Letters From “Smitty” – The Prank


Dear Center for Disease Control,

I write this letter to you with a heavy heart.  For it seems the vial of Bubonic Plague that I obtained from your facility several days ago has gone missing.  You may be thinking to yourself, “Who is this man and why does he have our sample of the Black Death?”  These are all fair questions and I feel as though it is my duty to answer them before proceeding with my request for assistance.

If you were to go back and check your official procurement logs, you will not likely find my name.  I imagine that this is the proper protocol that most other reputable research laboratories go through when they need to obtain various strains of diseases with which they can conduct experiments.  I had initially tried to go through these normal avenues yet was stalled at every turn.  Apparently, one must have a certain set of approved government documents in order to move forward.  I have neither a driver’s license nor a passport nor fingerprints.  My lack of a license or passport is purely a political statement.  My fingerprints are absent because I tried to eat a scalding hot bowl of fondue with my hands at one point in my early 20’s.  Fondue was a very popular thing back in 1997.  Seeing how it was my first time, I had no idea that one must dip some edible item into the flaming pot, not one’s fleshy digits.  Regardless, due to my pre-existing medical condition and subsequent “off-the-grid” status, I was not eligible to receive free samples of one of the world’s deadliest viruses.

However, I would not be a proud American if I merely wilted in the face of an iron bureaucracy.  I took matters into my own hands.  I thought, “What would our forefathers do in this situation?”   So I dressed up like a Cheyenne Indian and snuck into the building at night.  The Cheyenne after all are native to my home state of Wyoming and I therefore had the greatest point of reference and access to various authentic pieces of native garb.  As my tomahawk crashed through the hermetically sealed glass case in which the Black Death had been stored, I thought to myself, “I should probably leave a note.”  Sadly, this slipped my mind at the time and for that I do apologize.  I placed the small vial into my satchel made from buffalo hide and stole off into the night on moccasin’d feet.

You may be wondering my end goal for the tiny vial.  It sounds a tad silly now but it was originally going to be used for a prank on my roommate, “Smitty.”  You see “Smitty” had pulled a doosey of a ribbing on my about a week earlier.  While eating breakfast in our loft apartment above the bustling market district in downtown Sheridan, WY, “Smitty” came out of our bedroom and gave me a look.  I was eating a bowl of cold asparagus and cottage cheese as per usual.  He mentioned to me that I should be more careful.  I asked him what he meant by that.  He then pointed to an area of my chest where he said I had something on my shirt.  When I looked down to verify that my shirt had been soiled, he lifted up his finger and bopped me on my downturned nose.

Well, this was very funny to him.  He laughed so hard that he removed his pants and did a load of laundry.  “Smitty” and I have been known to prank one another.  So I decided to “one-up” this new prank war were in by infecting him with the deadliest pathogen known to mankind.

This leads me to my problem currently.  The vial I obtained has gone missing and I would like your assistance in finding it.  I tried retracing my steps to the last time I remember seeing it.  The only thing I can piece together is that immediately after I left the facility in my full native headdress, I seem to remember wanting to celebrate.  I typically celebrate all of my victories on top of or inside of the Sheridan Water Tower.  I began to perform the Arrow Renewal and Sun dance which is common for the Cheyenne when they have a great victory.  In all the jiggling and writhing, I’m afraid the vial might have slipped into the main reservoir.  I’m not saying that is for sure what happened; only that it seems likely.

As you can see, the situation may be dire.  You may have already received complaints of residents experiencing abdominal discomfort or dying violently.  Please let me know what assistance you can give me.


Alan Gibbons

P.S. – I was able to get “Smitty” back when the Black Death gag didn’t work.  I called him late one night from a payphone and asked if his refrigerator was running.  He replied that it was.  I told him that he had better go and catch it.  Which he did.  But we all had a laugh about it later over a glass of white wine, “Smitty”, the refrigerator and I.

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