THE INCREDIBLE JALAPENO

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A mutated jalapeno pepper becomes a crime fighter and disturbs the authorities.

Submitted: December 19, 2010

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Submitted: December 19, 2010

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THE INCREDIBLE JALAPENO

It was said the Incredible Jalapeno was born in a field somewhere in California, but the documentation isn't clear about the Jalapeno's origin. The Jalapeno was most likely spawned somewhere in the western United States.
The Jalapeno's birthplace can be more precisely determined if you consider what made an ordinary jalapeno pepper into the super hero (or villain) that we have known so well.
The Jalapeno came into existence around the same time as a radioactive meteorite landed in California. Some scientists believe the radioactive properties of the meteorite combined with the unique properties of one jalapeno pepper to initiate profound and dramatic mutations. The result was that one pepper rose above the humble status of his brethren to become the Incredible Jalapeno.
It seems that the Jalapeno had a consciousness and high intelligence even as a young pepper. He grew at an extraordinary rate and had to disguise or hide himself from workers who came to the fields. As we know, he eventually grew to eight feet tall and became a biped.
The young Jalapeno evidently learned language from exposure to humans. Records show that the Jalapeno spoke both rudimentary English and Spanish. He undoubtedly overheard workers in the fields and may have gotten exposure to music and language over radio and television. We still don't know how he acquired writing skills.
The rare recordings we have of the Jalapeno detect a British accent. If you just heard the Jalapeno speaking, you would think he was an English butler, not a rampaging giant pepper.
The first confirmed sighting of the Jalapeno was in California's Imperial Valley. There was a dispute between an agricultural foreman and some field workers. Witnesses say the next thing they knew a giant pepper raced through the field directly at the foreman. The foreman ran for his pickup, but not before the pepper sprayed him.
\"It was ghastly,\" one witness said. \"Pepper juice was spraying out like rain and it caught the foreman. He began to gasp and grab at his eyes. He made the mistake of saying some profanities and that irritated the Jalapeno, who gave him an extra shot of juice. They called an ambulance and took the foreman to the hospital and the Jalapeno galloped off and hid somewhere in the field.\"
After the assault on the foreman the local sheriff's office was called and patrol cars and a police helicopter descended on the site. They were followed by television news crews. But the search was called off after several hours with no sign of the Jalapeno.
It must have been some time shortly after this incident that the Jalapeno began keeping his diary. The early efforts are hard to read because his writing skills were not well developed. But it seems the attack on the foreman resulted from righteous anger at the indignities the foreman heaped on the workers. The Jalapeno already had a strong sense of moral justice and injustice. It was as though he had an epiphany and knew his purpose in life.
There were other reported random sightings of the Jalapeno over the next couple of years, but the accounts were more like urban legends. Videos were posted on the Internet, but they were in the vein of Bigfoot or flying saucer videos. You could see something, but it was indistinct and probably not the giant Jalapeno.
Then the Jalapeno made his way to Los Angeles. Muggers and other criminals began to feel the wrath of a giant green vigilante. The Jalapeno was seen all over Los Angeles, even in Hollywood, and his fame began to grow.
Calls to 911 began to arrive steadily, the voice with a British accent, describing criminals who had been left incapacitated. When the police arrived they would find the criminals terrified and covered by pepper juice. They consistently talked of a giant green pepper that intervened as they were mugging a victim.
The Los Angeles news media couldn't ignore the Jalapeno any longer. A reporter named Joel Sedgwick was assigned to cover the Jalapeno and Sedgwick found himself obsessed by the story.
Sedgwick recounted events this way, \"I had been doing weird crime stories as part of my regular beat. I had heard a little about the Jalapeno, of course, but I didn't take it seriously until I heard accounts of the Jalapeno stopping crime. Some of the stories were absurd, but some of them had a certain amount of credibility.\"
In his column Sedgwick dubbed the Jalapeno \"Max Pepper.\" He said he got the name \"Max\" because the pepper reminded him of a former father-in-law. \"Yeah. The Jalapeno was big, mean, and green. My former father-in-law was mean and green. Hence, I named the Jalapeno Max.\"
Sedgwick's story attracted national media attention. Suddenly, the Jalapeno was the subject of jokes for late night comedians and became fodder for right-wing talk show hosts such as Bombastic Bob.
Bombastic Bomb did a daily radio show where he attacked almost everyone except rich people and corporations. He had a particular penchant for attacking the poor, gays, immigrants, feminists, and liberals and he could slant almost any story as some kind of liberal plot to destroy life, liberty, and the American dream.
