Tuesday, April 22, 2008


My dear friend Sherri outside of Phoenix, AZ has joined "The Souls" writing group on Yahoo. She forwarded me this exercise: pick up and write a chapter from this beginning...


It wasn't a dark and stormy night, just another boring 72-degree day in Los Angeles. I turned on the morning news. I'm not sure if it is actually live or just a tape that is re-spliced and played again each day. Channel surfing produced the usual: A car chase, Click. A freeway shooting, Click. Weather, same again tomorrow, Click. A nauseating lawyer (I know, redundant) explaining why his client, who had stabbed three people, was entitled to five million in damages from the knife manufacturer because he had cut his finger on the weapon's defective handle. (Say, did you hear about the terrorists who stormed the courthouse and had fifty lawyers captive on a bus, demanding ten million dollars or they would release them?) Click. All freeways moving normally.

After finishing my breakfast of egg and grain free toaster pancakes followed by a steaming cup of distilled water, I set the alarms, let out the Rottweilers and headed for the garage. For once I was ahead of schedule. It was 7 A.M. I should get to work, which is ten miles away, by 8:30. Turning the key of my leased 600 horsepower red German convertible with gold wheels, I donned a pair of 500 dollar designer sunglasses. And thought: only three more payments and they're mine.

Pulling into the parking lot at 8:25 I knew it would be a great day. "Good morning Brittanni." She is our fourth receptionist in six months. Brittanni looked stunning in her six inch heels and designer mini-dress. That woman has more plastic in her than the Tupperware factory uses in a week, but when you're trolling for a rich husband, bait is important. Our company imports products from China. My job is to rewrite the instruction sheets into something resembling English. However, when at a club or bar, I of course tell the women I meet that I am an International Financier or a Secret Agent. There is a list of clubs and bars I frequent in my wallet with the appropriate occupations and corresponding business cards. A lot of women ask why I am not married and I tell them the truth. The dating scene is so full of phony women claiming to be models and actresses that I haven't yet found that real and honest woman.

I settled into my cubicle and reached for my In Box when the phone rang. "There is a person in the lobby to see you." Brittanni sounded stressed. "I'll be right out." While making my way to reception, the plant manager cornered me and began reading a laundry list of products that couldn't ship because I was behind on the instruction sheets. When I finally got to reception I found myself staring at a person in combat boots, wearing some sort of uniform, leaning over Brittanni's desk. Looking very relieved, Brittanni slid her chair away from the desk and stammered "Oh, here is the gentleman you wish to see. This is Roger Smythe."

"How can I help you?"

"My name is Sergeant Roberta Browning with the U.S. Customs Service." She handed me a business card and pumped my hand while simultaneously crushing it. Although she was speaking to me, she seemed to have a hard time keeping her eyes off of Brittanni.

"You can call me Bob."

She looked like she could bench press 400 pounds. I was envious of her physique. I remember a recent date telling me I was in need of some physical activity. I told her about spending a couple of months working out with my good buddy Arnold, but that the only thing I had developed was an Austrian accent!

Bob informed me that I would have to accompany her to the harbor to inspect one of our incoming shipments and answer a few questions. We should be back by lunch time. Bob looked at Brittanni and asked "Do you know any nice, quiet restaurants around here?" Brittanni stuttered "I uh, um, always bring my lunch. I'm on a very special diet, besides there must be some wonderful places at the harbor and Roger just loves seafood. Don't you Roger?"

We went to the parking lot. Bob motioned me to a white Crown Victoria with a light bar on the roof and a cage separating the front and back seats.

"You can ride up front with me unless you prefer the back and looking like a felon."

"NO! The front is fine."

Naturally there was a three car crash completely blocking the Harbor Freeway. Bob said, "No sweat, I know a way around this on surface roads." We drove through areas that gang bangers would be afraid to traverse. "They should tear down this area and put up a slum." Inane comments are my version of whistling in the dark when I'm nervous.

Arriving at the docks, there were cars with flashing lights and lots of agitated people in uniforms milling about. A dark suited guy right out of "Men in Black" opened the driver side door. "Bob, you're not going to believe what's going on inside."


I stepped out of the Crown Vic and immediately sucked salted air with a delightful petroleum finish. Decomposing on the dock was a standard overseas shipping container labeled with nothing more than "Far East Freight" and Mandarin rust.

Dark Suit stammered..."It's, um, well, it APPEARS to be everything we have been looking for."

"Thanks Mr. Suit," I thought, "could you be more vague?"

