Though it pains me to admit it, I was baffled by the events that had taken place so far, which was in itself puzzling. Compounding this was the ever growing despair that all of these things would make just as much sense – that is to say, none – when this whole mission was over, cleverly and maliciously avoiding the neat tie-in that would explain everything.
Kind of like the movie Eye of the Beholder, where you watch it the whole time thinking that it’s stupid and makes absolutely no sense but you stay with it till the end because you know that it has to be a good movie since Blockbuster had a whole section reserved for it and you’re confident that if you just see it through something will happen to make it all come together and make sense and you’ll say “Ahhhhhh! I get it!” but then it just ends and you wind up staring at the TV as the entire credits roll by thinking “What the hell was all that about?” and simultaneously being pissed that you just wasted $3.00 plus two hours of your non-refundable life and yet greatly relieved that you didn’t blow $7.50 and the same amount of your life (plus gas for the car) and risk having someone you know see you coming out of a public theatre where the same credits happened to be rolling. And I’m in Europe so that is the correct spelling for “theater” over here so pack sand.
“Hay,” slurred Jimmy.
“Thas ‘Hey’, not ‘Hay’ you shtupid . . . ,” Simon corrected, kind of.
They were both seriously drunk. Jimmy was as polluted as the Hudson river and Simon looked like a manatee that had recently been hit by a speeding Boston Whaler.
“I was thinking,” Jimmy continued, “how many boxes of staples have you thrown away?”
“What?” I replied.
“Staples. Boxes of staples. Don’t you think people wind up wasting them?”
“Jimmy, what are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about staples, dude. You know, staple, staple, staple. Where you click paper together.”
“I know what staples are, I just have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s so simple,” he said. “What I mean is that staples come in boxes of like, what? Five thousand, right?”
“Yes,” I replied cautiously.
“Well, does anybody ever use all of the staples in a box? Heeelll no. You wind up loading your stapler one time and then you put the box in a drawer somewhere and you forget where it is. So then when you need some more staples you can’t remember where you put them so you buy a whole new box – another five thousand – and go through the same thing all over again. And then before you know it, you’ve got, like, boxes and boxes of staples that you can never use in your whole life and nobody else can use them either ‘cause they’ve all got boxes and boxes of staples too. So you wind up throwing them all away. I mean, what else are you gonna do with them, right?”
“Maybe build a steel Barbie fort?” Simon offered.
“I mean, if you keep them,” Jimmy continued, “they’ll just all wind up in the same drawer again since you won’t need them right now and then when you do need them you’ll have forgotten where they all were and buy another box. I’m telling you guys, it’s a vicious cycle man.”
“Jimmy,” I said, “you’re starting to frighten me. What the hell are you talking about?”
“Well, here’s the deal. I’m thinking about this problem and how to fix it, right? And the only thing that I can think to do is to fix it myself. So I’m gonna start my own staple business.”
“I thought you just said that the world is already overpopulated with staples as it is.”
“No, no. I said there are too many staples. But that’s because they make you buy them in boxes with thousands of staples in them, and nobody needs that many. That’s how they get you.”
“So, with my business, you’d only buy the amount of staples that you need.”
I felt like a kid in a grocery store who spent too long looking at the back of the Cap’n Crunch box and then suddenly looks around to find that his parents are nowhere in sight.
“They buy what they need,” I echoed.
“Yeah, man! Isn’t that an awesome idea? Like, say you’re this dude and you need, maybe, I don’t know, eight staples. Instead of buying a box of 5000 and throwing almost all of them away, ‘cause you only need eight, right?”
“We got that part.”
“Well, with my business, you could just place an order with me and I’d sell you – guess how many?”
“Uh, well, I’m going to think outside the box on this one and say, I don’t know, maybe, eight?”
“Yeah! Exactly! Staples to order. You need eight staples, you buy eight staples. You need twelve staples, you buy twelve. You need – ”
“We get it Jimmy.”
“Yeah? Well, what do you think?”
“I think it bears more research into the marketplace,” I said. “Focus groups, risk analysis – ”
“I think it’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Simon.
“Oh yeah?” Jimmy said. “Well, what do you know?”
“What do I know? I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you make a list of what you know, and I’ll make a list of what I know, and then well compare the length of my list with the length of your list and – ”
“Alright, alright, shut up the both of you,” I said. “Let’s square up the tab and find a place to stay.”
I called for the waiter and he placed the check on our table. We all looked at it but no one had a clue what it said. Taking into account that we probably only had 12 or 15 rounds, and the fact that the U.S. dollar was probably worth at least 20 times whatever they used for money here, we figured a cool five-spot would cover it and also provide a healthy tip.
We walked outside and surveyed the street from the sidewalk.
“So what do you figure a hotel would look like in this town?” Simon asked.
But before we had time to really look around, we heard a soft rumble in the distance which quickly turned into a loud roar in the near vicinity, and suddenly a massive wall of water came rushing down the street, sweeping away everything – including us – in its path.
“Surf’s up!” Jimmy yelled and he caught the front of the wave from a standing start on the curb and immediately started shredding the lip. Simon and I cleverly clutched our bags in terror and just tried to stay afloat. We moved down the street quickly, bumping into cars, signs, and debris, coughing & sputtering in the salty water.
“Hey, there’s a hotel,” Simon pointed out as we drifted past a Holiday Inn.
Mile after mile we rode the torrent until we finally got dumped, bruised and dripping, onto a hillside in the outskirts of the city. Jimmy, of course, wasn’t bruised or, for that matter, even wet. As Simon and I were recovering from our shock and dragging ourselves to higher ground, he zipped up to the embankment, turned a final 360, and stepped gracefully onto dry ground.
“Cool!” he shouted, obviously pleased by the impromptu inland surf and the lack of locals to fight off.
“What a weird country,” I said, still coughing water from my lungs and dripping like a ....a.... a... uh, I don’t know, a wet guy I guess.
At that moment a boat came through the water and sped over to us. Apparently a police boat if we were to pay any attention to the high pitched warble of the siren, the flashing red & blue lights, the big POLICIA sign, and the half dozen or so uniformed men on board all pointing guns at us. A small boy – strangely familiar – stood on the bow pointing at us (he didn’t have a gun) and yelling a lot of gibberish that we couldn’t understand (big surprise).
We were soon transported to the boat with much aggression and a general lack of hospitality. Jimmy told them to quit it, but they didn’t. We were unceremoniously plopped down on a bench along the aft end of the boat (yup, just like aft on airplanes) with plastic zip ties securing our hands behind our backs.
The kid was still bouncing around excitedly and waving his finger in Jimmy’s face and the cops were jabbering away at us too; probably reading us the Netherlands’s equivalent of the Miranda warning and explaining what we had apparently done wrong. But of course we couldn’t understand a fucking thing they were saying, so we just smiled, relaxed, and enjoyed the ride back into town.
We spent the night in jail.