My partner was pacing the hall while I did pull-ups in the bathroom doorframe. I was thinking about Satan and a girl I used to love. The subjects were unrelated. I flipped between them effortlessly: Satan here, the girl there. I felt bad for Satan. I hardly cared about the girl.
An hour earlier we had loaded our bodies with miserable chemicals and I knew that soon enough we would be twisted, slobbering freaks. Already the blue Christmas lights strung up on the ceiling were vibrating and swirling in my head. It wouldn’t be long until we were a couple of psychos with nothing to lose. And then things would get really ugly—and they were ugly already.
Satan, the poor bastard. He was all I could think about. Everything else dropped out of my mind. I eased my feet onto the hardwood floor and put on my purple cardigan. I took a mug from the cabinet and stood by the stove, waiting for the kettle to scream out like a toothless whore. I needed a hot beverage in me if I was going to make it through the night. For an instant I considered dumping it all over my balls. Probably would’ve felt better than anything else that’s happened to the damn things.
“Are you depressed?” said Detective Sunset, still pacing. He didn’t look at me. “You seem a little depressed is all.”
“Terribly,” I said.
“About the duck?”
“The duck’s got me down.”
“Yeah.” Sunset took a cigarette from his pocket and placed it between his lips. I thought about those lips for a half-second. God, when was the last time some unsuspecting woman had touched those things with hers? Years, I reckoned. Dark years. Darker than the Grim Reaper’s dick, even. The thoughts turned to vapor and Sunset started mumbling in Latin.
“You really gotta get off that stuff. The cigarettes, I mean. Our insides are rotten enough, man. No need to light them on fire.”
“I need this. It’s all I’ve got.”
I wasn’t going to argue with him there. If this creep wanted to smoke himself stupid, then who was I to stand in the way? Jesus. I imagined someone threatening to take away my little iota of happiness. Happiness . . . the word made my skeleton rattle. What the fuck was happiness? Maybe I had none of it. No, I definitely didn’t. It had eluded me for years. And now it was my enemy. Fuck happiness. It was just a nice thing that the squares liked to pretend actually existed. It was that faraway dream—that hidden box in the attic. Open it up and you get a bucket of vampire turds. Happiness. For god’s sake, what a miserable joke that stuff was.
I cleared my throat. I went on: “What are we going to do about this duck?”
“Where’s the body?” He was looking at his shoes. Maybe the stuff was ramping up big time now. Maybe those shoes looked pretty fucking crazy to him. A joke came to mind and I almost said it aloud: Lemme get some of whatever he’s having. But I had had what he was having. Shit, I’d had twice as much—and I’m not just talking about the lysergic cocktail we’d swallowed down. Three times as much. Yes, I’ve had three times as much. Years of bad spookiness. Years of unanswered prayers. This kid probably still felt things.
Opening my mouth and smoothing out the cobwebs, I said, “They burned the body this morning.”
Sunset spun his head around and laser-focused on my skull so intensely I thought he might burn a hole through my god damn forehead. His hair was wild and behind the cigarette I could see his yellow teeth grinding together. “They burned it?”
“Burned it till there was nothing left.” I was watching the kettle and absentmindedly groping my own testicles. God, they felt fantastic.