“THREE-O-NINE! THREE-O-NINE!” I crudely affected like an overgrown toddler, exuberantly waving the hotel room key card overhead, and cradling a small, foam-rubber Tyrannosaurus Rex. I adjusted the thick, foreign prescription bifocals strapped to my head, and steamrolled to the front of the line—purblind and unconcerned with normal etiquette. I wasn’t about to wait around in the Godforsaken lobby of a Cincinnati EconoLodge while the biggest story since creation started without us.
“Checking out?” slowly enunciated the helpless clerk, abruptly disregarding another traveler’s outstretched fistful of credit. She was obliged to immediately reckon with the obtrusive fashion anomaly before her. I was clad in Velcro fastened sneakers, a long sleeve polo shirt tucked into nipple-high sweatpants, which were cinched awkwardly at my waist by a sporty fanny-pack. A slightly askew “JUST TRY TO BURN THIS ONE!” American flag trucker hat was my idiot crown.
“Hiiiii!” I brayed, thrusting the card into her mitts. “THREE-O-NINE!” I incorrectly counted the numbers off with my fingers, so the poor girl would understand what was happening. The other hotel patrons silently endured my rudeness. I was clearly some sort of mental defective, an innocent of the highest order. They wouldn’t dare.
“Hiiiii!” I individually greeted the members of a women’s college basketball team on the brisk waddle over to the continental breakfast.
“Holy crap,” whispered my fellow BEAST operative Josh Bunting. “We didn’t know that was you for a second,” he said, giggling like a schoolboy and hiding his face. He spoke for himself and our glossy-eyed cameraman, who, during the previous night’s 90-mph dash through Ohio’s monotonous and heavily policed landscape, woke periodically to warn me about getting tagged by radar:
“I might have some warrants out on me,” he’d hedged groggily from the plush back seat of our loaner BMW 740il sedan, dipping into a large bag of unspecified pills. “That’s all I’m saying.”
I briefly caught my blurred, clownish reflection in the lobby’s swinging glass door. Behind me, Bunting hovered over a tray of stale muffins, struggling to stifle a nervous chortle. Our cameraman, a possible felon, was pouring us three complimentary cups of lukewarm coffee and grinning like the devil. The lady-hoopsters scrutinized my every move with morbid fascination.
It was then that the distinct possibility this trip might go badly first occurred to me.
The event we were covering was a quick shot across the Kentucky state line, the grand unveiling of a 60,000 square foot bellwether of our culture’s sheepish intellectually depravity: The Creation Museum. The poured concrete brainchild of Ken Ham, world-renowned creationist douche and president of the Christian apologetics ministry “Answers in Genesis,” this “museum” aims to depict biblical narrative as historic reality. 27 million donated dollars worth of animatronic dinosaurs and humans palling around in the Garden of Eden—madness. Like the slaves of narcotic bliss, we felt physically compelled to participate in this insanity, adding to it whatever we could. Our drug was adrenaline, our bliss: messing with uppity religious primates.
After topping off the tank with ninety dollars of premium, Bunting set the 282-horse Nazi sleigh careening south down I-275. I turned on the radio—the military has announced the deaths of 8 U.S. soldiers and a Marine—and turned it off. Bunting quoted scripture from memory. It was a sunny Memorial Day weekend in the heartland. We were about to bear witness to a magnificent abortion of reason—and we were late. I’ve never felt more American in my life.
At the museum gate, an armed guard in big mirror shades waved us to the curb to verify our press credentials.
“Uh-Oh!” I howled as Bunting applied the brakes and lowered the driver’s side window. “Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh!” I rocked in my seat and hugged my toy dinosaur for emotional support.
“Calm down, Dougie,” chided Bunting, sternly grabbing my sleeve. “Not now, Dougie!” he growled, flashing me a panicked expression. A nervous man by nature, Bunting’s motives for engaging in such twisted, anxiety-heightening deceptions are mysterious. It’s like he’s playing chicken with himself.
