Simone had read the accounts on line about the heroin dealers.  It didn’t phase her in the least.  “Cut this shit and let’s get it on the street!”  She ordered the man and two women standing in front of her.  Simone had moved rapidly up the ranks and now had a thriving enterprise.  Her three trusted employees sat at a long, rectangular table with the product in the center.  Twenty thousand dollars worth of the sticky black product would be diluted and then would be sold for more than four times the original cost.  Simone paid her people well, very well.  No questions or confrontations were expected nor received from them.  They were completely loyal and Simone never doubted that fact. 

The elder of the three employees opened the bags, three white butcher paper packages, about the size of a motel room bible, were distributed.  Simone watched the three open their packages.  The employees, careful as if the contents were extremely fragile, opened each package in unison.  Inside the well wrapped white butcher paper package was a thick brownish black substance within a sealed, vacuum sealed transparent package.  Without removing the substance from the package, the man placed his product on a scale.  503 grms displayed on the high-tech scales face. 

Simone wrote in a ledger that was on the counter:  #1 503 grams.  She nodded to Ted who removed the package and hit the clear button.  Anselma placed her package on the scale: 501 grms.  Simone wrote: #2 501 grams.  Simone nodded her acknowledgement to Anselma who removed her package from the scale and pressed the clear button.  The scale read -0- Grms.  Heart, the youngest of the three, placed her package on the scale.  The digital readout quickly displayed 480 Grms.  Heart gasped slightly at the number. 

“Take it off, reset the scale and then reweigh it,” Simone ordered, her voice calming to the youngest employee.  Heart lifted the package carefully off the scale, pressed the reset button and again -0- Grms displayed.  She replaced her package onto the scale and again the display quickly read 480 Grms in large red numbers.  “That’s okay, Heart.  Not your doing.”  Simone put her arm on the shoulder of the young girl.  “That’s why we weigh each package—for discrepancies such as this.”

Simone jotted down the weight of the third bag and then tallied the three. 1,484 grams.  “At $250 a gram, that pinche Maria just shorted me $4,000.  Bitch!”  But Simone wasn’t really mad.  Sometimes packages were a bit larger and sometimes a bit smaller than the half kilogram they were supposed to be.  Maria would make it right.  She always did. 

Simone opened another bag and passed out the cutting powder.  Each half kilo package would make more than two kilos of final product once cut.  She’d been doing this long enough to realize that she had to use the same special blend of high quality cutting substance and be absolutely consistent with the cut otherwise her customers wouldn’t get the same effect from their purchase.  She wanted happy, return customers and her clientel were just that. 

The three employees executed their duties with exacting precision.  The original product was diluted to one quarter strength in a process that ensured an absolute even mixture. The resulting product was meticulously placed in ¼ gram, ½ gram and full gram packages.  The job was painstakingly slow and tedious yet the three employees, under the watchful eye of Simone, worked diligently until their product was transformed from the original browning black thick and sticky brownie looking substance to a much different one of a light color in the three small sizes of packaging.  It took almost four hours from the beginning of the process to the end, yet no one took even a bathroom break until the process was complete.  At the end, each of the three employees had three cigar sized boxes in front of them that were full or almost full of the final product. 

Simone took each box, weighed it carefully and then noted the weight, the product size-whether a full gram, ½ gram or ¼ gram and then placed the weighed box on the counter away from the others and continued with the next.  By the end she had nine boxes, three from each employee filled with the final product.  “Good.  With all the shit that’s been happening, I believe that a slight boost in price is warranted.”  She smiled and calculated the proceeds.  The final figure was well more than she earned as a massage therapist in five years.  And the profit margin was more than 80 percent.  

She took the boxes, with the help of Heart and Ted to an adjoining room and placed them in a huge gun safe.  Inside the safe was a shelf with bundles of money.  After placing the boxes on the shelves, she grabbed three wrapped bundles of twenty dollar bills and handed two to Ted and Heart.  “You’re staying clean, right Heart?” she asked with a motherly interest to the youngest member of her team.

“Yah, six months straight,” Heart replied, her eyes lowered slightly. 

