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You are crazy. Real crazy. Eating bugs, pissing and shitting in your pants crazy. None of this “I have an anxiety disorder and I’m fighting the good fight” bullshit. None of this “I defy the stigma of mental illness by admitting my disorder and freely discussing it.” Soon you won’t even be able to say the word “stigma” because it’s too close to “stigmata” and saying it is the first step to getting it. Better eat your words. Eat the stigmata. A bloody big appetite. Faster now. Influencing static, serious trouble. Warmth of arguments with the law (a liar). Liquid (full depression of people). Faster. Faster.
No. Stop. Slow down. Stop.
He couldn’t see them. The cop couldn’t see them. They were right there, across the road, behind the treeline. No, you can’t fit a car between those trees, but there it was. The cop just shook his head and he knew that you were the real crazy. And the fucking retard bitch and the sick asshole with the eye disease, they just grinned and laughed. The driver, the “bus driver”, he just opened that mouth-box and let loose the screaming static, so loud you could barely hear the cop over it, questioning and sighing. You had to pretend they weren’t there so you could get through the rest of the conversation with the cop and he wouldn’t put you back in A2 over at Northwoods Memorial. That was bad. At least you aren’t that crazy yet, not so crazy that you can’t fake it for a little while so you don’t have to go back to A2.
So then at some point while you were pretending not to notice them, the three of them left. You didn’t hear them drive away. They were just gone. And you signed the papers that the cop gave you that you needed to sign, and then you went inside and watched from the window until the cop drove away. After he drove away you continued to peer across the road for awhile to make sure the three of them did not come back. Then you sank to the floor beneath the window and closed your eyes tightly, and maybe you drifted off for awhile. You don’t know.
There is a knock at the door. KG opens his eyes, exhales loudly. He wipes his face with his hands, gets up. He moves lightly towards the door, not making any sound, and peers through the peephole. There is a man at the door, in a suit, his hair short and dark, his face cleanly shaven. Despite the formality of his appearance, he has a kind face. KG immediately becomes afraid that he is an emissary from some religious organization or another, but he holds no tracts, no bible, not even a briefcase. KG unlocks and opens the door. “Hello?” he says, tiredly.
The man half-turns, grins. “Hello. Are you Kevin Granta? Forgive the formality, but I need to be absolutely certain to whom I am speaking before I say any more.”
KG smiles uncertainly. “Yes. I’m Kevin Granta.”
The man continues smiling, briefly flashes a badge in front of KG. “Special Agent Derrick. May I speak with you for a few moments?”
“Um, okay, sure. Come in.” KG leads the way. “Is this about the call I made? Because the cops have already been out here.”
“Yes, that call is in fact what brought me, but the performance of the law enforcement in these parts is notoriously shoddy. You see...” Derrick gestures to the couch, KG nods, Derrick sits. “...I have been observing the three individuals you identified for several months. These individuals are regarded as extremely dangerous, and they represent a threat that is of great interest to my agency.”
KG is reeling, seats himself. “Agent Derrick, what, uh, branch are you employed by?”
“My agency is known as the Mueller-Toch Consortium, a concern made up exclusively of ex-Federal agents. Many of us found a certain...latitude with Mueller-Toch that did not exist within our various branches of the government. Of course, due to Mueller-Toch’s ‘unofficial’ status, you are not required by law to speak with me, but I believe that your harassment by these three individuals has been...under-reported by regular law enforcement, should we say?”
KG smiles. “Yes, that’s accurate. It would be even more accurate to say that they treated me like I was some crazy asshole.”
Agent Derrick displays a tight grin. “Indeed. However, Mueller-Toch is not in the business of investigating claims made by ‘crazy assholes’, so I hope that my presence here is an indication of what my superiors consider to be the sincerity of your concerns.”
“Yes, certainly,” KG nods.
Again, Agent Derrick smiles tightly. “So, with your agreement, may I continue?”
“Of course.” The special agent radiates an aura of genuine concern and trust that KG finds himself responding to very easily. The agent continues.
“Now, as I said, these three – let’s call them negative operatives – have been under observation by Mueller-Toch for several months. They isolate individuals like yourself who have a certain, shall we say, suggestibility...”
KG winces. “You’re talking about my anxiety disorder.”
“Please don’t think me rude. My comments upon your level of...suggestibility were merely meant to clarify the m.o. of these three. They generally follow a relatively prescribed pattern, which should mean in this case that we may already consider ourselves one step ahead of them. But this is not to say that all three are not extremely dangerous, and should be approached as such.”
“Now, Mr. Granta, was this the first time you have encountered these three ops?”
“Uh, no...it was on Friday, the 23rd, at the Phuket restaurant.”
“I see. Eat there often?”
“Yes, yes, quite a bit.”
“Uh, yeah. Very good. Spicy.”
Agent Derrick raises an eyebrow. “Mmm. Where is the Phuket located?”
“Southside, by the intersection.”
“Right.” KG is struck by the manner in which Agent Derrick takes no physical notes, but merely pauses after each statement, seemingly relegating each new piece of information to files stored in his head.
(To Be Continued)