She couldn't sleep, the moans from the next room were getting louder….
He tossed and turned on the sweat-soaked sheets. The nightmares and nausea were nearly unbearable. Suddenly he awoke with a horrible feeling deep inside….where was he?…….was he in a bed?……..he felt disoriented and confused. It was dark but he could tell he was in a room…..how the heck did he get here…..and where the heck was this place?
* * *
Thursday, April 17. It was warm in the city. We were working day watch out of the missing persons division. My partner is Frank Figg. The boss is Barney Burnett, chief of detectives. My name is Thursday, Joe Thursday.
We were settling in for another tedious day of menial work when the phone rang. My partner Frank spent several minutes listening and then gave me a quizzical look and said, "Joe, you're not gonna believe this, but there is a report of a missing king or something overseas, and the Captain wants you to take a look into it!"
"Damn," I said, "I'll have to find my passport. Hey Frank…….what kind of clothes will I need to take?" Frank replied, "Jeeze Joe, I dunno, maybe a rain coat and Bermuda shorts!"
When the plane landed I had just finished reading the report. It sounded suspicious, very suspicious. I wasn't sure if this missing guy was even missing, or even a king. I would have to do a lot of detailed questioning if I was going to get to the bottom of this mystery.
When the I walked out of the door of the plane, the rainy hot tropical air hit me like a sledge hammer, and I was instantly drenched in sweat….thank god I was wearing a raincoat and Bermuda shorts. Frank really knows his stuff!
She could hear his cries of pain and anguish, but she didn't know what to do.
He felt terrible. His mouth was dry and he was very thirsty. The waves of nausea were nearly making him faint. How could this have happened? What had he done to deserve such a fate? His mind kept wandering back to those terrible events. Then mercifully he blacked out again!
* * *
My list of those involved was a long one. There were a lot of names of possible suspects that could have had a hand in this supposed crime. I was being stonewalled by the top officials and couldn't find out any information on the missing man, although the words "King of the Island" kept popping up. It was time to head to the scene of the crime, if a crime had actually happened. That's what makes my job tough, trying to understand human nature.
When I arrived at the camp where all of these people were living and introduced myself, I noticed something right off. Most of them had a nervous air and a guilty look. They wouldn't make eye contact with me. And another thing, they all smelled bad….really bad, like they hadn't used soap or water for weeks! Something evil seemed to be lurking just around the corner. I was close to the scene of the crime, I was sure of it!
One of the youngish shorter women with dark hair wearing a bikini came up to me and said, "Joe….can I call you Joe? We need to talk privately. I've got some information for you….hey, you are really cute! Can I see your gun?….I've been very lonely out here, and I'm scared….scared of the rest of them, especially that great big muscled guy over there that keeps giving me a harsh look….I think he wants to hurt me….do you know karate or judo….boy, I'll bet you really like me, don't you!" Then she flashed me this huge grin and grabbed my arm, but I told her to tell me the facts, just the facts.
She got all serious and started to spill her guts. Seems this guy who was missing was a very important figure in the camp, a person who felt in charge and thought he had everything in the palm of his hand. He had helped her several times and she liked him, but I sensed she was just interested in herself, and didn't care about other people, even me.
She said that this guy had some sort of power over all the others. It sounded mystical and sinister. She said that one of the other women, a nurse, was the one who plotted for the demise of the "king" and worked out a way to get rid of him, and that the nurse forced her to follow along with the majority of some type of alliance. As she said this she looked at me coyly and had a tear in her eye. Now we were getting somewhere!
She quietly got out of her bed and headed for his room, wondering what she should do…..
It was all coming back, flooding into his mind, causing him to gasp and feel sick all over. His own people did this to him! He felt violated and stabbed in the back. How could they? Didn't they realize how intelligent he was, how much in control he was? He had it all, but he was blind…..oh so blind!
* * *
I spoke with several of the other people at the camp. Two of the young women seemed distant and kept looking at each other and smiling….giving each other a big wink now and then. I almost suspected that they had a female tryst or something. They didn't have any forthcoming information. They didn't know what was going on. I wondered why they were even here.
One of the other dark haired girls, the one with the doe eyes, was almost tearful and I could tell that she must have had some closer connection to the missing guy. She kept sighing and saying how much she missed him. Each time I asked a question, she looked over at the other young women and the nurse and had a distrustful and anguished frown on her face. She said that they were tricked. That she and her alliance were blindsided and it all happened the night before, the night he was taken away by some type of ritual. It was looking more and more like a crime happened after all.
When I talked to the big muscled guy, I could hardly understand what he was saying….I wish I had subtitles to look at! He was very upset and kept clenching his big hands into fists. He muttered something about Pervarti or Parvis or some such name and glaring over at the group of young women and the nurse. I could tell he wanted to go over and cuss them out!
I was going to speak to one of the young men at the camp but he was sitting on the seashore and staring out into the horizon with a silly grin and muttering things like, "Son-of-a-bitch! Far out," and, "He had the danged idol and didn't use it! I can't believe it! Serves him right for tricking me. What an idiot!" I left him the heck alone. He looked and sounded nuts. He reminded me of that blonde girl from Clueless. I knew he didn't have any facts.