“My name is… uh… Roy Lapost,” Bunting told the guard, “and we’re with the Special Times.” My comrade’s face reddened. His voice trembled. The guard scanned his clipboard.
Through the bifocals, I could make out only vague shapes of what I’d read earlier was a protest camp being set up across the street—a tame placard and bullhorn assault by the dwindling forces of reason; a futile volley over the frontlines of the American Culture War. On the other side was God’s Army—fortified by a million-dollar wrought iron fence, packing heat, and totally impervious to reason. Blurry uniformed men and their blurrier German Shepherds patrolled the museum perimeter, exuding authority and smelling things. Big-brimmed troopers with shotguns zipped in and out of the gate in their vicious little golf carts. A small airplane circled high overhead, towing a banner.
“What does dat plane say, Roy?” I asked timidly, pointing to the heavens.
“It says ‘thou shalt not lie,’ Dougie,” Bunting replied wistfully through a clenched smile, craning his neck through the open window. “You remember, Dougie,” he said, bringing his head back into the car, and nonchalantly raising the power window, “it’s in the Bible!”
He snapped his sweaty head around. “Are you sure we’re on the list?” he asked, his eyes as big as saucers.
“Absolutely,” I said, spying the guard safely from our soundproof, air-conditioned bunker. “Don’t worry. I talked to our media contact and everything’s been taken care…”
Knock knock knock! We weren’t on the list.
Bunting and I looked at each other with mounting trepidation as the guard radioed in our false identities. We were both sure that we’d been exposed as frauds while on the road. How could we not have been? I thought to myself while flailing about wildly against the seat belt. We had, in the spirit of sportsmanship, given our prey ample opportunity to evade danger. We were hunting with a crossbow, not an M-16, so to speak. We may be vicious liars, but we were gentlemen after all.
With the assistance of BEAST Editor-in-Chief Al Uthman, we had set up a website for our sham newspaper, the Special Times, “a Christian lifestyle journal for and by the developmentally disabled” (www.thespecialtimes.com). Our logo was glorious, rendered in the New York Times font, with a crucifix substituting for the “T” in times. A picture of me sitting in a wheelchair with my belly exposed, giving a thumbs-up, with the caption “Dougie and his trusty notebook,” dared anyone visiting the site to view it as transparent satire.
“WELCOME TO THE SPECIAL TIMES!1!!” it read next to my picture. The number one, squeezed in amidst the exclamation points, was a stroke of pure retarded genius, I thought. We promised the paper would be “just super to read,” and would feature “top-notch stories relevant to developmentally disabled people of faith.”
The homepage was believable enough. The “About Us” page, by contrast, was particularly absurd, featuring a fictitious and preposterously named medical condition:
The Special Times came about from the hard work and dedication of our founding members Dougie Johnston and Roy LaPost.
Dougie’s a special guy with a love for our Savior Jesus Christ, wrestling, cookies, and investigative reporting. Dougie was diagnosed at birth with Asperger’s Syndrome by Proxy, an exceedingly rare disorder which has no known cure. After festering in the public care system for 15 years, Dougie was introduced to the Christian caregiver who would change his life and save his eternal soul.
Roy LaPost was an ambitious journalist disenchanted with the absence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the hearts of his editors and publishers. He then rededicated his life to caring for the least among us, for he knew that the meek would inherit the newsroom. The two warriors of Christ were introduced through divine providence when LaPost hit Dougie with his car. Knowing what the Lord wanted from him, LaPost became Dougie’s caregiver, journalistic mentor and lifelong friend in Christ.
We padded out our “Super Links” with an online Bible, the official Answers in Genesis website, a random “Transformers!!!” page, and a gratuitously silly bit entitled “Dougie’s Special Prayers”:
I pray for Jesus and The Sabres to win!
I pray for me to find my keys that I lost.
I pray for scientists to stop hurting God’s feelings and making God cry all the time.
I pray for the troops to win the wars and the president.
I pray for The Special Times to be good.
