Ace Harmon in Caution: Slow Children

Episode 1
In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
takes a ride on a forklift,
gets up close and personal with Optimus Prime,
and finds him self tongue tied.

Koreatown is an interesting place. If you don't know Korean, it's even more interesting. The whole place smells like raw fish and seawater, seeing as how the docks are only a few blocks out. If you can stand the smell, there are more street vendors and chotchke stores than you could shake a stick at. The only problem was that the neighborhood wasn't exactly the safest. If you even tried to park your jalopy or hay burner within a quarter mile of K-town, by the time you got back, the tires, radio, seats, and engine would be gone. You've got to give those Koreans one thing: they can dismantle a vehicle in a jiff. If you made it in on foot, you still had to deal with old cobblestone streets the city never bothered paving. Not to mention that everyone, wheat and chaff alike, ran the chance of a run in with the Korean mob, affectionately nicknamed the Ggangpae.

When we pulled up a block away from the famous Koreatown gates, I tossed a hundy through the slot and slipped out of the cab. The cabbie yelled his thanks before peeling out. On the way over I had used a piece of my rags to bindle my gash, so the blood was at least stemmed for now.

I knew it was a risk making for K-town right off the bat, but I didn't think I had much choice. The dame had James, which meant she probably had the disc. Since the laptop was fried and with Butler, that spinner was the last piece of evidence and leverage any of us had. Sure, there was no guarantee that she had headed for Koreatown. But seeing as how that's where the Koreans were waiting with the bread and where Butler was stashing Dennis, the odds were good that she had booked it for a quick payoff before trying to make a clean sneak.

I ducked behind a street light when I saw the fuzz. After a moment or two of acting non-chalant, I took a second look and realized it was just a metermaid. She was writing a ticket for a red cruiser. A smile crossed my face as I realized it was Dumont's, the same one she had taken from the school. She must not have wanted to take the time to park properly, as the car was stationed in front of an urban slip and slide. My gamble had paid off. Dumont was here somewhere.

Lee street was bustling with the average afternoon business. Cries selling duck and fireworks and all manner of exotic goods echoed down the street. I took my time traversing the crowds, trying to stick to the edges and keep my peepers peeled for trouble. About two blocks in, I spotted the typical storefront that marked your standard Korean warehouse, the two jopoks standing out front a dead giveaway that this was a off-color operation. The Leviathon and Microsoft signs in the windows meant the wharehouse carried games. This was the one.

The interesting thing about Koreatown is that it's built up instead of out. It's true that most of the city is built that way, but it's especially true for Koreatown. The typical warehouse was five to eight stories high with the first floor being a wholesaler for whatever was stored there. Elevators in the back alleys allowed crates and palates to get to any floor relatively easily. Back in the day, the top floors used to have speakeasies and black market casinos. Keeping them up there was ideal, since it took 15 minutes for the coppers to get from the edge of K-town to the top of one of these warehouses, and by then the place was clean and everyone was scot-free.

I wasn't about to make a full frontal assault on the place in my condition. I wandered around back and scoped the alley. For a man who considered himself to be a villain and a genius, not necessarily in that order, he didn't really understand the nuances of security. The alley was essentially clear, the only occupants being a homeless guys with a very nice box collection and a couple of workers unloading a truck.

I wandered towards the lift, my head down and hands in my pockets. The homeless guy mumbled something at me, but I don't speak in tongues. I tossed the guy my spare change, figuring it would lessen the chance I was heard sneaking around and maybe, if he was lucky, buy the bum a sandwich or a cup o' noodles. I came alongside the truck, the workers still undisturbed by my presence. It was then that I heard the engine.

Before I had the chance to run, the forklift slammed into the truck, its forks on either side of my head. I barely had time to duck and slide under the trailer before the thing was flush. I would've been splattered like a watermelon at a Gallagher show if not for my cat-like reflexes. Make that turtle-like reflexes, as I seemed to be flat on my back.

The torpedo hopped out of the forklift and cracked his knuckles menacingly.

"And here I thought you'd be dead by now, Mr.--Hey! Where do you think you're going?" I scrambled backwards under the truck while the goon tried to speech at me. The workers stared at me as I slid out from under the trailer.

"Mind if I borrow that?" I asked, snatching the crowbar from the dumbfounded docker. I heard the suit running around the front of the truck and made to meet him at the cab.

I ducked low so he couldn't see me. He whipped around the corner, heater out and looking to warm me. Too bad for him, I was waiting, crowbar ready. His shin cracked like the liberty bell, the goon instantly tumbling like a demolished tower. The gun went off, deafening me as I slammed against the cab for cover.

"You ass!" the guy yelled, firing bullets at my feet as I leapt onto the rigging. "You broke my shin!" The workers had scrambled for cover, the gunshots echoing down the alley. I heard the gun click empty. I jumped off the cab and kicked the goon in his hands before he had a chance to reload.

Stepping firmly on his wrist, I said, "You got any last words, bub?"

"You're a dead man," he said quietly and started laughing.

"You think you're funny?" I asked, hefting the crowbar menacingly. "I'm pretty sure I'm the comedian here. After all, I'm about to slay you." I slammed the crowbar into his head, spraying blood along the ground. If he was lucky, the cops would be here soon and the paramedics would be able to stop the bleeding. If not... well, he would be two pints short of a gallon.

I felt the muzzle slip into my back. This is what happens when you start getting theatrical. One minute, you're kicking some serious ass and dropping one-liners like flies, and the next you're on the business end of a pea-shooter some kid slipped into the classroom in his napsack. Needless to say, this rock and hard place were courtesy of my own mistakes.

"Drop it," said the deep voice behind me. "That's three of my men you've killed or maimed today, Mr. Harmon."

"I heard rumor you liked to run with gaycats, but who knew?" I snapped. He grabbed my injured arm and squeezed, his thumb on the bound wound. I shivered and convulsed trying not to scream.

"Actions, Mr. Harmon, speak louder than words. Now march," he said, the muzzle pressing into my back like an I-beam in a hammock.

The man pushed me towards the open loading dock. "You gonna tell me who you are?" I asked.

"No." The heater shoved me further into the building and towards a flight of stairs. "Up."

I hate being captured. It never ends well. I continued the march up the flights of stairs, hoping the goon would slip. On the bright side, at least things seemed to be heading up.

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

In which our Hero, Ace Harmon,
ruins a persian rug,
gets some help from a pirate ninja,
and experiences his dream vacation.

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