A Hypnotic Whomp-Whomping Over Paris
Greetings, beloved readers. Being pressed for time, I had to improvise this week. Luckily for you, that means a little fiction! But first, read this book: Running on Empty: How the Imminent Collapse of the Petrodollar System Sets the Stage for World War III, by Alexander Macris (2023). It’s very short but rather important. Many of the predictions from December and January have already come to pass. Things are heating up. Ultimately, all of this will be good for any Americans who survive getting to “ultimately”.
And now, a preview of another little book:
Spring 2017: France has suffered great violence and political turmoil. Everything is shrouded in deception, death, and danger, but rest assured, Dr. Ironsides is on the case. Our “better than Bond” story is a hard, fast, all-action, first-person(!) thriller set in Paris one year before the beginning of THE SUBSTITUTE. What follows is from one draft or another and is, of course, subject to change. Enjoy.
~ a short segment from ~
(a forthcoming Tom Ironsides novella)
I heard the chopper, of course, a noticeable part of the background noise on a night of continuing excitement. Slowly wandering down the street – I won’t call it staggering – I checked my shoulder again. It was a clean wound and small. I couldn’t even rest my pinky in the gash. That was happy news as far as I was concerned: a few stitches and I’d be fine. I was catching my breath and I then suddenly became aware I was probably wandering the wrong way. So it was that I had just decided to check the next street sign I came upon and walk back towards Foch. Then I looked up.
It was only a block away or less, hovering maybe fifty feet above the rooftops. Even in the dark, I could see it was blue and white, a newer Eurocopter model. She turned slightly to one side, and I read ‘Gendarmerie’ printed on the side just above the skid. The rear door might have been, probably was open, slid back. Figures were moving inside though I really couldn’t see what they were doing nor, beyond being cops, who, exactly, they were. As I listened to the loud, nearly hypnotic whomp-whomping, half of my brain suggested waving. What better way, I thought, to get in touch with Jacques? The other half, however, maybe the half with the experience or the intuition, suddenly if silently objected. I had no time for internal debate. In an instant, the spotlight hit me. I didn’t feel like it, but I immediately launched the full sprint again, running by the absolute Grace of God.
Speeding across an intersection, racing towards the opposite corner and relative, temporary safety, I felt the shrapnel hit. Bits of lead or other metal fragments and little chunks of asphalt were driven into my legs and back. Even in the heat of things, I could tell it probably wasn’t bad, maybe not even breaking the skin and certainly not leaving any long-term damage. But the accompanying sound told me it was a SAW or another light machine gun of some kind, not the thing one wants to feel the full experience of. Around the corner, I hugged the inside of the sidewalk, trying to use the wall to my right as a partial shield. The shots stopped but I could hear the whomping louder than before and, just barely, I caught the note of the turbines revving up. The glare of the spotlight returned. She was on me!
After only perhaps a block, the gunner opened up again. All around me, though thankfully just behind, a cacophony of breaking glass, snapping brick and concrete, and exploding rounds broke out. I darted down the first turn I came to. I felt for it but did not draw my pistol. I’ve been the guy in the air doing the shooting. Against such an opponent, there’s not much a man on the ground can do with a sidearm in the dark. Then I was in another alley, still running hard and fast. The light flickered on and off as I ran and the sound moved in and out, surrounding and then passing me. I knew she was getting ahead. So mid-run, I turned hard. In a moment, I was back on the first street, heading in my original direction. Knowing they’d figure out the move, I took the next right I came to.
In this manner, I zigged and zagged, slowly – all too slowly – making my way in a southerly direction. At some point, I crossed Foch. Glancing to my right, I noticed many flashing lights. I wondered where Jacques was and if he was still watching my bow-tie show. At any rate, I had no time to correct my course, with the gunner suddenly right behind me once again. More bullets kept me moving fast. After what seemed like an hour, or a day, I arrived at Trocadero Gardens. Unfortunately, I ran in from the side and was unable to obtain the cover of the museums. My plan, if I had one, was to make for the carousel and take up a shooting position. I was wondering if any officers had seen me running and how anyone could miss all the gunfire. A little optimism almost started building in my head. However, just past the central pool, in sight of the Pont d’Lena, they had me.
