Lollipop Wrappers on the Floor: A Column

Mar 17, 2006

I got this letter in the mail yesterday. My hands started to shake as I read the return address: "Dr. H. S. Thompson, Las Vegas." I don't generally get mail from dead people, or from crazy geniuses, either. Instead of opening it, I laid it on the coffee table and sat down in my favorite recliner. I sat there staring at the envelope for a few minutes, trying to decide what to do. Open it, and possibly be exposed to the psychotic ramblings of a mind so far beyond my own that it would be like staring into the sun. Or toss it into the fireplace, quick, before the CIA finds out about it. Then again, those bastards probably already x-rayed it and inserted a microscopic brain probe under the flap, so that when I open it all my memories will be instantaneously downloaded into their database, so that they can establish wiretaps on all my neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers, doctors, therapists, pharmacists, paper delivery boys, and anyone else that has been within a five mile radius of me in the last six months.

I decided to have a shot of Jameson's and open the damn letter. After three shots, I finally screwed up my courage enough to slip a knife in under the flap and slice the envelope open. Inside, there was a single sheet of paper with some typed text on one side of it. The paper smelled of cigarette smoke, and there were several stains of undetermined origin. The text was as follows:

"Dear Friend,

We've never met, but I've been watching you for the last several months via the hidden cameras I had installed throughout your home. Since my death, I've been working undercover for a super secret Government Agency headed by George H. W. Bush (that's Dubya's dad). I don't know the whole operation, or what the main objectives of the Agency are. I get my assignments from Jan Wenner over at Rolling Stone. I don't know who Jan's contact is, or how many other field agents he works with. It's all very complicated and convoluted, and there's no reason to bother you with all the dark details. Let's just say Huey Lewis is up to his neck in it, working in propaganda development, and Wenner is definitely more than just a messenger boy.

The best perk of the job is definitely the drugs. The government has been keeping all the best coke for themselves for years, all the way back to the Reagan administration (Ollie North's sinuses are full of more holes than a chunk of Swiss cheese). And, as a dead person, I never get any nosebleeds or morning-after headaches.

The reason I'm writing to you, and that I've been watching you, is because the Agency would like you to start slipping some subliminal, pro-government messages into your monthly column at (By the way, I gotta say I love this whole internet thing. If we'd had something like that back in my day, Nixon would still be President and Vietnam would be the 51st State.)

There's no point in trying to refuse our request. The moment you touched this piece of paper a microscopic brain probe entered your body through one of your fingertips. By now it's reached your brain, and henceforth you will write what we want you to write. Your first assignment is a column about the band Hawthorne Heights. You'll need to include at least five references to Hot Topic, subtly implying that buying a Hawthorne Heights t-shirt at the local Hot Topic will guarantee a better sex life or something like that. You're the writer, you figure it out. Just get the kids to go to the mall and buy Hawthorne Heights t-shirts at Hot Topic. I can't tell you why this is important. Let's just say there's more brain probes where yours came from."

That's it. It was signed, "The Good Doctor." I didn't know what to do. My skin was cold and clammy; I could hear my blood rushing through my veins. I poured another glass of Jameson's and threw another log on the fire. Absentmindedly, without quite realizing it, I pushed the play button on my CD player. At first, I couldn't remember what disc was in there. Whatever I'd been listening to the night before. Then it hit me, like a sugar buzz on a hot summer day. Nikki and the Corvettes were bopping and I started bouncing around like a rubber ball. Damn, I love that CD. And there were some girls who would never shop at Hot Topic, no matter how many times it would get them laid.

Somewhere around the middle of the CD I lost consciousness. I woke up to total silence, and a pain in my head that was like nothing I'd ever felt before. I staggered to the bathroom to get some Tylenol or something. On the mirror of my medicine cabinet was scrawled a message in what appeared to be red lipstick. It said:

"Sorry about the headache, but we had to get that thing out of your brain. It's lucky you called us as soon as you did. Another ten minutes and you would've become another slave to the military/industrial complex. Watch out for my new CD, coming soon from Dollar Record Records.

Love, XXX
Nikki Corvette"

I went to bed and slept for ten hours straight. This morning, when I got up, the mirror was clean and there was no sign of the letter from Dr. Thompson. But I was humming "He's a Mover" and there were about twelve lollipop wrappers on the floor beside my bed. I haven't been this happy in years.