To live is a curse.




[Apologies to Richard Brautigan and Milkail Bulgakov]




The dog had a strange human look before it was hit by the car.


Elim had a similarly strange dog look an instant before the accident.


The collision ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe.  Everything got mixed up, dogs, humans, even time. Those dead resurrected. Those alive died. Elim shot up in his bed, scratched the dream out of his eyes and blurted out: “Jesus, something’s gone wrong in my head.”


“What is it, honey?” asked his mother without looking up from her book. Patricia Valentina was accustomed to her son’s strange cerebral peregrinations. When an answer was not forthcoming, she looked away from her book. She knew immediately.


“Please don’t tell me is that dog,” she said with a flick of her indigo eyelashes.


Elim looked away pensively. “The sound of the thump. It reverberates like a drumbeat-thump, thump, thump. And those eyes. Those dog eyes! I see them everywhere I look.”


“Let go, Elim. You do what you can. It was accident. You tell dog’s owner and apologize. There is no more you can do. Let go. Relax.” Patricia turned back to her book. Elim fell onto the bed and starred at the ceiling.


People of zee wurl, relax, thought Elim to himself. Some bird said that, or some plucked goose. He looked over at the papier-mâché bird who winked at him.


“Mom, why do we have that silly bird?”


She ignored him. The answer was too complicated.


“You see, mom, I can’t just let the dog thing go. Before the accident—the collision—the dog and I made eye contact. Some kind of communication took place. I’m pretty sure it was a Russian dog.” Elim added the last part because his mother was Mexican Russian. He hoped that would get her attention.


Merda! said Elim’s mother under her breath. She was annoyed. She hated to be interrupted in the middle of a good book and this book by Karla Kardashian was as addictive as crack cocaine. Not that she’d ever indulged. But when she saw poor Elim in such existential pain, her heart went out to him. “I know about dog. You must stop.”


She put the book down. “Come Elim. Put your head in my lap. I rub away the hurt.”


“Maybe my angst is the result of the butterfly effect,” said Elim after he relaxed a bit.


“What?” asked Patricia.


“You know mom,” said Elim, “something to do with chaos theory.”


Patricia was perplexed. “Chaos is theory?”


“The theory is about the chaos that can result from an almost insignificant event where one damn thing after another leads to a catastrophe,” explained Elim.


“You mean like gossip,” said Patricia who noticed that one of her Kiss press-on nails had detached and was stuck in Elim’s hair.


“No!” exclaimed Elim. “It’s science.”


“Science schmience,” said Patricia not at all sure what she meant by that. She was disturbed by the distress she detected in Elim’s voice. She was afraid he was reverting. She made a mental note to inform Victor, her professor friend, in case some kind of adjustment was needed.


“Like bowling trophies you mean?” As soon as she mentioned the trophies Patricia knew she’d made a mistake. Elim’s face contorted. He turned various shades of red, white and orange. Something was wrong. Definitely wrong.


“I don’t want to talk about the trophies,” said Elim with a sullen look. Sometimes the expression on Elim’s face was unusually odd. He looked slightly apprehensive now as if something were going to happen that he did not want to happen.


“I know. I sorry. I not mean upset you.”


“It’s not me. It’s the bird. He misses his trophies. Look at him.”


“I say I sorry,” said Patricia who was thinking about sex. The bowling trophies always made her think of sex. That husband of hers and his perverse ways! The bowling trophies have no mercy. The bowling trophies are a super race.


Elim looked at Willard. Willard was a papier máché bird about three feet high with long black legs and a partially black body covered with a strange red, white and blue design like nothing you’ve ever seen before. He had big, round eyes, a pot belly, and an exotic beak like a stork. Willard had always stayed the same surrounded by his bowling trophies. But now the trophies were gone and Willard looked sad.


It was quiet for awhile. Patricia ran her fingers through Elim’s straw-colored hair. After Elim settled down, she retrieved her errant fake fingernail and glued it back in place. Maybe, she thought, Elim needs some new experiences to get his mind off things.


“I think we get you a job, Elim,” said Patricia. “What you think? A job is good, right?” She noticed the color on her toenails was wearing off. She needed to call Jenn Li to schedule a pedicure.


“I don’t know,” said Elim. “Maybe.” He looked distracted.


The next morning Elim woke up late. He was not in any way upset. In fact, he brought up the subject himself, right away.


“You know mom, you’re right. A job would be good. With his boys in prison, Mr. Logan probably needs some help at the garage.”


