The remaining 35 minutes of the flight were stranger than fiction.  A Fed in a shiny blue suit burst out of the cockpit, bearing a grimace like his underwear was too tight, holding a grey-black Glock 23 Gen3 FG&R pistol like he could easily be persuaded to use it.

He strongly suggested I retire to my quarters as the Mug-shots picked Ike, his bloody nose and his thick lip, off the mat.

So, I did as I was told and sat myself on the east-couch opposite Joy. Monica sat on the west-couch opposite me and I reflected loose ends on passing clouds like they were puzzle pieces, wondering where they might finally lead (and if I wanted to follow).

Monica was wondering too, through high-gloss black-eyes that foretold a storm.  But before she had a chance to wonder out loud, Joy offered to mix us a drink, with a big-time ‘Tienes mi atención hijo de puta.” smile.

Meanwhile the K-Bird’s RB211’s droned on and the cloud-cover smothered us as we descended slowly from 41,000 feet an altitude and an attitude that put us seven miles above the ebb and flow of mere-mortals living and dying and scratching out an existence in-between, which is a mile and a half above commercial traffic.

By the time Joy returned balancing three egg-foamed, Johnny Walker Blue-Label, whisky-sours on a Kunt branded golden tray, I’d decided she was the type that sits at ringside in the hope that the pugilists blood splatters her white dress and that she’d probably stay as close as I’d let her for the same opportunity.

I’d also decided that my best chance to solve the puzzle lay at Monica’s Manolo Blahnik BB Black Suede Pointed Toe Pumped feet.

“I started out with the idea that you were Florence fucking Nightingale with a pen only prettier, but being that you are Edwin’s hi-ja, I should have known you would be trickier and more dangerous than that. “

“The first wrinkle was that I was your story.  The second that was that I was Kunt’s half-brother.  The third that I was born of the rape of my mother by a Kunt. El cuarto que todavia no estoy completamente seguro de cual Kunt es mi padre? Or that I care. The fifth wrinkle is that James Alexander Kunt likely disinherited me. And the sixth wrinkle? He is now the President of the United States of America. “El lider del mundo libre.”

“And it does seem that this part of the story is tried, tested and true as the Director of the FBI took time out from catching bad guys to tell me so. Al parecer, los federales tienen una prueba de ADN para probarlo.  Apparently he got the sample from you?”

“The seventh and eighth wrinkles are related.  You inherited the 2,331 Bitcoins that were left in Cold Storage by Papi-Edwin. And you, mysteriously, cannot find the key? Or is it that you have the key and you aren’t telling? The ninth wrinkle is that you are married to Shango, a prophet-for-hire who bad men pay to do their dirty deeds. I’m supposing he and his Beasts for God Army dealt drugs for your Papi, and that’s how you met?”

I paused in anticipation of jackpot worthy of a line of cherries, but Monica crossed her legs, twisted the grounded heel deep into the rug and kept her lips zippered tight.  So, I took a sip and then another from my glass and fortified my suppositions by swilling the rest.

Squi, la mierda se vuelve loca. The tenth wrinkle is that your brown-eyed boy likely runs the ground game for Vladimir and the GRU nasty-boys that hacked Kunt’s way to victory in 2016.  I’m guessing he then launders Black Caviar at Mr. Clean and other laundromats of ill-repute, and that Cohn, Mercer, Vladimir, Kunt and Shango are a tribe. The eleventh wrinkle is that members of the tribe murdered Mami and faked her suicide, for which they will pay much, much more than the $25,000,000 they have offered.”

“Dark hates light Degas – that’s why I tune it out.” Monica hummed, but too softly to derail my flow.

“There are a whole lot of wrinkles around Kunt and his indiscretions, BUT THE RIP-VAN-FUCKING-WRINKLE IS THAT THE ONE PERSON THESE CUNTS HAVE IN COMMON IS MONICA RIVERA; last seen on TV tit-teasing Lady Kunt; besties with Cohn <em>who just happens to employ her narcissist half-sister</em>; an associate of Mercer and by my own private score-card everybody in this GOLDEN FUCKING OSTRICH and almost everyone else within spitting distance of POWER.  How the fuck am I doing?”

Monica pulled her brows into gothic cathedral arches and patted her paws together, but not so loud anyone would hear the clap-trap  above the engine noise, found a spot a few inches above me to gaze at, which may have been her own reflection on the 57-inch screen, and bit back:

“Degas, struggle starts from the bottom and spreads like an infection into every crevice, every weak link you can find until you’ve vanquished your fucking enemies. La lucha es mas fea que el pecado, and littered with double and triple crosses, trades and deceit. Struggle never delivers a clean victory. The best we can hope is that the good outweighs the bad and all that was sacrificed along the way. “

She’d said it peacefully, but her white knuckles told of a rollercoaster ride from somewhere painful, through somewhere painful, to somewhere painful.

