It was midsummer before Joel cleared customs and the Austrian courts. Kidnapping charges were dropped once his whole ordeal was understood. Interpol issued a warrant against Burrito for international fraud and mayhem. However, since Joel had no picture of Burrito, a vague description was all that made it on the poster.
“Well, he’s about my height and build. His hair color is roughly the same. He wears glasses but has no facial hair. This is silly! I can find his address when I get back to Turtle Town or we can set up a sting at the coffee shop. It’s a sure thing. I guarantee it.”
“Misseur Joel, theeees man you describe sounds like yourself. He is your height and weight and hair. No? He looks like Christopher Columbus, No? Have you maybe a need to speak to our psychiatrist? yes?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I am a bank board member and belong to a university foundation. I am upstanding in many community measures and I play the sousaphone. I do not need to speak to a psychiatrist. That’s an absurd notion. I’ve been victimized and I will not stand for any further invalidation.”
Joel landed a few days later at Dulles I A. He was thrilled and grateful to be home in the land of the free. His Roman galley slave days seemed a lifetime ago. The only rowing he’d do now would be at the gym after his spinning class. Yes!! God bless the U.S.A.
He hired a driver for the 90 minute ride home to God’s country. Somehow he’d find justice. His heart raced with revenge. If he could go directly to Burrito’s home or the coffee shop immediately, he would. But it was late by the time the limo dropped him off at the Elderberry Manor. He paid the cabbie and walked toward his door, noticing a mango colored sash across his storm door. On it was printed “Free Joel” in large silver letters. “Oh my,” he uttered. “I’m a celebrity now”, as he fingered the silver script.
As Joel pushed the door open, his family and closest friends let out a scream. “Who are you?” “Call the police!!” “Get the hornet spray and Joel’s Glock.” They did not recognize him in his wild Nebuchadnezzar stylings– wild beard and dread locked hair, no glasses, and the green leather Austrian lederhosen. “No, wait. It’s me. I’m Joel.” Only when his cat sniffed and snuzzled his grey and blue wool leggings did the mob relent. “It must be Joel because Muffy only did that to Joel.” Instantly the tension broke and much revelry and celebration commenced, carrying on through dawn, breaking a variety of Elderberry Manor rules.
The next morning an unfamiliar security guard knocked on Joel’s door with a sheaf of citations. Joel answered the door eventually, not sure if he was in Czechoslovakia or Austria or home. He saw a strange man on the other side of his sashed storm door that read backwards and upwards, “leoJ eerF”, and he wondered what language that meant something in… leo jeer F? ‘Mock the freakin’ lion?’ What on earth did that mean? ‘Must be mojito brain’.
“Excuse me, Sir. Joel is it? Yes, uh we got a lot of complaints last night about the revelry and celebration, both of which are strictly prohibited by the covenants and testaments of Elderberry Manor that you signed and agreed to abide by upon acquiring this unit.”
“Officer, I can explain. I was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see. Just a few weeks ago I was kidnapped and forced to row a Roman warship as a nearly naked galley slave….”
“I see. Nice lederhosen. Um, would you like to talk with a psychiatrist? ”
“No, and I’ll thank you not make that offer again, son. I’ve been through a lot lately and I don’t appreciate all these offers for psychiatric intervention.”
“Who else made a psychiatric offer, if I might be so bold?”
Clearing his throat very officiously, “Ahem, the Ambassador of Austria.”
“Okay, then. Well, if you’ll sign these citations, it is not an admission of guilt but a promise to appear in court before the magistrate.”
“Who is a personal friend of mine, by the way”, Joel muttered as he unconsciously signed the papers, ” Officer, what is your name?”
“B.S. Friendly. Some call me B.S. Some call me friendly.”
“I’ll just call you finished. Good morning.”
Officer Friendly tipped his fake cap to Joel as he took his fake citations with him. Along the way he peeled off the rest of his disguise and make up, revealing none other than Burrito Special. He disposed of his costume, wig and accessories in a dumpster near Orrstown, and then waited patiently for Joel at the coffee shop. It was a Thursday and he knew Joel would be loaded for bear and revenge.
At precisely 8:30 Joel burst through the door and stormed the coffee nation table. He was foaming with anger. “I don’t know how you did it, but I know you did it. Somehow you switched my river cruise for a death barge and nearly killed me. Why, if it hadn’t been for the courage of my fearless crew, the Minnow would be lost.”
“Joel, it’s good to see you. Are you alright? Would you like to speak to a psychiatrist?”
“No, no, Hell NO!! I want your head on a platter. Vengeance will be mine.”
“Whoa Buddy! Have you forgotten our last meeting? Back in May when I warned you not to go to the Danube. Remember, I had you sign a release of harm form so that I could not be blamed for acts of terrorism or organized crime in the Czech Republic?”
“No, I don’t because I didn’t. And just wait till Interpol comes here and arrests you, you maniac!!”
“Joel, I don’t think that will be necessary.” Pulling a legal form out of his breast pocket and unfolding it. “See here? You released me from all liability back on May 28. Isn’t that your signature?”
“Uh, yah, uh, di, ah, no. I don’t know how you did it, but I will hunt you down and all that horrible music you subjected me to, and I will destroy it all. It was cruel torture, inhumane.”
The sulky barrista turns up the house music, the Stones singing “Paint it Black”.
B.S. “You mean like this?”
Joel, “Yes, precisely. Hideous, make it stop.”
“I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door I must have it painted black
Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black”
B.S. “Verushka sends her love”.
Joel, “I knew it!!!”