“Wig Loose & Duty-Free”
By Kelly Anneken, managing editor
Sorry for the commentus interruptus in my last column. Norm’s mobile hotspot cut out before Google Docs could save the end of the article. I’d tell you what it said, but sporadic long- and short-term memory loss are one of the side effects of using Drano as my primary method of birth control. It’s a small price to pay for being reproductively responsible.
Where was I?
Oh yeah! Unfortunately, I still haven’t managed to cross the border into Vancouver and fulfill my destiny as a top-notch gherkin jerker. In fact, I’ve been living in the US duty-free store at the Sumas/Abbotsford border crossing for about a month and a half now, which is pretty much as awesome as it sounds. I’ve basically been subsisting on Ferrero Rocher and Tanqueray, which was my late mother’s lifelong dream, may she rot in hell. I haven’t pooped in about a week. I’m considering taking up smoking to get things moving down south. Immigration is a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I’m getting ahead of myself. After Norm blew me off in South St. Paul, I figured I might as well drive the El Camino as far west as possible until I ran out of gas money. Luckily, the El Camino sputtered to a stop near an enclave of Preppers in Montana. After an initial interrogation that made that shit in Zero Dark Thirty look like a time-out from a helicopter parent, the Preppers invited me to join their group and learn self-reliance in exchange for my stolen laptop and a couple hundred hand jobs. I was happy to comply, since I had been hoping to unload the hot computer on some suckers for a while, and I did feel bad for those guys. They’d been training hard in anticipation of the 2012 Mayan apocalypse, and like so many predicted cataclysms before it, this one failed to destroy civilization as we know it. Living with that many thwarted hopes gave those back to nature types a serious case of collective blue balls, and their wives and girlfriends had long since given up and returned to a life of washing machines, air conditioning, and vibrators.
We lived peacefully for a time, and I learned a lot—how to catch and kill small animals with my bare hands, how to load and fire an assault rifle, and how to blame the government for male pattern baldness. It almost broke my heart to turn that rifle on those Preppers and force them to fork over their stockpile of gasoline and gold specie, but hey, maybe if they weren’t so anti-everything, they would have heard that thing about the student surpassing the master. Also, they probably wouldn’t have been so hard-up to get laid and therefore wouldn’t have fallen prey to my bionic wrist.
From there, I hauled ass toward British Columbia, stopping at pawn shops along I-94 to discreetly exchange handfuls of gold for cash, always taking care to keep my assault rifle out of sight but at the ready should any Shakers or Preppers come at me. I got as far as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho when I caught sight of the El Camino on the local news in a pawn shop. I knew the jig would be up sooner rather than later, so I drove the car into a ditch and camouflaged it with a couple dozen bagfuls of russet potatoes. I don’t know much, but I do know people in Idaho are never suspicious of large piles of tubers.
Next stop was Wigs & Things, a full-service wig salon that caters to women experiencing hair loss. I could only assume that the local stations were broadcasting my most recent mugshot along with snaps of the El Camino, so I dry-shaved my head with a rusty straight razor I found out behind Wigs & Things. I wasn’t concerned about getting sick or anything if I nicked my scalp—thanks to Doug, my favorite Prepper, I now know that both tetanus and AIDS are just hoaxes perpetrated by the US Government in order to sell booster shots and condoms. Once I was shorn, I went inside, armed only with a stack of hundreds and a sob-story about debilitating alopecia (I left the assault rifle outside for safekeeping). I walked out an hour later with two dozen wigs and a couple sparkly hair clips, because I deserved to treat myself, dammit!
I then embarked on the most trying ordeal of my life to date. I traveled to Washington State on foot, living only by my wits and my wigs, evading capture and eating a lot of squirrels along the way. At long last, I arrived at the Sumas/Abbotsford border. I ditched the assault rifle and did a little recon in town. Turns out you need a passport and a car to cross the border these days. I was outraged. Back when I was a seven-year-old drug mule for Quebecois trafiquants, all you needed to get into Vancouver was a gap-toothed smile and a story about getting separated from your dad. They’ve really cracked down since 9/11, I guess, which is ridiculous, because Doug told me 9/11 was just a plot engineered by the US government to sell travel insurance. I can understand Americans getting suckered in by such an obvious con job, but the savvy residents of Canada? I’m certainly surprised that they’re going along with it.
