Burnt Down

Sunday, September 15, 1997

A skinny woman sat on the concrete stoop. The charred shell of a home sat behind her.

“My house burnt down. My husband was in it.” A mound of white powder sat in a pile next to the woman. It looked like it had been in a perfect square at one point before someone toppled it over. The woman wiped her nose and I noticed that the edge of her sleeve was caked with remnants of the coke. “And then this came for him today. He told me he’d stopped snortin’ and I can’t even yell at him because he burned down with my house.”

“Where did it come from?” I asked, eying the substance carefully. It was one thing to pretend to make a drug deal, but being this close to it just felt criminal. I remember wondering if Brant arrived right then would he have to arrest me for being in the vicinity of the drug? How could I prove that I hadn’t dipped into it, too? He’d have to know that I’d never indulge in hard drugs, but sitting here on the stoop, I looked just as guilty as the Kevin Jones’ wife.

“Some kid,” the woman answered me. “Some preppy kid just popped by and said hey this is for Kevin and he just left me this coke. Coke. Like it was a box of chocolates or something. I don’t think the kid even knew what was in there. He told me to have a nice day.”

“When was this?” I asked. The kid who’d just made a phone call for me was pretty preppy.

“Just now,” she said, pointing in the direction I’d come from. “He told me the regular delivery guy was decapitated. I said geez, you mean someone cut off his head? And he said, ‘no, no, I thought the same thing at first, it’s a different word.’ He didn’t seem like the smartest kid. He was mighty nice, though. Hey, I can’t do all this by myself – you want some?”

I don’t remember if I even said no or if I shook my head. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the woman lean down to take another hit. On any other day, the sound of her snorting would have disgusted me, but instead I stared off into the trailer park, trying to make sense of it. Tori Smith had complained about Dani selling outside of her territory. Then Dani had gone missing. Now, whoever was in charge had already hired Dani’s replacement. I think the woman was laughing wildly as I tried to think of all the possible interpretations to that information. But my mind could only land on one – Dani must already be dead.



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