No Antelope on the Fourteenth Floor
John A. Ward

I felt silly in my pith helmet and bush jacket, not to mention my bandoleers and my .256 Savage, one of those high powered rifles that shoots 500 yards then throws rocks at you. I don't know what I expected at a Vegas hotel called Safari, but it wasn't this. I heard they prided themselves on realism, so I thought there would be some wild game outside the room.

I decided to hunker down behind the potted palm and wait until the game came to me. I saw a few waiters with room service trays, the ones where they hide the food under big shiny 18-wheeler hubcaps beside champagne in buckets of ice, but I figured they weren't in season.

I was just about to give up when I heard a voice, "Do you see anything?" I spun around to see who was behind me, but there was nobody. I looked up and down the hall, even scanned the ceiling, because I've seen those movies where guys hide by chimneying up the walls and spread-eagling to keep from falling, but Spiderman wasn't there.

I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, when I heard it again, "Hey, Buddy!" It came from the potted plant. I wondered, "Am I on Candid Camera?"

I poked around in the dirt and vermiculite and there, among the cigarette butts and chewing gum wads, I discovered the talking frog. I picked him up and frisked him.

"Whaddaya doin' ya pervert?" he said.

"Checking you for bugs," I replied.

"I wish," he said, "I haven't had a meal in days."

I thought he might have been planted by security. I checked, but the closed circuit TV camera was pointing the other way.

"What is this?" I said, "Frogs can't talk."

"I'm a prince," he said. "I'm just waiting for a kiss."

"I'm not kissing a frog," I said.

"Not you, a babe," he said.

"Are you really a prince?" I said.

"No," he said, "but you would be surprised how many women buy that line." Just then, the elevator opened and the most beautiful woman I ever saw stepped out. She was wearing one of those black velvet gowns that hugs her torso like it was sprayed on and has the obligatory ankle-to-hip side-slit so she can walk.

"Hey," I said as she sauntered by, "you wanna kiss my frog?"

She hit me so hard, I left a dent in the wall when I bounced off it.

"Smooth," croaked my friend.

"I thought you said I'd be surprised," I protested.

"Weren't you," he asked, "Who would have though a sweet little thing like her could pack such a wallop."

First published: February, 2003