Hey, StoriesHouse readers. Nick here. It’s been a good while since I last updated the site. And being that the last post I wrote was so dramatic and sappy and ending-y, I figured you guys would probably want to know what I’ve been up to since I dropped off the map for a month or two. Well, it’s funny you should ask that.
It all started about a month ago on April 17. It was a chilly day, as most of April was, definitely compared to what I’m used to down South. I was aimlessly walking around, as I often find myself doing. I don’t know the area too well, being that I’m pretty new to suburban Connecticut, but I had driven around enough to know the general directions to the most important landmarks. Pretty much what I’m saying is I could navigate my way to the two nearest McDonald’s. Anyway, I was walking around one night, listening to The Replacements and contemplating how the rest of my week would go when I heard a car whizzing by. I dismissed it as just another black SUV. Those are a dime a dozen everywhere nowadays, so who would even give it a second thought, right? So I just went back to my music. It was then that I remembered an unfortunate symptom of the life I was living.
I pretty much have zero cell reception anywhere in this state. In New York, it’s fine. But in Connecticut? I might as well be talking into a banana. And that memory heightened my sense of paranoia. Suddenly everything that could happen flashed before my eyes. What if the black SUV was filled with Special Ops forces? What if they were there to kidnap me? What if it was a roving band of rogue mad scientists hell-bent on unleashing a super-virus and they planned on making me their patient zero? How the heck would I call for help without a working device to call for help? Every realm of my wildest imagination swirled together until my fears jumped so far up my throat I’m fairly certain they ended up in my corneas.
The SUV stopped. Out of the passenger-side rear door reached the arm of a man dressed in a black suit and sunglasses. I remember laughing to myself, imagining for a second that I was being recruited to be a Blues Brother. But then I returned to being scared as heck.
“Nicholas Suss?” the man asked, growling his words like a drill sergeant.
“Umm,” I stuttered. “Who are you?”
“Is that your name?” he fired back. At this point I knew he meant business.
“Yes,” I nervously replied. “Now who’s asking?”
I started to shake a little bit. It was the hardest I could remember shaking since that time in seventh grade when a girl asked me out for the first time. I had a feeling this was a little more serious though.
He pulled me in the van and sped away. When I got in the car, everyone was silent. No one was looking at anyone, but I was scanning to try to see what was going on. There were seven men in the car, counting myself. Five looked like they wanted to kill me. The other one, the man who had pulled me in the car, looked like he wanted to kill everyone.
After two minutes of no one speaking, I needed to break the ice. Frankly, I was getting a little bored. If I was going to be kidnapped, I might as well know why. But instead of screaming and cursing and trying to fight my way to freedom, I instead tried to joke my way into their hearts.
“So I was flipping through Netflix the other day,” I casually said, hoping that a story would loosen everyone up. “You know Netflix, right? It’s like Blockbuster, but in your computer. Yeah, you know the deal. So anyway, I’ve been watching Kevin Smith movies recently. Clerks, Chasing Amy, those flicks. You seen them? Anyway, the most recent one I saw was Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. It’s a silly movie. I’m not going to pretend it deserved to win any awards. But there’s this scene where the two main characters – Jay and Silent Bob, if you’re not following – they start hitchhiking with these girls who they think are super nice and sweet and innocent and not going to harm them, but then they turn out to be like Charlie’s Angels or something like that and they’re trying to steal a bunch of diamonds and they frame Jay and Silent Bob as eco-terrorists in order to get their heist. So I guess my point is, is this the opposite of that? Do you guys look super mean and menacing and going-to-kill-me-ish but are really just huggable dudes? Or are you going to frame me for eco-terrorism? Because I’m cool with that so long as I get a head start. But…”
“Shut up,” one of the guys said. I don’t know which. Frankly I was surprised they let me ramble that long. Especially if they haven’t seen the movie. Because there are some major spoilers in there. (Oh yeah, sorry if you haven’t seen the movie. It’s a 6/10. See it if you want.)
“OK, what the heck do you want?” I asked.
It was at that point that I realized I hadn’t had the opportunity to turn off my music. The song “Message to the Boys” was blasting through my headphones that had been crudely jammed into my left pants pocket. I reached inside to disconnect the headphones so the music would turn off. Apparently, they thought I was reaching for a weapon. So I looked up a five guns were pointed at my head. The sixth guy was driving, so I was glad it was only five for two reasons.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said. “Just turning off the music. I feel like this is kind of a serious situation. Don’t want any Minneapolis Punk Rock interrupting what might be my last breaths, right?”
“We’re not going to hurt you,” the guy who pulled me in said.
“Then what’s with the guns, man?” I said. “It seems like you’re pretty well equipped to hurt me for people who aren’t going to hurt me. You understand where I’m coming from? You feel me? Like, if you were in my situation, abducted by dudes who could totally beat me up in any form of fight they chose, surrounded by a bunch of Crabbes and Goyles, you’d be kinda sure you were gonna die, right? It’s like that scene in.”
