by Art Arduous




Life was not too crazed in the days leading up to the party and that's just the way Muk wanted it and needed it. Everyone had assignments and a 'to-do' list. In general, the crew at Rancho Silver Rio had a fairly light load. Cosima and her team were baring the brunt of the party planning. A PR firm was turning the extravaganza into a made-for-new-media event.

Muk designed a limited edition print for the goodie gift bags and printed it downtown at El Nopal Press. He spent most of his time in the library at Silver Rio with the dogs drafting a Scenario of Likely Reaction. It was his plan to return the twenty-two million in jewelry. The party would be the best place to divert attention. Officially, there was no reward money. Muk thought it safer to not get involved. Watch and wait. Muk was also reading up on the Fall of 1945, when artist Salvatore Dali collaborated with Walt Disney on a film project. Interesting ideas happened. Muk was impressed with the flights of fancy and a big wild bash that Dali hosted in Santa Barbara.


Pedro was planning a mix. He would be the DJ for a key set of the evening. He was working with Muk on the play list and transitions. Muk wanted to end up with something like a surreal soap opera. Emperor Muk McKaylee


Blu was crafting a prop for the big night. Through the entire week, she never took the earrings or the necklace off except when she left the house. She got a kick out of wearing them, usually topless, believing the natural human body offers the best presentation for any jewelry that costs over a grand. Muk tried not to worry too much. His overactive mind had imagined the stones falling into the toilet or getting pulverized in the garbage disposal.

Blu was focused most on her upcoming performance as a magician's assistant. She had to do this while in the guise of her Sugar Fox-Honey Bare character. Six months ago, she had never acted before. Now she would be playing a part that is playing a part. She had to design a feathered skirt to slip on fast, right before the magic show, so that her cocktail dress would suddenly become a showgirl costume. Blu was the busiest in the bunch.


Cosima was not joking when she said she'd "star-up the guest list. Fans not friends." With all of the recent media attention on felony thief Ali BeeDee and the House of Freemani, the art unveiling was becoming the next chapter in the whirlwind scandal. This party was going to be a media show and everyone wanted to be a guest star. The guest list offered a media mystery: Would Ali BeeDee have the nerve to attend? There was much discussion. Ali took her platform to extol the importance of good manners in a civil society. As she was not invited to the party, she reported that she would therefore not crash it. A Public Service Announcement for the Council for a Civil Society began to air almost immediately. Ali was the new spokesperson for the non-profit, dedicated to educating the lower classes with etiquette classes.


            Muk was stretched out on a chaise, reading by the pool. Pedro was watching him, hoping to catch his eye and interrupt. He wasn't having much Luck. Finally, he jumped in and asked, "What's gonna happen? What's the final? I know our plan, but what will it do? What will it accomplish?"

            "I dunno," Muk answered very slowly, "The best I can do is: I believe it will conclude in an interesting way."

            "Conclude how?"

            "I dunno."

            Muk's answer wasn't answering the question. "But what are we gonna do about the injustice?"

"That's what I'm waiting for. To see what happens. Maybe justice is not an issue. Maybe no one is wronged. Maybe no one gets hurt."


"Let's wait and see on that. So far she spent a few lousy nights in jail. She got a bum rap. For her, that's no big deal. Her drama is daily."

"Someone was setting her up."

"True. True. Someone is messing with her... Or maybe they're helping her."

"They? You think more than one?"

"I have absolutely no idea. All we can do is wait to learn more."

Pedro growled that he understood, but he still wasn't satisfied.

"You don't like to wait." Emperor Muk McKaylee


Muk read a phone number off the computer screen address book and punched the numbers into his phone.

"Hello?" answered Shelia Westwater. She was Muk's old girlfriend and his connection to Ali BeeDee.



"How are you? How's Ali?"

"I'm good. I haven't seen Ali since she got out. She called to say its all cool. I'll go over tonight with her cat."

"Yeah, glad she's out... I'm curious though. Who put up her bail?"

"Well, I am too and I asked her, thinking there might be a Sugar Daddy I don't know about. She said the law firm put up the bond."

"That's a helluva good customer service!"

"Yeah. She is a good client!"

"Getting arrested every week. She's paid for more than a few country club memberships."

"Four hundred grand dangling for bail. She knows she can't fuck it up or her team will slam her back in the slammer. Her lawyer knows all her secrets."

"Hmmm!" answered Muk lightly. He was glad he wasn't Ali right now. "You get the invite?"

"Yeah. Very cool. I'm gonna frame it."

"Be there?"

"Oh, yeah! Wouldn't miss it. Should I bring Ali?"

Muk laughed, "Lordy! I'll talk to you soon."



            Muk waltzed into the kitchen and tossed the car keys on the counter, announcing his arrival. Blu exploded with enthusiasm and glee. She had been waiting for him to get back. "You wouldn't believe what happened." She wore a sarong tied around her waist and her twenty-two million dollar jewelry.

            "I bet I will."

"No you won't!"

"We got a call from FauxLuxe Magazine."

"I'll believe that. FauxLuxe?"

"The Brit art photo rag, in London. They want you to do some detective work."

"That I wouldn't believe."

"Told ya."

"And how did our phone number get mixed up in their yellow pages?" Muk answered his own question at the same time Blu did, "Cosima."

Muk thought this was funny. "Detective work. We're diversifying. Fine art, detective work and Clogged Drain Specialists. Household repairs. Is your wife cheating? Need a painting above the fireplace? Toilet clogged?"

"I took the job for us."

"Lotsa money?"

"Not bad for two and a half minutes of your time." She handed him two printouts, both photos of graffiti painted on a wall. "The editor wants us to track down the street artist for a spread. They think the walls are in Echo Park."

"Indeed they are!" Muk picked up his telephone and dialed. Both pictures had the same bold lettering style. One read Art, Like Death, Makes Life More Interesting. It was painted on a wall with Echo Park Lake and downtown clearly in the background. The other dominated a brick wall in an alley, I Measure My Life By Other People's Milestones.

On the eleventh ring an Englishman answered, clearly annoyed at the intrusion, "What?"

"Should I tell FauxLuxe Magazine you are painting your words on a wall?"

"Muk." It took him forever to pronounce it. "No. I didn't do it."

"Those are your words, are they not?"

"Yes. But I did not paint them. Chino. The calligrapher is a local juvenile delinquent named Chino."

"Shall I give FauxLuxe Magazine your name?"

"No, I don't think I'd like that tat-all."

"Those are your words!"

"That is beside the point."

"Shall I keep your secret?"

"Yes. Yes."

"FauxLuxe. Photo spread. Worldwide. Famous. Might bring in a gig."

The dour English poet answered exhaustedly, "Give them my numbah."

"Are you coming to the unveiling?"

"Yes. I am attempting to summon the strength to reply."

"Be well." Muk killed the call. He smiled at Blu and said with an accent, "Tell your editor that the blimey wordsmith is one of their own countrymen John Tottenham. Give them his numbah." He reverted to his Southern Californian twang. "How much did we make?"

"Five hundred bucks."

"Five hundred! Whoa!" Muk was clearly surprised. "Nice job, Blu. Detective work, sure. In these harsh and cruel times, we will always take whatever we can get."



Look for the next exciting chapter of Emperor Muk!





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For the Love of Muk

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All Muk'd Up





All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.







© Gordy Grundy, All Rights Reserved


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