“It’s ok Lenny, you can tell me. In fact, I think you’d better,” The brilliant Dr. Johnson had just explained to the young veterinary student, now part human, part cat, part frog, how he had pieced together what had happened. Early on, Dr Johnson had dismissed his ideas as pure fiction, but after talking to Professor Lincoln at Lenny’s school, he learned of the highly experimental work being done.
“No, it sounds like you pretty much know as much about it as I do. Can it be reversed, doc?” Lenny asked, eyes downcast.
“I’m not going to say no because I think it would be discouraging if I told you you were destined to spend the rest of your days with a weird frog, cat, human hybrid body. But I’m also not going to lie to you. Stop that!” The Doctor warned as Lenny licked at his paw then snatched a fly out of the air with his tongue.
“All I’m saying kid, is if we don’t figure out a way to slow down the mutation, you may be all frog or all cat in a few weeks. You probably understand a little bit about how this stuff works. Your teachers say you’re the brightest they’ve seen. But I’m going to explain it anyway because I have an idea about your treatment.
“When you jack around with DNA hybrid stuff, there’s a pretty good chance that one genome will take over and change the organism back into one of the original beings. This completely unobserved phenomenon is known as “science fiction”. And the DNA never reverts back to Human. We know this from all of the science fiction documentaries.”
“Meow, you were saying you had an idea?”, Lenny asked, eyes bulging a little.
“It’s far too early to say, but I’ve been mulling it over. I have a little bit of investigative work to do. Well, you’re a scientist, maybe I can explain my idea. Actually, a good friend gave me the idea inadvertently when he or she tried to poison me. I’m not sure.”
“You don’t know if your friend tried to poison you?”, Lenny said tired and confused.
“Oh no, he or she did. What I don’t know is if it’s a he or a she.”
“Doc if you don’t know the gender, why don’t you just say Shim. That’s what they’re called.”
“Seems like kind of a rude name. I’ll stick with ‘it’. Anyway, my friend had a friend who was working on a new strain of super-coolant. He had planned to devise a practical super computing device. Unfortunately, the substance was as dangerous as it was effective for cooling.”
“Maybe, I’m still not 100% doc, but I don’t follow. What do you mean?”, Lenny asked, gaining hope and interest.
“Well, you know how plain old anti-freeze is dangerous to dogs? This stuff is like a thousand times more powerful than anti-freeze in every way.”
“Weird, but if you can somehow tell me-ow what that has to do with my condition, I’ll be truly amazed.”, Lenny said, now gaining a bit of skepticism.
“Me too,” Admitted the doctor, “It’s just a hunch. I’m going to have to think about it for a couple of days. In the mean time, I’ve had the nurses set out a big plastic box of litter beside your bed if nature should happen to call,”
“Oh man, you don’t know how bad I have to go …” a relieved Lenny Johnson said, slipping out of the hospital bed to squat into the 4 foot square box and grunt all regal and everything, just like an embarrassed cat. Oh the weeks of pent up, ahhhh ….
“Well then, I’ll leave you to it,” a totally grossed out Dr Johnson informed, “Oh by the way, My friend is going to be staying in the other bed in this room. She’s in pretty bad shape, but I think she just might pull through if I can get a hold of her friend the coolant creator guy and we can devise an antidote. In the meantime, I'm keeping her alive with the DNA treatment you originally developed. You see the ...”
"Frog DNA. Of course. Frogs are not effected by anti-freeze. That's pretty clever doc, but what about side-effects," Lenny asked, holding up a paw, and almost losing his balance in the cat box.
"I had to act immediately. She was dying. I figured I'd just worry about the horrible mutant thing later."
“So now you’re just saying it’s a ‘she.’” Lenny challenged.
“Probably wishful thinking on my part kid, now get some rest. I gotta get out of here before you do the ol’ cleaning cat salute thing.” Doctor Johnson confided.
As Jack Hughes, rent-a-pig, sat on his little stool outside the ticket window of the AMC 6 West movie theater, he reminisced. Floating away from the present situation of ensuring kids weren’t sneaking toast into the Midnight showing of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, Jack’s mind went to a more heroic time. The day he just about died saving his partner.
It was about 20 years before this night. It had all started out as a routine bust. A neighbor had reported a lot of in and out traffic at a house across the street from her. So Jack and His partner Coop were staked out about 3 houses down from where the neighbor lived waiting to see something suspicious for themselves. Coop’s real name was Steven Roberts. But he thought “Roberts” sounded too cliché for a cop. So he liked to go by ‘Coop’. The year was 1963 and in Omaha, the Reefer scene was going great guns.
“I’ll tell you Hughes, America has lost her innocence,” Coop continued on his monologue while Jack worked the crossword, “You see these kids, what are they 17? 18? Brains all smoked out on this shit. I tell you. It’s the beginning of the end if we don’t nip this marijuana thing in the bud,” Coop was not making some clever play on words. Neither Coop nor Hughes thought in terms of ‘buds’.
“Hey Steve, what’s a 6 letter word for ‘Shut the fuck up’.”
“Try ‘eat me’”, Coop suggested.
“Let’s just agree to disagree then.”
“Did you know that Hemingway said ‘write drunk, edit sober’?”
“Interesting. What’s editing? Who’s Hemingway? Is he in homicide?”
“Never mind Coop. Or Hughes. Whichever one of us isn’t talking right here,” Said Hughes, obviously distracted. Looking out the car window toward the house in question, he glanced at the tire swing in the front yard. What kind of drug dealer has a tire swing? It reminded him of the time he was a kid down at the summer cabin his folks had on the riverfront. Jack would swing on that thing for hours. In the evenings they would all gather around the big speaker radio and listen to the adventures of J.C. Owens at the 1936 Olympics. Jack was 13 that year and Jesse was his hero. He showed that evil Nazi Bastard how we do it over here. Jack wanted to be a hero like Owens. If only they had “Tire swinging” in the Olympics, he’d show that tough customer Hitler what’s what.
While sitting on the tire swing one day, Jack was about to reflect on yet another simpler time with yet another flashback, when he was jolted back to reality. Coop was shaking him, “What gives Hughes? We’re up,” Nodding toward the house, Jack realized something wasn’t right. This can’t be happening. Then it hit him. He had been about to go triple flashback and still had one more to jump out of before getting back to the present.
“Well what do we have here,” Hughes thought, watching the grand entrance of Boomer, Cube, Marv, Butch, and at first he only saw Dr. Johnson (not yet a Doctor) behind them. Then, looking again, he saw the towering figure of a young Burt Rasson. “How did I not see that guy at first? You’re losing it Jackie boy.”
These kids looked like trouble in every sense of the word. Well, they didn’t look like “draw your sidearm” trouble. But they were definitely “stern talking to and finger waving” trouble.
“Welcome to my theater, Gents,” Jack Hughes mumbled, surprised at his sudden improvement in mood. All the anxieties of earlier in the week melted away at the prospect of some real peace officer work. “I was born for this shit, excuse me, er doo-doo.” He’d later tell his loving wife.
“Thanks for the invite there, daddio!”, The Future Dr Johnson replied. “We expect to have one hell of a time in here.”
“How did he hear that?” Johnson mumbled to himself and immediately regretted it.
“YOUNG PEOPLE CAN HEAR BETTER!” explained Boomer earning a slap in the arm from a snickering Marv, L.K.A. Janey.
“So I know you’re probably not the person to ask, being how you’re just a security guard, but do you know how I could get on the force as a detective? I’m thinking ‘vice’,” Cube asked in all seriousness, sucking on one end of his ray-bans.
“Why don’t you boys just go buy your tickets and enjoy the show. And no horseplay OR tomfoolery.”, Hughes advised, “I’ll be watching you”.
“Ooooooooooooh,” thought, but didn’t say, all the boys. Not until the story was being retold.
Walking up the stairs to the theater, but still within earshot of Hughes, J said, “Ever since that movie ‘Colors’, they really take movie security seriously.”
Confused looks all around. Except for R who was shaking his head at J. J had maybe had too much to drink. He was forgetting where he was again. Or more accurately, “When he was.”
“What movie?” Butch asked.
“Oh, um it’s a French movie. Probably won’t be released here for another 5 years or so,” said R. clearly panicking trying to cover for his best friend’s mistake.
“Hey – is there this balloon that follows this kid around in it?”, Boomer asked.
Then Marv said, “I think it’s a movie from the future and that’s why it won’t be released here for 5 years.
And I also think Janer are time travelling aliens. Who walks that smooth, anyway?”
There was silence as the boys all tried to figure out if Marv was joking or just crazy. Standing in a small circle looking at each other, Butch said, “Hey where are Janer anyway.”
And just like that, they were gone.
“I was just kidding,” said Marv.
“Well, if they ever work their way back to this dimension or time or whatever, you are totally apologizing to them,” Butch assured.
“Whatever. Let’s get in there. I don’t want to miss Riff-Raff’s lips,” encouraged Cube hopping from foot to foot.