Marty puts the guns in his belt and stands up. “Yes, that’s right. Don’t question a man who has just crashed a getaway car, risked his life to disarm two masked criminals, got shot twice in the chest, and then disabled two bombs while giving his sweet grandmother a happy happy birthday.”

The police officer stammers something, looks at the diffused explosives, and then flaps his mouth with a vigorous nod. He wouldn’t think of questioning Marty.

“Now, would you mind helping me slip out of this mess?” Marty asks the young officer.

“But,” the man says, “don’t you want to answer some questions? What about a report?”

Marty takes a breath. “I think they’ve got it all sorted here. And besides mate, I’m not one for the political side of it. I just save lives. You know, I’m kind of a lone ranger. After the bad guys are in cuffs, the day is saved, and the bomb is diffused, I like to just slip away and let things settle, you know what I mean?”

Marty feels somewhat giddy, but it's all in good fun. This role is like a dream come true. “Now chap, which way do you think would cause me the least trouble?”

The police officer looks over his shoulder. “I’d say you should just slip behind the police van there and then cut across the park. But—”

“Thanks,” Marty says, slipping swiftly out of reach. He gets around the corner of the police van and then breaks into a run.

He makes it to the fifth street bus stop by the time he is found.

“Excuse me sir,” says a voice as the car slides up to the curb. Within the darkness, the police sits snug in his seat and doesn’t lean toward the open window.

“Yes?” asks Marty, innocently.

The officer looks intently at his laptop screen in consternation. “Are you…Agent Martlet?”

Marty lets out a breath. “Why yes. And I’m on my break.”

“Oh, well certainly. I can see you’re a man to leave his work at work. But…uh.” He finally turns to the window and leans forward. “What about those…uh…guns?”

Marty looks down at the two guns sticking from his belt. He looks like a rather misplaced and confused cowboy. Or maybe a gangster. The guns are certainly rather theatrical. Enough perhaps to make him a gangster cowboy. In fact, the six other people at the bus stop have been keeping their shifty eyes on Marty with hopes that he would give them some reassurance of his role as merely a delusional actor. And though he would take offense at being placed in such a role, this is not far from the truth.

He smiles. “I’m taking these back to the lab to…test,” he says with a nod. “You know the gig.”

The officer nods. “Right.” He pauses. “You ah…catching the bus?”

Marty nods. “Yeah. The number 17.” He presses a narrow smile on his face and nods with a swallow. There is a moment of awkwardness. And then the officer makes a hesitant offer.

“Well. I could give you a ride if you’d like. And I mean, you’ve got those guns on are your belt.” The officer laughs.

Marty laughs along, and then says, “To keep the guns out of sight, yes, I will take you up on that offer.” Marty has just remembered the threat to his home, and he wonders if the officer might be of some help. Oh yes, and maybe he can begin his side of the deal with the legendary man in black.

“So what drugs?” asks Marty as he slips into the cop car. He has decided to go for sudden rather than subtle. And someone waiting for the bus becomes suddenly suspicious. Did the man with the guns say drugs? A powerful combination, sure, but Marty is onto something altogether different. Well, not exactly. Aiding a criminal by distracting the cops with drugs may in fact be further from the way of innocence. But he wouldn’t use the guns or drugs. So that makes him a…clean…criminal.

Morals aside, Marty is taking a big step towards his deal with the man in black. And that is--literally--morals aside.

“Pardon?” asks the officer as Marty closes the door. There’s a shaky moment as the cop acts like superman investigating some possible kryptonite. Perhaps a better metaphor would be a dog sniffing for drugs. Although, one could take that close to literally and come off thinking of Marty as a rather rude person. After all, these metaphors are his, and the narrator takes no responsibility whatsoever. Not that the narrator cares for that matter. Or even has a personality.

“Yes,” Marty says in a casual manner as if he could not tell that the officer was barring his canine teeth like a bloodhound. In fact, Marty is realizing an interesting fact through this rather rude metaphor. Cops really shouldn’t be called pigs. That would be rude. Dogs are far more accurate and respectable.

Marty blinks at the cop as if unsure why there should be any misunderstanding. “The masked men,” he says as if that was obviously the topic of the conversation. “What drugs did they have on them?”

The cop recovers with a stutter and nods profusely. “Right, right. Err…we never really check them.”

“Checked them? You mean the masked men?”

“Of course,” the cop says, falling suddenly uneasy. “Aren’t we talking about them?”

“Well I was referring to the trunk of their vehicle. From what I saw, they had enough to fill a few trunks. But if there was nothing in their vehicle, then we have been slighted once again. I think it’s worse than we all think.”

The cop puts his hands on the wheel. “Worse…than…” he pauses. “You think so?”

“Oh ya,” assures Marty. “Worse than the regular stuff, you know what I mean?”

The cop frowns. “Ah, yeah. Of course. Did you want to…ah…write a report about that…ah…side of it?”

Marty gives a haughty laugh. “Me? No. That’s not my case. I am far too busy to get into that world of fun. I mean, I’d never surface again if I let myself go after these guys’ tail! Ho no…let’s drive.”

