barnaby jokes

Every streetlamp in the warehouse district has long been smashed, leaving the moon as the source of the only light to fall upon the Camaro, dull red with a primer color rear quarterpanel, the lone vehicle for several blocks save for a nondescript van parked a few streets away. Seated upon the squeaky vinyl interior (the department had unsurprisingly not sprung for one with leather), Agent Slater, a man who has not gone by that name in quite some time, studies two index cards, each containing a single similar word. A drop of sweat forms on his forehead and he slows his breathing, savoring these last few minutes in the car where he can afford such luxuries as an involuntary biological reaction to stress. He crumples the index cards and stuffs them one at a time into his mouth, chews, then washes the pulpy paste down with a swig of bourbon from his flask, and enters the building.
After the customary patdown he sets the briefcase on the table and steps back to allow Snake’s goons to open it.
“All right, Snake. It’s all there; every dollar.” He barely recognizes the sound of his own voice anymore. The same goes for his arms and torso, now awash in coded tattoos. “I’m ready.”
Snake cocks a skeptical eyebrow. “Oh, so you make a few low-level buys and suddenly you’re ready?” This too will be a test, it appears. The correct combination of deference and assertiveness is critical to his chances of walking out of here alive.
“I told you when I started I wanted to be a player. All due respect, I can always take this briefcase elsewhere.”
This seems to satisfy Snake. “All right, man. So what you want?”
“Two kilos of swizzle.”
“Fuck did you just say?” Snake rises from his chair.
“‘Sizzle.’ Why, what did you think I said?”
“Sounded to me like he said ‘swizzle,’ boss,” says a faceless voice from the dark.
“Yeah, me too,” says another. Snake is seething.
“Look, I definitely said ‘sizzle.’ If it sounded like ‘swizzle,’ maybe it’s because I had a dentist appointment earlier.”
“You calling me a liar? You a fucking cop or something?”
“Yeah sure, a cop buying illegal drugs,” Slater says, his voice now muffled by the gun barrel between his teeth. “Now I’ve heard everything.”
“Goddammit, get him out of there!” screams the voice inside the van. Armored personnel rappel down the side of the building and through the window, only to find their pathway blocked by stacked crates of raw uncut swizzle and several bottles of champagne on ice, underneath dozens of balloons and a huge banner reading “CONGRATS BUDDY- WELCOME TO THE GANG”.

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February 2014

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