At Last, Mr. Christie!
Stepping out from that damn terminal, I walked though these frigging revolving doors eight times. Eight! I wound back inside the blasted Terminal. I needed out or I was going to scream!
All right, I did it anyway. I Screamed. On the Ninth revolution, that blasted door chewed me up and spit me out with such force I flew out and into a wall of white! I had gone from ring around the revolving door to Snow. Frigging Snow. I really hate snow. So, sprayed with this white stuff I waited. This obese truck passed me by and, wiping my lips, realized it spat salt at me. Why would these irritatingly short Canadians who speak a verbiage mix of Anglo-Saxon dribble and faux French – including a dab of Deutschland and Swedish – call it North American?? 90% of the time, I didn’t understand a word, resorting to my Universal Translator. Thank God for Star Trek Department Stores. You can find anything there.
Well, I was on my own up here in the true north strong and free. I missed Sodium, I missed Queenie. I even missed Phish. Well, some things a man has to do alone. So, hailing a cab with a fifty dollar bill I made in my backyard, I climbed in to this crazy yellow vehicle with wood wheels, a dozen horses in the front and a cabbie all dressed in black and carrying a whip. Reminded me of Sodium on her kinkier moments of erotica. Sitting myself and my black canvas bag on the hard seat behind the driver, I mentioned to the fat bugger to head toward the High Level. The man, his face hidden by a red scarf and flop hat, stared at me with eerie blue eyes that definitely did not match his clothes.
“The High Level Diner or the Bridge?” He rasped at me.
“Uh, wherever the better view is,” I muttered. The man nodded, snapping his whip in the air. The dozen horses trotted off into the cold. While all this was going on, I opened my canvas bag and began reading up on Mr. Christie. This whole case was not making sense. The man had been pushed off the High Level Bridge and murdered by Dr. Peppa’. Or so I thought. Now, reviewing the murder note, I began to wonder if maybe, just maybe, Mr. Christie was alive and Dr. Peppa’ – my nemesis from way back, was really dead. (Ok, so I’m slow, that doesn’t mean I’m stupid). Mr. Christie owned a major amount of shopping malls, candy stores, the complete Hershey fortune-cookie fortune and adult magazines recently purchased from Harry Flint. So, rereading the murder note, signed with Dr. Peppa’s true signature marked, even, with his ring stamp. Hmmm…
humming to myself, I lay the files down, looked up to see where I was and found the wrong end of a sawed off shotgun staring me in the face. The horses had stopped. There was no time to do anything but react. So I did.
The man holding the gun screamed.
I screamed again.
The gun went off. Never in my life had I ever been shot with salt twice in one day. It Stings!!!! Strangely enough, after panicking my hands flying every which way, my arm deflected the rifle’s aim so when the salt discharged it struck my left thumb leaving a nasty bruise that I would get Sodium to lick better later. Uh, never mind about that.
Leaping back and off the old wagon (Yes, I at last realized what it was – these Canadians are so energy conscious, y’know.) I assumed my fighting stance, pulled out nunchuks from I tell you not where, a revolver and my razor blade aimed toward the fat bugger standing on the seat – or where he had been. Looking about in a confused way, the entire roadway was empty!! Except, of course, for the dozen horses, the wagon and myself.
I was in the centre of the bridge, weapons drawn, no traffic anywhere. My Rolex read 1600 hours. The middle of rush hour…but then again, this was Canada. Not many people left here after the mass exodus to the States and better pay. Maybe this was rush hour!
A cough brought me to stare at the horses and a cowering black mass behind the lead horse, shivering either in fear or fright. I grinned my evil grin, replaced my weapons to appear much too dignified and not the frightened mass I was (memo to me: change pants when I get to hotel) and stepped forward. One step at a time, the snow crunched beneath my feet and an eerie western movie music filtered through the air until I stood towering over the massive black mass at my feet.
“Who are you?” I asked.
