Billy’s mission to retrieve Doogie wasn’t without risk. Unless they were as dumb as they looked, campus security had figured out Billy had a hobby of throwing bricks through the “life skills” window. Also, there was the matter of a Transvestite MMA Fighter/ English major who had sworn to kill him. She, or he, or it, or whatever… was lurking in the vicinity. Further, his ex-girlfriend was still there, and probably doing unspeakable things with that dipshit Robert instead of who she should be shagging, which was Billy (Duh!).
As he drove to campus, Billy tried to make contact. Sadly, Doogie was just about the only person (and definitely the only college student) who wouldn’t respond to a text. Not only that but Billy was unwilling to volunteer any more information than; “Whassup? Billy here. Can I drop by?” In desperation, Billy made the ultimate faux pas of his generation and tried a voice call. Nobody answered.
Yet when Billy knocked on Doogie’s dorm room door at 3:00 am the kid was waiting. “You can brief me on the way.” Doogie said, without introduction, without even acknowledging that Billy had shown up unannounced at 3:00 am. Doogie was fully dressed. He shouldered a backpack which Billy guessed was filled with laptops (for reasons only known to him, Doogie carried three laptops) and motioned toward a gym bag. He indicated that Billy was to carry it. In five seconds, they were out the door and striding toward the parking lot. Billy hadn’t had time to say a single word. Doogie simply barked questions; “Anyone see you arrive? I assume you’re in your car?”
“Um, nobody saw me arrive. Yes.” Billy scrambled to keep up. He was about to launch in a diatribe about how decent civilized people say ‘hello’ and maybe shake hands or something… when he realized this was exactly why he’d come for Doogie’s help. If anyone can talk to a squirrel, it’s a person who answers the door at 3:00 am with words like ‘briefing’.
Without another word spoken, they piled in the Subaru (which was still muddy from the evening’s earlier hell ride) and were off. Silently, Doogie motioned for Billy’s phone. Billy, too confused to do otherwise, simply handed it over. Doogie stuffed it in an envelope which Billy recognized as an anti-static bag for component parts. With Doogie’s usual mental ability, the kid knew what he was thinking and shook his head. “Faraday cage. Got anything else? GPS? OnStar? Satellite radio? FitBit?”
The kid was definitely weird. That’s what smart will get ya’. Too much of it and you’re weird. “Nope. Nothing that requires a monthly payment.”
“OK that’s good.” Doogie let out a sigh of relief.
Billy hadn’t yet had a chance to explain why he was there. How does one breach such a subject? Does one simply announce they’ve got a unique opportunity to make some cash on the side, but they need help talking to a squirrel? Billy opened his mouth…
Doogie spoke first. “I need to know the scope of the situation. Which one did you kill. Robert? Your ex-girlfriend? Both? You realize I’m taking on a certain amount of risk helping you?”
“I’m aware of the rumors. Or at least what makes Facebook, which is plenty. The two of them hook up at Pizza Farm, then you disappear, then you text me at 3:00 am?”
“No! It’s not that.”
“Good, murder is an entanglement best avoided. So, what is it?”
It took Billy a moment to recover from the accusation of murder (delivered without shock or malice, which somehow made it worse). “You see I got this weird delivery… Wait! They hooked up and announced it on Facebook!?!”
“In a manner of speaking. She made some comments about liking Audis. Robert, acting something of a cad, posted… and I quote ‘SCORE! WOOT!’”
Billy sighed. “Kids these days.”
Doogie agreed. “I know, right? So, now that I know no bodies are involved… as a favor to me, don’t look in the bag.”
Billy eyed the nondescript gym bag. Scary smart people are a world apart. “Yeah, that’s cool. So, I’ve got this situation…” And he stopped speaking.
“And?” Doogie prompted.
Billy was at a loss for words. He opened his mouth, found no coherent sentences, and closed it. Doogie shrugged his shoulders and started manipulating Billy’s phone though a window in the envelope. “Still in the Faraday cage, I’m just going to read your texts ok?”
“Yes.” Billy agreed. That was the best way.
There was silence in the car for a few minutes as Doogie read. Billy kept driving. Then Doogie stared into space for two minutes. (Billy, still an engineer at heart, timed it.)
“Squirrels?” Doogie chuckled.
“Oh-my-God-am-I-insane-but-they-got money-and-there’s-nothing-illegal-about-delivering-pizzas-and…” Billy’s vocal dam broke.
“Hush.” Doogie interrupted. “They’re not just squirrels.”
“They’re lesbian activist…” Billy added, but was cut off again.
“…they’re white collar criminals.” Doogie pronounced.
“Erk?!” Billy’s mind, not for the first time this evening, hit a brick wall.
“They have money, not an insignificant amount of it. How do you suppose they acquired wealth? A job? Inheritance? Lottery ticket?”
Billy hadn’t considered this. Before he could complete his thoughts Doogie continued.
“I postulate identity theft, or perhaps swindle. Regardless, you are now in cahoots with criminals.”
Billy had nothing to say to this.
“Don’t be worried.” Doogie continued, in a tone meant to sound reassuring but which sounded like the pronouncement of a judge, “you were destined for a life of crime anyway.”
Billy thought about the bricks, and the fact he lived in a car, and the fact he hadn’t yet told his parents he was no longer a student. Bummer.
“In this endeavor, I’m now your partner. Good choice. We’ll fleece ‘em, keep you out of jail, and have fun doing it. I’ve been meaning to quit my studies anyway. It appears we are both dropouts.” He was beaming.
“Erk?” Billy was still sorting out the matter of his pre-destination.
Doogie didn’t hear. He was chuckling. “Finally, a worthy adversary.”
If you like reading stories written by a guy who (like Doogie) stashes his cell phone in a Faraday cage, you might want toss a few coppers in either account below: