The room is not as I expected, but when does something ever agree with my expectations? To use a rather rare simile, the room is like a richly dressed poodle...with a tiara.
The tables all have claws on their feet with smooth curvy legs and polished tops holding frilly cloths. The lampshades are growing with orange hair, and the curtains are heavy, appearing to be made out of the fur off the backs of teddy bears.
But my observation has not been so taken by the room to not notice those within it. Dick has the Second Man four to one. Each son has a hand on the Second Man's throat as if they're making a team pact, and the Second Man is flat against the wall.
The Second Man, in a few inexplicable ways, matches his house completely. Just as unexpected. Actually, I don't think I could possibly expect such a man. His face is clean shaven and pale, except for the curly mustachio that stands out like a dragonfly emerging from a white iced cake. His eyes look as hard as marbles and his hair is bowl shaped over his large head, shining with a greasy crease. He is wearing checkered blue pants and a red muscle shirt.
I stagger in sudden fear, but only because of the man's outfit.
Dick turns to see me. "Good timing," he sneers. "Give me the skull or the Second Man gets it."
"Gets what?" I ask.
Dick blinks. "I will ask my sons to strangle the life from him."
"Ok," I say. "So what's in it for you?"
Dick frowns. "I am using him to get the skull."
"How?" I ask.
"I already told you," he says in an irritated manner. "I will kill him."
"How will him being dead get you the skull?"
Dick takes a few steps toward me. "I will refrain from killing him if you give me the skull," he explains.
"You know the thing about refraining?" I ask. "It could take forever. You're refraining right now, and you probably will be in five minutes."
"No," Dick spits. "I will put a time limit on it. If you don't give me the skull in the next minute, I will kill him."
"But if not killing him is supposed to get you the skull, then why would you kill him?"
Dick's eyes positively cross.
"How about you refrain from killing him for maybe a year or two..." I offer, "you know, so he gets a chance to say goodbye to all his friends and family, maybe he can tour the world or something...then I'll give you the skull."
"This is not negotiable," Dick says.
I glance over at the scene against the wall. The son's arms are getting tired and they're rubbing the sweat from their brows with their shoulders. The Second Man has nearly fallen asleep.
"But I'm the one with the skull. You don't have anything. It's up to me to give it to you. But, since refraining to kill him takes forever, I was offering a year or two. I mean, give the guy a break. A year is not very long to live the rest of his life. I should think it was a rather good deal."
"I will kill him right now if you don't hand over the skull!"
"Well I don't have the skull right now. So you hold still, and I'll go fetch it. I might be a day or two though. I have to find the right trash can."
I leave the room as quickly as I'd entered and close the door behind me.
"Well," I whisper, "I think that went rather well."