The Beast, Pt. 28 (Chapter 12c)

Longer posts have been preempted by feelings of exhaustion and sickness. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

To Googe’s credit, the sushi makes for a delicious breakfast. Satisfying, but light enough not to leave us feeling like we ate too much, a good mix of carbs and protein to see our aching bodies through the recovery process. The chef is a good conversationalist, too. Fun to talk to. He explains what kind of animal each brightly colored hunk of meat came from, what part of its body, the process of identifying the tastiest specimens of each species and then cloning the things ad nauseum to ensure consistent taste and texture. We spend about an hour in the company of the man before he prepares the remaining fish, leaves them in the refrigerator, and gracefully exits.

“So. How’s everyone feeling?” I ask despite the fact that everyone seems to be obviously doing well.

“Not bad,” Papa Chub says. “A little rough this morning, but there’s an auto-doc in the fitness center. It mixed up a cocktail of pain killers and vitamins and whatnot, and now I feel great.”

Despite myself, I frown at that. “Dude. I could have done that for you.”

“Yeah, but you’re not a doctor.”

“But neither is the robot.”

“It’s more of a doctor than you are, man.”

I grunt in irritation and cross my arms, but let it go. Then Erb says, “Oh, man! There’s an auto-doc in here? I should check it out. I’m still feeling a little off,” and all I can do is throw up my hands in disgust as everyone laughs.

“Whatever. Sure let’s just trust the soulless, infallible machine instead of the amateur pharmacist. I see how it is.”

“I’m okay,” Monk says. “A little rough this morning, but I drank some water and now I’m good.”

“I’m fine,” Googe says. “I paced myself.” We all roll our eyes at that but let it pass without comment. “And, I finally got my sushi!”

“Alright, I’ll admit it: good call on the sushi, man,” Papa Chub says, popping another roll into his mouth for emphasis. He picks up another one, considers it for a moment, and then sets it down and looks me square in the eyes. “Now, what was this about you gambling away all our money while you were–”

“Hey. Hey. I did not ‘gamble away all your money.’ According to my inadequate math skills, I made us all about ten times our initial investment.”

“More like a hundred times,” Erb says, his voice surprisingly neutral. I turn to look at him, a single eyebrow arched in surprise. “What? Really?”

“You’re just thinking about that last bet at the craps table. You’d been leading us by the nose to blackjack and roulette and slot machines for like an hour before we ever got there.

Papa Chub eyes him with outrage. “Dude! Whose side are you on?”

Erb shrugs. “Hey, don’t get me wrong. He’s still an idiot. I’m just saying, accuracy is important.”

“Well, gee,” I say. “Thanks. Ass.”

Erb smiles and raises an empty glass in mock salute.

“My point stands, though,” I say as I turn back to Papa Chub. “I didn’t gamble away the money. I won. Thanks to me, we’re all a little richer. A little gratitude’s in order, I think.”

Murmurs and grunts of gratitude fill the air. I nod and pop a roll into my mouth, vindicated at last. “Don’t I do right by my boys?”

We settle the money issue, agree to pull out funds for everyone equal to what they contributed, agree that I’m not allowed to do anymore gambling with people’s money if I’m out of my mind on drugs, agree that my friends should stop and ask themselves if I’m out of my mind on drugs before greedily handing over their money. Once that subject’s done with, Monk asks, “What are we doing today? Did we ever reach a decision? I don’t remember all that much in between cracking open that bottle of whiskey and waking up as Erb’s little spoon.”

“You’re warm and cuddly, and I was drunk. I apologize for nothing.”

Word Count: oh no i am running out of November


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