“Look, officer, casual passers-by were understandably distraught by what they were seeing – Don Shula drooling uncontrollably on an oatmeal raisin cookie isn’t exactly the image you expect to see when you walk into an Ikea home furnishings store,” store manager Curtis Enis said while nervously stroking his chin. “The fact that a couple young ruffians took it upon themselves to wrap his body in a giant black bag and carry him out of the store with no protest whatsoever from Ikea management COULD actually be considered a public service instead of aiding and abetting a criminal. At least,” he said with a slight nod of his head, “that’s the way I like to look at it.”
Officer Shannon Sharpe furiously wrote notes down on his notepad, shaking his head disapprovingly.
“Curtis, I been in this business a long time – two months, in fact – and the number one thing that I have learned personally in all my days of service is this: you GOT to TRUST your GUT. And, right now, my gut is telling me that you are full of wickedness and deceit. You keep company with the vermin of the greater Fort Lauderdale suburban metroplex. Slime oozes from your every entrail. COWARDICE and DUPLICITY are your breaded butter. Now I don’t have actually have any physical proof to back up these feelings of mine. But I’m pretty sure I can find some if I dig hard enough. And let me tell you, Curtis – you do not want me to be the one digging up your backyard and finding all the crazy bones you got buried down south in your back entrance. I own two different shovels, Curtis. That ought to tell everything you need to know about the situation. One of those shovels breaks, BOOM! I got a backup ready to step in, do the job. Next shovel up. That sorta deal.
“So what’s it gonna be, Curtis? You want to take your chances with my two different shovels and hope that both of them break before I uncover anything unsavory in your past? Because I doubt that would occur – they are both still covered under the warranty period and that suggests to me that the manufacturer does not believe that they are in immediate danger of breaking. After all, why would a company offer a free warranty for providing a service that it is actually likely going to be necessary? That’s not sound business right there, Curtis. You extend your warranties too long, you gonna get people not buying enough shovels from your company and you’re gonna be out of business within six, eight months, tops. My good friend Qadry Ismail – he had this same problem when he started his ferret rental business, oh, I s’pose it was six, seven years ago at this point. I told Qadry, ‘Qadry, this is a great business idea on paper. But if you don’t raise your rates another $10 to $15 a day, I don’t see how the bottom line ends up out of the red.’ I love Qadry, but he didn’t have the business sense to pull that sort of entrepreneurial spirit off. Out of business in three months. It’s a real shame. Now, Trent Dilfer’s retail chain of used toupees? THERE’S some business acumen for you right there! I tell you…”
Sharpe continued to talk for another twenty minutes before realizing that Enis had walked away and left the store. Depressed that he had missed another opportunity to use his two shovels, he walked back to his squad car and slowly drove back to the station.
“Yo, Curtis? Look, we got a problem, man.”
“Oh, YOU’VE got problems?” Enis said into his cell phone, barely able to control his voice. “YOU have problems? Rashaan, don’t talk to me about problems right now, okay? The cops know, alright? They know.”
“They know? About the backyard?”
“Exactly, Shannon Sharpe was spitballing and talking all sorts of nonsense about shovels having a warranty period and Qadry Ismail starting a ferret business, but he knows, man. He knows we’ve got something buried back there and if he ever realizes that I’m not standing in front of him anymore and stops talking about sound business practices, he’s going to dig that crap up, Rashaan. So I need you and Stenstrom to immediately turn around, get back to the Pizza Hut and we’ll figure out what to do with Shula later.”
“See, but that’s what I’m trying to tell you, man, we’ve got a situation of our own going on right here.”
“Look, Rashaan, I’m gonna be honest with you,” Enis said pointedly while swerving around a slow driver in the left lane. “I don’t really give a crap right now. As long as you’ve got Shula safely secured, everything else can wait, as far as I’m concerned.”
“That’s actually the issue we’re facing right now, though, Curtis. Shula isn’t, uh, safely secured at the moment.”
Enis nearly drove off the road but steadied the Kia Rio in time.
“Well, that’s wonderful news, Rashaan. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I paid you and Steve Stenstrom 20 G’s each to lose a geriatric football coach who was freaking unconscious. That’s money well spent right there. Where’d you lose him?”
“Well…we never really lost him. In fact, he’s standing in front of us right now. Issue is, he’s got a glock pointed at the both of us. And I gotta be straight with you, Curtis, he don’t look real happy right now.”
Enis was silent on the other end for a couple heartbeats. Then he pulled the car off the freeway and onto the shoulder. “Put him on.”
“(muffled voices in background) I don’t know who this is, but I have to say that I’ve had a pretty rough afternoon so far and sending Rashaan Salaam and some stiff backup quarterback whose name I can’t remember to stuff my unconscious body in a body bag REALLY wasn’t something I needed. So I’m going to give you approximately three minutes to adequately explain what you’re doing before I shoot enough bullets in these boys’ butt cheeks to seriously impair their ability to sit comfortably for the rest of their lives.”
Enis wanted to slap the steering wheel in anger, but held himself in check and took a deep breath.
“First of all, Coach Shula, I just want to say that I’m impressed you wormed your way out of the body bag. At your age, that’s…that’s quite an accomplishment.”
“Accomplishment, my keester. These two Ivy Leaguers left the zipper open. I’m not dead, you dumbasses. I just take a lot of naps! That’s what all 83-year-olds have to do to stay alive.”
“I hear you, Don, I hear you,” Enis said, rolling his eyes over his henchmen’s stupidity. “Look, I’m gonna be real with you, Don. If it were up to me, I would have let you just drool in peace in the Ikea cafeteria for the rest of your life if you wanted. But I’ve got a boss who makes some very irrepressible demands, a bank account in desperate need of the income this admittedly sordid career provides and three hundred donkey skeletons buried in the back of a Pizza Hut parking lot that are about to be dug up by Shannon Sharpe. It’s not as if I can just let you run free right now. I will have to hunt you down, I will have to return you to my boss and I will most definitely have to dig up those donkey skeletons before Shannon Sharpe gets there.” Enis paused to take a breath, then exhaled. “Those are just the facts right now, Don. I wish things could be different between us.”
“I wish that too, sir,” Shula said with a slight grin on his face. “It’s a shame that you’ll never live long enough to experience the difference NutriSystem makes on your diet late in life. It truly is a sight to behold.” And with that, Shula hung up, shot Salaam and Stenstrom four times each in the buttocks and reached inside the pockets of both men to steal their wallets.
“Thanks for the information, boys!” Shula said, climbing into the driver’s seat of the pair’s silver Mercury Cougar. “That address’ll come in handy when I eventually need to find the Big Man!” Turning the key and shifting the gear into drive, Shula revved the car back onto Highway 595 and sped off in search of answers.
To be continued…