Episode 10.

Scotch, Soda, and a possible Dirty Bomb.

Read the Episode: 

Hi This is Micheal Midas and I’m at home, in front of my computer, sipping on a scotch and soda after surviving the Organist’s funeral at the New Moon Church. Now, the previous episode of The Mysterious Bluffs ended in the church, just as Bill the blind ex fireman was telling Constable Randy and I about a raffle ticket salesman that tried to strangle him with a hangman’s noose – which apparently happened in the lobby of his apartment.

I would have to call this a strange incident.

It would be the first time in history, a guy working for a good cause happened to have a noose on him – in case he ran into a blindman that he could strangle with it. According to Bill, while the raffle ticket salesman had the noose around Bill’s neck, he said that all blind men should die.

Now, I can’t imagine a better boogieman for Bill. I’m not calling him a liar, but the timing of the alleged incident – it was right before he discovered that his neighbour Lilly Visser was found dead after she was missing for a week or so. And there were no marks on his neck, and he didn’t want to file a police report, even though Constable Randy was right there with us, and offering to do so. And Bill said he didn’t want to file a report, because it would never be as important as Lily Visser’s death.

What Bill meant by important intrigues me, and there are two options that strike me as possibilities. His unabashed compassion for Lily made him realize how fortunate he was to be alive. He was still a survivor, and in good faith he let the harassment from the raffle ticket salesman slide, so the police could invest more resources into finding Lilly’s killer.

Or was he simply saying in a round about way, that his story was a lie, and we should brush it off without further word.

Though the noose story seems strange – I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, as I’ve never had a reason to call him a liar. During our conversations, we’ve always been at odds with each other – not that we ain’t compatible, but that we put honesty above pleasantry.

Yes, Bill speaks his mind, so it is better to trust him than a yes man who agrees with you for the sake of their comfort, and then turns on you to please someone else they fear more.

But Bill did make sure we knew that he cried after finding out about Lilly’s death – at least he knows it’s the right thing to do when someone you care about passes on. And I’ve never heard him mention he cried before, so it’s not just a go to phrase he throws in to show he has feelings.

You know what? I have to believe Bill’s incident with the raffle ticket salesman really happened. Why? Because the reason he would make up such a bizarre story isn’t half as important as the podcast I’m about to listen to.

It’s about a man who inspired me to wear my lucky socks on Wednesdays.

Here we go:

Hello, this is Felicia Fedorov and you’re listening to Chasing the Dragon, the true story of Legendary Swiss Darts Player Johann Johann, who won the International Championship in 1989 with the highest score ever recorded.

His foray into the Professional Darts world was like no other. At the age of thirty-five, he worked in building restoration in his hometown of Bern. He had never been near a dart board in his life, but his hobby of collecting trinkets he found at work would soon change that.

As the legend goes, Johann Johann was converting an abandoned hostel into a Turkish Belly Dancing School. In the basement, he discovered a rare silver coin from China underneath a dusty stack of After Hours Magazines. Now this coin, which had been pressed in 1889, was shinier than his girlfriend with nothing on but suntan lotion.

At first sight, the horned dragon on the coin gave Johann Johann a passion for success he’d never felt before in his life. But also, an urge to drink vodka came over him, which was odd, since it was before noon that day, and he only drank at night.

Johann Johann went for lunch at a nearby bar, where he could satisfy the craving. He ordered a schnitzel and a screwdriver, but when they arrived, he was no longer in the mood for them.

There was a drunk man aimlessly chucking darts in front of him. Though Johann Johann had never played the game before, he was infuriated by the man’s careless effort, so he challenged him to a match. On Johann Johann’s first game ever he got a hat trick, which is three bullseyes in a row. From that moment on, his destiny was clearer than a nude beach in a hurricane.

Hello?

Jeeves, how’s business at the antiques store? Great, you sold the Victorian Bird Cage. You sound nervous Jeeves, maybe even worried. What? Someone stole the company van? The detective forgot to lock the door after he searched it. Did the you call the police? Call them. When did you discover the van was missing?

