Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 38: The Barcelona Tango

Previously, the Prime Minister executed a plan and it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty, at all. Quills has followed the Mighty Paddington to the Convent where Lady P. P. is being held hostage. 

Quills heard the dandy’s voice as it threatened someone at the top of the stairs of the convent. He would have liked to race up the stairs but Hector would have said, “Wait, mi hermano. Bide your time. Your patience may save your life.” So, Quills held back at the bottom of the stairs.

A woman’s voice came down to him. “Leave me alone,” she said. Quills recognized the voice as someone he had heard before. But when? Who? He couldn’t recall.

On the top of the stairs, the dandy, The Mighty Paddington, The Iranian Cubist Assassin, grabbed the woman by the arm and pulled her down the hall.

“Leave me alone,” the woman, Mary-Mary Smith also known as Lady Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott, said louder, wandering why the nuns on the second floor did not burst out of their bedrooms and come up to rescue her from this villainous man. Then it came to her. The nuns were all on a week’s retreat at their sister house in Madrid.

“What are you doing?” she said to the man who was dragging her to Mother Superior’s office.

“Never you mind,” the villain said. “The question is not what am I doing. Rather it is what were you doing?”

“I heard voices,” she said, struggling to loose her arm from the man’s grip. “They woke me up. I came up here to see. When I realized it was Mother Superior and Father Jerome, I was on my way back to bed. Let me loose so I can go back to my room and go to sleep.”

“None of us may get any sleep tonight,” he said, pulled open the door to Mother Superior’s office and pushed Lady P. P. inside. He followed. “My friends, I caught a spy. This little thing was listening at your door.”

A breeze eased through the latticework of the office as a full moon stood outside unaware of the danger inside the convent. Father Jerome, Mother Superior, the Doctor and Mata Hari were raising their glasses of wine to toast their success. They all stopped.

Mata Hari saw her ladyship; her ladyship saw Mata Hari.

“You,” Mata Hari said.

The fog of our heroine’s amnesia cleared, and the sun of her memory returned. Her ladyship remembered Mata Hari on the Orient Express, and her threat. She remembered that she was an English lady. She remembered the British ambassador refusing to believe her tale in Istanbul. She remembered Smythie Smathers’s words on the S. S. Twit. She remembered the sinking of the S. S. Twit. She remembered all that she had learned from her daddykins about self-defense.

“You,” Lady P. P. said, now free from the dandy’s grasp.

Mata Hari gave The Mighty Paddington, The Iranian Cubist Assassin, one of her come hither looks that seemed to say, “Take care of this bitch and I will give you some.” His legs almost gave in but he held his stand. He knew he could never trust a woman who carried a Wise & Heimer the way Mata Hari did.

Before Mighty could stop her, her ladyship was across the room. She formed a fist and drew back and rammed that fist right into Mata Hari’s nose, knocking the fatale out of her femme and off her feet. She turned and jumped in the air, like a martial artist, and slammed her left foot into The Mighty Paddington’s groin.

The priest, Mother Superior and Doctor Qwackers cowered in the corner. This was more than they had bargained. Her ladyship was like a lioness protecting her young. She had caught her Wah Wah League’s adversaries unawares.

Then Marye Caterina Wimpleseed Prissypott made for the door. She grabbed its knob. Quills pulled the door open and the momentum threw our heroine out of the room and down the hallway. She crashed through the latticework and off the ledge. She grabbed the ledge with one hand.

Quills rushed down the hall and over to the window. “What happened?”

“You threw me down the hall when you opened the door,” her ladyship said, hanging on for her life. Quills suddenly remembered where he had heard that voice. Gibraltar.

He went to reach for her hand. Behind him, he heard a noise. He turned and saw The Mighty Paddington coming for him. Mighty threw the first punch. It missed Quills. Quills threw the second punch. It hit Mighty squarely on the chin. Mata Hari drew her Wise & Heimer. She took aim but across the room came a knife to take out the gun in her hand. It was Pip, a chip off the old Flip of Flip, Fop & Flimby, Solicitors at Law. He ran up behind Mighty and knocked the dandy out with his pistol.

As Pip forced Mother Superior, Father Jerome and the doctor into a closet and locked it, Quills returned to the ledge to rescue her ladyship. But she was gone. She had fallen. He looked below to see a man throwing her body across his shoulders and hurrying off to a carriage.

