William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Seventeen

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Adam opened the oven to check the roast.  He was having the girl and her mother over for dinner and was cooking lamb with rosemary and dill.  He had a movie playing in the background but he wasn’t paying attention.  When the doorbell rang, he wiped his hands on an apron faturing a giant lobster above the words, ‘Chief Chef.’  He opened the door and froze for a split second.

“Surprised to see me?”

“I have to start using the peephole.”  Adam stared at the tall Asian man wearing a three piece Armani suit.  “Hello, Baker.”

“I’ve missed you, Adam.”  The man stepped into the room.

“How did you find me?”

Baker grinned.  “I have contacts here in the big city.  You’re not that hard to find.”

Adam untied his apron.  “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Please.”  Baker sat at the counter.

Adam poured two tall vodkas and added cranberry juice.  “What is it you want from me?   I paid a lot of money not to be involved anymore.  Am I on some list again?”

“No,” said Baker.  “I just missed my Candlestick maker, that’s all.  I wanted to see how you were doing.”

“Long way from Seattle,” Adam ventured.

“Not that long.  Hey, what’s up with the chain gangs out on the streets?  It looks like a goddamn plantation out there, black guys picking shit.”

Adam shook his head.  “Ask the governor.  Schwarzenegger had this idea that crime would drop if people got a good look at chained prisoners working their asses off all day long.”

“So is it working?”

“How the fuck would I know?  What is it you want with me?”

“I’m having a situation with one of my local distributors.”

“I didn’t think SUBA was active in Sacramento.”

“We’re not yet.”  Baker stirred his drink.  “The Hispanics had the market here but the Rednecks took most of it from them.  We have a cell in Oakland that’s taking a small percentage of the market share.  It’s about quality, Adam, that’s always been our credo and we simply provide a better product. Candlestick meth is the best, right?”

Adam opened the freezer, removed a carton of microwaveable mashed potatoes, and clicked off the safety from the little gun that sat next to the ice cubes, the little automatic he had taken from the girl’s mother’s boyfriend.  “I have a date in like half an hour, and it’s my first date in years, so you can’t fuck this up for me.  What is it I can help you with?”

“We have some bad product.  Three of our regular users in Seattle died.  Two were street locals, but the third was a city councilman who had interests in a tri-state waste management operation, and as such, has friends.  So I need to know what went wrong.”

“It sounds like you have a bad chemist.”

“Crossed my mind.  But your replacement is first rate.  I don’t see him making mistakes.”

“Who is it?”

“Guy named Wicket from LA?”

“Wicket, yeah the old guy.  Wasn’t he a Weatherman back in the day?”

“Something like that.”

“Didn’t he used to make bombs?  I met him once in Ireland; he was a professor.”

“Yeah, he got tired of grading papers.”  Baker pulled a leather case from his suit pocket, and withdrew three opaque vials.  “My sense is that the product is being diluted downstream.  Only problem is, I can’t tell the difference.  Since this is an internal investigation, and since there is a small chance that Wicket might be fucking us, I don’t want to alert him yet to the problem.”

“You have other chemists working for you, right?  So run some tests.”

”I did but I can’t tell the good from the bad.  There’s something in there but I don’t know what it is.  I need someone I can trust, Adam. You were the best Candlestick maker we ever had.”  He set the vials on the counter.   “Bottle A is straight from the kitchen, bottle B we bought back on the street in Seattle, bottle C we bought back on the street in Oakland.  I need to know which are bad and what’s bad about them.”

Adam stared at the vials.  “I don’t want to be in this business anymore.  I paid you a lot of money in reverse severance pay to not be in this business.”

“I know.” Baker took a long drink.  “But it’s my neck on the line here.  And the boss wants answers fast.”

“Did you tell him you were coming to me?”

“No.”

“Good.”

“It was his idea to come to you.”

“Not good.”

“He’s thorough.  You know that much at least about Butcher.”

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Written by williamdoonan

January 10, 2013 at 1:44 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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