The Need For Sneeze- um, Speed


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A lifetime of love and lust just wasn't in the cards for me and my artist-I mean, we had an age difference, and damn it all, I'm a muse. But I was compensated for my naked poses, and I had no hard feelings about us not staying an item. After all, what would it be like to wake up each morning to those perfect sneezes-rendered by a nose chiseled by the fist of some barroom Michelangelo into sneezy perfection? I'd become jaded, perhaps. And how would it be for him to awake next to the spread across the pillow, morning after morning, occasionally she burns the french toast? He would grow bitter.

Such things are never to be. And so, I took my money, and went on my way. Oddly, however, I also had another benefactor-the mysterious patron who sought the desert rose. He sent me ten grand by way of check, and a note indicating that I was a dead ringer for his long-ago love-a girl who danced the jitterbug on the outskirts of Phoenix and was most solicitous of his "rose fever". I can only presume Grandma really got around.

But life goes on. I took my windfall, and turned it into a car, as I'd been warned by all and sundry that it's a mean old world out there, and hitch hiking can surely get a gal killed or worse. My car was a candy-apple red Mustang-no, not a convertible, but a nice '78 with one hell of a souped-up engine. It looked like the crown jewel of the trailer park, but shifted gears like no one's business, and fast! This here was one fast car. Somebody worked their tail off on it, and somehow, gave up on ever making it the muscle car of their dreams. I saw at once what it lacked-me behind the wheel. Because I'll have you know-"fast" has always been my signature adjective. And I drove that mag-wheeled beast like a team of hellhounds. And enjoyed every minute of the attentive stares it got me, because nothing says action like a semi-naked girl in a semi-legal car.

So, of course, I get a car to avoid the perils of hitch hiking, and the first thing I do is pick up a hitchhiker. But as I'm sure you can imagine, I had my reasons.

What had become my custom was to make myself a picnic lunch, as I am a fan of the great outdoors. That meant driving out to some meadow or park, wherever I was nowhere near civilization, and then I'd spread out a blanket, and sun myself, grabbing a soda and some sandwiches, or whatever. Life is like that when you don't really have a penchant for working for a living, and I never have. One day, I was going about my luncheon, and I found my eyes delighted by the sight of a car letting out a fine-looking boy.

Okay, let me describe "fine-looking boy". "Fine"-not to be confused with "okay", fine can mean quite damn-well hot. "Looking", as in, "from all I could see." And boy, meaning I placed him at no more than twenty-three, so I guess "boy" is okay, but he was older than me then. He stood about five foot ten, thin, even maybe skinny, and tan, with blond hair. From where I was sitting, I saw him leave the car, and wave to the motorist, and then bend, slightly, shaking his head. He checked his pockets, but apparently didn't find what he was looking for. And then he saw my car. And then he saw little old me.

Naturally, he started towards the car for a moment, looking it over. I watched him watching my car, and enjoyed my sandwich. It was a bologna and cheese sandwich, and I know full well, Patient Reader, you couldn't give a damn what my sandwich was. Me either. At that moment, I was waiting to be asked for a ride.

He realized that I was the driver of the aforementioned vehicle (being the only one there), and started my way. As I got a better look at his face, I began trying my darnedest not to go reaching for the hanky secreted within my bosom. See-there are things I can read in a face from long acquaintance with noses. What I saw was the following, and those of you with the home game can feel free to play along, was a pretty pair of green eyes with two dark, dark circles underneath, a slightly up-turned nose with a crease in the center and the reddest little nostrils you could ever see, and his mouth stayed open just to breathe-you know I was looking at a boy with a horrible case of hayfever. And when he waved and sat down in the grass just across from me, I could hear him sniffling, and I knew what he didn't have in his pants' pockets. But I was not about to hand so much as a paper napkin over until I heard him speak.

Yeah, the girl can be that way. You get your kicks your way, I'll get mine.

"*Sniff* You sure got a nice car, my name's Joe." He offered his hand, which I shook, smiling. He winced. Oh, it was coming, all right.

"I guess I do. My name's Tilly, but I'll let you call me Rose."

"Rose...*sniff*. It fits you. I wondered if that car was fast ." His mouth hung open a little more, and I was beginning to feel for him.

"It gets me where I want to go in the amount of time I need it to," I offered. And then I fed him a line. "Anywhere you need to go, Joe?"

