Cover Image
David Barnes
Powder, Pills, Profit

I wonder how other people gauge success. Last evening the couple sitting behind me in The

     Bistro had an energetic discussion about the true definition of success. I had my back to them so I had no issue listening to every word. It should have been a short and sweet conversation, but it was point and counter point. Success is simply having the money to get what you want. If something costs more than you have then higher success is finding the means to get more money. I'm successful, highly successful.

     Dr. Vandermeer laughed. First to himself because he was a true capitalist. Then out loud because he simply wanted to.

     Dr. Stephen Vandermeer was musing about the previous night as he drove to work. He counted his brand new 1981 dark gray Porsche Targa, with T-top, as one example of his success. His Rolex Submariner was another, as was his diamond pinky ring. He was smiling and humming with his window down. The wind was blowing in and straight through his perfectly gelled brown hair, not mussing it one bit. He was excited to get on with his day; get on with making money. Vandermeer turned on the radio and drummed his fingers on the leather steering wheel to the time of the latest disco tune. How he loved disco and all the decadence that went with it. Whatever did the top of the heap people do before discos? He shook his head as he smiled.

     Twenty minutes later, Dr. Vandermeer pulled around back of a red brick building that bore the name of his medical practice: Vandermeer Health. The building was not exactly his of course, not yet. He owed First Union Bank a sizable mortgage, but his plan was to have it paid for within the next five years.

     He parked his Porsche next to a white convertible Mustang that belonged to his office manager. Her name was Rose, and she was five feet eight, blonde hair, blue eyes, and in Vandermeer's opinion, well-constructed. Vandermeer unlocked the back door and walked quickly to his office. Before talking to anyone, especially Rose, he needed a quick pick me up. Vandermeer bypassed his Bunn coffee maker and went straight to a filing cabinet that was housed in his office closet. Having used S-100 keys to open filing cabinets that didn't belong to him in the past he knew to install a long locking brace on the front of the cabinet, fastened with a heavy padlock. The brace served as an inexpensive anti-theft device.

<  2  >

     He unlocked the brace, removed it, and set it next to the cabinet. He'd put it back in place when he was done. First, he opened the second drawer and removed a zip lock baggie that held about an ounce of white substance. It was cut right off of a kilo brick. The cocaine he enjoyed was never cut. He removed a razor blade and a small mirror from a brown envelope. He took the paraphernalia to his desk and cut a corner from the block. He chopped until it was a fine powder that he lined in two rows.

     Vandermeer looked at the lines and smiled. This was going to be another good day. He took a one-hundred-dollar bill from his wallet. He rolled it tightly and bent over to get closer to his morning pick me up and snorted both lines. He held his nose so he wouldn't sneeze any of the precious powder. Once satisfied he wouldn't sneeze, Vandermeer sat back and blinked... he was ready to make some money!

     He returned the cocaine and paraphernalia in the drawer and relocked it. He removed his Yves Saint Laurent suit coat and slipped on the doctor's smock. Vandermeer gave himself a good looking over in the full-length mirror on the back of the closet door with a smile. He gave his hair a final pat and closed the door. He walked out of his office to the secretary's desk. Rose...what a gorgeous creature. Before approaching he paused to watch Rose. She was the most desirable woman in his life. He thought about this and knew she was beautiful but the reason he wanted her so badly was because she constantly rebuffed him.

     "Good morning gorgeous!" Vandermeer's voice was dripping with undertones Rose wished weren't there.

     "Doctor," was her response.

     He stepped closer to her desk and tried a couple of compliments that a third grader would have ignored. When she didn't look up at him he relented and asked how many patients were on the agenda for the day. She held the appointment book for him to see. Then the phone rang. When she turned to answer it Vandermeer strolled back to his office.

<  3  >

     The waiting room already had a few patients. The area was large enough to accommodate three chairs along each wall. In the middle, back-to-back, were six chairs-three and three. The furniture was inexpensive but rugged black painted wood and gray cushioned seats. A large painting of a physician tending to a small child hung on the wall opposite a large picture window. Next to the receptionist's area was a door to a hallway that held three examination rooms, supply room, and Vandermeer's private office.

     During a normal day Vandermeer saw around thirty patients. It was rare that he spent more than fifteen minutes with each one. There was hardly any paperwork for Rose to deal with, but she stayed

     busy answering the phone, greeting the drug reps, handing out new patient forms, and minding her own business.

     Vandermeer originally set up his business as a Family Practice. He had privileges at the local hospital but had never used them. He made so much of his money in the office he had no reason to ever go to the hospital.

     The first person he saw was a returning patient. She was a hooker who sometimes needed penicillin but mostly wanted narcotics. He guessed she used some and sold some. It was really none of his business as long as she paid twenty-five dollars cash for each script. The addicts and small-time dealers who got scripts from him were the backbone of his business.

     "Good morning, Sylvia. How are you today?" he asked.

     "Oh, I'm fine. Just need to re-up my Dilaudid and Percodan meds," she replied.

     Vandermeer nodded and reached into his smock for his prescription pad. "How many of each?"

     She told him and he began to write. While writing he noticed her fidgeting a bit. After handing her the scripts and getting his money. He asked, "Anything else Sylvia?"

     "I don't know exactly how to ask this Doctor Vandermeer."

<  4  >

     "Just get it out Sylvia," he said looking at his watch.

     "My boyfriend told me to ask you this. It isn't my idea."

     "Ask me what?"

     "He said he heard that you may have some cocaine for sale and his source has temporarily dried up. He wondered if you and him could meet to talk about business."

     Vandermeer stiffened and said, "Sylvia you've been a patient here for several years and I like you; so we'll let this pass. But I'm a doctor, not a drug dealer."

     Sylvia nodded and stood. As she turned to leave Vandermeer asked, "What's his name?"

     Sylvia turned around and said, "Billy."

     "I'm at Dante's Disco most nights. Tell Billy to stop by and I'll buy him a drink."

     With that she left. Vandermeer walked to another exam room to make more money. He was smiling as he walked.

     As Vandermeer opened the door a smell hit him. Oh Lord, why doesn't this guy take a bath once in a while? William or Nasty Boy as he was known on the street, was a regular. Twice a month he came in and twice a month Vandermeer thought Nasty Boy might pull a knife or gun and create mayhem in the office. The first time Nasty Boy he came to the office he was initially highly agitated. By the time he left he was a bit calmer. Vandermeer chalked that up to heavy amphetamine use. It might be cocaine too, but Vandermeer doubted William had the money for that particular habit.

     "Good morning, William. How's it hanging today?"

     "Whoa! Damn it don't just open the door like that!" William was standing facing the door with his fists up and ready to defend himself if needed. He had a large clump of oily, messy red hair and a beard to match. Vandermeer once swore he saw a bird peeking out of the boy's beard. He wore jeans and a flannel shirt that were beyond merely dirty. But a patient was a patient, and a customer was a customer.

<  5  >

     Vandermeer apologized for the sudden entrance and asked what William was after this morning.

     "Speed, man, speed. Don't really care that much what kind. But that Addy stuff I got here last time was tasty, man real tasty. I took one and was up for a couple of days."

     "Ah yeah, I remember Adderall. Twenty milligrams. You must've taken more than one to keep you jacked that long William."

     "Well hells bells I may have taken a handful...just like M&Ms. I don't know." Agitation setting in again, William was jerkily looking around the room like he was trying to figure a way to escape. He refused to sit down... preferring to pace.

     Vandermeer wrote as quickly as he could so William could pay his fee and get the heck out of the office. The last thing Vandermeer wanted was to have to call the cops on this nut case.

     William finally took the three scripts and paid his seventy-five bucks. He jerked the door to the hallway open as though he was going to startle whoever was listening outside. He looked mildly surprised to see the hall empty and walked to the exit still looking every which way.

