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Thread: A Horseman Riding By

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    A Horseman Riding By

    In the first episode of the dramatisation, the protagonist sees a horseman riding by and thinks it might be a ghost. Does this horseman ever turn up again, and what was the significance of it? Why is it called A Horseman Riding By?

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    Welcome to the site, Bigfoot123. I know this is a "do my homework for me" post, but I like it better as one of those story prompt games. You've provided the first prompt. Feel free to join in (and good luck with your homework).

    A Horseman Riding By

    The horseman raised his pantomime head and wiped his brow. Byron, his rear legs, did not realize they had stopped. He plowed right on ahead on, knocking the horseman forward and staggering on after him. The false head dropped down again.

    "Tell me, By," asked the horseman, now in the dark and unable to find the costume's tiny eye slit, "don't you ever worry about typecasting?"

    Byron was of two minds. He suspected he should respond to the insult with cool, professional silence. What he really wanted to say was Naaay, but that wouldn't quite work. Why was he always the horse's *ss? At last he thought of something only marginally less clever.

    "Stop riding me!"

    The horseman readied a riposte, but footsteps began to rattle down the boardwalk; he decided to drop the spat in the interests of business. Although still in the dark, he pranced in place with exaggerated steps and friskily tossed his mane. But when Byron collided with him again, he took the opportunity to whisper, "Stop riding you, By? No, it was Naomi who did that."

    The footsteps on the boardwalk halted nearby. But there was no other sound, no encouragement, no ostentatious contribution of coins. The blind horseman hoped his footwork had not kicked over the crushed top hat he and Byron used for a tips bucket. He footed it a bit more then struck up a perky pose to show it was time to pay.

    Suddenly the pantomime horse's rear legs began throwing roundhouse kicks at its own flanks. Then the odd creature seemed to sit down--almost to collapse on its haunches. Bitter sobs emanated from its rebellious posterior.

    The footsteps had ceased. The boardwalk was silent. Did he still have an audience? Did he ever have an audience? He decided he probably did not. And still his bottom wept.

    As the horseman raised his hands to turn the grinning headpiece in an appeal for spare change--just in case--he found the costume's discreet little eye slit. But before he could peer out, there came a woman's voice, soft, cold, and very close to him:

    "If you want to touch the flames, give me your hand."

    When he looked through the costume, no one was there. There was only the hat, now holding something. Raising his pantomime head, he saw it was...

    WHAT WAS IN THE HAT?

    WAS THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN A GHOST?

    AND WHAT ABOUT NAOMI?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-05-2019 at 07:39 PM.

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    Let us not equivocate on this matter and look a gift horse in the mouth.

    It was none other than Princess Anne in jodhpur, spurs and swishing a hat shaped riding crop (and if you believe that, you will believe anything.)

    "Now my trusty steed , time to put you through your paces."

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    "A hat-shaped riding crop?" the horseman asked his still sniffling rear end.

    "Yes, that's right. I saw it all through the peephole at the back of the suit--just beneath the tail.

    "And the woman? How do you know she wasn't a Princess Anne-shaped Queen Victoria? Or even Naomi?

    The horseman's backside burst into tears again. "I TOLD YOU TO STOP RIDING ME!"

    "Okay, okay, but where did she go?"

    "She went down the hat."

    "Down the hat?"

    "That's right."

    "But I thought the hat was a riding crop?"

    "It's a shapeshifter. I inherited it from my grandfather. He was a musician."

    "A magician?"

    "No, a musician. A musician with a shape-shifting hat."

    The horseman approached the headpiece, dragging Byron after him. He peered into the musty old thing. There was no time portal, no star gate, no rabbit hole into Wonderland.

    "It's empty," he said.

    "Yeah, sure it is, genius," Byron replied. Scrolling up two posts, he read aloud: "'There was only the hat, now holding something."

    "Oh yeah," the horseman conceded. "It looks like a tip."

    "She tipped us?"

    "Apparently."