"Well I was..." and that was as far as he got before he was overtaken by the sneezes-I do mean sneezes, plural. His eyes squeezed tight as the first one signaled its friends to stampede.

"Ushoo, oh...uh...uhshoo, uhshoo, uhshooo," he began, rhythmically, as the sneezes came in rapid-fire. He rocked forward slightly at each sneeze, carried away with the force of them. I felt down in my brassiere for the corner of the hanky I kept there, but he had already found the stash of paper napkins I had nearby-finding tissues must have been a skill experience had ingrained in him. And damn, did he keep sneezing. "Ushoo, ushoo, ushoo, ussssshhhhhh. Oh, sorry about that. Ushoo, oh, uh, sniff."

"Don't apologize," I found myself saying. "Those didn't look like they could be helped." I batted my eyes, slightly, but nothing compared to the ways his eyelids were already squinting and watering. I realized that the car he'd just exited must have been air-conditioned and airtight-this poor boy had it bad from the whole "great outdoors". "Where'd you say you were headed?"

"Fresno. But I don't expect you to go that far." His upper lip quivered, and I knew there was another set of them on the way. He lifted the paper napkins back to his face, and I noticed that whether he needed to or not, he hadn't blown yet. I wondered if he didn't want to in front of me-or was it what I surely expected, given the rest of his symptoms?

"And why don't you expect me to go that far?" I purred, leaning in.

"UFFF-shoooo, Uh-shoooo," he sneezed, uncontrollably. His tongue immediately clamped to the roof of his mouth, and I knew his nose must be unbearably itchy. He swallowed, hard. "Utschhhh. Oh. *Gulp *. You must have someplace you need to be. Good-looking woman like you." His eyes looked stop sign red, fire engine red, candy-apple Mustang red, and I reached into my décolletage and yanked out the handkerchief. By this point, he couldn't see where I'd yanked it from, he only took it, gratefully.

"Ufsshhhhhh. Ushoooo, ushhhooo, ushhooooo," he sneezed.

"For goodness' sake, blow if you have to," I pleaded. I could see those grass-green irises peeking out above the white cotton for an instant, and then he gave a good, hard, damp blow, which lasted for a good half a minute or so but seemed to ring forever in my tingling ears. When his nose re-emerged from the handkerchief, his face was one of near-relief, but he still looked terribly allergy-stricken. Before he could speak, my hand was on his arm.

"There isn't anywhere I've got to be. Let's go to Fresno."

He looked at me in shock.

"You want to drive...out to Fresno? You don't even dnow be...I could be a serial killer." His eyes blinked and his tongue was caressing the roof of his mouth again. I suspected more sneezes would be following close behind.

"You're a hitchhiking, sneezing, good-looking serial killer who wants to know if my car is fast. My car is fast. And I don't know." I winced with delight as he struggled to shake out the handkerchief to prepare it for more sneezes. "I think I could take you in your condition."

His eyes rolled up in his head, and the handkerchief clamped to his face. "Ushoo, USH-Shoo, USHHH! USHooo...USH...Ushooo...ushshooo, ushooo."

Within minutes, I had my picnic cleared up, I had him in the passenger seat, the windows up, the air conditioning on, and the vents closed, and I'd found the box of tissues I'd kept in the glove compartment for just such an occasion. And both of us felt pretty good about it not being a convertible, all things considered. And I learned why we were driving at top-speed to Los Angeles.

"Sniff-I guess you've seen dose 'Cannonball Run' bovies, righd?"

"Yeah, Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, you don't take anything for those poor sinuses of yours, do you?" I replied.

"Dno...bost drugs make my heart fibrillate...sniff...but see, we do it withoud a car-it's all hitchhiking." His tongue fastened back to the roof of his mouth, endearingly.

"Where'd you start from?" I inquired, appreciating the sportsmanship this seemed to entail.


"Unbelievable. You hitchhiked all this way?"

"You better believe in six days I did. Uh...ohgad...ushooo, sniff. Ush-SHHH!" He sneezed into a doubled-over two-ply of tissues-the handkerchief having already been rendered useless. "God, I wish I could just sdop sdneezing..."

I rubbed his leg momentarily. "Is it always this bad?"

"Dis? UH, uh-sniff...Um, this?" He blew, a short, harsh blast. "This isn't bad, really. I bean...I mean...uh...sniff...once this is over, I'll be sleeping in a dnice hotel room, with air conditioning and a good chunk of change. There's a hundred g's in it."

