It's Oscars time. Somebody wake the Grouch.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Earl's Novel - Chapter XI (Part II)

(Editor's note: Earl Fando is currently writing a novel as part of the insane National Novel Writing Month Contest. As of this post, he has passed the 44,000 word mark, and has his nose to the grindstone, mostly because he's too tired to lift his head.)

“Mr. Wang!” I announced loudly. “Funny, I thought you had decided to give me a little time to think things over.” As I spoke, I listened behind me, where Nuffy and Stew were still in the shed. It was unnervingly silent, except for the peculiarly soft sound of what seemed to be metal scraping against metal.

“It seems that you have decided to take some initiative, Mr. Fando. So, naturally, I must act in kind to keep from falling behind.”

“Of course, of course; eminently reasonable, Mr. Wang.”

“Are you mocking me, Mr. Fando,” he replied, with an almost hurt sounding voice.

“Erm… actually, no. I’m not in the business of course, but it is what I would have done.”

“Yes, my apologies. It’s just that, there is a tendency for people to mock one another in this business, and, I must admit, I tend to take these things too personally. Forgive my misunderstanding. It’s just that you are in the humour business, you see.”

I had to admit, that Mr. Wang, despite his annoyingly perfect soft, menacing laugh, was someone I could see myself having a cup of tea with. He really was quite charming at times, for a dangerous and well-armed agent.

“Well, if I do mock at any time, it would be out of professional habit. Please don’t take it personally.”

“I should add, out of fairness to you, and in appreciation for your honesty, that should I have to use this,” he said, slightly gesturing with the gun, “that the same applies. I have enjoyed our brief conversations otherwise.”

“Ah, of course,” I replied, trying simultaneously not to lose control of my bowels or to make any sudden movements. Also, in the back of my mind, a part of me was contemplating adding Mr. Wang to our Christmas card list.

Mr. Dong stood silently beside his partner. He appeared to be chewing gum in an almost disinterested fashion. I suspected that this was because there were no pretty waitresses about.

“How long have you been here, Mr. Wang?” I asked, to cover for the fact that I was really wondering what in blazes Stew and Nuffy were doing in a shed full of automatic rifles, whilst I stood out here chatting with a gun pointed at my sternum.

“I have only just arrived. I had deduced you might try to come here, but was unavoidably delayed.”

“Oh, well…ah, sorry about that,” I replied. Mr. Wang looked genuinely confused by my answer. He shook this off though and continued.

“Well, hopefully, you can now shed some light on the contents of the DVD, given that your action in coming here was almost surely precipitated by them.”

I stood there for a moment, nervously trying to decide whether to answer Mr. Wang’s question or to stall. Bluffing was a distinct possibility. I could have simply said that the tape had some sort of map and that we thought that this was the location but that it might also have been a large military bunker somewhere in Okinawa and would you mind very much giving that a shot? Another possibility which came to mind very briefly was suggesting that the DVD was blank and so we were just investigating some possibilities and started here, because I really like airports.

Just as I was becoming completely convinced of the unworthiness of this possible answer, I saw one of the most shocking things I have ever seen in my life at the entrance of the hangar. It was Stew’s head, quickly glancing inside. Fortunately, I did not physically react to this which meant that Mr. Wang and Mr. Dong were unaware of his presence.

A few seconds later Nuffy stuck his head around the corner as well. This time I had to briefly look up at the ceiling to conceal my shock at the realisation that my two colleagues and friends who were moments ago in the shed behind me had somehow managed to appear outside as if by magic. I was also hoping that the M16s had magically appeared with them.

“Just a tic,” I suddenly blurted out. “How did you smash the gate outside without us hearing you?”

“We simply waited for a plane to take off and used the engine noise to mask our forced entry,” Mr. Wang modestly replied.

“Like the roar in the background, now. I can see that would do the trick. Very clever, indeed.”

Mr. Dong shrugged his shoulders slightly as if to say, “No big whup.” This was a nice breakthrough for him, though it lacked the deft genteelness of his refined companion.

Nuffy and Stew were now tiptoeing into the hangar behind us, each of them with an M16 in hand, their steps masked by the jet engine outside. They made their way towards Nuffy’s car.

I felt this rather gave me the advantage, which relaxed me enough to casually glance over my shoulder at the shed. When neither of them responded, I glanced again at the shed with a touch more obviousness.

“Perhaps we should take a look inside the shed, Mr. Fando,” Mr. Wang finally said.

“The shed? Whatever for,” I responded, as Stew and Nuffy drew closer, almost dancing on their toes.

“Mr. Fando, please do not play such games. They are beneath you.”

“Oh, all right,” I said, with Stew and Nuffy neatly positioned behind Nuffy’s car, only about 15 yards from the two Chinese agents, and pointing the barrels of the rifles right at their backs. “Let’s look at the shed… OR, perhaps you’d like to drop the gun and put your hands up?”

Mr. Wang was just about to laugh the soft menacing laugh of his, but stopped suddenly. He slowly and carefully glanced over his shoulder towards Stew, who was now kneeling behind the car with the M16 pointed right at Mr. Wang. Mr. Dong’s head followed Mr. Wang’s with the same slow deliberateness and wound up on Nuffy, who had taken up a similar position to Stew behind the car, his rifle barrel focused on Mr. Dong.

“**** me,” replied Mr. Wang.

He lowered the gun and dropped it to the ground.

“Hands in the air, please,” Nuffy commanded, with a surprising amount of authority.

Mr. Wang and Mr. Dong complied immediately.

“Please turn around and face us, gentlemen, and, keeping your hands in the air, kneel down,” Nuffy continued.

