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By Scott Godfrey

He lined them up. Across the table, he knew he could get them both this time, it felt like the challenge was gone… he's been doing this too long. He took a breath and relaxed his back, cocked his head and sighted, then exhaled as he shot. He watched in utter disbelief and vivid terror as the eight ball sank itself and the two was left spinning in space.

His head slumped down and the cue fell to the floor. He grabbed a drink off the edge of the table, pitched it back and swallowed before tossing the container aside to crash on the floor. He climbed on top of the table to lay face down, scattering the rest of the balls.

"Hey Curly, what's the matter with you? That's your shot, you always make that shot." Curly rolled his head to face his companion and sent the seven ball rolling off his nose. "Vinnie, I don't know what to say, it's just been a bad week." Nothing was going right this week, nothing. "Oh cummon, Curly. You're the Supreme Antaran Commander. That's no lousy title that just got handed to you. You make planets blow up on the other side of this galaxy just thinking about it and you missed the lousy two? I thought I sucked."

"Vinnie, it's Antaran Supreme Commander, you know that. Why can't you get that right?" "Supreme Antaran Commander, that's what I said."

He flailed his arms and leg around kicking at the table. "I'm just frustrated. You know…" "No I don't." Vinnie leaned against the wall and waited. "Is this about those cat people?" Curly shook his head. "Nah, it's not about the cat people."

"Is it about the bear people? You had them destroyed last week."

"No Vinnie, it's not about the bear people." He closed his eyes as saliva pooled on the table, saturating the felt.

"Curly, I'm your advisor. We grew up together in the neighborhood. I've known you longer than your own mother has. You've gotta tell me about this." Curly looked away, his eyes still closed. Vinnie hobbled around to the other side and took his face in hand, stared straight into him. "Curly, you've been having problems for a while and I need you to trust me because, truthfully, I'm concerned for you. It's life and death, this job of yours. As long as it's not me dying I don't care too much what it is you do all day, but I'm here to help you. That's my job and my obligation to you and your family as an old friend." He paused. "Darlocs?"

"No Darlocs, Vinnie." An alarm went off, and a light began flashing on the wall. His eyes closed and he pulled his head away. Oh how he loathed flashing lights and sounds and gadgets. He felt a headache coming on.

"You want me to get that?"

"Nah, let it go," he muttered.

"Okay." Minutes passed, the alarm silenced but the light stayed flashing. "Say, how did that night with the Elerean ambassador turn out?" Curly opened his eyes. "You, ah, letting them stay on the council?"

"She stood me up Vinnie." He stared and narrowed his eyes.

"Is that it?" Vinnie shook his head back and forth. "That gal screwed up your entire game?"

"Yeah, that's it Vinnie. My entire game. It's all her fault."

"So, uh, what are you going to do? You can't play like this forever. How can we expect you to make important decisions of intergalactic proportions when we can't even depend on you to play a simple game?"

"I know, Vinn. I know. Why don't you send out the boys and, uh, wipe them out?" "Wipe them out? The Elereans?"

"Yup." He sighed

"All of them? This will make you feel better?"

"All of them... Maybe."

"Okay, boss. I just hope no one else pisses you off next week. We're running out of victims. You know I'd really like to do in those Psilons, though… right?"

"Just do it. I got enough flak from the cat people incident…. I don't need anyone coming here looking for murderers so make it clean," he mumbled. "This time, in the press, make sure it looks like that guy Hoseley did it. Don't let it look like an accident, either."

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