Ace Harmon in Caution: Slow Children

Episode 1
In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
investigates getting dental insurance,
gets dressed down by a suit,
and considers buying a pacifier.

Asians always have the best tortures. Admit it. They've got Chinese water torture in which they drip water slowly on your forehead for hours on end until you go crazy. There's the bamboo under the fingernails torture, which doubles as a solid attack against your manicurist too. There is, of course, Japanese porn and hentai, which is a torture unto itself. But their most successful torture has stayed under the radar for years: Venereal Disease. It's the reason why I don't go to Korean massage parlors anymore. Well, that and a bad experience involving a rottweiler, two rolls of quarters and a bucket of clams, but that's neither here nor there.

"Mr. Harmon," the voice echoed out of the deep red darkness. I looked around searching for source of the voice, but all I could see was the darkness. I could feel my arms and legs tightly bound to the chair at the wrist, elbow, knee and ankle. They really didn't want me to move.

"Where are you, you bastard?" I yelled, more for effect than anything practical reason, my tongue catching the chipped tooth I must've gotten from the boot to the head.

"I'm right here, Mr. Harmon. If you opened your eyes you could see me." Note to self: make sure my eyes are open before scanning the room. I peeled my peepers wide and stretched, trying to take the post-concussion fuzz. I blinked a couple times, trying to make out my surroundings. "We've taken the consideration of repairing your nose. I aporogize for the theatrics, but I want to be crear that we have no intention of harming you more if it can be avoided."

"Broken nose. Chipped tooth. And I seem to have lost a contact." I closed one eye and tried to focus on the man talking to me. "You're a fuzzy little guy, aren't you? Yes you are!" The fist hit me from the left. Obviously the pin's goons didn't like me being patronizing. I spat blood through the gap in my tooth, spraying a fancy design onto the floor next to me.

"I'm here to make you an offer, Mr. Harmon."

"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, so unless you've got good dental, I don't think I'm in the mood to listen," I snapped.

"Mr. Harmon," the man continued, his pinstripe suit coming into focus as he approached, "you will risten one way or another. Either I can assist you by giving you your grasses and we can continue this like civirised men, or you can continue to push and we can gag you and beat you until we get the answers we want." I tilted my head like a dog, considering his offer.

"Listen Wang Chung," I said, flinching at the expected blow that never came. "You have me at a disadvantage. I can't say I'm a big fan. So I want concessions. If we're going to chatter and you expect get anything but slim pickings from me, I need a name, an explanation, and a little bit of freedom." I turned toward the goon who'd hit me. "That means untie me, you jackhole."

"As you wish, Mr. Harmon," said the man in the suit. "But I expect your furr cooperation." He nodded at the loogan and I felt the ropes snap and slip off.

I rubbed my wrists and stretched. My glasses case landed in my lap. I slipped my other contact out and popped my glasses on. The place was a warehouse. Boxes with Asian letters surrounded us, leaving a fairly wide area with a few dangling lamps hanging over a couple of metal chairs and a small table with a briefcase on it. I could see a narrow path running through the boxes at the far end, but there was no chance of running now.

"My name, Mr. Harmon," said the man, drawing my focus back to his short frame, "is Nam Ton. I am chief of operations for the American branch of Tonsung Computing." The name jumped out at me. They were the company suing that American one from the paper in the trunk.

"So you're the high pillow?"

"I'm sorry?"

"The big cheese." His quizzical look remained. "The head honcho? The man in charge? The boss?"

"Ah, I see. For you, yes. As far as you're concerned, I am the high pirrow, as you say."

"And were you the ones who torched my launchpad?"

"No, Mr. Harmon. In fact, we didn't even rearize that was your buirding. You see, Mr. Harmon, we have recentry been the victim of a very dangerous crime. Tonsung is a very respected company in Korea, but we are very smarr here in America. In order to increase our presence here, we have designed a new product for the American pubric that courd make us a very rich and powerfur company, rike Nintendo or Sony. It would be a great boon for Korea. Unfortunatery, our software was storren before it was rereased. We received a tip that another American company was producing a cheap knock-off; one that courd put us in a very bad position."

I leaned back, grimacing as I gently stroked my broken schnozzle. "So what's this got to do with me?"

"Our tip came from inside this American company. They gave us a name: Dennis Dumont." Suddenly, things were coming into focus. Metaphorically. Not literally. Things had literally come into focus when I had put my magnifiers on. "They said he had been contracted to do some work. When we got to his apartment, we saw you and the boy reaving with a raptop. Since we can't get to the company itserf, and Dennis hasn't been seen for severar days, we think that raptop may hold the evidence we need. So you see, Mr. Harmon," Mr. Ton said, sitting down on the table and sliding a paw over the metallic case, "you seem to have possession of something very varua... varua... very important to us."

"So let me get this straight. Some big shot American company is knocking off your Real McCoy and I've been left holding the bag?"

"I don't know what you just said."

"Nevermind. Just level with me. How am I to know that what's on that wired box is proof that you're getting conned and not some fancy code you're planning on stealing yourself? I mean, an American company making cheap knock offs of Korean goods? How likely is that?" Mr. Ton smirked and shook his head.

"Your country, Mr. Harmon, is dying. The dorrar is dropping, your workforce is being outsourced to India, Asia and even Africa, and your government is fighting with many bad people who would rike to see your country in frames. Your onry export reft is curture. This may be the first time in a rong time an American company has storen from an Asian company, but it's going to happen more and more." The case snapped open, revealing stacks of crisp Jacksons. I whistled at the sight. "This is five hundred thousand dorrars, Mr. Harmon," he said, picking up bundle of bills. "Here is one thousand. If you get us the proof, the rest is yours." He tossed the lettuce at me and closed the case. "Think it over, Mr. Harmon. You have two days before the offer is off the table."

Mr. Ton turned and headed for the boxed pathway, his torpedoes in tow. I sat there, flipping through the cabbage and dreaming of a little island of my very own, Miss Dumont in a grass skirt and shimmying like a dashboard stripper. I sighed. Apparently, this case was much bigger than I had originally thought; big enough I could land a hot tomato and a side of cabbage; enough to keep a man happy.

I stood up, shaking the last of the cobwebs off and headed out of the warehouse. Stepping outside, I could see the sun just coming up over the horizon. Perhaps this was the dawn of a new day. I mean, literally, it was, but perhaps metaphorically too.

I adjusted my glasses, trying hard to avoid the glare as I searched the skyline for the nearest skyscraper I knew and began hotfooting it back downtown. It was time to visit the kid and find out if Mr. Ton was and honest John or all wet. If my instincts were right, I'd put my money on... Well, hell. Mr. Ton had my money and that's all I was really thinking of.

Five hundred large. Hot Damn. Now that's something to suck on.

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

In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
recommends an iron,
gets his panties in a twist,
and figures out Victoria's Secret.

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