. Dragon Khan - PortAventura (Salou, Spain)
  2. Mine Blower - Fun Spot America (Kissimmee, Florida)
  3. Goliath - La Ronde (Montreal, Quebec)
  4. Phantom’s Revenge - Kennywood (West Mifflin, Pennsylvania)
  5. Mega-Lite - Happy Valley Shanghai (Songjiang, China)
  6. Flying Wing Coaster - Happy Valley Chongqing (Yubei, China)
  7. Flight Deck - California’s Great America (Santa Clara, California)
  8. Anubis: The Ride - Plopsaland De Panne (Adinkerke-De Plopsa, Belgium)
  9. Abyss - Adventure World (Bibra Lake, Australia)
  10. New Mexico Rattler - Cliff’s Amusement Park (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
  11. Maceraparest - Vialand (Istanbul, Turkey)
  12. Vicky The Ride - Plopsa Coo (Stavelot, Belgium)
mikeokay:
  1. Superman the Ride - Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts)
  2. Ravine Flyer II - Waldameer (Erie, Pennsylvania)
  3. Soaring With Dragon - Hefei Wanda Theme Park (Baohe, China)
  4. Afterburn - Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina)
  5. GhostRider - Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California)
  6. Mind Bender - Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)
  7. Wooden Warrior - Quassy Amusement Park (Middlebury, Connecticut)
  8. OCT Thrust SSC1000 - Happy Valley Wuhan (Hongshan, China)
  9. Road Runner Express - Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas)
  10. Dare Devil Dive - Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)
  11. Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast - Six Flags St. Louis (Eureka, Missouri)
  12. Shamu Express - SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
  13. Steel Eel - SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
MrBrightside711:
  1. DC Rivals HyperCoaster - Warner Bros. Movie World (Gold Coast, Australia)
  2. Outlaw Run - Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)
  3. Xcelerator - Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California)
  4. TRON Lightcycle Power Run - Shanghai Disneyland (Pudong, China)
  5. Joris en de Draak - Efteling (Kaatsheuvel, The Netherlands)
  6. Talon - Dorney Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
  7. Oblivion: The Black Hole - Gardaland (Castelnuovo del Garda, Italy)
  8. Time Traveler - Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)
  9. Gold Rush - Attractiepark Slagharen (Slagharen, The Netherlands)
  10. Thunder Dolphin - Tokyo Dome CIty (Bunkyo, Japan)
  11. Matterhorn Bobsleds - Disneyland (Anaheim, California)
  12. Pulsar - Walibi Belgium (Wavre, Belgium)
dah_esak:
  1. Nemesis - Alton Towers (Alton, England)
  2. Iron Rattler - Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas)
  3. Beast - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  4. Junker - PowerLand (Kauhava, Finland)
  5. Nitro - Six Flags Great Adventure (Jackson, New Jersey)
  6. Stealth - Thorpe Park (Chertsey, England)
  7. Shock Wave - Six Flags Over Texas (Arlington, Texas)
  8. White Lightning - Fun Spot America (Orlando, Florida)
  9. Krake - Heide Park Resort (Soltau, Germany)
  10. Georgia Scorcher - Six Flags Over Georgia (Austell, Georgia)
  11. Big Apple Coaster - New York, New York Hotel & Casino (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  12. Rollin’ Thunder - Park at OWA (Foley, Alabama)
MemePostDetective:
  1. Helix - Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  2. Katun - Mirabilandia (Savio, Italy)
  3. Wodan Timbur Coaster - Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
  4. Fly Over Mediterranean - Happy Valley Chengdu (Jinniu, China)
  5. Behemoth - Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, Ontario)
  6. Wild Eagle - Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  7. Mindbender - Galaxyland Amusement Park (Edmonton, Alberta)
  8. Battle of Jungle King - Hefei Wanda Theme Park (Baohe, China)
  9. Star Trek: Operation Enterprise - Movie Park Germany (Bottrop, Germany)
  10. Cornball Express - Indiana Beach (Monticello, Indiana)
  11. Great Pumpkin Coaster - Kings Dominion (Doswell, Virginia)
rolly_coaster:
  1. Storm Chaser - Kentucky Kingdom (Louisville, Kentucky)
  2. Swamp Fox - Family Kingdom Amusement Park (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