     "Good night shirt! What a complete speed freak nut job," Vandermeer said under his breath.

     Patients came and went. Some actually needed a doctor's help for some minor situation and Vandermeer did his best to help them. He did ask one patient if she might need a little pick me up to get on with her day-to-day drudgery. She paused for a moment and tilted her head as she looked at Vandermeer. He thought she might ask for something, but she finally smiled with tight lips and walked from the room.

     At the end of the day Rose left Vandermeer to lock up. He walked the inside perimeter to make sure windows and doors were locked. He went into his office and got his cocaine, mirror, and razor blade out. After a bit of shaving and then chopping, he got a good couple of lines up his nose. He locked it all back in the filing cabinet and replaced the doctor's smock for the YSL suit coat. He was off to a quick salad and white wine, then Dante's Disco.

<  6  >

     The bouncers at the Disco knew Vandermeer quite well. All four were body builder types and received steroid injections from Vandermeer for the cost of the meds. Once in a while they even got a free gram of coke from the doc. It was all good.

     Once inside Vandermeer made his way to a table the Disco manager kept reserved just for him. It was back in a dark corner of the club. From here he could watch the women as they danced with each other, alone, or with a boyfriend. He could also see each of the restrooms. Commerce was going on in there too. Mini capitalists, he thought.

     Vandermeer wasn't a coke dealer. No, Vandermeer was a cocaine facilitator. He was the middleman for a couple of the largest dealers in the area. He was, after all, a capitalist of the highest order. He made at least as much money facilitating as he did from what could loosely be called his practice.

     Out of the corner of his eye he saw a young man looking around the Disco as if trying to spot someone. At first Vandermeer thought the guy was looking for his girlfriend or some buddies.When he looked at Vandermeer, he began to make his way through the other tables and people going on and coming off the dance floor. A couple of times Vandermeer lost sight of him only to regain it in a second or two.

     The man looked to be in his mid-twenties, was wearing a tan sports jacket, brown slacks, and shoes. He had on a light blue shirt and no tie. His sandy colored hair was not gelled, or hair sprayed. It was loose and cut just above his ears. Vandermeer made him for a banker or young attorney. He sat down at Vandermeer's table without being invited.

     "You're Vandermeer, right?" the man asked.

     "If you mean Doctor Vandermeer, then yes, I am. And you are?"

     "Well until noon today I was a close business associate of someone you may have heard of recently...Billy? Before you ask, Billy got arrested at noon and has been whisked away to some lonely jail cell. He may very well be entertaining some detectives as we speak. My name is Nate."

<  7  >

     Nate made no attempt to shake hands with Vandermeer. Vandermeer looked down at his wine then picked up his glass and took a sip. His eyes closed.

     "What does this possibly have to do with me? I don't have a clue who Billy is, and I don't really care who you are. I'm expecting some friends and there won't be room for them and you so…"

     Nate stood. "Sure Doc, I completely understand. Maybe I'll catch you another night and we can share a pitcher or whatever. We'll have a nice conversation." Nate walked back through the crowd and out of the Disco.

     Vandermeer waited for about five minutes and made his own way through the crowd in search of Buddy, the head bouncer. He was a minor coke dealer as well as a bouncer. But Buddy was a no show. Vandermeer asked another bouncer where Buddy was. The guy said Buddy'd called in sick and wouldn't be in for a few days. Vandermeer would have to wait a bit to find out more about Nate.

     Vandermeer stayed at the Disco for another hour and then headed home. The next morning, he was back at the office. He thought no more of Nate. His day went like all the others. He listened. He wrote. He collected money. He didn't dwell on each patient when they left an examination room. Their issues weren't his.

