Max Helms: Curse of the Relic (Max Helms - Private Investigator Book 1)

Copyright © 2014 by Walter C. Hammett
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

 

Based on the screenplay, “Max Helms – Curse of the Relic” by Greg Bray and Hutt Wigley

Edited by
Robin Schroffel

Cover by Eric Fisk

 

I’d like to thank my family and friends for all the support.

Prologue: The Streets of San Francisco -
Friday, September 19, 1938

It was a cold September night in San Francisco. The kind of cold where a person’s words were visible as they were spoken. Sam had just finished a long shift on the docks and decided to head to John’s Grill for dinner.

He buttoned up his jacket as he exited the office. A
n eerie feeling came over him, as if he was being watched. He walked down the street to his car. He pulled out his keys and nervously looked around but didn’t see anyone. He stuck the key into the lock and felt a small, round cold metal object being forced into his back. A raspy voice said, “This is a stickup! Put your hands up and turn around slowly!”


OK! OK! Just don’t hurt me!”

As he turned
around, his stomach gurgled loudly as the gun was pressed into it. He hoped that the thief would leave him enough money to get a meal because he was starving. The thief took a deep breath and said, “Give me your wallet and--”

The thief suddenly burst into a violent coughing fit.
He continued, “And--”

The thief continued to cough uncontrollably.
Sam felt the pressure from the gun in his stomach suddenly decrease. He thought this might be his chance to escape. He got a good look at the thief and noticed he was extremely pale-looking. He was so pale that he was whiter than the white on his new wingtip shoes. The thief noticed Sam checking him out. “Don’t,” he coughed, “you try--” He coughed some more.

Sam noticed a gaping hole in thief’s chest which had no blood flowing from it.
“You OK, pal? You don’t look so hot.”

Again, the thief
coughed as he tried to answer, “I’ve been--” a raspy hack interrupted his sentence. “--through--”

T
he thief coughed as if every bit of air in his body was escaping as he crumpled to the ground. Sam looked down at him and said, “Hey pal? Pal?”

Sam
nudged the thief with his foot to see if he was still alive. The thief didn’t budge at all. He looked around to see if anyone had seen what happened, but no one was around. He reached into the thief’s pocket, grabbed his wallet, opened it up and pulled out all the cash. He stood up, threw the wallet onto the thief’s body and said, “Looks like dinner is on you, pal!”

He left the alley and proceeded on to John’s Gril
l. He debated whether he should get the lamb chops with a baked potato and sliced tomatoes or a T-bone steak with the same sides. As he approached the front door to the restaurant, he finally made his decision: the lamb chops it was. His stomach gurgled louder than before as he entered the restaurant and was greeted by the maître d’. He got a table for one and sat down to enjoy his meal.

Chapter 1:
All Aboard African Airlines
- Thursday, September 25, 1938

As Don ran through the humid African jungle, he wondered what he had done to upset Mr. Heinrich and get this assignment. Everyone else in the organization was in much better shape and younger than him.

He stopped and leaned on a tree to catch his breath. He looked down at the burlap sack that he clenched tightly in his
left hand. He hoped he would make it out of the jungle alive to give its contents to Mr. Heinrich.

He wiped the sweat f
rom his brow and noticed that it was a little too quiet for a jungle. Suddenly, he heard a sound similar to an ax chopping into a tree. He looked to his left and saw an arrow stuck into the tree next to him. Startled, he took a deep breath and ran as fast as he could.

As he continued on through the jungle, he could hear his pursuers yelling. He glanced over his shoulder to see the tribe still hot on his tail. He knew they wouldn’t stop until
either he reached the plane, or they caught him and got their relic back.

Over the noises of the jungle, the sound of his heartbeat and the war cries of the tribe, he
heard the faint sounds of the plane as it approached. He thought that he must be getting closer to the spot where Tony and Charlie were to pick him up. As usual, it appeared Tony was running late. They should have been on the ground by now. He hoped they would land shortly and he could reach them before the tribe made a shish kebab out of him. As the plane passed overhead, he picked up his pace.