  3. Pyrenees - Parque España-Shima Spain Village (Shima, Japan)
  4. Jungle Dragon - Happy Valley Chongqing (Yubei, China)
  5. Light Speed - Visionland (Yufeng, China)
  6. Riddler’s Revenge - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  7. Superman Escape - Warner Bros. Movie World (Gold Coast, Australia)
  8. Furius Baco - PortAventura Park (Salou, Spain)
  9. Colossus The Fire Dragon - Lagoon (Farmington, Utah)
  10. Mamba - Worlds of Fun (Kansas City, Missouri)
  11. Diving Machine G5 - Janfusun Fancyworld (Koo-Kung Hsiang, Taiwan)
  12. Animal Coaster - Jawa Timur Park 2 (Batu, Indonesia)
ghostofswitchmaspast:
  1. Wicked Cyclone - Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts)
  2. Phoenix - Knoebels (Elysburg, Pennsylvania)
  3. Starry Sky Ripper - Joyland (Wujin, China)
  4. Tornado - Särkänniemi Amusement Park (Tampere, Finland)
  5. Full Throttle - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  6. Superman Krypton Coaster - Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas)
  7. Vortex - Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, Ontario)
  8. Space Fantasy The Ride - Universal Studios Japan (Konohana, Japan)
  9. Motorbike Roller Coaster - Happy World (Pukou, China)
  10. Wild Thing - Valleyfair! (Shakopee, Minnesota)
  11. Saw: The Ride - Thorpe Park (Chertsey, England)
Fredbear_:
  1. Schwur des Kärnan - Hansa Park (Sierksdorf, Germany)
  2. Coaster - Playland (Vancouver, British Columbia)
  3. Lech Coaster - Legendia (Chorzów, Poland)
  4. Quimera - La Feria Chapultepec Magico (Mexico City, Mexico)
  5. Wild Train - Fantasiana (Strasswalchen, Austria)
  6. Tornado - Bakken (Klampenborg, Denmark)
  7. Tower of Terror - Gold Reef City (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  8. Drage Kongen - Djurs Sommerland (Nimtofte, Denmark)
  9. Cobra - Conny-Land (Lipperswil, Switzerland)
  10. Wooden Coaster - Fireball - Happy Valley Shanghai (Songjiang, China)
  11. Lynet - Fårup Sommerland (Saltum, Denmark)
  12. Timber Terror - Silverwood Theme Park (Athol, Idaho)
Ultracoaster:
  1. Shambhala - PortAventura Park (Salou, Spain)
  2. blue fire Megacoaster - Europa Park (Rust, Germany)
  3. Flying Aces - Ferrari World Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
  4. Alpina Blitz - Nigloland (Dolancourt, France)
  5. Silver Bullet - Knott’s Berry Farm (Buena Park, California)
  6. Dinoconda - China Dinosaurs Park (Xinbei, China)
  7. Lightning Racer - Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  8. Shock - Rainbow MagicLand (Valmontone, Italy)
  9. Formula - Energylandia (Zator, Poland)
  10. Juvelen - Djurs Sommerland (Nimtofte, Denmark)
  11. Altair - Cinecittà World (Rome, Italy)
  12. Supersonic Odyssey - Berjaya Times Square Theme Park (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
GFBIGFAN:
  1. Millennium Force - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  2. Wood Coaster - Knight Valley (Yantain, China)
  3. Battlestar Galactica - Universal Studios Singapore (Sentosa, Singapore)
  4. Nefeskesen - Vialand (Istanbul, Turkey)
  5. Superman el Último Escape - Six Flags Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
  6. Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars - Hong Kong Disneyland (Islands, China)
  7. Speed: No Limits - Oakwood Theme Park (Narberth, Wales)
  8. Bullet - Selva Mágica (Guadalajara, Mexico)
  9. Comet - Great Escape (Queensbury, New York)
  10. Nitro - Adlabs Imagica (Khopoli, India)
  11. Orkanen - Fårup Sommerland (Saltum, Denmark)
  12. Insane - Gröna Lund (Stockholm, Sweden)
  13. Han-Katten - BonBon-Land (Holme-Olstrup, Denmark)
iangs9:
  1. Voyage - Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
  2. Medusa Steel Coaster - Six Flags Mexico (Mexico City, Mexico)
  3. Anaconda - Gold Reef City (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  4. Eejanaika - Fuji-Q Highland (Fujiyoshida, Japan)
  5. Jungle Storm - Chakazoolu Indoor Theme Park (Sanabis, Bahrain)
  6. Takabisha - Fuji-Q Highland (Fujiyoshida, Japan)
  7. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disneyland (Anaheim, California)
  8. Boardwalk Bullet - Kemah Boardwalk (Kemah, Texas)
  9. Dwervelwind - Toverland (Sevenum, The Netherlands)
  10. Steel Force - Dorney Park (Allentown, Pennsylvania)
