- the district sleeps alone tonight by the postal service.
The dinner party was moving smoothly, as always. Dinner parties always went fairly well. Aria was passed around the table like some sort of board game, and while she may grow up to be a bit wary of family, it was nice for a break. Everyone wanted to play with her and change her and feed her. Taking care of a young baby is fun for an hour or two but it doesn’t stay that way for long.
I sat down on our couch besides Marie, Johnny’s sister, and her husband, Hank. Marie worked as a nurse and always seemed to be hanging out with me on her off hours, despite the fact that she was older, I was a teacher, and she didn’t have any kids. Hank was a portly bald man who liked to joke with me (for some odd reason) and worked as a DEA, busting drug criminals in the area. It seemed a quite high paced job.
“Hey, turn it up!” Hank pointed in the direction of the TV, which his own face occupied. Johnny obliged, finding the remote in a mess of cocktail napkins and snack pretzels before heightening the volume.
Everyone in the space quieted to hear Hank speak.
“–At which point we apprehended three individuals and placed them in custody. I'm proud to say that the outstanding professionalism shown by my fellow agents of the Bernalillo District Office resulted in a substantial quantity of methamphetamine being taken off the street.”
I tried to ignore the whooping at Hank’s bust and the animated high five he and Johnny shared like a pair of teenagers, focusing only on the plate of food in front of me. But it seemed ever since I found out I had lung cancer, part of me didn’t want to eat at all. I knew I’d have to tell the family soon, but I didn’t feel like it.
Something on the TV caught my eye and I found myself staring.
It was the spoils of this drug bust. Laid out on a table were bags and bags of crystal meth and several guns, but also eight big shoeboxes full of cash. I chewed my food, watching despite myself.
“Hank? How much money is that?” I asked.
“Almost seven hundred thousand. Pretty good haul.” He responded.
The TV lingers on fat rolls of $20s rubber-banded together. It's more currency than I’ve ever seen outside of a heist movie. I can’t help the surprise.
“That’s got to be unusual, right? That kind of cash?”
“Mmm. Not the most we ever took. There's no deficit of total morons in the drug trade. And they can make a ton of money, too. At least until we catch 'em. But we catch 'em eventually.” Hank flashed his great smile around the room. He noticed my continued interest in the news report. Liked it.
“Lissa, just say the word and I'll take you on a ride-along. You can watch us knock down a meth lab. 'Less that's too much excitement for you.”
I forced a pained grin and shrugged – maybe someday.
That night had been Johnny’s night to put Aria to bed. Still dressed in my party garb, I leaned over the sink and began rinsing dish after dish under lukewarm water when I felt a sharp jab rise up in my chest – it burned to breathe. After a while, it turned into a vibrant cough. I leaned over into the sink and tried to clear my throat; blood stumbled out.
The cancer was working fast.
I finished coughing, dried the plate, and leaned against the counter.
It was then I decided what I’d do.
I turned towards our house phone and picked it up slowly, dialing the numbers with careful clarity.
“Hank? Hey, it's Lissa. I didn't wake you, did I?” I whispered, making sure Johnny couldn’t hear me.
“No, not at all,” Hank murmured on the other line.
“Good. Listen, I've been thinking. Could I take you up on your offer? The ride-along?”
I ran my hand along the ill-fitting bulletproof vest wrapped around my torso before glancing up at Hank in the driver’s seat of the big, black SUV, his partner, Gomez, seated besides him.
“It's down there on the cul-de-sac. White? Kinda redwood-looking trim?” Hank pointed at something. I leaned over to get a better glance. “See it?” He reiterated.
I nodded. “Yeah,” Tiny house, a block down the street; not at all noteworthy. “That's a meth lab?” I questioned.
“So says our snitch. Says some dude who goes by ‘Cap'n Cook’ lives up to his name in there. Got himself a three pound flask and keeps it bubbling day and night. Says he always adds a dash of chili powder,” Hank turned and grinned at Gomez. “Ah, you exuberant Mexicans.”
“Uh-uh. ‘Cap'n Cook?’ that's a white boy's name. Dopey as hell.” Gomez argued.
“Yeah? I got twenty bucks says he's a be*ner,” Hank held out his hand.
Gomez shook it. “You're on.”
A yellow school bus drives by slowly.
“Ah, here we go. Finally,” Hank spoke into his radio.
A truck chugged past and stopped at the curb of the house Hank had pointed out earlier. All its doors opened as six agents jumped out, dressed head to toe in hazmat gear, all decorated with weaponry.
“Meth labs are nasty on a good day, but when you mix that stuff wrong, you wind up with mustard gas,” Hank explained.
I shook my head. He was wrong. “Phosgene gas, I think,” I corrected.
“Yeah, exactly. One whiff’ll kill you. That’s why the moon suits,” Hank motioned towards the agents once more.
The entry team took position at the door.
After the bust took place, Hank got a call on the radio saying they had one suspect in custody.
“Of Latino decent?” He asked hopefully. Gomez leaned in closer to get a better earshot.
"No, Asian,” The person on the other end responded.
“Hah! Pay up!” Hank trilled. Gomez held his head in defeat before speaking up.
"Wait! You said Mexican, I said white boy, Asians weren't covered in this!"
"Doesn't matter, you made the bet on a white guy!"
After their arguing subsided, I decided to speak up.
“Hank? Do you think I might get to go inside? See the meth lab?”
He turned around in the cracked leather seat to face me.
“Yeah, tell you what – we’re gonna go peak our heads in, check it out. Stay here a minute.”
Both Gomez and Hank opened their doors and headed out, leaving me alone in the backseat.
I glanced at the house besides it, only to notice a second-story window rising up. No one else appeared to notice, only me. A girl, dressed in only a bra and underwear, backs out of the window and onto the roof. She then dropped herself down the eight feet fall onto the grass.
Above her, a man begins tossing articles of clothes down at her – a pair of cut-offs, a band tee shirt, a pair of old motorcycle boots. One hit her on the head.
She dressed at high speed and peaked around the corner, glancing at all the DEA Agents on the lawn. She obviously didn’t want to be seen by the feds.
Keeping on eye on the DEA Agents, she ran towards a Daytona parked near the curb, jumping inside and reeving the engine. The car begins to peel down the street as I notice the wording on the license plate.
I ran my hand over my jaw, surprised.
Both Gomez and Hank were wrong – Cap’n Cook was a girl.
(type 'where i am' if you read it all)