Daisy Bateman

A Hundred Acres of Shadows

(Inspired by a true story. Loosely. With thanks to @bmahersciwriter and Captain Morgan.)

The bear lowered his rotund form into the chair and contemplated his guests.
“Well, gentlemen, I think you know why I’ve brought you here.”
As they protested their ignorance, he slid a stoneware jar across the table and pointed to the label.
“Do you know what that says?”
The rabbit was the first to assay an answer.
“Um, well, it’s supposed to be ‘honey’ but it’s not spelled–“
“That’s right, honey. And do you know what is actually in that jar? Or, rather, what isn’t?” He held up a paw before they could respond. “Never mind, I’m sure you do. I’m sure you are aware that when the boys in my lab ran some basic tests on this alleged top-quality domestic honey you were so good to provide for me, they found that all of the pollen had mysteriously vanished from it.”
“There must be some mistake,” the owl protested weakly.
“Oh, a mistake?” The bear turned to the small pig who had been sitting in silence to his right
“Mr. Let, these gentlemen think that your boys made a mistake. Do you think that is possible?”.
The pig shook his head slowly. “Never. Not a chance.”
“Well, there you have it,” said the bear. “I have to say, gentlemen, I am very disappointed in you. I have been running this operation under the name of Saunders,” he indicated the sign over his head. “For many years now, and never before has this good name been sullied in any way. And now you have put me in the very uncomfortable position of having sold counterfeit Chinese honey to my valued customers.”
“I assure you,” said the owl. “We would never have–“
“Do you know what the Chinese do to their honey?” the bear went on, unheeding. “They water it down. Replace it with beet sugar, high fructose corn syrup. They let it get contaminated with antibiotics.”
“Over in that room,” he said, pointing to an interior door. “There is a baby kangaroo in the throes of a serious allergic reaction. He’ll live, thanks to my doctors, but his mother is understandably concerned. Have you ever been kicked by an angry female kangaroo, gentlemen? No? Well, I wouldn’t recommend it.”
The pair on the other side of the desk looked at each other, then around the room for possible means of escape. But there was only one exit to the outside, and the bouncer was blocking it, poised to spring.
“We had no idea,” the rabbit pleaded. “We were operating on good faith, I swear.”
“Of course you were,” the bear soothed. “Why wouldn’t you be? Why would anyone take a cheap product and sell it at an incredible markup by claiming it was something else?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “Of course I believe you. My friend here,” he pointed to the donkey at his left. “He always sees the worst in everything, but I believe in fair play.”
The bear stood up.
“My friends here are going to take you down to the footbridge over the creek. It would be a good idea for you to go with them quietly. When you get to the bridge, you are both going to jump off on the upstream side. One of you will come out the other side first. And the other one. . . won’t.”

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