Inside they had a little waiting room with about six chairs and a water
cooler. God, if that’s really who he was, and I took a seat. I saw this woman
on the other side of the window looking out at us. I got up and went to the
water cooler to get some water to take another Nossad. Even though I had
another hour before I was scheduled to take one, I felt like I really needed it
now. The woman, the Madam, I guess, was attractive, with nice legs under a
miniskirt, and long black tresses spilling out from under her helmet. She came
out and looked us over. "Well, what can I do for you two… as if I don’t already
know?"

"Is this a bathing facility for
weary travelers?" God asked.

The madam smiled. "Well, every
room comes with a shower. Come on in and meet the ladies."

God followed her and I followed
him, trying to get my Nossad out of my pocket with one hand while I held the
paper cup of water with the other.

Inside, seven girls had lined
themselves up for inspection. All young and pretty, their helmets were brightly
decorated with colorful flowers and butterflies; five were Asian and two were
Caucasian. As God and I looked at
them, they smiled and winked.

"You girls help them make up
their minds," said the Madam.

Six of the girls immediately went
over to God, crowding around him. The
remaining one frowned as she looked me over, her hands on her hips. I was
lifting the Nossad to my lips when one of the girls evidently grabbed God the
wrong way.

"Harlot from Hell!" he thundered,
causing me to drop my meds. He glared at me in angry astonishment. "They are
harlots!"

"And just who do you think you
are," said the Madam, "God? You have no right to insult my girls like that!"

I heard a racket and some
thuggish-looking guy wearing a black Nazi motorcycle helmet came hurrying down
the stairs–the bouncer, I assumed. Grim determination on his face, he was
pulling a club out of his jacket and headed straight for God, but God was faster.
Staff raised, he turned the guy into a smoking burst of red, glowing ash. The
women screamed and again I dropped my Nossad as the place erupted in chaos,
doors opening all over the place and helmeted johns coming out everywhere, all
of them anxiously pulling on their shorts or pants as they anxiously ran for
the exits while God smote them right
and left like a kid playing a video game. The place caught fire and the chaos
ratcheted up. I ducked back down to the floor, trying to locate my pill. It
started getting hot and I gave up and headed for the exit.

Outside, a crowd of local people
milled around on the pavement. The fire in the building was spreading fast and
I could hear fire alarms in the distance. A window on the second floor burst
and flames poured out, licking up at the asphalt roof tiles. About a half dozen
more johns ran out, disappearing into the crowd.

I took advantage of the confusion
to walk down the block and get into the car. I reached into the glove
compartment to get my date’s address and the directions to her place that I had
written down earlier. The paper wasn’t there! I searched the glove compartment
thoroughly and then I saw it on the floor. That was how he did it! He had
rifled my car earlier and already knew where I had planned to go this evening.
He was no mind reader and he certainly wasn’t God. I again recalled the
writings of Von Daniken and Sitchin and realized that it was more likely he was
one of those all-powerful ancient astronauts from other worlds that they wrote
about. And I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that his name was Zorg or
Zargon, or something, and that he was some kind of outlaw too. Perhaps at this
very moment some alien police force was searching the solar system for him.

I decided I better get away while
I had a chance and I was just about to start the car when the door opened and
Zargon got in. "What?" he said sarcastically. "Surprised to see me?"

"No," I said, "I just wanted to
listen to the radio while I waited."

He gave me a cynical smile.
"Well, you forgot to turn it on."

I felt foolish as I realized he
was right. "Listen," I said, trying to humor him, "this has been very interesting
for me, learning about your religion and all. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot out
of it. I really do. But I have this engagement I have to go to and…"

"Shut up and drive," he said.

"Of course."

I started the car and we joined
the traffic. I went back to 6th Street and headed north. Traffic slowed at
Mission and I spotted a big jam up ahead on Market Street. There were people
standing around with signs and the San Francisco cops were on both sides of the
streets. Listening to the distant cacophony of drums ricocheting off the
buildings, I realized it was a parade of some sort. As we drew closer we passed
two men wearing only lederhosen and holding hands as they walked along. Another
man wearing not much more than a purple superman cape rolled along on a
seniors’ scooter with a rainbow pennant flying above him. Realizing what it
was, and with the scene at the massage parlor still fresh in my mind, I quickly
turned left onto Mission, the tires squealing in complaint. I could imagine
what would have happened had we gone straight and Zargon had been suddenly
confronted with the sight of 100 marching men wearing nothing but jock straps
and black combat boots as they twirled and tossed their shiny batons aloft in
synchronized precision.