  11. Divertical - Mirabilandia (Savio, Italy)
  12. Lost Coaster of Superstition Mountain - Indiana Beach (Monticello, Indiana)
Grilled_Fromunda:
  1. Boulder Dash - Lake Compounce (Bristol, Connecticut)
  2. Flash - Lewa Adventure (Jingyang, China)
  3. Python in Bamboo Forest - Nanchang Wanda Park (Xinjian, China)
  4. OzIris - Parc Astérix (Plailly, France)
  5. Time Travel - Hot Go Park - Happy Jungle World (Fushun, China)
  6. Storm Runner - Hersheypark (Hershey, Pennsylvania)
  7. Lisebergbanan - Liseberg (Gothenburg, Sweden)
  8. Magnum XL-200 - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  9. Velociraptor - IMG Worlds of Adventure (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  10. Dragon Coaster - Playland Park (Rye, New York)
  11. Wildfire - Silver Dollar City (Branson, Missouri)
  12. Madagascar Mad Pursuit - Motiongate (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Thrill_Monster:
  1. Leviathan - Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, Ontario)
  2. iSpeed - Mirabilandia (Savio, Italy)
  3. Thunderhead - Dollywood (Pigeon Forge, Tennessee)
  4. Kawasemi - Tobu Zoo Park (Minami, Japan)
  5. Speed Monster - TusenFryd (Vinterbro, Norway)
  6. Dauling Dragon - Happy Valley Wuhan (Hongshan, China)
  7. Lightning Run - Kentucky Kingdom (Louisville, Kentucky)
  8. Lost Gravity - Walibi Holland (Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands)
  9. Cobra’s Curse - Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
  10. Flying Dinosaur - Universal Studios Japan (Konohana, Japan)
  11. Monster - Adventureland (Altoona, Iowa)
  12. GateKeeper - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  13. Freischütz - Bayern Park (Reisbach, Germany)
  14. Storm - Etnaland (Belpasso, Italy)
  15. V2: Vertical Velocity - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, California)
  16. Cheetah - Wild Adventures (Valdosta, Georgia)
BariumBeryillium9:
  1. Montu - Busch Gardens Tampa (Tampa, Florida)
  2. Impulse - Knoebels (Elysburg, Pennsylvania)
  3. Bullet Coaster - Happy Valley Shenzhen (Nanshan, China)
  4. Poltergeist - Six Flags Fiesta Texas (San Antonio, Texas)
  5. Hollywood Dream: The Ride - Universal Studios Japan (Konohana, Japan)
  6. Crazy Car - Happy Valley Wuhan (Hongshan, China)
  7. Wicked Twister - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  8. Mammut - Erlebnispark Tripsdrill (Cleebronn, Germany)
  9. Fjord Flying Dragon - Happy Valley Tianjin (Dongli, China)
  10. Medusa - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, California)
maxxdesiletseoe:
  1. Taron - Phantasialand (Brühl, Germany)
  2. Goliath - Walibi Holland (Biddinghuizen, The Netherlands)
  3. Joker - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Vallejo, California)
  4. Cannibal - Lagoon (Farmington, Utah)
  5. Raptor - Cedar Point (Sandusky, Ohio)
  6. Rampage - Alabama Splash Adventures (Bessemer, Alabama)
  7. Scream! - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Valencia, California)
  8. Raven - Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
  9. Flight of Fear - Kings Island (Mason, Ohio)
  10. Pandemonium - Six Flags New England (Agawam, Massachusetts)
  11. Tempesto - Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
  12. Wonder Mountain’s Guardian - Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, Ontario)
I hear the Google Doc hasn't updated for some users so here's the complete(?) lineups
submitted by iangs9 to CoasterDraft [link] [comments]

Caterpillar 5: Ever After

Part 1- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8k8e56/caterpilla
Part 2- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8m2zw7/caterpillar_2_transformation/
Part 3- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8o4ual/caterpillar_3_love_in_bloom/
Part 4- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8qq002/caterpillar_4_trial_by_fire/
It’s me, Johnny V and apparently having a trip to the other side (complete with angel wings) inspired me to make the crazy decision to move my family from California, back to Wisconsin. And not someplace nice like Madison, Milwaukee or even Green Bay. No, for whatever reason I was forcing my family back to Beloit, the small town that we fled all those years ago.
