The Crazed Murderer came and sat down across the card table from me. “How’s business?” he asked, putting his sawn-off shotgun down on the table.
“Not bad.” I dealt him a hand of cards. “You’re all ready to kill people, are you? And do you have to make it quite so obvious?”
“Colon Dee,” he said, grinning in the approved manner of the emoticon, but he did put the shotgun down on the floor. “Who really cares anymore? But as far as killing goes, I’m just planning to do one of the people, as you well know. I’m waiting for the Victim. Ah, here he is.”
The Victim came in and sat down opposite the Crazed Murderer, nodding to him. “Pass me the crooked deck of cards,” he said. I did.
“Just suppose I lose to you with this,” he asked the Crazed Murderer. “Will you still kill me?”
“Can’t happen,” the Crazed Murderer replied with a shrug. “I mean I can’t win. It would change the entire damned story.”
The Victim nodded. “Colon Open Bracket,” he said glumly. “I’m so sick and tired of dying though.”
“Let’s get it over with,” said the Crazed Murderer. “Just deal me the dud cards and we can finish it and go home.” He began to pick up the cards and fan them out. “You’re a cheat!” he snapped without even looking at his hand.
“Wait,” I snapped. “The Innocent Bystander who gets Blown Away isn’t here yet. What’s keeping him?”
“He hooked up with the Hooker with the Heart of Gold,” the Victim said. “She’s diddling him behind the Garden Hedge.”
“We don’t have a garden hedge,” I reminded him. “No garden, therefore no garden hedge.”
He shrugged. “Whatever.” He was dressed to proper dandified standards, but looking pale and undernourished. I became concerned; he’d make a hell of an impression at the post mortem. We have standards to keep up. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing really,” he said, shrugging, and fanning himself with his hand of cards. “I haven’t eaten in two days. You know how it is. I had dreams, you know, beautiful women, a good life, and riches, vast beyond imagining, and what do I have? No job, no money, and then I’m going to have my head blown off by this nut over here.”
“Nut?” The Crazed Murderer jumped up and smashed his fist down on the table. He fumbled for the gun. The gun was on the floor. He stopped fumbling, baffled.
“Sit down, you idiot,” I told him. “You’re jumping the gun, literally.” He sat, fuming.
“Let’s get on with this game,” I told the Victim. “How much do you wish to bet?”
He looked at me as if I were crazy. “How much? Do you think I have money to bet with? Why do you think I haven’t been eating?” The Crazed Murderer began laughing. The Innocent Bystander was presumably still laying the Golden Hooker. Things were getting out of hand.
“Shut up, you,” I told the Crazed Murderer, who was still guffawing.
“Who are you to tell me to shut up?” he demanded, his eyes going pink with fury in the approved manner. “Just who does he think he is?” he demanded of the Victim.
“You’re right,” the Victim said. “He thinks he can order us around.” He fumbled for his gun. “Damn,” he hissed. “I forgot I’d sold it for money for food.”
“You’re in violation of contract,” I shouted angrily, rising. “Sub Clause Number Seven D. Read the fine print if you don’t believe me. Now do as you’ve been told.”
The Crazed Murderer grabbed at his shotgun, which was still under the table. “I’m going to blow you away,” he screamed. The gun caught on the edge of the table and went off in his hands, blowing his lungs out through his shoulder. “Oh hell,” he said, and died.
“I’m sorry,” said the Innocent Bystander, coming in at that moment. “I meant to be on time, but I met this wonderful lady...”
I stood up. I leaned over the table. I took the shotgun from the Crazed Murderer’s warm dead hands and blew the Innocent Bystander’s head off. Why did I do that? Noblesse oblige. The show must go on.
And I still don’t know why the Victim began laughing in that manner. In fact, they tell me he’s still laughing.
He must be nuts.
Copyright B Purkayastha 2009