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The Narc of Starkville

Michael de Mare

    When I walked into the bar where someone had pulled a knife on me the day before, I was surprised to see my girlfriend, Sharon. She was sitting up at the bar next to a big guy that I thought that she knew from work. I sat down next to her and ordered a draft beer for seventy-five cents. Cheap beer was just one of the reasons the bar was popular with bikers and drug dealers.
    I wanted to tell my girlfriend that it wasn’t safe for her to be there, but the words didn’t come out. Her friend said, “Why don’t you kiss this girl?” So I did. I leaned in, tilted my head and put my lips on her lips. She put her hand on the back of my neck and I tried to put my tongue in her mouth.
    She didn’t know that I was paying for college by working for the feds. Hell, not even my parents knew that I was paying for college by working for the feds. After the kiss was over, the guy said, “You two can use my car for half an hour.”
    I shook my head. Not because I didn’t want to have a liaison, but I because I was working. They must have been somewhat aware of what clientele the bar attracted, because they left somewhat quickly. I hoped that if anyone had asked her name that she had given an alias.
    Someone put money in the jukebox and it started playing Mr. Brownstone by Guns N’ Roses. A man took the seat that had been occupied by my girlfriend.
    “I could really use some weed,” I said.
    “Really? My girl and I, we can help you.”
    “Okay, that would be cool.”
    “Come with us.”
    He got up and signaled to a middle-aged woman across the room. Then we went outside and walked to a nearby apartment building. We entered his apartment.
    “Sit down!” he said.
    I sat on the couch.
    I could sense that he was doing something behind me, then I could smell the marijuana. He gave me a pipe. I took a small hit and gave it back to him. It was powerful stuff and it hit me right away. He was doing something again.
    “We’ll help you, but if you do anything to hurt me or Lisa,” he pulled out a large combat knife.
    In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams says that discretion is the better part of valor and cowardice is the better part of discretion. With that in mind, I valiantly got up and let myself out the door. I made my report and headed back to the bar to sober up before driving home.
    Soon Spring Break was over and I returned to the engineering university 200 miles north of home where I was a senior.
    I was working there, too. I went to see my drug dealing friend, Chris. “Chris, I’ve got the thirty dollars.”
    “Good. I’ve got the stuff.”
    “How much do you have?”
    “Four ounces. Your thirty will get you an eighth.”
    I gave Chris the money and he handed me a little ziplock bag containing marijuana buds. I stuck them in my pocket. “Thanks.”
    “You can borrow my pipe.” He handed me a marijuana pipe.
    I went back to my dorm room. It was a single. That was a luxury that my job afforded me. I needed to send the baggie to the feds, but it was important that I not be seen with any. We decided to use my sister, who was a freshman, as a cut out. The only catch was that she didn’t know that I was a cop. I also needed my money back to buy cigarettes and maybe a little beer.
    I put some marijuana in the pipe and lit it. I took a couple of hits off of it and got really high. A few minutes later, there was a knocking on my door. I let my sister in. “Uh, hi.” she said, sniffing the marijuana smoke in the room.
    “Hi. I’ve got some stuff that I want to get rid of.” I said.
    Her face lightened up. She was expecting this. “Okay.”
    “I bought it but I don’t want it anymore. I paid thirty bucks for it. I would like to get some of that money back.”
    I pulled the baggie out of my pocket and handed it to her.
    “I’ll be right back,” she said.
    She left. She was gone for a long, long while. Or at least it seemed like a long, long while. With the time-distortion effects of the marijuana, it was hard to be sure. I put Skeletons From the Closet by the Grateful Dead on my record player.
    Then she knocked again. I let her in. She handed me a twenty. “All gone.”
    “I hope that you didn’t smoke it, you were gone for a while.”
    She laughed. “You really need to do your laundry.” Then she was gone. Once, years later she asked me what I knew about federales at that university. I feigned ignorance.
    It wasn’t long until graduation. I didn’t attend, preferring to get out of town as quickly as possible. My mother didn’t like that, but she didn’t know about all the drug dealers that were being picked up by the FBI.
    Back home, I was cultivating a reputation as a druggie. I hadn’t told Sharon the truth and she was probably getting upset and confused. There was no helping it. Absolute secrecy was the secret to my success, not to mention survival. I made a habit of turning up at clandestine parties kids were holding out in the woods.
    One night, I was driving up a dirt road through the state woods when I saw a pickup truck and a car pulled off to the side. I pulled over and got out. I could hear girls laughing in the bed of the truck. Sharon’s friend was getting beer out of the cab.
    “Hey!” I said. I had my own beer.
    “Hey! Mike!”
    “Who is that?”
    I opened a beer. “Let me put on some music.” I said. I opened the back on my Ford Bronco II. I went back to the drivers seat, turned the key backwards and put in a DOORS tape that I had recorded in the radio station at college.
    Sharon was in the bed of the pickup truck, I knew. I could hear her voice. She didn’t want me to know that it was her, though. We could play this game. The DOORS music played. I sat on my tailgate and drank beer. Sharon, comfortable in her anonymity, made suggestive comments. It was a nice night.
    Soon the tape got to the song Light My Fire. It was a druggie song about pot, but I didn’t know if Sharon knew that. Sharon sang along to it. When it was over, she asked me to play it again. I squealed the tape back to the beginning of the song. We listened to it again. It was a long song, seven minutes. When it was over, she said, “Play it again.”
    “Yes, and again and again until you get the idea.”
    “You know, I really should get going.” I said.
    “I’ve got pot,” she said.
    I closed up my car and drove away as if the whole night had never happened.

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