Elvis vs. Einstein
Contest winners: greyniffler and Linda Carrig
The date: Ten months before the theft of the Ring of Count Matthias.
The city: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
The beat: Aladdin's Cave, a casino catering exclusively to wizards, witches, and any other magical beings capable of betting.
An Elvis Presley impersonator has just wrapped up a six-song set in the Lizard Lounge. The audience, though small, is amazed. "That was much better than yesterday," says one of the regulars, a witch wearing tinted eyeglasses in oversized tortoiseshell frames and sipping a cocktail with a paper umbrella. "I wouldn't be surprised if Polyjuice was involved - though I couldn't say where they came up with a bit of the King..."
His Majesty, sequined and marcelled, pushes through the crowd on his way out of the lounge, heading out for his break. He winks, nods, and says "Thank you!" in a booming voice to everyone who accosts him; he signs an autograph or two, puts a few knuts in a cheap slot machine, and finally reaches his goal, the buffet. The cashier shakes her head knowingly as Elvis loads a tray with food, hands over three sickles, and spreads his haul over an entire corner table with every appearance of insatiable greed.
No one seems to notice that Elvis isn't eating anything. He tucks the food away, to be sure; but not into his mouth. Instead, he empties plate after plate into a pocket behind his wide-lapel waistcoat. The pocket never seems to fill up, and the bulk of the food never shows on the outside of his suit. A few heads turn at the chime of a tiny bell, which seems to come from inside his chest. Elvis grins at his curious neighbors, shoots them with his fingers in the shape of a gun, and waits till they have gone about their own business before drawing the thin slip of paper out of his pocket. He nods grimly. Here is the evidence he has been looking for.
He gets in line at the Guest Services counter, behind several other parties. The witch and wizard at the front of the line are loudly complaining about an infestation of doxies in their room. Preoccupied with checking for the wand concealed in the fringe of his bell-bottoms, and considering what might be the best cover in case the casino's management gets shirty - he is, after all, about to accuse them of replacing the grapefruit on the brunch buffet with gratefruit (causing a state of docility and mild euphoria, probably making patrons more susceptible to being cheated) - and, worse, lacing the omelettes with rashrooms, which influence those who eat them to take irresponsible risks. Elvis is so busy reckoning the odds against a running wandfight breaking out the moment he shows his RMB badge that he doesn't notice that the man in front of him is Albert Einstein until the great (but dead) physicist gets to the front of the line.
Elvis does a double take when Einstein grabs him by the collar, slams him face down against the Guest Services Counter, and says, "Zend for zecurity. Ve haff obserfed zis fershtinkiner using Felix Felicis before playing ze shlots. Zee, here iss ze villain's shtash."
Because his hands were pinned behind his back by a deft binding spell, Elvis can do nothing as Einstein deftly slips a half-empty vial into his pocket with one hand, and triumphantly pulls it out with the other. Shaking it in the hotel clerk's face, Einstein crows: "If you haff any doubt, you neet only analyse ze contents of zis bottle. Nicht wahr?"
"Nein!" Elvis booms. "I mean, no! This is a frame-up! Check my pockets and you will find..."
"Zat will do for now," chirps Einstein, before sealing Elvis's lips with another spell. "Ve vouldn't vant you to shpill all ze knudeln before having ze Carmen Miranda read to you, eh? I am informed zat in zis country, such narrishkeit can make ze difference between conviction and aqvittal."
Elvis struggles ineffectually while Einstein cleans out his pockets, taking his badge, his money, all his other paraphernalia, but leaving the concealed wand for the burly security wizards to find in their search. Seething - but silently so - Elvis is dragged off while the casino manager shakes Einstein's hand and offers him a stack of chips as a reward. His last thought before being thrown into a dark room is that, surely, even these daft wizards must wonder what Albert Einstein is doing, alive and well, in their casino!
Several floors above Elvis's holding cell, Einstein chuckles with satisfaction as he rolls back the frizzy white wig on his head. It disappears under his collar, along with the jowls, fat, and wrinkles on his face as the impostor runs his hands over it. A shrug, a twitch of the spine, and the stooped figure of Einstein resolves itself into the very slim shape of the young man who, months later, will appear vaguely familiar to Joe Albuquerque in the Gringotts Vault registered to Bette Noir.
The youth wisely chooses to exit by the window, where his broom waits hovering. The curtains are still flapping in the draft from his swift departure when the hallway door bursts open and several security guards enter, with Elvis on their heels.
"He got away, sir," says one of the shamefaced guards, nervously turning back from the window.
"That's obvious, isn't it?" sneers Elvis.
"We're sure sorry about this, Mr. Albuquerque," says the other guard. "If you'll make a list of whatever he took from you - "
"Never mind," says Elvis, or rather Joe. "We might as well go back down. I have other matters to discuss with the management."
A certain coldness comes over the room, perhaps a draft from the still-open window. Joe makes an "after you" gesture towards the likewise open door, repeating it (as one might say "I insist") when the guards hesitate. He lingers one moment more, after they have gone out of the room, gazing toward the window, considering. Then he follows the guards, keeping his back covered.
You can help decide what happens next in The Magic Quill! First, go to the forums, or send Robbie feedback. Then, in 250 words or less, answer the following Survey and Contest. The survey answer with the most votes, and the contest answer that Robbie likes best, will turn up in the chapter after next.
SURVEY: Which "blast from the past" would you like to see featured? (A) The International Conspiracy of Cliches. (B) The Murder on the Hogwarts Express. (C) Signore Maledicto di Bestemmia. (D) Madam Hunsicker's activities during the Grindelwald war.
CONTEST: What magical creature do you think would be funny and/or scary to find hiding under your bedclothes in the middle of a dark, silent night?
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