Michael Schlimazl and Jacob Schlemihl wait in a luxurious lobby of a house on Fifth Avenue.
-What are we doing here, Michael?
-Coming to the aid of a client in distress.
A butler interrupts, inviting them to accompany him. They climb marble steps and cross through a labyrinth of luxurious rooms. Finally they arrive to a large office where a middle-aged man is pacing the floor with an expression of concern. The butler invites them in.
-Ah, gentlemen. You come from the agency ENIGMA CONSULTANTS, right? I’m glad you’re here. Lately my life has become a nightmare due to an inexplicable event that is terrorizing the entire avenue. We are all terrified, that’s the harsh reality. This is the reason why I love seeing you so much. With you here I feel more secure.
-Well (Jacob says), it’s funny because conversely we feel more insecure all of a sudden.
-Don’t mind him, he is a joker
-I realized immediately by his town fool’s hood. But unfortunately it’s not a joke what is happening lately to the inhabitants of this avenue. Tell me…What do you know about the devil?
-Oh, well … We-we know what is necessary to solve any enigma related to it.
-Do you know about the lettuce?
-The lettuce? Do you refer to that vegetable that is used in salads? Same answer: we know what is necessary to solve any enigma related to it.
-I mean the diabolical lettuce that is sowing panic in the mansions of Fifth Avenue.
-Oh, that lettuce! Yes, of course, we are aware
-The people of the upper class of New York are frightened, gentlemen. We are getting really frantic. Yesterday afternoon Miss Sarah Vanderbilt went for a walk in the park and she had to throw herself into the pond when the lettuce asked her in marriage.
-I gather that she rejected it
-Naturally! You must understand that the people of our social position can not marry anyone, still less a lettuce.
-Well, the lettuce got angry and pursued her throughout the park until the poor woman had no choice but to throw herself into the pond.
-Don’t tell me. What did the lettuce do then?
-It left. But this morning has been seen in this house. I myself have had it face to face as I now have you. It’s the most terrifying experience I’ve had in my life
-Did it also propose marriage to you?
-No. It tried to extort money from me. Of course, I refused. You must understand, I can not be extorted, I suffer from gout and extortion is contraindicated when you suffer from gout.
-When I refused to be extorted, she pounced on me and gave me a headbutt.
-So we face an aggressive lettuce…
-My hypothesis is that it is possessed by the devil
-What makes you think that?
-Its way of looking. It’s horrifying
-I see. Okay, we accept the case. But I warn you that our fees are not precisely a trifle when we are dealing with the upper class of the city.
-Oh, money will not be a problem. You get the lettuce to disappear from our lives. Meanwhile, consider yourself at home. As you can see, I have ordered doors and windows closed, so that the lettuce can not leave this house. Thus you will find it easier to catch it. I now retire. Gentlemen, I wish you good luck.
Throughout this conversation, Jacob has remained silent. But at the last moment he decides to ask a crucial question:
-Sorry. Is it a lettuce we have been talking about?
When they are left alone, Michael asks Jacob for an opinion.
-It’s not an opinion, Michael, it’s a fact: this guy is nut! Absolutely nut!
-I have the same opinion. But we don’t lose anything by taking a look around the house to see if we find a lettuce somewhere.
-I would start with the kitchen. If I were lettuce, it’s where I would hide.
Shortly after, both are in the kitchen interrogating the cook, who shows them the lettuces available.
“Do any of them seem suspicious to you?” Michael asks Jacob. Suddenly the cook gets upset:
-My lettuces are innocent!! My brother-in-law cultivates them personally!
-Where were them yesterday afternoon when Miss Vanderbilt was attacked at Central Park?
-In the orchard! My lettuces are fresh! My brother-in-law have brought them this morning.
-So none of them has an alibi… It could be a gang of lettuces
-My lettuces aren’t gangsters! They come from a select orchard on the Upper East Side! They don’t chase rich heiresses at Central Park!
-You seem very fond of your lettuces.
-Of course I am. Fresh raw materials for a chef are everything! A good lettuce is the basis for a good salad!
Suddenly resounds the shrill scream of a woman followed by cries for help. The two consultants run out of the kitchen and burst into the room from which the screams come. The homeowner also just came running: “What’s the matter, my dear?” “A lettuce has tried to rape me”. “Where has it fled?” Michael asks. The woman points to a side door and the two friends rush through it. After crossing several rooms, they flow back into the kitchen. Michael counts the lettuces and discovers that there is now one more. “Which one is it?” he asks the cook. “Don’t cover it up!”
-Starting from the left or from the right?
-That depends on the point of view
-You are covering it up! Do you know what the penalty is for concealing a lettuce?
The cook resigns himself and points it out. Jacob hurries to put it in a burlap sack. “What will happen to it?” the cook asks. “It will have a fair trial” Michael explains, and Jacob adds: “Or a fair exorcism. That depends”. The cook gives up hope: “Just a waste of a good lettuce. When it gets out of jail, it’ll be spoiled. No good salad will come out of it.”