I pray for Roy to be happy.
I pray for my dog to come back to life.
I pray for the summer to be awesome!
The general consensus around the office was that instead of arming ourselves with a crossbow, we’d rushed blindly into the hunt wielding nothing but a rusty spoon.
“I’ll go too,” said Uthman, “and when they don’t let you guys in, I’ll write the piece.” It was a resounding vote of no confidence. “I mean, ‘Asperger’s Syndrome by Proxy,’” he waxed smugly, “what the fuck could that possibly mean?”
“But that part was your idea!” I spat.
“I was just joking, man. I didn’t think you’d actually use it,” he replied with a playful smile.
I recoiled in horror at this heinous act of sabotage. I once read somewhere that an editor is a mouse in training to be a rat—or was it the other way around? Either way, I thought: this furry Kurdish vermin aims to steal my story!
Later, Uthman’s interest naturally waned. He was back on a strict video game regimen, and couldn’t be bothered with unnecessary travel.
Now our plan had come to a grinding halt within a meatball’s toss of our destination. A string of vehicles were waved past without incident. The rigid-postured guard folded his arms and chatted with another gun-toting rent-a-pig a few feet away. Still no word back on his walky-talky. We were unaccredited. Personae non gratae. Totally fucked.
“Remember,” I told Bunting under my breath, “you’re from Canada.”
“Canada?” Bunting’s voice climbed an octave.
“When I spoke with one of the museum’s PR hacks down in Houston,” I explained, “I was forced to regale him with a tale about LaPost’s dissatisfaction bouncing around ‘the heathen Saskatchewan press.’ ”
“Saskatchewan! I don’t know anything about Saskatchewan! What if they ask me? What if they ask about the wheelchair? What if they fire up torches and sic those fucking dogs on us?”
“Pull it together,” I hissed, violently grabbing him by the lapel. “Tell them about the joys of fucking moose! Tell them you were high on crack and you ran me over with your vintage Buick—I don’t care; just end it with a goddamn ‘Praise Jesus’ and we’ll be fine!”
“What else should I know?” he prodded with heavy breath. “What else did you talk about?”
“You know,” I said. “Special people doing special things… Asperger’s by Proxy… Dougie loves Jesus and he can go to the bathroom all by himself… stuff like that.” Bunting’s head bobbed up and down for a while, like I’d given him a lot of information. “Don’t tell them anything,” I said returning to more pressing matters. “We’re the reporters here—we’ll be asking the questions. We need to own the situation, goddamn it!”
Bunting continued bobbing his head as he perused the Bible he’d brought along. “Who do you think God is talking to here?” he asked, pointing to Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…”
“Who fucking knows?” I replied. “That doesn’t matter now. Just remember, you talked to Giles Hudson earlier in the week, if it should come up.”
“He’s probably talking to his roommate,” Bunting cracked glibly. “And then God said, Let us order a pizza,” he intoned with jovial gravitas.
Bunting now felt at ease enough to joke, perhaps anticipating we’d be turned away from the burlesque nightmare without ever passing the gate. The safety of failure can entice the best of us sometimes. I, on the other hand, was experiencing the birth pangs of a monster anxiety attack. Our cameraman was especially sedate, as he’d downed the remainder of his pills at the first whiff of trouble.
“And if this thing should somehow go sour, which may very well happen,” I worried aloud, “we’ll have to resort to Plan B.”
“What’s Plan B?” Bunting wondered.
“We run like fucking hell.”
I peered over my frames at the guard talking into his hand-held radio. I rocked like a madman as he walked our way. In that instant, I could see my editor’s fat disembodied head floating across my mind’s eye, cackling with relish at my abject failure. My heart was fluttering like a hummingbird on angel dust. I looked up at the circling airplane, with its long winding banner. Thou shalt not lie, I thought to myself. Almost certain the jig was up, I pictured being stoned to death by a Christian mob.
“OK guys,” the dutiful guard barked, pointing through the gate, “you can pull up to the media tent and sign in.”
