--Santiago de León de Caracas, Venezuela
“I like you man, please, have another glass of wine. Tell me, my friend, what do you think of my beautiful country? Is it not everything I always told you? The women, they are magnificent, are they not? I would tell you the finest in the world, but ah my friend, I will not lie to you. You trust me, eh? Truly our women are not the equals of the Cidade Maravilhosa. *Cough* Ah, my Rio, I see the dances of your women every time I close my eyes! My friend, we simply must be there together for Carnaval, I shall have us the finest flat in the city! Ah, no no no, no objections my friend. It is done. Don't tell me again about that silly game of yours, that must be a thing of the past I say. Purge it from your mind! Or you may let the women and wine of my country do that for you. *Cough* By February I shall have to haul you out of this country with oxen, but only to see the dancing of the Carnaval – I tell you, our bald heads shall drive the women simply mad, hah hah hah! Ah, speak not again of that pittance you refer to as a contract, this position I have for you will pay 20 times that. You are my friend, you know. My time is limited here – ah, sigh not, as long as there is life in me, we shall live! - but anyhow, when it is time for you to take up my socialist revolution, your fortune shall have no end. And we must instill a passion in you for the sport of your new countrymen, a game of men. Football, what your base country calls soccer, that is the sport for you to play if you must engage in any at all!”
“Do you have to rebound?”
The bell rings for the final lap and the muscular, long-legged man who swiped the lead with a blistering pace from the start pushes through even harder. Hayward Field is on it's feet as this unlikely underdog starts his kick, his Nike Waffles flapping, sweat drips from his unkempt mustache and his long hair, let out, rises and falls as each stride consumes the small length of track separating him from victory. The crowd is berserk, scarcely believing what they witness as this previously unknown runner prepares to lap the pack. American record holder and currently in second place Bernard Lagat sprints furiously to keep from joining lapped shamed, but the newcomer will not be denied. He seems to harnass the energy of the frenzied crowd, defining in their chant, “GO RIP! GO RIP! GO RIP!” As he crosses the finish line as the new world 5k record holder it is clear that his days of professional basketball are over. He will retire, renounce his contract, buy a gold MG, and become the greatest American distance runner of all time.
Hospitals in the tri-state area are in full alert, especially pediatric wards. Despite enhanced security measures the spree of disappearing babies continues, as the tally grows to the sixth lost infant since July 1.
The transmission on the radio came over yet again. Despite the monotony, it was comforting. “This is Arcadia, broadcasting on the emergency frequency. There is no infection; we offer safety and security, food and shelter, an unlimited supply of out-of-control drives for combo guards.” In the distance, the trees cleared into an opening. Rodney lowered the plane and prepared for landing. Arcadia? This is it? There were plenty of planes, but no town, no people, nothing resembling what the transmission said. Nothing but desolation. Behind him he saw a flash of movement. Rodney rushed to attention, drawing his really cool looking machete. Slowly he crept to the front of the adjacent plane, near where he saw the motion. From above came a low, threatening growl. “HEY!,” Rodney ejaculated as he tossed the machete at his assailant. It ricocheted harmlessly off the side of the plane as the attacker forced Rodney to the ground.
“What? Leon! Leon, it's me, Rodney! The hell you doing here?”
“Dude, Rodney, I've been trying to get you the down low. Lockout's over man. Look, I got you a killer deal, $70 million, aight?”
“All right, great!”
“Hold up Stuck Rod, something I got to let you know.”
“I hate it when you call me that.”
“It's cool brah. Anyways pennyways, deadline to extend rookie deals passed. We're going to have to ride this one out on the QO. Buzzkill, right?”