There's two things in this mean old world I do truly and genuinely like. Sneezing boys and hard currency. The promise of both was all my heart could take-I was fibrillating.

"Say...I don't mind driving the rest of the way-but um...there wouldn't be any chance..."

"Oh, I'll float you a cut, no problem," he said, winking. Or, he seemed to be winking. Pulling up the tissues again, he sighed before they had him again.


I stopped by my temporary boarding room retreat, once again was tossing things into a car, and this time, I was heading northwest...flooring it. Big-time.

What can I tell you folks? Stuff like this is its own reward.

I turned on the radio, as I mentally kissed goodbye the Franklin I'd put down for a deposit on the cruddy little room I'd been staying in. But I wasn't saying a fare-the-well to my stuff.

"Now, we're going to make one stop."

"Yeah? *Sniff *"

"Yeah...I got to get my things...I'm leaving this town."

"Really...I just changed your life, I guess."

"Sweetie, you just about did," I admitted. "So I'm getting my clothes and what-not-now, that isn't going to take a minute, and I'll be back down here. But in the respect my vehicle."

I knew he was looking at my dash, looking at the gas gauge and the odometer, and I knew if he had a spare second, he'd check under my damn hood, too. He knew cars like I wish I knew cars, and he liked speed. Well, damn it all, I like going fast myself. So I gave him a serious look and headed inside to my apartment, but I conspicuously left the keys dangling in the ignition. Now, you might think I'm a real patsy for that-but I did it to show him I was in it for the haul-and he respected that-all but having squeezed himself into the drivers' seat.

I entered the passenger side and hauled my green garbage bag worth of stuff into the back seat.

"Now Joe, why you think you're driving my car?"

"Because I think I'll drive a little faster than you."

"I don't think so," I argued, but he was starting her up, and preparing to put the pedal to the metal. I put my hand on his arm.


"This isn't hitchhiking."


"'re supposed to be hitchhiking...not driving. So?"

He sniffled. He'd already gunned my engine and went nowhere-a bad start. I put my hand over his and returned the key to "off". I was leaned well over and if he wanted to-or for that matter couldn't help himself, he'd be looking down my front. He looked, and then grunted. With a little grumpiness, he got out of the driver side. I got out of my side, and we switched places.

"Don't worry, sweetie-I'm fast."

"Oh, I just bet."

"You just did," I answered, and we were off to the races. The road out of town was a twenty-five mile per hour zone-and I was careful enough, but one we were out off the exit onto the highway, I let my lead foot do the talking.

"Shheeeee-it!" he admired, looking out the window at the desert whizzing past in the window.

"Shit indeed oh dear," I said.

"Girl...I got to hand it to you."

"Yes you do, I want to talk terms."

"Is that a fact."

"It is indeed."

He looked down for a moment and rubbed his nose. "Sinuses," he muttered as he rubbed.

"You poor thing. I've got water in that lunch pail, on the floor."

He reached into the backseat and found the box I was talking about, and pulled out the thermos. He gulped at the water eagerly, gasping. While he was a little occupied, I squeezed his leg. "Feeling a little better?"

"Ushooo....shooo...snifff. Feel okay."

"Feel Fresno-bound?"

"Hell yeah!"

"So...what we talking about...floating a cut?"

Now, you've probably seen that I'm an open-minded and gentle-hearted creature. I'm good for a man, really. I like the simple things in life, honest I do. I never would be openly and honestly mercenary...except...

I'd been on my own with just a car and a few hundred bucks left over to my name-and that wasn't going to get me what I needed, namely, in my estimation, an education and a place to really settle down in. No way I was getting a scholarship, and with my credit (none) I didn't see the point in applying for any student loan. I could muse my little heart out (surely, posing nekkid at universities can earn a buck), but I was after something a little more cushy.

", I came all the way from Atlanta."

"If we get the hundred grand, I see twenty."

"Wait, now."

I braked. And paused. "Where do you suspect your competition is?"

He thought about that. "I see your point."

Truth be told, he saw more than my point-a lot more. As the story will prove.


Now, the road from where I was-not too far from Phoenix -to California isn't far. No, it is not. And a day or so isn't all that much, except he seemed to have something to say to me about what we were doing, something he hadn't said yet.

"Once we''s just off the turnpike to the Hotel Grand...and that's where...uh...hee..." He blew hard, and I could feel a stall. I can tell when a person is really blowing and when they're stalling.

