“There is no such thing as a parallel universe,” I said.

“Of course, there is,” Quarry replied. “Ever heard of the quantum theory? That’s what it’s all about, that anything and all things and situations can happen or can exist.”

“What do you know about quantum theory? It just doesn’t make any sense… why a parallel universe? It would just duplicate everything we have right here exactly ad nauseam.”


“That would be really boring, wouldn’t it—everything exactly the same over and over? I know for a fact that God does play dice and I would think he also gets up to hit the buffet tables every once in a while.” Quarry looked annoyed but I continued, “I just think it would be redundant; a waste, really. Nothing gets wasted in nature, look around.”

“You’re a waste—a waste of my time, Quint!” Quarry snapped back. “So, there we have proof of waste, even though you’re not quite part of nature.”

I decided to shut up for a while; I didn’t need to have him get annoyed at me. Quarry was a private dick I had known for years, someone with economically-priced services to help me get my wife back.

“So, what do you think, Quarry; how much would it cost me this time?” I finally said after we both had emptied our glasses, trying to change the subject. “I hope our long friendship might be reflected in the bottom line a little?”

“Long friendship? What long friendship? You know nothing about me! You know the names of my kids, for example, or how I’ve been struggling to get by? And, by the way, where were you when I was laid up with a bullet in my ass?”

“I was looking for my wife, Quarry!” I protested. “I didn’t know you were in the hospital.”

“It’s always about you, isn’t it, Quint?”

“Of course, it’s always all about me. How can it not be about me if I pay you for tracking down my wife all the time? And, by the way, what kids? I know for sure you don’t have kids.”

“How do you know, maybe I do.”

“Yeah, maybe you do. But even if you did, you wouldn’t know their names either because they’re spread all over the place, the products of one-night stands in fleabag hotels.”

“So, what if I don’t know their names in this universe,” Quarry grinned, as he pushed his empty glass towards me, motioning me to get him another drink. “In another universe, I’m happily married, with beautiful, well-adjusted kids and a great, satisfying career in law enforcement.”

“I see. So, you’re proving my point.”

“What point? Go get me another drink; that would be a great point to make, especially if you want me to work cheap, looking for that wife of yours again.”

“My point is if it were a parallel universe, it would be exactly parallel, exactly the same, nothing would be different. You wouldn’t have a wife, kids and a successful career in law enforcement. You’d be the same fat, alcoholic slob who is charging husbands like me the Earth to put a tail on their wives.”

“Yes, you’re right,” Quarry agreed, surprising me with an unexpected calm response to my sarcastic, yet, in my opinion, quite unambiguous assessment of him. “Some universes would be exactly the same, some would be different.

“This one is the same as the last one.”


“We just passed from one universe to another and you didn’t even notice.”

“I hate it when you get drunk, Quarry,” I replied, suddenly experiencing a sharp pain in the back of my head.

“You see my glass here? Isn’t it full? Although you wanted to get up to get me another drink, you didn’t actually do that, did you?”

“It’s just your way of looking at things; some people see the glass half empty, some see it half full. And, by the way, the waitress just came over and handed you another one.”

“The waitress? What waitress? Do you see a waitress?”

“No, but…where the hell is the waitress…didn’t I just see her? You’re freaking me out, Quarry. Stop it!”

“See, now you’re proving my point,” Quarry snorted triumphantly. “This universe is exactly the same, the only difference is the glass was empty, now it’s full.”

“How can that prove your point, if there is a difference? It’s not exactly parallel, is it, Quarry?”

“Whatever. Your wife, by the way—since we’re talking about parallel universes—is in fact in another universe, another dimension, just a fracture of an inch from where you’re sitting.”

“What? What in heaven’s name are you going on about?…A fracture of an inch…what does that mean? You know where she is? How can I get in touch with her?”

“Are you good in math?”

“Not really…what do you mean?”

Quarry took a long sip from his drink. I could see that he was enjoying some kind of newly found superiority over me. “Math is the language of communication between different dimensions and universes,” he pontificated. “So, if you can’t do the math—tough shit.”

I looked at my empty glass trying hard to get some sense out of Quarry’s gibberish. “How come in this universe it’s only you who gets served with another drink?” I protested.

“Get your own universe; this one is mine.” Quarry grinned. “I know someone who could get you to communicate with your wife, though…”

“You do? Why can’t you track her down yourself? How much more would that cost me?”

