Anybody Night at Oscar's Egyptian Cabaret
by The Enigmatic Big Miss Sunbeam

The joint was jumping.

See, the point to Anybody Night was just that: Anybody could get up there on Oscar's stage and rave. Anybody. Now, Oscar didn't guarantee anybody would be loved, but he did guarantee anybody would have an audience. For a minute at least.

Last time it was the Three Gladyses with their piano-playing Siamese cat named Cecil.

And the tall diffident grad-student type monotonously droning "I'm Weenieface the American Dream, I'm Weenieface the American Dream" over and over again.

And the little playlet from the two blond brothers from Wisconsin based on . . . management decisions in the lumber yard.

Nobody ever stalked displeased out of Oscar's; they were too scared of Oscar, but nonetheless that evening had been a . . . weak . . . version of Anybody Night At Oscar's Egyptian Cabaret.

But tonight there was a dense tang of specialness in the air. Only two acts: one was Sam Cooke (a proven crowd pleaser) and the other a bluegrass band called Jean-Luc and His Magic Mountain Boys. Both had the potential to be big, universally big, but they weren't there just yet: there was just too much baggage with both acts. Sam was a Commie and a girl delighter (not really elitist, refined, avant-garde Oscar's favorite flavor of lad) and Jean-Luc and His Magic Mountain Boys were . . . troubled. Too many creative differences. Jean-Luc himself was incredibly high strung -- and at the same time -- brutish. And the band were all lovers, all down the line, and how the quarrels flew! Lead singer Jean-Luc was incurably promiscuous while his exclusive property Q -- doubling as mandolin player and band leader -- was dutiful and hard working, doing the accounting, arranging the music, paying off the police yet again and being devoted to Jean-Luc's peculiarly feral brand of love. The other members were Geordi, the blind steel guitar prodigy, and his lover Cousin Data, their incredible fiddler (Geordi was jealous of the childlike Data who could be talked into anything by anyone at any time) and the fullbacks Cousin Worf (banjo) and Uncle Will, he of the comic bass-fiddle playing, blacked-out teeth and overalls, with his revolting *comic* recitations: "My First Night at the Big City Baths;" "Tearooms 'n' Me," etc. Cleaned up, Will was presentable -- but he was . . . somehow always Worf's second choice. Worf's first choice would have been Jean-Luc. Actually, they all would have preferred to be Jean-Luc's favorite. But it worked out well in a strange way because, after he had slept with Data or Worf, Jean-Luc loved to see Q weep, he loved to see Q crawl (Will and Geordi were rather less frequently in favor. Jean-Luc liked them pretty with big ones and that wasn't Will and Geordi. Q, in addition to being completely subservient, was by far the prettiest and had the biggest one, all of which was maddeningly alluring to Jean-Luc, yet at the same time it irritated the piss out of him.)

Did I mention the joint was jumping?

Oscar was at the front, standing by the simulated mummy cases. He had been tensed up, but he relaxed now, watching the customers pour in. They had heard about the two new acts and couldn't wait.

Then Oscar smiled; one of his oldest and dearest friends was walking in. "Walt Whitman, you old solitary singer, long time no see!"

But Walt sure wasn't solitary now. He had a new date: big, cute, round, the way Walt liked them, with an astonishingly pink face, extraordinary long-fingered hands. "Who's the rent, Walt, my love?" Oscar asked.

"You know how I am, Oscar. You know what I like. It's . . . an, he's an . . . an American President," Walt said in a wild rush. "It's Bill Clinton!"

Oscar merely stared.

"I mean, I hadn't met anyone since, you know, Abe Lincoln," Walt sighed, "at any rate, not since lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed. But . . . this one . . . is different."

Meanwhile the crowd grew. Four or five people sitting at tables no larger than a dinner dish.

And now a murmur was running through the crowd; this crowd always had murmurs running through it. Look's who's here, this murmur went.

Oh!! It was Hollywood Jack Vincennes from "LA Confidential"! -- "Jack's back," Jack drawled, pursing his Gerber's Baby mouth and leaning against the faux-granite sarcophagus which served as a bar -- "anybody want to go back to shack and jack with Jack at Jack's shack?"

"It IS anybody night," Oscar said softly.

"Aww, a jeroboam of champooey to anybody who will?" And Jack turned his amazing mouth to the crowd.

"Me, Jack!" "No, Jack, me!" Assorted beautiful voices, some accented, some not quite human, called to him.

