The Iron Writer Challenge #50
2013 Iron Writer Winter Solstice Finals
A Rhinestone Tiara
Dani J Caile
“Right! That’s it! I’ve had enough!”
She popped the sucker dart from her forehead without tripping over the seen-better-days goat puppet from the ‘Sound of Music’, grabbed the toy Colt 45 that Little Timmy was playing with only a moment ago, and put it in the attaché case of her husband’s James Bond Mini Spy Kit target game, apparently used by Sean Connery himself when promoting the toy way back in 1965.
“Hey! Be careful, that’s a collector’s piece.”
“Then why is he playing with it?”
“Because he knows how to be careful, not like you and your elephant feet. You bust Audrey Hepburn’s rhinestone tiara from ‘My Fair Lady’ the other day.”
She stood there fuming.
“I tell you why he’s playing with it! Because we don’t have money to buy him any real toys! You keep buying all this 60’s movie memorabilia crap!”
It was his turn to get upset.
“Crap? They are pieces of classic movie history! How dare you, you troglodyte!”
She moved over to the table and picked up a blue toy.
“What about this, then? A Muddy Mudskipper cereal bowl caddy? This isn’t classic movie history!”
“Come on, woman! ‘The Woody Woodpecker Show’? Duh! Not to mention Harris Peet!”
How could she argue with such nonsense?
She pointed to a plastic figure.
“That’s a sword fighting skeleton prop from ‘Jason and the Argonauts’, 1963, created by the late but great Ray Harryhausen.”
“‘Jason and the Argonauts’?”
“The golden fleece?”
“But that movie’s not even a classic!”
“Dynamation! Before all this terrible CGI!”
“You’ve really gone too far! You spend all our money on these! Even Little Timmy had to spend his first few months sleeping in the original black cot from ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ because we had no money to get another! You’re crazy, absolutely crazy!”
“Oh, don’t talk rot!”
She picked up an old chewed end of a cigar.
“You almost ripped my mother’s head off when she tried to throw this away!”
“That’s a stubbed out cigar from ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’!”
“This house is full of your shit!”
“You can’t move without tripping over something!”
She threw a pair of flippers at him which were sitting on the sideboard.
“Hey! They’re from ‘The Graduate’, priceless!”
A worn-out disgusting looking pair of dirty white undies.
“They stink! I’m going to wash them!”
“You can’t do that! They’re Tom Courtenay’s shorts from ‘The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner’!”
Next was a piece of wood.
“And what the hell is this?”
“A broken cue from ‘The Hustler’, 1961!”
“I just can’t believe you, I really can’t!”
Red faced, she dragged Little Timmy out of the room to help him put on his pyjamas and clean his teeth before bedtime.
“I guess that means no chains and restraints as worn by Charlton Heston in the 1968 version of ‘Planet of the Apes’ tonight, then?”
She shouted back from the hall.
“Only if you do the washing up!”
Ollie, the Agent
Smoke curled from the muzzle of my 45. My breathing was slow and controlled as I leaned around the stalagmite and took aim at my adversary. The one eye’d man, Emilio Largo, stood flanked by a host of men in black wetsuits. I lined Largo up in my sights, let out a slow breath, and pulled the trigger on my Colt. Largo went down. Once again I had saved the world from another plot by the evil syndicate known as SPECTRE.
“Hey Uncle G, let me shoot it,” my nephew Ollie cried out.
The cave was again just my basement and I was no longer an agent of MI6. I walked over to the little cardboard cut out of Emilio Largo and unstuck the suction dart. In a terrible Sean Connery imitation I proclaimed, “For King and Country.”
Once a week my sister asks me to sit for Ollie so she can go dancing. She drops him off over at my place and I usually order pizza. I don’t mind, Ollie is fun little kid. We have a good time together. He always asks me to get out the spy kit. I shoot darts with him for a bit, but then usually take up my spot in the Lay-Z-Boy and read. Often I’ll put my book down and let myself be entertained as he plays out his secret agent fantasies. He may only be ten, but the kid is a natural storyteller.
“Hand over the artifact Goldfinger,” Ollie commanded in a better Scottish accent than mine.
“Or what Mr. Bond?” he spoke back in a reedy, villainous voice.
“You are in no position to make demands. With the legendary golden fleece, I shall conquer the world! Men, seize him!”
Ollie made gunfire sounds and rolled to the side and shot at the cutout of the frogmen. He missed.
“Oh no! Caught,” he said, dropping the gun and crossing his wrists.
In the reedy voice he taunted, “Now Mr. Bond, you die.”
Ollie struggled with his imaginary bindings and shuffled over to the aquarium against the wall where my pet mudskipper Gobi sat on a stone staring blankly.
“Throw Mr. Bond in the piranha tank.”
“Zap!” came a voice at the foot of the stairs. I turned to see my sister holding a finger to the rhinestone tiara on her head that was part of her ballroom get up.
“M, you mean. I just zapped your chains with the hidden laser in my tiara. You better get away before you are fish food!”
Ollie beamed as he threw wide his hands defiantly and ran for the gun. He picked it up and spun on the cutout of Largo, now Goldfinger, and shot. Direct hit!
“Thanks for watching him Greg,” my sister said.
“No problem Lynn, he’s quite the little secret agent.”
Ollie waved to me on his way to the stairs, “Bye Uncle G!”
