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.”

Mr Magnifico - In Need of Assistants PDF Print E-mail
Mr Magnifico sipped his coffee with the necessary air of pretension, regretting only that he had forgotten his scarf and pipe. Smoking was disgusting, but the detective couldn’t stand not fitting in. In an age of non-conformity Mr Magnifico went against the grain by going with it. He took another sip; the coffee was perfectly brewed. That little barista had surely earned his change today. The detective liked his coffee as he liked his women: foreign and bitter. He waited patiently for the first of his interviews. A beautiful woman in her early thirties entered the shop with such perfect timing it could only be a contrived cue. She wore a modest skirt, which immodestly accentuated her curves. Her suit jacket declared “professional” so loudly it was probably paid to do so. Deep brown waves of hair fell about her shoulders. The cascade of ermine tresses lightly brushed her cream like skin and accented her storm-blue eyes. She crossed the small waiting area with unparalleled confidence.

A distracted barista mistakenly called out, “A tall vente mocha whip with no peanut butter for My Queen!” as he stared. The woman ignored him, gliding past with angelic grace and sat down while maintaining eye contact with Mr Magnifico.

With crisp professional movements she handed a portfolio notebook to the detective and introduced herself, “I am Eliza Monroe. I have three degrees in varying fields of criminology, I have been published four times in criminal justice journals, and you will find the attorney general of Nevada’s recommendation letter is just below my resume.” She then sat back in her chair slightly, not lounging, just enough to punctuate the completion of her introduction.

“Very impressive. Very impressive. Tell me, Mrs. Monroe…” the detective paused with a half raised eyebrow. The woman beamed and blushed, both within the proper boundaries of professionalism. She replied, “Actually, it’s Ms.”

“Please ma’am. There is no need for you to flirt. You are far too qualified to necessitate such cheap gender tactics.” Mr Magnifico continued to speak over her flustered objections, “I only have a few more questions.” He shuffled her papers, placed an index finger on his lips, and then pointed at her. “Crystal Pepsi or New Coke?”

“What about them?” she replied, twisting slightly in her seat.

“Bill Cosby is lost in the woods carrying only a spoon. Go!” Mr Magnifico made a square with his thumbs and index fingers and peered at her.

“Sir, I’m not really sure what you are talking about.”

“You’re a tree blowing in the wind. Happy tree, happy tree.” The detective waved his arms in the air.

Ms. Monroe timidly raised her hands and waved them back and forth. The detective sighed and lowered his limbs. “Thank you Ms. Monroe. I have your number; we will be in touch.”

Eliza stood up and strode out of the coffeehouse, confused and shaken. Mr Magnifico sat back and sipped his coffee. “Poor fragile little flower. Never had a chance. She would have been too distracting anyhow. All that shameless flirting.”

The dulcet voice of a British songbird filled the room; the detective tapped his feet and sang along to the gentle blend of pop and soul as he waited for the next applicant. A tall man sauntered through the door; he wore a black three-piece suit of conservative cut. A straight black tie pointed to the center of his white cotton blend shirt. Lanky arms swung in time with long steps as he approached the detective. “Mr. Jack Magnifico?” Gil Thorne extended his long arm down to the detective. His serious gaze froze the detective’s tapping finger mid-note and slew all silliness and humor.

Mr Magnifico had yet to shake the man’s hand or finish his note. There was only the chilling eye contact until detective uttered, “I know why you are here.”

Mr Thorne nodded gravely. “Good. Then let’s get down to business.”

A spark burned in the detective’s eyes. “O! You’ll have your challenge.”

Mr. Thorne remained standing. “Excuse me? I’m sorry, I don’t think I under”

“There is no apologizing now! You have come to claim my title of Staremaster! I must warn you my last staring contrast lasted two weeks. It nearly zenned me, but at last I was able to fell the giant reclining stone Buddah of Thailand.”

Mr Magnifico found a comfortable groove in his chair and reclined in preparation for a lengthy battle. Mr. Thorne stared in confusion and thought: Was this some sort of test? It wasn’t initially, but the detective soon wondered if Mr. Thorne’s stare was powerful enough to overcome the will of criminals, causing them to break down and reveal the intimate details of their crime even if only the most circumstantial of evidence is presented against them.

Mr. Thorne had little patience for silliness and thus quickly turned and left the coffee shop.

Mr Magnifico continued to stare and fantasize about solving a case with a gaze. The double doors opened wide, in a combination of drama and necessity, as a large man ducked into the shop. His massive shoulders grazed both sides of the doorframe, blotting out the sun. The large man noticed someone staring at him and using ESP, ascertained that the staring someone was the detective. The giant adjusted his lederhosen, straightened his cassock, and glided across the room on an air of mystery and sneakers. With a well practiced flourish he introduced himself, “I,” he paused momentarily, “am NOSTRAMAGNUS!”

Awestruck, the detective could only stare. Nostramagnus continued, “And you are Mr Magnifico, world famous detective currently seeking an aide. You are a warrior and mystery is your eternal opponent.”