“It’s some math/computer geek…but you know, you’re some kind of cheap bastard. You want your wife back or not?”

“Alright, do whatever it takes, Quarry. I need her back. Go ahead, get him!”

“It’s a her,” he said, as I nodded to consent with his harebrained idea while he took out his cell phone “Why don’t you get me another drink in the meantime. This time, you’ll have to pay for it, though.” I realized he was getting seriously smashed. It had been his third or fourth vodka on the rocks, since I had been sitting inside the booth of this sleazy bar, a place we always seemed to end up in. Who knew how many he had before I came in?

“I don’t want you to get too drunk, Quarry. You’re already not making any damn sense at all,” I said, as I reluctantly got up to walk to the bar to get him another hit of vodka. His bar bill customarily reached dizzying heights even before we had a chance to talk about tracking-down strategies.

The bartender looked at me quizzically after I successfully had negotiated my way towards the bar around the tables in this dimly lit bat cave of a dive.

“What about your lady friend?” he asked as soon as I had placed my order for Quarry and myself.

“What lady friend?” I squinted my eyes looking into the direction of my booth as a dark figure seated next to Quarry suddenly seemed to be gesturing wildly. “Whatever she wants.” Maybe that was the mysterious geek who was supposed to be helpful tracking my wife down.


“This is Queenie, Quint. She’s the whiz I just told you about.” Quarry introduced a surprisingly pretty young woman to me after I had returned with an armful of alcohol. She barely looked up, engrossed in a laptop in front of her.

“You can’t get it up or what?” she suddenly blurted out, wiping a strand of jet-black hair from her eyes.

Not sure who was addressed or what exactly she was talking about, I filled up my glass with the bottle of beer I had schlepped from the bar. She looked up, her coal black, almond eyes staring straight at me. “You got problems with the downstairs or why is your wife constantly busting out?”

“Excuse me?” Glancing at Quarry, who busied himself with his favorite activity of sucking liquor, I made out a barely-concealed smirk.

“Come on,” Queenie said. “We’re all adults here. If you want me to help find your wife, I need to know everything about your relationship.”

“How exactly are you going to help me?”

“Wait a minute,” she shouted. “I got a connection.”

“A connection? What kind of connection?”

Queenie looked at me admonishingly. “You see this laptop here? This is not your average run-of-the-mill laptop, you know.”

“It isn’t?”

“Nope. It’s what is called an inter-dimensional translating device. It also functions as an inter-universal tracking system. So, if I input your wife’s integers, her personal code, it will zero in on her immediately and then we can communicate. This machine is translating our conversation into mathematical language and back again, understand?”

“Not really,” I replied, my face probably a stunned mask.

“Well, don’t worry, it’ll work,” Quarry cut in.

“My wife knows less than me about math. How is she going to be able to respond?” I protested. “As a matter of fact, she thinks the number zero amounts to a lot more than nothing, especially after she regularly cleans out my bank account. And, by the way, how do you know my wife’s code—whatever that means?”

“I just know. It’s too involved to explain right now.” Queenie replied brusquely. “Now do you want to get in touch with her or not?”

“I guess.”

“Okay,” Queenie was staring intently at the monitor. “Your wife claims that you are unable to satisfy her needs.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, that’s nothing new,” I responded with a weary grin. “That usually happens after my bank account drops to less than zero.”

“They got pills for that kind of thing now, you know,” Quarry interjected.

“Preventing my wife to clean me out? What kind might that be—tranquilizers?”

“So, you’ve got nothing in your bank account?” Queenie asked furiously. “You’ve got another one? How many have you got?”


Queenie turned to look at Quarry. “I thought we had a serious client here,” she hissed angrily. “What is this? I’m not going to waste my time!”

“Come on, Quint,” Quarry said. “Queenie doesn’t need you as a client, really. She has clients up the ying-yang. She is actually doing us a favor. She is very good at what she does.”

“Ah, here we go…I found all your bank accounts,” Queenie shouted with glee. “It’s really nothing much, but I’m transferring the funds into another account, if you don’t mind.”

“Yes, I mind!” I yelled. “What do you mean—into another account?”

