William Doonan

I write books and stories.

MedicineLand: Chapter Forty-Five

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“This is such a monumental load of horse shit.”  Adam frowned at the Sacramento Bee.  “Schwarzenegger has to be kidding – he’s going to save money by raising community college tuition, but will he renegotiate prison guard salaries?  No he won’t.  California is a great place to be a prisoner, not to be a student.”

Erzulie stared at him across a spoonful of Fruity Pebbles.  “Well I like him,” she said.

“Spoken like a true Californian.  Tax the poor, fuck the middle class to complete the goal of turning the state into a caste society.  Is that what you want?”

“Do you remember how old I am, Adam? I’m seven and a half.”

He nodded.  “Do you even have health insurance?”

She shrugged, and went back to the lullaby she sang every morning.

Adam took another pancake from the stack.  Celeste had left early to work the morning shift and Adam had called in sick, yet again.  Hammermill had already left four messages.  “Aren’t you going to have some pancakes?”

She shook her head, happy with the cereal.

“Is your mom OK?

The girl shrugged, content with her song, a guttural French-sounding patter that Adam knew to be Haitian Creole.

Celeste had been quiet last night.  No sex and she wept a little.

“Tell me about the song,” he said, refilling her orange juice.

“I need to get vitamins from our apartment.”

“I have vitamins here.  He reached to the counter and took a One-a-Day from the bottle.”

“Those aren’t my vitamins.”

“Vitamins be vitamins,” he said.  “Can you tell me the song in English?”

She shook her head.

“Can you try to translate it for me?”

Erzulie took the vitamin with a gulp of orange juice.  “I’ll try —

‘Toussaint went to war, left madame behind.

he stayed camped near the shores….’ I don’t know how to say the next part, but this comes after —

‘Madame Toussaint had four pretty girls

each dark skinned, their hair all in curls’  “that rhymes in English too,” she said.

“It does.” Adam waited for her to continue.

‘Toussaint took the beach and poisoned the French

but they found madame’s girls and sat them on a bench.

‘Tell me where your daddy is’, the admiral said, ‘or I’ll kill every man on the island. You’ll grow old and alone.’

‘We won’t,’ said the girls, giggling in fear, ‘we’ll be fine when you’re nothing but bone.’”

“That doesn’t rhyme.”  Adam stuffed pancakes into his mouth.

“It sounds better in Creole,” Erzulie said.  “Can we have fish for dinner?”

“Fish for dinner,” Adm repeated.  He had an idea.  He grabbed his cellphone and dialed his old Seattle number.  Three rings before the message came on; “You’ve reached Hiram’s Halibut Hut on Helmut Highway,” his own voice on the recording. “We’re open daily from noon to ten.  Today’s special is Halibut Hash.”

He waited for the beep which would also engage the encryption module.  “I had a question about the special.” Adam spoke clearly, “and I want to speak with the chef.  I’ve cooked Halibut Hash many times myself up until about a year ago.  Lately it doesn’t seem to taste as good, as if something had been added, some type of seasoning.  So I’ll be here, waiting in hopes the chef can talk to me about this.”  He set the phone back in its cradle.

“Who was that?” Erzulie asked, finally eating a bit of the pancake.

“Friend of mine.”  He waited.  It was nine minutes later before the phone rang.

“Who am I speaking with?” the voice on the phone asked.

“Adam LaPorte.  You know who I am?”

Silence.  “Yes.  Is this a sanctioned call?”

“Not at all, strictly private, professional courtesy.  Are you Fremont Wicket?”

More silence.  “Adam LaPorte would know the raw flavoring ingredient added during the afterburn processing.”

“Fennel.”

“What’s your SUBA number?”

“1059, but I’m deactivated.”

“1059,” Erzulie repeated.

“Shut up,” Adam said.

“Excuse me?”

“Not you, sir.  My girlfriend’s daughter is here.”  Adam waited as Wicket checked the code.

“Why did you call me?”

“I want to know if I could have a confidential meeting with you?”

“About what?” Wicket asked.

“About some recent modifications to the Candlestick recipe.”

“Baker set you up to this?”

“No, this is personal.  I want to know more about what you’re doing.”

“Why?”

“Because I think you’ve recreated a chemical composite that the world has forgotten about for about two hundred years.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Wicket said.

“I saw the zombie at Sacramento Medical Center,” Adam told him.  “I saw the toxicology report.  He OD’d on Candlestick meth, then died, then came back.  Baker got me a sample and I ran some tests.  But here’s the thing, I paid half a million to be out of the loop here, so I’m not going to tell Baker shit.  But I still need to meet with you.”

Silence.  “I’ll be in Berkeley on Friday.  Meet me at Blake’s on Telegraph at seven.  Do you know what I look like?”

“We met once at a reception in Dublin.  We talked about Coco Chanel.”

“Are you a great big fat man?” Wicket asked.

“Big boned. Powerful.  You’re a fancy old black dude, right?”

“I’ll see you on Friday.” Wicket hung up.

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Written by williamdoonan

July 1, 2013 at 10:12 am

Posted in Fiction, MedicineLand

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