“That must be 007,” Pip said from behind Quills. “We have to stop him. He’s working for The Times and he means to either kill her ladyship or ship her off to God-knows-where.”

“Let’s go,” Quills said rushing out of the office. “I’ve been to God-knows-where and that’s no place to be sent.”

Pip was right behind him as he took the stairs three at a time. They ran out of the building.

“I have horses waiting,” Pip said. “They’re around the corner.”

They made for the horses and rode down the cobblestone street where James Bond’s carriage had gone. The carriage raced toward the piers of the port of Barcelona. He was heading to a ship owned by The Times.

The horses came closer and closer to the carriage. From the carriage came gunshots. Bullets whizzed by Pip and Quills, barely missing.

“I thought this Bond was supposed to be a good shot,” Pip said to Quills as the two raced their horses nearer the carriage. One of the bullets breezed past an inch from his ear.

“He’s getting better and better,” Pip yelled back at Quills.

Quills and Pip closed in on the carriage. More bullets, and they realized that it was the driver that was firing. Seemed that James Bond 007 had his hands full, fighting her ladyship in the carriage. Pip aimed his revolver. He dropped the driver.

Now the carriage was a runaway. Quills pulled up beside the carriage and past it until he reached the horses. He was about to jump onto the carriage horses when they swerved in the opposite direction and turned up another street. As they did, the carriage came crashing down on its side and slid half a block further.

“Oh no,” Quills halted his horse and wheeled it around. “Oh no.”

Pip was already thinking what Quills was thinking. Her ladyship was dead in the carriage, or at the very least badly injured. Pip jumped down from his horse.

“Get off me, you turd,” Pip heard from inside the carriage. “I mean, you cad. Oh shit. I meant what I said the first time. Turd. You’re an incredibly bad turd too.”

Whack, whack came the sounds from inside the carriage. Quills and Pip were at the carriage door at the same time. Popping out of the carriage door was her ladyship.

“Would you kind gentlemen help a lady out of this carriage please?”

Next week, true love.

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 34: The Chase

Previously the Convent was not all that it seemed.

It all began as a ruse, a way for Quills to escape his father. Unfortunately, he had not thought it through. His father was right. He was a impetuous fellow but he came by it rightly. His mother had been impetuous. However, jumping off the Rock of Gibraltar might have been a little too impetuous. On the Spanish beach he considered that his impetuosity might have been a little to impetuous as he stared at the end of this bandolero’s pistolla.

But the highwayman seemed to like him. After all, both of them were under the Curse of the Second Son. No inheritance for either of them. It was finding the first available heiress and living off their income. Both had said, “No, thank you.” Now this highwayman was offering Quills a way out. Although it was an illegal way out. The thing is that Quills had decided he would do anything to escape the fate his father had in store for him. Even highway robbery.

By the time they arrived at The Aragon & The Castille, Quilip “Quills” David Armistead Loopsey and Hector Umberto Alacia had enough money for both to retire. And they had become fast friends, Hector seeing Quills ability with a gun several times.

Quills and Hector sat in their corner, drinking their Andalusian sherry and telling each other of the adventures they had and the adventures they were going to have. In walked this dandy. He insulted the innkeeper’s hospitality several times. They both smiled at the man and saluted him. He did not salute back. How dare he?

Hector walked over to the dandy’s table. The dandy insulted Hector. Since the innkeeper was a good friend, he held his anger and bided his time. Hector and Quills finished their drinks and went to the stable. They saddled their horses and rode off into the darkness.

The next morning Señor Dandy tried to shortchange the innkeeper. As the dandy drove away in his carriage, the innkeeper spat in his direction. Immediately Hector and Quills rode up beside the innkeeper, saluted him and rode after the carriage. The carriage did not go south or north to one of the main highways. It went east on one of the backroads.

At first, Hector and Quills thought they would stop him and rob him. But, they decided, on second thought, to find out where fancy-dancy was going. There was plenty of time for robbery. Maybe they could give him an even greater lesson.

They followed him east on the Old Road through Mancha, Baeza, Ubeda, and Torreperogill. When the carriage came to Beas de Segura, it changed directions again. The carriage made the long journey and came to the mountains and headed east.

Hector decided that he had enough. Before they knew it, the dandy would be in Barcelona and he might have many friends there. It was late at night. The highwaymen’s horses were tired, and now was the time.

