Huh? Did you hear what this motherfucker said to me, Chester?”

“You skinny prick. If I weren’t just a huge, doughy, outa-fuckin’-shape desk jockey with a bad ticker, I’d stomp your sorry ass, punk,” said the lard-ass-on-wheels named Chester. “Nobody talks to my fuckin’ bitch like that!”

“Hey! I was just admiring the old heap’s artwork, man. Her tattoos are awesome.”

“Fuckin’ punk.”

The willowy Mina spoke up: “He’s gonna be a prince and I’m gonna be his princess someday.”

“Oh reeeeally?”said Brutehilda. “You two look the part now. Take my advice, ya better do it while you’re still a stick figure, flower child. That goes for you too, granola breath.”

Mina, always the saleswoman, reached into her purse and produced a small jar of cream. “I can perk up that flab for you, ma’am. My name is Mina.”

“I’m Brutehilda and everyone calls this laugh-a-minute turd Chester the Jester!”

“I sell an anti-gravity skin cream that is far more than a simple moisturizer,” said Mina. “It will firm you up. Just rub some there and there…”

The change was magical. Visibly, the sinking ship tattoo on Brutehilda’s arm became buoyant. Beneath the biker mama’s jeans, the weeping willow tattoo on her thigh became a proud oak, reaching toward the sunny warmth of her ‘hoo hah.’

“Keep a sample,” said Mina. “Let me know how it works. My email is on the jar. In a few days I’m off to Slovakia. I got a letter from a woman named Lupta Axe who represents a rich countess whom she says I am related to. Imagine that! So, this Countess Bathory claims that she has found an all-natural ingredient that can rejuvenate not only the skin, but the entire body. It’s supposed to be the real deal.”

“I’ve heard that nonsense before,” said Chester.

“I’m bringing my ingredients to Slovakia. The Countess says that she’ll fly me over and purchase everything that I can make.”

“Me and the wife here are taking some business associates and some Nordic friends on a bike trip through there and along the Danube in a couple of weeks,” said Chester.

“If this stuff works, I’ll buy everything you’ve got here in town,” said Brutehilda. “Maybe we’ll see you in Europe .”

“Unless the skinny bitch turns sideways,” said her old man Chester.

“Ha. Ha. Don’t listen to the old fool, string bean.” Brutehida’s stood up to stretch her six-foot-nine, no, six-foot-ten-inch frame.

Jonathan stepped forward assuming Mina would need protection against the imposing beast.

“Don’t worry, kid,” said Chester. “Brutie’s as gentle as a bear. She won’t crush your little friend. Besides, there ain’t enough meat on her bones.”

Mina stepped back to look up at her imposing new friend. “Yeah. Maybe we’ll see you around.”

“…and around and around,” said Jonathan. “Around Mrs. Monstro here, that would be quite a hike.” He tried to suppress a laugh.

“Orrrrrrrr…unless your dainty T. Rexstands in front of the sun and causes a total eclipse,” said Mina with an elbow to Jonathan’s ribs. She couldn’t stop giggling. Neither could Jonathan. “We’re really sorry,” said Mina.

“Hey!” said Chester. “Noooooobody talks to my fuckin’ bitch like that!”

Jonathan sobered instantly and grabbed the neck of his guitar ready for a fight.

Chester broke into a big laugh. “Chill out, boy. I’m only joshin’!”

Jonathan and Mina looked at the mighty Brutehilda for a reaction, knowing that she could have pounded either of them into poi for the way that they were talking about her.

Then they all joined Chester the Jester in a hearty laugh. (Hardy fuckin’ har har.) There was nothing particularly funny said that afternoon in Santa Monica. It was just that the biker couple had been tooting nitrous oxide (laughing gas or N2O/O2) continuously. Chester and Brutehilda (‘Brutie’ had a dentist brother named Kong) always inhaled a tankful on Sundays, before they cruised the Pacific Coast Highway.

***

Mina had to rush home to make cream that afternoon. When she re-entered her Venice beachfront studio, she found a large puddle in front of her refrigerator. The electrical plug had been pulled out of the wall. On the floor, next to the plug was an empty package of Witchy Snack’s Wasabi Newt Eye. A witch snack? thought Mina. Meanwhile, Mina’s new skin cream “ingredients” (a drunk who’d been sleeping in the planter outside of her ground-floor apartment window) were rotting and leaking out onto the tile floor.

An old six-shooter, $5000 in bloodstained cash, and a handwritten note from Lupta Axe sat on her white Formica kitchenette table. Who the fute is Lupta Axe? And why did I just say “fute?”

The note read:

I’m so sorry about the mess, deeeeeeearie, but you have to leave Los Angeles. Now. Opportunity awaits you overseas. This gun used to belong to the outlaw Belle Starr in the 1880s. It’s a Colt Single Action Army pistol, custom made for Belle. It always protected her. No bushwhackers ever whacked Belle’s bush as long as she had it on her. Don’t let TSA find it, dearie. There are also three boxes of silver-tipped bullets in the bag. All of the documents that you need have been taken care of by order of the Countess. There will be a taxi waiting for you in Budapest. The Elizabeth’s personal chauffeur will take you to Čachtice Castle in Slovakia. Happy travels! FYI: Fute means “fuck” in Romanian.