While I was breaking my lease over the phone and quitting my nurse position at the Los Angeles hospital my demon-fairy wife, Azzy, picked out a house and paid in cash. Her ability to do that was an impressive feat even for the small town of Beloit. But I knew she wasn't happy. In fact, she was downright pissed.
I was kinda forcing her to remain on speaking terms with Remy, her gay best friend who raped her into unconsciousness back before he surrendered his demon powers. I know I need to be supportive of my wife, but Remy was not the same person who attacked her. He deserved to be forgiven. And he was, technically, the biological father of Lucas, the baby Azzy and I consider to be our son. So the deal was made, he would pay for half the house in exchange for a place to live and time with our son.
It only took Remy and Azzy a few days to pool their money and buy a house in one of Beloit’s nicer neighborhoods. It was a three bedroom, two bath. Azzy and I took the main room, my sister Olivia took the second and the last one was made into a nursery where Remy would stay with Lucas. Remy had given up on being apologetic. But there was no doubt that Lucas loved him. And I loved my son. Part of me felt like I was choosing his happiness over Azzy's. Luckily I had school to distract me.
I enrolled in medical school at University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would require a significant commute, leading my family to ask why I requested we live in the small town of Beloit. It felt right. It was where we needed to be (or maybe I just needed the commute time to clear my head before entering the lion's den.)
Olivia got a job as a substitute teacher for the Beloit school district. She was still working on finishing her degree but her story was so compelling the people in charge decided that it would be good publicity: The remarkable young woman who survived a brutal attack that cost her arm and leg, returning to Beloit to make a difference.
Azzy took a job at Walmart, working as a cashier while Remy stayed home with the baby. My wife made it clear that this was not her choice. She would have preferred Remy to get a job so she could stay at home. But since Remy had no desire to go back to work, it fell to her to get a job. Or else Azzy would be forced to spend the day with her ex-friend, competing for the affection of her only child.
After my first day of classes, I came home to Azzy cooking dinner, Olivia grading papers, and Remy sleeping on the sofa with the baby in his arms. I picked up my son. He giggled as he opened his big blue eyes. “Did you have fun with Uncle Remy?” I had decided that was the ‘title’ I was going with and so far Remy had no objections. I made my way to Azzy and put my arms around her waist.
She flinched. “Get him away from me, the baby smells like Remy.”
“If you need to kill him I’ll help you get rid of the body,” I said jokingly.
“Not funny,” she said as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. “I can’t be in the same room as my own son without thinking about what that asshole did to me! My childhood best friend raped me in a catatonic state. And you invited him to live with us?! You should have killed him!”
“You’re free to,” I replied in my same jovial tone, hoping to lighten the mood.
Azzy turned to me with a glare. “Do you even love me?”
“You know I do.” I took her hand placing it on Lucas's soft little face.
Our baby smiled as if to assure me I was making the correct decision.
“We need to do the right thing, to be good role models.”
“Role models?” Azzy suddenly stopped her tears. “Not a bad idea.”
I paid it no further mind, simply glad that I managed to calm her. But the next evening I came home to a much stranger sight. Olivia, Remy, and little Lucas were on the front porch. “You might not want to go in there,” Olivia muttered as she organized files in a large box.
“Why?” I pushed open the door to find my wife holding a cocktail party for a diverse group of people all of whom were heavily armed.
“Hi, Johnny,” she said in a cheerful voice. “I’m going to run for city council.”
“Ok...”
“My platform will be revolutionizing and re-envisioning gang warfare.”
“Oh,” that confirmed my suspicions.
“Beloit is a hub, gangs from all over ship their product through here, on the way to more profitable cities. The trouble arises when certain gangs become territorial and then bodies end up in the river. All of which contributes to our city’s crime statistics.”
