I received sad and wretched news three days ago from the Icelandic Embassy in Washington from its Reykjavik command post: Joel’s body was found frozen solid in a glacier he was exploring fifty kilometers north of the city. The details were sketchy and yet very gruesome, but I feel I must convey them without excess drama, as Joel would have wanted it done, with a light touch and great decorum.
He had apparently just begun to explore the glacial ice flow. His crampons were attached. There was no sign of a fall or foul play. Mysteriously, however, a hair dryer was found near his entombed body with a thousand feet of extension cord running all the way back to his hotel room. Could it have been an electrocution? Was he that vain that he needed to blow dry his hair alone on a glacier? Did he fail to read the warning label, “Do not immerse in water, steam or ice”?
The authorities said his eyes remain open as well as this mouth, as if he is trying to say, “Get me out of here.” Strangely, his round tortoise shell glasses remained intact. I made arrangements to meet his frozen remains at Dulles Airport with a delegation from Coffee Nation. Because of the strange circumstances, Icelandic authorities thought it best to ship Joel in the block of ice; then, if the U.S. coroner had any questions, his/her office could thaw out the body and investigate. Plus, shipping Joel as a checked bag cost only $25 instead of the $600 coach fare. I insisted on his ice cube being draped in a thick American flag, wool and polyester blend, something thick to keep him frozen. After all, he was a veteran.
My first thought went to the Spyder. Finally I could take exclusive ownership of the expensive sex magnet machine and go on long rides through the countryside in Joel’s honor. I will get a stuffed orangutan to ride on the back seat facing backwards with a sign that says, “Joel loves you”. On the other side of the sign will be another message reading, “Nobody else does”. I will play Steppenwolf’s greatest hits loud and
proud “Get your motor runnin’, head out on the highway, lookin’ for adventure with whatever comes our way….”
Then I called the committee of Coffee Nation for a formal reception of the frozen consiglieri of our nation. I knew they would show up as ice pall bearers. I asked Josh for a gun salute. And for the others to have a few prepared words when we received the ice cube from the Icelandic Embassy undertaker/diplomats. I called out to Arizona and had Sheila the mule shipped east to pull the ice casket. I knew Joel would have wanted one more ride with Sheila. It also hit me that he’d want someone from his river cruise adventures to represent that experience, so I called up Verushka, Joel’s Slovakian dominatrix, to accompany us at Dulles. She flew in on the 2 pm from Prague, looking so dangerously haughty and naughty in her knee high black leather boots and whip.
We assembled there on the super heated tarmac at Gate G 21, waiting for the belly of the huge 767 to be unloaded. Two Icelandair baggage handlers wheeled Joel’s flag draped, ice cube coffin onto the tarmac and onto the horse trailer where Sheila waited sadly to be reunited with her favorite human. Two representatives from the Icelandic Embassy spoke crisp English to us and had me sign a release for the body. I thanked them and shook their meat cutter cold hands. They then re-boarded the plane for the return flight to Reykjavik. Our flag was sopping wet from the heat’s impact on the ice block below it, dripping on the asphalt. The temperature of the tarmac had to be 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a semi circle we surrounded the horse trailer with Old Glory on ice. “Let us say a few words now about our fallen barrister, Joel. Lance, would you like to begin?”
“Yeah, sure. I mean I liked Joel’s fashion sense and his officious air.”
“Did you say ‘delicious hair’?”
“No, man, you got me wrong on that, Bro!”
Lance, “Hey, I wasn’t finished. I wanted to talk about his physical fitness and fine haberdashery choices… don’t do me like that with ‘delicious hair'”.
“Silence! Your turn is over.”
“Joel, you were a good guy. I like how you matched your socks. You helped bring a certain civility to the Nation of baboons. You will be sadly missed. Maybe the Supreme Commander will give us Spyder rides in your honor. I’d like that, buddy.”
“Thank you, Steve.”
“Joel, I was gonna bring my .17 with the bull barrel, but I had to settle for my 9mm with a 21 shot clip. Here ya go… Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow!Pow! Pow! Pow!Pow!Pow!”
As the gun’s report reverberated all around us, seven U.S. Marshalls ran toward us with guns drawn. “Drop the weapon, sir. Do it now!!! Turn around. Put your hands behind your head and walk backwards to my voice.”
“Officer, my friend was giving our veteran Joel a 21 slug salute”, I said. “We are law abiding citizens, each of us. Lance, talk military stuff to them.”
“Dude, it’s cool. I was armored infantry in the Army, drove an Abrams tank…”
“Shut up. We’ll do the talking here, Dude. Hey aren’t you Lance the Barber?”
“Why, yes I am. Now I see you are a sensible and cultured gentleman…”
“You’re the dude who makes hair delicious, right?”
“No, man. Don’t do me like that!!!”
“Doug, tell them a painful pun groaner.”
“Okay, you fellas know why diarrhea is genetic? No? It runs in your jeans.”
“Stop it, funny guy. That wasn’t even funny. My grandpa told me that joke forty years ago. It wasn’t funny then. Shut up or I’ll shoot you too.”
I tried to kick my high level mediation skills into high gear. “Gentlemen, can’t we all just get along? I mean Gary over here is a former instructor from the Citadel. Any of you graduate from there?”
“Yeah, two of us. Me and Jimmy Bo, over there with the Ruger. You taught at the big C?”
“Sure did. I wore the singlet proudly. What’s more, gentlemen, the man under the flag is a decorated soldier who served in the Vietnam era. He is or was a revered member of the bar.”
“Aw shucks, we didn’t know that. Sorry man.”
Verushka, “Fellas, vould you do dis for me? I am getting so hot and bothered with all zeese veapons drawn out. EEff you put dem down, I can make you so happy you deed. Yes? You vant to kees me all over?”
“All right, then. Gulp. We’re gonna run some checks on you guys. Put the gun down. Shut up. No more guns or puns. What’s your phone number, Miss? And forget we ever met, okay? Can you do that?”
All of the Nation, soberly, “Sir, yes, sir.”
The air marshalls holstered their weapons and walked back into the air conditioning of the terminal. Meanwhile more of the ice had melted into a puddle on the steaming black macadam.Shelia brayed in grief.
**feel free to comment on the veracity of this fictional fantasy