The Protection of Carina-Eta
Eclectic yet somehow pointless, the beer and tequila induced banter between Victor Nicholas and I continued well into the wee hours of the morning. The Skoob & Thistle at the Trocadero Club had started to clear out about midnight, while the bar remained faithfully tended by a witty gentleman who called himself "The San Francisco Onion".
Fully engaged in attempting to solve the world's most pressing issues, Victor, the Onion and I searched for causal factors and potential global solutions, all under the haze offered by the fermentation process with blue agave plant and malted barley.
"If half the world is Bi-Polar or just stressed out, we should be spiking municipal water supplies with Lithium or at least Xanax", Victor suggested.
"We should add Viagra too", The Onion added. "If half the world's leaders were getting some, there would be far less aggression. Look at Kim Jong Il. He's in more desperate need of a blow job than any Asian man in history. "
"True, true. Make love nor war", Victor followed.
"What about global warming?" I asked. "How much carbon monoxide or dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere from human flatulent? Nobody is really studying that."
"But only if you light them, otherwise it's just methane with a hint of sulfur". Said The Onion.
"True again", said Victor. "Either way, you're not stopping the human impact to the atmosphere unless you plug everyone's bung hole, or eliminate cabbage from the face of the earth."
"Vegetarians then, are clearly responsible for global warming", I concluded.
"Wortham, you're an idiot", declared The Onion.
"True, true", added Victor.
"No, well, OK, but I am a bit shnickered and I was going for humor".
"And you failed", said Victor.
"Yes, but another beer will make me funnier, I promise. At least it will sound funnier to me".
Our conversation eventually shifted to story writing and our respective and never ending searches for spoof ideas. We mentioned our favorite writers and the how their personalities really didn't come out in force until they blossomed in the forums. Somehow Carina-Eta's name came up, followed by recognition that she had not been heard from in quite some time.
"Ah yes, sad story that", said Victor. "Harassed by an electronic stalker. Apparently her anonymity didn't hold."
"Was the guy ever, ever, like prosecuted?" I asked.
"Don't know the answer there, but she has been away for about a year. Too bad there isn't a protection agency to investigate this kind of privacy abuse."
"Letz forn a pro, <hic>, a pro, <hic> a protekshun aguncy".
"Onion my friend, it is time to cut Mr. Wortham off", Victor apparently said, because cold and tasty beverages stopped coming over to my little corner of the bar top. At least, that was as much as I could remember from the evening, except for cuddling up to something large, round, cold, smooth and white.
The following morning I woke in the men's room of the Skoob & Thistle, smelling of urine and tequila and finding a note and $20 bill pinned to my jacket. It said, "Take a cab to your hotel, two aspirin, a shower, a change of clothes and then call me in the morning… Victor".
We met around 11:30 on Lombard Street about 9 blocks off the wharf, and though I smelled far better that I did just an hour before, my mouth still tasted like a grizzly bear had taken a shit on my tongue. With the added flavor of my toothpaste, it was now a minty fresh flavor of grizzly shit.
"Vottz gnu pussy cat?" Victor greeted me as approached the outdoor café table.
"The world is musical and I've got a marching band performing John Phillips Sousa in my head".
Victor turned to the waiter, "Doctor, one Bloody Mary for my friend here, STAT!"
"And so, while you were sleeping the morning away, I've already exchanged a number of text messages with our Spoof Club friends here and in Europe. Your drunken ramblings have produced an actionable idea."
"And what, by the power of Grayskull, are you talking about?", I asked.
"Put your arm and your fork down, you look ridiculous", Victor replied. "We've laid the groundwork for a writer protection agency. A number of S&K bouncers are already signing up to be local enforcers. Monkey Woods suggested the name; Anonymity Protection Echelon".
"A.P.E. Of course Woods suggested it", I replied with a tone of disgust, remembering the choking received by Woods' hairy arms.
"Jimbo Gunn is in, Jalapeno Man, Abel Rodriquez, and so is IanB. It also looks like we will get the original owner of the Skoob & Thistle, Skoob1999 to manage the network." Victor explained.