My first thought was how she managed to get such a diverse group of people to agree to a meeting under one roof. Then a looked closer, they were all young, attractive people. “Are these your father’s friends?”
“His very powerful friends, who are going to help me change the world.”
I rolled my eyes, too tired to argue.
Over the next few days, Azzy quit her job at Walmart to devote more time to her campaign, but that also meant spending more time at the house. Even with her new friends to keep her company she still had to tolerate Remy and the baby.
I'd hoped things would begin to work themselves out. But one night, a week later, the situation came to a head, and not in the way I would have expected.
I awoke to my son’s cries. The sound was terrifying as if he was screaming for his life. I ran into the room to find Lucas on the bed kicking and screaming. I didn't even bother to turn on the lights. By the light of the window, I scooped up my terrified son, rocking him in my arms. That was when I stepped on Remy's arm.
Remy was on the floor, his body was in spasm, he might have even been foaming at the mouth. Gripped in his hand was an empty plastic bag that smelled like bleach, next to a mostly full bottle of vodka. What had been in the bag; powder, pills?
“Are you fucking serious?” I cried. I was sick to my stomach. How could he Remy do this? How could he hurt our family? Then I remembered Azzy’s father’s friends.
I reached for the closet landline phone to dial 911. Upon hearing the words “drug overdose” the operator informed me that an ambulance was on its way and for me to stay with Remy until they arrived. Rocking my son in my arms, I knelt down beside Remy’s shivering body. “What the fuck, man?”
“I-I’m sorry,” he gasped, reaching for my hand. “I just needed something to help me sleep.”
"You have Lucas, you have my family!"
Remy's closed his eyes as he shook his head "Everything hurts."
Suddenly I could hear Azzy giggling. She entered the room and took the baby from my arms. “Come to Mommy. I’ll make you a bottle.”
“Azzy?” I wanted to follow her but Remy was convulsing.
Luckily Olivia appeared. “I’ll stay with Remy, you need to talk to your wife.”
I thanked her and hurried to the kitchen. Azzy was calmly feeding the baby. She coo-ed and stoked his chubby cheeks. “You’re Mommy’s little angel.”
“What did you do?” I whispered, not wanting to upset Lucas.
“Funny, I could have sworn someone said I was free to kill that bastard,” Azzy replied with a gleeful smile.
“What did you do,” I repeated.
Azzy shrugged. “I just told my new friends about what Remy did to me. So if my ex-friend came to any of them asking for a ‘free sample’, to make it extra special.”
"And you knew he would..."
"Because he's a f-ing loser and always has been!" Her tone caused Lucas to cry as she forced the bottle into his mouth. “The only reason you’re protecting him is out of some promise you made to the ghost of his dead boyfriend! Let him die. I’ll take care of my son!”
I put my arms around my wife and child. “Our son.” I could feel the warmth of the bottle against my skin, as Azzy cried on my shoulder. “I love you, my devotion is only to you. If you don’t want Remy here I will make him move out but you need to remember the person he is now, was not the person who hurt you.”
“That’s what’s even more messed up. The old Remy was my best friend. I knew him for years!”
“But over time his mind became corrupted by power.”
My words caused Azzy to pause, looking into my eyes. “And you don’t want that to happen to me.”
Now I was the one crying. “You are so strong but so angry.”
Azzy nodded. “Just like my father was.”
“Like anyone who works in retail,” I said with a laugh. “I will stand by you no matter what you choose to do. But I want to plant the seed of forgiveness.
You don’t have to forgive him, I certainly don’t, but you can’t just murder your problems away."
“I can’t?” she asked with a smile.
“You shouldn’t.” I smiled back and kissed her cheek. “But I’ll love you no matter what. I promise.”
Remy was taken to the hospital where he was put on dialysis. He was suffering from severe blood poisoning, and it was entirely possible he would never walk again.
For the next few weeks, Olivia and I visited him as often as our schedules would allow. She even decided to decline any substitute teaching jobs until Remy’s fate was decided.
“He wants a DNR,” Olivia told me as we sipped coffee in the hospital cafeteria.
“Do you think it’ll come to that?” A 'Do not resuscitate' form was usually reserved for patients without hope.
