“Burning the midnight oil, Mudder?”

“I’m waiting for a call from a new informant, Scullery. Someone named Fred, or Ted, or maybe Ned. I really didn’t catch the name, but he’s supposed to have the scoop on the Consortium and their plans to rule the world by manipulating the concert industry.”

“What’s keeping him? Waiting for lights out at the funny farm?”

“Laugh all you want, Scullery, but this is a deep source.”

“A deep source, eh?” Like the one that claimed Napster was run by space aliens and only Metallica’s Lars Ulrich could prevent an extraterrestrial invasion?”

“You’re not going to let that one go, are you, Scullery?”

“Or how about the informant that insisted that bands like Savage Garden, Peligro and Les Rythmes Digitales were secretly beaming subliminal messages instructing their fans to spend all their money on CDs and concert tickets? What happened with that one, Mudder?”

“It turned out to be just another record company marketing gimmick.”

“Right. And now you’re waiting for some other whacko to call with the conspiracy of the week. When are you going to learn that the concert industry is filled with variables? Only a true paranoid could gather all the random events that go into the planning of tours by AC/DC or Splender and come up with a vast global conspiracy.”

“This is different, Scullery. This informer is definitely on the inside. He was there.”

“Oh? There for what?”

“He was at the when Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney stole that horse.”

“Oh, come on now, Mudder. I read those reports. They didn’t really steal a horse. It was strictly a misunderstanding. Just a couple of singing cowboys blowing off steam.”

“Don’t be so sure.”

“The Bureau has statements from all the witnesses. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, unless…”

“Unless what, Scullery?”

“Unless your informant is the horse. Then you would get it straight from the ‘horse’s mouth.’ Get it, Mudder? ‘Horse’s mouth?'”

“You’re such a comedian, Scullery. Even I know that a horse can’t talk. After all, a horse is a horse.”

“Of course.”

“Of course, and no one can talk to a horse.”

“Of course. Unless, of course, the horse… “

“There’s the phone. This might be our man. Hello, Mudder here.”

“Mudder? Ed, here.”

“Scullery, it’s him!”