*
              *              *

Tony knew that his tardiness could cost Don his life. He had been flying planes for over 10 years, but was rarely on time. That’s what
had cost him his job with American Airlines and brought him into Mr. Heinrich’s employ.

He looked at the thick jungle
below and thought there couldn’t possibly be a clearing big enough to land the plane. Suddenly, his face was surrounded by cigar smoke. He looked over and saw Charlie puffing a cigar while studying the map. Charlie looked up, smiled and said, “OK. According to the map, the landing field should be off to right.”

Tony veered the plane
to the right. He didn’t see any sign of a clearing anywhere, but he knew Charlie wouldn’t steer him wrong. He was an expert cartographer after all. After a few seconds he heard Charlie scream excitedly, “Look! There it is!”


Swell!” Tony exclaimed. “Lemme just circle around so we can land this baby into the wind.”

As the plane descended, Tony noticed Don running
through the trees with a large angry mob not far behind him. He thought that for an old guy, Don ran pretty fast. He hoped he could get on the ground before the mob caught up to Don. He lowered the landing gear and made a rather bumpy, yet successful landing.

*
              *              *

Don could see the plane
as it landed in the clearing ahead. Every inch of his body ached and demanded rest. But he knew that would be the end of him.

He emerged fr
om the jungle into the clearing. The plane had just stopped moving about 100 yards ahead of him. He started yelling for Tony to start the plane and get moving. He hoped that Tony would hear him in time to get the plane off the ground.

*
              *              *

Tony sat quietly in his pilot
’s chair, quite impressed with the landing he’d just pulled off. Then something caught his eye off in the distance. “There’s Don just to our left!” he yelled excitedly. “He’s got quite a few friends with him.”

Charlie jump
ed out of his seat and looked out the window. A look of shock came over his face as he saw Don and friends. “Holy cow!” he yelled in a high-pitched, comical voice. “Get this crate moving! I’m going aft and see if I can’t give him a hand!”

Tony start
ed up the plane. He saw Charlie release his pistol from his shoulder holster and head into the back.

*
              *              *

The plane start
ed up and began to move as Don approached it. He let out a labored sigh of relief.

The door open
ed and Charlie stuck his head out. He reached out his arm to help Don in. An arrow hit the side of the plane near the door, in between Charlie and Don. Charlie leaned back, pulled his pistol from its holster, and took aim. “Eat lead, you eggs!” he shouted as he fired off several rounds.

Don grab
bed the frame of the door, glanced over his shoulder and saw one of the tribe drop to the ground. The rest of the tribe stopped in their tracks. He jumped halfway into the plane on his belly and squirmed through the door. Charlie grabbed him by the back of his shirt and pulled him in with one hand while he clutched the pistol in the other. Charlie looked towards the cabin and yelled, “Tony! Let’s scram!”

The plane pick
ed up speed and began its ascent from the jungle floor. Don caught his breath while Charlie closed the door. Tony’s voice came over the intercom: “You fellas all right back there?”

Charlie reache
d over and grabbed the intercom on the wall next to Don. “Sure, Tony!” he exclaimed. “We’re good!”

Don c
ould barely keep his eyes open. His heart raced so much it felt as though it was going to shoot right out of his chest. He saw Charlie kneel over him. “Boy! You really know how to bring the party crashers!” Charlie said. “That was a close one!”

Charlie laugh
ed nervously. “Did you get it?” he asked. “The relic?”

Don
gave Charlie the evil eye and handed him the sack. “I got it, all right!” he replied.

Charlie t
ook the sack, looked it over for a bit and then finally opened it and pulled out the relic. “Boy! Mr. Heinrich is gonna be kippy!” he said with an ear-to-ear smile on his face.

Don was so exhausted that he didn’t much care if Mr. Heinrich was happy or not. He watched Charlie carefully put the relic back in the
sack. “Tell Tony I owe him a knuckle sandwich for being late!”

