We set about hooking up Sheila with Joel’s funereal ice block using old fashioned block and tackle, fully realizing that we had a diminishing product on the runway. As jets buzzed overhead, Joel was literally melting away in front of us. We had to get him to a freezer, a grave or a marble slab pronto or be left with, ugh, it’s just too terrible to think of the thawing corpsth that we might stthheee. As we finished the attachment process, a strangely familiar voice was heard uttering partial words, “Et me out ah ere”. I thought of my old Latin classes or Shakespeare’s “Et tu Brute?” Funny what heat and stress and jet noise can do to a guy’s mind.
Then we all heard a distinctive “Ahhhchooo”. Each of us said, “Bless you” in a circle until it came back to me. “I didn’t sneeze”, I said. The other Nationalistas said the same thing. “I didn’t. Did you?” “No. It wasn’t me.” “Steve?” “No, need a tissue?” “That’s weird.”
Just then the stars end of the flag began to move as if a baby possum had wedged itself between the flag and the ice. At once we all called out, “Joel!”
“Of course it’s me, you damn fools. I’m stuck in this cube and can’t move. I feel like a horizontal bobble head doll. Get some boiling water, just get me out of here.”
We were all so pumped up at this Lazarian moment that we had to celebrate. Josh shot his 9 mm again. Gary whipped his favorite singlet over his head like he was at a Queen concert. Doug started a pun. Steve put him in a full nelson. I applauded but felt hurt by the impending loss of the Spyder. And then Verushka snapped her whip.
Away charged the confused and terrified Sheila across the runway, still attached to Joel’s ice cube. She zigged and zagged as jets landed and took off around her, leaving a water trail behind her, Joel’s icy tomb melting quickly with him screaming like a man frozen in ice with just his gray bobble head bobbling at one end. The Marshalls came charging out of Gate G 21 again, firing warning shots into the air. The scene moved from bizarre to total chaos. Everyone chased the ice coffin on foot, as Sheila chased safety and sanity, and the Marshalls chased us. Lance and Gary joined arms to make a human shield to stop Sheila. She plowed through them like a train going through a wall of diet whipped cream.
Many voices shouted out cacophonously (see Rob Kearns for pronunciation). “Stop. Whoa. Look out. Fuel tanker. Plane. Baggage cart. Septic truck. Pigeons.”
Meanwhile Sheila cut a figure 8, then a figure 23, then a figure Pi to infinity. Tragedy was seconds away when Sheila finally broke loose from what little remained of the ice block and galloped west toward Middleburg, Virginia. Our eyes trained back from Sheila’s dust trail to Joel’s dripping visage, literally wrapped in the soggy U.S. flag like a patriotic burrito.
We rushed as one to greet him and shake his hand, inspect his crampons and parka, and try to unpack this trans-Atlantic mystery. Sputtering wildly, everyone spouted at the same time….
“Joel, it’s unbelievable.”
“Defies science and logic.”
“Better than the Human Fly and Houdini wrapped into one.”
Elated but dumbfounded and found to be dumb, we experienced magic.
“Give me some room, fellas. Let me stretch. Whew! Oh, that didn’t quite go as I expected.”
“You mean you planned this debacle?”
“I can explain. I found myself without a return ticket on Saturday morning Reykjavik time. You see, I’d been so excited about Iceland that I’d forgotten to book the return ticket during the half off discount window of opportunity period. I’d flown over on points I’d accumulated on other free trips I’d been on with the Foundation and the Bank Board, so it slipped my mind until the last day while I was packing to come home. ‘I don’t have a cheap return ticket!’ Now I’ve never paid full price in my life, mind you. It’s something I gleaned from my father who would drive fifty miles from a Motel 6 in order to save a buck and stay at a Motel 5. In those days we stayed at hotels with pay toilets and no towels. You had to rent them at the front desk. Heat and air conditioning were coin operated, as was the shower.”
“Anyway my keen lawyer’s mind began to hatch a plan. I knew if I appeared as a corpse, I’d be shipped home for practically nothing by the authorities, according to international law. I toyed with using a temporary paralyzing toxin that had a short half life, but they had sold the last bottle at the Apothecary when I arrived. Then it hit me: the answer was right under my feet. I could stage a fatal hiking accident and get a free ride home. I knew the Nation’s Supreme Leader would figure it out somehow and come meet my ice coffin, and you did. Bless you, Burrito. I did not expect Sheila and Verushka to be here, however. They are an added bonus.”
“How did you pull it off, Joel? This may be the greatest escape artist trick ever– no handcuff key or black screen. This was awesome, man.”
“Well, it was ingenious if I must say so myself. I took the complimentary hair dryer from my hotel room out on the glacier and melted a bathtub size pool that I knew would refreeze in hours. I hopped into the freezing water and tossed the hair dryer aside while it was still running hot. It broke apart and shorted out, throwing the hotel into blackness. I figured the staff would look for a short circuit cause, and when they did, they would find my extension cord, then the hair dryer, then my frozen body. Worked like a charm.”
“It was like a locked door murder mystery. Only who would ever figure out this non murder caper? Only the Burrito Man.”
“Really, it was nothing, Joel. De nada.”