Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mysterious Trax

"Looks like we can expect problems from this lot, should we end up tangling with them (though whether or not it turns out to be actual mayhem remains to be seen).
More news as and when." - Jeff, yesterday

That's when the phone rang (around here, when the phone rings or the mail arrives, it's often coincidental with whatever is going on at the time). It was Henri Petit.
PETIT: So hey, about that Hammertrax Gang. We should probably go get them before they cause any serious trouble, thereby cutting into anyone's already-established serious trouble business. Don't you think?
ME: What are you talking about? The only 'we' that exists between you and The Unbelievables is how wee you are, you wee pest.
PETIT: Oh come on. This would be an ideal opportunity for a non-conventional team-up! Like when the Fantastic Four and Namor the Sub Mariner put aside their differences long enough to battle some common threat.
ME: That's a what-if scenario and you know it. Listen, we don't want whatever cookies you're selling, little girl.
PETIT: Little girl?! That's sexist!
ME: It's not sexist because it's not demeaning women as a gender. I'm referring to you as a very specific individual little girl named Daphne who wears pigtails, is ugly, smells bad and sings "la la la" while trying to jump rope. And now I'm hanging up on you, Daphne.
PETIT: Wait!! Don't hang up! I lied! I do know the Hammertrax Gang!
ME: (hesitantly) Go on.
PETIT: They're friends of mine. Or they were. At least I thought they were.
ME: That figures.
PETIT: But not anymore! We're enemies. You need to know that. You also need to know that they hacked the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.) to throw you guys off. Here's what they really look like:
Of course, we were on a video phone (L to R: Chong, Liam, Guido)
ME: Great Scott! They're children. Vile, ugly children who probably smell terrible. Like you!
PETIT: What?!? No, I am not a child! How many times... Look, I'm not a child and neither are they. We're all mature adults. But we have certain physical characteristics in common. That's why we were drawn to each other and I thought we were friends. You see, what happened [click]

Petit suddenly stopped talking because I had gotten tired of hearing him talk and hung up on him. Things are getting very strange indeed. The Hammertrax Gang hasn't actually done anything but this still bears further investigation. Of course Petit is lying, but how much? Can somebody actually hack the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.)? Could there really be a whole family of genetic nightmares like him out there? Do we even care, if they're more focused on messing with him than us? And how do Floating Jack McFadden and Miss Sterious, Mistress Of Mystery fit into all of this?

We've got some digging to do!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trax Listing

Ah, yes. The Hammertrax Gang. The gang of numskulls who kidnapped Petit (or did they? Call me cynical, but I don't trust a single word that comes out of Henri's mouth - apart from "Ouch!", "Ooof!", "You're breaking my arm!!" or "Please don't kick me out that windoooooowww....CRUNCH!")They have bragged that they are devious and clever, and promised us mayhem, but thus far - not a peep.

So, in the meantime, let's see if we can't find out who they are exactly?

Well, as they mentioned in their little note, they are named Liam, Guido, and Chong. They popped in a little picture, too, but as it turns out, this was a still from an old silent film. 

Note evil eyebrows and massive 'tache.

Searching through the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.) for the names Liam, Guido and Chong Hammertrax turns up these rather more recent pics:



and Chong.
However, it turns out there are two more members of the gang - 

Miss Sterious, Mistress of Mystery, and...

Floating Jack McFadden, The Bandit That Floats.(Kind of a redundant name, really, since we can already see that he floats.)
So... not three, but five, and one of them is able to float around while another is a rather attractive (if heavily armed) babe. 

Looks like we can expect problems from this lot, should we end up tangling with them (though whether or not it turns out to be actual mayhem remains to be seen).

More news as and when.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rescuing Henri

We quickly ate the mac and cheese and got down to business. Too quickly, if I'm being honest, which I am. For one thing, bad for the digestion. For another...
"Are we really in a hurry to go rescue Henri Petit?", I asked. "Why?"
"He's a person and he's in danger", Jeff said.
"Right", Michael added. "It doesn't matter that he's a criminal and that we've had problems with him. We're bigger than that."
"Are we, though? I'm not sure we are. I'm pretty sure I'm not, at least. I have to admit, the idea of Petit being totally out of our lives makes me kind of happy. It'll certainly free us up to help people who aren't a pain in our collective behinds."
Jeff and Michael looked at each other.
Jeff said, "Well... I mean, we're heroes. We do heroic things. Right, Michael?"
Michael answered with some hesitation. "Yes. Yes, we are."
I could be wrong, but it seemed like Jeff let off the gas a little.

