Ace Harmon in Caution: Slow Children

Episode 1
In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
enjoys a local dish,
meets a beautiful girl,
and gets a mysterious new case.

It was a Tuesday--I knew because I always ate Chinese on Tuesdays. I was sitting behind my desk lapping up Mrs. Song's greasy lo-mein surprise, my wallet still itching from the scratch I dumped in her lap for services rendered. That was when she walked in. I tried to give her the once over but my eyes lingered on her ripe tomatoes.

"EAT MORE!" yelled Mrs. Song, her grating voice punctuated with a slap so hard the thought of fresh produce flew out of my head like a sparrow from the park. I stood up to greet the tall drink of water in my office doorway while Mrs. Song grumbled her disapproval.

"Ma'am," I said, doffing my cap.

"Are you the detective?" she asked, her lips sparkling like a fine champagne.

"He no detective. He just hungry stiff."

"Shut your yapper, Mrs. Song," I snapped. "This ritzy sheba and I have got two tongues and saucer full of milk to discuss, so put away your Chinese box and get the hell out." I wouldn't have normally been so brash, but it's rare that a dish with that kind of roughage waltzes through my door. I tried to lean nonchalantly on the windowsill, carefully sleaving the slimy residue around my mouth. Mrs. Song gave me the evil eye as she swung her skirt towards the door.

"Fortune, Mr. Harmon, not so good," Mrs. Song sneered, her arm lashing out like a bull whip, launching the cookie into my chest. I'd tell you it shattered because I'm built like a brick wall but I'm a detective. I deal in the truth. They're just shoddy cookies.

The door slammed behind Mrs Song. "So how about that milk?" I asked. "Has it gone sour?"

"I need your help, Mr. Harmon."

"Call me Ace, Miss..."

"Dumont. Christie Dumont." I smiled.

"Have a seat, Ms. Dumont," I rasped in my smoothest Bing Crosby. I yanked out my deck and spun a Lucky in her direction.

"Those'll kill you," she said, sliding into the rump hugger on the other side of my desk and waving the smoke off.

I flicked my zippo and cherried the gasper. "So will most things in my line of work." She frowned as the dense vapor poured from my lungs. "Are we gonna jaw or are you just another tapestry?" I slid into my throne, flipping my tires up on the desk.

"I need you to find my brother," she said. I slid the top drawer of my desk open and my mitt hit the hooch. I licked my lips and swung to the left grabbing my handy-dandy notebook.

"He got a moniker?" I asked, poised with the ink shooter above my flip-top memory. Christie reached into her bag and yanked out a piece of paper.

"Here," she said, handing me the sheet. "It's the last letter I have from him."

I looked at the sheet. Between all the fancy formatting were three sentences, only one of which I could make heads or tails of:

im fubar, tptb say ybs
tptb otw, gtg ily
Don't worry, I'll be fine.


"What is this?" I said, searching in my pocket for my Captain Midnight decoder badge.

"It's an email, detective."

I tried to play it cool. "Well of course, but what's it mean?"

"It means my brother's in trouble. He's not the brightest boy, but he's got a thing when it comes to computers. I got that email four hours ago and haven't been able to reach him since."

"Four hours ago? Have you been to the coppers?"

"Yes. They wouldn't help me." I smirked and took another drag off my snipe.

"Maybe he's off getting a wiggle on, or playing drug store cowboy. Four hours ain't enough time to get the jitters. Hell, for all we know, he could be splifficated."

She squinted and stared at me puzzled. "He could be what?"

"Spifflicated." I waited for recognition, but her eyes told me I was dropping bonny faster than she could follow. "Canned? Corked? Primed? Scrooched? Embalmed? Ossified? Fried to the Hat?" She was obviously a flat tire when it came to the streets. I mimed a swig and watched her realize.

"Drunk?" she asked.

"Now you're on the trolley! That's why the brass won't APB your brother."

"Dennis doesn't drink, Mr. Harmon."

"He's a youth?" I asked, worried the cops had missed the ball.

"No. He's special." Now it was my turn to get balled up. "He's developmentally disabled," she said with a sigh. "I keep him under lock and key whenever I'm at work. There's no way he got out without my knowing. Yet when I got this email and rushed home, he wasn't there."

"Looks like this mystery's on the level. If, however, I find out it's all wet, the next time we shoot the bull, it won't be under such friendly circumstances." I stood up and offered my hand. "I'll take the case."

With a slight smile she shook my hand. I felt something hit my palm as she gently gripped my scarred maw. "Here's the key to our apartment. I'll be staying at my friend Julia's house for the next couple days. I'll be in touch, Mr. Harmon."

As she turned to scram out, I couldn't help but stare at the sway of her pins. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I was a sucker for a hot tamale and if a case like this got me into a skirt like hers, I'd pray for eggs in the coffee. The door clapped shut and I sat down in my throne to dream about the Jane.

I lolled back and swung my gravel stompers up on the desk. I remembered the broken fortune cookie Mrs. Song had thrown at me and dug it out of the crumbs on the floor. With a smirk, I took a look at the slip:

The greatest danger
could be your stupidity.

Lucky Numbers: 7, 13, 29, 38, 64, 81

Well gee. That's nice.

Stay tuned for our next exciting episode of
Ace Harmon, Retro Detective

In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
finds himself in a sticky situation,
fights a very large man,
and uses a public restroom.

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