     After work he treated himself to a half pizza at Frank's on Tunnel Road. He thoroughly loved Frank's pepperoni and black olive thick crust pizza. He washed it all down with a couple of ice cold PBR's from the tap. After paying he walked outside and stretched. He was having a great night. Now to the Disco to see if he could score someone to go home with him. After all, he knew he was good looking, had money, and a really nice ride. He also had a steady supply of the best blow around. It shouldn't be too difficult. Weird thing always was.

     When he arrived at the Disco, he walked at a slow pace up the sidewalk from the parking lot. He was looking for a familiar car or face. But he saw neither.

<  8  >

     Days came and went. Vandermeer went to his practice, made money. He went to the Disco and made more money. Once in a while he'd catch himself wondering who Nate was and why he had approached him that night a few weeks back.

     One rainy evening Vandermeer was at his special table in the Disco. He was staring at a half empty glass of Merlot in a kind of daydream when he realized someone was standing in front of him. When he looked up there, was Nate. He was with a blonde-haired woman. Nate said something Vandermeer couldn't quite make out, but Vandermeer motioned for them to sit down. The woman noticed Vandermeer leering at her and completely ignored him, preferring to sit as close to Nate as she could with her arm wrapped around his like a boa snake. She wouldn't look at Vandermeer. Instead, she slowly looked around the dance floor.

     Nate tapped on the table and said, "Hey Doc... over here." He tapped on the table again. Vandermeer snapped his attention to Nate.

     "Nate, what a surprise." As he spoke, he looked at the blonde again. This time she was staring right at him. There was no warmth in her stare, She was simply looking at him. She was an absolute beauty. Vandermeer forced himself to himself look at Nate.

     "What exactly is it you want with me buddy?" Vandermeer asked.

     Nate turned to the woman with him and said, "Diane, we're going to talk a bit of business. Could you leave us alone for about ten minutes?"

     She nodded. When she stood, she stared right into Vandermeer's eyes. To him it seemed she was searching his inner most thoughts. She held his returned stare for a few seconds and left the table. Vandermeer watched as Diane walked slowly toward the bar in a tight white jumpsuit and very tall yellow high heels.

     Nate sat back in his chair and Vandermeer tried very hard to be nonchalant but wasn't quite carrying it off. To compensate he took a sip of wine and set the glass down. He looked at the tabletop waiting.

<  9  >

     Nate was calm and not condescending when he asked, "What business are you really in? I know you have a medical degree. I know you have a medical practice. But I know you're a middleman too. Which one is it? It seems to me that it's both at this point in time. Is that how you see yourself?"

     "I don't feel a need to explain myself to you. We don't know each other and I'm thinking we never will. What's your game Nate? What's your business?"

     "Hell Doc, I'm a drug dealer. I started dealing quarter bags of pot when I was in junior high. By High school I was dealing quarter pounds. Soon after, I was bringing in pounds and pounds." Nate stopped to look around the Disco. "But I found the holy grail of money making. The easiest commodity to ship, deal, and find newer and newer customers. Cocaine made me a real honest to God capitalist." When Nate was done talking, he sat forward with his elbows on the table. He looked at Vandermeer's wine glass and motioned for a server.

     When a young brunette appeared, Nate ordered a scotch for him and one for Vandermeer. He handed the girl two ten-dollar bills.

     "One of those is for you if you'll tell the bartender time's a wastin' over here. The other ten is for him if he rushes up just a bit." He smiled at the girl, and she was off dodging patrons and zipping around the scattered tables. In about five minutes she was back.

     Nate picked up his glass and took a sip. When Vandermeer began to drink Nate simply said, "Think we could do business?"

     "Precisely what kind of business do you want to do with me Nate?"

     "Hell, I want you to facilitate deals for me. My main source got popped a few weeks ago. Now when somebody wants a half pound or a pound, I have to scramble to find enough powder to fill the order. I'm running myself ragged. Billy told me you could put some pretty good-sized packages together on a regular basis. He knew you didn't actually touch any product you were an arranger. For a fee you could arrange what I need. I just don't know the fee."

