Ace Harlem #0.1 - Hydraclerchlemnochlane (Or That New Stuff Sweeping The Streets)

“Hey yo Mike, we gotta chat," I call from across the park. He turns to spot me and panics.  

“I didn't even do anything this time and they took your badge. I don't have to run. There's nothing you can do to me. I'm just going to sit right on this bench and mind my own business. I'm not even going to look at you. Shit, stop looking at me. Please don't walk over here. Don't walk over here. Shit, stop walking over here,” he doesn’t have to say it. The look on his face does.

He thinks If he stares into space, he won't have to acknowledge me. I walk over and stand directly in front of him, hands on my hips like some 80s detective or angry mom. He's just trying to intimidate me. He wants to make me feel like he has all the power. But he doesn't I have power too.

"Could you get your dick out of my face," he asks. “You stood right there so I'd be eye level with your dick. What is wrong with you? What did I do? Always trying to get under everyone's skin.”

"My genitals aren't in your face. Besides, if they were, it wouldn't be the first time you had a man's genitals in your face," I say in a childish tone. I'm not letting him get away. He’s hard to track down.

"This is the first time I've had a man's dick in my face and you're being very hom...homio...homiophobic and you're doing the sexual harassing. Let me enjoy the day please."

"The word is homophobic."

"Whatever, I'm tired of looking at your johnson."

I take a seat on the bench next to Mike and place an arm around his shoulder.  

“I hate you. One second you’re insulting me and the next you’re pretending to be my best friend.”

"I need to know what you know about this new fellow calling himself Big Boss," I try a much friendlier tone.

"Is this a joke? You know I'm out the game. I've gone straight for real. I run a legitimate business," it's the honest truth, not just my truth.

"You do, and I'm proud of you. But you still have illegal cable and purchase stolen goods. I'd hate to turn over your suppliers to the police with you as an informant," I grip his shoulder hard with my hand implying a threat.

"Okay, just relax. I don't know much, heard he started at the docks and still hangs out there."

"Thanks for the help and next time try to keep your eyes on me and not the jewels. We're going to be great friends."

"I'm not one of your snitches."

"Bullshit," I say followed by a boisterous laugh.
 

***

 
It's relatively easy to sneak onto the docks. It's supposed to be high security. Lots of things that can be stolen. The night guards don't really care. There's nobody here to reprimand them for slacking off. They won't put a lot of work into tracking down sounds they hear. Mainly because nobody is robbing docks anymore. They won't even verify your story, that's how I got in. Just threw on an orange safety vest and walked right in. Guard asked where I was heading, said I left my phone in the office. He waved me on in.

The hard part is finding out where these guys are supposed to be meeting. There's a few miles of docks here and I've got barely any information to go on. I just drive through the docks row by row, looking for anything that seems to be out of place. Any signs of life beyond my own would be great. There's nothing, for a moment I think I hear something but it's just a barrel being slammed against a retaining wall by some waves.

After an hour or so of searching I'm ready to turn it in before I hear an engine turn over. I drive over and notice a white van being loaded up. Not with content from a shipping crate but boxes from one of the trailer offices. Two men get in back with the boxes, another drives and the fourth jumps into the passenger seat before pulling off. I don't usually care for trailing vehicles, but it's the only thing I've gotten tonight.

I follow the van off the docks, sticking as far back as possible. It's entirely possible they spot me out the back window and make my car. I stop and talk to the security guard for a while so they believe I've got no interest in them. Once they're around the corner, I pull off in the same direction. I make the same left turn. It's a straight away so I just sit back far away for now. A few more stop lights and they pick up the pace. Clearly, they've guessed I'm trailing them. I don't run any lights, I just keep my distance. They can't outrun me on a straight away.

They start driving in loops. Just left turn after left turn. I pull over and park in front of a restaurant on the main road we were following. They keep making their loops, I don't follow and eventually they turn back on the road and follow the path we were on. I let them get a decent head start before I start to follow again. They pull into a self-storage and I park my car. From here I follow on foot. I make sure my guns are loaded and toss on my jacket. I don't like shooting people, but these days, everyone shoots first.

I walk to the gate and key in the code. 12345. The gate unlocks and I walk straight through. Every one of these places is the same. Someone uses the code 12345. It's like how they say not to make your password "password" someone will do it every time. I make my way around the maze of units until I see the white van. Unit 31M. I'll check it out in the morning, it's too risky for now. Whatever they're stashing here they aren't going to come back and get until much later. No point in storing it in a unit if it wasn't going to sit.

***

It's a gloomy day outside but that works to my advantage. I make my way to the storage unit and pick the lock. It takes me longer than it used to. Mainly because people have stopped depending on padlocks. They don't even use combination locks anymore. They're all about safes built into walls and banks now. Sometimes I wonder if criminals are becoming professionals or if the professionals are becoming criminals.

