Mr Magnifico's Holiday Miracle PDF Print E-mail

Mr Magnifico’s Holiday Miracle

For Segata Sanshiro


Mr Magnifico and Ping Pong huddled together for warmth as did the snow falling about them. Hiding behind a conveniently placed and strangely oversized dumpster, the pair diligently monitored the entrance to the Westport, New York City’s most stylish luxury apartment building. Five hours had passed since they began their vigil, and to Ping Pong’s dismay, the snow was still cold.

“Is th-this really worth it?” he complained through chattering teeth.

“Justice is always worth it, Ping Pong,” asserted Mr Magnifico, his words condensing into frost and adding another layer to the perpetually piling snow.

Unconvinced, his freezing protégé pleaded, “But why can’t we stakeout from somewhere hospitable?”

The detective narrowed his eyes, contemplating their prey. “He’s too crafty. He’d see us coming.”

“See us coming? He doesn’t know what we look like! I-I’m losing feel-ing in my f-eet, and unless he comes through that door right now…” Ping Pong paused and peered around the dumpster in anticipation of a literary contrivance. But alas, the only contrivance to be seen was the doorman who waved merrily.

The impatient assistant resumed his grievance, “The best surprise attack I will be able to muster is toppling my frozen carcass onto him in the hopes that he will be pinned by my weight.”

Mr Magnifico clasped his companion’s shoulder and stood up, lauding, “Brilliant! You have at least fifty pounds on him! Why didn’t you tell me that you had a plan, Ping Pong?”

“That’s a terrible plan!”

Scuffing the snow with the toe of his shoe, Mr Magnifico murmured sullenly, “It’s still a plan.”

“Can we go inside now?” Ping Pong straightened his legs, shedding layers of snow.

Mr Magnifico slammed his fist down on the dumpster and shouted to the rooftops, “Curse this frozen fortress! Curse you Billy O’Keef for taking my hold on Bonestorm! You are not Mr Magnifico! I am Mr Magnifico, and that game is rightfully mine!”

Before Ping Pong could comment on his cohort’s curses, the dumpster lid creaked open, and a bespectacled man peered out. Mr Magnifico glanced to his associate who shrugged back in sympathetic befuddlement. Fairly certain that the man’s appearance was not coincidence, the detective apologized, “I am sorry for striking your roof; I did not realize this was a residence.”

“No harm done. It’s one of the hazards of life on the streets,” assured the stranger in a nasally voice. “Why are you standing in the snow?”

Straightening his scarf and puffing out his chest, Mr Magnifico professed, “We’re detectives on a stake-out.” His eyes blazed with pride as an auspicious zephyr buffeted his hair, accentuating the drama of the detective’s declaration.

“Oh, neat,” replied the receptacle resident, unsure of how to respond to the grandeur of the circumstance. “Would you like to come in from the cold?”

Fulfilling the letter of his colleague’s earlier request, Mr Magnifico accepted with a “thank you kindly” and vaulted into the bin.

Less eager to leap into a mysterious dumpster, Ping Pong eyed its interior. Surveying the dwelling, he inventoried a fold-out futon, two gaming chairs, an electric heater, a mini-fridge topped with a microwave, and a squat, black table (The table was actually an Xbox) supporting a 106cm LCD TV. Discovering that the bin was devoid of trash, well furnished, and more spacious than a Japanese hotel room, Ping Pong climbed in.

The man closed the roof of his house and introduced himself, “The name’s Alan Hikkel.”

“I am Mr Magnifico, world famous detective, and this is my assistant, Ping Pong. May I play your Dreamcast?”

Ping Pong glared at the Detective. “May I play your Dreamcast” was not the first question that came to mind when sitting in the world’s most hospitable dumpster. Sensing his friend’s frustration Mr Magnifico amended, “Oh, I meant to ask, may we play your Dreamcast?” He grinned and winked back at Ping Pong.

“Of course,” replied Alan jovially as he withdrew a Dreamcast from under the futon. “The first thing most visitors ask is about the dumpster,” he laughed, “not the Dreamcast.”

“Priorities,” explained Mr Magnifico as he aided Alan in setting up the system and connecting the cables, “And besides, I just assumed your alleyway abode is the result of Billy O’Keef’s villainy.”

Ping Pong rolled his eyes and withdrew Mr Magnifico’s personal VMU (Memory card for the Dreamcast) from his bag.

“You’re absolutely right,” Alan admitted regretfully. “I lost my job at Video Pit because of that boy.” Shaking off the cold memories, Alan offered, “Would either of you guys like some hot cocoa?”

“Yes, please,” chimed the detective as he booted the system.

Less distracted by games and the prospect of cocoa Ping Pong inquired as to the specifics of the boy’s offense. “What did Billy do to get you fired?”

Powering on the hot water heater, Alan recalled with simmering anger, “The little brat claimed to be a Mr. Victor Boddingtonshire and requested the PS3 that we had on hold for him. When the real Victor Boddingtonshire came for his console, he was furious.”

