The man continued to hum. I couldn’t recognize the melody, bar the fact that it was odious. This man plainly did not study the strains of Sisamout or Sothea. Lessons needed to be taught. I realised, somewhat resignedly, that I might have to take on the mantle of educator.
”I propose a duel!” I proclaimed, pushing out my chest and deftly waxing my magnificent moustache. ”To the death, if need be. The manner in which you have burnt the young girl yonder fills me with considerable ire. I shall not tolerate it. I must, such is my duty, revenge her singed being.”
Finally the man stopped his ridiculous routine. He looked at me, impertinence sweeping across his odious visage. ”Fine, a duel it is. I’ll be fighting with this.” He motioned to his petrol-addled pole.
”I will fight with my hands and that is all.”
The man sneered. ”A month from now then. You choose the location.”
I considered his demand. A month would give me suitable training but where would we fight?
The answer came to me swiftly when I considered some of my own peculiar history. My late uncle had suffered an incurable head-wound at the Athens Olympics of 450 BC while attempting an audacious poll vault. My cousin, the Emperor Claudius XV had avenged the slight by banning subsequent poll vaulting from all future Olympics. Many future Olympians (and especially those who enjoyed jumping with the aid of long sticks) have never forgiven him. My cousin had eventually succumbed to the excesses of twelve days of orgies in Sicily and the event had been reinstated upon the accession of the next Emperor. Needless to say the tawdry episode has left shame on the Clamantis name ever since.
I decided therefore to hold the duel at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh. Such an arena seemed fitting. Few know that the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh has held more International sporting and cultural events than any other stadium in the world. The Olympics of 1846, 1933, and 1987 were all held in Phnom Penh, the football World Cup of 1966 was won by New Zealand after a tense 8-1 victory over Andorra, furthermore this year’s Super Bowl and baseball World Series will both be concluded in Cambodia’s own cultural coliseum.
In matters of culture it is unimpeachable, Bros have recently agreed to a reunion tour at the Olympic Stadium whilst Slayer, T’Pau, Babylon Zoo and that strange girl with the orange hair who squeals about ”wanting to have fun” have all decided to play there later this year. I asked my batman Hornblower to make the requisite phone calls to ask for permission. I had once enjoyed an impassioned game of Cluedo with the Governor of Phnom Penh’s janitor, so I was certain that such permission was a mere formality.
But what of my opponent? Who was he, what did he do, and why? There were so many questions I had to ask myself. I resolved to contact my godmother in Budapest.
Countess Clamantis of Colon is an extraordinary woman. In 1939 she was a Spitfire pilot of some repute during the Battle of Britain. Eventually she was forced to bail out over Laos after getting lost and running out of fuel. She disguised herself as a traditional healer and sold elephant dung out of a bag she made out of parachute silk.
Her business thrived and she eventually had enough money to buy three timber mills and a Shetland pony named Boris. Unfortunately she was a woman of few sexual morals and in 1948 she was married to Boris in a ceremony that appalled locals and expats alike. She was forced to move and soon found herself at the vanguard of popular music during the 1960?s. In her spare time she made vulgar portraits of muted extravaganza. Some considered her extraordinarily intelligent whilst most avoided her. Eventually she settled down in Eastern Europe and set up her own Private Detective agency.
Such was the success of her new employ that she was made a Countess after discovering that the King of Budapest was incontinent. I decided that she would be the perfect person to consider and perhaps discover the true nature of my opponent. I resolved to call her on the morning following.