"Remy ingested some really bad shit, the damage is pretty severe. Even if he survives, what could he do with the rest of his life?"
"Says the employed substitute teacher missing two limbs," I muttered with a smirk.
"But I have a fully functioning brain."
"Yeah,” I sighed.
"Well, Nurse Jamie said that maybe bringing Lucas by would lift Remy's spirits."
“Jamie?”
“You haven't met Jamie, the day nurse? He is the coolest!”
"I guess our paths just never crossed. “ with my upcoming residency schedule my time was limited to nights and weekends. And since Remy was not in the ICU the ratio of nurses to patients appeared to be one for every dozen or so. But Jamie sounded like someone special. “Do you think Jamie could put in a good word with Azzy?”
Olivia shrugged. “If we could here get her down here.”
Azzy had taken to spending more and more time with her new friends, keeping Lucas with her at all times.
We returned to Remy’s room. When I arrived at eight he had been asleep, hence why Olivia and I went for coffee. As we opened the door I saw a tall African American man with long braids, strumming a guitar. Although he was clearly wearing hospital scrubs, he looked like an artist, and part of me expected him to speak with a Caribbean accent. That was not the case.
He sang soft and slow, his voice deep, seductive and distinctly American.
"Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
Never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it
Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
I've never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it..."
(*lyrics- Whenever I Call You Friend, by Kenny Loggins)
Remy’s hand was placed on the body of the guitar. His eyes were closed, but I could tell by his movement, he was savoring the vibration of the music.
“Hello, you must by Johnny,” James said with a slight southern twang. “Your sister has told me so much about you. I’m James Proudstar, but my friends call me Jamie.”
"Hi." I shook his hand, unsure what to say. Olivia was right, there was something really unique about him. "Are you a Christian?"
"Why, because I’m a brother, from Atlanta, who can sing?" He asked with a wide grin.
I shrugged nervously. "You give off a Christian preacher vibe."
Jamie laughed. “I would hope not.”
That caused Remy to smile. "You've got a mouth like a preacher." Remy blinked his eyes slowly as Jamie’s lips met his. The kiss was tender and sweet.
I coughed to clear my throat. “Jamie, could I speak to you outside? One medical professional to another?"
"Sure, man..." Jamie said as he slowly pulled away from Remy's embrace, and followed me out the door. “What’s up?"
"Olivia told me about the DNR."
Jamie's expression changed from bliss to anger. "That’s not going to happen, not on my watch."
"Do you know about what happened between Remy and my wife?"
Jamie nodded. “A cousin of mine went through something similar. Her boyfriend was high on meth when he beat her into a coma."
"Did she ever forgive him?"
Jamie sighed. "They had three kids together. Forgiveness was the right thing- the necessary thing to do. But only after he got clean and a few years of therapy for both of them. My point is, I’ve seen pain; someone so blinded by anger that all they can see is what hurts. Do they have a right to hurt- yes. Does your wife have the right to hate Remy with every fiber of her being? Absolutely. But where will that get her?"
I had to agree. Remy repaid his debt, at least in my opinion. “Do you think you could convince Azzy to visit him?”
"I could try."
I took out my phone and switched to speaker mode as I dialed Azzy.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hey, Johnny.”
“Hey. Guess where I am?”
“Visiting Remy: you have a break in your classes, where else would you be," she said in a clearly annoyed tone.
"I’d like you to speak to his nurse."
"Fine."
"Hello Azzy, my name is James Proudstar."
"Your name is what?" Azzy paused and chuckled. "James Proudstar, like the Marvel character?"
It was only then I realized how strange his name was.
Jamie only smiled. “You can’t change what you are.”
"And what are you?" she asked.
“An angel, a superhero. I’m what happens when you ascend; leave behind who you were, to become the person you were meant to be.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “So, Miss Azzy, do you think you can find it in your heart to pay your old friend a visit?”
"Yeah, I guess," she replied in a meek voice.
Azzy arrived twenty minutes later with entourage in tow. “You don’t have to go in there alone,” said a punk Asian girl with a massive dragon tattoo on her arm.
Azzy held baby Lucas close. He appeared to be sleeping on her shoulder. “I won’t be alone.” To my surprise, she reached for my hand. “Johnny, You ready?”