<  10  >

     Vandermeer picked up his scotch and took another drink. He looked toward the bar and saw Nate's girlfriend returning. She was looking at Vandermeer but still wasn't smiling.

     When she got to the table Nate stood and pulled out a chair for her. He smiled at her, and she smiled back. Nate turned to Vandermeer and asked, "How much is your fee, Doc?"

     Vandermeer smiled at Nate and said, "You're a capitalist huh?"

     "Yes, I am," Nate replied.

     "How many keys do you want to do in a week?" Vandermeer asked.

     Nate was nodding his head and looked at the girl. He was smiling ear to ear. "First thing, you're going to make my days so much easier. Second, as I said I'm not a really big dealer right now. But that'll change. I can do two keys a month right now. But what's the tariff?"

     Vandermeer said, "32 K a kilo."

     Nate was silent he looked up at the ceiling in thought. He looked at the tabletop and tapped his fingers and asked, "Any way to get that down closer to 25 per?"

     "Not a chance. I set it up and take my cut. That puts it at the 32."

     "OK. Let's give this a try, one pound for the first time. I figure 17K is a good deal for you."

     Vandermeer thought for a bit, all the while looking at Nate. Finally, he nodded.

     Nate put his hand out and said, "When do I get to see the product? Will you be there? At least the first time it'd be good to have you close. I won't know these people. If this goes like it should, next deal for the full key."

     "Sure thing. I won't be at the actual transfer, but I'll be watching. My guy prefers to do these in daylight in a public parking lot. That way he's not nervous about being ripped or the cops showing up unannounced. Let's see how it goes."

<  11  >

     "OK, I'll call you tomorrow morning, say mid-morning?"

     "Sounds like a plan. We'll do this and see if everybody's comfortable."

     Nate said he and Diane had to leave but he would make the call. With that he and Diane stood and before they left Nate put his hand out again. They shook hands and the couple left.

     Vandermeer stayed for another few minutes and finished his scotch. At that point he also left.

     At ten the next morning, Nate called the office. Vandermeer told him the time and place. The deal was set for the mall parking lot near the Santo movie theater. The man Vandermeer was meeting would be driving a white S-10 Blazer. Nate said he'd be in a red Vette. Vandermeer didn't say what he'd be in; just that he'd be close if he was needed.

     Nate drove up to the theater and parked at the appointed time. He stayed in his car until a white Blazer arrived. The driver got out. He was a young guy, with neatly cut red hair, a black tee shirt, and jeans. Nate walked over to him and the two talked for a minute. Then they walked to the Vette. Nate opened the passenger door and took a brown paper grocery bag out. He opened it for the guy to look inside. When the guy nodded, they went to the rear of the S-10 and opened it up. Nate looked in and saw a Styrofoam cooler. He opened it and took out about a pound of cocaine. Nate went back to his car and retrieved a blue gym bag which he took with him back to the S-10. He took a set of triple beam balances out and weighed the cocaine. After getting a good weight he handed the grocery bag to the young man. Both left the lot with no further conversation.

     Vandermeer stayed behind until both cars had cleared the parking lot. Then he returned to his office and picked up where he left off.

<  12  >

     That evening Vandermeer returned to the Disco. The red-haired guy from the coke deal sat down at Vandermeer's table. He pulled an envelope from his jeans pocket, unfolded it, and pushed it across the table to Vandermeer. Vandermeer took the envelope and put it in his trouser pocket, the red-haired guy left. He walked away never looking left or right.

     For a couple of days after the coke deal with Nate everything was running smoothly. Vandermeer felt as though he were coasting toward his goal of getting filthy rich. One morning at around ten he looked up from a magazine he was reading to see Nate's Diane standing just inside the doorway to his office. She wore Levi's, a plain white t-shirt, and yellow sandals.

     "Diane is Nate out in the waiting room?" Vandermeer came around his desk and looked down the short hallway.

     "Nate's not here. It's just me," Diane said.

