I squeezed through the fence and navigated the tall grass like a lion stalking a gazelle. Attempting to get the best vantage point, I somersaulted about with grace and ease, while at the same time being careful to not get too close. The inside looked exceptionally clean; not like James’s lab, that place was a dump compared to this. It looked like the future, but it was in the past. Everything was either white or chrome; the instruments and machines were all new. I wondered how Dr. Zake was able to finance such a fancy joint, as well as how he had gotten his hands on technology that I was pretty sure hadn’t been invented yet.
Just then, a man walked into view from some other section of the facility. He wasn’t a large man, probably around 5’ 7”, in his fifties; he was wearing a lab coat, had well-coiffed hair, and a pointy chin. There was a demeanor about him that said he may look like a good person, but he’s actually a complete guttersnipe.
This was the guy.
I watched as he took a few glances through a microscope, and then wrote on a sheet of paper, and back to the microscope when another figure strolled in. It was a young woman in lingerie. Pretty cute too. It was a confusing thing to witness at first, mostly because she couldn’t have been more than half his age. I wondered what she was doing there, with him. When she strode up behind him and wrapped her arms around him I figured out the situation... this was a prostitute.
Now, I wasn’t trying to judge the guy on partaking in the world's oldest profession; in fact, he knew how to pick ‘em, but I needed to see the man in action in an entirely different way. I decided to force the issue a little bit and disrupt his evening plans.
I started knocking hard enough to hurt my knuckles; I couldn’t wait to see which one of them answered the door. My jaw dropped when it opened to reveal a different woman altogether! This one more gorgeous than the first.
Two hookers at a time, I thought, good for him.
“Can I help you?” She asked.
“Umm… Yeah…” I suddenly realized I didn’t have much of a plan past this point. “I’m a bible salesman?”
There was an awkward pause.
“You said that like a question.”
“Right.” I regrouped for another approach. “Would you believe me if I told you I was a bible salesman?”
“Sure, why not?” She shrugged.
Just like I planned it.
“Are you in need of a good bible? I mean, you should keep one next to your bed…” I remembered I was talking to a hooker. “Or whatever beds you occupy.” That wasn’t a smart thing to say either. “I mean, not all of them, it’s probably hard to keep track.”
She was staring blankly.
“I can’t even keep track, myself. I’ve slept two different places the past two nights, so I don’t even know, and I sell the things.”
The door suddenly peeled back to reveal an annoyed Dr. Zake.
“What are you doing, Ruth?” He snapped.
“The bible salesman was telling me about how many beds he sleeps in.” She pouted, pointing at me.
He frowned at the sight of me.
“No bible salesman is out knocking on doors in the middle of the night,” as he stepped toward me. “What are you trying to accomplish here?”
He said it almost as if he wasn’t asking me, but contemplating an answer on his own.
“Do you have any idea what I can accomplish with two phone calls? Leave this premises immediately.”
I felt the wind from the door slamming in my face. I calmly took a few steps as if I was leaving, then took a quick double take over my shoulder. The coast looked clear so I darted off around the edge of the facility. I was back in a position to see him through the glass to watch his reaction. It appeared he had taken the whole thing in stride; he had an attractive young female on each arm, after all. He began showing them to the back room once again, a room in which I had no vantage point.
I awoke in the grass, damp from the morning dew, to the sound of two ladies of the night exiting the research facility. I had dozed off waiting for their party to end. I waited until they were out of sight to scurry back to the Ferguson's car, knowing that Dr. Zake would soon follow. Sure enough, a car pulled away with him at the wheel.
Here I had a chance to tail him, which I knew might reveal something big. I had been on the case all night and into the next morning, and hadn’t come up with much useful information. Or so I thought.
I kept a good tail; he didn’t suspect a thing as he arrived at a two-story home. He whistled his way up the porch and was greeted by another woman.
What a champ, I thought. The guy’s got women all over town. This one was more his age though... Looked like a homemaker…
“His wife!” I shouted at James, back in his secret lair.
“Linda was awfully sore about you running off with the car,” he interjected.
“Never mind that. Do you know what this means?”
“What, you’re going to tell Zake’s wife he’s having an affair?”
His wording gave me pause. “...Affair isn’t how I would put it.” I pushed on. “No. We can blackmail him with this information if he comes after you. Your troubles are over, you don't have to worry about him anymore.” I gave him a pat on the back. “C’mon, let’s go try out the jetpack.”
“It is not a jetpack.” He said, waving me off, “and we can’t just forget about him. He’s a connected guy, he only has to make two phone calls-”
“The two phone calls thing!” I pointed at James. “He said that to me too.”
“Believe me. It’s a real threat.”
“It doesn’t sound like it. If he’s that connected, what’s the second phone call for?”
“This was a bad idea, Jack.” He said, as he began pacing nervously. “You’re sure he didn’t see you?”
“Of course. I’m not some amateur.” I thought for a moment. “...Well, there was the part where I knocked on the door and talked to him.”
“Oh lord!” James said, as his eyes bulged.
“Trust me, you don’t have anything to worry about.”
“Yes. I told him I was a bible salesman.”
James dropped down onto a chair that I’m not sure he knew was there or if it was pure luck. He put his palm to the side of his face, practically slapping himself.
“I’m ruined.” He said.
“Nah, not from this.” I squinted and looked outside. “It will probably be something else that ruins you.”
Just then, the two of us heard a noise outside. Then footsteps in the house. We looked at each other for a beat and both bolted for the stairs. We reached the top of the stairs and flung open the door only to be greeted by a man in a black suit already displaying his credentials.
“Gentlemen, have a seat.” He said quickly, with precision.
There were several agents scouring the house. One in the kitchen guarding the back door, a couple in front, a few more were scattered throughout the house. Next, two of them pushed past us toward the secret lair.
The agent in our immediate faces showed us to a couch, we could do nothing but comply. I could tell James was nervous; we had no idea what the situation was. Not me, though, I was completely calm.
“We’re going to be taking a look at your laboratory, Mr. Ferguson.” The man in black said. “We’ve got reports you’ve been messing around with hazardous materials.”
“That’s ridiculous! I have all the proper licensing to conduct my experiments.”
“We’ll see, Mr. Ferguson.”
“So you guys are cops?” I asked. “You know, I’m a private dick, myself. We’re practically co-workers, I should just go.”
“You’ll stay right there or you’ll regret it.” He said with a gravely voice. “We’re not cops… we’re with the federal government.”