Patricia smiled. She had just returned from the hairdresser with the latest new hair color, spiced cherry red. She was feeling supercharged.


“Yes, Elim. Your father tell me this morning Mr. Logan look for someone for night shift.” Patricia thought what it would be like to have her nights free. This made her smile.


“Wow! What did you do to your hair mom?”


“Little surprise for your father,” laughed Patricia. She was pleased that Elim noticed. She hoped John would. He was a filmmaker. He was around lots of beautiful young girls all the time. She had to be on top of her game. Their sex life had slowed considerably after John gave the bowling trophies back to Mr. Logan.





I should take a break here to explain a few things. Mr. Logan was an auto mechanic who was an expert in transmissions. He owned a garage on Highway 80 between Sacramento and Reno. He had three sons who were champion bowlers. They won lots of trophies. The trophies were their pride and joy. One night when they returned from the movies they discovered to their horror that the trophies were gone. Stolen. They embarked on a mission to find their trophies and punish the thieves. They went on a wild rampage all over the country. At one time they were clean cut all American boys. After the trophies were stolen, they turned into vicious thugs. They would do anything to find their trophies, steal, torture, even kill. There were three Logan sisters but they don’t enter into this.


By some quirk of the universe, John, Patricia’s husband, discovered the trophies in an abandoned car in Marin. Having no idea who they belonged to, John took them home and displayed them around his papier-mâché bird Willard. We won’t go into why, but the trophies did wonders for John and Patricia’s sex life.


Some weeks later the Logan boys barged into the apartment of Bob and Constance, John and Patricia’s upstairs neighbors. Constance had a drunken one-night-stand love affair with a middle-aged lawyer from whom she contracted a venereal disease. This ruined Bob’s love life.


The Logan boys acted on a tip they had received from an Eskimo that the stolen bowling trophies were in Apartment 1 in the building where Bob and Constance and John and Patricia lived. In a mad fury the Logan boys shot Bob and Constance dead. Unfortunately they did not find their trophies. The trophies were in Apartment 2, John and Patricia’s apartment. The boys went to the wrong apartment. John, as a practical joke, had changed the numbers. He put number 2 downstairs and number 1 upstairs. He never imagined something so horrible would happen.


“You smart cookie,” said Patricia. “You save our life.” They made passionate love that night while John watched Johnny Carson.


The Logan boys were arrested and sent to jail. That pretty much brings you up to date. As you can see, there are plenty of places where the butterfly effect could have entered this story but we won’t go into that here.


Most of this is in the book about Willard and his trophies.






Patricia wanted a child of her own but John couldn’t have children. She had a dog, a mutt she found abandoned on the street, a male. He was the color of cigarette tobacco. She called him Pucho Pequeno. Dogs make everything better but her heart told her she needed a son to be complete.


Patricia asked Victor if there was any way to turn Pucho Pequeno into a real human person. She knew he had been experimenting along these lines. It was a secret he told her once when they were making love. It was a turn on for both of them. Patricia taught Spanish, the language of passion and romance. Victor was very attracted to Latin women. “From Granada to Seville …in the quiet of the night …” he hummed while he pondered the possibilities.


“Si señora,” he finally blurted out with a sexy wink. When John was gone, Patricia played around. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” she would say when she stood in front of the mirror in her lacy push-up bra. The professor took her down right on the kitchen table that afternoon. Drooled all over her breasts like a wild dog.


Only Pucho knew how attached Willard was to his trophies. There were  fifty in all. They were the only things Willard saw all day. They gleamed in the sunlight coming through the window that day while he listened to Patricia and Victor moan and pant and grunt in the kitchen. No one suspected that Willard could hear but he could. Meanwhile, Pucho Pequeno slept quietly in the corner unaware how his life was about to change.


Victor was bothered by the papier máché bird. He was good with dogs but knew nothing about birds. Willard unsettled him. “You should get rid of that creepy bird,” said Victor as he buttoned up his corduroy pants. “I can’t make love with that thing in the other room. It’s unnerving.”


“Willard is acquired taste,” said Patricia as she flicked her eyelashes at the professor. “Is very important for Willard and bowling trophies to be a part of everything in this land of America.”


Victor scowled but he did not argue. He appreciated Patricia’s eclectic side. He was turned on by oddities.


He told Patricia she’d have to wait until fate smiled on them. Fate smiled sooner than either of them expected.


