Nov 28, 2016

The Dinosaur Fakers - 6

The mayor of the nearest town called. He asked them to attend a banquet in their honor, and accept the key to the city. Bernhard and Lena chuckled gleefully and speculated about how much money they could get for the phony fossil, if all this interest kept up. Maybe they would even become celebrities, and get to attend Hollywood galas.
They went to the banquet that night, but behaved scandalously. They whispered about the food, as well as the ladies who prepared it, always making sure to be overheard. They scoffed at the quality of the key they were given. Bernhard made a rude gesture with it that sent a gasp through the audience. It was quite a fantastic evening they later agreed, chuckling nastily as usual.

A big-city museum in the east phoned them up. They wanted to discuss buying the specimen. Bernhard accepted their offer of a Pullman sleeping car, as well as a box-car for the bone heap, to take them to the shining metropolis.
"Hi-ho. Hi-ho. We're off to make some dough," said Bernhard.
They had to admit that the accomodations were pretty good. The porters were jolly, yet obligingly servile. Lena ordered Eggs Benedict and it was just the way she liked it (nasty.)

Museum factotums met them at the station with a flat-bed truck for the giant knick-knack. Bernhard and Lena rode behind in a Rolls Royce. They waved to the gawking onlookers, while insulting them beneath their breath.
At one point they asked the chauffeur to stop at a convenience store for cigarettes. Lena was going to lift them out of sheer habit, but the clerk presented a whole carton for free. He shook their hands enthusiastically and congratulated them on their great achievement. Bernhard and Lena snickered.

The factotums unloaded the arts & crafts project into a basement workshop beneath the Museum. Bernhard poked around among some old bones while he and Lena waited.
He knocked his cigarette ash into the brain bin of some ancient creature.
"Looks like plaster to me," said Bernhard.
"Right," said Lena. "A 'reconstruction.' "
"I can't wait to meet these guys," said Bernhard. "They're top cons in my book."
"Mine, too," said Lena. "Real pros, to get away with all this bunk."

The scientists filed down the stairs very sedately. They wore clinical white lab-coats and carried clipboards. Except for one, who wore a pith helmet and bounded down the stairs.
Pith Helmet greeted them with a huge smile and shook their hands profusely.
"Mr. Bernhard! Ms. Lena! De-lighted to finally meet you! This breakthrough of yours is going to revo-lut-ionize the field!"
"Just doing our part," said Bernhard. "Say, any idea how much these things go for nowadays?"
"Oh... er... well..." said Pith Helmet. "We'll have to examine her first... See what kind of condition she's in, you understand... But I should say, oh, $1,000,000 would not be out of the question."
Bernhard and Lena exchanged a quick lizard-like dart of the eyes. They both puffed rapidly on their cigarettes, lost in visions of themselves as $1,000,000-aires.

One of the lab-coated scientists tapped Pith Helmet on the shoulder. He excused himself and went to confer with the group. They were huddled in a circle, mumbling softly.
Bernhard and Lena tried to hear, but they could only make out snatches of the conversation:
"Mumble, mumble... outright fraud... mumble, mumble... phony as a three-dollar bill... mumble, mumble... two-bit cons..."
The blood drained from both their faces. Bernhard flicked his cigarette into the fanged grin of a T-Rex skull.
"Run," he said.
They began huffing their way up the stairs. The exit was blocked, however, by the burly factotums.

"Mr. Bernhard, Ms. Lena," said Pith Helmet, who was standing below them with his arms crossed. "I'm completely dis-enchanted. Anyway, what made you think you could kid a kidder?"
"Uh... Just wanted in the club, I guess," said Bernhard.
"Thought there might be some professional courtesy," said Lena.
Pith Helmet flashed a fanged, lizard-like smile of his own.
"No courtesy among predators, I'm afraid," he said. "The police are on their way... to pick over your carcasses."

Bernhard and Lena were handcuffed and taken to the station for booking.
"They're all fake, you know," said Bernhard to the arresting officers. "You should charge them with 10 times whatever you charge us with."
"Sir, I don't know what's real and what's fake," said the cop. "That's not my job. I just book who I'm told."
"Look at this jail," said Lena as the officer walked off to grab some forms. "It'll be a cinch to bust outta here."
They recognized the mugshot photographer. It was the lady who photographed their bone assemblage.
"I just do this part-time," she told them. "When I get off here, it's back to the Badlands for me."

They made the front page again...

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