Archive for August, 2005

A Wrong Turn At Albuquerque

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I hadn’t seen Crank Boy in days. This was not uncommon; Crank Boy often went missing for months at a time, and then he’d turn up on a street corner somewhere, high on mushrooms and covered in someone else’s vomit, shouting into his cell phone at his stock broker and trying desperately to avoid the law man’s Taser. But this was different. He’d been leaving me cryptic emails and text messages for weeks, something about “the Project” and “wait ’til you see the progress I’ve made on the Project” and “you, of all people, will definitely appreciate the Project.” I just kept my mouth shut, knowing that Crank Boy would reveal all in the fullness of time, or, barring that, would reveal all in an accidental drunken stupor one night before passing out on my lawn.

Finally, though, I got the invitation to come visit his compound in Canada; he was finally ready to reveal the Project to me in all its glory and splendor. He greeted me as I got out of the car with a hearty “oh, you’re here” and then proceeded to take me around the side of his ramshackle shanty to the backyard. There, I found myself staring at an enormous mound of dirt.

“Funny,” I said, “I don’t remember this enormous mound of dirt from the last time I visited.”

“The last time you visited,” Crank Boy replied, “this entire vast expanse was nothing but beautiful green lawn, immaculately tended. It had to be sacrificed, however… for the Project.”

“And what exactly is this Project you keep babbling about?”

He grinned at me, and the sunlight sparkled off his gold tooth. “Come, let me show you.”

We climbed aboard a golf cart and began riding around the dirt mound, until at last we arrived on the opposite end of the lawn. As the cart rolled to a halt, I felt my jaw dropping almost unnaturally as an enormous pit in the earth came into view. It was vast and deep, reminiscent of a strip mine or a meteor impact zone. Several cranes were perched on the edges of the pit. A bulldozer was parked at the bottom, and as I climbed out of the cart, I noticed a small cavern dug into the side of the pit, leading off into darkness.

“So this is the Project,” I said.

“Yeah, this is it,” Crank Boy replied.

“Where did you get the energy to do all this?” I asked.

“You have heard there’s a methamphetamine epidemic, right?”

We stood quietly in the afternoon sun for a few moments.

Finally, I said, “So what the fuck is it exactly?”

“I’m digging a tunnel to the United States. I’m going to use it for smuggling.”

We stood quietly again in the afternoon sun for a few moments.

Finally, I said, “Are you out of your fucking mind?”

“No!” Crank Boy exclaimed. “Of course not! I have it all figured out! For starters, the main problem with most smuggling tunnels is that they are dirty and cramped. I am making a luxury tunnel! It’s got air conditioning and Muzak and regular vending machines! Plus, who likes crawling in a tunnel? Do you like crawling? Does anybody but a precious little baby enjoy crawling? No – which is why this tunnel is fully equipped with rocket-powered toboggans! Don’t you understand? This is a revolution in drug-smuggling tunnels! No one in the history of drug-smuggling tunnels has ever envisioned such a wonder! People will come from miles around to witness the majesty of this tunnel!”

“What people?” I said. “Tourists? The media?”

“No, I’m talking about smuggling tunnel aficionados. Anyway, the best part is that I will finally be able to smuggle my enormous stash across the border and distribute it to gullible, idiot Americans who don’t know any better. The profit I make will easily pay for the investment in the tunnel, and allow me to live a life of style for a change! I won’t be getting the generic TV dinners – it’s going to be Swanson’s from now on!”

“Well,” I said slowly, “I don’t mean to be a killjoy here—“

“Oh yes you do, Scotto,” he replied. “With every fiber of your being, you scream killjoy.”

“Right, well, aside from that, let me just point out a few things. One: do you see those gentlemen over there?”

“Where?” Crank Boy struggled through his severe nystagmus to follow my pointing finger into the distance.

“Up there, in the trees,” I said.

“Oh,” he said suddenly, “those guys with the binoculars and the DEA caps?”

“Yeah, they’re waving at us.”

“Sure, yeah, I see them. They’re the neighbors.”

“Actually, Crank Boy… they’re the DEA.”

“What? Shut the fuck up! That’s just Harold and Ted! They bring over crumpets in the morning! We watch hockey! The DEA wouldn’t watch hockey!”

“They’re the DEA, Crank Boy. Also: how far have you gotten on this tunnel?”

“Huh? Oh… I’d have to check with the foreman, but I’d say we’re at least fifteen or maybe even twenty miles in now. With our advanced tunneling technology, we have a fifteen percent per day advantage over traditional tunnelers. Our trick is we use trained monkeys with powerful robotic shovels to–”

“Right. Your compound is in the Yukon, Crank Boy. The nearest American city is approximately 1,035 miles away. At the rate you’ve been going, I suspect you’ll reach America right around… right around the heat death of the universe.”

“Oh, come on, you just don’t want to do math in your head.”

“One last thing: this stash you’re planning on moving…”

“What about it?”

“Well, maybe things have changed recently and I just didn’t hear, but… I’m pretty sure that catnip isn’t illegal in the United States.”

We stood quietly once more in the afternoon sun for a few moments. Crank Boy blinked.

“It isn’t?” he said.

“No,” I replied, “it isn’t.”

“Damn,” he said ruefully. “How the fuck am I going to pay for all those monkey jumpsuits?”