Victor had friends who delivered corpses for his experiments. He didn’t ask questions. He suspected they were the bodies of criminals and gang members but he didn’t ask questions. His friends wanted the corpses to disappear. He could use their organs as he saw fit as long as he destroyed their identity. The very next day after his tryst with Patricia he got a visit.


“When did he die?” asked Victor. He could feel the blood surge through his veins.


“Three hours ago,” replied his friend.


Victor called Patricia. “Bring your dog to the lab immediately.”


Patricia delivered Pucho within minutes after the call. Victor performed the complicated operation with the skill of a practiced surgeon even though his field was mathematics.


The next few days were filled with anxious waiting. Then the miracle happened. Pucho Pequeno stood up on his hind legs and laughed causing Patricia to faint.


The next day Pucho started to talk. Just a few words at first but soon he was able to converse as well as any politician. His tail fell off a day later. The hair on his body thinned. His face took on the characteristics of John and Patricia like the faces of those who cohabit often do. Within a month he was indistinguishable from any other human boy although his face was a bit too angular and dominated by his snout


“You must be careful what you say to him,” said Victor to Patricia. “I can’t be sure what memories lie hidden in that brain of his I cobbled together. His past, whether dog or human, lies buried in there somewhere. That past could surface inside him at any moment. Names could resume their former meaning, creatures their former aspect, a state of mind however vague could take him over. You must be vigilant. You must guide him along the right path to prevent a reversion.”


“I understand how serious is to be mother,” said Patricia firmly. “Is my life’s dream. Gracias, Victor! Thank you!”


Patricia called her boy Elim after her grandfather. It means strong. She dressed him and groomed him to look like the son she’d always dreamed of. This made her feel motherly and that turned her on which pleased the professor.


“What’s that noise?” called out Elim surprised to hear his voice.


“Don’t worry my precious,” called back Patricia from the bedroom in a husky voice. “You stay out there with Willard and his trophies.”


John was happy with the boy’s name. “Elim is a good name,” he told Patricia. “The boy and the bird are a team,” he said.


“Team? What you mean team?” said Patricia.


“Sometimes the expression on Willard’s face changes, you know?” said John. “He was artfully constructed. Pucho’s expression used to change in the same way, remember? And now that he’s a boy, Elim’s expression mirrors the bird’s too.”


Something very strange go on here, Patricia mumbled to herself. It has something to do with how professor change Pucho into boy. He got some bird inside. Damn fool!


Elim couldn’t decide whether to ask Mr. Logan for a job. The gears and wheels started to turn like one of Mr. Logan’s transmissions. Just when he thought the gears clicked into place, his mind was hijacked by the accident. This made him think about the dog and again he found himself in a stew. A strange conversation took over his head.


Driving is dangerous.


Elim looked around. No one in sight. What’s going on? Am I hearing voices?


No. It’s me, that dog you smashed into.


What! Dogs can’t talk. Even if they could, you’re dead. That’s a fact.


What are facts, said the dog. There are facts and there are alternative facts. I’m here because of the alternatives.


Elim knew about alternative facts. He’d heard about them on TV from the lady who made the casino guy with the colorful hair President.


I live by smell, said the dog, and you do not smell human. You smell like a dog.


Why should I believe anything you say? You’re just a dog and a dead one at that, said Elim.


You have no idea what it’s like, said the dog. When I go on a walk, I smell the biographies and histories of everything that went before me. You’re a dog. Take my word for it.


The voices stopped as quickly as they started. Elim was relieved. He didn’t want to get too attached to these mental musings. “Fantasies can be your undoing.” That was what his mother told Victor on one of the professor’s visits.


Let’s jump ahead to where Elim gets the job in Mr. Logan’s garage.


The cars speed by on the highway like lemmings on the way to Reno, the biggest little city in the world.  The passengers return penniless and dispirited.  Gambling is a disease. They will be off again as soon as they have gathered the funds. This was good business for the garage.


The hours are from 10 pm to 6 am.  Can you handle that?”


Elim knew he was going to be hired for the night shift. He got the job because of his mother. Mr. Logan came to visit her sometimes when his father was off working on a film. John didn’t know that Patricia was fucking Mr. Logan or he wouldn’t have given the trophies back. Elim was unhappy about the trophies because he knew how much Willard liked them. He thought his mom and dad liked them too. He heard them talking about the trophies once but he couldn’t remember when. One night after they went to the movies. It must have been before … what? His ears flopped over and he barked.


