The One Minute Happiness
We crossed the river from the gates into the main street. The road on the other side of the Kingdom was reasonably broad, and well-lit but crowded for that time of the night. At first glance, everything seemed normal: birds chanted in sweet, so-recognizable disharmony; a couple of ladies were shedding their skins and faces on the go; the sky was full of the unicorn-flies.
But something wasn’t normal. Or someone.
In the middle of the path, surrounded by a dozen wild dogs, stood the woman: short, angry, and not young. When I noticed a revolver in her hand, I immediately dismissed the idea that she was a destination tourist or an unlucky visitor like myself. What even odder was that she was carrying an empty can of coke on her neck, about the size of a small kettle; every now and then, she raised it and seemed to speak into it.
I pulled my shoulders back and whispered to the startled First Assistant: “Who is the woman with the gun?”
“I’m not sure… A friend of mine mentioned her once,” He looked puzzled.
“My name is Tamara GRRR Diablo Thrill of the Balance de Razor Perditis Yo Legarto,” the woman shouted, her cobalt-colored lips tightened over her smoked teeth.
“I’m Bullet. Is it your dogs, Mrs. GRRR?” I sucked the air in, inspecting her bushy mustache and the muscles under the tight top.
“Yes. I imported them a while ago. They are New Guinea Singing dogs.” She paused, then added, “It’s important I speak with you, fellas.”
“What did you say your name was?” The First Assistant said in a high-pitched voice, edged with fear, from behind my back.
“Tamara GRRR Diablo Thrill of the Balance de Razor Perditis Yo Legarto, or, if you want to simplify, I am the third wife of Mr. Beard!”
“Right.” The First Assistant sighed.
In the exact second, an unpleasant change had come over his face: his jaw dropped slightly; his cheeks changed color to the dark, muted cyan; he was breathing rather quickly like he was frightened. I kept darting sidelong glances at him while listening to a stranger with the dogs.
“I specialize in the future, Bullet. Before I discuss the matter, let me ask you, and it is of the most vicious importance, to sign a non-disclosure agreement. It will take only one minute.”
“Future, you say… Hm, like five years from now?” I tried to win some time to find the best way to escape the crazy situation.
“Five, twenty. Or two hundred.”
“I’ll be dead by then, Mrs. GRRR. What do I need a non-disclosure for?”
“I’m not trying to fool you, Bullet.” She smiled. Her pose and expression suggested she was irritated by my sudden disobedience. “I work for Mrs. Fairly Breathing, the First Wife of the ruler of this land.”
I saw how The First Assistant put his hands on his throat: almost hysterical terror took over him.
“Would you like to take a closer look at the paper’s content in my lounge down the rock, Mr. Harmless?” The woman continued.
“Before we do that, I think I need to visit the soon-to-be wife of your ex-husband.” I chuckled.
“I’ll shoot you down if you’ll try to leave now. Understood?” Mrs. GRRR barked.
I realized she was waiting for my response. Despite the stiffness in my whole body, I moved closer to the edge of the road, only to discover the steep rock wall, and peered over. There was a long chain of stairs leading down to the covered in lights lounge. I opened my mouth to answer, but the words resisted coming out of my throat. I glanced back to ask for the advice of The First Assistant. One of the wild dogs sat on his chest, pressing on his lungs, stifling him. Deep in my heart, I wanted to scream that I was ready to follow Mrs. GRRR to the end of the Earth, but my conscious brain had lost control of my tongue. I gasped out only a single word: “No.”
I don’t know how, but The First Assistant, red and hot, planted himself in the center of the road, waving his arms and eyeballs impatiently for the better effect; he tried to scare away the dogs or, perhaps, attract the attention of people who lived nearby. Mrs. GRRR Diablo Thrill of the Balance de Razor Perditis Yo Legarto spat on her hands, then quickly approached the First Assistant and gave him a hard blow with her can of coke. Pale-faced I watched that operation in silence. The collision has made a mess on the road where The First Assistant was standing only a couple of minutes ago. I bravely decided to break the mournful silence and jump from the edge of the wall. The dogs (after taking me into the ring) followed my unplanned voyage.
Mrs. GRRR came down to the lounge peacefully by using the stairs. There she checked my wounds (I admit, I was lucky enough to survive the rough two-meter flight) and got right down to the business. After I’d signed the non-disclosure, the crazy dog lady told me that she had a vision: after the wedding, Mr. Beard was planning to send my poor soul to the Slave Market, where I’d be sold to the Beluga Clan. I was confused by that information. She smiled, turned her head toward the egg hammock, and spoke in a low, cheerful voice: “Your ex-wife, Martha, said you can give me one minute of happiness…”
A sudden dread pierced my body like an arrow: the thought of being together with Mrs. GRRR on that egg hammock caused every limb of my body to shiver. I grabbed the bottle (it was locally made gin), which I spotted on the three-legged table in the corner, and growled: “What does your Martha know? In my world, one minute is an eternity!”
After a minute (or two) of speedy action, I felt dead in more ways than one. I found myself staggering, perhaps, because I had eaten only two meals that day and could not remember when I had slept properly last time. Also, I was furious with the fatigue-clumsiness of my usually mighty anaconda as well as the slowness of my body. It seemed that Mrs. GRRR was tired too. She and her eleven New Guinea Singing dogs fell asleep under the table overshadowed by the stone wall. A wet, monotonous wind healed my wounds quicker than any first aid kit. I needed a rest too, so I crawled into a hole in the floor and closed my eyes.
The following day, I found Tamara’s body – eyeless and cold – professionally strangled and placed on the stairs. A plate of cold ham and a napkin had been left on the three-legged table. The New Guinea Singing dogs were gone.
“I might call myself Pompeii after that…” I said to myself, enjoying the sound of the echo.
I couldn’t decide what the wisest thing to do now was, so I climbed up to the road and prowled the unknown streets for a quarter of an hour in the hope of finding the castle of a bride. When I thought the search was a waste of time, I noticed a peculiar smell. It led me directly to the palace of the fabulous Mrs. Vegas (soon-to-be Mrs. Beard).
Quite courteously, I opened the door with my foot. Above the French doors that framed the entrance were hanging 12 dead sheep and 42 still alive fish. On the other side of the room stood a half-naked Mrs. Vegas. Her glowing body was a page waiting to be read…
!! If you are not familiar with the story of Harmless Bullet, take a look at the page I created: ABOUT HARMLESS BULLET
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