I awoke from a deep dreamless sleep to the sound of chirping birds. A sunbeam danced through the window to land on the wood panel floor. Motes of dust glimmering in its wake.
It was cold. Despite the best efforts of a powerful central heating system, my lower level room fell prey to the biting sting of a Kentucky spring.
I buried my face in the pillow and pulled two thick blankets over me.
Lucas, Sam, and I had taken three rooms on the first floor. It was a security thing. Even though I’d rather hear an intruder than be caught off guard I’d considered moving upstairs more than once. Hot air rises and I could just picture Graham, Chuck, and our guests all warm and snug.
Meh…I flipped the covers off and set my fortuitously besocked feet on the chilly floor. Just like with water it’s better to dive in. I made a beeline for the kitchen.
As usual, I had no idea what in all solemn hell was going on, I just knew that I had to make coffee and eat something fat and now!
I rinsed out the dirty pot and filled it to the top. After adding the grounds and flipping the switch on I pulled the cream cheese from the fridge. Post toasting a couple of bagels to perfection I smeared thick gobs of the cheese on it. It was unholy.
I was always ravenous in the morning. Ravenous and cold.
As I turned round to head back towards the kitchen table I was surprised.
“Bahh…who the fuck…”
It took nearly a minute to recognize Officer Fabre. Slowly last nights events crept back into my mind.
“Aren’t you worried about your precinct?” I asked right as I took a greedy bite of bagel.
“Eh…com ci com ca, in a town this size, the deputies can handle it. I told them I might be gone for a couple of days.”
“Really, you expected to be gone that long.”
“Potentially. But I am not worried about that. Right now I am worried about the crime that is my empty stomach.”
“You and me both,” I said between bites. “No donuts here, though…this kitchen’s only big enough for one pig.”
“Now where’s all that famous southern hospitality?”
“That don’t kick in till a more godly hour,” I said opening the fridge grabbing a half-empty packet of cheese slices and throwing it to my guest.
“Yeah, no problem, figure it out, I need to find some damn aspirin.”
I pulled open a drawer and pulled out a couple.
“Jesus Christ you’re just like papa…” He said.
“You chewed them….”
“Well, yea it’s quicker that way.”
Officer Fabre shook his head.
“Aren’t you at all concerned about your liver? Dialysis isn’t fun.”
“Eh…I only get like this maybe once or twice a year…when I’m bored…other time I’m a real fucking Nazi just like these pills here.”
“Bayer…aspirin…Nazis…and most of the year I’d put any West Coast fascist to shame with my trendy ketogenic diets and other shit.”
“How are you bored out here. Doing all this damned voodoo?”
“Well, because it’s bullshit,” I responded taking a huge swig of coffee.
“Come again…isn’t the government paying for this research.”
“Uh, yeah, it’s government-sponsored bullshit.”
There was an odd silence.
“O come on…you’re a public servant as well…”
“Yeah, but everything that’s just happened…”
“Well, this stuff with Graham and the TV, etc..” It was all flooding back to me. “It’s strange, but stuff like this does happen, Jung, attributed the mystic label Synchronicity to it. Dunno how it works but ehh…mostly it’s bullshit and confirmation bias. I’m not really a skeptic but I’m not really a believer either.”
“So you don’t believe in what you’re doing?”
“No, I do. I just don’t think it’s magic. I think we’re here to figure out why symbols and chemicals do what they do and then weaponize it.”
“You’re a creepy son of a bitch.”
“It’s not a compliment.”
I rubbed my temples. “Look, I know you’re officer yokel… down to earth…. independent-minded etc… whatever…do you understand…that…it hasn’t been much longer than a half-century since people were still hanging each other…in public…with the cheering approval of the masses…who watched…it takes quite the son of a bitch to know about the mechanics of that sort of business. So yea, thanks.”
“Where’s the coffee cups?”
I pointed to the cupboard on my right and watched Fabre pour himself a cup.
He was a big guy. Probably ex-military himself.
“So how was the Gulf?”
He cocked his head. “How’dya know?”
“Just a guess: age, build, gait.”
He just kind of looked at me.
“So, the point of me asking was. You remember how the Iraqis or Persians or fucking whatever behaved…”
“Pretty damned civilized actually.”
“Yeah, until it came time for discipline, you recall right..”
“Sure, but war is war.”
“Peacetime wasn’t much different.”
“I don’t know. Aren’t you the one that’s supposed to tell me to be less xenophobic… whippersnapper?”
“Race, ethnicity, nationality, even faith, that’s not the issue. Limited resources, underdeveloped legal structures, no matter how enlightened a civilization …fault lines will occur. Iraq, hell even Afghanistan, is not as different from the United States and Western World of a few decades ago. Even though we had the enlightenment it took years for its best effects to blossom. Like I said it was only a half-century or so ago that we were still hanging people publicly.”
“It was a little longer than that. I remember from the Academy. It was the 1930’s.”
“Sure, officially…in the States…”
“So this justifies brainwashing, manipulation…”
“Guidance,” I said coldly.
“You say tomato I say tomahto.”
We were silent for a bit, sipping coffee, and watching the sunlight bounce off the trees outside.
“So, what did Graham say to you?”
The officer looked a tad taken aback, it was obviously something he’d rather forget.
“Like I said… he told me the gator is waiting.”
“Ok…and what does that mean exactly.”
“Well…in the Bayou..when a gator crawls under your house…it’s considered a sign that someone is about to die.”
“Heh.” I chuckled. “Isn’t someone always about to die?”
“Yeah, but the fact that he knew about it, that he spoke Coonass…and…and…he told me about Jean.” Fabre looked so nervous that I didn’t really want to push him but curiosity got the best of me.
Before he could answer, Graham, Chuck, and the Doctor all trooped into the kitchen.
1.1 (Intro) The Sketch of Sam Monroe
1.2 The Cajun Prayer