\"Let me tell you, friends,\" Bombastic Bob said, \"this story of a rampaging pepper is a major distraction from the way the liberals are tearing apart the very fabric of American values and culture. They want you to feel sorry for the criminals and place the blame on this pepper thing that came from someone's imagination. Have you ever seen a giant jalapeno? I know I haven't. I want proof.\"
Some people on the fringes of the religious community saw the Jalapeno as proof of the End Times. They began feverishly preparing for the Rapture.
Fans of the Jalapeno created a page on Facebook. They had no photos of the pepper, so they used sketches done by a police artist. The Jalapeno was the first pepper in history to have a \"mug shot.\"
A novelty industry grew up around the Jalapeno. You could buy Jalapeno tee shirts, mugs, mouse pads, posters, pajamas, and bumper stickers.
But the story of the Incredible Jalapeno became the story of Joel Sedgwick. \"It was like we were joined at the hip,\" Sedgwick said. \"That is, if a pepper could have a hip.\"
The intensity to find and confine the Jalapeno increased when the Los Angeles District Attorney's office announced charges would be filed against the Jalapeno for assault and battery. Reporters asked how charges could be filed against a pepper, not a human. The District Attorney admitted it created new legal ground. \"It's true the Jalapeno isn't human. But it's clear the Jalapeno has a human-like intelligence and should be subject to the laws governing the rest of us.\" Several prominent defense attorneys immediately offered to defend the Jalapeno against any current or future charges.
Up until then the Jalapeno was a populist hero. But, for some unexplained reason, the Jalapeno turned to crime. Surveillance cameras caught the Jalapeno committing burglaries at two large jewelry stores. At least the superficial evidence was that the culprit was the Jalapeno. Something that looked like a gigantic pepper wearing a mask marauded through the stores and swept diamonds, watches, and necklaces into a canvas bag. The police could not find fingerprints, but did find evidence of pepper juice.
Joel Sedgwick was building a profile of the Jalapeno. One of the remarkable characteristics he discovered was a sound made by the pepper when he was subduing criminals. Several witnesses corroborated the story As one witness put it, \"The pepper leaned over this dude and the pepper began to squeeze itself in the chest. Then this sound--this horrible sound--came out of the pepper. It sounded like bagpipes, just this awful wailing, screeching sound. The sound was almost worse than the pepper juice.\"
FBI crime profilers were consulted to get an idea of the thought and behavior of the rowdy pepper. Profilers had not been asked to profile a non-human subject before. But they concluded the pepper was acting in an almost human way and they applied what they knew about humans to the Jalapeno.
Unfortunately, there were no dramatic results from the FBI profile because the results already seemed obvious. The Jalapeno was a loner, the profile said, with delusions of grandeur, and perhaps a persecution complex. The FBI profile didn't establish any good reason for the Jalapeno's recent burglaries.
Officials facing reelection campaigns in Los Angeles saw the Jalapeno as a godsend. No matter where you stood on crime, the Jalapeno was a winning issue. You could campaign on the threat of the Jalapeno as a criminal. He was, after all, accused of jewel store burglaries. Or you could hold up the Jalapeno as a hero. He was stopping muggers in their tracks.
Environmentalists had mixed feelings about the Jalapeno. Some people pointed out that this pepper could be the father of an entirely new species and should be protected. Other people thought the Jalapeno might be a genetically modified organism and presented a grave threat to the planet's ecosystem.
But as the debate raged there was still the nagging question of why the Jalapeno was bumping off jewelry stores. The authorities worried it was just the first step in what could be a destructive criminal career.
Then the police began receiving installments of what has been called a \"Manifesto\" by the Jalapeno. It was mostly a rambling, disjointed commentary about various issues the Jalapeno considered important.
There was a discourse about crime, of course, because crime was the front and central issue involving the Jalapeno. The Jalapeno revealed that one reason for the jewel store robberies was to redistribute the money from the loot to the people who had been committing crimes. The Jalapeno thought that lack of income was the motivation for the crimes and he wanted to find an alternative source of income for the muggers.
The profilers detected an overriding sense of loneliness in the Jalapeno. He was unique, they said. He couldn't relate to other members of his species and he wasn't human. They thought the best way to reach the Jalapeno would be to give him a sense of belonging.
However, there were people who considered the Jalapeno a major threat and they wanted him destroyed. If the Jalapeno had considered surrender, he had to have reservations about people who wanted him to be part of a \"casserole.\"
After distributing diamonds and other booty to criminals, hoping they would reform, the Jalapeno faced inevitable disillusionment. The criminals not only failed to reform; they demanded even more of him. The Jalapeno stopped his jewel store robberies and began once again subduing criminals and reporting them to the police.
Then the Jalapeno turned his attention to people he felt were bigger criminals. He worried about big corporations and big polluters and wrote the authorities that he wanted to find a way to take on the big companies. That was when the police ramped up their efforts to find the pepper.
