The Rumble Rally
Episode 3: Hog-tied Hellions in Hot Rod Hell

We rejoin our story at 'la Boutique a la Bacquards'...

With all the combined skill of an experienced Harrod's sale shopper and a Russian gymnast, Lady Lavinia continues fishing for spare cash with her right hand whilst retrieving the pair of bright red shoes out of the window display with her left. All this before she even opens the "shop" door in full. As she slips her way through the door, her prize in hand, she is suddenly wrapped up in rope.

Lady Lavinia starts to shout protestations that she is not stealing the shoes - she fully intends to pay for them. Count Backwards ignores her cries and noisy fuss. Ever the gentleman, he assists her in freeing her right hand from her cash-concealing cleavage (though he does take his time about it). He then takes the shoes out of her left and puts them where they will do the most good, then cheerfully ties her hands together.

"Ah, the lovely Lady Lavinia "card-sharking" Leatherette. We meet again my dear, but this time I'm holding all the aces!"

Lady Lavinia's eyes widen at the recognition of her captor. The last time she saw him was in a private room of a casino in Potzdorf during a game of strip poker with a member of the Carpanian royal household and various hanger's on. She distinctly remembers the ridiculous tattoo Count Backwards had on his upper arm - the classic heart with a dagger through it and a banner across it that read "Dum & Mad." "Obviously The Count was at his backwards best that day," she thought at the time.

Count Backwards drags her back to his car and bundles her into the back seat. "Don't go away my sweet, you're to have company."

A few minutes later Miss Kitten Caboodle is the next to fall victim to his fiendish plot. She forces the door to the "shop" open but is distracted by her determination to find a bargain. Count Backwards is waiting just inside the door; he trips her up and relieves her of her wallet.

"We accept all major credit cards here Madam," he says doing his best 'Arkwright' shop keeper accent.

Shaken but not stirred, the quick-thinking Miss Kitten grabs a handful of dirt and flings it at Count Backwards' face, temporarily blinding him. Miss Kitten never goes down without a fight (or dinner and a movie for that matter). He struggles to find his length of rope as she rolls over and onto her feet, ready to take on her attacker.

"I wouldn't so much as buy penny candy off of you let alone illegal arms and explosives," Miss Kitten says in a mocking tone. She catches him with a right hook to the kisser and a knee in the fruit bowl, then stamps on his foot. Miss Kitten developed this little three-point move while working undercover stealing a secret cure for chronic indigestion for the Hooded Claw in Bombay ("Burp-B-Gone" is produced under license by ACME Pharmaceuticals, a division of HC Industries). Count Backwards, somewhat in pain, manages to grasp Miss Kitten's arm; swings her about, into a dip, flips her over, and drops her to the ground with a back-step flourish. (He learned this neat little move while trying to dodge nurses in the Asylum, at the weekly Inmate's Tea Dance and Ice Cream Social.) Agilely he ties Miss Kittens hands and pulls her to her feet saying, "What's new pussy cat? I'll tell you what's new, you've got something that belongs to me."

"That's old news you reversible rummy," Miss Kitten retorts.

"Well here's a news flash Miss Moulting Moggy, you're about to give it back!" And with that Count Backwards hoists Miss Kitten up over his shoulder and drops her down on the back seat of his car next to a stunned Lady Lavinia.

Not long afterward, a further customer visits the "shop." Ms. Pitstop carefully enters the door and finds herself behind the fake shop front, not a jewel in sight. Before her is a barren field that could have clearly been seen from the crossroads; in the field is a big old jalopy with two squirming, protesting girls tied up in the back seat. She blinks and blinks again, still not sure what she is or isn't seeing. The spell cast by the window's drawn roller blind, painted up to look like a shop full of sparkly baubles, is broken. Then the ropes fall about her and tighten - she's been lassoed. Surprised by the new "customer" a delighted Backwards bounds up to Ms. Pitstop (with a slight limp from his hurting foot) laughing and shouting "Gotcha!" Ms. Pitstop is still in a state of bewildered disappointment from the lack of glittering jewelry. Then, as if on a breeze from the exotic Indies, she can sense a funny, spicy, clove-like smell. She hadn't smelled that in years; it was just like the Beelzebub Brand Genuine Madagascar Massacre Oil that her old accomplice Aubrey liked to paint his moustache on with.

Meanwhile, in the back seat of Backwards' car, Lady Lavinia and Miss Kitten are busy struggling and arguing with each other.  

"Ouch! Stop struggling! You're only making the rope tighter, and watch what you're doing, you'll chip my nail varnish," Miss Kitten said with irritation.

"Urrgh grrrmph hmmm," Lady Lavinia mumbles sternly while firmly gripping the red shoes by their ankle straps in her teeth like a rottweiler guarding her juicy prize bone.

"Spit out those shoes, you're beginning to drool," complains Miss Kitten. Lady Lavinia obliges and says,

"What is all this? That's not a real shop; are you responsible for this?!"

"Certainly not!I thought it was a real shop too. I'm on a mission... I mean, I have a race to attend!"

Miss Kitten really doesn't have time to waste, but now she's trying to think of a way to eliminate her appointed targets (one of which she was now tied to and one who was her captor). She methodically tries to assess the situation before her. How can she efficiently dispatch these nut cases and escape to complete her mission and claim her reward as promised by her boss H.C.?

"Aubrey, is that you?" Ms. Pitstop asks is a slight state of shock.

Backwards freezes; he's not heard that name in years. Pulling the ropes tighter and Ms. Pitstop in closer for inspection, he sneers, "How do you know that name?" He almost didn't recognise her without the straight jacket. "Pandora Pitstop! It's been a long time my old friend and colleague," he says with a scary you're-in-for-it-now look on his face. He means business as he pushes her towards the car and into the back seat with the others, tying her hands up with Miss Kitten and Lady Lavinia's. "Allrighty," Backwards says clapping his hands together with delight, "three is my lucky number. Wait till I tell the boys down at the National Association for Strangely Traumatize Youths Social Club about this!"

Backwards jumps into the driver's seat and tries the ignition; it's dead. "Damn, damn, and double damn!" He gets back out and gives it a kick and a crank and then another kick. Then he beats his fist on the bonnet in several places. The car startles itself to life with some effort. "I'd like to see someone try and nick it without that key!" Backwards gets back in and yells, "Sit down, shut up, and hang on!" The supercharged jalopy springs to life, churning up mud and grass in the field as it tries to find a purchase on the tarmac of the crossroads.

Was travel and a dark stranger really in the cards for Lady Lavinia? Did Miss Kitten plan in advance for a mayhem and mystery tour? And will Ms. Pitstop ride off into the sunset or live happily ever in the hereafter? Stay tuned, dear reader, for the next episode!

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