“Fuck.” You have to know something about me before we get too deep in this Country Tyme Lemonade commercial you’re reading. Fuck is my go to word. There’s a very good chance the editors are going to strongly suggest I change it, but for now, fuck it is.
The latest utterance was on the heels of realizing I needed to actually leave my apartment. The lapses of memory and the fact that I may or may not be hallucinating Bob were enough to get me wondering.
“I’m not an hallucination, asshole.” Bob called from the kitchen, “But you probably should get the brain bucket checked. Something definitely ain’t right.”
I didn’t bother answering Bob. How could I? Imaginary friend or not, he was right. Something was going on. The blackouts were too long. The gaps almost too great to recover from.
Now I just had to figure out how to actually leave. This wasn’t going to be easy. Not by a damn sight.
"It's your own damn fault," he said, rustling of the Ramen noodle package giving away his activity.
Rubbing my temples, I didn't even bother looking up. "How's that?"
"You could have easily written another kind of book. A sci-fi piece. Rom-Com. Hell after all of those NCIS reruns, you're primed for a crime novel."
I started to counter his argument about the ease of writing when the knock came at the door.
The knock had a purpose. Succinct and serious. Three swift raps on the door.
It was a cop knock.
A pan clanked in the kitchen and Bob ran back to his room whispering "I'm NOT here!" on his way.
I took off my shirt and threw it toward my bedroom as I turned and walked to the door. The knock came again, slightly more forceful as I turned the doorknob. I got the sense someone was about to check it as I did.
"Uh...yeah?" I said as I opened the door and stared at two uniformed officers staring back at me. The doorman fidgeted nervously behind them.
"Rodney Andrews?" The shorter of the two queried.
I ran my hand sleepily through my hair, at least I hope that's how it looked, before I answered. "Yeah. That's me. How can I help?"
"Did we catch you at a bad time?"
"I just woke up. I had the graveyard shift supporting our Bangalore division."
"Bangalore. It's a city in India. My company has offices there and 4 other international locations. I do tech support, officers. I'm good at it. And sleep keeps me good at it. And I'm running on very little of that, so can we cut to the chase please? Is there something I can help you with?"
"Mr. Andrews. We're sorry to bother you. But we need your help with something."
"We need you to come downtown with us."
"Am I in some kind of trouble officer?"
"What? Oh. No. Nothing like that, sir."
I reached for my shirt and shoes as he finished, "You're listed as the next of kin."
I looked in the direction of Bob's bedroom and saw the light go out from under the door. I turned back to the officers.
"Right gentlemen. Let's get on with this, then." I glanced at the doorman, who was well aware of my 'condition' in time to see him mouth "I'm sorry" to me. I nodded as I pulled the door shut behind me and headed down the hall, flanked on each side by a cop.
Turns out I was wrong. It wasn’t Angie I was heading back to the outside world for. At least I hoped to fuck it wasn’t her.
I don’t remember the ride to the station. Not surprising. I was lost in my own thoughts trying to work out the puzzle of who would list me as their next of kin. I hadn’t done anything illegal that I knew of recently so the scenario of uniformed cops tricking me to come to the station quickly gave way to running down the list of anyone who might list me as the next of kin.
I was vaguely aware of buildings flashing by. Next thing I knew we were there. The 84th Precinct. Things were still in the dreamlike blur as I was lead through a maze of desks and people to a conference room. The officers deposited me and told me that the detective would be with me soon.
The word rolled around in my brain. Synapses that had been asleep for the last….20 minutes started firing.
What the hell would a detective have to do with anything related to a next of kin? Shouldn’t that be a lawyer or some shit?
I started to stand just as the door opened.
“Mr. Andrews?” The voice was female, but I didn’t really see her. At least not at first. “My name is Jackie Weber. I’m a detective.”
“Uh...hi.” I managed weakly. I shook her outstretched hand and sat back down. She sat across from me and and sat a manilla folder on the table in front of her.
Fuck. The folder.
The folder never had any good news. In any cop show, the folder always had bad things. Dead things.
I could feel my mind initiating the launch sequence for self preservation mode as Detective Weber slowly opened the folder.
“Mr. Andrews. The uniforms told you that you were needed down here as the next of kin.”
“That’s partially true. Fact is, we actually need you to identify a body for us. Your business card was found the personal effects of the victim.”
“Rodney. May I call you Rodney?”
“Rodney. We have a dead body. We don’t know how they died yet. All we know is that your business card is one of our only leads.” She pulled a green business card from the folder.
“Wow.” I whistled slowly through my teeth. “I haven’t seen one of those in years. At least 5 or 10 to be precise.”
“Beg pardon Rodney?”
“That’s an old card. I haven’t used that card in a hell of a long time.”
“Can you come with me, please?”
I nodded and followed the detective out of the conference room. As we were leaving I caught my reflection in the mirror. Turns out it wasn’t quite a conference room after all.
I really didn’t like the way this day was going.