Monday, August 21, 2017

Expert assistance

Many people wonder if we, The Unbelievables, do everything ourselves. The answer is, yes, yes we do. We are completely self-contained, masters of every skill we ever need to employ, and we always handle every single detail of every single situation by ourselves.
Except when we need help.
In which (very rare) cases we have a network of expert specialists upon whom we can call.

For instance, explosions.
We're very good at making all kinds of things blow up, when we need to.

Bad guys (they looked different prior to this picture being taken)

Bad guys in offices
Cars (belonging to bad guys)
Things to jump over while driving, because we look really cool when we do that.
The guy we learned all that from is somebody we still call on today if we're just too darn busy to do it ourselves is the legendary demolitions expert. Louie K. Bluéé.
He's French
He's very good at his job, and if there's anything that's a drawback, it's that he's a little too enthusiastic. He'll call us in the middle of a case and offer his services, whether we need them or not.
LOUIE: Unbelievables! Ze zituation you are currently dealing with calls for zome explosions. Beautiful displays of pyrotechnic destruction to show ze bad guys you mean, 'ow you zay, busy-ness?
US: Thanks, Louie. But we're just trying to find a lady's lost dog.
LOUIE: Call me back eef you want to blow up ze dog. Or ze old, 'ow you zay, lay-dee?
US: Sounds good, Louie. We'll let you know. Thanks.
LOUIE: I love you.
US: ...
LOUIE: ...
US: What did you say?
LOUIE: Zay? Nothing! I did not, 'ow you zay, zay? anything! (click)
There are other people we call on from time to time who are experts in their respective fields. Michael and Jeff will shine spotlights on them later this week.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

No Trax At All

"The Hammertrax Gang hasn't actually done anything but this still bears further investigation ... we've got some digging to do!"
- Clark last Wednesday

After hanging up on Petit, Clark called out to Jeff: "Jeff! Get Michael! We need to talk ..."

Jeff turned the corner and took a seat across from Clark. "Michael took off while you were on the phone with Petit. No clue where he went ..."

Clark dialed me up. Of course having caught wind of Miss Sterious, Mistress of Mystery ( (and the fact she was a redhead) I was all over getting to the bottom of who she was. It's no secret I'm a sucker for redheads and I was taking the initiative on this one. Besides, she had a nifty gun. And, from the picture provided of her, it looked like she knew how to use it. I was naturally intrigued. 

Seeing the call come in from Clark, I answered the phone. "Hey, what's up?"

"Where are you? We need to powwow. I have information from Petit about the Hammertrax Gang."

"It just so happens I'm on a mission to find out all about Miss Sterious. Thought I'd jump the gun and get started" I informed him.

"Well, high-tail it back to base. The Hammertrax bunch is fake as is that Floating Jack McFadden dude and the redhead you're after. In other words, their complete figments of the imagination! Sorry to squash your hopes and dreams about the supposed Mistress of Mystery, but you want find her ..."

"But" I stammered "I saw her picture! Plain as day!"

"Fabricated," Clark stated.

"Hello! Red hair!"

"Probably a wig on some no name dame Petit hired to pull a fast one on us."

"And ... she has a gun!"

"It's a hoax! No gun, no red hair, no Miss Sterious. And there's no Hammertrax Gang either ... at least not the way we were led to believe. I got the lowdown from Petit. Guido, Liam and Chong? They're really just a bunch of smoking adult/children like Petit. And they haven't done anything ... nothing at all. There's no case, period. Get back here ..."

I hung up the phone. I felt defeated. The thrill of the chase was gone, deflated like an old balloon. I'd gotten my hopes up for nothing ...

