There I was in the Serengeti, negotiating with the local poachers to get me six dozen geriatric giraffes, when a man in an old beatup jeep came roaring down the hill at me in a cloud of dust. The mustache was the first thing I saw, after I stopped coughing.
"Nathan!" I exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I could ask the same of you," he replied. "I expected to find you in Georgia."
"They were having an incident with the Russians. It didn't seem safe."
He looked at me with disgust. "Not that Georgia."
I snickered, then glanced at the huddle of poachers at the other end of the mudhole. Their discussion sounded like it was heating up. I shrugged and looked back at Nathan. "I'm buying giraffes. What does it look like I'm doing? It'll expand my kangaroo carcassing business."
He looked at me askance. "Your what? Aren't you supposed to be a marine biologist?"
"I dabble in other pursuits here and there," I said vaguely. "You should know that better than most."
"Right," he said skeptically. "So you're canvassing kangaroos?"
"Carcassing," I said. "My client, a bit of an eccentric you might say, wants me to plant them along popular American highways. Says he was tired of seeing nothing but deer, possums, and people's pets there. Wants bigger and better roadkill. Wants to expand his diet." I shrugged. "It's too bad that so far nobody will sell me any elephants."
"You know," he said thoughtfully, stroking his mustache, "that can possibly be arranged."
"Really?" I raised an eyebrow. "You know people who can obtain whole elephants?"
He nodded. "And I can arrange it, of course. But only under one condition."
I waited for him to go on, not saying anything.
"I want you back in the UCF."
I thought it over. Go back to the insanity of chasing cranks all over the Internet, in exchange for geriatric elephants.
"This time there will be pay," he added. "From the government."
I thought it over some more. Geriatric elephants and taxpayer dollars funneled to my less than thought-through moneymaking schemes. It could work.
"And there will be a secret handshake. And a toaster."
That sealed it. "Deal," I said. "When do we start?"
And away we went for Round Two of Debunking Walter L. Wagner (who is currently under indictment for Attempted Theft In The First Degree and Identity Theft In The First Degree regarding a botanical garden in Hawaii). It all started when JTankers came back with his stick to poke at us some more (thanks Anne and Jeri for compiling lists to make all those links easy to find.)
Dun Dun DUN! :)