"Oh holy ass, no," I replied swiftly. As a general rule, I try not to do any favors, or talk, to any of my coworkers at Cracked. This policy, although alienating me from my coworkers somewhat and making me the office "stuck up asshole," has also steered me clear of the trouble and jail time that would go along with such fraternization. I should also point out that this rule is twice as important when dealing with DOB, who is a deviant fucker.
"DOB," I said, "you deviant fucker." I sat up straight in my chair before continuing. "I want no part of whatever it is you've gotten yourself into, or even to soil my brain by hearing anything about it."
"I've stolen this box," he said crossing the room in two steps. Before I could stop him, he had dropped it on my desk.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "Yes. Thanks Dan, that was pretty obvious. But now I 'know' you stole that box, you idiot. Which means legally speaking, I will have to turn you in, or blackmail you or something. It's probably one of the two. I'll have to ask a lawyer." I slumped back in my chair, resigned to my fate. "May I - though I know I'll regret it - ask what is inside the box?"
He blurted his response, "I don't know! I don't even care! Isn't that sick?" Before I could reply, the sound of police sirens in the streets below echoed into the office. Dan sprinted from the room, leaving my planned response ("Yes, very.") unsaid. I stood up and examined the box without touching it. Plain brown, sealed with packing tape, with a single sticker reading "Neuticles." Below that, a stamp reading "NN-Medium x1000."
I sat there for a few minutes considering my options. Although my mother didn't raise a narc, she also didn't raise a complete idiot. Working within those constraints, my choice was obvious. I got up, box in hand, and walked to the door, intent on stashing the box in Swaim's office. As I reached the hall though, the fire alarm went off, no doubt part of Dan's multilayered escape scheme. People began rushing out of their offices, pushing for the stairwell. (Cracked staffers are very fire conscious, due to the unusually high number of uncontrolled fires which seem to be a part of the comedic process.) Caught up in the tide of human bodies I was swept through the office, down the stairwell and out the building.
The crowd thinned out a bit as it spread into the plaza at the base of our building. Crowds formed on the large staircase that leads down to a fountain and the street beyond. At this point, the sensible thing to do would be to set the box down on the ground and walk away. But as I was looking around for a quiet place to stash it, I heard someone calling my name. "Chris? Chris! It is you!"
I turned around to spot Anne, an ex-girlfriend of mine. We had broken up mutually a few years previous, following a disagreement about how many dick jokes a successful career should involve.
"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey Aaaaaaaaaaanne," I said, stretching out the words to buy some time for my brain, which had mysteriously just shut down all its conversational functions. Anne and I proceeded to make small talk for a bit, me through clenched teeth, dragging out each word as I waited for my brain to reboot. If such things were ranked, it would rate very high on a list of the worst conversations ever.
"Do you work for a vet?" she asked unexpectedly, cutting through the conversational fog.
My face twitched, confused at this unexpected turn. "No, why?"
"Because you're holding a case of fake dog testicles."
I looked at the sticker on the box I was holding. Neuticles. Holy Salty Moses.
"Oh these?" I said, searching for something to latch on to. "These are part of..." I began, smartly. "A..." I continued, after a long time had passed since I had said 'part of.' "Business!" I concluded, exhaling heavily. "A business of mine! That I own."
"Oh? What sort of business?" she pressed, like she was Sherlock fucking Holmes all of a sudden.
I nodded earnestly, as if I could answer that question simply and honestly, which I couldn't. Racking my brain for everything I knew about businesses, I finally blurted out "You know that show Flip that House? It's like that."
Her face tensed. "You flip fake dog nuts?" she said, paraphrasing the occupation I had just claimed for myself.
"Yesssssssssssssssss," I said, falling back on my word-stretching trick. I gulped. "Yeah, you know. The margins on balls? They're uh, just amazing." I waved my free hand around trying to come up with a gesture to indicate how amazing the margins on fake dog nuts were. After a few seconds I eventually settled on a vague cupping gesture.
Amazingly, she nodded. "I'll bet. My boyfriend got them for his dog. That's how I recognized the brand name. Anyways, those things are like $150 each."
Anne carried the conversation on her own for a little while, but I had no idea what she was saying. Clutching the box of balls slightly tighter to my chest, I ran some quick calculations. I had $150,000 worth of fake dog testicles in my hands. My mind reeled as I stood there in a daze.
Eventually Anne walked away, perhaps annoyed that I hadn't said anything in several minutes. After a few seconds my mind caught traction, and I began to consider my predicament. It was a bit of a dilemma. The recession had hit ad revenue for all web-based business pretty hard, and thanks to that and an extremely liberal interpretation of certain contracts, Cracked had lately been paying all its writers in Fijian dollars. This had understandably impacted my pocketbook significantly, and suddenly the prospect of being a sham dog ball middleman sounded a lot more tempting. Curious, I broke the seal on the box and pried it open.
One-thousand little rubbery blobs, the same shape as a kidney shaped bean. All sloshing around in the box. I picked one up and squeezed it. Squishy.
But how to sell them? My first thoughts went to eBay or craigslist. Definitely the easiest, but Internet sales were at least somewhat traceable by authorities. Surely someone would notice that $150,000 worth of balls was missing, and would check the Internet to see of anyone was trying to move the merchandise there. I'd be setting a trap for myself if I went that route. Going to jail for selling hot nuts wasn't a future I relished. What do cons do to guys who get caught selling fake dog balls? I missed that episode of Oz. Rape I guess - that seems to be how they handle most things.
