(Continued from Chapter 1.)
Don and Dan Take a Flight
Next Monday, as usual, I walk in Bigote’s front door. Also as usual, I’m hungover. I’m wearing sunglasses and everything is still too bright, it’s a quiet morning but the birds chirping nearby are deafening. My stomach feels like it’s full of acidic foam, and I have a crappy taste in my mouth that won’t go away no matter how much water I drink or how many times I spit, and every once in a while something shifts uncomfortably in my intestines. And do I regret a thing?
Bigote’s place is even messier than usual. A book is splayed open on the floor, right in front of the door, so I accidentally kick it as I walked in.
“Fuck!” I say, bending down over my stubbed toe. “Fuck, shit, bitch!”
I was wearing flip flops, and the book was one of those big hard-cover tombstone books that nobody reads, so my toe hurt. A lot.
“Fucking shit,” I say, as I flip the offending book to see its title. It’s called The Decline of the West. Of course.
“Dan, is that you?” comes a voice from the kitchen.
“Yes, it’s fucking me. Why don’t you clean up your damn house when you know people are coming over?”
“Sorry, Dan, I can’t quite hear you from out there. Would you mind coming over here? I have something cooking, and the crackling oil is causing quite a ruckus.”
I come into the kitchen. Don Bigote is stooped over a frying pan, spectacles down on his nose, a grease-stained cookbook by his side, surrounded by dirty measuring cups, a ripped open bag of sugar, an empty carton of milk, and of course his mustache thoughtfully standing guard over the whole scene.
“I thought that I would prepare some breakfast for you, in thanks for getting me out of that perilous situation last Friday.”
“Uh, oh yeah, cool.”
“It’s just finished!” he says, and begins scrapping the contents of the frying pan onto some plates nearby. He walks over and puts one in front of me. It’s full of bacon burnt to a crisp and a rubbery fried egg.
“You needed a cookbook for this?” I say.
“Oh, forget it,” I say, and take a big bite of the carbon meat.
“Is this in reference to the plan of building a shelter? Because, if so, I quite agree.”
“You’re quite right, Dan. My original idea was seriously flawed. For one, building a shelter in the United States leaves us too open to detection and attack. We need to distance ourselves some more from the center of the conspiracy. Besides, how could I hope to preserve the treasures of Western culture from here? What a blockhead I am! Clearly, we need to go to Europe—to the motherland, so to speak—if we earnestly wish to gather the fruits of European cultural achievement.”
“Huh? Go to Europe?”
“Yes, Dan, it’s a far better plan. We can simultaneously isolate ourselves (to some extent) from the grasping reaches of our enemies, while putting ourselves in direct contact with the civilization we hope to preserve. It’s perfect!”
“You’re talking about ‘us’ again.”
“Well, of course, you must come with me. As you demonstrated in Home Depot, you are invaluable to me. Without you, I would have succumbed to my own foolish impulses.”
“You’re saying you’re gonna take me to Europe?”
“That is an adequate summary of my proposal.”
“Woah, dude. Where in Europe?”
“Excellent question, my dear Dan Chopin. I have considered all the political entities, both large states and small, and there is one clear best option: Spain. Spain is geopolitically unimportant enough to make it a safe hiding place. It has a great deal of historic depth, possessing some fine Roman ruins, to name just one example. It is the birthplace of some of the most excellent architects, artists, musicians, and writers who have ever lived and breathed. And, most importantly, the Spanish already have experience in fighting the Muslims and the Mexicans.”
“Uh yeah?” I say, as I struggle to chew the fried egg, which has the approximate texture of a car tire.
“Yes, indeed. For seven whole centuries, Muslims lived in their country—a long, dark night of oppression!—until the brave Spanish Christians rose up and pushed them out. And of course the Spaniards are responsible for toppling the ancient Mexican empires in the Americas.”
“So, wait,” I say, having finally finished swallowing the egg. “Let me get all this straight. You are offering to pay for me to go with you to Spain?”
“So we can, like, learn about Europe and all that?”
“Hell yeah!” I say. “Let’s get our asses out of Alabama!”
