Twists On a Classic: Gulliver Grey & The Granola Mill - Chapter Two
I was sent to Munich to find Charlie Bucket and I awoke the following morning of my first day on the assignment holding one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets. Was it truly one of the original five? Did it really matter? No one else knew I was pursuing this story outside of my editor, and I never took him for the type to screw with someone. No, he needed this; our publication needed this. Was I being followed? And by whom?
In my other hand lay an address which I believed contained the whereabouts of Mr. Bucket, although I couldn’t say for sure how confident I was in that information at the present moment. Pushing aside the alcoholic cobwebs from the night before I set about preparing myself for whatever the day had in store. As the water from my shower began to awaken my senses I couldn’t help but let my mind drift back to that goddamn ticket. No message accompanied that golden piece of paper and a person only ever attributed Wonka’s factory to a utopia of delight, so for that reason I was oddly distant from feeling threatened. I was flown across the Atlantic to track down Charlie Bucket and if that task wasn’t insurmountable enough I then had to squeeze a story out of him. It’s been over twenty years since the Chocolate Factory shut its doors permanently and easily fifteen since any of the media sharks sensed blood in the water. As I mentioned before, Wonka was all smoke and mirrors, so it stands to reason anything Bucket did thereafter would run in parallel. The two are more enigmatic than a Pen and Teller magic show.
I was deep enough in thought to suddenly realize I had assumed the position for a sit down shower and so finally wrestled my waterlogged body out of the bath. The ticket would have to wait. I was here for a job; a job I intended to finish, regardless of where it took me.
Notwithstanding my feelings toward that dastardly golden ticket, it did tell me one thing: I was being followed. I decided the path before me would be traversed by me and me alone. Sure, Indiana Jones had a quirky Asian kid for a sidekick, but I was in Bavaria, so I wasn’t keen on drawing further attention to myself by asking around for any teenage Asian kids interested in embarking on an adventure. I made my way to the hotel lobby and requested a rental car from the front desk. I waited in the lobby with a hot, sweet cup of coffee when I noticed a man across the room from me sitting in front of an open newspaper. What struck me was his attire. I couldn’t see his face —for it was buried among the unfurled paper— yet that hardly seemed to matter. He was wearing purple suit pants and what I can only imagine as a purple top hat poking above the rim of his newspaper. Resting against his armchair was a cane. What the fuck? I looked down at my coffee as if it might have the answer to what was visually displayed before me. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them toward the direction of the man in question, I was staring at an empty chair.
(internally) “Come on, Frank. You’re seeing shit. Get it together. Golden Tickets? Willy Fucking Wonka?! You’re in the real world. Act like you’ve been here before.”
After my brief yet unsuccessful pep talk I was yanked back to the present as I heard my name being called from the front desk.
Concierge: “Here are the keys to your automobile Mr. Osceola. Enjoy your day and please take this pamphlet as a guide for any sites you may wish to visit. The hotel’s number is on the back in case there is anything else we can assist you with. Oh! I almost forgot! The gentlemen in the purple suit also instructed me to hand you this before you went on your way.”
(hands me an envelope)
Me: “Thank you Benedict. I’ll see you later this evening.”
I took the pamphlet and the envelope in my trembling hand. If this is another golden ticket I swear to Christ I’ll be flying home on the next available flight. In a daze I made my way to the rental car. I opened the driver side door, got in, and sat there —staring at the envelope from some guy wearing a purple suit. Up until that moment I had thought I’d convinced myself I was seeing things. I knew the ticket was real, but the “now you see me, now you don’t” incident hadn’t quite registered with my brain, however this unmarked envelope confirmed it; there WAS a man in a purple suit sitting across the room from me.
I had to refuse to believe it was him. The last time anyone saw Wonka was that bluebird day he rocketed across the sky in his glass elevator. Shit, that was all the way back in 1971! Not only was I not born yet but my parents hadn’t even met! The world assumed he was dead and forgotten. Forgotten, yes, however thinking back on it, we never were provided with inconclusive evidence of his passing. Shit.
Nope. Doesn’t make sense. He’d be far too old if he were alive today; at least he’d be too old to go gallivanting around Germany spooking the bejesus out of mildly ineffectual freelance writers. No, this was a poser. Yet poser or not, this son of a bitch was hot on my trail. Perhaps I’d found the distributor of my golden ticket from the night before. First the ticket, now this envelope I hesitate opening. What kind of breadcrumb trail was this clown leaving me?
(internally) “Screw it, Frank. Play the game. After all, you might get something out of it.”
I had a date with the address in my left hand, and what I can only describe as a feeling of destiny inside the envelope in my right. Before I made my way to what I hoped was Bucket’s residence, I decided to take the plunge. “Alright you little asshole, let’s see what you’ve got in here.”
I peeled open the envelope and dumped its contents onto my lap. There was a small handwritten note accompanied by an even smaller device I couldn’t quite classify. It resembled a pen, but I knew that was an incorrect assumption. Alright, the note has to come first —hopefully shed some light on this gadget.
Welcome! I must admit, as the years wore on, your arrival seemed improbable —yet arrive you have! Such joy you have bestowed upon me! Alas, consider these forewarning words. The journey you now find yourself on is one filled with all things fantastical. I’ve never seen it any other way. Do not let that deter you my dear boy! Although you may feel alone —bewildered even— know that we’re always watching. In your hands you hold my dear old tin whistle. If you ever find yourself in peril blow on that flute; help will appear shortly thereafter. Stay the course my friend. Until we met….again.” -WW
What. In. The. Hell. It was only ten in the morning yet I found myself needing a stiff drink. WW? Who else could it have been? Was I really holding a letter written by Wonka himself? And what did he mean by “meet again”?! I’d never even seen someone dressed as Willy Wonka during Halloween! He’d been outlawed. And what I am to make of this little whistle? If I’m truly receiving letters from the one and only Wonka, that would mean……..Oh Jesus……..
Oompa, Loompa, doom-pa-dee-fucking-do.