The Stainless Steel Rat for President is a novel by Harry Harrison, author of innumerable science fiction novels and stories. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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July 02, 2012
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Excerpt from The Stainless Steel Rat for President by Harry Harrison
The Stianless Steel Rat for President
"Can you think of a special toast?" I asked, watching closely as the waiter filled our glasses with the sparkling vintage wine.
"I certainly can," my dear Angelina said, raising her glass and looking across it straight into my eyes. "To my husband, Jim diGriz, who has just saved the universe. Again."
I was touched. Particularly by the again. Since I am by nature extremely modest, it is always a pleasure to have my personal feelings about my abilities supported by an unsolicited testimonial. Particularly from one as lovely, charming, intelligent, and dangerously ruthless as my Angelina. She had also been present during the entire affair with the Slimeys, had even been an active participant while I was stopping them from taking over our galaxy, so I treasured her opinion even more.
"You are too kind," I murmured. "But truth will out. However it is all over now and we will forget the grim parts, drink to the victories--and enjoy the best meal that this restaurant can provide."
We touched glasses and drank deep. Over my wife's shoulder I admired the orange Blodgett sun setting behind the purple skyline, the sunlight striking reflections from the canal outside. And out of the corners of my eyes I kept close watch on the two heavies seated by the door who had our table under subtle surveillance. I didn't know who they were--but I did know that they were packing large guns in their damp armpits.
I would not let them spoil the occasion! Angelina and I made light talk, drank the wine, gorged ourselves on the curried mastodon. The string quartet played, darkness fell, we lingered over coffee and liqueur--and Angelina took out a tiny mirror as she touched up her lipstick.
"You do know that there are two thugs by the entrance who have been watching us closely ever since we arrived."
I sighed and nodded and took out my cigar case. "Unhappily, my sweet, I do. I did not mention them for fear they would spoil the meal."
"Nonsense! It just added a little spice to the dinner."
"Most perfect wife," I enthused, smiling as I lit my cigar. "This planet radiates boredom. Anything with the slightest whiff of interest can only be an improvement."
"I'm glad you feel like that ..." She glanced into her mirror. "Because they are on their way over here now. Is there anything I can do to help? I only have this tiny evening bag, so I'm not really prepared. Just a few grenades, a sonic bomb or two, nothing important."
"Is that all?" I asked, eyebrows reaching for my hairline. My Angelina never ceases to amaze.
"No. This lipstick is a one-shot pistol, deadly at fifty meters ..."
"We won't need that," I said hurriedly. "Not for just two of them. You sit and watch. A little exercise to aid my digestion."
"Four. They've been joined by some friends."
"The odds are still in my favor."
I could hear them thudding up behind me now--and I relaxed. From the weight of their steps they could only be police. Criminals might have given me some trouble. But the local police! I could polish off a squad before breakfast--and still have an appetite for lunch. The footsteps stopped as the burliest one appeared before me. I tensed as he reached into a pocket--then relaxed as he produced nothing more deadly than an ornate golden badge studded with precious stones.
"I am Captain Kretin of the Blodgett police. While you, I believe, are the individual who operates under the alias of the Stainless Steel Rat ..."
Alias indeed! As though I were a common criminal. I ground my teeth with rage as I reached out and broke my cigar under his nose. His eyes widened--then closed, as the instant sleeping gas from the crunched vial in the cigar drifted into his hairy nostrils. I took his badge, after all he had offered it to me, and turned aside as he dropped, face first, into the sugar bowl.
I kept turning, my rigid index finger extended, to catch his corpulent colleague just behind the jawbone with this deadly digit. There is a nerve ganglion there which, if hit in theprecise center, will produce instant unconsciousness. I did not miss. He folded nicely across his fat friend.
I didn't stay around to watch. "Twenty-two," I called out to Angelina as I started for the kitchen door. Before I reached it two more policemen stepped through. And the main entrance was blocked by survivors of the original four.
"Trapped!" I shouted aloud, then touched the sonic screamer in my belt buckle. A number of the diners screamed in response as the vibrations produced feelings of terror. Nice. In the confusion I would escape through the fire exit hidden behind the drapes.
Except this door wasn't the only thing the drapes concealed. Two more policemen blocked my way. This was getting annoying. I leapt onto a long banquet table and neatly danced my way down its length, avoiding all the crockery with a fine precision that belies my years. More screams and shouts followed this exhibition until I reached the end--and spun about with my back to the window.
I was trapped. Every exit was blocked, and the minions of the law were advancing.
"It's not that easy!" I shouted. "Better cops than you have tried to capture Slippery Jim diGriz! All have failed. Better a clean death than sordid captivity!"
Behind the attacking hordes I could see my sweet Angelina blowing me a farewell kiss. I gave her a last wave as I tensed my legs and sprang backwards.