A van rolled off of New York straight onto the grass. I halted and faced off with half a dozen men, each aiming a rifle at me. The Eurocopter was now just behind, hovering and illuminating me. I figured I was covered and would be mowed down if I resisted. So, I slowly raised my hands. Several of my terrestrial assailants moved in. They were strangely attired but were given away by their uncovered faces. It was obvious that I had encountered Middle Eastern terrorists making a low-effort attempt to kind of, sort of look like cops. But while their appearance was almost comical, their guns did command respect. One of them roughly patted me down and relieved me of the burden of my gun. Passing it off to a comrade, he spoke, angrily if haughtily: ‘Doctor Ironsides! Steinmeier said we could expect you. Please join us for a ride.’
I asked, ‘Nicholas? Is he going to join us? Maybe show off the Foundation’s real work in all these happy events?’
The answer was a little cold, and it came with a hard blow to my head: ‘No, mon ami. He’s busy setting up a new government for a new nation, but he asked us to give you a tour. If you don’t mind now, let’s go!’
We walked slowly towards the van, while I still actively gasped from the run and while my mind raced. Six of them, and they appeared serious, were a little much, at least in my present condition. For the life of me, I was out of plans. Fortunately, someone else was not.
The helo was lazily drifting away and to the south. The spotlight turned off as it passed over New York. I was watching it uneasily while we walked, so I saw the whole thing. It happened, all of it, so very fast as to make accurate recounting somewhat speculative. First, in my mind’s eye, there was the explosion. Then, as the burning wreck fell into the Seine, I noticed the trail in the air. ‘Why didn’t I pack an R-P-G?’ I think I actually laughed openly. The other men didn’t find the episode funny. Alarmed rather, they ran several steps forward toward the van. I could have made a dash for it, but I (we, rather) were interrupted again. I only noticed the other van when it careened onto the sidewalk and ran over four or five of my captors, scattering the rest. The driver fired a submachine gun into the cab of the first van and then called to me in French: ‘Docteur Tom! Entrer!’ I did so almost immediately. But first, I had just the presence of mind to snatch my gun back from one of the last men standing. For bailment, I shot him in the temple. I wasn’t even seated, my door still ajar, when the heroic driver hit the gas, launching us into the traffic on New York. A couple of stray rounds hit the van as we rocketed away. He handed me his MP-5, saying, ‘Prends le! Pour toute poursuite. – Take it! For any pursuit.’
I looked down at the gun before I looked over at him. But, when I did, I knew him! He was a Godsend and I told him so: ‘Pauly! You’re a Godsend! How’d you know?’
‘My scanner. It’s normally how I keep the business one step ahead of the … you know. And I wasn’t going to let them get away with my favorite old customer.’
‘When did you get into the heavier stuff?’
‘About the time your old supplier, the other American, Becker? When he left town. Have a hard time moving the stuff. I don’t sell to them – the new French nor Steinmeier’s kind.’
‘Well, I’m glad to see you again. Thank you, brother!’ I said with joy.
‘Don’t mention it. Now, where am I taking you?’
I had him route over to Foch. There, at an intersection, Jacques waved us down. He was expecting us, pinging both our phones as it turned out. For a second, I was worried about Pauly.
‘He just happened to be in the area,’ I said. ‘I saw him and jumped—’
Jacques didn’t require an excuse. ‘Save it. He works for us some of the time.’
‘Who doesn’t?’ I asked.
Pauly drove away and I started quizzing Jacques about, well, from my perspective, revenge. He had other ideas, insisting that I visit a hospital. We arrived at the closest ER under a heavy escort. While a young, attractive lady doctor cleaned my shoulder and prodded my backside, I renewed the interrogation or debriefing. ‘You must have everything you need,’ I said. ‘If nothing else, the button-vision footage should suffice. They even implicated Steinmeier back in the park. When do we—’
‘Yes, that and more. But there is no we. It’s time for you to resume retirement and maybe think about returning to Slovakia. Like tonight,’ he said somewhat firmly.
‘That, my friend, isn’t in the cards,’ I said defiantly.
‘It is. And it’s all of them. The whole deck! I will, for old times’ sake, give you a little more information. We’ll go to a field office before you leave – and it is time you leave, you damned trouble-making Yankee. I’ll answer a few questions in exchange for a few answers from you, and for your promise to stop shooting people and blowing things up!’
Within an hour of leaving the hospital, we were at a field office, which looked a lot like a good neighborhood pub. We entered a private office in the back, me sipping Scotch, and they pulled up a monitor. It was then after midnight.
[Learn More This Fall]
How was that? Great. Make some room on the old credit card!