by Jane Davitt

The Marauding Minnow, with its patented, revolutionary, lifelike and realistic scales, is the lure fishermen have been waiting for. See how it sparkles even in the murkiest waters, each faceted scale gleaming in a way that perfectly mimics the fish's favorite food. Hear the enticing rattle of the hidden bead chamber as the eddies of the water produce a sound the fish will come running--sorry, swimming! Ha ha--to investigate.

Tests show that fishermen using the Marauding Minnow report record catches, and you could be one of them. For a short time only--quantities are limited, folks--you can purchase the Marauding Minnow for the incredible amount of $19.99, just by calling the number--"

"Hey!" Jim jerked as if he'd been shot as the TV screen went black, and turned his head to glare at Blair, who was clutching the remote to his chest. "Turn that back on!"

"Yeah," Simon said, his eyes still fixed on the screen, his voice an ominous rumble. "Right now, Sandburg."

"I'm saving you from yourselves," Blair said and danced back a step as Jim twisted around and lunged at him over the back of the couch. "Not going to let you have it, Jim. Those things are a waste of money."

"When did you two get married?" Simon inquired. "Because you're sounding a lot like Joan."

Blair pulled a face. "Very funny, Simon. Come on, man; you know yourself that crap you buy off TV is just that; over-priced, doomed to fail, mass-produced crap."

"Not the Marauder," Jim muttered as he stalked over to the TV and turned it on. The commercial was over and a woman, blonde hair gleaming, was demonstrating a candle-making kit. Jim smacked the top of the TV as if he wished it was Blair's head, gave Blair a fulminating glare, and went to get another beer for himself and Simon, pointedly not asking Blair if he wanted one.

Blair gave a martyred sigh and retreated to his room. He couldn't take much more of this. Three more days to Jim's birthday and that damn commercial just kept on popping up… Maybe he could break the TV? No, too drastic…and there was a Jags game on later; Jim could only be pushed so far.

The neatly wrapped (gift wrap included for free for those customers who choose the deluxe option with BONUS set of hooks and a complimentary carrying case for the Marauding Minnow!) parcel was hidden in a box of scented candles to, quite literally, throw Jim off the scent, as the Marauding Minnow, in addition to its rattle chamber, flashing scales, and unique twisting action in the water, also reeked of something guaranteed to bring the fish in shoals to hurl themselves at it.

Blair pursed his lips and stared yearningly at the box. That rattle chamber…those scales! The more he watched the commercial, the more he felt that what Jim really wanted for his birthday was more white socks.

They were advertising them, too, on the shopping channel. Soft, and yet durable, with a patented odor-eating insole, and a unique ribbing pattern that gently massaged the calf--

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