"Hey faggo," Chet said, dropping into one of the chairs opposite the desk.
"Chet, I'm pretty busy right now, could you-"
"Whoah, whoah, whoah, Dale," said Chet, brightly noticing Cokey for the first time. "I thought Samantha told you to stop bringing the streetwalkers in here with you. Hahaha, just kidding sweetheart, I'm sure you're a doll."
"Chet, this is Cokey Washington." Dale introduced her resignedly.
"I know you," said Cokey, "you're Chet from the news. The guy who always messes up reading the teleprompter."
"Haha," laughed Chet, "got a mouth on that kid. Hey, nice dress by the way, did you loot it from a corpse at a crime scene?"
"No," replied Cokey, "I found it in a dumpster right next to your hot-garbage smellin' breath."
Chet laughed again, but it was strained.
"Seriously," said Cokey, waving her hand in front of her face. "You need to stop doing that or I'm gonna pass out. You want a Certs or something? I think I got a Certs in my purse."
She pantomimed looking through her purse for a breath mint. Chet shifted nervously.
"I wondered why there was heat waves on my TV last night when I was watching the news. I guess it was just your rank ass breath distortin' time or something."
Chet started to reply, but Cokey cut him off.
"Go on, Chhhhhet," Cokey laughed, exhaling heavily towards him as she said his name, "Me and Dale got work to do and we don't want you around attracting flies with your ass mouth."
Chet stood up, obviously angry.
"I've got places to go and people to do anyway." He did his usual finger-shooter but it seemed half-hearted, robbed of its cocky repugnance. "Catch you on the flipside Dale."
He was almost to the door when he seemed to remember something.
"Butthead," he blurted, trying to think of the properly insulting moniker he had given to Dale.
Chet hurried out.
When Cokey looked at Dale she saw that he was paralyzed, an expression of utter disbelief frozen on his face as he stared at the door through which Chet had just retreated.
"Mister McElroy?" She inquired.
He just continued to stare, mesmerized and overwhelmed by the sudden and total absence of Chet DeMark in his office.
"Mister McElroy, are you okay?"
Dale snapped out of it, turned and grabbed Cokey by her forearms.
TOTAL WRECK - crazy-eyed hound is covered in cobwebs, has a vespiary on back, graffiti on side and savage thirst for boat fuel. Frankly, I'm in over my head. He's in room 115 at Motel 6, yours free. 555-2851
Yes, it's the perfect form for surviving a car crash. But it's also the perfect form for so much more, like surviving the trauma of reading any news headline in 2016.
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