“Many years later, as he faced a firing squad of military biplanes, King Kong was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover the unpolluted beaches of Skull Island.”
— Gabriel Garcia Marquez, New York Times, 1933 (Op/Ed letter from Marquez, a five-year-old Columbian boy)
Across the street from Arlington National Cemetery is a plot of land roughly the size of a parking spot at a supermarket lot. Here, weeds surround a small, stone obelisk. This may be the least-visited national monument in America. This is the Tomb of the Unknown Mojo. These words are chiseled onto its plaque: What were you thinking? The inscription refers to any entitled, aggrieved sphincter whose inner mojo is so batshit, it defies human comprehension, except in court. Even God doesn’t know what makes these people tick.
Here’s a recent showcase of Unknown Mojo mayhem, compliments of The Huffington Post:
15 Shocking Florida Stand Your Ground Cases
Cases include: “Man Retreating From Fight Shot In Back Of Head, 2007; Man Kills Robber Who Stole Car Radios, Then Sells Radios, 2012; Neighbor Shoots Man In Stomach Over Trash Bags, 2006; Neighbor Kills Man In Front Of His Children In Dog Dispute, 2009; Man Fires At Utility Workers Collecting Unpaid Bills, 2009.”
Here’s a sample.
Man Kills Lover Having Sex With Wife, 2012
“In Brandon, 70-year-old Ralph Wald walked in on former neighbor Walter Conley having sex with Wald’s wife. After fatally shooting Conley, Wald claimed that although Conley had lived nearby, he did not recognize him and thought a stranger was raping his wife. Wald was acquitted after a two-hour deliberation.”
Visitors at the Tomb of the Unknown Mojo wonder if Walter would still be with us if, say, Mrs. Ralph Wald looked up from the pillow and said to her husband, “Ralphie, look who’s here.” If you’re in the neighborhood and don’t have time to stop at the Tomb, feel free to drive by and toot your horn. A quick beep is your way of saying, “Ralphie, get some glasses.” Or, “A neighbor who shoots a man in the stomach over trash bags has gone totally apeshit.” Speaking of apes…
On a summer night in 1933, Mr. Kong stood on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue, staring, eye-level, through a set of windows on the tenth floor of the Empire State Building. He hugged the skyscraper. Ann Darrow (Fay Wray) was in his hand. Her throat was sore from screaming. What followed should have sent a shock wave through American jurisprudence, and set a sane precedent for Stand Your Ground. But it was ignored. And now, eight decades later, the Huffington Post reports: Man Fires At Utility Workers Collecting Unpaid Bills.
We have gone from noble victim, King Kong, to…
“Miami’s Ernesto Che Vino fired at two Florida Power & Light workers who had entered his yard to cut power due to unpaid bills. A judge tossed out two counts of armed assault and one count of improper exhibition of a firearm, saying that under Stand Your Ground, Vino had a reasonable fear for his life.”
Ask yourself: Would Mr. Kong lose it over an unpaid bill and cap a utility worker? Unlikely.
How small we’ve become. Is the universe shrinking? In his paper: A Universe Without Expansion, Christof Wetterich, a theoretical physicist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, discusses a cosmological model “where the universe shrinks rather than expands during the radiation and matter dominated periods.”
Imagine Wetterich, hired as an expert witness for the defense, testifying in court: “In a collapsing universe, mass increases, thus trash bags increase in value exponentially, and must be defended at gunpoint. Without trash bags, uncontained trash swells. America will be on the brink of a trashapocalypse. Trashageddon awaits. Should rubbish get into the wrong hands …”
Meanwhile, back in Midtown Manhattan, Kong put Ann Darrow on his shoulder, and began scaling the skyscraper. Floor by floor. A growing crowd gathered below. Shouts and sirens filled the air. Someone with a bullhorn said, “You’re under arrest, Kong. Stop right there. Let go of the building, and put your hands behind your head. Set your chin on a window sill to keep from falling. And spread your legs, don’t ask me how. I repeat—put your hands behind your head.”
Screw that, Kong kept going. Who wouldn’t? Kong had been gas bombed and abducted from Skull Island, shipped to New York, and shackled on a Vaudeville stage with no cut of the action. Who wouldn’t pop chains, haul ass, and shimmy up a skyscraper?
The decline of labor unions at the worksite leads to this.
On 12/18/12, the Huffington Post reported:
Man Shot After Complaining About Little Caesars Pizza Service, 2012
“Randall White ordered a thin-crust veggie pie at a Little Caesars restaurant in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday and complained about the slow service. He didn’t get his pizza faster, but he did get two bullets in the gut, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
According to the paper, Michael Jock, another customer, told White to pipe down. That led to shoving, and when White, 49, raised his fist, Jock, 52, allegedly pulled out a legally concealed .38 revolver and shot White in the stomach. The two men wrestled and Jock allegedly shot White again. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Jock told police the shooting was justified under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but he was arrested for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.”
Kong kept climbing. Ann Darrow kept screaming. On the 41st floor, a man with a brown bottle stuck his head out an open window and said the magic words, “Pipe down!” He staggered back when he saw the mountaineer.
Kong paused. Through the window, he saw a man dressed in a double-breasted suit coat and no pants. Urine ran down his pink legs. A woman behind him said, “Holy crap, my husband knows. He sent a gorilla to check up on us. Don’t just stand there, Floyd, do something. Stand your ground!”
Floyd grabbed her arm, twirled, and launched her toward the window, creating a distraction. Then he ran for the elevator. The authorities needed to be alerted.
Kong continued his ascent. Far below, the mob in the Midtown streets looked like the trashapocalypse. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Eve McHale attempted to leap to her death from the 86th floor observation deck. She fell through the air, heading for a limousine parked at the curb.
Kong’s furry shoulder got in the way, saving her life. Her suicide note fell from her pocket and drifted downward toward the upraised faces in the horde. Kong reached for McHale and dropped her through an open window on the 45th floor. In a show of support, Ann Darrow flashed a fist pump by the window. Then the beauty and the beast ascended out of sight.
Everyone knows what happened next. Kong put Ann Darrow on a lower ledge, then STOOD HIS GROUND atop the Empire State Building. A squadron of military biplanes swooped on Kong. He swatted one plane out of the sky, but the others raked him with machine gun fire. Wounded, Kong fell through the air, 103 stories. In the final scene, a policeman said the airplanes got him. “It wasn’t the airplanes,” the movie’s filmmaker famously replied. “It was Beauty killed the Beast.”
Or Kong died because his inner mojo wasn’t totally messed up. Cause of death: incurable level-headedness.
Let’s end the story where we began—with the words of little Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his letter to the New York Times: “The skyscraper has over 100 floors. Each story has people. Some are alone, peeved, super-antsy. The Empire State Building is like, well, 100 floors of solitude. As King Kong fell, seeing each floor flashing by, I wonder if some putz stuck his head out a window and yelled, ‘Pipe down—or else!’ I wonder if those were the last words Kong heard as he zoomed toward history. Who knows? Rest in peace, King Kong.”
Thomas Davidson is the author of two quirky thrillers, THE MUSEUM OF SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCES and PAST IS PRESENT, and a collection of humor, BOTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDUNCE KID. He’s never used a plastic fork to attack customers inside a pizzeria, even when they’re loud and try to hog all the paper napkins from the napkin dispenser.