“To do this correctly,” Queenie said, muttering to herself, “we need to transmogrify ourselves into an alternate universe. Let’s see if I can find a wormhole…alright, here we go…”


A sudden numbness entered my skull in addition to experiencing a sharp pain. “Did you just hit me with a two-by-four?” I asked Quarry as I was stroking my head.

“No, we just entered into another universe,” he replied. “That’s what it feels like.”

“Didn’t I just see you hiding a club under the table?”

“Come on, don’t be silly.”

“For some reason, the numbers don’t come up in this universe either,” Queenie reported. “We might have to go through still another wormhole.” I must have looked at her with a stunned expression. “Unless of course you could give me your account number; that would save us a lot of hassle.”

“Wormhole? What the hell is a wormhole?”

“It’s a pathway to transport us into another universe,” Queenie explained, a curt catch in her voice.

“Why don’t you just enter the universe my wife is in and save us even more hassle,” I suggested.

“If I were you, I’d just go along with the program,” Quarry offered. “Queenie knows what she is doing.”

“Okay?” Queenie was waiting.


“Your account number.”

All of a sudden, the sensation of bursting through yet another wormhole hit me hard. So hard, in fact, that my face made violent contact with the table. Still reluctant but becoming more and more convinced that handing them my account number might just be the right path to take, I complied.

“My work is done,” Queenie said. “Your wife is outside.” She picked up her laptop, got up and hurried to the exit. A sharp flash of daylight hit my eyes as she opened the door, blinding me for a second.

“Hey, wait a minute…” I protested.

Quarry jumped up also. “I’ll send her in,” he wheezed, waltzing his corpulent corpse to the door as well.

“So, this is the universe my wife was in after all?” I shouted, but my question went unheard because Quarry was already outside. Maybe it was the one we initially started with.


“These people just told me you were in here.” It was my wife’s voice behind me. “I’ve been waiting for you outside forever. What’s going on?”

I turned around. “Wanda, what are you doing here? I was talking to Quarry…”

“Who is Quarry?”

“The private detective I always use to track you down…”

“What? What are you babbling about? You called me to meet you here before we finalize things with the divorce.” Wanda said angrily. “I thought you wanted to do this amicably.” She looked around wrinkling her nose. “What a ghastly dive this is. I shouldn’t have come here.”

“I called you?”

“You forgot? I knew it! You’re a damn alcoholic, Quint! That’s why we’re splitting up…well, it’s not everything…”

“What universe is this?” I wondered out loud.

“What? What universe is this? What the hell are you talking about? You’re drunk already? You should really think about staying off the sauce for a while, Quint.”

“Well, okay, what do you want to talk about, Wanda?”

Wanda finally decided to sit down on the chair next to me, the one previously occupied by Quarry. “Okay,” she sighed, touching my arm slightly, “now, Quint, don’t think this is easy for me, but I want to talk about those bank accounts that are in your name.”

“Bank accounts?”

“Yes. Although they’re in your name, you know very well that half of that money belongs to me.”

“I know. But I just spent it all on a good cause.”

“What…good cause…you spent it all?”

“I spent it to find you, to track you down.”

“To track me down?” Wanda yelled. “What do you mean to track me down? You just called me to meet you here, you idiot!”

“I spent a fortune on tracking you down all the time, Wanda. Don’t deny it.”

“You spend a fortune on sitting around in sleazy bars with your alcoholic mates hatching idiotic schemes, you moron!” Wanda shouted. “I should have listened to my mother and left you a long time ago. Last time you called my mom, whining and whimpering for me to come back, I should have just packed up and left you right then and there.”

“You were at your mom’s?” I asked. This revelation perplexed me to no end. I remembered that occasion very vividly. Using the services of Quarry’s detective agency had cost me a pretty penny.

“Where do you think I was? You called me there.”

“Well…that was after Quarry succeeded in tracing your whereabouts…”

“Who the hell is this Quarry you keep gibbering about?”

“Quarry and Queenie…I just turned over all the money in the account over to them to find you …”

“You did what?”

“Well, I needed Queenie’s inter-universal tracking system and…”

“So, there is nothing in your account anymore?”

“Probably not…”

I lifted my glass to take another drink, watching Wanda reaching underneath the table. I didn’t have any time to react as she hauled off and whacked me with a bat.


It took me a while to slowly regain my consciousness. Lifting my head from the table and wiping the sharp sting of liquor off my face, I came to realize I wouldn’t feel very comfortable in this particular universe at all.