Chapter 2

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Chëpter Doosen (Chapter 2), Toosday, Janooargen Furr (Tuesday, January 4)

AT THE offices of Milton-Bradley Security, Birch Frodo walked into a meeting room and shook hands with Dragon Tattoonsky, owner of the company. "Thank you for this invitation, Dragon."

Dragon shook his head. "Don't thank me. You hired us to investigate Marty Stu Bonkvist, and we did it. But I find it unusual that you want to meet the author of the report."

"Well, I work for a very powerful and mysterious person who does things in a very powerful and mysterious way."

"So you don't know why you want to meet her, either?"

"No idea."

"Thought so." Dragon sat down at the long meeting table and held out his hand. "Can I offer you a sandwich?"

Birch held up his hands. "No, thanks. I had a sandwich right before I came here. It was a grilled cheese sandwich with roasted corn and onions. And I had a sandwich for breakfast with butter, egg whites, and turkey bacon."

"Very well. Say hello to our finest researcher, Elzbeth Salamander."

A woman dressed all in black leaped out from under the table and yelled, "Boo!"

Birch screamed and jumped back.

Elzbeth Salamander wore black leather pants, a black shirt, had black hair, and black fingernails. Everything about her was black, except her skin, because she was Swedish. She had small breasts, which made her look like a fourteen year old boy, because all women have huge breasts and any who don't are deformed. She also had tattoos in different places, including a dragon tattoo on her back.

Birch frowned at Elzbeth. "Why are you showing me your back?"

Elzbeth pulled her shirt back down. "So everyone knows I'm a girl with a dragon tattoo. After all, that's the title of the story."

Dragon raised his finger. "Actually the original title was 'Men Who Hate Women.'"

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, and I'm surprised it was so popular with a crappy title like that. Sounds like a non-fiction book. 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is a way better title."

They all nodded.

Elzbeth wiggled her fingers in front of her face. "Ooo, I'm so scary because I have tattoos and dress all in black."

Birch frowned deeper. "You know, goth fashion is pretty common. So are tattoos."

"Yeah, but not to old journalists who write mystery novels. To them, young women in tattoos and black clothes are freaky and horrifying." Elzbeth slumped into a chair and slammed a foot-thick bundle of papers onto the table. "Here's your report. I don't want to talk anymore."

Dragon took over. "We've collected all the information we could find on Marty Stu Bonkvist. It's pretty boring, to be honest, so we won't make you read all of it. Elzbeth will summarize it."

Elzbeth looked up from where she carved a pentagram into her arm with a knife. "What? Aw, man, I don't wanna talk. This is so frustrating. I usually just come in, get my assignment, and leave for six weeks to come back and give my report. Now I have to do all this opening and closing my mouth. Fine."

She grabbed the papers. "Marty Stu Bonkvist was born when a frustrated journalist decided to write a crappy mystery novel in his spare time. The journalist didn't bother to create a real hero, but just imagined himself living a more interesting life with a married lover, a magazine people actually cared about reading, an exciting mystery, and lots of women throwing themselves at him. Bonkvist went to the military, but we're not going to talk about that much. He has a wife and a daughter who only show up when clues need to be introduced or he needs to seem more human. Otherwise, he's a perfect human being. And he's Swedish. The end."

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