Peter is a very Swedish looking 30-year-old with whom Rudy is good friends. Rudy and Peter met three-years ago while working at Kindle Corporation, a medical device company widely known for its numerous heart devices, yet it has in more recent years turned its attention toward other more growing markets. Although Kindle is not in the life-saving game rather, they specialize in making parts to keep the body working properly; we’re well into the Frankenstein era of medicine and with the rise of the elderly in this nation and its buffet of ailments will ensure that companies like Kindle will yield a solid stock performance with progressive, steady growth for many years to come. However, they are not in the creativity game, and after Peter and Rudy’s wonderful work on the Bladder Balloon campaign, a device that will come to the aid of the over 13 million people who suffer from bladder control problems and allow many of those people to stop wearing adult undergarments, Peter felt that he’d pushed the envelope as far as he could at Kindle and left to work for GOD and shortly after recruited Rudy away.
“C’mon Rudy, I can’t have you in a fatalistic state of mind now.”
“What else is there? Violence is our only inspiration anymore. Have you been following the reality show Life Switch?”
“No, but I’m surprised that you are.”
“Well, this housewife from Wisconsin and a terrorist from Palestine did the life switch thing and when it was supposed to be over, the woman refused to leave. She loves her new life. You should see her. Wearing the bandana around her face, carrying some kind of automatic weapon and hand grenades. She says she’s not going back. She finally believes in something and feels like her life has meaning. They asked her if she would ever consider being a suicide bomber and it took her, maybe ten seconds and she said, yeah if that’s what it takes. I mean for God sakes, she’s got children.”
“What’s the terrorist doing now, did he go back?”
“No, I think they said he’s a nanny in New Jersey or something.”
Peter frowns, he’s really disappointed. “This war stinks, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also our job. And we do get to do some cool things.”
“This isn’t a war Peter. Its toy soldiers in the sand box. Our generation doesn’t have a war. We have occupations, armed conflicts, operations, and maybe an uprising or two but not wars.” Rudy quickly senses the rapid decline in Peter’s mood and so he smiles. “I’ll be all right. It’s just a temporary depression, you know, examining my life and finding that it resembles a black hole kind of thing. Tomorrow I’ll be fine. I’ll remember the bombs and be happy and patriotic again.”
“I know that it gets hard to feel it all the time. Like sex with your wife.”
Rudy turns toward Peter. “Really?”
Peter turns red and loses eye contact for just a moment. “You know what I mean. But once you get going you’re happy and excited again.”
“I’m not sure I’m ready for these personal confessions. I think sex with another human being would be exciting.”
“I think it’s time to go home, Rudy.”
“I’m waiting for the tanks and the smell of gunpowder to leave the air. It’s the common man’s war zone out there. Fighting traffic. I should really learn the bus routes.”
Peter rests his hand on Rudy shoulder. “Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah. Nothing a few cups of coffee and 40mg of Prozac won’t take care of.”
Peter fades into the oncoming evening while Rudy watches the slow roll of tanks crawl along the city streets like giant bugs that have survived doomsday and are now taking over.
Friday morning and Rudy is brainstorming; his yellow legal pad is full of words, phrases, some limericks, and a few obscene drawings, one featuring a happy, well-endowed Hamlet whose private part is actually a missile prepared to launch. ‘It’s all of those email offers to increase my size,’ Rudy thinks, ‘gotta stop with the porn,’ he adds as a mental note. This American male love affair with blowing things up, watching things explode, perhaps it’s all sexual frustration and fascination. He begins to hum and scribbles down a tune:
“He’s feeling naughty in his patent leather boots
He’s a playboy with a handgun that never shoots
She’s an eastern European, with a figure that could kill
And he’s hoping she’ll molest him but he knows she never will…”
He’ll have to add that to the songbook collection he’s been working on over the years- Songs for Dictators and Lovers. Plenty of irons in the fire for Rudy no doubt: two unfinished novels, a half-written screenplay, a comedy titled, A Nazi Beach Party in Nebraska. He leans back in his chair and begins to trace back over his life for something that can be discovered, the secret cause as it were, for his continual disconnectedness, discord and disappointment. This evening, he thinks, will be a self-evaluation night, he’s been putting it off as of late, I mean with work and the occasional social engagement life has certainly been busy, but he knows that he must face the mirror of his sordid imagination and most importantly he has to get tabs on where his suicide numbers are at. The last couple of self-evaluation nights have seen a reduction after a January peak of 7.8 out of 10, although looking back on those nights of the not so distant past Rudy feels that the high number may have been partly influenced by his choice to watch every program on the holocaust that the History Channel must have in it’s vault.