Charlie smiled
as Don closed his eyes and fell asleep.

Chapter
2: Home Sweet Home by the Bay
- Saturday, September 27, 1938

Don was happy to be back in his city, the city by the bay. Now he just needed to deliver the relic to Mr. Heinrich.

He walked out of his apartment to a beautiful sunn
y day. He buttoned up his coat to cover up his safari outfit from his African adventure. He’d decided to wear it as he thought Mr. Heinrich would get a kick out of it. He took a deep breath of the fresh bay air and started down the street to his car.

He noticed two
guys standing at the entrance to an alley he had to pass. Both had their eyes fixed on the sack he carried. He recognized them as Rico and Joey, a couple of two-bit neighborhood thugs. Everyone in the neighborhood knew who he worked for, so they would have to be nuts to try anything with him. If that wasn’t enough, his temper was legendary. He once beat a man into unconsciousness just for reading a newspaper headline too loud on the train.

He nodded to
them as he approached. Joey looked down at the ground as he passed. Rico stepped out to meet him. As he started to go around Rico, he felt something he hadn’t felt since he joined Mr. Heinrich – the oddly familiar round barrel of a gun in his back. Rico motioned for him to go into the alley and Don gladly obliged.


Give us all your dough and you won’t have any problems!” Rico demanded.

Don thought that they could have all of the money in his wallet as long as they didn’t take Mr. Heinrich’s
sack. “My wallet’s in my inside coat pocket,” he replied. “It’s all yours. I don’t want any trouble.”

As Don opened his coat,
he wished he would have worn a different outfit.

“What’s with the funny threads?”
Rico asked as he reached into Don’s coat and grabbed his wallet. “What are you, some kind of a Boy Scout?”

“It’s a little early to be trick or treating
ain’t it pal?” Joey said with a sly grin.

Rico
looked down at the sack and asked, “What’s in the sack?”

“Yeah, I’m a boy scout,” Don replied. “And I’m on a mission to bring my boss his lunch. That’s what’s in the
sack, a liverwurst sandwich.”

A look of disbelief came over
Rico’s face as he said, “For some reason, I don’t believe you. That’s an awfully big sack for a sandwich.”

“My boss has a big appetite
,” Don said sarcastically to Rico.

Rico’s
face changed from a look of disbelief to one of anger as he spoke. “So, you’re a wise guy, huh? We’ll just take your boss’s lunch as well then. We’re both kind of hungry since we skipped breakfast.”

Don knew he couldn’t let them take the sack. He became quite irate at the whole situation. “Look
, you don’t want to anger my boss,” he explained. “If he doesn’t get his lunch, there’s gonna be hell to pay!”

Rico
smirked as he said, “We don’t care if your scout master is mad at us. We’re taking the sack!”

Don
was having a hard time keeping his temper in check. He got an idea that he hoped would keep them from taking the sack. He spoke in a calming manner. “If I were to, say…get this sack to my boss and tell him that you two helped me get it there safe and sound, he may have a place for you in his organization.”

Rico
began to pace back and forth quickly. He looked extremely angry and stressed as he spoke. “Do we look like we need a place in the Boy Scouts?”

Don noticed
Rico look past him and nod. The pressure from the gun in his back subsided. But as quickly as it subsided, he felt the sting of a leather blackjack on the back of his neck. He fell to the ground and rolled onto his back.

Rico
reached down and grabbed the sack. Joey appeared in his view. He squatted down over Don, grabbed his hand and admired the ring on it. “I’m snatching his gold ring,” he said with a high-pitched voice. “It’s gotta be worth decent moola.”

Don started to lose consciousness as
Joey removed the ring from his finger. He gathered up all his remaining energy and said in a strained voice, “You won’t get away with this. We have ways of finding you.”

As his eyes
shut, he saw Joey and Rico laugh as they ran down the street with his stuff.

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