Kerblouie! Kerblam!

"Why did you turn?" Zargon
demanded.

"Short cut," I said.

His eyebrows compressed with
suspicion "Go down there," he said, pointing me toward Van Ness. We came to the
intersection of Geary and Van Ness and Zargon pointed to the left. As the sun
slowly set we rolled down the six lane expanse of Geary, headed for the Muslim
Quarter. "Where do you want me to turn?" I asked him, worried about what would
happen if we continued going straight and crossed the panhandle.

"No turns, just drive on," he
said. "I’ll tell you when to stop."

We hadn’t gone three blocks past
19th Street when we passed the first mosque. A crowd of bearded men milled
about on the pavement outside. The call to prayer could be heard from the
minaret above.

Zargon stuck his head out the
window looking up at the building as we drove past. "What the…" he said. "Pull
over."

I did, putting the car in park
but leaving the engine on. I looked over. I was struck by the sight of dozens
of children yelling excitedly as they ran around without helmets on, some of
them playing dodge ball, which had long been illegal. Ever since the passage of
the Leave No Child Behind Law, child-bearing required a license, which most
people didn’t qualify for, and so the sight of large groups of children was
most unusual. I recalled the campaign for the bill’s passage and the slogans–Fertility
is Disability; Sterility is Responsibility. There had been an initial outbreak
of violent demonstrations in the Muslim and the Undocumented communities after
the bill’s passage and both groups had subsequently been exempted from the law.

"I’m going in there," he said.

"Okay. I’ll wait here."

"Yes," he said, "and just to make
sure… " He grabbed the keys out of the ignition.

"Why did you do that?" I said
angrily.

"So you won’t run away like a
wuss."

We got out of the car.

Just as Zargon started across the
street, a woman came out of a darkened doorway. "Halt!" she said. She was
wearing the uniform of the dreaded San Francisco Parking Authority.

Zargon halted.

She came into the dim light of
the street lamp. "I’m arresting you for attempted jaywalking," she said to
Zargon.

I swallowed hard as Zargon
started laughing.

The SFPA officer seemed
surprised, then her face hardened and I saw her pull something from her belt–a
taser! She came at him, the taser extended, but Zargon was faster. Raising his
staff, he smote her with a mighty bolt of clean, non-polluting electrical
power. Smoke and steam rose from a small pile of glowing ashes on the sidewalk.

"Now look," I said to him, "I’ve
been doing my best to assist you in your mission, but I don’t think I’m cut out
for all this. Why don’t you just borrow my car, I mean, chariot, and then you
can go wherever you want for a couple of hours?"

He was looking at me like I was
some kind of bug. I went on, "It’s got an automatic transmission, so you should
be able to drive it alright."

Still he said nothing as he
continued to stare at me.

"I don’t think I’m a good partner
for your, uh, campaign here," I said. "I don’t care about what all these people
are doing as long as they’re not bothering me or hurting anyone."

A slight smile broke the hard set
of his jaw. "That’s because you’re weak," he said, his eyes continued to bore
into mine.

I shook my head. "No. I’m sorry
you feel that way. But I think we’ve come to a parting of the…"

He grabbed my face with his big,
meaty hand. His grip was as powerful as a vice and tears of pain poured from my
eyes as he pushed me backward.

"The next time you defy me," he
roared, nodding at the glowing pile of ashes, "will be the last!"

He shoved me and I fell on my ass
on the sidewalk. As I watched him walk across the street and into the mosque,
my breathing was rapid and I felt something–anger, I think it was–hot and
all-consuming. I thought of maybe getting some bottled water and taking my
Nossad to calm down, but I knew that even a whole bottle of Nossad could never
quiet this awful feeling I had. I also knew that I had to get away from this
guy.

I heard screams from across the
street. A window blew out and glass rained down onto the pavement. Fires could
be seen inside the place. I had to get away. But before I could do anything,
Zargon was getting back into the car. I got into the driver’s seat as a Toyota
truck left the parking lot across the street with a half dozen bearded guys in
the back waving Kalashnikov rifles and shouting, "Allah Akbar" angrily.

Zargon shook the keys in front of
my face. "Now we’re going to Orinda. Get back on the freeway."

I didn’t say anything, but my
mind was working a mile a minute. I had to figure out a way to ditch him. I
recalled my new lady friend, Michelle’s face. Although she fancied herself a
witch, it was all fairly innocent. She didn’t hurt anybody with it. But if this
guy got ahold of her and her friends and if I was the one who took him there…
Well, the thought was terrible. I had to find a way to stop him.

*