“Don't even try and get into my head." D'Arcy shouts at me as I ease into a booth at Lucky 13 with some weird microbrew in hand, something called Devil Dog or Hot Ass Tamale.

    Who comes up with the names of these damn things?

    "I don't give a fuck about your brain, Avanto!" I shoot D'Arcy the evil eye and he crawls down. We've taken to calling him Avanto because he shows up most days in overalls with a mechanics work shirt underneath and the name 'Avanto Loin' stitched over the pocket. We're so alert and clever that way.

    Koepke's the star tonight anyway. He spent the last two months in Thailand and has been back in the land of barbarians less than twelve hours.

    "Koepke honey, how you doing?" I give him a big hug.

    "Miss you girlfriend." Oh we hug big.

    Tushka's already face down on the table, and D'Arcy's envious I'm not picking through his pussy little brain.

    D'Arcy's current girlfriend sits in wait at the edge of the table, fumbling for her place in the food chain. How she is girlfriend I don't know. Kachina, this one that D'Arcy's seeing or allowing to be with him, like all the others, will become an object for his rage.

    It's like he's a pussy cat until he couples up and then it's bitch bitch bitch session, which makes for pretty interesting drunken rage and at least he forks over and buys the beers but it's always the same, and I'm making eyes at her right now. He finds these tall legged slinky leather types -- or they find him which is probably more realistic seeing as how D'Arcy is a member of our club for lack of ambition, the same reason we all are members -- these slinky types who don't mind a drunken fuck because with D'Arcy that's what they're going to get, or a struggling sweaty bed battle of wills -- which would get me hot, but the women, the women, they all start in right away with "Pick me up later?" and "Are you coming over?" and "What time do you . . ."

    Simple questions that cannot-will-not be answered in our current space time continuum.

    And for D'Arcy, that's a bone of contention, a picky point to let fly his anger and frustration, his rage against life's dull repetition.

    For some people, the daily rising of the sun is a glorious event, another indication of the miracle of life. For D'Arcy, it's proof that life is boring, the same old thing day in and day out.

    "Excuse me, but this is about me tonight." Koepke pipes up.

    When he's on, he's on.

    "So," I switch gears. "how was Ko Ke? And Pak Tuak?" This had been Koepke's second trip to the same island, befriended by the same family. "How'd the screw gun go over?" Koepke had taken a shit load of gifts to his adopted Thai family and our crest, our symbol of strength and power, the Bosch, the Makita -- a battery operated screw gun -- was one of those gifts.

    "Shit I gave Tuak a Zippo lighter, still in its box and he unwrapped it, took it out of the box, pulled out a brand new pack of cigarettes even though there was already an open pack lying on the table, and he pulls out this new cigarette and uses his new lighter to light the cigarette, pulls on the smoke, looks at me and smiles and laughs, thanks me profoundly, offers me a drink of Thai whiskey, and then takes the Zippo and puts it back in the box and wraps it back up and places it on a shelve next to small Buddha alter."

    "No shit?" I say.

    "No shit." Koepke confirms.

    "That's too funny. Did they do that to everything, even the screw gun?"

    "Oh hell no," Koepke picks up the thread, "that thing got used constantly. They loved it."

    "You foggers are stupored," Tushka lifts his head a few inches from the table and pronounces through his slur, "dough you giddit?"

    Not only do we not, but now we're not sure what stage of rage against the machine we are facing. Pit a drunken Mad Chinaman with a drunken Frustrated Irishman and we are guaranteed a long night in hell.

    Oh, did I mention the drunken part?

    "Ko-pee you fugger, de stuff you give 'em, it's holy, like ritual, clean, has power. They can only use a little of it at a time. Don't want to use it up. That's why it's next to the Buddha."

    And with that insight into the anthropomorphic value of magic and ritual objects, Tushka returns into mystic slumber.