Take ALL the shinies!
Selgaunt Shuffle Scam
The Selgaunt Shuffle
Requires: Con men (5, gender irrelevant), Prosthetic Mustaches (5), Greased Buffalo (Read on)
Reward: Several full expensive meals, Cash money
The first accomplice enters an expensive restaurant wearing a heavily frayed prosthetic mustache, eats, and then claims that he must have accidentally dropped his wallet and will have to leave and find it in order to properly recompense the restaurant for his meal. The con man offers up his worn prosthetic mustache as collateral, claiming it to be a priceless heirloom bequeathed unto him by his father with which he could not bear to part under normal circumstances but finds these to be abnormal circumstances and, as such, will part with it, albeit temporarily.
The maître d’ (the mark) naturally refuses to entertain his claim, stating that the shabbiness of the prosthetic mustache betrays the lack of proper care and maintenance that would be due a proper family heirloom even if prosthetic mustaches were commonly handed down in such a manner. The con man, in apparent despair at the mistreatment of his family’s honor, is escorted to the back of the restaurant in tears to work off his debt.
Soon, the next accomplice, bedecked in a similar but exceedingly well maintained prosthetic mustache and fancily attired, enters the restaurant. The maître d’ sees him and remarks upon the fine quality of his mustache, which the gentleman then proceeds to remove and display in better lighting. The prosthetic mustache, he explains, is a marker of descent from a line of foreign royalty, the authenticity of which can be verified by examining the seal hidden ‘twixt the center fold of the mustache. Further, the second con man is actually in search of his numerous siblings who could prove their lineage via ownership of such a mustache and who would share in the wealth and majesty of the throne once found.
The second con man, upon finishing his meal, remarks that he must have accidentally dropped his wallet and will have to leave and find it in order to settle his debt with the restaurant, and offers his prosthetic mustache as collateral. The maître d’ gladly accepts the face-piece, and retreats to the back of the restaurant, where he finds the first con man sadly working off his debt. Claiming a change of heart, the maître d’ asks if he might take a look at the man’s prosthetic mustache. He surreptitiously searches for the hidden seal, and upon finding it, remarks that he will in fact accept this as collateral, and the poor man should go on his way, and in fact he doesn’t even need to try and return tonight but perhaps tomorrow night or the night after, whichever would suit him, to pay back the restaurant for his meal. The first con man graciously accepts, and then leaves the restaurant with the maître d’ proudly in possession of two prosthetic mustaches and zero expensive meals paid for between the two of them.
Some minutes (not too few, but not too many) afterwards a third con man wearing a prosthetic mustache enters the restaurant. He finds the maître d’ and tells him that two rapscallions have, as of late, been moving from restaurant to restaurant trying to pass off his prosthetic mustaches as markers of royalty in order to scam free meals. The maître d’, horrified, reveals the two prosthetic mustaches he recently acquired to the man, who sighs wearily and notes the moral degeneration that has taken hold of today’s society. He invites the maître d’ to sit down with him and share a meal. The third con man offers to pay for both.
Upon finishing their meal, the third con man remarks that he’s dreadfully sorry, but he appears to have lost his wallet. The maître d’ preemptively exclaims that he will not accept a prosthetic mustache as collateral. The third con man assures him he had no such intention. Instead, the third con man proposes that the maître d’ help him with the capture of the first two con men.
The third con man’s brother, you must understand, is the true connoisseur of prosthetic mustaches, having the craftsman’s skill, artist’s eye, the nobleman’s idle wealth, and rancher’s ownership of buffalo necessary to produce the mustaches, but his business will surely suffer if the first two con men are allowed to continue with their heinous schemes and therefore will reward the maître d’ handsomely if he assists in their capture and furthermore will certainly pay the bill owed to the restaurant. However, would the maître d’ mind bringing a meal for his brother, who will certainly be famished after a hard day’s work?
The maître d’ and the third con man go to meet the fourth con man, who they find on the docks wearing a prosthetic mustache. The fourth con man greets them and explains he’s in the middle of receiving a buffalo shipment, and would they like to take a look?
The three of them – the maître d’, the third con man, and the fourth con man – step aboard a transport ship where the fourth con man explains that there, past that large curtain, a buffalo glistens in the sunlight from a thick layer of grease. This, explains the fourth con man, is the source of the prosthetic mustaches. A certain selection of hairs from the greased buffalo are removed and then woven together to make the highest quality of prosthetic mustache. The process is exacting and delicate, but in the end you are left with a prosthetic mustache the likes of which any man or king would be happy to lay upon their upper lip.
