Fools of the Magic Kingdom

Disney Unhinged: Book One

by Michael Hartnett | Release Date: March 3, 2018 | Availability: Print, Kindle

Disney Undocumented

It's dangerous these days to be a Dreamer in Walt Disney World. Not an everyday dreamer, but a Dreamer with a capital "D". The kind certain Americans don't want in Disney World—or even in the country. When dreams meet hate, the magic turns to madness.

On this April Fool's Day, there's a collision coming in the Magic Kingdom, and it's anything but a joke.

Because this day, busloads of "real" Dreamers, the kind looking not for pixie dust but for citizenship, have decided to spend the day in the Magic Kingdom, all wearing their green t-shirts, while clots of "real" Americans, as they call themselves, slink through the park, armed and dangerous, and prepared to take back *their* park, by whatever means necessary.

Can a few unlikely heroes prevent a bloodbath in the Magic Kingdom?

Disney fiction for adults.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Peter Pan's Flight

Chapter 2: The Rabbit Ears TV Diner

Chapter 3: Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin

Chapter 4: Splash Mountain

Chapter 5: The PeopleMover

Chapter 6: The Haunted Mansion

Chapter 7: It’s a Small World

Chapter 8: Pirates of the Caribbean

Chapter 9: Agrabah Bazaar

Chapter 10: Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café

Chapter 11: The Jungle Cruise

Chapter 12: Liberty Tree Tavern

Chapter 13: Liberty Square

Chapter 14: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Chapter 15: Utilidors

Chapter 16: Space Mountain

Chapter 17: The Emporium

Chapter 18: The Monorail

Chapter 19: Sum of All Thrills

Chapter 20: Rose & Crown Pub

Chapter 21: O Canada

Chapter 22: Soarin’

Chapter 23: France Pavilion

Chapter 24: American Adventure

Chapter 25: Living with the Land

Chapter 26: Italy and Germany Pavilions

Chapter 27: African Outpost

Chapter 28: World Showcase

Chapter 29: Mexico Pavilion

Chapter 30: Gran Fiesta Tour

Chapter 31: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Chapter 32: Cinderella Castle

Chapter 33: Toy Story Mania

Michael Hartnett

Michael Hartnett tries to spend each day like he is living in an amusement park. He often fails in this effort. Hartnett is also the author of the novels Universal Remote, The Great SAT Swindle, and Generation Dementia.

Popular dark ride Peter Pan's Flight is the scene of an odd, quietly disruptive event that befuddles the kids, annoys the adults, and really pisses off Disney security.

Jen could recall the exact moment she decided she hated animatronics. A college freshman visiting the Magic Kingdom for the hundredth time, she was about halfway through It’s a Small World, floating past cuckoo clocks and nodding alpine goats. The boat slipped beneath a bridge and from out the other side disturbingly bright colors shimmered. Below the onion-shaped domes, pagodas, and flying carpets pranced dolls, spinning, shaking, and whirling on all sides of her. She knew the pulsing rainbow of global harmony was designed to make her ooh and aah. And yet, suddenly the magic felt like manipulation. Of course, the damn song didn’t help. The blood in Jen’s head swelled and she closed her eyes, clapped her hands over her ears, and waited for the ride to mercifully end.

Back out in the bright Florida sunshine, she saw the entire Magic Kingdom in another light. It was no longer the most magical place on earth. The animatronics had been so essential to her perception of the park’s magic: the idea that anything could come to life. She was enough of a fan to know the legend of Walt Disney buying a mechanical talking bird from an antique shop in New Orleans. At that moment, he saw the possibility of making something talk and move that wasn’t living. Starting with the Enchanted Tiki Room, Disney would use animatronics to expand a sense of wonder.

The animatronic rides had always been Jen’s favorites. Yet on that April Fool’s Day, she could perceive what the animatronics represented at their core: the idea that everything could be controlled. Now four years later she returned with a legion of others who also understood.

Peter Pan’s Flight seemed like it was going to be the same charming journey experienced by the previous seven hundred riders that Thursday morning. The song had kicked in and the ship lifted up and the only words anyone could hear were, “You can fly, you can fly, you can fly, you can fly, you can flyyyyyyy.” Indians in warpaint, pirates in dopey hats, and British kids in slippers bobbed below as a tiny, shockingly smokeless and clean London twinkled with lights.

