Where No Story Has Gone Before, Ch. 3

An Urban Fantasy Short Story by Robert Lee Beers

Where No Story has Gone Before, Ch. 3

by Robert Lee Beers

 

Thrust into a world not their own and subject to an extreme case of mistaken identity, a paranormal private eye, his sidekick, and a mysterious old wizard must escape a mob of screaming fans before they realize their mistake.

Contact info for Robert Beers
* Website – http://asmbeers.wixsite.com/robertleebeers
* Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Lee-Beers/e/B00JCRVS3U/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1505455713&sr=8-1
* Audiobook – http://www.graphicaudio.net/a-tony-mandolin-mystery-1-a-slight-case-of-death.html

 

 

Chapter 3

To be honest, I had no idea what was going on. Not just weird, but damn weird was my best explanation. So, basically, in essence… I had nothing.

Desmond was true to his word and we were shepherded from the restaurant to our rooms with all due deference and a disturbing amount of hero worship. I still had that wad of cash I’d pocketed before going into Below so I tipped the way a celebrity should just to keep the thing rolling. I also needed to find out who in the world this DeSimone and McBride were. But all of that got set aside as soon as my body hit the sheets.

My dreams of being a Hollywood hero were interrupted by some idiot hammering away at my door. When reality came filtering in from around the edges, I realized where I was.

The knock came again. It was hammering, it was rather polite. And then a voice I did not recognize called, “Mister DeSimone, Mister DeSimone. Please. It’s the hotel manager.”

“Hold on,” I called back. Let me get a robe on.”

There was no answer so I expected whoever was on the other side of the door was standing there, hands clasped in front of his crotch with that patient expression only the eternally subservient, like the best butlers, can maintain for just about forever.

The hotel had those incredibly thick and soft towels with matching robes, the kind that almost always disappears along with the contents of the minibar and the travel shampoos. I wrapped myself in the one from the bathroom and opened the door.

As predicted, the manager was standing there doing his best Jeeves impression. “Yes?” I asked.

“I am so sorry to bother you, Mister DeSimone,” He began.

I held up my hand, interrupting him. “Just get to the point, please,” I said. “I’m still half asleep and now I’m also hungry.”

“Yes, of course,” He demurred, “It’s about those fans who accosted you last night…” he trailed off, never a good sign.

I asked, as if I was this person they imagined, just to see the result, “What about them?” I thought the added growl was a nice touch.

“Umm…” He looked a bit embarrassed, “It seems the two young ladies let their friends know you and your co-star Mister McBride were staying here and…”

“And…” I rolled my hand in the let’s-finish-it-up motion.

“And,” He sighed, releasing the point, “We have a horde of you fans massing outside our front door. I had to call for additional security,” he added, just a bit peevishly I thought.

I thought, “Oh God, just what we need…not!

Shaking my head, I asked, “How many make up a hoard?”

“My people estimate just a bit under a hundred or so, but they believe more are arriving as we speak,” He replied. In the background, I could hear the unspoken question, “What are you going to do about it?

I nodded, “So… I assume it would behoove me and my party to make a run for it, huh?”

He seemed to relax, “You are indeed a gentleman, Mister DeSimone, as your reputation indicates.”

I was going to have to see if I could meet this other me. First things first, try to find a way past the screaming hordes of “fans”. It would not be a pretty, or even slightly comfortable picture if we were found out to not be who they thought we were.

I said as I closed the door, “If there can be a discrete breakfast made available, we will eat and skedaddle. All right?”

“Yes, Mister DeSimone, of course. And, thank you again for your understanding.”

He left and I headed over to Frankie’s door.

It took several seconds of knocking before I got the sleepy, “What is it?”

“There’s a mob outside and they’re after us,” I said, through the door.

“… what?”

I understood the confusion. Been there, done that. “I’m not kidding, big guy,” I replied, “According to management, there’s a mob of teenage girls, and maybe boys outside the hotel demanding access to their idols.”

“Idols?”

“You and me big guy, and unless we want to experience the worst of mob justice once they find out we aren’t who they think we are…” I left the point hanging.

“Oh God,” He muttered, opening the door to look down at me, “Tony, we have to get out of here.”

Milward, the old wizard surprisingly took the news in stride. He was already dressed when we knocked on his door.

“Yes,” he said, puffing away on what looked like an antique clay pipe with a very long graceful stem, “I’d assumed as much when those two young ladies were led off by the gaffer, or whatever you call that fellow’s job here. Believe me, my new friends, I’ve dealt with hero worship before and it never ends well for the hero.”