* * *
Four days later, we’re in the car on the way to the airport.
I’m driving—I don’t trust that whack job behind the wheel—and Don Bigote is sitting in the passenger seat, the window rolled down, his mustache fluttering in the wind. Through the ventilators I can smell the burning chemical odor of the old truck’s worn-out transmission. Several cars have honked at us because of the trail of impenetrable black smoke we are leaving behind us. Well, they can go to hell.
I’m feeling a little weird about the whole thing. Bigote is one strange dude, no joke, and I think his relationship with reality is worse than my relationship with my ex-girlfriend, Sharona, who once threw my phone in a public toilet. Is this really a good idea? What if he does something equally crazy as he did in Home Depot and gets us thrown into Spanish jail? Well, Spanish jail doesn’t sound so bad. I read online somewhere that they’re co-ed.
My dad was totally against the idea.
“What?! Go to Europe with the Colonel? That’s totally insane!”
“But, dear,” mom said. “It’s just for a few months, and maybe it can be really good for him.”
“I’m getting paid,” I said.
“Yeah, but have you seen that guy? He’s a crank, a loony, a crackpot. What’s he going to do in a foreign country? Does he even speak Spanish?”
“There’s Google translate, dad.”
“Oh, honey,” mom said to dad. “I think this is a great opportunity! Danny can travel, get some work experience. And, after all, Bigote isn’t all that bad. He’s a bit of a hippie, sure, and eccentric, but I don’t think he’s at all dangerous.”
“I don’t feel good about this at all,” dad said. “Danny, listen. If anything goes wrong, just get on a plane and fly home. Don’t worry about the money.”
That’s roughly how the conversation went. So yeah, I suppose I have an escape option if worse comes to worse.
I see the sign for the airport, and take the exit.
“Where should I park?” I say.
“Oh, just over there.”
“But the sign says 72 Hours Maximum. Isn’t there a long-term parking or something?”
“Oh, Dan. What’s it matter? I’m never coming back!”
“Well, maybe some day, far in the future, after the great Cataclysm.”
“I don’t remember you telling me this.”
“No need to worry, Dan, we can just leave this old thing anywhere.”
“You’re the boss,” I say, and pull into a spot.
We get out and begin getting our bags. It isn’t much. I have a duffle bag and a backpack, and Bigote a brown leather briefcase and one of those rolling suitecases. We shut the doors and lock the car.
“Goodbye, old friend,” says Bigot, tenderly touching his shitty pickup truck. “You’ve been good to me.”
And we turn and walk through the parking lot towards the terminal.
“You know, Dan,” Don says, “apart from being a necessary means of transportation, this voyage also provides us an excellent opportunity to investigate air travel, one of the West’s most triumphant achievements.”
“Ever flown before?” I say.
“Actually, no. This will be my first aerial experience, and I must say that I am tremendously excited. The only thing which prevents me from being positively jubilant on this occasion is the unfortunate, but inescapable, global conspiracy.”
“Well, we’ll get away from that soon enough,” I say.
“Ah, don’t be so sure, Dan, don’t be so sure. The conspiracy reaches everywhere. Even this whole business of tickets, passports, visas, security—all this tyrannical nonsense!—it’s just a way for the conspiracy to control our movements, and by doing so, our minds.”
“I thought it was because of 9/11 and stuff like that?”
“Dan, sometimes your ignorance pains me. 9/11 is connected to this, yes, but of course you must realize it was a false-flag operation.”
“A what flag?”
“You see, it is true that the Muslims were behind it, as everyone already believes. But what is not true is that it was the work of a relatively small band of Muslims, without the government’s notice. You see, the Muslims are the government now. They tricked some poor fools into hijacking those planes, in order to distract the populace, to scare us, allowing the executive branch to expand its power, and the security state to extend its tentacles into every aspect of our lives. Just like we find here!”
Bigote gestures grandly at the airport.
“So, you’re saying that Muslims, who own the government, destroyed the Twin Towers in order to expand the power of the government, and then blamed Muslims?”
“Well, I just hope they don’t do it to our flight,” I say. “Alright, let’s double check. Do you have your passport?”
