Part 3 of the 8 part A Man Called Mister Brown serial by A.R. Yngve introduces Vaino “Green” Fingers, a con-man, outlaw, and huckster. — ed, N.E. Lilly

The suckers in the City of Pamir were all native-born, noticed Vaino “Green” Fingers.

Not a single Old Terran genotype could be seen in the crowd. The sulfur dioxide that kept leaking into the habitats had killed the last one decades ago.

He thought the current breed looked pretty much like Old Terrans, except for the yellowish tint of their skin, teeth and eyes — and the smell. Not that they didn’t bathe or change clothes; the Venusians made a neat sight in their pressed blue and green suits, their impeccably groomed haircuts and polished shoes.

They were lined up around Green’s truck and stood to attention as if he were going to take their picture.

But by the Constant... that smell. Like old diapers.

Green hated the smell, and the way the native kids stared and pointed and took snapshots. Hadn’t they seen a live NeoMartian before?

Without the filter membrane that covered his body, he wouldn’t have lasted a day in the toxic air. Without the sunlamp in his luggage, his chloroplasts would have died from lack of sunlight. Without the hormone shots, the gravity would have been painful to his Martian knees.

Green hated everything about Venus — except their money. The Stinkers deserved to be sold crunkball in medicine bottles, he thought. Served’em right for choosing to live in caves.

The natives would never know what “Green” Fingers thought of them — mainly because of the scan-shield cap he was wearing underneath his high hat. The green hat matched his green suit, shoes and his green truck, on which was painted the logo “DR. KOSMOS’ MARTIAN WONDER ELIXIRS — ANCIENT REMEDIES FOR ALL PROBLEMS.”

“Step right up, friends!” he told the crew of a few hundred curious natives. He grinned and twinkled with his eyes, beaming like a green Santa Claus, waving his little dark bottles around. “Is there a brave man or woman here who’d like to try these perfectly-harmless-yet-amazingly-potent Martian elixirs? Remedies for any personal or social problem! Ah, there I see a brave man! There... I see... fark.”

A somber police officer on a hover pod flew in over the crowd, accompanied by small drones that aimed their weapons at the NeoMartian.

“Vaino ‘Green’ Fingers? You are under arrest. Your accomplice, Martha Kaurismaki, has testified in court that you were behind the Phobos caper.”

Green grinned and chuckled in his most charming manner, bowing repeatedly as he made inviting gestures to the hovering cop. “A brave man, if ever I saw one! Sir, please allow me. Test a free sample of the ancient Martian love elixir, it’s on me. Guaranteed to make you irresistible to the ladies!”

The cop replied: “I’m gay.” He maneuvered his hover pod closer to the truck.

Green quickly thrust out another bottle toward the pod. “Or try this variety, for the manly male — guaranteed to make you irresistible to other men!”

The cop hesitated just long enough to give Green a chance. The police-drones were old-school designs, unable to attack without a direct command from the officer.

Green nodded vigorously to the cop, took off his top hat — and tossed it at the hover pod. The hat exploded in a puff of black ParaSmoke; Green’s filter membrane protected him while the cop fainted and the crowd began to cough and choke.

He started up his truck and drove into a tunnel, seeking the nearest airlock. Once he’d get into his outdoor suit, he could reach the spot where he had hidden his spaceship. And a fine ship it was, stolen from the Terran Fleet at the Phobos Station; his greatest theft so far.

“Martha, you daughter of a potato, ratting on me,” he muttered to himself. “Is it because I left you on the Moon? Women! Give’em a stem, they take the whole trunk. I’ll get you for this!” He opened a screen and searched for news on Martha’s whereabouts. An image of her cropped up in the search: a snapshot taken by a passing cam-bot, several days ago. The caption read: “Mysterious Bounty Hunter Mr. Brown Delivers Gang Member. ATAF Promises To Arrest Ringleader, Announces Record Bounty on Vaino ‘Green’ Fingers.

Green zoomed in on the face of the man who had captured Martha: a dark-skinned Afroid Terran with a scowling expression etched into his face. The Martian’s face broadened with a malicious, hateful grin.

“I never forget a face, brown man. I’ll get her. And you, Brownie! You son of a goat!”

In his rage, Green felt elated. Only when he hated did all his worries disappear. All he had to do was follow the hate to where it led him.

At the end of an ascending rock tunnel, the airlock awaited.

A.R. Yngve A.R. Yngve started out as a cartoonist, but soon turned to writing. Published works include the Swedish TERRA HEXA book trilogy and short stories in Swedish, British and Chinese magazines. He has recently written a script for Scandinavian radio. Dislikes: Cats, fan fiction. Likes: Philip K. Dick, MST3K.

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