125, 233, 567, 998

I looked at the curious electronic ticker with my head slightly tilted to the left, I think. There it was, this mysterious number displayed in that digital watch font, fire engine red on black, behind his desk. It was begging any confused onlooker just to ask what the hell it was for. And the number was constantly going up.

125, 233, 567, 999

125, 233, 568, 000

I was there next to Purdue as we both stood before the desk of Count Van Snickleheisen, a sort of wayward eccentric who lived high above his contemporaries in a dark, cool (and I mean that in the literal sense; I was covered in goosebumps) castle that he had had built using stones from some ancient ruin or something. His desk was solid cherry wood -- very fine craftsmanship if I do say so. Everything in the room was expensive and extravagent, from the silk robe Snickleheisen was wearing to the academically-filled bookshelf on the right to the soft, red wine-colored rug we stood upon. Well, everything except that electronic ticker which seemed terribly out of place.

125, 233, 568, 005

125, 233, 568, 006

"Count Van Snickleheisen," Purdue bellowed with grand authority, "we, my associate Tyson and I, are attorneys here on behalf of the Wixywarts. They claim that you have been using their Fiddledeedicks without their permission."

"Why, that's utter nonsense!" Snickleheisen said, a good amount of saliva popping out with his every use of the letter s. He was so animated that his thin, high eyebrows and even his skinny little moustache seemed to have minds of their own. "Mr. Hootchieboochie gave me permission. I have the papers on that right here!"

Purdue, who was unfortunately standing a bit closer to the desk than I was, slowly produced a handkerchief from his side jacket pocket and gingerly dabbed his left eye with it. "Let me see the papers, please, Count."

"We would like to verify its authenticity," I added. The Count sneered at me as he yanked a desk drawer open. He brought out a few off-white sheets of paper and flittered them about as if to put an exclamation point on the fact that he had them.

125, 233, 568, 010

125, 233, 568, 011

"Here they are...gentlemen," Snickleheisen said, disdain dripping from his lips, "here are your fucking papers!"

Then he practically flung them at us. The nimble Purdue angrily snatched them almost out of mid air and began examining them.

As Purdue looked at the papers I stared at the mysterious ticker again. At last I could no longer contain my curiosity.

"Sir," I said, "I'm curious about that ticker behind your desk there and above your head. What in Beezleland is that?"

The Count swiveled around quickly, glanced at it, then turned back around to face us. A grin began to crack across his face. "That, my boy, is my Fuckcounter."

I allowed several seconds of silence, expecting him to elaborate. But when no such elaboration came, I pressed on. "Well...Count, what is a Fuckcounter, if you don't my my asking?"

Snickleheisen sighed. "Every time somebody in the world says the word 'fuck' I receive a dollar in my Fuckcounter account. This is keeping track of every dollar that goes in, or every time the word fuck is uttered...anywhere."

"Oh," I said, a bit confused, "um, sir, how does such a device work?"

"It is something of my own personal invention," he replied smugly, "it's hypersensitive to the dilectual fluxuations of the lexiconical vibrations and pitches of certain words as their soundizations enter the upper atmosphere (it gets its information from a sensor in orbit). It is tuned to pick up the precise dilectual fluxuation of the word 'fuck.' It is making me quite wealthy as you can see so I have no need to be using anybody's Fiddledeedicks without permission!" He seemed to direct the last bit at Purdue, who was still diligently studying the documents.

"Oh, interesting," I said sincerely, "but does it only pick up 'fuck?' What about differing tenses of it, or variations of it?"

"It picks them all up!" he replied. "Fuck, fucker, fucks, fucking, motherfucker, fucked, fucksalot, motherfucking, all of it. Except, for some weird reason, assfuck." Then he added, mumbling "I haven't quite figured that one out yet."

"So everytime I, or anybody else, says 'fuck' it goes up?" I asked.

"Indeed!" he said excitedly. "Try it out. Please!"

