Last week, I told you how Standish and I had happened upon my vast fortune in a clearing in the middle of a forest. My joy at finding my precious wealth soon faded, however, when I espied my thieving nemesis, Black Scarlet, cavorting with none other than Mr. Tin, the ro-bot who once served as my nurse.
Faithful readers of the Publisher's Message will recall how, several Christ-mases ago, Mr. Tin fell madly in love with my iron lung and abandoned my employ, wheeling away his beloved with him. Treacherous metal turn-coat! He despised me because I never returned his pathetic entreaties for love and acceptance!
Seething, I could only watch helplessly behind a bush as Black Scarlet and Mr. Tin reveled amongst their ill-gotten gain. As they frolicked, I strained to hear their conversation with my ear-trumpet.
"Tin, my friend," Black Scarlet said, "thanks to you, I have achieved my long-time goal of relieving the vile plutocrat Zweibel of his riches. Many times I have bribed and cajoled his servants to disclose the where-abouts of the swag, but only you knew its precise location. You shall be rewarded handsomely, good ro-bot Tin!"
"How it cheers me to know," Black Scarlet continued, "that old Zweibel is as penniless as those he so cruelly exploited! And now, I will be able to distribute this booty to the deserving home-less and destitute, discard my red-and-black mask, and return to public life once again under my true identity: the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury! No, I did not die in 1991—I went under-ground and assumed the unlikely alias of a saucy, epee-wielding, devil-may-care gentle-man-bandit of the open road!"
I did not understand Black Scarlet's latter remarks, but his cheek so other-wise enraged me that, in a burst of energy the likes of which I have not felt since I was 94, I fought off Standish's restraint and raised myself from my wheel-chair.
"Wretch!" I cried. "You may have stolen my fortune, but you shall not complete your nefarious mission if I have any-thing to do with it! Yes, 'tis I, T. Herman Zweibel, and I have come to reclaim both my dignity and my wealth! Standish, procure the bowie-knife! I shall run this evil-doer through and restore the tarnished Zweibel name to all its lustrous glory! Stand and deliver, scheming black-guard!"
Black Scarlet looked as though he had seen a ghost. But before he could recover, a booming voice and the click of a gun's safety sounded through-out the clearing.
"Sheriff's deputy! Reach for the sky, and don't move!"