    Intrigued now (and really needing more involvement in the plot), Byron slipped from his horse's *ss costume and picked up the old hat. He withdrew a fire-marked Spanish doubloon dated 1586. But as he held the lump of gold, it became a Dutch guilder from 1685, also charred, then an 1856 American gold piece with a section apparently shot out. An faint electric prickle began to run across Byron's palm. The coin grew deep purple and showed the image of a woman with snakes emerging from her eyes. It was dated in rose-colored script: 6518. At last the thing became cobalt blue with a fire-red inscription flickering over both sides:

    ~અસીસ છ પચાસ એક~
    જો તમે ફ્લેમ્સને સ્પર્શ કરવા માંગો છો

    The characters rearranged themselves before his eyes:

    ~8651~
    If You Want to Touch the Flames

    Byron dropped the coin in pain. It fell silently into the hat.

    ***

    DOES THE COIN BODE GOOD OR ILL?

    Will MANICHAEAN EVER GET OVER HIS RIDING CROP FANTASIES?

    AND (REALLY NOW) WHAT ABOUT NAOMI?
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-07-2019 at 12:04 PM.

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    It was in the Royal Enclosure that Princess Anne was presented with the Cheltenham Gold Cup by her mother, The Queen to polite applause from the surrounding crowds.

    It had been a spiffer of a race with the going good and the jumps challenging. But Her Royal Highness was adept with the whip; and as an ex Olympic horsewoman she was in full control of any equestrian flesh between her thighs. The roar of the crowd drowned out the screams from the rear of her mount, and the pleadings of “Oh no, I can’t do that!!” from the front end, were buried in the thunder of hoofs, as they were spurred on to leap yet another ditch and fence.

    They lay now in the stable; sweating, exhausted with legs akimbo; which is not to be confused with either the stance or the similar sounding dance from the Caribbean.


    But let us for the moment, take a step back to that New York sidewalk, where our intrepid duo had first commenced this great adventure. It had all seemed to go pear shaped when this uncoordinated couple, Byron & Naomi had been approached by personages of royal blood, in possession of an object that seemed to transmogrify from a hat to a riding crop.

    At that juncture the situation intensified as the “heat” pulled up in a squad car. Two burly cops, Julian and his partner Sandy approached.

    “We’ve had a complaint that you have queered the pitch of another guy dressed in a bunny suit.”

    Naomi was by now divested of his horse head, whilst Byron wandered aimlessly in the traffic, engulfed in the darkness comprising the folds of the costume’s glutus maximus.

    “Where you from?” demanded the more masculine of the two cops.

    “Texas,” replied Naomi proudly.

    “Where’s your visa?” the conversation continued.

    “What do you mean a visa? I’m a Texan!!”

    “You need a visa to enter the United States of America.”

    “What the hell are you talking about? I’m an American, born and raised in Houston.”

    “You got an attitude problem?” asked the cop curtly.

    His partner simpered coyly. He so loved it when his partner was dominant.


    Meanwhile, back in the Senate annex, warehouse / cloakroom section, the Lit Net Cyber Disinformation Section was on red alert. It had received that morning information that Hathaway Investments, their chief sponsor was unhappy with reports of articles appearing in the Washington Post containing lurid sexually loaded accounts about questionable interface activities involving: deep cover Lit Net agents, horses, rabbits, cross dressing and British royalty.

    Admin was not normally flustered. She had maintained a form of discipline for many years over, what were in fact a brood of highly eccentric individuals, whose creativity invariably strayed into, and benignly stared down black hole forces of a seemingly literary bent.

    In the corner, Aunty, biding her time, sat, quill poised explaining to one individual contributor how “sinus” is not the plural of “Sinai.”

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    It was Boxing Day, or some such godawful English nonsense, 8651, and her reptilian majesty Queen Brexitia MMMDXXXVIII was lustily putting things into boxes. The twin Gaboon vipers that served as her organs of sight had been happily searching out further boxables and snapping their two-inch fangs at one another when they turned suspiciously toward the portal of the Royal Enclosure. Through this regal orifice entered Special Agent Princess Anne "Naomi" Brexitia, Duchess of Treat and Fakir of Orgasms.

