An offer. A dangerous offer...
-About bloody time,- Scribble decided. He scrambled around on the counter top until he found the silver tweezers. Silver was best with the dangerous ones. If it was a challenging you could get away with bronze, though for a strong one you were better off with steel. Friendly offers could just about be handled with nothing more than leather gloves and cotton wool. Scribble saved silver for rare times like this.
Business had remained steady but Scribble had been making do with tame trading for so long that his hands were starting to shrivel with boredom. Fantastic offers were passable, he supposed. And there was a reasonable market for enticing offers. Friendlies were close to the worst; plenty of clients wanting to sell, but it wasn't as if anyone would buy. A friendly? In this market? Not likely.
Then there were the nutters. Recently there'd been a client wanting to offload an insouciant offer. An insouciant! Scribble had bought it in the end, because the client was little more than a lad, obviously a struggling artist-writer-musician type, and desperate enough to exchange it for an ineffable. Ineffables remained a fringe item. There'd been three on the shelf when Scribble had taken over the shop and in all those years he'd only managed to offload two. The demand for insouciants wasn't all that much better, but Scribble had a couple of contacts who had contacts who might...
Scribble ran a finger around the danger-holding seal then pried the lid off the box. The dangerous offer looked up at him, eyeing him from its fresh straw bed. Scribble grabbed one wing with the tweezers and flipped the offer onto it's back under his microscope. It struggled a bit on the cold glass plate, but stopped when Scribble pressed the tweezers against it's belly, just barely allowing it to inhale and exhale as he turned his eye to the lens for a better look. Dangerous was at the forefront, but Scribble noticed a trace of thrilling and more than a touch of enticing.
"It's contaminated. Multiply the adjectives and divide the strength. It's barely worth a satisfactory."
"Multiadjectivals are fashionable amongst the proletariat." The client tapped a forefinger on the negotiating table. "It's better than anything in your stock. I'll take two riskies and a challenging. Not an offer less."
Scribble leaned within a forefinger of the man's face. "I'm an elite dealer. One risky and two satisfactories or you can take your offer to the open trading markets."
"Done." The man agreed so readily that Scribble wished he'd offered a risky, a satisfactory and a damning instead.
He caged the contaminated dangerous between the two commensurate offers and a few representatives of the family of specials. The special offers reproduced so frequently that Scribble kept the majority hidden at home. Who knew how low prices might go if specials became commonplace?
As Scribble knew it would, with a dangerous on site, trading went swimmingly. A particular type of customer was inevitably attracted to danger and those customers came in droves. Scribble marked the price up and up and up, making sure no-one could afford to buy it and it worked. Heroes settled for difficult challenges and warriors settled for challenges of honour. Politicians purchased potential challenges by the cage-full and went home happy. Scribble went home with a full belly and another dozen specials for his wife.
Life was beautiful.
Scribble fed caviar to the offers and edible gold leaf to his family. He bought all the stock new sandalwood boxes with rosewood floors. He chatted with the amazings and laughed at the ingloriouses. He even petted the insouciant and, because it wanted a better view, moved it's box. Then the dangerous escaped.
It was the little boy's fault. Maybe three years old, with those big, brown, please-sir eyes, he had come in with his mother. As she tried to negotiate purchase of a generous, he had played with the frivolouses and fallen back against the dangerous offer's latch. The dangerous buzzed around and around the room as Scribble leapt over and slammed the shop door shut. The mother demanded and the boy cried and Scribble refused to move, refused to risk the possibility of the loss. Eventually the dangerous was safely slammed into the nearest cage and the front door, with a sigh of relief, unlocked.
It was an unwritten rule, a whispered aside, a terrifying tale for traders on a stormy night. Never allow an insouciant near a dangerous. Scribble returned the moment he'd soothed the boy and ushered the mother outside, but by then it was too late. The coupling had occurred. Scribble the simple trader of offers had done the unthinkable, the career-ending. Scribble had produced a beguiling.
Anneke Ryan |
An offer. A dangerous offer...