Jameson: Cold (or I Scream, You Scream)
Ernesto Ricardo José Rafael Arturo de Jesús ("Ernie" to his friends) pushed his ice cream cart along Madison Drive in Washington, D.C. Ernesto was a common sight to the regulars who frequented the National Mall, as he'd been selling ice cream there for the past five years. As he pushed the cart, he sang a little song:
I sell the ice cream
To all the señors y señoritas
I sell the ice cream
To all the little chicos y chicas
I sell the ice cram
To all the mamis y papis
But if it gets too caliente
It will get muy sloppy!
People enjoyed seeing Ernesto. He always seemed happy and content; selling paletas of his own delicious recipe. He sold them from April through October, six days a week (barring Sundays), rain or shine, and never missed a day. Every now and then, when Ernesto would notice a small child crying or throwing a tantrum for his or her parents, Ernesto would give a free bar to the child, in the hope that it would quiet them down a bit. The parents would normally thank him, to which he would reply, "It's no problem. I have seven children of my own!", and continue on his way. Yes, Ernesto was, by all who knew him, possibly the nicest man in D.C.
What they didn't know was that, up until five years ago, Ernesto Ricardo José Rafael Arturo de Jesús ("Ernie" to his friends) had been The Office's most skilled demolitions expert in their employ. His exploits were legendary, but only to those privy to the missions of The Office. Ernesto was the man who was able to assassinate a major Somali warlord by placing a small amount of Semtex into a rifle cartridge, which in turn was used by said warlord during one of his hunting trips, which in turn exploded in said warlord's face. Then there was the case of the exploding dentures of a Russian Mafia strongman. Any Agent involved with that mission seemed to have gotten a big kick out of it. Ernesto was an artist, and his medium was fire, death and destruction. He was also well known in The Office for making damned tasty paletas, which lead to his retirement and current occupation. The man had a dream of making and selling his own paletas, and this dream was stronger than any explosion, even the one he'd created at Mount Tumbledown, during the Falklands War. That was a nice one, though.
Ernesto was finishing up for the day and making his way back to a parking lot where he had his truck and trailer that were used for transporting the cart. As he approached the truck, he heard a familiar voice behind him.
"Hola, Ernie." It was Agent Jameson. "How's the ice cream business been?"
"Hola, Jameson, my friend!", Ernesto replied with a smile, "It could be going better, but it could be going worse. Living the dream, eh? It's been too long! What's it been, a year? I appreciate being asked to be a speaker at the Office's demo symposium. I meant a lot to me."
"The pleasure was all ours, Ernie. You know you've come up with stuff that half of these jokers won't consider for another couple of years. What you did was give them a little jump start. The live demonstration with the robotic mouse running up that mannequin's pants leg and exploding was a nice touch. "
"Heh-heh. Gracias, Jameson. Gracias. It's a matter of thinking outside the box that had made me so successful in the job. I just ask myself, 'Hey, can I make that blow up and destroy something?'. It's all about using your imagination, really." Ernesto finished getting the cart loaded onto the trailer and closed the tailgate. Then he turned back to Jameson. "So what can I do for you? Normally, we don't get contacted after retirement, so you must have a good reason to see me."
"I need your help, Ernie. Konstantin is back from the dead, apparently," Jameson replied, looking very morose as he brought up the subject.
"Konstantin? No! I thought you killed him with a free-range, organic chicken about two years ago, didn't you? It was just after the 'Snowpocalypse'. I cannot believe this, mi amigo."
"Yeah, I thought I had, too. I broke into his place, took the chicken, shoved the whole thing in his mouth, or at least as much as I could, he asphyxiates and dies. Problem solved, right? Wrong. I was in Thailand with Agent Gregger, when we were attacked by by two hired thugs. We had no problem fighting them off, but one of them directed us to a small cafe. There was a bag in a booth near the back that contained some curious items. The first was a note from Konstantin. The second was my childhood stuffed tiger, J.J. The note shocked me, and the tiger left me completely gobsmacked. What I couldn't figure out..."
"What's this? Gobsmacked? What kind of word is that?", Ernesto interrupted.
"Er, it's like dumbstruck, or amazed, or astonished, or stunned...", Jameson replied.
"Oh, okay. I thought you were just making up words."
"Ah. But, we're getting off topic."
"Sorry about that. Please continue."
"Of course. I received authorization from The Office to put together a strike team to take him out. Hopefully, it will be a permanent take-out, this time around. I already have a candidate for our tech operator, but I wanted to see if you'd be interested in the demolitions slot. I need the best. You're the best. Hence, I need you, Ernie."
Ernesto looked stoically at Jameson and placed his hand on Jameson's shoulder. "My friend, I had been in the business of killing, destroying, burning, and generally causing hell for people for over 40 years. I've fought for small-time criminal organizations, warlords, nation-states, etcetera. Then I came to The Office, where I felt I had a true home for such a long time, and continued causing chaos for the greater good. Five years ago, I realized I was becoming an old man, and decided to follow my second love; making and selling paletas. It would take something very, very big to cause me to leave this and return to the chaos. Jameson, mi amigo, I see you as family. This Konstantin could become a very big threat, and I don't like very big threats to my family. I will do this, Agent Jameson. I will return to bring hell upon this Konstantin, even if it should cost me my life. However, there is one thing I must do first."
Jameson smiled and shook Ernesto Ricardo José Rafael Arturo de Jesús' hand. "What is it you need to do? I'll help in any way I can."
"Oh, no, Jameson. This is a rather easy, and long-overdue task. You see that guy down there?", indicating to Jameson another ice cream vendor further across the parking lot, who was getting ready to put his cart on his trailer. The man waved at Ernesto. Ernesto, ever the face of civility, smiled and waved back. He looked back at Jameson and continued.
"That perro, that escoria, that serpiente is trying to drive me out of business. He showed up about a year ago, selling mass-produced ice cream and charging fifty cents more that what I charge for my paletas. I heard he tries to bad-mouth my paletas, calling them "foreign food that can't be trusted"! My paletas! I make sure I bring respect to the products I make! Foreign food! Like that is something not to be trusted! Here! In America, the 'Great Melting Pot'! This man is no good for the rest of us. He is a bad vendor, Jameson. I was going to do this today anyway, but now, with me coming back on, I really have no reason not to."
Ernesto went into the cab of the truck, and returned with a small detonator box. He flipped the safety off of the detonator button and pushed it. The other vendor's cart exploded in a maelstrom of ice cream, trailer parts, ice cream cart parts, and bits of ice cream vendor. Fortunately for Ernesto, he had made sure that there were no bystanders. Otherwise, their whole experience with ice cream would be forever traumatized. Ernesto turned back to Jameson, with a smile.
"Okay, Jameson. I am ready to go. This Konstantin is a dead man."
Jameson stood, slack-jawed. Ernesto Ricardo José Rafael Arturo de Jesús ("Ernie" to his friends) may be a madman, but he was Jameson's madman. This, Jameson thought, was something to be thankful about.