Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

So there I am. Doing another wait-fax for Greyghost, eating chicken out of a bucket and watching my Crush Camel DVDs. And the desk phone rings. The desk phone never rings.

I looked at it for about half a minute before realizing I should answer it. It was Nick.

"Dennis," he said.


"There's a guy here to see you."

Does not compute. "What?"

"There's a guy here to see you."

"What do you mean?"

"There's a guy here to see you."

"Just a second," I said. "You're in the lobby, at your desk. And there's a guy, there, standing in front of you, asking to see me. Right there in the building. Is this what you're telling me?"




"Who is it?"

"He won't say. Some old guy. I can't see his face."

A mysterious old guy. "Uh huh. He wants to come down here, does he?"

"No. He wants you to come up."

Pause. "There's really someone there to see me?"


"It's not like a surprise birthday party, is it? I come up and there's everybody with balloons and cake?"

"Is it your birthday."

"No. That's my point."

"No party, Dennis."

"There really is a guy there."


I collected my phone, just in case, and went up the elevator. Nick pointed across the lobby to a guy in a dirty old overcoat, facing out the windows.

"I'm Dennis," I said to him.

He turned around. In addition to the overcoat, he was wearing a filthy old Tilley hat on top of a superhero mask. A salt-and-pepper beard poked out of the nose-and-mouth hole of the mask. Under the coat was a frayed Hawaiian shirt, a pair of shorts, and sandals. "Still got my package?" he asked in a voice that suggested too much booze and smokes.

I had no idea what he was talking about for a moment. Then I remembered: the envelope with the keys and crummy printouts that Cruickshank had told me to circular-file. "Oh! Right! Yeah, I've still got it. That was you who brought that?"

He nodded. "It's probably useless now. But you should hang on to it anyway, in case this doesn't pan out."

"In case what doesn't pan out?"

"Sit down, Dennis," he said, gesturing at the radiator ledge. I arranged myself awkwardly on it. "I need your help. I'm gonna be doing something that could be dangerous, and I need someone with two brain cells firing to back me up. You're working for Greyghost, so you must have something on the ball, and I hear you got a mind of your own."

"Why don't you just get Greyghost, then?" What I really wanted to ask him is who he was in the first place, but the conversation seemed to have moved past that and I didn't have enough of a handle on things to bring it up.

"Can't trust him. Nobody with super powers."

"Oh. Huh. What about One-Eyed Jack?"

"He ain't good for anything except jerking off. Are you in?"

"Not until I know more about it than this. Like, who are you?"

"What it's about," he said. "What it's about is what I've been trying to do for over ten years now. I'm trying to find where super powers came from, so I can get rid of them. And I think I finally found it." While I tried to take this in, he continued. "As for who I am, you can call me Thunderhead."

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