Doogie insisted on making a few purchases en route to what he was now calling “the rendezvous”. At an all-night convenience store Billy was instructed to lurk around the pumps looking suspicious. This was supposedly for the purpose of letting Doogie buy things (with Billy’s cash!) while remaining largely unnoticed by the staff which was (hopefully) focused on a ne’er-do-well. There was a certain… paranoia… to Doogie’s activities. Billy would have been happy to chalk it up to the unbelievability of sentient squirrels but it seemed to trace from Doogie’s assertion they were dealing with criminal masterminds.
“Actually,” Doogie interrupted Billy’s discussion of the matter, “I presume them to be alien. Thus, unaware of the situation surrounding online money transfers and such. Meaning they’d be quite naïve, the opposite of masterminds. I’ll be less concerned if I discover they’re actually well versed in crime.”
Billy drew a blank. Doogie patiently continued. “You say they have an iPhone. And they’ve got a PayPal account as well as other online accounts. Yet, what do they know of the underlying world? Suppose you came from Mars; knew nothing of society. Then I handed you the internet browser history from your laptop and said ‘learn what you can about contemporary America from this data feed’. What would you know? What would you not know?”
Billy thought about this novel concept. Porn. Yep, they’d know porn. Well that and Billy’s eternal concern with fractional reserve banking. Not good. “Knockers and fiat currency.” Billy concluded.
“Indeed. What wouldn’t they know? Would they know murder is illegal? Would they know taxes are related to assets? After all, it was the IRS that took down Capone, not the FBI. On a more mundane level, would they know Portland is a very long drive?”
“Nope. Hooters and hyperinflation. They’re doomed.”
Doogie chuckled. “Thus, we should presume they’ve left all sorts of virtual paper trails behind the money they’ve almost certainly stolen.”
“Great. And I’m implicated by delivering a bunch of pizzas?”
“Isn’t ‘virtual paper trail’ a wonderful concept. An oddity of language I think.”
“Relax, I’ve got this.” Doogie smiled as if getting entangled in crime and alien intelligences was no big deal. “Let me do the negotiating. Oh, and one more thing…”
They’d pulled into the abandoned field. Doogie stopped talking to observe.
“That thing?” Billy prompted.
“Oh,” Doogie was excitedly peering out at two squirrels perched on a tree with a bear snoring at its base, utterly uninterested in Billy’s concern. “If I point to any one of them and say ‘do it now’… shoot them instantly. I know you’re packing, you really should work on concealment you know.”
That jangled Billy’s nerves deeply. To toss an offhand comment like that. “What the…”
“Alien intelligence. Criminal. I’m sure it’s fine but if things go south just shoot the one I indicate. Or all three, whatever is necessary.”
“Um…” Billy didn’t like this hint of darkness.
“They’re friggin’ wildlife man! If I make the call, don’t pussy out on me. Drop the hammer and the worst you’ve done is a violation of hunting regulations.” With that, Doogie stepped out of the car and strode forth.
Beneath the tree, the bear yawned and stretched. The squirrels chittered happily. Billy stepped out of the car and slouched miserably.
As the greatest mind he’d ever met sallied forth to parley with the most alien creature who’d ever ‘talked’ to him, Billy had a sad realization. He was Doogie’s bear.
If you appreciate stories written by a guy who lacks a pet bear but gives his dog editorial control, you may want to click one of the links below: