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It was a peaceful, sunny summer day in a quaint town in southern France and Harmone Throttlefist was walking down a narrow cobblestone street named Bon Bon Lane, not knowing the fate that awaited him.  Every shop on the street had a colorful sign outside.  As he walked down the road, he saw restaurants with tasty French cuisine.  Towards the end of the street, he saw what he had been hoping for - a traditional French bakery.  

He headed in and took in the aroma of all the various sweets, muffins, bread, and pastries.  He got the warm, joyous feeling that one gets in a place such as this.  He breathed on the glass of the bakery cases as he looked at all the options they had in store.  

A man came to the counter.  He was a very burly man with a heavy mustache and tattoos covering his massive, muscular arms.  He asked, “How can I help you?” in perfect English with no French accent at all.

This is kinda weird, thought Harmone.  “Could I have the Danish in that case, please?”

“Absolutely,” replied the baker.  He handed the pastry to Harmone.  “That will be five dollars, please.”

“Did you mean euros?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” Harmone handed over the money and left the shop.  

As he got back into his rental car, police cars began to arrive.  The policemen, armed with rifles, entered the bakery that he had just exited, and he heard gunfire.  The “French” baker ran out down the street and jumped into a blue getaway car that left with its tires squealing.   Knowing that he had not done anything, he did not want to get caught up in a mess.  The police cars were hot in pursuit as he left the scene quickly.  After Harmone arrived safely at the hotel, he flipped on the TV and did not have to change the channel, since all stations were occupied with the urgent news that Gus Gunslinger, a notorious criminal, was on the run.  

Suddenly, it all made sense. The absence of an accent, the tattoos, the look in the man’s eye when he messed up euros and dollars.  This man had not been French at all, he realized.  Two weeks ago, he had seen that a criminal that was wanted by Interpol had gotten away.  That was how the French police were allowed to handle a matter with an American gangster.  This criminal had been responsible for multiple significant murders and hackings.

After he heard the horrible news, he tossed the tasty treat he had bought in the trash, for fear that it had been poisoned.  He immediately rescheduled his flight home for two days from then to get back home as soon as possible, out of this mess.

He packed up his belongings and got into a taxi headed to the airport.  He vaguely remembered the route to the airport and noticed that the taxi driver took a turn that would result in a longer trip.  “You could have taken a right, instead of the left,” said Harmone.

The driver turned around slowly, and said, “I know where I am going.”  Harmone stifled a gasp.  The driver of the cab was Gus Gunslinger, the criminal, and the not so French baker.  They turned into the rundown parking lot of a gas station.  The exterior of the place was falling apart, but through a slightly open window, Harmone caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a  supercomputer, glowing with blue light.  That must have been how he had hacked so easily into the major credit card companies.  This station was not run-down.  The criminal had left the outside dilapidated but turned the inside into his base.  Gus turned around.  “You will not say anything about what has happened, or you will not like the outcome.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, certainly,” Harmone said quickly.  The rest of the ride to the airport was quiet and luckily, uneventful.  

When they arrived, Harmone jumped out as fast as he could, grabbed his suitcase, and ran away from the car.  Security was tight, as they did not want the criminal who was on the loose onto a plane.  When he got his passport checked, the security officer said, “Did you see any suspicious activity while you were here?”  Harmone stiffened like a board.  He remembered that Gus had told him not to say anything, but he decided that it would be better to report that to the government and try to end the criminal’s reign of terror.  

“Actually, yes I have.”

“Please come with me.”  Harmone followed the officer into a plain white room where he sat down at a white plane table.  At the other end sat a very fit man in a black suit.

“I am agent Brutus Beanpole,” he said.  “I am in charge of finding the convict by the name of Gus Gunslinger.” He looked at his files.  “While you were here, you had one or more encounters with this man, did you not?”

“I was on Bon Bon lane, and I went into a bakery and ordered a pastry.”

“Can you describe the convict, please?”

“He was a very burly man with a mustache and tattoos.  After I realized that the baker was a criminal, I threw out the pastry and rebooked my flight to the States for today.  I took a taxi here, but the taxi driver was Gus Gunslinger, and he pulled into a gas station that I think was his home base and told me not to say a word about any of this.”

“Could you tell me more about the gas station?  Where is it, and could you see inside?”

“Yeah, it was super run down, but I think I saw a super advanced computer inside.  I think it was on Harm’s way.”

“Okay, thank you.  We will send an agent to watch your house for a week.  After that, we can be sure that Gus Gunslinger is no threat to you.”  With that, Harmone left the room and ran for his flight, jumping on just as the door was closing.  

The flight was uneventful but uncomfortable, as Harmone was six foot nine in economy class.  When he arrived at the airport in the great state of Texas, he retrieved his belongings from the conveyor belt and walked out to the parking payment area, where there were booths for payment.  A calm voice said, “Please enter your ticket here,” and an arrow flashed, pointing at the slot.  He entered his ticket and paid for the spot.  He then checked his phone for the picture that told him where he had parked his car so that he could find it again.

He walked towards the spot, hoping the car had not been stolen, because it was brand new.  With a sigh of relief, he squeezed into his blue Smart car and drove home.  When he got there, he noted that there was a unmarked car parked outside, which was the agent that Brutus Beanpole had sent to his house.  Life was great again, and with the protection of the agency, nobody attacked him.  He went about his daily business, and after the week was up, the agent left the house.  

Harmone decided to go to the grocery store to pick up his favorite food, turkey neck, so that he could cook it up for a nice dinner.  When he came back, the door was unlocked, but he assumed that he had just left it accidentally after being used to the automatic locks of the hotel doors.  

He put the bag down on the counter and then saw a slip of paper underneath his favorite pen.  With a horrified gasp, he read the note.  It said,

You told the police just what I said not to.  

You will hear from me soon.

Harmone dialed the police and told them about the note.  The voice on the other side said, “Okay, I will patch you through to the CIA.”

“Hello, this is agent Brutus Beanpole.”

“Hi, agent, this is Harmone Throttlefist.  We spoke at the airport.”

“Ah, yes, how are you? You haven’t had any encounters, have you?”

“No, not yet at least.  I have a note that reads: ‘You told the police just what I said not to.  You will see from me soon.’  I think it is from Gus Gunslinger.”

“Okay, I will come to your house, and we can talk further.”  With that, the call ended, leaving Harmone brooding over what to do.

There was a knock on the door, and Harmone opened it.  Standing in the doorway was not the agent, but the person Harmone had least wanted to see.  Gus Gunslinger stepped in the door and pointed a gun at Harmone’s chest.  “Come with me.  Now.”

Harmone was lead outside at gunpoint, into a car.  Just as they were exiting the neighborhood, the CIA and U.S. military was on top of them.  Apache helicopters hovered overhead, with armored humvees and police cars.  They were soon surrounded, and Brutus walked over to the car, flanked by two S.W.A.T agents.  Gus Gunslinger was yanked from behind the wheel, and Harmone stepped out.  Gus was lead to an armored vehicle and shoved inside.  Brutus walked over to Harmone and told him, “We put a listening device in your house to monitor how things were going.  While our guys were monitoring it, we heard somebody come in, and knowing you are the only occupant of the house, we brought the cavalry over.  It turned out you were being kidnapped, so we managed to get ahold of the criminal.”

“Yeah, I thought it was you when I opened the door, but I was so surprised that he got me.”

“Well, he will be in custody soon and not a threat to you anymore.”  

They all left, and Harmone decided to join the CIA, and eventually, he got Brutus’s job when he retired and ended up working on cases just like his own.


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