Jean-Luc had been watching all this through the curtains: "A nice crowd," Jean-Luc said out loud to Q, who was as usual anxiously hovering near him.

They looked around. Nobody else backstage right now; everybody must have taken their bitching somewhere else. Jean-Luc backed Q against the "No Fumar" sign back stage, the one they all ignored.

"I want a surprise tonight, Q," he whispered. "After the show."

Q trembled. "I . . . don't know . . . Jean-Luc. What kind?"

"Maybe, when I turn in tonight, I can find Daddy's little girl somewhere".

"No, not that."

"Nonsense, don't be so scrupulous; we all like to be Daddy's darling sometime. You want to be Daddy's darling, don't you?" He ground his remarkably well-shaped hips into Q's softer ones and Q couldn't deny his arousal; he bit his lower lip and lowered his head to look at Jean-Luc.

"I suppose I could be talked into it."

"I suppose you could."

"What would it mean to be Daddy's darling?"

"I advise you to wear clean underwear and have a hairbrush handy. A nice flat wooden one with soft bristles. That's phase 1 of Darling slash Daddy's. Phase 2 is what we'll see after that."

"It'll cost you."

"Oh, yes, Q. Talk like that." Jean-Luc pressed Q more closely -- with his eyes closed. "You're the only one. I'm quite sincere this time."

"More, more, more. Look," -- they both saw it: a tiny closet -- with a mop and bucket and a sad little stained reminder to wash up taped over a brown speckled sink.

And it was big enough for two.

Jean-Luc leaned again the sink -- and Q, tall and awkward, balanced his long legs on either side of Jean-Luc, and Jean-Luc touched him single-mindedly between the legs and brought it out. Nice and big. He stroked it and touched the underside, the prominent veins. Q was quite sculpted, remarkably lovely, Jean-Luc had to hand it to him, and Q was in shock: it wasn't like Jean-Luc to be so giving.

But: "Okay, jerk it, Q. I'm tired of moving my hands."

And Q looked at himself, dazed, open-mouthed, and moved his hand over and over. Pulling. A loose grip.

"Q, what do you think about when you do that?"

"Me in you, Jean-Luc," Q closed his eyes: "me in you, me in you. I think of that time you bent over FOR ME! And I was so hard and you were too and I was dressed and you were crouching on the bed naked from the waist down." And that image made Q's eyelids flutter and he gasped and Jean-Luc looked at Q's orgasm hungrily.

After a moment: "Do you still want me to be Daddy's little girl, tonight?"

"I haven't come," Jean-Luc said pointedly, "what do you think?"

"On the tour bus?"

"Where else can we be alone?" Their eyes met. "You need to set up the stage now, Q. Get Worf and Will to help you. I'm going to get ready."

He went on backstage, nodding at Oscar who had changed into his "Everything I Know I Learned at Reading Gaol" teeshirt.

In the dressing room, Worf, Will, Geordi and Data waited. Hopeful. Once in a while, Jean-Luc would come out of the shower naked and walk around; this was his gift, his nakedness, the incredible flare of his forearms, his potent slow-moving thighs, the hands meant to break and take. And, as he walked around getting dressed, the air would become humid, tinted with their wants, like the air before a tornado. And so here he was.

What would it be like, Geordi wondered, to be wanted by everyone in the room as Jean-Luc was wanted? It had always been that way, as long as he could remember: when Jean-Luc took him from the Alabama Home for Blind Boys after he had heard a recording of Geordi's guitar playing. Yes, Geordi had learned love at the home, one time a kindly doctor, another a fellow blind boy, but nothing as compelling as the love he felt for Jean-Luc. And Jean-Luc so rarely loved him back.

Now Jean-Luc was in front of him; you could not mistake that heat for anyone else.

"Can you tell I'm naked?" Jean-Luc purred.

"Oh, yes,"

"Your gifts are limitless, Geordi -- I'm always astounded by you." Geordi heard Jean-Luc's head move. "Worf, Will, help Q set up. Data, I want to be alone with Geordi."

"Yes, Jean-Luc. I will help. Q set up now," said Worf in his strangely paced speech and everyone scattered.

"You can tell I'm naked without seeing me?" Jean-Luc's voice was intimate.

"Yes. I can smell you. I sense the heat of the skin unsheltered by wool or cotton. I don't smell the oil of acrylics. But I smell your new sweat; your blood is particularly strong scented. I smell your manliness too. Unique to you."

