I’ve been badgering you all to rush out and buy a copy of Bacon and Egg Man. More accurately, I’ve been pushing you to rush to your computer or Nook or Kindle to grab a copy because it’s not in actual stores yet.
But maybe you’d like to sample the goods, right? So here’s Chapter 2. I’m not going to bother you with too much set-up other than to say it’s set 50 years in the future and while he no longer walks the earth, the legacy of Mike Bloomberg quickly becomes clear. And our hero Wes Montgomery is in police custody.
Wes woke from a vivid dream that he was a lone piece of bacon sizzling in its own grease. Smelled nice enough, but being fried hurt like hell.
As his eyes fluttered open, the phantom aroma disappeared but the pain remained. It felt like someone had kicked his ass from the inside out. To top it all off, his hands were shackled to the bed.
He took in his surroundings.
A standard-issue placard depicting the flags of the Northeastern Federation arranged around a photo of old King Mike, the man who’d so left his mark on the Federation the people called his successors, the government itself, King Mike—the legacy of some editorial cartoonist carrying down through the years.
A 62-inch in-wall monitor with multiple Gawker networks and search feeds—including The Gawker himself staring down at Wes.
A scrawny uniformed cop snoring in a chair in the corner.
A keypad on the bed’s railing that he could just reach. He flipped over to Deadspin, which was covering the Monday Night Football game between the Toronto Bills and the Jacksonville Jaguars. There were playing in Florida, which meant an orgy of supplemental coverage from outside the stadium. It was like watching video from a different planet, one populated by morbidly obese people with bad skin and worse hair.
The camera crew found and focused on a group of fit Torontonians, burned lobster red from a sun they were unaccustomed to. Wes could see they were about to cross the border from pleasantly inebriated to dangerously drunk. The problem was they were partying with Jacksonville natives, six couples, each sporting triple-extra-large Jaguar regalia pulled over their 300-pound frames. The monitor showed a temperature reading of 97 degrees and 100% humidity even at this time of night. For a moment, Wes thanked God for the cooling effects of volcanic ash. He wondered how people could get so fat in that kind of heat, but the camera answered that question. Four smokers were going—a whole pig on one, chickens on another, burgers, steaks, chops, dogs on the third and fourth. The meat glistened. The people did too.
The Jag fans were guzzling booze out of 72-ounce cups. Professional gluttons, they laughed and backslapped the increasingly ill-looking Canadians as sweat rolled off their red faces. The Floridians would probably be dead of coronaries within the next five years. Wes imagined grabbing a screen shot and sending it to his old man with a note attached: “What was it you were saying about balance? Maybe the Federation has a point.”
The bathroom door popped open and through it came a plain-clothes detective.
“Look at it come down. Not even December yet. Gets earlier every year.” Outside, snow flurries seemed to be strengthening into blizzard conditions.
The detective was typical of the breed. Close-cropped hair offset by a broom-sized mustache. A fitted dress shirt stretched out over a torso seemingly chiseled from granite. Yet there was something lithe about the package, a dancer’s body that tapered down to the waist then out again at muscular thighs wrapped in black slacks. Years of training combined with a government-regimented diet did that to a body. Wes sometimes wondered if cops got the body because of the job or the job because of the body.
Plain Clothes smiled at Wes, hooked his thumbs in his belt loops and turned to Uniform.
“Wake the fuck up,” he barked.
“Sorry sir!” the kid said, wiping his drool on the back of his hand.
Plain-clothes considered him. “You tired from training or from a shit diet, Gomez?”
“You’re not into caffeine again, are you? That looked like a caffeine crash. That shit messes with your metabolism. Makes you crash. It’s not worth it. Gonna be illegal soon enough anyway, so might as well cut it out now.”
“No sir. It’s the training, sir. I swear.” As if to prove it, Gomez performed a couple of elaborate stretches that cops two generations prior would have thought unmanly—and found impossible.
“Good work, Gomez. Now get the hell out of here.”
“Yes sir.” On his way out, Gomez shot Wes a glance. It was meant to condemn, but the outrage couldn’t quite cover up the curiosity.
