X

Jesus Christ, Boy Detective: The Early Bird Gets the Shaft

by: J. Bradley

“Will this work,” Ben Jones asks, forcing himself to stand still against the wall.

“As long as you don’t move, Mr. Jones, I should be able to get it,” the shadow across the room replies.

“I. .I. .I’ve changed my mind.” Ben turns, takes a step. An arrow lands beneath his raised left foot, the shaft shaking.

“That was a warning, Mr. Jones. You signed the contract. As far as we’re concerned, this is happening. If you read what you signed, then you’re already aware of the consequences should you walk away.”

Ben steps back, extending his arms against the wall. “Alright, let’s get this over with.”

“Timmy, thanks for coming.” Chief Donaldson shakes Timmy Hightower’s hand.

“Of course, Chief. What seems to be the problem here?” Timmy turns and sees a man slumped against the adjacent wall, wearing a hospital gown drowning in blood, the darkest stains around the collar and stomach. “How did it happen?”

“Jim, can you bring the bag please?” A crime scene technician walks over, hands Chief Donaldson a large evidence bag with two bloodied arrows. Donaldson holds the bag in front of Timmy.

“Someone musta watched a little too much Lord of the Rings or something.”

“Or something.” Timmy takes a picture of the arrows and the body with his cell phone. “What’s his name?”

“Benjamin Johan Jones. He was 39, a systems analyst. No wife or kids.”

“Any enemies?”

“We just found the body thanks to a call to 9-1-1 from a nearby payphone.”

“Let me guess. .my father wants me to take this case.”

“You guessed right, kid.”

“I thought…I was the only one who preferred…never to use guns.” Leopold Franz sits on the couch in Timmy’s crime lab, sharpening his throwing knives. “At least. .there was a body this time.”

“Yeah. This time.” Timmy turns to his computer, closes his eyes. He presses a few keys, then opens his eyes again. “Looks like I figured out how to access the data miner Timmy uses to do deep research. The connection of Timmy’s body to his soul is repairing slowly.” The monitor brings up a picture of a man wearing horn rimmed glasses, slicked back salt and pepper hair. Timmy clicks the mouse, presses a few more buttons. “Leopold, the autopsy on Mr. Jones hasn’t come back yet, right?”

“Your phone…hasn’t vibrated or rang.”

“I’ll let them discover that he had stage three pancreatic cancer.”

“Suicide…or a friend granting him his last wish?”

“I don’t think a lot of people want to die by arrow, Leo.” Timmy pulls up pictures of Ben Jones’ body.

“Most of the blood came from his abdomen and the wound looks to be approximately where the pancreas would be. The neck wound though, that came second.” Timmy presses a couple of keys, accessing Ben’s bank statement. “The last transaction was three days ago. $700 to a TATN Industries.” Timmy opens another window, enters TATN Industries in the Search field, hits the Enter key, then stands up and stretches. “Hungry? It’s four-for-one night at Taco Dog.”

“No, thank you. I’ll stay here. .and make a sandwich.”

Timmy grabs his blue track jacket and New York Mets cap hanging from the wall. “I’ll be out for an hour or so. If that thing gets a hit, call me please.”

As Timmy runs up the stairs, an arrow flies through the open basement window and stabs Timmy’s hard drive. Leopold leaps from the couch, throws three knives through the window before the second arrow impales the monitor. Leopold doesn’t wait for the archer’s scream to run up the stairs, outside the house. Leopold watches a white windowless van peel away, a trail of blood leading to the curb where the van was parked. Leopold runs back into the house, picks up the phone in the kitchen.

“Hello?”

“Thank God…you are alright, Timmy?”

“What are you talking about?”

“Come back…to the house…and see.”

“I’m in the middle of eating.”

“Bring it back…with you. You need…to come home. I’m your guardian. You are supposed to do…as I

say, remember?”

Timmy stares at the arrows stuck in his hard drive and monitor. “What happened?”

“Someone…shot two arrows. I threw…a few knives…got whoever it was. He escaped…before I could
catch him.”

“Was there any blood?” Leopold nods. “Why didn’t you call the police?”