This too was met with complete compliance.

“Earl, would you frisk these two gentlemen for other weapons?” Nuffy asked.

“Must I,” I replied, quickly looking at Mr. Wang and adding, “No offense!”

“None taken,” Mr. Wang replied. “It is unpleasant work.”

I kicked Mr. Wang’s gun away from him and quickly patted down the two gentlemen as effectively as I could whilst avoiding any possible confusion between weapons and personal property, if you know what I mean. Mr. Dong had a gun in a shoulder holster, which I removed and slid over by Mr. Wang’s gun.

“Check for ankle holsters!” Nuffy barked.

“Wikipedia again?” I asked.

Nuffy smiled. Sure enough, both gentlemen carried what I gathered were .38 caliber revolvers in ankle holsters. I removed them and gathered up the guns as Stew and Nuffy came out from around the car. Not knowing what to do with them all, I stuffed them in my belt, after first making sure, with some help from Nuffy, that the safeties were on.

“Please have a seat,” Stew suggested to the agents. They sat down on the concrete facing us.

“What now?” Stew asked, with a touch of trepidation in his voice. Nuffy looked very serious as well.

“Well, I don’t think we can just turn them over to the regular authorities,” I replied. “They wouldn’t know what to do with them except call the federal government, which would lead to all sorts of difficult questions.”

“We’re not going to…” Stew broke off. He looked at the rifle in his hand and the two gentlemen sitting on the floor. It was a distinctly queasy look.

“Good Lord, no!” I shot back, which elicited the slightest sigh of relief from both Mr. Wang and Mr. Dong.

“No,” I continued, “to be honest, I’m not sure what we can do. If I know how to contact someone at Phoenix, wherever the hell they all are, then I’d do that, and they could deal with this as diplomatically as necessary.”

I thought a moment. Stew and Nuffy were deep in thought as well. What could we do with these two? Killing them was beyond us and an appalling thought, first because no one would view it as justified upon finding the bodies, and second because, Mr. Dong’s aloofness aside, they had been so obviously fair and patient with us. If they had just tried to blow out brains out then I might just have happily shot them “by accident” whilst picking up the guns. Any other violence was out of the question.

“We could bind them, but then they could be stuck here for days, especially if we can’t tell any authorities,” Stew suggested.

“They’d starve, eventually,” I reasoned. “No, I think the only thing for it is to simply leave them here.”

“Leave them here?” Nuffy asked. “What if they come after us?”

“Well, we’ll simply have to take their car keys then. First thing though,” I continued, turning to Mr. Wang, “it’s your turn. Why do you want to know about the DVD?”

“I’m afraid you have us at a disadvantage, Mr. Fando,” he replied. “However, like yourself, I feel I need time to contemplate my answer.”

I could quickly see this would go nowhere, as we were so obviously not up to shooting them or beating them about the head or anything that we would prefer they not do to us in a similar situation.

“The keys then, please”

“Slowly,” Nuffy added.

“Of course,” Mr. Wang replied, carefully producing the car keys.

“Him too,” I added pointing to Mr. Dong. “I distinctly felt keys when I searched him.”

Mr. Wang looked at Mr. Dong, and as if by telepathy, he too carefully extracted a set of car keys and handed them to me.

“That should do it then. Let’s go.”

“You know where we’re going?” Stew asked me, looking more than a bit surprised.

“Yes, I’ll tell you in the car.”

“Why don’t we just take their car?” Nuffy suggested.

“Because then they can call in a stolen vehicle, which might make things difficult for us,” I replied. This bit of reasoning seemed to satisfy Nuffy and Stew and we climbed into the car. As I was getting into the back, Mr. Wang waved a hand at me.

“Thank you for not killing us,” he said, with a polite smile.

“Our pleasure,” I replied, returning the smile, and then hopped into the car. Nuffy started the ignition, gunned the engine, and quickly drove out of the hangar. I pulled out one of the sets of keys the two agents had given me.

“Just in case they can hotwire the car, this’ll slow them down.” and I clicked the lock button on the remote as we drove out of the hangar.

The lights on Mr. Wang’s and Mr. Dong’s teal Chrysler PT Cruiser flashed. That’s right, their teal PT Cruiser, not their dark Mercedes. I very briefly recalled the trip I made for family funeral once, where the rental agent asked what kind of car I wanted and surprisingly suggested the very same model. It was the one bright spot in the whole funeral for my mum, who had always wanted one herself. Despite the brief temptation to chalk this up to a very determined Chrysler fan at the local airport rental service, I couldn’t imagine one so dedicated as to have just caught them as they were driving by.

Nuffy was so surprised to see the teal hatchback that he slammed on the brakes, which sent at least two of the handguns onto the floorboard.

“Erm…perhaps we were seeing things?” I offered. “By the way,” I added, with more than a little curiosity, “just how the hell did you get out of the shed?”

“I found a secret door leading outside,” Stew said, with a small bit of justifiable pride. “That must be why they had it against the wall, as an emergency outlet.”

“Have you been reading Wikipedia a bit too these days?”

I didn’t want to wait any longer.

“Let’s go,” I said.

“Where are we going?” Nuffy asked, as he started to drive again, carefully maneuvering around the smashed gate.

“Camp David,” I said with a smile. They both looked at me quizzically. “Well, not the actual Camp David, but a reasonable facsimile that’s nearby. By the way,” I added, glancing back at the open building, “what did you two do with the other guns in the shed?”

“Oops!” Nuffy replied, just as Mr. Wang and Mr. Dong came running out of the hangar with M16s of their own.

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