At a critical juncture in the Civil War, General Lee was looking for a lieutenant to lead a covert mission deep behind enemy lines. He conferred with his captains and every time they made a recommendation he asked the same question, "But is he lucky?"
Lee's captains decided that by merit of being the only soldier in his unit not to have at least one limb amputated, Pvt. Applebody was the luckiest soldier. General Lee immediately promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant and presented him with a golden saber and a giant white steed.
The lucky, but ultimately not so bright, Lt. Applebody's decision to ride his white horse on a covert mission ended abruptly when two Union soldiers saw him coming, literally, a mile away. This gave them ample time to plan their ambush. When the doctor came to amputate his leg it was clear that luck had run out for Applebody.
Like his long dead ancestor, Mark Applebody, a 32 year old flash programmer living in Bakersfield, California, survived only at the whim of lady luck. It seemed that the luckier he was the unluckier he would soon be. He might, at any moment, be struck by a bus only to find out it was driven by Kid Rock who was eager to settle out of court for millions and make him his personal assistant.
When I realized who the man standing in the cornfield wearing a knee length trench coat was, it was hard not to believe in fate, at least on some level. After all, this was the same man who had stranded me deep in the Nevada desert last month. Of course, he didn't recognize me and tried to sell me a fake Rolex. Since I was long out of cash, all I could offer him was a wine cooler plundered from the fridge of a Hastings, Nebraska law enforcement official.
After being release from jail (I was found innocent of domestic bus terrorism) a friendly sheriff, who had learned that I was a game journalist, invited me to his house. He was in desperate need of help 5-starring some songs on expert in Guitar Hero. Fearing another stint in jail, I made an effort to offer general advice on playing plastic guitar, but after three hours of Sweet Home Alabama, it was time to move on.
As I mentioned previously in Reliable Source, Mark was a flash game developer of some distinction, but how he had ended up in a cornfield outside of Omaha was what interested me.
We sat in the corn field on a pile of corn shucks drinking stolen Boones Strawberry wine coolers while I admired my new watch. I was skeptical for a moment. How did we both wind up here in Nebraska? Was he following me? With minimal prodding, and a few sips of Boones, Mark was more than happy to explain how he had gone from being one of California's leading flash game designers to selling luxury Swiss timepieces outside of Omaha.
Having problems paying for college, Mark joined the navy in 1995. He was working as a gunner's mate aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz. The paycheck was barely enough to get by on, however, so he sought out other employment opportunities aboard the ship. He eventually met Petty Officer Brandon Gil, a shady petty officer who offered him a job selling ecstasy to crewmembers.
Things were going well for Mark until Senior Chief Petty Officer Morris found her flight-crew testing the texture of her F/A-18 Hornet with their tongues. Of course, the commander was not thrilled and ordered Applebody to be prosecuted to the fullest extent for "gayifying" his navy.