From the Private Journal of Ric Havoc:
There are better ways to get reacquainted than a six hour trek down the coast in a boat of a Duesenberg, but there are probably worse ways too. I hadn’t seen this gang since a year ago, Paris. The strange affair of the Jade Monkey and the cult that tried to turn the Eiffel Tower into a Tesla antenna to channel Orgone energy to conquer Europe. I think we all needed some space apart after that one. I got mine with a lengthy jaunt through the Congo River basin looking for the Mokele-Mbembe. Never found it, but found a healthy chunk of change that ought to keep me in dry boots for a few months.
Still, anytime Professor Dickinson calls up, the work is usually pretty interesting. Oddly enough, I think the last time we worked with the good Professor was Paris. Funny how these things go in circles. Maybe that explains all those Ouroboros drawings in the prof’s notebooks.
The wind in the back under the convertible was pretty strong, like the trades off the North Shore of Oahu, but the new lighter I picked up from those Zippo folks worked just fine and kept me in a steady stream of Chesterfields to take the edge off last night’s Rye.
‘Course traffic on US 1 was a bear, but we couldn’t have been too late pulling up to the Willard Hotel, least wise not late enough to explain the state of agitation we found the good Professor in standing in front of the hotel, waving his arms at us like Robinson Crusoe to a schooner in the shipping lanes. I was just wondering what that odd little brown paper package in his hand was when some miscreant on a motorbike snatched the thing and tore off down the street.
You didn’t have to tell Mick Totem twice, he stomped the gas and we were off in pursuit as Professor Dickinson screamed for us to follow that thief and grab the package. Never a dull day around that Professor.
Totem careened onto Pennsylvania Avenue in hot pursuit. I popped the top in the back of the Duesey and stood up, grabbing hold of ol’ Nora and feeling those sweet Mother of Pearl grips in my hand as I snapped off a shot at the bike’s rear tire that sailed wide left. Totem and the biker swerved among a couple of delivery trucks as Betsy and Dr. Durant reached for their guns. I heard the Derringer bark about the same time as Dr. Durant’s wheelgun but both shots pinged off the bike’s chassis to no avail. I think it was about then I heard the other bikes coming up on our six and I realized this was getting pretty dicey.
Totem gunned the engine and the straight-8 roared, closing the gap with the fleeing bike. Things got a little dodgy for a spell as we careened past a bank robbery in progress, the local coppers gunning it out with a couple of mooks with Tommy Guns, but we came through clean and gaining ground. Hitting a moving target like a bike ain’t the easiest of things even in the best of circumstances, so I did my best to stay calm and tried to remember that centering stuff that lama in Bhutan wad gone on about, just trying to see the perfect union of me, my target and Nora’s long, cool steel barrel.
As we pulled up alongside the biker, Betsy Barnes pulled the damndest trick I think I’ve ever seen. Grabbing her black, London brollie from the seat next to her she clambered out on the running board and damned if she didn’t jam that umbrella through the bike’s spokes. Well bike and rider took to the skies like the long, lost Wallenda cousins and I figured he oughta be down for the count.
Professor Totem slammed on the brakes and spun us into a skid, whipping the boat of a car around just in time to see the two bikes bearing down on us from behind. Dr. Durant’s shot went wide but I think it spooked one of the fellas because he swerved into a clothesline and disappeared down an alleyway with a crash. Figuring we were running short on time I dropped Nora to the waist and cut loose on the other fella, fanning out half a dozen shots before you could say Jack Robinson. At least four of them found home on the mook, turning him into a slab of Swiss cheese as the others scrambled from the car to check out the biker who stole the Prof’s package.
He had a weird little square cross around his neck and a short sword tucked into his belt. Cults right? Nothing’s ever easy when it comes to cults.
Betsy snatched up the package and we high tailed it out of there before the police came around asking pesky questions about shooting up the peace on the fine streets of the Nation’s capitol. As I reloaded Nora I heard a sharp squeak next to me as Betsy dropped the box in her lap. You have to hand it to the Prof, he does weird better than anyone I know. Two stone fingers in the box because…well, there has to be some kind of reason for that. In Betsy’s defense they did look kind of real when you look at them quickly.
Needing answers we worked our way back to the Willard, but the Prof was nowhere to be found. I may be much more at home on the African Savannah than the Avenue of the Americas but even I know if you want to know the goings on at a hotel you talk to the doorman. While Dr. Durant sat in the front of the car admiring some kind of odd blood portrait she made of the biker’s face the rest of us grilled the kid with the gold fringe epaulettes.
Seems the Prof had gotten into a car with some dark suited gents while we were gone, but said something about telling us to check out his place and remember our time in Paris. Our time in Paris. Who’s going to forget the affair of the Jade Monkey, right?
Figuring the ball was in play on this game and time was a wasting, we actually spun out of there without even stopping in for a drink, which is a shame because the bartender at the Willard makes about the finest Joe Rickey I ever had and that would have gone down sweet on a warm day like today.
Just across the Chain Bridge about fifteen minutes later we were pulling up to the Prof’s place. It didn’t look like there were signs of a struggle, but all the same once Betsy picked the lock I pulled out Ol’ Nora and led the way. I don’t take chances with Cults.
A quick sweep of the place proved the coast was clear and we set down to searching for whatever the Prof must have wanted us to find. Finding the odd item out in that sea of trinkets from the far flung corners of the world would’ve kind’ve been like the thirteenth labor for that muscle bound Greek fella. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when the Doc called out “Hey, didn’t he say something about our time in Paris?” as she held up a framed picture of the gang standing under the Eiffel Tower (shortly after we’d saved it from mortal peril)
She pried open the back and found a note:
After years of research I am close to uncovering the fabled treasure of the Templars. Some have called me mad or crazy, but I know I am close to the Truth! Unfortunately, I feel my research has not gone unnoticed. I believe I am being followed, and my life is in danger. In the event that anything untoward happens to me before I can speak with you, go to Weschler’s auction house on Tuesday and bid on Lot #1307. I believe it holds a vital clue!
Professor Hamilton Dickinson
Well seeing it was Tuesday already, we headed for Weschler’s to make a bid for that item. It turned out to be a statue of two knights riding a horse. Mick Totem, who knows a thing or two about old things, told us that was a famous symbol of the Templars, so that placed us at least on the right track. Weschler’s was over on E Street in the Penn Quarter, and we luckily managed to arrive before they opened bidding on the statue.
it wound up we were bidding mostly against a German fellow in a black leather trenchcoat. I’ve spent enough time in Europe over the past three years to realize Germans in black leather trench-coats seldom mean anything good is about to happen. This Kraut (the auctioneer called him, “Herr Templemann”) wanted that statue and wanted it bad. It took every resource we could pool together but we finally outbid the no good Jerry at $1,500 cash American. Had to be something pretty important to drop the cost of two Studebakers on the sucker.
By the time I went to to front to claim our prize, it seemed like Black Trenchcoat had called for back-up. With mooks muscling in on nearly every door, it seemed like it might be a wise idea to check out the basement and where that might lead…
h4. To Be Continued…