Image

Deal 1087: Wet but not dead

fear of death adds spice
to a life well lived although
fear must be groundless

Joe watched the water rise, and for a moment was nearly as nervous as the audience. It was ever thus. The essence of the trick was that there was no trick: he really did escape from the shackles, chains, and cuffs. Or he could do it that way if he was a fool. Joe was no fool.

By the time the water reached his knees, his hands were free. Not that the audience could tell, he knew it was important that they believe him trapped and certain to die.

Hence the dramatic music, the curtain shielding him from view in his “final moments”, and all the other trappings for the stage.

His favorite ending to the escape was to hop out of the water as soon as he was hidden from view, then settle down with a newspaper in the cheap seats to wait while a shadow puppet show plays out of his apparent drowning. At the peak of the frenzy, as the audience is screaming for someone to do something, a pin spot focused on the tank from behind would suddenly reveal that the tank was empty.

The curtain would drop to reveal that there was nothing left in the tank but a pile of chains at the bottom and a few fish swimming in circles.

Joe enjoyed listening to the stunned realization sweeping across the audience that he hadn’t died in front of them. Did he vanish? Did he become a fish? Was anything what it seemed?

Joe stepped forwards, dropping the coat and newspaper that had concealed him from casual discovery, and accepted the applause that he was due.

Image

Deal 1086: Wet tension

The tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife as the last lock was fastened and shackle applied before the tank began to fill around Joe.

When the water first began to flow, a susurration washed across the audience, as they realized that he was serious about this stunt. The water swiftly covered his ankles and the standard issue prison shackles attaching the together, along with the chain that ran from the shackle bar, through a loop in the floor, and off into the flies overhead. One link at a time, the water filled the tank. With each link, the seriousness of his predicament became clearer.

Once the water was a foot or so deep, a cloth screen began to rise. Initially the cloth was fairly opaque, but splashes of water had created translucent patches.

Joe remained still as the cold water continued to fill the phone booth-sized tank. Soon it had reached his knees, bound together by rope. As a small symbol of hope, there was a large knife clenched between his knees. The knife was placed handle down, making it nearly certain that it would fall to the tank bottom before he could get a grip on it.

Steadily the water flowed.

Soon it reached Joe’s wrists, shackled behind him.

Joe was in a pickle.

The water rose. Now it reached his elbows.

The audience could hardly breathe.

The curtain reached its full height moments after the water began to overflow the tank. Joe cast a distorted shadow on the cloth as he struggled. His shadow seemed to be getting the worst of the deal.

Would Joe get free?

Find out someday soon!

Image

Deal 1068: Dessert

A nightmare of sorts has startled me awake. I’ve been cooking just long enough to see where this one was going.

In it, I found myself a contestant. The pantry is understocked, but that is hardly a surprise. I am required to use one emu egg, a jar of pickles, and a three-pound slice of dry aged beef rib eye, complete with two bones on.

Did I mention that this is the dessert round. And my competition is Alton Brown?

I think I was going to bake some sort of sweet beef and pickle pie when I scared myself awake. I have no idea what Alton was going to do.

Now I want to go back to sleep to see how it turned out!

Image

Deal 973: Not dying

I’m generally pretty cheerful for someone who’s been to hell and back.

I don’t bite, and I try hard to avoid unreasonable fears.

So when they tried to poison me, I did my best to not be annoyed. But you don’t need to wake up to poisoned cereal very often before it begins to leave the impression that you aren’t wanted.

Still, I put it aside and continued on my assigned task.

Then the accidents began to happen.

The spiked shoes were, I’m certain, just an accident.

The large saw that got loose and nearly decapitated me was at least partly due to my own clumsiness.

The tree the fell the wrong way and landed on my tent had to be a freak wind gust at the critical moment when the tree was felled but hadn’t yet realized.

Then I examined the stump, and there were signs that it might have been dressed after the tree fell to adjust perception.

And that saw, well it had never done that before I arrived (or since, but I couldn’t know that then).

The message began to become clear to me. I can be pretty stubborn, but you only have to drop one tree on me to get my attention. Unfortunately you apparently do have to drop a tree before you get my attention.

Now that you have my attention, be very sure that you wanted it. Because I am stubborn this way too.

Now that I think about it, I must be the only one taking home poisoned breakfast cereal or there’s be a run on the doctor’s tent. Ditto for mechanical mishaps. That loose saw had scared many people around the camp, but had also made a clear run through camp without leveling a single tent or even coming close to injuring anyone. It might have got me if I hadn’t been shaving and seen the motion in the mirror.

I fear not for myself, but for the others.

One of these attempts is going to succeed, and I will regret the collateral damage that results. Or maybe the nearly unthinkable will happen and I will be killed. I’ve never been assured that I am immortal, after all. In point of fact, I’ve never been told anything. I’m just very hard to kill.