    "Bad news, Mum," she muttered. "It looks like M's involved. He hasn't been a problem so far--the fool seems to think that the horseman and I are the same person. But I thought you should know.

    "Don't worry about him, child. We have the riding crop video if we really need it."

    "True. And to think, no one even noticed the pantomime horse costume was missing. But as for the new hole under the tail..."

    "Ah, professional expenses, professional expenses. So you've left Byron, then?"

    "Well, that's what the horseman thinks. They're staying together now. It was hard to arrange, but it got us into the pantomime horse gig, and that's what matters. We wouldn't have been able to set up the hat without it--at least not in the right spot."

    "And Byron's still under your thumb?"

    "Oh, yes. You should hear him cry over me. He's quite convincing. I'll almost be sorry when the time comes."

    The queen eyed her daughter coldly. The royal vipers vibrated their tongues.

    "And the horseman--he's definitely a civilian? He's not with the Tories, for instance, or the goddamn Scottish Greens? Because that would be a problem."

    "Not a chance. I tried the whole 'If you want to touch the flames' schtick on him. I even left a coin. I'm sure he didn't have a clue."

    "You left a coin?"

    "Yes, why not? It won't hurt for Byron to carry one for now. We might need it in a hurry. Don't worry, I'll get it back."

    Brexitia fell silent a moment.

    "Yes, well Byron won't be needing anything anymore. We know where she's going now--the Pretender's ancestress. Get yourself ready."

    "I see. Who's with her?"

    "No one's with her. The young Duke's now under our--care.

    "Did he talk"

    "Not yet. But we'll find the rest of them. The important thing is that she not come here and--breed.

    "And she has a coin?"

    "Of course."

    "All right, fine. I'll take her out the moment she steps out of the hat. I'll liquidate my whole operation. M will just have to wait his turn."

    "Well, I wouldn't be too complacent. If M's involved, so is the Hathaway Group. And that means..."

    "Scheherazade?"

    "Oh darling, don't be superstitious. Scheherazade doesn't exist. No, the Hathaway Group is LitNet. And that means..."

    "Aunty," Naomi whispered--her dread unconcealed.

    "Aunty," repeated the queen, vipers cowering behind her ample ears.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-09-2019 at 01:16 PM.

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    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    just a footnote: Sinai is obviously the plural of sinus; but let the reverse be true also, then sinus is both the plural and singular of Sinai and vice or worser, and infinitely or reflexively circulo-helical.
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

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    I'm told by our agent in deep cover that Aunty is also having trouble with the possessive before gerunds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    I'm told by our agent in deep cover that Aunty is also having trouble with the possessive before gerunds.
    Raoul's equivocating is starting to irk me. What's the problem with that? Anyway, one of you knuckleheads is going to have to write the next part. Otherwise--take it away Aunty!

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    She is in deep cover somewhere East of Suez.

    I'm up to my gizzards in Taiwanese prevarications at work, but will try to put in my six penny worth this weekend.

    How's that grab yer?

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    Ah, what don't I suffer for my art!

    (Please see retroactive plot twists above).

    Byron said he was calling in sick but the horseman made him go to the boardwalk just the same. He rented the spot was rented for a nominal fee--tourist season was still months away--but he was damned if he was going to lose a day's begging over Byron. It wasn't enough to get him out of the gutted tenement they squatted in, but it was enough for a meal. The horseman didn't know he was rich. He had seen the coin the strange woman had dropped in the hat, but unlike his partner not closely. He had taken it for a dirty old Kennedy half dollar.

    "Ah, hell," moaned Byron as he gripped his end of the cardboard box and crab walked toward the boardwalk. "Why couldn't you a gone alone?"

    "Because no one is going to pay to watch half a horse dance."

    "I believe I'm going to be sick."

