Joseph Farley

The Narc in the Cupboard

Zack woke in a haze. It was hard to focus. The prior night had been wild from what he could remember. All he knew now was that he had to get up. It was necessary.

He went to the bathroom, emptied his bladder and took a dump. That was enough work to put him in a mood to go back to bed on most mornings, but not today. He had other needs to fill.

He touched soap and ran water over his hands. He called this washing. 

There was a dirty cup on the sink. He filled it and drank it down. His mouth was still dry and pasty. He filled and drained another glass. His mouth still didn’t feel right. He considered brushing. He didn’t see any toothpaste laying about. He looked around and couldn’t find a tube anywhere. Then he remembered he was out of toothpaste. He had meant to get some at the store yesterday. And the day before that.

Zack dipped a toothbrush in the soap dish. The soap was still damp from washing his hands. It would do.

His mouth felt a little better, but his belly was saying other things. A rumbling in his stomach told him to eat, but a rumbling lower down in his guts told him he would need to shit again, real soon. The signal from down below took precedence.

A half hour later his hands were clean again. The bathroom stank, but he could live with it. It smelled worse on most days.

He needed something to eat. His stomach was bossing him about. It would have to be something easy, something even he could not mess up. His head was in worse shape than his asshole was. It had been a late night.

He went to the small kitchen in his apartment, opened a cabinet and took out a box of cereal, all oats and sugary sweetness. He took a half empty bottle of milk from the refrigerator. He placed both items on the kitchen table. He took a spoon from a drawer, and reached up to another cabinet at eye level, next to the stove, to get a bowl. He opened the cabinet and stopped. All the shelves had been removed from the cabinet and all the plates, cups and bowls that had been inside were missing. Instead, a short man with mirrored sun glasses, a waist length leather jacket, jeans and army boots was curled up inside. The man’s chin was tucked to his chest. His shoulders rested against one side of the cabinet. His knees were bent and cramped against his body, almost touching his mustache. 

“I’m just a dream,” the man said. “Close the cabinet and go about your business.”

“Ah, I can’t. I need a bowl for my cereal. What did you do with my bowls?”

“Everything that was in the cabinet, including the shelves, is in a box under the kitchen table.”

“Why did you put them there?”

“I didn’t put them there. You must have done it and forgotten about it.”

“I didn’t do it. The plates were there yesterday. You must have moved everything.”

“I couldn’t have moved anything. I’m not really here. I’m a dream. An illusion.”

“I don’t know about that. You look pretty real.” Zack noticed the man had a lanyard around his neck with a photo I.D.. Zack’s vision was blurry but he thought he could make out the word ‘Police.’

“You and your friends got real high last night. You haven’t come down yet.”

“Do you have a warrant or a court order saying you can be here?”

“Of course not. I’m not really here. You’re imagining it because you have a guilty conscience.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come on. You know you met with that dude in the parking lot. The guy had something in the trunk of his car, a big package wrapped in a black plastic trash bag. He let you open the bag. You stuck your finger inside, then put your finger on your tongue. You exchanged a few words and you gave him a big roll of bills. He checked the roll and put it in his pocket. You took the bag, put in your car and headed home.”

“Man, it’s like you were there. Have you been following me?”

“I couldn’t have been following you. I don’t exist. I’m all in your head.”

“What did I do when I came home? I’m having a hard time remembering.”

“You carefully unwrapped the package, divided the contents, and used a scale to weigh out and fill small zip lock bags. When you were done, you put all the small bags in a shoe box and hid them under some sweaters in your bedroom closet. Then you called some of your friends to come over and party with the leftovers.”

“Are you sure you weren’t really there? You remember more about last night than I do.”

“I am you, in a sense. I’m in your head.”

“Okay, so if you’re me, tell me what happened after my friends came over?”

“You all drank a lot, snorted, shot up, and took some pills. One of the girls who came kept you busy while your friend Phil searched your apartment. Then you drank more with your friends and did some more stuff. Finally, you passed out.”

“Really? I can’t remember most of that, especially Phil searching my apartment.”

“You were busy getting laid. After you passed out Phil went through your bedroom. He found your stash, took most of it and all the cash you had. He also found the gun you bought last week at the playground.”

“Shit! Phil did all that? Why didn’t any of my other friends stop him?”

“They were all in on it. Phil gave them a cut.”

“Damn those mother fuckers. I’m going to kill them all.” 

“How? You don’t have a gun anymore and you have no cash to buy one.”

“Damn it. Damn it. They were supposed to be my friends.”

“How can someone in your business have true friends, especially as a freelancer. You have many more enemies than friends. At least they decided not to kill you.”

“They were going to kill me?”

“Phil wanted to put a pillow over your face while you were unconscious, but your other friends wouldn’t go along with it.”

“I guess they’re not that bad, except for Phil.”

“Nah, the others figured you’d be killed by the loan shark you borrowed money from to start up your business, since you won’t be able to make any payments now. No need for them to get involved.”

“Mother fuckers. Those fucking mother fuckers. What should I do?”

The man in the cabinet pulled out a typed statement and handed it to Zack along with a pen.

“Just sign this statement. I’ll take care of the rest.”

“How can you help? You told me you don’t exist?”

“I don’t exist, but, you can think of me in some ways as your fairy godfather. You sign this, date it and go back to bed. I will magically take care of the rest. Best of all, I’ll keep you safe.”

“Safe?”

“Safe from Phil, your friends, and that loan shark. I believe their names are all in the statement. But it would help if you could write in the name of the guy you bought the stuff from.”

“That’ll help?”

“You will sleep easier.”

“And what about my kitchen? Who will put all this stuff back in the cabinet?”

“Don’t worry about it. After you sign the statement, and go back to bed, everything will be fine. Sleep for an hour or two. Take a pill if it helps. “

“Okay, if you say so. But you’re really me, right?”

“That’s right. I’m part of you. Your conscience and your higher self.”

“Higher than I am now?”

“You’ll never know.”

Narcotics and the organized crime unit made the arrests, fourteen in total. Zack denied signing any statement, but a figment of his imagination had suggested he put his thumbprint on the paper in addition to his autograph.

There were some questions about the arrests. Captain Davis from Narcotics defended his diminutive operator to Chief Inspector Morton and the DA.

“Detective Smalls is a good officer. Honest as they come, and dedicated. His methods may be a bit unorthodox but he gets results.”

“Well,” said the DA, who had his doubts, “Lets just hope the evidence he obtained doesn’t get thrown out by a judge this time.

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