I lift the door and walk in, I hit the light switch on the wall and close the door behind me. I don't need anyone walking up and trying to make friends with me while I search this place. It doesn't take me long to find something. Every box, crate, suitcase and garbage bag has something. I thought I was tracking drug smugglers. That's not the case. These are clearly weapons dealers. Sure, there's drugs here, not enough to take all these precautions. Weapons are the clear money magnet.

Pistols, shotguns, machine guns, ammunition, it's all here. The thing that scares me the most is the experimental stuff. Weapons with odd modifications, customized rounds. This stuff is designed to kill the first time, every time no matter what kind of protection you have. I need to get all this crap out of here, but I can't do it myself. A ledger lists different buyers, I tuck it in my pocket to go through later. Beyond that they don't leave much evidence. I grab a few rounds of ammunition for my personal stash. The rest of this stuff isn't necessary. Assault rifles, rocket launchers. If it was drugs, I'd just burn the storage unit and call it a day.

I make my way to a payphone a few blocks from the storage units. One thing about the storage units is they're usually in a shady area that still has a few payphones. I do something I hate doing. I call the police. I practice my best concerned citizen voice and make the call.

"911 what is your emergency," the woman on the other line answers lazily.

"I just saw a bunch of black men loading guns into a storage locker," that'll get her attention.

"Where at," she asks now fully invested.

"Down at storage mart on 67th."

"We're sending officers now."

"Please hurry, I think they're going to hurt someone. I'm going to stop them."

"NO SIR, don't go it could be dangerous," she says now in a panic.

I hang up the phone. I head into the gas station and grab a cup of coffee. Before I can enter my car, I hear sirens from every direction headed towards the storage units.

***

None of this is adding up. I've been trying to find the source of the new drug Frost for days now. I've got nothing. I thought such a unique drug would have more clues. It lowers the user's body temperature which is why it's called Frost. It gives them a sensation similar to that of the last stages of hypothermia. For most people that would be uncomfortable but it's a new high for others.

I need a sample. With a sample, I could have some friends break it down and tell me what the main ingredients are. If all else fails, I can just start beating the crap out of drug dealers and making my way up the chain. But, I'd rather do this the smart way.

I drive to a high traffic area in downtown. They don't think about who they're selling to at all. It's the place where office workers buy what they need to get through the day or party the night away. The spot where cops get their bribes or highs. It's almost as if everything is legal down here. Just a few blocks from the courthouse. Hillarious.

I roll the window down and give a head nod to the kid on the corner. Really is a kid, they get younger by the day it seems.

"What you need old man," with a picture day smile.

"Frost"

"Nah, I ain't got that. You gotta get that on the far west side."

"You know someone?"

"This white guy, named Big Mike. He live in a trailer park but I ain't ever been there. But I got weed if you want that. You shouldn't be doing any of that strong stuff. You look like you got a good job." Is this kid giving me a life lecture?

"Kid, go home. This isn't the job for you," I say rolling up the window and pulling off.

There's three trailer parks on the west side of town. I just need to figure out which one Big Mike is at. I can't pop up asking questions, that'll spook him. I guess I got a little more work to do.

***

I stuff my clothes in my trunk. Now fully decked out in my local junkie clothes. I take a hand full of dirt and throw it on myself. Old running shoes, look worn down like I've been walking for days. Not the first time I've bought drugs, won't be the last.

I walk what might be a few blocks to the trailer park. You can't drive a Masaratti to a trailer park. The one indulgence in my life. Damn, I love that truck. I make my way in and it's clear that drugs are sold and manufactured here. I walk up the first dealer I see as he finishes a sale.

"Frost,"

"Nah, all the way in the back."

I shake my head yes in a frantic motion before walking on. This is a safe haven for drug users. Close enough to the city that they can get home when their high comes down. Also far enough that the cops won't come snooping around because it's out of their way. I wouldn't be surprised if the stuff is made here.

I reach the last trailer on the lot at the very back. Two guards sit, one on either side of the door. One looks like Hank Hill with no shirt and the other looks like the most stereotypical motorcycle gang member I've seen in real life. Yeah, this is the place. I hunch my back and make my way to the trailer in rushed shuffled steps. I ignore the guards on either side and start banging on the door. As they jump up I start to yell.

"I NEED A FROSTY. CAN I GET A FROSTY MR. ICE CREAM MAN," I only stop yelling when the door flies open as one of the guards floors me.

"Stop all that goddamn yelling," a man says stepping out.

"We got this covered Mike," Hank Hill says.