"I'm sorry you're blind. I 'm sorry you can't see what I'll see."

"What's that?"

"I get to see you jerk that big thing."

Geordi's hand went to himself. "No, get naked, Geordi. Handle your nuts too. I'm in the mood to see things tonight. You are so beautiful to me." That was how he kept the band together; every one's pleasures were measured out in teaspoons, enough to keep them lurching towards the next sensation.

And the next sensation was driving Geordi's hand now; his cock was fat and short -- his lips were tingling. " You're the only one, Jean-Luc." And Jean-Luc leaned in and kissed him and Geordi's hand began to stutter on his arousal -- and then he was coming in irregular spurts and breathing. "I can smell and taste you - let me hold you, Jean- Luc, it's all I dream about -- I can't sleep at night -- I think about us that time it was just us two, you were taking me from the home for the first time, we were in the station wagon and the alternator gave out and we were on the interstate and we had to spend the night in that clump of trees and it was freezing and I had just met you and you said let's keep each other warm and you took me and took me and took me." His voice was almost a sob.

"Those days are over, Gee Ell."

"I miss them."


"You're the devil himself."

Geordi couldn't see Jean-Luc smile with inordinate radiant pleasure and silently mouth to himself "the devil himself."

"Give me something, Jean-Luc."

"I love you more than I love Will."

"Will! That refuge from the Yukon Big Biscuit Hour -- what did you see in him?"

"He was more subservient than Q. I need that. For Q. Q needs that."

"I'm better than Will, aren't I?" begged Geordi.

"I do love you -- perhaps when times are better, Geordi, I can take you and take you and take you again." He squeezed Geordi's testicles. Geordi gasped.

And now was Jean-Luc fully aroused; after telling Geordi to get dressed, he went into the shower room where there was a massage table and Data was sitting on the bench, naked with a towel. Waiting. Eyes wide with anticipation.

"Data, I'm through with Geordi. I'll give you a massage and an alcohol rub. I really want you to perform well tonight -- to me, you're the backbone of the Magic Mountain boys. Get on the massage table. Lay on your stomach." And putting the towel over Data's bare ass, Jean-Luc moved his large hands over Data's tense flesh. "I feel very fatherly toward you; in many ways, you were your daddy's darling, weren't you?"

"Why, yes, Jean-Luc, I was," said Data in his incredibly refined way. Data had been privately tutored by his wealthy eccentric father -- his life was sheltered from the start and so there was an astonishing buffet of virginities with Data: like Kaspar Hauser.

And Jean-Luc lifted the towel away from Data's body: "Nice butt."

Data softly gasped.

"Get on your back."

And Data did with the towel still wrapped around him, but this did not disguise his hardness. His tongue ran around his lips.

"Okay, let's lift this towel . . . just so, like a girl's skirt and see what is there . . ." Jean-Luc's eyes were hooded and he said "fuck my thumb for a while -- I want to see it" and Data moved back and forth, gasping every time, and then, when he was gasping the most and clenching himself, Jean-Luc said, "Sit up. Do the same for me. Let's get really ready," and Data moved his finger around to Jean-Luc's ass and began to use one hand on him while the other caressed the fine bristles on the back of Jean Luc's neck and in a moment Jean-Luc was groaning and said, "let me fuck you, darling, yes, yes, put your feet on my shoulders --" he looked down at the thick head of his cock and put it partially in -- Data jumped in surprise -- the way the immediate muscle of Data's opening felt against the head; just then Jean-Luc pulled out and then in again -- hypnotized by that feel. They were both breathing as if they were coming up from water. They moved together roughly and then, as Jean-Luc heard Data's groans and felt all the tightness of Data's ass, they fell into the total animal soup of fucking and that was that.

On stage now, before the stage lights came up, Jean-Luc and Q touched each other softly for good luck, for reassurance. And when the lights came up, the crowd went wild. The band looked incredibly smart, or at least Jean-Luc and Q did. Q designed the outfits with himself in mind and Jean-Luc second. White dinner jackets, black string ties, large white straw cowboy hats, white shirts, black string ties, and glossy black cowboy boots Jean-Luc's premature baldness sometimes obscured his extraordinary good looks, something between a tiger and a king, but the cowboy hat gave a frame to that remarkable face. Q's face was equally striking, if more ladylike, and he emphasized its prettiness with long curling dark hair and little hoop earrings. And when the lights came up, Q looked like everything he wasn't, a gypsy, a pirate, a free man.

