An answer to the December 2001 story challenge: write a holiday story beginning with the line, "This is the stupidest thing I've ever done."
"This is the stupidest thing I've ever done." Iolaus straddled the tree bough and leaned carefully back against the trunk of the large tree. He had a good view of the poor village below them inside the broken walls. He made a mental note to bring Hercules back here to spend a few days thatching roofs and generally fixing things up.
"You agreed to help."
"I did," the hunter agreed grudgingly, "but you didn't mention anything about a high wire act."
"Hey, flying through the trees is part of my shtick, if you can't handle it, you know how to climb down out of this tree." The green clad thief sighed, "We've already been over this at least twice, so this is the last time. I'll speak slowly so maybe you can get it through that thick skull of yours. As the King of Thieves, I can't just hand over my donation for the needy."
"I thought you said these dinars weren't stolen."
"You and I both know they weren't stolen but I have a reputation and the local law enforcement won't think the same as us."
"I'm not sure I know that."
"Ok, ok, you came by them legitimately but why can't I hand them over to the magistrate and he can distribute them to those in need. He won't think I stole them."
"Do you question Hercules' methods like this?"
"I don't have to. He's not a thief."
Autolycus made a face at the comparison but continued with the matter at hand, "It's a matter of style. I do have standards. The people expect a certain amount of showmanship. Besides we have no guarantees that the magistrate will get the money to those that really need it. Greed is a powerful force. I know what I'm doing. I've been redistributing the wealth for years, trust me."
"Trust you, yeah that's the hard part. Redistributing the wealth, I thought you said this wasn't stolen."
"It wasn't! Now just put your harness on and be quiet. It's almost time."
Iolaus took the leather harness and began slipping it over his boots and green leather pants. "But why the costume?" He pulled at the green leather tunic. "I look like an elf."
"Are you always this slow on the uptake? Never mind. These good people need to know that the windfall they are about to receive comes from the King of Thieves and isn't some trick by the corrupt government or warlord who'll want it back later with interest. You and Herc are such do gooders that you don't really get out much do you? Turn around."
"I get out." Iolaus mumbled holding onto a tree branch for balance as Autolycus attached the harness' safety line to the wire above them.
"Now, get going," the thief ordered.
Iolaus closed his eyes and held on for dear life as he stepped off into thin air.
"Don't forget to drop the dinars and don't get caught, that last parts very important. Ruin my image if you get caught."
The hunter shot across the line strung over the rooftops. He heard Autolycus' tell tale yodel from the wire extending over the other side of the village as he opened his pouch and dumped the golden coins over the town square. It was all over in an instant as he thunked the tree on the other side.
He took a moment to watch the peasants below scrambling for the dinars as he unhooked himself from the wire and detached the grappling hook from the tree. The people wore little better than rags but they were all smiling and holding on to each other in joy.
"Those families will be able to go to the market and buy a real holiday meal now. Makes it worth the trouble don't they?" Autolycus observed from the ground. "Quit gawking and get down here. It's time for us to disappear."
Iolaus shot him a dirty look and tossed down the gear before swinging down himself. Autolycus loaded the harness and hooks into a bag as they headed back into the forest.
"Now, was that really the stupidest thing you've ever done?"
Iolaus frowned thinking, "No, but before I get on that high wire again, we give the dinars to Herc and let him distribute them."
The thief shook his head disgustedly, "No style."
"And what did you mean 'Don't get caught'? I'll have you know I was a pretty decent thief in my day."
"You were not even in my league and you did get caught. What was that choice? Academy or jail? You totally failed as a thief and that's why you're second fiddle to a hero now."
"Come on, let's go find our own dinner."
"What? After I just risked life and limb helping you?"
"You know I just gave my last dinar away. What would I buy dinner with?"
"That's where Hercules and I have the superior style. You see, after doing a good deed, we usually get a free dinner. If Herc had given out that money we'd be spending the holiday with those families by a warm fire instead of alone with each other for company and no dinars." Iolaus didn't try to hide his smug grin. "Just where did you get those dinars, anyway?"
28 November 2001
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