Praise the Lord.
As Bunting retrieved the wheelchair from the trunk, I dangled my press pass around my neck, and checked the contents of my fanny-pack: Spider-man pencils and sharpener—check; SpongeBob SquarePants notebook and action figure—check; animal crackers, three boxes—check. There was no turning back at this point. For the next few hours, we would fully commit to what Bunting would later poetically call “jerking off in their fundamentalist faces.” With my tiny-armed Jurassic chum riding shotgun, Bunting wheeled me over the fresh blacktop, toward the already in-progress press conference. It was show time.
“Hiiiiiii!” I shouted like a maniac at anyone within earshot. “Yow!” I yelped in unison with one firm clap of my hands. I bounced in the wheelchair with glee, for I was among God’s special people. I almost envied them in a way. Unencumbered by reason and logic, their minds drowned with sweet ignorance and incredible fairytales, they were the true freaks. You have to admire that sort of commitment to delusion. I let a strategic pool of saliva slowly dribble from my gapping maw. I wanted to fit in.
Bunting pulled the wheelchair brakes at the back of the large white canopy, which shielded wealthy museum donors, state senators and the media from the hot sun. Ken Ham and a shill astrophysicist fielded questions from the press. There were about 300 people in attendance, none of them excited as old Dougie. I was out of control; a belligerent retard, wiggling, spitting and moaning—a blight on the otherwise civilized festivities.
“Okay,” Bunting spoke up. “Calm down, Dougie. Calm down.”
“WHYYYYYY?” I rebelled at top volume, looking up behind me to catch his reaction.
With all eyes fixed on this supposedly responsible caregiver, terror visibly washed over him as he fully realized the gravity of the situation: We were in Kentucky, totally surrounded by a throng of unthinking beasts and their hired guns, and I was acting like an unhinged menace.
“You’re going to get us killed,” Bunting alarmed softly in my ear, bending over to shield his face from the rows of turned heads and curious expressions. “Did you see the way they’re looking at us?” he said with a healthy dose of fear. “They weren’t smiling, man—they were showing me their goddamn fangs…” he trailed off.
Of course, I had the easy job. My cover was absolutely foolproof, so to speak. I had no tells whatsoever. Even if I felt a laugh coming on, which is normally a big no-no in any risky undercover assignment, I’d just play it up. The more inappropriate my actions, the more believable Dougie became. Besides, questioning a retard’s condition just isn’t done in polite society. “They’re God’s very special miracles,” as I’d told our museum contact.
As I ripped into my second box of animal crackers and yelled “No! Mine!” at a small child in a pink sundress who was eyeing my treats, I could feel Bunting’s hands tremor the wheelchair’s metal frame. He was absorbing a lot of downright nasty energy. He nodded and smiled as if everything was just peachy. God bless his brave soul.
“Roy!” I screamed, wanting to get to the front row. “I can’t seeeeee!”
What the hell is he doing?! I thought as Bunting set a course through two long and narrowing rows of vacant white folding chairs just outside of the large tent.
“Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh!” I wailed like a despondent Howler Monkey, kicking my feet and pounding my armrest with forceful dissatisfaction when the chairs inevitably stopped us dead in our tracks. “Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh! Uh-Oh!”
“Stop it!” Bunting said, harshly pinching my arm as half the crowd rubbernecked our way. “Dougie, stop it!”
A team of vested museum employees and a handful of concerned citizens rushed to our aid.
“Hiiii!” I said, peppering them with soggy cookie bits. “I’m special!”
By the time we got next to the stage, the whole front row of handsomely coiffed and exquisitely preened demons were staring at me. They were the wives of the museum founders, their families, their professional colleagues and the wealthiest of donors. I stuck my hand down my pants to scratch my sweaty retard balls, sniffing my fingers and picking my nose when I was done.
“Me! Me! Me!” I hounded the woman passing the microphone around the relatively small turnout of media types. “My turn! My turn now!”
