Time to get a watch! they shouted in unison.
Okay, fine. Grant moped, contorting his lips in a humorous way as he rolled his eyes in mock anger. But until I can get a new watch, I need you all to bear with me.
Grrrrr! they growled. It all part of the shows choreography. Every time Grant said bear with me, the kids would roar like bears and hold up their hands with their fingers clenched, resembling a bear paw.
Oh no! Grant held up his left hand. A pair of eyes were drawn on the base of his index finger, and a beard was drawn onto his thumb. Bending his hand in a certain way produced-
Mr. Handigan! the kids cheered. This was one of the best parts of the show.
Mr. Handigan, did you hear a bear in the audience?
I sure did, Grant, old buddy, old pal!
Having mastered the art of ventriloquism, Grant was able to project his voice directly to his hand without moving his lips at all. The effect was spellbinding. It was also cost effective, as the show was on a public access channel and props werent in the budget.
Hey, Mr. Handigan, can you-
Panic broke out amid the children as four uniformed police officers ran onto the stage and threw Grant to the floor.
Ow! Hey! Whatre you-
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will-
But I didnt do anything! Ow! Hey, kids!
Yeah! came a somewhat scattered reply from the children as ushers moved in to wave them out of the studio.
Dont try this at home!
Look man, just make it easy on yourself. Tell us where you hid the money.
But I didnt hide any money, Grant sobbed. He had been in the interrogation room for four hours now, and it was hot as the Fourth of July in there. I dont know what youre talking about!
Wouldnt it be more appropriate to say you dont know what youre talking aboot? Eh, comrade?
Grant looked at the detective like he had lost his mind. Reaching into a manila folder, the man pulled out a stack of photos. He passed them across the table to Grant.
Fleet International. The First Bank of Manitoba. Crestwood. And twelve others, all over Canada. Each one of them is missing millions of dollars in assets.
Grant looked at the photos, each one showcasing an empty vault. Ive never been to Canad-
Dont lie to me, son!
But I had nothing to do with any bank robbery!
Oh. So who told you there had been a robbery?
You just said...
Look, mister... Jacobs, is it? Mr. Jacobs, each one of these bank robberies was done late at night, after the bank had closed. We know you were involved. The floor of each empty vault was coated with a layer of fliers for your public access show.
That still doesnt-
And your fingerprints were on every flier.
I... dont... Grant paused to gather his thoughts. How could this happen? How where his fingerprints on those fliers? It didnt make any sense.
There was a knock on the door.
Yes, answered the heavyset man who had just accused Grant of staging over a dozen counts of banditry.
Your wife is on line 2.
Im very busy. Tell her to call me back.
She says your plan to paint the house cheaply by putting dynamite in open buckets of paint ended badly.
Well, you cant win em all, eh? he grinned at Grant, who didnt return the favor. Yeah, you get it? You cant- you know what, just shut up.
He turned to the door. Id better take this. You stay here, he pointed at Grant.
How did it come to this? thought Grant, his mind trying to piece together the last two weeks. Maybe one of the kids had something to do with this...
Or maybe not, ol buddy, ol pal, came an bubbly laugh from just under the table.
Gah! Grant screamed, jumping up to see who was hiding beneath the mahogany. But there was no one...
Youre sure jumpy today, Skippy.
Grant turned his head, bringing him face to face with...
Grants left hand and lower arm seemed to be bobbing about completely independent of his own volition. What in the name of high school football?!
Who are you?!
Mr. Handigan, you prince of panache.
Yes way, ya big lemming.
It was a very disconcerting experience, Grant talking to his own self-conscious hand. I wonder if this is how Nietzsche lost his mind, Grant thought to himself.
No. Its not. And I can hear your thoughts, said the sockless sock puppet. Were connected at the hip, so to speak.
What do you want?! Grant shouted as loudly as he could at his own hand.
Well, as a manifestation of your psyche, I want what you want: to help children. Thats why you started that low budget snore-fest, isnt it, Bubba?
I dont see how grand larceny helps the kids. It would be entertaining to see how an alleged manifestation of Grants inner mind would respond to its own logical flaw.
Ive been funneling the money into a slush fund to anonymously pay for a computer-based charity. Its called AJAX for Orphans and it keeps urchins off the street by using binary and hexadecimals to teach em.
Grant felt queasy. His stomach turned over in its grave.
Then all those times I woke up on the Canadian border...
Subterfuge. Now, if thats all cleared up, we have something else to discuss.
Handigan bent over so that his poorly drawn, inked eyes were parallel to Grants.
You know too much.
Mr. Hollings, the purpose of this panel is to determine whether or not you violated protocol when investigating the case of a Mr. Grant Jacobs. Have you anything to say before the proceedings begin?
Detective Hollings stood up, a grave look on his stony face.
I have served faithfully and in good conscience for over 15 years. In all the time I have worked for the Bureau of Deletions, I have never committed an act of brutality against a suspect greater than the required limit.
Mr. Hollings, the chairwoman held up a photo. Several of the board members forced themselves to look; others turned from the horror. This man, Grant Jacobs, was in your charge. He was found beaten beyond recognition, over sixty broken bones, his entire left arm missing. He is also in a permanent comatose state.
Our leading theory is that Jacobs was angering the Ottawan Syndicate by going after banks in their territory. His prints were at every crime scene-
This doesnt fit the Syndicates profile. They go right for the jugular.
A breeze wafted through the stuffy chamber. Outside, the panel members could hear the familiar tune of a Good Humor truck as it rolled on by. Hollings sat back in his chair, thinking about how good it would feel to run barefoot though the grass right about now...
Motion for adjournment? asked a bald, middle aged man next to the chairwoman. The other members looked eagerly at the chair.
Aye! the entire board cried, racing each other to the chamber door.
Hey, lets go kite flying! Hollings called to the others as he skipped through the open door.