We arrived in Granite Falls and found No Good Nick's with little difficulty (it's not a big town). Not only did we find the place, but with the help of a happy-to-see us barmaid, we found Petit.
"I'm really happy to see you", she said. "I've been babysitting this monkey all day long and he's on my nerves something fierce. We have karaoke tonight and I have work to do."
"How many times do I have to tell you, I'm not a baby and I am not a monkey!", Petit snarled. "Oh hi, Unbelievables".
"Whatever, monkey baby. All I know is they said The Unbelievables would show up eventually to collect him and I'm glad you did."
"Who is 'they'?", Michael asked.
"These guys", she answered as she handed us a photo with a note attached.
"Hello Unbelievables. Please allow me to introduce ourselves! We're the Hammertrax Gang! Me, Liam Hammertrax, and my brothers Guido (L) and Chong (R)! Don't worry about the girl; she's a model we hired to be in our publicity photo and was released unharmed! The point of all of this is that we are getting into the criminal biz and will be causing all sorts of problems for you in the future! We wanted to make a statement of our serious intent and at first we thought we would put someone you love in peril! But then we thought a more unique statement would be to put someone you despise in peril! That's why we kidnapped Henri Petit, to show you we can get to anyone, any time! We are devious! We are clever! Mayhem will ensue! Keep that in mind!"

Jeff turned to Henri Petit and said, "what do you know about these jamokes, you crumb-snatching muggins?"
Petit said, "All I know is that they're in more trouble with me than they are with you. Nobody kidnaps Henri Petit!! It's a matter of who finds them first, me or you, and they'd better hope it's you! Because...they...will...PAY!!!"
Michael looked at us and said, "Well, I guess we have this to look forward to now too. At least we rescued Petit."
Petit said, "Take me home immediately, you morons." Jeff said, "Yeah yeah, we'll take you home." Petit then said, "Ooh, but first there's an adorable soft-serve ice cream spot just down the street. It looks like an ice cream cone! Who wants soft-serve? My treat!"
With that, I picked him up, threw him in the trunk and slammed the door. Yeah, I wanted soft-serve. But the day I let Henri Petit buy me a Twistee Cone is the day I quit The Unbelievables.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Unbelievables Go To Washington (State, That Is)

The guys had all but abandoned the Snohomish Yelp review clue since hearing the soundbite from Petit, or someone claiming to be Petit. To me, it sounded like Inspector Clouseau doing a bad Herve Villechaize impersonation (or perhaps the other way around), but since Clouseau was a fictional character famously brought to life by the great and most definitely late Peter Sellers, and Mr. Villechaize was similarly deceased, we knew it couldn't be either of them.

I decided to go back to the Yelp clue for one last time. I hit gold. Pay dirt. The Motherlode. Not from the monster burger bit, but from the words "Swingtime Express". Immediately I zeroed in on a quaint tavern in downtown Snohomish called the Oxford Saloon.

Looking at the reviews, they didn't seem to have a monster burger, but they seemed to have other burgers which were definitely huge, as well as a dish that caught my eye - the Prosciutto truffle Mac'n'cheese.

As soon as I told the guys about this I was ready for them to be champing at the bit to head to Washington State, but they seemed to be only partially interested. That is, until I mentioned the words "Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese".

"I'll drive!" they both shouted, fighting over the car keys. I waded in sharpish, and grabbed the keychain, putting an end to their childish banter. "I'LL drive, lads" I commanded, "I happen to know the owner of The Oxford and if you're lucky, I'll talk him into letting you have an extra helping."

During the grueling yet picturesque journey, Clark earwigged me during a gas-and-potty stop. "How do you happen to know the owner of a place that does Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese and yet we didn't know about this?"

"An old pal from days of yore," I said. "How do you think I acquired my skills in the whipped potato department?"

Clark scratched his head and bugged his eyes out in wonderment. He slowly walked back to the car with his convenience store purchases in his arms (3 tubes of Pringles, 15 Twinkies and a case of PayDay bars, plus a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew), muttering something about hardly knowing me at all, to where Michael was sitting in the 'Vette with his purchases (a double espresso and a bar of Ritter Sport, plus a copy of Woman's Own which he apparently buys for the recipes, despite seldom, if ever, cooking anything) listening to Glen Campbell's Dreams Of An Everyday Housewife with tears rolling down his cheeks and sobbing like a child.

"He's gone, he's gone," Michael blubbed. "First Bowie, now Glen..."

A few hours later we reached our destination - the pretty little Northwest town of Snohomish, a hidden gem full of neat shops and bars and restaurants. I pulled up the 'Vette outside the Oxford Saloon and we all took a minute to compose ourselves after having had an emotional sing-along to Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits in honor of the great man.

I strode into the bar and was greeted by the young and unfamiliar bartender.

"Hey, fellas, what can I get you?" said the barkeep.

"Actually, I'd like to speak to the owner," I replied. "And get these guys two big plates of that Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese while you're at it!"

"Right away, sir," he answered, and scuttled off.

A moment later, my old buddy Ernie came out into the bar area. When he saw me he greeted me heartily, slapped me on the back and asked what the heck I was doing in this neck of the woods? I gave him a brief run-down of the story so far and then played him the strange message that appeared on Michael's SoundCloud account. At this, he grew pale.

"Did he say... no-goodnicks?" he asked, visibly shaken.

"Yes, why??" I enquired.

"Well, I recently had a run-in with the owner of a local bar in nearby Granite Falls..."

"What bar?" mumbled Clark through his mouthfuls of the most incredible mac'n'cheese ever created.

