Monday, June 1, 2009

Doll Aurora Calls Hooknose McGee On The Red Telephone

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Doll Aurora Calls Hooknose McGee On The Red Telephone
(posted June 1, 2009)

Duncan Crashes The Party
(posted June 2, 2009)

Doll Aurora Calls Hooknose McGee On The Red Telephone

The Red Telephone rang. I was expecting to be contacted any day now by representatives from the Intergalactic Federation of Banking to be coached through the big button push that would lead to a big donation from a caring Intergalactic Bank showing compassion to the struggling people of Planet Earth. I waited for the second ring.

I picked up the receiver. "Hello, this is Hooknose McGee speaking."

“Hooknose McGee, good morning,” I was greeted by the caller. “This is Doll Aurora. I wanted to go over with you the logistics of our symbolic gesture of good will to Planet Earth.”

“Great,” responded Hooknose McGee. “I have been anticipating a call from your people. Where are you calling from?”.

“I am in an advanced space transportation craft in Earth’s atmosphere, somewhere between the surface of the Earth and the Space Station, just treading space, so to speak.” The personable tone of Doll Aurora’s voice began to put Hooknose McGee at ease.

“How far away is your home planet?” inquired Hooknose McGee, “And are you homesick?”.

“My home planet is called Kalkuhl 8 in the Galaxy 80M,“ Doll Aurora stated with an animated voice that showed pride in her heritage, “And it is seven and a half million light years from Earth. But I have unlimited minutes here in my space module, so this phone call only runs me four cents a minute.”

“Well, Doll Aurora, it is an honor to get to talk to someone as personable as you from so far away,” Hooknose McGee stated, relieved that Doll Aurora was not pressured to jet through the phone call in order to keep expenses down. “Can you fax me a picture of you, so I know what you look like?

“Of course, I can!” Doll Aurora said. “Check your fax machine.”

Hooknose McGee waited for the droning fax machine to feed a sheet of paper through. The fax machine crackled to life and in 15 seconds, a page printed out. Hooknose McGee picked it up and studied the photograph of Doll Aurora.

“Are there any more at home like you?” asked Hooknose McGee. “You are really nice looking.”

“Thank you, Hooknose McGee,” Doll Aurora said, pleased to be complimented. “As a matter of fact, I have 114 sisters, because I am a clone of a clone. On our planet, Kalkuhl 8, we have A & W Root Beer Drive-Ins, just like you all used to have back in the 1960’s, and Roy Orbison’s song ‘Only The Clonely’ is forever playing on the jukebox. It is one of my favorites, along with Kathy Young’s ‘A Thousand Stars’.”

“Our taste in music is similar!” Hooknose McGee noted. “Do you like to jog? We could go to Dinah’s for a large gourmet apple pancake sometime! I’ll check my date book to see if I have any upcoming vacancies! I’ll put you on my Preferred List Of Hot Dates I Have Not Gone On Yet And Probably Never Will, somewhere between Princess Carol The Tenth and Janet Evans!” Hooknose McGee was all keyed up to set aside time in his busy schedule for a long distance romance, a very very long distance romance.

“I am married, you naive dolt!” Doll Aurora said, indignantly. “My husband is a Space Patrolman who writes tickets for intergalactic ships that exceed four times the speed of light.”

“Oh, all right, Doll Aurora,” Hooknose McGee replied, sadly. “I’ll try to act more professional. I am, after all, a talented button pusher in total control of my emotions. I have no attachment to material things. I have no unrealistic fantasies about girls from other worlds. But I will always treasure the picture of yourself that you faxed to me.”

“Very well, then,” stated Doll Aurora. “Let me now proceed to fully inform you about the transfer of all the money in the Universe for a very brief time to a small bank in California.”

“I am ready to hear it. I have cleared my conscious mind of all emotions and distractions.” Hooknose McGee was ready to hear the details of the big deposit from the Universal Intergalactic Bank.

