Authors: Elias Anderson
By Elias Anderson
Edited, Produced, and Published by Writer’s Edge
All rights reserved.
© 2012 by Elias Anderson.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without
the prior written permission of the publisher.
All characters in this book are fictitious, and any
resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
I would like to thank Double-A for always being there for me
and for being my first reader; Arran McNicol for catching all the things I
missed and making this a much, much better book; and Ender Chadwick for always
making himself available to talk shop and bounce ideas off of, as well as
providing me with key support and advice on not just this book, but life in
general. I would like to thank Chad Baldwin, Jeremy Laszlo, and everyone at WEP
that believed in me and gave me my shot. I would also like to thank my
wonderful wife Dayna, for all her love and patience, as well as our two
daughters, for giving me time to write.
Last but never, ever least, I owe a debt to Harry Mitchell
that can never be repaid; among the many,
things he has given me
was my first writing machine, upon which this book was written.
This book is dedicated to the memory of my brother in all
things but blood, AJ LaDow. Your absence has left a hole in my heart, old
friend, and you are sorely missed.
They’re on to you, Daniel thought as he pulled his car to
the curb and turned it off. The station wagon stopped about half a block behind
him, and the driver killed the lights. The small plume of exhaust told Daniel
the other car was still running.
“There is no ‘They’,” Daniel said as he shut the car door
behind him. He didn’t know how wrong he was.
Right now, his life was relatively simple: pick up the coke,
sell some coke, do some coke. He was in love, and that had its own
complications, but Echo knew what he did for a living. She sometimes asked him
if he would do something else, but she didn’t have a problem with the money he
brought home, or the drugs.
Right now Daniel didn’t know of pigeon-cameras or men with
bullet-proof skulls, but he’d find out soon enough.
Daniel crossed the street towards the apartment building;
the cool California air doing little to soothe him. The doorman let Daniel in
and nodded to him. Two months ago, when Daniel first showed up here, the
doorman had called the penthouse apartment before letting him in, never taking
his eyes off him, despite the clean-cut college boy look Daniel cultivated. The
worst thing a dealer could look like was a dealer. With that in mind, Daniel
wore chinos instead of jeans, Doc Martens instead of sneakers, and kept his
light brown hair cut to a respectable length.
Gene was there to greet him when Daniel stepped out of the
elevator. Gene smiled, but his eyes were screaming.
“Howya doin’, man?”
“Good, good,” Gene said. “You got it?”
“You’re a fucking mess, man.” Daniel said, looking Gene up
and down. His face was red and sweaty, and the hair he had left on his balding
head was sticking up all over. Used to be whenever Daniel came over, Gene
looked ready to step out of an ad for sport-coats. Now, with his shirt
half-untucked and his wild, bloodshot eyes, he looked like a fucking junky
waiting for his fix.
And here it is, Daniel thought, digging into his pocket,
bringing out a small envelope and handing it to Gene. The envelope was folded
from a small piece of a magazine page. Magazines worked well because the pages
were glossy and the coke didn’t stick. Newspaper was the worst because sometimes
the ink would rub off on the rocks or powder, and the sheets would tear in your
pocket because they were too thin. Of course, Daniel had a shoebox full of
little glass vials at home that he could have stored Gene’s coke in, but he got
the impression Gene thought the little envelope folded from a torn page of a
porno mag was crass and vulgar, and made him uncomfortable, which Daniel
“Gene!” a woman’s voice came from the back bedroom.
“Coming,” Gene yelled. He looked at the envelope in his
shaking, sweaty hands, then at Daniel. “Wanna line?”
Daniel shrugged, and Gene dropped a small rock from the
envelope onto the scratched glass surface of a thousand-dollar coffee table.
The first time Daniel sold to Gene, he asked Daniel not to put his feet on the
table and to use a coaster. Now Gene was cutting coke on it with a razor blade.
The table might be worth ten bucks at a high-end swap meet now.
What’s a thousand dollars to Gene? Daniel asked himself. If
he could afford to live in a place like this, he could afford to throw the
fucking coffee table out the window.
The piercing voice came again from the back of the
“Just a sec!” Gene yelled, and finished cutting out two fat
lines; one of decent size, the other a monster. Gene did the monster line and
picked the envelope up. “I’ll be right back,” Gene said, as he disappeared into
the tastefully decorated bowels of the penthouse.
Daniel did his line, and then stood. He peered through the
curtains, and it was still there. The goddamn station wagon was
there. Maybe this was nothing but a combination of coincidence and paranoia,
but who was he kidding?
Daniel sat down, wiped his nose, stood back up, and glared
down the hall. He tried to focus on the giant plasma TV hanging on the wall, but
it showed a baseball game and thus held zero interest to Daniel. Shit was
boring sober, but an eight-ball deep? Not even possible. Daniel stood again
and looked through the curtains at the station wagon still idling at the curb.
“Hey Gene, you die in there or what?”
“Hold up a second, will ya?”
A door slammed, and Daniel could hear the muffled sounds of
Gene and his girlfriend, Trish, arguing in the bedroom. He knew Gene and his
bitch of a girl were smoking it back there, but Gene seemed embarrassed and
tried to hide it. No hiding that smell though.
“C’mon man,” Daniel called. “I got shit to do!”
The door opened.
“He said hold on!” Trish yelled.
The door slammed.
