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The Rise and Fall of Minor Fiefdoms

by Trent Walters

Thief Bowlsalot's girlfriend dragged him to the artsy-fart reading at the Thebes gallery. He couldn't even wear jeans. It was for some fancy-schmancy writer lady who won the Bigwad award, and his girlfriend had read him the Bigwad o' crap and he'd wanted to say, "So what?" but said, "Oh, baby, that was great." The things he put up with to get down a girl's pants. Only she thought he liked novels that rich heiresses wrote--those who never dirtied a fingernail except as snot-nosed brats slumming it with her girls at the Everyman's Mall.

Ms. Bigwad wore a pink feather boa and was trailed by a ham-handed, bodyguarding knot-head, who looked like he was itching to pound any one of these balding scrawny sycophants, and by a waiter with a tray of black goo on crackers, which Thief found more lively than anything else in the gallery.

Ms. Bigwad read. Nothing happened to the characters, so they never had to deal with anything: no air raids, no gun-toting fourth graders, no fistfights after a night of booze and schlepping through the streets with some other guy's girl. They never disobeyed signs: no fishing, no hunting, no shoes, no shirt, no service. Just a dentist who collects famous photographs and trades them with friends who blow their never-ending wad at Macy's and not at the hooker's or on a line of blow, and the characters blab, blab, blab about zip--enough to make you gouge your ears out. Somebody gets a brain aneurysm, but fuck talking about that--too interesting. Who cares about death? What did Ms. Bigwad know of ticking time bombs ready to explode in her head? Thief's granny died of one. That meant something--to the family at least: an inheritance of quilts, several dozen balls of yarn, and thirteen feral cats.

Thief tried not to snore as the writer lady droned in a voice parched as the Sahara. Thief's girlfriend elbowed him awake before he'd been ready to, so he left the reading. No chick's pants were worth that much.

The rich lady's lousy limo was blocking the alley when Thief went to kick start his motorbike. A steel bar with a large knob concrete at one end got Thief to thinking: He'd give the poor lady something to write about.

With the first stroke of luck he'd had all evening, he found a diamond as big as the Ritz on the back seat.

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