Weldon Springs Radiation Story: Chapter 6: The Parole Agent

Sure I know, I should have had the title of the book figured out by now, but have not made up my mind yet..



Parole agent 

I pushed the broom past the director of the Museum Director, Amber Liu. She was reasonably efficient at making the janitorial staff invisible in her presence.

"I'm the invisible man," I whispered.

Director Liu looked up in annoyance when my cell phone buzzed, and I hurried away from her dagger glare.

The phone screen read Parole Agent Murphy.

"Murphy," I answered.

"Hi, I'm just checking to see if you have a job per your early release agreement," Murphy said.

"Yes, yes, I'm a janitor at a museum," I said. His whiny voice grated like nails on a slate.

"That is great; I'm glad to hear the news. OK, well, per the terms of your parole agreement, you've got thirty minutes to get down here and piss in the bottle for a drug test."

"Murphy, I'm working. I have a job," I said. "I cannot up and leave in the middle of the shift."

"Heard you the first time. Thing is, you now have twenty-nine minutes to get to the St. Charles Courthouse. Hey, if you refuse to make it when I call, you are flagged as guilty of a parole violation. You sent back to jail ain't my fault. I'm not the one snorting that shit or whatever you guys were doing, sharing dirty needles, whatever," said Murphy.

"I can't make it to downtown St. Charles in 30 minutes," I protested.

"Twenty-eight minutes or you're in parole violation, you go back to prison like the other meth heads. See you in less than thirty bud."

The cell phone clicked off.

God-dammit.

I found Butch in the mop room reading a book.

"You look frazzled, a woman? Always a woman," said Butch.

"Butch, my parole agent wants me to be downtown in 30 minutes for a drug test. But look, I'll make it up to you. Don't pay me for my time today, and when I get back, I'll finish up the work tonight as long as the museum stays open."

Butch put his feet precariously on a mop bucket.

"You're a good worker. OK, take off. There is no pay today, and you can finish your work as long as the museum lets you stay."

Butch waved his arms, "Go! You can't get downtown in thirty minutes. You got one asshole agent, but I'm your buddy, man. I got your back."

Butch handed me the keys to his Bronco, "Take my truck, I think your Camaro is dying."

Thirty-five minutes later, I was at the entrance to the St. Charles Courthouse.

A guard stood by a metal detector.

"Place your keys and change in the basket."

I walked through the metal detector, past the guard, and a small buzzer beeped in alarm.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on," said the guard. "You had a nuclear nuclear medicine study recently?"

"No," I said. "I don't even know what that is."

"The radiation alarm is going off. The buzzing indicates mild radiation exposure. Usually, a hospital test—radioactive dye from a nuclear medicine study—sets the buzzer off."

"Sir, I was just released from prison, so your equipment needs calibration. I haven't had a nuclear study or been on a nuclear submarine or aircraft carrier while in prison. Make a note: If I set the alarm off, then your buzzer needs calibration."

The guard waved me through, "This shit is always giving false positives."

I knocked on Murphy's door.

"Just another loser going back to prison like they all do," said Murphy. "You're late. Tardy usually means you're drunk or high. Well, which one?"

"Goddamnit man, I cannot get downtown in thirty minutes, and I had to beg my employer to get the time off. You want me to keep a job or get fired?" 

My voice rose in frustration and anger at having risked a speeding ticket to reach the courthouse in the allotted time.

"I'm writing you up!" said the agent, matching my tone.

A lady stepped into the office, "What's the matter here?"

"I got this, Trish," said Murphy.

"Are you his supervisor?" I asked. "I need more than a twenty-five-minute warning to get downtown. And what if there is a traffic jam, no parking spot, and I have to make arrangements with my Boss to get the time off? You do want me to have a job, do you?"

"How far do you have to travel?" asked the woman.

Behind her, Murphy kept mouthing a silent word, "Loser."

"I'm a janitor. I might be cleaning toilets in Troy working, but the schedule changes," I said. A little lie never hurt anyone.

"Is an hour and a half notice reasonable?" asked the woman.

"Yes, of course," I said.

"Make that so, Murphy. The man has to have time to get downtown."

The woman gave me an odd smile and left.

"OK," said Murphy. I'm making it official for this loser. You will be allowed an hour and twenty minutes to get downtown when I call. Not eighty-one minutes, but eighty minutes, not a second more."

I considered arguing with the asshole but caved and only nodded my head in agreement.

"You are all going back to jail, and you know it. All are going to fail. They all fail, don't they?" said Murphy, "I've never had a single one who didn't go back to prison."

End of Draft 1 chapter 6


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