Gregson followed Murphy to the mess-hall. There was something sinister about the perfectly manicured lawn. Nobody cuts grass that cleanly—not even a Slavic family living in southern suburbia. Red brick buildings popped out of the grass, like eye soars—blood shot, infected with moss, like they belonged in a different century.

“This place looks like a mental institution for the criminally insane,” Gregson observed.

A crowd of girls moved through them like a flock of seagals, screaming for their testosterone.

“I need to commit a crime,” Gregson said. “I’ve been on the wrong side of the law. Can a man voluntarily be committed?”

“It’s not worth it. After sex, a man is drained of his manhood—too much, will turn him into a little boy.”

“Who cares.”

Murphy and Gregson walked into the mess-hall. Guards were eating island pizza, with pepperoni and black olives. There were root beer floats, and beer floats. Fat bellies, everywhere. A tossed salad was untouched on the table—symbolic—it said, anybody fat, can reach for a healthy snack, and save themselves. On the walls, were posters of war heroes, saving supermodels on the beaches of foreign soil. Women wearing bright dresses—peach, lime green, and blue. The occasional pants-suit, but not a Hillary Clinton look, more like a progressive sexy secretary.

“Something is wrong here,” Gregson said.

“Or perhaps, this place is so right, it feels wrong,” Murphy suggested.

“No. That’s not it. This room is screaming at me.”

“You sound insane.”

“Look—the women are eating different kinds of grass, and the men are eating pizza. Don’t you see the social messaging?”

“Of course.”

Then, a bell rang.

Gregson was half-way through a slice of pizza when a voice spoke. It was manly. Deep. Rich. Full of testosterone and vitality.

“I know you are concerned about the missing women. Trust me—we will find them. It’s an island. I have spoken with their fathers and soon-to-be husbands. There is an ample reward offered, if you know of their where-abouts. Senator McCleary is offering a full-package spa, and plastic surgery option to any woman who wants to increase the size of her chest. So, don’t hesitate to let me know. Dr. Boob, oh—I’m sorry—Dr. Bob is one of the best. He can also rejuvenate other areas. He promises an after-child option, with one stipulation. You must have a minimum of six kids, and then, he will make you, like you are 18 again. Think about the bowling ball, stretching, for hours… Not a pretty sight. Your husbands should wait in the waiting room. It’s a violation of their happy place. Okay. Are there any questions?”

A blonde in the front row, raised her hand. “What kind of Doctor are you? Can you perform surgery on me?” She giggled.

“I’m afraid, I cannot. I am a Doctor of Philosophy. But if you would like me to fertilize your mind, I can open up 30 minutes in my schedule. You will have to make an appointment with my secretary’s secretary’s secretary, and then I can get you in.”

There was a deep intake of breath, from the girls in the audience.

Gregson was trying to size-up the governor. Obviously, he was in command—a superman. The PI waved his hand. “Can I talk to you, sir?”

“Of course, you can. You must be the hired help to find the missing women? Let me know if my staff, or I, can be of any assistance to you.”

“Yes—you can. Is there a place we can talk?”

“My quarters, in 25 minutes. I will have my chauffer drive you to my mansion. Enjoy the pizza—it’s the best in the world.”

Gregson, didn’t think it wise to argue. He was a connoisseur of pizza, and knew several places that were better. The PI watched the governor leave. He wore a Scottish kilt, with green socks, and a purple waistcoat. He had a soldierly appearance. The creases on his forehead betrayed the battles he had seen.

“An interesting man,” Gregson mused. “Very rare.”

“Let me know what you find-out,” Murphy said. “I’m going to relieve my stress.” He walked to the pool, and to the fake sand dunes, where blondes, brunettes, and red-heads were sunning themselves under artificial lights. They were all wearing suits—birthday suits. Clothes were as foreign to them as the New World was to Columbus, when he discovered her, untouched, by the white man.

Gregson felt a tug, at the back of his Hawaiian shirt. It was a woman—very short—her head came to his waist.

“The governor wishes to see you. Follow me.”

Gregson followed her. There was something oddly attractive about her tiny legs. She wore low-cut, olive green, military shorts. Gregson loved, a tiny woman who could take command. She was all business.

“The governor is very precise about his schedule,” she said. She caught him staring at her legs. Then she smiled, through her commanding lips. “But we can take a detour, if you like?”

“I like,” Gregson said.

“Don’t worry, we will be on time.”

When they got to the mansion, Gregson got out, and she waved to him, like an Asian holiday.

Gregson staggered up the steps. The mansion was Greek-modern. Ugly. “If you have money, it only magnifies bad taste,” Gregson muttered.

He was about to knock, when the governor opened the door. “Welcome to my humble home,” he said. There was nothing humble about it. Portrait after portrait of him in masterful poses. Lines of golden books on the shelves of his deep red room, with Persian carpets, and a Steinway piano tucked in the corner.

The governor walked up the steel spiral staircase, leading to his third-floor study. Gregson followed him, looking up, seeing the biggest pair of testicles he had ever seen. Bigger than those in the shower rooms of America, larger than life, like tennis balls carefully preserved in their air-locked tube. Of course, the average American male is not a high standard. And European—is well—European.  Siberia is the last stronghold. Nobody wants to go there, and that’s where masculinity is cultivated.

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