Posted by Jenn Thorson at 7:00 AM Labels: hook handed man, kidney harvesting, nigerian scam, urban legends
"Why, I remember when every Christmas shopping season, I used to inspire fear in the hearts of all the young girls," said the hook-handed man, giving a wistful gaze across the retirement home rec-room. "Every time they'd head to their car with packages, they'd look around to see if I was there lurking for them... behind the car... in the back seat. Wondering if I'd ask them for a lift, or to participate in a mall-sponsored event-- and then hijack their car and murder them."
He shook his head sadly.
"Yes, yes, we know dis, Gus," said the Nigerian prince. "We have heard dis a hundred times already." He pointed at the Scrabble board before them. "It is your play, my friend."
"I was in all the email forwards," Gus continued, stroking the prosthetic hook on the table fondly. "I went around the world a million times and back. My tale was adapted into 37 languages. It hit the Inbox and instantly struck terror in mothers, grandmothers, well-meaning aunts and teenage girls...
"They all claimed they didn't really believe my story was true. But none of them wanted to take the chance it wasn't...And passed it along anyway. Now that's power." Gus spelled out the word "p-a-s-t." "That's six points, by the way."
"Bah," grumbled the old man in the business suit next to him. "People stopped believing in hook-handed carjackers ages ago. You're all washed-up, Gus. Things have moved on. People are more open-minded these days. They aren't frightened just because you happen to have a disability. Now, me-- I still make 'em quake in their shiny shoes."
"You, Doc?" Gus gave a bitter laugh. "You haven't scared anyone since 1993. And I'll tell you what's wrong with your tale, too. It's just too much, too outlandish. There's got to be a grain of possibility. A nugget of truth for it to really achieve longevity. You overstepped it."
"No possibility?" queried Doc, scowling over his Scrabble tiles. "Are you kidding me? Business travelers to this day can't go into a bar without wondering whether they won't wake up in a bath filled with ice, missing their spare organs!"
"Maybe in 1993," input the Nigerian prince. "But tings were different then. Milli Vanilli had a career den, too. Times change." He pointed at the board with a bejeweled finger. "It is your play, Doc."
"I tell you," Doc insisted, "execs on business trips in every major city in this country keep a good eye on their drinks, even to this day, to make sure I don't pop a sedative in it and help myself to one of their kidneys."
"Den what are you doing here, wit us?" asked the Nigerian prince with a disbelieving smile. "Is dis de place of de still-relevant? De high powered? De urban legends currently getting all of de action?" He sighed. "No. So da sooner you accept it, my friend, da sooner we can get on wit this Scrabble game, please."
"I passed the business along to my son," Doc continued. "Just because I'm retired, doesn't mean the family business isn't still going strong. You'd do well to remember that, Your Highness. And here." He put down his letters on the board. "I-c-e-c-u-b-e. There. Mark that down in your little notepad, Princey. And it's your turn."
"Fine," said the Nigerian prince, peering over his wooden tiles seriously.
There was silence until Gus broke it. "Don't you miss the old days, Prince?"
"Not really," said the Prince. "I have moved on. My story has evolved and taken many forms. As of 1997, according to Snopes.com, I had created confirmed losses of $100 million in the U.S. in just 15 months. It warmed my heart to tink there were so many trusting and kind souls out dere willing to help a man dey never met move money and liberate a people. I remain honored."
Doc and Gus exchanged looks and Gus shrugged. To each his own, they supposed.
The Nigerian prince clicked a series of tiles down onto the Scrabble board. "O-f-f-s-h-o-r-e."
"Triple word score and everything!" exclaimed Doc, impressed.
"Yes, which reminds me. Perhaps you will allow me some liberties wit dese points," suggested the Prince. "On Tursday, I have de weekly gin rummy game with Lou, you know de guy who was injecting movie goers wit AIDS? And also Mrs. Cluckles, de KFC chicken with two heads. So what I would like to do is if you give me some extra points now, I can transfer dese points over to de weekly gin rummy game-- we are playing to raise money to free my sister, the princess from prison in a neighboring country-- and..."
Doc shook his head. "Same old Prince," he said. "Anyone want a lemonade? I'll get us a round."
"Oh, I'm sure you would, Doc," laughed Gus suspiciously. "No, thank you! I would rather get my own. I only have one kidney as it is, thanks to you... Now whose turn is it?"
So tell me, folks-- What urban legends have been sent to you lately? And have you ever fallen for any?