And of course, the Zom's end of the pipe, that had previously been reduced to emitting but a perplexing dribble, and then for a time inexplicably ran freely again, was now totally dry, even on the inside. There was nothing for it but another exploratory trek to the tank. A cohort of the Zom volunteered for the duty; this time the ZomMaster himself went along.

Arriving at the tank, short of breath from the rapid climb, they immediately discovered what the TrailMaster and Spanakopitus had wrought.

"What's this?!" ZomMaster exclaimed, kicking the crumpled pipe. "What's this!?" And he flew into a rage, spitting and fuming.

"Calm down, sir, calm down," said one of the cohort. "You'll bust a blood vessel, and then where'll we be?"

"You'll be right there at old Spanakopitus's place, that's where you'll be. Asking him if we can install the pipe at the top of the tank, as he'd promised us, that's where you'll be. RIGHT NOW!"

So they obediently scurried off, leaving ZomMaster to his apoplexy.

When they arrived, an hour later, they found Spanakopitus and the TrailMaster comfortably lounging by the newly dug swimming pool, double Scotch and sodas in hand, each puffing on a fine Palangean cigar. Their weapons were stacked at the ready, not a hand's reach away.

"Come right on in, boys," called Spanakopitus. "Pull up a chair and cool off a while. You look plumb tuckered out. Must have been quite a hot, tiring climb up here from your place, eh? Come sit a spell." He patted an empty lounge chair. "Now, how's the water situation down at your place?"

"Well, uh, actually, uh, it's not too good," said one.

"Actually, it's bad," said a second.

"Real bad, in fact," said a third.

"Sorry to hear it, sorry to hear it," said Spanakopitus. "As you can see, we're overflowing here."

"Well, uh, actually, uh, that's what we wanted to talk about. Sir. Could we please install that pipe at the top of your tank now, up near your overflow?"

"My goodness, boys, no need to go to all that work. You can get all you need right here." Winking at the TrailMaster, Spanakopitus rose from his chair and led the Zom around the corner.

There stood an open pipe, and from that pipe gushed an extravagant supply of clear, cool water, pouring out lavishly upon the ground into rivulets and streams that meandered across Spanakopitus's back yard. And in front of the pipe stood a newly lettered sign.

Water, $5 a gallon.

If a man will steal more than what you have freely shared, he deserves no more gifts.

31: The Invited and the Uninvited