Club Minnie had agreed almost unanimously that Peter Pan’s Flight would be the first target in the next phase of their secret war on the Magic Kingdom (Eric lobbied for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, but that was to be expected, since he was convinced that Dumbo was the key to everything). Yet the members had struggled with exactly what they would do on the ride. Ralph wanted to toss a dead chicken right next to where Captain Hook was straddling the crocodile, but the rest of Club Minnie thought that gesture wouldn’t send a clear message. Indeed, the act felt unfitting for a club that prided itself on quirky decorum; plus, smuggling in a chicken was a risky proposition. Nina suggested exploding a Mickey Mouse head right by Tinker Bell, but Club Minnie figured she’d be easily caught. Derek pushed for a wad of toilet paper to be dabbed by Peter’s backside. The club dismissed that signal as too juvenile and not worthy of the cause which they had so cunningly cultivated.

Naturally, it was Jen who suggested an appropriate act. And naturally, Jen’s plan required a good month’s work of design. Yet today when she climbed on the ride in her Cubs hat, long blonde hair pulled in, and a few festive Frozen tattoos on her cheeks, Jen could not have looked more like a clueless, ready-to-be-awfully-amused teenage girl. She tried not to peer out too sharply and avoided eye contact with everyone around her. She was always worried she would encounter the sensation her mentor Marlene named Disney’Vu—the bizarre phenomenon of seeing the same people as you move from one ride to another, even as you move from one park to another. One time Marlene saw a guy with thick Goofy glasses and pink Vineyard Vine shorts on six different rides; the last one was Peter Pan.

Jen frowned, thinking about how many distractions Marlene had shoved into her head. The most addicting was a game Marlene loved to play where she posed the question: If a Disney ride were a pub, what would its name be? Most of Marlene’s tavern names were so absurd that they stuck in Jen’s memory. They’d fly out of Marlene’s mouth compulsively: The Discriminant Goat, The Undernourished Angel, The Automated Pastry, The Unexpected Probe, The Surly Philosopher, The Shrunken Black Hole, The Bashful Laundromat, The Condemned Yacht Club, The Wobbly Constant. Jen was muttering The Wobbly Constant at that very moment, and Marlene’s latest pronouncement was no exception in its niggling stickiness. “If the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train were a pub, I bet it’d be called The Unfrocked Troglodyte.” When Jen left this morning, she asked Marlene what her pub name would be for Peter Pan. Without pause, she answered, “The Elastic Crumpet.” Then she shot Jen a look, “And yours?”

“I think,” said Jen, stalling, “I think it’d be The Airborne Shepherd.” Marlene had nodded her head slightly to indicate that Jen’s answer wasn’t horrible. Now on the ride she decided a better name would be The Wistful Pudding.

She consumed most of the ride’s three minutes and three seconds to steadily open the collapsible staff down her pantleg, so she could attach the tiny hologram laser to the blunt end of the staff. A hundred times at home she had practiced the downward thrust, stabbing the staff’s sharp end into the black riser on the left. Now when it was time to execute, Jen could have been any pimply adolescent tossing those innocent hands aloft to soar like Peter. The downward flick of the hidden, shadowy staff did look convincingly like a mere hat adjustment. After all, her fellow passenger (Ralph) had accidentally knocked the cap in his desire also to fly. Earlier, Jen had slathered that staff in a stew of DNA fluid, skin, nail, and hair samples, so varied it could have been swabbed from an entrance turnstile.

The timer on the laser held off activation for 17 minutes, long enough for Jen and Ralph to be on Main Street, U.S.A. buying Pluto sweatshirts they would never wear. When it did finally reveal itself right next to the real Peter Pan, the hologram was Disney quality; hey, it ought to be with all the training the crew had received. In fact, the first couple of riders took in the image as if it was just part of the show. Jen had insisted that the color palette and illustrative lines match the ride’s quaint, saturated ambience. The Victorian style of the hologram was so fitting and accurate that the riders failed to notice the subversive content. They did not recoil at the illuminated vision of a wrinkled, denture-wearing Peter, rheumy-eyed, loose-jowled, neck-sagging, distended-gut, flaccid-thighed Peter, a Depends diaper Velcroed where the green back of his stylish tunic once reigned. Clearly, the projection remained Peter Pan, albeit not a version they had any business recognizing.

