The Secret Masters.
“Why am I dressed like this?” I asked Wilkins, pointing at my outfit. “I don’t wear sweatpants when I’m at the gym; I’m certainly not wearing them out in public.”
“Oh, you go to the gym, do you?” Wilkins rolled his eyes, loudly smacked his bubble gum, and strolled on ahead of me. I’ve never been more tempted to hit someone with a brick before. Adjusting the neon-blue fanny pack he had given me, I watched as he plucked a parking ticket off a nearby car and casually tossed it into the trash.
“And I don’t understand this tee shirt,” I pressed on. I had to jog a bit to catch up to him. Dressed as I was, I found myself looking around to make sure we weren’t seen. It didn’t help that my flip-flops kept...flipping and flopping...so loudly. “What exactly does ‘I’m the other white meat’ even mean?”
The weasel-faced prick just chuckled and sauntered into a laundromat.
“We are in disguise, you fool,” he said, walking up to a bank of clothes dryers. “People tend to notice two well-dressed senators out for a stroll in the ghetto. Especially two from opposing political parties. Now come here.”
He began to rummage through my fanny pack and I found myself desperately wishing he had taken it off my waist first. I was about to protest when he pulled out a leaky Bic pen and handed it to me.
“There we are. Now, go over and throw it into that machine down there. The one with the baby clothes in it.”
“Just do it.”
I looked around. The only other occupant was a bored-looking attendant who was transfixed by some soap opera. She didn’t seem to notice us. I snuck over to the dryer, opened the door, and threw the pen in. I hate to use the word, but I found myself scurrying back to Wilkins, who patted my back and looked at me as if he was a proud father.
“Good job. Now let’s get some waffles.”
We walked out of the laundromat-- I was certain the attendant would stop us, but she never even looked up from her program-- and up to the corner of the block. Wilkins casually leaned against a telephone pole and smacked the crosswalk button a few times.
“That was pretty easy, right?” He asked as we waited for the signal to change.
“Why did we do that?”
He looked disappointed. “Damn. I was hoping you were one of the quick ones.”
The signal changed, Wilkins took the gum out of his mouth and stuck it onto the button. Before walking off the curb, he stooped his back and began walking with excruciating slowness across the street. I wandered behind, still confused, and watched as traffic began to pile up on either side of us. The light had changed twice by the time Wilkins made it across the street and the sound of people impatiently hitting their horns was almost deafening. The moment his foot hit the sidewalk, Wilkins straightened and resumed his normal pace.
When we reached an IHOP he held the door open for me and ushered me inside. The place was nearly empty, but Wilkins’s hand shot out and flipped the “Please Seat Yourself” sign over so it read “Please Wait For Attendant”. We took a booth near the back of the restaurant and asked the waitress for two coffees.
As soon as we sat down, Wilkins began to remove the tops to all of the syrup bottles and switch them around so that the flavors were all wrong.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.
“My job,” was his pesky answer. He looked me in the eye, saw I still didn’t understand what the hell was going on, and sighed. “This is what we do, Ford. This is official Illuminati business we’re conducting. It is sacred.”
The waitress brought our coffees and asked what we were having. Wilkins ordered a Grand Slam Breakfast and when the waitress politely pointed out that he was thinking of Denny’s he got into an argument with her that ended with him shouting that since they had the same food as Denny’s anyway they could just fucking figure it out and make the damn Grand Slam. She walked off in huff and I could see her arguing with the manager and pointing at our table. Wilkins took a spoonful of coffee and poured it into the pepper shaker.
“This is Illuminati business? I asked as he did the same thing to the salt. “I thought we did....”
“You thought we did things like put mind-control chemicals in contrails or that we replaced Bill O’Reilly with a lizard clone.”
“We didn’t replace him with a lizard clone?” I found this stunning.
“Why bother? No, we don’t do that stuff because stuff like that doesn’t work. We aren’t here to plot grand schemes or make up world changing conspiracies. We’re here to maintain the status quo.”
“And we do that by committing...petty acts?”
“The big picture is painted with tiny strokes, Ford. When you start making drastic changes to the canvas, people notice and start to pay attention.”
“But what does throwing a pen into someone’s laundry accomplish?”
“Here’s an example,” Wilkins thought for a moment and took a sip of coffee. “A guy goes to work one day and finds that his factory is being shipped to China and he’s out of a job. So he goes home, opens the mail, and gets informed that his house is being foreclosed on. As he quietly laments his situation, he looks out the window and sees his car being repossessed. What does he do next?”
“Gets his bills in order...”
“No,” Wilkins interrupts. “He invents fucking Velcro. Or he finally gets off his ass and writes that novel. He starts thinking. But guess what happens, if after all that, he looks down and sees that he’s tracked dog shit all over his carpet because some inconsiderate bastard didn’t pick up after themselves?”
“He gets pissed,” Wilkins says, taking the top off a mustard container and dumping ketchup inside. “He stops thinking. Now the world is conspiring against him and he feels useless. He starts drinking or gambling or something else that’s nice and quietly destructive. Status quo maintained.”
“But this is so....random,” I said, gesturing to his table machinations.
“You can hit more targets with buckshot than a bullet, my friend,” Wilkins said smugly. “A person can have rocks piled on them all day and they’ll just take the weight and soldier on. Keep flicking them in the face with water, though....”
To illustrate his point he dipped his hands into his mug and began flicking hot coffee into my face. I found myself quickly getting angry.
“...and they start getting pissed,” Wilkins smiled. “Necessity may be the mother of invention, but irritation is invention’s drunken stepfather who punches it and tells it it ain’t good enough.”
The waitress came back to our table and practically threw Wilkins’s simulated Grand Slam down on the table in front of him. She glared at him and stormed off without a word.