“You’re not using again are you?  If you are we need to get you some treatment.  There’s too much money to be made to screw it up being an addict.”  Simone’s right hand was on her hip as she watched for the reaction from Heart.

“I promise.  I’m clean.”  Heart’s voice pleaded.  Being a user would terminate their business relationship.  Simone was a stickler to that. 

“Remember who you replaced!”  Simone said.  “Robbie swore she wasn’t using too, and now, now her kids are fucking orphans.  You want that for your daughter?”  The threat was clear.  Simone had stressed the importance of loyalty, and staying clean.  She left it up to her employees to heed her words—or pay the consequences.

“I promise, Simone!” Heart’s eyes became puffy.

“Fine, take you money and take your daughter to a movie or something.  You can’t fuck this up.  There are no slip-ups allowed.”

Heart wasn’t more than twenty-five.  Her face was round but pretty; her hair with purple tints and her arms were tattoo’d with dragons on both.  For a moment she hesitated and looked as if she’d cry.  Then she nodded a ‘thankyou’ to Simone and putting her money under her shirt, turned and left the room.  She didn’t look at Anselma.  Anselma was openly critical of the girl when Simone wasn’t around.  Anselma was a straight-laced longtime employee of Simone and didn’t like that the girl had been allowed in the inner, and very lucrative circle. 

Heart walked out the back door, along the rose-lined walk and out the back gate.  She opened the heavy iron gate with a push of a button and it swung open.  Her car, a new and sporty Nissan, waited just outside of the heavy gate parked alongside of the other two vehicles that belonged to the other employees.  It was almost dusk and although the parking area was well lit, she always felt a bit paranoid.  This time she had good reason.

The impact on the back of her head jerked her forward.  A heavy thud, painless but quickly allowing a blanket of blackness to replace the terror.  Lying on the pavement, the back of her head bleeding heavily, her right hand had landed under her body when she fell.  The hand was pulled out and a small hatchet swung through the air.  With a crack and a thud, Heart’s right hand was severed.  To keep her from bleeding out, a heavy tourniquet was placed around her arm.  If help arrived soon enough she’d still be alive.  If not, she would never wake from the blow.

Ted and Anselma took their packages of cash and secreted them as was their routine.  “Night, Simone,” Ted said.  He and Simone had once been equals.  At that, they had shared a very intimate relationship in the beginning.  Now he was only her employee.

“Night Ted.” Simone replied dismissing the two by turning her attention to the ledger.  A metal on metal noise jolted her attention back to Ted just in time to see him lurch backwards, his head exploding in a mass of white and red as the 9mm bullet exited the back of it.  Before she could react, before she could even scream, a second and third 9mm bullet was released from the silenced barrel.  The first struck Anselma whose mouth was open in a scream, right in the nose, ending the desire to scream and the ability to live.  The third bullet directed at Simone was released almost instantaneously as the second and hit Simone low in the mouth, not killing her but, as the bullet tore its path through her mouth and out the back of her neck, she was paralyzed, unable to move, to fall or to even blink.  A fourth bullet was better placed and exploded her brain.  She toppled backwards, her hands still holding the ledger as she fell.    

Welcome to my world...



​I’m standing in the emergency department, in front of room 4.  The patient in the room reminds me of me.  He’s forty some, clean cut, ordinary, nothing that would attract a second look; except he’s espoused suicidal thoughts.  These same thoughts have surely crept into everyone’s life at one time or another. 

I feel old and tired as I’m at ten hours of a twelve-hour shift.  My back is beginning to spasm.  My feet just ache. For the last two hours I’ve stood in front of this room, ED Room 4 as it’s officially called.  I feel alone in an ER filled with people and activity.  I’m not a visitor. No, if I was such, I’d be treated better; acknowledged, small talk initiated by the two dozen or more staff that pass my location so many times yet never stop.

 The emergency room is staffed mainly by nurses and their gophers, ER technicians.  The later, though not holding the class standing as a RN they are still allowed into the tightly knit ER circle.  Security is not.  Yes, I’m security, a necessary evil in the hospital.  We’re considered on the same level as janitorial, facilities and food service workers, as they’re much more friendly, say hello without hesitation and chat on occasion.

