But standing in this line, under Tweedle-Dee's 1/5th-Earth gravity, proved to be extremely difficult under the circumstances. I kept telling myself: "Be quiet, be calm, say nothing. Speak only when spoken to: Name, rank and press affiliation, that's all. Nothing else. Ignore these terrible drugs, pretend nothing's happening... ah... uh...."
There is no way to express the terror I felt when I finally lunged up to the clerk-creature's desk and began babbling. All my well-rehearsed lines fell apart under that creature's stoney glare.
"Well, HELLO there," I said suavely. "My name is ... ah ... Raoul Duke ... yes, ON THE LIST, that's for sure -- free lunch, final wisdom, total coverage, why not?"
The creature behind the desk -- who might once have been a woman -- seemed to have ... eyeballs bubbling up out of her head, floating over us like dialogue balloons from some old cartoon. Was it the drugs, or was this how she(?) really looked? And was I ... levitating ... or was it just the damned lack of gravity?
"Uh.... I have my attorney with me," I continued, heedless of her many eyeballs pivoting toward me warily, in unison, to get a better look, "and I realize of course that HIS name is not on the list, but we MUST have a suite, and actually this creature is my DRIVER. ...Yes, just check the list and you'll see. Don't worry. What's the score here? What's next?"
The woman never blinked ... any of her eyes. "Your room's not ready yet," she said in tones of ringing crystal. "But there's someone looking for you...."
"No!" I shouted. "Why?! We haven't DONE anything yet!" My legs felt rubbery -- damned gravity! I gripped the desk and sagged toward her as she handed out an envelope -- but I refused to accept it. The woman's face was changing -- swelling, pulsing, horrible green jowls and fangs jutting out -- the face of a Moray Eel.
I lunged backwards into my attorney, who reached out to take the note. "I'll handle this," he said to the Moray woman. "This man has a bad heart, but I have plenty of medicine. My name is Doctor Gonzo. Prepare our suite at once, we'll be in the bar."
The Moray woman shrugged as he led me away. In a place full of bedrock crazies, nobody even NOTICES an acid freak. We struggled through the jammed lobby and found two stools at the equally crowded bar. My attorney eventually ordered two Cuba libres with beer and mescal on the side, then opened the envelope.
"Who's this guy Lasorda?" he asked. "He's waiting for us in a room on the 12th floor."
Lasorda? I couldn't remember. The name rang a bell, but I couldn't concentrate. Terrible things were happening all around us. Right next to me a huge reptile was gnawing on a woman's neck. The carpet was a blood-soaked sponge -- impossible to walk on it, no footing at all.
"Order some golf shoes," I mumbled, "otherwise we'll never get out of this place alive. You notice these lizards don't have any trouble moving around in this muck -- that's because they've got CLAWS on their feet."
"Lizards?" my attorney said. "If you think we're in trouble NOW, wait 'til you see what's happening in the elevators...."