The Kidnapping of J-Man's Teddy Bear
The news came fast and furious in the form of e-mail and text messages from the American Southwest. Before anyone knew what the real story was, or who might be to blame, e-mail begat e-mail until prompting an information frenzy based loosely and only on theory and conjecture. All that any of us knew for sure, was that the Jalapeno Man's prize teddy bear, the source of his muse and prolific writing capability, had been bear-napped.
The A.P.E. force had been activated, where U.S. agents and European agents were notified as to the horrific scene found at the Jalapeno Man's U.S. residence. Still enjoying his transient role as grill chef at the Skoob & Thistle in Brussels, the Jalapeno Man was scheduled for return to the U.S. only after his working vacation in and around Western Europe was complete. The bear, trusted to fend for himself during J-Man's two month hiatus, could not fight off the forces that captured him. There were slight polyester stuffing trails and some broken furniture found on the scene, but nothing to indicate the bear was injured too severely.
Skoob took on the initial responsibility of notifying the J-Man, thoughtfully holding back some of the crime scene details so the J-Man wouldn't become too upset. The bear was safe and in good hands, or so the ransom note stated, somewhere inside the Texas border. Video footage was sent in a later e-mail showing the bear, alive, holding a newspaper with current headlines from El Paso.
"BASTARDS!" The J-Man had yelled with a wail indicative of both anger and pain. By then the European faction of the "Author's Protection Echelon" had arrived at the Skoob & Thistle to support the J-Man in his time of need and to collect more personal data about "Mr. Roosevelt", as the J-Man called him. "Anything else you can tell us about Mr. Roosevelt's habits, web contacts or forums he might have been associated with?" asked Jimbo Gunn.
"Not that I know of", replied J-Man. "He was a Goggle member belonging to a couple of animated character and plush toy forums, but that's it."
"What about TheSpoof?" asked Monkey Woods.
"No, I was the only one doing the writing there. For sure". J-Man answered.
"What about the last 20 stories you wrote to take you over the 1000 mark. You wrote all of them yourself?" Asked Gunn.
"What stories?" J-Man asked. "You know perfectly well that when Lowton gets a Spoof visitor willing to work the kitchen, it's an 18 hour a day kind of thing."
"Then it looks like your bear has access to your Spoof account, and frankly is a better writer than you." Woods said.
"Anyone is a better writer than YOU, Monkey arms, so bite me."
"Relax J-Man. I'm just saying the bear helped you get to the thousand mark, that's all." Woods replied, though couldn't resist one more dig, "And he happens to be a crack writer too."
Lowton appeared from the back room, smelling of cabbage. "Listen fellas, I suggest we get J-Man back to the U.S. and continue operations there. We know the bear isn't here. The U.S. faction of A.P.E. is continuing the investigation and awaiting your arrival."
Spoof Club bouncers turned A.P.E. agents, Monkey Woods and Jimbo Gunn escorted J-Man to the airport. Frequently spiking his orange juice with vodka, Woods and Gunn made sure the J-Man would have a worry free, if not a mentally fogged flight home.
The road trip to the Mexican border was long and hard. "Like my Johnson", said Woods.
"We'll be home soon", said Gunn. "Just focus on getting Mr. Roosevelt home safe".
"And breaking a few limbs of the jerks who took him". Replied J-Man.
"At the very least", said Woods.
Bargis Tryhol flew over on an earlier flight to join Victor Nicholas and the San Francisco Onion already at the Jalapeno Man's residence. Upon arrival, the J-Man appeared devastated at the damage in his own home and could see the after effects of a physical struggle. "There's STUFFING!" he yelled.
"Easy now, J-Man", Bargis said. The forensic experts think is was a minor cut leading to stuffing loss and nothing too serious. Clearly the video shows Mr. Roosevelt in good health".
"Video, what video?" J-Man asked.
Only then did the A.P.E. agents think it was reasonable to show the J-Man the ransom video.
"Oh God", exclaimed the J-Man. "Just don't hurt him."
The J-man continued to examine the video closely, leaning forward towards the computer screen for a closer look. "The resolution isn't bad actually", he said. Choosing to open the video into an editor, the J-Man enlarged the newspaper to an image where you could almost the read the fine print.
"There!", J-Man exclaimed. "Look right there".
"I don't see nuttin", said Woods.
"Look at the lower section header, targeted to local neighborhoods around El Paso. It clearly says Fort Bliss."
"Yeah, so?" replied the Onion.
"No, no, I get it", said Victor. "and if you look at the upper right you can barely see a stack of boxes on a wire rack with the Burger Queen logo".
"I'll be damned", declared Bargis. "We need to be targeting Burger Queens in the Fort Bliss area."
"Well, lets get moving damn it!" declared the Jalapeno Man.
On the road trip to El Paso, the other writers turned A.P.E. agents were trading stories about past inspirations, but the J-Man was strangely quiet. Finally Victor asked him, "So what are your inspirations for stories, J-Man".
He fumbled around for an answer, but could not articulate the source for any of his thousand and growing count of story ideas.
"Seems odd that you can't describe how you some up with these great stories", Victor analyzed. "They should be a source of great pride, they clearly were the product of great inspiration."
At that point the truth came out as if puss from a festering would. The J-Man fumbled with words, and looked for sympathies along the way but the simple facts were that he had written none of thousand or so stories we was credited with. "Mr. Roosevelt wrote them all", he said, breaking into tears. "My whole Spoof identity is based on the talents of my stuffed but gifted bear."
"He types pretty damn well for not having any fingers", declared The Onion.
"Can it, you insensitive pig", answered Victor. "Can't you see the man is cleansing himself of these inner demons, give him some space."
While wiping the tears of inner cleansing away, the J-Man took on another set of emotions, that of anger and lust for retribution. The team stormed out of the car and into the Burger Queen. Their first stop was their last. The minimum wage counter employees and new Spoof writers, were attempting to extort story ideas from the J-Man. They recognized the A.P.E. crew and made for the rear exits.
Mr. Roosevelt was found, bandaged but otherwise unharmed, in the freezer. He was stuffed in an empty box of cheese.
"Good thing he carries his own insulation with him", said Gunn.
"It's a stuffed bear you idiot", said Victor.
"It's an animated stuffed bear who can type, and my best friend", said J-Man.
The group continued the reunion at the back of the Burger Queen, while Bargis Tryhol communicated the status update from his Blackcherry. The Spoof staffers would soon know that the saga was over, although the story of who truly wrote the thousand stories was not disclosed.
"We need to keep this just between us", said Victor. "There's no reason to out the J-Man over this given the fact that everyone uses an alias. Let's just consider the J-Man to be a writing team".
"I'm good with that" replied Gunn. "Me too" said the rest.
"One question though", Tryhol asked. "If you two are such a close team, why does your avatar show you choking him?"
"Ahh yes, December 1995.", J-Man answered. "I accused him of stealing the last Jalapeno from my drying rack and he retaliated by peeing in my cornflakes. That's when the fight broke out."