Daniel paced the room, looking around to see how he could
mess with Gene for making him wait. He took the batteries out of the TV remote
and turned them around backward, smiling and thinking of what they said about
He put the remote back on the arm of the leather couch which
probably cost close to what he paid for his car. He sat on the couch, then
stood back up and put the remote in his pocket. He was uncomfortable in
luxurious settings or around expensive things, and here he was mired in both.
That station wagon wasn’t helping, either. He paused by the
window once more to check on it. In the dead October light he couldn’t tell if
the driver was still inside the car or not, but it didn’t matter because the
Daniel took a small plastic capsule from his pocket and spun
the scoop, inhaling a white bullet of the purest cocaine up one nostril, then
the other. There. Just enough to get him home, where he was safe. He’d unloaded
the last of his product to Gene, and if he really
being followed he
would behave with utmost caution.
Of course, it might be too late for that. The possibility
that he’d been ratted out crossed his mind, but only briefly. Gene was too
careful to get caught and too gutless to wear a wire. Right?
Those were thoughts best left unthunk. A thick drip rolled
down the back of Daniel’s throat and filled his mind with the cocaine-clarity
he loved so well.
Gene walked into the front room. “Sorry for the hold-up, man
... but you understand.” He shifted his eyes to the back, toward Trish and
whatever remnants of his manhood she still held.
You’re pathetic, Daniel thought, showing contempt in his
Gene handed over the money and sniffed. “Women! Can’t live
with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em.”
“Well, y’know what they say, right? You kill what you
Daniel hated saying that, but knew Gene would appreciate the
axiom. It was the easiest way to do business with white-collar fuckheads. Stoop
to their level. Daniel counted the wad of sweaty cash. The first time Gene ever
handed him money it had been a twenty-dollar bill. But that was the nature of
it all, especially coke. One line is too many and a thousand is never enough.
He wondered how long it would be before Gene started smoking it.
A small black spider walked out of Gene’s left nostril,
across his lip, and back in through his mouth.
Not really there, not really
; this was the talismanic litany that ran through Daniel’s head as he
rubbed his eyes, took a deep breath, and counted to three.
“Hey, I’m not gonna be around for a while,” Daniel said. “I
need to get my head right for the next couple weeks, so don’t call me.”
’, man. I’m serious. You can still
catch Tommy holding, and I’ll look you up when everything’s cool.”
Daniel left without waiting for a response, taking another
snort in the elevator on the way down. He was dialed now, wired for sound.
He crossed the street, keeping the mammoth wood-paneled
station wagon in his peripheral vision. His forest-green ‘67 Mustang started up
with the growl and purr only classic muscle cars have, and he pulled away from
The station wagon came to life, its headlights popping the
soft cushion of darkness between the two cars and blinding Daniel in the
rearview. His mouth went numb and he drove looking back and forth between the
road ahead and the reflection of the car behind. The station wagon stopped at
the corner and sat idling, same as him. Daniel still couldn’t tell who the
driver was. When the Mustang rolled forward, the other car followed.
“Don’t panic,” Daniel said to himself. “If I’m already
fucked then I’m already fucked, but maybe I’m not.”
The traffic light changed as if it was waiting for him and
he took a left, accelerating to a still legal thirty-five.
Luck seemed to have finally fallen on his side, for the next
light turned red before the station wagon could reach it. Not that it would
matter if the guy was DEA or an undercover cop…
But the other driver didn’t slap a light on the roof of the
Country Squire or give chase; he just sat waiting for the signal to change.
Daniel was four blocks away before it did, and the wagon turned the other way.
This was getting out of hand. He’d lay off dealing, like he
told Gene. Maybe for good. He’d stop using, too. And even if he didn’t quit
it for good, he would take a break and get a better handle on things before
being shot, arrested, or driven into a twitching bundle of nerves.
You could take as much of a drug as you wanted, as long as
you could keep it from taking you. For Daniel Rimms the score was now about
even. He cranked his stereo up a bit louder, and then dug the capsule out of
his pocket again. He put the powder that was left up his nose, then tossed the
little plastic bullet out the window into the empty black street, followed by
Gene’s remote. He felt better already.
Though not particularly hungry, Daniel was thirsty. As he
drove, the drips kept rolling down the back of his throat. His mouth and gums
were numb, his tongue felt swollen and dry. His nerves were still a little
shot, and he could use a quick break before driving the rest of the way home.
He pulled into the parking lot of the next burger stand he saw and went inside.
He ordered a drink from the girl behind the counter. Cute,
maybe 19 or 20. She was as punk rock as her boss let her be at work: purple
hair, ring in her nose. She smiled at Daniel in a way that told him she was
hers if he wanted. But he wasn’t shopping, so he paid for his soda and took a
seat at a table near the back corner of the dining area. He swiveled the chair
until his back was to the wall; this way he could see both exits and keep an
eye on his car. The overhead lights were the same obnoxious fluorescent bulbs
that were in every fast-food joint, but at least they weren’t flickering. The
last thing Daniel needed now was a headache.
He opened his mouth wide until his jaw cracked and he felt
better. He reminded himself not to grind his teeth too much. The soda was
sugary and good. He caught the girl behind the counter looking at him a few
times, and smiled at her. She smiled back and Daniel looked away, flattered
that she was in to him but thinking how lucky he was to have Echo at home
waiting for him.