And Jean-Luc began to sing. He had the most extraordinary voice: yes, the band could yodel like bluegrassies everywhere, but he left that up to Cousin Data -- Jean-Luc's voice was the insinuating murmur of a magic man calming horses in a burning barn and at the same time the voice of the burning barn itself.

"Come on girls" he sang, "Do you believe in love? 'Cause I got something to say about it And it goes something like this"

And then they all sang:

"Don't go for second best baby Put your love to the test You know, you know, you've got to Make him express how he feels And maybe then you'll know your love is real"

And Jean-Luc alone, after Data's fiddle break, began again, more insinuating:

"You don't need diamond rings Or eighteen karat gold Fancy cars that go very fast You know they never last, no, no."

A short bearded man joined Walt Whitman and the blushing Bill at their table. "Allen Ginsberg," Walt said warmly! "You old . . ."

"I forgot my underwear," Allen blushed.

"And now you're free," said Walt and squeezed his hand. "Listen, I'm trying to teach this one to say yes to everything."

"Aw shucks," said Bill.

"What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down"
"You'll never come down,"
Worf added in a rumbling basso.

In a corner underneath a detailed frieze of lewd hieroglyphs, a doting couple was celebrating their anniversary: Ashley Wilkes and his husband Rhett Butler. "I love fucking you a lot more than I did fucking Scarlet," said Rhett devotedly. "Yeah, I know, screw her. And screw her smallest waist in six counties." "Really," said Rhett, "even Mammy was better in the sack." "You got that right," said Ashley. There was a meaningful pause. Then both men looked at each other in wild surmise.

"Long stem roses are the way to your heart
But he needs to start with your head
Black satin sheets are very romantic
What happens when you're not in bed
You deserve the best in life
So if the time isn't right then move on."
(Q's blood froze at that last line, but the crowd cheered.)

Oscar smiled. Every one was on the dance floor: Jackie Kennedy, Cesar Borgia (looking at the crowd and thinking things one shouldn't think), the neolithic Sorcerer figure from the cave of the Trois Freres, even fictional characters like the sex-dog Nicholas from Anya Seton's "Dragonwyck". There was the young Raymond Burr (he still had his make-up on from hosting the popular televison show "The Johnny Horton Sublimation Hour") ("tonight the Johnny Horton Sublimination Hour wants to make explicit the hotness of his song *Battle of New Orleans* -- The orgasmic grain of Johnny's voice when he sings: *they ran through the briars. They ran through the brambles.* Let's take a look, shall we? And speaking of 1959, let's talk *Waltzing Matilda*? Who wouldn't like a jolly swagman? Who wouldn't want him under a billabong tree? The melancholy sway of that tune always makes me . . . ")

"And when you're gone he might regret it" (Jean-Luc and Q exchanged a look; even the audience felt it)
"Think about the love he once had
Try to carry on, but he just won't get it
He'll be back on his hands and knees"
(Jean-Luc smirked)-
"Express yourself!"

The crowd roared.

Song after song led to flaming bursts of applause. Then, during the extended mandolin break in the bluegrass version of the old Doors song "Light My Fire", Jean-Luc was watching Q's rapt face -- and Q turned his eyes to him, and they leaned in and kissed, a full kiss, a passionate kiss, an all-out kiss. The kiss pushed their cowboy hats back on their heads like halos and their faces shone with -- for once -- simple emotions such as saints might have.

Needless to say, the crowd leapt to their feet.

Lenin was there too with his date, a buxom and generic cabaret girl. And the legendary full-faced John Henry, smiling, his hammer still in his hand. And ironically Johnny Horton walked in; he shook hands and grinned at the laughing Raymond Burr, now locked in the arms of Vincent Price. They were all smoking too. Free class-B cigarillos on Anybody Night!!!

A great night.

Oscar led the applause. He had to think of a way to keep the Magic Mountain Boys around.

"We shall now begin to construct the socialist order," Sam Cooke said. The crowd cheered lustily. And then Sam began to sing:

"Let me tell you about a place
Somewhere up New York way
where the people are so gay
Twisting the night away . . ."

The crowd loved that; Rebel yells vied with Watusi ululations in expressing approval.

After they changed out of their stage clothes (Jean-Luc in tight jeans, an olive teeshirt, his hat), the boys lounged in the green room and backstage as they drank Cokes with their Golden Flake potato chips and listened to Sam Cooke's set.