‘We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being --- “ she said mostly to herself, channeling Malcom X, channeling Jean Paul Sartre in his first public speech as a Muslim  “--- to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.’

I was gearing up to chuck something poignant and witty back at her, when the RB211’s reversed over 40,000 pounds of thrust and roared.

And the K-bird broke through broken clouds, kissed down, and decelerated as if on air-soled feet.

Captain John Dunkin confirmed his impeccable landing by welcoming us to “balmy West Palm Beach,’, and taxied us towards a pair of black Suburban’s that were racing to greet us, flashing colors like consequences.

My anxiety peaked as we pulled up to the black Suburban’s bumpers at the Signature private terminal of Palm Beach International Airport.

It dissipated a little as we walked through the K-Birds lounge, passing an honor-guard of Mug-shots on our way to the forward left-side door.

They unfurled scripted NutraSweet smiles as we passed. All except Ike who had lost the plot as his lop-sided contribution, which sat on a thick lip under his bloodied nose, was the first cousin of a snarl.

As we made down the ramp-stairs, moist air, carried by a breeze aspiring to be something stronger and more dramatic, blew in from the southwest on its way to the shimmering Atlantic Ocean and welcomed us warmly with 82 degrees of Fahrenheit, blowing all my troubles away.

The gaggle of Feds and private security guards that had gathered at the base of the ramp-stairs wore matching off-the-per blue to blue-black suits, sunny dispositions and shades to protect themselves from a “bright-as-a-button, clear-as-a-bell, sun-shiny day.

”We were ushered into the lead Suburban where I was directed to the front passenger side seat. Monica took the captains’ chair behind me and next to Joy, in front a couple of Feds’ in the 3rd bleachers. The Mug-shots followed in tow and toe to toes — extras in Kunt’s reality show.

We took off west on James L. Turnage Blvd., an asphalt jumble of warehouses, long term car parks and dusty clusters of Royal Palm, Needle Palm, and Miami Palm trees dancing salsa in the breeze.

Turning right onto Australian Ave. we passed hotels, motels, a Hampton Inn and a couple of Silver Palm fringed man-made lakes where still waters ran shallow, and mosquitos had their day after day in the sun.

We took the third right off a roundabout to Southern Boulevard where tall, slim Royal Palms and clusters of lower Medjool date-palms, Sabal palms, Bismarck palms and more palms lined the fading grass median and both sides of the road in an unlikely eruption of unsustainable urban planning.

At the southwest corner of the intersection of Southern Boulevard and I-95 two dueling billboards on one vast iron wedge-shaped scaffold towered high above us blocking out the sun.

The northeast facing red-white-and-blue billboard read ‘IMPEACHMENT NOW,’ and was paid for by MadDog PAC, a small, grassroots political action committee, imagineered by Claude Taylor a self-styled political prankster and satirist who served on the White House staff of former President Bill Clinton, and who borrowed the idea from the Oscar winning black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

The southeast facing red-white-and-blue billboard read ‘THANK YOU PRESIDENT KUNT,’ and was paid for by the Committee to Defend the President, which was imagineered by Ted Harvey, a former member of the Colorado Senate and staffer in the Reagan White House, as a Stop Cunt Clinton PAC in 2013, and then reimagineered in 2017 as the Committee to Defend the President from the ‘radical left as he sets about undoing the progressive policies that are destroying our nation.’ [ii]

The billboards came and went in a blur replaced by Dreher Park, home of the Palm Beach Zoo, which was imagineered by Parks Superintendent Paul Dreher, who, built a big red barn, and populated it, using his own money, with a goat, two ducks, one goose, two chickens and on February 29, 1964, he added Joey the kangaroo to the zoo’s collection. [iii]

It was a coup in zoological terms equivalent to the acquisition of Babe Ruth by the Yankees from the Red Sox, as Joey had featured in two issues of Life Magazine and was declared an honorary member of the Boy Scouts of America, after escaping from his home and wandering around Palm Beach like its mayor,[vi] and the star hopper tripled zoo attendance.

A CVS drugstore surrounded by an asphalt car-park moat was next up, then the random mangled chaos of the Junk Cars Anytime lot, which gave way to a Walgreens drugstore surrounded by an asphalt car-park moat, because America is the land of the plenty and we are spoiled for statistically insignificant choices.

Crossing Lake Worth Lagoon onto Bingham Island, we picked up a dappled dark-blue and white Ford Taurus Cruiser patrol car and then a matching Ford Explorer Interceptor patrol truck.

They top and tailed us — flashing.

And just like that we became a procession.

A second hop over Lake Worth Lagoon and we hit Palm Beach at the same time as a sky-writing biplane, which was flying south to north decorating the sapphire blue sky with a trail of smoke that read:

‘Kunt is a fascist’ and:

‘America is ALREADY great’ and:

‘Whose afraid of big bad pussy-grabbing President Kunt.’

