29 January 2010
One Score and Four, Hour Fourteen: Bad Hatters
1:00am, 29th of January, 1891.
“NOBODY MOVE a muscle, or we start shootin’,” barked the pistol-wielding waiter, motioning toward some of the other waiters, the sour-faced butler and the ever-present force that was Mr. Wallops, who all suddenly seemed to be armed. “Now, everybody down on th’ ground, NOW!”
There was a large thud.
“Not YOU, Mr. Wallops!”
“Sorry,” grunted Mr. Wallops, picking himself up off the ground.
“Who…who ARE you yobs?” demanded Sir Rhubarb Muddick, quite incredulous with rage, as any right-thinking gent would be upon finding out that the hired help were in fact armed mercenaries.
“We are the ANTI-HAT LEAGUE!” the waiter cried, causing his accomplices to wave their guns about excitedly.
“YOU!” I cried. “Your the bounders who offed that poor fellow and then wrote that note to Scotland Yard…you FIENDS!”
“Fiends, are we?” smirked the waiter. “I say we are just honest folk trying to free ourselves from the tyranny of HATS!”
“Tyranny of HATS?” I spat. “Are completely bollocking insane? What are you blathering about?”
“SILENCE!” barked the waiter, enforcing his point with the butt of his pistol, which ruddy hurt, let me tell you. “For too long the hat has become a symbol of the upper classes dominion of the poor! We, the people, have to wear PATHETIC and UNIMPRESSIVELY small hats, like the flat cap, or the bowler…while the RICHER you are, the BETTER the hat – and the better protected your head. Well, enough is enough!”
“Well, maybe if you spent less time and money organising some silly little gang, maybe you could actually afford a decent hat, hmmm? I’m sure if you all chipped in you might be able to buy a well-sized topper between you all. Perhaps you could share it, work out some sort of rota for wearing the hat, I don’t know, I’m jus -”
“SILENCE! AGAIN!” snapped the waiter, cracking me about the head with his pistol once more. “We shall not be put upon any more! And neither will our hats! Today we send a very strong message to society, by BLOWING YOU ALL TO BITS!”
There was a shocked gasp from the assembled guests.
“I thought you said that if we did not move we wouldn’t get hurt!” Muddick reminded our captor.
“He’s got a point!” piped up a voice form the crowd.
“Well, yes, we did say that,” the waiter faltered. “But…but HE moved! Him, over there! He scratched his chin.”
“I bloody didn’t,” whined a man at the back of the room.
“Oh, Charles,” snapped his wife. “You just can’t stop fidgeting, can you? Now look where it’s got us! We’re going to be blown up!”
“I didn’t scratch my bloody chin, woman…I mean, this is typical, you always side against me, no matter – ”
“Oh, I do not Charles! Don’t be so childish! Taking sides, indeed! I mean – ”
“SILENCE!” screamed the waiter, firing his gun into the air. “Good, that’s better. Now, as you’ll notice, all the gentle-men here have taken their hats off…”
“Well, of course we have,” I countered. “We are inside, after all. Heavens, we are not monsters.”
“All of you except THOSE TWO!” the waiter shrieked, pointing at two men standing by the door.
“That’s because we just got here,” one of the men said forlornly. “No-one has offered to take them from us yet.”
“That’s because one of your hats conceals a BOMB, gentlemen! Ha-ha! A bomb designed to go off the MOMENT the hat leaves the head! Now, we’re going to play a little party game, seein’ as how we are at a party an’ all….if you can guess which man is sporting the bomb hat, you get to live.”
The guests mumbled excitedly among themselves.
“At least, you’ll get to live a little longer. By a few seconds, anyway. Because then…” the waiter chuckled evilly. “Then we’ll force the other man to take his hat off anyway!”
The party-goers fell into an uproar, the two men looked justifiably panicked, while I calmly tried to figure out my next move.
“So which is it to be, ladies and gentle-men?” the waiter cackled. “Mr. Spitts here, or Mr. Swallows? Ha-ha!”
- Lord Likely.