First off, I must apologize if the title to this chapter is a bit deceptive, but I had to find a way to spice it up for my own purposes or I would never have gotten around to writing it. See, "crime" doesn't really exist in the Xanadu forest, since we have no laws. Or government. And certainly not any law enforcement to enforce the laws if we happened to have any. In my defense, there really is such thing as a Xanadu Mafia--as I call it. Those that have read previous chapters will know that I'm referring to Vanya, the gigantic bear--and his right hand man, Mitzy, the arctic fox. They pretty much comprise the "Xanaduvian crime syndicate." Don't let the fact that the syndicate is made up of only two critters cause you to think it is a small thing. On the contrary, the Xanaduvian crime syndicate is very powerful and far-reaching--even into your earthly dimension in some cases. Vanya and Mitzy are simply that good at what they do. They are both known throughout Interterrestria, and mostly thought very highly of.
As to the Xanadu Mafia's origin, I have often wondered myself. I remember asking Edwin the Bee one time just how long Vanya has been in the Xanadu Forest. Edwin, in His most Edwin of ways, responded by asking me how long I myself have existed. In my most KeV of ways, I re-phrased the question, asking if ever there was a time in the forest when Vanya wasn't there. Of course Edwin re-phrased His reply to ask me if ever was a time that I asked more meaningful questions. Such is life with Edwin. *sigh* I am most grateful--I keep telling myself that. Deep down, and all kidding aside, I do believe that I am grateful. And I'm grateful for that.
The Xanadu Forest, as one might imagine, is very non-materialistic on the whole, but that doesn't mean critters don't find need for a few luxuries every now and again. Ultimately, that is where Vanya and Mitzy come into the picture--for however long that picture has been pictured. Many everyday needs in the Xanadu Forest can be met within the forest itself, but there are also those things that must be imported from another place--sometimes another township in Interrestria, and once in a while from other dimensions even...including your modern "Earth."
This seems a good time to point out that, over the ages, acorns had sort of unofficially become the official currency of the Xanadu Forest. You might think of an acorn as being approximately equal to one U.S. dollar. Our beloved forest never officially had an economy, a treasury, or even a barter system, technically. It all started out so simply, as I've been made to understand. It's silly when you think of it from a human perspective, knowing that of course acorns have always been found in large quantities throughout the forest. But at some point in Xanadu's history it became customary to exchange acorns for goods and services. As it was explained to me, this was originally little more than a symbolic gesture. Someone would provide you with something you needed, and you would feel the need to do more than say "Thank you," you know. Yes, the receiving critter could do something in return for the giving critter (like cook them a nice meal, make them a lovely craft, or offer some labor in return), but Xanaduvian critters tend to be highly pragmatic--even to the point of laziness. Since all Xanaduvian critters always have a good stash of acorns handy, an acorn or three was the simplest and least time-consuming way to repay a good or service. And so that became standard practice. Over time, forest critters started associating acorns with the goods and services themselves, and decided that some things were really worth more than an acorn or three--and they started telling the critter in need of goods or services, in advance, just how many acorns they thought were warranted. No matter what figure they arrived at of course was always fine, since acorns were so readily available--so long as it didn't exceed the number of acorns the receiving critter already had inside its home that moment. This has pretty much been the extent of the Xanaduvian economy, if there is such a thing.
This system always worked fine until a critter had need for something that couldn't be obtained within the borders of the Xanadu Forest. For instance, if a critter needed a fine piece of jewelry, that was no trouble at all, since Bannu and his beautiful blanket were always in our forest to accommodate (for the appropriate number of acorns). But if you wanted a nice fedora, belt, or attache case, you would have to travel to Lemmington since there was no haberdashery in the Xanadu Forest--and you would hope throughout your journey that the lemmings would accept your acorns as payment. They generally did, thankfully, and let it be known that the hats of Lemmington are among the best quality of any I have ever seen anywhere in any dimension. I digress. Had you journeyed to Lemmington, however, and they would not accept your acorns as payment, you would have to journey back to the Xanadu Forest empty-handed and employ the services of the Xanadu Mafia, if you wanted that fedora bad enough. Don't worry, Vanya and Mitzy wouldn't do any strong-arming or commit any acts of violence at all to the lemmings! They would simply have a point of contact in Lemmington that would accept acorns as payment, would transfer the necessary acorns to said contact, have said contact purchase the fedora, and deliver it to Mitzy, who would hand deliver the fedora to you. As you would imagine, the fine fedora would cost quite a bit more than it did in the beginning, since all parties involved would need their portion.
