The guys fail their saving throw…

NOTE: If you are not up to date on the story, the first two novels have been run in their entirety at
The Transformation of Lawrence Croft:
Chance of a Lifetime:

One in a Million – Chapter 13

The Guys Fail Their Saving Throw Versus Relationships

“Okay,” said Burt, staring at the cards in his hand. “I start out by tapping four chi to bring out the Drunken Master, and then tap two to play surprise attack on…your Captain of the Guard, Deej…and he’s plus two versus authority figures, so that’s all for him.”

Burt twisted and turned the cards on the table in front of him, flipping them this way and that. “Finally, I tap the last two to call up the Magic Flask, which let’s me draw five and keep three.” He followed his own instructions and then rapped the table with his knuckles.

“And, that’s me.” Pause. “I’m done.” Another beat. “Larry, wake up, it’s your turn!”

“What?” Larry looked up over his own cards. “Sorry, man.” He made a show of studying them, even though he had no idea where he was in the game.

“Some game night,” muttered D.J. “Playing ‘Hong Kong Showdown’ instead of kicking goblin ass.”
“We can still play,” said Burt.

“Not without Turk,” said Larry. “You guys will need a healer.”

Burt dropped his cards on the table. “Oh, this is horse shit.” He stood up, stretched, and walked into Larry’s kitchen, saying, “Okay, Deej, why don’t you go and tell Larry what you told me the other night. It’s pretty obvious you want to talk about it.”

“I wouldn’t have said anything except Linda and Leslie were…”

“What?” Larry looked up, suddenly alert. “Did Linda say something?”

“About what?”

“Me and Holly.”

D.J. frowned. “No, about Rhonda and Turk. What’s going on with you and Holly?”

Larry’s eyes bugged. “Wait, what’s going on with Rhonda and Turk?”

D.J. outlined the broad strokes of the conversation between himself and Linda and Leslie. As D.J. talked, a cold sweat broke out over Larry’s forehead. It couldn’t be a coincidence, could it? Dreaming about Rhonda and Turk like that? But how to bring it up to Burt and Deej? He quickly ran down his options and realized that the answer was simple. He wouldn’t. It was too random, too crazy.

“Okay, that’s pretty weird,” said Larry when D.J. had finished. “But are you sure Turk is, um, competing for Rhonda’s affections? And if he is: so what?”

“Look at the evidence,” D.J. said. “He’s been sequestered for over a week now. He hasn’t gone to the shop, he hasn’t come to game night. When I can finally get him to pick up the phone, he tells me he’s in the middle of an online contest and can’t be bothered.” He finished by stabbing a stocky finger at Burt. “And you won’t go check on him to make sure he’s alive. Some friend.”

“I told you before, and I’m telling you both now, Turk is fine.” Burt sipped on the Diet Mountain Dew he’d procured from Larry’s filthy refrigerator. “He’s done shit like this before, and if I try to get in the middle of it, I’m just going to end up pissing him off. Or vice versa.”

“But this is different,” said D.J.

“No. Only different in your mind,” said Burt.

“Yoda to Luke, Empire Strikes Back,” said Larry without thinking.

“Nice one,” said D.J.

“Let me tell you about Fred Terkington,” said Burt, standing up to pace. “We met in Mr. Yarborough’s freshman comp class, and we’ve been friends ever since he let me copy the answers to a pop quiz on The Old Man in the Sea. I’ve known him, what, three years now, and I know him as well as anyone. In that same freshman comp English class, there was a girl named Vivian Novak, and she was, according to Turk, ‘Venus incarnate.’ I shit you not, that’s what he said. Vivian, it should be noted, wore glasses and had a blonde streak in her jet black hair that made her look like Lily Munster. But Turk was smitten and Turk tends to deify anything in a skirt. So, rather than go up and ask her out, like a normal human being on planet Earth would do, Turk spends two days following her to her classes. Based on where she went, and what she was taking, he deduced that she was a poetry major—“

“Poetry major?” asked D.J.

Burt kept going. “Don’t bother, they don’t exist. I tried to tell him that, but he was convinced. So convinced, in fact, that he spent a week forging a notebook full of poetry—”

“A week?”