Then a lovely child, investigators later ascertained her name was Elizabeth, whose doting parents had taken her on Peter Pan’s Flight dozens of times before, and had even FastPassed the ride an hour and seventeen minutes earlier that very morning, only to get right back on that awful line and wait and wait to fly for another three minutes. Damn right, Elizabeth knew something was terribly wrong with the image projected before her wondrous eyes.

And she screamed, screamed like someone had just ripped off her Elsa earrings, two days after she’d just gotten pierced so she could feel like a big girl. She pointed and screamed. And others screamed, too.

Others who knew.

The ride stopped. A cast member looked around, trying to imagine how someone could die on so smooth and mild a ride as Peter Pan’s Flight. A heart attack? A stroke? A long scarf tangled in the rails dragging along an unfortunate passenger? After a quick walk through the track where she accounted that all were alert, alive, and alarmed, the cast member concluded with 90 percent certainty that no one had died.

Yet the hologram was almost as tragic to the cast member as the alternative. It didn’t help that in the minutes following the discovery, she grew increasingly frustrated by her inability to remove the image from the wall. It took a highly trained technician, a venerable Imagineer, to discover the embedded staff on the black riser. In the meantime, the cast members smilingly dragged everyone off, closed down the ride with loud on-location apologies and distant honey-voiced official recordings, for now they had a criminal investigation on their hands. The staff and the other evidence would have to be handled properly. Even if the perpetrator had worn gloves (she had) and taken many precautions (boy, did she), traces could still remain.

The offending staff was taken down to the utilidors and into the lab. After many dustings and sprayings, the technicians turned the hologram back on. They were tempted to smile at the geriatric Pan, but when Tucker reported that three of the riders had clicked pictures of it next to the wholesome Peter (although in the context, the lad did appear more randy than heretofore envisioned) and that the hologram was the number one trending topic on Twitter, they frowned the way brokers might at a downturn in the stock market.

Continued in "Fools of the Magic Kingdom"!

A little hack never hurt anyone, especially uber-rich Disney—or so the justification goes. This hack is a watch, kind of a like a Magic Band, except it enables its wearer to buy anything he wants in Walt Disney World, for free. Now, if everyone had such a watch...

Chuck would never turn down a meeting with Cathy Parotte. Yes, Cathy was getting up there in years (who wasn’t?), but she still held the allure of memory. In the late 80s she was as popular as any actress on the big screen, and he could see remnants of that magnetism behind the plastic surgery. He thought the bloggers and the trollers were rougher than they had to be with the before and after pictures of her. No, it was not the best of plastic surgeries, but he’d seen much worse. Her face had not tightened into a mask yet. He’d seen something in the face that had made him wisely cast her in his last film. Cathy truly could be the 50-something, older actress of our age. Not one of those ancient relics whose presence was a monument to a majestic past, no, she was our heroine, like one of those gorgeous houses that had lately undergone a not-completely-satisfactory makeover. Indeed, on the press tour Chuck said, “Cathy Parotte is the actress of the renovation generation.” And while Cathy frowned at that characterization, she and Chuck were connected by the rarity of their mutual success late in their careers.

“I’ve got something for your next documentary,” Cathy told him as they sat down in the booth. “This one will really be big.” Chuck knew why Cathy wanted to meet him at the Rabbit Ears TV Diner. Since it was the latest restaurant to move out of the theme parks and onto the swanky midtown streets of Manhattan, it had the kitschy cool that had attracted an inordinate amount of press and hipster attention. A meeting between the two would clearly earn a surprise photo and blurb on Page 6 of the Post.

Chuck had no romantic illusions about Cathy. He liked talking to beautiful women. At this point in his life, that was enough, even with the achievements of the past few years. He wouldn’t delude himself that his documentary Las Vegas would have been successful strictly on content. Yes, he was proud of his ability to bring a sincere gravity to every artificial aspect of Las Vegas, the gondolas at the Venetian, the sea battle at Treasure Island, the eruptions at the Mirage, and most importantly the even more volcanic exchanges at the casinos and the brothels. Everything in Vegas may have seemed fake, but money made off of resin chips and plastic smiles breathed argon into the city’s neon lungs. Some of the film critics got the point, but he knew that the only reason why his documentary was the first in two decades to make real money rested on how carefully he shot and interspersed the beautiful people who populated his film. Yes, there were a fair share of wide widowers on scooters and broken molls relegated to trailers, and he hoped he delivered some trenchant commentaries about unbridled consumerism and the short shelf life of male attention spans. Yet Chuck knew his rabid dedication to shots of lovely fleshiness greatly broadened the documentary’s appeal. Cathy’s willingness to pose as an aging, yet still striking showgirl was a late and vital addition to the film. Plus, openly casting an actress to perform in what was ostensibly a true slice of life gave the documentary a reality-TV twist that critics characterized as edgy.

