by Joey Hack
October 14, 2013
Diane, it is Monday, October 14, 2013, 7:52 a.m. I am driving from Little Rock, Arkansas to Memphis, Tennessee. As you know, we could not get a direct flight into Memphis due to cutbacks at their airport over time. So I have procured a trusty rental car, well within agency budgetary requirements, and have begun a relatively short, albeit visually unstimulating drive. Diane, I am sure you will note that today is Columbus Day, which is a holiday. But I have never observed that occasion. Call me old fashioned, but I see no reason to celebrate the destruction of an indigenous people. In any event, I am considered essential, so neither rain, nor Columbus, nor a governmental shutdown shall keep me from my appointed tasks.
Once I arrive in Memphis, I will begin the investigation of the so call “High Point Owl.” This creature has been wantonly attacking citizens and stealing hats. The Bureau has been brought in because these crimes have technically taken place, at least in part, in federal airspace. I was, of course, called in because of my experience with owls. You will, no doubt, recall the incidents in Twin Peaks so many years ago, Diane. I barely got out of that city alive. But you know how that story ended, don’t you, Diane?
I am sure there is something unusual about this crime wave. In my experience, Diane, owls are a sinister lot, and are rarely what they seem.
Diane, I have checked into appropriate lodgings (clean and reasonably priced) and have met with local law enforcement handling this situation. Lt. Marty Fowl is in charge of the investigation. Nice man. Professional. Facial hair that appears to be ironic. He and I are both aware of the fact that his name is somewhat appropriate though I am unsure if owls are, in fact, fowl. Maybe research can verify.
Lt. Fowl met me at the police station and showed me his files, which consisted of a couple of typed reports and some photos of the owl and its victims. The owl’s eyes are intelligent and possibly evil, Diane. I must tread lightly.
Following our meeting, Lt. Fowl took me to a local barbecue restaurant. Diane, let me tell you, if you have not had Memphis Barbecue pulled pork sandwich, you aren’t living right. Imagine salvation served with a charred crunchy outside and a soft, hot center, all bathed in a tangy, spicy bath of sauce. Diane, I truly believe that if pigs knew this was what happened to them after they died, they would drop any survival instincts they may have.
After lunch, I headed to the hotel to prepare for tonight. We are going to track an owl.
4:35 p.m. Diane, it has been brought to my attention that there is a video store in this town called “Black Lodge”. Please have someone check it out. I’d rather not go near there for reasons that should be obvious.
11:46 p.m. Diane, when Nietzsche said that when you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back, I believe he was owl gazing. Tonight I met the perpetrator, and he is a beast.
Lt. Fowl and I patrolled the High Point neighborhood on foot. Armed with a flashlight and a thermos of coffee (black) we looked for the creature. But, Diane, after a couple of hours, it was apparent that the hunters were to become the hunted. At around 10:30 p.m. , I heard a whistling in the trees. It seemed to be the wind at first. But maybe it was not. I turned to face the sound and there it was. The owl. Swooping down on me with a 5 foot wingspan, the creature mussed my hair as I ducked. It made a second pass at us, and this time, Diane, the owl grabbed my Thermos. We didn’t see where it went, and so no further signs.
This creature is dangerous Diane. Even more so now that it has access to caffeine.
October 15, 2013
3:52 a.m. Diane, I have just had a lucid and enigmatic dream. In this dream I am walking down a street that is crowded and abandoned at the same time. From one of the houses, I hear music. A strange combination of Celtic and jug band.
I enter the house, and the music abruptly stops. The house is empty, except for a stool, on which sits an obese German man with a wooden arm and a porcelain leg. He holds in his hand a blue piccolo. The walls of the house are painted as if an owl had been hired to do the job. But a competent painting owl, Diane. The German nods at me, and then plays a haunting version of “Alexander’s Rag Time Band” on his piccolo. He then laughs, coughing, and pulls out a small notebook, bound in what appears to be candy corn. The German writes a note and hands it to me.
I know where the owl is.
Lt. Fowl was not impressed by my clue. I told him about the dream, and he finally asked me what the note said. I informed him it said “In a tree.” He told me that everyone already knew that, as that is where owls usually are. I don’t think he cares for my deductive reasoning, and is perhaps saving face by claiming he already had that data. He mentioned he may call Washington for clarification of the scope of my role here. I admire his professionalism. He told me to come back at 5:30 for another night of owl hunting.
12: 35 p.m. Today I had ribs. Diane, if you thought the barbecue sandwich sounded good, you haven’t even begun down the path of wonders.
Diane, it has been brought to my attention that I was not actually assigned to this investigation by the regional bureau chief, but honestly, I do not have a good read on this new boss. Things have been all winder-shins since Gordon Cole retired. It is now apparent that Albert was pulling a prank on me. I should have known better than to believe that my assignment would come from a Post-It Note. I will advise Lt. Fowl of the bad news.
Just got off the phone with Lt. Fowl. His response to my news was simple and sincere. “Ok. No big deal.” This sums up a man’s life at times, Diane. The world is wonderful, but can also be cold.
Diane, I have returned to Little Rock, and will be on a flight to Washington in about two hours. It is always anticlimactic and sad when an investigation is not concluded. But I have faith that Lt. Fowl will apprehend his perp. In the end, the owl may be ancient evil in a form we cannot comprehend. It may be a restless spirit or a manifestation of all that which is wicked.
But, as Freud once said, sometimes an owl is just a bird. Sometimes the owls are what they seem, Diane. I hope they have coffee on this flight.
Joey Hack is a regular Fly on the Wall contributor, and is a member of the Wiseguys improv troupe.