"What do we do there?" I asked.

"Well, there's the speed competition-which is illegal, but not awfully so, * snort *" His sniffles genuinely and truly sounded agitated, and I was feeling for him. "And then there's...uh...ushoo! Ush! The skill competition."


"I don't suppose you dnow how to pick logs?"


"Sniff. Locks."

I pondered the ominous sound of that. I had of course, some passing experience with being places I wasn't supposed to be. I could easily break my way into a file cabinet (certain of the patients of my allergist back home were actually restricted access, and it was worth my fifteen minutes' patience to find the sensitivity of a local elected official to a popular laundry detergent) and there had been occasions where, accidentally or otherwise, I'd been locked out of my parent's place and needed to break in. And I developed some skill with locker combinations after a kind of harrowing gym locker experience involving a mean-tempered girl who did not appreciate the attentions I paid to her boyfriend, who was, by the way, rather allergic to her cat, and over time developed a kind of allergy to Also, you'd be amazed how frequently, and in a free country no less, I've run into things being rather pointlessly locked-changing rooms near public swimming areas, or...well, you get the idea. My attitude is generally that the more I should not be somewhere, the more I want to go.

"Combination, door locks? What are we talking about?"

"You're still game?"

"I'm Blind Man's Bluff. Don't keep me in the dark."

It turned out that there was a certain room rented by the mysterious originator of this race, and he had an envelope locked in a steamer trunk. Inside the envelope would be the directions to the drop point where the prize would be picked up at a certain time. That led to three skill levels-getting into the room, getting into the trunk, and then, getting to the point. The notion kind of bothered me.

"Doesn't it sound like a set-up? I mean, once you've broken into the hotel room, right there you could be looking at a roomful of guys with tire irons. Or...uh, the envelope, when you open it, the note could say-'sorry, better luck next time.'"

Joe leaned back. "This game has been going on for years-and every year, there's a winner. Some of the people involved are professional cons. They do it mostly to keep sharp-the take is generally kind of small potatoes. Huh-ush! Ushooo! Sniff. Sniff. I'b a psychology student, myself, and I'm studying it from the point of view of game theory. See, although the contestants want to win-they also cooperate to...sniff...uh...keep each other honest, and sometimes bail each others asses out."

"So, this is like, homework for you?"

", I'm a post-grad...this is a research paper. But I'd like to win the money, you know? Hee-ussschooo!!! I've got student loans to pay off."

I pulled the car over and started rummaging in the back seat.

"Hey, what're you doing?"

I found what I was looking for-two clean hankies. "Your nose is running right off of your face, babe. You sure there isn't anything you can take?"

"Look, I've got to keep my head and my hands steady-I can't be drowsy, sniff, or...pills really mess me up."

I started the car back up, thinking. He was a college student. In my book, that was pretty cool, since I was beginning to wonder if college was the sort of thing I'd want to do. But that led me to wonder.

"Hey, Joe? Do you know anything about breaking and entering? Or picking locks?"

He sighed and closed his eyes, still leaned back against the headrest. "A little. But I'm hoping I can con my way in...or something. I'll figure it out when I get there."

It wasn't exactly the answer I was hoping for. If the room was rented-someone had the key. Odds were fifty-fifty that someone would be male taking the general population into account, but I put the odds a bit in favor of male-more like seventy-thirty, given the nature of the game. The oldest con in the book naturally came to mind. I was about to mention my idea to Joe, but when I looked over, that boy was dead asleep, and a few moments later, a pitiful snoring was coming out of him.

I couldn't even blame him a little bit. It's a long way from Atlanta, and his eyes looked as red and bruised as I'd ever seen.


Now, my mind works in a peculiar way, and has done so since as long as I can recall. I remember the things I want to remember-things that don't interest me go away. So I knew the roads to Fresno, and whether or not Joe woke up wasn't a big concern of mine, because I was...well, just short of nineteen. Now that I'm a little older, I'll tell you that between eighteen and about twenty-four is like a weird charmed time when you just don't even need sleep. I could keep going without a thought of shut-eye, with the radio low, and the only thing that stopped me was when my gas got low. I found a gas station to pull off at, and felt around in my wallet. I had about twelve bucks and change, and I figured it would take about five for gas, but I also needed to use the facilities, and I knew it was a long time for him, too, and he'd probably need to stop, and might want a snack, or something to drink. So I shook him awake while the friendly and terrifically talkative attendant took care of my fuel situation.