I was running out of people who could help me solve this thing…..I was saving my last questions for the nurse, and one other.
She was at the door to his room, her hand was reaching for the knob……
He was almost delirious with hatred and shame. The waves of nausea were starting to increase and the pain in his head was throbbing…….. How did he lose control…..it just didn't make sense……he had it all…….he had two chicks…….the pressure in his chest was increasing! When would it end!
* * *
It was the nurse's turn next. When I started to ask her questions about the "king," she just gave me an illusive look and smiled. She was smart, real smart. I could tell that she was trouble with a capital B. She had something to hide. She said that the teary-eyed brunette and the missing "king" made a cute couple and they needed to be separated; especially at night. Where was this going? I told her to quit giving me double talk, just give me facts.
The next thing she said had some real meat to it. She said that the "king" took all his friends on a special trip and left her stranded and exiled; alone, angry and wet. She was so mad she wanted to change everything, especially where the king was involved. She wanted to guarantee herself a position with the other women. When the king and his friends returned, he couldn't keep from bragging about how fine the trip was. She then started making all the plans to oust the king.
Now the pieces were starting to fall into place.
She went into the room and placed a wet cloth on his fevered brow….
Suddenly in his delirium and suffocating torment something cool was placed on his head and it was wonderful. A sense of calm was beginning to filter into his mind and his nausea was lessening. Someone was giving him help and it felt good. Maybe all his power wasn't gone! Maybe there was still hope! Could this be the two chicks!
* * *
My next questions were for the young man with glasses, the kid who was so naïve and hadn't traveled the world much. The one who seemed lost and alone. The one who looked on the world with amazement and wonder. Nah, just the scrawny kid with glasses, who had some dark stain running down from the corner of his mouth.
He said that he missed the king immensely and was sad because he was gone. He said that he and the king had a special relationship, like a mentor and a faithful follower….even like a father and a son. He said that he was sure that the cute taller brunette and the king were going to adopt him as their only son, but now all those hopes were shattered.
He then said that it was the young women who were the traitors, who were behind the demise of the king, them and that nurse! He said that it was only one lousy vote that betrayed the king and sent him away at the tribal ritual. He also said that the other woman who was watching, the one who the king had forced out before this ritual, was laughing at the king when he had his torch snuffed. He said that the king would have to go to the place she was at and the king was there now! It was called the Ponderosa!
What! I'm going to have to go back to the states, to that mythological place along the shores of Lake Tahoe nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains where Hoss and Little Joe are?
Suddenly it all jelled in my mind and solidified into something like cold wet mush, but I had only one more stop to make and the facts would be complete.
He felt so much better with the cold cloth on his forehead and eyes. His delirium and confusion was subsiding. Even the pain was improving. He could sense another person in the room. It must be the person who was caring for him; the person who had put the cool cloth on his fevered brow.
He slowly removed the cloth and opened his eyes. It was still pretty dark in the room but he could see the outline of someone sitting by his bed. Who was this angel of mercy?…..He wet his parched lips and said, "Mom?"
* * *
I needed to get to the place the king and the other woman were at. I turned to Jeff and said, "Quick, get me a boat to that place where the guy and the other woman are!" He looked at me and said, "No one goes to that place unless their torch is snuffed…..and mister your's hasn't been! You aren't going anywhere!"
Before I could reduce Jeff to a quivering mass of jell-o with my sarcasm and verbal onslaught a huge muscled arm shot out and grabbed Jeff by the neck and lifted him off the ground. The big muscled guy looked at Jeff and said, "Give the man a boat, or I'm gonna squeeze your neck 'till your head pops like a ripe coconut!"
When the boat arrived I ran up towards a building setting on a hill. I could tell this was the place. There were no camera crews or sound people milling around.
I headed for the door and went inside.
He looked closer…..this wasn't Mom; it was a woman with big eyes that reminded him of a lemur…..her skinny hands were stretching towards him……they looked like claws……and she was giggling and laughing….it was terrifying and he wanted to scream, but he was frozen in fear!
She held a stick before him and said, "Hahahaha……here it is, mister genius…..here is a stick you can carve..……you didn't finish it the first time…..but now you will have lots of time to carve on it……..lots of time……maybe you could even use it at tribal council since you didn't use the real one…….'CAUSE YOU'RE AT LOSER LODGE, YOU ARROGANT FOOL!"
* * *
I heard a shrill voice screaming in the next room….it was a mans voice….he was saying, "I'm the king….I'm the smart one…..I'm like a genius…..this isn't happening…..it's a bad dream…..I want to go home! I want my doe-eyed girl!
As the slender large-eyed woman was walking out the door where the screams were originating from…..the man's voice screamed one last time….."I AM THE KING!" The woman turned and said, "Right, you're the king, but the king is dead……long live the Queen!"
As she walked past me with this smug look on her face, I realized that the case was solved. It was true after all. The king was dead!
RC: Food Auction…..nobody wins
IC: James (the majority rules!)