Last night I was heading out for a late dinner with a friend. I opened the door and was greeted by three sheriff’s deputies. At this point, their guns were still holstered.
Next week, work wise, I have two book launches. A book launch typically takes a great deal of preparation for it to be successful and both of these are requiring a decent bit of last minute work on my part.
As my regular readers know, I work at home. My apartment is a ghetto-chic single bedroom I call Area 51. The building has 21 units and was originally built as an extended stay hotel for the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. Some people think the building is run down, the owner advertises it as “retro,” down to the lime-green appliances.
Area 51 is pretty small, about 500 square feet. For most of November I was working there then spending every evening writing my NaNoWriMo. Once December kicked off, I was working full-out to get these book launches prepped.
By yesterday, the walls, tastefully covered with “retro” 80s panelling, were closing in.
Around 4pm my friend Cassandra called to see if I wanted to hit the Asian place near here for a late supper. I jumped at the chance. I planned to work until 6:30 or so, then meet her.
By 5:30 my mind was spent. I had been working for about 12 hours and I.was.done. It was already dark and cold outside, but I decided to take a walk anyway to clear my head and get some fresh air.
I pulled on my dark coat, put on my Cookie Monster beanie(tm) and headed out into the night, walking down the residential road adjoining my building.
Here are a couple things I didn’t know before leaving…
First, this past week there were two break-ins at homes in the neighborhood. Second, the suspect was a guy about 5’10” to 6′, wearing jeans, a dark coat and a beanie. (You can probably see where this is going…)
I wasn’t planning on a long walk, just getting some air, so I walked about a quarter mile, stopping in front of a particular house to admire the Christmas lights. Then I turned and walked back. A car drove up behind me just as I turned, and I retreated to the side of the road, but it turned into the house’s drive.
I get home, shave, put on a clean shirt. I don my coat, grab the box I was bringing for Cassandra, open the door and…
Three of Blount County’s finest. (I would have said “the Three Stooges” but there wasn’t anything funny about them.)
I’m not sure why, but most law enforcement officers tend to be on the short side. Maybe that’s just me. All three were shorter than I am, and I am average height. One had a 70s porn-stache. The others were clean shaven.
“Can I help you?” I asked, not having a bit of fear. There’s no way they could have ever found the body I left in Kansas City and even if they had, there was no way they could tie it to good ol’ Fictional Boy.
“Sir, can you please put that package down and step outside?” Even though it was a question, it seemed more of a command. He was the shortest of the three. Seeing these three I made a mental note to research that for my current book.
I put down the box and step out onto the balcony/walkway. I’m 5’10”, 5’11” in my boots, and I was wearing jeans, a dark coat…you get the picture…and so did they.
“Sir, do you have any identification?” I produced my driver’s license. At this point half the building was out in the parking lot watching. Turns out the Law & Order trio had been going door to door and had knocked on 10 before arriving at mine.
“Mr. Fictional,” said the only deputy apparently capable of speech, “have you been out walking this evening?”
“Yes, I just walked down the road a bit. Getting some fresh air.” Even though I wasn’t lying, it kinda felt even to me like I was.
“And while you were walking, did you see a car following you?” This question threw me a bit. Following me? Maybe a serial killer was stalking me! (Cause that’s how I think.) I narrowly escaped death!
Well, no, not exactly, I explained. A car came up behind me, and I stepped off the road a bit because I am an idiot and was walking in the dark in dark clothes, but it turned into a driveway.
“Sir are you carrying any weapon on you, even a pocket knife?”
No, I assured them, I was currently weapon free. I thought about making a joke “no, but my AK-47 is inside” but decided against it.
“Would you empty your pockets please,” shorty looked at my license, apparently he has an injury causing short-term memory issues, “Mr. Fictional?”
I emptied my pockets onto the bench my neighbor and I use to sit and smoke. Cell phone, money clip, keys. A couple crisp hundreds were visible in the clip…just like a criminal would have…
Deputy Shortestone handed my license to Deputy Ron Jeremy and he headed down to one of the patrol cars, probably to run a criminal background check with the FBI, CIA and Interpol.
While he was gone, the two deputies stood, silent. I gotta tell you, that’s unnerving. They just looked at me. Deputy Jeremy returned eight hours later and handed me back my license.
Just then, my phone dinged a text. All three looked down at my phone, laying face up on the bench.
Please don’t be my dealer…please don’t be my dealer…
“Sir, there have been a series of break-ins in the neighborhood and when you were seen walking, stopping in front of a house, then suddenly turning and walking away, the homeowner who saw you became suspicious. Sorry to have troubled you.”
They climbed down the stairs back to their cruisers while I gathered up my stuff.
The text was from Cassandra “Where are you?”
“I got arrested” I replied.