At Ocean Drive we made the left and seconds later pulled up to the mosaic gates of Kunt’s Key Largo estate, which were flanked by a pair of patronizing little elves, which stood on top of corkscrew-like columns, clinging to lanterns for dear life.

Heaven’s pearly gates opened automatically to greet us, and we rolled along an asphalt drive lined with coconut palms through which the late-afternoon sun flickered.

Beyond the Palms, exotic flowering bushes were being pruned by two gardeners from way down below the southern border and acres of golf-green lawn slid in a gentle slope to Key Largo, Kunt’s sprawling, two-storied, double-sided, crescent-shaped Mediterranean-style palace, which faced the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Lake Worth to the west.

The prize at end of the drive was clad in white-brown cement stucco of so many textures I needed my fingers and my toes to count them and glazed with more than 36,000 tiles. Some of the tiles dated back to the15th century. Many of the tiles were decorated with abstractions of the Lions of Venice in St. Mark’s Square. The tiles were part of a collection that was at the time it was sold to the owner/builder of Ley Largo, cereal heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, the largest and most valuable collection of Spanish tiles in the world.

I was admiring the joints’ 75-foot bell tower and particularly its four cantilevered balconies when Monica tickled my ear with a whispered, ‘Welcome to the show!”

That tickle felt so nice that I tilted my head a few inches back to land my lucky ear softly on her lips. She left her lips there a little longer than necessary, which delayed my first Kunt sighting a few precious seconds.

When I came to, we were idled in front of a red carpet leading to the grand entrance to Key Largo, which was guarded by four marines standing to attention in pairs and decorated with the flags of the Peoples Republic of China and the United States.

Kunt stood at the end of the carpet at the top of 5-steps wearing the baggy red pants, the tight jacket, small topper, oversized shiny shoes and clowns’ face, Nadyia stood tall by her man in a China-red Valentino sleeveless crepe midi dress with matching daisy- appliqué and with Christian Louboutin So Kate, floral-on-white, pointy-toe pumps with 4.75-inch stiletto heels.

They were holding hands, though Kunt was also holding a set of oversized boxing gloves by their long white laces in his right.

As the Marines pulled the passenger side door and both middle doors open simultaneously with choreographed precision, Kunt waddled down the steps and bounced over to me smiling, or was that just the paint?

He handed me the boxing gloves and now he was laughing: “Welcome to Key Largo Bruiser Degas.  Legend has it that you have a Kunt’s right hook?”

I took it that he was welcoming me into the family, so I smiled graciously and passed the gloves from my right to my left hand to accept his invitation to shake.

It was an occasion I’d been anticipating and preparing for ever since footage of Kunt’s ‘pull and pat’ handshake with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch went viral.  First, he patted Gorsuch’s hand to remind him who’s in charge. Then he proffered the same hand in beggar’s pose and pulled him in toward his body. When Gorsuch, off balance, released his grip, Kunt claimed victory with a patronizing back-slap.  He’d used the same technique with Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe.  Only that wrestle had lasted so long that at the end of it, Abe rolled his eyes.

True to form, he patted my right hand before he gripped.

His paw was smaller, hotter and wetter than mine and his initial grip slipped.

His second attempt was stronger, and it came with an FYI:

“Bruiser, did you know that the handshake was invented to guarantee that neither of two frenemies had a dagger up their sleeve?”

“Mr. President, I come in peace.” I said, adding torque to my grip, “Or at least to get my piece.”

“WE MADE A VERY GENEROUS OFFER!” Kunt snorted, squeezing so hard the white foundation under his eyes began to crack.  “I may look like a clown now Bruiser, but that’s only because we are celebrating the 88th Anniversary of the day Marjorie Merriweather Post hired the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to perform a charity fund-raiser at Key Largo for underprivileged kids. WHEN WE TAKE THE PAINT OFF YOU’LL BE LOOKING AT THE FACE OF A GENIUS WITH AN EXCEPTIONALLY-HIGH I.Q.”

“Beatriz is dead,” I whispered, counter-squeezing viciously, which caused Kunt to wince, which caused Joy to smile, which caused me to squeeze harder.

“I didn’t kill her.” he sulked, waving the white flag, loosening his grip.

“At the very least you created the circumstance,” I said softly with but with murderous intent of the bastard that was going to take the Kunt down.The art of the deal had failed him, and he assumed I was raising, so he offered me more:

“$25,000,000 is a lot of money in any circumstance, especially if you consider THE TIME VALUE OF MONEY.  And it’s just the start! Joy’s going to take you up to your room now so that you can cool off before our dinner. We’ll be joined by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and his wife, the singer Peng Liyuan. I promise that you will never forget the after-dinner fireworks.  In your room you’ll find a lifetime membership to Key Largo, which comes all of the benefits of being a part of this family.”