Delicious snack or silent killer? Read on to find out!The opening music for the local evening news blared, stirring me from a deep sleep. The harsh blue light from the television set battered my eyelids as though it were traveling at 186,000 miles per second.
"Our top story tonight: Is the very bleach that we feed our children infested with some sort of deadly poison? That could kill? Our exclusive and shocking report later, after the sports and weather. If you don't stay tuned, you're a horrible person and an irresponsible parent that we may very well feature in our weekly Shame On You segment."
It was eleven o'clock at night, which meant that I had slept the day away again. Ugh. I sat up on the couch and cautiously peeked at my surroundings. Just as I had feared, it was the same small and dingy apartment that I had lived in for years. I had received a small fortune for solving a recent case and planned to spend the rest of my life in the lap of luxury; buying several small and dingy apartments and a really big couch. But after losing the entire fortune in an ill-advised bet that Marlon Brando was going to live forever, I was back to paying the bills by sleuthing my way through case after case.
Something in my mind stirred at the thought of that word. Case. Had I taken on a case before I fell asleep? If so, why couldn't I remember it now? My head still groggy, I tried to stand up. This turned out to be a mistake. My feet slid out from under me and I landed flat on my back with a *THWACK* that was so loud it sounded as though ten men who were each one tenth of my size fell on their backs. Why had I gone to sleep wearing my rollerskates again? The questions kept piling up, and I stared at the ceiling trying to sort them out as the news carried on.
"-and those are two robbers who'll never look at pork the same way again!"
"Hah. Hah. Thanks, Ernie! After the break, we'll find out if the seemingly innocent bleach that's in your pantry RIGHT NOW is actually lying in wait to kill you and all those you hold dear."
For some reason I couldn't remember actually meeting with a client, but if I had I would have written down the pertinent details and placed them in a standard case file. At the thought of that, a memory of my hand writing the word "case" flashed into my mind. Yes, that had to be it! All I needed to do now was find the file. Before I rose to my feet, I took off the troublesome rollerskates and put on my ice skates.
After brushing a layer of Pop-Tart wrappers and empty cans of turtle wax off of my coffee table, I was presented with several stacks of case files. I didn't think that the file I was looking for would be buried with these, but I had to be thorough. I scanned the labels: "The Case of Alf's Disappearing Cat", "Who Shot J.R.?", "What Is Willis Talkin' Bout?" No, these were all old unsolved cases and were definitely not what I was looking for. I brushed away the coffee table and was presented with another, smaller coffee table. No, it wasn't here either. I sat back to think, half-watching the news.
"- after the entire continent of Australia sank into the ocean. Nearby countries plan to help out by sending several barges for the surivors to tie together and call home. It's expected that they'll work futilely to create some sort of plant-producing ecosystem for several weeks and eventually just die of starvation."
"Hah. Hah. Thanks, Ernie! Now on to our main story. Is ordinary household bleach actually a silent killer? Is it unfit for human consumption? No. No, it isn't."
I turned off the television. I wasn't sure why I couldn't remember the hours leading up to my slumber on the couch, but in that time I had apparently made a case file and hid it well. Still, I should have been able to find it by now. My apartment was small after all, and I had already searched everywhere except...
I was going to use a creepy picture of a closet door to illustrate how scary the moment was, but I think this does a much better job.
The closet. Trembling, I made my way toward it. I prided myself on avoiding my closet in much the same way that other men avoid dipping their genitals in molten lava or eating at the Olive Garden. I thought of it as less a part of my apartment and more an errant level of Hell that happened to hold an assortment of sensible sweaters. When I opened the door, I found more than sweaters and brimfire. I found a man who seemed to be more surprised by my presence than I was by his.
"I don't know who you are or where pets go when they die, but you can't just live in my closet! Heck, the enormous stacks of oil-soaked Fire Safety Weekly magazines and cases upon cases of lighter fluid present a huge safety hazard that you can't overlook. They could fall right on you!"
"Thanks for your concern," he replied, "but I've thought about that and it's a risk I'm willing take."
"Look, there's a lot I want to know. Like how you got here and where you got that shirt so I can get one like it. It's really fucking snappy."
"Oh hey, thanks."
"But right now I've got something else to deal with. You haven't seen a file in here, have you?" I glanced around hopefully, and when my eyes landed upon the cases of lighter fluid it all came back to me. The "case" that had been haunting me had nothing to do with sleuth work after all. The memory that I had been working off of had been only partial, and there was no file to search for. I could now recall the entire sequence of events; accidentally drinking an entire bottle of grape NyQuil instead of cherry, then jotting down "buy another case of lighter fluid and some oily rags" on my To-Do list in the kitchen before stumbling off to the couch.
"No," the man in the snappy shirt said, "I don't think I've seen anything like that in here. You know, I've actually been meaning to talk to you about living here, but it just never seemed like the right time. I can't really afford to pay rent because I haven't been physically able to go out and get a job. This door is impossible to open from the inside, you know. I'm actually relieved someone finally opened-"
"Yes, that's nice. I've got to go shopping." And with that, I shut the door.
After State Og's recent buyout of the U.S. government, it is mandatory that you show your patriotism by reading their latest update. It's even mandatory for you heathens that live in dubious "other countries".
3:00 P.M. - One of our guards is 100% certain that he sees a black-clad intruder in the storage room. The intruder ducks behind a box, and moments later the guard shrugs and says aloud "Oh well, I must have been hearing things!", then continues his patrol.
3:02 P.M. - This very same guard's body is found, his neck mysteriously snapped in what we can only assume was an accident.
Read it. Even you, Scandinavia. Especially you.
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
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