“I’m sorry,” she mollified, looking down at me with pity. “The question and answer period is over, honey.” She then handed the mic to what Darwin might dub a fitter reporter—bald discrimination. I responded with a righteous tantrum.
The rest of the press conference was predictably dull and unremarkable, save for Ken Ham’s subtly abusive pimping of his children. “Stand up,” he ordered his marrying-age offspring. “With the media here,” he said seriously, “I thought we might finally find someone out there that will have them.” Ouch!
I needed to save my strength. I napped as Bunting spied around the outside of the building. He’d report back periodically about crates arriving from Liberty University and to assess our current level of safety.
“We are at code orange. I repeat: code orange,” he said, brow furrowed, spinning me around in my chair. A man was on stage with a guitar. He was playing the worst folk song we’d ever heard in our lives, something about Jesus making our dreams come true. “Let’s go have a cigarette, Dougie.”
At my insistence, Bunting wheeled me to the head of the peanut gallery amassing behind a velvet rope at the museum doors. Ham and the rest of the museum founders lined up, each holding a bit of a long red ribbon. One of the men held a 4-foot pair of ceremonial wooden shears. The media gaggle checked their light gauges and swiveled their heads between the men and the press tent, anticipating one straggler’s arrival. There was the kind of pregnant silence which only exists when one key person is late for a photo op that’s been twelve years in the making.
“Wow! Those are big scissors! That’s daaangerous!” I loudly advised. “You should be care-full, Ham! Be care-full!” The crowd had a good laugh.
With the ribbon finally cut, it was time to enter the den of stupidity and shudder at its smooth-brained appeal. The air-conditioned lobby was adorned with a jagged fiberglass cave wall. I was bursting with hyperbolic excitement, jerking about feverishly and shouting. As the bustling crowd parted, making room for my wheelchair, we had Ken Ham directly in our sights. The Special Times was on the cusp of conducting its first interview.
“HIIIIIII!” I yelled through a few men congratulating the museum founder with hearty handshakes, telling them in my special way to fuck off.
“I loyk yeu dinasoaw,” Ham told me in his distinct Australian accent, pointing at my prehistoric prop.
“I like dinosaurs! I like youuuu!” I countered affectionately, as Bunting wiped the moisture from his palms and shook Ken’s hand, telling him what organization we purportedly represented.
“I’m special! Hi!” I interrupted, rising from my wheelchair to give Ham a big bear hug. I emitted a high-pitched squeal of pure elation.
Bunting stepped in, telling Ham that he’d talked to Giles about an interview. Ham kindly offered to do it either “now or later.”
“NOW!” I demanded.
After making sure this was OK with Ken, Bunting asked: “All right Dougie, are you ready?”
“Yeah,” I reassured him, directing my strict attention to the creationist super-ape. “You said the dinosaurs wouldn’t eat Adam and Eve…”
“Right,” slipped in Ham.
“Whyyyyy?” I pleaded. “Why not? Why not?”
“In the garden,” Ham said, looking over me into the filtering crowd, “you know, the Bible tells us in the garden before sin, in fact in the world before sin, all animals were vegetarian and so was Adam and Eve, and even though they have sharp teeth…”
“Why they have sharp teeth?” I interjected in my slow droning falsetto.
A cameraman, most likely from a local news outlet, rushed to Bunting’s left to film the inspiring exchange.
“Right. There’s a lot of animals that have sharp teeth, uh, that only eat plants,” Ham ruminated, “for instance most, most bears are primarily vegetarian, yet they have teeth like a lion or a tiger…”
“They eat fish!” I vehemently disagreed. “I saw it on the Discovery Chan-nel… but it’s sec-u-lar.”
“Some of them do,” Ham conceded, “but a panda eats only bamboo.”
The interview was going well. Ham was spouting nonsensical creationist rhetoric, and I was in full-blown retard mode. We were like long lost twins. He continued averting his gaze, however. My assumed detriments reminded him of man’s fall from grace. It was time to test this man of God.
