In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
Chapter Forty One
BY AL BRUNO III
Night and snowfall had brought an eerie silence to the town of Windham; the town’s citizens had retired to their homes and the tourists had retreated to their ski lodges and motels. All the restaurants and shops were closed and the rapidly deteriorating condition of the roads would keep them that way for most of the next day.
The thick veil of snowflakes blunted the illumination from streetlights and neon signs of South Street. A single car was parked illegally in front of Thompson’s Pharmacy, the door of the building was unlocked but the lights were out. A lone figure paced the aisles of the store while listening to the conversation going on in the stockroom.
“We don’t care about the money.” Mr. Sauno said, “We couldn’t care less about the money.”
“Indeed.” Ms. Ginnmett said. “Money can’t buy you happiness.”
“Fine go on,” she shrugged.
Bob Thompson was sitting on a box of unpacked merchandise trying not to shake. All he wanted to do now was run but there was no escaping from these people. He cursed himself for being so stupid- for giving in to the old man with crazy eyes and wads of bills.
The old man had paid Bob five hundred dollars just talk to him; he told Bob he wanted some under the table prescriptions. He was sure the old man wanted narcotics and it wasn’t the first time he’d been made an offer like this- of course if had never been with so much cash on hand.
He told the old man he wasn’t a drug dealer but then the old man told Bob what he wanted was antiretroviral drugs. HIV treatments. Somehow it had struck Bob as being so harmless and pathetic that he gave in. Faking the necessary paperwork had been easy and the old man’s visits had been irregular; but so irregular that he hadn’t made Bob a rich man; he enough money to buy a sports car hidden away now, enough money to start his whole life over.
But these people knew all about it. They knew everything. Bob wasn’t even sure who they were, they acted like law enforcement but had no warrants or badges. They made vague threats that sounded like they belonged in an organized crime film. And they looked like something out of a Sears’ catalogue.
Mr. Sauno said, “I’m amazed that you thought this kind of thing could be gotten away with. This is an era of interlocking databases. The smallest inconsistency can come to our attention.”
“And,” Ms. Ginnmett said, “People tell us things. We’re very approachable.”
The only thing Bob took a strange kind of pleasure in was the realization that finally, all of it weas over. He had spent his whole life in Windham and there wasn’t a day that went by without him dreaming of leaving all his mistakes behind and starting over.
Every year that passed made doing something like that less and less possible, his courage and youth were long gone, leaving him nothing but frustration and unfinished plans. He was sixty years old now and there was no turning back- he had a career he had come to loathe, children he didn’t talk to and a wife that he no longer shared a bed with.
“What we want is your cooperation.” Mr. Sauno explained.
Ms. Ginnmett said, “We interested in the man you’re helping. The one you've been selling to under the table.”
“I don't know anything.” Bob said, and that was true. He didn't even know the old man lived or where he got his neatly stacked piles of fifties and hundreds from- he didn't even know the old man's name.
At the time that had been something of a relief, one of the many things Bob hated about being a pharmacist is that customers thought of you as a confidant. They all wanted to brag and complain; they peppered their questions with jokes and pleasantries that Bob had heard hundreds of times before. How many times had he just wanted to scream at them to just take their medicines and let him be?
“I have no doubt you don't know anything.” Mr. Sauno said, “But that doesn't mean you can't help us.”
“Some toxin where there should have been medicine. Easy enough don’t you think?” Ms. Ginnmett nodded, “You'll be rewarded.”
“We’re not without resources.” Mr. Sauno agreed, “I’m sure that we can come to some kind of an arrangement.”
A third figure entered the stock room; she had come in with them but been told to wait outside. She was shorter than the other two with freckled skin and eyes the color of flint. Her hair was pulled back and she wore small eyeglasses with delicate-looking frames. “Excuse me.” She said.
There was a hint of irritation in Mr. Sauno’s voice, “Is there a problem Miss. McGlade?”
“I feel…” she paused, “…broken.”
“Growing pains.” Ms. Ginnmett smiled, “Piers, you finish up, I’ll take care of the new girl.”
After the two women had left Mr. Sauno turned his attention back to Bob, “So, do we have an understanding?”