Hector kicked his horse and the horse made for the carriage. Before Hector could pass the carriage, the dandy pulled open the curtain of the window of the carriage, aimed a revolver at Hector and fired. Quills, aways behind Hector, watched his friend pass the carriage and its horses and turn his horse around in front of the carriage.

“Halt, Señor Driver,” he yelled.

The driver pulled his horses to a stop, then threw himself down on the ground, taking his rifle with him. From the carriage came three shots. Hector jumped from his horse. Quills was almost up to the carriage when he started firing. The dandy stopped firing.

“Señors, I surrender,” the dandy called out from the carriage. “I have had enough.” He threw his revolver out of the carriage.

Hector, the driver and Quills stopped firing. The dandy stepped out of the carriage. Quills jumped off his horse. Keeping his eye on the dandy, Quills walked around him and joined Hector. Hector motioned for the driver to leave his rifle on the ground and stand up.

“Take my gold,” the dandy said. “You’ve earned it. Then leave us in peace.”

“Señor,” Hector said, “you do not deserve peace. You are a man who insults freely. First you insult my friend, the innkeeper, then you insult my friend here. And if that was not enough, you insult me. No one insults Hector Umberto Alacia.”

“Hector,” Quills said surprised that Hector had told the dandy his name. “Now he knows your name.”

“I want him to know who killed him,” Hector said. “So, he can give the Devil a greeting from Hector Umberto Alacia.”

Hector walked over to the dandy. Quills pushed the driver against the carriage, turned him around and tied his hands behind him. Then he backed away and turned to see Hector standing close to the dandy, his pistolla at the man’s throat.

“Señor, you are through insulting your betters.” Hector pushed the gun further into the man’s throat. “I want to see you drop to your knees and beg.’

The man walked backwards, trying to escape the barrel of Hector’s gun. The dandy backed against the carriage. Then it happened. The dandy dropped to his knees. As he did, he grabbed Hector by the cojones. Hector screamed and dropped his pistolla. Before Quills could act, the dandy pulled a knife from his shoe, slammed it into Hector’s foot. He grabbed the gun of the ground, pointed it at Hector’s head and fired. Hector fell to the ground.

Quills fired at the dandy, and the dandy shot back. Quills fired several times but missed the dandy. The dandy ran toward Hector’s horse. As he did, he shot his driver. Quills went to fire his gun but it didn’t fire. He was out of bullets. He dropped behind the rock. The dandy sprang onto the back of Hector’s horse and rode into the night.

Quills rose from behind the rock The Englishman grabbed his canteen off his saddle and brought it over to Hector. He kneeled by his friend’s side, tears in his eyes. He gave his friend a drink from the canteen. Tears rolled down his face.

“Do not cry,” Hector said, breathing heavily. “It is my time to go. If I had a son, mi amigo, it would be you. We have had our times, and they were good times. And remember how I died bravely, doing what I love.”

“Si, mi amigo.” Quills was sobbing. His friend was dying, and he was the only real friend Quills had ever had, the only real family.

“The only thing I ask,” Hector said, breathing heavier and heavier, “The one thing you must do for me. Promise me.”

“I will,” Quills said between his sobs.

“You must kill that son of a bitch. Make him suffer. He is evil. Do you promise me this?”

“Yes, I promise,” Quills said.

His friend took another drink from the canteen, swallowed hard, and died, a smile on his face.

Quills stood up. He walked over to the driver. He had fallen against the carriage and died, a bullet smashed through his head. He then walked over to his horse. He pulled it to the carriage and tethered it to one of the wheels. He unsaddled the horse, pulled off the blanket and made himself a place to sleep on the ground.

Then he searched through the boot of the carriage and found a shovel. He saw a large tree and imagined that Hector would like to have his last resting place under that tree. He began his digging. And soon he had two holes, first one for Hector, then a second for the driver. He buried both men side by side. He stood by their graves and said a few words.

He returned to his blanket and went to sleep. It was a restless sleep, one moment he dreamed of his friend, his laughter, his good humor, his comradery. The next he was dreaming of the dandy and his insults.

Quills woke as dawn was filling the sky with its morning light. He jumped up and rolled up his blanket and threw it next to his saddle. He went to his saddle and pulled out some food. He opened a can of beans and ate them cold. Then he saddled up and pulled his body onto his black mare. He rode over to Hector’s grave and said a final farewell and began the ride east after the dandy.

