So, here's part one of the tale - the remaining parts will be coming along, probably once a week. Enjoy!
FRED CARTER and the MARDI GRAS MONSTER
Part 1: In Search of Indiana Jones
Okay. Let's see...
I'm still not quite sure how I ended up in a pirogue in the bayou in the middle of the night... fighting lizard-men. Or gator-men, maybe. I'm still not sure which. Either way, I'm as surprised by it as the next guy.
I mean, it all started out innocently enough: my girlfriend at the time, Jeanine, had gotten an assignment from the rag she worked for - a tabloid called The Midnight Sun - to track down this missing dude - an archaeologist or something. He'd been on the trail of a snake cult or some-such weirdness when she'd first spoken to him, but he'd suddenly called her and left a cryptic message about having to go into hiding. She'd finally located his hideout and talked her boss into sending her there. To New Orleans. During Mardi Gras. All expenses paid.
So, yeah - when she asked if I'd go with, it was a no-brainer.
Bright and early on Monday morning, we packed up her sparkling new Civic CRX and hit the road. (The Civic was a cute car, but not my style. I prefer something that can handle rougher terrain and take more of a beating. Maybe if Jeanine had been a little more concerned about durability and a little less about cuteness, her car would have survived the trip.) It was a bit of a haul from Arkham to Louisiana, but I was so jazzed about getting a free Mardi Gras vacation that it seemed to fly by.
Now, I was stationed in the south - at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to be precise - for almost a year before I got shipped over to West Berlin.
(Yes, I said West Berlin. The tale I'm telling you now took place in '89. The Wall was still up, and up to just six months earlier, I'd been in Berlin, helping Uncle Sam keep an eye on the Russkies. And don't take me calling them "Russkies" to mean that I have something against 'em. Heck, one of my best friends is an ex-GRU agent. She saved my bacon more than once. I remember this one time outside Cairo - Oh, yeah. Mardi Gras.)
Let's see... where was I? Oh, yeah: Even though I'd been close enough to take a weekend there, I never made it to New Orleans.
And let me tell you something, kid: New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a sight to behold.
The city was absolutely crazy. You could feel the electricity in the air. I'm sure it would have been hard enough on any normal evening to find the flea-bite motel Jeanine's company had booked for her, but in the madness of Mardi Gras, it took us almost an hour. When we'd finally checked in and gotten to the room, I was ready to hit the bed and chill for a couple hours.
But Jeanine wouldn't have it. She wanted to hit the bricks and start looking for the dude. You have to understand something about that girl: she was a five-foot-one spitfire, and she was a complete pit bull, especially when she was on assignment. You didn't want to come between her and a scoop. I imagine that's why she got all the good, expense-paid gigs - because the paper knew she'd stop at nothing to get the story and they'd more than make back the money they laid out.
I didn't argue. I knew that the sooner she found this guy and got the rest of her interview, the sooner we could clock out and join the festivities.
So I grabbed my Auto Mag from my bag and- Huh? What about the gun?
Oh, yeah. I guess some people might question why I was toting around the hand cannon.
. . . . .