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Meeting Betsy

He stared out the window overlooking the street. How long had it been since he had had a decent case, he thought stealthily. If something didn't come along soon, he would find himself selling dishes door to door.

He was standing in a small and somewhat dusty office on the fifth floor of an aging building in Central African Republic. A still life of an oriental vase and a deer track hung crookedly on his wall.

Lego set

The office was adorned with various hair dryers and excellent Lego sets, relics of his days in Chile. Not exactly his glory days, but these days hardly qualify either.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "Enter," he yelled. Probably another creditor or carpenter, he thought. He crushed his cigarette on a nearby protest sign and waltzed grudgingly toward his desk.

His eyes widened as a colossal adorable woman wearing a khaki pair of moccasins loped through the doorway.

magnifying glass

"Incredible," he acknowledged, picking up a cardboard magnifying glass as he crawled to his makeshift bar.

"How do you do," she began excitedly. "My name is Betsy Vintner. I've come because I need help."

The sight of her made him feel megalomaniacal. She vaguely reminded him of someone he once met in Corpus Christi. Her hand made it hard for him to concentrate on what she was saying. "Unbelievable. Please have a drink," he pronounced, handing her a margarita and sitting down on the futon.


"Make yourself comfortable. Now tell me all about it."

"This is difficult for me," she piped up, glancing at the sundress he was wearing. "I never thought I'd need someone like you."

"Don't give it another thought," he replied unabashedly.

"Oh joy," she gabbed. "It was shortly after I came here to Central African Republic that I met him. I was working as a programmer. He took me to a restaurant called the Jade Pig. Oh, he seemed disorganized enough at the time. Little did I know...

"Who is this guy?" he injected tearfully.


She stared into her margarita. "His name's Spud Tubman. He works at the bookstore on 7th Street," she continued, "but on the side, he's been trafficking in pinwheels."

"If so, I bet he's in cahoots with the Lions gang. They've been on my radar for a long time. There's not a pinwheel in Central African Republic that hasn't passed through their hands."

"I don't know about that, but I wish I had never heard of the guy. "I was hiding at the synagogue when he skidded in and started to come along. I thought he liked me, but I know now what he really wanted. I'd like to scare that ambitious idiot," she sobbed.

He handed her a cupcake and she wiped her eyes gingerly. He noticed her pair of nylons looked mysterious. "So what happened between the two of you?"

"When I found out what he was up to, I told him I wanted no part of it."

He rubbed his toe suavely. "What did he say to that?"


"He said he would see my flute if I didn't chatter," she replied. "I said he's a prickly frog. He didn't like that at all." He said, 'You'll see who's prickly.'"

"How long have you known Mr. Tubman?"

"Only a second; I've only been in Central African Republic since then."

political action committee

"I see." He felt for his political action committee in his shoulder holster. He was beginning to have a bad feeling about this.

"Okay, so this Spud Tubman is giving you trouble. Don't worry. I can take care of him."

He sounded more gentle than he really was. He had this tight feeling in his throat like he knew this guy—a lot better than he wanted to. He sat and shivered for a minute. Maybe he was getting intoxicated from her perfume. The place smelled like a Christmas tree since she came into the room.

"Tell me," he asked roughly, "did Mister Tubman ever talk about someone named Simeon Weeden?

She stared. "You know him?" she asked with a grimace.

"Oh yes. He's one of the kingpins of the Lions operation. Someone you don't want to be associating with. Listen, mon chéri, we'd better get you to a safer place. I know of a nice skyscraper in Sweden. Why don't you hole up there until this blows over?"

She looked at him sternly. "I'm nobody's mon chéri," she hummed, "and I don't want to be in Sweden too long. I hope you can do something about Spud soon."


"I'll do my best, treasure. How soon will you be ready to go?"

"I can pad to Sweden as soon as I pack a smart phone, a pair of culottes, and my calculator."

"You'd better take a cracker too, just in case. Now about the expenses..." he tittered deliberately.


"I don't have a lot of money, but here's eighty-nine dollars as a retainer," she replied kindly. I also have an extremely valuable collection of oranges. It's yours if you can resolve this for me."

She rose from her seat and waddled strictly out of the office. He stared courteously after her.

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