“You mean he was on the plane the whole time?”, Simon asked.
We were sitting inside a café in downtown Amsterdam. As it turned out, our flight had been to Paris, but was forced to land early due to an abnormally high rate of fuel consumption. That can happen when the plane has six thumb sized holes in the fuel tank. Our beers glistened with condensation in the afternoon light, though the Dutchies called them ‘lagers’ for whatever the hell reason. No Schlitz, Black Label, or any other decent beer available, we had been forced to drink the local stuff. At least it was cold.
All around us was a bunch of Dutch looking shit. Windmills, wooden shoes, and the like. Dutch stuff on the walls, Dutch stuff on the floor. Bunch of Dutch looking buildings outside. Lots of Dutch looking people walking around saying “Uten, gleebin, globin, globin” and such. Couldn’t understand a fucking word they were saying.
“Might’ve been”, I replied. “Never got a good look.”
“Come on, Dick”, Simon said, “First you see hoof prints on the ceiling, then a shady looking figure with antlers running away from you after an outright attack. Zodar had obviously changed into human form. Then he ambushes you again in the rear galley – probably disguised as a monkey – and then disappears completely. It just makes sense.”
Actually, I agreed with Simon this time. Well, everything except the “it just makes sense” part. But there was no reason to let him know that, regardless of how plausible it sounded.
“Could have just been a guy in a moose hat. They’re popular these days, you know,” I said.
Simon scoffed at the idea. “Moose hat,” he said. “Hmmmph.”
I reached for my beer and saw that while Simon & I had been talking, Jimmy had been busy knocking back our drinks.
“Hey, Dutch person!” I yelled. “Need another round of lagers over here.”
I receded into my own thoughts for a moment. Why would we have been on a plane that also happened to have the spy moose on it? Coincidence? Why had we been headed to Paris and what were we now doing in Amsterdam? Why did I feel like the author had never been to Amsterdam? And of course, what had happened to Chapter 10?
Oh, and also, if the spy moose had been on the plane, how did he disappear into thin air when we landed? And finally (I think), how could you possible know the answer to that last question when you have no idea what happened when we landed?
Yep. That was it.
“Why don’t you tell them?” asked Jimmy, who had a bad habit of sometimes listening to other people’s thoughts.
Okay, as long as you realize that I’m not doing it because Jimmy told me to, I’ll fill you in on what went down at the airport since it does pertain to the story in a warm fuzzy sort of way.
The plane landed on time & without incident, except for being at the wrong airport and almost completely out of fuel. Jimmy, Simon, and I (notice the proper grammatical sequence of names) quickly got off the plane and setup a perimeter around it to make sure any spy mooses who happened to be on it (if any) would not be able to sneak by us. We checked everything coming off of the plane; garbage, luggage, pets – everything. Then we went back on the plane & went over it with a fine toothed comb from top to bottom (except for the last 15 rows in coach which were a little too scary even for us to search). If there had been a moose on board, he had vanished into thin air.
Puzzled and depressed at having what may have been a golden opportunity slip through our fingers, we re-entered the airport and made our way down the concourse to baggage claim, making the assumption that since we had no idea how we had gotten on the flight in the first place, perhaps some luggage belonging to us had suffered a similar fate.
As we passed by the haggling fish merchants and their patrons, Jimmy posed a ridiculous question.
“Hey dudes, what if the moose dude just got off the plane, like, with all the other passengers? You know, ‘cause we weren’t watching them.”
Ah, naiveté. I was actually going to let Simon answer that one, but, techno-geek that he was, he had spied someone with a Palm Pilot iX and immediately cut over to discuss the finer features of the device and the future of something he referred to as “wireless technology”. Whatever. If he didn’t know that wireless technology went out in the early 1900’s, I wasn’t going to tell him.
“Jimmy,” I explained, “we’re dealing with a highly intelligent covert operator. Disembarking the plane with the rest of the passengers, while appearing on the surface to be a sensible thing to do, is not the kind of thing these animals do. It’s way too obvious. No, mammals such as these avoid brightly lit public places. Too easy to be spotted and have their cover blown.”
