Author's Note: The characters aren't mine, and the story is! This is my first attempt writing for the Kolchak fandom, and I have to thank LuckyLadybug for both her encouragement and for introducing me to this wonderful series! I wrote this vignette because there was a gaping hole in the climax of "The Energy Eater" that I wanted to address. As such, there are major spoilers for that episode! The fic title comes from Carl's murmur of "Old Saint Vincenzo" in the final scene.
Tony Vincenzo was not amused. At first, he had thought that Carl Kolchak had only pulled a single fast one on him by handing over his assigned story to Miss Emily while he carried on with his findings about the hospital—whatever they were. There were times when Tony had no idea of what Carl was going to come up with next, and he wasn't sure that he even wanted to know.
But now, as Tony stared at the completed article on the Little Augie story that he had spent time on (the one that he had originally assigned to Carl), he suddenly realized that Carl had pulled a second fast one on him.
Tony grumbled under his breath, muttering all kinds of oaths against his crafty employee. Where was he, anyway? The last Tony had seen of him, he had run out the door with their two best cameras, handing him a 40-dollar voucher for that special film he had been going on about…
The editor groaned aloud as the realization hit him; that was fast one number three.
Well, he must have gone back to that hospital; he had been going on about that for a while, hadn't he?
Tony looked up at the clock. All of the other articles were in, and he was only waiting on Carl to return the cameras. What else was new? Tony always seemed to be waiting on Carl for something. He would just have to hope that Carl would bring both of the cameras back in one piece, and the more he dwelled on it, the more he felt as though there was a chance of that not happening.
Tony shook the thought from his head.
He needed a drink—something strong enough to get his mind off of Carl Kolchak and his wild stories.
He grabbed his suit jacket and headed to his favorite bar. He greeted the bartender, who poured him his usual. Tony sighed and took a sip, idly listening to the chatter around him. He didn't really tune in until something caught his attention.
"So this Charles guy… Was it Charles or Carl? Oh, whatever-his-name-was keeps going on about the Matchemonedo…"
The editor turned, seeing a young man a few barstools away, chatting it up with a girl.
Matchemonedo, Tony silently repeated. That's that Cuban fighter that Kolchak was talking about. And that has to be Kolchak he's talking about…
"So this guy drags me all the way to that crumbling hospital," the young man went on. "And he expects me to pacify the Matchemonedo just because my ancestors could! Well, I told him, we don't exactly have any buffalo, but he made me try the incant—"
That did it.
"Hold on a second," Tony said. "Why would Kolchak want you to pacify a fighter with a buffalo?"
The young man blinked, surprised at Tony's butting in, and also amused at what he was saying.
"You mean Matchemonedo?" the young man asked.
"Yeah, yeah—him," Tony said. "What's this about a fighter and a buffalo?"
The young man snarked.
"Who told you that Matchemonedo was a fighter?"
"Kolchak—the same guy who dragged you to the hospital!" the editor said. "He told me that he was…"
Tony trailed off, and groaned again. That was fast one number four…
"Look, this Kolchak guy… I don't think he's playing with a full deck," the young man said. "Like I said to her, he had me saying this incantation to try to appease that thing."
"Look, if Matchemonedo isn't a Cuban fighter, who is he?"
"It's an entity that eats energy," the young man said. "I happen to know about it because my ancestors were shamans. Jim Elkhorn, by the way…"
He extended his hand, and Tony shook it, introducing himself.
"And you're saying that Kolchak tried to have you say some sort of incantation to appease this… thing?"
"You got it," Jim said. "Right in the basement of that hospital. I'll bet that's where he is now."
In the back of his mind, Tony recalled Carl's words.
"I am going to get an image, Sir, of something that everyone else denies exists!"
Tony massaged the bridge of his nose, a feeling of impending disaster growing within him.
"You know him too, huh?" Jim asked, sensing Tony's frustrations. "He wanted me to go back there just a little while ago—again. If he thinks I'm going back there while they're evacuating, he's dreaming!"
"He does that a lot," Tony grumbled.
The editor paid for his drink and thanked Jim for his trouble, heading back out into the Chicago streets.
Well, he may as well find out what Carl was up to and drag him out of that hospital. Tony knew he wasn't going to be able to rest until those cameras were back where they belonged, and he didn't particularly feel like bailing Carl out of jail for trespassing yet again—which was likely to happen if they were evacuating the building. Once he got Carl out of there, then, maybe, he could finally get some rest at last.
