Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Where Writers Get Their Ideas. And Their Paranoia.

Okay.  It's winter.  What one might call "The Dead" of this season.  Lake E is locked down under an unknowable number of inches of ice and about ten inches of snow.  The quiet presses in.  The sky is sulking.  Even the wind is sleeping.  The writer is frozen in place. Stir crazy.  Cabin feverish.

That might explain it.

This object arrived last night. Shipped by Amazon.  Delivered along with another package ordered from Amazon.

"What is this?"
"I ordered the other thing, but nothing else. Did you order something?"
"What IS this?"

Well, there it was. A largish manilla envelope, very heavy for its size.  Sent to Ann Hogsett by the vast, intricate, rapacious, behemoth from its vast, intricate, rapacious, behemoth "Fulfillment Center" in Lexington, Kentucky.

Sent to me.  Not ordered by me. Very. Heavy. For. Its. Size.

So I am a writer.  I write mysteries. I watch Castle and The Blacklist -- lately a very, very heavy binge diet of Red Reddington.

So.  OMG.  Here's what you should do when you get a package you didn't order that weighs more than a manila envelope should reasonably be expected to hold. You put it down. Gently. You grab your spouse and the cat, not necessarily in that order -- especially since Spouse is chortling, "Oh, yeah. It's a bomb all right. No question about it.  Yuck, yuck, yuck."

You should sprint from your house through the snow to a "safe distance" and then you should think "BLEVE!" because a thriller writer/explosives expert guy, named John Gilstrap, has recently acquainted you with the Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion which you've planned for Book 2 of the current series and which you like to think of as the Big Loud Extra Very Explosive explosion. And realize you should run at least to the front gate. For starters.

And what did I myself do?  I unleashed some swearing at the Spouse and ignored the involuntary increase in heart rate.

Then I opened the envelope.

And found that thing.  It looked kind of like a bottle of balsamic vinegar.  That weighed about 2 pounds. Sealed in a heavy plastic bag. Smooth. Slick. Cold  It had a yellow cap that said, "Remove yellow cap before installation."

Balsamic Death Bomb.  Obviously.

I did the next best thing to the run-to-the-gate maneuver.  I put it in the garage.  Ha.

I took the (radioactive, I was pretty sure) envelope to the laptop, checked to make certain I had not somehow zoned out and ordered a Black Vinegar  Bomb of Extinction.  (BVBE.)  And then used my extraordinary sleuthing/hacker skills to find Amazon's phone number.  (I'm good.  I'm really good.)

I got the sweetest guy on the phone. So helpful and kind.  He explained after considerable searching that the item I had a tracking number for "does not exist."

Oh, man

He assured me that since the item did not exist, I did not need either to pay for it or return it.  The BVBE was mine all mine.

Cool.  So, I did the sensible thing.  I reviewed in my mind everyone at Amazon who might have cause to want to blow me up. Starting with Jeff Bezos and working my way through the folks who are sick to death of sealing up another smiley box on my behalf.  I decided that this number was unimaginably large and therefore I should forget the whole thing.  Have dinner.  Watch an Elementary.  Start speaking to the spouse again.

So what IS that thing?  I'll tell you what.  This morning -- both calmer and dumber at the same time -- I went out and looked at the sealed plastic bag and read the teeny little label:  "Replacement Short Office E.../Adjustment Range - S6103. New."

It's an Office Chair Lift Cylinder Pneumatic Thingie.  Worth $27.00.  And not, apparently, lethal at all.  It just makes a chair go up and down.

Somewhere out there this morning is a guy whose chin is resting on his desk.  Poor thing.

And how about me? Am I older?  Wiser?  Less paranoid?


I am in possession of a thing from that doesn't exist.

There's got to be a story in there somewhere.