Our loyal newtlings had shown up earlier and got the job of searching the mud by touch in the moonless night, while the rest of us took turns staking out the ship from small boats. While the above water team tried to look over the edge of the boat (and listened to the officers speaking an unknown language), the underwater newtlings actually found a bale that had been dropped during loading. A bit of rope and some hauling from the temple barge, just upriver at the public docks, netted us a bundle.
A bundle full of weapons: over a dozen swords, several spear points and a lot of metal arrowheads. Some of them had Lunar military markings too. It looks like we found a secret arms shipment, probably going to a foreign country, maybe Esrolia, where there's a civil war between a handful of tribes right now. If the other tribes found out that Lunars were involved, the Lunar backed tribe would get jumped on by the others. If only we could understand the officers, then we could identify their tribe and stop the Lunar expansion (we're here because the Lunars had expanded over our home land).
Anyway, we returned a few of the weapons to the mud and scattered about some shredded blankets to make it look like the bale had broken up and scattered the contents into the mud. Nice soft mud, that only river folk would be able to search efficiently, river folk that the Lunars can't use because that would reveal their secret. Yup, we've got ourselves a cache of arms free of charge. Stuff that could be used by other river folk to fight the Lunars. Well, if those wimpy wet types actually bothered getting out of the water to fight.
The end of a nice little adventure, you think? Not so quickly, please. What would happen if that boat broke loose from its moorings tomorrow night and disappeared into the river delta? We'd have to silence the few people on board guarding it (wine and magic could work) and hope that the slaves onboard didn't make a fuss and that the guards on the dock don't notice it leaving. The mooring ropes look pretty ratty anyways, so if one got chewed through by a pet rodent, and the tide was flowing out, the other one would naturally snap. Right? A broken wine jug on the dock would give a plausable story of inattentive seamen to the Lunar investigators. They may think it is a theft but they couldn't be sure. Then the ship could sink out in the delta (probably because some Newtling was drilling holes in the bottom and using a water elemental to pump water in) after drifting a fair way (pushed away from sand bars by another helpful water elemental).
This is such a good idea that we just have to do it! The slaves could escape safely (we really don't like the idea of slavery) but would quickly get lost in the meandering waterways so they couldn't show the Lunars where the boat sank. The locals would get a supply of much needed wood from the recycled ship. The Esrolian Lunar sympathizers would lose their ship and investment (they probably didn't get the arms for free from the Lunars). The Lunars would get a tarnished reputation for not coming through with the arms because the sinking occured in supposedly Lunar occupied territory. Unfortunately we wouldn't be able to tell anyone about it. And if we do get caught, it could be quite a gruesome death. Worse than the punishment, say, for example, killing tax collectors.
Other not-what-it-seems scenes involve a woman picking up her dropped shopping bag while someone else flicks a cigarette butt into Loris's pants by accident. Much clutching and a bottle of water ensue. The police, who are watching him after the first woman reported him (something about being attacked by an octopus), didn't catch the cigarette butt on their video tape. This guy is just really good at physical comedy. Buster Keaton good.
Another one is when the kids in the neighbouring appartment toss a dead cat into his appartment and slam their door, so he can't give it back. He takes the dead cat outside in a bag and throws it out. The police see a live cat that just happens to be following him around a corner and then pick him up on the video tape on the other side tossing a dead cat into a garbage can. What a demented character he must be!
The police detail a female officer to catch him red handed. The rest of the story involves her subletting a room in his appartment and then trying to provoke him (like crawling over him to set the clock on the wall above). No actual sex or naked body parts (rated AA), everything is implied (you see his reaction, not his viewpoint). His supervisor tells him to think of money, the economy and other things to keep his cool. So, while she is talking about (and demonstrating) how her slinky dress can fall off just too easily, he's talking about the dollar, lira and Swiss banks.
Meanwhile, the police psychiatrist is going nuts over this case. He keeps on egging on the policewoman, and thinks Loris is going to explode soon. He even pretends to be a tailor to get medical measurements of Loris (pricking with pins for blood, electrodes for measuring for a hat, the policewoman rescues him from a body cavity search for a scarf). Meanwhile the doctor's wife is also at the dinner thinks that Loris is after her with a butcher's knife. He is, but it is really an accident. After a few more incidents like that (a flashlight down his pants, blinds dropping on her head when she leans out a window), she runs screaming from the place.
The doctor finally gets the police woman to dress up in a special way after finding out that Loris has a garden gnome in his closet (a Bashful Dwarf in his closet - think what that means!).
There's also the running gag of the appartment manager trying to get rid of Loris and showing people around. The funny walk to get past under the window of the building's guard janitor, and convincing other people that he normally walks like that. And a lot of others, including a neat but impractical trick for doing shoplifting.
There's also the murder mystery plot, and another murder which leads to a huge crowd chasing Loris, before he finds the real murderer.
So, if you want to spend two hours laughing your head off, this is one way of doing it.
Then I spent way too much time writing this message.
Copyright © 1996 by Alexander G. M. Smith.