Week 42

“I’ll fill you in later,” Putin whispered to Snowy, as the psychic octopus sat patiently waving a tentacle.

“It sounds as if you have a plan,” Putin thought. “Yes,” the cephalopod agreed telepathically, “but it will require precise timing.

“As a young octopus, I studied ancient mind control techniques with the squid of the Himalayas. I can put myself into a death-like coma.

“The keepers will find me floating here in my tank, and will call Der Toro, Oberhausen’s premier tapas restaurant, to pick up my body.”

“So we must arrive in disguise, persuade the attendant that we are from the restaurant, and take you away,” Putin thought approvingly.

“Yes,” Paul replied. “But if the real pick-up van arrives first, you’ll find me on the menu tomorrow night!”

Snowy frowned as Putin and Paul continued thinking back and forth; she caught the gist of the plan from Paul’s thoughts, and was concerned.

“Don’t worry,” Paul thought reassuringly. “If anyone can make this work, HE can.” Snowy nodded and glanced shyly at her master.

“We’d best go make our preparations,” Putin said aloud. “Good-bye, Paul” they thought in unison as they turned to go.

“Auf Wiedersehen!” thought the Octopus in reply. “I’ll see you in the Kara Sea!”

Putin and Snowy spent the afternoon painting “Der Toro” on the side of the Lada and preparing their disguises—big, bushy Spanish mustaches.

They waited until 7:30, an hour after the aquarium closed, as Paul had directed, then drove slowly up the service road to the back entrance.

As they approached the loading dock, a plain white Opel van sped past them going in the opposite direction.

Putin was pleased to see an attendant already standing on the platform. “Guten Abend!” he said in a carefully practiced greeting.

“Wir sind von Der Toro. Wo ist die Krake?” The attendant looked confused. Putin feared his false mustache was making him hard to understand.

Putin winced as the man jabbered something in his barbaric language, smirking and pointing at the road with a cigarette.

“I think he’s saying that van we saw already made the pick-up for Der Toro,” Snowy said, although she did not speak German either.

Putin realized the War Bear must be right: Paul had warned them this might happen, and he was psychic.

Putin jumped back into the Lada, made a quick k-turn, and roared back up the service road in pursuit of the van.

The attendant stood watching them go, without so much as a “danke.” He pulled a long drag on his cigarette.

“Spanier! Gastarbeiter!” he muttered with disgust. And the fat one’s German was so bad, it sounded like Russian.