“Consider the dimensions of the United States one dollar bill,” stated Doll Aurora. “It is 6 and 1/16 inches long and 2-1/2 inches wide. If you lay these bills end to end, it will take, lengthwise, 10,472 of them to stretch a mile. Width-wise, 25,344 of them are required to stretch for one mile. Therefore, a square mile of one dollar bills consists of 265,421,994 one dollar bills. Do you follow this description?”.

“Yes,” Hooknose McGee replied, “I can envision precisely what you are saying.”

“Freshly-minted one dollar bills need to be stacked 4882 inches high to reach the one million bill level,” Doll Aurora continued. “This means that it will take 12.978 million one dollar bills stacked one on top of the other to reach a mile high. Therefore, a cubic mile of one dollar bills will amount to 344 trillion dollars.”

“And how much will this cubic mile of one dollar bills weigh?” asked Hooknose McGee.

“379 million tons, Hooknose McGee,” answered Doll Aurora. “If you manage to allow a maximum of one second of interest to accrue from the Big Deposit when you press that red Deposit button, the amount of interest earned, and that will be turned over to the Earth, will be 31,628 trillion one dollar bills, which obviously will be about 95 cubic miles of one dollar bills. Do you think you can handle that?”.

“No, I cannot handle that,” answered Hooknose McGee. "But I can endeavor to keep the interest at one second or less. I would hate for any major city to be hit by a wall of 95 cubic miles of one dollar bills.”

“It could be devastating, Hooknose McGee. What is going to happen is, from my space module at my current location, about 135 miles above the Earth’s surface, a laser beam will zone in on the soundproof glass booth you will be situated in on the front lawn of Santa Monica Bank. At 9:00 a.m. on June 1, 2009, I will transmit the laser signal that will cause the Yellow Funds Available light to illuminate. When it comes on, you will have three seconds, and then the red Deposit light will illuminate. Your mission is to press the red Deposit button quickly and then as quickly as possible press the green Withdrawal button. Are these directions clear?”.

“Yes, Doll Aurora,” Hooknose McGee answered, humbled by the magnitude of the task before him. “I appreciate you traveling so far to help out our fledgling planet. You are more than kind.”

“Well, it took a while to scrape this vigintillion dollars together,” Doll Aurora stated, cheerfully. “We just try to use it in constructive ways for the good of all people everywhere.”

“Will I see Earth’s banks being taken over by the Universal Intergalactic Bank in the months ahead?” asked Hooknose McGee.

“No, dear. Here on Planet Kalkuhl 8, we are a kind and benevolent people. We do altruistic deeds.” Doll Aurora spoke highly of her home planet.

“Have you tried the large gourmet apple pancake at Dinah’s?” Hooknose McGee asked, hopefully.

“Nice try, Hooknose McGee. Now you have a nice day, and stay calm. I am counting on you.” Then Doll Aurora hung up the phone.

Duncan Crashes The Party

Hooknose McGee slowly replaced the Red Telephone receiver in its receptacle after the call from Doll Aurora concluded. In just three hours, he thought, I will be sitting in front of the red Deposit button and the green Withdrawal button. Doll Aurora had rekindled the fire. Now, let’s burn down the laser beam. A knock came suddenly at the front door of the storage shed. Hooknose McGee opened the door to see who was calling.

“Duncan! I hardly recognized you! What a surprise! I was not expecting to see you here,” Hooknose McGee said, not really knowing how to fit a visitor into his busy schedule.

“Hey, Hooknose McGee, I just stopped in to pay homage on my way to work, since this is on my way.” Duncan bowed facetiously as though worshipping the Button God. “I know you are facing an ordeal, and I think you need to lighten up and not take this whole thing so seriously. Look, I have brought a bottle of Wild Turkey 101!”. Duncan held up the large, still-sealed bottle of Wild Turkey and shook its amber contents from side to side.

“Hey! Hey! Hey!” Duncan said. “You shouldn’t be so nervous. You’ve got to mellow out before you go into that booth, or you might not be able to face the pressure. Tell you what. Why don’t we just go have breakfast at Dinah’s and you can walk back? My treat. My car is right over there. You get door to door service! I’ll have you back before the action begins. You don’t have to walk back, I was just joking. My boss is out today, so I can show up late if I feel like it. An old trick I learned from Jane. What do you say?”.

