Wile sat with his right foot crossed over his left leg and watched as it shook up and down erratically. He didn’t like being in an office, they always made him uncomfortable, but with any luck this would be his last time. He was sure the trembling of his leg was annoying, but it made him feel more comfortable; the vibration, for whatever reason, was calming. He remembered his mother telling him not to shake his legs so often when he was younger, said it stressed her out. He never understood why.
“I already tried that,” Wile said. He momentarily stopped shaking his leg, his mother’s disdain reverberating in his mind, then lowered his right foot to the ground. He immediately resumed shaking his leg. Mr. Acme—or Charlie, as he said Wile should call him—was staring at his trembling legs, just like his mother used to. He knew Charlie wanted to tell him to stop shaking, but, unlike his mother, there was no way he’d ask. The last thing Charlie would want to do would be to upset Wile—he was their most profitable customer, and they were already doing everything they could to keep him around.
“Really?” Charlie said, glancing up at Wile’s face, then right back down at his legs. If he didn’t know any better, Wile would’ve assumed Charlie had only agreed to this consultation session so he could stare at his legs.
“Yes, of course. That was one of the first things I tried to do.”
“Surprising, that’s pretty clever of you. Most of our customers never try to drop an anvil on anybody. You’re a very smart man, Wile.” He was always such a kiss ass, although they’d technically never actually sat down and spoken before. Sure they’d talked on the phone a few times, Charlie congratulating Wile on whatever ludicrous purchase he made that week, but it was never anything more than a few sentences and awkward pauses. Even then, however, Charlie never skimped on the ass-kissing. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing—in fact, it felt nice to be complemented like that—but he tended to lay it on pretty thick.
“Thanks,” Wile said. “I’ve actually done it a few times.”
“Well there’s your problem,” Charlie said. “He’s expecting it.”
“Not really,” Wile said. “I don’t just take an anvil, tie it to a tree, and drop it on the ground. I try to be more elaborate.”
“How so?” Charlie said, glancing back up at Wile’s face. He quickened the pace of his leg.
“Well, this one time I took the anvil and placed it into a catapult on the edge of a cliff. I waited for my chance and then cut the wire at just the right second. Unfortunately, I got my left foot caught in the rope and was flung with the anvil, which resulted in it veering off course and into a wall.”
“Wow, that’s great. Aside from that little hiccup in the end, it sounds like you had something there. Did you ever try it again?”
“Yeah, I did the next day. Thankfully my injuries weren’t too bad. I reset the catapult, loaded in the anvil, and placed it back on the edge of the cliff. Right before I flung it, though, the wheels started rolling. I tried to stop it, but it ran me right over and flattened me like a pancake. Literally, I was as flat as a pancake. Then, to make matters worse, the rope caught my leg again and pulled me over the edge. Luckily, though, since I was completely flat, I simply floated down to the bottom of the cliff then shoved my thumb in my mouth and blew to re-inflated myself.”
“That’s pretty unfortunate,” Charlie said. He didn’t seem entirely sincere, but it was hard to tell for sure. Wile knew it was hard to become the CEO of a major corporation like ACME and not be a good actor and liar.
“I know. Worst part is the fucking guy ran right by me. I thought he’d keep going. You know, spare me some shame. He came back, beeped at me, and then continued on his way.” Wile paused, his legs shaking faster now. His fur made a soft ruffling sound as it quickly rose and fell. “That fucking beep, man. I swear to god, there is no worse sound in the world than that meep, meep bullshit.”
“I hear you, pal,” Charlie said. “I know exactly what you mean.” How could he say that? What did he know? He probably lived in a god damn mansion, cooks and servants waiting for his every beck and call. What did he know about going to bed hungry because your food was too damn fast, or spending every cent you have on ridiculous contraptions to try to secure a god damn meal? “Okay, so no anvils. We have other stuff.”
“I think I’ve tried it all,” Wile said.
“How about some ACME Rocket Boots? Strep ‘em to your feet and—”
“I tried it,” Wile said. “He’s too fast, and the boots blew up on my feet. I was fine, thankfully. It was seriously dangerous, though.”
“Wow, that’s terrible. I’ll have to talk to R&D about that. How about some ACME Glue? We have some of the stronges—”
“It spilled all over the floor and I ended up getting stuck in it for about a week. I finally freed myself when it started raining. Thankfully it was water soluble.”