What’s going on?


I think Greta Garbo would like Willard.


Good night, bowling trophies

How do you know that I’m not a bowling trophy? Sometimes you treat me just like one.

I’m going to dance with Willard. Watch out for your beak, Willard.


Put lots of white meat on my sandwich John and don’t short me on the mayonnaise.


Bark! Bark! Bark!


Mr.. Logan needed someone he could trust to take care of the garage at night, someone who could deal with the strange things that sometimes happened when the night owls drove back and forth between Reno and Sacramento.


Sure,” said Elim.  “I can handle it.” Where it came from Elim didn’t know but some muddled plan started to develop in his mind. Some possibly nefarious plan about how he could restore his past life. He had pleasant memories from those times.


Mr. Logan studied Elim carefully.


Are you sure you can handle the weirdos who come out late at night?”


Elim smiled.  “Yea, I can handle them.  Thing is though, Im no mechanic.  I can pump gas and maybe do an oil change, wash windows—that sort of thing but not much else.”


Im not hiring you to be a mechanic, Elim.  I’m a mechanic. I need a night watchman and station attendant.  If anyone needs a job done on their car theyre gonna have to wait til the morning.  Weve got rooms to rent above the garage.”


Okay then,” said Elim.  He started to walk away.  “See ya tonight Mr. Logan.”


“Another thing,” said Mr. Logan. “This garage is in the middle of nowhere halfway between Sacramento and Reno. We get some pretty weird characters passing through here especially at odd hours. We have a panic button under the counter for emergencies. You should be able to deal with most situations on your own but if necessary …”


“Don’t worry, Mr. Logan,” said Elim. “You can count on me.”


Mr. Logan felt reassured. “Thank your father for returning my boy’s trophies. I know they will be happy to have them back if they ever get out of jail. No hard feelings I hope?”


Elim felt the hair stand up on his back but he ignored it. “No hard feelings,” said Elim and he walked away. Bark, bark, bark under his breath.


Mr. Logan watched Elim disappear down the hill. Something’s very strange about that boy, thought Mr. Logan. Patricia says she and John adopted him. I wonder what his biological parents were like.


Elim knew he was being watched. It was something he was learning to do, feel things.


Elim didnt need to sleep at night. He took long afternoon naps. He thought it would be cool to earn some spending money. He knew how he was going to spend his first paycheck. He would buy his mom a subscription to Eves, a popular woman’s magazine he’d seen her eying at the liquor store where she bought the white wine she liked. There were naked men in the magazine which meant nothing to Elim but his mother seemed amused by them.


He discovered on the first night he wouldn’t have to wait for a paycheck. He found a key to a locked storeroom where Mr. Logan kept things. There was a drawer full of cash. Elim took a little every night. Mr. Logan didn’t seem to notice. Elim also saw that Willard’s bowling trophies were stored there. He decided right away he would steal them back when the right time came.


Mostly his job consisted of pumping gas, putting air in tires, checking oil, adding water to the radiator, checking the battery. Stuff like that. He had a lot of free time to think about what he wanted to do with his life.


A few people drove off without paying but the cameras recorded their license plate numbers and Mr. Logan forwarded them to the police. Elim didn’t have much trouble until early one morning a man came into the office. Elim saw the truck drive around slowly and park in the back.


“Call an ambulance,” said the man. “My friend in the truck, he’s shot and it’s bad. Don’t call the police.”


The man stood there waiting for Elim to call. Elim could smell liquor on the man’s breath.


“You better go check on your friend,” said Elim. “I’ll call the ambulance.”


As soon as the man went outside, Elim called the police. “A man’s been shot. You better get here quick. And, call an ambulance.”


When the man saw the police car coming, he was angry but there was nothing he could do. The ambulance arrived a few minutes later.


“You did the right thing calling us, kid,” said one of the policemen. “The man in the truck is dead. The other one says there was a duel after an argument. They’d been drinking pretty heavily. We found the empty bottles. The survivor says his friend shot himself when he pulled the gun out of his holster. The bullet went in at an angle that makes that very unlikely. We’ll have to analyze all the evidence but I suspect there’s more to it than that. Good job kid.”


Elim saw the man in the back of the police car. He didn’t like the way the man glared at him. He was happy when they drove away. But, he wasn’t afraid. Somehow he knew about men like these and he knew he could deal with them. He would get a gun. If the man came back, he’d shoot him.