And Sam Cooke had just taken a break when Oscar came back stage and nodded to Jean-Luc who grabbed Q and went over to see him.

" My, you are something, aren't you? Generally, I don't like little. And I really don't like older. But I'll be damned: you've got it going on. What's your name?"


"Jean-Luc, I'd like to invite you upstairs. I've set up a little orgy room, nothing complicated, merely mattresses, ring hooks, showers, cubicles, very Amish-like in its simplicity really. Maybe you could have some fun. You can take your . . .," he motioned to Q, "whatever with you. Use him for trade or something. We call it the Blue Nile Room." And then Oscar paused; he was hearing a familiar sound. He grimaced. "Oh, shit! Weenieface is back! I'll never get him off stage. What do I pay that bouncer for? I'll see you later!"

"Get Worf to help you," Jean-Luc called. "Q," he nodded. "Upstairs."

A few people were already in the Blue Nile Room: right by the door was Lenin cooing with his patootie. "Ilyich, you are so buff," she said.

"Yes, your yellow American press has got it all wrong. Everyone thinks I'm just a Commie rat, but I work out daily. I even do gymnastics." He noticed Jean-Luc and Q eyeing them. "She's a worthless whore; something Comrade Marx didn't anticipate."

Jean-Luc and the girl looked hungrily at each other.

"You won't start liking women, will you, Jean-Luc? Jean-Luc?" Q implored.

"I never stopped, Q." He turned to the girl. "What's your sweet name?"

"I haven't decided yet," she smiled. "I'm going to be a Super-Powers Hero-Vixen thing, hence the weird drag. But I'm not sure of my name or my powers."

"Jean-Luc, stop this!"

Jean-Luc wheeled around and slapped him. "Feel some sorrow, bitch. I'm a mean queen, you knew that when you married me. Go get on the bus and wait."

Q turned pale and left.

Jean-Luc began to rub her bare shoulders: "Did I ever tell you how much Jean-Luc likes a little stuff?"

In response, she led him to a corner, somewhat private; Oscar's housekeepers had put a soiled mattress there. There, Lenin's date took off her superhero outfit -- she was well shaped. Jean-Luc looked at her -- "I bet you were a daddy's girl."

She shrugged and smiled.

"You want to suck me off -- you can be daddy's darling if you suck me off."

He took off his cowboy hat and knelt beside her and she sat with her legs open: he put his hand on her throbbing sex, he loved that feel; so silk and dry and warm and then the wet glutinous center waiting for him, for his . . . He began to move a couple of his large fingers in and out.

"All right," she gasped, "I'll suck you" -- and she knelt and Jean-Luc got on his knees and brought it out - she licked her lips - "Oh, my." And put her mouth around him and he couldn't help it -- he began to pump in and out and she was good, her mouth humid as her center, and except for black stockings she was naked, her curved old-fashioned woman's ass in the air, and Jean-Luc entered that area in his mind where nothing was but lights behind his eyes and murmuring music and he felt a tingle in the back of his brain and he grabbed her head and moved more insistently against and inside her mouth. Then he started to come and she moved back a bit, but only to grip him and watch him, and he was through; she threw herself on her back and put her hand between her legs.

"You're a hell of dame," he said.

"So are you," she smiled.

There was a pause.

"Well?" she said pleasantly.

"I have to go."

Her eyes darkened and she lifted her chin. "That's it?"

"That's it."

At first she was very quiet. Then: "You have a lot to learn about love," she said in a rough whisper.

"So do you," Jean-Luc laughed and flicked his finger -- hard -- against her soft cheek. "Looks like a major booty call for Comrade Lenin," he said in a louder voice.

"I'll be there in a Kremlin minute," Lenin called. And then Lenin was lying beside her, naked. He pushed Jean-Luc off the stained old mattress. "Dos vedanya, chrome dome," Lenin said to Jean-Luc. He pronounced his "r's" with a burr, almost Scottish in nature.

"Oh, yes, catch you on the rickrack, motherfucker," Jean-Luc called back as he picked up his hat and walked out of the room.

Meanwhile in the dressing room:

Q came in and sat in front of the many light-bulbed mirror and put his hand to his throat.

I know it's over," Q said to the mirror. "I can feel the soil falling over my head." He turned to the other men. "He's fucking a girl upstairs."

All the others were quietly regarding Q's breakdown.

