“Would there be anything I could do to convince you?” I asked, as Dr. Hutchins leaned back in his chair.
“I do not believe there is anyone who can convince me of anything that is plainly not true,” he said, beginning to stand. “I must admit I’m quite saddened that my staff has allowed this meeting to take place. I do not enjoy having my time wasted. Please show yourself out, and do not attempt to contact me again.”
“Dr. Hutchins,” I said as he began shuffling through a stack of manila folders on his desk, “what if I were to take you with me on my next expedition? What if I could show you, first hand, the results of my progress?”
He paused a moment, began to speak, thought better of his response, then spoke in a calm, measured tone. “Young man, you expect me to accompany you to Papua New Guinea, trek to the Highlands region, and visit isolated tribes so that you can illustrate to me the progress you’ve made in turning rural, primitive tribesmen into polished, sophisticated bloggers? And you expect to do this without having presented me with a shred of evidence that you yourself have even been to these villages; not a journal, no video evidence, not even a stamped passport? At the risk of sounding impolite, I must insist that you leave my office immediately.”
“Fine,” I replied, “but you will regret this day.” With that, I walked over to the large oak door that separated his office from the lobby. I pushed the door fully open, remaining inside and motioning for him to look through the doorway.
Six Guinean tribesmen stood in the lobby, each of them dressed in traditional warrior attire. The two youngest men held the secretaries at spear point, while the remaining four guarded the front entrance.
“Now,” I said to Hutchins, “would you like to reconsider my offer?”
Hutchins, a man of advanced age who had rarely encountered a situation that his money could not remedy for him, stood stunned for several moments. “What in God’s name is going on here?” he finally asked. Summoning a bit of gentlemanly courage, he declared “Order those men to lower their spears.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” I said. “Not until you agree to fund our blog.”
Growing flustered, Hutchins angrily shouted “Once again I will tell you, I do not have the slightest idea what a ‘blog’ is, nor do I see the need for this sort of animalistic behavior. Now, if you do not unhand those young women, I will…”
The youngest of the tribesmen impaled one of the secretaries with his spear, and she fell to the floor awkwardly, grasping at the shaft of the weapon. The second secretary shrieked, lunged forward, and was similarly executed. Hutchins froze, his spine going rigid, his face turning white.
“Now, Dr. Hutchins,” I said, moving closer to him “I will ask you another question, and this time I expect a quick and honest response.” I moved closer still, until our faces nearly met. Leaning towards him, and downward slightly to account for his short stature, I whispered “have you ever seen Scare Tactics?”
Hutchins, wishing to comply with my request for a prompt response, stuttered nervously, unable to form a coherent thought.
“Your secretary, Judy set you up,” I said, and with that the two secretaries rose from the floor, laughing. The tribesmen began to clap, and a soundman exited the lobby closet, equipment slung over his shoulder, also clapping.
I embraced Hutchins with one arm, and with the other I pointed towards the large mirror over his office fireplace. “There’s a camera right behind that mirror,” I said, “and another right here, in the button of my shirt.”
I felt Hutchins lean towards me, as if to return my embrace, but realized he was falling. Bearing his weight against my chest, I lowered him to the ground. He was unresponsive. “Get help!” I yelled. “Shut off the cameras!”
As we wheeled the television into the cramped hospital conference room, Mrs. Hutchins sat hunched in her chair. Down the hall, in the intensive care unit, her husband clung to life. Her attorney motioned to me, and I pressed “play” on the console.
After watching the video, Mrs. Hutchins dabbed several tears from her cheeks with a handkerchief. “I don’t understand any of this,” she whispered.
“I’m sorry?” asked her attorney.
“None of this, I don’t understand you people,” she said.
Getting up and walking to the door, I said, “Well, I can understand what this has been a rough day for you. Are you scared you might lose your husband?”
“What sort of… how dare you ask me such a thing!” she shrieked.
“You shouldn’t be,” I said, opening the door. “Your husband set you up,” and in walked Dr. Rogers Hutchins, clapping.