Quills knew that the dandy couldn’t have gotten far ahead. Hector’s horse needed to rest. His mare was fresh after a night’s rest and would easily catch the dandy, whoever he was. He rode his horse hard over miles and miles of empty road, not another human in sight. Occasionally when he came across another person, he would stop and ask them if they had seen a dandy on a black stallion.

“Si,” came the answer. “He is only a few hours ahead of you. He is driving that horse of his hard. It is as if he had the devil on his tail.”

“He does,” Quills said, then rode on, harder and harder. But it did not seem to make any difference. Once he thought he had the dandy in sight only to find out it was another rider and not his enemy. On he rode east until he his horse could make it no further. He stopped at the inn in Molina de Segura. He sold the mare and bought himself a new ride.

Then he realized that he was in no shape to go on. So it was a meal and a bed for a short night’s rest. Before sunrise, he was on the horse and onward. When he came to Murcia, he turned north. Ever so often he would stop and ask about the dandy. Those he asked had seen him. They labeled him a cheat and a thief.  And rude, always insulting someone with his behavior.

“Yes, that is the man I am after,” Quills would say.

“Bless you, my son,” one innkeeper said to him and charged him nothing for his meal. As the innkeeper bade him farewell, he asked Quills, “Why do you seek this man?”

“He murdered my friend,” Quills said.

“I and my family will pray that you find him,” the innkeeper said.

Quills rode with the man’s good wishes at his back, the wind that he needed to push him forward. Through Valencia and Terragona he rode on. As he reached Barcelona, he glimpsed the dandy at a distance. It was sunset.

Quills slowed his pace, keeping up with the dandy and his horse. He watched the dandy enter a cobblestone street. Quills stopped and got off his horse. He tied the horse to a rail and followed on foot.

Quills was only a couple of yards behind the dandy when his enemy stopped in front of a church and got off his horse. He walked around to the other side of the church. Quills drew his pistolla and followed. The man entered the convent. Quills followed him inside. The stairs squeaked as the man climbed to the third floor. Quills took off his shoes and noiselessly followed.

At the top of the stairs, he heard the dandy say, “Where would you believe you are going, your ladyship.”

Next Week, There’s an outbreak of Revolution-itis. Can it be stopped?

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott # 29: How the heck did Portugal get in this story anyway?

Previous our heroine arrived in Barcelona.

It was easy, easier than the assassin thought.

The carriage carrying the Crown Prince of Portugal arrived at the restaurant late. He had been expected at nine o’clock in the evening. It was already eleven when he pulled up in front. The coachman stepped down from his seat atop the carriage and opened the door to allow the prince to exit.

A man stepped from the shadows on the street called Prince Henry the Navigator. His black cape and dark mask kept him camouflaged until he stepped into the light by the carriage. He had brought three mudpies but only one would be needed to do what was required.

The Mighty Paddington, the Iranian Cubist Assassin, pulled one of the pies out from under his cape and raised it. The prince’s face smashed right into it. The mudpie man cried, “Long live the Wah Wah.” Before either of the prince’s three retainers could do anything, the prince keeled over and fell to the street. He had died of embarrassment.

Mighty turned to flee. He ran smack dab into the coachman. The coachman grabbed him by the mask and the cape. Mighty reached under his cape and pulled a second mudpie from its sheath. Another of the prince’s retainers grabbed Mighty’s cape. Mighty raised the pie and rammed it into the coachman’s face. Before the second retainer could stop him, Mighty dropped his cape and jumped over the coachman. Then he was back into the shadows.

The Mighty Paddington, the Iranian Cubist Assassin, hurried to the house of an underground supporter. Before the army could get itself organized and block off all exits to the city, Mighty was dressed in the dress of a fancy-dancy nobleman and in a carriage and on the road to Spain.

To say the least, the King of Portugal was peaved. He was royally pissed. He called his War Council to a meeting. Pacing back and forth, steam came out of his ears. “The Spanish did this,” he said pacing. “I know it. They have been trying to do something like this ever since the Pope gave us Brazil. Well, they won’t get away with it. We will have our revenge on that arrogant Aragonist, Alfonso.” He meant the Spanish king’s son, His Royal Highness The Infante Alfonso. Not the father, Alfonso, who was old and senile. Though only the heir to the throne of Spain, Junior was the one who ruled over the Cortes and the country.