Guess what! This had happened before! A lot of times!

Q turned to the mirror again. "I'm a fool to do his dirty work."

"The fact that your. Declarations of sorrow. Come from seventies and eighties rock music dampens their. Impact somewhat," said Worf.

Q tossed his grieving head; "I'll go wait on the bus. You can tell Jean-Luc that." And he left.

Jean-Luc came in. He saw the band looking at him and knew he had to say something. "It was just a blow job." They said nothing. "It wasn't the Treaty of Versailles. It wasn't the Counter Reformation. It was a blow job. A little finger fucking too. End of story."

Everyone was stared at him. Jean-Luc shrugged. "Sometimes a man wants some pussy that's not on the menu." They were still silent. He slapped his hands together. "All right, girls, get your tits together and the beanie babies out of your butts." He made vague milking gestures that might illustrate these remarks. "We've got a lotta rat towns to cover before we get to Nashville." Then he looked around. "Where's Q?"

No one looked at Jean-Luc. Finally Data said, "He is already on the bus. Waiting for . . ." he didn't finish the sentence.

Jean-Luc looked calmly at Data: "I'll drive. You ladies need some sleep."

And together they all silently walked down the nasty little corridor that was backstage at Oscar's. About half way down was a pay phone in a scarred wooden box -- and sitting cross-legged beneath it on the phone was the Super Hero girl from upstairs; her make up was gone now -- washed away? consumed in some other way? -- and she was whispering in the phone.

Jean-Luc walked by her, staring a bit, as if she were a cross between a interesting phenomenon and something slightly disgusting that interested him not at all.

And she stared back with the kind of look one reserves for Jesus. Or Judas.

After they passed her, Jean-Luc clapped his hands and started singing an old bluegrass gospel tune:

"Jesus Lord is now my refuge,
and he leads me by the hand.
He will be my steady comfort,
Til I reach the glory land."
(Everyone joined in harmony on the last line.)

"So press along with the hopes eternal
springing in this heart of mine.
When I enter the gates of heaven,
I will shine"
(Data's higher voice: "shine!") "shine"
(Worf's low rumble: "shine!") "shine."
"Oh I'm a gonna shine"
(Will and Data in harmony: "Oh
I'm a gonna shine")
(Worf as low as he could
go: "in the bright morning")
"Many mansions"
(a hum from Data "many mansions") will
be mine"
(Geordi's soft "will ever be mine")
"When I enter"
(all the others: "when I enter")
"the gates of heaven"
(Data's high whine: "Glory hallelujer")
"I'm a gonna shine"

Then they all ended: "Hallelujer,
I'm a gonna shine!!"

On the bus, everyone went to their bunks and Jean-Luc took the wheel.

Then Q -- his hair damp and curling under his white cowboy hat -- came up from the back and sat catatonic in the queen seat behind Jean-Luc, who said nothing.

Q was wearing an immaculate white vee-necked teeshirt and had hastily put on a pair of black pants. The street lights caught the gold hoops in his ear.

"I waited. I didn't know you changed your mind."

There was a pause. Jean-Luc was backing out of Oscar's parking lot.

Then he said, "I came twice already. Fucked Data and then she gave me a blowjob. I just lost interest."

"You still told me to wait."

Jean-Luc said nothing; he was entering the curved mountain highway that led -- eventually -- to Music City USA.

Q went on: "I waited for you. I wanted to know what happened to Daddy's Darling."

Jean-Luc pressed the accelerator. The highway was slick with rain; the big bus shuddered as it shifted gears in the soft mountain gusts. It was the other side of midnight.

"I waited." Q said. "I waited."

Small hillbilly children woke from their dreams and ran to the broken windows of their mountain shacks to see the bus speeding to a future -- it might have been just another dream to them.

"I just wanted to know . . ." Q said.

Perhaps one of the children will hear the bus and tomorrow follow its path, its path to the future. Perhaps one will return sobbing to her bed -- aware for the first time in her hillbilly life that some men ride alone on a wet road in the night.

"I had the clean underwear. I had the hair brush. I had a . . . Koolaid mustache. I had a Jack-in-the-box. Maybe Daddy's darling gets kissed. Maybe Daddy's darling get licked all over in the darkness." He leaned over and grabbed Jean-Luc's shoulder: "Does Daddy's darling get fucked?"

There was a longer pause.

Jean-Luc adjusted the rearview mirror: "Ever since the world began," he said.

The End