Wednesday, April 1, 2009

All Aboard the USS Koala!


Now that I'm thirty and approaching the end of days, I tend to look back on my life a bit more, reevaluate things, maybe even gain a little perspective. Sometimes it's intentional, when I try to dig up some memories, try to find some meaning, and sometimes it just hits me like a brick in the face.

Just the other day, in fact, I was doing dishes in the kitchen and I had to sit down to catch my breath after remembering those long-forgotten, furious two years I ran koalas in San Diego.

But let me begin at the beginning...

After college out east, I was a bit more full of myself than I should have been, had a bit of Francisco Pizarro in me, you might say. I was invincible and mirthfully flaunted every law your lawyer ever heard of, partly for kicks, partly as a philosophical undertaking. I was like a flame-fresh sword, full of menace, but not yet cooled.

I moved west because that's where cowboys belong. I needed to stretch my legs, bounce around, crow and prance.


After one particularly exhausting morning of displaying my finery, I thirstily swilled bourbon on a park bench along the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, scanning the scenery for opportunity, when I happened to overhear a tanned and fit young mother complain to her friend that the US government would not allow her to purchase a koala. Evidently her son was a fan of some Disney show and sort-of wanted a pet koala real bad and the United States Government denied this simple request.

I drained the bottle, chucked it through the window of The Gap, kneeled before said yuppy milf, and offered myself as hero, for I saw not only a lucrative reward, but also a delightful opportunity to once again scream 'fuck you' to the oppressive men running our country, who whimsically tell us what we can and can't do.

My flight landed in Sydney about two weeks after it left. Or so it felt. I think I watched four Keenan Ivory Wayans movies and slept half a lifetime. At some point, I even thought about acquiring a new hobby.

Once on foot, I made haste for the Cross and pounded the pavement, gathering information the only way I knew how--from hookers.


After a few dozen entertaining-but-dead-end leads, as I began to study the zoo perimeter for weaknesses, I finally found a loose-lipped dame that let slip I might be able to find a koala in a sanctuary on the outskirts of Sydney.

Evidently, the little minx went there on a school field trip once, a few years ago, and remembers seeing at least three koalas, but, sadly, could give me no useful information when I hinted I was curious about their security strategies.

In terms of area, Sydney is twice the size of Los Angeles, and the fringes are pretty wild, let me tell you--man meets Bush. The beautiful neighborhoods splattered on postcards are like so many diamonds floating in an unflushed toilet.

Looking around at the grody townscape, I was surprised the koalas hadn't taken over already.

It certainly wasn't out of weakness, as the first little shit I tried to abduct slashed my shoulder like a vindictive (and wildly inaccurate) lover with a carving knife. I tell women the scar came from a knife fight in Calcutta and the most sporting ones believe me.


After a spell of wound-nursing, plotting, and several stomachfuls of shiraz, my second foe dropped like an acorn after I blindsided it and its mother with a hefty log.

I disarmed the unconscious little devil with a wine cork on each claw, shoved a couple prescription sleeping pills down the victim's hatch, and threw it in a canvas sack denoted "Laundry for Mom," a high-school-graduation gag gift from my aunt finally put to good use.

On the way out the door, I checked the pulses of the crudely-tranquilized Koala Sanctuary staff, figured they would live, hijacked the security tapes, lit them on fire in the street, and hailed a gypsy cab to the airport.

I spent the next two hours, in traffic, deciding whether or not I would be able to kill my driver if I needed to, to cover my tracks.


At the Qantas counter, I proferred the beach blonde behind the ticket counter my fake passport and reservation number, then turned on the charm. Why not make time for a quickie pre-flight? Life is short, my man.

There seemed to be some unpleasant confusion, however, when I explained that I was trying to move my flight up a week, to get on the next one out, even though I'd only been there for a day and a half.

As soon as I saw a supervisor moving toward me I knew I had one choice: run. And so I ran. I ran like hell.

I got all the way to the wrong side of town, on some sketchy stretch of harbor, my contraband koala conscious and ornery, and found myself out of road. Never one for a shoot-out, I realized I was going to have to get wet.