    "Go ahead."

    "I need the toilet."

    "Damn it, Byron! All right, there's a diner down the road. You know it? And get me a donut when you're done. A butternut."

    Byron needed no directions. Naomi was there, waiting for him.

    ***

    The Princess smiled as sweetly as she could manage. "I've got what we'll need. Are you ready?"

    "Now?"

    She wanted to roll her eyes, but instead she took his hand and let her tears well up. "I need you, Byron," she whispered, passing the cloth bag to him under the table and squeezing his thigh once he'd taken it. "Are you ready to do this for me?"

    "Okay. Can you buy me a donut, though?"

    They parted at the door, in accordance with the Princess' instructions. There would be a girl, she had said. She was the important one. His partner, well he would witness it. It was too bad, but he was in the thing, too. It couldn't be delayed. The clip was already in the pistol.

    Afterwards he should resist the temptation to run. She would co e down the boardwalk as soon as she heard the shots. They would escape together. He should just wait for her there, right in the open--and try to keep as still as possible.

    "Oh, and me the coin," she had said at the door.

    Oh sh*t.

    "Byron?"

    "It's at my place--in a pair a jeans."

    She looked at him hard and he felt fear in his belly.

    "All right," she said softly.

    She could get it later.

    ***

    The horseman reached his place of business, such as it was, and set the box down beside the boardwalk. He would have to wait for Byron before he could get into the horse suit. But he detached the head and placed over his own, making sure the eyeholes were serviceable this time. He peered into the box and easily located the hat through them. This he removed and set in its usual place. That was when he noticed the coin was still there. Why hadn't Byron put it with the rest of the change? Was he trying to palm it? Then he saw the thing glitter. Bringing the coin to one of the horse head's eye slits, then the other, he saw it was a gold piece emblazoned with a proud American eagle. He could just read the date: 1856.

    Suddenly there was a cry beside him. A woman had emerged from nowhere and was grasping her hand in pain. She was rather beautiful, but dressed in a tattered frock. Her wrists were marked with rope burns. The woman looked wildly about. She bent quickly to pick us a small object that proved to be another golden coin. But she dropped it again with cry.

    Suddenly gunfire erupted from very close. Bullets sailed over their heads at first but were soon to sizzling all around them. Still wearing his costume head, the horseman could not find their source.

    Then the woman saw the coin in the horseman's hand. "Donner le moi! Donner Le moi! Give it to me!" she cried, and lurched forward to take it. The horseman closed his hand around it as she fell upon him. The two went down in a tangle. Bullets began to kick up the ground around him.

    Then a strange thing happened. Okay, the whole story is pretty strange, but this part was even stranger. An electric charge began to run across the horseman's palm, intensifying in until he could hardly bear it. But the woman clasped her hands so tightly his that he could not free himself. A hot wind began to rush over his ears, and pull him--with the desperately grasping woman--toward the top hat, now lying on its side. A total darkness fell. There was only the raging fire in his hand and the struggling woman and the wind carrying them across a black gulf.

    The jolt of stopping freed him of her grasp. He dropped the coin onto a kind of prairie floor. Above him stood a muscular man with a drooping mustache, an oversized Stetson hat, and a glittering gun belt. A horse whinnied nearby.

    "Evenin', Ma'am. Sir. Could I hep you?

    The horseman had never been in Texas before. The crushed top hat now sat on his head, still that of a grinning pantomime horse. It was 1856.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-09-2019 at 01:48 PM.

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    The impressive cowboy was none other than that famous 1856 pistolero, Hot Granchester-Cunningham le ffrench, (with a small “f”.)

    Earlier that morning he had rode into Dodge City, tied up his steed, and entered a singles bar.

    It was fairly quiet at the time, with a few corseted ladies in their mid-thirties, nursing dry martinis and endeavouring to remain focused on the swing doors for incoming male potential.

    Hot strode in, glanced quickly at the assembled cliental, and went to the long worn and highly polished timber bar, garrisoned by a diminutive barman in tied apron and quizzable demeanour.

