Gregson got into the time machine.

“Stanley—you’re going too!” Cornel Weathers said.

“But I get sick on roller coasters…”

“That’s what the vomit bag is for.” He handed him a standard issue white bag.

Dr. Stanley breathed in-and-out, and the doors locked.

“What’s it like to arrive in the past?” Gregson asked.

“It feels like you’re falling, and then you hit the ground.”

BOOM.

They shot toward the wall.

“What are those splatter marks?”

The PI went unanswered— they were hurtling through time, like waiting at the DMV—doing nothing, for 100 years—the boredom broke most travelers, even though it lasted for 30 seconds.

Gregson had the sensation of splattering. “You didn’t tell me it would rain?”

That’s not precipitation—there’s a hole in my vomit bag.”

“Ugh.”

A crowd materialized, like a mirage, coming into focus. Camel dung, mixed with coffee, hashish, and sweet smells waffled into their nostrils like carbon monoxide.

“Where are we?” Gregson asked.

“The race track, if I’m not mistaken.”

Desert sands blew across the stadium, like the sands of time.

When they walked into the men’s latrine, it was worse than they thought. There was shit on the walls, and blood welling-up, out of the floor. Dorian’s body was already decomposing.

“I wonder what the ladies’ restroom looks like?” Stanley asked.

“Po peri and doylies—and you wouldn’t know they do their business there.”

“Men are all business,” Stanley observed. “And the almanac is missing.”

“How about his watch?”

“It’s gone too, and we might not be able to get back to the future.”

“Who would do this?” Gregson asked.

“Somebody who wants to own time. The stab wounds are around the genital region—a crime of passion?”

“Perhaps—or the perp was too short to stab him in the back,” Gregson suggested.

“A woman? Dorian was a lady’s man.”

“Was he successful?”

“If you mean, did he avoid getting his balls chopped off? Nearly. Some men can swallow fire, without getting burned—while others, bathe in gasoline, and play with matches.”

“Let’s look at the leader boards, and bet a few races.”

The camels were honking like swans.

“Number 6,” Stanley said.

“Don’t you want to check the book?”

“It’s not gambling if you know the future.”

The jockeys moved like go-fast boats of the desert.

“Number 4!”

“That was a 20 to 1 bet.”

“Who collected the purse?”

“Madame Pussy.”

“We best be hot on her tail.”

Madame Pussy wore tiger striped pants that flared at her feet. She wrapped a purple scarf around her face, daring to show her ebony hair to the Egyptian men. A walk—a tease—is more seductive than the whole woman. Today, there is nothing left to imagine. Modern women are like a medical journal, with intermittent fast-food advertising. An instant taste—with no lingering pleasure.

Gregson and Stanley stood out—even in period clothes. Madame Pussy pretended not to notice them. She was like a cat who enticed her prey with her walk, with her patient purring, with her dark eyes.

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