“Right here,” Bigote says, taking out a blue booklet and handing it to me.
“Well done, isn’t it?” Bigote says, winking at me.
“Pretty convincing, eh?”
“Convincing?” I say, blinking in disbelief. “Don, is this a fake?”
“Why, of course it is. I am traveling under a fake name, so I can’t use a real passport.”
“Are you kidding me?!”
“Don’t worry, Dan, I followed an instructional video. They said it’s guaranteed.”
I flipped through the pages, and immediately noticed that the edges were coming apart, like the whole thing was held together by Elmer’s glue.
“You better not get us arrested,” I say.
“Dan, have some faith in me. We only need this to get into Spain. Once there, I’ll make another one.”
“Well, because I’m going to need to forge a visa, of course.”
“Forge a visa?”
“And you too.”
“Dan, I feel like I have to spell everything out for you. On a tourist visa, you can only stay for 90 days, which is of course not nearly enough time. And I can’t exactly obtain a working visa or a residency visa—for the aforementioned problem that I am traveling under an assumed name. Satisfied?”
“Oh, God, I’m going to jail, I’m going to Guantanamo Bay!”
“That’s another false flag, I’m afraid,” says Bigote.
* * *
We check in successfully—the woman at the front desk looks a little too long at Bigote’s passport, but finally lets us go—and now we’re on the line to security.
I am sweating like a pig already. Fuck, I am such an idiot! Dad was right, I should never have tried to take a trip with this nut. Look at him: bobbing his head up and down like he’s brain-dead, walking like he’s got a stick up his ass, with those stupid thin glasses on the tip of his nose—does he even need glasses?—and that ridiculous mustache. Oh God, why doesn’t he trim that thing? His mustache makes him look even more suspicious!
I look ahead to the security guards. Oh no, they’re ethnic! Bigote is going to think they’re Muslims or Mexicans or something. Fuck my life!
“All liquids must be put into a sealed plastic bag,” says one of the guards in a mechanical monotone, “and separated from your luggage. Please take your laptops out of your bags and out of their cases, and put them into a separate tray. All cell phones, keys, jackets, belts, shoes, and metal objects need to go into a bin and through the machine.”
The people ahead of us are all doing that awkward scramble where they unpack half their luggage and get half-undressed, only to be waved through the machine to the other side, where half of them are stopped anyways to have their bags searched or their bodies waved with the metal wand, or something.
“Okay, so, just like we practiced, okay?” I whisper to Bigote.
“Of course, Dan. No need to worry. I have done thorough research.”
“Ok, well, just stay quiet.”
We get to the conveyor belt thing and begin doing the undressing dance. I put my little duffle bag on the conveyor belt. Soon I’m being waved through the metal detector, which thankfully doesn’t beep. I look behind me, and see that Bigote is fumbling with his belt, which is really difficult to take off because wearing a giant brass belt-buckle shaped like the state of Texas. Jesus…
I turn back and look for my bag. Some bald security guard, wearing white latex gloves, is standing over it.
“Sir, is this your bag?” he says.
“Okay, I’m just going to do a quick chemical test.”
“Wait right here, sir.”
He pulls out a little white cloth thing and begins whipping it all over my bag. He goes over to a machine and puts the cloth inside. He looks down at it, and frowns.
“Sir, would you mind if I searched your bag?”
“Sir, the machine gave me a positive reading for marijuana, so I have to perform a search in order to let you through.”
“You can detect weed? No way!”
He quickly unzips the bag and begins ruffling through my stuff. Shit, shit, shit. Try not to look nervous. Ah, but it’s too late! I’m fucked! My weed is in an old pencil case in one of the side-pockets…
“SIR, STOP WHERE YOU ARE NOW AND PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!”
Someone behind me shouts this at the top of his voice. There is a confusion of screams and shouts, as people around me start running away in all directions. The cop searching my luggage immediately drops what he’s doing, jumps over the conveyor belt, and pulls out his gun.
I look and see Don Bigote standing in the metal detector, his hands on his head, which makes it easy to see his old revolver strapped to his hip. Of course.
He’s surrounded by about five security guards, all of them with their pistols pointed at him. One is radioing for backup.