Disheartened, I found myself wandering into the nearby duty-free shop, a veritable Willy Wonka-level wonderland of pure vice. They had every legal controlled substance known to man on display—booze, cigars, Hermes scarves—all tax free. I reflected that Doug would have liked that, and felt just a little bit bad for kneecapping him as I made my escape. I’m sure he’s fine—he’s a survivor, as he was fond of calling out during orgasm. But I’d run out of cash, and without a passport or even a driver’s license that wasn’t just a Guess Who tile taped to a CVS Care Plus Card, my options were limited. I had to rely on my own brand of survival instinct.
I sized up the store, locating its security cameras and identifying its stupidest employees. After surreptitiously swiping a duty-free shopping bag, I slipped outside again and recovered my stash of wigs, which I’d secreted away in a mailbox for safekeeping. Donning a sassy red number I’d come to think of as “Anne of Green Gables: The Reboot,” I darted into a hardware store and lifted a slim pair of wire-cutters. I stuffed my collection of hairpieces into the duty-free shopping bag and waltzed back into the store, pretending to browse as I maneuvered myself into position to dismantle their ladies’ room security cameras. It took longer than I’d hoped, but eventually I managed to belly crawl and wall-hug until I could get behind the camera’s lens and wait for closing time.
Just before 11 PM, a middle-aged woman with a nametag came into the bathroom, listlessly wheeling a yellow mop bucket. Her nametag read “Destiny” and I knew it was meant to be—she wasn’t the brightest knife in the block. I begged her not to tell anyone I was there, that I was homeless, penniless, hairless—and she bought it for the low, low price of a wig I called “the Glenn Close.” Turned out Destiny really did suffer from alopecia. Naturally, I made sure her end of the exchange was in full view of the security camera and cut its cord after she left.
Once the rest of the staff cleared out for the night, I got to work, dismantling the rest of the security cameras by using Prepper stealth technique and the wire cutters. I outfitted myself with pair upon pair of Tom Ford Sunglasses, expertly removing the anti-theft tags just like I learned back in juvenile delinquent vocational school. It wasn’t officially part of the curriculum, but my cellmate Chunky Leslie had many skills she was willing to teach me in exchange for some of my Toilet Bowl Campari (patent pending). I hid the sunglasses along with a wig to match strategically throughout the store, making sure to position each disguise behind items no self-respecting traveler would ever purchase, like True Religion perfume or Chupa Chups lollipops. Then I finally curled up on the floor of the handicap bathroom stall and went to sleep.
Every day since, I wake up and crouch on one of the toilets until 7:30 AM, when the first deadbeats who have no intention of actually buying anything show up to pee in the complimentary facilities. I slink out with a group of three or more and move about the store for most of the day, leaving a few times and returning with a different wig/shades combo. In all honesty, I’m pretty surprised no one’s figured out what’s happening. Three different employees have been fired due to the massive amounts of truffles and gin that have gone missing, although Destiny isn’t one of them, which makes me wonder if the store’s security cameras ever worked in the first place. It’s entirely possible I did all that Mission: Impossible Prepper crap for no good reason!
But I can’t really complain. Every night, I suck down a bottle of alcohol, hoover some chocolate, and sing “I Ran (So Far Away)” while wearing my “Flock of Seagulls” wig. It’s been so nice to rest the old bionic wrist and just have some “me time,” journaling on receipt tape, dipping cherry Skoal like I used to in juvie, and constantly masturbating with L’Occitane Shea Butter hand cream. Maybe I’ll fall prey to the old wanderlust again, but for now, I’m perfectly content to live out the rest of my days as an unnatural citizen of the Duty-Free nation.