I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I stiffened up and leaned over to James. “As your family detective, I feel I should warn you that this is serious.”
“Thanks, Jack.” He said, rolling his eyes.
The man in black was a hulking brute of a man, with more chins than George Lucas; any thoughts of making a break for it were quickly forgotten at the sight of his giant sausage fingers, and the potential of them being wrapped around my neck. He commanded a room and it wasn’t only because of his size, his voice burst like a shotgun, calling everyone to attention.
“I want you to search the place. Search it good,” he barked at everyone in general.
James couldn’t keep his stupid mouth shut.
“You have no cause to do this!”
“Cause?” He replied without hesitation. The room was still for a moment as the man in black stared at James, and began to take slow, deliberate steps toward us.
“As your family detective, I advise you to not argue… with this man,” I whispered.
“There’s no such thing as a family detective!” He whispered back, though loud enough for everyone to hear.
My feelings were hurt.
“We’ve received a tip on a possible bomb threat, Mr. Ferguson. We take those very seriously.” The man in black said, rudely interrupting our conversion.
“No…” James shook his head. “That’s a complete falsehood. I don’t keep the sort of materials that could be manufactured into a bomb.”
“I’ll be the judge of that, Mr. Ferguson.”
About a minute had gone by when an agent popped out of the cellar and reported to his superior that nothing could be found. He seemed like a real kiss-ass, though. When the man in black said he wanted to have a look for himself, the little brown-noser rooted him on.
“He always gets his man,” the agent said, bouncing up and down with an emphatic nod.
“I’m sure.” I smiled before turning to James to shake my head. “Say, where’s Linda?”
“She must have gone out. She could be back any minute.”
“I’d hate for her to walk in on this, right?”
James just lowered his head.
“You’d really be in the dog house,” I continued.
The man in black appeared in the room again.
“We’ve got him! Check again, boys; bottom of the toolbox on his workbench.”
Two of the agents, including the yes man, ran for the lab. The man in black eyeballed James.
“I always get my man, Mr. Ferguson. You’re no exception.”
“There’s nothing in that toolbox but wrenches and bolts.” James argued.
“Let’s see what the boys say.”
Just then, the apple-polisher ran in, holding a stick of dynamite.
“Here it is,” he said. “Just like Captain said.”
“That’s not mine!” James shouted, jumping to his feet.
The agents restrained him while the man in black approached.
“How do you suppose it got there, Mr. Ferguson?”
“I have no idea, but I certainly did not put it there.”
“Do you have a license to posses dynamite, Mr. Ferguson?”
“No. I told you, it’s not mine.”
“Get cuffs on him, we’re taking him in.”
James tried pitifully to struggle when a scream pierced through the front door; Linda was white as a ghost.
“What is all this?” She implored.
“Who’s this, now?” The man in black asked.
“She’s my wife, you crooked cop!” James replied, loudly.
“I’m arresting your husband, Mrs. Ferguson.” He bragged.
“Uh…” I raised my hand. “Can I leave?”
The man in black raised an eyebrow at me.
“Mrs. Ferguson, who is this man to you?”
“Him? He’s...” She struggled to find her words. “He’s just a P.I. we hired to look at our property.”
“Alright,” he waved, “you can go. But don’t go too far in case I call you in for questioning.”
“That’ll be easy. I’m staying in the guest house.”
I stayed ahead of the game and was already crouched down in one of the Ferguson’s cars when the cavalcade of federal agents put James in the back seat of a car and exited the premises. I knew they would take him to a holding cell, he wasn’t the one I was tailing; the man in black seemed to have other motives, I wanted to see what he was up to.
The car holding James was driven by that lackey, followed by two more vehicles packed to the brim with feds. The man in black was bringing up the rear, driving his own car. He didn’t even make it back to the station before veering off from the others. When I saw him turning, I tried a high-risk maneuver and made my turn a block earlier. I was considering my subject; the man in black probably knew how to identify a tail, as well as how to shake one. I stepped on the gas and timed it just right to watch his car, a block over, pass the cross streets. I was able to play that game for a while, keeping a safe distance. When he finally changed course, I caught up and he was none the wiser.
He had taken me on a familiar road, and suddenly the whole, bizarre incident started making sense. We were on the outskirts of town on a lonely road with long grass and barbed wire fences. When Dr. Zake’s gate opened for the man in black, I couldn’t help myself and shouted
In hindsight, it wasn’t the best move to alert the guy I was tailing of my presence, but I was damn mad and I knew James would have been, as well.
The man in black’s car came to an abrupt halt and, before I knew it, the burly agent was lumbering towards me. I froze as he ripped open the driver's side door and got hold of a handful of my shirt right at the collar. In a split second, he yanked and I was on my feet. His chins were shifting in independent directions, like they each had a mind of their own. His teeth were clenched and he reared back to wind up on a punch.
“You don’t want to pick a fight with me, big fella.” I warned. “I know yoga!”
Bruce Lee used to talk about the proper way to absorb a blow so that you wouldn’t be injured. Well, my face absorbed the first blow, causing me to stumble back. The man in black stepped into a shovel hook that my stomach absorbed, and when I fell to my knees, my ear absorbed the brunt of another blow, which I believe came from his foot. I was flat on the ground, having successfully absorbed several blows when he started dragging me by my legs. That was when things went foggy and didn’t clear up until I found myself tied to a chair in Dr. Zake’s research facility.
I watched Zake and the man in black speak softly to each other for a few minutes before they noticed I was awake. I had assumed I knew how to read lips, it would be a useful skill for a private detective, but I hadn’t picked up on any of their conversation.
“I told you, didn’t I?” Zake mocked. “Two phone calls.”
I looked away for a beat and thought about it.
“...Yeah, but was he the first or second phone call?” I asked, gesturing to the man in black.
“Quiet!” Barked the man in black.
Which disappointed me, I genuinely wanted to know.
“Agent Baumen here can dig up dirt on anyone,” said Dr. Zake, pointing at the man in black. “He always gets his man.”
“I heard something about that.”
“Imagine my surprise when he tells me he can’t find a single, microscopic bit of information as to who in the hell you are.” He started pacing with his hands clasped behind his back. “Considering the war breaking out in Europe, we’ve come up with a possible theory.”
“Commie spy,” seethed Agent Baumen.