“What about car-bon dating?” I asked.
Ham shot Bunting an icy stare, as if accusing him of corrupting my impressionable mind with science—or was it worse? Did he know? Was a half-wit’s mention of a scientific dating method too unbelievable, even for someone willing to swallow Genesis in its entirety? Bunting spun around to compose himself and suppress an impending fit of laughter. The cameraman disappeared.
Ham went into a lengthy shtick about “assumptions,” mentioning “carbon dating can only date things back to a hundred thousand years.” This was from a guy who firmly believes the earth is precisely 6003 years old. I pitied the man and his tragically compartmentalized mind. After this day was over, I’d go back to thinking, but he would remain a retard. Poor bastard. I zoned out, rocking in my chair, pondering the number of starving children one could feed with 27 million dollars, and trying to think of an appropriate final question:
“Who is big-ger: God or Shaquille O’Neal?”
“Hmm, hmm… well, he-he, uh, there can’t be anyone bigger than God, because there can only be one infinite being, by definition,” Ham said authoritatively.
“But Shaquille O’Neal can dunk!” I countered, pantomiming a fierce glass-shattering two points.
Bunting again had to turn away. I could hear him snickering under a forced cough.
“But God can create the universe in six days,” Ham said tersely, giving the final word on the God vs. Shaq debate.
“Okaaaay!” I bellowed.
“Okay,” Ham repeated.
“I like Ham!” I roared, giving the bearded Aussie one last bear hug for good measure.
“Thanks. Enjoy the museum,” Ham said, as Bunting pushed me deeper into fantasyland.
“I talked to Ham!” the exclamation resonated through the entire lobby.
“DINOSAUR!” I screamed, catching sight of the first raptor of the day, perched atop a gift shop bookshelf.
“I saw you earlier. You’re excited, aren’t you?” asked a woman, looking down at me with a receptionist’s smirk.
I confirmed her suspicions by opening my mouth as widely as I could, shaking my head and trying to bite my right ear. She wore an expression of pride, for having exposed herself to such a cretin. Undoubtedly, God has reserved her a studio apartment in heaven for her selfless act of charity.
“You’re pretty!” I flattered a chubby young woman working behind the gift shop register. “I’m gooo-ing to take you as my wife – that’s what it says in the Bible!”
“That’s right, Dougie,” Bunting encouraged. “It’s in Deuteronomy.”
“Dooooteronomies!” I screamed, excited by the prospect of bedding a good Christian girl—possibly in the bathroom. I winked at her, but she didn’t seem ready to ride the Dougie Express. She blushed uncomfortably. We pushed on.
Through the other door of gift shop, the Garden of Eden hosted a grand, finely catered reception. There were no apples. Bunting slowly wheeled my chair through the tightly packed hall. I inhaled a can of Coca-Cola and greedily stole shrimp from other people’s plates. I was hell on wheels, screaming all sorts of foul blasphemy. “I got SpongeBob!” I ejaculated as he danced playfully on my leg. “He’s like Jesus! I love Jesus! I love Spongebob!” To shut me up, a museum employee directed us toward the “special effects room,” and, as a matter of “policy,” confiscated our video equipment.
On the stage in front of a three-paneled movie screen depicting a beautiful wilderness scene, a solitary animatronic woman in a red camping vest knelt beside a fire, constructed from upward-blown bits of red and orange paper. She soliloquized about the nature of the universe and her place in it.
“Am I all alone?” she pondered sadly as the smoke billowing on the screen behind the fire curled into a question mark.
Two angels in white overalls named “Gabe” and “Mike” flew down to help “Wendy” through her existential crisis. Later they morphed into hip, antiestablishment Christian students, and hurled spurious claims at their Darwin-humping science teacher in Southern California surfer lingo. The seats vibrated and shot water from the backrests during the great flood. Lightning abounded. The same guy who designed the King Kong and Jaws rides at Universal Studios was responsible for this atrocity. Ham got him on the cheap, because he loves Jesus too. That made me sad, for some reason. The theater was, perhaps, an effective propaganda tool for small children and certifiable fools.
