It was a dark and stormy night. The moon played hide-and-seek behind a veil of dark clouds. A wolf howled a mournful lament in the distance.
The Major entered the study. It was dark. The storm had interrupted the power and all the lights in the mansion were off. The Major stuck a match and lit a hurricane lamp he kept in his sea chest for just such emergencies. As the light grew beyond a flicker the Major looked down and gasped!
"The bastards! They've killed Kenny!"
And there in a slowly spreading pool of tapioca pudding lay Kenny. Face down and quite dead.
Years of military service had taught the Major one thing above all else: CYA -- and that didn't stand for Crying Young A**hole. He looked around quickly to see if anyone else was in the vicinity, but saw nothing but the emotionless -- and motionless – dark. Donning a pair of driving gloves stowed years ago in a pocket of his tweed jacket, the Major poked a tentative finger into the tapioca pudding, no longer spreading as much as absorbing into the weathered hardwood floor. There seemed to be a bit of extra give in the boards, even accounting for the weight of a tapioca-laden corpse on top. He wedged his thumb into a worn gap and wrenched upward. With a creak and a rending report that was startling against the stillness of the room, the board came out of the floor completely, revealing the corner of a corroded metal container. "If I didn't know better, I'd swear that was Spam," mused the Major. He didn't know better. It was Spam.
No, wait! It was a Spam container hidden deep in the floorboards. Buried in dirt and dust by someone who didn't want it discovered. But the Major was too intrigued not to open it. Slowly he cracked open the rotted plastic lid and he couldn't believe what he found -- sapphires. Two perfect sapphires.
No wait! Not TWO, BUT MORE! LOTS MORE! The Major had found a can of the fabled SAPPHIRE SPAM, traditional creamy spam loaded with Minnesota Sapphire Baby Blues...I thought that flavor had been discontinued in the last century.
"Sapphires in Spam", mused the Major. He knew that Kenny had worked in the import business for many years and could always be relied upon to produce a perfect stone. But why had he secreted them away in the spam, and from whom? The Major heard a faint creaking and turned around. The door behind him was slowly closing.
"Aha!" said the Major. He knew the door led to the Library, and the culprit would be somewhere in the next room. The Major slowly pushed open the heavy mahogany door and entered the dimly lit room. He saw a movement in the corner and pointed his lamp towards the west end of the room. No one was there, in fact it looked like the room hadn't been touched in a century. And then the Major spotted something peculiar. A single red feather lay on the floor by the fireplace. "A feather.." he pondered. There was only one person he knew who could have left this feather. He started to sweat as he thought about the visit he was about to make.
Heather "The Feather" Scarlett. Skinnier than Kate Moss after a few dozen Ex-Lax martinis. More annoying than Tokyo Rose. More dangerous than standing between Kirstie Alley and dessert.
It had been awhile since the Major's last confrontation with The Feather, but he recalled with a wince that precious stones had been involved that time as well.
"Memo to self," he muttered. "Turn away from the kick this time."
The Major retraced his steps to the discarded metal lid and picked it up. As he inserted it strategically into his trousers, faint footsteps in front of him announced the arrival of The Feather.
"Is that tapioca or are you just glad to see me?"
“You..” the major uttered on a barely audible descending grunt. “Why don’t you go back to your hovel?!”
“After all these years, major, is that all the welcome you can summon? Cough, cough!!”
Her eyes kept darting down at the obvious outline of the SPAM can in right leg of his trousers.
“The last time I saw your miserably atrophied frame, you had me tied to my ship’s mast! The dynamite thankfully cut my bonds or I’d be at the bottom of the ocean with all the damn barrels of gemstones you sank that night!” the major grew angry.
“Major, is THAT what you think happened?” She asked as she coughed and delicately withdrew the coughed-up red feather from her mouth…
"Would you like something to drink?"
For weeks before discovering the body, the major had been trying to combat his alcoholism with chocolate ice cream and cinnamon hearts. Now back in an extreme situation for the first time in the months since his "retirement," hands shaking, thighs jiggling the SPAM can uncomfortably against his thigh, he forgot his usual wariness and agreed.
He did not see her empty the X-Lax into his drink.
A wolf howled in the distance.
The Feather turned to note the howling and said, "Pardon dearest, but my chariot awaits. And though they are wolves, they can just be jackals in regard to the fare."
As the Major felt a deep, unhealthy grumbling, she took her upchucked feather and gave the Major a pointed stare, "We can do this the easy and quick way, or it can be most gruesome."
“All right!” the Major shouted, “Have it your way!”
“And what way would that be?” The Feather taunted, knowing the answer.
“A trade,” the Major offered wryly, clenching his buttocks hard.
“Ah, a trade,” mused The Feather, “and might that entail sapphires?”
“Yes, yes!” the Major exclaimed, “You can have them all. All! But you must give me the Important Papers.”
Heather The Feather drew a gasp through pursed lips, “The Important Papers. Yes, only I have those but is the price high enough?”
She paused for dramatic effect, “I THINK NOT!”
The Major blanched and clenched his buttocks tighter. Drat that woman! But he knew she had won, only how high the price?
“OK,” the Major gasped, “OK, you win. You win. The sapphires plus my season tickets to the University of Austin Longhorn’s games for next year.”
Heather blanched. Be still my heart, she thought. As an Oklahoma University graduate her emotions were in turmoil. Yes, UT Austin had rejected her application as a freshman and she had been forced to select her Second Choice, OU, but she was a Longhorn at heart.
She composed herself.
“Very well, Major,” she hissed, “you drive a hard bargain, but so tempting. I’ll take your sapphires and your Longhorn tickets, and I’ll give you in return the Important Papers.”
The Major clenched his buttocks, as if it were possible to clinch any more, threw the sapphire laden SPAM across the room. Then, reaching into his breast pocket withdrew his season tickets, kissed them fondly, made the Longhorn sign with his right hand and handed over his legacy to The Feather.
“Now that you have what you want,” the Major rasped, “the Important Papers, please, and I’ll be on my way.”
The Feather opened her Gucci attaché case and withdrew a roll of Charmin Ultra-Absorbant, three ply bathroom tissue and tossed it to the Major.
“I hope it comes out well for you, Major,” she sneered sarcastically.
The Major caught the roll in mid-air and turning on his heels, running down the corridor, he glanced over his shoulder and shaking the Charmin at The Feather shouted, “Watch your step, Feather, you haven’t seen the end of me!”
“Thankfully,” Heather thought as she closed her attaché case and headed out into the night, “Taxi!”
The cab slowed to a stop by the curb and the rear door opened. Feather got in and placed her attaché case on her knees.
“Where to, Lady?” the cabby inquired.
“Elm Street,” Feather instructed.
“No prob,” said the cabby as he turned around to grin at his passenger.
It was Kenny.