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Deal 1282: Typefryer

I was once a strong man. But a lifetime of delivering typewriters to keep prolific authors supplied has left me crippled and barely able to reach the space bar.

Mystery authors are bad. They keep trying out their murders on their actual keyboards, making swift replacement a necessity.

But the worst offenders are cookbook authors. No fine top quality typewriter is happy when doused with flour and sugar. Dipping its keys in batter and then frying them is the last straw.

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Deal 1277: Symbolic

The first thing you notice is the overwhelming amount of purple around you. The rugs are patterned from several shades of purple. The walls are painted a light lilac. Every piece of furniture has elements that are colored purple. That makes the use of strong contrasting colors pop with a hint of surprise.

The second thing you notice is the background music. Held at a level that is just barely louder than subliminal, you can almost identify it, then it changes and you realize it got you again.

Stuck in this space, the bowl of perfectly ripe oranges looks out of place. On closer inspection, each of the oranges is tied down to the bowl and to its neighbors by a cobweb. The spider is nowhere to be seen, but the bowl tells a tale of casual neglect.

A tale that is reinforced by the pile of broken technology in the corner. Some of that almost looks rusty, as if it had been rained upon.

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Deal 1264: Portrait of a gentleman and his bat

There was something a little odd about the portraits I found on the walls. The largest dominated the room, with its many staring eyes, and placement at the center of a short wall opposite the entry, picked out by the natural light in the space. The central figure was clearly not thrilled to be sitting for a portrait. For that to leak through the artist, he was either very much not thrilled, or the artist was taking a liberty that he may not have survived.

The Count was pictured at his prime. While he presented a humble appearance in his pose, clothing, and setting, he was still the primary figure in a portrait on an eight foot tall canvas. Somewhat contradictory messages there. He was posed among his pride and joy, a large family of bats. Somehow, the artist had captured the sense of pent-up nervous energy that even a sleeping bat exudes. These bats are all awake, and their eyes follow you as you walk around the room.

With the bats providing an effective distraction, it was surprisingly hard to see other details in the painting. With effort, I blocked the bats from my mind, and noticed the several ornate typewriters that were also depicted, arrayed near the subject. Each was loaded with paper, and there were supplies of plank paper and stacks of completed pages near each. On such a large canvas, it was possible to read some of what was showing on the pages emerging from the typewriters.

Or at least, it should have been.

Try as I might, I cannot remember what I read. Only that I believe I did read something, and that it almost made sense. Or that it was entirely abject nonsense. I simply can’t tell now.

In fact, attempting to read the pages left me so disoriented that I could swear that the subject was watching me from shadows the entire time I was admiring his portrait.

It’s a shame that that the painting was over a century old.

And that the large ornate urn in a niche near the painting was long understood to contain his ashes.

Or did it really?

The man himself couldn’t possibly be alive?

And why are there bats everywhere I look in this mansion?

That way lies madness.

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Deal 1250: Incoming!

The moment was as fleeting as my life was about to be.

For a split second everything seemed to stand still. At long last, my goals were in reach, all I had to do was grasp the brass ring. Literally grasp the ring.

But, as is so often the case, nothing is ever as easy as it seems.

The ring was flying at me fast enough to do some serious damage. My security detail had just realized the what was happening, and were getting ready to take something or someone down. They hadn’t figured on this scenario, though, and were taking a little longer than usual to act.

My mind was elsewhere, as I was paying more attention to the keyboard in front of me than to the world around me. It was their job to do that, and this way I could put my full attention on my work. Most days this was a good plan. I got some work done, and they had an easy afternoon. Today was clearly not most days.

From the speed on the ring, its last bearer must be quite strong. Noticeably stronger than normal. To the point, they ought to stand out in a crowd. I was looking that way, which is the only reason I had seen the ring before it hit. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

Except for the massive brass ring flying directly at me.