As if a sign from the Lord above, the bottomless bass vibrations from a friendly horn-toot on a US Naval Battleship--pulling out of Sydney Harbor after a photo-op with the HMS Warramunga--practically made my decision for me.

I swam out to the departing ship with gusto, clutching the koala bag with white knuckles, a green gleam in my eyes, and climbed aboard unseen.


During the next seven days spent on my hands and knees inside an emergency lifeboat, I not only found out my captive koala--whom I quickly, endearingly referred to as Wino, since he was covered in wine corks, never got his sea legs, and slept 23 hours a day--was a male, but also trained him to sneak out and steal food.

It sounds like a simple survival solution, but the skill came in the planning of the affair, so that the only hour in the day Wino would be awake would also happen to be the most ideal moment for theft. The boat was only yay big and full of cagey men with keen eyes--it was a delicate game.

By the time I swam ashore in north San Diego, hitchhiked south, and waved goodbye to my adorable merchandise at a Subway Sandwich Shop on the Mexican side of town, I decided I would never fly again--too dangerous. It was to be the sea for me from now on--courtesy of the US Navy.

I also decided that I would do it all over again if another client were to emerge. $10,000 cash for a good old-fashioned harmless adventure? Shit, I'd kidnap a baby for a nickel more!

The clients trickled in at first, but it wasn't long before I was drowning in them. It got so I knew a long stretch of the Pacific Ocean like the back of my momma's hand. Koala protection agencies eventually pooled their funds and set a group of rag-tag bounty hunters on my trail.

But I was good. Too good. And I was having fun.


Cocktail parties on the lawns of harborside Sydney estates, Don Giovanni at the Opera House, awkward dates with Nicole Kidman, textbook fornication with drunken international supermodels that bought the Hollywood producer line, surfing and binge-drinking with the beach crowd in San Diego, sobering up aboard a US naval vessel, or series of vessels depending on their routes...I led an adrenaline-fueled social life that even a young Jack Nicholson would be proud of.

But all things must pass. If it wasn't pure hubris that got me in the end, it was the champagne and shrimp cocktails.

As a result not so much of my gratuitous koala-trafficking, but more of a sticky visa-violation situation in which my initial fake identity eventually became embroiled, I had the law after me. By this time the alias was as historic as my innocence, but there was one major problem--they had my picture, and there was no disguising this blindingly handsome mug.

I floated back Stateside and tried to get out of the racket, to conquer my addiction to the rush, and was successful for a bit. I lived anonymously, a walking ghost who slept under the pier at night and wandered the beach all day, staring at young women and masturbating in the shadows. I grew hungry.

My friends in San Diego, the few people I trusted enough to let-in on my double life, play shuffleboard with, surf with, turned out to be not-so-good. Once the word got out that I was a marked man, I was yesterday's taco to those two-bit turncoats.

With nowhere else to turn, I agreed to do one more rounder for a desperate and generous client, and promised myself I would use the proceeds to open up a little shop somewhere, somewhere quiet.


I wasn't Down Under very long before I discovered the vaunted Australian Customs officials were trying to make an example out of me.

As I walked out of the Sydney Public Library downtown, cackling with jittery joy at the thought of some howdydodat opening The DaVinci Code to find one of my well-placed malnourished turds, I fell headfirst into a spider's web even I couldn't escape.

After a brief stint in Guantanamo, I turned state's evidence and snitched on not only a fictional koala-poaching mastermind (sorry, Bruce!) but also on every single one of my clients.

The poorest ones did a stretch in minimum-security; most of them got away with a slap on the wrists and an audit.

After all these years in Witness Protection, waiting tables in Bozeman, skiing 120 days a year, living the dream, I'd completely forgotten about all that craziness til now.

Huh. Weird how the mind works sometimes...

_

2 comments:

sonny said...

my tweets today on twitter:
Tale of a Twenty-Something Koala Smuggler: http://tinyurl.com/c2supw

and (you should check this out):
hey people, the video is hilarious...http://www.monkeyforaweek.com/

Dukes My Boy said...

"cork on each claw" made me laugh...