Hooknose McGee felt he could use the moral support in his darkest hour. Maybe throwing back a couple shots of Wild Turkey might bring those ominous buttons into better focus. Besides, he was hungry and looked forward to free breakfast.

Just then the Red Telehone rang. “Duncan, come in for a minute while I take this important phone call,” Hooknose McGee swung open the door to the storage shed and directed Duncan to have a seat on an antiquated ATM positioned against the wall of the storage shed. Duncan sat down, placing the plain brown wrapper containing the bottle of Wild Turkey next to his Reebok javelin thrower shoes on the concrete floor. His Hawaiian shirt clashed with his purple pants with the white stripes down the seams.

“Hey, I’m in a rush!” Hooknose McGee blurted into the mouthpiece of the Red Telephone, starting to get stressed out. “Who is it? I have a visitor and I‘m putting you on speakerphone!”.

“Hooknose McGee?” the timid voice inquired softly. “This is Mehta Zulah from the Galaxy C10. I just signed on with Intergalactic Accord, the dating service. Doll Aurora gave me your number. She is kind of spoken for, you know. I like space walks, time travel, visiting the PEZ museum, and Dinah burgers.”

“Two out of four ain’t bad,” Hooknose McGee mused. “I love Dinah burgers, and I would like to travel through time, too. I would need to get to know you first, and I really like Doll Aurora. In fact, I plan on taking her away from her husband. How old are you, Mehta Zulah?”.

“Doll Aurora has kept you in the dark a little, Hooknose McGee,” Mehta Zulah confided. “Doll Aurora is a little bit ditzy. She is not married. But I am not trying to play Pez Cupid here. You should be open to dating others, not just tunnel-vision hot-blooded Doll Aurora. Do you realize there are more than 70,000 Dinah Restaurant locations just within 28 lights years of Planet Earth? Places you could meet the Intergalactic girl of your dreams. But back to me. I am 1173 years old. Hold on, you have an incoming fax.”

Hooknose McGee turned to Duncan. “To paraphrase Hamlet's advice to Horatio, there are more fans of Pez containers and Dinah burgers than are written down in the lid of our lunch boxes. Duncan, there is a frontier out there that far outshines that little sortie we took to the moon seven years from now. I know that sounds like an anachronism now, but we have buttons to push and Intergalactic beauties to win over.”

A high pitched sound, which required fax machine engineers eleven years to perfect, echoed through the metallic storage shed. A printed page fell into the paper tray. Duncan picked it up. His hands were shaking. He was stunned into silence.

Hooknose McGee took the faxed page from Duncan’s trembling hands. Duncan’s face was pale, and he was visibly shaken. Hooknose McGee looked down at the image on the page and braced himself against the wall of the storage shed to keep from falling over. “Oh, my stars and garters!” Hooknose McGee winced, his face contorted in pain. “She is a like a giant insect that might bite, and must be 40 feet tall! I could not share a large gourmet apple pancake with her, because after one chomp, there would be nothing left!”.

“It’s the same result every time,” Mehta Zulah lamented, the speaker phone broadcasting her swan song. “I put my best 17 feet forward, and this is what happens. You men are all alike. Doesn’t a girl’s character count for anything anymore? Hey, I can cook Dinah burgers! And I make beautiful Pez chain necklaces.”

Hooknose McGee said, “Mehta Zulah, if you are looking for Mr. Right, you came to the wrong place. And please, please, take me off that Intergalactic telemarketing list. I will never do enough on Earth to travel in space. Bye now.” Hooknose McGee replaced the receiver of the Red Telephone.

Duncan and Hooknose McGee got into Duncan’s compact car and fastened their seat belts. They headed for the 405 Freeway and the sustenance that a good meal at Dinah’s could bring.