You're going to make an old man out of me, Carl Kolchak…
He took a taxi to the hospital, frowning as he got out and saw the chemical truck parked outside, with its two tubes running into the building.
"What's going on here?" he demanded.
Two of the men present—Walter Green and Dr. Carrie—turned. Tony couldn't help but notice how furtive they looked.
"We're pumping liquid nitrogen into the basement," Green explained. "It's… a precautionary measure… to help cool down the foundation."
Tony could tell he wasn't being entirely truthful, but that wasn't what was concerning him at the moment.
"Look, you've got to turn that off; there's a man in that basement!"
"Impossible; we evacuated the whole building and made sure that no one was left behind," Green insisted.
"You don't know Carl Kolchak; he'll have found a way in," Tony said.
"Kolchak! Him again?" Green exclaimed.
"Look, are you going to turn that off and get him out of there, or not?" Tony asked, his voice rising.
"Walter!" Dr. Carrie exclaimed, turning to Green. "Walter, if Mr. Kolchak is in there, we can't let him freeze!"
Green scowled, but ordered the men with the chemical truck to stop pumping the nitrogen, and then headed inside once it was safe. Carrie followed, with Tony right behind him.
"What was that nut doing down here, anyway?" Green demanded, as they arrived at the basement level. By now, the nitrogen fog had significantly dissipated.
"I don't know!" Tony yelled back. "But I intend to find out! Kolchak! KOLCHAK!"
There was no answer. Tony felt a sudden chill, and he knew it wasn't from the liquid nitrogen, either.
"Carl, where are you?" he bellowed, his voice echoing all over the cracked walls.
"Maybe he was sensible for once and wasn't here after all?" Green asked, eager to leave.
"He's here," Tony insisted. He would've known it to be true, even if he hadn't spoken to Jim Elkhorn at the bar.
A sudden cry from Dr. Carrie made him turn.
"Mr. Vincenzo! Walter!"
Through the now-faint wisps of nitrogen lay an unconscious figure. There was no mistaking the seersucker suit, nor the cameras around his neck.
"Carl! Carl!" Tony exclaimed. He stopped in his tracks upon seeing the blotches on his exposed skin. "What's with that—?"
"Frostbite—he's got it, badly," Carrie said. "And it's a miracle he's still breathing!"
Tony could only stare.
"Well, what are you waiting for? We need to get him out of here!"
They didn't need telling twice.
The next several hours just brought more for Tony Vincenzo to worry about. Carl was admitted to Old St. Vincent's hospital, and Tony found himself waiting in the room, mulling over his own thoughts as he waited for him to come to.
Dr. Carrie had said that Carl had been very lucky indeed—he just barely avoided needing an amputation, and he insisted that if they hadn't arrived when they had, the reporter would have likely died from asphyxiation.
Tony shook his head. It was true that Carl Kolchak was the source of many headaches, but he had never wanted it to come to this.
"I warned you…" he muttered. "If I told you once, I told you a hundred times that your crazy stunts were going to get you into trouble! Didn't I tell you that just the other day? You may have been lucky all those times, but I told you that your luck wasn't going to last forever! Will you at least listen to me now?"
No. He knew that when Carl woke up, he was going to be just the same. That was probably why he was giving this diatribe to an unconscious man—he probably wouldn't have listened to it had he been conscious. But that didn't stop the fuming editor from continuing his rant.
"You dodged a bullet today, Carl," he said to the unconscious man. "And I don't know if you'll be lucky enough to dodge another one. Bailing you out jail is one thing. Bailing you out of something like this is…" He trailed off, unable to find the words he was searching for. "How far is this going to go, Carl?"
He grabbed one of the cameras from the bedside table and brandished it at the unconscious reporter.
"Was this worth dying for?" he demanded.
On a whim, he opened the camera, and stared at it for a moment. The film was ruined and useless from the prolonged time in the nitrogen.
"And all for nothing, too…" Tony muttered.
Done with his piece, Tony crossed to the window, staring outside and continuing to mull over his thoughts. It was in this pensive state that Carl Kolchak found him in upon awakening, though it had taken the reporter a moment to get his bearings and recognize his boss.
Tony bit back another forming diatribe, instead assuring his employee that he would be fine, but that the film had been ruined.
There was no need to tell him anything else. Really… would it even matter?
Tony Vincenzo eventually departed the hospital still biting back his righteous frustration. He forced himself to calm down; Carl was going to be fine, and that was the important thing. And it also meant that Tony could finally get some rest… at least, until Carl's next crazy endeavor.
And, knowing Carl Kolchak, there most certainly would be another.