A tradesman and ex-officer, the Hero operates a literary-walking-tour service. He discovers a blue bowling bag in a trash receptacle in Washington Square Park. Inside— a decorative (Celtic) solid iron box. He fast becomes the crux of international doings.
It's revealed (by ghosts) that the box contains "The Bright Star of Cartagena" or "The Ancient (heptagonal) Bowl." It defies antiquity, but was last seen when the Moors removed it from Spain in the 13th Century.
Encased within the Ancient Bowl (Bright Star) is a noumenon, that nameless thing in the center of all things, which our hero refers to as "The Great Nothing." On the periphery there is a diminutive Doctor with an accent.
Fleeing pursuers, the Hero carries the Bright Star of Cartagena in its bowling bag, and complains about its weight. Hero's Love Interest is a ballroom-dance instructor trained in the martial arts. They argue.
Hero: You're as bright as a box of rocks! Hero's Love Interest: You're as smart as a bag of hammers! Gangsters (historic variety in expensive suits and twitching eyes) intimidate the Hero,
but are foiled by his witty escapes. Our Hero's life turns willy-nilly. All powers concentrate on capturing him. The Hero keeps The Great Nothing (Bright Star of Cartegena, Ancient Bowl) at Stinky Man's apartment briefly while he is alluding
Corrupt Officials. The bowling bag now stinks, which causes humorous complaint. Stinky Man saves the Hero from being hit by a train somehow. The Evil Scientist is formal and eloquent, Gore Vidal-like.
Travel/escape/chase divided with equanimity among: bus, train, car, and small plane. Less frequently: helicopter, motorcycle, boat, jet-ski, in-line skates and scooter. The ne'er-do-wells comprise a Cartesian Product, each with an opposite but equally
ambitious counterpart. The Hero fights the Evil Scientist's plan of annihilation, to distraction. The Scientist (Evil) believes that in order to cause all matter to condense to a sub-atomic mass, the contents of the Bright Star of Cartegena
(The Great Nothing) need be released/exposed. The Hero is fused with courage and veracity. Evil Scientist has created other less destructive, but contemptible devices, which the Hero must eliminate—and is conflicted—some devices
could benefit humanity (including his friend Stinky Man) in arenas such as cataract surgery. (Note: this provides a narrative within the narrative and mirrors the larger events of the story, which by placing these characters and events together, will tell itself.)
Postscript: This can be easily altered to take place in the ancient world.