When I left Mr. Freeley he was still pontificating at length on some subject of apparent national importance but of no use to me. He was on his fourth V-8 and feeling it. I don’t think he even noticed me leaving and I wasn’t going to tell him.
I waded through the muck back to the police station to collect my bags and my partners. Briefly entertained the idea of not collecting either. Decided I’d be nice.
It bothered me that I still didn’t know why we had come to this country. Other than experiencing the ambiance of the local drunk tank and the thrill of white water rafting sans raft, I hadn’t learned anything and felt no closer to my quarry than before. If there were any clues to be found here, they were now buried under several feet of mud. I dig for clues, but not with a shovel, so if there was something to be found here other than a one-way ticket to someplace else, I didn’t have the motivation to look.
Jimmy & Simon were entertaining the cops by doing their mime routine, and the uniforms were red faced & rolling on the floor as they watched Simon try to help Jimmy escape from an invisible box. I tolerate few things well and no things French, so this little pantomime came to an abrupt end as I pushed through the double doors. I glared across the room as my two Cirque du Soleil rejects put their imaginary tails between their legs and grabbed our things. I told the cops they were idiots and we walked out.
“That was pretty rude, Dick,” Simon told me.
“Why? They were idiots,” I said.
“No, not that. I meant interrupting our show.”
“Yeah dude,” Jimmy said sullenly, “They were getting into it. And we’re good at it too, you know? I mean, just because you had a bad childhood experience with – ”
“I said never to talk about that,” I snapped. “Never.”
“Sorry man. It just doesn’t seem fair to us is all.”
I looked at them both, two grown men standing there moping. Heads down, kicking aimlessly at the ground. Jeez.
“Hey guys,” I said, “How about a Slurpee?”
As expected, they both immediately brightened and were soon chatting amiably with wide eyed anticipation as we headed down the street to the 7-Eleven. Jimmy and Simon each got a 34-ouncer, though they were different flavors.
Like you care.
I passed on the refreshment and picked up a newspaper instead, going stock still as I looked at the front page. I couldn’t read it of course; foreign countries apparently never figure that they will have a visitor who doesn’t know their local language. Not like in America where we pander to every race, culture, and ethnicity by providing more media for people too lazy to speak English than we do for those of us who took the damn time to learn it.
But I didn’t have to speak the language in this case. Much to everyone’s surprise – including my own – I had managed to stay conscious in high school geography long enough to recognize a map of the world when I saw one. And my current experience with one certain international spy moose gave me enough insight to know what he looked like. Throw in my skilled deductive powers and it wasn’t a great jump for me to figure out by looking at the picture on the front page that my mammalian villain (I like the way that sounds, don’t you?) had just struck in Columbia. That’s Columbia South America, not South Carolina.
Interesting that there’s a Columbia in South America, South Carolina, and North America, but not North Carolina. Hmmmm. A puzzle to ponder another day.
Judging from the photos, mighty antlers and churning hooves had apparently laid waste to the entire agricultural industry of the country. Not really a big deal where foodstuffs are concerned, but the hit to coffee & cocaine had already resulted in a ripple effect of lowering SAT scores by 73 points and causing unemployment in the states to rocket up three percent due to layoffs in the DEA coupled with the mothballing of half the ships in the Coast Guard.
I whistled in appreciation of the mayhem caused by this one act and was suddenly slapped by some chick walking by who had apparently thought I had whistled at her. If she had looked half decent I probably would have let her get away with it, but she didn’t so I slapped her back.
Then, of course, her boyfriend got mad and decided to do the honorable “man” thing and come to her defense so he punched me in the stomach. I’ve hit people for a hell of a lot less than that, so I did my best David Copperfield impression and turned him into a meat blanket on the sidewalk.
A few locals in the vicinity took offense at this and jumped in to try their luck. Jimmy & Simon then noticed the commotion and came back to the 3rd dimension long enough to jump into the fray too, and before you could say “Sprechen zie deutsch” there were people slapping and punching each other all over the place.
I was having a good time but feared a possible return to the local jail if the cops showed up, so I nodded at the boys and we slipped out of the bedlam and got a cab to the airport.