“I’m no commie! You’re a commie!” I shouted.
“Then explain to me - Mr. Klugman, is it? Why we can’t find anything on your whereabouts… ever!?” Dr. Zake demanded.
“Oh, I can explain that.”
“You’ve been off the grid, haven’t ya?” Interrupted Agent Baumen, “Hopping borders and using aliases for… must be years now.”
“No, it’s a much easier explanation than that.”
The two of them leaned in to hear the answer.
“I’m from the future.”
That was when they looked at each other like I was crazy.
“I told you not to hit his head so many times.” Zake growled in disgust, waving off Agent Baumen.
“I didn’t! I only kicked him in the head the one time.” Baumen replied.
“I saw you!”
“The rest were to the body!”
I chimed in. “He’s telling the truth, they were mostly to the body.”
“Well, what do we do with the nincompoop?” asked Zake, conceding the argument with an eye roll.
“We’ve got Ferguson in lockup. We’re gonna go to his lab, and see what he’s got that’s making things fly like that. You tell me what you need to know, and I’ll bring it up when I interrogate the poor bastard.” Baumen explained.
“I may need samples.”
“That’s fine. Take what you need; Ferguson can’t say a thing about it. We’ll meet back here when the interrogations are finished. By then, this one,” he said, pointing at me, “will have cleared up enough. We might be able to get something useful out of him.”
The two of them left to complete their tasks, which left me alone in the research facility. Luckily, I’m well versed in the art of untying knots. You give me a ball of tangled necklaces and a straight pin and I’ll have those suckers loose in minutes.
...My situation was going to be a little tougher. I was tied with my arms around my back and at the wrists, and my ankles were fastened to the front legs of the chair itself. I looked around the room for a tool that Zake may have left out, anything with an edge. Carefully, I stretched and contorted my neck out in various directions to get a look around edges and on top of cabinets.
That’s when I noticed a fly buzzing around the lab. I shook my head in disgust; it could have contaminated the whole operation. This “Doctor” Zake is a real amateur, I thought. The fly in question seemed to have spotted me around the same time I noticed it, it suddenly darted right at me. It did that thing where it buzzed around my head as I ducked and tried to shush it away. At times it would barrel right into my skull, knocking it back before it continued making its kamikaze runs. I was getting more and more frustrated as I was blowing it back and violently swinging my cranium around in an attempt to knock it out of the air. The fly made a wide turn, picking up speed as it aimed right between my eyes. My blood was boiling by then, so I readied myself for the quite unusual game of chicken that was unfolding. When he was close enough, I lunged forward with all my might to head-butt the fly.
They say that when you head-butt someone, the key is to make sure your eyes are below the eyes of the person you are striking. I sought to do this with my foe, the fly, but its tiny size made things difficult.
The force I had put into that head-butt sent me so far forward that I toppled over. I have no idea what happened with the fly, but I did successfully head-butt the floor. I rocked myself, along with the chair, back and forth until I fell onto one side. That made the chair dig into my arm, but at least it gave relief to my face.
As I lay there - circulation being cut off from my right arm - I noticed something about the row of tables in the center of the room. They had a lower shelf made of aluminum, only about 8 inches from the ground, with a lip that curved up; presumably to keep anything stored there from sliding off. From my vantage point on the ground, I could see one small area of the lip that had been dented in and the bottom of the metal had peeled away, giving it a sharp edge. I scooted myself around by rotating my foot and head in a, sort of, paddleboat motion. I nestled the rope on my wrists against where I estimated the sharp edge to be and rocked up and down. The ropes had only a few inches of give in them, but that would be enough to fray the ropes, eventually.
It took about fifteen minutes of rocking until I was tired, taking a break, and going at it again, but the rope was finally cut and I was free. My first thought was I needed to find some sort of evidence in this research facility to prove that James was innocent. I hurried around the joint, opening cabinets and trays, and pulling out the contents. Finding nothing useful in the main lab, I worked my way through the back rooms. I even found the sparse bedroom setup Zake had for late nights and prostitute visits.
All he had in there was a twin bed and a nightstand with a lamp resting on top. I wasn’t even comfortable breathing the air of Dr. Zake’s pathetic sex den, but I was curious to see what I might find in the lone drawer of that nightstand. I wrapped my hand with the bottom of my shirt and gently pulled the knob to reveal a little black book. It was an address book with names and dates and other contact information. Flipping through it, it appeared to be standard stuff; names of institutes, and other scientists and researchers at those facilities, but then I got to the end of those contacts. There was a whole chunk of empty pages and I almost put it down, giving up on there being any useful information inside ...but then I saw it: name after name, all female, with bad nicknames included for every one: ”Gloryhole” Gloria, “Loose” Lucy the Blonde, “Loose” Lucy the Brunette, Kathleen the TRAMPoline, and on and on it went. He had a litany of prostitutes in the area and all of their contact information! This would be useful, but it wouldn’t help James; I pressed on.
There was one final room of the research facility for me to check, a storage area. There were cluttered racks of materials that were unmarked, jars, containers, and boxes. There was even a lawn mower stuffed in the corner, which had obviously not been used in some time. I searched the room, kicking aside boxes, and came up short. Casually, I picked up a canvas tarp to see what was underneath ...and there it was… exactly what I was looking for. Removing that tarp was like opening the Ark of the Covenant. A box of dynamite with one stick missing stared back at me. It was the same one that Agent Baumen had brought up from James’ secret lair. He had clearly planted it, that rat.
I had the evidence I needed, along with a pretty good idea which one of the guttersnipe Agents to show it to. Just then, someone was entering the front door.
I gathered up the box of dynamite and took a peek down the hall.
“This is unimaginable!” Zake screamed in fury.
He was in the main laboratory, finding a ransacked lab and an empty chair. The coast was clear, but it wouldn’t be for long. I snuck out the back and took cover in the brush. I could make a clean getaway as long as I was careful, but before I could go get James out of trouble I had to make a pit stop first.
Agent Baumen was the muscle, but Dr. Zake was the brains; he was the one who needed to be punished… and I knew exactly what type of punishment he deserved.