Mr Magnifico looked up from his game (Power Stone 2) and interrupted, “Did you explain to him that there wasn’t anything worth playing on it?”

“I told him that when he pre-ordered,” lamented the Alan in a flashback of exasperation. “The thing is, we weren’t even out of PS3s, just the 60 gig model.”

Ping Pong laughed, “Did you expect him to settle for the 20?”

“No,” recounted Alan, mimicking Victor’s demeaning demeanor, “‘that is the model for people who live in dumpsters.’”

“How ironic,” mused Mr Magnifico, “You don’t even own a PS3.”

“He demanded that all my saved games be erased and that I be banned from the internet,” explained Alan. “When my manager informed him that his requests weren’t reasonable or possible, Mr Boddingtonshire…”

“Attacked you with replica weapons?” proposed Mr Magnifico.

“Attacked you with real weapons?” guessed Ping Pong.

Alan placed three mugs on the table and stared at the pair quizzically. “Why do you say that?”

“No reason. Continue,” they replied in unison.

Alan continued, “Mr. Boddingtonshire screamed, ‘All your base are belong to us!’ and ran away.” The hot water heater dinged, having achieved its desired temperature. Ping Pong, assisted Alan in mixing the proper ratios of water, chocolate, milk, and marshmallows.

“Don’t forget whipped cream,” reminded Mr Magnifico.

Alan retrieved a half-pint of whipped cream from the half-pint fridge and passed it to Ping Pong who, not forgetting the story, asked, “You were saying he ran away?”

Alan stirred his drink and resumed his tale, “Mr. Boddingtonshire ran away, bought every other store in the mall, and converted them into Cinnabons -- save for one.” The remaining store, coincidentally across from Video Pit, was turned into another video game store.

Mr Magnifico whispered to his companion, “I don’t think it was a coincidence.”

Unaware of the detective’s dissent, the dumpster denizen explained, “Very few people exhibit the willpower to resist the aromatic onslaught of the eighteen Cinnabons. The few shoppers who made it to our corner of the mall without slipping into a food coma were then presented the choice of Video Pit or “Victor’s Discount Video Pit.” Victor’s store didn’t have any price tags, just a single sign that said, ‘10% off Video Pit prices.’ Video Pit went out of business by the end of the week, and I was out of a job. The entire ordeal left me as distraught as a person playing Alex Kidd: High-Tech World.”

The detective shook his head in understanding affirmation of Alan’s analogy.

“I sought out Billy in an ill-formed scheme to steal back Victor’s PS3,” sighed Alan with an air of embarrassment.

Ping Pong launched a condescending look at the detective who was anxious to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor.

The cocoa warmed Alan’s chest and soothed the pain of his memories. He recounted, “Billy’s address was easy enough to track down, but their doorman was stalwart in denying me entrance. I waited outside until it started to rain.”

“Is that why you hid in the dumpster?” interrupted Mr Magnifico with a question that no longer needed to be asked.

Alan nodded and affirmed, “Yes. To my surprise, it was completely empty save for these gaming chairs. I had a sign made up and placed it on the dumpster that reads, ‘Electronics Recycling Bin.’ At first the people only deposited items like XBoxes and first generations iPhones.”

Mr Magnifico laughed, “First gen iPhones? Those things are worthless -- they don’t even have 3G!”

Remembering the two days he stood in line for that worthless device, Ping Pong scowled at his employer; Mr Magnifico grinned back.

Alan resumed his tale, “I know. It was a bleak time, but that was before Dreamcast. I had never owned a Dreamcast, but once I played, I realized that I didn’t need revenge. I didn’t even need to leave this dumpster. Billy could have his ill-gotten PS3. I had something that he would never understand-”

“Very true,” concurred the detective as he put down the Samba de Amigo maraca controller. “This sentiment is at the very heart of my conundrum. Billy O’Keef has stolen from me a game that he cannot understand, and on top of that, it’s rated M for mature. I must steal it back for his sake as much as mine.”

At that moment the roof opened and a small, plastic shopping bag fell onto the table (Xbox). Always up early on Christmas mornings, Alan quickly reached inside the bag and withdrew the contents -- a copy of Bonestorm.

“Hooray for Santa, the mighty avatar of justice!” heralded the grateful detective.

Ping Pong lifted to roof to check the identity of the gift’s deliverer. “It was Billy’s mom, not Santa.”

“It’s still a Christmas miracle,” retorted his employer.

“It’s rated M, it’s called Bonestorm, and it’s the 23rd,” argued Ping Pong.

“The 23rd?” mumbled Mr Magnifico. He thought to himself for a moment and slapped his knee. “Then it’s a Festivus Day miracle!”

“He’s got you there,” agreed Alan, turning up the heater. “It is a Festivus Day miracle.”

“That it is,” admitted Ping Pong, his heart warming, “That it is.”

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