The Dimitris Manuever
Smoke rolled over his top lip and up past his nostrils, escaping into the air. Thick brows now grey from age bent forward, shoulder to shoulder, squatting over dull black eyes. Casting the ashes to the carpet, he placed the rare cigar into his mouth and clamped firmly upon it. "You have nothing to offer, Dimitris." His good eye inspected the soldiers who covered every exit. Solid gnomes who had fought for their government faithfully. Gnomes of honor, to be respected — yet they had not been — not by the people, and certainly not by their government. The last thing he wanted was to see these valiant soldiers stain their reputations by doing something they’d regret. To leave this world with accusations upon civilians lips against them. The thought turned Dimitris’ stomach. "On the contrary, General Gorkam, I have exactly what you want." Large muscles, still strong and firm, curved forward from his shoulders as he leaned into the table, eyes unblinking. "What would you know of what I want, Dimitris? You command only a fraction of the number who serve me. None under your command are fighting soldiers. Not likely to last against the animals I use, I’d wager." "Toe to toe? No, General. You’d be correct on that count, but what talents I have acquired run far and deep, gaining me considerable leverage in this environment. So I’d be careful not to count my soldiers out. At least not until you hear my proposition." Taking another draw from the meaty cigar, General Gorkam blew the bourbon infused smoke across the table, into Dimitris’ face. "I’m listening." Waving the smoke away casually, "You hold the entire staff of this facility hostage for offenses against you. Those who have resisted have met the wrath of your soldiers, who are most assuredly loyal. I say this with great respect, especially after trying to bride several of them, unsuccessfully, by my own hand. For that alone, you hold my respect, General." Gorkam nodded. "However, you failed to take two important facts into consideration before inflicting your will upon those around you." "Do tell." Grining wide, Dimitris continued. "First, the pain you continue to endure comes from a single wound, the malice of a single enemy. Secondly, force will only get you so far, General. Where you have taken captives, I have been able to captivate hearts instead." With a snap of his fingers, a young gnome in white scrubs entered the room to the startling of the military guard. Without missing a step, the gnome gently set a covered silver plate in front of General Gorkam. Frowning, Gorkam set the cigar into the glass ashtray. "What is this?" Dimitris motioned with his hand. "What you have desired for yourself, as well as your loyal men." Lifting the cover from the plate, the general gasped as he revealed a thick slab of beef, roasted potatoes, steamed greens and onions, with freshly baked biscuits — the smell of butter quickly filling the room. The look of shock turned to scorn. General Gorkam tossed the silver cover roughly to the side. "You mock me!? You KNOW I cannot partake of this!" "But you can, dear general. This is why I asked for this meeting." "To make me look the fool? Taunting me in front of my men!??" Now it was Dimitirs’ who raised his tone. "To show you that I respect you and want to HELP you." Then softer, "To make peace and show you that by working together we can enjoy the fruits of each others strengths!" Snatching up the cigar once more, Gorkam snorted. "You’re a fool, Dimitris." The smile returned. "No, my friend. I am brilliant." With a nod to the young gnome in white scrubs, a small box appeared from his pocket…and he placed it in front of the general. "What now?" Dimitris nodded to the box. "The solution to your problem." Staring at the small box, Gorkam’s head cocked to one side, then to the other, his hand slowly reaching out to the ashtray. When he dropped the cigar, it missed the container completely and rolled across the table. Lifting the box to his face, the general slowly pulled up the lid, its hinges creaking softly. …and Gorkam smiled. Inside was a perfect set of dentures, cleaned and pearly white, a small tube of sealant resting next to them. "You didn’t think I would dare offer you a grand meal if I hadn’t provided a way for you to enjoy it, did you?" Gorkam lifted the grand treasure in his fat fingers, trying to remember the last time he’d had access to his own teeth. "But…how? I…" "My talent is relationships, General. I win the hearts of those who serve with me, because the welfare of those around me is my focus. We may not agree on many things, but we both know those who serve their country faithfully, sacrificing all, deserve more than what this retirement facility is willing to provide. So I decided to change that…for both of us." General Gorkam popped off the lid of adhesive and squirted it over the bridge of the dentures. "I knew someone was using our dentures as leverage against us. Though I still have all my teeth, several of my soldiers do not. So I located the culprit." Sliding his teeth into place, Gorkam bit down and let out a huge sigh of relief. "Who was it?" Grinning a bit too wide, "Meal first, General, desert after. I have sway with Ms. Dowrey, the head chef. She says she Iikes the way I wink." They both chuckled then. "When I asked why she wasn’t using her full potential, she related that someone was stealing the dentures from residents, making it impossible for her to provide the meals she wanted to cook for us. Her father was a military man, you know." By this point, the general was already enjoying the first bites of a perfectly cooked steak. "I did not know….mmmm." "When we watched how each nurse interacted with the soldiers, the list of possible suspects thinned out, until we had a single suspect. A male RN. Daryle on the second floor." The general wiped the gravy from his lips and paused. "You are telling me that an old retiree was able to get my dentures back from the largest, strongest male nurse in the facility?" "Oh no, General. I employed the best suvelliance technition under my command, Leutenant Tillerz, to solve this challenge. I’m saying we retrieved ALL the dentures back from Daryle — and we won’t be having any problems with him in the future." "How can you possibly guarantee that? That nurse is a monster. He has tormented me and my men since we arrived!" That’s when the few wearing smocks in the room chuckled. "Did I say something amusing?" grunted Gorkam. "Let’s just say that when you are caught and filmed trying to paint yourself in the nude, in the middle of the night…while on duty…you might be persuaded to agree to a wide range of terms, to prevent exposure of the deed." General Gorkam burst into a deep belly laughter that echoed through the room. When he calmed himself enough, he stood up, leaned across the table, meaty hand open wide. "You are indeed brilliant, my friend, and I welcome your friendship!" "Thank you, General. I appreciate that, I do. Would you mind if I make a request?" "Please. You have made me very happy." "Could you let the hostages go? The staff you locked in the closest and freezers had nothing to do with the plotting of Daryl." "Of course, OF COURSE!!" Shouting to his soldiers, gnomes rushed out of the room to carry the new orders. "You know, Dimitris, with your brains, and my soldiers, we could control this facility for the remainder of our stay and live as we ought to. Men of honor and discipline, you and I." With a snap of his fingers, a lovely young female gnome pushed through the kitchen doors with another silver platter of steaming food. She placed it in front of Dimitris. "We already do, my dear General. We already do."