It's Day 344 of the road trip searching for my long-lost twin brother who had been kidnapped at a young age by Amish gypsies. I had heard a rumor he was making a comeback on the Amish Rake Fighting Circuit and, with my good friend, Pinto, at my side, we were heading out to Cleveland where we heard we could get into the secret Amish games if we dressed in suspenders and wore black hats.
Now, however, Pinto and I sat facing each other across a booth in some seedy greasy spoon named Joe's Armpit and I'm on my fifth bottle of vanilla flavoring.
"Well, Pinto," I said, "Ol' buddy, ol' chum, we just might be at the end of this quest." I downed the rest of the bottle and motioned for the waitress. As usual, Pinto, being the silent type, just sat in the booth across from me and stared at me stupidly. He was a man of few words, but had an overpowering presence, normally, because in the 344 days he had been with me, I had never seen him once shower or shave.
The waitress came over. "Hey," she said. "I need to know if you're driving. You're hitting this vanilla pretty hard."
"Not to worry, pretty lady," I slurred. "My friend's driving."
She gave Pinto the once over. "Sir, you do realize your friend is a sheep?"
I reeled back in sudden anger. "Lady, I'll have you know Pinto and I have fought side by side against octogenarian Harley-Davidson riders and shared the same bunk in Baghdad! He ain't no coward."
The waitress rolled her eyes. "I didn't say he was a coward. He's a sheep. A Merlino. A woolly quadruped. Technically a ewe."
I pointed at Pinto and laughed. "Hey, Pinto! This pretty lady's got all metaphysical on me. She says I'm you!"
At that, Pinto rolled out of the booth and wandered away on all fours. I never saw him again.
The angst hit like a ton of bricks. "Well then just walk away!" I blearily screamed at his receding woolly back. "Go ahead! Just ... walk or ... trot or ... or whatever." I burst into tears. "Ya think ya know a guy," I wept to the waitress. "You share everything: your toothbrush, your eyeliner, and then your best friend turns out to be a sheep and he leaves ya in some dive!"
The waitress looked at me, pity in her eyes. "Here," she said putting a bottle of vanilla flavoring in front of me. "This one's on the house, but you should know we only serve imitation here. There's not a drop of alcohol in it."
She turned and walked away.
I wrapped my fingers around the bottle, my knuckles whitening in my fury and determination. I was going on to Cleveland. I was going to find my long-lost twin brother.
Suddenly, the front door burst open and about twenty beautiful women somersaulted into the diner. They parted and another woman walked through their midst, her sequined cheerleading outfit blazing so brightly I had to squint against the glare.
"We are the Victoria's Secret Cheerleading Squad," she announced loudly, "and we're here to take a hostage!"
Every man's hand shot up and the diner was filled with cries of "Me! Me!." but the pretty lady was having none of it. She saw me in my booth and pointed at me. "You!"
A blow from a pompom sent me into darkness.