Hawking them in person could be safer, but who would buy fake dog testicles? Fetishists obviously, but did I want to meet these people? Or handle cash that they had handled? The only other option I could think of were crooked veterinarians, but where to find those?
As I was standing there, mulling my options, I spotted fellow columnist Robert Brockway. I approached him, and asked, "Hey Brockway, you know any shady veterinarians?"
"Yes, three." He flicked his eyes down at the box I was holding. "You trying to sell those Neuticles?"
I tilted my head slightly in a non-committal gesture. "Maybe."
He leaned in and peered at my dog ball collection. Reaching in he plucked one out of the box and examined it closely. Suddenly, he popped it in his mouth and began working it around with his jaw, while I stood, gaping. Chewing on it with a thoughtful look in his eye, he finally said "These are good." He looked me in the eye. "Real good." He swallowed. "Yeah, I'll make some calls. You sit tight." He turned around and wandered off.
I stood there, frozen in place. Something about the way Brockway ate that dog testicle made me realize I was about to walk down a path from which I could not return. There was no way I could do this: I had to dump my ball-load and get out of here.
I definitely couldn't just drop it anywhere now. Nightmarish visions danced through my head of people reporting it as a suspicious package. Firemen showing up and roping off the area. The bomb squad detonating it. Testicles raining down on the city streets below. Old ladies fainting. Someone would mention that they saw me holding the package. SWAT teams kicking in my door, finding me rocking back and forth in the bathtub, yelling at my genitals.
My whole body shuddered as I tried to shake away these visions. Somehow the box slipped a bit in my hands. I reached for it, fumbling at it. I grasped it, but the lid popped open. "Oh balls," I shrieked clutching at the lid. The whole box flew out of my hands, spilling its contents out, bouncing down the stairs in front of me.
A thousand fake dog testicles cascading down a public staircase is basically the most noticeable thing ever. Every person within a half mile turned to watch as my balls bounced down, into, over and around the people gathered below. People yelled out in annoyance and pain as the balls struck them. Others stepped on them, sliding around and crashing to the ground violently. At the bottom of the stairs, a group of children on a field trip stood, shrieking at the wave of counterfeit gonads descending upon them. Fwap fwap fwap fwap fwap fwap fwap fwap fwap. I closed my eyes, cringing.
An eerie silence descended over the scene. I cautiously opened my eyes. Miraculously, no one appeared to be hurt. As the nuts came to rest, scattered everywhere the eye could see, cries of recognition rose up from the victims of my onslaught, as they realized what had struck them. I'd never seen "balls" on so many people's lips. The word I mean.
Someone tapped my shoulder. I turned around to see a police officer, looking at me sternly. "That was an accident," I tried to say, although I think all that came out was "hamma mammmma mammmmma." His gaze narrowed as he cataloged me and my many apparent faults. After a few seconds his face softened fractionally as a decision was made somewhere in his powerful cop brain. "OK," he began. "Then maybe you should clean those up?"
I nodded meekly and began scooping up mock balls one at a time, frantically moving around on my hands and knees. Unkind words and unhelpful gestures were directed at me by everyone unfortunate enough to be downstream of my onslaught, although one group of German tourists seemed really excited, and tried to take several pictures of me.
Two hours of back breaking work later, I had finally rounded up all the loose nuts. Many were missing, having rolled down storm drains or been scooped up as tasteful souvenirs. The cop had long since wandered off, as had most of the crowd. At the top of the steps I saw Brockway arguing with a guy wearing a leather vest and an eyepatch. The guy with the eyepatch threw up his hands and stormed away. Brockway remained, glaring and shaking his head at me. Eventually he too left.
I was exhausted, yet left with my original problem: what to do with a case of fake dog balls? Suddenly an enormous shadow reared up from behind me. I turned and looked just in time to duck, as a hot air balloon came crashing to the ground, the basket tumbling over, spilling its contents to the ground. A dazed Dan O'Brien stood up and looked around. Spotting me, he jogged over.
"Bucholz! Awesome! Thanks so much for holding these for me dude." He grabbed the box from my hands.
"Uh, no problem," I said, relinquishing my balls. "Looks like you stole a hot air balloon there, hey?"
DOB turned around to look at the balloon, now tangled in a telephone pole. He turned back. "I guess," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "Crazy Mondays, right?"
"That's the craziest type of all," he said, squinting. He looked at the now-tattered box, and peeled open the lid, examining its contents. "Fake dog balls! Awesome! These all still here?"
I looked around, an exasperated look on my face. "Uhm, no. Brockway ate one," I offered.
"Awesome!" he said, genuinely happy. "Good work, Bucholz! Next payday, don't be surprised if you see a little something extra in your pay."
I understood immediately that this meant he was going to put fake dog balls in an envelope and jam it under my door, but didn't say anything, lest I give the impression I wanted to continue having a conversation with him. We stared at each other for eight seconds.
"I'm going to put fake dog balls in an envelope and stuff it under your door," he said finally, smiling expectantly.
I nodded my head wearily. "I look forward to it."