“Bonko? Why, exactly, did you think this tour was a good idea?” asked Rollo. “Bad food, bad beds, bad money.”
“You agreed to come along,” replied Bonko. “I didn’t have to drag you.”
“Bonko, you know that we were promised a good run!” protested Mago. “The six best comedians in the world, together at last. We were promised full theatres with plenty of people paying us for private parties as well as the main show.”
“We got none of that. We spend more travelling to each town then we get from them. If this keeps up, I’ll go bankrupt before the end of the run,” added Rollo.
Bonko sighed. “I know. We were promised that this tour would be the best ever. It’s not my fault if Sam lied to me.” Bonko had found Sam to be hit and miss as an agent. When his tours worked as he promised, they went smoothly. Then there were the tours like this one. Every single day brought a new disaster. Sam had booked just enough great tours for Bonko to keep using his agency.
“The worst part is, we are stuck. We are right at the edge of civilisation,” exclaimed Biki. “There’s not even a way out of here for three more days.”
“Three expensive days, what with the price of a bed and the price of a meal here.” Dagi moaned. “Can this get any worse?”
There was a knock on the door. The theatre manager entered the room. “Just wanted to let you know, we are only going to pay for four of you. You can work out which four will perform tonight.”
“Harry! You have to be joking! The ads are out, ‘The Six Funniest Guys of All Time’. Won’t your audience notice?” said Bonko. “You were told that there are six of us. You have to pay us.”
Harry waved a piece of paper at them. “You didn’t read the contract, did you?” he smirked. “I have to right to change my mind at any time. The time is now. I don’t want to pay 6 of you so 2 of you can just bugger off.”
Bonko grabbed the paper from Harry. “Let me see that. Our agent swore…”
Ragi lumbered over to Harry. He was by far the largest and least talkative of the comic troupe. He grabbed Harry by the shoulder and growled as he stared down at the trembling manager.
“You’re great, Ragi. The crowd will lo-lo-love you,” stammered Harry. “I insist that you stay. Just two of these other bums must go.”
“All work,” grunted Ragi.
“I can’t afford all of you. You’ve no idea what it’s like out here. We won’t be able to sell half the seats. I can only pay for 4 of you, I swear.”
Regi growled again, changing his grip from a gentle grasp to a punishing squeeze. Harry was visibly trembling from fear but said nothing more. The moment that Regi loosened his grip, Harry fled out the door.
“Bonko, now what? We can’t afford to stay. We have no way to leave. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my family needs money. The kids need new shoes, the old ones are more cardboard than anything else,” Rollo plopped down on the closest chair. “What can we do?”
Bonko looked up from the contract. “He’s right. He has every right to change any part of the agreement at any time. Apparently, it’s part of the ‘Remote Outpost’ section. Damn it,” Bonko threw the contract on the table. “No matter how many shows we perform, we are still liable for our own accommodation and food.”
“I wish we hadn’t let Sam talk us into booking seats on the supply train,” said Mago. “If we had booked our own vehicle, at least we could leave. I mean, I know those seats were much cheaper but now…”
“If wishes were horses,” started Rollo.
“We could ride the hell out of here,” finished Biki.
“Bonko, this is your fault. What are you going to do about this?” demanded Mago.
“I have a plan,” replied Bonko. “The management here is trying to rob us. Let’s rob them!”
“Bonko, that’s not funny. Not even a little,” said Rollo.
“I’m serious,” said Bonko. “If two of us are not on stage, they can be grabbing the cash from the office. They grab the money and hide it somewhere. If anyone suspects us, they won’t find the dough on us or in our luggage. We grab the money just before we head out of town. We’ll be in the clear.”
Mago looked at Bonko in disbelief. “Yeah, sure. Let’s rob them,” he said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. “I’ll bet that you wouldn’t be willing to put yourself on the line and be one of the robbers.”
The rest of the comics nodded in agreement.