Duncan, regaining his composure after viewing Mehta Zulah’s faxed picture, was quick to bring Hooknose McGee back to the matter at hand. “This is no time for a pity party, Hooknose McGee. All of this hermit syndrome you have been falling back on to hit those buttons just right might not get it for you, buddy. You listen to ME, the Village Idiot. I might talk too much, but I know what I’m talking about. You need guidance. You need a mentor. Your spiritual leader is at the wheel. You need to let me guide you right through this dangerous obstacle course until you see the finish tape just over the crest of the next hill. I did not show up at your storage shed door by accident.”

Hooknose McGee was curious about what motivated Duncan to step forward during this crisis. “Well, Duncan, if you are going to show me the end of the ordeal just over the next hill, how are you yourself going to make it up that hill?”. Hooknose McGee fidgeted nervously in the passenger seat of Duncan’s auto, wondering what in Centinela and Sepulveda was going on.

“Here’s the deal, Hooknose McGee,” Duncan explained. “In the past, you have demonstrated to us all that you can hack it all by yourself. You are very independent. But this time, buddy, you are in over your head. I never showed up before because you did not need me. But this is a horse of a different color. This is Button Push and beyond.”

“Beyond?” Hooknose McGee asked, puzzled by the implications of that code word.

“I know you like Wild Turkey,” Duncan stated, proud as any American of the vintage whiskey. “Together, we could open a chain of drinking establishments throughout the country that cater to low lifes like us, so these could never be called high-class joints. Call them ‘The Red Button’ and ‘The Green Button’. Something simple, like the common Village Idiot like me, or recluse like you, can relate to. We could sell a lot of Wild Turkey and White Russians. We would make millions every week. No more 9:00 to 5:00 and being in the pressure cooker. All you gotta do, Hooknose McGee, is use your head for once, just one solitary time. It would be a first! When you push the first button, the red one, delay a little. Make it look good. Hey, we are talking 31,628 trillion dollars in one second. I have a team of greenback trash collectors with large black garbage bags from the Dollar Store already assembled, ready to scoop up shovels full of those one dollar bills.”

Duncan parked his compact car in the Dinah’s parking lot and they went inside for breakfast. The waitress, Earline, brought to their imitation-red-leather upholstered booth generous helpings of eggs and bacon, hash browns, hotcakes, and Dinah’s freshly brewed coffee, high test. Duncan slipped a shot of Wild Turkey into each coffee cup that was poured for Hooknose McGee, telling Earline, “Keep those refills coming in!“.

“Duncan,” Hooknose McGee observed, “I commend you for your community service. But isn’t it odd that your stretch of Adopt A Mile on the 405 Freeway is right where tons of money is predicted to fall out of the sky when I press the Red and Green buttons?”.

“What a coincidence!” Duncan feigned surprise. “I had never made that connection, I was just trying to give back to the community. Oh, well, it just goes to show you can’t make everybody happy all the time. Would you like for me to resign from this mile and adopt another mile?”.

“Somehow, Duncan,” Hooknose McGee replied, “I just never thought of you as a miler. By the way, there is an old joke we never finished. What did one bus say to the other?”

“I don’t know, but I have waited seven years to find out,” Duncan replied, curious.

“What do they think we are, Greyhounds?” Hooknose McGee replied.

Duncan dropped off Hooknose McGee in front of Santa Monica Bank at 8:40 a.m. Hooknose McGee ducked into the storage shed and picked up the Red Telephone. He pressed the Redial button.

“Doll Aurora here,” the lilting voice answered.

“Hello, Doll Aurora. This is Hooknose McGee, and I just had a couple of shots of Wild Turkey because the Village Idiot showed up and took me to breakfast at Dinah’s. Now I am not sure my reflexes will be fast enough to press the Red and Green buttons in under one second. I feel sluggish. Can we delay the Big Deposit until noon, like in the old westerns?”.

“Do you have any idea, Hooknose McGee, what Janet Evans’s appearance fee is?” Doll Aurora asked, her voice rising. "She is a motivational speaker, for crying out loud! And everyone who sees CNN has scheduled their entire week around this Button Push happening at 9:00 a.m. this morning. The National Guard is out in force to protect people from falling greenbacks. Windows have been boarded up in New Orleans. They are dancing in the streets in Detroit and San Francisco. All the airports are shut down and the radar is scanning the skies over America for falling debris. There is no rescheduling. So the verdict is that the Secretary of The Button will be in the booth, ready for the Big Deposit transaction, at 8:55 a.m. on standby. Do you understand me, Hooknose McGee?”.

