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Only one way for PI gofer Mole Smith to win the hand of his beloved: to solve the ancient mystery of the diamond-studded pistol.
Tricked into believing he is to be accused of a murder he hasn't committed, PI gofer Mole Smith is inveigled into the search for an ancient order and its famous diamond-studded pistol. What Mole doesn't know, as he undertakes the quest with his partner Oksana, is what powers lurk behind the scenes.
As most people know from watching movies and playing computer games, the typical way for bad guys to exterminate their enemies and take what they want is to immediately shoot them to death. But in our case, as it turned out when we asked them, these gunslingers were not typical. These were irregulars sent first to terrify, second to find out what we knew about Mr. Big’s operations, third to retrieve his dearly beloved pistol and only fourth to kill us. The problem for these particular bad guys, however, was that none of their training manuals had prepared them for the likes of Bum and Oksana, who were already crotchety after the incident with Muscles, and then the telling-off from Luke. Nor had they counted on Luke himself, or even me.
Their plan, as it was explained to us once we’d beaten the crap out of them, had seemed simple enough. The two blokes with the Kalashnikovs planned to panic us by pulverizing the Renaissance “stucco” above the door. That would cause us to dive for cover straight into the arms of four strategically placed other blokes—and bingo! The infiltrators would be captured, grilled and then shot—in that precise order—the pistol would be reclaimed, and the Wussists would be back on their skates to their commander. As I said, it was a simple plan, even a feasible one had they done their homework properly.
For example, they might have allowed for the contingency that well-trained combatants like Bum and Oksana would instinctively know not to dive straight into the arms of strategically placed armed men, and that the one fully untrained person—me—would dive anywhere at all to save his skin, say under the chaise longue right next to the shooters. It was unforeseen details like those that cocked up so many potentially well-laid plans. And even if they had done their homework, they could never have imagined that I—the gofer of the group—would suddenly have become the lion. Unfortunately for them, they met me at the very moment my irritation with the Bum/Oksana situation had reached its zenith. In other words, I no longer cared for my own safety and was prepared to do anything to win back the heart of my beloved. That was not something your average Wuss could have written into his battle plan.
What really happened was well off the Wuss script, you can be sure.
First came the boom, boom, boom, shooty, shoot as bits of “stucco”—plus several framed fake Monets and Gauguins—tumbled down on Oksana’s and Bum’s heads. They dived immediately, only not straight into the arms of their would-be captors. Because of their kung-fu training and the residual irritation of Luke’s chastisement, they dived instead headfirst into the men’s goolies.
“Doooofff,” went the first two as they sank to their knees, clutching their precious groins while the other two men looked on in frozen amazement. Their turn came soon enough, because it took Bum and Oksana only pico-seconds to spring back to the balls of their feet, do a few cartwheels, walk backwards up one wall, spring down, and then nut them in the knackers as well. Luke remained in place, smiling like a Buddha. With hindsight, I reckoned it was the vision of him standing there, a rictal grin spread across his face that must have severely weakened the resolve of the masked blokes with the Kalashnikovs while Bum and Oksana descended from the walls to flatten the remaining two catchers. Bless them, the gunmen kept loosing off round after high round in an increasingly hopeless bid to make their plan work. Bullet-riddled fragments of reproduction Manets, Cézannes and an incongruously hung Rembrandt dropped to the russet shag like leaves in autumn.
Just as they were about to give up on their futile strategy, preparing to lower their guns and take direct aim at Luke, Oksana and Bum, I made my heroic move—the move I calculated would drive a repentant and weeping Oksana back into my waiting arms. Anyone familiar with American football would recognize it as the equivalent of a quarterback’s overtime-arrowed pass into the end zone that won both the game and easy access to the sexiest cheerleader’s pants. It went like this: At the very moment the fearsome barrels were being lowered, I closed my eyes, practically biting through my tongue from nervousness. Then I stretched out one arm from underneath the chaise longue, grabbed the ankle of the nearest Kalashnikov bloke, and tugged hard. In turn that caused him to shriek in surprise, lurch to his left and then shoot both his colleague and himself in the foot—well, feet to be accurate, two of his colleague’s and one of his own. Three feet were victimized in total. There followed plenty of Everly Brothers-type, close-harmony wailing, plus a lot of spilled blood. Both fighters collapsed like a house of cards. All that remained was for Luke to stroll over, pick up the dropped Kalashnikovs and say, “Good work, Mole. Feel like surrendering now, chaps?” That had been my role in the old P.I. days!
I crawled out from my hidey-hole, swallowing some blood from my lacerated tongue. As I straightened up I eased a few kinks from my spine, cracked my knuckles and sauntered—well, it was closer to a swagger—over to where Bum and Oksana were applying the finishing touches to their blokes.
“Hi, Moley,” Oksana trilled while she prodded her two victims in the temple, hoping to stop them from chanting, “Wuss is wonderful” in what sounded like a Belfast accent. To her left, Bum was threatening to hog-tie and then kick even more crap out of his two, unless they stopped saying they’d fucked his black-assed mother and grandmother and, if they got the chance, they’d fuck his black-assed sister, too. They were speaking what sounded like Spanish to me, of which I knew no more than a smattering. My suspicions were confirmed when Bum muttered, “Lousy Latinos” and then jabbed each of them in the kidney, which shut them up pronto. It turned out Bum had learned the essentials of the language on the streets of L.A.—no declinations or conjugations or anything sophisticated like that, just enough to know when he needed to hit people. It was what you might call a need-to-know sort of language instruction.
“Hi, Oksana,” I said, speaking in my Clint Eastwood voice.
“Luke stopped the shootink?” she asked, looking up briefly from her prodding.
“No. I’m the one who did that, actually.”
“You? This I did not see, Moley. I was busy with the helpink of Bum—a fabulous fighter.”
“You didn’t see me pulling the bloke’s legs out from under him to save your life?”
“Nyet. Busy, busy. If you did this, Moley, I thank you. But I did not see. Luke, I think, has more experience with fightink. Swynia! (“pig” in Ukrainian, as I’d translated before),” she yelled as one of her Wussists regained consciousness and tried to bite her in the leg. He didn’t remain conscious for long.
“Oksana,” I said when the bloke was fully prone again. “I know this isn’t a good time, but I just want to tell you how much I…”
“We talk about this later, Moley, okay?” she muttered while scrabbling about in Wheelchair’s thoughtfully provided anti-terrorist kit for duct tape to bind up the bloke’s legs.
“Right. Fine. Okay,” I said, stumping off to scuff at the remains of remastered Monets, Watteaus, Gauguins and the like—here a wrecked Rousseau, there a severed Cézanne, and over yonder a pocked Poussin that bore the motto Et In Arcadia Ego.
Stronsky would hear about such things when we got home, that was for sure. Back in my bad old low-libido days, Oksana might have been justified in picking a few bones with me. In retrospect even I sympathized with some of her frustrations, but what would Doctor Clever-pants Sex-therapist make of this new situation? Here was brave Mole rampant, yet spurned by an Oksana blinded by her adoration of Bum, who was only flirting anyway, as Marthe would later testify. Why did anyone pay for a shrink unless they were able to unravel such deep-seated human angst?
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