(Oh, I can pump my own gas, but I don't, much. Every state in the union is New Jersey when you're a pretty girl who travels light and wears very little in the way of clothing. In other words, I get full service without asking. The attendant this time around was about my age, and I told him I was going to Hollywood because I figured I'd be the next Julia Roberts. This made the boy go nuts, and tell me how he was a big movie buff, and he wanted to *direct* someday. Do you know the way to San Jose?)

"What, hey? What time is it?"

"It's like, I don't know, one or something. We're in some pissant town south of Los Angeles."


"I'm Bob, you're Bing, we're off on the road to Fresno."

"I was asleep."

"No kidding. But you looked like you needed it. You snored like a chainsaw."


"You okay?"

The way he rubbed his head was something I distinctly didn't like. There is nothing funny about the headaches a person can get if they don't tend to their sinuses...I'm not a doctor, but I play one on the people I meet, sometimes.

"Hurts, even sneezing."

"Joe, I hate to push drugs on people..."

"It's not good..."

He looked seriously torn. I kissed him, much to his shock, and made the attendant man the mini-mart, which he hated, and paid something like six bucks for Benadryl and aspirin, and then also picked up some sodas as well as paying for gas. I hated getting screwed over a damn OTC antihistamine, but at a roadside gas station, what else can you do? I bought the aspirin because as bad as Joe was, he needed something for his head. This, of course, wiped me out, cash-wise.

I got back to the car, and started opening the drugs. "Here..."

"Hey...I'm, oh," he winced.

"Six days from Atlanta to here, all open air...hitchhiking. I bet the most you slept was just now. " I held out a hand with two Benadryl and two aspirin. "Aspirin is okay, right?"

"Yeah." He took them, pouting, and washing them down with the Coke I offered. "I'm going to fall asleep on you again."

"I don't care. I'll get us to Fresno, and...I can probably manage once we get to the hotel."


I started up the car and drove. He covered his face, as if anticipating something on his nasal horizon. He sniffed, heavily, and made an anguished gasping sound.

"I just met you-you're taking charge on me."

The sound of the accusation made my heart pound-although this was pretty much like me. I stopped the car. "I'm sorry-but what do you want me to do?"

"I don't know. If I wasn't..."

"Wasn't what?"

"Tired...I'd drive."

At least he knew he was tired. I looked into his eyes. "How do you feel?"

He closed his eyes, and paused for about forever. "Tired," he eventually said, hoarsely.

"Then sleep, for the next couple of hours, for frig's sake. And I'll wake you up at dawn."

"I'll finish my Coke."

He ended up drinking about half, barely talking to me at all. And then he fell asleep, leading me to take it from his hand before he spilled it. And I drank the rest.


When I saw the sky get pink, and I knew we were only about five miles from our destination, I woke him up, incidentally in the midst of some kind of natural preserve of something. I was bone-tired, and I'd rolled my window down to get some fresh air. I felt edgy, but I knew he'd want woken up.

"Psst, Joe?"

He sniffed, and his eyes blinked a few times.


"We're just close, and it's about seven a.m. I thought you wanted awake."

He stared out the window, and blinked and stretched. "I need out of the car..."

I smiled. He never did use the facilities at the gas station. "Go ahead."

He wandered into the brush, away from where I could see, and when he came back, he was a little out of breath.

"I needed that...huh...ushoo...great, it starts...huh...ushooo!"

"I still got a mouthful of Coke, and it's been more than four hours, you might as well take some more..."

"I hate doing it."

"So, you'll feel lousy." I said it simply. I wasn't going to argue-I was too tired to argue. Glumly, he reached for the pills I stowed in the dash and picked out two of each, and washed them down with the remaining Coke.

"I'm going to be sleepy--it's Benadryl."

"I'd rather you sleepy than are you?" I asked, concerned. "You seemed really not good last night."

"Better than last night."

"Well...good. At least you're kind of okay..."

"Ushooo," he sneezed, into the crook of his arm. "Shoo." He blinked. "Morning...the worst." And he rooted about for one of the handkerchiefs. He found it, and blew, deeply.

"I was afraid I'd need to do first aid."

He laughed. "There isn't any first aid for allergies."

"You know what they recommend for everything, burns, scrapes, and all? Loosen the clothing...elevate the legs."