We opted for eating in the kitchen, much to the manager’s relief as word of our being in the hotel had spread throughout the guests.

I asked, “Why is this going on? What is it with these people?”

He sniffed and shrugged, “Believe me, Mister DeSimone, I have no idea. For some reason, the combination of books, shows, and the rumored movies has created a frenzy among certain types. Myself, I don’t see it.”

He nodded and left.

“Certain types?” Frankie asked, “Was that a put-down. I think that was a put-down.

Do you think that was a put-down?” He asked Milward.

The old wizard chewed thoughtfully and then, after swallowing, said, “A veiled insult, obviously. I do not know the term put-down.”

“Never mind, big guy,” I said to Frankie’s opening mouth, “We need to figure out a way of leaving this place without being mobbed, and besides that, not one of us has a car.”

“Car?” Milward asked, and then he nodded, “Oh yes, those things you people use rather than horses. A capital idea. I must congratulate whoever thought of it.”

I shook my head at Frankie. It was going to be a long trip regardless of where we went.

Milward went on, “Perhaps a cloak would do…”

“A cloak?” I asked, “What, like hiding under a blanket? Won’t that look just a little bit suspicious?”

Milward gave me this highly irritating smug smile. “Not if they cannot see it,” he replied.

It seems there’s a way of bending light around things using magic, or magik as Milward pronounced it. This cloak could be used to hide a person, or persons in our case, from prying eyes. We just had to be careful to not make too much noise as the shaping, as he called his spell, did not cover sound.

As he explained it, we needed to keep close together, but not bunched, so we lined up and began strolling out of the hotel through the back door leading from the kitchen. From there, which was part of the loading dock, we headed toward the back lot where all the big rigs were parked. That was my idea. We didn’t have a car, but if a trucker was headed down out of the mountains, we just might be able to bum a ride to the closest bus station.

Walking into the back lot, I heard noise and turned my head to look. A large crowd was assembled in front of the hotel. Some were holding signs and some were…

I said to Frankie, “Look at that crowd, big guy. Do you see anything familiar?”

He looked as we continued walking. Then he said, “Tony, do some of those people have on costumes that look like our working clothes?”

“Right down to the brown fedoras, Frankie,” Was my reply.

“This is becoming uncomfortably weird,” He muttered.

Milward’s opinion of the crowd was a dismissive grunt.

I turned the other way to check out the semis parked alongside on another and said, “Wait up fellas, we may be in luck.”

The nice thing about Milward’s cloak was that we could see each other while we were invisible to everyone else. So both the big guy and the wizard could see the direction I was pointing.

“You know,” Frankie murmured, “I’d never thought I’d find the sight of a big rig to be so beautiful.” He smiled at Vern’s truck, parked just a few yards away from where we stood.

I craned my neck to look but I didn’t see Vern. “Maybe he’s around the other side,” I said, “Let’s check.”

He was, and he nearly jumped out of his skin when I said, “Hey Vern,” and he saw no one there.

“Who’s that?” He cried, “Lord is that you callin’?”

“Milward,” I said, “Can you include Vern into the cloak?”

He nodded and suddenly the trucker could see who was talking to him. “Tony!” He exclaimed, “You near scared the living daylights outta me! What’s going on?”

I jerked a thumb in the direction of the mob. “That’s going on. It seems those people think Frankie and I are celebrities and I don’t think they’re in the mood for a debate. Do you know anyone headed down the mountains?”

He glanced at the assembled crowd of fans and whistled. Then he nodded, saying, “Sure do.”

He jabbed his thumb at his chest and declared, “Me.”

I don’t know if the old wizard dropped his cloak after we climbed into the cab or not. I also don’t know if anyone noticed the semi pulling out of the parking lot with apparently no one on board. And you know what? I really don’t care. By that time I was emotionally exhausted and just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge.

Sheee-oot!” Vern exclaimed as he downshifted. “You boys sure do come with the excitement, don’t ya? An’ yer tellin’ me that you ain’t them fellers on the TV screen? Well, I’ll be dipped if you ain’t a dead ringer. You an’ the big feller back there, I mean. Hee-ya, what’ll happen next?”

Frankie muttered, “That’s what I’m afraid of, actually.”

Hee-yaa!”

