I just petted his soft fragrant brown pile and relaxed in the bedding that smelled of Rufus.
Snatches of conversation came echoing from the bus upper levels, the commons areas.
“Heard you getting pretty enthusiastic in there with your toys, Rufus.”
“Nothing you haven’t heard before, Lin.”
“Well didja have ta yell?”
“Didja have ta drink so much last night Murray?”
“Less than you, Munsch. It’s a crying shame that you leave all the complaining to me.”
“No comment.” Munsch was huge and Lin was slight, so to be friendly they would pursue that
no further. I knew that humans and alcohol versus mass was a matter dependent on numbers and
Murray was disadvantaged on capacity.
“Hey Rufus, how’s Heidi doing?” That was the voice of Jurgen the snitch. For some mysterious
reason Steen kept him as a roadie, and had since his days in the French subways.
Steen answered, his voice dry. “You mean his inflatable bint?”
“Shut up,” growled Rufus. I checked; he wasn’t actually angry. It was some sort of line they
were going to feed Jurgen.
And Ole backed him up in his placid manner.
“Imagine our fearless leader ragging on the man for having a dolly. You wearing spandex at your
age.” Now that was funny because they all wore spandex. But were they all in on whatever plan
it was to fool Jurgen?
“Nah, she’s a real bint lives in Finland, I thought,” replied Davey. “Jan’s the dolly.”
“Jan doesn’t yell,” said Manny, the driver and head roadie at the moment. He should know. He’s
the one who put Jan out front last night. Jurgen’s head was probably swiveling around like a
bobble sculpture trying to follow all this.
“Cathy’s quiet too,” said Murray with a snooty pride which got more snickers.
“Indeed she is,” said Rufus, implying that he knew the girl firsthand, and sounding like he was
about to start a speech. “That is neither here nor there, sirs. But since you have asked so politely,
I will inform you that we have left her recuperating from her night of— “dramatic pause
“Passion, eh? Thought yer had a gleam in yer eye Rufy.”
“Bet you really took it out of her, Rude.”
“Bet she’s really deflated.” That got more snickers.
“Laugh if you must,” said Rufus grandly. “It is true she has her ups and downs.”
Murray was still being nasty. “You said ‘we’—to whom were you referring, to whom?”
“My fault,” interjected Steen, with melodrama rolling off his vowels. “The full story is, she was
just popping in to tidy up after us and she all at once just puttered herself right out. It was too
much for her.”
“He means she encountered active opposition,” said Rufus, in an arch way. Steen just grunted.
Okay, now they were mixing in some history. The incident of my body being punctured was very
old, at least a decade old. But if they wanted to confuse Jurgen, this would do it.
that, the little perverts.
“No, it’s the one he’s teaching to yodel.”
“No, it’s the one that sneaks onto the Internet and posts about you, Murray.”
“Not exactly,” said Steen, trying to sound guilty as well as dismissive.
“Well that would take it out of me if I was pneumatic, that would, pointy teeth,” said Ole mildly,
earning more laughter. “Did you bite her, Steen?”
“Steen, you dog you!” More snickers.
“Oh don’t you worry over Heidi; she’ll be fine,” said Rufus, completely confusing everything.
“Duct tape is a wonderful thing,” stated Munsch piously, and got still more laughter.
Jurgen did his best to find out how many girls extra we let off the coach before we left town, and
which one might be Heidi. I don’t think he succeeded. Cathy was already gone before he started