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Maxed Out

How to tell the wheat from the chaff

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"Hello."

Uh-oh, no response. Fookin' auto diallers.

"Hello idiot machine."

No... I hear breathing. I hear... eewwwuu... what the....

The sound coming through the receiver was a grotesque horrorshow combination of irregular, sub-human sounds, semi-liquid, death-rattle breathing, horking and - I'm only guessing here - a polyglot of English, spittle Yiddish and complete gibberish. And after a long silence, at which point I began to think whomever was phoning had died, "Duuuuude... where the f@*k are you?"

Naw. Couldn't be.

"Duuuuude...."

"J.J.?"

"Dude, where are you. Like, I really need to talk to you. What are you doing... down there in Spooksville."

It all made sense now. The eerie sounds coming through the receiver were the result of a lifetime of bad diet, chainsmoking unfiltered Gauloises Bleues, jungle fever, latent malaria and what J.J. Geddyup - Whistler's only private eye, albeit, congenitally unemployed - comically referred to as livin' the dream.

"Being dudiful, J.J. A little momcare. Don't you read my column?"

"You still writing that twaddle? Man, Barnett must really be out of his mind."

"No, just well insured. Why - and I'm not certain I really want to know - are you calling me, J.J.? And for that matter, how did you get this number?"

"You think I've forgotten how to track down deadbeats? Oh ye of little faith."

"Touché. What do you want? I can't buy you a beer long distance."

"No problemo. You'll owe me. I need your advice, Dude."

"You never take my advice, J.J."

"Maybe not. But I listen to it."

"A distinction without a difference. So what's the problem?"
"Dude, did you know there was an election coming up next month?"

"I think I'd heard something about that."

"Do you know there's like 25 or a hundred people running?"

"Yeah. It's a pretty big field. Maybe a sign of the recession." I'm suddenly frozen with fear. "J.J., you... you're... tell me you didn't file nomination papers. You're not running for office, are you?"

"You wound me, Dude. How desperate you think I am?"

Sigh of relief.

"No. The problem is, how in the hell can I make sense of this field. I mean there's dudes I've never even heard of running for office. And I'm not talkin' about the obvious whack jobs. I mean, they must be kind of serious. Either that or they're gluttons for punishment."

"Ah, the old too many choices, not enough information conundrum."

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