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Chapter Fifty-Two: The Second-to-Last Chapter.

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When Bismuth went to work the next day, feeling forlorn and hopeless and anticipating with glum resignation his upcoming death at the hands of the royal executioners, there were a pair of men in blue business suits and fedoras waiting for him.

"Hello, Bismuth," said one of them, tipping his hat. "I'm Jackalope Demerkle, the head of the royal turkey maintenance bureau, and this is my partner, Jimbo Garneral." The other man tipped his hat. He was bald underneath it. "Do you know why I'm here?"

"Yes," Bis sighed. "It's because I accidentally killed Snookums on my bicycle yesterday. I guess I should get ready to have my head chopped off now, huh?"

The man laughed softly and said, "Well, yes and no, Bismuth. You see, this Snookums was actually the twelfth such bird to bear the name, and the king is none the wiser. So you've really nothing to worry about, you see."

Bismuth stared at the two men from the royal turkey bureau. "What are you talking about?" he asked slowly.

"The turkey has a relatively short lifespan, Mr. Sub-salicylate," the second man, Mr. Garneral, who had not spoken yet, said. "And it would be no good at all for the king's beloved pet turkey to die, and so as each of the Snookumses has met its death, we have replaced it with a similar but younger bird, and the king has thus been kept under the illusion that his pet has never gotten old or sick, much less died. So while it is unfortunate that you and the turkey had that, erm, fatal encounter yesterday, and while you will be asked to register your bicycle under the criminal bicycle offenders list, you will not be executed for your crime. It was, after all, an accident, and it was inevitable that the turkey would die and require replacement, and not to long from now, either. This Snookums was nearing the end of his operational life."

"So... you just replaced Snookums with a new one?"

The men nodded.

"And I'm not going to be killed?"

"No, Mr. Sub-salicylate. You may continue with your life in peace. We do ask that you attempt to pay better attention to your surroundings while on your bicycle in the future."

"Of course!" said Bis. "And thank you. I, uh, I wish you luck in your future turkey-maintenance endeavours."

The men bowed and walked off, and Bismuth Sub-salicylate continued into his hedge mazes with the barrow of mulch, and all was as it should have been. And the king and his half-billion turkeys named Snookums lived happily ever after, as did Bis and Ann-Marie and even Bob, and everybody else as well. And so ended another day in Mirrglbury. And so ends this story.

The words of the poet will ever endeavour
To speak to your hearts and to live on forever.

The end.

(For real this time.)
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