Chapter Five

The invariable mark of wisdom is seeing the miraculous in the common.

Ralph Waldo Emerson



Downtown Knoxville, Tennessee

Gwen walks past an enormous bronze fisherman in a half-submerged rowboat, glancing at the reflection of a white van in the windows of the building across the street. “Really? A white van with no windows sporting a decorative front license plate with a “3” on it.” Gwen sighed.

She continues walking, makes a hard left at the next corner. The van slows down to a stop nearby just as Gwen darts into Gus’s Restaurant. “Guess I will have to buy Gus a new plunger and chain”, she thinks to herself.

Just last week Ronald, Lewey, and Halfling were lamenting that there were no good jobs to be had that did not require knowledge about computers. That’s when they answered this advertisement they found in the Thrifty Dime:

Be Popular! Meet famous people! Fight Crime! No knowledge of computers

required, will train. Valid drivers license helpful. Apply in person…

You get the idea.

Ronald had a drivers license. Not to be outdone, Lewey went down to the public library, and with a little help sent $35 off to a guy on the internet and now he is an ordained minister. They met Halfling on the bench as they waited for their interviews.

Ronald and Lewey were talking about all the special preparations they had done to improve their odds of landing the job when Halfling could stand it no longer and shoved a little card under their noses, as if to say, “I win, you guys can just make your way back to Maynardville because I am a cinch for this.” Sure enough, the card said “State of Tennessee Fishing License” and there was a trout stamp!

“Paid cash money for it too!” gloated Halfling.

“All right, let’s do this,’ thought Gwen as she thought about all the bones and muscles she had about and within her body at this very moment that did not hurt. She slowed down, then ran a bit to make sure the guys in the van would be able to find her. Just as she crossed the street, Wall Street if you are trying to retrace the route, the van stopped in the middle of the intersection.

Gwen wrapped the chain around the door handles on the side of the van and spiked them shut with the plunger. Much activity inside the van was heard as the van door almost opened, snapped back shut, and four hundred pounds of good old boys fell back against the opposite side of the van, nearly turning it over.

“Oh. Dear. What will I do?” feigned Gwen, pretending to be a damsel in distress. Never a member of law enforcement around when you need one, right?

Fortunately the van also had doors in the back, which popped open more successfully because Gwen wanted to give the guys a sporting chance, and because Gus only had one plunger. Remember Gus? There used to be a restaurant named Gus’s restaurant, and it was good food at reasonable prices, much like Phil’s Diner only with a better location.

Out scrambled our heroes, whom Gwen nimbly avoided by bobbing, weaving, ducking, and occasionally goosing.

“Ow! She pinched me!”

“Reel her in, boys!”

“Stop bragging about your danged fishing license, she is wirier than she looks!”

Finally the boys started slowing down, sweating profusely. Ronald and Lewey started tagging each other out for rest breaks as a crowd had begun to gather. Halfling threw a net over Gwen as Lewey was getting off of his break, and Ronald drove them all away from the “scene of the crime” headed towards Interstate 40 headed west bound.

About the time they got to the Watt Road exit Gwen had mostly freed herself from the netting, and was trying to brush out her hair.

The floor of the van was covered with straw and empty cans that previously contained A & W Root Beer or YooHoo.

“Did we do good, Miss Gwen?” Ronald wanted to know.

“I see you took my advice about the straw and got rid of all those pine cones,” she replied.

Halfling showed her his fishing license.

“All right boys, you did pretty well that time, and the white van is definitely an improvement over last time, too. So I have an assignment for you, just let me off at the chicken restaurant over there.”

“What is the assignment Miss Gwen?”, asked Ronald.

“Sensei Fred wants you to pick up a black belt candidate from the university. He gets out at 3:00 pm this Friday in front of Ayres Hall, everything else you need is in this envelope. Cash on delivery, guys, but don’t rough him up too much, Fred has a busy evening planned for this guy.”