As I downed my second Bloody Mary, we were approached by our friendly bartender from the night before. The San Francisco Onion approached us carrying a shopping bag and three leather folders.
"Gentlemen, and Wortham. Good to see you're both up and functioning."
"Bite me", I said, searching for something witty or intelligent to say in reply.
"Crack of Noon, or Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition, seems to be your mantra, Wortham. You sure you want to finish what you started?"
"Huh?", I was on an intellectual roll.
"We're prepared to launch the APE network, with a little help from other Spoof authors inside a few private buildings around Quantico Virginia, if you know what I mean. This was your idea after all."
"To find Carina-Eta and convince her to write again?"
"No, you festering, unintelligible bucket of whale snot. To go after the scum that threatens our writers or their anonymity". Said The Onion.
"It was a decent idea, though you were blitzed out of your mind", added Victor. "And we have hooks into the FBI, CIA and MI5 for a little help on electronic back searches. Once a threat comes from a computer or a network anywhere, we'll know who it came from."
"And that's when we bust a cap?" I asked, trying almost lifelessly, but in a typical Redneck, gun toting response.
"Nothing illegal" Victor replied. "But our people will make it clear that there will be penalties should the stalking continue. Stop, or else." Victor said.
"And then we bust a cap." I said with confidence.
The Onion passed out cloned and untraceable Blackcherry phones, with global network connectivity and direct links to government and telecom databases in the US and in Europe. The leather folders contained a set of codes to be used daily to access the APE status database in search of reports for stalking activity or penetrations into writer privacy.
"Ha, ha. You said penetration". I was still drunk.
"Does the P.M. stand for Pee Myself?" Asked The Onion.
"Not since I was 14", I replied proudly. "Wait a minute, there was that time in Munich during Octoberfest."
The Onion continued. "Our internal network of agents…"
"You mean APE Agents?" I asked.
"Yes, APE Agents will be monitoring pleas for assistances or cries for help on our network, and then the investigatory wheels will be set in motion. From there we'll call on whatever local agent we have in that city and activate a neutralization of the threat", said The Onion.
"Sounds like a simple solution design, but with deep supporting technology. Nice job Onion." Said Victor.
I had not noticed until that moment that our tall and thin waiter was staring at me. When I made eye contact, he scampered back inside the café. He returned in a few minutes with our lunch order and looked me over once more with downward furrowed eyebrows as if searching to place me in some place at some time. He carefully positioned my plate of tuna salad with tomatoes.
The Onion looked up and smiled after his plate had been carefully placed in front of him. "Thanks Bob", he said.
"You know this guy?" I asked.
"Of course. He's a regular at the Trocadero".
As soon as the un-muffled word "Trocadero" came out of The Onion's mouth. Bob turned and looked at me once more. He smiled and said, "Tall dark and drunk out of your mind, hello."
He walked over while reaching into his pocket and pulled out a business card. It was my near acquaintance from the previous night, Naomi, without the wig, latex bustier or black boots. "Honey, you simply need to call me", Bob said presenting me with a fresh "Naomi Imoan" business card.
"Sorry Bob, and trust me when I tell you this, you're just not my flavor of ice cream, not that there's anything wrong with you or your own flavor of ice cream". I sounded like a bumbling idiot.
Misinterpreting my attempt to be slightly kinder and gentler in front of my new Spoof Writing friends, Bob asked, "So maybe not your favorite, but you might like my ice cream perhaps some other time?".
"Go fornicate yourself, Bob. I'll stick to partners without a Y chromosome."
As Bob returned to the sanctity of the café, the remaining details for the A.P.E. network were discussed, though still forming. Regional agents were still being recruited and guidelines for enforcement had yet to be defined. Still, there was hope that inappropriate stalking behavior would be thwarted, and spoof writers would again enjoy freedom of the spoof, without fear of reprisal or loss of anonymity.
The A.P.E. slogan thus became: "Freedom of the Spoof, with protection for the Spoofer".