"Well," answered Ernie, "it's a place called No-Good Nick's..."

"What are we waiting for?" said Michael. "Three plates of Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'Cheese to go, Ernie!"

Tune in on Friday for more...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Plea du Petit

I never could understand that McGee dude" I told the guys. 

Clark nodded at me. Jeff kept things level though. "Still, we need to check out the Yelp thing. Clark might have something there ..."

We didn't have anything on McGee - much as we would have liked to - so we high-tailed it back to base. The three of us scoured the internet. 

We came up dry. "Get a monster double burger and listen to Swingtime Express in Snohomish, WA." McGee had said ... but every permutation that came up with those keywords, any phrases and the like led to a dead end. A couple hours into it bore no fruit.

But Jeff came up with something strange. "Check this out: There's a weird Yelp review off a Snohomish that says 'Smokin' smalls you cannot find behind fluffy whites ... but you can certainly hear'em.' What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

A metaphorical light bulb appeared over my head. "SoundCloud!" I exclaimed and started searching anew. Sure enough, on my SoundCloud page, this strange recording came up, one I hadn't recorded or put there:

It was that little weasel Petit. You could tell by his labored breathing and bad French. So bad, in fact, it took us some time before we could translate it:

"It is I, Henri Petit! Please, Unbelievables, I have been kidnapped by no-goodnicks! Save me!"

"It sounds like him ... but it doesn't. Know what I mean? Even so I wouldn't lift a finger for the little scurvy ratatouille" Clark confessed.

Both Jeff and I knew where Clark was coming from but ... Who would kidnap Petit? Why? Was it really him on the recording? What did Tony "Monobrow" McGee have to do with it if anything? 

Stay tuned ...

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cockney Balls

In the car, on the way to Henri's lair, we three Unbelievables were still puzzling that cryptic email and its apparent lack of instructions. Suddenly an oblique thought crossed my mind.

"Fellas, what if the three dots after the word 'below' aren't dots, but... something else?" I asked.

"Like what?" said Clark.

"Yeah, like what he said," added Michael.

"I dunno, like, uh, BIG dots."

"What, you mean circles?" Michael replied.

"Or balls," said Clark.

Suddenly it hit us.

"BALLS!" we shouted in unison. "The pawn shop!"

Luckily, we were only about three streets, two avenues and a boulevard away from the nearest pawn shop to Petit's hideaway. When we got there, sure enough, standing underneath the three balls, was a man. A man we had encountered before - none other than Tony "Monobrow" McGee, the world's first and only New Jersey Cockney.

"What are YOU doing here, McGee?!" bellowed  Clark.

"Nice work, fellers," McGee intoned. "you figured it out. I'm here to give you the instructions."

"Oh my giddy aunt," I cried. "Instructions below dot dot dot! That's what it meant."

"Fazackerley, me old china plates, innit. Fuhgeddaboudit. I'm yer actual instructor. Here's your next move - get a monster double burger and listen to Swingtime Express in Snohomish, WA."

"Alrighty, lads. That sounds like a Yelp review to me. Jump on it."

Clark turned out to be right. Tune in on Monday for the continuation of our story!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Possible Monkey Business Afoot ...

I'm not certain but I'd be willing to bet my face was screwed up in a bout of confusion at the information Clark offered Jeff and I after his little venture over to Petit's place.

"Well ... that's just weird. He didn't do anything? Nothing? Just sat there?"

In retrospect, Clark wasn't the best person to surveil Henri Petit. The two have a huge backlog of ... well, let's say "history" and just leave it at that. 

"Not a single thing at all?" Jeff asked. "Not a peep when you called him a malformed chimp?" Clark shook his head.

"Wait. Look at this picture again and tell me if you see anything strange" I asked the guys.

"He's wearing an ape mask?" Jeff asked.

"It makes him look handsomer than ever before? " Clark offered.

"That the stoop is the only place he can sit where his feet reach the ground?" Jeff continued, chuckling.

"No, no, no. What's missing from this image?"

"Height?" Clark mused.

"Character?" Jeff jested.

"Poise? Him holding a homemade bomb? Lunch dribbles down the front of his shirt?"

"NO! Look ... there's no cigarette! He's not holding one, he's not smoking one, there's no evidence of cigarettes anywhere. There aren't any butts on the ground, zippo. I'm not so sure this is a picture of Henri Petit. You did say he didn't acknowledge you in the least, right Clark?"

Clark nodded. "So? He doesn't like me anyway. Might have something to do with all the beatings I've given him over the years ..."

Jeff chimed in. "If you're right, Michael, and that's not Petit, we need to get over there and find out for sure ..."

"Oh, HELL no ..." Clark interjected.

I looked at Clark. "Jeff's right. Pardon the pun but there might be monkey business afoot. You know you'd miss him if anything happened to the little twerp, Clark ..."

Just then, we heard a chime coming from one of the computers in the office down the hall. An e-mail came through. We pulled it up:

There were no "instructions below."

We all hopped into Clark's 'Vette and drove over to Petit's place ...