July 16 Lucifer

NIX WAS HAVING ONE HECK OF A PARTY at his temple in Columbia, the sort of affair where I get to hobnob incognito with the millionaires and manufacturers who feed my murder machine, when all of the sudden a band of centaurs burst in, drunk off their asses on boom-youth privilege, obstreperousness, and other libations.

"We're pissed off at your party," one of the chief bullies approached the pres, gold nose ring misting with the furious heat of his vitality, his heathen heart.
"And I'll be a horse's bottom before I let you ride me around any more." The rest of the beasts snorted and brayed their complicity.

"It's okay folks"--typically, Nix's first mistake was to ignore the upset and instead turn attention to the uneasy sheep at table, upsetting his guests and further angering the insurgents. "It's just a little uppitiness among an estranged herd. We'll give'm a little more grain and, if that don't do the trick, lick 'em with the switch--hell, flay 'em alive, if we have to!"

"Put a pipe in your this, Nix" another of the hybrid thugs grumbled, introducing a carved piped, double-bowled with a ribald cock 'n' balls design, into this, the executive orifice, "and smoke it!"

Fumbling with the thing, apparently liking the feel of puckering the thick, fluted stem, right cheek bulging over the mushroom-capped mouthpiece, Nix mumbled out the other side, "Emmybobby gob a match?"

"Yeah--my ass 'n' your face!" offered a runt from the bunch, still a pup but bearing one helluva hoof, with which he delivered a dizzying kick to the president's boney shin. The whole herd brayed and whinnied at the sight of the big burrito holding his ankle and hopping in circles, a boner clenched between dentures.

I knew I could send those brats hoofing with one blazing breath of brimstone, but I wasn't about to blow my cover. The shock and the smell of singed hide would certainly better offend our illustrious guests than anything these donkey-donged dervishes had cooked up in their pranksterdom.

The first brute shuffled forward and snorted out a burst of flame that caught the pipe in its rotation and brightly burned the bowlful of bud. The president sipped strong smoke and his usually-scowling brow bloomed into a quizzical tilde; beneath, beady eyes glowed like uppercase umlauts, bold.

Something had to stop these gate-crashers before some idiot slipped up and got the head honcho hurt or, worse, high. The rest of the guests were shifting and straying after fleecy coats and gold chapeaux, prepared to let their fair-weather poster boy go this indiscretion alone, when suddenly, up stepped ol' NASA with his pocketful of prestidigitation.

He beckoned us onto the lawn, where the butlers layed blankets for belle and brute alike to witness NASA's cosmic display. All, even the intruders, settled down and mumbled approvingly at the majestic flourish--the instant erection of one of those Apollo launch pads as a sort of proscenium for his show. We knew we were in for a good one, from the flights of fear and fancy with which he had festooned missions one through ten.

Out of his belly emerged Apollo 11. The weak and wronged watched along with the cowards and criminals as he catapulted the projectile from the launch pad, all of us awed by the grace and muscle required for the thing's swift arc to the moon. Out walked little men! They sent back instant pictures! They mugged a game of golf! Well, you know the story from there. . . . Even I was astonished at the import of this, what mortals could set themselves to while deities idled and angels sored.

For a second I even caught myself wondering at the majesty of these succulent little pink-on-the-inside delicacies, and the beast in me faltered and practically questioned, "Why not serve?"--a Satan's sin! Good thing I snapped out of it when the little transistor in my mind blipped reports of the murder rate among the montagnards ebbing. Meant to say, "I will be served!" Must needs feed the machine.

The next day the impish agitators were again crying "Injustice!" and arguing the money would have been better spent on some street urchin's lunch. But that night the entire company was impressed by the might of this magnificent trick--no mirrors; just mad, wanton magic. The White House was quiet, if only for an eve. And gods filed back in the temple while the slack-jawed centaurs stood studded, staring up at the starry sky.

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