The early morning call I received last week from Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon was shocking for three reasons.
First, he said there was a bomb threat that could destroy Fairfield. Secondly, he’d called me for help. Finally, I was pretty sure he was a fictional character.
Still, the voice on the phone seemed real enough. Langdon said he needed my help because I knew the Fairfield area plus he thought my column last week on Justin Bieber was funny.
Langdon was at my house in five minutes and when I climbed in his car I started repeating “You’re Tom Hanks!” But Langdon kept insisting he was Langdon.
The incriminating words deciphered thus far were “Clinton”, “atomic”, “bomb” and “Travis.” As it happened, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was scheduled to land at Travis Air Force Base later that afternoon.
As ominous music played when Langdon said this, I knew it was serious.
I remembered that Tom Hanks is an old friend of Solano College Theatre’s Artistic Director George Maguire and to make small talk, I suggested that if we lived through this crisis he should definitely check out their wonderful current production of “Eurydice.”
That was a mistake because Langdon then launched into a really boring history of Greek mythological symbolism.
As he droned on, I feigned taking notes on my cell phone but actually checked the web for Charlie Sheen updates.
We went to the Starbucks and questioned a barista who was cooperative but also thought Langdon was Tom Hanks. The barista kept trying to get Langdon to drawl “life is like a box of chocolates” but he refused.
I then stuck out my bottom lip and began rattling off the different ways to cook shrimp, but Langdon told me to knock it off.
The barista said that at approximately 7 pm the previous night a strange looking young man was there who might be a suspect. He’d sat in the corner using the free wi-fi on a beat up laptop and drank his iced venti half-caff Americano in, of all things, an In and Out Burger cup he’d brought.
Langdon asked if there was a football field nearby. I say yes, my alma mater Armijo High’s Brownlee field. We screeched down the road and once there, he picked up blades of grass which somehow Langdon connected to the Chief Solano “smiling-and-waving-in-my-thong” statue which in turn somehow lead to the Jelly Belly factory.
Langdon explained how each clue led to another but to me it kind of sounded like maybe he had been bangin’ those seven gram rocks with the aforementioned unemployed Tiger-blooded “winner.”
The clues with various symbols came fast and furious then and included the Fairfield city logo, the illuminated county seat sign, and a Doublemint chewing gum wrapper. We zipped all over town with me acting as tour guide and Langdon furiously piecing together the mystery.
We ended up on Da Vinci Court near Solano College, where the perpetrator lived. Langdon smiled broadly as he figured out all the clues. When the soundtrack music reached a crescendo, I suspected we were at a dramatic turning point.
I was right.
It turned out the encrypted email wasn’t encrypted at all but just had really terrible spelling. The perp’s name was Travis and he didn’t want to blow up Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but turn up funk pioneer George Clinton, the creative genius behind the 1970s groups Parliament and Funkadelic.
“The bomb” was a reference to a greatest hits album called “Parliaments’ Greatest Hits—The Bomb” and George had a solo hit called “Atomic Dog.”
With the crisis averted and Fairfield safe from funk enthusiasts, Langdon drove me back home where I offered to make some dinner for us and gave him plenty of options.
“There’s shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew…”
Reach Fairfield freelance shrimp cap’n Bubba Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org