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“What is that thing, anyway?” asks MacGuffin’s subway seatmate, as he careens miserably through the tunnel with the enormous crate wedged against him.

“The stuff nightmares are made of,” says MacGuffin. Ape, with Tangerine rocks itself over to better compress his toe.

“How much you want for it?”

MacGuffin lights up. “A dollar.”

“Would you take,” says his seatmate with cunning, “eighty cents?”

MacGuffin returns from lunch to find it back in his office, of course. Beagle’s mouth is mightily pursed.

“Why won’t you keep it?” he asks.

“It doesn’t work,” says his former seatmate, hand extended for his money back.


The crate is encrusted with angry stickers; the bits of original labelling that MacGuffin can read say “Ap it r in.” Its presence in his office is an engineered marvel, given that its bulk is a good two feet wider than the door in any direction. Its footprint is also larger than the available floorspace when his desk is in place, which is perhaps why someone has thoughtfully moved said desk onto the window-washer’s platform creaking back and forth outside.

“Beagle,” he says, “have I won or lost some sort of contest?”

His secretary, with utter absorption, files his nails.