My private plane from Paris landed at JFK airport at precisely midnight. I was exhausted from a whirlwind tour of some factories my company owned in France. My father started the company at the end of the Second World War. He had been a soldier in the army and learned a lot about logistics, especially related to the weapons of war. He decided to get in on the business when he returned to the States. It didn’t take long for him to build a small manufacturing empire, designing and building guidance systems for rockets and missiles. He loved his business, and when I was old enough he started teaching me the ropes. My mother had died when I was fifteen, so my father and I became very close, and working with him in the company was natural fit for me.
I had exited the plane and entered the black limousine that was waiting to take me to my hotel. I had an early morning meeting with stockholders in New York, and then I’d be on my way home to Boston. I told the driver to make it quick. I wanted to get some sleep in before I had to be off to my meeting. The car pulled out of the airport and on to the highway. The darkness of the night made the windows in the limousine reflect my image like a mirror. I was peering into one of them when I saw a startling sight. The face of a cat wearing a black hat with a red flower in it appeared before my eyes on the door window. I gasped, and the driver asked if there was anything wrong. I looked at the driver and was about to tell him about what I saw when I noticed that the face had disappeared. Nothing, I just thought I saw something. We continued our drive.
A few minutes later we were stopped at a light in downtown New York. I looked out the window and a cab had pulled up next to my limousine. The figure in the back seat of the cab turned to look at me. A grinning cat face peered through the glass of the cab door window. What the fuck? I said out loud. The driver asked me again if there was anything wrong. No driver. I was just thinking of something, sorry. The light turned green and we were off, and the cab was nowhere to be seen.
We were closing in on the hotel when I heard a thud on the roof of the limousine. It shook me. My nerves were already frayed from the plane ride and the visions of the cat. What was that? I asked the driver, as I looked towards the roof of the limousine.
What was what, ma’am? A deep and accented voice, like a British accent but not quite, came from the driver’s seat. My driver was from the Bronx, so I was shocked to hear the strange accent.
Driver, what was that sound on the roof? And, what’s wrong with your voice?
The limousine came to a sudden stop. I lunged forward towards the glass divider between the back seat and the driver’s seat. My face came just a few inches away from the window, and staring at me, with a sinister grin, puffing on a cigar was a cat wearing a black hat with a red flower in its band. Which question would you like me to answer first? The creature said, as it puffed on its cigar and blew the smoke in my face.
Kaff. How dare you?
How dare I what?
How dare you blow smoke in my face?
My mother always told me I was a daring little fellow. Oh the memories.
What are you? I shouted.
This really is getting old. Not only are you monkeys excruciatingly unimaginative, you’re also insufferably rude. I’m not a WHAT, I’m a WHO. The creature blew smoke in my face again, and I sat back in my seat. Now that we’ve got that settled, where to ma’am?
Who are you? I demand you tell me right now, do you know who I am?
Of course I do, you wretched monkey girl. I know everything about you. I know when you lost your virginity to Bobby Higgins in the seventh grade, and when you crashed your father’s favorite car in the twelfth grade. I even know what you like to do at night when no one’s looking, but let’s you and I keep that our little secret, shall we?
I’m calling the police! I said in a panic, reaching for the car phone. I couldn’t get a signal. What’s wrong with the phone?
Nothing’s wrong with it. It’s just not working right now.
What did you do to it?
Oh it would take too long to explain the quantum mechanics behind it; you’re little monkey brain couldn’t handle such complex things.
Enough of this, I demand you tell me who you are and what you’re doing here?
Demands. I don’t give in to the demands of terrorists.
Terrorist? What the hell are you talking about, you crazy cat.
Well you do make all sorts of nasty weapons that are used to kill, maim and destroy, do you not?
What? What are you some kind of peacenik?
Heaven forefend. I assure you I’m no pacifist. Indeed, I admire the way you callously murder millions of people across the world just so you can wear nice clothes and fly around in private planes. You’re my hero.
