Snake Jockeys: A Trigonometry Van Dyke Mystery
Some people think Trigonometry Van Dyke was the deadliest black ops agent in the world until he disappeared seven years ago. More importantly, now he thinks he is. The problem is those last seven years of an amnesia addled mind living a mild mannered suburban lie has eroded his “particular set of skills." Now the Agency has him back. And his country needs him. So Trig is off with not-sidekick Pepe, Agent Smoke, and a host of lowlifes to a far off land that doesn't technically exist.
This was the fantasy:
His name, as far as he knew, was Ken Peterburg. And he was an American hero. The kind that kicked ass.
“Only the law of the jungle in here, comrade,” The American hero spat out, “Dog eat dog. You’re gonna have to either learn to fly or grow wings. So what’s it gonna be, Yuri?”
The man sitting opposite the hero spoke and understood English flawlessly, but he was still baffled. “Please, have a Jelly Belly and just … veg out so we can finish our work.” Yeah, he had American idioms nailed.
So the hero and the comrade sat glaring at each other across a wide slab of chocolate colored mahogany, one smiling goofily and the other silently snarling. A little red, white, and blue American flag poked up from a brass holder next to a briefing binder in front of the American, and opposite a white, blue, and red flag of the Russian Federation did the same. The cavernous room’s bank of windows with blue-print damask curtains were pulled aside behind the Russian, high above the city.
They must have been negotiating some kind of treaty. Who knew, but probably something life or death like chemical weapons or vulnerable nuclear warhead stockpiles.
Next to the hero was a sweet blonde in smart slate gray, biting her lip as she glanced from the American hero to the Russian villain and back again. Next to the Russian with the candy was a thug. Everyone knew it. His HGH-fed pecs strained beneath a blue Oxford blazer like Bruce Banner about to be Hulk. The thug never let his droopy-eyed gaze leave the hero.
Thirteen seconds of knuckle-grinding silence dragged on. The hero hated quiet. At 15 seconds the hero was done here. It was Action Time. “Listen, my Russian friend—”
“I am not Russian.”
“Sure you are.”
“I am Tuvan.” Blank stare and open mouth from the hero. “I represent the great Russian Federation, which is vast and diverse, but I personally am Tuvan.”
WTF?! Action Time doesn’t split ethnic hairs!
“Whatever. One of us is going to leave here with the treaty he wants and the other with the treaty he has to explain. I don’t do explanations, so let’s just skip the preamble and get it on.”
The Russian – okay, the Tuvan, whatever the hell that was – squinted and said, “Are you coming into me?”
“Sorry, I don’t dig Tuvan trannies.” Then the hero grabbed the blonde by the scruff of her neck and smashed his face into hers. He flicked his tongue on the roof of her mouth for three deep, hot, sexy seconds. “The way I roll is you and I step up on this table, flag against flag, and whoever winds up not dead wins. And just so we’re clear, I’m Captain Kirk and you’re the green lizard dude.”
The hero rose as the villain shivered as the blonde quivered in anticipation as the thug muscled up his butt cheeks in preparation to pounce. Striding to the man who was shaped like a tall penguin, the hero towered and glowered. Many y mano, face to face, first one who blinks is a pussy. Finally a single salty droplet squeezed from the penguin man’s scalp and slithered onto his caterpillar unibrow. The hero almost smiled.
The Russian-Tuvan-what the fuck ever let his head fall and, as if it was a signal (and maybe it was), he coughed. The thug flew up from his chair with a snarl and stomped a boot on the table.
The hero seemed to implode, surging inward with both arms pinching into his chest while his knees came up, straying in the air for a half-second like a levitating fetus. Then with a whoop he burst, all four limbs crashing into the thug, fists to face and feet to shins. The thug squealed and fell. The hero landed over the thug, ready for any twinge that would rain down more ass-kicking.
“Now! Now! He’s killed Dmitri!”
It was the Russian-Tuvan screeching toward the thick double doors at the front of the conference room.
The hero yelled to the blonde, “We gotta go!”
Go where? They were 3,000 feet above the center of this sprawling Euro metropolis and on the wrong side of the only exit. Just then three triplets of the fallen thug burst through the double doors. And they had guns.
Grabbing the woman’s hand, the hero whisked her in a huddled run toward the other end of the room. He had earlier noticed that one of the windows was actually a pair of French doors that looked onto a small wrought-iron balcony. Always have an alternative exit. That was Spy 101.
The instant they flung open the doors there was a rush and a booming whirr-whirr-whirr, then a spray of machine gun fire peppered the wall just overhead.
A helicopter! He pulled the woman to the bottom of the balcony and covered her with his arms. Hunkering down, the hero sensed an odd quiet. He lifted his head for a dangerous instant and peered. A gust of wind had pushed the helicopter down one story where bullet spray shredded an aging Belgian couple on their second honeymoon. The hero shrugged. He knew it could be dangerous to even be in the same air space with him during Action Time.
The hero brought the woman up to her feet, her knees knocking, his tensed and ready. Peering over the edge of the balcony, the hero saw the buzzing blades of the copter fight the wind to rise. He plotted in split seconds, in edge of his seat scheming. Thump-thump-thump of the rotating whir, one-two-three… There, had it.
“Take my hand.” The woman took it, gazing up at him like a frightened puppy unsure what it did to deserve this. “Just hold on and follow me.”
With a stand-still lunge the hero was up on the balcony rail, lifting the woman with him and steadying her with both hands on her lithe hips, lingering. Thump-thump-thump, one-two-three. It had to be now.
“Ready?” One, two, three, scared puppy eyes, then “Jump!”
And they did. The hero yanked the woman forward with him, feet pointed downward toward the slicing blades. But he’d timed the rotation of the blades to the nanosecond. Thump-thump-thump-jump – and then the hero and the woman were through!
They ducked and crashed onto the soft aluminum of the helicopter cab! The hero’s razor-edged shoe tips shredded into the metal and he split his legs in a frog-kick semi-circle to tear a hole in the top of the helicopter! Thud!, and the hero had landed in the space behind the pilot’s seat of the helicopter!
Quick scan, the pilot and a thug just pulling his machine gun around toward the hero – bam!, and the hero ball-kicked the thug into a flailing, screaming, two-story backstroke. No pause. The hero whirled and yanked the radio from the console, whipping the cord around the pilot’s neck in a death spiral squeeze.
While the pilot was still writhing, the hero’s nostrils caught something foul. Sniff, sniff. He looked down. Did he shit himself?
Shake out of it, no time. The copter pitched and veered downward as the street rushed up. Did he know how to fly a helicopter? No. But no excuses. Heroes sack up. Fighting it, the hero tugged on the controls and—
But there was that poop smell again. And then…
Was that a baby?
Worse, was that a baby crying?
Baffled, and a little scared, the hero looked down to see the pilot pushing his face up toward his, puckering and stinking and crying.
That was weird.
 Damn, this is a lot of exclamation points!!
Eyes creeping open, blinking, light seeping in. The baby’s cry blossomed, still in his face, as if inches from his nose.
Because it was.
Because this was the reality:
The hero, who apparently was actually named Ken Peterburg, was staring at the gaping maw of his crying, stinking eight-month old second son. His name was Peter because he and his wife really hadn’t thought that one through. Her name was Lola and she held Peter wailing in front of Ken as he dozed face on his desk in front of his computer in his home office.