I waved back and picked up the gun, reloading. I fired at the amphibian tank, the dart stuck with a smack to the side. Frightened, Gobi flipped into the water.
The Adventures of Captain Jack
Captain Jack, the fearless leader of the rogue band of pirates turned adventure hunters, led the way through the swampy, marshy, muddy area along the coastline of the Australian beach where he had been forced off his own ship. Mudskippers hopped all around them, reminding him of the loneliness of his fate. Only his first mate, Buddy, had stood with him against the mutiny. They had lost the ship, but had retained the leather satchel containing the two great treasures the team had uncovered thus far.
Captain Jack motioned to Buddy to move forward as they stealthily clambered through the marsh, trying to evade the arch nemesis, Captain Silver. Captain Silver and his crew from HMS M.U.M. had been hot on their tail for months and had overtaken them in the Coral Sea. Jack’s crew had mutinied and aligned themselves with Captain Silver, and now Jack and Buddy hid in the swamps, watching over their shoulders.
Crouched behind a boulder, Captain Jack and Buddy peered in the satchel at their treasures: Jason’s Golden Fleece and the lost Tiara of Princess Eurona, last of the great rulers of Iwon. Enraptured by their treasure, Captain Jack didn’t hear the approach of the enemy until too late. At the sound of the rustling grass, Jack turned, pistol at the ready, and took aim between the deep brown eye and the eye patch of the enemy, Captain Silver of M.U.M.
“You don’t want to do that, Jack.”
The warning came too late. Jack squeezed the trigger, only realizing the gravity of what he had done when the dart from his James Bond spy gun smacked his mom square between the eyes.
Jack stared at his blinking mother as she rubbed the spot afflicted by the dart. The grasshoppers jumped and scattered about as Jack quickly found himself marched out of the meadow and into his bedroom. Buddy followed behind, his tale tucked between his legs and his snout downcast.
Left to “think about his actions”, Jack surveyed his goods. Dumping the contents of his canvas bag on his bed, he looked over his booty. His “golden fleece” tiger costume, sneaked out of his little brother’s room, was ratty from years of wear and play. The rhinestone tiara, with its missing stones and bent band, had been harder to pinch from his little sister’s room. Erin had worn that silly tiara nearly every day since their move to Iowa. He looked over the remainder of the pieces of his James Bond Mini Spy Kit, counting the darts mom had not confiscated. He scratched behind Buddy’s ears.
Captain Silver and the crew of HMS M.U.M. had not seen the last of Captain Jack and his faithful first mate. They would return on their next adventure, the search for the Holy Grail.
Maclean exchanged the guns. Hidden in plain sight. He smiled and relocked the cabinet before walking from ‘Historic Toys’ into ‘Natural World’. Not his interest, but before leaving the museum each evening he meticulously checked that the new live-animal display was functioning correctly; it was. He looked for the mudskippers to see they had found the area dampened by sprinklers; they had. His job of curator gave him good cover, but one of these sunny days, if anything went amiss, his credentials could be questioned; someone might figure out why he’d lied on his CV.
Time to implement the plan and he couldn’t be too careful. All going well, this job would be the jumping off point towards a better position, larger museum, different country.
“Got it?”, Dr Andrzej Korsky asked when he answered the door.
In reply, Maclean pulled the protectively wrapped vase from his briefcase with his gloved hands and placed it on the well-lit table. Korsky grunted and started taking photograph after photograph, Maclean holding the ancient vase, turning it on request. It was beautiful. Worth a fortune to a private collector.
“Golden Age?” Korsky asked.
“Earlier. Somewhere between the 8th and the 5th. Probably 6th century BCE,” Maclean said.
He rewrapped the vase once Korsky was finished. “How long?”
Korsky looked at his photographs and back at the two plain vases identical in every dimension to the ancient one. “A month if they’re both done properly. It’s easy replicating the figure—”
“Jason,” the curator said, to demonstrate his new-found knowledge.
“But the detailing of the Golden Fleece is difficult. Several firings. Maybe three weeks.”
“It has to be three weeks, max,” Maclean said. “Not a day longer.”
“Why two copies?”
Maclean left, not answering.
Three weeks later, the visiting expert shook his head. “I’m sorry; it’s a fake,” he said to the curator.
“I was afraid so,” Maclean said. “That detailing. Not quite right.”
“Clever of you to spot it.”
“If you could assess the rest of the items?”
While the expert was busy in ‘Ancient Civilisations’, Maclean went to ‘Historic Toys’ and retrieved the Colt from the James Bond Mini Spy Kit, replacing it with the beautifully configured replica plastic gun that really belonged there, and locked the display cabinet. Wearing gloves, of course.
The day after they carried the story of the museum theft, the local paper reported the suicide of Dr Andrzej Korsky, the presumed forger, a gun near his body along with a replica vase identical to the one in the museum. Shamed at being caught. An open and shut case.
“Le diadème appartenait à…?” Dr Alette Dufresne asked the new curator of the large city museum.
“Grace Kelly. After she became Princess Grace, of course.”
She nodded, the loupe in her right eye. “The diamonds, they aren’t perfect, but there’s a multitude of them. Très belles.”
“Princess Grace donated it,” he explained. “She liked to holiday near here. A museum could never afford such a coronet otherwise.”
Dr Dufresne nodded. “I’m to make a rhinestone tiara identical to this one, non?”
There was a pause.
“Two of them,” Maclean said.