William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Forty-Four

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Hammermill parked in one of the designated Sentec parking spaces.  He walked quickly through the lobby of J Street Apartment Living to the elevator.  He took a few quick looks to make sure he wasn’t noticed, then rode the elevator to the fifth floor and walked quickly to number 8, the apartment Sentec kept for meetings that couldn’t be conducted onsite.  He opened the sliding door to let in some air and took a Heineken from the refrigerator.  How sad, he told himself, stepping out onto the balcony and looking at the traffic.  J Street was the cultural hub of this otherwise lame state capital. He watched as cars drove by and thin women flocked to the sushi place downstairs.  Maybe he would have to drop by on his way out.

Celeste was late.  She knocked twice and Hammermill almost jumped off his chair.  He opened the door and closed it behind her.

“I”m not happy about this,” she said.  “It’s not working like you said it would.”

Hammermill poured a neat Scotch and handed it to her.  “Nothing ever works as planned.”

She sat on the sofa and tossed her shoes onto the floor.  “I think you’re wrong about him.  He’s a good guy.”

“I never said he wasn’t a good guy,” Hammermill told her.  “But he’s my guy.  I’ve been working him for years, and he’s turning out better than I dreamed.  But I need him sharp.”

“He’s sharp.  He’s very sharp,” she said.

“That’s good.”  Hammermill sat on the sofa and brought her legs onto his lap.

“Stop that,” she said.


“Because things have changed.”

Hammermill grinned.  “I think you like this guy.”

She stared at him.

“Little Erzulie is enjoying her private school, which costs the company about twelve thousand a year?”

Celeste sat up and rearranged her clothes.  “She is, yes.  And I have fulfilled my obligation.”

“You want to go back to mopping floors?  Where is Adam tonight?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think you’re lying to me.”  Hammermill stood and pulled his belt through its loops.  “Take your pants off,” he said.

Celeste frowned.  “You must be kidding, right?”

“You used to like it,” he said, “back when we used to party.”

“I never liked it,” she said.  “And I’ll call the police if you touch me.”

Hammermill grinned as she left the room.

He drove a few short blocks to Governor’s Mansion Apartments and parked in the Visitors section.  A man’s work is never done, he told himself.  He had a feeling his chemist was somewhere close.

Denise Rosen opened the door a few inches, the chain protecting her from intruders.  “Mr. Hammermill,” she said, surprised.  “What do you want?”

Hammermill smiled as the marijuana smoke wafted into the hallway.  “I want to talk with you about Adam LaPorte.”

She frowned.  “About what?  Am I in some kind of trouble?”

“You weren’t until now,” he said.  “But we might have to do a urine test if you don’t open.”

She stared hard at him, then shut the door to remove the chain.

Hammermill walked into the room.  “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a contact high.”

Denise went into the bedroom and put on a pair of sweatpants.  “I have a friend over.”

“That’s why I’m here,” Hammermill said.  “I’ve been reviewing the protocols, the logs, the video monitors, and I have some very profound questions for you.”

She walked to the kitchen and found a bottle of vodka.  “Drink?”

He watched her as she poured neat shots into two juice glasses.  Cute girl; maybe a haircut would tidy things up.  He heard someone moving around in the bedroom.  “Cheers,” he said, drinking the vodka.  “Adam didn’t come to work today.  You didn’t come to work today either, so I worry.”

“I took a vacation day.  I called it in.”

Hammermill shook his head.  “I saw the mouse tests on the security videos.  I’m impressed and pissed at the same time.  What was the substance you gave the mice?”

She refilled her glass.  This could be bad.  “I don’t know.”

“You could lose your job and your license.  You could be working at WalMart by this time next month.”

She stared at him.

“I suggest you level with me.”  He refilled his own glass.  “To be honest, I like what I saw.  Two senior employees get ambitious and push the envelope.  Cut me in on this.  We’ll move the project from Snack Happy to Fergus Donut and Pie.  You’d report directly to me and Kessler.”

“Why?” she asked.  “What was so interesting about the mice?”

“I saw the vital signs on the computer logs.  Those mice were dead.  Dead.  And then some weren’t dead.  That’s exciting to me.”

“I don’t think I want to deal with this right now,” she said.  “I kind of had my night planned.”

“Deal with it now or you’re fired,” Hammermill told her.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“He’s in there, isn’t he?”  Hammermill gestured to the bedroom.  “I’m going to go talk to Adam.  You two getting cozy?  It will make our arrangement that much easier.”

“He’s not here,” she said.

“Yes he is.  Come on out, Adam,” he called to the bedroom.  “Denise and I are discussing your future.”

She shook her head.  “This isn’t what you want.  He’s not here.”

“OK, now I’m tired of playing around.” He opened the bedroom door and saw a man sitting on the edge of the bed taking a hit from an oversized bong.  Little black guy, not Adam LaPorte.

“Who the fuck are you?”

Hammermill backed out of the room.

“I asked you a question.”  The man threw the bong at him, knocking him to the floor.  He sat on his chest.  “Come into a man’s private evening and open his bedroom door?  I should kick your ass.  Now who are you?”

“Leave him alone, Malik.”  Denise lit a cigarette.

“You have some identification?”

“My wallet,” Hammermill said quietly.

The man pulled the wallet from Hammermill’s jacket pocket.  “Blockbuster.”  He rifled through it.  “Blockbuster sucks.  AAA doesn’t suck.  No motorist should be without.”  He threw the wallet at the wall punched Hammermill in the face.  “Get out of my crib.”

Hammermill stood up slowly.  “Can I have my wallet back?”

Malik picked up the bong and took it to the sink.  “Chipped the fucker,” he said.  “This was my uncle’s bong.  Been in the family for generations.”

Denise smiled as she walked Hammermill to the door.  ““I might be coming in late this week and maybe next.  I’m sure you’ll understand.”

Hammermill nodded, not facing her as he walked out onto the balcony.

Written by williamdoonan

June 27, 2013 at 10:42 am

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