First of all, don’t panic. Go over.
Watch a Thunder game on their big ass flat screen. Enjoy Salt & Vinegar potato chips—your favorite. It’s 4:00 in the afternoon on a weekday, and you ain’t got shit to do.
In the dining room there is a pool table. Play a game. Play two. Because you are already drunk—it is, in fact, why you knocked on the door—accept the offer of a drink.
“Here’s the trick,” your host says. “Here’s the secret.” He taps a tube of Crystal Light 10-calorie grape flavor powder into a rocks glass of vodka. He hands it to you. Drink it, you psycho. Drink two.
Maybe you mention the great hamburger you had the other day on lunch, at work, from a nearby local business. You mostly love the onion rings, but you don’t mention this detail. By now, you’re hearing from your neighbor how we run that place, we own it, that’s one of our places, we got a rent house out there. And you whiff your shot and drink your drink.
After pool, he offers to show you the basement—so you go into the basement, if only to confirm that there is no obvious meth lab here. Maybe it’s at the hamburger place, if it exists at all. Maybe they don’t make meth.
So you sort of allude back to the hamburger place on an unrelated basis as you leave the basement, alive. And then you hear how one week prior this boy’s uncle there who ran the place at the hamburger joint got shot. Shot at work, shot to death. That place has good onion rings. That place’s boss was shot to death. But you’ve been there, since. Postmortem. Didn’t catch a single hint. But damn if that place doesn’t still have some good onion rings.
Pickup trucks come by day and night. There are interlawn collusions with the neighbor one door over.
“My neighbor, I own his house,” you’ve heard, you recall. “He lives there because of me. He owes me.”
There’s a pause for stink-eye.
When you think your neighbor is running an elaborate methamphetamine operation, say nothing. Do nothing. Inquire about and involve yourself in nothing. When the time comes, shriek “I knew it!!”
And then go steal that flat screen. Put the billiards table on a truck.