It was a news story that was just dripping with SoFlo weirdness. On Sunday, a middle-aged patron at the Tiki Waterfront Sea Grill tossed his car keys to another patron, announced there was a bomb in his Chevy Avalanche in the parking lot, and booked it on a water taxi to Peanut Island. Cue a massive police response that shut down the area as the bomb squad arrived to suss out whether the threat was real.
And of course, the man behind the bomb talk -- Serge Merland -- is a mysterious French-Canadian by way of Houston whose Facebook page is ticker-tape of bizarro quotes and pictures of the man himself bombing expensive drinks by the beach. It's like reading Jimmy Buffett's acid journal. World, feast your eyes.
"I Am Not Jesus Christ Today," the Serge Merland page announced on December 28, the day before the bomb scare. "HELL Started On My Birth Day, The 3 rd Day Of March 1954. Guess What That Makes Me?"
"FUCK YOU," was also posted that day, followed by, "HMFIC" (Head Motha Fucker in Charge, for all you folks not trained in internet speak).
According to the Palm Beach Post, Merland has been living in Texas for the last 30 years. According to both Facebook and a LinkedIn account, Merland was educated at the Lycee Felix Esclangon in France and runs something called DCES2010, or Divide and Conquer Solutions.
He arrived in South Florida around December 11th, according to the Post, and his plan was to hand over "his worldly possessions along with his citizenship so he could live in the Bahamas," the paper reports. Those possessions might have included these:
Merland's Facebook is filled with pictures like this, including shots from what appears to be the Tiki Waterfront Sea Grill days before the incident. Also, he says a lot of stuff like this:
Urgent Message for Captain James T -99 Kirk From Commander Spock: Navigator on Standby. I should point out that I ran into myself last night (maybe 2 much rum) and my Father simply asked me to tell you: Good Luck, Keep your eye on the ball "Cupcake", This could get Interesting.
Choose your weapon: I'm packing but I'm always ready to do Battle! Want a better job? Ask your boss for a promotion. If he doesn't give you one I'll hire you. I only hire good Pirates so if you're up to the task come see me, BUT If you don't do your job, I will feed you to the sharks, they have to eat too you know.
So, somewhere between the worldy advice of your bachelor uncle and the online swinging dick braggadocio of Call of Duty players. The question here is whether Merland is just eccentric or in need of medical attention.
That's what a Palm Beach County judge wants to find out. After tossing his keys and boasting about a bomb, Merland's water taxi was forced back to port. He was arrested after police determined there was no explosive device in his car, just a tool box containing wires and switches.
Merland made his first court appearance this week, and he's being held on $10,000 bond while he undergoes a mental health evaluation. The Post reports family members have confirmed a past history of bipolar disorder. For his part, the 59-year-old says he did hand over the keys, but denies saying anything about a bomb. We'll just have to see how this one plays out. In the meantime, take it away, Serge.
Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.