I put my phone in my pocket and headed back to the Unbelieva-Base and heaved a sorry sigh ...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mysterious Trax

"Looks like we can expect problems from this lot, should we end up tangling with them (though whether or not it turns out to be actual mayhem remains to be seen).
More news as and when." - Jeff, yesterday

That's when the phone rang (around here, when the phone rings or the mail arrives, it's often coincidental with whatever is going on at the time). It was Henri Petit.
PETIT: So hey, about that Hammertrax Gang. We should probably go get them before they cause any serious trouble, thereby cutting into anyone's already-established serious trouble business. Don't you think?
ME: What are you talking about? The only 'we' that exists between you and The Unbelievables is how wee you are, you wee pest.
PETIT: Oh come on. This would be an ideal opportunity for a non-conventional team-up! Like when the Fantastic Four and Namor the Sub Mariner put aside their differences long enough to battle some common threat.
ME: That's a what-if scenario and you know it. Listen, we don't want whatever cookies you're selling, little girl.
PETIT: Little girl?! That's sexist!
ME: It's not sexist because it's not demeaning women as a gender. I'm referring to you as a very specific individual little girl named Daphne who wears pigtails, is ugly, smells bad and sings "la la la" while trying to jump rope. And now I'm hanging up on you, Daphne.
PETIT: Wait!! Don't hang up! I lied! I do know the Hammertrax Gang!
ME: (hesitantly) Go on.
PETIT: They're friends of mine. Or they were. At least I thought they were.
ME: That figures.
PETIT: But not anymore! We're enemies. You need to know that. You also need to know that they hacked the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.) to throw you guys off. Here's what they really look like:
Of course, we were on a video phone (L to R: Chong, Liam, Guido)
ME: Great Scott! They're children. Vile, ugly children who probably smell terrible. Like you!
PETIT: What?!? No, I am not a child! How many times... Look, I'm not a child and neither are they. We're all mature adults. But we have certain physical characteristics in common. That's why we were drawn to each other and I thought we were friends. You see, what happened [click]

Petit suddenly stopped talking because I had gotten tired of hearing him talk and hung up on him. Things are getting very strange indeed. The Hammertrax Gang hasn't actually done anything but this still bears further investigation. Of course Petit is lying, but how much? Can somebody actually hack the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.)? Could there really be a whole family of genetic nightmares like him out there? Do we even care, if they're more focused on messing with him than us? And how do Floating Jack McFadden and Miss Sterious, Mistress Of Mystery fit into all of this?

We've got some digging to do!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Trax Listing

Ah, yes. The Hammertrax Gang. The gang of numskulls who kidnapped Petit (or did they? Call me cynical, but I don't trust a single word that comes out of Henri's mouth - apart from "Ouch!", "Ooof!", "You're breaking my arm!!" or "Please don't kick me out that windoooooowww....CRUNCH!")They have bragged that they are devious and clever, and promised us mayhem, but thus far - not a peep.

So, in the meantime, let's see if we can't find out who they are exactly?

Well, as they mentioned in their little note, they are named Liam, Guido, and Chong. They popped in a little picture, too, but as it turns out, this was a still from an old silent film. 

Note evil eyebrows and massive 'tache.

Searching through the Electro Evil-Doers Index Of Troublemakers (or E.E.D.I.O.T.) for the names Liam, Guido and Chong Hammertrax turns up these rather more recent pics:



and Chong.
However, it turns out there are two more members of the gang - 

Miss Sterious, Mistress of Mystery, and...

Floating Jack McFadden, The Bandit That Floats.(Kind of a redundant name, really, since we can already see that he floats.)
So... not three, but five, and one of them is able to float around while another is a rather attractive (if heavily armed) babe. 

Looks like we can expect problems from this lot, should we end up tangling with them (though whether or not it turns out to be actual mayhem remains to be seen).

