The Count awoke in the wee hours of the morning, still dark outside, the evening before’s many many cocktails having finally caught up with him. He climbed from the warmth of his cheap cot and slipped his fur coat over his union suit then fumbled into his boots as he stumbled toward the back door of his meager dwelling on Charity Street in the Canals District. He opened the door with suspicion and peered out into the night. His breath caught the moonlight and the Count gasped, and pulled back inside, wondering what was different. Then it hit him, the cloud cover had lifted. Stars blanketed the sky, and rising over the replica of the Bastille Elephant was a huge full moon.
He took a few steps, then turned back to grab his helmet for a little extra warmth. He snatched it from the corner of his desk and tip-toed back outside. As he re-opened the back door the sky lit up bright green as a meteor burned across the sky, heading north toward the Fells. He watched the sight in awe until Clockwork Hearts Factory obscured it, but he thought he heard some sort of impact in the distance as he opened the backyard jake.
A minute later he was shivering as he made his way back toward the door inside. Something in the moonlight caught his eye and he skidded to a halt, frigid as he was. An envelope. An envelope sitting on his back doorstep. “Say, what’s this now?” he asked nobody in particular, the words puffing from his lips in the moonlight. “Count Bologna” was written across the front of the envelope in a methodic yet delicate hand. He hurried back inside and slammed the door. The sound echoed off the canals for miles in every direction.
The Count snatched a twig from a small jar full of them on his desk and poked it into the still glowing coals in his potbelly stove until it ignited. He lit a stubby candle and sat it on the shelf on the headboard of his cot, then a cigarette. No need for the holder, since nobody was around. He kicked off his boots and tossed the fur over the desk chair then slipped into the warmth of the blankets once again.
The cigarette dangled from his lips as he tore the envelope open and scanned over its contents before reading carefully. “Well, who knew the Mayor had such stunning handwriting?” he mumbled to himself.
The letter began:
Dear Cnt Bologna,
He sat up a little straighter in bed. “Dear, what?”
We regret to inform you that at this time all municipal positions are currently full, and in fact there is a considerable waiting list. Having said that, the death rate in this city being what it is the actual wait should not be considerable. Don’t write that down, that might still give the fool some sort of hope. Instead write, we were thoroughly impressed by your credentials and should a suitable opening become available, we will be in touch. We know where you live. That’s excellent. The first part should goose that needy little goblin, and then the next part with a little luck will give him a chill, and perhaps some pause. At any rate, it should get him out of my hair so to speak. No need to read it back to me, I know what a stickler for detail you are, Miss Gladstone.
Sign the letter, With Deepest Respect,
Mayor Clockwinder Tenk
That should satisfy the little SOB.
The Count blinked, then read the letter a second time. “I say, that letter was rather insulting. Disrespectful, even.” he mumbled around the cigarette. “Why, that clockwinder has some explaining to do!”