At that moment, one of the Portuguese king’s courtiers entered the War Council room. He approached the king’s person and bowed.

“Yes, flunky?” the king asked. “What do you want of His Divine Majesty, the King?”

“Your Wonderfulness,” the kneeling servant said, “the British ambassador is here. He has news about the attack upon the prince.”

“Then show the B. A. in.” The king stopped his willy-nilly pacing and turned toward the door.

The courtier escorted the B. A. into the room. The B. A. bowed a bow that was quite civilized. It showed that the B. A. was not the king’s subject, yet it showed respect for the king’s person.

“Your Majesty,” B. A. said, “you have Her Majesty’s most gracious condolences.”

“Yes,” the King of Portugal said, “yes, we know that. But you have news of the perpetrator?”

“My government does. It was not Spain.”

“Not Spain,” the king said. “Of course, it was Spain. It is always Spain, rubbing my people’s nose in its ass. We don’t even have our own language. It’s half Spanish, and not the good part, do you know that? How dare you tell me that it isn’t Spain.”

“Your Majesty, my government has proof that it was not Spain. It was an organization known as the Wah Wah League. They are trying to stir up trouble between the countries of Europe. They want us to go to war with one another. Once the war starts, there will be no stopping it. We will wear ourselves out. Then this organization steps in to take the proper governments’ places. First they create anarchy, then they create revolution, then the whole damned thing falls in upon itself. And pretty soon we’re out of a job.”

“Are you sure?” the king wanted to know.

“I am indeed. The assassin killed by mud pie, did he not? He wore a dark mask and a black cape, did he not?”

“Yes, that is true. That was him.”

“Then it was,” the B. A. said, “the Iranian Cubist Assassin. This has all his markings on it.”

“Hmmm,” the king hmmmed. “What would you have us do?”

“Have the army stand down.”

“Are you sure that it was this Iranian Cubist Assassin?”

“Yes, Your Majesty. I am sure. And we will catch him and bring him to justice. This I promise you.”

“Oh, I was so looking forward to taking on that Alfonso and his hoity-toityness.” The king turned to his Council. “Very well, gentlemen, order the army to stand down.” Then back to the B. A. “We want to see justice, and we want to see it soon. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Your Majesty.”

Next Week, The Mighty Paddington

Lady Wimpleseed-Prissypott 25: More trouble in the jungle

Previously the Ghosts of Haggismarshe found out that Lady P. P. had disappeared. She was possibly dead.

Back in the jungle, the night was one enormous sound, so loud that Mata Hari and Kruger could barely sleep. So loud that the noise was enough to scare the cojones off Kruger if he had cojones. But all those lion and tiger and elephant sounds were the romanticism of the jungle for Johnny Eager. It was his song.

Early the next day, the three were up and setting out for the diamonds. Mata Hari in the lead, taking directions from Johnny Eager on which way to go, then Johnny and Kruger following with the native carriers in the rear.

To say that the trail to the diamonds had curves would be the same as saying that Mata Hari had curves. Of course, the woman had curves and what curves she had. Johnny Eager had seen curves on other women. Mata Hari’s put all those curves to shame. Johnny watched her curves wiggle their way along the curves of the jungle trail.

Kaptain Kroger Kruger shoved his krugerand up Johnny’s caboose. “On, you huskey,” the cold steel intimated. So, on the party trekked their trek. Even with the map, it would have been hard to find the diamonds. Without Johnny, it would have been impossible. The map was only the first half of a puzzle. The second half was in Johnny’s brain. He was the only one who could interpret the map and find the diamonds.

It was a long way to Temporary where the gems were hidden. A long hard way indeed. This was one of those times that the Eager Beaver was not eager. Johnny was in no hurry to get to those diamonds.

On and on, the company marched, negotiating their way through the flora and fauna, the massive overgrowth and all the other jungle stuff that you might expect to find in a jungle. On and on, they marched down the long and winding road and up the yellow brick road, following trails that had not been followed since following began. They caught up with Terry Cognito and Terry N. Cognito, the Cognito twins, and passed them by. The native carriers followed, singing their national anthem “One Ton of Tomatoes” to the tune of “Guantanamera”.

