Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Best Side: Part 3

The Dame tapped her fingers on the faux plastic tabletop. “Like I said, either very clever or really stupid.”

“So, what do you want?” I asked.

At the buffet, the two men paused at the pizza counter, both reaching for the last slice of Hawaiian. The taller of the two grabbed at the slice, but the shorter man deftly snaked it from him. However, before he could get it onto his plate, the other man knocked the slice into the air, intent on catching it with his other hand. Yet the shorter man ricocheted it away with a slice of vegetarian.

This strange ballet continued for several minutes, as the two men whirled and spun around the pizza bar, neither able to grab the slice for themselves as the other always countered. Neither made a sound, though their actions were scored by a light jazz ensemble that just happened by.

Unfortunately, I missed all of this, as I was intent on the Dame. She sighed. “I need your help.”

“Why? You’ve got connections with the clowns.”

“That’s just it,” she said, looking me straight in the eye. “They’re losing.”

“You’re kidding.”

She shook her head. “Normally, they wouldn’t have a problem with the mimes and ninjas, but there was an attempted coup. The Mountebank turned on the Harlequin and a surprising number of clowns followed him.”

“Whoa,” I said, raising a hand. “Who’s the Mountebank?”

The pizza ballet ended then, as another Hawaiian pie was added to the pizza bar. The two men, both panting, stared first at it and then at each other. Then, the shorter of the two, with a slight bow, indicated that the other should go first. The taller man slid two pieces onto a plate, then offered it to the other, who accepted with another bow. They parted, each flipping a few dollars into the jazz ensemble’s open guitar case.

“Traditionally, he’s the clown’s enforcer, but he decided he wanted the mask himself and took a shot at the top. The clowns are in chaos. They don’t know which way the pie’s pointing and as a result, the mimes and ninjas are having a field day.”

“Ah, that would explain it.”

“Explain what?”

I nodded towards the far corner. “Those are mimes and the guys on the other side are ninjas.”

The Dame froze and the barely audible click of a gun cocking was heard under the table. This was followed by a duck’s quack from the kitchen. It is unlikely the two are related. “How do you know?”

“Well, the mimes have been eating invisible food the whole time and one of the ninjas is using chopsticks on his mashed potatoes.”

“I guess you are very clever,” she finally said.

“And you led them to me,” I pointed out. “I was just beginning to unwind,” I continued. “I haven’t found a cobra in my bed in ages and the only mail bombs I get are the ones I send myself.”

“Why would you send yourself a mail bomb?”

“For the same reason I floss between my toes.”

The Dame stared at me. “I’m not going to bother asking.”

“Good.” I stood up stiffly. “So thanks for nothing. I’ll be on my way now.”

“Wait!” The Dame reached across the table and grabbed my arm.

“Do you know what happened to the last woman who touched me?”


“Me neither. We were supposed to meet in the food court at 7, but she never showed. I’ve always wondered about that.”

The Dame rolled her eyes. “Let’s leave your hygiene out of this. I’ve got information. If you can help me, I’ll tell you everything.”

“Like what? And if it’s where my remote is, don’t worry about it.”

She shook her head. “Would you like to know why the ninjas are after you?”

Next: Part 4

No comments: