Deal 469: Choices

There’s that brief moment when you can see it all go wrong. The world around you just goes pear-shaped, then it splatters and usually there is no chance to duck. Then your vision returns to normal, and there you are, cuffed, and hauled off to jail.

The five unlicensed puppies are fairly easy to explain to a judge. After all, dogs do breed, and ending up with more puppies that you can easily get rid of is not exactly an unusual occurrence. The fact that these are all purebred puppies wouldn’t even be a big issue, if the five puppies were all the same breed. Being caught with five unlicensed puppies in five different breeds is just a little bit harder to explain.

Of course, the several kilos of organic matter is much harder to explain in a way that doesn’t simply admit to breaking the law. It is pretty fragrant, so my claim that I thought I was carrying 50 kilos of the finest green tea is likely to fall apart pretty quickly. The fact is that it is true, but I am certain I’ll never convince either judge or jury of that.

But of course that is all the easy stuff, the low hanging fruit. They are going to hang me up high for the last thing they found. Another 100 kilos of fine white powder. The sort of thing that could be mistaken for confectioner’s sugar until it is tasted. Now that I knew I was carrying, and I’d picked up the puppies and the tea for cover. If that damn fool hadn’t been so eager to move his pot that he’d sold it to me as tea, I would have been free and clear.

The barrel of coffee beans and the two barrels of cocoa beans were just backup to distract any dogs they brought my way. And I expected to have a year’s supply of cafe mocha as a bonus on the job.

So here we are. They’ve got me dead to rights on the illegal transport of puppies, pot, and dope. They confiscated my ride. They did offer to release the coffee and cocoa, but that doesn’t help as long as I’m locked up. Of course, I also picked the slowest and least active border crossing, and so I’m toasting in a backwoods county jail while they decide which book to throw, and how hard to throw it.

And I have a quandary.

An admirer just sent me a cake with a clear message in it, and the fool hick jailer just passed it on through without looking.

I do the right thing, and turn the saw and instructions over and let them catch my outside helper. Since the help is probably coming from the same incompetent people who got me in this fix in the first place, this is a far more tempting idea than it seems. Of course, this does involve having limited wardrobe choices for the foreseeable future, and orange simply isn’t my color.

I could spin a different yarn, and conceal the saw for a better chance to use it. This runs the risk that my outside help might get nervous and tip the authorities when I fail to execute my end of their farce of a plan. This may still be my best choice.

Or I could just admit my failure here and now and use the saw as a means to suicide by cop, suicide by prison guard, or suicide by gang member in the common yard. This isn’t an attractive option at all.

And so, I have a quandary.

And cake. At least there is cake.


Deal 468: Unexpectedly dead

I may have been overconfident.

That may be an overstatement.

Apparently I am dead, but the system is pretending I am alive to “allow me time to adjust”. It is supposed to be a kindness, but it feels more like cruelty.

I don’t have the proverbial nine lives of a cat after all. Cats don’t even have the proverbial nine lives, it is just feline marketing.

Building a tolerance for iocaine may have been prudent, but it turns out there are plenty of other ways to die. Somehow, I slipped on a fish and got tangled in my pants. I think I must have been pushed, probably by a cat.

So far, I’m finding the whole afterlife experience to be kind of boring.

The weather is perfectly balmy. The handbook has an infinite number of pages. And the forks have a different number of tines every time I look at them.

If I do qualify for a reincarnation of some kind, I plan to give the Society of Gentlemen a piece of my mind.

Assuming they didn’t scrape up some pieces already.

I may have been a tad overconfident. But next time…


Deal 466: Unexpectedly living

I survived.

Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am.

But the Society of Gentlemen does have a rule that they will make at most one attempt. If it fails, then they will refuse further contracts on their subject.

I survived.

All I have to do now is use this reprieve to figure out who ordered the hit, and settle our differences or meet the Gentlemen’s price for a return visit.

I knew that bowl of fowl soup was foul when I tasted it. But most people don’t know I’ve been immune to iocaine since childhood, and to bloat since those experimental days at University. Apparently the Gentlemen didn’t know that either, which is a tad unusual given their usual care for fulfilling their contracts completely. It does leave me to wonder if their client offended them in some way, and if their offense was severe enough to set their return price within my grasp.

If I could afford the return visit, it would eliminate the fear that there is someone out there who was already willing to pay the non-refundable price asked for my head. That is worth a fair percentage of all that I have to my name. Unfortunately, that is not a lot.

I do suspect they used bloat, from the numbness I’m feeling in my left leg. I remember from my past encounters that it did cause pressure on my spinal column, and shooting pain in my left leg as a result. The numbness is going to make me even more clumsy than usual. I must take care.

But I survived. A little numbness is a small price to pay, compared to the alternative.

And I will get the rats who did this one way or another.


Deal 465: George muses

As we prepare for our next big show, I am struck by how lucky I am. I’ve lived a long life, but that isn’t what I’m referring to. At least, not entirely. I watch the quiet activity in our rehearsal hall, and I am humbled by the lengths everyone will go to make our show work.

As is typical, we are “between” assistants for the act. So aside from the workers hired to lug sets and props for the big show, I am once again the only human involved. The big cats have stepped up in leadership, but even they know when to delegate. Actually, their entire normal life in the wild is successful due to delegation, so they tend to be good at it.

But they recognize when some of the other animals are uncomfortable, and easily delegate. The smallest birds have no problem with the lions, nor do the largest. It is the ones in the middle range that seem the most nervous. That penguin that recently joined us (I still haven’t quite figured out where he came from) is a good example. Perhaps the panthers remind him too much of predators from his childhood. He’s been too quiet about his past to tell for sure. I’m going to have to sit down with him one of these days, but it will have to wait until after this gig.

Meanwhile, the panthers are giving him a wide berth, and to his dismay, are also clearly looking out for him from afar. When a falling sandbag nearly missed him the other day, it was a panther that leapt across the stage to knock the bag aside before it landed. The penguin missed the whole thing, apparently they don’t usually have to worry about threats falling on them from above, so they don’t tend to look there while waddling around. He was visibly shaken, but whether it was the whole sandbag from the sky thing, or the panther saved his life thing isn’t yet clear.

But who am I to deserve this loyalty?

I’m just a magician, in and out of the public eye, with several successful but not world-famous careers to my various names. And I get animals more than most. Speaking their languages helps, of course. But so does understanding what they are good at and what they need, so that I can use my skills to provide for them. Word does seem to spread in the various animal communities, since we get new recruits every time we tour the show.

That also keeps the show fresh.

Not many of the other acts have a penguin, after all.