“I’m sorry I put you in danger Elim,” said his mother when he called home to tell her. She was in bed with the professor. He could hear old Victor wheezing. “You should quit job and come home.”


Elim heard humming in the background: “… From Granada to Seville …


“No mom. I’m going to stay. I like my job here.”


“You are not safe. This is not good, Elim,” said Patricia but Elim had already hung up. Victor pulled her back down onto the bed. By the next morning she had forgotten all about it.


Only occasionally did Elim gamble on mechanical jobs. A family needed a new fuel pump. Elim had seen the big book with instructions for various kinds of auto repairs. He knew they had the parts in inventory. The family was desperate to be on their way. He changed out the fuel pump step by step following along in the book. It was like painting by the numbers.


Elim didn’t tell Mr. Logan. The man paid in cash. Elim put it in his pocket. Mr. Logan’ll never miss that fuel pump, thought Elim. I earned the money. I did the work. Elim learned how to do a few simple repairs by trial and error and he made good money on the side.


One night a short stocky Puerto Rican man drove in on a motorcycle with his Filipino girlfriend. They both wore leather Puerto Rican jackets with red, white and blue stars on the back. The guy looked about fifty. The girl was barely twenty if that.


“Ya know how ta fix a fouled up carburetor on a motorcycle, kid?”


“There’s no mechanic here until tomorrow morning,” said Elim. He didn’t want to mess around with a motorcycle. He was interested in the girl though.


“Hmpf.” The guy looked around the office. “Got any food in this joint?”


Elim had a sudden urge to bark when he looked at the girl but he restrained himself. This happened sometimes. He couldn’t explain it.


“The restaurant’s closed but I’ve got some cans of sardines and a box of saltine crackers. I keep them here to snack on. Happy to share them if you want.


“Wepa! I love sardines and crackers. Sit your ass down baby, we gonna wait here for the mechanic.”


“It’s gonna be a few hours,” said Elim.


“No problem. We’ll just sit in the corner. I’ll take ya up on those snacks if ya don’t mind. I’m happy to pay.”


“Don’t worry about it, no big deal,” said Elim who was eying the girl.


“I’m Tony. That’s Olga.” She’s the best girl I’ve had. I think she’s gonna stick. Sometimes shit happens on motorcycles, kid. You know what I mean? When I see a crash coming I yell ‘Jump!’. Olga jumps. The others didn’t jump. So, she’s still with me.”


After Tony had a few beers and his fill of sardines, he dozed off. Olga made eyes at Elim and led him to the storage room where she taught him there are more things in heaven and earth than he’d dreamt of.


Day after day went by and Elim kept finding new ways of making money. A couple of boneheads showed up with slot machines.


“Tell’ya what kid. If you find a place for these and get the folks that come in here to play’em, we’ll give you a cut of the profits. We’ll be around once a month to settle up.”



“Okey Dokey,” said Elim, a phrase he’d learned from Olga.


Elim had memories of guys like these. It was a long time ago. He knew exactly what to do and how he was going to play them. He set the machines up in a vacant storage building next to the garage and soon he had a faithful group of regular customers. He put all the money in his pocket. He knew he’d have to leave before the guys returned at the end of the month. This meant speeding up his plan.


As luck would have an angel appeared. Olga showed up.


“Hey! How’s it goin’?” said Olga.


“It’s goin’. What’s up?” said Elim.


“I can’t stop thinking bout you.”


“What about Tony?”


“See, here’s how it is. I left Tony. He was not good to me. He had some dough stashed and I took it. Fair trade for what I provided. I know a place where we can go where no one can find us if you wanna come with me?” Olga put her hands on her hips and stuck out her chest with a seductive smile.


“Hmpf,” said Elim. He thought this was an attractive offer. “Yea, but I got stuff to do before I can leave.”


“What stuff?” asked Olga.


“Just stuff,” said Elim.  I’ll tell’ya what. I’m living in a cabin down that side road. You can hang there til I’m ready. I only need a couple of days.”


Olga looked at him with fire in her eyes. “You think I’m just gonna screw you for a few nights and then have you split on me?”


“I work nights,” said Elim. “No, that’s not my plan. I got my own stash plus I can get us some wheels. I just need a couple of days to pull everything together.”


Olga looked him over. He looked like a mix between a puppy and a wolf. This is what attracted her when she first met him. “Okay, but if you fuck me over, I’ll hunt you down and bust your balls.”