More news as and when.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rescuing Henri

We quickly ate the mac and cheese and got down to business. Too quickly, if I'm being honest, which I am. For one thing, bad for the digestion. For another...
"Are we really in a hurry to go rescue Henri Petit?", I asked. "Why?"
"He's a person and he's in danger", Jeff said.
"Right", Michael added. "It doesn't matter that he's a criminal and that we've had problems with him. We're bigger than that."
"Are we, though? I'm not sure we are. I'm pretty sure I'm not, at least. I have to admit, the idea of Petit being totally out of our lives makes me kind of happy. It'll certainly free us up to help people who aren't a pain in our collective behinds."
Jeff and Michael looked at each other.
Jeff said, "Well... I mean, we're heroes. We do heroic things. Right, Michael?"
Michael answered with some hesitation. "Yes. Yes, we are."
I could be wrong, but it seemed like Jeff let off the gas a little.

We arrived in Granite Falls and found No Good Nick's with little difficulty (it's not a big town). Not only did we find the place, but with the help of a happy-to-see us barmaid, we found Petit.
"I'm really happy to see you", she said. "I've been babysitting this monkey all day long and he's on my nerves something fierce. We have karaoke tonight and I have work to do."
"How many times do I have to tell you, I'm not a baby and I am not a monkey!", Petit snarled. "Oh hi, Unbelievables".
"Whatever, monkey baby. All I know is they said The Unbelievables would show up eventually to collect him and I'm glad you did."
"Who is 'they'?", Michael asked.
"These guys", she answered as she handed us a photo with a note attached.
"Hello Unbelievables. Please allow me to introduce ourselves! We're the Hammertrax Gang! Me, Liam Hammertrax, and my brothers Guido (L) and Chong (R)! Don't worry about the girl; she's a model we hired to be in our publicity photo and was released unharmed! The point of all of this is that we are getting into the criminal biz and will be causing all sorts of problems for you in the future! We wanted to make a statement of our serious intent and at first we thought we would put someone you love in peril! But then we thought a more unique statement would be to put someone you despise in peril! That's why we kidnapped Henri Petit, to show you we can get to anyone, any time! We are devious! We are clever! Mayhem will ensue! Keep that in mind!"

Jeff turned to Henri Petit and said, "what do you know about these jamokes, you crumb-snatching muggins?"
Petit said, "All I know is that they're in more trouble with me than they are with you. Nobody kidnaps Henri Petit!! It's a matter of who finds them first, me or you, and they'd better hope it's you! Because...they...will...PAY!!!"
Michael looked at us and said, "Well, I guess we have this to look forward to now too. At least we rescued Petit."
Petit said, "Take me home immediately, you morons." Jeff said, "Yeah yeah, we'll take you home." Petit then said, "Ooh, but first there's an adorable soft-serve ice cream spot just down the street. It looks like an ice cream cone! Who wants soft-serve? My treat!"
With that, I picked him up, threw him in the trunk and slammed the door. Yeah, I wanted soft-serve. But the day I let Henri Petit buy me a Twistee Cone is the day I quit The Unbelievables.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Unbelievables Go To Washington (State, That Is)

The guys had all but abandoned the Snohomish Yelp review clue since hearing the soundbite from Petit, or someone claiming to be Petit. To me, it sounded like Inspector Clouseau doing a bad Herve Villechaize impersonation (or perhaps the other way around), but since Clouseau was a fictional character famously brought to life by the great and most definitely late Peter Sellers, and Mr. Villechaize was similarly deceased, we knew it couldn't be either of them.

I decided to go back to the Yelp clue for one last time. I hit gold. Pay dirt. The Motherlode. Not from the monster burger bit, but from the words "Swingtime Express". Immediately I zeroed in on a quaint tavern in downtown Snohomish called the Oxford Saloon.

Looking at the reviews, they didn't seem to have a monster burger, but they seemed to have other burgers which were definitely huge, as well as a dish that caught my eye - the Prosciutto truffle Mac'n'cheese.

As soon as I told the guys about this I was ready for them to be champing at the bit to head to Washington State, but they seemed to be only partially interested. That is, until I mentioned the words "Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese".

"I'll drive!" they both shouted, fighting over the car keys. I waded in sharpish, and grabbed the keychain, putting an end to their childish banter. "I'LL drive, lads" I commanded, "I happen to know the owner of The Oxford and if you're lucky, I'll talk him into letting you have an extra helping."

