Sunday, September 03, 2006


"It spoils people's clothes
to squeeze under a gate;
the proper way to get in,

is to climb down a pear tree."

The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Hintercloos is a man afraid of his possessions. He no doubt fired the cleaning lady during the Carter administration. After clearing the booby-trapped double dutch chocolate doors, I made my way slowly into the thumbless one's cluttered yet sugary lair. Was it the essence of nutmeg or cinnamon? All those years working the perfume counter at the Moscow GUM has beaten to hell my olfactory nerve.

My digitally-challenged foe must have left in a hurry as I hit paydirt without swinging a pick. There on the rolltop desk, practically giftwrapped under a light dusting of baking sugar, a neat stack of documents marked "Dutch Ministry of Intrigue".

I chuckled my way through the decoy plans, obviously planted, such as "GMOs: Genetically Modified Seeds - The Power To Control The Food Seed Of Entire Nations & Regions". Oh really. Next was "Tobacco Profits Secured: Industry Raises Nicotine Levels 10-20% Since 1998". Do go on. I almost gave up after perusing "Ehhhxellent: Coming US Housing Crash Will Outscale DotCom Collapse". I mean come on.

Then the money. It's always the last document in a high pile. Stamped with the official seal of the Netherlands' Royal House of Orange, "Queen Beatrix Determined To Hasten Global Warming: Rising Waters To Place Entire Planet At Mercy Of Superior Dutch Dyke Technology". Aye carumba chihuahua santa maria. The mother of all loads.

My mind began to race. Holland? The Netherlands? Dutchland? What's the connection? Queen Beatrix? How could the author and illustrator of a beloved set of children's books rise to power and hatch such an evil scheme? The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin grows darker by the day.

Then the stars came out to play. Caught a whiff of gingerbread, then an exploding pain behind the ears. I hit the maple scented floorboards, my last thought Hintercloos, Flopsy, Mopsy... I think I caught a glimpse of Aunt Sally in garters and black lace holding a cherry pie, but god I hope not.

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