The chair shifts beneath me and I jerk forward in response.
The daydream I held moments ago flees away from my thoughts. I blink several times to kickstart my vision again.
My surroundings greet me with a familiar mosaic of folders, pictures, and notebooks.
Despite having two solemn file cabinets in the corner I've always had my job material scattered about.
Subconsciously I may just be generating chaos to sweep the madness of cold trails and murder by the gallons under the rug. Out of sight, out of mind they always say.
Whoever said that was never in my line of work.
The blades of my ceiling fan spin enough to threaten a few sheets on my desk to dance away. I've run out of cigarettes and the ashen remains of several dozen consume the brown ash tray to my right.
Brown smudges of coffee rings pocket across my desk. I've never held cleanliness high on my priority list. I think a diet of mostly coffee and fingernails tends to change a man's perspective.
I'm still fading into reality from my cat nap when the window to my office door fills with a plump shadow. The handle jitters for a moment and the lock hold firm.
"You in there, hotshot?"
I debate letting the silence answer but resolve to stand and shimmy to the door. The piles of paperwork barricade an obtuse swing of the door but it yields enough to let Captain Yardly in. This portly man is technically my boss but we've shelved official ranks between the two of us. The ritualistic dance we share has been going on for nearly three years now. He feeds me the chalky assignments nobody can stomach and I eventually return the assignment with fewer loose ends. He takes the now more appetizing story and shovels it to the reporters, families, government officials, and autopsy gremlins.
He skips the small talk, skips talking altogether, and hands me an envelope. His eyes are wider than usual. His skin is blooming with scarlet from high blood pressure and burst capillaries. The remaining tufts of hair are sticky with sweat and some unidentifiable hair gel.
Yardly was spooked
Now, with his end of the bargain complete he withdraws through the doorframe and is gone. The going rate of unease for Yardly is about three or four times a year. The rest of the jobs are offered up with different body language. Either he happily proffers me monotony or strains to deliver me a rare monstrosity. I hesitate for a moment to steel myself. I remind myself its only a job and this is merely an envelope. I chuckle knowing I'm not fooling anyone...especially myself.
Re-calibrating my sanity one pill at a time.