     "What are you doing here Diane?"

     "I need some help with a project I've just begun." Diane had her back to the office door and was slowly backing up. She only stopped when the door clicked shut. She walked to the wooden chair in front of his desk and sat down.

     "I don't get this," Vandermeer said. "You don't even look at me when you and Nate come to the Disco. What gives?"

     Diane looked to the side and then locked eyes with Vandermeer. "Nate is a super jealous guy. I've learned to ignore all of his friends when we meet them somewhere. He's a sweetie and all, but he changes if he thinks I'm paying any attention to another guy. He gets weirded out."

     Vandermeer was still not satisfied with the answer but asked, "What is it you want from me?"

     "I heard you two talking about being capitalists. Well just because I'm not in the Big Boy Club doesn't mean I don't want to have lots of money too. I've got a side business going with some of the girls I hang with when Nate's not around. I want you to help me make money and keep those girls happy."

<  13  >

     "And how would I do that and, really, why would I do that?"

     "You could write me two prescriptions a week for fifty biphetamines each. It's easy for you and no one will pay any attention to a hundred black beauties. I'll go to several pharmacies to fill the scripts. No one will care. See I want to be a capitalist too. One thing can never tell Nate. He has no idea about this side deal. I really want to keep it that way."

     Vandermeer made himself write the first two scripts. Then over the next two weeks it got easier and easier to do. Diane was coming three times a week for two scripts each visit. She seemed friendlier. Vandermeer was beginning to get ideas about Diane.

     One evening as Vandermeer was enjoying a scotch and soda at his table Nate and Diane appeared. He motioned for them to sit. Diane paid him no attention.

     Nate said he wanted to jump the next deal to a key and wanted to make sure of two things. One, the price was as earlier agreed to and that the coke would be delivered within two days. Vandermeer assured him both answers were affirmative. Vandermeer said he'd let Nate know when and where to meet the white Blazer and do the deal. Nate and Diane left without another word.

     The following morning Vandermeer called Nate and told him when and where to meet the Blazer. He said to be in the same parking lot as before at 2:00 pm.

     Nate and the red-haired guy did the deal with Vandermeer watching from close by. After trading dope for cash, each went his own way. Vandermeer went back to his office.

     Right at five o'clock Vandermeer was walking down the hall from an exam room to his office. He was surprised to see Nate and Diane walking toward him. They followed him in, and Nate shut the office door.

     "What are you two doing here? I'm about to close for the day."

<  14  >

     Nate looked at Diane.

     "I'm a fairly astute and insightful guy." Nate said. "Sometimes I see things others don't see. Other times I see what people hoped I wouldn't see." Nate was sitting calmly in the wooden chair in front of Vandermeer's desk. Diane was standing just a touch behind his left shoulder. She was standing as still as a marble statue now and wouldn't look at Vandermeer.

     "Doc, I think you have designs on my girlfriend. I think you're trying to get her to leave me for the country club life; to be a doc's squeeze. But should this insight be correct let me have you understand that there are real, and, for you, troubling consequences should this be a plan you may have in play. Do we understand each other? We're businessmen and I'd like it to stay that way. What you say?" Nate was still seated, and Diane hadn't moved other than now to be looking right at Vandermeer. There was no expression on her face, however.

     "I get what you're saying and can assure you that is the farthest thing from my mind. I'm not looking for a girlfriend."

     Diane stepped to Nate's side and put her hand on his shoulder. Nate didn't look up at her. He just watched Vandermeer. Diane, though, gave Vandermeer one of the nastiest glares he's ever received.

     Nate and Diane then left the office. As they walked by Rose's office, Nate knocked his knuckles on the counter and gave her a wink.

     Business was as usual for Vandermeer in the office. He wrote prescriptions and took in money. His cocaine deals with Nate had become troubling. Nate said he was having trouble collecting some of the money he was owed. Until he was flusher with cash he had to pause his coke purchases. He assured Vandermeer it was temporary.

