The Sook Jai were now extinct with the snuffing of Jake’s torch. As usual, the dominant tribe, despite all the subterfuge MB could muster, decided to clean their house of infidels before turning on each other. It should be an interesting final two episodes.
However, we had no time to dwell on that future, for it was a very different future we were tasked with determining. Yes, John was once again waiving those incriminating photos in front of my face, and saying “Write… or I’ll post these pictures for the world to see!” I was scared.
Oh sure, many people had done the same thing, and rumors were that Ken had even been involved, but there were still people in this world that respected me, and I couldn’t have my reputation sullied by youthful indiscretions. Hey, I was young, and we all make mistakes…
So I would write… what choice did I have?
I needed to find a way to see the future. The fruit cake had been removed by the local Bio-Hazard team, and that restraining order Paulie had taken out on me had really cut down my options. I decided to watch a DVD and gather my thoughts, the movie I chose was Pearl Harbor.
It starts a little slow… Yeah, yeah, I get it, they are best friends… 30 minutes gone… I’m sure the actual attack that is the namesake of the movie will happen any minute now… Wait, here comes the love interest. Why do they get a English woman to play a mid-western girl? That’s like getting Meryl Streep to play an English part… okay, so maybe this is payback. One hour gone… They have to be getting close to the attack right… I am feeling woozy…
Finally, there is fighting… but it isn’t at Pearl Harbor and of course Affleck crashes… he’s not dead, you can tell… and of course the ex-best friend is hitting on the hot English woman… I can’t take it… when will the damn bombs start falling? I want to see Tora, Tora, Yadda, Yadda, and all of that… I have been watching this movie for an hour and a half, and there are plot holes the size of Ghandia’s gut in this story… I am really dizzy now…
What???!!! She holds out on the love of her life, but rolls in the parachutes with some guy she didn’t care about two weeks ago? Incredible…I pass out…
I open my eyes to see myself on the side of Interstate 75, and in front of a large sign that reads Welcome to McKinney – Home of Jake Billingsley. I was impressed, for while certainly Jake was a well respected player, he didn’t win the game, and I thought it probably unusual that this suburb north of Dallas would take the time to hoist such a monument.
The possibilities intrigued me, so I decided to go find out what there was to learn of Jake, and into the town I traveled. I was impressed with this small town, for it was literally spotless. I had never seen a city this clean since my last visit to Singapore.
It didn’t take long to find the first signs of Jake. There on Billingsley Street…and what a coincidence I thought that was to have a street with the same unusual last name… sat Jake’s Canoe School. The information at the counter indicated that for $200 an hour, you too could learn to handle a boat just like Jake. The rear of the store opened up into a large pool area, and in that pool were several classes in progress.
I step closer so I can hear what I expect will be good old fashioned helpful instruction. Jake was such a tender hearted soul…
I watch as a man gets into the canoe awkwardly, and when he loses his balance, the canoe tips over, tossing he, and his gear into the pool. Repeated attempts to properly board the canoe also fail, and the customer is clearly distraught. The instructor moves in to help…
“There is only one thing to do”
“What’s that?” Replies the customer.
With that, a smile creeps across the instructor’s face, as she shouts, “WHO WANTS TO BURN THE DAMN CANOE??”
A crowd of people, staff and student alike, crowd around as they pull the canoe out of the pool, and begin kicking the hapless boat and shouting in joy. It is quite the ritual, and it ends with the tossing of the canoe hull into a fire.
Everyone is standing around is chanting Jake! Jake! Jake! Jake! As the flames engulf the former watercraft.
I decided to get out there, as these folks seemed a little strange. There was something about them that I couldn’t put my finger on, but this town was eerie.
I continued up the street, and I noticed other things. Everyone I had encountered so far was wearing the same outfit, in the same colors. They were identical clothes to those Jake had worn to his final tribal council... Plus, many of them seemed to be sporting tattoos of a snake.
The tattoos also had a phrase inscribed below the snake. What did that say… Ah, “Jake the Snack”. What the hell did that mean I wondered. Then I saw another one, “Jake the Snakee”, and then a third, “Jake teh Snoke”.
It was clear that the town tattoo-ologist was illiterate.
I was getting concerned that something sinister was afoot, but how could that be? Jake was purer than wind driven snow through Neleh’s bedroom. I needed a drink, preferably coffee.
I wandered over to what looked like the local Starbucks. Remember I said looked… for on the sign it said Jakebucks. Wow, so it appeared Jake owned a coffee store, not a bad idea I thought. I went inside, and was astonished to find more identical people inside… same clothes, and a snake tattoo. Further, it was clear that I was invisible to these folks, for all of my attempts to order coffee were ignored.