    “Da mi fermentum” said the cowboy.
    A draught beer appeared.

    “Quod tres bucks.”
    “Urbs illa non sint a circumvolitabilis te?”

    “N. Ego sum a Texas”

    “Quomodo vita pateris, fecit tibi?” continued the conversation.

    “Nil sine magno vita labore dedit mortalibus,” replied the barman, which in colliqual 1856 American English I suppose could be loosely translated as “I make a living.”

    “Yes”, said Hot “Vita non est vivere sed valere vita est.”


    At this point a lady of fine carriage drew up on a stool alongside the horseman.

    The barman whispered furtively “A bove ante, ab asino retro, a muliere undique caveto”

    “Hello” she said with suffused lowering eyes. “I’m Fionna. I was Playmate of the month in 1850.”

    “Nice to meet you. I’m Hot. What did being a Playmate involve?”

    “Yes, I’m sure you are. Well they shot some beaver.”

    “Bastards!! Back in England where I was born, we only hunted foxes with dogs.”

    Fionna looked perplexed, but steading herself, moved on with “I’m a Southern girl.”

    “Oh, that’s interesting” said Hot. “My sister is from the Home Counties as well.”


    FOOTNOTE:
    My apologies to readers for an obtuse tangential deviation in this anarchic, freewheeling tale. I suppose somewhere in the plot one must reinclude references to; hats, coins, whips, Princess Anne, Her Majesty the Queen, Aunty, a stuffed horse, and a lady with a tattered dress. But I hope, indeed I pray, that the disparate talent that comprises Lit Net will come in like the cavalry before the Apaches make an appearance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    But I hope, indeed I pray, that the disparate talent that comprises Lit Net will come in like the cavalry before the Apaches make an appearance.
    Yes, me too, but don't get your hopes up with this crowd. Come on, Wifflingpin, I know your reading this. And what happened with Aunty? She doesn't like us anymore? Wait a minute, I just got a message from Aunty. It says: "Anymore?"

    But soft! The curtain rises like a Yale girl's skirt!

    ***

    Suddenly a gunslinger aimed a sixshooter between Hott Granchester's baby blue eyes.

    " 'Da mi fermentum?' he spat. We ain't too fond of the second declension vocative singular in these parts, stranger. Iii-specially when the dative is required."

    "Now then Pokey," said the bartender. "We don't want to be rude like."

    "I guess you're right," said Lucius Porcius "Pokey" Mann, extending a hand in warm welcome. Fionna slapped it off her skirt.

    "Pay first, Pokey! You know the rules."

    Fionna seemed distracted for a moment, as if she had just seen something. Then she glared at Pokey again and stormed into a back room for what should have been a suspicious period of time--especially when she yelled out: "Hey, anyone know where the telegraph is at?"

    What Fionna had seen were the horseman and the mysterious woman in the tattered frock being sucked into the saloon by the moral vacuum at the very center of Hot Granchester's being.

    "Howdy, Hoss!" cried the bartender before the newcomer remembered to remove his theriomorphic head. "What would your lady friend like--besides a dress and new career, I mean."

    After sipping a quantity of garden gin out of a cocoanut of with two straws, the time travelers began to warm to each other. Despite the indignities of the woman's Elizabethan-era prison get up, she smiled with a Frenchified Frenchiness that Frenchly out-Frenched all Frenchies in France.

    "Bonjour Monsieur le Cavalier. Je m'appelle Mary. I am--'ow you say?--Scotteesh. Merci pour le wee dram."

    "You're Scottish?"

    "Mais oui. Je suis la Reine des Ecossais."

    The horseman was just about to break out Google Translate when a thunder of helicopters supplied to deadbeat NATO allies at the American taxpayers expense filled the air.

    "APACHES!" cried Pokey.

    "Zut alors!" said Mary as she pulled the horseman out a discreet exit and towards the secret cover of a dry riverbank. "Ce ne sont pas des Apaches. Those are the bloody English!"

