“Yes we are,” I answered.
“But, I thought they got him. We saw it on TV, the moose is dead.”
“That’s not the real spy moose,” I replied.
We were sitting around my kitchen table, plates from our just finished dinner pushed to the side, discussing our next moves. Simon leaned forward (which was obviously his next move, though we didn’t discuss it ahead of time).
“Dick,” he said, “fill us in. You apparently know some things you haven’t been telling us.”
“Indeed I do. But first, I need to know if you’re still with me. I need to know if you’re going to see this thing through to the end.”
“You know we are, Dick,” Simon answered, “but how can we? We got fired, remember?”
I did remember. I also remembered that it had been a long, long time since I had lit a cigarette without even thinking about it.
“Did we?” I asked.
“Well, yeah dude,” Jimmy said. “You were right there with us.”
“Oh, I remember alright,” I said, suddenly noticing the lit cigarette in my hand and not having the faintest idea of when I had lit it. “But think about it for a moment. Who fired us?”
“Well, Sandy did,” Simon replied.
“That’s right. But what is Sandy after all?”
This question seemed to stump them for a moment. Jimmy’s guess was “a man”, which technically was true, but not the answer I was looking for. Simon eventually got it.
“He’s a consultant?”
“Right again,” I said. “And what did I tell you about consultants?”
This was a much harder question and took a few minutes. I was surprised when it was Jimmy who came forth with the answer.
“Oooo! Oooo! I know! I know!” he said, wide eyed and jumping up and down. “They’re sneaky bastards and you can’t trust a thing they say!”
“Good man,” I said smiling. “You’re right. You’re absolutely right. And if you can’t believe anything they say, then . . .”
The lightbulb went off in Simon’s head first this time.
“Then we can’t believe them when they say that we’re fired!”
“Correct-a-mundo,” I said, enjoying their moment of discovery.
It was a good time to have a beer, so we all opened another one and toasted our good fortune of being employed again. The celebration was short lived, however, as we soon returned to the business at hand.
“Okay,” Simon said, “we’re back on the case. But are we any further ahead than we were before?”
“Absolutely. A lot has happened since we got fired,” I said. “And pieces of the puzzle are finally starting to fall into place.”
“Like what?” Jimmy asked.
“Like moose hats and cod stands and trips to Amsterdam. Like a mechanical moose that destroys crops and walks on the ceilings of airplanes and leaves antler fuzz on my car. Like commercials that don’t make any sense and a bar that disappears and a chapter of this book that is missing.”
“We know all that,” Simon said, obviously frustrated, “but what does it all mean?”
“I’m not completely sure yet,” I said, “but I think we’re actually dealing with two mysteries, not one.”
“Holy shit, dude,” Jimmy said, “you’re gonna fry my brain! This is getting hard.”
“It is complicated,” I offered, “and there are a few pieces of the puzzle – or should I say puzzles – that are missing. But here’s what I think is going on . . . ”
After explaining for the next half hour, I sat back and watched Simon stroke his chin in what I can only assume was a thoughtful, introspective manner. Jimmy looked totally confused, so I was pretty sure I had covered everything in full detail.
“Interesting,” Simon said. “Outlandish, unbelievable, and totally ridiculous, but interesting.”
“Can you go over the second part again dude?” Jimmy asked.
“Sorry Jimmy, we don’t have time for that. Things are starting to come to a head and we need to get moving if we’re going to get to the bottom of all this in time.”
“Yeah, I hear ya dude. A big 10-4 roger wilco on that,” he said.
“So what now?” Simon asked.
“Now, I have to make a few phone calls. One to the local public library, and one to the great city of Montgomery, Alabama.”
“Then, we’re going out to get a drink.”