The Thunderbolt Kid

Why must I be such a snake when it comes to getting what I want? Why can’t I ever just ask for something?

I went to a meeting this morning at the house of a wealthy client. Her opulent home was in some disarray — partly because of the major construction work being done on the house, but also because some real go-getters had come for the meeting and were all competing for the comfiest seat.

Coming in through the front door (traditional, like) I’d spotted a mountain of books packed haphazardly into cardboard boxes and stacked up in the hall.

It was clear that the books were to be disposed of. On the top of the pile was a glistening, potentially-unread hardback copy of The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson.

A rather grubby voice from somewhere in my avaricious, bibliophilic depths said, “I’m having that”.

But how could I ask for it? I was here on business. It felt rather shabby to say, “Are you finished with that?”

Incapacitated by the idea of simply asking for the book, I fell back on my time-honored slippery ways. I began to spin a web of complex psychology, with which I could manipulate everyone as if they were painted marionettes and I their nimble-fingered puppet master. By the time I was through with them, they’d be sending me every copy of The Thunderbolt Kid they could find in the province. It’s just a little skill I have, which means I’ve never done an honest day’s work in my life.

“I notice you’ve boxed up a lot of books,” I said, trite as a Thanksgiving turkey, “I suppose you want them out of the way while you’re having all the work done.”

“No,” she said, “I’m slinging them. Such garbage! I aught to give them to charity but I don’t know where to send them.”

I winced that she’d describe what would soon be my books as garbage but managed to keep my cool.

“Hmm,” I said thoughtfully as if the idea was only now forming in my innocent mind, “The library by my house accepts donations. I’d take care of this for you if only I could transport them. I don’t drive though.”

There was a pause as I waited for the synapses to fire. Somewhere up in the galaxy, a star burned out.

“Why, I could drive you!”

“Oh! What luck!”

It was beautiful. What a neat little heist I had arranged. Not only would I win The Thunderbolt Kid and every other treasure inside those boxes, I’d be getting a ride home in a Mercedes-Benz.

Later, as the meeting drew to a conclusion, I saw to my horror — my abject and undying horror — that one of the go-getters had spotted my books and was lustily fondling The Thunderbolt Kid.

“I love Bill Bryson!” he said. “Could I have this?”

“Of course you can dear!” said the client sunnily. “It’s one less for Robert to take”.

I’ve never mentally murdered anyone so brutally.

This was how I came to have five dusty boxes of art catalogues and National Geographics cluttering up my living room.

Does anyone know when they come to collect the bins?

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