The Jalapeno continued to be elusive. Even with satellite technology and other sophisticated spying apparatus, the authorities could not locate the Jalapeno. They resorted to the tried and true method of planting an informant.
The informant who led them to the Jalapeno was a low grade hood named Pat Smoke. Smoke had a laundry list of arrests and convictions, mostly for burglary and car theft. He had been the recipient of diamonds from the Jalapeno and was one of the first members of the Jalapeno \"gang.\"
Smoke got a promise of a $100,000 reward and immunity for any pending criminal charges if he led the authorities to a successful capture or destruction of the Jalapeno.
Smoke finally tipped the police that the Jalapeno and his followers were staying at a small house in the middle of the Mojave Desert. The police staked out the house from a distance and held back the helicopter.
Joel Sedgwick was there and later wrote, \"I wondered why there was such a contingent of police. The Jalapeno never struck me as that much of a threat, but the large assembly of police, including SWAT team members, would make you think the Jalapeno was a mass murderer or terrorist.\"
The plan was to wait until after dark. Pat Smoke would signal the police with a lantern. If he waved the lantern twice, it meant the Jalapeno was inside the home. If he waved the lantern three times, it meant the Jalapeno and his gang were armed.
Joel Sedgwick remembered, \"It was in early June, but it got fairly cool in the desert around sunset. I remember sitting out near the SUV we brought and watching the sunset unfold like the tail feathers of some universal peacock. There were all these shades of pink and purple and orange and the stars were like friendly admirers. I was wondering what could be going through the mind of the Jalapeno in that little house.\"
When it got really dark the way the desert gets really dark the lights came on in the little house. Joel Sedgwick saw the bobbing of a lantern someone was carrying and said he felt a sinking feeling. The person waved the lantern twice and the SWAT team commander gave orders for the police helicopter to fly over the house with its searchlight.
Sedgwick was near the SWAT team commander. \"He got on the loud speaker,\" Sedgwick said. \"The helicopter came in like some big firefly and hung right over the house and the searchlight poured down over the home. The commander gave the customary order for the people in the house to come out with their hands up. Then he turned to me and said, 'Does this pepper even have hands?'\"
Four men came out of the home, their hands in the air, but there was no sign of the Jalapeno. The police moved cautiously toward the home and quickly handcuffed the four men and led them away. Then a sound like bagpipes came from the home, a high, wailing, horrible sound and the police officers covered their ears. The helicopter above the home shuddered and appeared ready to crash.
The Jalapeno stood framed in the front door, his silhouette against the light.
\"Come out with your hands up!\" the SWAT team commander ordered.
The Jalapeno walked out of the home and for some reason the SWAT team opened fire. The Jalapeno took several rounds before crumpling to the ground and the SWAT commander gave the cease fire order.
\"Where's the doctor?\" the commander said.
A man carrying a medical bag and wearing a stethoscope around his neck ran up to the home. \"I'm the doctor,\" the man said, \"but I'm a doctor for humans, not vegetables.\"
\"He's not a vegetable,\" the SWAT commander said. \"He's a fruit.\"
The doctor looked at the SWAT commander in astonishment and said, \"Whatever.\"
\"A jalapeno has seeds,\" the commander explained, \"and that means that they're fruits, not vegetables.\"
The doctor kneeled down next to the Jalapeno. The pepper had suffered numerous bullet wounds and pepper juice was leaking.
\"This juice is burning my eyes,\" the doctor complained, but he searched all over the Jalapeno trying to find a heartbeat.
\"Well?\" the SWAT commander said. \"Is he alive?\"
The doctor looked up in exasperation. \"How do I know? I don't even know where to look for a heart or pulse. In my opinion, this fruit,\" he emphasized the word, \"is dead.\"
Joel Sedgwick wrote an article about the incident that he called \"The Death of Max Pepper.\" The article won a Pulitzer Prize for Sedgwick, although the article did nothing to resolve the controversy surrounding the Jalapeno's life and death.
The authorities discovered the Jalapeno's written work in the small house. He had compiled a voluminous diary and there were parts of his manifesto that he hadn't sent to the police.
Members of the gang were not very informative. They basically were using the Jalapeno for their own purposes and they thought his idealism was naive.
The Jalapeno story spun off in various directions. Jalapeno impersonators became the newest rage in Las Vegas, competing almost equally with Elvis impersonators.
Sales of Jalapeno merchandise continued to boom and a new slogan was born: \"Jalapeno Power.\"
A country music star penned the hit, \"Ballad of the Jalapeno.\"
A movie about the Jalapeno portrayed him more like a John Dillinger or Clyde Barrow character. He was John Dillinger without a submachine gun or woman in red.
Joel Sedgwick began work on a massive biography of the Jalapeno, but could never decide the meaning of the Jalapeno's life and death, if there was any meaning at all. But he wondered if the world would ever see the likes of the Jalapeno again. There was a rumor of giant carrot.


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