Where No Story Has Gone Before, Ch. 4

An Urban Fantasy Short Story by Robert Lee Beers

Where No Story Has Gone Before, Ch. 4

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 4

Plays Tony Mandolin?” I asked, gracing the kid with my best Spock eyebrow.

“Uh…” he pointed to a young woman standing just behind him and to the right, she had a vivid magenta lock of hair hanging over her forehead, “Lesley recognized you. You are in costume, right? Are you shooting some scenes in Longmont?”

The girl came forward, holding out her hand, “Hi I’m Lesley. I just love your show. Do you know the author?”

I looked at them both. She, in addition to the lock of hair had about a half dozen necklaces hanging around her neck. He had just one. It looked like a wedding ring. Both of them wore glasses and it looked like they’d picked pairs that matched as close as possible.

I said, “You guys are married, right?”

Frankie had been listening and he said, in a whisper, “Tony, this is getting scary.”

Milward chimed in, “When you are in the rapids, survival depends on not panicking.”

“What in the hell does that mean?” I muttered.

The young man chuckled, “Amazing, being able to stay in character like that. I try, but I usually have to go back over the part.”

Frankie said, “Huh?”

The guy held out his hand, “I’m Chris, Chris Herron. I produce the podcast Tall Tale TV. I even did a couple of Tony Mandolin stories. The one where your characters went back in time before the 1906 quake was really popular.”

I took Chris by the arm as I said to Frankie, “Bring the girl,” And led, meaning partially dragged him towards the restrooms.

“What’s going on? What did I say?” He protested.

I said, as I pushed through the men’s door, “We need to talk.”

I could hear the girl, Lesley asking Frankie, “What are you doing? Let go of me! Wait, that’s the men’s room!”

I said to the guy standing in front of the sink, “Out, now!”

After the door shut, I reached into my coat.

Lesley cried, “Oh God! Chris, he’s going for his gun!”

The change in their expression from terror to confusion as I pulled out my ID would have been priceless if I wasn’t as pissed and concerned as I felt.

I flipped it open and held it out to them, saying, “Look. Look closely. It isn’t a fake and I’m not a character on TV. I am Tony Mandolin and that is my ID and my Private Investigator license. See that little gold star on the state ID? That means even the feds agree I am who I say I am.”

They huddled over the IDs. Lesley took off her glasses and peered at them from an inch away. Then she said to Chris, “These look real!”

He looked up at me, “How…?”

I sighed, “Kid, I have no idea. But somehow I’m in your world where things are a bit different than they are in mine. Now how in the hell do you know about the time travel case? I never reported it, except to tell Monahan about it over some scotch and he agreed to not report it.”

Lesley said to Chris, “Hon, I think we had better show them.”

He nodded.

Frankie asked, “Can I have my burger first?”

So we ate, and then we left with our two new guides.

“Our car is parked down the block, “Chris said. “I hope all three of you will fit in the back seat.”

We walked past a group of chatting and giggling kids. They were passing a cigarette around.

“What’s that smell?” Frankie asked.

Milward sniffed the air and said, “Smells like what my people call weed.”

“It’s pot, big guy. Remember the news? This state made it legal a year or so ago, and then Nevada joined in. Amazing, California, known as one of the most liberal states in the union and they still consider the weed a no-no.”

He grunted in reply.

As we approached the car, Frankie said, “I am not a clown. I won’t fit.”

Chris glanced at the big guy and then said to Milward, “”Umm, that stick may have to hang partly out the window.”

“It is a staff, young man,” Milward corrected, “Not a stick. There is a considerable amount of difference. A stick cannot do this,” The eyes of the wolf’s head carved into the top of the staff glowed a bright blue and then the car levitated a couple of feet off the pavement.

“OMIGAWD!” Lesley squealed.

Chris pulled out his phone.

I barked, “Stop that!”

As the car lowered back to the street, I hissed, “Milward, the last thing we need right now is to be the center of attention.”

He stared at me, “But—“

“No buts. Stunts like that may have worked like a charm where you come from, but if these people are anything like the ones in my world, they just make things worse. Believe me. And my wizard is a hell of a lot scarier than you.”