They exit the transport ship. The fourth con man sits down to eat the meal the maître d’ has brought him, and upon finishing it realizes with genuine horror that he can’t find his wallet. He begins to ask but the maître d’ cuts him off, explaining that he has already been made comfortable with the terms of the arrangement and that they can dispense with further negotiations of collateral.
Now this, the fourth con man explains, is where things get complicated. He does not have the clout, you see, that would allow him to properly pursue the scoundrels that are misusing his prosthetic mustaches. Instead, these ruffians must be tricked out of their money and thus put an end to their games. The fourth con man will therefore place advertisements around the town, offering a high reward for anyone who can return to him two prosthetic mustaches with the correct seal inscribed upon their center folds, claiming them to be of immense value beyond what would be suggested by their material circumstance.
Thus fooled, the ruffians would then barter with the maître d’ for the prosthetic mustaches, thinking them to be of especially high value. However, and here is the trick, says the fourth con man, we cannot just hand over these prosthetic mustaches or they will merely continue with their criminal behavior elsewhere. What we must do is construct a pair of very realistic fake prosthetic mustaches that will be used for the exchange, which will at first sight be acceptable but upon deeper inspection will reveal themselves to be forgeries. The greased buffalo I have already acquired shall be sufficient to construct these imposters, the fourth con man explains.
Their plan set, the maître d’ and the latter two con men lay a trap for the first two con men. The first two con men reveal themselves, but do not attempt to barter for the mustaches. Instead, they emit righteous indignation: the first con man for the attempted purchase of his family heirloom and the second for the mistreatment of the crest of his royal heritage. Thusly spoken, the first two con men realize their relation as members of a royal family. They are elated. The maître d’ is confused. The maître d’ describes the scenario of the other two mustachioed men, at which moment the second con man realizes with a gasp that they must, in fact, be the remaining siblings he was searching for!
The maître d’ and the first two con men then meet up with the second two con men, who appear agitated. The maître d’ explains the situation, how the con men are all siblings of the same royal family, as proven by their ownership of the mustache crest. A heartwarming family reunion ensues. The con men, as a family, suggest to the maître d’ that he, as the one that reunited them, join them and share in the wealth and power. The maître d’ accepts.
At that moment the fifth prosthetic mustachioed con man approaches the group in a foul temper. He tells the group that the ship on which their prized greased buffalo is afloat has been impounded by the authorities and will not be released unless they pay a rather exorbitant fine. The fourth con man turns to the maitre d’ and says surely you must understand, normally this would be naught but a mere nuisance given my vast sums of wealth but given as I am in foreign lands and in the middle of business dealings I find myself temporarily rather illiquid and I cannot summon forth such a great deal of money. Perhaps you could take some of the money from your restaurant’s assuredly extensive coffers to cover this payment? If you can do this, we’ll be able to transfer over to you a great deal more money, which would more than make up for this relatively minor fee, as we’ll once again have possession of our greased buffalo which can be brokered at near any financial institution as a marker of our good heritage and credit, as well as for the purposes of producing prosthetic mustaches which is no small money maker, I assure you.
The maître d’ then rushes back to the restaurant, taking the money required to cover the buffalo ship’s forfeiture, and returns to the group of con men. The buffalo, thus released from its impoundment, is available for the production of fake prosthetic mustaches. The con men then transfer ownership of the contents of the buffalo ship to the maître d’, saying they trust him explicitly as a member of their family to guarantee the safe passage of the greased buffalo, which they remind him can be used as a claim on any amount of their good royal credit. However they, the group of con men, must depart with all due haste and make for the Eastern passage, for they’ve heard troubling rumors coming out of their homeland and must discover what truth may lie behind such rumors.
Bon voyage, dear maître d’ and brother/sister, they say, riding off into the sunset.
The maître d’ is thus left with a claim ticket for a buffalo ship, two prosthetic mustaches with seals (which, he realizes, the con men never tried to reclaim), and several fake prosthetic mustaches which do not hold up to scrutiny. The fancy expensive restaurant is short the bill for five meals, as well as a large sum of money that has mysteriously vanished from its stock.
And that’s the Selgaunt Shuffle.