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by Cora Buhlert
Copyright © 2018 by Cora Buhlert
All rights reserved.
Cover image © by Engin Akyurt
Cover design © by Cora Buhlert
Pegasus Pulp Publications
The Adventures of Two-Fisted Todd
A man with a mysterious past, “two-fisted” Todd Donovan now works as a freelance troubleshooter for whoever is willing to pay for his services, locating missing persons, rescuing hostages, repossessing stolen goods and tangling with drug lords, dictators, criminals and other lowlives all over the globe.
These high octane action stories are an homage to the men’s adventure magazines of the 1960s with their lurid covers and breathless prose. So buckle up, step back in time and enjoy an adventure with “two-fisted” Todd Donovan.
The first mosquito assaulted freelance troubleshooter Todd Donovan as soon as he stepped onto the dusty airfield of Puerto Aurora on the Caribbean island of San Ezequiel. The mosquito settled on his exposed biceps and Todd swatted it with the flat of his hand. His aim was true, the flying pest reduced to a bloody smear on his hand. Not that it mattered much. Because for every mosquito killed, a dozen more showed up for the funeral, whizzing and buzzing and sucking blood from every inch of exposed skin.
Todd looked around and finally strode purposefully across the tarmac towards the collection of ramshackle huts that made up the airport, mosquitoes buzzing all around him. He sighed. Time to get the job done, so he wouldn’t have to spend any more time on this mosquito infested island than absolutely necessary.
The money. Think of the money. Think of the one grand he already got and of the nine that would follow once he managed to locate Cheryl, the missing daughter of millionaire Alfred T. Whitman. Not to mention an all expenses paid trip to the Caribbean. Though to be perfectly honest, Todd could have done without that. Especially once it turned out that his destination promised mosquito infested jungles and treacherous swamps rather than cocktails on the beach.
Cheryl Whitman was a twenty-one-year-old college senior who had been born with the proverbial silver spoon in her mouth. However, like quite a few people born rich, she was gifted with more money than sense.
In Cheryl’s case, she had discovered her social conscience and sense of humanitarianism in college and decided that it was her mission in life to help the poor. So far, so good, except that Cheryl wasn’t satisfied with helping the local poor in Berkeley or even in Watts. No, Cheryl decided that she had to go to the tiny Caribbean island nation of San Ezequiel to help the poor there. Why the poor of San Ezequiel were more deserving than the poor in Berkeley or even those in Bayview and Hunter’s Point, Todd did not know. However, choosing to help the foreign rather than the local poor had quickly turned out to be a rather costly decision for Cheryl and her equally humanitarian friends. Because soon after their arrival in Puerto Aurora, Cheryl and three of her classmates had vanished without a trace.
Old Man Whitman had spared no expenses to find Cheryl. He’d called in every favour, pulled every string. And then, when the American embassy, the Puerto Aurora police department and several very expensive private detective agencies had failed to find any trace of Cheryl and her friends, Whitman had ventured into shadier realms and hired Todd. Because Todd got results where others failed.
So Todd had pocketed Whitman’s grand as a down payment and hopped onto the next plane down to San Ezequiel.
Alberto, the customs and immigration officer at Puerto Aurora International Airport or rather what passed for it, remembered Cheryl Whitman and her three do-gooder friends only too well, at least after his memory had been jumpstarted by some free drinks and a five dollar bill.
“Sure I remember them,” Alberto told his new best friend Todd over a bottle of warm beer at the local in the airport lounge, really a dive bar in a disused shed, when Todd handed him a photo of Cheryl and her friends at a campus dance, “Cause you know, those girls were real lookers. Pouty lips, soft skin, long legs and curves in all the right places. A blonde, a brunette, a redhead and a black girl…”
The blonde was Cheryl Whitman, aspiring elementary school teacher. The brunette was her friend Brenda Goldsmith, a sociology major and apparently the brains behind this whole “helping the poor” scheme. The black girl was Michelle Jones, who’d grown up on the rough streets of Hunter’s Point and clawed her way into Berkeley via smarts, grants and the college’s attempts to be more inclusive. The redhead was Deborah Stansfield, who had gotten into Berkeley on a cheerleading scholarship. Before she discovered her heart for the poor, she had been mainly known for dancing the Watusi at fraternity parties dressed only in bra and panties. None of the four girls had ever been further south than Miami nor anyplace more exotic than Malibu and yet they waltzed into a foreign country to save the locals from themselves. Whatever they were teaching at that fancy college of theirs, it sure as hell wasn’t smarts or any lick of common sense.
“They were all wearing those tiny mini-skirts. Nice asses, too.” Alberto took a gulp of beer and licked his lips. “Ain’t a red-blooded man alive who wouldn’t want a piece of that.”
“Including you?” Todd asked and suddenly his voice no longer sounded so friendly and amicable. On the contrary, he suddenly seemed like a very dangerous man indeed.
Apparently, fifteen years working customs and immigration had given Alberto some insight into human nature, for he immediately picked up the change in Todd’s mood. And so he pushed away from the table, raising his hands in a gesture universally understood.
“Oh no, not me, boss. I’m a married man, I am.”
As if to prove the fact, he held up his left hand, the fourth finger of which was encircled by a plain gold band that might just as well have come from a Cracker Jack box.
“And I have daughters. Young daughters, just like those girls.” Alberto theatrically pressed his hand to his chest. “Cross my heart, I would never hurt those young American girls.” He leant forward as if in confidence. “But others, they’re not as kindly as my humble self.”
Todd leant forward as well. “Got any names for me?” he asked.
With some more beer and the promise of another fiver, Todd finally got a name out of Alberto. A guy called Rico, who tended to hang around the airport and offer himself and his ‘39 Oldsmobile up as a taxi to any tourists unlucky enough to find themselves in San Ezequiel. Once the tourists had piled into his taxi, Rico would take them by the scenic route to wherever they wanted to go and charge them through the nose for the privilege, too. Neither of which made Rico any more crooked than half the patrons in the airport bar.