“Sir, I need you to lie down on the floor, slowly, without moving your hands. Alright?”
“But I have an open carry license!” Bigote says.
“Sir, lie down now or we will have to shoot.”
“It’s my constitutional right!”
“SIR, GET DOWN ON THE GROUND!”
“Get the fuck down, Bigote!” I yell at him. “Get your mustachioed ass down!”
Several tense moments pass. Bigote appears torn. A part of him seems to be considering having a shootout. But finally, deciding that he’s outgunned, he follows the cop’s instructions and lays down on the floor. One of the guards approaches carefully and takes the revolver out of his holster. The gun removed, all the guards close in, pinning him on the floor while they put him in handcuffs.
While they’re all busy, I decide that it’s the best time to skedaddle. But just as I’m about to walk off, I hear Bigote say:
“Dan, don’t wait for me!”
“Hey, are you with this guy?” one of the guards says, as he grabs my shoulder and spins me around.
“Uh, him? No…”
“I’m afraid you have to come with us, sir.”
“Oh no!” Bigote shouts, as he’s being dragged off. “Dan, not you too! The monsters!”
Next thing I know, I’m in handcuffs, too, being led off to God knows where. Great.
* * *
This is a nightmare. Wake up, wake up, wake up. Oh man, I should have went to the bathroom before this. Beer and burritos was a terrible idea for breakfast.
I’m sitting in one of those sterile interrogation rooms, like you see on television, except it’s real. The walls are plain white, and there’s a mirror on one side. And I just know a bunch of cops are on the other side, watching us through the glass, probably making fun of Bigote’s mustache. Better not be saying anything about me.
Bigote is right next to me. We’re both seated in these awful metal chairs, our hands handcuffed behind our backs, with an equally metallic table in front of us. Really, it’s just like TV, except on TV they usually separate the terrorist suspects. Also, on TV the terrorists usually don’t need to take a big, probably smelly dump while they’re being interrogated.
“Dan, I’m so—”
”NO TALKING!” cracks a voice on the loudspeakers, interrupting Bigote.
Silence resumes. All I can hear is a ventilator and Bigote’s breathing, which sounds like another ventilator.
Right on cue, a detective enters. He looks the part: big masculine jaw with five o’clock shadow, big buff shoulders underneath a black suit, and all the rest. He closes the door behind him, walks over to the empty seat across from us, and sits down.
“My name is Detective Murky,” he says, his voice all gruff-like, “and I’m here to find out what the hell you were doing with that gun.”
“We’ll never talk!” Bigote shouts, his voice choked with enthusiasm. “Never!”
“Can’t we like, get a lawyer or something?” I say.
“Terrorists don’t get lawyers!” says Murky.
“A lawyer, ha!” Bigote says. “They’re some of the most heinous conspirators!”
“Jesus Christ, Bigote,” I say. “Will you shut the fuck up?”
“Enough playing around!” Murky says, slamming his fist on the table. “Who are you? Muslims extremists?”
“Oh, please,” Bigote says. “Is this your plan? Frame us as Muslims conspirators? We’re not even circumcised!”
“Speak for yourself dude,” I say.
“Dan, let me handle this.”
“Not circumcised?” Murky says. “Who are you, then?”
I hear Bigote inhale slowly.
“I suppose at this point,” Bigote says, “there’s no use in trying to keep a secret.”
“That’s damn right.”
“You see,” Bigote says, “we’re on a mission, a mission to save civilization.”
“Save civilization from what? American tyranny?”
“Don’t be a fool!” Bigote says. “From the international Muslim-Mexican-homosexual-feminist-Marxist-scientific conspiracy!”
Murky’s eyes widen, and he sits up even straighter in his chair.
“Explain,” he says.
“Well, there is no time for details. But suffice to say the conspirators have already penetrated every layer of government, and are now very near their goal: the total collapse of Western civilization. I wouldn’t be surprised if you yourself were an agent.”
“Okay…” says Murky, his eyes narrowing. “What’s your mission, then?”