“Yes, I mean, a whole week! And he couldn’t just write a bunch of nonsense down, and call it free verse, no, not Turk. He went to the library and read through Yeats, Chaucer, Longfellow, and oh, hell, I don’t know who-all…and then instead of copying those poems down, he wrote deliberately imitative verse so that she would read one of his ‘poems’ and then say, ‘Wow, you like Yeats? Me, too!’ and then they would have sex.”

Burt and Larry laughed.

“Because that’s all it’s ever been about for Turk: sex. Not love, or companionship, or anything else. He just wants to lose his virginity.”

“So, what happened with the girl? Vivian?” asked D.J.

“Oh yeah, well, it took another three days for Turk to figure out a way to fall in front of her, throwing the open book in her lap, so that she could see he was a poet, too. Only she wasn’t a poetry major, she was a library science major, and it took about a minute and a half for her to figure out that Turk just wanted her to be his first edition, if you catch my drift, and then that was that. Turk had a poetry book full of shit he didn’t even write, one more embarrassing notch on his belt, and that, my friends, is how he’s been for as long as I’ve known him.” Burt took a long drink in the midst of their appreciative silence, and said, “This thing, right here, is just another book of poetry. If he’s chasing Rhonda online, then let him. As long as he’s not trying to rope one of us into a harebrained scheme to win her heart, we should just let him be.”

Larry found his voice at last. “But Burt, we can’t let him do this. Not to Rhonda. She’s friends with Holly, and Leslie—”

“…and Linda, I know,” said Burt. “She and I talked about it the other night after Deej called me, and I told her that if Turk screwed up royally with Rhonda and she didn’t want anything to do with him, that was between Turk and Rhonda and not us, or anyone else in the group.”

D.J. smiled. “Burt, you’re a smart guy, and I like you a lot, but you’re wrong about this. These are girls you’re talking about, here.”

“Oh, ho,” said Burt, “don’t take this the wrong way, Deej, but since when are you the expert when it comes to ladies? Real women, too; Catwoman doesn’t count.”

“I’m not an expert,” said D.J. as a scowl formed on his face, “but I can tell you this much: the girls are worried about Rhonda. And if there’s one thing over time I’ve learned, from my mother on down, is that if it matters to them, it damn sure better matter to you.”

“But that’s ridiculous!” said Burt.

“No, I think Deej is right about this,” said Larry.

“Says the guy currently having to negotiate for game night privileges,” said Burt.

“Ouch,” said D.J.

“Yeah, what’s up your ass?” demanded Larry. “We’re just trying to do what’s best for Turk.”
“Oh, are you?” Burt stood up, his hands on the table, “really? Because it sounds to me like all of your girlfriends and your…whatever Leslie is to you, Deej, all got together and are trying to interfere in other people’s lives. And I won’t be a party to it.” Burt grabbed his backpack and started stuffing his gear into it.

“What are you doing?” asked Larry.

“It’s getting late, and I’ve got to catch the train. Test tomorrow. Need to study.”

“Oh, bullshit,” said D.J. “He’s pissed, and god only knows why.”

“Think what you want,” said Burt. “I’ll see you guys on Wednesday.”

He left without a word.

“Was that weird, or am I imagining things?” asked D.J.

“No, that was weird. In fact, it’s so weird, now I’m worried about him, too.”

“I’m no expert,” said D.J. “but do you think maybe he’s jealous?”

“Of who? Us? Turk? He’s dating Linda right now.”

“Well, how’s it been going?” asked D.J. “Have they gone on another date?”

“I don’t know,” said Larry.

“Did you ask?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Then, maybe that’s why Burt is so pissed off.”

Larry thought about it for a second and scoffed. “Burt has a very different skill set from the rest of us, but ‘sensitive’ is not one of them.”

“So, what do we do?” asked D.J.

“About what? My problems, Turk’s problems, or Burt’s problems?”

D.J. started to say something, and then he changed his mind. “I don’t know, Dude.” He scooped up the cards on the table. “One more game?”

“Yeah,” said Larry. “You deal.”

The Author

Mark Finn

Mark Finn

Mark Finn is an award-winning author, playwright and essayist who is active in Robert E Howard studies. His biography, Blood & Thunder: the Life and Art of Robert E Howard was nominated for a World Fantasy award, and will be re-released in an updated second printing later this month. His comic books SCOUTS! Premeires in March from Ape Entertainment.

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