The black mass peaked at me from behind his red scarf and flop hat and I saw those out-of-place blue eyes shaking in fright. “Look, Mr. I don’t know who you are but I’m looking for Mr. Christie. I’m Pep-Shi, International spy of Mystery, Spooks, Wraiths, and other assorted Paranormal Phenomena. I’m-“
I shut up. The fat man towered above me by some three feet, wider than a church door…um, let’s be polite here, shall I? He was robust about the mid torso. Grinning at me with these bright white fangs he wrapped his arms around me in a bear hug and I thought I was gonna die as he squeezed the life right out of me. I began to black out. Little birds fluttered around me head. The music of Elton John grew in my ears when suddenly I realised I was looking at blue jays and the music was from my Sony CD-man playing in my earpiece. Sheesh.
Well, the fat man let me down, crying happily and shaking my hand. “Oh, Mr. Pep-Shi –“
“Cola,” I said. Pep-shi is my first name.
“Oh, Mr. Cola, I’m Mr. Christie, owner of the Hershey Fortune. Thank you for coming. You saved my life back there, y’know.” The man’s smile was so huge and innocent I didn’t know what to make of it.
“Uh, yeah, sure,” was all I could think of to say.
“Oh, Mr. Cola. You don’t understand what kind of stress I’ve been under! Cookie?” He munched on a handful of chocolate truffle cookies –his new line coming out this winter – and offered me one. Accepting one I allowed him to continue. “Well, you see, Dr. Peppa insisted I meet him up here in this wonderful, silent, ancient city of Edmonton, atop the High Level Bridge built by the Sumerians before the Egyptians ever got here, saying we needed to discuss my fortune and his access to it! Can you believe that Mr. Cola? Can I call you Pep-shi, or even Pep? It sounds so much more dignified, don’t you think so? Milk with your cookies?” He offered me a frozen white glob that I guessed passed for milk up here as nothing says thawed for more than a few seconds. Licking it, my tongue stuck fast and Christie pulled it off before continuing, offering me a cup of hot chocolate instead. “Oh, dear. Some people just never get the hang of eating frozen items. Oh, Dear. Oh, yes. Pep, I met this dastardly evil Doctor Peppa and we argued over his access to my funds, as he was, once upon a time, a summer student in my internship program for world domination applicants. Oh, yes, I remember turning you down too, merely because you were over qualified for the job! Don’t feel too bad, Pep, you will go far. Anyway, Peppa struck at me with my very own M&M chocolate beanie bags and I pushed him off the bridge in sheer fright. Not knowing what to do, I contacted my special agent Beaker to contact you and hopefully you would come running to help me out of this predicament! And here you are! OOOOOhhhhhhh!!”
The fat bugger began hugging me again and I felt my ribs snap before managing to squeak out a plea for him to release me. Gosh, Sodium would have a field day on my body once we got back together. Wheezing, I looked up at the towering man. “Listen, jack. What kinda problem is there? Your man Beaker hired me to find your killer. You ain’t dead. Peppa was a poor student anyway, so why worry? Call the cops, pay ‘em off and return to your quiet life of grandeur, wealth and boredom. Just pay me for my services (say an island in the pacific with a great view, a castle and unlimited expense account and we will call it even.)”
“Ah, Um. Oh, Eh. Ar., Er, Or, Ug. Mu. Fah! Please, Pep. I’m so bored! I hired you actually to find me! You did. Now, come with me and I shall explain everything. Hehehehehehehe”
I followed, shivering from pain and fear from that eerie laugh of his. He reminded me of The Shadow, some guy I met back in New York a few years ago who chased after the guilty and kept laughing, shooting and screaming at the top of his lungs “The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay. The Shadow knows! Hahahahahahahaha” Brrrrrrr…. chilling. Could Christie be that same person? Naw… The Shadow was much thinner.
Christie tossed me atop the old carriage and climbed into the driver’s seat, humming and laughing while hugging me with one of his big, thick arms and using the other to steer the horses across the bridge into his mansion on the other side. His home was a palacial and he liked to call it “The Legislature Grounds”. There were rooms aplenty and offices for everyone working in his empire. Tossed me over his shoulder he carted up the front steps and into a library off to the side of a stairway. Inside, setting me down, I was abruptly accosted by two very feminine hands, feeling me up everywhere while a set of ruby lips wouldn’t stop kissing me.
