The story can now be told, although I’m absolutely certain you will not believe a single word of it.
It all started innocently enough at a pizza joint—pizza parlor makes it sound like the pizza died, so we’ll call it a pizza joint. I won’t reveal actual names, so let’s just say it was “Al”, “Bob”, “Charlie”, and me. When I walked in, Charlie was already sitting at our regular table nursing a beer. I could tell he’d been there a while sine there were almost no bubbles in the beer and the glass did not show any condensation.
“What’s new, Charlie?” I asked.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing and I’m bored out of my mind!”
“Sometimes boredom is good,” I offered. “In most cases of boredom, there is very little bloodshed.” Charlie just grunted. He looked up and I turned to see Bob and Al coming in the door. The usual insincere pleasantries were exchanged, and they ordered a pitcher of beer while I ordered a glass of merlot. I had discovered long ago that by ordering wine, it was easier to figure out the tab at the end of the night without paying for everyone else’s drinks. For some reason, at the end of the meal and a couple of pitchers of beer, brains do get confused.
We decided to order a Chicago style deep dish pizza. I knew that even with the four of us, there would be enough leftover to take to work for lunch tomorrow.
“When was the last time you really had fun?” asked Al. “I mean really, really fun?” We all looked at one another. We all had our share of pleasant memories, but real fun was somewhat more difficult. Bob snapped his fingers.
“Back in high school when we convinced everybody that there was an exchange student in our grade. No one ever saw him, but his homework was turned in on time and at least a B+ grade. We even managed to get an extra copy of tests and slide them into the stack. People talked about how smart he was and some even claimed to be good friends who spent a lot of time with him.”
“My best friend in high school was the guy that wasn’t there,” I added. “People can sure be gullible.”
“Especially,” Bob interjected, “if you package it right.” Everybody laughed.
“I wonder,” I began, “In this world of computers, with surveillance cameras everywhere, if we could do that again.” I immediately regretted it when I saw their facial expressions.
“Are you kidding?” asked Charlie. “With social media where nobody has to give their real name, I believe we could do it.”
“What kind of outrageous fables could we convince people were true?” Al asked, excitedly. Bob leaned in and gestured for the rest of us to do so conspiratorially.
“I hear, and it’s just a rumor, but I hear that they sell children from the basement of this very pizza place,” Bob whispered.
“There’s just one problem,” I whispered back, “There’s no basement here.”
“Even better,” added Charlie. “If anyone goes looking for a basement, they won’t find it. How much more proof do you need to convince people that there is a conspiracy?”
Al jumped in, “But who are we going to say is providing us with all this information?”
“Well, they would never use their real name—no one on the internet does. But it can’t just be anonymous,” Bob replied.
“What about a single letter?”
“Who was that guy on Star Trek?” I asked. “The one who caused all the mischief?”
“Mister Mxyzptlk?” Charlie ventured.
“No, he was in Superman comics. Star Trek had ‘Q’. Q was his name, the name of each creature like him, and Q referred to all of them together.”
“A conspiracy that has ties to Star Trek,” Bob said. “I like it. But what would those who followed our internet persona call themselves? The ‘Q Fanclub’ is lame. Really lame.”
“Well,” Al offered, “Q is mysterious, but his followers would want to be anonymous.”
“Q Anonymous?” I challenged. “That sounds like some 12 step program held in a church basement.”
“Why not ‘Q-Anon’?” Charlie said. We all just looked at one another. We knew it was perfect.
Charlie’s wife walked in and came over to us with a puzzled expression.
“Okay, guys, you’re up to something. What is it?”
“Oh, nothing,” Charlie replied.
“We’re just going to take . . . .” Bob started to say.
“Save the world,” I corrected him. “Save the world.”