Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Warranties

Quincy threw the last bag of groceries into his car. A strong wind blew across the parking lot so he returned the cart to a corral. As Quincy approached his car, he saw a young man leaning against it. He wore a black and yellow hat. A cigarette hung from his mouth and he was fumbling with a woman's compact mirror. The young man stood upright when Quincy was close, and Quincy noticed that the young man was missing his right foot and leaned on a wooden cane carved into a snake.

"Can I trouble you for a second?"

"Okay," Quincy said, eyeing the young man.

"My name's pretty long and hard to pronounce, my friends call me Cat. My car broke down a little ways up the road and my cell phone is broke and I left my wallet at home and I just cleaned the change out of my car so could I have some money to make a phone call please?" Cat smiled a predatory smile.

"Uh, yeah, I guess so," Quincy said. "But wouldn't you prefer a ride back to your car?"

Cat considered it for exactly the wrong amount of time, then agreed. "Yes, that'd be great. I broke down just outside of town."

"There's six or seven stores between there and here."

"Nobody would help a poor, crippled young man like me."

"Sounds reasonable. Get in, I'll drive you back and let you borrow my cell phone. My name's Quincy, by the way."

"Nice to meet you, Quincy," said Cat.

Quincy climbed in the driver's seat, Cat got into the passengers seat. Cat guided Quincy out of town and onto one of the abandoned country roads, where a crappy old car sat with two wheels in a ditch, two on the road.

"Here it is," Cat said. "Can I see your cell phone?"

"Sure," said Quincy, passing it to Cat, who promptly threw it out of the window into the muddy ditch.

"What'd you do that for?!" Quincy yelled. "That was a birthday present!"

Cat shook his head. "You gullible schmuck." He reached into his jacket and pulled out a long, cruel shard of obsidian, and held it to Quincy's neck. Cat noticed something strange about Quincy, but he was too pumped on adrenaline to figure out what it was.

"Now you're going to start the car back up and keep driving along this road, nice and easy. If you make any false moves I'll slit your throat."

"Okay," Quincy said, as nonchalant as if he'd been told to pull up at the drivethrough window. He put the car in gear and they drove. The day turned to night and the stars were out.

"Where are you headed?"

"To Chicago."

"Family?"

Cat frowned at Quincy. "No, I've got some business associates who owe me some sacrifices."

"Oh," Quincy said.

It was the hour before dawn when Cat figured out what was wrong with Quincy. He had no pulse in his neck. He'd spent enough time with obsidian shards pressed against the necks of his victims that the vital force throbbing against his knuckles was background noise.

Then he saw Venus in the sky, twinkling in the rhythm of a heartbeat.

"Bugger," the man known as Cat and the god known as Tezcatlipoca said. "Quetzalcoatl, you sneaky bastard."

Quincy grinned, angling the car into the pylon of a tunnel as his body relaxed into its natural shape, that of a feathered serpent, and he rose from the sunroof.

The fireball of Quincy's exploding car hitting the pylon was, for a brief instant, brighter than Venus. He resumed his human shape and began walking towards home, wondering if the extended warranty plan on his cell phone covered Tezcatlipoca being a prick.

The Moral: Always check the terms of a warranty to see if it covers god-based malfunctions.

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