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Biff Bundie--I 'The Circle of Seven'

CHAPTER FOUR: THE BEAST AT BAY

By H. Lewiss

A Synopsis: In the last episode, Biff Bundie, University Police undercover man disguised as graduate student Kevin Steddard Heath, found himself hot on the trail of a squat and anxious-looking foreigner whom Biff had reason to believe was somehow connected with a horrible murder that had just been discovered in Mallinkredt. In his office, Bundie received a phone call from the foreigner, who told Biff to meet him at once, saying cryptically "no brents rhinotceros," Bundie's immediate idea, that the Bronse Rhinoceros was a coffee shop, fell apart, and he became convinced that the phrase must be an undergraduate nickname for some favored professor. Accosting three students in front of University Hall, Biff questioned them about the Rhinoceros, but they walked away, leaving him punzied but determined.

At 5:15 that afternoon, Karandas Chandrakrishma, Instructor in Indian Studies, emerged from his office in Weld Hall and paused teetering on the steps of that noble pile to button his raincoat. It was an action which caused in him a troble grief. First, because it gave him time to reflect, as he always did, that the University had given Ali Ahmed, graduate student in Indian Studies, an office in Boyiston Hall, and him, Chadrakrisha himself, only a garret in Weld. Second, because it reminded him that he was wearing a cheap American raincoat. Finally, because it urged upon his flickering consciousness the thought that he was buttoning his raincoat to hide the fact that he could no longer fully button his trousers. Karandas weighed 350 pounds; unlike most fat man, he was also of a naturally peevish disposition.

Reflections on his own girth, however, quickly led him to more pleasing speculations. "Feed," thought Karandas happily. He was on his way to the Biology Labs to meet a follow countryman for dinner. "Curries," he mused, and last himself in a devotional contemplation of those dishes. Gene, suddenly, were his visions of the cramped, plaster-cracked room he had just left, and his rankling grudge against universities in particular and Americans in general allowed itself to be soothed and coddled.

It remained soothed for only a very short time. Within a few minutes of his leaving Weld, Karandas was puffing past University Hall. And there he caught a distinct glimpse of a vacant-faced young man, lurking behind the statue of John Harvard and staring in his direction. "Someone," Karandas' mind registered, "is staring at me. This is aboard. Worse than that, it is not nice. Has he never seen a fat Indian before?"

But as he trudged, Karandas thought he saw the young man fall in behind him, still staring. "Intolerable," he grumbled to himself. "This person seeks to treat me as a risible curiousity, a flat man in a cheap raincoat. I must dony him the privilege. I want to eat. I will agitate him with an irregular vibratory motion from off my path."

With that, he turned sharply right on the far side of University Hall and seemed to hurtle himself towards Sever. "Hum," thought Biff Bundie, as he quickened his pace behind the Indian, "he's trying to shake me from his trail. Fat chance."

Bundie's eyes narrowed as he entered the gloom of Sever. In front of him he saw a raincoat flying out of the other side of the building. "That's him!" he cried. "The old fax -- uh, I mean or, yes." His thought ground to a halt as his body shot out of the building.

Karandas, meanwhile, was striding past the Fegg. He seemed to have gathered quite a momentum, and his little legs chugged hurriedly through it, Bloomlike. "I will show up him--him with the jacket like Ali Ahmed's. . . . My trousers are in danger, and as a direct social consequence, so must be I... I am eagle, flying to a quaint perch in Weld Hall... I had better try to step." A red light leomed in front of the Indian. He had arrived at Broadway. He could not stop. Two MTA busses and a University truck were bearing down or Karandas, but his path remained unaltered. With a low moan, he charged the asphalt.

Biff Bundie pulled up short in shocked disbelief. "He is courting death to escape me. In fact, he's scooted past the most formidable armada the Cambridge roads can muster. I'll be damned." The light changed, and the policeman continued warily.

Karandas, turning on Kirkland Street, managed to get his third lock at his pursuer. And as he swung into Divinity Avenue, he contemplated an attack. Words of wrath formed themselves in his disordered brain, as his body's pace began suddenly to slacken. His unusual exertions were catching up with him--and so was Biff Bundie. On the steps of the Biology Building, Karandas finally ground to a halt; and there, magnificently, he turned slowly to face and address his tormentor. "I do not know who you are, sir," he wheezed in a high-pitched whine quite foreign to his normally well modulated tones. "But I must tell you what I think of your unspeakable conduct. . ."

"Well, I don't care about that," interrupted Bundie rudely and relentlessly. "Because I know just who you are. You're the Bronze Rhinoceros!"

The Indian staggered as if he had been struck. "It is too much!" he gasped. "It is the final piece of wheat and chaff! It is the insult direct! It is distinctly humiliating!" He turned, and groped his way into the building.

Biff Bundie, however, was bewildered. "Oh dear," he thought. "I seem to have made yet another mistake." He also turned, and sat down underneath one of the large metal animals that flanked the building, his head cupped dejectedly in his hands.

Soon he became aware of a large noise. Karandas had returned, and was surrounded by a considerable number of unfriendly looking people. "There he is!" he shouted, pointing a fat finger at Biff. "Sitting over there under that bronze rhinoceros!"

"Rhinoceros!!" gasped Biff, cotto voce. "I thought it was the hippopotamus which had the horns." He turned to gaze mournfully at the green beast that had sheltered him briefly. And then his heart missed a beat: for impaled on the horn of the animal, and flapping gently in the breeze, was a large piece of paper. He had reached, he thought, the end of his quest.

Monday: Lament in Lament.

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