[[A man in a beret is talking to a girl sitting at a computer.]]
Man in beret: Do you have any scones?
[[The girl turns to face him.]]
Girl: Scones? Why would I have scones?
Man in beret: You might have had scones. Somebody must have scones. Scones exist, and you're the nearest person to ask. And you have a kitchen.
Girl: Yeah, I don't have scones.
[[The man in the beret wanders out of the strip. The girl looks round shiftily and pulls a plate from under her desk. She eats a scone.]]
The bomb was a surprise.
Holiday gifts confuse me. I like giving them, you might even call it my hobby. There's nothing like the look on someone's face when you've promised them scones and they unpack a box to find nothing. Or a bobcat. That's even more fun, the succession of facial expressions that go from "Oooh kitten" to "holy crap, BIG kitten" to "fuck fuck bobcat", and if they don't run fast enough you can even watch the bobcat claw their face off. Wonder if I could do that with a raptor? Maybe next year I'll try. Yeah, giving gifts is good.
It's being given gifts I don't know about. I mean, sometimes it's all right. Sometimes you can watch their faces when you wait til they're almost out of range and then crunch whatever it is they gave you up and throw it in the trash. There was that one time when that fucking annoying guy in the beret – but never mind. Anyway, there's always that, but what are you meant to do when you actually like the fucking thing? I mean, the bomb is OK. It did cause pain and injury. And it was my girlfriend, after all, normal rules are suspended. I'm allowed to like stuff she does. But what can I do if that happens again? With someone else?
Nevertheless, the bomb was a good surprise. But now I don't know. What can I do for her? It feels wrong. I shouldn't be giving gifts that people will actually like. But like I said, girlfriend, that's different, isn't it? Then what can I – oh. Oh, yes.
How do you make scones?
He had laid the trap carefully. A cage suspended above a false ceiling, installed in her kitchen while she was troll-baiting; the latter released when the copy of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, lying conspicuously near the door, was touched; and the former to come tumbling down to enclose the equally conspicuous plate of scones as soon as one of them was lifted.
It was perfect. They would watch the capture of the beret-wearing existentialist, and store him somewhere to be played with later. And his plans never went wrong.
Perhaps it was the intention of pleasing someone else which caused this one to backfire. Or perhaps he had become so used to working with her that he could no longer work alone? He choked at the thought. He was a Classhole! Dependant on somebody else for success? For enjoying life? Impossible!
She called from the other room, "Whatcha up to? If you're getting a beer, can you get me one?"
"Yeah," he replied, but apparently without conviction, since she wandered into the kitchen a few minutes later. She surveyed the empty cage, the overturned plate of scones and the plaster dust covering every surface, and looked up to see the hole in the ceiling.
"What the fuck have you done?"
"Fucking false ceiling didn't fucking work."
"Wh… OK, I'm not going to ask why you were installing a false ceiling in my fucking kitchen. I don't care. But whatever you were fucking doing, why was I not involved?"
He didn't look at her. Focusing on a particularly large bit of plasterboard, he mumbled "Christmas present."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Christmas present, okay? You set off a bomb in a school parking lot for me! I wanted to do something for you! Is that a crime?"
She slipped an arm around him. "Depends what you were trying to do, love. Bombing a school was kind of a crime."
He didn't want to laugh, but he did.
"Need a hand?" she offered, looking at the wreckage of her kitchen. She took his hand and pulled him through the door. "Let's leave this and go. What's the plan?"
Hiding behind the existentialist's own apartment building with an AK-47 was not a subtle approach, but it had its merits. The gun was, after all, only in reserve, in case they got particularly frustrated. The bear-trap on the way in, the bucket of gasoline suspended above his apartment door (with, of course, a short fuse with a lighter triggered by the key in the lock) and the oversize Venus fly-trap in the lounge should take care of him without the need for noise. She had vetoed bombs, saying she had spent long enough setting up the one for him without having to do so for her own Christmas gift. Despite that, though, they had spent a happy afternoon acquiring the necessities and laying the traps, pausing only for the occasional make-out. The afternoon, in fact, almost made up for the disappointing lack of philosophers. He had definitely not been in when they had jimmied the locks at noon; but midnight came and went with no sign of him.
"Dirty stop-out," said the girl, yawning, as her watch blinked from 2:59 to 3:00, "I can't be bothered with this. I'm going to bed. You coming?"
"But it's no fun if we don't watch! And how are we going to hide the body?"
"OK, we'll take the traps down. Tomorrow we'll get him."
"We spent all afternoon putting them up!"
"Yeah, but he's not coming back and it's cold. And there are much more interesting things we could be doing right now…"
A hypothetical casual observer the next day, wandering through the barely-delineated room, would probably have noticed the corner of a plate peeking out from under a scattering of papers on the desk. He would probably, however, not have noticed the outline of a black hat behind a curtain.
The man in the beret, though, was not a hypothetical observer. In fact, he would have disputed the existence of a hypothetical observer; however, since he isn't listening to the narration I think we may have got away with the expression. In any case, as he entered the room his eye was immediately drawn the said plate; he gave a cursory glance at his surroundings, hurried to the desk and whipped away the papers which covered it.
"A-a-a-ah!" he breathed. Seven round, flour-covered scones lay on the plate; some with raisins, some with cherries, some split and buttered. Bliss. He didn't notice the hat peering round the curtain with an air of malevolent delight as he absorbed the scones at a rate somewhere approaching an x64 processor.
When the thrashing had finished, the black hat emerged from the curtain, followed by a man who grinned and extended a hand to the girl who followed him into the room.
"Happy Christmas, honey-scone pie." He looked more closely at the man who lay on the floor, and his face fell. Faint, yes, but he was definitely breathing.
"You didn't poison them!"
"No," replied the girl, "only Rohypnol. I thought we could have some fun when he wakes up."
Their eyes met and sparkled. He kissed her. Opening a groggy eye, the man who, against all probability, had retained his beret shivered. He shivered even more to hear her next words,
"After all, someone has to clean up my kitchen."