Sure, some of the nurses are nice; some even raise eyebrows in reference to questionable patients, yet we’re not allowed inside of their circle. 

The other officers are young and oblivious to the almost snubs.  Maybe I shouldn’t care and, in reality I don’t.  It’s interesting to me to see the cliques that perpetuate within the hospital’s caste system, like I’m back in high school-yeah, that’s it, an extension of high school that continues unencumbered by age.

I wonder, if they knew all the things I’d done and seen in my life would it matter; would I be more readily accepted into their circle?  I laugh at that thought—no, it wouldn’t.  My reasons to be here are enough to endure the slights; to push through the pain of standing hour after hour in front of a suicidal patient.

They see me as HARMLESS and that’s an image I’ll try to maintain, because my purpose will surprise them; shock them; send chills down their spine. 

But that’s my secret, and only mine.

“Hey.”  My attention is directed towards the lead RN, a pretty woman, slim, confident, maybe in her thirties but that would be a stretch.  “Four is almost asleep.  Would you mind sitting with the patient in nine for a while?  She’s threatened suicide.”

She poses the request as that, a request that I can accept or deny but she doesn’t really mean it that way.  She wouldn’t accept a refusal from me no matter my reasons, and a complaint would be filed if I actually argued.  “Sure.”  I reply with a smile.  I try my best to be accommodating.  Maybe they’ll tone down their testosterone.  That thought makes me laugh.  The male RNs are nice, accommodating, easy to get along with while the female are just the opposite.

Walking down the hallway, I see the black hood and dress.  Damn, I hate seeing her.  “Why you here?”  I ask from behind.

“Hey Bob, heard you were here somewhere.  Missed you and your generosity.  Been lacking for the last couple years.”  She smiles showing the blackened teeth in contrast to her pale face hidden under the hood. 

“Retired from that world.  Who are you here to take?” I ask wondering who she was waiting for.

“Whoever.  Maybe the suicidal girl? She’s fixing to take an overdose of heroin.  It’ll be an easy one for me.”  She tells me this why?  She and her sisters are usually less than forthcoming on those they hope to snare into their death net.

I’m confused but I know she’s not lying about the girl in nine.  I nod my head in a half thanks and walk hurriedly past her.  Nine’s my responsibility and I can’t let her do anything if I’m not too late.

Emergency Department Room 9’s occupant is a 17 year old girl.  A dirty blonde, impish face with a slightly turned up nose.  She doesn’t look suicidal as she’s staring at an IPad, her fingers poking it and swiping the screen as if she’s cleaning off a dirty spot.  She’s alone, which surprises me, no parents, no medical staff.  That’s a bit surprising for a suicidal patient.  I walk in after I knock.  “Hey.  I’m Bob.”  I introduce myself as a light tap on the sliding glass door.

The girl looks up at me.  Her eyes are large, brown in color and quite pretty.  She gives a sad smile.  She knows why I’m there, knows why security has to be present with her. “Hi.”  She’s polite, her voice soft and pleasant.

“What’s your name?” I ask as my eyes stray from her to the personal effects that are at the edge of the bag-a backpack, blue and small.  Why would they leave her with her personal effects if she was suicidal?  But the staff seems to always fail to be cautious enough.

“I’m Haley.  You’ve come to sit with me until my parents get here?”  She asks, pushing her long hair out of her face and back behind her almost bare shoulders.  She has everything in the way of looks but there’s always something else that makes them suicidal.  Maybe a boyfriend that broke up with her?  Parents that don’t care enough or care too much?  Who knows what’s going on in her head.

“Yah.”  My eyes come back from the backpack to meet hers.  “Are your parents coming soon?”  I ask hoping my question isn’t too much or a sore spot for her. 

“I’m sure.  They always do.”  Her voice hints at her exasperation.  I’m sure she blames them for her problems.  She’s a victim.  I hate victims.  As if she read my mind, her smile, which wasn’t really much of one, leaves her face and I can see the irritation with me in her expression.  I’ve asked too much.  She dismisses me with her eyes and returns them to her IPad.  I close the sliding glass door halfway after stepping out of the room.      