Suddenly, Rudy turns and sees Jennifer Butler, ADaM’s young, saucy secretary, smiling over him. “Jesus, you scared me.”
“Yeah, well I was in the middle of some brainstorming…”
“Sure Rudy, I know what a thinker you are. I just wanted give you this. It just came in.”
She hands Rudy a manila envelope, smiles a suspiciously playful smile and Rudy, simply enamored watches her walk away into the neon glow of this beautiful office space. He begins unconsciously of course, to hum Dancing Queen and just at the part where the harmony swells into a crescendo Rudy can feel his heart in his throat:
“You can dance, you can jive, havin' the time of your life.
See that girl, watch that scene, diggin' the Dancing Queen.”
I mean, my God, it almost brings a man to tears or at least to his feet to dance.
Kate, the lead project coordinator for ADaM walks into Rudy cube space. “Rudy, you can put your tongue back in your mouth.”
“Ah, the sound of marching boots can only mean the arrival Ms. Hitler.” Rudy goes into his impression of that famous, harrowing, haunting World War II documentary narrator’s voice: “2004, the offices of ADaM are invaded by Ms. Hitler’s uncompromising desire to take control of this lone copywriter’s life and reduce him to ash and rubble. A well-known rubble rouser, Rudy Lindgren’s creativity is soon crushed by her unwilling drive to bleed the young man dry. Yes, she put the boot into beauty and the cut into cutie. She put the tinder into tender and until he was well done.”
She pulls up a chair and scoots toward Rudy. Kate’s a true professional who doesn’t allow her and Rudy’s open hostility to stand in the way of a job to do. “Okay, do you have that project list I gave you on Monday?”
Rudy looks toward the chaos of his cube and sends Kate the “I don’t think so,” through strictly non-verbal communication.
“Great. Well, the first thing I need from you is the final draft for the Kids of America Camp brochure. It has to be in my hands by end of day.”
“I’m nearly finished, just need to polish the section about bomb-making day for pre-schoolers.”
Kate flashes Rudy a non-verbal; “I don’t need your bullshit right now.”
Rudy thinks how he’d like to put her on the torture table or perhaps, hmmm, they could take turns.
“Can we look over the radio script?”
“Why?” Rudy has learned how to be suspicious and loves to use it.
“I’m just not sure about the scene where Joe America pistol whips the King of Irabia? Seems a bit harsh even for you.”
IRABIAN PALACE, FULL COURT.
You don’t think that harboring terrorists is a serious
offense? You seem to have misunderstood the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, my
KING OF IRABIA
And you think you can walk into my palace and tell me how
to run my country? I’m afraid it is who are mistaken.
BOOTS WALKING ACROSS MARBLE FLOOR. PISTOL BEING PULLED FROM HOLSTER.
Hmmm. My friend Mr. 44 magnum is having a hard time understanding your philosophy.
JOE AMERICA (cont)
Now, listen to me Aladdin, the US of A is not going to stand by while you kid glove cold-blooded killers. Understand?
KING OF IRABIA
Hmmp. You Americans are a funny people.
GUN TO THE HEAD AND BODY CRUMPLING TO THE MARBLE FLOOR.
KING OF IRABIA
JOE AMERICA (cont)
Hmmm…that is kinda funny isn’t it? Ha, ha. Makes me want to laugh. I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.
SOUND OF JOE LEANING DOWN, HEAVY BREATHING, PAIN.
JOE AMERICA (cont)
Now, because I’m a patient man, I’ll ask you again…
Rudy is smiling, stifling some laughter as he reads the script. “Are you kidding? That’s great stuff. Good all American, put that in your pipe and smoke it American fun. We’re leaving it as is.”
This time, Kate gives Rudy a, “You’re an asshole,” non-verbal, which isn’t easy because it can be confused with so many others. But she manages to pull it off and Rudy understands completely.
She stands up and as she walks away, she turns giving Rudy more look, “I need the brochure copy by end of day.”
Rudy’s neighbor, Sean, a graphic designer, wheels his chair back toward Rudy. “Easy big fella’, she could hurt you.”