Twenty Two

Clutching a large aluminum briefcase to his heart, Mr. Howell reluctantly entered New Camp X-Ray, where he stood facing Mary Ann through imaginary bars.

"I'm sure you know why I'm here," he announced depressedly. Mary Ann stood with crossed arms and tapping foot.

"My associates have delegated me to make you this, er, generous offer," he announced, the word "generous" sticking in his throat as though he found it all-too-true. He opened the case, displaying thick piles of bills which must have amounted to tens of thousands of dollars.

"This, er, exceptionally large portion of my personal fortune is, of course, yours, if, you... er... surrender." Voice trailing, he clearly hoped she wouldn't.

"I have just one word for you, Howell," Mary Ann replied.

"Yes?," he brightened. "Er, if you wouldn't mind," he added. "Would you wait for me to... eh... first... that is... stop my ears?" He looked at her hopefully.

"Union!," she snapped.

"Ouch!," he replied, wincing.

"Union!," she repeated.

"Ow! Er, yes, well. I'll just be..."


"... going..." he said, wiping sweat from his perspiring forehead with a monogrammed handkerchief.

"Union! Union! Union!"

Relieved, Mr. Howell trotted contentedly back to the village, whistling "I'm in the Money," and finding this world to be in every respect the best of all possible worlds.