    "Damn that Fionna," said the horseman. "I thought her teeth looked funny!"
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-13-2019 at 04:36 PM.

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    Meanwhile, back in the La Bodeguita del Medio bar in Havana, Hemingway was engaged, in what initially was a meaningful tete a tete with Marlon Brando. A half-emptied bottle of Santiago De Cuba Anejo stood on the table between them. They had been drinking since noon, and in the launderette across the narrow street outside Belita was singing a traditional salsa number, as she scrubbed the smalls of underwear from the police station next door.

    “Besame, besame mucho. Como si fuera esta noche la ultima vez. Lalalalala.”


    “What have I ever done to deserve such disrespect?” asked Brando in a rhetorical manner to no one in particular. The pretzels accompanying the rum were getting caught in his teeth, making his demeanour even more dour than usual.

    “Wanna arm wrestle?” asked Papa.

    The question was ignored and the barman became more apprehensive of rowdy behaviour.

    “Back in Illinois, we used to wrestle at an early age,” growled Hemingway.

    “But you’re not from Illinois,” said Brando.

    “Which planet are you from?”

    “I don’t know what you mean. I was born in Oak Park, Illinois,”

    “No, you weren’t. I ran an intergalactic probe codenamed “Come Dancing” over you ten minutes ago and you are not from Earth. Where are you from?”

    Hemingway viewed him from beneath bushy eyebrows.

    “I’m from Neptune running tourist shuttle tours in human form. And you?”

    Brando picked another piece of pretzel from his teeth.

    A disjointed horse entered in a cameo role to use the bathroom. The barman shrugged and muttered to himself “It’s gonna be a one of those days!!”

    Brando by now had picked up a cat and was stroking it on his lap.

    “Let’s face it, you had no need for drinking partners like me. You made a good living from your writing on Earth and are an alien much respected on Neptune.”
    “But now you come and drink with me, not telling me who you really are.”

    “You don’t even think to call me Godfather.”

    In the toilet, the horse had dismantled into two sections and was considering with trepidation, the logistics of using a Cuban squat toilet and hand spray.

    Across the street Belita had come across a pair of Y fronts with horrific skid marks embedded.

    “Yo soy un hombre sincero
    De donde crece la palma
    Y antes de morirme quiero
    Echar mis versos del alma
    Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera”

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    "I gotta go to the toilet," Al Pacino confessed with affected awkwardness. "Is that all right?"

    "Ya gotta go, ya gotta go," some extra chipped back.

    The old Godfather leaned forward. "Mista Hemmeroid, Mista Hemmeroid. I neva wannitit t'be disway f'you."

    But then an altercation, verging on a kerfuffle, could be heard from the direction of the gents. There were muffled cries and a shot followed by the steady drone of one of those hot air machines for drying your hands.

    "Aw, dang!" a familiar voice muttered. "This thing's takin' forever."

    Suddenly--okay, eventually--the bathroom door crashed open and a pantomime horse's head, still wearing its crushed stovepipe hat, flew onto the table. The Godfather recoiled in horror (because horse's heads, you know, they're really scary). Rising to his feet, the Don's drinking companion tore off his rented Earnest Hemingway rubber mask to reveal a haggard, homely, American face, resplendent with prairie wisdom.

    "Wrastle," said the sixteenth president of the United States, thumbing his time travel coin. "In Illinois, we wrastle."

    As Lincoln's hat began to draw him in, a pantomime centaur--none other than the headless horseman, whose hindquarters, as anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention to the plot could tell you, were filled with Mary, Queen of Scots (actually raised in France), newly sprung from Fotheringay Castle in order to breed new heirs to resist the British royal family, now world dominant, some of whom are, you know, starting to grow poisonous snakes out of their eyes--charged forth and leaped into the hat, too. The multiverse trembled.

    Soon there was only the tattered underwear--and the song: "Besame, besame mucho..."

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