[Recap: Having confronted the Charlotte Dickens, the ghostwriter responsible for penning 50 Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games, the two biggest selling trilogies of all times, I pressed her to tell me who was behind this hoax. As CEO of My Little Publishing Company, I felt it was my responsibility to get to the bottom of this horrendous literary deception.]
"Charlotte, You must tell us who hired you."
Charlotte Dickens's eyelash extensions fluttered as she struggled to regain consciousness.
"The Great Auk," she gasped.
It was these words that finally broke open the biggest publishing scandal since Gutenberg had his press repossessed for non-payment of debt.
"The Great Auk is another name for penguin," said Bruce Watson, the investigator who first stumbled upon this nefarious plot.
"Penguin? Why, they aren't even the biggest of the giant publishing companies," I said.
"No, but they're the most rapacious," said Watson.
Suddenly, though still unconscious Charlotte began this strange chant:
"Obow. Oh, boy! Obow. Oh, boy! Obow. Oh, boy!"
"What is she trying to tell us?" I felt anxious and afraid.
"I think perhaps we're in great danger," said Watson who didn't seem the least bit concerned.
Suddenly the door to Charlotte's apartment burst open and a gang of surly penguins marched in. They wore little tweed jackets with leather elbow patches over their normal formal attire. Sound amusing? It wasn't. If you've never been surrounded by a hostile group of Spheniscidae you have never truly experienced terror. In addition to the tweed jackets they were all sporting identical Oliver Peoples horn rimmed eyeglasses which glinted malevolently in the overhead light.
"What do you want?" I said, trying to keep my voice steady.
"Our CEP wants a meeting," said one of the larger penguins.
"Chief Executive Penguin. Come with us now. Both of you," he said, indicating Watson and myself.
"Charlotte isn't feeling herself," said the penguin.
I glanced over at the best-selling ghost author of all times.
She was rolling back and forth on the floor, still chanting the same strange phrase over and over:
"Obow. Oh, boy! Obow. Oh, boy!"
As we made our way to the meeting place on Hudson Street I wondered why no one paid us any attention. Weren't two people being escorted by a group of snarling penguins an odd sight? Apparently not.
I managed to sneak in a little research on my smart phone as we waddled along. I googled "penguin."
"Most penguins feed on krill, fish, squid and other forms of sea life." This sounded like something straight off the menu of Michaels, the popular publishing lunch place. "Penguins are superbly adapted to aquatic life." No wonder they are so good at swimming with the sharks, I thought.
And then one more startling discovery illustrating just how far the influence of the penguin has gone. In the New York Times Book Review (December 16, 2012) no fewer than five books featuring penguins were listed, including Little Penguins Everywhere. Please don't tell me that this was an unbiased recommendation free of any outside pressure.
We entered a conference room at the Penguin Group offices. Sitting at the end of the conference table was the biggest penguin I had ever seen. He slapped his flipper down on the Lucite table signaling that the meeting was about to begin. But before it started, all the penguins bowed their heads and chanted:
"Obow! Oh boy! Obow! Oh, boy!"
All at once the meaning of this strange phrase dawned on me. Obow: One Book, One World!
I knew of the popular One Book, One Town reading program, but this was clearly something else. This was death to publishing, as we know it! It meant the demise of struggling writers, independent bookstores, Barnes and Noble, and the lovers of literature everywhere!
Oh boy? Oh, I don't think so.
[To be continued.]