Deal 1003: Race day

At the track, I always bet on the nose. It seems disrespectful to assume that anyone wants to do anything other than win. The race for second is substantially more unpredictable, and never mind at all about the race for third. Not that I won’t occasionally protect my investment with smaller bets. But I only care about the bet to win.

They ran well today, despite the troubles. Something odd was happening out of view of the paying customers. Something hateful and ugly. It had everyone on edge. But on edge is often a good thing, so I doubled my usual investment.

Then they found that vagrant. In two places. It is never a good thing to find parts of an intruder on both sides of the track. That implies that security was way off their game. Or perhaps someone spiked their coffee again. And if someone is spiking the coffee, regulars start to worry about what else might have been spiked, and if it was just slipping a Mickey to security, or if something more serious might be going on.

But that vagrant was found in two pieces. So something a lot sharper than just a little rat poison was involved there.

But the games must go on. I’ve got an investment here, and the house doesn’t like to return bets. Much safer to assume that the situation is under control, that the event was an anomaly, and that things can proceed as usual. A few well placed hints and incentives will keep the gentlemen in blue out of the way, and avoid too many delays.

If they are causing troubles, whisper in the Mayor’s ear, and let him get the guard dogs to back down for an hour or two. It won’t hurt the dead guy too much to wait.

Or perhaps open a window and offer odds on the cause of death?

Nah, that would be more disrespectful than always betting on show.

Finally, they calmed everyone down and readied the main event. My favorite is running in the middle, but with an unfamiliar jockey. And there’s that other shoe that has been waiting to drop. That was no vagrant torn in pieces. That was my investment!

It all went downhill from there.

And now the gentlemen in blue seem to think I might be interesting to talk to too.

I’m gonna need some strong storytelling to get clear of this one.


Deal 994: Mirrored in Mire

From humble beginnings and all that rot. Roses growing from manure. Right.

Those are all nice ideas for a story. But in my world. Heh.

The mirror has been on that wall for a long time. No one now living can quite explain why it’s there at the back of a stable. But there it stays. It has resisted most attempts to remove it, some from people who sunk low enough to try to steal it in the night. Most who attempted to steal it were found wandering around in a daze, with no explanation of what happened.

I did see it hit square on by a thrown shoe once. It didn’t break. I felt more than saw the shoe go past, then flinched as I realized I was about to get an eye full of shards of glass. But it didn’t break. Strangely, the shoe was nowhere to be found.

The farrier was rather upset about that missing shoe, and tried to stick it on me. As the one on the receiving end of it, that didn’t sit well at all. But I’m no one important. I’ve just been around the place, done my time.

I’ve tried wandering afield, but it never lasts. Stable boys find reasons to push me along. Innkeepers don’t want me where the guests might see. Farmers seem to worry that their milk might curdle or their cheeses get ideas. I guess they fear that some cheese with ambition will succeed, and then they will find themselves on the wrong side of the law. I don’t really know, they run me off before it gets that far.

So after I while, I find myself drawn back here.

Back to the manure pile.

And the mirror behind it.

Clear that my humble beginning will be my humble end.


Deal 936: Escaped

The prince knew where he wanted to visit, but was sure he did not want his bodyguard to know where he was going.

So he snuck out. Large windows, sturdy shrubs, a nearly moonless night, and subtly encouraging his guards to indulge all came together in a flawless plan that had him on the streets with no one in the palace taking notes.

He knew his freedom was only temporary, so he wanted to make the most of it well he could.

The neighborhood of negotiable affection was only a short walk away, something that the nobility all publicly decried, but the prince suspected many of them privately took advantage. Five minutes after scaling his wall, he was strolling along the street.

Many opportunities were dangling bits of their bodies out of windows in various stages of undress. But the prince has a specific destination in mind. To keep up appearances, he didn’t avoid the chance to window-shop, of course. His cover would be blown badly if he were recognized, and he might even be in danger from some hooligan with a political message to send. So he gawked at the windows just as any young buck fresh to town would do.

He quickly found his way to Zoot’s, easily recognized by the very oddly shaped lamp hanging in a window. Once there, he was discretely recognized because Madame is no fool, but also not acknowledged because, again, Madame is no fool. He was ushered into a private room where eight score young blondes and brunettes, all between sixteen and nineteen and a half, took turns caring for his every need.

Before anything too untoward could happen his guard turned up, and after a certain amount of good natured banter with Zoot and the girls, returned him to his rooms at the palace.