The group managed to slip through the country of the Kwabanzi and avoid the tribal war with the Jujus, a war that had been going on for at least one hundred years. They missed Stanley and his I-presuming encounter with Doctor Livingston.

The party bypassed the territory of Tarzan. They were not interested in a close encounter with the notorious Ape Man. Sometime back, Jayne had divorced him and returned to England. “He’s never home,” she complained. “Boy and Cheetah need a father. He’s always gone somewhere, swinging on those damned vines. He knows I can’t keep up. But he does it anyway.” She took old Tar for everything he had, including the tree house he built in the middle of the jungle. She had rented it out and gone back to England for a decent English life.

In his loneliness, Tarzan was now on his third marriage. You really don’t want to know about his second marriage. Besides it was annulled. But this third marriage was not working out any better than the other two. The new bride, everybody said, had the face of a gorilla. That was because she was a gorilla. And she had old Tar on a short lease. He was getting a bit fed up. If he wanted a boss, he would have stayed with Jayne. These days he was plain peeved and a peeved Tarzan was not a pleasant fellow to come into contact with. So, the company went out of their way to avoid his territory.

When they came to the famous Victoria Falls, they stopped to admire the scenery. “One heck of a falls,” Johnny pointed out. While there, they stopped in for some grub at the Restaurant at the End of the Galaxy. It was a restaurant all Africa knew about.

“Time to go, ja,” Mata Hari said, touching the pistol at her side, a Wise & Heimer .45. They left the restaurant, stuffed to the gills if they had been fish. Of course, they weren’t fish but they were still stuffed.

On they trod. Through the kingdom of the Suk of Sukatash. Past several posts of the French Foreign Legion. They encountered potentates potentating. The journey was enough to make Mata Hari regret the evil work she had gotten herself into. If only she could relax. After all, it was the style to spend a while on the Nile. But on they went. Until one day, Kruger had had enough.

“I have had enough,” Kaptain Kroger Kruger said, pointing his krugerand at Johnny Eager’s heart.

“Oooo, you’ve had enough,” Johnny said. “You’ve had enough? I have had enough. You and your krugerand stuck in my back all this way. I am getting tired of it.”

“If we do not arrive soon,” the kaptain said, “I am going to start seeing that my bullets arrive in a place where the stars don’t shine, capeesh?”

“Boys,” Mata Hari said in her best Mae West accent. “We’ve come this far. Let’s not fight. I like my men alive and kicking. As I always say, it’s not the men in my life. It’s the life in my men, big boys.”

Johnny knew he couldn’t keep the charade up much longer. If he didn’t show them the diamonds, he would be a ding-dong-daddy and he’d be dead. The one thing Johnny knew was that he did not want to be dead. In his book, dead was not a good thing. Not a good thing at all.

Besides the soles of his boots were wearing thin. He needed a new pair of boots, preferably black and shiny. The ladies all loved black and shiny boots, and Johnny loved the women. He was tired of this cat and mouse, and he was ready for that new pair of boots. The worst that could happen: he would be dead. And he didn’t plan on being dead. At best, he would get his money, then he would buy his new boots.

“Alright,” Johnny said. “I will show you where the diamonds are. There’s one thing though.”

“I knew my krugerand would konvince you,” Kaptain Kroger Kruger kommented.

“It was not your gun,” Johnny said. “It was my boots. I need new boots. My feet are killing me. And I want this ridiculous trek over. So, what about it? Will you go along with my deal?”

“It is possible,” Mata Hari said, studying his eyes, studying for a trick. “What is your offer?”

“I will show you where the diamonds are. Kruger, you can’t come along.”

“Why should I go along with that deal?” Kruger said.

“Ja, why should he go along with that, Johnny?” Mata Hari said.

“Because you’ll never get the diamonds,” Johnny said. “I will never tell you.”

“I will just shoot you up until you tell us,” Kruger pointed his krugerand at Johnny’s leg. “And I will start with your third leg. How would you like your wiener to be schnitzelled ? Then there would be no Johnny for the ladies, ja?”

“Go ahead, Kruger.” Johnny reached over and grabbed the barrel of the krugerand and pointed it at his package. “Go ahead. I will guarantee you will not get the diamonds. Capeesh?”

“Hold it, Kroger,” Mata Hari interjected. “He means it. He would let you blow off his wiener rather than tell you. I say we agree to his offer.”