“I had to make sure…you were safe.”

Timmy pulls out his cell phone, takes pictures of the ruined hard drive and monitor. He then presses one on the keypad. “Chief, bring a CSI team to my house. I’m sending you the pictures now.”

“It looks like you were getting close to something,” Chief Donaldson says as his CSI team pulls out the arrows, places them in an evidence bag. “Someone did their homework on you.”

“How fast can you find out who it was with the blood?”

“If the shooter committed a previous crime, not long, but if someone is smart enough to figure out how you work, they’re smart enough not to get caught. You can come to the station and use our stuff until you get your computer fixed.”

“Thanks, Chief.”

“The crime lab analyzed the arrows. The one we took out of Jones’ stomach, the head is made of depleted uranium. The one we took from his neck, the arrowhead is just steel.”

“Before my computer was assassinated, I found out Mr. Jones had stage three pancreatic cancer. Based on where you pulled out the arrow and what the head was made of…Chief, I don’t think this was a murder. I think this was alternative medicine gone wrong.”

“What are you talking about?”

“According to his bank records, Mr. Jones paid $700 to a company called TATN Industries three days before we found the body. That was the last significant transaction he made. Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat and the survival rate is incredibly low. Mr. Jones was trying to see if targeting the pancreas directly with radiation would actually work. Something went wrong and whoever did this had to put him out of his misery.” Timmy opens the web browser onhis cell phone, enters “arrows + medical treatment.” The guitar solo from “Wango Tango” plays as the website pulls up. “Hey, Chief, ever heard of the Ted Nugent School of Medicine?”

“Thank you for seeing us.” Leopold, dressed in a tan cardigan sweater, a white buttoned up shirt and khakis, shakes the hand of Dr. Elias Harington, the dean of the Ted Nugent School of Medicine. “Shake the man’s hand, Frank.” Timmy, wearing a New Jersey Devils baseball cap backwards, black bags under his eyes, leans up from his wheelchair to shake Dr. Harington’s hand.

“It’s my pleasure. How were you referred to us?”

“I watched a YouTube video of one of your patients, Erin Grant, delivering a testimonial. She had breast cancer in her right breast and thanks to your methods, her cancer went into remission. She posted the link to the school’s website and well…I’m desperate.”

“Excuse me for a moment, please.” Dr. Harington picks up the receiver of the black phone sitting on his desk, presses a couple of buttons. “John? Yes, it’s Elias. Ms. Grant supposedly posted a testimonial about the school on the Internet. Would you please investigate and determine whether she violated her contract? Thanks, John.” Dr. Harington hangs up, turns his attention back toward

Leopold. “Desperate? How so, Mr. Merkel?”

“My boy here,” Leopold places a reassuring hand on Timmy’s right shoulder, “He’s got a brain tumor that’s resisted all forms of treatment. The doctor says…he’s got six months to live. You’re the last chance that I’ve got to save the boy.”

“Brain tumors are tricky, even for our experts. The price for this kind of treatment isn’t cheap, but it’s cheaper than what big pharma currently charges.”

“How much?”

“$2,000.”

“I…I can do that. That’s amazing. And affordable.”

“You’ll have to provide a 50% deposit up-front and fill out some paperwork, including a binding non- disclosure agreement and a waiver of liability should the treatment. .not work the way it should.”

“Dad. .this is crazy. You’re going to let these people shoot an arrow at my head? What if it works but I’m retarded for the rest of my life?”

“Let me reassure you…Frank…that the practitioners of the Ted Nugent’s philosophy of medicine receive the very best training from masters of Zen archery and from doctors who studied at John Hopkins and Harvard. Our boards are more rigorous than what the state requires. Our success rate has been 65% and climbing. We’re not licensed and accredited yet, but with enough data, we should receive approval by no later than the end of the third quarter of this year. You’ve tried everything else, young man. What do you have to lose?”

“So I have a 35% chance of dying? This is insane. Dad, let’s go.”

