Today was a good day. When a scene forms in my imagination and I can see it before my eyes, writing comes easy and thousand words pass in no time at all. I am happy to report that today was such a day.
You might remember that Raoul suspects a new kind of designer drug to be the reason for the reports of altered mind states he observes among his clientele. Late at night he embarks on a trip into the entrails of Boston to meet a drug dealer there who ought to know what’s happening. With the possibility waning that a new kind of drug might be behind all this, Raoul gets an ominous foreboding. Returning to his living quarters at the St. Paul’s Seminary, he finds that his spiritual advisor, the Reverend Francis McCormick, is still up. Raoul joins him and tells him about his hunch. He has no way of knowing what chain of events will be set in motion as a consequence of that.
Here is the beginning:
The conversation with Liz had deepened Raoul’s conviction that there was indeed a connection between what happened to Liz’ lab dog and to three of his clients. Whether what happened to him in the bar also belonged in the same pot, he wasn’t so sure about. Maybe, maybe not. And if there indeed was some kind of new street drug behind all this, then someone ought to know. He already had a name in mind, someone who would definitely know: Sami.
Sami’s corner was near Bluecrest Ave and Birch Street, a run-down Dorchester neighborhood. It was 9 pm, fog and near freezing temperatures doing nothing to enhance the appearance of the place.
Raoul stepped off the bus, into the damp cold and darkness. About half the street lights were dead, and the other half reminded him of flickering orange glowworms floating in midair. Their combined effect only worked to accentuate the darkness. Engulfed in a cloud of exhaust fumes by the bus pulling away, Raoul shivered and drew his hoodie over his head. Returning here always reminded him of a period of his life which he preferred to forget.
A line of low-rent apartment buildings, their grey walls covered seamlessly by the tattoos of the city: graffiti, mostly swear words and grand proclamations, with the occasional fundamentalist parole and sexual insinuation. During the day, the building faced a littered playground with a line of broken benches, where drug dealers, petty criminals and their clientele hung out. At nights like this, however, there were only the silhouettes of dying shrubs and leafless trees to mark the border to impenetrable darkness.
Raoul walked along the building front, keeping a safe distance from unlit doorways. He squinted into dark corners and thought he recognized hidden human shapes only to realize that his imagination had been playing tricks. Nobody seemed to bother to waylay him in this kind of weather.
After approximately a hundred yards he stopped and checked up and down the street. This had to be it. He remembered it by the questionable invitation “cum in” spray painted in neo-green letters on the side of the building. He pushed through a creaking metal gate, crossed what elsewhere might have been a front yard and almost fell over the concrete steps leading up to the front door. In the glow of the display of his cellphone he identified the doorbell next to the name Sami and rang: twice short and once long.
Raoul knew two other people who had previously lived in this very apartment both calling themselves Sami. He suspected that the apartment either gave name to its occupant or Sami carried a specific meaning in some of the many languages spoken here.
After a minute, the stairwell light came on and some voices could be heard. A gangly black guy in the 20-30-year range, clad in baggy sweats, neon colored sneakers and a black anorak came down the stairs and made his way to the front door. Both his hands were hidden in the pockets of his anorak. Raoul suspected that at least one of them was gripping a gun.