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I sat waiting in the audience at the Lafeteria for one reason and one reason only: to even the score with Jolly Jamie Jinkles.

Several minutes passed before Jinkles finally came to a break in his odious "routine". I stood up at once. I knew I'd have to get my message across fast. (Today's audiences have notoriously short attention spans.)

"Excuse me, hate to interrupt, but there's something I think you individuals would be very interested to know about this fellow up here whose quips you've been chortling at with such abandon."

The crowd fell silent and a look of alarm crossed over Jinkles's features. So far so good. I carried on.

"Mr. Jinkles here--" I tried to convey through my tone what I thought of him, "--purports to be a comedian. However, I submit that 'errant knave' would be a more accurate moniker."

A nervous, expectant titter rose up from the crowd. Things were shaping up nicely.

"More apropos still, I'll wager, would be 'despoiler of Sweet Susie Simpson'." I paused dramatically, then wheeled sharply towards a female figure sitting in the shadows a few tables away.

"...isn't that right, Susie?"

There was a collective gasp. Susie, who thought I hadn't seen her, was the most taken aback of all. In spite of the dim light, I could see the bright red flush of shame on her cheeks. I relished my sweet angel's discomfiture as she struggled to collect herself and whispered out an apology.

"I'm s-sorry, Mr. Pennington."

"Never you mind, Susie, never you mind. You were seduced by the fancy words and promises of this silver-tongued lothario. You didn't know better, and I forgive you. Everything's going to be all right now."

"'Sorry'?" yelped Jinkles. "Hold the phone! What are you talking about, Susie? Tell him what you told me!" He turned to the crowd. "Don't listen to this guy! He gave her a job and he thinks he owns her! Practically keeps her prisoner in his home!"

I smiled and shook my head sadly at Jinkles, as if in sympathy for his mental deficiencies, and rolled my eyes at the audience. “I see you people find less amusement in the so-called drolleries of this joke-teller now that his unsavory character has begun to emerge. Do not let his protestations fool you. In fact, you are looking at a sexual predator of the very worst kind: the type who, in order to satisfy his wanton lusts, preys on the hopes and dreams of impressionable young girls.”

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" the fear in Jinkles's voice made it plain the crowd's growing animosity wasn't lost on him. "This guy's not giving it to you straight! She came on to me!!"

This unchivalrous declaration caused another gasp among the crowd, closely followed by an angry murmur. I closed my eyes, put my hands to my temples and shook my head slightly as if barely able to take in the enormity of his behavior.

"I'd be interested to hear your definition of the word "straight", Mr. Jinkles. Let's consider the situation. A confused, vulnerable young girl, mesmerized by the bright lights of the stage, sees a performer in his native element. She approaches him innocently, wishing to convey her enjoyment of his craft, or perhaps to request an autograph for her scrapbook. Naturally she is flattered when he talks to her; still more so when he fills her mind with pretty words and empty promises. He persuades the stupid creature that if she sacrifices her pure, unsullied rosebud to his most vile appetite, she will somehow share in the glitz and glamor of his calling. Isn't that right, Mr. Jinkles?"

Jinkles was gaping at me like a fish. "No! I-"

"But apparently having defiled the sweet, fragrant petals of her sacred maidenflower is still not enough for him. Apparently he despises her for surrendering the very virtue he has stolen, and wishes to humiliate her. Thus he publicly accuses her of making advances towards him, or, to use his own debased idiom, of 'coming on to' him." My voice became hard. "Such vulgar language betrays the moral bankruptcy typically lurking behind the elegant, slippery words and charismatic smile of the entertainer."

Jinkles stammered out a denial, but the crowd was firmly against him by now. I went in for the kill. "As for my employment of young Susie--an orphaned girl with no prospects--I stand guilty as charged. Yes I did give her a job, and a bed to sleep in. According to Jinkles, this makes me a villain. He accuses me of "keeping her prisoner", yet she is free to come and go as she pleases, as she knows full well." I looked her in the eye. "For example, she can choose to a) stay here now with her molestor or b) accompany me as I depart from this diabolical den of japery." I held out my hand to her. "It's time to come home, Susie."

She took it haltingly and mechanically rose to her feet. There was a vacant look in her eye.

"Don't do it, Susie. I--I love you." There was desperation in Jinkles' voice.

"It's over, Jinkles. You can't hurt this sweet young girl any more." Susie followed me towards the exit, unable to meet his eye. "I wish I could say the same for the wives and daughters of these people." I left him to the mercy of the crowd.

We headed to the car and got in. "Now then, my dear." I enunciated each word with great precision. "If by the time we entered the gates of Dappled Oaks, you could find it within your capacity to exchange those absurd tears for the pleasant, modest smile I so cherish I would consider it most gratifying and appropriate." It was taking all my self-control to conceal my feelings of triumph. Indeed, I'd have to make sure my better judgement didn't become clouded. I resolved to wait until tomorrow before deciding whether or not to reinstate her allowance.

Date Written: June 03, 2004
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 4.375

06/8/2004 John Slocum: Also a very good story. Wow! 1300+ words on one page today. Good thing these shorts are sprightly, like a good, crisp, balanced tastefully made riesling.
06/8/2004 Will Disney (5): i can't believe i'm giving this such a high rating given it's length, but i am...
06/8/2004 John Slocum (5): I feel the same way disney, but it's so well done and holds up after 3 readings. Also I laughed some good, solid laughs. I have a new laugh-meter I hook up to my jowls which converts laughs into electro-neuro-pharmaco-myelin stimulation which moves a dial. The face of the meter behind the dial has 5 colors, each representing a different star-rating zone. It helps to take the subjectivity out of voting for me. You can all look forward to objective ratings from me from now on.
06/8/2004 John Slocum: Pony, would you help the community out by showing it my new laugh meter?
06/8/2004 Phony Millions (4): I like the stylized narrative and it's very smart but I'd need something actually revelatory for a fiver.
06/8/2004 Mr. Pony:
06/8/2004 qualcomm: mr. pony has mutated into harpo marx
06/8/2004 Mr. Pony:
06/8/2004 qualcomm: whoa, now mr. pony's subverting the very fabric of acme.
06/8/2004 qualcomm (4): while i enjoyed this tale, five-starring a thousand-word short would be like reinstating Sweet Susie Simpson's allowance before she has adquately atoned for her reckless behavior of late. it'd also be giving a cru bourgeois Bordeaux a score of 96 in Wine Spectator. or like bestowing a Beyers rating of oh, say, 113 to a roan of Eddington's calibre. thank you.
06/8/2004 Mr. Pony (5):
06/8/2004 TheBuyer (4): Everyone is right.
06/8/2004 Ewan Snow (4): Okay, guys, maybe it's just me. But I sort of felt like the narrator was being a jerk. I know he was defending Sweet Susie Simpson's honor and all, but did he really need to make such a scene?
06/8/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (4): It's funny when someone can turn a whole crowd on a comedian with a few smart words.