Gregson looked for his mojo in the mirror. It usually came to him when he least expected it. Now, all he could see were his sunken features.

The thin PI left his room for the deck where Admiral Lafayette was at the controls.

 “The admiral is one of the most alluring men,” a blonde girl said.

Gregson raised his eyebrows. “He has a pot belly and receding hairline.”

“Don’t talk bad about the admiral. It’s his mind that is seductive. You’ll see,” she said. “Just wait for the second act.”

At the Mission, Lafayette was giving a speech… “I know all of you have been waiting to read my second book. I will unveil the secret to everything. When you hear it, you will know it, you have always known it. It came from the valley of the red flower, a place touched by eternity and knowing.”

With that, Lafayette left the podium and went behind the curtain.

Gregson followed.

“You have something, none of us have,” Lafayette said.

“What?” Gregson asked.

“A reason and an emotion behind it. I’ve been searching for what you have, but I can’t get it. I keep convincing others that I have it, but all they want to be is convinced.”

Gregson didn’t know what to say.

“I’ve gotten these most recent answers under the influence of nitrous oxide.” Lafayette petted his manuscript like it was an animal.

“What?” Gregson asked.

“Laughing Gas. I had a few teeth extracted last week. In the jungle, I find it difficult to brush consistently.”

“What did you mean about the valley of the red flower?”

“It came to me in a dream. When we get there, only one of us will come out of the jungle alive.

“Who will it be?”

“He’s fat and has a receding hairline.”

“Do you believe in dreams?” Gregson asked.

“Dreams make life tolerable. We all have to believe in something, whether we are asleep or not.”

Gregson didn’t tell him what he was thinking…

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