They cut me off.
“Stop referencing movies. Stop rambling. You’re not going to die.”
It was at this point where I really started to believe I was going to die. Not because I thought they were lying. They seemed pretty sincere. More because I was pretty damn certain that I was going to talk too much and it was going to lead to them dumping me on the side of the road and I’d run into that crazy hitchhiker from There’s Something About Mary who chops people up and keeps them in his travel bag and then Ben Stiller would pick me up but I’d be dead so it would only sorta kinda be me. And I would never want to bring any inconvenience to Ben Stiller. I love his movies. If anything I’d want to help him avoid going to jail. Not vice versa.
I’d been daydreaming about meeting Ben Stiller too long. I checked back in right before someone was about to talk again.
“My name is Phil,” Phil said.
I laughed. They looked at me sideways.
“I’m sorry. This is nervous laughter,” I wheezed through said nervous laughter. “It’s just, it’s just that I thought you’d have codenames themed around snakes or something. Like he’d be Agent Condor, and your friend there would be The Rattler, next to him would be Diamondback, the driver up there, he’d be Mr. Cobra, his buddy in the front would be Sergeant Python and you’d be, well, I’m out of snakes. I don’t know any other kind of snakes. So I’ll just say I thought you were going to be Snake. But Phil? I didn’t think I was being abducted by a bunch of guys who work at Kinko’s.”
“What’s wrong with working at Kinko’s?” Phil asked.
“Oh nothing. I mean, I’ve never been to a Kinko’s. I assume it’s pretty nice. Actually, I’m not actually sure what they do there. Do they make copies? Do they print stuff for you? Because I’m fairly certain that most homes are equipped to do that on their own nowadays, and if you can’t do it at home, I’m sure you could do it at work. Am I wrong here or is Kinko’s kind of obsolete at this point? Who goes there? You know what, I am saying there’s something wrong with Kinko’s. At least I think I am. Do you guys work at Kinko’s? Because if so, no disrespect, but your job sounds pretty lame.”
“Seriously? He’s the guy you want?” said Diamondback. (I later learned his name was Morgan. Less cool if you ask me.)
“I told you. Next guy we saw on the street,” Phil said. “We saw him. Therefore it’s him.”
“It’s me? I’m me. What?” I started mumbling again. “I mean, yes, I’m aware that I am me. But in this situation what me am I? Does that make sense? I guess what I’m asking is is the me that I am the me to which you are referring? Or am I a separate me? Is him me or is me a different him?”
“Seriously kid, we’re going to need you to stop talking,” Sergeant Python yelled out. Oddly enough, his name was actually Sergeant Jack Python. No, I’m kidding. His name was Eric. But wouldn’t it be cool if I guessed one of them right?
“We just need someone to deliver a package for us,” Phil said. Then he gestured to a box in the back of the car, a little out of my reach.
“What’s in the package?” I asked.
“That doesn’t matter,” Phil shot back.
“Where am I taking the package?” I inquired.
“You’ll get directions once you’re there,” Phil replied.
“Do I have a choice in the matter?” I tried, hoping that I would get as much wiggle room as I had in the previous queries.
“No, you have no choice in the matter,” Phil said. “You’ve been chosen. Deal with it.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Are you guys bad guys or good guys?” I had to get back off-topic. It made me feel comfortable. “Because if you’re good guys, I’m cool to help you out. But if you’re bad guys, shouldn’t you be leaving this up to some random chance and leave the weakest henchman to guard me while I plan my cunning escape? Isn’t that the bad guy code? Because I think I’m afforded at least the opportunity to plan a daring escape, at least once in my life. And this is as good of a time as ever, the way I see it. I’m already brainstorming and man, do I see some weaknesses in this truck. Trust me, I could get out of here in like eight seconds if I wanted to.”
They disregarded my ramble.
“Your flight is at 9 a.m.,” Phil said. Then he punched me in the face. I blacked out.
Next thing I knew, I was on a plane. The only things I had on me were the package, a walkie-talkie, a hand-written note and a pack of gummy bears. The note read:
Don’t open the package or else there’s a good chance you’ll be kicked off the plane.
The gummy bears are for you.
Try not to eat the whole bag on the plane.
We didn’t leave you any money.
I leaned to the guy next to me to ask him where the plane was headed. He told me we were going to France. Then I asked him if he was Crispin Glover. He said no, but I’m pretty sure he was Crispin Glover. Then I went back to wondering what I was going to do once I landed in France. I turned over the note to check if there were extra directions. The back of the note read:
The directions are on the other side, dummy. That’s why we left it on you face-up.
I thought that was awfully passive-aggressive of them. Not writing anything would’ve done the same trick. But they had to go out of their way to demean me. I know I was being kidnapped and forced to deliver a package against my will, but the least they could’ve done was be a little more polite in how they went about their business. I’m not saying that a better note would’ve forgiven all their crimes, but it definitely would’ve made my flight a little bit more pleasant.