The cop jumps in his seat as he resurfaces from thought, and he grabs at the wheel. “Right. Where am I going?”

“Just follow the road. We’ll be there in no time.”

Marty loves to be ambiguous.

“So, ah…” The cop sounds as if he is about to begin some small talk, but before Marty can stop him, the cop asks a direct question. “What kind of drugs are we dealing with here?”

Marty tries to remember the guest speakers from school who showed him the gruesome videos and the boring slideshows. But all he can remember is a stick of half chewed gum, the frizzy hair of the girl in front of him, and the back of her wooden chair. Oh yes, and the shame.

But he cannot recall the names of any drugs. At least, none that he remembered to be particularly nasty. And if he could remember, he would list the worst drug in the encyclopedia. But then again, Marty does not care about the encyclopedia. Marty lists the worst drug he can possibly imagine. And imagine he does.

“I don’t want to say this so early in the game…but…” he pauses, “I think it’s Puckzee.” He spits the word with a shiver.

The cop hangs for a moment as he refers to his mental encyclopedia. “…Shit, really?” he finally asks.

Marty holds a moment of silence because the idea of Puckzee just makes him speechless.

“Puckzee is the…” The cop pauses, and would be scratching his shins if he wasn’t driving. He was that sort of man. Gotta think, let me lean over and scratch my shins. “It’s the…ah…street name for…” He pauses further, hoping Marty will fill him in before he is forced to admit he doesn’t know.

“Street name?” asks Marty. “Are they calling Puckzee something different on the street? I don't see why they would with it's reputation! I would think they'd be using the name Puckzee for more than just Puckzee! Cause this stuff is the hotest new stuff.”

The cop sucks in a breath. “A new drug? Shit, that’s why I haven’t heard of it. Man,” he laughs, “I thought I was losing it. But you know, down on the street, the dealers keep on coming up with new names for the same shit. But this is new you say?”

“Oh yes. Some spoiled rich kid playing in his father’s lab, and next thing you know, Puckzee is selling on the street for seventy three dollars a gram. You wouldn’t think it possible right. You would think the addicts of today would never get that type of money, would never think to fork that over just for a new sort of trip. And it's true. Until this shit leaked out.”

The cop is moving out onto the freeway, some part of his mind doing the driving for him, and his jaw is slack as his eyes dark. “Leaked?” he asked.

“Yeah, this mad scientist kid with his father’s fancy tools, he had a monopoly over the shit. That’s why he was selling it for so much. But then it went to his head.” Marty licks his lips. “I mean, the Puckzee went to his head. Sad tale really. He went beserk, mixed up nine kilograms of the stuff, and then died before anyone could find the recipe and procedure.”

The cop shakes his head. “Man, why haven’t I heard of any of this?” He sounds disappointed and left out.

Marty puts his hand on his chest. “You’ve got to discover this stuff. You’ve got to dig for it. You’ve got to ask the right questions. But don’t do it openly. Don’t even say the name, Puckzee, until you’ve got their full attention and are on the same page. Do you know what I mean? You’ve got to let a rumor out that you’re wanting to know these things. Then one day…” Marty’s voice has been getting lower and lower, and then, “BAM!”

The cop jumps in his seat.

“Someone comes knocking on your door." He continues to layer on the drama. "And they want you to investigate these masked men. They don’t tell you what it’s all about. They don’t tell you that the masked men have got guns with explosives in them. When you’ve made it as far as I have, you’ve got to just know these things.”

The cop nods. “You know, you’re coming from a place totally beyond me, but somehow, I think I can see what you’re saying.”

“Good,” Marty says. He is satisfied with this cop. He will make a very careful yet big deal about this new concept. No one will ask the question. What is Puckzee? Because they’ll already know what it is. They’ll just know. Or they’ll think that they’re the chosen one in this way. Truly, they’ll just hear all about it through the walls.

Marty smiles as a sign whips by overhead. If he hadn’t have gotten into that role with the masked men, the fake guns, and the convenient bomb diffusing instructions, he would not have managed to secure such a role. His deal with the man in black is a snatch.

And that is when the radio blares into the vehicle with a very urgent voice.

“We have a very dangerous 409 on Clover Road. Suspects are said to be hiding in the second floor of the house at 2769, Clover Road. They claim to be fully armed with a hostage. I repeat, we have a dangerous 409 at 2769, Clover Road.”

The officer throws on his sirens and hits the gas. And then he turns to Marty. “Sorry about this. You’ll get home before you know it.”

“I’ll get home far before you even know it,” Marty says. “And please, don’t feel sorry for me, I think I’ve brought this onto myself.”

The officer looks at him funny.

“When we get there, I’d invite you in for tea, but I rather think we’d have to ask permission of the armed criminals first.”

The officer widens his eyes. “2769, Clover Road is your home?”

“Yes.” Marty keeps a straight face even in the face of such adversary. And then he says, “So what’ll it be? Passion Fruit Herbal or Gunpowder Green?”

The End

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