The glasses were giving me a terrible headache. I imagined the creationists watching our footage in a back room somewhere… incriminating evidence… they’ll destroy our documentation!
Upon exiting the theater, a quick check of our promptly-returned camera revealed my fears to be mere paranoia. What was not paranoia, however, was the four-man security detail trailing our every move. From Noah’s Café to the Cave of Sorrows, they shadowed us. Bunting let them pass by, as if we’d been blocking their way, but another fell in tow moments later. We were filled with the fear of God. It was possible one of them saw me scrawl “Dougie was here ’07” on the entrance to Jesus’ Tomb.
“That guard’s been following us since the Scopes Monkey Trial,” Bunting said, frantically indicating an ambiguously shaped hominid near the entrance to Noah’s Ark. “I think he knows!”
“Dougie’s tired! Dougie wants to go home now!” I shouted hysterically, trying to stay in character. “Seriously, man,” I hummed through a ventriloquist’s smile, looking back over my shoulder, “let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Bunting upped our pace as we wove among the walking dead, milling like cattle, staring in slack-jawed wonder at Methuselah’s Tent and the Dinosaur Den. “Oooooooh!” I shouted reflexively as we passed Adam and Eve bathing in a waterfall. “YOU CAN ALMOST SEE HER BOOBIES!” Her deliberately-placed hair was an incredible bummer for Dougie. We stopped briefly at some cockamamie Old Testament scene with a curly-haired gent strumming a lute.
“He looks like rock and roll legend Jimmy Page!” I informed a fellow spectator. His bewildered eyes went from me to the guard, who I’d roused to action with the loud and random aside. What was I thinking? Retards don’t like Zeppelin!
“Let’s go!” I begged Bunting, who shifted the wheelchair into warp drive. “Dougie’s gotta go home now! Gotta go home now!” Our cameraman, sensing danger, switched from stoner sloth to nimble cheetah. With the exit in sight, the stalking square-badge was gaining on us. Twenty more feet and we were home free—no bloodthirsty mob; no Nazi K-9s ripping the flesh from our bones; not even a stiff right cross from Ken Ham’s meaty paw—a complete success.
“Jesus Christ!” I trumpeted like a sweaty angel of the apocalypse as the guard overtook us at the door to the lobby, grabbing the handle.
“Let me get that for you,” he offered, pulling the glass pane toward his chest. Gosh, these Christians sure were nice.
Our minds still reeling, we accosted Ken Ham at the same spot we’d left him. He was busy talking with a writer from Salon, but that hardly mattered. I physically pulled the creationist away by his sleeve. We needed a cover photo.
“How’dja loyk the museum?” he asked while our drug-addled photographer lined up a shaky shot.
“One of the din-a-saurs smiled at me!” I cackled, straining not to laugh hysterically.
“Say creation!” slurred our cameraman.
“Dude,” Bunting said, tossing me the keys, “it’s your turn to drive.”
As we made our final pass by the freshly minted intellectual tragedy, I gave Dougie one last line before he faded from existence. “I’m driv-ving!” I yelled out the window at people exiting the museum.
“Good fah you!” sarcastically replied a Brooklyn-accented man walking the immaculate garden paths to the right of the museum.
Not entirely sure of what we’d accomplished, if anything, the seven hour trip home was euphoric and surreal, punctuated with contagious bouts of uproarious laughter. Ken Ham is certain his museum will undo the damage caused by Charles Darwin and Clarence Darrow; a concrete push of destiny away from the forbidden fruit of knowledge and toward a theocratic vegetable paradise. Are this man and his museum fossilized relics of our subconsciously inclined, mythological leaning past, or a signpost on the highway of history: “Caution: slow people worshiping ahead?” Regardless, a strange sense of optimism pervaded my being as we drifted down the open road. It was America, 2007 the year of our lord, and these were special times indeed.