Wes knew he’d just watched an easy mark walk out of the room.
The detective shook his head. “Good kid. Gonna go far if he keeps out of Starbucks.” He popped a stick of sugarless into his mouth and smiled again.
“I can get you the real thing,” Wes said, motioning to the pack of gum in the cop’s hand.
Where had that come from? He’d made a career out of not pissing off cops, but suddenly he didn’t seem to care much.
Plain Clothes stopped chewing. “Come again.”
“Real thing. I can get you real gum with real sugar. Or high fructose if that’s your thing. Any flavor you want—wild berry, bubble gum, cinnamon. But you strike me as a no-nonsense, wintergreen kind of guy. Minty fresh!”
Even as he fought to control his own mouth, Wes chuckled at the joke.
The detective replaced his shit-eating fake smile with a real one. Despite his obvious delight, he moved his hands up to massage his temples as if he’d suddenly developed a stress headache.
“So continue, Mr. Montgomery. Tell me about that gum.”
Wes laughed again. “Oh, you want me to start over now that you’ve started recording?”
Plain Clothes quit smiling.
“Really?” Wes said. “You’re gonna piss this case away by trying to record me on the sly?” Somewhere in the back of his head a little voice was shouting, “Shut up, Wes. Shut up, now!” But he couldn’t stop. “And the arresting officers were so good. By the book. They won’t be happy about this. No, not at all.”
As if in response, two men in dark suits walked into the room. Built like Plain Clothes, they were older, but neither sported mustaches.
“Goddamnit, Mulrooney,” said one, snatching Plain Clothes by the collar and dragging him out of the room.
“What?” Mulrooney said. “I had it under control!”
“See you later, Mulrooney,” Wes shouted after him.
The other suit walked over to the bed and yanked a white patch off Wes’ shoulder, taking with it a spot of hair.
“Ow! Shit! Why’d you do that?”
But the answer became clear within two minutes. As the new cop stood by in silence, the dull ache throughout Wes’ body became more acute and the little voice in his head, the one that normally told him to shut the hell up and otherwise kept him out of trouble, reasserted itself.
When Wes grimaced—out of shame as much as pain—the new guy spoke.
“Wes Montgomery, I’m going to turn my recorder on. Is that clear?”
“Yeah,” Wes muttered, wondering for the first time about the severity of the situation.
The cop squeezed the bridge of his nose and blinked three times. “Wes Montgomery, my name is Detective Darley. I am now recording this conversation. Is that clear?”
“Yes,” Wes said.
“You have a right to record this conversation as well. Is that clear, Mr. Montgomery?”
“Yes,” Wes said. He didn’t have an implant and they knew it.
“Now, Mr. Montgomery, I’ve also removed your med patch. As you may have been under the influence of pain killers earlier, your discussion with Officer Mulrooney will be erased.”
The other detective returned, stomping into the room. “Darley, you recording this?”
“Okay. Good. We’re all clear here.” He turned his attention to Wes.
“Mr. Montgomery, I’m Detective Brant. I just want to make something clear. You are under arrest. You’re only here in this suite until you can walk again and you piss out the rest of the painkillers. After that, we’re taking you to Chief Blunt. You’d do best not to talk to anyone else—not us, not your guards, not the doctors unless it’s to answer questions about your condition. Understood?”
“Why was I arrested? It’s a little hazy.”
“Possession of banned food substances.”
The two detectives looked at one another. Brant sighed. “Yes. Just possession.”
Wes relaxed a little. If they weren’t nailing him with intent to distribute then they hadn’t found his stash. He sighed and settled into his bed, rearranged the covers.
Brant motioned to Darley, who squeezed the bridge of his nose, turning the recorder off. Brant then leaned in close to Wes. “I wouldn’t start celebrating just yet, Wesley. We caught you. Blunt and his men are on the case. It’s only a matter of time.”
Underneath the layers of cologne, sugar-free gum and mouthwash, Wes smelled something on Brant’s breath, a hint of illegality. Smokeless tobacco, that was it. He thought for a second about trying to work a deal, but with the painkillers now losing effect, he’d lost the courage. Besides, tobacco wasn’t his scene anyway.