Eight years later


while the wheel's still spinning, the little ball drops into Luke's particular slot again--only, in this particular game of chance, he doesn't rake the chips in; they get swept out from under his nose.

After a botched appendectomy (which included a nightmare scene in the recovery room that involved waking to the Four O'Clock Movie right at the moment when Tony Curtis as Houdini gasps out the promise, "I'll come back . . . I'll . . . come . . . back . . ." as he dies from peritonitis--just down the street, it turns out, from Luke's old house back in Detroit,) he declines to accompany his girlfriend of seven years to Zuma Beach.

There had been another argument, the night before. Something--a cat or an iguana or maybe even the caiman--had dropped a little calling card in the bottom of her sister's, Aleis', sleeping bag and, apparently, lots of shouting and yelling had ensued. He didn't say whether any lobbed bottles of Beefeater gin had figured in it.



It falls


He took home artifacts