Although the newspapers talked about the amazing spiritualistic manifestation at P. P. Pittingball’s mansion, they said nothing about the theft of the diamond. That made Squattedman suspicious. He rushed to examine the jewel more closely, discovering that if it was thrown against the floor or the wall it bounced across the room like a rubber ball. He was unaware of the characteristics of diamonds, but he knew that bouncing was not one of them. Then he realized that he had screwed up. Already at the time of the robbery, the fact that the safe was a shoebox had struck him as odd.
What to do? The substantial donation to the Children’s Aids Society was at stake, so he could not afford to fail in this case. After all, he told himself, it was not right to yield to blackmail, nor to steal even if the victim was himself a thief. He had to recover the Four Hundred’s List in any other way than by yielding to the ambition of the blackmailers. If one of them was a pervert who was in love with the Pittingball diamond, he should resort to the usual procedure in such cases: a proposal. And if the lover’s request was rejected and then decided to run away with the diamond, that was none of his business. His task was to recover the damn list.
Where would a blackmailer hide a list with four hundred names? Unless the calligraphy of its author, Ward McAllister, was minuscule, four hundred names did not fit in a scrap of paper. Especially considering that it was dealing mostly with compound names, such as Percy Philip Pittingball. What a ridiculous name, by the way! Anyway, it harmonized with the character, that scam industry tycoon married to three women whose children were placed, shortly after birth, in a boarding military school in Philadelphia.
Squattedman detested scammers since, as a young man, a scoundrel sold to him for a hundred bugs a twig that was supposedly a magic wand. Then his repulsion was on the increase when, one year later, he was sold a machine that produced melons. Not to mention the ostrich chrome collection, and the Tibetan full crockery. And the invisible ink. And the invisible goldfinch. And the invisible bathtub. And…
But it wasn’t time for regrets. So he undressed, squatted and shot off out the window to land on a hill near the blackmailers’ cabin. From there he waited for them to move away. Then he entered the wooden cabin and searched it in quest of the damn list. Unfortunately, the cabin was full of lists. He found lists of dried fruits, lists of names of dogs, names of cats, names of cockroaches, lists of hat styles, lists of Broadway theaters, lists of chemical products to make frost … but no trace of the Four Hundred’s List!
Upon leaving the cabin he saw a shed that served as a toilet and, as he had an urgent need to remove organic waste from his body, entered. That was the most delicate situation he had to face daily, since the body posture in such cases was identical to the one he should adopt when he wanted to make use of his super powers. Fortunately, he had learned to carry out this inevitable work in a relaxed way that did not involve excessive effort like the one required to pop off at high speed. But on that occasion, his attention was extremely called by a roll of paper hanging from a nail next to the toilet. As he stared at it, his mind began to process the implications of that vision, and as a consequence he forgot the golden rule in such cases: he began to get stressed and became colored by the effort he unconsciously made while he watched closely that rolled paper next to the toilet whose function was more than obvious.
“Shit” he finally exclaimed. And, as through the effect of a magic word, he popped off upwards leaving the shed turned into a pile of rubble, and disappearing from the sight of any human eye.