I’m finding holes. I’m getting tiny glimpses that the files I’m getting from Mr. Justice aren’t the only files here. I should just keep my head down and not ask questions, but Turtle’s a naughty boy who sometimes likes to peek at endings. Everything just sort of leaves off with no resolution. I asked Mr. Justice why that was and he said it doesn’t matter. He’ll fill in the story himself when I get to that point. Why can’t I know now, I asked him. He said he’d tell me when it’s time and that I’m not ready to know yet. More like he hasn’t finished making up his own ending yet.
Mr. Justice isn’t particularly good at reading things off of screens. The blindness makes it a bit tricky. That’s what he has a Turtle for. Of course, Turtle only has clearance to read some of the words on the screen. Other, more important people get to read the important words to Mr. Justice. So what’s the point of hiring Turtle? Why can’t these important people do his job? But then again, I’m getting paid so I can’t complain. Except wait, I’m being blackmailed into it so yes I can.
Sorry, I got sidetracked there. The point I’m trying to make is that Mr. Justice doesn’t have much use for technology. But yet, for some reason, he has two computers: one for Turtle to use and one to sit unplugged in a corner gathering dust. I asked Mr. Justice why I can’t use the other one since it’s obviously nicer. No, Turtle, that one works just fine. But Mr. Justice, why do you even have that computer if you don’t use it? Don’t worry, Turtle, it doesn’t concern you.
I’m not a computer guy, but I have friends who are. This computer? It definitely belonged to a computer guy. Coincidentally, Mr. Messenger was quite clearly a computer guy. I know it’s a stretch, but could this mystery computer have belonged to Mr. Messenger? Oh, wow! Such deductive reasoning, Turtle! How did you possibly figure that mystery out? I must say, my mind is quite blown.
Even if it’s a safe assumption that the computer belonged to The Messenger, it’s also a safe assumption that I’ll need a password to get into it. I also don’t know when I’ll get to use this computer considering that Mr. Justice isn’t letting me. So now Turtle gets to go behind his back and play the sneaky little hacker. Hooray! Another one to check off the bucket list!
Mon, 5/3: Interview
Poe was right about Caper accepting my invitation. He immediately agreed to being interviewed and showed up a few days later at my apartment. Unsurprisingly, Poe showed up with him. More surprising was the fact that Helios came as well. When I asked him what he was doing here, he said “What, you think I’m going to miss a chance to hear Caper talk about himself?”
Fortunately, I haven’t had to buy an audio recorder yet. Caper came to my apartment so I was able to use my webcam’s microphone. What follows is the transcript of the interview.
Caper: So, Messi [Messenger’s Note: if he’s going to be using that nickname, I’m at least going to use a spelling that might remind people of a respectable Barcelona soccer player rather than a state of disarray], you wanted an interview?
Messenger: Messenger. And yeah, thanks for coming.
C: So what did you want to know?
M: Well, I already have an idea of what exactly you do here. Let’s ask about how you got involved in…you know. All this. Working for The Boss.
C: That? Ooh. Oh, boy. Well, let’s see. It started way back a loooooooong time ago. I was just a high school kid at the time. My parents actually owned a comedy club, see? I’d spend a lot of time there, and I loved listening to all the comedians who performed. We had our share of professionals visit, too. Hell, I got to hear Richard Pryor speak once. You ever heard any of Pryor’s stuff? Lemme tell you, that was a great night. It inspired me. I’m pretty sure that was the night that I decided I wanted to try standup comedy myself. It was a way that I could help support my parents’ business, to boot.
Unfortunately, no one ever found me funny. It killed my self-esteem, Messi. Killed it and pissed on its rotting corpse. I kept trying, but the problem was that I just…wasn’t funny. I eventually gave up.
But then, one night…one night we were closing up. I was taking the trash out in the alley, but when I came back out front—there was this man there. A mugger. He had a gun out and was wearing a V for Vendetta mask [MN: Yes, he said “V for Vendetta mask,” not “Guy Fawkes mask.” Keep in mind that Caper appears to be in his early 30’s, meaning his teenage years (when this event takes place) would have occurred around the mid-90’s]. He was talking to my parents, demanding they hand over their stuff—you know, money, jewelry, nipple claps…the usual shit.
M: Nipple clamps. I’m sure.
C: Hey, don’t judge; it was a different time. Anyway, they handed it all over. And then he just…shot them. I mean…why go through that if you’re just going to shoot them anyway…? [He teared up some and wiped his eyes before continuing.] Sorry, I just…sorry. I was the only witness, and because I never saw his face…I mean, nothing could be done about it.