"All right," I said. Then I cleared my throat and clearly said "Fuck!" The counter jumped up one just as I said it. It truly worked!

"Brilliant, isn't it?" he asked.

"It is extraordinary!" I said. "Why, you could make yourself a good deal wealthier if you sat around all day saying the word, couldn't you?"

"But that would be cheating," he said. "No, no. It is tuned to ignore all my utterations. I'll demonstrate: fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!"

Indeed, the counter only went up a few times while he said it and I assumed that was from other vulgar people out there.

125, 233, 568, 052

125, 233, 568, 053

"It's obviously some sort of trick, Tyson," mumbled Purdue, "don't be so naive. Oh, and Count, these documents appear to be authentic. But you'll forgive me for checking up on this on my mobile?"

"Of course," Snickleheisen said, gesturing to my associate. "But my device is real. Just check my accounts."

125, 233, 568, 054

"Another time, perhaps," Purdue said as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. The phone's cord would not allow it to be pulled all the way up to Purdue's ear. He must have had it bunched up and tangled at the bottom of his pocket as he always had it. "Fuck!" he yelled as he gave it one good yank to get it loose.

125, 233, 568, 055

"You really shouldn't get ones with cords so long," I suggested. Purdue just glanced at me angrily as he proceeded to dial a number.

Suddenly, as I and the Count were looking at it, the marquis jumped up five points.

"Some foul-mouthed soul out there must've just stubbed their toe," the Count suggested. Then he shrugged. "I just love foul-mouthed individuals, as you can probably imagine."

"Obviously," I mumbled.

"Ah, yes, may I speak with Mr. Hootchieboochie?" Purdue said into his phone as he carefully looked at one of the documents. "Oh, this is Purdue from Purdue, Purdue, Purdue, Purdue, Purdue, Tyson, Purdue, and Stinkywidget. This is in regards to Count Von Snickleheisen. Yes, I'll hold."

There was an awkward silence as Purdue was held. "Ah, yes," he said when it was finally over, "Mr. Hootchieboochie I presume? Yes, I was wanting to confirm that you indeed gave the Count permission to...yes, the Fiddledeedicks. Uh huh. I see. Yes, quite a mix-up, indeed, Mr. Hootchieboochie! My associates and I certainly don't like wasting our time! It is valuable you know! Oh, well, I suggest your department work seriously on that communication break down. Right then! OK, good day!" He switched off his phone and jammed it back in his pocket.

"I trust our little matter is straightened out?" the Count said to Purdue with his skinny little eyebrows raised.

"Uh, yes, I believe it is," Purdue said, "I apologize for--" But he was cut off by his phone ringing. It was a phonographied version of his favorite Boobiefoo song. He quickly grabbed it from his pocket and answered it. "Hello! Yes! You don't say! All right, goodbye!" He hung it up and placed it back in his pocket. "Tyson, we must get going now. There's been an beezlequake in Snootchland! A 12.4 on the Cockashitta Scale!"

Immediately after Purdue made the announcement, the ticker began wildly counting up. The numbers were changing so fast they were almost a blur to me. Count Van Snickleheisen looked behind him at the ticker, then he began to laugh. He brought his hands together in glee as he turned back around to face us.

"I LOVE beezlequakes!" he cackled. It disturbed me to look upon his face in that moment with his cold blue eyes bulging out of their sockets and his mouth drawn up like a flaming burchitzle. "Bwa ha ha ha ha HAAAA!"

"Come, Tyson, let's leave this madman!" Purdue said, putting an arm on my shoulder. "There's probably unbelievable damage over there. They'll be needing lawyers."

"What an unusual man," I mumbled as I let Purdue urge me to get moving.

"Indeed!" Purdue said as we headed for the door. Behind me I could hear Snickleheisen continuing to cackle.

I shuddered as we strolled hurriedly down the hallway outside on our way to the stairs. I was certainly glad we were leaving that place.


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