The ride was mostly downhill with some of the angles of descent almost terrifyingly steep, but Vern knew his rig the way a tax lawyer knows his loopholes. By the time we reached the point where the road began to level out we could see signs of civilization as well as smell brake lining.

Milward seemed to be the only one of our party unconcerned with any of it. “You know,” He said, as he lounged against the back wall of the sleeper, “This is one of the most comfortable modes of transportation I have ever experienced.”

I glanced at Frankie. The big guy just shook his head in amazement.

Verne called out, “We’ll be goin’ right through downtown. The place looks kinda old-fashioned, what with all the red brick an’ all. But it’s a nice place all in all. I’ll drop ya’ll off next to where the street widens out on Main, okay. There’s about a dozen ‘er so joints all around there for a bite an’ some info. Sorry, I can’t stop, but I’m due in Denver in a coupla hours.”

After we said our goodbyes to Verne, we looked around.

Well,” I said, “He was right, look across the street, there’s three cafes in sight already.”

Milward was a bit glassy-eyed, “Amazing construction. Look at how precisely those bricks are laid, and the quality of your glass. I can’t see any bubbles at all.”

Frankie and I shared another one of those looks.

The big guy said, “Well then, you just may want to see what the typical café looks like from the inside. It isn’t like that hotel at all.”

Verne took off when the light turned green. We waited for the signal and then walked across. His description of the area was also right on, red brick seemed to be the building material of choice and most of the buildings were not all that tall. The whole street had the feeling of Small Town America, even though I knew the suburbs boasted a good number of very luxurious estates. Colorado was not short on the rich and famous for citizens.

Unlike the city, Longmont’s sidewalks were not crowded. In fact, other than a couple of pedestrians, we were just about the only people I saw on foot. Most seemed to be driving, and almost every car I saw was either a pickup of a hybrid. It was like looking at a bipolar highway.

How about this place,” Frankie said, gesturing toward a door with the name, The Roost emblazoned on its glass in white vinyl. On either side of the door, more white vinyl in the windows proclaimed that what was inside had craft, was delicious, and was local.

Gotta start somewhere,” I said. I also wanted to get off the street as some of the cars were slowing down to take a look at us.

Milward nodded, “Some ale would go down proper,” he said, “Or maybe some of that… beer your people brew.”

Millie,” Frankie said, “One day you and I are going to have a nice long talk.”

Oh,” Milward said, looking up into Frankie’s face, “Thank you. That would be nice. I have so many questions.”

As Milward went in ahead of us, Frankie whispered into my ear, “I’ll just bet he thinks Irony is a country in the Middle East.”

I just nodded and went in.

The Roost had a nice loose open feeling to it. I saw a section next to the bar with high stools and round tables and another section with lower square tables and chairs. This time I head to the bar as the best information usually comes from behind that stretch of hardwood.

Beside me I heard Frankie counting, “1… 2…3…4…”

What are you doing?” I asked.

Tony,” He said, rather excitedly, “There’s a full two dozen taps behind that bar!”

Well, take it easy, big guy,” I murmured. “I don’t want to have to be the one who carries you out of here.”

We waited, maybe a half second before one of the employees slid into place before us behind the bar.

What’ll you gents have today?” She asked.

Yes, she. More and more of the bartenders are getting better and better looking. And yes, I like that.

Do you have Anchor on tap?” I asked.

San Francisco beer?” She replied, raising an eyebrow.

I nodded.

Same here,” Frankie added.

And I as well, lass,” Milward finished the order.

She nodded. “You fellows must be from out of town.”

You have no idea,” I said.

She turned to the spigots on the draft wall and in a very short time we each had a foaming pint in front of us.

Okay,” she said, three pints of the Bay Area’s best. Will you be having any food to go with the beer?”

Oh, indeed,” Milward answered.

What he said,” Frankie added from behind a foam mustache.

I nodded and picked up the menu. The burgers looked good so I ordered one, with fries. Frankie and Milward asked for the same. The look the bartender gave me had me wondering if she thought we were putting on some sort of street theater act.

I said, to both of them, “You know, you guys do not have to eat and drink the same thing I do.”

Milward looked around and then said, “One learns to watch the native as they are the ones who know what is good and what is not.”

I thought about that and figured he had a point.

Just as I was getting ready to ask a question I’d wanted to since we met, a guy came over and asked, “Uh, excuse me, but are you the actor who plays Tony Mandolin?”

♦ ♦

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


4 × five =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.