     Eventually Diane came back to Vandermeer's office. When he saw her. Vandermeer became angry and it showed on his face. Diane left the door open and walked quickly to the front of his desk.

<  15  >

     "Look don't give me any kind of attitude Doc. You could have stood up to Nate. But because of the way you see the is king. Money is the end all of all things. You shrank like a little boy. Well guess what! I'm beginning to see the world like you. I want my own money not yours, not Nate's...mine. So, sit down there and start writing."

     Vandermeer sat down, startled. By all rights he should tell her to leave but she was right. Money was king. Why not help her get a piece of the money pie?

     "Slow down Diane. What do you want?"

     "Four scripts for beauties, four for 714s, and 3 blue valium scripts. Fifty each on the first two and one hundred each on the last three. I've expanded my customer base just a touch. Just like you capitalist dope dealers. I'll be back in a week for more."

     "Damn, what you'll do if Nate finds out?"

     "Don't you see? I'm working to get away from him. Pretty soon I'll be driving a Vette and wearing Rolex watches." She took the scripts and threw the required money on the desk and turned to leave.

     "Till next time Doctor."

     Two days later Nate and Diane arrived at Vandermeer's office. They walked straight past the receptionist and opened Vandermeer's door. Nate told the patient with Vandermeer to leave. Then Nate and Diane sat down.

     Diane turned toward Vandermeer. She wore a very broad smile. Nate had a slight smirk, but his eyes were burning a hole in Vandermeer.

     Diane started speaking. "Those of us who sit in your office and who also show up at the ER because they're crashing from ingestion of illegally prescribed pharmaceuticals or having some reaction to the powder you help hit the street, are weary of people like you. But...we have taken steps that will give pause to your ability to indulge in your version of the capitalism you espouse."

<  16  >

     "Oh, I should mention that you are under arrest. You know...busted. Son, you're on the way to the Gray Bar Hotel," Nate added.

     Someone knocked on Vandermeer's door. Nate said, "Come in."

     A very serious looking young man entered the office. He was wearing a blue windbreaker with an NCSBI badge in gold on the front, and POLICE on the back. He walked behind the desk and gently helped Vandermeer to stand.

     "Mr. Crenshaw here will assist you to your transportation and stay with you till you get registered and have a room assigned. Do you have any questions, Doctor?" Nate asked as he began to stand.

     "Cops. Are both of you cops or is she some hooker you hired as arm candy?"

     "Oh. Allow me to introduce Special Agent Peg Donovan. She's with DEA. I'm Special Agent Pete Bishop. I'm employed by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. And you are Doctor Stephen Vandermeer, soon to be prisoner Vandermeer."

     "She's DEA?"

     "Yeah Doc. You are in so much of a jam I don't think you'll be back at the Disco for a while. Shoot you're probably going to be gone so long disco may die out before you hit the streets as a free man."

     Bishop stood and said, "I'm gonna give you a hint about dope dealing, dope dealers, and dope users: If they get in a jam 99% squeal to move themselves away from that jam. You were dealing two types of dope, so you had twice the potential vulnerability as a normal bad guy. Once they squeal, we get to do our jobs. It's a great tip, huh?" S/A Bishop was now standing and wore a huge grin.

     "I shouldn't tell you this right now but if you stand over there," Peg pointed to a place just below the ceiling corner. "You can see a small black dot. That's a camera lens. We got the place bugged, man." She looked at Vandermeer and happily said, "How cool is that?"

<  17  >

     As Agent Crenshaw escorted Vandermeer from his office, S/A Bishop said, "After you get an attorney we can talk about stuff if you like. But the red-haired guy and his boss are already talking so we'll have to find new and interesting subjects."

     Peg and Bishop walked out to the parking lot. They watched as Vandermeer's ride took him away. Peg looked at Bishop. Bishop high-fived Peg and said, "It's Miller time and the first round is on DEA."

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