Thereupon and forthwith did N Rockyfinger hasten at once ( or perhaps sooner) to speak with his brother, D Rockyfinger.

"Brother D," said he, "a wonderful happening has happened. Happy is my wife, Happy, and I myself happy also."

Now D Rockyfinger happened at that moment to be quite busy. Yet he did nevertheless pause in his counting of little green papers and did say unto his brother in an inquiring manner, "And what is the happening which has happened which causes your wife, Happy, to be happy and yourself to be happy also?"

"Have you not heard the news, Brother D? He who now sits upon the Throne of Ooze until the next Carnival has named me -- your very own brother -- to sit upon the cushion right next to the Throne!"

"But I thought you wanted to sit on the Throne, Brother N; not just next to it."

"Quite so, Brother D. But this means, don't you see, that I would at once ascend to the Throne if he who now sits upon it should happen to fall off -- or - uh - something like that."

"Do you think something like that might happen, Brother N?"

"Oh no, Brother D! I would never let such a thought cross my mind! -- Lest by just crossing my mind it might happen because one of our Wizards sensed it. I would never think such a thing as that! You know me better than that for goodness sake!"

I know you better than most," said Brother D. "But if you do not think such thing might happen, why are you so happy for yourself?"

"Oh -- it is not for myself I am so happy...."

"Who, then?"

"For the People of Ooze! Don't you see, Brother D...? Now that I will be sitting right next to the Throne, the Reprobates will surely place me on their float for the next Quadrennial Carnival. At long last the People of Ooze can choose me to be their Leader! At long last..."

"How so, Brother N? Is it not long the custom that he who is sitting upon the Throne shall be afforded by his Party the place on the next Carnival Float that he might perhaps be Selected by the People to remain there?"

Yes, dear Brother D, that is indeed the custom -- usually. But not in this instance will the custom be followed. For he who now sits upon the Throne was not chosen by the People at Carnival time. Rather was he Selected by a Conglomeration Assembled of Reprobates and Demagogs - mostly the latter. And the Demagogs among his Selectors did set as condition for approval, they of him, assurance that he had no desire to sit upon the Throne. Which assurance he did provide and therefore, having no desire to sit upon the Throne to begin with will certainly have no desire to be placed upon the Reprobate Float at the next Carnival."

"But can he be trusted to keep his word on that?" asked Brother D. "--that he will not change his mind and his desire?"

"Oh yes!" quoth Brother N. "Of that I am certain. Of all the Reprobates I have known this one is the most reputable. If he be nothing else -- and there are those who would agree that he is exactly that -- he is consistent in whatever he does especially when he does nothing."

"Well okay -- if you say so. But even so, Brother N -- even it the Reprobates do select you for their Champion at the next Carnival -- what if you should lose the Carnival Contest?"

"That --" said Brother N somewhat aghast and almost offended, "is absolutely UNTHINKABLE!"

"Of course it's unthinkable," said Brother D. "Which is precisely why we must now think of it. Because even though it is unthinkable it is not at all impossible...."

"You are right, of course, my dear Brother."

"...And so," Brother D continued, "because it is unthinkable we must find a way to make it also impossible."

"Any ideas how we can do that?"

"That's your department, Brother N. That's Politics! You're the Politician -- remember? I'm the Financier."

"Oh that's right," said Brother N. "For a moment there I forgot. Let me see now -- how can we be sure? Ahh, of course. I have it. I HAVE IT! We need only for ourselves to select who the Demagogs shall put on their Carnival Float!"

Can we do that, Brother N? Can we decide that for the Demagogs?"

"Of course we can. We've done it before...."

I didn't know that."

"...No reason not to do it again."

"Very well," said Brother D. "So now you need only to tell me who of the many Throne-seeking Demagogs you are absolutely certain you can beat at the Carnival."

"That should be easy enough," said Brother N. Whereupon he struck a thoughtful pose; sucking on an arm of his eyeglasses after stirring his coffee with it.

Then he mumbled through a lengthy list of Demagogs: "Hubie -- mmble -- Teddy -- mmble -- Morris -- mmble -- Frank -- mmble -- Henry -- mmble, mmble, mmble...." But as he mumbled a worrisome frown came upon N Rockyfinger's face. Looking again at his Brother D he said:

"The problem is we must be absolutely certain."

"We certainly must," said Brother D.

That pernicious problem prompted a prolonged period of ponderous pondering by the Brother's Rockyfinger; during which the both of them did much unamused musing. Then as Brother N was stirring another cup of coffee with the arm of his eyeglasses, Brother D did muse a mite aloud:

"We've gotta be sure we can knock him down after we've set him up --."

That's it! That's IT!" cried Brother n as he jumped to his feet, spilled his coffee and dropped his eyeglasses. "You've hit it, Brother D! That's the answer!"

"What's it? What's the answer? What'd I say?"

"Set him up so we can knock him down! That's what you said! A Strawman -- that's what we need for the Demagog candidate. Set up a Strawman so we can knock him down! Build a Strawman! This calls for a Conference of Wizards!"

"A Strawman -- of course," said Brother D. "Right on, brother, right on! A Strawman is exactly what we need! But that calls for a lot of Wizardry and..."

"Summon them all, then!" Brother n interrupted. "Buy some more if we have to!"

"...and therefor a lot of money," Brother D concluded.

"That's your department. I'm the Politician --remember? You're the Financier. Surely you can scrape up enough money to build a Strawman."

"I don't know about scraping it up," said Brother D, "but I can probably CHASE it down."

Whereupon the Brothers Rockyfinger did together heartily laugh. The somber mood of moments before was gone and as quickly forgotten. They set to the task of assembling a Conference of Wizards.

"Remember --." said Brother N as he pushed buttons and pulled strings, "We are not doing this for ourselves, but for the People of Ooze! So spare no expense! -- Whenever it is someone else's money."

Gotcha!" quoth Brother D.

Scroll Three