If you wanted something manufactured--say a motorcycle helmet--at least you would know not to bother traveling to obtain it--for you would certainly need the Xanadu Mafia for that. Any sort of manufacturing done in Interterrestria happens in Bleakerton, township of the nasty seagulls, and it is our world's only source for manufactured goods. Bleakerton is a dark and wretched place, and very, very far from our Xanadu Forest, on the eastern coast. And of course, seagulls will never accept acorns as a form of payment. Their standard currency is pumpernickel, though they will accept other forms of bread as well for the payment of goods and services (I should say 'goods' only, since one would never want a seagull to service them--I can assure you of that!). I have this information first hand, by the way, since I once traveled to Bleakerton with T-Yay in search of record albums. I hope to never have to go there again!
As I'm sure you can see, this complicates things a great deal. At this point, we would be getting into exchange rates, taxes, trade agreements, and all sorts of things that are far over my head. I'm hoping this will illustrate just how important Vanya and Mitzy are to our beloved Xanadu Forest. Not only are they able to obtain anything we might find need for, but, perhaps more importantly, they keep our township simple. Thanks to the services of the Xanadu Mafia, critters in our forest never have to learn about economics--exchange rates, taxes, and trade agreements. If we want something, we call Mitzy, gather the necessary acorns, and Mitzy brings it to us. It allows us to stay forever blissfully ignorant. Just the way we like it! And now you know how my soulmate Cousin Eddie has an endless supply of canned beer.
Savvy readers will remember a reference to pumpernickel in our Xanadu Forest, from a previous chapter (chapter 6)...as well you should! For as I type this, pumpernickel is now the official currency of our beloved forest, which is a horrible, terrible thing, since residents of Xanadu have very little to no pumpernickel. This is but one of the atrocities that befell our land while I was pre-occupied running away from myself, but boy was it a huge one. The fattest of the fat squirrels on Walnut St., Reginald III, had now been declared Mayor of Xanadu. He went on to convert our currency and implement property taxes throughout the forest, which residents could neither pay nor understand. Nor even imagine.
You might think the critters of our beloved forest would have stood up to a squirrel, fat as he may be, that was much smaller than them...but you must remember that any form of violence is an impossibility in the Xanadu Forest. Besides, even if it were possible, the critters of our township are exceedingly peaceful by nature, and wouldn't even so much as wish bad luck upon Reginald III. Most of them simply moved away, not knowing what else to do. Almost all businesses had shut their doors for good, and nearly all commerce came to a sullen halt. Even the majestic library tree in the center of our beloved forest was abandoned, and sealed with a padlock and thick chain. So now you see, I hope, the challenge that lies before me, and the residents of the Xanadu Forest.
I have good news, however--for I have a plan: one that involves no violence at all, and is certain to succeed. But it is a long process and will take a great deal of time. My night with Vanya and Mitzy in their secret lair (also chapter 6) went on much longer due to the wine and vodka we consumed, but it was most productive. Vanya was able to confirm my suspicion that Reginald III had somehow established contact with the seagulls of Bleakerton. Vanya even believed he knew how Reginald was doing it, and the specific seagull Reginald was consorting with.
You might now recall how I opened this chapter by mentioning that my soulmate, Cousin Eddie, would be busy the entire day constructing an oven out of beer cans. That is, perhaps, more information than I should have given you...but I figured if you stuck around long enough to read all these boring details, you deserved a solid hint of things to come. And now you have one.
In other happy news, I just finished my de-disgustinating for the day, and cleared a clear path all the way to Freddie's Pond of Fanciness. Things are looking up. Warmth and happiness begin to abound in my sacred garden.
Thank you, dear reader, for joining me on my journey. Off to the Persian rug, to converse with my cousins, the moon and stars, and to play a gentle record or two.
Lovely of lovelies. Always grateful. No longer afraid.