“Wha?” was all I managed when a short black man, no taller than my thighs jumped on me, shoved an expense cigar down my throat, lit it and pulled his Elton John glasses up his nose to see me better. The ruby lips began nibbling on my ear while in the background I heard the fat man chucking his maniacal laugh. I blinked. Sodium climbed atop of me and continued thrusting her tongue down my throat while Queenie, now in a different colour, stepped off, headed to the bar and poured a round of brandy.
Still in utter confusion, all three, along with Phish busily wheeling in an enormous table of foodstuffs with Beaker began singing “Happy Birthday” to me. Call me an idiot. I totally forgot, it was my 30th birthday!! While Sodium and Queenie went out to fetch my gifts and the other party guests, I watched as the fat man removed his makeup to turn himself into Butter Ball, my chief in the organisation. “Butter Ball,” I exclaimed! What’s going on here?”
The man laughed his maniacal laugh, stealing my cigar for himself and settled into one of the deep seats, his feet outstretched while a lot of beautiful, gorgeous goddesses began massaging the man’s back, feet and temples. Gosh, he was one lucky man!
“Well, it was your birthday, Pep. Realizing that you were really bored over in England, we decided to organize a birthday bash. I figured you also needed to settle into one relationship, so Agent Sodium agreed to seduce you, not realizing that she was falling in love with you. Queenie I recruited to keep the game afoot and Dr. Peppa I really did push off the damn bridge. The bastard had it coming. He was trying to find you again and kill you dead this time!! So I set up the party thing for you and – well, here we go!”
The party was awesomeness. People I’ve met in earlier adventures that are still classified showed up, and gifts aplenty were had by me. A video watch to keep in contact with headquarters, a satellite uplink and mini-computer I could hide in my underwear, appropriate clothing from Armani (from both Queenie and Sodium), spike toed shoes from Fantom Phish, a chemistry set from Beaker and loads of fresh fruit, computer games, and handy weapons from everyone else. Sodium even gave me a.. uh, never mind. Needless to say, she whispered something in my ear and – well, I’ll be a daddy in a couple of years, so just wait.
The next morning, I awoke in my bed with silk sheets, Sodium still asleep beside me. What woke me? My new watch was beeping. Touching a button, the image of Butter Ball came into view, a cigar stuck in his mouth and a god-awful tie handing around his neck. “ah, morning, Pep. I need you. Let Sodium sleep. I’ve a case only you can solve.”
Twenty minutes later, shaved, showered, and dressed, I showed up at Butter Ball’s office, only to see him now wearing a lounge coat and two of the most beautiful women I have ever seen (next to Sodium, that is) massaging his shoulders. “what’s up, boss?”
He slapped a folder toward me, grinning. “we’re moving to our central headquarters in Brazil, Pep. However, there is a case I need solved.” Motioning to the file, I read the cover. For your eyes only: Mission Commode. What? Looking up, I stared into the staid eyes of the Chief.
“Mission Commode, boss? What’s going on? I thought our man in Ethiopia had this one solved years ago?”
He did, Pep. Nasty business, that. You will find him in Shanghai and he needs help bad. The whole thing flushed back in his face last week. Terrible stuff. He asked for you and only you.”
Befuddled, I sank into a chair as a chill ran up my spine. What could have gone wrong in Africa so badly that our agent there needed my help? I asked the Chief.
“I don’t know, Pep. I’m aware you never met our man over there, but he knows you. You can’t even take Queenie or Sodium with you. This is a solo operation.”
“What?” I was in shock. If this was anything like I thought it was, our man, whoever his name was, would need all the help I could bring, including my assistants.
Butter Ball shook his head. “No deal, Pep. I’ll inform Sodium and Queenie at breakfast. I have one of my lady friends here ready to take you to the airport, and you can get out of this stinking city and on to Shanghai, then Ethiopia. I need to you stop off at London and pick up one thing, though. It’s for our man in the field.”
Grumbling, I walked out of the office, but not before slipping half of the boss’ best cigars into my sleeves without him knowing. That’ll show the bastard. Ethiopia. Shit. Even I don’t want to go there, especially if the Commode has backed up. That project was our master plan… or was it? I could never figure that one out. Well, if this one was down the toilet, Commode would be in for one heck of a sewage pile when the project finished. I’m off. Need to catch that plane. At least I’m heading away from Edmonton.