The Robbers Fair

Out and About




     Nigel could not endure, emotionally or politely, any more lost fares today. Three had decided against riding with him on account of Cyril. Though it was indeed a bit unusual to have two drivers in the car, it was altruism which inspired such an arrangement.
“Ah! Look, Cyril! We have another rider! Margaret . . . hmm, well, the name is nice enough. But please, allow me to explain the situation this time. I’m afraid your present lack of composure is found to be somewhat off-putting and risks once again spoiling the ruse!” Nigel said.
“Understood, I, I—” Cyril started.
“Thank you, and may I say, as evidence of our friendship, all this is to sustain—” Before Nigel could pass another word betwixt the gap between his front teeth, they were interrupted.
“Hello, I’m late for a meeting. Can we please get a move on?” The passenger, or the fare, had let herself into the backseat and crisply conveyed the aforementioned orders.
“Wait. Why are there two of you in the car? Are you training someone?” Margaret asked.
“Of sorts, yes, as I do hope to continually better myself in every aspe—” Nigel’s ginger attempt at levity failed.
“I’m getting out now.”
“And we’re off!” Nigel says with a screeching of the tires.
“Seeing as your abrupt acceleration coupled with my tardiness affords me no other choice, may I present the following.” The woman stuck two bills between the front seats. “I will make it worth your while if you can take a more liberal interpretation of the ‘posted and inferred’ traffic laws.” Nigel saw that they were one hundred dollar bills.
“Look, Cyril! There’s the kitty we needed!” Nigel’s eyes were wide and glistening at the prospect of the cash.
Cyril began to stutter. “Thank you, but, but, but we shan’t let, let you—”
“Go with your question unanswered!” Nigel interrupted. “I have sworn to be in the constant company of Cyril here until the luster of the prospect of euthanizing his person dissipates. Hence, he is here as an adept co-pilot and aspiring conversationalist!”
“Why do you say aspir—” Cyril attempted.
“Gentleman, though this is paramount, more pressing is that you are heading toward the correct address,” Margaret said.
“Coordinates, Cyril?” Nigel stated.
“The Guggenheim . . . which necessitates a U-turn. Post haste,” Cyril answered dryly.
 “Post haste!” Nigel echoed and lurched hard to the left while engaging the aid of the emergency brake to redirect the car’s momentum.
“Thank you, my meeting starts in twenty-three minutes,” Margaret said, composed after being tossed about.
“We are twenty minutes away but shall have you there in ten!” Nigel said. He procured a pair of driving gloves from his lap and deftly put them on.
“Stellar! Now, what is this inclination to euthanasia?” she asked.
“Ah! Yes. He has yet to recover from being bumped to the proverbial curb by his—” Nigel began.
“Yes. And I suppose—it’s Cyril, correct?” Margaret asked with her chin tucked into her chest while viewing herself in a compact.
“Yes. She, she was—” Cyril stammered.
“Of course she was, but what she was is not the problem. If I may be so bold as to impart my present position, being five years removed from a rather nasty divorce, which was the finale to an abysmal marriage, which was preceded by a deceptive cohabitation . . .” Margaret said.
Cyril and Nigel exchanged glances. “Of course! Who are we to interrupt the whistling of such serendipitous and sage suppositions?”
“I am a curator and, therefore, am keenly aware of how things should be most favorably presented, and their subsequent impact or, better said, the impact the artist intends to impart.”
“Understood! Perfectly! Cyril, the radio please. And a stick of gum if you will!” Nigel interrupted.
“Spearmint?” Cyril said, turning on the radio.
“Does any other flavor refresh so effectively?” Nigel answered.
“None that I know of.”
“Nor should you.” Nigel said and suspiciously eyed his cohort.
“I hope to gin up Cyril’s libido with a dose of soul music so he may be attuned to any prospects we pass!”
“Please gentleman, turn it off.”

We can take the time
Do it right
We can do it baby

“Ah! How appropriate! The S.O.S. Band attends to our Cyril in distress!” Nigel chimed.
Margaret leans forward between the seats and turns off the radio. “Please! You are merely anesthetizing your friend with carnal distractions! The man needs remedy!”
Both men crane their necks to see her perturbed countenance boring through their thick heads, though a honk brings Nigel’s head forward.
“You are not, I venture, broken at her leaving, but rather mourning the loss of one who validated you.”
“Well, I did feel—” Cyril began.
“Of course you did!” she interrupted. “Therefore, you only need to find an objective form of validation. I myself prefer achievements.”
“He does win every dancing contest we enter,” Nigel offered matter-of-factly.
“There!” she yelled.
“Solved!” Nigel smiled at Cyril.
“No! The road!” she corrected.
The car veered left then right in response to Nigel’s deft maneuvers round the straying pedestrians.
“Dammit, Cyril! Was I not explicit in asking you to monitor the instrument panel when I am in excess of 35 kilom—damn the English system!” Nigel sighed. “Miles per hour!”
“I believe you were indulging in a moment of epiphany,” Cyril corrected. “As was I. Shall we consider it a ‘partage faux pas’?”
“Yes, in deference to our fare,” Nigel allowed.
“Cyril, indulge in validation that is not tethered to another. Understood?” Margaret said.
“Not even Nigel?”
“Especially not Nigel as I believe the frame of his mind bows under the weight of your travails.”
Nigel was weeping and swerving. “Oh! That is a sweet cistern for my parched spirit. Thank you, thank you! I shall immortalize you as an Oracle of Mercy in my memoirs . . . which I am publishing under a nom de plume.”
“Pardon? Why would one publish one’s memoir under a nom de plume?” Margaret asked.
“Yes . . . point taken.” Nigel paused introspectively. “There again you have given us much to consider!”
“Brakes,” Cyril said. The car comes to a screaming halt in front of the museum.
“Gentlemen! Thank you, as this was an eventful and, I hope, edifying episode.” Margaret exited the car, leaving three one hundred dollar bills in the back seat.
Nigel and Cyril looked to the bills and then began laughing.
“Do you think she recognized us?” Cyril asked as they pulled away.
“No, but who recognizes authors?” Nigel answered.
“Point taken. Care for a brandy?”
“A single? I was hoping for three or four.”
“Well, it is only mid-afternoon.”

The end