My eyes are back on her backpack.  How do I get into it?  How do I let the staff know that there’s heroin in it?  How could I know?  As I’m contemplating these questions, looking at the girl in the room, at her bag which I’m sure contains the means for her to end her life, I’m jolted back to reality by the overhead announcement. 

“Code Blue! Emergency Department Room 1.  Code Blue! Emergency Department Room 1.”  The recorded females voice repeats, informing staff all over the hospital that the patient in Room 1 has gone into cardiac arrest.  I look across the room.  Room 1 is obscured from my view but I can see the hectic activity in the area of the room.  Trained personnel are responding, doing everything they can to save the patient. 

The girl, Haley, knocks on the glass, again surprising me.  “What does that mean?”  She asks me. 

I turn to see the young woman standing at the entrance, looking past me at the activity near Room 1.  “It means someone is in cardiac arrest.”  I answer honestly.

“Lucky,” she replies and turns back to her bed. 

It’s part of my job to respond, so I walk to the other end of the Emergency Department to keep frantic relatives from interfering with the emergency personnel.  But there aren’t any and I see the staff seem to allow their held breath out in unison.  The patient, who is obscured by only a small curtain must have survived. 

I look back down the hall and there is the black robe standing in front of Haley’s room.  Shit.  She’s looking back at me, her blackened teeth visible even from this distance, and without doubt she’s smiling.   She begins to walk towards me.  Suddenly I’m afraid.  I snap my vision from her back to the room and Haley, the small framed, pretty girl is sitting on the bed looking away from me.  Something is wrong. 

I run straight past the hooded woman and slam open the door.  “Fuck!”  I scream as the girl seems to collapse back onto the bed.  There in her left arm, just above the bend of her elbow, a needle sits almost emptied of its contents into her veins.

“I need help!”  I yell loudly, irritated with myself, with them and with the girl. 

A RN, an older woman, saunters over to me.  She truly seems not to like me and now, now she’s responding to my call for help as if it’s nothing.   She’s the only one responding.  “The patient just shot up with heroin!”  I add hoping to hasten the response. 

The girl’s eyes are rolled up in her head, her skin instantly paler than it was just a few minutes ago.  “Shit!”  The needle, still held in her right hand with its point in her left arm, is still half full.  I grab her right hand and pull it away from the needle.  She doesn’t resist.  Her body’s completely relaxed due to the immediate effect of the drug.  I pull the needle out of her arm.  Blood begins to puddle in the crook of her elbow from the removed needle. 

The RN physically pushes me to the side and seeing the half full hypodermic needle, carefully grabs it, pops off the needle point and disposes it in a Sharps Container.  Priorities.  “Haley, what was in the needle?” She asks and at the same time is preparing an IV.

No response.  The girl’s eyes are still rolled up.  The RN, shaking her head in the negative, slaps the button that is above the bed.  A second later, “Code Blue.  Emergency Department Room 9.  Code Blue.  Emergency Department Room 9,” the loudspeaker blares.  A fury of movement behind me.  I step out of the room and out of the way.  Two nurses are rapidly pushing a crash cart towards me. 

I look back at the older RN who is still in the room alone, except for the black robed woman who is looking at me, shrugs her shoulders and says, “I warned you.”  She turns back towards the girl and places her pale bony hand on the girl’s forehead. 

The RN rips the flimsy hospital gown from the girl’s chest exposing her small breasts.  She straddles the girl and pushes hard onto her chest, over and over again, trying to keep the blood pumping. 

Help arrives.  The crash cart is in the room.  The two nurses are placing the AED on the girl’s chest.  “Clear!”  One yells and the older RN quits pushing on the young girl’s chest.  The body bounces up for a moment.  The monitor, looking like a pong game, shows a sharp spike, then back to a repeating series of erratic spikes.  A Fib I think is what they call it. 

The woman in the black robe looks back at me, smiles exposing her blackened teeth, and winks at me.  This is a game for her.  A game she wins much too often.