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Friday, January 30, 2004

Betta watch'at, comin' at'cha! Betta watch'at, comin' at'cha! Betta watch'at, watch'at, watch'at watch, watch, dat, dat-- ... --the funky rhythm comin' at'cha!

Okay, here's part 3 (cont'd from below):

Julie found herself naked, floundering around in a giant mug of beer. Nothing could drown out the noise of the Beer Demons peering over her and recounting all her painful memories.

"Juuuuulie!" they spoke, as one. "Buy! Buy! Buy! Do you remember that guy in sixth grade you failed to ask out?"

"But he liked me too?" she answered, faintly.

"Yes! And now he's sleeping with a beautiful French prostitute?"

"And I should care?!" she snapped.

"Hey! That's... ooggh, let's try this again. Remember the candy bar you stole from your mother when you were three?"

"Faintly..."

"Exactly! You feel BAD! Now take your grief and sorrow, all the collective mistakes of your youth, and let it all go in one enthusiastic purge! You must BUY MORE BEER!"

"Beer! Beer! Beer!" the demons chanted, dancing in a circle around Julie's giant beer tub.

"Let me out of here! I wanna go home!"

"No, Julie! You must remain in this hole you've dug for yourself! You've painted yourself in this corner of sorrow, and the only way out is to drown yourself in corporately subsidized drink, now only 2.99 at the corner Moe's!"

"Aaaaauuggghhh!!" she shrieked.

"Drink! Drink! Drink!" the demons chanted.

"I don't want to! I--"

Julie heard the sound of a door creaking.

"Sorry about that," said a giant Mr. McLauglin, towering over the demons, the beer mug, and especially tiny Julie. He swatted away the demons and they turned into mist. "Loathsome buggers. Trapped me in a giant vat of laundry detergent just the other morning." He turned to poor, naked Jamie.

"Hey!" shouted Jamie. "I'm a little... vulnerable..."

"Sorry, miss," he said. "Now, there's only one way out. Are you committed to it?"

"Well, I guess..." Julie squirmed.

"Down the hatch!" McLauglin said, confidently picking up the beer mug and chugging down Julie and her bath water.

Julie woke up in the Cosmic Interstate, clothed, in her car, and drenched with beer and saliva. McLaughlin resumed driving. "Mr. McLaughlin?" Julie asked.

"Yes, miss?" he answered.

"Never, ever, _ever_ do that again." she snapped. McLaughlin squirmed in his seat.

"Sorry, my dear," he said arrogantly. "It was the only way out of that particular predicament."

They arrived at Paul Totem's Reality Reconstruction Office. McLauglin rapped on his door. "Mr. Totem, we'd like a word with you."

Julie butted in. "Let me do this," she whispered to McLauglin.

The door creaked open, and the dumpy man with a mustache appeared. "Paul Totem's Reconstruction Service," he grumbled. "What can I do fer ya?"

"Oh, dearest Mr. Totem," Julie pleaded, "I was just eaten by one of those awful--"

"--beer men?" Totem offered, feebly.

"Yes! Oh, it was terrifying! And now I'm covered in beer and spit, and..." she brushed back Totem's hair, playfully, "you wouldn't mind fitting a bath into my personal timeline, would you?"

"Of course!" he said, his eyes sparkling for once. He took out a box of slides. "Let me see... I can make you have taken a bath five minutes ago, or maybe a shower two minutes ago..."

"Oh, you men are all the same!" she whined, dramatically. "I can't find a single man who is living in the..." she tipped his hat with her finger, "...present." She winked at McLaughlin as she went in for the kill.

"Oh dear me, how did I get myself into this," he grumbled, as he slipped himself through the door. "I know we have no evidence against him, and yet I break into my childhood friend's office on a hunch!" While Julie kept Totem distracted, McLaughlin found his way to Totem's study.

"Oh, that's not the only thing you'll doubt yourself over," said a mysterious voice.

"Who's there!" McLaughlin shouted. "Don't doubt me! I have much experience with disembodied voices!"

"Oh, but I'm one much closer to you..." the voice said, before appearing before McLaughlin in person.

He was McLaughlin, twenty years older.

"We have some catching up to do."

TO BE CONTINUED
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