Elim laughed. “You’re a hot tamale Olga. Here’s the keys to the cabin. I’ll meet you there when I get off. I’ve got an hour to go on my shift.”


It finally dawned on Mr. Logan that something was wrong. He couldn’t prove it but he suspected that his stash of cash had been disappearing little by little. Like most successful small businessmen, he skimmed from the register and kept the cash safely out of sight. And, there was another problem. He had his daughters go over the invoices and inventory. It appeared that auto parts had gone missing.


He figured the guilty person was Elim. This presented another even thornier problem. Mr. Logan couldn’t allow his affair with Patricia to be discovered. There was his reputation, his wife and his daughters. If his wife were a transmission things would be easier but she wasn’t. He decided to speak discretely to Patricia.


“You say my Elim is thief! Ay caramba! Is not possible. I cut off your cojones!” said Patricia in a fury and slammed down the phone.


Mr. Logan decided it was best to think this over.


The next morning Elim was washing the tow trucks when a woman entered the garage through the back door. She wobbled back and forth and fell to the ground.


Elim ran to her aid but when he got close he smelled the vapor of alcohol that surrounded her. He went out back to see if she had a companion. There was a new Ford truck parked akimbo. Inside was a man passed out drunk.


This is my chance, he thought.  He unlocked the door to the storeroom. Inside were the guns the Logan brothers used to kill Constance and Bob. There was a book called The Greek Anthology and a novel called The Story of O. A bunch of comic books. A leather belt and some rags. None of this meant anything to Willard. He only wanted the bowling trophies and the cash. He knew it was wrong but you can’t look a gift horse in the face and refuse the gift. His habits had been formed years ago though he didn’t know that. He took what he wanted, locked the door and returned the key to its hiding place.


He tied up the man and woman and left a note attached to them.


I made the boy steal. You will not find me. Do not look. I am the attorney who loved Constance. This is payback for your SOB sons.


Elim and Olga took off in the truck with the money and the trophies.


“What’s the deal with these trophies?” asked Olga.


“Don’t worry. I’ll explain,” said Elim. “They belong to Willard. I’m dropping them off and then we’ll be on our way.”


Patricia had cooled off after the shock of hearing what Mr. Logan had to say. Her anger was now directed toward Victor. He must have cheated her. She called Victor and told him to come over right away.


“From Granada to Seville …” hummed the professor as he walked up to Patricia’s front door. She must be horny, he thought to himself and an erection formed immediately.


The door opened. Patricia screamed at him: “Sinverguenza! My son is defective! What you do to me?”


At the same moment Elim and Olga arrived with the trophies.


“Quien eres senorita?” exclaimed Patricia in a high pitched voice. “Who are you!”


“Oh, me?” answered Olga. “I’m going to marry your son.”


“Oh my God,” said Victor. “Come girl, we must have a little talk. His erection grew as he sized up Olga. “To the banks of the sacred Nile …” he hummed as he whisked her away.


‘You beast,’ said Olga when she returned. Her eyes flashed at Elim and her mascara ran past her streakily powdered nose. She sobbed as she ran out the door.


Elim tried to run after her but his mother stopped him.


“Where do you think you go?” said his mother.


“I’m … I’m …”


“Shush my precious. Professor have to make changes.” She quickly pulled Elim back inside.


Victor soon had Elim sedated and on a makeshift operating table he had set up. Willard was smiling in the corner surrounded by his bowling trophies.


Patricia got on the phone to explain to John how things had gone awry. Later, after the operation, she spoke with Victor.


“It damn shame,” said Patricia with a tear in her eye. “Must be dog heart.”


“No,” said Victor. “The horror is that he had a human heart, not a dog’s heart. I see now that we’ve gone too far. We must seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition. Life will be much easier.”


“Easy for you maybe. Not for me.”


Patricia looked at her finger nails. They were a mess. I must call Jenn Li she said to herself. And then she realized that it was not her nails. It was her hands. She was growing old.


“Bark, bark, bark,” rang out from the operating table.


“Victor! Donde esta? Donde esta, Victor!”


Patricia searched frantically, but Victor was gone.


“Merda! He go after that Olga. Must be damn butterfly effect.”


When she settled down, Patricia saw that Elim was no longer on the operating table. Pucho Pequeno was dozing peacefully on his rug in the corner. Willard was smiling surrounded by his bowling trophies.


Is end, thought Patricia, is bitter end of dream.


She went into the kitchen and made a turkey sandwich with piles and piles of white meat and lots of mayonnaise.