Jeepers, he hung up on me – and the second time today.

I’d almost say it’s a strange occurrence, but he does hang up occasionally when he’s at the store and a customer asks him a question. Maybe he was asking himself a question while we were talking on the phone, and he had to hang up to answer it.

What would that question be? How much is his freedom worth when he talks too much?

Now I’m not in the mood to finish listening to the podcast.

I better figure out what’s going on.

Mmmm…how about I call Constable Randy.

Where did I put his number again – ah it’s under this deck of 1955 playing Cards from The Riviera in Las Vegas.

Hello Constable – Micheal Midas here. Yes, I have important information for you. My company van has been stolen. The detective who searched it must have left it unlocked. Well, I don’t know for sure, but it’s never been stolen before, and we always lock it. So I can’t think of a better reason this would happen. Hide what evidence? The detective searched the van already. Of course I can’t prove he left it unlocked. Anyways, I’d like to report it stolen. What do you mean, you’re off-duty? You’re always around when everything else is happening. Yeah, I’ll call the station, the one near my store.

Where do I have to report this stolen vehicle? I better look up the police station. But first I have to feed Finnegan, my neighbours cat. They took a surprise vacation, and… no, no hold it, I just remembered, the constable wants me to get a receipt for him – for the tattoo iron. After I feed the cat, I’m going down to my store, and I’ll report the van there, and – why don’t I take Bill the Blind ex-fireman with me – so he can see for himself the serious attention Lilly Visser’s death is getting. It’ll encourage him to report the raffle ticket salesman who put the noose around his neck, or admit it was a con job to get more sympathy than her.

Oh my. A massive explosion! It’s shaking the window. Let me see now. There’s a bright orangey cloud of smoke in the West, downtown, about where that aquarium with the sharks is located. The cloud is growing in size like a balloon filling full of air. I better check the news, and find out what’s going on.

My computer has gone blank. Nothing is happening to it when I push the power button. But my authentic Tiffany Lamp is still on, so the electricity is working.

Let me try this short wave radio sitting on the shelf. (turns on the radio) My Great Uncle Lester bought it during the Korean War. It was my inspiration to get in the antiques business, and it’s still my inspiration to get through the hard times, along my Lucky Dragon socks.

Finding a channel is almost impossible. Something must be jamming the radio waves. Here we go.

John and Gina met each other at a Dude Ranch in Wyoming, on week long summer retreat. The magic happened when they were learning to lasso a pair of bull horns.

Of course in these politically correct times the bull wasn’t real, but a riding mower with a pair of baseball bats tied to the front end. And by the way, the mower had an engine that ran on walnuts and salt water.

A few precious moments together, and John and Gina couldn’t keep a foot away from each other, even to throw the rope properly. A few lasso tosses wound up in the mud, so they went back to the cook house for some franks and a shot of Tonsil Paint.

After the cook prepared their grub, they grabbed a table on the wooden patio. The beautiful Owl Creek Mountains were in the distance, so they enjoyed them from the corners of their lovestruck eyes.

Man, the only reason their lips stayed apart was to stuff down the franks and calm their grumbling stomachs. But once the snack was finished, they were energized like rabbits in a sugar cane field.

John felt it was time for a toast, so he raised his shot glass up in the air.

“Here’s to our lousy rodeo skills,” he declared.

They drank down the whiskies like good sports, then basked in each other’s gaze.

The fiery liquid crawled down John’s throat until he couldn’t take the heat anymore. He wheezed a little, then coughed.

“Sounds like you caught the flu in a forest fire,” Gina said.

“I’m a wine drinker, actually.” John admitted.

“Why’d you come to a dude ranch? You should be at an Italian wedding.”

John sunk his eyebrows down like she was totally out of the loop.

“I couldn’t find an Italian wedding close to the secret military base behind them mountains,” he said. “This is an amazing place to film strange lights in the sky.”

Gina laughed in his face, then looked over to the mountains.

“You didn’t come here to meet the woman of your dreams?” She asked.