He could see that Cathy carried a new idea in her smile. He would listen, not only because he enjoyed looking at her and hearing her voice, but because his audience might still feel the same way. And as always, he brought along his incredibly unobtrusive camerawoman Devyani. Long ago, Chuck understood that if you keep your cameras small and that you don’t point them at your subjects, you have the chance to capture something approaching natural behavior. All of Devyani’s cameras were attached to her inconspicuous beige jacket. She would imperceptively twist her torso in the direction of the action, but always turn her head away. She never appeared to be eavesdropping, since she wasn’t. Her mind was elsewhere even as she kept the camera in place. One time during the filming of Las Vegas, Chuck got the pit boss to grow all misty talking about a blackjack dealer with cancer. He asked Devyani if she thought that scene was powerful. Devyani didn’t know what Chuck was talking about; panicked, Chuck looked to see if she had even recorded the scene, but when he ran through the footage, he was relieved to see she had captured every poignant moment.

He’d blown half the profits from Las Vegas on state-of-the-art sound equipment embedded in that beige jacket. Now Devyani might just be recording footage for a new documentary, perhaps its opening scene. But first things first: Chuck couldn’t stand sitting at a restaurant without ordering something right away. He called over the sassy waitress (the sassy waitresses were half the reason to come here). “Can we have some beer-battered onion rings, a grandpa’s crab cake, and a fried herb-and-garlic cheese to start off?”

Before she took his order, the waitress needed to do her job: “Boy, oh boy, honey, you don’t even say hello, just get right down to business. My name is Shirley, in case you cared. Whataya think you’re ordering at, Jack-in-the-Box or something? You want me to serve that in Styrofoam containers and act like a clown?”

“No, but Shirley, you can get us a Door Slammer and a Slo Sleep.”

Cathy interrupted. “No, I’ll just have the Dr. Strangelove Riesling.”

Shirley chimed in. “Honey, I don’t think he was ordering the drinks for you. I think that man wanted them all for himself.” Chuck smiled, knowing deep down, the waitress was probably right.

Satisfied with her exit line, Shirley turned dramatically and sashayed across to the checkered floor toward a distant customer.

Sidling close to Chuck, Cathy flashed her wrist. “Do you know what this is?”

“A watch.” She tapped the screen dark screen and a nearly familiar image appeared. Chuck twisted his right wrist so his palm opened. “It looks almost like Mickey-Mouse watch. Yeah, so…”

“This is the device that will take over the world.”

Chuck gave a little chuckle of unclear intentions. “How would it do that?”

“It’s a smart watch. It will know everything about its owner, and it will guide its owner to most of his buying decisions.” Cathy flicked her hair back and crossed her legs. If she’d had spider veins, someone had done brilliant repair work. (Cathy would always tell him “genes and the gym.” Chuck would need an entire documentary to find out the truth.)

“Well…sure the smart watches and the phones do have their impact on consumer choices, but aren’t you stretching it? How is this watch any different from the others? Isn’t it just an iWatch with a mouse on it?”

“No. These watches have linked,” here she whispered devilishly, “some say hacked, into Disney and its wonderful data.”

“And they’d do a better job than Apple or Google or Facebook or Amazon in talking you into buying crap?”

“Yes, they would. They’ve tapped into Disney and Disney’s magic. Look what they’ve done with their wristbands.”

Chuck nodded a bit in acknowledgement. He remembered his trip two years ago with Cookie, a sweet divorcee who hadn’t been to the Magic Kingdom since her children were little. Cookie was especially excited when the MagicBands arrived at the apartment in a suitcase-sized box. When she snapped on her pink Minnie Mouse band, she acted like Chuck had just given her an engagement ring. Little did he know how much cheaper even an extravagant engagement ring would have been. Once his blue band (Cookie said he looked “so masculine” in the blue band) was activated, Chuck hardly noticed what he was paying as he shoved his MagicBand up against an endless parade of scanners that glowed and rolled light across Mickey’s head to tell the guest that his credit card had just been charged. Shoving the receipts in his pockets and eventually into the night table drawer at the Polynesian, Chuck hardly ever looked at the charges of the restaurants, the shops, the drink kiosks, the deluxe FastPasses, the animation cel galleries.