Bonko looked at them and then off into the distance for a few moments. “You have a point. I’ll be one of the two. Who’s with me?”
The other five looked at Bonko then at each other. “I’m not doing it,” said Rollo. “I need to get home to my family.”
“Well, Regi should be on stage. He’s too big, people will notice him,” said Bonko. “Besides, Harry specifically said that he should perform tonight. Will any of you help? Please?”
Biki stood up. “I’ll do it. If we get arrested, at least I won’t have to deal with expensive food or rooms for a couple of years.”
“We won’t get arrested. We’ll get into our normal costumes and appear on stage at the start of the gig. It will give Harry a heart attack and everyone will see us. Biki and I change clothes to something normal. We go to the cashier. One of us distracts them while the other raids the box. By the time the show ends, we will have hidden the money and be back in costume for any curtain calls.”
“That sounds all right,” said Biki. “But where can we hide the money and still get back in time for the end of the show?”
Bonko frowned. “I don’t know. I guess we should have a look around and see if we can find a decent hiding place. Everyone have a look around, let’s meet back here in 20 minutes. Don’t wander too far, the closer the better.”
The comics nodded and left the backstage area. When they returned, Bonko shook his head. “I didn’t find any place that looked like it safe to stash money for a couple of days. The closest I found were the trash bins and who knows when they collect trash around here.”
“I didn’t find anything,” echoed Dagi and Rollo.
Regi rose to his feet. “Storm drain, outside back.” He sat back down, having exhausted his supply of words for the moment.
Bonko and Biki looked at each other. “Assuming there’s no rain in the next few days, that seems like a good idea. Regi, can you show us?”
Regi lead them outside. There was a grate not far from the stage door. With a grunt, Regi lifted the grate. The area below was dry and not too deep.
“Perfect, let’s get ready for the show,” said Bonko.
Both the show and the theft went off without a hitch. Bonko and Biki were onstage for the opening and the closing of the show. The theatre was full, there were only a few empty seats to be seen.
Between times, they changed into normal street clothes. The only cashier was already distracted, he was watching the show and not the till. They emptied the till into a large plastic trash bag.
Without Regi, the grate put up more of a fight. Bonko and Biki struggled to pull it up. Eventually, the two managed and the bag was pushed toward the back of the drain. Once the grate was dropped in place, the bag was difficult to see.
It wasn’t long after the show was over that Harry came charging into the room, leading several police officers. “It must have been them. They stole the money,” Harry shouted.
“What?” asked Mago with a quizzical expression. “Did something happen?”
“You thieves stole my money,” shrieked Harry. “It had to have been you.”
One of the police officers cleared his throat. “Sorry, sir. There has been a theft and you have been accused. We’ll need to search both here and your rooms.”
“No idea what you are talking about. But feel free to search. We’ve nothing to hide,” replied Bonko.
The police searched every inch of the backstage area with Harry egging them on the entire time. They then went to the hotel and searched all the rooms and bags. When no large amounts of cash were found, the police politely apologised for the search and left. Harry was still following them, screaming that the comics must have stolen the money.
The comics waited until the morning the supply train was due to leave before they retrieved the money. They opened the grate at 4 in the morning to avoid being seen by Harry or any of his staff.
Bonko counted the cash out for each of them while the others watched closely for any cheating. They had expected to make 200 each for the evening of work. Instead they had a total of 600 each.
“You guys know, this tour just became a lot more profitable,” said Biki in a dreamy voice. “We knew they were holding out on us.” He stuffed his share of the cash at the bottom of his duffel bag.
“Careful, Biki,” warned Rollo. “If we did this at every stop, it won’t take long for someone to catch on.”
“Yes, but even if we only did it every third or fourth show, we’d still be making piles of money,” said Biki.
“Get on the train, and don’t be greedy. We’ll see,” said Bonko. “After all, could you have explained that cash the other night to the police?”
With that, they all left for the supply train. At least one stop on this tour had turned out well for them.