Kindness And Cruelty, The Musings Of Danny Rupert: A Tale Of Two Pizzas
Rachel knew that Danny Rupert had other spies in the Oil Baron's realm, but the one she had been told to contact was female and would be wearing a yellow hat.
"How did he recognize me? And what's with the pizza crust?" she wondered. Of course she was going to the meeting. And as always she would be ready for anything. The only question was what would await her.
"This abandoned shop will be a perfect place to wait for midnight and get ready."
It was dark and dusty, but in decent condition. It looked as if the owner had locked up for the weekend, and forgot to return.
"Ah, a treasure!" she exclaimed, smiling. Several packages of small popper style fireworks were in the toy aisle.
"Well I'm here! I hope he shows..." Rachel thought, crossing her arms and scowling at the stars which were visible through the many holes in the roof.
"Blue wolves are flying, and chickens are howling." said a voice from within the shadows.
Rachel smiled and relaxed. He had the correct code. "The shadow can talk. Digging in the dirt is fun."
"I've got a message from Tanya. She said she's sorry she can't come in person, but she is now in the mansion. Mrs. Preda moved her in after she successfully completed a tryout for a new assistant for her main assistant, Chelsea."
"Excellent. We will be needing her in that exact spot in the future. Please tell Tanya that she is doing a great job. What is your name by the way? It seems you already know a lot about me."
"Henry, ma'am. I almost missed you today, despite her excellent description. You are as good as the stories say."
"What was the pizza crust about?" she said, dismissing the compliment.
"That's a sample of what the Predas are producing, Tanya grabbed it out of a trash basket. They also want to take advantage of the pizza craze. As you can see, it's inferior to ours. The crust is as hard as cement!" he said chuckling.
"Do you have anything else to report?"
"Yes, Mr. Preda is training a few of his best men in the art of archery. We haven't discovered why yet, but it's a top priority. He has also sent for a champion fencer from the West. Mrs. Preda is instructing a few of the youngest of her most loyal house staff in gymnastics and ballet."
Meanwhile Danny Rupert was gazing out at his vast domain. His favorite place in the keep was an observatory tower that his predecessor had designed. It was made of industrial strength glass, the best made before the Fall.
The lush crops and pastures with animals grazing never failed to relax him. And the bright, clean city and neat little farms filled his heart with pride. He genuinely cared about his people and the land.
While utterly ruthless in obtaining whatever he deemed necessary for his people to thrive, he had a good heart. At least when it came to those he considered his responsibility.
"Hello Sir, message from Mr. Teru." said a nervous young messenger, fresh from the road and covered in dirt and dust.
"Thank you, young man. Call me Danny. Now let's see what the Port Baron has to say. I don't believe I caught your name?"
"Billy, Sir - uh, Danny. It's an honor to meet you!"
"The honor is mine, Billy. Rest and get cleaned up. Eat, my staff will make anything you want. May I suggest the Pizza?" he said with a wink.
"Thanks so much, Danny. I have been dreaming of trying Pizza. Nobody in my family except for Grandpa has ever tasted it."
"Enjoy your stay! When you leave, I will have a note for the Port Baron, and a fresh Pizza for your family. While you are here, enjoy all you can eat. Take leftovers home for yourself too."
"Thank you, Sir!"
"It's Danny." he said kindly.
"I will never forget you, Danny. Thanks again."
After the door closed, the powerful Baron reflected on his ways. There were many horror stories about what happened to those who dared cross him. And more than a few from outsmarted rivals. And even more which would never see the light of day. All of them were true, and if anything under exaggerated.
"I'm not as nice as you think I am, kid..." he said, a little sadly.
But he had to admit, as much evil as he had done, it was always for a reason. Never just for cruelty's sake or his own gain. When presented with a choice, Danny always chose to help instead of harm.
For example, when walking in a strange town in the Fruit Baron's realm, disguised as a farmer, he came upon a child desperately trying to climb a tree. She repeatedly skinned her knees as she slid down the trunk. She was trying to get to a very frightened kitten about ten feet up in a tree.
He could have walked away. She never would have seen him. Instead he took a quick look around, and saw a ladder sitting beside one of the well maintained homes. Someone had forgotten to put it away after cleaning the rain gutters. Without so much as knocking on the door, he took the ladder and rescued the kitten. He put it back, and to his knowledge nobody would ever hear of the incident except for the kitten and the grateful child.
"Yes, did you forget something, Billy?"
"It's Otto, Sir."
I heard you received a message, who was it from?"
"It was from the Port Baron. I was just getting ready to open it."
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Cover image is from Canva, using their gallery