And now, in the shrill light of morning, I’m facing my own ominous apparition in the form of deCastro making the obligatory agent-checking-in-call: “Heh-heh…sorry to disturb your ‘work’-no…nothing much happening, heh-heh…just checking in…”

But no, not so routine sez deCastro, “Hey, got something you might be interested in-could even be lucrative-a helluva story at the very least..maybe another ‘Heaven’s Gate’…”

Allright, might as well humor the chump. Pick up the phone, cut in with-“Ah, when you say ‘Heaven’s Gate’…you mean the Nike sneaker-flying-saucer suicide cult? Or the ill-fated Michael Chimino western?”

“Exactly…” says deCastro.

It was a month like many others, as they all blend out toward the far end of the beveled edge of History…The salient features of this era, were, as I recall, something like:

-police in a major American city were accused of using excessive force
-there was a disaster in indonesia
-a generically obnoxious young blonde female celebrity was booked on a 502
-Oprah was on the cover of ‘O’
-meanwhile…stuff was blowing up all over the Mid-East, as high-ranking generals scrambled for excuses & private contractors ran amok

And now…here’s deCastro with an unsavory blast from the past, coming at me with ‘Heaven’s Gate’ of all things, at this hour of the morning…

“In the interest of my impending deadline, and your impending tennis match, or whatever…could we be a little more specific? Maybe cut to the chase just a bit here…” I rejoin with exaggerated pleasantness-a jarring incongruity at this pre-dawn hour…

“Okay, what was the deal with Rex Learner? Didn’t you do some writing for him back in that designer-mullet infested decade we like to call the 80s?”

“Well…the deal, in a nutshell…” as I recall, “is that the sonofabitch still owes me about 70 grand, as a rounded-off dime-on-the-dollar arbitrated figure. Now…when you reference ‘Heaven’s Gate’, I kind of tend to vizualize all the money disappearing down a black hole…or Learner & Co. all beaming up to the mother-ship or mystery comet or whatever it was…”

DeCastro declined to elaorate over the phone…provocative, but oblique as per standard agent power-style. He extracted a commitment to meet at Anthony’s bar & grill, to which I-against my better judgement-agreed.

Prismatic shafts of light now beam through the convex window in the front room. The cats soon appear expecting food, vying for attention by releasing the ‘mute’ button on the remote. Before I can hit the ‘power’ switch, another word about finance: “Hi, I’m Phil Massinger with a new way to pay old debts…yes-yes…anything for a quiet life…”