MIKE DEMENTIANO WAS A PIRATE. He had a costume and everything. Anything or anyone got in his way, Mike took care of the situation in a pirately way. And he said “Arrgh.”
“I’m Lucky Mike!” he yelped at Grandma Mardou, upon whose ample lap he sat. It was another rainy Saturday, and Mike’s parents had gone to see an adult movie, leaving his grandmother to deal with his most recent obsession: pirates, ruffians and scalawags.
Unlike young Mike, Grandma Mardou had never been particularly lucky. Nor had her husband, Jean-Louis, who’d died young of a bad liver. Bad livers — that’s what we Dementianos are, Mardou often thought. Luckless people. It’s about time a Dementiano got lucky, and it may as well be little Mikey.
“Is that so?” Mardou replied, in an excessively chipper way that she’d learned from her own grandparents. Mardou believed that this was the proper way to lie to children, to instill in them the notion that the world is a happy place, full of helpful, smiling people. “I’m glad that you’re Lucky Mike! Tell me, Lucky Mike: What makes you so lucky?”
“Because I’m a pirate!” young Lucky Mike growled back. And indeed he was. His pirate costume featured a white billowy blouse; baggy black knickerbockers; swashbuckler boots; a red-velvet vest with gold piping; a gold waist sash with red piping; a red, white and blue head scarf; and a black felt three-point hat with white piping and a white skull and crossbones on the front. And a big gray hard-plastic sword.
“I’m Lucky Mike the Pirate!” Mike said and raised his sword high. “AARRRGH!”
“Aargh, yourself!” replied his grandmother, smiling, beaming, poking her grandson in the tummy.
“AARGH!” Mikey repeated. “Give me all your money, Grandma!”
Mardou said she wouldn’t, so Lucky Mike hacked her many times in the face with his sword, took almost $40 from her purse and skipped town.
LUCKY MIKE THE PIRATE RAN fast through the rain, with his sword between his teeth. He didn’t stop until he got to the train station, where he spent the almost $40 for a one-way ticket to the city.
On the train, Lucky Mike went car to car, hacking and stabbing and plundering to his heart’s content. By the time he reached the city, he’d stolen $116,000, mostly in 20s. This he used to open a bank account and, a month later, his first restaurant, Lucky Mike’s Café.
Lucky Mike’s Café served only coffee, ham sandwiches and potato chips — the three most popular items on all the adjacent restaurants’ menus. Lucky Mike had done his research. Everywhere you went, people were drinking coffee, and eating ham sandwiches and potato chips. Soon there were two, then six, then nine Lucky Mike’s Cafés, and Lucky Mike Dementiano was the richest pirate in town.
ON HIS SEVENTH BIRTHDAY, LUCKY MIKE decided he was tired of coffee, ham sandwiches and potato chips. “Aargh,” he said thoughtfully to his parrot, Crack. Lucky Mike made a phone call, and an hour later a truck dropped off a great big burly Harley-Davidson FXR, black, with lots and lots of chrome. The gas tank had a white skull and crossbones airbrushed on one side and “Lucky Mike” airbrushed on the other.
In full pirate regalia, a brand-new sword at his side and Crack the parrot’s talons in his collar, Lucky Mike the pirate rode from one end of town to the other, yelling, “AARRGH!” and hacking and stabbing his way through all 100 employees of all nine Lucky Mike’s Cafés. “You can’t bleed in here!” said Lucky Mike. “This is a business! You’re fired!” And: “AARRGH!”
Then Lucky Mike got on the phone with his business manager, Virginia Paletruck, and told her to order 45 hipster androids.
“Call Chuck at Hipstroid Inc.,” said Lucky Mike. “He’ll take care of everything.”
“Yes, Mr. Dementiano.”
“And tell him to make sure the androids are at my record stores, in uniform and ready to go at 10:30 a.m. Monday.”
“Your record stores, Mr. Dementiano?” said Mrs. Paletruck.
“Aarrgh, Mrs. Paletruck,” said Lucky Mike. “Lucky Mike’s Café Records!”
IT TOOK THE TEAMS OF PIRATE-COSTUMED Hipstroid 2000T androids a week of 24-hour shifts to remodel and stock the stores to Lucky Mike’s specifications: racks and racks of recordings by Vanilla Ice, Kenny G, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Ray Cyrus and Richard Wagner; floors, walls and ceilings covered with paintings, photographs and posters of Vanilla Ice, Kenny G, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Ray Cyrus and Richard Wagner.
In fact, Lucky Mike’s Café Records stocked more of Lucky Mike’s favorite music than any other record store in the whole city.
At 10 a.m. the following Monday, all nine Lucky Mike’s Café Records opened for business. Each store was operated by five Young FemaleT android employees in pirate costumes who provided excellent customer service and surveillance while singing, throughout the day, in soothing harmonies, a song called “Lucky Mike’s Café,” to the chorus of Jimmy Buffett’s greatest hit:
Working away in Lucky Mike’s Café,
Selling you the best things we want you to get!
Some people claim that there’s a pirate to blame,
But we don’t . . . buy into that liberal shit!
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Lucky Mike had done his research again. Everywhere you went, people were listening to Vanilla Ice, Kenny G, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Ray Cyrus and Richard Wagner. These were America’s artists. As far as Lucky Mike was concerned, all the others were just two-bit plagiarists.
“People who want to listen to that other crap, they can go to Virgin or Tower or Amazon.com. But not in my house. Lucky Mike’s Café Records is here to sell the truth. Aargh.”
And the sword comes down, the money flows in but not out. All over the country, citizens young and old don pirate costumes, spill into the streets and march to “Midnight Motion,” “Ice Ice Baby,” “Margaritaville,” “Achy Breaky Heart” and Der Ring des Nibelungen. The government’s falling. The networks are calling. The bumper stickers are in the mail: Lucky Mike in 2008! AARRGH!