**spoiler alert** Judge T. Wallace Higbee had come to realize that what it was all about was stupidity. All through law school and through his years o...more**spoiler alert** Judge T. Wallace Higbee had come to realize that what it was all about was stupidity. All through law school and through his years of private practice, he had believed that the subject was the law itself, but in the last twelve years, since, at the age of fifty-seven, he had been elected to the bench, he had come to realize that all the training and all the experience came down to this: It was his task in this life to acknowledge and then to punish stupidity. Joe Doakes steals a car, drives it to his girlfriend’s house, leaves the engine running while he goes inside to have a loud argument with his girlfriend, causing a neighbor to call the police, who arrive to quiet a domestic dispute but then leave with a car thief, who eventually appears before Judge T. Wallace Higbee, who gives him two to five in Dannemora. For what? Car theft? No; stupidity. Bobby Doakes, high on various illegal substances, decides he’s thirsty and needs a beer, but it’s four in the morning and the convenience store is closed, so he breaks in the back door, drinks several beers, falls asleep in the storeroom, is found there in the morning, and Judge Higbee gives him four to eight for stupidity. Jane Doakes steals a neighbor’s checkbook, kites checks at a supermarket and a drugstore, doesn’t think about putting the checkbook back until two days later, by which time the neighbor has discovered the theft and reported it and is on watch, and catches Jane in the act. Two to five for stupidity.
In the meantime, the soothing sob stories of the severely stupid flowed like a warm bath in the judge’s courtroom. Firing a pistol at the dinner table to attract the family’s attention; forgetting you’d sold that car to your cousin and just happening to have the other set of keys in your pocket when it was time to drive to Florida for the winter; not knowing the drunk you’d decided to roll outside that bar was an off-duty cop and then complaining bitterly about police brutality for having been shot in the leg while trying to escape. Oh, sing these songs, sing them. Judge T. Wallace Higbee loves you all, see you in three to five.(less)
**spoiler alert** "This state seal here," Zara said. "It's nice, with the lions and all, but shouldn't it say something on this ribbon across the bott...more**spoiler alert** "This state seal here," Zara said. "It's nice, with the lions and all, but shouldn't it say something on this ribbon across the bottom?" "That's what I said, too," Tiny agreed. "Liberty and truth, or one of those." "I don't like any of those mottoes," J.C. said. "They don't seem to cover the situation." Kelp said, "What about that line from John's family crest? John? How'd that go?" "Quid lucrum istic mihi est?" Dortmunder quoted, and explained to J.C., "It means, 'What's in it for me?'" J.C. smiled. "Can I use it?" "Be my guest." Tiny said, "Dortmunder, I've just got to ask you this." "Yeah?" "You were an orphan, right?" "Right." "Brought up in an orphanage in Dead Indian, Illinois, right?" "Right." "What was it, an orphanage run by the Bleeding Heart Sisters of Eternal Misery, am I right?" "You're right, you're right," Dortmunder said. "So what?" "So what are you doing with a family crest?" Dortmunder looked at him with disbelief. He spread his hands. "I stole it," he said.(less)
**spoiler alert** J.C. Taylor was being the receptionist again, typing labels.
Today she was in a plaid shirt open halfway to the waist, and designer b...more**spoiler alert** J.C. Taylor was being the receptionist again, typing labels.
Today she was in a plaid shirt open halfway to the waist, and designer blue jeans. Glancing up when the door opened, she said, “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here. There’s three guys already inside.”
“Good,” Dortmunder said.
Meanwhile, Wilbur Howey was inhaling. He’d been inhaling steadily ever since he’d set eyes on J.C. Taylor, slowly rising up on his toes as though the volume of air he’d taken aboard was turning him into a balloon. Finally, he released a bit of that air: “Tooootts,” he said, half sigh and half croak. His hand moved up to his hat, moving like part of a mechanical figure, and raised it clear of his wisp-covered scalp.
Now she became aware of him. Her fingers slowed and then stopped on the typewriter keys. Her left eyebrow raised, and the corners of her mouth wrinkled in amusement.
“Well, look at this,” she said, like somebody finding a really good prize in a Crackerjack box.
“My hat’s off to you, Babe,” Howey said, which was the literal truth. Apparently he’d forgotten he’d doffed his skimmer-as he himself would undoubtedly have put it-and his upraised arm still held it way up there, like a flying saucer observing human mating rituals.
“You’re cute,” J.C. Taylor told him.
Self-confidence never deserted Wilbur Howey for long. Waggling the hat, he returned it at a jaunty angle to his head, patted its crown, winked, and said, “And anything you want to take off for me, Toots, is one hundred percent hunky-dory.”
“Ignore him,” Dortmunder said.
“Why?” she asked, still amused. Slowly she stood, sinuously, moving her hips a lot more than necessary and arching her back and treating Howey pretty much as though he were the back row in the burley cue she wanted to be sure she reached him.
“What’s your name, honey?” she asked, in a sugary voice Dortmunder hadn’t heard her use before.
Howey was bobbing up and down by now, almost skipping, his big watery eyes blinking.
“Say, Babe,” he cried, “they call me Wilbur Howey. I’m little, but I’m wiry.”
“Oh, say, you can’t see, any flies on me!”
