Ring Game

Ring Game by Pete Hautman Read Free Book Online

Book: Ring Game by Pete Hautman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pete Hautman
helix shaved into each temple, one gold earring, and a thick gold chain draped across his fifty-three-inch chest. A crude tattoo depicting a grinning skull adorned his left forearm.
    “Why aren’t you on the door?” Polly demanded.
    Chuckles’s thick fingers massaged the GameBoy, producing a series of beeps. “Me, I’m on break. It quiet in here.” The dressing room was the only room in the building that did not have Rupe’s discourse piped in. “Chip, he’s up front,” Chuckles added.
    Polly snatched the GameBoy, her pink nails raising parallel weals on Chuckles’s wrist. “You don’t take breaks when we’re on.”
    Chuckles rubbed his wrist and kept his eyes on the GameBoy. “Chip, he can handle it.”
    “If Chip could handle it, I wouldn’t have hired you. Hyatt Hilton is in the building.”
    Chuckles sat up. “Again?”
    “I just saw him in the auditorium. Find him. And before you put him back in the dumpster, find out how he got in, and what he’s doing here.”
    Chuckles pushed up off the chair and trotted down the hall toward the front of the building, his thick torso gaining speed.
    “And cover up that tattoo!” she shouted after him. Polly tossed the GameBoy on the long dressing table. She took a cigarette from the pack she’d stashed above the mirror and lit it. Puffing angrily, she paced the room. What was Hy doing? The last time he’d tried to disrupt a meeting, Chuckles and Chip had tossed him in a dumpster. Apparently, he hadn’t got the hint.
    What did he hope to gain by making trouble for the church?
    Maybe Rupe was right. Maybe they should’ve paid Hy off when they’d expelled him. Given him enough to live on for a year or two. Severance pay. She could understand how Hy might feel bitter, but it wasn’t as if he’d given them any choice. Well, hell, it was too late now. If Hy wanted a fight, then that’s what he’d get.
    Polly sucked her cigarette with renewed fury, producing a glowing ash two inches long. The sudden influx of superheated nicotine produced the sensation that her wig had come alive. She ground the butt into the floor and kicked it under the table. Rupe would be freaking. He could talk for a long time, but he was nearing his limit, and he didn’t like being on stage alone. Chuckles could handle Hy. She had to focus and keep the show going. To grow is to live, to live is to grow. That would be her theme for the next half hour. She checked her reflection in the mirror. Not bad, she thought, for thirty-eight.
    Polly DeSimone had worked as a model—mostly runway work—back in the eighties. She had been valued for her regular, instantly forgettable features and her ability to change outfits in seconds. She still looked good, and she planned to keep it that way. Aging and death were disgusting, small-minded concepts. It was remarkable, really, that she and Rupe were among the first to have discovered the key to cellular regeneration. It was right and fitting that they should be rewarded for bringing this knowledge to others, even though—she had no illusions here—many of the Pilgrims would never develop the mental powers to regenerate their telomeres and bring about the cellular rebirth necessary for them to achieve true physical immortality.
    Polly stepped back from the mirror and turned her body this way and that, checking for loose threads.
    Thirty-eight years old, and she didn’t look a day over twenty-five.
    As soon as Rupe saw Polly return to the stage he segued into his finish. “I love you,” he said to the audience, spreading his arms wide. “How can I not? I’ll know you for a thousand years. I’ll know you forever.” He paused for ten full seconds, the longest period of silence since he had taken the stage two hours earlier. Midway through the moment of silence, spontaneous tears welled from his soulful Pakistani eyes, streamed down his cheeks. His arms began to shake. The thread on his ass quivered. He screamed, “I can feel your

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