GEORGE WASHINGTON VS. JOSEPH STALIN: STOLEN CABLE!

George Washington moved with the subtle grace of a stalking panther. You wouldn't have recognized him. No powdered wig on his cleanly shaved skull. No general's uniform, but a black suit of body armor. His face was covered in green and black war paint.

"Only you can do this," George muttered to himself. "Didn't they read their history?"

The Time-Rift Surfers had brought him forward in time to apprehend Joseph Stalin, the first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee, for stealing cable. Didn't they realize Washington had lost more battles than he had won? This was a chance to redeem himself. This was a chance to right some terrible wrong. Stalin had stolen cable. This was a chance to uphold the law.

And now this: He was creeping into the night toward Stalin's palatial estate with John Wayne the actor and Ben Hogan, the professional golfer. How could this possibly not end in disaster?

"I don't understand why I'm here," Ben Hogan whispered.

They were waiting behind a low wall for two guards to pass. "I'm a golfer for Christ's sake," said Ben Hogan. "What possible use could I be in a situation like this?"

"I'm an actor," John Wayne said. "I mean, come on already."

"I don't know why any of us are here," Washington said. "But we have to complete this mission if we are ever to be returned to our own times."

"I received a telegram," Ben Hogan said.

"I have an awards ceremony to get to," John Wayne said.

"Stay your complaints Marion!" George Washington said. "You too Ben. You both whine like women!"

"Don't call me Marion," John Wayne whined. "You know I don't like that."

They crept silently toward the back patio of Stalin's palatial home. The night air was cool. Washington held his rifle and moved smoothly through the shadows toward the pool, which was slightly raised above the newly cut lawn. The patches of darkness under the massive oaks hid the trio from any observer who might glance out one of the many windows.

Ben Hogan lagged behind. "Hey, fellas, if you don't mind I'm going to stay back here."

"That might not be a bad idea," John Wayne said. "You can keep an eye out for anyone passing through here and guard our escape."

Ben Hogan gripped his nine-iron and glanced around nervously as the two other men moved toward the house.

* * *

George Washington went around the pool and up onto the patio with John Wayne following closely. There was a television on in the living room beyond the glass doors. Sitting on a leather sofa, shirtless, was Joseph Stalin.

"Look at that fat bastard," George Washington said. "Stealing cable."

"He's defiantly not paying for it," John Wayne said. John Wayne wore a cowboy hat and had a six-shooter in his holster. "Want me to go in there and put some lead in that atheist son of a bitch?"

"No John Wayne," George Washington said. "We'll take him alive so he can answer for his horrible crime . . . of stealing cable."

The volume on the wide-screen television was up high. Stalin's left arm, as everyone knows, was damaged when he was a young man.

"His left arm is useless," George Washington whispered as he slid the patio door open. "Keep that in mind."

"He is holding the remote with his right hand."

"Indeed."

The two men crept through the door. Stalin was engrossed in an episode of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey", and didn't notice.

"So this is the 'Brilliant Genius of Humanity'", George Washington scoffed. "Watching this garbage."

"On stolen cable," John Wayne said. "He might as well be rustling cattle."

Just then Frank Sutton walked in with a tray of snacks and beers. He was dressed in his drill sergeant uniform. He spotted the two intruders immediately. "What the hell is going on here?"

John Wayne pulled out his pistol. "Stop right there Frank Sutton, actor who played Sergeant Carter on the late-sixties hit Gomer Pyle USMC!"

Joseph Stalin turned and glared at the two intruders in alarm. "What is this intrusion?"

"John Wayne and George Washington!" Frank Sutton said. "What is the meaning of this?"

"You know why we're here," George Washington said.

* * *

Meanwhile, Ben Hogan was watching their retreat, and he had company. Gripping his nine-iron, Ben Hogan's golfer-senses were tingling with anticipation. He knew something was out there in the darkness, watching him.

Something moved in the darkness, in the bushes that surrounded the Stalin Estate. Hogan gripped his nine-iron, holding over his shoulder, ready to strike anything that moved.

Suddenly, out of the darkness sprang Abe Vigoda.

"Abe Vigoda, star of Barney Miller! You're still alive?"

"That's right Ben Hogan, golf professional," Abe Vigoda said. "But I'm not in this story."

"Loved you in The Godfather," Ben Hogan said.

And Abe Vigoda strolled out into the night.

"That was weird," Ben Hogan said.

Suddenly, out of a different part of the bushes, sprang Genghis Khan, swinging a scimitar. "AAAAAaaah!" expostulated the Mongol King.

"I've got to use all of my golfing powers," Ben Hogan said to himself.

"Die Ben Hogan!"

Hogan defended himself against the furious onslaught of the Mongol warrior.

"Why do you defend Joseph Stalin, who has been stealing cable in such a nefarious way?" Ben Hogan asked as the two men clashed steel against nine-iron.

"This week is Shark Week," Genghis Khan said through clenched teeth. "I will not miss it!"