On the last day of the vacation, Chuck had roughly calculated about $5,000 less than the actual bill he received, legs wobbling more than he cared to show. The sturdy counter over which Chuck leaned and gasped for breath was just further evidence that the Disney people had thought of everything. They even let him keep his MagicBand activated until he left the premises, since despite the spectacular sticker shock twenty minutes earlier, Chuck decided a Donald Duck gumball machine would be just the souvenir to bring a smile to Cookie’s sweet face for days to come. Only when the profits from the documentary rolled in did Chuck finally unbury himself from that syrupy dark hole.

“Yeah, those MagicBands,” was all he could murmur to Cathy.

“Well, imagine if Disney had those MagicBands on you every day of your life.” The Door Slammer, the Slo Sleep, and the Riesling arrived, and Cathy smirked as she watched Chuck alternate gulps between his two concoctions. Yes, Chuck liked to eat and drink, but especially so when he grew excited. The onion rings, fried cheese, and crab cake hit the table, all of which Chuck immediately attacked. She knew she was getting somewhere. “That’s the power of a smart watch that’s synched to the MagicBand.”

“Who makes the watch?”

“Ah, that’s a mystery,” Cathy said with a cryptic grin. “I only know it’s called the Mouse Eye Watch. Maybe Disney makes it, but my sources don’t think so. And I can’t imagine it has more than a week or two before Disney catches up, but those could be some weeks. It’d be like a window into the future.”

Chuck ordered an Uncle Nick’s Pork Chop and Cathy decided on Aunt Alice’s Vegetable Lasagna. As he added a Vicious Lizards IPA to Shirley’s lengthening notepad (“Jeez, am I taking an order or composing an epic”), Chuck tried to be skeptical. “Yes, but every day isn’t a day at the theme parks. People will pull back. They only think like that when they’re on vacation.”

“With the watch, every day will feel like vacation. You know what the Mouse guys are offering if you buy their smart watch? All soft drinks and waters at all Disney’s parks are free.”

“Free? No way. Free?”

“Absolutely free. Just scan your MagicBand, and you pay nothing. It’s even synched to your Disney account so you can see what you are and aren’t paying for.”

“But free drinks? That’s impossible. How can they afford that?”

“The drinks are low-cost items.”

“But that’ll be some hit on their bottom line. Next time I’m at Disney I’ll have enough to drink that the watch will pay for itself.”

Cathy’s expression shifted subtly to her patented “men-are-dumb” smile, a smile that Chuck misinterpreted as a “she-might-dig-me-after-all” after all smile. She ordered a Vertigo Veltliner (“Good idea, you better drink more wine, honey, to cope with that Hoover”) and leaned back in the booth. She knew that all she needed to do now was to let Chuck just keep talking.

“I think I’ll start off with cappuccino at Tony’s Town Square, and an espresso, too, why the hell not? Then, before I go, I’ll grab one of their sweet iced teas, I like them. Then I’ll mosey into Casey’s Corner and get one of those Odwalla lemonades, you know it’s all natural. From there, I’ll head to Main Street Confectionery because what’s better than bakery coffee? Then I’ll go to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and get a Dasani water since bakery coffee tends to make me thirsty. Oh, I’ll drink back $40 on my watch before I stroll down Main Street on my first morning. Imagine once I get walking. ”

“You better scout out the bathrooms on your route there, killer.”

“I like my food with a lot of salt. I think I better ask the waitresses to bring me two Cokes at a time.”

“They’re probably counting on your heart exploding before you slurp your way to Tomorrowland.”

Chuck laughed with the joy of a good joke and a sparkling opportunity. His belly jiggled with the certitude of an indulger who really liked a buffet. And then his pork chop arrived and he slathered additional butter on the roasted potatoes and carrots. Cathy knew there was no better time to issue her proposition, especially as he stabbed a hunk of pork, a lump of potato, and a chunk of carrot into a kabob, tipping the skewered helping toward his mouth. “So will you come with me then and do the preliminary investigation for the documentary?”

“Where?” Chuck said, kabob contents mashing in his cheeks so he wouldn’t choke as he spoke and ate (clearly, he had used this maneuver before). “What documentary?”