“Not unless she’s green and three feet tall,” he said.

Darn, I really wanted to hear that they were going to stick together. I’m sure they’d do better than Zelda and I. Oh well, I should find out if the city was nuked by terrorists.

I better call Jeeves and tell him to close the store, if it’s still there.

Ah what a coincidence – here’s an emergency alert text sent out by the government.

A catastrophic event has occurred your area. Please find shelter immediately. This is not a drill.

Well that doesn’t say much. I know more by looking out my window. In fact, I should have another peak to see if the cloud is still there.

The night has almost set in, and the fiery aspect to the cloud has waned, so nothing much is left to see except a dense grey matter blocking out the early stars. I hear a few sirens in the distance.

An ice cream truck is driving slowly down the street. It doesn’t belong in sight at such a late hour, and during the wrong season, and with a catastrophe lurking in the background.

As the white cubed vehicle drives closer, it becomes clear that its tires are flat. It stops underneath the street light outside Swen and Ebba’s house, and the driver gets out. He’s tall and wide, has a hardened face and is wearing a black leather jacket – reminding me of a leg breaker in a Bulgarian Gangster movie. He goes to the front end of the truck and looks over the damaged tires, then leans his head against the vehicle to sulk.

I feel alarmed in a sympathetic way, as he’s probably a victim of the explosion downtown. Hmmm…what should I do?

Do I pay him a visit in order to offer support, and risk getting contaminated in case a dirty bomb went of? Or do I sit here and watch him suffer alone while I feel lonely cause my wife ran off with her fitness instructor.

How about I invite him in for coffee? But he might get nuclear fallout on the Persian Rug in the living room. I know – we’ll visit in the kitchen, and the next time the housekeeper cleans, I’ll get her to put iodine in the mop water.

I put on a jacket, and mosey on over to where the man and his ice cream truck are.

“Excuse me sir, are you alright?” I ask.

The man turns around and looks at me with his sulky eyes.

“They got my brother, you know,” he says.

“Who got your brother?” I ask.

“The police. He fell out of truck when I turned corner. I told him door handle doesn’t work, but he don’t listen.”

“You were being chased by the police?” I ask.

“Yeah, they almost caught me. I ran over spike strip, and could drive fast no more. That’s when explosion happened. The police cars turned around and went other way.”

“So you don’t know anything about the bomb?”

“No, I never listen if somebody talk about that. I mind my own business.”

“You better mind your own business if the cops are after you. They always pay attention to the crooks with the most information.”

“I’m no crook. I drive ice cream truck. My job is make people happy with sweet treats.”

“You’re getting a head start on the ice cream season. It’s the middle of spring.”

“Where I come from, summer has weather like now.”

“Then why would the cops go after you.”

“I was speeding to baseball game.”

“But it’s not the season.”

“Okay, I am Russian Mobster making delivery of guns and drugs.”

“Go on, in an ice cream truck? That’s the most pathetic disguise I’ve ever seen. It reminds me of the guy who dresses up as a priest so he can smuggle live organs. Now that I think of it, you’re from Russia, so you probably don’t baseball season from Easter. You’d try to find a game any time of the year.”

“No, really. I’m bad man. I am lucky to be free from jail.”

“Yeah, that’s what all the ice cream vendors say. Filling cones with scoops doesn’t get the ladies, so you compensate by telling everyone the contraband in your truck is worth enough Benjamins to fly around the world 50 times in a private jet.

I hear you man. Life hasn’t been a ball since my wife ran off with her fitness instructor.”

“So how you think I have flat tires?”

“The explosion blew them out. Here’s another thing about a big tough guy like you. You’re too embarrassed to admit that you’re the victim of a catastrophic accident. So you come up with some BS story about the cops chasing you. C’mon inside – let’s have a coffee, and we can talk about your real problems.”

“No I have to go now.”

“You’re not going anywhere with those tires.”

“Please stay away from me.”

“Just one coffee man – it’s nothing between new friends.”

“Ahhhh…”

End of Part Ten – The Mysterious Bluffs.