“Ha!” laughed the behemoth mystic, his deductive prowess apparently freezing Mr Magnifico in amazement. “I see I am much more than even you could have predicted.” He flexed audibly with the sound of tightening leather. The detective gawked at the man’s protruding pectorals.

After a moment Nostramagnus began to feel mocked. He had encountered this before, non-believers who would refuse to communicate in any way other than telepathy, as if the mystical energies required to divine thoughts and emotions could just be fritted about, but still, the detective’s eye remained steady, daring the Nostramagnus to read his thoughts.

“So be it!” shouted the burly man as he placed his forefingers against both temples, his robes rippling dramatically. His consciousness pressed out from his third eye and drew back the cheesecloth veil of Mr Magnifico’s mind. The gaping detective’s thoughts lay bare for Nostramagnus. To his surprise there was but one thought prancing about detective’s mind, the image of Mario bouncing in time to the chant “meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow meow.”

Nostramagnus’s consciousness recoiled. "How could he have known of my kitten phobia?" thought the psychic. He was terrified of kittens, with their curious claws, rambunctious nature, and impossible cuteness! The mystic motioned a mark in the air with his finger to ward off evil spirits, kittens, and the like. He reasoned that the detective must have used the mental link to sneak into his mind in order to mock his fears.

Twin balls of fire ignited in Nostramagnus’s mind. His anger grew and consumed him, yet the detective ogled him cruelly.

“Why must you mock my weakness, Mr Magnifico?” pleaded Nostramagnus furiously. His massive Vienna sausage fingers gripped the small coffee table. His knuckles turned red, white, and blue in nationalistic ire as he struggled to restrain himself. Mr Magnifico continued his ocular onslaught, though in reality he was contemplating riding Nostramagnus into battle against mystery. With a savage and dramatic roar, Nostramagnus flipped the table upward where it became either too frightened to come back down or had escaped into another dimension.

The detective, however, was completely unmoved. Slump-shouldered and defeated, the hulking hurler slunk away. At the door a young Korean man with an application in hand stopped him and asked if he was ok. Nostramagnus placed a large hand upon the man’s shoulder and most of his upper arm. With a solemn look back at the detective, who was still staring, Nostramagnus told the young man, “Good luck to you, my son. I too sought this profession. Let us both pray that you are found more worthy than I.” With that he walked dramatically to his mint green Geo and drove off.

Craig straightened his tie and rechecked his EPC (Elemental Plane of Coffee) application. He hadn’t realized the competition for a minimum wage job would be so fierce. Following the large man’s direction, he walked over to his prospective employer. Craig thought it odd that there was no coffee table but was content to hold his application.

After several minutes of awkward silence, Craig waved his hand in front of the interviewer’s face, but received no response. He sat down and looked around the bustling coffee shop. Everyone was milling about paying no attention to the catatonic customer. It almost seemed as if they were purposely not paying attention. Craig shook his head to rid himself of such paranoia. He had a habit since childhood of making things around him much more absurd and interesting than they really were.

Craig timidly gave the interviewer’s knee a shake, which caused the staring man to blink a few times and stretch into a yawn. “Must have dozed off…” Mr Magnifico looked at the young Asian man sitting across from him. “Mr. Thorne. I didn’t know you were a Chinaman.”

“Korean. I’m Korean.” Craig corrected. Slightly amused at the interviewer’s confusion he continued, “My name is Craig. Craig Winters. I’m here for the interview.”

“Craig? It says Ping Pong here,” asserted Mr Magnifico, pointing to a magazine.

“True. But that isn’t my name. You’re reading a National Geographic article on the economy of China.” Craig cocked his head to one side. “I haven’t given you my application yet.”

“But you acknowledge that it is true.” Mr Magnifico nodded his head in victory. “I appreciate the mental test. That is something I look for in all my candidates for employment, people to keep me on my mental toes.”

“I’m glad. I really would like this job.” Craig was confused but happy; the interview was proceeding well, albeit unorthodoxly.

Craig tensed. He had no barista experience and anticipated the end of the interview. He casually wiped his palms on his slacks in an attempt to appear calm.

“How many forms of ancient Shaolin Kung Fu have you mastered?” Mr Magnifico asked.

“Um. None?”

“Yes, yes. The path of a true martial artist is endless. There are always ways to improve. Very good answer.” Mr Magnifico scrawled a note in the margin of the magazine. “Are you willing to travel?”

Craig hadn’t realized that being a barista required such extensive qualifications. “As long as expenses are covered, I suppose.”

“Of course. Very good.” Mr Magnifico was ready for the coup d’grace, the question no one could answer. He had already decided to hire the young man, but he wanted to test him anyway. “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

“A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood,” Craig answered, suddenly thankful for having taken a class on nursery rhymes and tongue twisters last semester.

Mr Magnifico leapt into the air with a “huzzah!” Upon landing he exclaimed, “You’re hired! Draw up a contract stating your salary and conditions plus the clause that you stay with the company for at least six months. You start immediately!

“Wow. Thanks,” Craig sputtered. He was confused and ecstatic; he had never drawn up a contract before. “What time should I come in tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Mr Magnifico stopped jumping. “I believe I said immediately. There is a mystery to be solved this very moment – the mystery of the missing bathroom,” asserted the detective as he began to dance about. I’ve had seventeen cups of coffee and the mystery is most urgent.”

