Escape from Bellagio -
Still prisoners in the cellar of the Parrocchia Basilica S. Giacomo, Redlich and I continued planning our escape from the militant group of parochial Mimes holding us captive.
We searched around the cellar shelves and floor only to be disappointed in the lack of anything that could be used as a weapon. Among the assets we could find included a paint brush and white paint, a large tin can of olive oil, a few used alter candles, a partial bolt of black fabric used for alter-boy vestments, and a sewing kit.
"Without scissors, this is kind of a pain in the ass", said Redlich.
"I hear you brother, but this may be our only option. Keep tearing that fabric into four inch strips and I'll start painting."
The tearing, painting and sewing continued for two days, while bundling up our materials and hiding them before each of our single, late afternoon pasta feedings. We talked about Spoof story ideas, and our favorite writers, and I shared the events of my recent travels with him.
"Jimbo Gunn is a bouncer at the club in Amsterdam? I've never been to that one", said Redlich.
"And Monkey Woods practically separated my head from the rest of my body in Etterbeek", I added.
"You must have been new to the club there. They tend to be suspicious. Is Lowton still collecting money for using the secret exit in back?"
"Yeah, the cops rousted us while I was there. About half of the people made a bee line through the cabbage door."
"Ahh", Redlich paused. I miss the Jalapeno burgers, but not the smell of that back door".
"Better than the smell of the back doors at the Banana Bar in Amsterdam." I said. And just like that, the memories that had remained foggy for the last few days came rushing back like a rogue wave on the Mediterranean. The sights, the smells, even the taste in my mouth had returned in a total recall moment. I was forced to bend at the waist and grab my knees for a minute. "I'm never doing the chronic again", I said.
"Are you alright?" Redlich asked.
"I'll live", I replied.
Redlich began to tell me about another Skoob & Thistle in St. Moritz, north and east of us across the Swiss border. "We're actually pretty close to Switzerland from here", Redlich said. "If we wanted to get away clean from these Opus Dei freaks, we're better off getting out of the country as fast as possible."
"I'm with you there. First mon ami, we need to get out of here."
Not that we had ever planned to be wearing matching wardrobes when we were captured, luck, to some degree, was on our side. Both Redlich and I happened to be wearing black cotton casual pants and dark shoes. Though our shirts were different, that was about to change. On the fourth day of my captivity, and eight months for Redlich, we had finished our prep for escape that afternoon. With black and white horizontal striped, long sleeve shirts neatly sewn, a makeshift black beret and freshly painted white faces, we prepared the steps of our prison stairs as a last step. While Warren used the candles to rub a thin layer of wax on the stonework steps, I followed with the olive oil on top of that.
"Slipperier than WD-40", Redlich said.
"Or my first girlfriend after just about any teen romance movie", I added.
Everything was set by noon, while we waited for the pre-evening feeding. We continued exchanging story ideas and talking about Spoof events.
"What about Jesus Buddha, what's he up to?"
"He's been writing a whole magazine series called Psycho Town. Pretty good actually." I replied. "Astertame Boy is still writing about sugar or sugar substitutes. Duncan Whitehead has been hanging at the club in Amsterdam, same with Click and Ian B., and Lynton has been picking up points like nobody's business."
"What about the Queen?" Redlich asked.
"She's changed her avatar, an interesting view into the flexibility of a female gymnast, but still prolific as hell on anything political. She's not a fan of most British Parliamentary officials or Sarah Palin for that matter."
"And who is?" Redlich followed.
"True, dat". I replied, trying to sound like a street rapper.
Based on the sliver of light's position in the opposite wall coming from the small window above us, it was getting to be late afternoon. We could hear the faint approach of footsteps outside the cellar door and a set of keys jingling against the lock. And in that instant, Redlich and started shouting;
"Essi hanno carattere di escape! ESSI HANNO CARATTERE DI ESCAPE !"
(They have escaped)
The two mimes opened the doors saw two of their own in the cellar and came rushing down the stairs without question or caution. And that was that. Lying on the floor, out cold and with dinner all over the walls, we took advantage of their wallets and keys, carefully walked up the outer edges of the steps and found redemption in the late afternoon sunlight of the adjoining square.
"That pasta smelled good and I was hungry", Redlich said.
"You've been here too long", I replied. "Focus on your family, on cheeseburgers, on freedom. By the way, good thing you spoke Italian, that caught them off guard"
"Yes, yes. We need to get to Switzerland, I need to get home".
