Excerpt from the Prologue wrote:I was pondering [a] riddle as I reclined on my porch at 3:00 AM, a chilled breeze numbing my cheeks and earlobes and flicking tickly hairs across my forehead. I had my feet up on the railing, leaning back in one of those cheap plastic lawn chairs, the kind that blow out onto the lawn during every thunderstorm. It would have been a good occasion to smoke a pipe had I owned one and been 40 years older. It was one of those rare moments of mental peace I get these days, the kind you don’t appreciate until they’re ov-
My cell phone screeched, the sound like a sonic bee sting. I dug the slim little phone from my jacket pocket, glanced at the number and felt a sickening little twinge of fear. I
disconnected the call without answering.
The world was silent again, save for the faint applause of trees rustling in the wind and crumbly dead leaves scraping lightly down the pavement. That, and the scuffle of a mentally
challenged dog trying to climb onto the chair next to me. After two attempts to mount thething, Molly managed to send the chair clattering onto its side. She stared at the toppled chair for several seconds and then started barking at it.
The phone again. Molly growled at the chair. I closed my eyes, said an angry five-word prayer and answered the call.
“Dave? This is John. Your pimp says bring the crack shipment tonight, or he’ll be forced to stick you. Meet him where we buried the Korean whore. The one without the goatee.”
That was code. It meant “Come to my place as soon as you can, it’s important.” Code, you know, in case the phone was bugged.
“John, it’s three in the-“
“-Oh, and don’t forget, tomorrow is the day we kill the President.”
He was gone. That last part was code for, “Stop and pick me up some cigarettes on the way.”
Actually, the phone probably was bugged but I was confident the people doing it could just as easily do some kind of remote intercept of our brain waves if they wanted, so it was
moot. Two minutes and one very long sigh later, I was humming through the night in my truck, waiting for the heater to blow warm air and trying not to think of Frank Campo.
The country music marathon that had been running on every single FM station here since 1978 was still in full swing, so I alternated between an AM station that was filtering
some staticky Spanish-language thing and a local right-wing talk radio program.
“-I’m here to tell ya, immigration, it’s like rats on a ship. America is the ship and allllll these rats are comin’ on board, y’all. And you know what happens when a ship gets too many
rats on board? It sinks. That’s what.”
I wondered if a ship had ever really sank that way. I wondered what was giving my truck that rotten egg smell. I wondered if the gun was still under the driver’s seat. I wandered.
Was there something moving back there, in the darkness? I glanced in my rear view mirror. No, a trick of the shadows. I thought of Frank Campo.
Frank was an attorney who was heading home from the office one night in his black Lexus, the car’s wax job gleaming like a shell of black ice. So Frank’s driving, feeling
weightless and invincible behind the greenish glow of his dashboard lights, when he senses a tingling on his legs. He sees a strange hint of movement down there by his feet, little ripples in the darkness.
So he flips on the dome light and finds thousands of shiny, black palm-sized spiders marching into his lap, spilling over his knees, pushing up inside his pant legs. The things
looked like they were bred for war, jagged black bodies with yellow stripes, long spiny legs like needlepoints. His ankles were buried in them, submerged in a boiling pile of arachnids. He freaked, he cranked the wheel, he flipped down an embankment. After they pried him out of the wreckage and after he stopped ranting, the cops assured him there wasn’t a sign of even one spider inside the car.
If it had ended there, you could write it off as a bad night, a trick of the eyes, one of Scrooge’s bad potatoes. But it didn’t end there. Frank kept seeing things, awful things, and
over the months all the king’s doctors and all the king’s pills couldn’t make Frank’s waking nightmares go away.
And yet, other than that, the guy was fine. Lucid. As sane as a sunset. He’d write a brilliant legal brief on Wednesday, on Thursday he’d swear he saw tentacles writhing under
the judge’s robes.
So? Who do you go to in a situation like that?
The short answer is Dave and John