Just then, a man approached the pair and introduced himself, “I’m Archibald Kim. I’m here about the job.”

Mr Magnifico covered his arm with his nose. “Who are you, and what smells like dog?”

“I’m a chef,” Mr. Kim responded.

“That doesn’t bode well. Come, Ping Pong. We’re off.” Mr Magnifico pushed past the Koreans and into the fresh air of destiny.

“It’s Craig,” Ping Pong called out as he chased after the detective.

“Sure it is. You must learn to accept defeat, Ping Pong.”
Mr Magnifico - Mr. Tut's Donut Hut PDF Print E-mail
Mr Magnifico cornered a group of glazed and sprinkled children, huddled them together, and licked his lips. “Ok, children. I'm going to bring you up to speed on the presently delicious situation you've found yourselves in. So there we were, Ping Pong, my plucky assistant; Mr. Tut, Boy King of the Donut Dynasty; and yours truly, Mr Magnifico, world renown detective, master bon vivant of 5 of the 7 culinary arts of perception, and donut connoisseur, entrenched in what would come to be one the most overly complex cases I have ever undertaken.”

Behind the narrating detective and his captive audience, Ping Pong limped to an ambulance with the aid of a doughy paramedic. Further beyond, firefighters hosed the blazing donut hut, as raining coffee and hailing donuts assailed bystanders.

Pausing his tale, Mr Magnifico cried, “Lunch Rush Pork Bun Catch!” and snatched a cruller from the air. With his hungry focus momentarily diverted to the pastry, one child attempted to flee from the pack but the detective had finished the cruller before the girl took her first step. He easily caught the escapee in his gaze and a cheese Danish in his teeth. “Mmrmfmmrfm. Now, where did I leave off?”

The bravest, wisest, and brown-sugariest of the children seized upon the detective’s distractibility and asked, “No la entiendo. ¿Por que esta Mr. Tut's donut Hut en fuego?”

Mr Magnifico cocked his head to the right and recalled, ”That's right little one. Mr Tut's Donut Hut! The place of the famed Ra's Eye, a spherical donut shaped to resemble the all knowing sun god's symbol. Just the other day I bought a dozen for only a dollar, and today they were gone! I immediately suspected Apep. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 'You just can't trust someone with a snake for a head.'“

The detective gave a wink to one of the children; the boy froze with fear. His friends, who had already escaped the huddle, stared back at him as if to say, “We'll miss you.” He glanced in reply, “Remember me as I was...”

“… delicious,” Mr Magnifico finished, along with a fritter, and patted the boy on the head. The boy collapsed but was saved by the brave child in the brown sugar who had discovered an escape route between their perceived predator’s legs.

The detective continued, ‘Immediately, I knew where to look. 'Ping Pong,' I yelled with force and authority. 'We leave for Bakhu!’

‘Can I grab a chocolate twisty,’ Ping Pong asked me timidly, as he could not help but cower from my aura of impressiveness.’

I replied, ‘We have no time! I see you fail to grasp the gravity of the situation, the very sun is being slowly consumed by chaos.’

It was a long flight from here to there. You see, the terrible chaos serpent Apep lives just over the horizon waiting to devour Ra as he enters the underworld according to Egyptian law. But, the Egyptians didn't realize the earth was round. In fact some still don't, otherwise they would have warned me when we stopped there to ask for directions.”

Subconsciously, Mr Magnifico repositioned his feet, unintentionally routing the children in defeat. “So, long story short, we abandoned our quest and came back to the scene of the crime where I performed the standard ritual to ward off Apep.”

Ping Pong, equipped with crutches acquired from the ambulance, hobbled over to the detective and the phagophobic children and explained, “El fijo el lugar en el fuego. (+He won't eat you).”

Mr Magnifico justified, “That's how the ancient priests did it.” A small charred donut hole bounced off Ping Pong's head and into Mr Magnifico's mouth.

Partially reassured by Ping Pong's speech and seeing the crispy confection as a final opportunity for escape the remaining children fled in every direction. One child, blinded by fear and sprinkles, collided into Mr Magnifico's leg adhering himself with sticky glaze and dough.

“You don't have to thank me for finding the donuts, my boy. It's my job; it's what I do.” The detective smiled and tousled the boy's hair only to be thwarted by the child's baldness. They exchanged glances of confusion and fear, until the child passed out from the latter. Mr Magnifico made no notice of this or of the Brown Sugar Boy’s* return and subsequent rescue of his unconscious comrade.

Ping Pong rolled his eyes. “They were never missing. Mr. Tut had the tray in the back.”

“Mere semantics. Come. I believe our work here is done. I'm in the mood for lobster.”

Ping Pong heard sirens and for a moment, considered allowing the Mexican Police to take him. Mr Magnifico glanced at his aide and slyness entered his voice. “Please don't dawdle my young accomplice; we don't want to miss our boat.”

*As she was known from that day forth, despite the removal of the sugar, the conflict with her gender, and the non-nativeness of the vernacular.

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