“Um, yeah. Of course.” I took her hand, and lead her through the door. "Remy, Olivia look who finally made it."
“Hey, Azzy.” Remy's voice was breaking. “How goes the campaign?”
“Good,” Azzy’s replied as she took a seat beside him. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Remy nodded and took a labored breath. “W-We w-were seven, and your dad took you to Hawaii.”
“Because your dad requested that he bring along a babysitter so they could party all night long." Azzy laughed as she wiped tears from her eyes. "That's what Dad told me. I remember getting off the plane, and this big breasted Barbie doll of a woman introduced me to a little island boy with long hair and chubby cheeks."
Remy sighed. "Nanny Clara: she was a nanny the way a... " He blinked a few times, appearing to have lost his train of thought. "She was a nanny the way audio books are still considered books..." Remy chuckled at his own joke.
Azzy nodded. “I remember."
"You and me, while our dads got laid and wasted, we stayed at the hotel arcade playing Street Fighter and Gauntlet Legends. When it got late, you snuck into the hotel kitchen and stole all the food you could fit in your backpack.”
“You picked the lock to the roof so we could sleep under the stars.” Azzy put both arms around Lucas, holding him like a teddy bear as she sobbed. “What happened to that sweet little boy?”
“Life happened; my father, my sexuality, my f-ed up choices.” Remy’s hand was trembling as he reached for her. “But you were always there for me. Azzy you were like a sister to me."
Azzy caressed his hand, stroking his palm like a fortune teller. “I don’t forgive you.”
Remy nodded weakly. “I know.”
“But I love you.”
There was a long silence. Remy started to weep as hard as Azzy was. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Azzy pursed her lips, she rocked the baby in her arms as if to comfort herself. “But I don’t want you in my home. If you want me to give you back your portion of the money-”
“Of course not, I would never do that to you. Consider it a gift for your family.”
Azzy gave Remy's hand a firm squeeze. “You are my family.”
She turned the baby to face Remy, his sweet blue eyes looking at Remy with nothing but love.
“I want you in my son’s life. I want my son to know the person I knew.”
Lucas was reaching out to Remy it was clear that he wanted to be in Remy’s arms. So I guided Azzy’s hands to place the baby on Remy’s chest.
Lucas giggled and cooed.
Remy patted his little back. “I love you too.”
From that day forward, time seemed to fly by. The next month Azzy, of course, ended up winning her bid for city council. During her downtime, she was a doting mother. but she never gave up her powers. And I never again broached the subject.
On little Lucas’s first birthday we celebrated in style at the Ho-Chunk Indian casino. The Ho-Chuck nation had been waiting nearly a decade to get a resort open in Beloit. The council always voted them down, saying things like “a casino in town will cause gambling addiction, split families- our town is too wholesome for that!”
Azzy knew the real reason: the Ho-Chunk were asking for use of land that they were not entitled to and the people who owned the land thought that a better, more wholesome option might come along. But like I said, it’d been over ten years. Now, thanks to Azzy the land was theirs and they would be breaking ground later that month.
I don’t know what she did, or what strings she pulled. I would like to think she simply baked the governor and other council members a vegan chocolate cake on par with the one she made today. But looking around at the array of armed men and women drinking at my son’s party, I can assume “non-violence” was not the chosen route.
I looked over and Remy and Jamie. Remy walked with a cane, struggling to maintain his balance. Jamie lifted his face and kissed Remy's lips before taking a sip of red wine. Their happiness was contagious or maybe that was just the benefit of being in a relationship with an angel.
After Remy was discharged he'd moved in with Jamie. His condition was not as debilitating as Olivia and I first thought; Remy could walk, feed himself, etc. He could even be trusted to babysit Lucas.
I learned that Jamie grew up in Atlanta, but his mother moved to Beloit as her ‘calling’. Apparently, she had been an elder spirit working as a social worker. But she passed away due to stage four ovarian cancer. Or “... called back to the home office,” as Jamie said with a chuckle the first time my family visited.
He inherited a house that he shared with Candy, his late mother’s Chipit. Chipit apparently stands for Chihuahua /Pitbull, which is as terrifying as it sounds. At least it was to me. The large-eared guard dog seemed to have the demeanor of an over-caffeinated Chihuahua with the roar of an angry pit bull. But Candy loved Lucas from the moment they first met.