It was at that point when I wondered how they knocked me out for that long. And also how they got me on a plane, left me the way I was, and got off the plane without anyone noticing. Unless the airline was in on this too. Maybe this goes all the way to the top of the FAA. Or maybe they were still on the plane. Or maybe the hardcore Weekend at Bernie’s’d me. I checked to see if I was wearing sunglasses. I wasn’t.
Before I knew it, we had landed in France. I still remember a good bit of French from the years of it I took in school, so I knew I would survive. I had only eaten three gummy bears – two greens and a yellow – so I was fairly certain I wouldn’t starve. The second I stepped of the airplane, the walkie-talkie squawked.
“Nick?” a voice that sounded like Phil’s said.
“Yeah it’s me,” I said. “By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask. If you just picked me up because I was the first person you saw on the street, how did you already know my name? It just doesn’t quite add up.”
“Stop trying to apply logic to this story,” Phil said. “You’re obviously making it up as you go along, so just let it be.”
I nodded in agreement.
“I nodded,” I said. “I don’t know if you can see me, but that was a nod in agreement.”
“No, I can’t see you,” Phil said. “So thanks for the clarification. That was actually very useful. I would appreciate it if you gave me play-by-play for the rest of the afternoon. It would make things so much easier on my end.”
“No, no, no, for sure,” I said. “Anything to smooth the process.”
“Thanks for being so cool about this,” Phil said. “A lot of people would still be freaking out and trying to escape. But you’re being a real trooper.”
The compliment meant a lot to me. It was that sort of dignity that made me forgive them for that whole note fiasco.
“Oh you’re welcome, man,” I said. “So where am I headed?”
“The drop-off is at the Eiffel Tower,” Phil said.
“That’s convenient,” I said. “That’s like the only place I would actually know in Paris. It’s super convenient that you guys picked the one place that everyone associates with France.”
“Again,” Phil said. “You’re poking holes in this. Just go to the Eiffel Tower and look for a guy named Hugues.”
“Do you not have any like physical description or something?” I asked. “Because just looking for a guy based off his name isn’t much of a help. Is he tall? Is he short? Is he that weird height between tall and short? You know, I want to call that average, but it isn’t quite average. It’s actually probably closer to short than tall. It’s funny how we perceive height. I bet a lot of people who I call short are actually average height.”
“Nick,” Phil said. “I’m gonna need you to focus.”
“Right, right,” I said. “Eiffel Tower. I’ll go there.”
By the power of jump cut, I got to the Eiffel Tower with no issues. Luckily when I got there everyone was wearing a name-tag. And I mean everyone. Literally every person in France wears a name-tag. And no two people have the same name. It’s super convenient for storytelling.
I walked up to Hugues and said “Are you Hugues?” He looked at me funny and then just pointed at his name-tag. I nodded.
“Phil, just gonna let you know that I nodded again,” I said into the walkie-talkie.
“Thanks buddy,” Phil said.
“So here’s your package,” I said to Hugues.
“Awesome,” Hugues said. “I’ve been waiting for weeks for this.”
He opened it up and it was a copy of Michael Jackson’s This Is It on Blu-Ray.
“Two questions:,” I said into the walkie.
“Anything,” Phil said.
“First question: Why did I need to be the one to deliver a copy of a concert DVD to France?” I asked. “Couldn’t you just ship that? Or deliver it yourself? There’s legit nothing criminal about this.”
“We all get really air-sick,” Phil said. “We needed someone else to do it for us. It would’ve just been too unpleasant to do it ourselves. Our ears pop. We hate that.”
I totally got where he was coming from.
“Second question: Couldn’t he just buy this himself?” I asked. “And if not, couldn’t he have just ordered it from Amazon or something? It seems like this was a lot of work to get a DVD.”
“Stop calling it a DVD,” Phil said. “It’s a Blu-Ray.”
“Honestly, I don’t know the difference,” I admitted.
“Oh there are so many differences,” Phil began to explain. “There’s the whole issue of storage capacity. On Blu-Rays there is so much more storage. Then there’s the idea of visuals.”
“I’m gonna stop you there,” I told him. “I don’t care. Can I come home now?”
“Oh man, I knew we were forgetting something,” Phil said.
“You didn’t buy me a ticket back, did you?” I said.
“Yeah, that’s gonna be a big fat no,” Phil said.
“That’s OK,” I said. “I’m sure I can find a way home.”
And I did. It turns out that hanging out by the Eiffel Tower happened to be a guy wearing a name-tag that said “Crispin Glover.” I walked up to him and said “Are you Crispin Glover?” He couldn’t lie this time. He was in fact Crispin Glover. I was right the whole time. And to make up for him lying to me, he let me fly back to the States in his private jet.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. Yep. Totally true. Every last bit of that happened.