If you’re coming in late, the novel starts here: CHAPTER 1: Some bugger steals my sushi
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I crawled out of the Craic three pints later, and a whole lot more relaxed.
Rational explanation? Heck – I had a rational explanation!
Those drugs that doc had given me – that was some heavy shiiit, man! Panadeine Forte my arse!
Like that party there were some great hash cookies, and the guy next to me got wasted and kept giggling about a frog on a bicycle, and a girl tried to crack on to me with some great black market coffee.
The coffee was great, the girl was a nice bonus prize, but the drugs at that party beat all. It’s been three years, and that party has yet to be beat in my experience.
I still have no idea what I took that night, but it was pretty damn good.
Still, the trips that night were nothing compared to the deal that doc gave me. Yeah, it was all a trip. The guy shooting himself, those men in the dresses and tablecloth outfits – I mean – I had to be dreaming that! The skinny guy yelling and sleazing and pushing people around…the fire…
Like any great trip, like injecting caldera or doing spikes, of course I’m all clammy and pasty and kind of sick feeling now. Reality always has a way of whacking you over the head and kicking you in the guts, just when you were feeling great.
Checking that the streets were clear of cops, I walked as upright as I could through the town, down Bath Street and through to the back door of the McCafe where Daniel did most of his Friday business.
I’ve got to hand it to Dan – if you’re going to sell black market coffee, the place to do it is in a busy cheap cafe, where any talk of caffeine and better breeds of fix are going to seem absolutely normal, and where no-one is going to notice people coming-and going. The free wi-fi and lack of CCTV cameras are a bonus to Dan, of course.
And McCafe know it. I’d guess half their clientele are black marketeers, and a full third extra are patrons buying the stuff. But hey, if it keeps everybody McHappy, it’s all good. And Maccas are waaaay too big for the government to tackle.
So the government look the other way, Maccas give the incumbents nice fat donations every election time, and everybody’s happy. Besides, New Zealand would shut down without black market coffee: the government vouchered stuff is barely drinkable, even with fries and a burger.
I sauntered over to Dan, and sat a couple of tables away, not wanting to freak his customer. He saw me, catching my eye and nodding slightly, and wrapped his deal up in two minutes flat, organising the drop date and time. Vouchers swapped between Dan and his customer, and the bloke left, looking pretty pleased.
“Ahh, another happy McCustomer,” sighed Daniel, grinning. He took a sip of his McCoffee and shuddered. “Ordered over fifty kilograms of my finest organic Ethiopian. Should’ve given him a toy with that happy meal.” He laughed, and pocketed his wad of vouchers.
“How can I help you, Mike? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“You’re not seriously going to drink that shit?” I asked, pointing at his McCoffee cup.
“Keeping up appearances, my friend,” he said smoothly. “Besides, there’s a trick to it. I simply imagine I’m about to drink government Cola. Then I take a sip and – surprise! – it’s delicious.”
I laughed. “And your gums don’t bleed either.”
“A nice fringe benefit,” he agreed, taking another sip, and cringing. “Now – ahhhh! – how can I help you? It’s rare you come visit me in my office.”
“I’ve had…a morning,” I began. I stopped, thinking. “Hey, Daniel – are my pupils dilated?”
He peered across the table at me, gazing into each of my eyes, squinting at my eyes one by one. Then together. Then he pulled his coffee spoon from his saucer, and said, “Follow this.”
He waved it back and forth across my field of vision, and I watched it. “No – keep you head steady, you nong! Follow it with you eyes only.”
I did as he said.
I blinked twice.
“Okay, now, close one eye, then the other.”
I closed one eye, then the other.
“Now, whistle ‘She’ll be comin’ ’round the mountain’, with your hands locked together behind your back.”
I opened both my eyes, and frowned at him. “Dan – is this serving any purpose?”
“Naaah – I just wanted to have a bit of fun with you. You’re fine. So – what’s the story? What brings you to my luxurious place of slavery?”
To Daniel’s credit, he sat and listened without saying hardly a word as I related my morning’s events to him. Sure, he raised an eyebrow more than once, and coughed loudly when I explained how the cop had just disappeared, but he didn’t say anything, until I’d finished.
I told him how, after everything, I’d gone to The Craic and had a few drinks to calm down. And how I’d come to the conclusion that I’d been given some heavy, heavy shit by that doctor in the hospital yesterday.
I finished my story, and Daniel leaned back in his chair, his hands behind his head, a thoughtful expression on his face, digesting everything I’d said. He scratched his neck, and stared at me quizzically. Then he leaned forward.