“You see,” Bigote says. “If my calculations are correct, it’s far too late to prevent the conspiracy from succeeding. But there is still some time—a few years, maybe—to prepare for the inevitable. That’s why I’m trying to go to Spain, to gather up the fruits of Western civilization and preserve them for the scattered bands of survivors who will survive the collapse.”
Murky sits for a few seconds, saying nothing, rubbing his temples with one hand. Meanwhile, the pressure in my intestines is becoming uncontainable. The inevitable happens. A fart begins to escape my insides, seeping out slowly at first, making a whirring whistling sound, but quickly accelerating into a roaring flapping explosion that fills the entire room with its rumbling.
A few seconds of dreadful silence pass—the interval between the explosion’s report and the explosion’s effects—as the sound disappears into an echo, and then into a dreadful memory shared by everyone present. And then, finally, the smell hits.
I detect it first—it’s even worse than usual, a mixture of rotten eggs, vinegar, and old ham that’s gone bad—and then Bigote catches a whiff (I can tell because he starts coughing), and finally it reaches Murky, whose only reaction is to blanch paper white.
“Excuse me,” he says, and quickly leaves the room.
“Dan, that was brilliant,” Bigote says, between coughs. “Excellent diversionary tactic. Now, help me figure out how to slip out of these metallic restaints.”
“You know they can hear and see everything we’re doing, right?”
“That’s just what they want you to think, Dan. Now hurry! There’s not much time.”
Suddenly, the lights go out. Someone has pulled the alarm! The sprinkler’s start drenching us with water, a siren is whirring, a bell is ringing, and red lights are flashing. As if my headache wasn’t bad enough already.
Murky bursts in the door.
“Quick!” he says “Come with me!”
With his left hand he jerks me to my feet, and with his right hand he takes Bigote. Soon we are being pushed into the hallway, around a corner, through a corridor, as people all around us are running left and right, carrying folders, bundles of paper, laptops, and crying babies, trying to protect what they can from the sprinklers.
“Is there a fire?” Bigote says.
“Just shut up and move!” Murky answers.
After what seems like a long time, Murky slams us both against a wall.
“Wait,” he says, as if we have a choice. He gets out a big bunch of keys like janitors always carry, fumbles a bit, finds the right one, and then opens a nearby door.
“Come on!” he says, and grabs us again.
Now we’re outside, somewhere in the airport. He puts us both in the back of one of those little golf cart things that security guards use, and begins to drive.
“What on earth is going on?” Bigote screams.
“Sorry about the alarm,” Murky yells back as he’s driving. “There wasn’t anyway else to get you guys out of there.”
“What? You pulled it?” I say.
“Not only that, but I disconnected the security footage so they wouldn’t see us escape.”
“This must mean that my worst fears are confirmed,” Bigote says. “He’s an agent of the conspiracy, Danny. We’re being taken to one of their brainwashing facilities where we’re going to be forced to watch gay porn and global warming documentaries until we lose touch with reality.”
“You don’t understand,” Murky says. “I’m helping you escape.”
“Sweet!” I say. “Thanks! Hey, did you also manage to get my weed?”
“Why would you help us?” Bigote says.
“Listen,” Murky says. “I got this job because I wanted to keep my country safe from foreigners. But the more I see what’s going on in the world, the more I think that our own government is on their side! First that scumbag Obama was elected, a secret Muslims who was born in Kenya—that birth-certificate was an obvious forgery!—and then all these Syrian refugees? The whole world has gone crazy!”
“Exactly!” Bigote cries.
“So when you told me what you what you were doing, I thought, ‘Well, here’s a man I got to help’.”
“Oh, rejoice, rejoice!” Bigote says. “Thank heavens for the few remnants of decency in this godforsaken world!”
We arrive in the parking lot, and Murky takes off our handcuffs and lets us go.
“Now get in your car and drive off quick.”
“I can’t thank you enough,” Bigote says, clasping Murky’s hand.
“Don’t mention it,” Murky says. “Now go, fast!”
Bigote and I jump in the pickup truck, drive straight through the parking gate (no time for the fee), and onto the highway, leaving a cloud of black smoke trailing behind us as we speed away towards our next misadventure.