It bummed me out quite a bit to see my parents brutally murdered in front of me, obviously. I spent a year in the system, and I spent it moping. Then I got the chance to live on my own and realized that…my parents wouldn’t want me to throw my life away like I wanted. They never tried to warn me when they were in danger, even though they knew I would be coming back. They didn’t want to risk my life by alerting the mugger to me. They would have wanted me to cheer up, and I did so the only way I could: by cracking jokes. Like the nipple clamp thing, see? I had to laugh to keep from crying. That’s just how people are. They look for the funny in the tragic. That’s when I discovered that, while I had no talent in most forms of comedy, dark humor came naturally to me.
So I started traveling the world, aiding in relief projects and cheering people up by making light of the terrible situations. I cracked jokes at funerals. I laughed at executions. I made fun of natural disasters. And I finally returned home with an incredible routine. Sure, people were shocked and offended, but the bastards still laughed. They liked being offended. They liked that brief “that’s so horrible” moment they felt. I eventually made enough money to buy back my parents’ old club and restore it.
[He sighed, taking the opportunity to pause dramatically.] And then, the opening night—I had the toughest crowd of my career. I got on stage, and there was just…nothing. You get some tough crowds now and then, but this one was terrible. They didn’t laugh at a single joke. I panicked. I searched through my mind for the best joke I could find. And that’s when I remembered it: the one joke I had sworn never to tell. The one I learned from that old man in Germany about the Faceless Gentleman. Before I could stop myself, I had started telling it, and once I had started, I couldn’t stop. I tried to stop myself, but the words just kept coming out. It was like the joke wanted to be told. After I finished, there was a quiet, breathless pause. And then? The place exploded in a roar of laughter.
That’s when the lights went out. Slowly, the laughter started to die off. Then, complete silence. One by one, the lights flickered back on, and I saw the audience. The entire crowd…every last person…had been eviscerated. At first I was horrified, but on second glance, I saw that they still had happy grins on their faces. That’s when it hit me. I started to laugh, harder than I had ever laughed before. I had realized: they had all, every single one of them, literally died laughing. They had paid me back with the best joke ever.
I stepped into the audience, laughing and crying at the same time, shaking everyone’s hand and thanking them for coming. When I had finally calmed down from my hysterics, the lights flickered again, just briefly. I turned back to the stage, and saw a man there. He was tall, over seven feet. Wore a business suit and tie. And where a face should have been? Nothing. Completely blank. You know who I’m talking about, Messi. I’m talking about The Big Guy. He was standing at the microphone. I heard a voice, then. Like he was speaking into the microphone, but it was coming from everywhere instead of just the speakers: “How would you like to come work for me?” And the rest? Well…that’s history.
I just stared at Caper. Sighed. Turned to Poe.
“I did try to warn you,” she said.”
“You did.” I turned to Helios, who had started laughing. “You didn’t. You knew this would happen, didn’t you?”
He shrugged. “What can I say? This isn’t the first time Caper’s given us his story. It changes every time.”
I turned back to Poe. “You’ve heard a lot of them, I’m sure,” I told her. “Since Caper obviously thinks this is a game, would you mind telling me one of his more believable ones?”
“Do you want the one where he’s come from the future or the one where he’s a reanimated corpse?”
“I asked for his more believable ones.”
“I gave you his more believable ones.”
Of course she did. Wonderful.
I finally turned back to address Caper, who was giving me his best faux-innocent “who, little ol’ me?” look. I turned back to Poe instead. “And you’re okay with that? You can work with him without knowing who he is?”
“I can. I don’t know who he is, but I know how he is better than anyone else.”
Caper chimed in. “It’s true. I still don’t know how she manages to put up with me.”
“So how about you guys?” I asked the other two. “Would you take this a bit more seriously?”
Helios shrugged and said “sure,” but Poe hesitated. Caper spoke up for her.
“She’s not doing an interview, Messi. A woman’s entitled to her secrets.”
“So do you just always let him speak for you?” I asked Poe.
She turned her head to the side and stared intently at the floor beside her chair. Caper shot me a look. “Messi, don’t,” he said
“I asked her, Caper.”
“Seriously, Messi, stop right now or—”
“It’s fine, Caper,” Poe said, meeting my eyes. “No, Messenger. I’m not doing an interview.”
There was a tense pause. Helios coughed. “Good chat, huh guys?”
“We should leave,” Poe said quietly.
“No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have pushed.”
“No, I mean we really should be getting back to work. Thank you for having us. Again, I do sincerely apologize for Caper.”
Helios took off after that as well. So now I find myself in the exact same spot as I was before: with a very tenuous grasp of my coworkers and the purpose of my job.
 This is part of what I was talking about. Mr. Messenger obviously had the files on his computer, so the fact that they’re not among the files I have is a bit suspicious. ~T