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The Post-Plagiarist Conflagration
by LJC

"Would you like to do the honours?" Lacey asked as she handed Wendy her lighter.

Pip's paintings were stacked haphazardly in the centre of the roof, the strong smell of gasoline wafting in the breeze, the entire scene illuminated by VIPER sign.

"I dunno, Lace. Canvas is expensive. I could probably paint over—"

"Nuh-uh. No way. This will be cathartic, in a I-can't-believe-that-scuzzball-ripped-me-off-and-then-tried-to-blackmail-me-by-threatening-to-kick-my-family-out-of-his-father's-building-and-I-can't-set-him-on-fire-so-this-is-the-next-best-thing-kind of way."

"Lacey's right, Wendy Watson," Noser said, laying a hand on her shoulder. "He took you for everything that you had."

"And kicked you out on your own," Lacey added.

"Am I happy? Am I satisfied?"

"There are plenty of ways that you can hurt a man and bring him to the ground," came a voice from the doorway.

"Yo, Wendy's Boss."

"Hello, Mr Noser. Lacey." The Middleman favoured Wendy's roommate with a warm smile. "I thought I might find you up here, Dubby."


"I deduced it was most likely you had removed the offending copies of your original artwork from the gallery's dumpster and would want to destroy them. I caught the distinctive smell of kerosene, mixed with Brut and tempera and just a hit of Pip's hair gel as I came into the hallway."

"So you came to stop us?"

"Hounds of Lucifer, no!" He held out a bag of marshmallows, and three Hershey bars. "I just thought... well, if you didn't mind..."

Wendy rolled her eyes. "Yes, you can roast marshmallows over the burning remains of Pip's copies of my work."

"Excellent!" The Middleman rubbed his hands together, his deep soulful eyes alight with childlike glee. "Can I ask you something?"

Wendy's eyes narrowed. "That... you know... thing from the gallery opening worn off?" she whispered, so Lacey and Noser couldn't hear. However, Lacey and Noser were busy getting marshmallows impaled on the end of the barbecue forks the Middleman had thoughtfully thought to provide along with the makings for s'mores.

"The effects are temporary, I assure you."

"Sure. Fire away."

"What did you paint, before you joined—"

Wendy coughed.

"—The Jolly Fats Weehawkin Temp Agency in the pursuit of emotionally satisfying short-term employment?"

She looked down at the lighter still clutched in her fingers. "Asian dudes in aeroplanes."


She flicked open the DC3 Zippo, and bent down to hold it to the corner of the gun-toting gorilla copy. The entire stack went up in flames, and Wendy held her hands out to warm them in the fire's glow.

"Yeah. I like my new period better."


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