“You’d better listen to the lady.” Johnny smiled at Kruger.

Kruger shoved his gun into his holster, then stared at Johnny. “I don’t trust him.”

“Well, I don’t trust you either,” Johnny said.

“We will do it your way, Johnny,” Mata Hari said. “But no crossing doubles.”

“No double cross,” Johnny agreed. “You make sure you have my money ready when we come back.”

“If you cross us, I will hunt you down,” Kruger said, “and you will die a horrible death. I know things and I shall use those things on you.”

“It’s a deal,” Johnny said. “Get your gear, Mata. We’ve got a bit of a walk to take.”

Johnny Eager and Mata Hari gathered up a canteen and some beef jerky. “Let’s go,” Johnny said.

The two of them walked out toward the morning sun. They had a half day’s hike out into the open, then up a hill and into a cave. That was where the diamonds were. Johnny was hoping her greed would help him pull off what he was hoping to pull off.

But why were these diamonds Johnny Eager had hidden in a cave in the heart of Africa, why were they important.? Well, they were extra special diamonds. And they were purchased for an extra special purchase. Johnny Eager had only been the middleman, transporting them from a Boer in South Africa to Mata Hari.

Mata Hari belonged to an organization known as the Wah Wah League. The Right Reverend Henry Wah Wah formed the organization as a way to enforce his anarchist theories. He recruited a few hundred anarchists to join him in an effort to bring down governments everywhere.

Through the use of terrorist tactics, the governments would eventually yell “ouch,” and give Henry Wah Wah what he and the Wah Wah League wanted. Unfortunately the Russians discovered the Right Reverend in Moscow and executed him. However, and there’s always a however in these sorts of stories, his reign of terror was not over. Two of his disciples took over the leadership of the league. They were Mata Hari and The Mighty Paddington, the Iranian Cubist Assassin.

The two had changed his strategy. Now they were out to turn governments against each other, then those states would go to war. In achieving this, they were using WMD, Weapons of Mudpie Distress. They were assassinating with mudpies.

Their henchmen gave leaders of countries mudpies in the face. The victims died of embarrassment. When someone said that a politician got a pie in the face, they meant he really got a pie in his face. This tactic worked on leaders of state everywhere save one place. The United States of America. Everybody hit with a pie died from embarrassment but not the Americans. Nothing embarrassed them. Nada. As Buffalo Bill often told his audience, “That’s show business.”

What do diamonds have to do with mudpies? They were special diamonds produced especially for mudpies. I know, dear Reader, you think I am making this up. But ’tis true, ’tis true. In a ceremony created by the Right Reverend, he ground up these special diamonds into the mud.

Once they were ground up in the mud, he baked an especially potent mudpie that really embarrassed folks. The diamonds provided a solvent that glued the mudpie to the victim’s face. The only way to get it off was plastic surgery.

Several months earlier, the league had used up their last diamonds. They had ordered a new batch and Johnny Eager was hired to pick them up. Mata Hari was supposed to get them from him and take them to the league’s headquarters in Barcelona. Johnny Eager and Mata Hari stood on a hill overlooking a savannah.

“The diamonds are here, ja?” Mata Hari smacked her lips in anticipation. “My package is here.”

“There are packages and there are packages, Mademoiselle.” Johnny smiled at her greedily. “You sure are one hell of a package. No reason we can’t trade packages. I will give you mine and you can give me yours.”

Then he turned and walked up the side of the hil. She followed him into the dark heart of a cave. Johnny reached over and grabbed the woman by the waist and took her in his arms. He kissed her hard. She kissed him hard. Their bodies met. Then she pushed him away.

“Where are my diamonds? If you don’t give me my diamonds, I will kill you myself.”

Johnny loosened his hold on her. He walked further into the dark and returned minutes later. In his hand, he held a bag of diamonds. He also held a gun. She reached out to him. She felt both packages, one of gems, another cold hard steel.

“Man, I love your packages,” she said, taking the diamonds, moving the gun out of the way. She leaned over and kissed him. Kissed him hard. Her body close to his. His body close to hers.

“Let’s do it, Johnny,” she whispered into his ear. “And let’s do it with a verb.”

He wrapped his arms around her and the two lit up the cave with their passion.

Then Johnny pushed her body aside, raised his cold steel revolver and fired.

Next Week: A ride to the other side and back again.