} It was a cold night in a bleak February. I sat behind my desk,
} wondering if I could tell the landlord that his check had been lost in
} alt.humor.oracle when my sidekick Zadoc made a typo on the header,
} replacing 'rec' with 'alt'. My Scotch bottle in the top filing cabinet
} drawer was no longer a quarter full, but three quarters empty. In
} short, I was in a mood noir. I needed a case, preferably a high paying
} one brought to me by a voluptuous brunette widow in a tight black
} Suddenly there was a rustling down the hall, and the distinct
} click-click of high heeled shoes. I pulled my finger out of where it
} had been an assumed the relaxed, somewhat bored pose of a great, but
} unappreciated, detective, and waited for her to make her entrance. But
} I was to be disappointed. Instead of the gentle feminine tapping on
} the glass emblazoned: "EVITCETED ETAVIRP ,ELCARO .I" which was in the
} script, a small slip of paper was thrust under the door instead. I
} caught barely a glimpse of the messenger, but from that brief glimpse
} of fur, I knew the worst: it was unmistakably a dreaded 5'8" brunette
} woodchuck in high heeled shoes and a tight black dress.
} I wasn't going to get paid for this one.
} Reluctantly, I went to retrieve the slip of paper. It was the wrapper
} from a stick of Big Red, the favored chewing gum of R.O.U.S. (Rodents
} Of Unusual Size). Unfolding it, I deciphered the inelegant scrawl:
} > Hey, hey, bye, bye
} > The Oracle will never die
} > Don't mention woodchucks, or you will fry
} > Hey, hey, bye, bye
} A death threat! To state that the Oracle would never die, but to then
} encapsulate it with "Bye, bye" merely begs the question: When would I
} die? The answer was also in the message: If I mentioned woodchucks.
} The plot was becoming clear. Crazy Marvin (the giant woodchuck) and
} his gang of R.O.U.S. were back in town, and they wanted me to stay mum.
} If I didn't, they'd off me. This was just their friendly way of
} letting me know. The brunette had been Marvin's squeeze, Matilda. At
} least if he hadn't chucked her for a new one by this time.
} There was one thing they didn't have to worry about. The pigs would
} not get word one out of me. It is not that I am adverse to answering
} questions, but pigs just don't know how to grovel. You would think
} that they would be great at it, spending all that time rooting about in
} the mud like they do, but they get huffy about stereotyping, and refuse
} to do it when even the most token grovel is called for.
} Where was I? Yeah, Crazy Marvin and his band of R.O.U.S. I'd had
} dealings with them before. While I wouldn't go squealing to the pigs,
} I also couldn't let them go about their nasty business unopposed. The
} question was, where would a crazy woodchuck and his gang go about their
} nefarious business? I had a hunch.
} (cut to scene of a snow-covered lumber yard, at night. It's a cold
} night in February, remember?)
} Following the sound of lumber dropping on a metal surface, I looked
} around the pile of uncut logs. Marvin's gang were handing him two by
} fours, and he was throwing them into a rusted pickup that they had
} parked on the other side of a chain link fence. I began to count.
} When Marvin was finished, I had counted forty two by fours chucked into
} the pickup. Plus the two I had heard land before my arrival, I had the
} answer. A crazy giant woodchuck, assisted by a gang of R.O.U.S., on a
} cold, dark night in February, would chuck forty-two two by fours into
} the back of a pickup truck on the other side of a chain link fence, if
} he could. Armed with this knowledge, I made my move.
} "Give it up, Marvin. The games over," I said, stepping into the open.
} They all turned towards me, trying to conceal their terror with
} bluster. Marvin spoke up. "Well if it isn't Mr. I. Oracle, out
} minding other people's business. I thought we told you to stay out of
} this." The gang gathered around me, menacingly. Mickey, the giant rat,
} began to take off his lily-white gloves. It was well known that he
} always takes off his gloves before he does you; that's why they're
} still white. Marvin went on, "What made you think you could take on
} the whole R.O.U.S. gang? I always pegged you as the prudent,
} omniscient type. Yet as I count it, there is one of you, and six of us.
} What is to stop us from turning you into Oracle salad, an no one being
} any the wiser?" (In fact, there were seven of them, but Marvin had
} never been known for his higher math skills. Higher than three, that
} "Just one thing," I responded nonchalantly. "You see, I've been
} watching you for a while now, so now I know the answer to the woodchuck
} question. If you do me, I'll see that all my incarnations go and answer
} that backlog of woodchuck questions we have sitting on the 'ZOT' pile.
} You will be through, Marvin. Over. Out of the wood chucking business
} once and for all. I mean, really, forty-two? You will be a laughing
} stock among rodentia everywhere."
} As I spoke, Marvin's furry face grew paler and paler. "What do you
} want me ta do?" he begged.
} "Put the wood back and get outta town. I never want to see our furry
} snout around here again."
} That was it. A few word from Marvin, and the whole gang was unchucking
} those two by fours faster than you could say "marmot." Matilda tried
} to give me the eye. I guess after a night like that, she wanted to
} chuck Marvin, and who could blame her? But she wasn't my species, so I
} pretended not to notice. Ten minutes later, they were long gone, and
} all I had to worry about was how I was going to pay the rent and how to
} get the snow out of my boots. But my mood had changed, and I figured
} that my dame, Lisa, would have some thoughts about the latter problem,
} so I headed to her place.
} You owe the Oracle an excuse for his landlord.