Dear reader, you are a patient soul! Waiting vainly for the several authors of this tale to take up its reins anew, and weave its sundry threads into the fabric of resolution. We left you on the precipice, with Crystal Silverloin bursting into flame, and Da Bomb sinking toward a watery grave; a deflating end to his five thousand years upon this earth.
And yet, there is a thread that has remained unwoven, its flaxen dispersion tauntingly out of reach, until now.
For we must now take you back to April 3rd, 1987. Not to Sentosa Island, where Hansel Daggerfjord was rescued by his Malasian lover, or to where L'il Timmy Rompkins was counterseducing Angelista Rasmussen of the Central Twillings Oil Works. But rather, to a more prosaic location, to take up the unlikely tale of Juan-Henri Mcgill.
JH, as he was known to his friends, was, on April 3rd, 1987, on vacation in Piqua, Ohio. A strange place to take a vacation, for the only prominent feature of Piqua was the Lion's Club, and that was only prominent because it had working plumbing. Piqua was, indeed, nowhere. But it was just that nowhere that Juan-Henri sought to get away from the pressures of his job.
And what pressures! How could a man fall so low? Juan-Henri was no philosopher, though he held a doctorate in philosophy from Yale. In fact, he hated philosophy, having been bored to tears by every knobby-headed wise-guy from Plato to Kierkegaard. In fact, thanks to his doctoral dissertation on Kierkegaard's amusement at the stairway accidents of old-people, Juan-Henri would go into a violent rage whenever he was introduced to someone named Soren.
Yet despite this execration of philosophy, JH had recently come to two philosophical opinions. The first was that in life, as in fiction, one can only hear the word "pimento" so many times in a day before becoming mentally imbalanced. And the second was that Indonesians loved pimento cheese sandwiches.
Both facts were unfortunate realities for Mcgill. In his job as short-order cook for Taibachi's Nipponese Sandwich Shop & Deli in east Detroit, Juan Henri found himself slinging hash in the midst of the largest Indonesian population in the Western Hemisphere. Those damn Indo's (as he called them) would come sliding into Taibachi's day after day, leaving smeared stains upon every glass surface, and ordering platters of pimento cheese sandwiches. Mcgill wasn't due for a vacation. In fact, he'd only worked at this job for a week. But he couldn't take any more and he told old man Taibachi that it was either go on vacation or go crazy.
Crazy was an apt term for Taibachi-san. Perhaps the second richest man in Detroit (being the inventor of the under-head cam engine), Taibachi-san was eccentric. But in the one week of Mcgill's employment, Taibachi had come to love him as a son. He had advised Mcgill to either take his vacation or commit ritualistic suicide, and Mcgill had chosen the former.
So here he was in Piqua, staying in the Knight's Inn. The hotel room wasn't much: a couple of dingy twin beds, a curtain that didn't close, a fungal air conditioner, and a TV set that only played MTV's 24-hour marathon of Guns-n-Roses' "Paradise City."
Then the phone rang.
"This is Dean Clummox of Columbia Law School. I'm glad I reached you. I was hoping that you woudl reconsider..."
"How did you get this number?"
"Your employer told me where you could be found. Now, about our offer. Department Head is nothing to sneeze at..."
Mcgill hung up. Hell, if he'd wanted to be department head of philosophy at Columbia Law School, he would have taken the job the first five times it was offered. No thanks!
Then the phone rang again.
"This is special agent Curtiss Stone of the Central Intelligence Agency. I was hoping we could..."
Another job Mcgill didn't want. And so it went on. In the next hour, the phone rang a half-dozen times. Job-offer after job-offer. Everyone wanted Mcgill.
"Damn Taibachi!" Mcgill swore, and took the phone off the hook.
For the next four days, Mcgill avoided telephones. He wandered aimlessly on the streets of Piqua, smoking Magna-light cigarettes and swilling Genessee Cream Ale. Finally he had calmed down enough. Stepping into a telephone booth, he placed a collect call to Mr. Taibachi.
"This is Juan-Henri. I'm ready to come back."
"O! Hoolay! But befow you letuln I have ritter job fowl you..."
Juan-Henri could make no sense of it. In the week that he had been at Taibachi's Nipponese Sandwich Shop & Deli, he had gained an intesive knowledge of every recipe and dish that was offered. In none of them was the Loppy-tan Sentosan Mushroom a key ingredient. And yet Taibachi insisted that Mcgill return to Detroit by way of the Kalamazoo Mushroom Market to pick up a pound of Loppies (as the mushrooms were known in culinary circles).
So here he was, parking his Chrysler LeBaron in front of Wong's Fungi, having driven through Kalamazoo's sprawling mushroom markets. As he stepped out of the LeBaron, he was eyed up-and-down by three Taiwanese homosexuals in Def Leppard T-Shirts. He gave them the finger, and sauntered into Wong's.
It took him a while to gain the attention of a clerk. As the sour-faced clerk stepped up to the counter, Mcgill simply said,
"I'm here to pick up an order of Loppies for Taibachi's, Detroit."
Now, Mcgill was no student of human nature, although he also had a masters in Sociology, and another in Psychology, from Oxford. But he could tell that there was something odd about the clerk's reaction. "Old Sour-face" dropped the crate of portobello mushrooms that he was carrying. The crate broke and spilled out over the dirty floor, and the clerk backed out of the room saying "oh no.... Oh No!"
Mcgill stood there for a second, tapping his fingers on the counter. He looked up suddenly as another man came to the counter, a tall, muttonchopped blonde man wearing a khaki shirt with an emblem of a smiley-face being smashed by a hammer.
"Juan-Henri Mcgill?" the man queried.
"Uh... yeah." Mcgill replied.
"Come with me."