Dr. Harington’s phone rings. “Hang on a second.” He picks up the receiver. “He’s here? Send him right in.” Three men in white coats walk in Dr. Harington’s office, bows pulled back, aiming at Leopold and Timmy. “You two are terrible liars.”

“What…are you talking about?” Leopold shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders.

“Drop the fake American accent, Mr. Merkel, or may I call you Leopold?” Dr. Harington rips the cardigan off of Leopold. “Roll up your sleeves, please?” Leopold rolls up the sleeves on his shirt, revealing a variety of tattoos on his arms. “You couldn’t make up a better German name than Gunther Merkel? I’m disappointed in you, and in you, Timmy Hightower, boy detective.” Dr. Harington removes the New Jersey Devils cap, revealing Timmy’s blonde buzz cut. He wipes the bags from beneath Timmy’s eyes with his thumb.

“How did you know?”

“As you watched the ‘testimonial’, we were able to bug your phone’s operating system, tracking your movements through that instead of the tail we originally had put on you. However, based on your profile, we weren’t expecting such clumsiness in gaining access into the school.”

“Elias…”

“That’s Dr. Harington to you, boy.”

“Elias, are you sure you knew where I was the entire time?”

Elias slaps Timmy across the face. “I said that’s Dr. Harington to you, boy.”

Timmy wipes the blood from the corner of his mouth. “Fine. Dr. Harington, are you sure knew where I was all this time?”

“Yes, why?” Gas seeps into Dr. Harington’s office. The doctors/archers and Dr. Harington gag and cry. “Shoot them! Shoot them now!” Leopold drops to the floor, removes the two throwing knives taped on his shoulders, throws them at the doctor/archer to the left and right of him. He sweeps the legs out of the third one. Dr. Harington runs out of his office.

“I got these three…Timmy. Go get Elias.”

Timmy jumps out of his wheelchair, runs after Dr. Harington. An arrow grazes his t-shirt.

“That was a warning. Come after me, boy, and the next one will be…” A marble slaps Elias’ right eye.

He holds his bow hand over it, turns and flees. Timmy sprints, then jumps. Timmy and his right foot slam into Dr. Harington’s back, sending him crashing to the floor. Timmy stands between Dr. Harington’s shoulder blades, aiming his slingshot at the back of the doctor’s head.

“You’re not the only one who’s a good shot.”

Three SWAT team members emerge through the teary mist, dragging Dr. Harington and Timmy out to fresh air.

“That was close, Timmy, too close for comfort.” Chief Donaldson leans against his police car, puffing his pipe.

“If it wasn’t for Leopold scaring off the first tail, and for switching out my SIM card after it was bugged, we couldn’t have pulled this off.” Timmy reaches into his shirt, pulls out an activated Bluetooth earpiece, and throws it to Chief Donaldson. “Please thank Officer O’Leary for shadowing my movements these last few days to keep Elias off my tail.”

“I will, Timmy. I don’t think we can get them though on the Jones case. It’s alternative medicine and he agreed to undergo their treatment. If they could afford a private investigator to dig up dirt on you and Leopold and to plant sophisticated tracking viruses in cell phones, then they probably have an excellent legal team that could keep the Jones case locked up in court for years, R. Kelly style.”

“Uncle Leo and I signed no such paperwork. Once they found out who we are, it became attempted murder, two counts. I’m 100% sure they’ll go to jail for a long time.”

“Your father…has a strange sense of humor,” Leopold says, holding the signature Taco Dog bright
yellow fire hydrant shaped cup full of cherry cola.

“How?”

“That last case. .people being treated with arrows…that would be like me treating illness…with my
knives.”

Timmy swallows a bit of the jalapeno, ghost pepper, kimchi salsa inside the Smaug Dog, chases it with a kamikaze of lime soda, vanilla cola, and Jolt. “Humans are so desperate to hold onto to their mortality, they’ll try anything. My father keeps them good and scared because he needs them to die and from that fear, they create things like Scientology, crystal healing, yoga, acupuncture, things they think will stave off death if they practice them, believe in them hard enough. If they knew the
truth, knew of the broken promise that awaits them after they die…until then, my father will continue doing everything he can to make sure they keep missing the mark.”