“Disney World. On Mouse watches.” She could tell that Chuck didn’t get it. “You have a watch that’s hacked into the most controlled environment this side of the CIA. And with that watch on your wrist, you’ll be right in the center of the storm.” Chuck scrunched his eyebrows. Such a documentary would be a bit more complicated than tales of sex and greed in Sin City. How do you bring an alternate hacked reality into Fantasyland? Cathy smiled again at Chuck. Her olive skin and her dark hair radiated a warmth. He wondered if she had any idea how beautiful she once was. He knew that was a question she would never answer.

“But there may be no story there.”

“A Mouse Eye Watch at Disney? Free drinks?” She waited for Chuck to ask the third question.

“How could there not be?” Chuck took a moment to finish off a few more forkfuls and drain the IPA. “When do you want to go?”

“Tomorrow.” Chuck raised his eyebrows, but she knew it was unwise to give Chuck too much time to think. “Anyway, who knows how long this watch will work before Disney catches up? I have a friend down there with his own watch who you might want to talk to.”

Chuck knew what kind of friend. She was in Orlando during one of her crises in the mid-90s when she had shaven her head bald. He even remembered in her lowest moments that she took a job as one of Disney’s theme park princesses. She was a long way from her role as the breathtaking robot in Mandroid. Chuck had always admired how she used her stiffness as an actress to her advantage. When the cynical investigator played by Jack Nicholson accused her of being a replicant, she shot back with the wit of the living, “You probably don’t believe supermodels are real, either.”

And now she sat in front of him, more distorted by plastic surgery than weathered by time, yet it was a look that he’d seen so often nowadays that he found it alluring. Even at this very moment, she delivered a busted smile that suggested it could be healed with a kiss. She whispered to him, “Do you have a sense of adventure?” Chuck frowned. She might as well have asked him what he possessed between his legs.

“Let’s get out of here,” Chuck grumbled, downing the last of the Door Slammer decisively, while regretting that he never had a chance to order the Southpaw Punch. “I’ve got to go do some wash before I pack. And I better get that damn Mouse Eye Watch. I’ve got my drink crawl all planned out.”

“Make sure you have good walking sneakers and those little hidden recording devices you like to carry with you.” Cathy suddenly had the unpleasant thought that Chuck might be packing one right now. Yet Chuck’s broad frown casted such a shadow of regret that she knew she needn’t worry. For the first time she noticed Devyani two tables over. “I have a feeling you’re not going to be the only one with a hacked watch who’ll be bellying up to the sarsaparilla bar.”

“Aren’t you going to use yours?” He pointed to her watch.

“Oh, this,” she smiled. “I just borrowed it from my associate.”

“Then why’d you show it to me if you’re not even planning on using it?” Chuck struggled to get up. Leaving any restaurant was never easy for him.

She pouted slightly, just enough to send the message that the pout was necessary, but not necessarily sincere. “I thought you liked when I showed you things.”

“So you’re not going to get a Mouse Eye Watch?”

“Don’t you think it would good for one of us not to wear one? This way we could strike a greater distinction between our buying and behaviors.” Chuck had a feeling the distinction would simply be Chuck would buy and Cathy would behave.

“Still, I’m sad that you won’t have a watch, too. It’s like you’ll be a second-class citizen or something.”

“I’ll still have the MagicBand.”

As he rose from the booth, Chuck winced, perhaps from his balky left knee or the band’s costly memory. “I guess that’ll be OK.”

Chuck got up and paid the bill on his ever-expanding credit card. As they headed to the parking garage, Chuck regretted not going to the bathroom. He had a long ride ahead of him. He looked back longingly at the restroom, muttering a curse to himself. “I forgot to leave a tip on the card.”

“I’ll handle it, killer.” Cathy pulled two twenties from her small purse. Chuck eyed the bills like they were exotic relics.

“That tip’s a bit much.”

“So are you. When you sat down at a booth, it was like Shirley got stuck with a table of six.”

Chuck laughed softly enough to keep his bladder in check. “You think she had it rough. Imagine what those cast members are in for. Free drinks, my God!”

As she dropped the twenties on the booth table, Cathy thought of that ingrained answer to the question, “You just won the Superbowl: what are you going to do now?” But instead of the joyous cry, “I’m going to Disney World!” she imagined Chuck saying those words with a hard-boiled vengeance, as in someone is going to pay for this.

Continued in "Fools of the Magic Kingdom"!

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