No matter, for I found the menu to be rather distressing…
Boiled Scorpion Latte $3.45
Live Grub Mocha $3.45, and you could see the little buggers swimming around in there.
Fire Ant Americano $2.50. The sign mentioned this was a house specialty
Perhaps most distressing though, was the last menu item, Ken Stafford Banana Frappacino $5.00. My God, what more would these crazy people stoop too, and was Ken actually in the Frappacino?
Someone stepped in front of me, and ordered the Mocha. As soon as the snake tattoo clad barista began to steam the milk, a chant began involving everyone in the store… Jake! Jake! Jake! Jake!
I ran out of the store. I needed to find Jake, for I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Up the street further I went, for I could see high up on a hill what appeared to be a large mansion.
I passed another business, Jake’s Petting Zoo, where there appeared to dozens of chickens running around in a pen. Small children, all with little snake tattoos were in the pen, holding chickens, in a kind and caring manner.
I stepped closer to listen as a young boy, talked to the chicken…
“Thank you chicken for giving us nourishment…” He began.
I ran away as fast as I could, for sadly, I could sense what would happen next, and I didn’t have the stomach to see it. I got half way up the block before hearing that now familiar chant… Jake! Jake! Jake! Jake!
I was heading for the mansion when the next sight I took in stopped me dead in my tracks. Words cannot describe the sheer horror of that sight…
There, at the front of what looked like a cemetery, was the sign that still sends chills down my spine to this day. Jake’s Pet Cemetery, and in smaller letters below, Jan Gentry, Funeral Director.
I was scared, for if Jake had gotten Jan involved with this, it could only mean one thing… the apocalypse was surely upon us. I didn’t have time to investigate this location, as it was imperative to get to Jake, to try to reverse this inevitable course to destruction.
At the base of the hill was a long driveway that led to the mansion. The grounds were well protected by walls, and what appeared to be an army of armed Magilla-like monkeys. Hmm… well organized, and excellent security. Fortunately I was invisible to these people, so I simply walked by the guard shack, when much to my surprise, I saw the front gate guard, asleep at his post. On the little TV inside was the show Oprah, and it appears that her guest that day was Flo from The Amazing Race. Flo was touting her new book, How to Be a Kind and Considerate Friend.
As interesting as that topic was, I decided to continue on up the hill to the main house. There I found the front door to be locked. Hmmm… I thought I was invisible, but this door would not open. I rang the bell…
My ears heard that now familiar theme from Survivor, which also serves as a recruiting song for young Jews…
oyyyyyyy, oyy – oy oy – oy,
oy – oy, oyyyy, oy – oy…
The door opens, and there is Jake himself.
“What the hell are you doing here? Didn’t the guard stop you down below?”
I was surprised that he could see me… “Uhm, well I must have just gotten by him… but Jake sir, we need to talk, there are strange things going on in the town!”
“That damn guard, that is the last time for him!” He snarled, “Come with me son, what is your name?”
“Bill… Mr. Bill” I reply.
“Welcome Mr. Bill, to my humble home.”
We walk through the main corridor of the house, and there are photos on the wall of all of the former Chuay Gahn. I think to myself that this is a fine tribute to his former adversaries, but then that now familiar chill returns as I see that below each photo is another picture, and this one was far more gruesome.
Below Clay - a picture of Clay sitting in a child’s high chair in a room filled with snakes…
Below Helen – a picture of her on a kitchen counter, filled with baking supplies, and there are snakes everywhere…
Below Ted – a picture of him in a cubicle with snakes slithering over everything…
Below Ghandia – a picture of her in a room filled with snakes, and cameras flashing on her from all sides…
Below Brian – a picture of Brian and CC hugging… but nothing else… strange that one…
And so it went, one by one, the Chuay’s had each met a horrible demise, except for Jan. There was not picture below Jan. I had to ask.
“What happened to Jan?”
Jake laughed, knowing that I had noticed the photos of his handy work. “Jan decided to join me here. She is quite talented you know…” His voiced tailed off, “ahh, here we are, and welcome to my global headquarters Mr. Bill…”
The double doors open automatically, and inside the room was what looked like a massive control center, much like you might find at NORAD. There were snake tattoo’d workers, all with various forms of misspelling, going about their business, monitoring screens and satellite images, but most striking was the large snake pit in the center of the room. We crossed the pit via a small causeway that appeared by remote control, and we sat at a conference table in what appeared to be Jake’s private office.
