Left and right ways along the street a crowd has gathered for the beginning of a parade in celebration of Columbus bringing STDs to the New World. Ron and Phoenix walked through the crowds. Some were waving flags, some booed, others threw rotten cantaloupes at the floats as they passed. When they reached the corner they came across Naked Pablo. As always he was bare naked and carrying a basket of oranges.
“Oranges for sale. Get your oranges. Fruit is nature's candy and prevents scurvy.” Naked Pablo shouted.
“Pablo, I haven't seen you in months. How have you been?” Ron asked, steeping up to him.
“Business has been good with all these parades and sailors in town.”
“Pablo, you were once my best lookout, please tell me if you have seen my Louise.” Phoenix requested.
“Phoenix, my old friend, you look like you could use an orange. Your color is all wrong.”
“Enough about my color. Have you seen her?” Phoenix snapped at poor Pablo, whose eyes fell to the ground.
“I really think you could use an orange,” Pablo quipped back, raising his his eyes to Phoenix.
Ron handed Naked Pablo five dollars for a couple of oranges and turned his attention to the parade. The crowd was growing hostile, people were running into the street, attacking the floats.
“I haven't seen Louise since yesterday. She came walking by here with a rooster tucked under her arm.
“Did you speak to her?” Phoenix inquires.
“No but I think . . .”
The screams were deafening. Then what sounded like a tidal wave was all around. Fire hoses were turned on the rioters. Phoenix, Naked Pablo, and Ron ducked into the doorway of a nearby building and watched the people run by. Then the most evil thing any of them had ever witnessed occurred. Men dressed as Conquistadors, swords drawn, began running towards the people who were trying to escape the blasts of water, cutting them down in their tracks.
Naked Pablo screamed something about Aztec flashbacks and too off down the street, cutting down an alley to freedom. Before the slaughtering army could reach them, Phoenix and Ron fled, taking the same path as Pablo, but he was too far ahead to even be seen.
After a half mile of hard running, the two stopped to catch their breath and figure out where to head next.
“What's this about Louise carrying a rooster around?” Ron asked through deep gasps for air.
“I gave it to her. A present. It's a talking rooster. His name is Arnie.” Phoenix responded.
“You gave her a talking rooster?”
“I feared she was getting lonely in my absence.”
“So this talking rooster was to help with this?”
“You think this rooster has anything to do with her leaving?”
“No. Arnie is loyal. Louise is loyal. That bastard Sam is responsible.”
Ron and Phoenix walked for a few blocks until they came upon a bar known as Abstract. It's a dive bar where refugees, burned out stars, and loathsome characters hung out. Ron knew the place well because he used to bartend there.
One whole wall in the bar is a giant mural painted by Jackson Pollack. He used to be a regular, so Marty, the bartender at the time, kept paints behind the bar. Pollack would have a few, then work on the mural. One night he got so completely wasted that he covered his bare ass with green paint and pressed it against the wall. To this day, Jackson's ass print is still there.
Phoenix and Ron walked into the half-empty bar. Standing behind the counter was always was Ron's replacement, Franklin.
“Hey Franklin, how goes it?” Ron asked, not expecting much of an answer because Franklin is a man of few words. All he got was a shrug as Franklin continued wiping down the bar.
“Franklin, my good man, I could use a rum and pineapple juice and some information,” Phoenix said with a smile.
Ron knows this will be useless because Franklin doesn't say much when it's just small talk, he freezes up when pressed for information.
Franklin gave Phoenix his drink and poured Ron a shot of JTS Brown without a word. Ron downed the shot then scanned the room. He noticed Queen Jane sitting at a table with two harlequins and Gordon. Jane is an ex-girlfriend of Phoenix's, the harlequins Ron doesn't know that well, and Gordon and Ron went to high school together. Unfortunately in the years that followed, Gordon became a severe acid casualty. He'd spent several weeks so gone he was convinced that he was an intergalactic hero and star quarterback. One night in this very bar, Gordon was sitting next to a young writer. A few drinks into the night, Gordon divulged the entire story to the writer. A few years later Gordon discovered that the man had made a load of money off this conversation. Gordon wasn't upset about the money, but he forgot that he'd told the man the story, and having remembered meeting him and having a drink, Gordon was convinced the writer had found a way to tap into his brain and steal every thought he had. He was lucky now to go a whole day without having some kind of psychotic freak out. What Jane was doing hanging out with him was unclear to Ron.
Ron looked away, hoping Jane hadn't noticed them, but then again he figured she probably saw them when they walked in. Phoenix drank his second shot and slid the glass over to Franklin who refilled it with a smile but was quick to walk away before either Ron or Phoenix said anything to him. Ron brought the glass to his lips, then heard the familiar click-clack of designer heels on the floor. Jane had decided to say hello.
“Well look here, if it isn't Phoenix Sixfinger and his little friend.”
“Jane, my dear, haven't seen you in a long time.” Phoenix responded all fake smiles and air kisses.
“Not since you left me for that little tart. What was here name again?”
“Louise, that's right. How is that slut these days?”
The split between Phoenix and Jane wasn't a mutual decision or anywhere near civil. Phoenix came back from sea and informed Jane that he was now going to be spending his shore leave with Louise.
“Well, Jane, she's missing. You haven't seen her have you?”
“What a pity. No, I haven't seen her. I'm sure she's found someone to lay beneath until you find her.”
“Damn it Jane. I have no time for your vulgarity. I think Sam the Donkey has kidnapped her.”
“That's terrible. He's probably hypnotized her and she's lost all sense. I think the harlequins said something about being out with Sam last night, maybe you should ask them.”
“Dear God, why didn't you say something earlier.”
Phoenix was off his bar stool and interrogating the harlequins in seconds.
“It's been a long time since I've seen you,” Jane says coolly to Phoenix. “Not since Naked Pablo's party. We spent a wonderful and nasty little night together and then I never heard from you again.”
“Hey Queeny, I told you when you were willing to drop those clowns and all the other losers you surround yourself with, then you should come see me. It seems the clowns are still around and your still holding court in this bar . . .”
“What gives you the right? . . . Why do you have to be an asshole?”
Before Ron could answer, Phoenix hurried to the bar, grabbed Ron by the arm, pulling him off the stool and out of the door.“We have no time to lose!” Phoenix shouted as they rushed down the street.