"I got money I say," squirming around. Mostly trying to get a view inside the trailer. The stuff isn't made here. There's no equipment. Mike just thinks he's a drug kingpin or something.

"How much you got," Mike asks signaling his men to let me buy.

"I got this," I say handing him $93 in crumpled money. One twenty, the rest crumpled 5s, 10s and 1s.

"Here, take this and get lost," Mike says tossing me a container holding about 20 pills. That's just under $5 a pill. This is cheaper than I thought. No wonder if it's growing so fast. It's a cheap way to get high.

I jump to my feet and take off running. I make sure to keep tripping and shuffling my feet. I got what I needed. Now I just need to pay a visit to a friend in the lab.
 

***

Angela isn't taking my calls. I can't blame her. The last time we were together, things didn't end on great terms. They never do but we always find our way back together. I don't think today is that day but I need to get into the crime lab and speak with her. Another lab tech puts in the code in and waits for the door to slide back and admit him. The three lab techs I've watched use the same code. Seems there's a single code for entry into the lab.

I make my way to the door and enter the same code as everyone else. 809303, a brief pause and the door slides open. I don't waste any time going to the lab. I know where Angela's office is and I make my way there. She's not in so I invite myself in and close the door. I take a seat in the chair near her desk. Nah, I don't want to sit with my back to the door. I move to the opposite side of the desk and sit in her chair. No, that seems arrogant. I lean on the desk. No, she'll think I'm trying to be sexy. This isn't going to work.

I just leave the office and stand next to the door. No need to surprise her any more than just showing up. I see her walking up the hall nose in a file, not paying any attention. She walks right into her office and sits down, not even looking up. Glad I left that door open.

"Hey Angela," I approach.

"Great, what do you want now," she asks. Clearly she isn't over our last shot at love.

"I've been doing okay, what about you?" I ask, trying to keep it casual.

"Cut the crap and tell me what you want," she shoots back.

"I'm just trying to find out what the components of this drug Frost are. I'm, hoping I can track those and find the people producing it."

"If I do this will you stay away?"

"I can't promise that, but I'll try."

***

"Why did you call me here if you didn't have the results," Angela has never been one to be petty before so I'm not sure what's eating at her right now.

"I do have the results. I'm just opting to not give them to you. I called you here to ask that you give up this case and focus on something different. I put together a list of twenty-seven cases that will pay for a reward and are less than 48 hours old," Angela hasn't done this much for me since we were together. Something is wrong.

"Alright, be real with me, what is in those results that has you bugging?"

"I'm not bugging, I just think this case will take you nowhere. Probably not even paying much."

I walk over to Angela and tug at the report like a small child. I open the envelope and read the breakdown of the drug. I'm not a chemist but I picked up enough in high school chemistry and perhaps some of Angela's talent is sexually transmitted. I recognize most of the chemical names, or at least can recall hearing them before. One name stood out, mainly because she had circled it and placed an exclamation point next to it. Hydraclerchlemnochlane, I can't even pronounce that.

"Angela, what's this one do," I ask pointing at hydraclerchlemnochlane like the word is some kind of chemical.

"I don't know, I just know this is the only place you can get it. We developed it in the lab."

Well that throws a wrench in my plan. I need to take down whoever is behind Frost. Now I have to do it without getting Angela fired. That's going to be hard considering everyone in the building is a suspect now. Maybe there's another way to find out who is behind the drug.

***

"Mr. Harlem, would you please tell the court how you caught the defendant," the lawyer asks.

"A little work and a lot of time. Took months and I had to make friends with the security guard. I had to get copies of who came and went. Had to know who was in charge of getting and distributing supplies. After figuring that out it was clear Mrs. Daye was guilty. She was the only one who could order Hydracle...Hydreclerchle....the chemical needed to manufacture Frost. It only took so long to catch her because she spaced the orders out so much," I wait for more questions.

"Thank you Mr. Harlem, that will be all," the defense doesn't have questions for me so I step down.

I don't need to know how the case ends. Once I turned over my investigation results to the police, they got search warrants and everything they needed to prove it was her. I just wish I hadn't dedicated so much time on this one. I didn't get paid for this case and that sucks. I guess I made the neighborhood a little better, but that'll probably just get my office rent raised up.
 

The one thing I couldn't figure out is why. She had money, she had a big house, way bigger than me. A nice car, and happy family. She gave us everything on her plan. Gave us all her dealers. With all of them gone, the supply instantly dried up. She had an entire criminal organization when she didn't need one. Just never said why. Part of me wonders if she was just bored. What happens when you have so much privilege that you escape punishment for doing wrong? So much money they can't prosecute you? I imagine people start to give in to their wildest fantasies.

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