Rusty's escape from the CIA slammer caused the G-Men to flip their wigs. The scam was buzzing all through the cell block. Chick heard about it and had a little fantasy. He hoped that Rusty would round up the cats and spring him from the joint. The guards rarely let Chick out of his cell. They considered him to be too dangerous, too uncooperative, and too belligerent.

Chick read a lot. They would give him books. Novels. Text books. Political Books. Anything and everything. He got hip to ancient Arabia and got into obscure and forgotten religions from the beginning of time.

He had some Arab blood in him so this Arabian jazz was hitting him hard. He absorbed a great deal of knowledge rapidly. Ancestral memories emerged. A new awareness developed. Hereditary spirituality. His new found faith turned him into a regular sky pilot. He preached his revelations to the numbskull latchkeys.

The G-Men came to believe that Chick was starting to mellow out. They no longer felt threatened by him. After a while, they made him a trustee. They stopped locking his cell and he could move around some. He could go to the library alone and to the kitchen. A false sense of freedom but greatly appreciated.

Chick was sitting in the library reading when a square looking G-Man wearing a shiny blue suit sat down next to him.

"Hello, Mr. Magnet."


"My name is Vaughan, James Vaughan. But you can call me Jim. I'd like for you to come with me to my office upstairs and talk with me. I have a proposal that could be mutually beneficial."

"Sure, lets go. I'll talk with you," Chick responded out of curiosity.

They rode a secret elevator that went to the top floor of the building. This cat's office was plush. The G-man wanted Chick to become a secret agent. It turned out that Chick looked exactly like some potentate in Syria.

The CIA wanted Chick to do a bit where he would pretend to be this potentate cat and sign his name on some kind of treaty. He was to fly to Syria with 2 CIA goons and, after the goons had eliminated the Syrian big shot, he would be the big shot. Chick would go through six months of training and then go to Syria. Then, after the mission, he would be released.

"Secret agent Chick Magnet reporting for duty, Jim."

The training was intense. How to kill. How to torture. How to maim. How to spy. Foreign languages. Interrogation 101. The basics of espionage. Chick began to realize that there was some heavy stuff going down in the world. He even found out about some crazy thing they called cloning where they would make living duplicates of the top CIA agents. Like sci-fi night at the drive-in.

The big day came. Chick and 2 other secret agents got off their plane at a small airport just outside of Damascus. A goon who worked for the CIA was waiting for them in a jeep. He drove them to a hotel that they would use as their headquarters while in Damascus.

"Man, this secret agent jive is cool," Chick thought aloud.

The other 2 secret agents talked to Chick about football for about 8 hours in the hotel bar. Tired, Chick retired to his room to cop a few nods. He slept like Ripped Van Wrinkle for the next 12 hours.

He woke up the next morning or afternoon, he didn't know. His job was to wait for the CIA hit men to do their thing. He read. He meditated. He waited. The sun was going down when Chick's door flew open. Some geek burst in with his pistol drawn. Blue steel. Silencer. The gun was about 6 inches from his face when he kicked the geek in the balls. He grabbed the gun. The geek got up and lunged at Chick. Zoop. Silence. The geek fell on the floor. He had a little red hole in his forehead.

"Somebody made me out," Chick said to himself as he grabbed his bag and walked away.

Chick hung around the middle east for around 15 years. He changed his name from Chick Magnet to Kareem Ahweet. He became a mercenary, a soldier of fortune. He hyped his CIA training to various intelligence operations and he stayed busy secret agenting. He also had a steady gig beating the skins every weekend at the Tehran Holiday Inn, until the place blew up.

The real loot was in the terrorism business, though. He had made a lot of connections in the sand. Have gun, will travel. Kareem sometimes wondered if he would stumble onto the center of the universe in his travels.

The years went by and Kareem got tired of the mercenary racket. He wanted to play the drums. He had a bank roll the size of a bass drum. New York City was calling him home. Jam sessions. Cool chicks. Boss reefer. The Village. Kareem missed the whole bit.

The plane ticket was cheap. The bogus passport got by the suits. Kareem fell into New York loose, his baggage taped to his back. A big wad of cash and a kilo of hash.

Kareem was set. He bought himself a full set of tubs. He made all the scenes and beat the skins every chance he got. He jammed with the best boppers swinging. One cold night, he ran into PJ in front of the Muggles Club. PJ had changed his name to Huk L. Bury . Huk had a day gig dusting roaches in Brooklyn. He was looking square and uptight.

"PJ, baby! Gimmee some skin daddy-o!"

"Chick, man! Where you been, man? I don't believe it!"

"Shhh. Call me Kareem. Like the sidewalk's got ears, it can't hear that I'm here, I might be hot, man."

"I dig. Man, I'm going by Huk. Mr. Huk L. Bury, exterminator. But its a drag, man."

"What happened to Rusty?"

"What happened to you?"

"It's a long long story, man. I'll lay it on you sometime. It ain't that pretty."

"I talked to Bud on the phone just last week. He looked me up."

"What's his story?"

"He's down in Jersey. Calls himself Jabbah or something. He's doing a weekend gig at a night club, man. A mind reading routine, like magic. He's busy. Got a weekday gig as a professional wrestler and playing in a rock 'n' roll band on the side."

"So, you ever hear from Rusty?"

"Yeah, man. Bud got a call from him a few weeks ago. He's down in Nashville playing the hick circuit. Calls himself Dusty Deedbooks."

"Rusty, Dusty, Crusty, it all rhymes, man."


"Crazy, man."

Kareem got Huk's number and Bud's number too. He called up Bud, now Jabbah, shot the breeze, and got Dusty's number. Then he called up Dusty and talked away half the night. He gave Dusty all the phone numbers of everybody. Everyone pledged to keep in touch. The old bonds were there but none of these cats suspected that the whole Scarien thing was about to come down hard. They were thinking that was in the past.