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Bereaved

I hope you are all sitting down, because I have some-thing terrible to impart. No, the President was not assassinated. If only that were the case! The news is far, far sadder. But first, I will string you along with some largely unnecessary details presented in a rambling, discursive manner, so as to build suspense and fulfill my word quota.

Yesterday, the Zweibel Estate was awash in rose-petals and scarlet buntings, because at last I was to receive my beloved sweet-heart, Miss Bernadette Fiske. This day was to be doubly special, for Miss Fiske and I were to be wed in my private chapel. She would become the new Mrs. T. Herman Zweibel and dine on nothing but cream and pheasant, sit upon brocaded cushions, and wear hair-combs fashioned from unicorn-horns! So nervous and anxious was I, every time I heard a foot-step, the contents of my bowels burst forth like the Johnstown Flood. How long I had waited for this wondrous moment–holy matrimony with my lady love! Perhaps she would allow me to call her simply "Bernadette," I thought.

As the day stretched into evening and evening into pitch-black night, I sat up-right in my wheel-chair, dressed–if I may be permitted a vulgarism favored by the youth–"to the nines" in my seersucker courting-suit, my five hairs slicked back with Macassar-oil and my collar starched so stiffly, the top of it was lacerating my neck. Yet Miss Fiske had not yet appeared, even though I had supplied the train and canal-barge fare that would enable her to travel to the Estate.

Gradually, my joy turned to concern, then terror, then impatience, then the deepest fury. The miserable bitch had stood me up once again! She stood me up when we began courting, she stood me up when she was to be introduced to my family, she even stood me up when she became pregnant with my child! What kind of sweet-heart was she, any-way? At the stroke of mid-night, my silent wrath could no longer be restrained. "Standish!" I cried. "Procure the Swiss Guard, the iron-clad, the zeppelin, and the two-headed hound! I want that filthy vamp found, treed, and worried to bits! She'll stand me up no more, by cracky!"

"Indeed she will not, sir," Standish said, a telegram in his hand. "I'm afraid I have bad news, sir. As Miss Fiske was about to board the canal barge to the Estate yesterday, she suddenly swooned. There was a physician present, but he could not save her. The cause of death is believed to have been extreme womanness, brought on by mild exertion. Apparently Miss Fiske was simply too feminine to live, sir."

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