“ACME Dehydrated Boulder?”
“It fell directly on my head as soon as I added the water.”
“ACME Tornado Seeds?”
“That one almost worked. It chased him down, but then he simply turned around and ran right past me. I ended up getting caught in it and flung who knows how high. I landed just on the edge of a cliff, but the tornado came back and knocked me right over it. I was able to walk it off, but it was a close call.”
“Really? Well, how about ACME Jet-Propelled Pogo Stic—“
“Tried it,” Wile said.
“ACME Dart Bomb?”
“ACME-brand Suction Cups?”
“ACME Do-it-Yourself Kit Remote Control Missile-Bombs?” Charlie said.
“I almost caused World War Three with those. Never again.”
“Okay, well, how about some ACME Invisible Paint?”
“Did it already. Look, I’m going to be blunt here. I honestly feel like I’ve used everything you have to offer,” Wile said. He made a conscious effort to stop his legs from shaking.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Mr. Coyote. We here at ACME have so much more to offer, and I know you believe in us. Why else would you accept this consultation?”
“I wanted to tell you in pers—“
“So,” Charlie interrupted, “here is what I can do for you. We only reserve this item for people we truly, absolutely believe will use it properly. It is very, very dangerous, and also very expensive, but it will definitely be what you need to catch that—what did you call him? Road Runner?” Wile nodded. “To catch that Road Runner.”
“What is it?” Wile said, his legs again shaking.
“This is pretty top-secret, but I trust you. I know that you’ll use it responsibly and safely, and that you can afford it. You’re a very smart guy, a very loyal customer, and—if I may be say so—a good friend.” Wile wouldn’t exactly call them friends. Even acquaintances felt weird. This was literally the first time they’d ever met face to face. Still, Wile didn’t exactly have many friends. Most of his time was spent chasing after that fucking Road Runner, or mending to his incredibly painful yet surprisingly innocuous injuries. It might be nice to finally have someone he could call a friend.
“Well?” Wile said.
Charlie snapped his finger, followed immediately by a tall blonde woman walking into the room. She stared at Wile, almost as if she hadn’t seen a six-foot-tall anthropomorphic coyote before, then walked over to Charlie and knelt down.
“Yes, Mr. Acme?”
“Linda, I’d like for you to bring Project X into the room.”
“Are you sure?” Linda said.
“Yes,” Charlie said.
“Okay.” Linda stood back up and walked out of the room, Charlie clearly staring at her ass as she left. Wile didn’t have much interest in humans, but he momentarily considered reverse bestiality.
“I hope you’re ready to eat well tonight,” Charlie said, winking at Wile. Linda walked back into the room, a small, black object in her hand. She handed it to Charlie, then turned and left. Charlie was staring at the object this time.
“Is that it?” Wile asked.
“Wile, let me present you with Project X.” He handed the object to Wile. It was small, no more than five inches long and three inches wide. A clear cover was closed over the top, the inside nothing but black, with a small, red button in the middle.
“What is this?”
“This, Wile, is our newest product. It will revolutionize the ACME brand.” Charlie paused. “This is our ACME TNW, or Tactical Nuclear Weapon. It is the button to activate, arm, and launch an entire silo full of nuclear missiles directly at the location of the button.”
“This will help me catch the Road Runner?”
“This will help you catch the Road Runner, his friends, his family, and everyone he has ever known. You just need to make sure you aren’t anywhere near the button when you push the button.”
Wile’s legs stopped shaking. He glanced down at the small, rectangular box, then stood up. He reached his paw out toward Charlie. “I’ll take six,” he said.
“Excellent,” Charlie said, grabbing Wile’s paw and shaking it a little too enthusiastically. “That’s wonderful to hear. It also just so happens that we’re offering a discount on purchases of six or more right now. Only forty million dollars—would have been twice that without the deal. Do you want to pay by cash or credit?”
“Just put it on my tab,” Wile said, painfully aware of the crippling debt he was already drowning under. He turned the nuclear device over in his hand and studied it. He couldn’t wait to get back to the desert and figure out an incredibly elaborate and needlessly complex way to automate the pushing of the button. Once he’d caught the Road Runner, and cut out his god damn voice box, maybe he’d even invite his new Pal, Charlie, over for dinner.