Copyright 1999 - 2002 Bob Persons

The Chocolate Horseman's Last Ride

I picked up the gat, whirled, and got off six shots in less than two seconds. Saliva Sam, on the receiving end, lost his balance and his guts, both of which wound up on the floor in separate heaps. But that wasn't all. "PegLeg" Pegglegue charged at me, muttering some nonsense about my having used up all six shots. I took careful aim and squeezed the trigger. The bullet was slowed little by its passage through his head, splattering the left eyeball over the inside of his skull in the process. Jink wasn't kidding when he told me that was a real handy gun.

I realized that something was wrong when he fell. Not that falling down was unusual. It was the way his three remaining eyes looked at me - as though they were laughing. Suddenly I knew. I swiveled and saw the real source of the laughter. The sight of my faithful secretary eased the tension like the first rest room in 500 miles. "What's so funny, Jodina?" I jokingly asked.

Jodina coyly rolled up to me - that's what I said, she rolled up to me - on all 3 wheels and flapped her eyelashes. "Sammy" - that was me, Sammy Chickenliver - "you look so funny when you kill people." Jodina had a great sense of humor.

But that wasn't all that she was great for. Swiftly his mouth pressed her lips - the upper pair, this time; he alternated, first the upper, then the lower pair.

"Jodina," he mumbled. "You're the greatest secretary in the galaxy. I'd take you over an Earthgirl Solar any day - even if she can sit on my lap." Let me explain. Jodina's body was mainly a system of wheels and gyroscopes, which eliminated the need for limbs and joints. Thus, having no joints to bend, she couldn't sit. But the things she could do with her wheels more than made up for that. Sometimes I would teasingly spin her central cog, which was very embarrassing to her, because I only did it in public.

Like the time we went to this wild affair at Jink's. It was wild, all right, but not quite like the shindig Jink threw a year before, on the moon. That time Soxy started a riot when he shut off the air conditioning. And when you shut off the air conditioning on the moon, you shut off the air. All but 15 of us were lucky to get out of there alive. Of course, that's not counting the non-air breathers. It didn't even faze them. By the time the air came back on, five of them were under the table.

But, of course, that was before I met Jodina at the affair I started telling you about.

I picked her up at her cage (all Saturnians lived in cage-like apparatuses) at oh-seven-hundred, Solar Daylight Time. It only took a few minutes, with my new "Hyper" ship, to get to Titan, Saturn's largest moon. (Jink liked to live in the suburbs.)

When Jink does something, he does it right. That cage of his was a mansion (if you can imagine it). You'd need a map to find your way around. Which is exactly what I had. I needed a map to find my way around the atomic mines he had planted for protection. Those are real handy gadgets, atomic mines. No explosion, no noise. They just disintegrate you, no muss, no fuss, here one second, nowhere to be seen the next. Not even a grease spot.

I had it figured that if I ever go, I'm gonna let it be known that I'm going. something spectacular, like crashing my "Hyper" ship into the State Building on Jupiter. Or gladiating galactic monsters in the Martian Arena. I wasn't going to just be disintegrated with no one ever knowing the difference.

Needless to say, we made it around the mines, and when we reached the gate, I let out a sigh, fogging my transparent space helmet. We were greeted at the door by Jasper, Jink's six-headed doorman, who also served as a helmet rack.

Inside the ballroom, the first thing I noticed was Jink's bull. I had seen and heard bulls before, but Jink's was the most. Like I said, when Jink does something, he does it right. I learned that he raised the animal from a calf. And that baby played the sweetest music this side of Venus, its native planet.

The full scientific name of the bull, of course, was Bovidae Bos electrus, meaning "electronic cow." It seems that the male has the peculiar ability to be trained to play music through its horns by some electronic process within its body.

Everything was quiet until Jink showed us some home stereo films he made of his hunting expedition in the jungles of Venus. He happened to have a scene showing a female Bovidae Bos electrus. The picture, almost real, plus the cow's love call - in stereophonic sound, yet - drove the poor bull to distraction. He changed his tune from mood music to rock'n'roll and plowed through the electronic force field which served as a cage. He promptly swiped off one of the arms of a Titan servant. This did little damage, as the man quickly grew another one.

But I couldn't spare one of my arms. so I grabbed Jodina and ran to the balcony. From there we had a grandstand view of the proceedings. The bull had already wrecked half the furniture and was trying desperately to batter down the wall with its head. Having done no damage, it turned and headed for the punch bowl.

The blood rushed to my head. "Not the punch bowl!" I screamed. I was ready to jump from the balcony to save the punch. After all, I had mixed in my own stuff.

The bull never reached the bowl. Jink brought in a Venusian cow. The bull took to it like I take to Jodina.

Everything settled down again. Everybody got together to play the interplanetary game of Quarly. Jodina and I were in the relay circle when I spun her central cog. She blushed a pretty green.

You see, Jodina has green blood ...


- Lone Coyote Calls


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Way out in the wilderness
a Lone Coyote Calls.
Your eyes fix on the shotgun
that's a-hangin' on the wall.

            - B Dylan