Author: Janet Shell Anderson

“There ought to be bleatsmackers,” Giovanna Tatiana Romanova Baldwin says.

She’s come back from nowhere, or maybe Gliese 246, a near perfect copy of Earth that circles a dim red star where she vanished in a rented Black Hole with her personal trainer, Jordan Somebody. Still married, however, to my cuz, Perry Austrian Baldwin, the ninth richest man on Earth, and current Vice President, Giovanna’s the most beautiful woman on this planet. Or any other.

Jordan Somebody’s beautiful too, all lats, pecs, abs, gluts, whatevers, quivering, tensing and relaxing. His blue eyes serene as the Delray/Gulfstream Floridian skies, innocent as manatees rolling in deep, hot springs, he’s never had a thought.

Being a divorce attorney with not exactly a lot of money lately, I’ve a lot of thoughts. I need to find bleatsmackers. Giovanna will pay me.

I blame it on the oligarchs. No one else has any money. Perry’s very interested in oligarchs these days. Ones from The Ukraine. He keeps saying, “It’s like THE Bronx.” (Where he was born but no one knows it.) “THE Ukraine.” What he doesn’t know about the Ukraine or oligarchs could fill a book, but he’s mostly worried these days it will fill an FBI file. That’s another story.

Here at Delray/ Gulfstream, Florida, on Perry’s estate, minus the occasional oligarch, it’s serene as heaven. The pygmy mammoths race around the infinity pool; the Secret Service hunts the alligator Lazarus that has lived on the property for centuries and might have eaten an agent.

“There must be bleatsmackers.” Giovanna smears ointment on her flawless skin at the pool.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of bleatsmackers. For some reason, Giovanna’s confident not only that I can figure out what they are but can also bring her some. As soon as possible. She’s made a bet with an oligarch. I think she has to win it.

The talking marmosets, who’re really shockingly political, run through the palm trees, throw vegetables at Artemis, Perry’s possible niece. He won’t help Giovanna with the oligarch, and she’s annoyed about Artemis, so I’m hunting bleatsmackers. Does not make much sense, but, these days, what does?

So Tuesday I’ve finished Court on the Cape, representing one of a divorcing triad battling for custody of fourteen multi-toed, “Hemingway” cats, all descended from Snowball, Hemingway’s actual cat. I got Snowshoe, Snowdrift, Snowfall, Snowflake, Snowboots, Snow Machine, Snow man a female, Snowman a male, Snowdome, Snowridge, Snowy, Black Snow, Snowmelt, but not S’NOW. Success. Pretty much. One of the cats has twenty-eight toes. My rattletrap, self-driving car shakes its way along the coast; the surf flaps on deserted beaches rank with dead Portuguese-men-of-war. In Titusville, stopped to charge the car, a miracle, I spot them, four villainous looking individuals, unwashed, unkempt, unspeakable, a Retro Neo Sado Pseudo Steampunk Punk Band, camped starving on the asphalt. Sad. Worst band in human history. I pull up, get out, briefcase in hand, contract ready.

“You’re the Bleatsmackers,” I tell them.

Like Billy the Kid in Young Guns II–the template for every possible interpretation of modern life–I say, “I’ll make ya famous.”