With a little reflective half smile on her lips, Taylor reached out her left hand and touched the tip of her first finger gently to the side of Howey’s jaw, just beneath the ear. Eye to eye, leaning just a bit toward him, breathing deeply and regularly, she slowly moved the fingertip and just an edge of fingernail lightly along the line of his jaw. Howey’s bobbing grew more spasmodic, he vibrated all over, and by the time her fingertip had reached the middle of his jaw he was just standing there, spent, mouth hanging open.
“Very nice,” she told him, patted his cheek, and said to Dortmunder, “He’ll be all right now for a while.” And she sat down, turning back to her typewriter.(less)
**spoiler alert** You roll aside the two giant boulders and the tree trunk. You find the entrance to a cave, covered by a furry hide curtain. You thru...more**spoiler alert** You roll aside the two giant boulders and the tree trunk. You find the entrance to a cave, covered by a furry hide curtain. You thrust this aside and see before you the lair of the Thousand-Toothed Ogre. Wally Knurr wiped sweat from his brow. Careful, now; this could be a trap. Fat fingers tense over the keyboard, he spat out: Describe this lair. A forty-foot cube with a domed ceiling. The rock walls have been fused into black ice by the molten breath of the Nether Dragon. On fur-covered couches loll a half-dozen well-armed Lizard Men, members of the Sultan’s Personal Guard. Against the far wall, Princess Labia is tied to a giant wheel, slowly rotating. Are the Lizard Men my enemies? Not in this encounter. Are the Lizard Men my allies? Only if you show them the proper authorization. Hmmm, Wally thought. I’ll have to do a personal inventory soon, I’m not sure how much junk I’ve accumulated. But first, the question is, do I enter this damn cave? Well, I’ve got to, sooner or later. I can’t go back down through the Valley of Sereness, and there’s nothing farther up this mountain. But let’s not just leap in here. Eyes burning, shoulders rigid, he typed: Do I still have my Sword of Fire and Ice? Yes. I thrust it into the cave entrance, slicing up and down from top to bottom, and also from side to side. Iron arrows shoot from concealed tubes on both sides of the entrance. Hitting nothing but the opposite wall, they fall to the ground. Aha, Wally thought, just what I figured. Okay, Ogre, here I come.(less)
**spoiler alert** Meanwhile, at the United Nations...
While two of the intruders made determined but clumsy efforts to reclose the door they'd just dem...more**spoiler alert** Meanwhile, at the United Nations...
While two of the intruders made determined but clumsy efforts to reclose the door they'd just demolished, their leader (known as Gregor) turned to the leader of the group at the table (code name Marko) and said, "We are here to negotiate with you dogs." Marko grimaced, scrinching up his eyes and baring his upper teeth: "What kind of debased language is that?" "I am speaking to you in your own miserable tongue." "Well, don't. It's painful to my ears." "No more than to my mouth." Marko shifted to the language he presumed to be native to the invaders: "I know where you're from." Gregor did his own teeth-baring grimace: "What was that, the sound of Venetian blinds falling off a window?" Speaking Arabic, another of the men at the table said, "Perhaps these are dogs from a different litter." "Don't talk like that," Marko told him. "Even we don't understand it." One of the invaders repairing the door said over his shoulder, in rotten German, "There must be a language common to us all." This seemed reasonable, to the few who understood it, and when it had been variously translated into several other tongues, it seemed reasonable to the rest as well. So the negotiation began with a wrangle over which language the negotiation would use, culminating in Gregor finally saying, in English, "Very well. We'll speak in English." Almost everybody on both sides got upset at that. "What," cried Marko, "the language of the Imperialists? Never!" But he cried this in English. "We all understand it," Gregor pointed out. "No matter how much we may hate it, English is the lingua franca of this world." After a bit more wrangling, mostly for the purpose of saving face, English was at last agreed upon as the language they would use, with the solemn understanding by all parties that the choice of English should not be considered to represent any political, ethnological, ideological, or cultural point of view. "Now," Gregor said, "we negotiate." "Negotiation," asked Marko, "comes from the barrel of a gun?" Gregor smiled sadly. "That thing hanging on your chair," he said, "is it your walking stick?" "Only a dog needs a gun for a crutch." "Fine," said Gregor, switching off the radio. "Your guns and our guns cancel each other. We can talk." "Leave the radio on," Marko said. "It's our defense against bugging." "It doesn't work," Gregor told him. "We've been bugging you from next door, with a microphone in that toaster. Also, I hate salsa music." "Oh, very well," Marko said, with bad grace. (The radio as a defense against bugging had been his idea.) To his compatriot opposite him across the table, he said, "Get up, Niklos, let this dog sit down." "Give my seat to a dog?" cried Niklos. "When you negotiate with a dog," Marko pointed out, "you permit the dog to sit." "Be careful, Gregor," one of the invaders said. "Watch where you sit, that dog may leave you fleas." The two repairman-invaders at last wedged the door shut and came over to the table. One of them said, "Did you ever notice how you don't get the same effect when you call somebody a dog in English?" One of the men at the table said, "The Northern peoples are cold. They put no fire in their tongues."(less)
**spoiler alert** A woman with a grudge against J.B. creates the Deathlands' most byzantine plot to get him to a secluded spot in able to bore him, an...more**spoiler alert** A woman with a grudge against J.B. creates the Deathlands' most byzantine plot to get him to a secluded spot in able to bore him, and the reader, to tears, then to death with the most nauseating monologue of this series.
Deathlands meets Days of Our lives, brought to you by Andy Boot.