Our meeting was held in the conference room. Everyone grabbed something to drink out of the fridge. Anything else they needed, pens, paper, napkins, cups, were on the table.
“I’m sure with the way news travels around here you are all aware of why this meeting has been called.” I said. “Anyone have any questions or need something clarified before we start?”
“Has this meeting been called to decide whether or not Tina is going to be allowed to enter into a cross-species marriage with her favorite horse, Horse’s Hinny?” Sam asked.
Everyone laughed except Tina who said, “Sam! Should I marry you or my favorite horse? Either way I would be married to a Horse’s ass.”
Now everyone was howling, except Sam, who knew he had been bested.
I held up both of my arms and said, “Okay, okay, let’s get through this meeting and then you can one-up each other with insults.”
“Animals on call exist to train animals that act in movies and television.” I said. “We’ve been asked by the two “Army” Personnel that were here earlier to train some specific animals who will be in a war movie. Any ideas of what kind of animals they want us to train?”
Sam said, “Probably the usual military types. YOU know horses, dogs, or even pigeons.”
“You’re not thinking outside the box.” I said. “Let me give you some hints and see if you can guess.”
I went over to the white board, picked up a black marker and quickly drew a map showing the American army camp, the enemy camp, and I threw in a river and a bunch of trees for good measure.
“Okay,” I said, “the stage is set. Let me tell you the plot.”
“A drone, flying at night, below radar, on a secret mission, leaves the American camp. The drone is carrying hundreds of thousands of infected ticks. These ticks are on the way to invade the enemy camp.”
” That is so Gross! Ugh! Yuck, I hate ticks.” Maria said.
I grabbed a Red Marker and started making dots all over the enemy’s camp. “The ticks are dropped into the enemy camp.” I said, “Once there, they do what ticks always do, look for dinner. However, and this is the really important part, when these ticks bite they not only take your blood, they give you a disease in return.”
“You mean like Lyme disease?” asked Sam.
“Exactly, but much worse and quicker,” I said, “Within two days everyone in the enemy camp has multiple tick bites, and are really, really, sick, not dying mind you, just too sick with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, to fight. This should make it easy for our guys to move in and win the battle. “
“Can anyone guess why we don’t just send our guys in?” I asked.
Sam, looking all excited said, “Because we don’t want to run in there and have to clean up all the shit and puke?”
Tina groaned and said, “That’s not a job I would want.”
Everyone started chattering about how gross it would be to have to clean up such a mess and I could tell I was quickly losing control.
“GOOD ANSWER SAM, BUT NO.” I shouted. “Anyone else care to venture a guess??”
Maria stood up and said, “Because the ticks are still there, and our troops could get bitten and be as sick as the enemy.”
“YES!” I shouted, “Someone give Maria a gold star”.
“Now, for reasons I cannot go into there is no insecticide or repellent that will kill or even slow these ticks down,”
“What are these…Zombie Ticks?” Jose asked.
“I Guess you could say that.” I responded, “So the Army needs a way to clear out the ticks before the American troops move in and that is where we come in, It’s also why I haven’t signed the contract yet.”
I Picked up a green marker and drew an arrow from the American to the Enemy camp.
“Our job, if I sign the contract, is to train an animal to run in before the troops and eat all the ticks. They will be transported by truck as close to the enemy camp as they can safely be done, dropped off and they will go into and all around the enemy camp having a regular Tick fest. Now, after the ticks are gone our well-trained critters will run back to the trucks as a signal for our troops that it is safe to proceed.”
“To sum it up,”
I held up one finger and said, “One. We will be training a pack of four legged animals.”
“How many is a pack?” Sam interrupted. “A pack of cigarettes is twenty cigarettes, a pack of beer is six, how many of these things, um, animals, is a pack.”
“I wasn’t thinking about an exact number,” I said, “I just meant more than a few and less than fifty.”
Holding Up two fingers, I continued,
“Two. These animals eat more than just tics, but on average, one will eat 5,000 tics a year.”
“Three. These animals are about the size of a large cat.”
“Chickens!!” Tina yelled. “My Aunt in upstate New York had a problem with ticks and she got chickens to eat them.”
“He said four legs,” Sam said, “Have you ever seen a chicken with four legs?”
“Oh yeah. Guess I forgot about the four legs.” Tina said, her face turning red.
“That’s all-right Tina,” I said, “at least you’re thinking about it. “
Sam rolled his eyes and said, “You call that thinking? That blonde hair is no lie. “
Tina pushed her chair back, stood up and said, “What is that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing much, “Sam said, “Everyone else is thinking Anteaters, armadillos, or weasels and you yell “Chickens!”
She slugged Sam in the shoulder and said, “Sometimes you can be a real JERK.”
She sat back down and with a pouty voice said, “Anyway I only said chickens because of my Aunt . Really, this is going to sound like one of your blonde jokes, but I was thinking about opossums. “
“What did you say?” I asked.
“I said opossums.”
“Tina, you’re right! Opossums is the correct answer.” I said.
I quickly pulled the movie flyer for, Petie the Petrified Possum from under my seat and held it up for everyone to see.
“We’ve been here before, “I said, “and, I might add, it’s because of our success with the Petie movie that this new job has landed in our laps.”
I put on my biggest smile and tried to sound enthusiastic. “What do you think? Are you with me?”
“I think I like Tina’s Chicken idea better.” Sam groaned.