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Page the Fourth—In which one-half of the face of metropolitan evil is presented to Jassasa who makes small talk and a funny discovery
AS I WAS led up the narrow staircase and into the presence of the gang leader, I was already working out the agenda for the meeting in my mind. Master and I were the principal condiments of the jarred Apocalypse pickle. The canned pictogram was a new spice that had sped up the pickling process but carried unknown consequences for flavour and taste. On my part, I did not have any regrets about leaving the island early, but let us not forget that I was duped into it through artificial means. The diplomatic protocol was breached moreover, by the verbal excesses of 2-in-1 Eye. I had been had twice and was determined that anyone reaching for a third helping of me should get the full Jassasa.
I worked myself up in preparation for my meeting to which I was accompanied by 2-in-1 Eye and Panni-Pack.
2-in-1 rapped once at the door and we were in the gangster’s den.
I have since gone through the standard texts and all the iconic movies on gangsters, their psychology, and their universe, but I have nowhere come across the heavy ether and petulant gloominess that enwrapped Black Nipple. A man in his late thirties, bald-pated and clean-shaved, he was someone on whom a cultivated air of self -importance sat uneasily with a deep sense of personal inadequacy.
2-in-1 Eye went and stood behind his chair. Panni-Pack remained by my side.
“Jassasa! Jassasa! Welcome to the City of Lights!” Black Nipple raised a hand heavily adorned with rings from the table and took a sip from the cup he was holding in his other hand. I noticed approvingly the large bottle of single malt standing on his desk.
He had not gotten up to greet me. That called for heavy negative marking on the spot. I answered his greeting with all the dignity it merited, by showing him some teeth. It bothered him a little because he quickly turned his gaze into his cup. I could see that it bothered 2-in-1 Eye a whole lot more.
“And an advance welcome to your Master, the great Dajjal!” Black Nipple continued as he took another sip.
Quick-pacing a conversation is a game at which two can play. I now thought it prudent to set him straight.
“Master has sent you a message!” I said.
“A message? For me?” Black Nipple leaned forward then looked up at 2-in-1 who seemed confused.
“Master says, Fuck you!”
I don’t remember if I have mentioned anywhere in these pages that I am very good at playing it by the ear.
Everything moved rather quickly after that, what with 2-in-1 reaching for something nesting in his butt cleavage, my shouting, “Leash your bitch, Nipple!” and the latter raising an arm to restrain 2-in-1, and just as things were stabilizing, a foamy gob of spit flying from my mouth and audibly landing onto Black Nipple’s glass-topped desk.
“That’s hello from me!” said I.
Crimson in the face, Black Nipple rose from his desk with such urgency and violence that it knocked down his cup from the table, spilling all the good single malt.
I used the occasion to raise my right rear hoof and leisurely scratch behind my right ear and under the chin. From the corner of my eye I noticed Panni-Pack staring at me rather oddly. But I was pensive. I had just noticed a rather large paper bag on the chair before me writ with the words Chairman Mao. The Chinese were also involved?
I was feeling tired, and stepping forward I pulled out a chair and heavily threw myself onto it.
After rolling his eyes sideways sullenly, Black Nipple turned them upon me.
“I’m also very sorry for the misunderstanding!” I said earnestly.
Black Nipple lowered his eyes, looked up to exchange a quick glance with Panni-Pack standing behind me, and then his still crimson face broke into a diabolic smile. An economic laugh later he entered with, “What a fucking country!”
It would have been premature to make comment. I kept my quiet.
“Clean up this mess,” Black Nipple turned toward 2-in-1 Eye. “And pour me and buddy Jassasa here a drink. Show some respect to our guest!”
That was a nice touch. Black Nipple had realised that 2-in-1 Eye had now entered into my bad graces. To please me he wished to humiliate his minion by making him clean up the mess when he could have as easily asked Panni-Pack to do it. That would conveniently put him in his place.
“Thank you,” I said as I received my drink from 2-in-1 Eye. He avoided my gaze. I heard Panni-Pack chuckle.
“Now leave us, we’ll have a nice chat together,” Black Nipple said.
I guess the “sizing up” ceremony was over and I had been found of full measure.
Black Nipple was reaching for the Chairman Mao bag. It turned out to be food. I then remembered Master reading me some received wisdom about the way to a man’s heart passing through his big intestine. Or was it the small intestine? Either way, this Chairman Mao knew it and was trying to get to his man. I must look him up one of these days.
“Cheers!” Black Nipple said.
“Cheers!” I said, and took a sip.
Now I know my single malt. Both Master and I have a hard time keeping off it, and we have tapered off our excesses with the bottle after great struggle and mutual bonding. Thanks to the small dramas weekly enacted in the sea between the coast guards and the smugglers, we have often had occasion to fish out with Master’s long pole crates of the very best waters thrown overboard by the smugglers, and floating in the big saline in styrofoam packs, before they can return to collect them.
I can swear on my testicles that Black Nipple, this man who was supposed to be pulling the strings of Karachi underground puppet theater, was not drinking it. A city where even gangster lords do not know the difference between A-grade stuff and swill must be really something. Black Nipple had got something right after all. What a fucking country!
…Page 5 (coming soon)