In the last three months I had seen some unofficial horrors roll out of these foregone crates: families escaping some atrocity or other, and the corpses of those who didn't. I once held a bill-of-lading marked "bibles" only to find my receptacle mis-filled with illegal AK-47's bound for inner-city war zones. It wasn't the first time the word of God had been replaced with hot lead and gun oil.

I angled my Bruno Maglis around to the business end of the crusty metal box. Would my fine shipment normally served be replaced with Folger's Crystals? Let's see if anyone notices.

An alphabet soup of agents phalanxed the landing: ATF, NSA, FBI, IRS. IRS? It was a relief to know that taxes would be properly collected on "everything we have been looking for." Together they held more firepower than an Amway meeting gone wrong between the Crips and Bloods.

My eyes trailed Bob as she (he? it?) unholstered her biceps and laid a vise-like mitt on the latch locking-lever and gave it a gentle stroke.

I instantly swallowed as I fully realized that Dark Suit was, indeed, correct...

A beam of blazing light dribbled out of the container. Once my seared corneas adjusted...it WAS all there.

EVERYTHING we have been looking for was in that corroded can: a ship's manifest of destiny.

The stench of a thousand goats tugged the eggs and pancakes from my stomach as the container belched out...Osama bin Laden.

The six-foot two-inch cave dwelling Arab was attached to a doleful dialysis machine pumping life-giving insulin through his kaffiyeh.

Two NSA agents went cuckoo for bin Laden's Cocoa Puffs, and one FBI officer ejaculated as they received their new federal guest.

But the decrepit crate held more...much more.

Everything we had been looking for:

DVD after DVD of funny Chevy Chase movies, Ann Ria's first three best-sellers, a competent President of the United States, gallons of clear, refreshing anti-hangover vodka, at least one funny, original Top Ten List from Jason Rohrblogger, and several cases of calorie-free double bacon cheeseburgers.

Euro signs formed a conga line around my designer-shaded eyeballs as I beheld a well-tanned 95-year-old Jimmy Hoffa disembark carrying a live breeding pair of dodo birds, a personal handwritten letter from Amelia Earhart, and sipping Chablis from The Holy Grail.

I about fudge-striped my Calvin Kleins (smooth move, Smythe) when Dark Suit and Bob emerged from the back of the trailer holding...

[You can take it from here...]

-Jason Rohrblogger


a jewel-encrusted walker that could only belong to one man, as well as the man to whom it belonged. Everyone froze--except for one male and one female agent who fainted--as we looked upon the one and only King of Rock and Roll. Alive, but barely. "Thank you, thankyouverymuch," he said as two young agents took over and helped him out of the container. He was eating one of the cheeseburgers.

"Holy Shit." I mouthed the words, but two others said them at the same instant. Seagulls announced themselves overhead as if this were some kind of party and they were pissed that they weren't invited.

There was no mistaking it. This was The Man, The God of Rock. Holy Shit, indeed. Years of rumors and National Enquirer headlines with their crappy faked photos using chronological progression programs like the kind used on Have You Seen Me? milk cartons and mail inserts. And the jokes, always the Elvis jokes. But something told me that this was no joke.

Bob came over. "You care to tell me what this is all about?"

"I was going to ask you the same thing."

"Don't get smart with me, Smythe! Homeland asked us to check this out, but this is beyond what anyone anticipated. We need some answers from you. Now."

"Hey, I can't believe it either. Look at me: my hands are shaking. I mean, is that Elvis Fucking Presley? And Bin Laden?" I stuttered when I said it. I didn't know whether to get a closer look or get a safe distance away. I took a step to the side.

Crunch. I hadn't noticed my shades fell. Five hundred dollars down the drain, but that was the last thing on my mind right now.

Bob shook his/her head: "We gotta get Homeland down here. This is too much." My throat was suddenly drier than the dirt on the bottom of Osama Bin Laden's boots.

Bob nodded to Dark Suit. "Get someone on the phone." I sat down.

Agents continued to wander around, taking notes and photographs, all of them on their cell phones. This place was turning into Grand Central Station as more and more unmarked black sedans pulled up and unloaded various suits of various ranks. Vans and moving trucks arrived as well to take fantastical booty to who knows where. An agent strutted past with a phone on each ear.

It started getting dark. We'd been here all day, and yet it seemed as though this was just the beginning. I realized I hadn't taken a leak in twelve hours.

Another black Crown Vic pulled up, and a couple of important-looking suits got out. They walked over to Bob and Dark Suit and said a few things, then the whole posse came over to me.

"Mister Smythe, this is...."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you didn't go into that program and quit amphetamines. Your writing would have suffered so. Have you ever thought of a career in comedy? You're hot Jason!