Finding a nice BMW key on one ring, we wandered around the perimeter of the church listening for the distinct sound of electric door locks, unlocking. "Bingo". We piled into a recent model 2-door and found a map in the glove compartment. Redlich drove and I navigated. 90 minutes later we were at the border. For some reason the customs agents there didn't seem to be phased about two Mimes heading across the border in full makeup. He just shook his head, waved us forward and said "Prego" with a "you like assholes" tone in his voice.
We were close to St. Moritz but needed to get to the Skoob & Thistle there and spend some time scrubbing the latex paint off our faces, before we could get in however, we needed the password from the central train station.
The Swiss seemed nice. Stoic but nice, although keenly focused on the two Mimes walking towards the bathroom together, not doing that Mime Shtick Mimes were supposed to be famous for. It was an in-and-out exercise for us. All we needed was the current password and we would have access to our Spoof safe haven. Our look raised some suspicion from the local police at the train station, though no one approached us as we made our way towards the exit.
"Only 3 KM away", I said as we headed towards the city center.
Based on the address, the club seemed to be in a more commercial part of town. Odd we both thought since Skoob & Thistle entrances tended to be in dark alleys, away from too much notice.
Redlich noticed a tail. "He's been following us for the last 3 turns. Maybe its nothing." He said.
Once on our final turn towards an older but updated shopping area, Redlich said, "We've got more company".
There were now two more police cars behind us, with lights flashing. We made the turn and found a Starbukks Coffee Shop where the Spoof Club was supposed to be. Without any options left, we parked on the street and jumped from the car. The two patrol cars had blocked both sides of the street and were now running after us.
"We're screwed", I said.
"Don't stop", Redlich commanded.
As we entered the door of the Coffee House in a rush, a tall attractive woman near the window stood up and started to move towards the door. She was wearing a classic black dress, 3 inch heals and sunglasses reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany's. Blocking the door, she looked back at us and asked in a slight British accent, "Password?".
"Banana Boy", Redlich responded.
"Banana Boy" I added as if to punctuate Warren's first answer.
The woman held out her palm towards the police and declared, "FERMATA!" The police stopped rushing the entrance. "Sono belli. Guarantiro per loro", she said.
In broken English, one policeman replied. "Apologies Queen Mudder, we didn't know they were with you".
"No trouble boys", she replied in English. "There will be a little extra in this week's pay for your troubles."
"Gracie, my queen. Mille gracie."
Catching our breath and watching the local St. Moritz police drive away, the woman we now knew as Queen Mudder asked, "And so, what are a couple of Mimes like you doing in a place like this?"
We laughed, we starting talking at the same time, we stopped at the same time and pointed to each other as if to say "You go first". I finally said, Warren Redlich here and I have been held captive by some freak radical religious group of Mimes against the free speech of The Spoof.
"Redlich?" The Queen asked. "You've been missing for months."
"Yes Ma'am. What started as a story idea search ended up in captivity. I never figured out why they didn't just kill me and get it over with."
"We know about these slime balls. They are still Catholic even if they are a splinter group, so murder can only be ordained by the Pope. Thankfully we Spoof writers haven't pissed off the Pope too much."
"That kills my story idea about Papal Toilet Paper and a Wiping Staff of Young Boys". I said.
Leading us to the rear of the coffee house, past the bathrooms was another dark hardwood door with a sliding steel window at eye level. The Queen knocked for us and the steel panel slid open.
"Password" the voice said.
"Banana Boy", Redlich replied.
"Couldn't it be anything other than a password with the word Banana in it?" I asked.
The Queen responded. "We all heard about your exploits in Amsterdam, Wortham. Why do you think the password is what it is?"
"Nice job on the peel and eat part of the evening" She followed. "Perhaps you should practice some restraint when you spend time with Puff the Magic Dragon next time."
"Yes, Ma'am". I replied.
Once the door opened, the Spoof Club, a.k.a. the Skoob & Thistle - St. Moritz, seemed packed to the gills. In the middle of the crowd I spotted Lynton, Nick Fun, and Fr. Fergus McCarthy apparently on some sort of sabbatical. Nick stood directly under the room's main chandelier while holding a Doberman on a leash. He pointed and yelled, "Hey look, the entertainment is here!"
I replied, "You like Mimes? See if you can figure out what I'm doing next."
Extending my arm fully towards Nick, slapping the inner part of my elbow and launching my fist in the air I declared, "FUNGU".