“You must mean Landau Bain, right?” Lesley said brightly.

I looked at her. “That car thing didn’t frighten you at all, did it?” I asked. You weren’t scared, you were excited.”

She nodded.

I nodded back. “Right. Let’s get this trip over. I need several tons of answers.”

Frankie muttered, “And I need several more feet of leg room.”

We did, in spite of the big guy’s varied and rather inventive complaints, make it to Chris and Lesley’s place, a nice comfortable-looking house in an equally comfortable seeming suburban neighborhood.

“This looks nice,” I said, as we pulled into the driveway.”

“I’ll bet it’s not as nice as your Victorian,” Lesley said.

I asked, “How do you know this stuff?”

I must have had a touch of exasperation in my voice, because Chris said, “We can explain everything, Tony, Just give us a minute. It’s all inside the house.”

“Must be a heck of a house,” Frankie muttered.

Chris opened the driver’s side door and said, “Come on in.”

We squirmed our way out of the back seat.

Frankie stretched, cracking his back. “Ohhh, I’m permanently deformed. I just know it.”

Milward leaned on his staff and remarked, “Oh, it’s not so bad, lad. Could be worse. We could have been on horseback.”

Frankie stared at the old wizard and said, “Huh?”

The devil’s own creation, horses,” Milward murmured. “Never turn your back on them. Remember that.”

As he walked away, “Frankie said again, “Huh?”

Chris came over to me and asked, “Is that Milward? I did hear you call him that, right?”

Yeah,” I replied, “Why?”

Chris shook his head, smiling, “You are not going to believe this. Come on in.”

I don’t remember much of the house because whatever I saw as I went through was blasted out of my memory by what I saw on the bookshelf.

See,” Chris said, rather proudly. We’ve got the entire set, hardback, and DVD!”

I stared at the titles on the spines, A Slight Case of Death, One Last Quiche, What the Puck, and they went on for a total of twelve. Pulling one entitled Lucky Stiff, I turned it over and there looking back at me, with a grim reaper behind me, standing in a Chinatown alley I knew only too well, was me.

What in the blazing hell is this?” I asked no one in particular.

Frankie reached over my shoulder and pull off one of the books, opening it. “The Clone in the Closet?” He murmured. “Tony, that’s me on the cover, and is this book about that time the mad scientist cloned me? Who is this Robert Lee Beers and where did he get all my personal information?”

He turned around and said, brandishing the book, “I’m going to sue. Someone find me a good lawyer.”

Milward asked, “Is this right? Is someone chronicling your exploits? Why are you upset? That is a great honor.”

Oh, then you are going to love this,” Chris chuckled. “Look over here on the other case.”

Tearing myself away from… me, I watched. Chis pointed out a set of five rather thick hardback books. The titles seemed odd. What was that subtitle? The Milward Chronicles.

The old wizard did not react the way Frankie and I had. He grasped the book Chris handed him. The title read The Patriarch of Pestilence. Milward was smiling, and I think I saw a tear on his cheek, partially hidden by his short white beard.

This is wonderful,” he said. “Oh, I remember that time well. You see, Gilgafed the Sorcerer had called up a seeker from the shadow realm…”

I know, I know,” Lesley was saying and nodding. “And it melded with this thief named McCabe. I loved the scene where you and Gilgafed caused a rain of pebbles to shred him into mincemeat and he slowly began to put his bits back together.”

Milward sighed as he chuckled, “Good times… good times…”

Frankie joined them and grabbed one of the other novels, “Tony,” he said, “It’s that same writer, Robert Lee Beers. Who is this person and where can we find him?”

Oh, you mustn’t do that, lad,” Milward put a hand on the big guy’s arm. “One never bothers the scribe. It just isn’t done. This Robert is doing you and me a great, great honor by recording our exploits, don’t you see? Young Chris, Lesley,” he turned and asked, “You have read these chronicles, yes?”

Oh yeah,” Chris answered.

Of course,” Lesley said, nodding.

And anywhere in those leaves, did the scribe insult, demean or attempt to ridicule either of these men or myself?”

They both shook their heads.

No,” Chris answered, “If anything, he’s writing you up as heroes.”

