Working on the theory that you can skin a sucker in space as well as on Earth, the con team of Harding and Sheckly operated furtively but profitably among natives of the outer planets. That is—until there was a question of turnabout being fair play in a world where natives took their skinning literally!
went as these creatures planned.
The second thought was the more terrifying, and when they were within a hundred feet of the rocket ship, Sheckly broke into a frantic run.
"Stop," the interpreter cried.
Sheckly had no intentions of stopping. His glands told him to run, and he ran. He ran as fast as he could and didn't look back. He imagined the serpentman was on his heels, knife poised, and he ran even faster. He reached the rocket ship and went up the ladder, scrambling, missing his foothold, pulling himself up with clutching hands. He threw himself through the airlock and slammed the massive door behind him.
He ran through the metal corridors to the control room. They must be on the ladder, he thought, prying at the airlock with their metal swords. He pressed switches, slammed down on the throttle, and the sweet music of the rockets came and pressed him into his seat.
He looked down at the planet dwindling into space below him and he laughed hysterically, thinking of the
A couple of interstellar con men haul their crooked gambling machines from planet to planet cleaning out the natives. But when is an alien culture a little bit too alien? What about the sentient reptiles, for instance?
A funny story, it's somewhat cartoonish, rather than serious.