Outside of Bulbo’s condo behind the beauty salon, he and Pantsoff sat smoking their pipes. It was a filthy habit Bulbo had picked up on their project with Borin Oakmanfield and the dwarves, and he had trouble quitting it, somehow. He blew an expert smoke ring that rose away over the garden that Ham and his son Sham Sammich tended for minimum wage. Pantsoff blew a series of rings that linked together to spell out Pantsoff The Wizard, your one-stop project management solution! As the cloud drifted, it flashed different colors.
“I think I need a holiday,” said Bulbo.
“A holiday from what?” said Pantsoff. “You haven’t done a day’s work since the Oakmanfield Project!”
“A vacation, then. You know, my plan, my secret plan. At the party, with my little joke.”
“The one about the elf and his proctologist?”
“No,” said Bulbo. “The one where I disappear from my own party and leave the bar bill for the Snackbag-Bunkinses.”
“Ah,” said Pantsoff. “Not much of a joke, really. More of a prank. Who will laugh, I wonder?”
The next day more carts rolled up to the beauty salon. There might have been some grumbling along the lines of “Shop locally!” or “Support small businesses!” but that very week orders started pouring out to community merchants, requiring Bulbo to pay the Wobbiton sales tax. Deliveries were made of bulk-package hors d’oeuvres, boxes of wine, countless rolls of crepe paper decorations and every cheap party commodity you can imagine.
Before long, invitations began pouring out. The service at the Wobbiton post-office became even slower than ever, and the one in Buythewater township simply closed until vagrants could be rounded up to help. Bulbo blamed these “guest workers” for the low volume of RSVPs. In fact, his pre-stamped response cards reading Thank you, I shall certainly come, with one guest were mostly sitting on kitchen counters and dining room tables from Bug End to Bugger Heights. Bulbo was never to get an accurate headcount.
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