(Our Story So Far: Having gotten himself trapped by his Aunt Harriet into an attempt to steal her knitting club’s trophy, the Champion Knockers Award (get your mind out of the gutter; the club is called the Needle Knockers), back from the evil Letitia Mortimer, and then dragooned Carolyn Emblehoff, ex-flame and current Dragon Lady of the Tort Courts to help take Brutus the Wonder Pit out of the equation, Ponsie finds out that he has to pretend to be married to Carolyn as the price of her co-operation so that she can foil the attentions of ex-suitor Mike McCoy, a wrestler known as the Pukin’ Nuke. They have paused to eat in a diner on the way to Letitia’s party, and during the interval Ponsie has explained his history as McCoy’s erstwhile creator. As we rejoin our tale, already in progress, Ponsie and Carolyn are once again on the road to Brewster, Letitia’s ancestral seat in upstate NY.)

Carolyn slouched in the passenger seat as I turned onto the highway, apparently unaware that her skirt had ridden up so high that the only thing preventing total exposure of her, um, nether regions was a shadow not quite as wide as wheat thin. Not that the skirt was all that wide to begin with (see pic).  “So you’re the one who turned that nice boy into a circus monkey?” she asked with all the old prosecutorial tone I hadn’t heard for nearly an hour.

“You make it sound like a Bad Thing,” I complained reasonably.

“Puking on muscle-bound morons in front of thousands of screaming fans, none of whom have enough IQ to power the flashlight on my key ring?” she drawled sarcastically. “You don’t see anything even faintly degrading about that?”

“Hey, he’s made a nice living out of puking on morons. Morons got a right to be happy too, you know, and if puking on them does it, what’s so wrong about that? Besides, I was just trying to help him out. As a friend.”

“A friend.”

“Exactly.” I was proud of myself for coming up with that one. It was, I thought, unanswerable.

I was wrong.

“If he wasn’t your friend but somebody else’s, somehow I doubt your moral sense against exploitation would be quite so elastic.”

“Flexible,” I sniffed. “I prefer the word ‘flexible’.”

“I prefer the word ‘rat’,” she said conversationally. “Shall we discuss the various words that come to mind when we consider your behavior toward this poor chump?”

“I’d rather we didn’t.”

“It would help pass the time.”

“So would Parcheesi.”

“And it might help stimulate your obviously atrophied conscience, get those ethical juices flowing again.”

“>My ethical juices?” I exploded, momentarily losing control of the front end of the car in my excessive irritation with her propensity to blame me for everything since the Flood. “My ethical juices? What about the ethical juices of a woman who thinks nothing of poisoning strange dogs and packing C4 in her trunk and then blackmailing a perfectly innocent bystander into a phony marriage? What about her ethical juices?”

“You might want to avoid slamming into that bridge abutment with your side of the car,” she answered calmly. “Just a suggestion.”

Ethical Conundrum: Would it be more ethical to

a) abandon a puerile attempt to steal a trivial award for a meaningless event of a club so parochially paltry that the people who live across the street from the clubhouse probably never heard of it?


b) slam the passenger side of the car against a bridge abutment, with any luck thereby ending the career of a conscienceless woman who would make Cesare Borgia seem like a misunderstood chemist?