There wasn't much to see in Greenback, Tennessee. Just a few quiet streets, one main intersection and a smattering of businesses. Aside from the Git-n-Go Market, the Israeli Night-vision Optics factory, the 40-story headquarters of Bieruichiban Corp, and the American offices and Well No. 78 of the Central Twillings Oil Works, one might pass through Greenback and not even know it was there. That is, one might pass through and not even know it was there, if it were not for the 1500ft Greenback Tower, a monument that had been constructed in the shape of a Nutty-Buddy ice-cream treat, due to the mad inspiration of Greenback's legendary billionaire recluse, Earl Platudinor.
Or so he was known to his enemies and the public at large. In truth, Earl Platudinor was known by a much different name to his friends and confidants. A name the clever reader has no doubt guessed by now.
But, of course, the clever reader is at home, comfortably perusing this work in a high-backed leather wingchair, surrounded by tomes of learning, and sipping Glenfiddich single malt whiskey from a high-ball cup with an engraved duck on the side. In other words, the clever reader has all the advantages, and was not, like Frank Corky, staring up at the imposing edifice of Greenback Tower, and wondering where the entrance was.
Frank's walrus moustache tilted sharply sideways as he squinted and stared upwards. There was a four lane road leading to the Tower, and the road terminated in a large round parking lot, circumlocuted with bradford pears and Japanese cherry trees. One small pebbled path led from the parking lot to an aluminum extension ladder, which rose five stories upward to a small round hole in the side of the conical building. This was, apparently, the entrance, but Frank knew there had to be another way in. There had to be! he thought, for he could no more negotiate that ladder than he could sprout wings and fly. On the one hand, Frank was terrified of heights, thanks to a near-defenestration he had experienced on his honeymoon in Prague. And on the other hand, he was cuffed to Melanie Lustiger, as he had been for the last 72 hours. And on the other hand, he was unable to bend his knees, thanks to a double knee injury he had suffered in Vietnam.
This last limitation had proved no mean source of amusement to Herve Quisleau, who was still tagging along. Although now Herve was in the back of Corky's squad car, unable to get out since Corky had put the child-locks on before leaving Cincinatti. This gave Corky a brief reprieve. And so to delay the inevitable difficulty in getting into Greenback Tower, he turned to the strangely attractive Melanie.
"Alright - what's the big idea?" he asked, brusquely.
"Whaddayamean?" Melanie replied, shifting in her stance and pulling up her tube top for the 100th time.
"I mean what's the big idea? You drag us 300 miles down to this giant ice cream cone telling us we're going to meet some big wig Playdough character that's gonna explain this whole stinkin mess. Meanwhile, I got three stiffs in the morgue - one of 'em looking like a pumpkin on the day after Hallow'een, another one with his face missin' and a .40 cal bullet hole in the back of his head, and the last one blown into smithereens in a high-dollar Porsche registered to some guy named Sultan Zhpat."
"Oh... that" Melanie answered, biting her lower lip and trying to look cute. Corky waited for her to continue, but Melanie just stood there, chewing on her lower lip and batting her eyelashes.
"Yeah - that!" Corky spat, "Yeah that yeah that yeah that!"
"Huh?" Melanie answered. She was greatly regretting having spilled the beans last night, but after being picked up by the Convington police and interrogated for 48 hours straight, she had lost her cool, and babbled almost incoherently about everything from the Inuit Secret Service to the strange fetish of Luko Dbrovnik.
"Let me take this nice and slow," Corky replied, smoothing his moustache with his free hand, and stiltedly wobbling toward a park bench he had just spotted. Melanie was forced along in tow.
"What's the big idea?" Corky began
"Huh?" Melanie answered.
"Where's this Playdough character at?"
"Here... in Greenback."
"Where in Greenback."