Get out of this car, right now! I yelled at the top of my lungs.
Tsk, tsk, I never thought you’d break this easily. This has got to be a record for me. I’ll have to remember to phone mother. She’ll be so proud of her darling son.
I started to sob. Why won’t you leave?
Leave? I wouldn’t think of it. Not yet anyway. I’m on the clock, you see, and I always finish what I start. It’s just business, you know how it is.
I have no idea what’s going on, who the hell are you?
Oh, pardon me, I’m Shamus, at your service.
Please, Shamus, leave me alone. I said as calmly as possible.
No ma’am, it doesn’t work that way. You monkeys always think the world works the way you want it to work. It may come as a surprise to you, Miss High and Mighty, but the universe has an agenda and you’re part of it. Just another little cog in the grand machine of the Cosmos. There’s nothing you can do about it. Just accept it.
No. Get out of my car, right now. I tried to open the door.
That’s futile. You’re trapped in here.
This is kidnapping.
Funny how you think of yourself as a child. But I guess that makes sense, since you’re about as wise as a spoiled little brat.
How dare you?
Listen you spindly excuse for a female, I dare whenever I choose. I don’t obey monkeys like you. I’m here on important business and you’re it.
Then why are you here? Get it over with, already.
Some people just can’t take the time for the niceties of life anymore. Oh well. Let me see. Shamus took his hat off and removed the book that rested on his head. He replaced his hat and thumbed through the pages of the book as he puffed on his cigar. Oh yes, that’s right. He closed the book and looked solemn. Miss High and Mighty, you’ve got something really important to do, a big decision to make.
What? What is it?
Sorry, that’s not my department. It’s big though, so you’d better figure it out.
I can’t believe this is happening. I’ve got a meeting in five hours. I can’t deal with this right now.
No ma’am, this is the exact time to deal with this. You can’t take what you do so lightly. Too many lives depend on your decision.
What are you talking about Shamus?
The whole wide world is in your hands monkey girl, and uncertain hands they are indeed. Millions, nay Billions of lives hang in the balance.
What are you talking about?
Are you that blind my dear? Can’t you see what your company does?
We make money for our shareholders. What’s wrong with that?
Sure, sure, make money, that’s what life’s about isn’t it.
Oh dear. This could be the end.
What? Stop being so cryptic.
You’re hands are stained with blood.
I looked at my hands. They were red. I tried to wipe them off on my coat, but it did nothing. What did you do to me?
Me? You can’t blame that on me, dearie. You’ve done it to yourself, you and your father. Merchants of Death.
No, I’m a businesswoman.
Sure, give yourself a fancy name, it makes it all better. You might as well sell poisoned food. Better yet, just go shoot some orphans.
How dare y…?
Shamus puffed some smoke and his face darkened. What did I tell you about that lady? This isn’t a joke. Stop thinking of yourself so much. Think of how you fill the world with weapons, and how those weapons destroy lives. This limousine is made from the bones of dead children from Africa, Asia and all around the world.
Stop being so dramatic. I looked around the car and saw the skulls of children surrounding me. I could hear the screams and wails of suffering people. What the fuck?
That’s about right. What the fuck, indeed? What kind of human are you? I knew you monkeys were suicidal, even homicidal, but I didn’t realize how much you relish genocide.
I barely heard him. The car was closing in on me. I heard the cries of the children all around me. I heard the sounds of desperate screams, of mothers wailing, of fathers beating their chests. I could hear the bombs bursting, and the fires raging. I collapsed in the back of the car sobbing. Shamus just puffed on his cigar, with a stoic look on his face. My work is done.
A few moments later the car door opened. My driver, sounding shocked called my name. He helped me out of the limousine. I was nearly frantic. I kept muttering to myself. He helped me into the hotel, and he and the hotel manager got me to my room and I flopped on my bed and fell asleep.