Another Fine Mess
"Just tell me what the map says, Dil."
"The map doesn't say anything, it isn't real!"
"I get that, but what does it say?"
"Fine," I slammed the map down on the makeshift table we had created from the remains of an old freezer and a plank of wood. "You want to know what the map says? The map says we're f--"
Perhaps I should explain.
My name is Dilworth K. Smith. I work as a clerk in a comic book shop. Well, technically I think I'm an assistant manager or some such nonsense, but why quantify it? It's not like I work there for the prestige or some kind of long-term career goal, in fact I'm just there for the free comics.
The guy I'm currently yelling at and am, as usual, completely exasperated with is my coworker, the inimitable (and who would want to?) Jersey Jones. I'm positive Jersey isn't his real name, but he's never given me another and that's the one listed on his time sheet. When he's not busy stocking comics, Jersey likes to spend his time as an amateur adventurer. Typically, this means that random strangers send him maps and he goes looking for some inane treasure that no one has ever heard of. Somehow, he tricked me into being his sidekick.
Not that I'm exactly opposed to going off on some random adventure every now and again, but following Jersey is a sure way to an early grave. Take our current situation: trapped in some kind of underground structure with no way out and what smells like gas filling the room. I really need a spliff to calm myself, but I'm too shit scared that the smallest spark in here will blow us to hell.
And frankly, I'm not ready to go just yet.
This is not the first time I've found myself in a seemingly hopeless situation with Jersey, and if we do somehow manage to survive I'm sure it won't be the last. In fact, it seems like we find ourselves in these situations almost once a week. I swear I'm living a bad television show. It's the Amazing Mis-Adventures of Jersey Jones! I mean, the man's even got himself an arch-nemesis. Seriously? Who do you know in the real world that has his very own villain? Jersey does.
The villain in this case is a man named O'Halaran. As with Jersey, I'm sure he has a first name, but I have no earthly idea what it is and I've never really bothered to ask. We only seem to ever see the guy when he wants something that Jersey has found, or when he just gets it in his head to kill us. Which, again, seems to be about once a week.
From somewhere in the room, a speaker from the 1950s comes to life, I wince at the sound of feedback filling the room.
"Ah, Mr. Jones. We find ourselves back in that old game of cat and mouse."
That would be O'Halaran. of course it is, who else would lock us in this Adam West cliche of a deathtrap? Ooh, no. Bad analogy. That makes me Robin and there's no way I'm wearing that girly thing Burt Ward used to wear. Nor will I quip. I simply refuse to quip. I'm not gonna come with the "Holy Gasworks, Jersey!" bull-pucky that sidekicks are known for. That's just not me.
O'Halaran's been talking this whole time, saying who knows what; something about Jersey being the mouse to O'Halaran's cat... I swear I think this guy has a crush on Jersey or something. Half the time I don't know if he wants to kill him or kiss him. I mean, this guy surrounds himself with beautiful, deadly ninja women and he's constantly obsessed with Jersey Jones, a guy who thinks he's the nephew of imminent archaeologist Indiana Jones and has the worst Peter Pan syndrome I've ever seen. And this is coming from a guy who still plays with action figures and a lightsaber.
What could this guy possibly want this time? We haven't even found anything! We were right in the middle of our "adventure" when Jersey got us locked in this stupid room by having me follow the fake map...
"Oh. Of course! It's a trap. A trap, and we walked right into it.... just like we always do. It does amaze me that Jersey hasn't earned himself a Darwin award at this point. I swear he was the kid that jumped off his roof with an umbrella thinking he could fly. Admittedly, we all went up there and thought about it, but he's one of those rare few that followed through.
While Jersey and O'Halaran keep flirting, I start looking for some way out of this mess. I should be home, reading a book. Or even out watching a movie, but no, instead I'm stuck in a basement with a wannabe adventurer while an idiot with far too much time and money on his hands waxes poetical through an old speaker box...
As an idea and the theme from MacGuyver pop into my head, I decide to break in on O'Halaran's speech. "Hey, O'Halaran. Listen, you've got us in a really bad situation and we can appreciate that. How about you give us about five minutes of silence to say our goodbyes and make peace with our respective gods, and then you can blow us up and I can be forever in the warm embrace of His great noodely appendage. Sound good?" The speaker started to squawk back to life, which I'm sure would have lead to another very long, very dull speech from O'Halaran, so instead I interrupted saying, "Great! We'll talk to you in five then."
Jersey just gives me that questioning look he always gets when he isn't following along with the home-viewers and I ask him for his knife as he laments his well-thought quip that O'Halaran won't get to hear until the next time he has us in one of these overly-elaborate death traps. Supposing we survive this one, that is. "My knife," he replies, still not caught up.
Not having time to explain, I grab for Jersey's ever-present satchel and start routing around for his knife. After digging through shark's teeth, bullet casings, a few indian arrow heads, a slinky, marbles, and what appears to be the head of a Barbie doll, I find his all-purpose Swiss Army knife and get to work. I find the wire leading to the old speaker box and fray the wire just enough to create a short circuit and, Flying Spaghetti Monster be willing, a spark that will ignite the gas.
With a determination that would make Hannibal Smith proud I grabbed the old freezer and flipped it on its side. Then, before he had time to protest, I threw Jersey into it and jumped in beside him, pulling it as close to the load-bearing wall as I could.
"Well," I said, "here's another fine mess. What's the time?"
Just as Jersey went to check his watch, the crackle from the ancient speaker gave us the answer.
The explosion was magnificent. We're lucky it didn't bring the whole building down around us. That room must have been a bomb shelter at some point. It took us a while to get out of the freezer, but once we did, I could see my half-baked plan worked. The door was completely gone. By that time, I'm sure O'Halaran was back in the comfort of his large mansion, already planning the next idiotic deathtrap for us. It was only a matter of time before we find ourselves in another basement with a bomb, or strapped to a table with a laser beam aimed at our privates, whatever action movie cliche O'Halaran thought was cool that week.
What the hell, right? What's life without a little adventure?
I know I normally let Ellington tell these stories, but this one felt like it should come from me. Besides, he'd probably never believe it.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Jersey Jones story, these were a series of short films put together back in 2006 and 2007. The first was an entry into the Final Cut Film Festival here in Wilmington. We decided to make an Indiana Jones parody. This was the result:
Soon after, we were contacted by Encore Magazine to create an opener for their "Best of Wilmington" awards ceremony. Several of the jokes were rehashed from the original, but we also added some new material and characters. Here is the final product, including our live entrance to open the Best of Wilmington that year:
I'm currently in the process of recutting both of these shorts into a multi-episode web series. I'll post more details here when they are released.
EDIT 1/25/11: So, forgot about that little copyright snafu on the videos. Apparently some people can't see them. My bad. Who knew Warner Music Group had any claim on a Paramount movie soundtrack? Anyway, the shorts are also located on Myspace (I know! Who knew it was still around) Here's the first:
Jersey Jones and the Treasure of Zeb
Media Blitzkrieg | Myspace Video
And here's the second:
Jersey Jones and the Quest for the Best of Mington
Media Blitzkrieg | Myspace Video
I promise this is the last time I update this post. Anything else and I'll just make a new one.
William the Bloody Never Gonna Hear The End Of This One Redd