“Okay,” I exaggerate the response to make it seem as if I’m doing him a favor by turning the vehicle around. We are equally excited, him and I. His mother, my wife, is at home enjoying a much needed kid-free break from the holiday season. I find the next street to turn around. It is Christmas, and for a few weeks surrounding, a nighttime drive is dotted with nuggets of brightly lit beacons illuminating the otherwise unimpressive neighborhoods like the star of the east.
What is that stupid saying? Never assume, because it makes an ass out of you and me. Well that pretty much fits the bill, except the only ass here is me. I was brought in, I thought, to handle the money. An intermediary. Winslow, the guy who hired me, runs some sort of coke outfit out of Vancouver, BC. The idea was to collect the cash and make sure it crossed the border at Blaine, Washington. I’d heard about the job from a friend of a friend. Winslow needed “a nobody.” I was told he was too heavily watched to take chances transferring his own cash. I didn’t ask who he was watched by. The money up front looked good, and in this economy even crooks have to get it where they can.
I found it funny that the cash was moving to the United States. I always thought the drug business worked with the money going out from the US and the drugs coming in, but I couldn’t tell you anymore than what I’d seen on TV.
I assumed that it would’ve been an easy job. I assumed I wasn’t going to be a patsy for some degenerate drug dealer offering me up for sacrifice in the wake of some bullshit I’d nothing to do with.
Right now I’m lying bound and blindfolded on a cold concrete floor. It gives me time to accept I assumed too much. I should’ve been on my guard.
“Why do you want to sleep? You slept on the train,” Claire said, exiting the Sephora boutique.
“I’m tired. What do you want me to do?” Adam tailed behind. They had been shopping their way through Nice, France since they arrived that morning.
“I want you to come with me. We’re going to meet up with Alice and Sonia for dinner.”
“I’m sure you would have a much more fun without me sleeping through the meal.”
“We’re only in Nice two days and you want to sleep. When we were planning this trip, you insisted we see the French Riviera. You said you didn’t want to just go from Venice to Paris. You aren’t going to see anything from the hotel bed.”
“Ultimate Doo-Wop Super Hits is the most complete set ever released, and I should know. Hi, I’m Harry Green of the Edsels. Over the years, The Edsels have been part of a dozens of compilation albums, but never before have I been so excited about being a part of such an encompassing collection as we have here in this once-in-a-lifetime, limited-time-only, Ultimate Doo-Wop Super Hits.” Mr. Green’s pitch emanated in a baritone voice from the 60 inch Samsung flat screen.
Colin sunk into his beige, overstuffed couch, his left index finger tracing out the embossed numbers on his Visa card. Sha-boom. Duke of Earl. Blue Moon. With a phone call, the music of his grandparent’s age could all be his in one box set. In his right hand, Colin’s cellphone read the time as 2:45 A.M. At 3:00 the infomercial would switch from Doo-Wop hits to the Nuwave Infrared Oven.
It wasn’t until he scratched his nose and said, “I’m getting outa here,” that Reggie knew Lou was holding out. The nose thing was a tell, a learned behavior from years of dedicated opiate use. Red faded lines scored across his nostrils, inflamed with each rake of nail on skin.
The living room curtains had been drawn days ago, in an attempt to curse the sun, as well as entire straight world that thrived in its rays. The only remaining notion of time blinked from the DVD/VCR combination, but even in sobriety the neon numbers were held suspect. OxyContin metered the days at irregular intervals that suffered mania, desperation and beautiful, beautiful nothing.