"You wouldn't," he laughed.

I smiled. "Maybe I would."

He sneezed against his fist, twice-"Ush...hee-ushooo!" Sniffling, he grinned. "Maybe I wouldn't mind it if you loosened my clothing."

"You wouldn't mind?"

"I'd like it."

I looked at him, trying to figure out if he was serious. He sure looked serious. I undid my seat belt and reached over for him, and we kissed. It was very nice, even down to hearing how runny his nose was going to be-he was sniffling like mad. I raised the handkerchief-bearing hand to his face.

"You better make sure you...uh..."

He blew, loudly, carefully, and wiped, deliberately. I looked at his face, those dark-ringed eyes, watery and a little blood-shot, and his pink, sweetly irritated nose. I kissed him, and eased myself onto his lap.

"There isn't much to loosen-t-shirt and jeans-but they are tight jeans. Want me to loosen them up? Make things a little freer?"

He nodded, and then, "Usshhhhoo," sneezed. I caught the least bit of breath from it, slightly damp, and then brought my hands down to his fly, unbuttoning, unzipping, and then helping ease the dungarees down his hips. I was only wearing a short sundress, myself, so I only needed to shimmy off my drawers, and I had my sex naked, and could touch it to his. He, apparently, wasn't much for underthings.

I felt the stiffening member in my hand. His face was contorted with impending sneezes-the roof of his mouth seemed to itch from the way his tongue seemed to touch it, and his nose wrinkled just so. I leaned forward, the better to position myself for making love, and his head snapped forward.

"Ushhhhhh-hooo...shooo...eshhhhh....shoooo, sniff, sorry," he sneezed, and then whispered.

"Damnit, baby," I whispered back, closing my mouth on his. "Bless you. Poor sweetie," I cooed, between kisses. His mouth was soft and eager, and I thrilled to the way he breathed, sniffled, sighed his way against my lips. I found the best way to ease myself down onto his hard penis and slid myself into position, kissing him madly. He shook his face loose from my oral embrace and sneezed, mere breaths, into the air.

"Bless you some more..." I cried.

"Please...don't mention it," he whispered.

I didn't. He sneezed into my shoulder, sniffling up the wetness, until I made him blow again, but he didn't seem to want to-not whilst we made love. All the same, he clasped the hanky to his nostrils, blowing, a wet sound, so deep it had me clutching myself to him. And still he sneezed, the morning pollen count having him blown away-literally. But still I throbbed against him, thrilling to each nasal blast. Once we'd both come, I clasped my lips to his, my hand cradling his head. When the kiss was broken, I whispered.

"It was okay-you're okay?"

"I'm good, real good."

"Let me rest my eyes, and then I'll get you to Fresno."

"Just...lay here on top of me."

And I napped there-really. My mini-dress pulled up and straddling his thighs, for twenty minutes, I really think I slept like that. And then I drove the rest of the way.


At the Hotel Grand, I pulled into the parking lot, and we sauntered in, probably, I hoped, looking for all the world like a couple-we couldn't possibly either of us afford a night in the place. We would be S. O. L. if we needed the honeymoon suite and time to think about how to accomplish our goal-but we got lucky.

"Him," Joe whispered to me.

"Who him?"

"The guy-the one with the silver hair and the black suit-the funeral director-looking guy-see?"

"What about him?"

"He's the bag guy."

I figured out what he meant-he meant this was the guy who had the steamer trunk.

I suppose you know what my plan was. "Does my dress look decent?"

"Hell no...what do you mean?"

"You'll see."


Well, you know what I did. I wasn't one of the people who signed up for the race-so he had no idea who I was. I caught him off-guard, and made my way into the room the old-fashioned way-I earned it. Once up there, I preserved my dignity by making a drink-vodka (strong, from the hotel mini-bar) and five Benadryls, the capsules surreptitiously broken into the beverage, and tonic water. And needed another drink. Oddly, he got very sleepy, very suddenly. I realized the combination lock wasn't too different from the school gym lockers, and went to town.

What else do you want to know? Ahh...Joe and me?

We won the money. He eventually got his doctorate, and is quite the head shrinker.

Me? I did the deed. The sponsors of the race were some nice guys from Las Vegas-my reputation thickened. I got my twenty grand-but I also got a standing invite-a job if needed, when needed. But bunco isn't my line, folks.

I said to myself-I could use a little college. And so I went.