“Number Two!” Jake shouted across the way.
An older woman in ponytails pranced across the bridge and snapped to attention in front of Jake. She was wearing one of those water bottles that come with the neck strap, and the cap of that bottle was not a cap at all, but a nipple. I recognized her immediately as Jan. “Yes Number One?” she responded.
“Meet Mr. Bill, he is a visitor,” She smiled at me in that Jan sort of way, “bring me Number Seventeen, I think he is falling asleep at the guard shack again!” With that, Jan ran off to retrieve the guard.
“So Mr. Bill,” Jake continued, “We have been watching you, and we think you would be a fine addition to our operation.”
“What operation would that be?” I replied, now getting concerned for my safety.
“Well, we have many careers to choose from, you’ve undoubtedly seen the businesses in town…”
He is interrupted by the prompt return of Jan, along with the Guard I had snuck by earlier. The Guards ears were bleeding… I wondered if Jan had tortured him.
“Number Seventeen, you have fallen asleep on station again haven’t you?”
“No Number One, I promise!” The guard was pleading with Jake, “It was the show, it was the show… this lady guest just started screaming Zzaaaaaaaaaaacccccccccchhhhhhh h, they don’t like my boooooooooooooooookkkkkk! It was horrible sir, I felt my ears pop and I passed out…”
Jake was silent as he looked the guard square in the eyes… “You wont let this happen again?”
“No sir, I promise!”
“Well get back to your post!” Smiled Jake.
The guard looked hesitant though, and I wondered why, for it seemed like he was getting off the hook. But in a frightening turn of events, it all became clear. As the guard passed back over the bridge, the walkway retracted and he fell into the middle of the snake pit… a battle for life ensued, and the guard did manage to hold off a few of them, but in the end, he was no match for the creatures, and he passed. Meanwhile, the assembled workers all began to chant Jake! Jake! Jake! Jake!
Poor Jan was crying. Certainly for a woman who valued life as much as she did, the guards death had to be traumatic.
Jan walked slowly over to the pit, and was taking sips from her bottle between sobs.
To my astonishment, she climbed right into the pit, and began to caress the two snakes who had lost their lives in the struggle. “Po little snee-akes… how could anyone hurt you!” The other snakes seemed to not mind her presence at all.
With that, she began to kick the dead guard and scream, “You hurt my leeee-tle friends!”
“So Mr Bill,” Jake’s voice snapped me out of disbelief. “Are you ready to join us? All it takes is a tattoo and a wardrobe change. I’ve got our own tattoo artist over there ready to go!” He pointed towards a small booth.
In the booth was a strangely familiar young man, and the skateboard in the corner gave it away. “You also have Robb on your staff?” I asked.
Jake ignored me as he yelled over to Robb, “You better not screw up the spelling on this one Skateboard Boy!”
“Bro, it’s not my fault that you are using big words!” Robb replied while sniffing the inks.
I decided that I had to stand up to Jake. I didn’t know everything he was up to, but I didn’t want to become one of his mindless zombies. “I’m sorry Jake, but I can’t be a part of this.”
Jake replied with a smile, “Well that is your choice, you are free to go. I trust that you understand that I need you to keep quiet about what you have seen here today.”
“Of course Jake, I promise” I replied in my most convincing voice, and with that, I began to walk away. It wasn’t until I was halfway across the bridge that I realized I had been outsmarted. The two sides of the bridge began to retract, and my time on earth would soon come to an end.
“Jake..” I shouted, “At least tell me what your secret plan is!”
Jake laughed that now familiar laugh and responded, “No you fool! I am not stupid, that has been the downfall of all arch criminals from the past. The world will learn of my plans soon enough!”
As I fell into the pit, the last words I heard were the combination of Jake laughing, and Jan exhorting the snakes on… “Git him snaaaakeees, Git him my leeee-teeeellll friends!”
Everything returned to black.
I awoke in a cold sweat. That had been my most traumatic visit yet, and here we all had thought Jake was a quiet man.
As I began to get my senses back, I looked that the clock and realized I had been out for more than one hour. The movie was still playing on the screen… Hmm… it appeared that the Japanese were not really, really getting ready for the attack.
Good, I thought, I had not missed anything. Besides, I now had my story for John. I just couldn’t have anyone seeing those pictures of me at a Barry Manilow concert. It happened, and I wasn’t proud of it, but that kind of information leaking out could ruin my career.
I relaxed, and began to watch the movie…
What now… get to the bombing already!!! She’s pregnant… with the other guys kid? Oh jeez! With that, I felt that same dizziness come over me again, and I passed out.
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