“You know what this means?” he said.
“I’ve got a really, really vivid imagination?” I said.
“Naaah. Either you’ve got a really, really vivid imagination, or you’ve just been on the best, most realistic trip any son of a bitch has ever been on.”
He leaned in even closer to me, until our faces were inches apart. “Which means one of two things…”
“Yeah?” I leaned in, waiting for his assessment of everything.
“That doc either gave you some serious shit on purpose, or the drug supply of the hospital is spiked, because there is no fricking way any of that shit happened to you, my friend.”
Daniel stood up, pushed aside his McCoffee, and put his jacket on. I looked at him curiously. “Where are you going?”
“That hospital, to find the bitch who dealt you the drugs,” he said. “Because if there’s a new product on the market, and some bastard’s testing it by giving out free samples to any young guy who comes through emergency, my whole supply demand curve is at risk. You coming?”
I pushed my chair aside. “Looks like we’ve got a doc to find, Dan.”
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I won’t waste words: I hate hospitals.
I hate everything about hospitals – everything, from the horrible food, which always seems to include watery orange jelly that no human being would ever want to eat, and those liquid breakfast things that are liquified weetbix in a bag.
I especially hate hospital gowns. On the way to the hospital, Daniel was laughing about Tina’s photos of my arse on Facebook. I’ve been under the radar for over five years now, and I suppose I should be happy that the only part of me to grace Facebook so far is my arse, but I could have done without the tag. Daniel said Tina was going to untag me, hopefully before the cops caught it.
I don’t know if they can butt-scan photos for an ID the same way they can eye-scan and ear-scan, but I don’t want to find out with a knock on the door and scoping by the government at 3 in the morning. There are advantages to being off-line, off-grid, off-list.
And especially off-govt. I’ve got fourteen separate IDs, and none of them has an identifiable butt-print on Facebook yet. The last thing I need is some smart cop pulling the pack of my IDs together, thanks to a gaping hospital gown photo of my arse.
We arrived at the hospital, and Daniel found the emergency wards. “Do you remember the name of that doc?” I asked him. “I was too far gone to pay any attention, apart from noticing she was a chick and how good she looked in those pants.”
“No,” he said. “She didn’t have a name tag on.” he said. “Funny: I should’ve noticed it at the time, but didn’t. All docs are supposed to wear ID. I don’t remember her having an ID on.”
“So – what d’ya reckon? Let’s just look around, and see if we can find a chick doctor who looks familiar.”
“Yeah,” he said, nodding. “Here’s hoping she’s working right now.”
We moseyed through the emergency ward until we found the doctor’s locker room which, fortunately for us, was clearly marked. The door was open. Daniel opened it, and peered around the corner. “Empty. C’mon.”
We nicked inside, and found a pile of white lab coats, and searched through them until each of us had a coat to fir. “Got to look the part,” I said, grinning at Daniel. We came out of the locker room, and walked past the ward desk and, as we did so, Daniel palmed a stethoscope that was lying on the corner of the desk. As soon as we were out of sight of the desk, he slung it around his neck.
“Yeah, got to look the part,” he agreed, with a sly smile.
We walked around the emergency ward. As we went on, we gathered a few more props – a clip board each, and a stethoscope for me. No sign of the doc who had attended me on Thursday. Then Daniel motioned to me – he’d noticed a nurse carrying a tray of bottles.
We followed him, and were led to a refrigerator room floor to ceiling with drugs. I was amazed that there were no locks, and no checks on the door, and no-one monitoring anything. “Don’t look up,” Daniel whispered to me. I nodded. CCTV – the blasted cameras are everywhere.
I kept my head down, and pretended to be searching the shelves for a particular bottle. Daniel did likewise. The nurse parked his tray on a benchtop, and left the room, shutting the door behind him.
“What the crap are we doing in here?” I hissed at Daniel, once the nurse had gone. “If we get caught…!”
“Not going to happen,” he said. “Your ID is your face. Don’t look up, and nothing will happen. They get so many staff through here that the cameras have latched you on as someone else. Probably as John Tulloch, my trusty runner, who happens to look absolutely identical to you.”
“Shit, Daniel,” I said. “You nicked one of my IDs? You bastard.”
“Screw that for now,” he said. “Look at the drugs. That’s one crap of a lot of panadeine forte!”
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READ ON: CHAPTER 5: Smile! You’re on candid camera!