“Loud and clear, Sweetie,” replied Hooknose McGee docilely.

“Shut up!” replied Doll Aurora. “This is like an Ivory Tower up here. We are never going to meet. I was lying about being married. I am single.”

Hooknose McGee was suddenly inspired to sober up and make the whole world proud of how quick he could push two little tiny Red and Green buttons. No biggie. “Doll Aurora, our tryst would be the first ever Intergalactic romance. But we would have to go out in your space module, since I do not have a car.”

“You just do what you are supposed to do, Secretary of The Button, and we might just work something out,” Doll Aurora said, encouragingly. And it just might have worked.

Hooknose McGee stepped ceremoniously into the soundproof glass booth at 8:55 a.m. and put on his earphones. “All systems go, Doll Aurora,” he said with caution.

“Check,” Doll Aurora replied. “Stand by to push.”

“Roger,” replied Hooknose McGee.

Hooknose McGee looked to his right. Seated in the adjacent soundproof glass booth, and wearing head phones, was Janet Evans. He waved to the Olympic swimming champion. Janet Evans nodded her head, but did not smile or wave back. Hooknose McGee felt reassured that the wise politicians in Washington had kept their end of the bargain. Hooknose McGee glanced at his Timex Triathlon watch with the red band. It read 8:59 and 14 seconds. He gazed intently at the Yellow Funds Available button on the Control Panel before him.

Moments later, the Yellow Funds Available light illuminated. Hooknose McGee placed his hand about three inches above the Red Deposit button, prepared to press it when it became illuminated. “One thousand one, one thousand two,” Hooknose McGee silently recited to himself.

The Red Deposit button lit up. Hooknose McGee pressed the Red Deposit button and quickly pressed the Green Withdrawal button.

“Point 77 seconds,” the voice of Doll Aurora spoke into Hooknose McGee’s earphones. “Congratulations, Hooknose McGee. I’ll see you at Dinah’s.”

Linda Stouffer shuffled a stack of papers and then looked at the camera from her desk at CNN. “This just in,” she said, in a modulated newscaster voice.

“Hooknose McGee successfully pressed the Red Deposit button and quickly pressed the Green Withdrawal button in a soundproof glass booth on the front lawn of Santa Monica Bank. The elapsed time was 77 hundredths of a second. This equates to 24,353 trillion dollars for Planet Earth.”

In his leather-upholstered swivel chair at his mahogany desk on the 10th Floor of his office building, JBQ breathed a sigh of relief. “The best clerk I ever had,” he said to himself.

Standing in the ditch alongside the busy 405 Freeway, holding a large black garbage bag, Duncan and his renegade team of trash collectors gave a shout of exultation.

In Washington, Senator Richard Shelby gave Senator Harry Reid a high five. “We got it right,” Senator Shelby said, smiling.

In Russellville, Arkansas, Mama Grace turned to Papa Grace and said, “We are proud to have Hooknose McGee in the Grace family.”

In Cullowhee, North Carolina, the Record King opened his storage shed, and said, “I have to find some old scratched up Country records for the Record King Junior.”

In Detroit, the unemployed citizens starting turning over city buses, setting them on fire.

Hooknose McGee took off his earphones and stepped out of the soundproof glass booth, just as Janet Evans was exiting her soundproof glass booth. “Janet, would you like to join Doll Aurora and me at Dinah’s for a Dinah burger and large gourmet apple pancake?” Hooknose McGee asked.

“Sure, why not?” Janet Evans responded.

A black limousine pulled up next to the curb in front of Santa Monica Bank. Hooknose McGee opened the door for Janet Evans. She climbed inside, followed by Hooknose McGee. The door closed and the limousine drove down the street toward the San Diego Freeway.

(c) 2009 by Hooknose McGee

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