There’s one thing I don’t get,” Lesley said, quietly, fingering her chin.

What is it,” I asked.

She studied my face, “How is it you look exactly like the guy who plays you on TV?”

I shrugged, “Beats the hell out of me.”

Frankie moaned.

We turned to look and saw the big guy sitting down, the book with his picture on the cover open in his lap.

I remember this,” He said. “Being stranded on the top of Mount Davidson, you carrying me to the hospital… I remember it all, and someone has written it all down as if they watched it on TV. Tony, I want to go home.” He nearly sobbed the last two words.

I know big guy,” I said, and I meant it. I was feeling pretty homesick myself.

Too bad Bain isn’t around,” Chris said, “I’d bet he could get you home.”

Damn straight!” Frankie exclaimed.

I’m sorry lad.”

Frankie looked at Milward, who had moved to stand in front of him. “What?” He replied.

Milward leaned on his staff with both hands and said, “I am sorry. If I wasn’t so completely lost, I could probably send you home myself, but I have nothing with which to work from for a reference as far as where this world is in the dimensions.”

Frankie patted the old wizard’s shoulder and nodded.

If I remember my Milward Chronicles,” Lesley murmured, “Doesn’t your form of magic, called shaping include something called a traveling vortex?”

The old wizard nodded and added, “As well as forming portals, but in order to do both, the shaper has to be able to picture the destination exactly, and as I have never been here, or in their world,” He pointed the head of his staff at Frankie, “I could just as easily drop them into the center of a sun.”

No, Frankie said, shaking his head, “Don’t want that.”

Right,” I said, “So that’s not an option.”

Frankie slumped into the closest chair, “What if we’re stuck here?” He moaned. “Tony, what are we going to do?”

Lesley said, holding up a finger, “I have an idea.”

Chris looked at her and then a smile spread across his face, “Excellent! Let’s do it.”

As Milward looked on, confused… again, Frankie and I said, “Do what?”

ComicCon’s going to be held in Denver this weekend,” Lesley explained excitedly, “And this one’s big. It will have the entire cast of The Tony Mandolin Mysteries there as well as stars from Supernatural, Arrow, Dark Matter, Killjoys…”

I waved her into silence, “Right, I get it, a nerdfest to end all nerdfests. What does that have to do with us?”

No…” Chris murmured, “I don’t think you do get it. You’ll be there,” he added, hands outstretched, “The other… you, I mean.”

Frankie raised a hand, “Uh… won’t that cause a problem?” he asked, “I mean, what if they touch and each cancels the other out? Or something…?”

I doubt there’s a chance of that occurring,” Milward answered, “Individuals existing in parallel dimensions do not react in the same fashion as those in mirror worlds.”

Yeah,” I said, “That cleared that up.”

Milward pulled out his pipe, and examined the bowl, murmuring, “Thank you. I thought it might.” He missed the roll of my eyes.

Want to see my studio?” Chris asked.

I shrugged. I wasn’t going anywhere at the moment. “Yeah,” I said, “Sure.”

The studio was a small room in the house. Not surprising as I knew of a few folks in my San Francisco who worked out of their homes, using one of the small, spare rooms as an office. I was one of them. The most prominent feature was the microphone. It hung, suspended from an arm that could have graced a dentist’s office and it had a small round screen held in place over the top. Probably one of the pop screens I’d read about that are used to cancel out the unwanted parts of letters like P and S.

Chris said, proudly, “This is where the magic happens.”

I thought, “No, that old wizard’s staff is where the magic happens. This is a recording studio.” What I said was, “Nice.”

He typed one the keyboard and said, “Here’s the one I did about Hole Lot of Shakin’”

What?” I asked.

It’s the podcast about the case involving the 1906 earthquake,” he replied. “It’s one of the short stories, so there’s no conflict with the publishing house.”

Who thought up that idiotic title?” I asked. And the recording began. The introduction with its tagline was fine. The kid had talent, that was for sure. No, what got to me was his reading made it sound like I was listening to my brain at work. After a few paragraphs, I asked him to turn it off.

Are you okay, Tony?” He asked.

No, kid,” I said, “I’m not. I have to tell you, this is beginning to freak me out a little bit. When does this convention start?”

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