“Oh, I guess you’re right,” he said, stepping into a large pile of fresh steaming feces, “I just thought maybe he could have just disappeared into the crowd.”
For a moment I felt a tingle in my neck as I considered what Jimmy had said. It sounded as though he had put together a coherent thought that actually had a plausible ring to it. But as quickly as it had arrived, it left as I remembered who I was speaking to. Jimmy was, after all, a guy who had buried his flip-flops in his backyard when the strap on one of them broke and then mourned them for weeks afterward by refusing to wear anything but his black Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers “Damn the Torpedoes” tour shirt.
The waffling aroma of raw cod tickled my nostrils & prompted me to look over to a vendor a few feet away offering a ridiculously low price on the fabled undersea creatures. I could resist temptation no more.
“Hey Jimmy,” I said, “clean the moose-poop off of your shoes and hang tight while I get us some lunch.”
I sauntered over to the stand, which looked as if it had just been erected; somewhat hastily and in the last few minutes in fact. The proprietor had on one of those silly hats with the antlers. Told you they were popular, even if it wasn’t until later in the day when we were drinking beer at that café. I selected a few of the 20-ouncers and paid the man.
“Nice hat,” I said, walking away. He just stared at me with his large brown eyes and oversized snout.
Jimmy and I continued down the concourse, eating on the go since we felt it was in the best interests of a crucial mission to look as if you had no time to lose.
Just as we reached the baggage carousel, Simon showed back up with a woman on his arm. I won’t say she was a dog - because I did that once and caught no end of shit from every feminist group east of Texas - but when she saw the extra fish we had bought for Simon, she raised up on her hind legs and begged.
“Hi guys, this is Susan. I love her. We’re going to get married.” Simon proclaimed.
“Simon, you’re already married,” I replied.
“Not in this country.”
I handed him the fish. “We don’t have time for this Simon. Lose the Schnauzer; we’ve got work to do.”
“Okay,” he said. Then, looking at Susan, “Hit the bricks Fido.” He threw the fish across the concourse and Susan bounded after it.
We never saw her again.
As it turned out, Simon and I did have luggage on the carousel waiting for us. It was easy to tell the bags belonged to us since each had our names stenciled on them in 6” block white letters. Jimmy actually had no bag, but there was a surfboard with a pair of socks taped to it which we assumed was his. We picked up our stuff along with a couple of other suitcases that did not belong to us but probably could have.
Outside we hailed a taxi, which is unremarkable in itself except for a strange thing that happened as we were getting in: Some kid was standing on the sidewalk with his finger stuck in this big stone wall. Just standing there like a dork. As Jimmy was putting his surfboard in the cab, he happened to hit the little vagrant right in the crotch, causing him to fall to the ground doubled over in pain (the kid that is; Jimmy wasn’t hurt at all).
So, as this kid is laying there, water starts shooting out of the wall from this hole that he had obviously made with his finger. I know this wasn’t my homeland, but I’ll tell you, I hate vandalism anywhere, in any form, so I started reading this little delinquent the riot act right on the spot.
As I’m yelling at him, Jimmy noticed a ding on the end of his board that had hit the boy (although we now suspected nothing so innocent and wondered if in fact the boy had not thrown his balls at the surfboard in an attempt to damage it as well as the wall). Jimmy doesn’t like people messing with his stick, so he started kicking the kid for a while until he realized that he was wearing flip-flops and it was hurting his feet.
During all this, the little punk just keeps yelling about some dyke, over and over and over, but we didn’t see any lesbians around anywhere so we weren’t buying any of his excuses.
Figuring that we had taught the youngster a valuable lesson, we bundled into the cab, motioned the driver to move along, and soon felt right at home as we discovered that cabbies here didn’t speak English either. As we cruised down the streets, we gawked at the town, had a quick fart noise contest (Simon won; he’s good), and generally enjoyed the ride. We eventually went down a street where a couple of drunks were puking at the curb; a sure sign of a pub.
And that’s how we wound up here.
Next Week: Chapter 15