Lucas had taken his first steps at around eight months (of course he still preferred to be carried,) but at the sight of the dog, he squealed with glee practically begging Azzy to put him down. My chubby little toddler had waddled up to the dog, giving it a big hug.
That moment is seared into my mind because that was the first time I saw my son’s wings. His shirt lifted revealing plant-like appendages similar to Azzy’s. I watched as the thin green branch stroked the dog’s fur before quickly retracting.
I dared not mention it to Azzy. Although I'm pretty sure she knew,
Now, at his high-class casino party, Lucas was being carried around by Azzy, wearing a little blue suit with a jacket. I could see his shoulders quivering; his wings want to come out. His body wanted to show off who he really was.
I made my way to the open bar and ordered a shot of vodka on the rocks. Drink in hand, I faced the window looking out into the beautiful Wisconsin sky. Then I felt a tree branch stroke my lower back. “Hey, Azzy.”
“Hey,” she said sweetly, holding a glass of red wine. “So what do you think? Am I using my powers for good?”
I put my arm around her waist, I could feel her wings retracting. “I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you too.” Her smile felt genuine. “I mean, with you starting your residency. You act like it’s no big deal.”
To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I was on my way to becoming a pediatrician. It would be a nice calm job, unlike my work as a nurse. I would not be on call 24/7, so I would have plenty of time to be a good husband and father.
Still looking out the window I could feel Azzy’s arm around my waist. She rested her head on my shoulder. “So when are you taking me to Alaska?”
“Huh? You remember that?" I had not thought about my promise or even my tattoo for a while. I discreetly looked at my reflection in the window, with the top part of my shirt unbuttoned down to my collar, I could see my upper-chest. The image, Azzy's mark, was gone.
I could feel my wife's wings touch my back, the branches moving under my shirt to caress my skin.
I flexed my shoulders, stretching my back. A warmth caressed my body as if I was pulling on a jacket.
Azzy giggled.
"What?"
Both Azzy and Lucas were looking at me with huge smiles. "I love your wings."
"You can see them?"
"So can Lucas." She untucked the baby's shirt allowing his little vine wings to flow from under the bottom of his shirt. Azzy put her arm around me, positioning the baby between us.
I glanced at our reflection in the window. We were the ideal, stereotypical family photo. But there was something was forming above our heads. At the spot where Azzy's wings touched mine, Lucas's wings seemed to come through the middle to create a rather cute five-petaled flower.
"A wood violet," Azzy said whispered. "The state flower of Wisconsin."
I didn't know what that meant. Was I standing next to the future governor or maybe even president? As the old saying goes, 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I found my calling. I would be responsible for keeping my family on the right path. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Johnny.”
https://dourdan.wordpress.com/
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Spectacular Southern Oregon Coast! From Coos Bay To ... New Year Eve At The Mill Casino - YouTube Coos Bay, OR Rockfish & Lingcod Fishing - YouTube Coos Bay, North Bend, Oregon - YouTube Downtown Coos Bay Drone footage Last Supper @ The Mill Casino Coos Bay OR Drone Video - Sunset Bay Coos Bay - Oregon Coast - YouTube

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Spectacular Southern Oregon Coast! From Coos Bay To ...

Experience a morning of Rockfish & Lingcod fishing with Sharky's Charters out of Coos Bay, OR. Fish Field jigs with Pro-Cure Octopus Super Gel load the boat... Sunset Bay, Cape Arago Highway, w/ DJI Phantom 3 Professional 90011 Cape Arago Hwy. Coos Bay, Oregon 97420 - Duration: 2:25. RE/MAX South Coast: Ariann Lyons 1,489 views Coos Bay Mill Casino Suite - Duration: 9:04. Rick Dancer 233 views. 9:04. Secrets The Food Industry Doesn't Want You To Know - Duration: 11:55. BE AMAZED Recommended for you. 11:55. Horrifyingly ... The commerce center of the South Central Oregon Coast Video includes stops at Sunset Cove, Shore Acres (the real name is Shoreacres, one word), Simpson Reef, Cape Arago, Port Orford, Battle Rock, Humbug Mountain... As you will see The Mill Casino was the place to be on New Years Eve. The employees broke out into the Hustle from time to time and yes, we have the video to...

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