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Deal 1244: Empty

The room was dark, except for the corner. There, a fluke of lighting picked out the empty birdcage.

The empty birdcage.

The empty gilded cage, whose door was standing open, and whose occupant had fled.

Or had been eaten.

Either way, the empty cage was in the spotlight in the dark room.

It took a while to notice, but more than just the bird was missing. The prince, whose palace this is, is missing too. At that, the general alarm was raised.

And here we are now.

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Deal 1236: Press conference

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I stand before you here today to state clearly for the record that I have been falsely accused. As you know, my enemies are many, and some of them are probably in this room. Their current attack takes the form of quiet whispers questioning my sanity, claiming that I am paranoid. All the while they refuse to stand up and face me in public.

These are not the actions of people with evidence.

I am indeed sane.

Furthermore, I shouldn’t have to point out that whisperers claiming I am paranoid, distributed through anonymous channels and leaked recordings of unproven provenance and veracity actually support the idea that a healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea.

I do not go about armed. I do frequently carry a butter knife. In my day to day activity, I frequently have a slice of toast. That requires butter, and a knife to spread it. I am not armed. I am prepared.

I do not wear body armor. I do frequently wear thick sweaters. In case you haven’t noticed the obvious, it is cold recently. Sweaters are good insulation. The one I am wearing today was a gift from my mother, crocheted from the last of the wool gathered from her flock. Would they deny me a memento of my dear old mum?

I do not meet secretly with aliens. I assure you that if visited by beings from another world, the matter would not be a poorly kept secret. It would either be an extremely well kept secret, or entirely open and transparent. At least as transparent as the hulls of their supposed spacecraft. Which do not, of course, exist.

Finally, I do not consort with clowns. Let me say that I have no objection to people choosing of their own free will to wear the white face and red nose. It is not a life I would choose for myself or wish upon a close friend.

Thank you for your patience and I look forward to many future conferences to come.

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Deal 1223: Not the anti-Elvis!

The say that to take a recording captures a part of the performer’s soul.

Superstitious twaddle, of course. Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, were that to have even a grain of truth, then there would be more Elvis soul scattered hither and yon than in Elvis himself. Elvis would be everywhere.

Everywhere except for the anti-Elvis, of course.

No, this simply cannot be.

It would mean that every popular recording was a sort of gilded birdcage, and the artist the canary trapped within.

Trapped, to sing on demand. Perform like a monkey with an organ-grinder.

It is far more likely that performers are a sort of vampire feeding on the blood and souls of their fans. Perhaps starting with their ability to think and reason. After all, explaining Elvis is one thing. But you also have to explain Beiber, who might well be the anti-Elvis.

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Deal 1213: Why did the—Vroom!

The road was as flat as a mirror, extending as far as the eye could see either way.

He stopped at the edge to reflect.

There was no turning back after the scene he made when he left. This was hardly the first road he’d ever seen. But it was certainly the widest and smoothest.

As he contemplated his options, he could almost hear the background music swelling. As if the very film that was his life was taunting him for not confidently stepping out.

He—

Vroom!

—picked up a foot—

Vroom, vroom!

—and took a step. Suddenly he was surrounded by hundreds of motorcycles. He froze in place while they swarmed past him.

When it the last one had passed, he continued on his way.