During the grueling yet picturesque journey, Clark earwigged me during a gas-and-potty stop. "How do you happen to know the owner of a place that does Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese and yet we didn't know about this?"

"An old pal from days of yore," I said. "How do you think I acquired my skills in the whipped potato department?"

Clark scratched his head and bugged his eyes out in wonderment. He slowly walked back to the car with his convenience store purchases in his arms (3 tubes of Pringles, 15 Twinkies and a case of PayDay bars, plus a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew), muttering something about hardly knowing me at all, to where Michael was sitting in the 'Vette with his purchases (a double espresso and a bar of Ritter Sport, plus a copy of Woman's Own which he apparently buys for the recipes, despite seldom, if ever, cooking anything) listening to Glen Campbell's Dreams Of An Everyday Housewife with tears rolling down his cheeks and sobbing like a child.

"He's gone, he's gone," Michael blubbed. "First Bowie, now Glen..."

A few hours later we reached our destination - the pretty little Northwest town of Snohomish, a hidden gem full of neat shops and bars and restaurants. I pulled up the 'Vette outside the Oxford Saloon and we all took a minute to compose ourselves after having had an emotional sing-along to Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits in honor of the great man.

I strode into the bar and was greeted by the young and unfamiliar bartender.

"Hey, fellas, what can I get you?" said the barkeep.

"Actually, I'd like to speak to the owner," I replied. "And get these guys two big plates of that Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'cheese while you're at it!"

"Right away, sir," he answered, and scuttled off.

A moment later, my old buddy Ernie came out into the bar area. When he saw me he greeted me heartily, slapped me on the back and asked what the heck I was doing in this neck of the woods? I gave him a brief run-down of the story so far and then played him the strange message that appeared on Michael's SoundCloud account. At this, he grew pale.

"Did he say... no-goodnicks?" he asked, visibly shaken.

"Yes, why??" I enquired.

"Well, I recently had a run-in with the owner of a local bar in nearby Granite Falls..."

"What bar?" mumbled Clark through his mouthfuls of the most incredible mac'n'cheese ever created.

"Well," answered Ernie, "it's a place called No-Good Nick's..."

"What are we waiting for?" said Michael. "Three plates of Prosciutto Truffle Mac'n'Cheese to go, Ernie!"

Tune in on Friday for more...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Plea du Petit

I never could understand that McGee dude" I told the guys. 

Clark nodded at me. Jeff kept things level though. "Still, we need to check out the Yelp thing. Clark might have something there ..."

We didn't have anything on McGee - much as we would have liked to - so we high-tailed it back to base. The three of us scoured the internet. 

We came up dry. "Get a monster double burger and listen to Swingtime Express in Snohomish, WA." McGee had said ... but every permutation that came up with those keywords, any phrases and the like led to a dead end. A couple hours into it bore no fruit.

But Jeff came up with something strange. "Check this out: There's a weird Yelp review off a Snohomish that says 'Smokin' smalls you cannot find behind fluffy whites ... but you can certainly hear'em.' What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

A metaphorical light bulb appeared over my head. "SoundCloud!" I exclaimed and started searching anew. Sure enough, on my SoundCloud page, this strange recording came up, one I hadn't recorded or put there:

It was that little weasel Petit. You could tell by his labored breathing and bad French. So bad, in fact, it took us some time before we could translate it:

"It is I, Henri Petit! Please, Unbelievables, I have been kidnapped by no-goodnicks! Save me!"

"It sounds like him ... but it doesn't. Know what I mean? Even so I wouldn't lift a finger for the little scurvy ratatouille" Clark confessed.

Both Jeff and I knew where Clark was coming from but ... Who would kidnap Petit? Why? Was it really him on the recording? What did Tony "Monobrow" McGee have to do with it if anything? 

Stay tuned ...