The two men attacked each other . . . with gusto.

* * *

"There's one thing you haven't thought of," Joseph Stalin said to George Washington.

"I've considered every tactical situation," George Washington said. "Your Red Army is off at the Front, and your guards are few, and undisciplined."

"And what of Betsy Ross?" Stalin said. With smug self satisfaction, he turned away from the two intruders and clicked through the channels.

"Don't you say her name, you Communist scum!"

"She's safe?" Stalin said, and even though he was turned away, the Father of America saw Stalin's wicked mustache rise above an evil grin.

"What have you done, you monster?"

Stalin looked at his watch. "According to my Rolex, in about six minutes, Betsey Ross is about to have a very horrible collision with the ten-thirty to Chicago."

"What?"

"The tracks!" John Wayne said. "I saw a vehicle parked near the railroad bridge over Alpine Road!"

"You didn't," George Washington said. "You wouldn't dare!"

"That's right," Frank Sutton said. "She's tied to the tracks. Boo hoo for you."

Washington did not wait to hear the rest. "Keep a gun on these two," he said to John Wayne. He sprang outside and sprinted toward the railroad bridge, more than a mile away.

A train whistle sounded in the night.

* * *

Meanwhile, Ben Hogan was wielding his nine-iron with extreme prejudice. Genghis Khan, who had somehow succumbed to the sweet, sweet high-fructose corn syrup goodness of American fast food, was quickly running out of breath.

"Should have stayed out of McDonald's," Ben Hogan said. He swung a chip shot that smacked Genghis Khan between the legs. Khan went down groaning and holding his droobles.

"Nooooo! White man!"

Hogan quickly tied up Genghis Khan and called in support. "Amelia Earhart!" Ben Hogan said into his radio. "Bring the chopper; I've got some trash for you to pick up."

"Roger that Ben Hogan, I'm inbound."

Amelia Earhart landed the chopper in the vast estate's lawn. Paul Lynde, the center square for many years on Hollywood Squares, jumped out the cargo ramp and helped Ben Hogan put the massive Mongol into the helicopter.

Lynde chuckled. "He's a chunky one isn't he," he quipped as they maneuvered the heavy and bulky Mongol.

"Ben Hogan! Look out!" Lynde, resplendent in a white cravat and smartly tailored suit, pulled his Tommy gun out of the helicopter and cut down Frank Sutton, who was charging at Ben Hogan, whose back was turned as he was putting Genghis Khan into the helicopter. Frank Sutton fell to the ground. "PYLE!" was all he said before he died.

* * *

Meanwhile, at the tracks...

Betsy Ross, dressed only in a hot red bikini (She was in her twenties, and in great shape) squirmed and wriggled against the ropes that tied her to the train tracks. Suddenly a dark shape loomed above her. Her eyes grew wide with terror at the green and black painted face.

"Relax," George Washington said. "It's me, GW."

"Oh George," Betsy Ross said. "Save me!"

Washington quickly untied Betsy Ross. They hurried away from the tracks just as the train roared past.

"I cannot tell a lie," Washington said, holding the shivering Ross close to him. "You are so smokin' hot right now."

"Oh George," Betsy Ross said, fluttering her thick eyelashes at the panting muscular man that held her. "I wish we could consummate our forbidden love right here, but you are still married."

"I also cannot tell a lie to Martha," Washington said ruefully. "So be it! I still have to take care of Stalin!"

"Earhart!" Washington barked into his radio. "Pick up Betsey Ross. Follow the signal to my GPS tracker!"

He gently clipped the small transmitter to the string that held Ross's top together, so that the small blinking device nestled between her voluptuous breasts. So much went unspoken as their eyes locked; the sexual tension between them was unbearable.

He grasped both her hands and kissed them. "You'll be safe here," he said. "Earhart should be along shortly to collect you."

He sprang off into the night.

* * *

When he returned to Stalin's Estate, Stalin was gone. The television had no signal. John Wayne was on the floor, bleeding from a gunshot wound.

"My God Marion, what happened?" George Washington crouched down next to the dying man.

"My gun," John Wayne said. "Blanks from the movie set. I forgot to put in live ammo."

"Oh the humanity!" George Washington said. "Did you at least call in the serial number of the cable box?"

"I did," John Wayne said. "That and the MAC address. They sent the kill signal. We did it." John Wayne was fading fast. He shivered. Washington grabbed a Soviet Flag afghan blanket from the couch and covered the dying man.

John Wayne coughed up specks of blood and then whispered something that Washington could not hear.

"What's that buddy?" Washington said, tears forming in his steely eyes.

"Don't call me Marion," John Wayne said, and then he was no more.

"He died for a noble cause," George Washington said.

Washington carried the body of John Wayne out onto the lawn and called for Earhart to pick them up. "Mission accomplished!" he said into the radio.

But at what cost, he said to himself.

"I'll get you Joseph Stalin!" He cried to the heavens. "I'll avenge John Wayne!"

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