I show up to work with time to spare, about and hour and ten minutes before my shift. I consider killing the extra time by getting a hot dog from a street vendor outside, but eventually decide to just head in get Edgar’s latest lecture over with. Besides, there’s no possible way he’s expecting me to be there early. Maybe it’ll put him off his game.
Sure enough, Edgar’s eyebrows rise when I knock on the open door to his office, but all he says is, “It’s nice to see you be punctual.” He gestures to a chair, and I sit down.
Edgar steeples his hands, pinches his top lip between his index fingers, and regards me for a moment. I spend the time trying to decide if I’m about to be fired, and come to the conclusion that I probably am. It’s unfair, since all I did was get attacked. On the other hand, maybe getting kicked out of this job is what I need to move on and get my act together. It’s not going to look great on a resume, but I bet most people don’t call to check on references anyway.
“So, you were attacked again last night,” says Edgar, startling me out of my train of thought. “What are you mixed up in?”
His tone is hostile, but I decide to overlook that. “What do you mean, attacked? Someone just tried to steal my car this time. I didn’t get there until it was all over.”
Edgar looks unconvinced. “The police were here asking questions. They wanted to review the tapes, and you left your desk much earlier than you’d need to for your rounds. The cameras show you going out the front door almost twenty minutes before you called the police.”
I gesture to my crutches. “I’m not moving so fast these days, Edgar. It took me a while to get to the parking lot. Then, when I got there and saw the accident happen, I found out that I’d left my phone at the desk here, and had to make it all the way back. Buy me a Segway and I’ll be able to get places faster.”
Edgar smiles a humorless grin. “I can’t fire you on suspicion alone. But I can and will give you a written reprimand for failing to do your rounds on time last night. A second reprimand this quarter is cause for dismissal. And I can also tell you to take a drug test, which I’m doing right now. If it comes up positive for anything, I won’t even have to wait for the second reprimand to happen.”
I take the cup he’s produced from a desk drawer. “There won’t be anything in it that they didn’t give me at the hospital, Edgar,” I say. Of course, I don’t know exactly what they gave me at the hospital, and I think back to my theory about the secret cabal of doctors testing drugs on patients. If the test checks for superpowers, I’m in trouble. Can they fire me for having powers? You’d think that Edgar would like it if I were a super employee.
The thought makes me smile, which is not lost on Edgar. “Something funny about this, Dan?” he asks frostily.
“Just the situation,” I say. “I get my car stolen and crashed, and my job’s response is to claim that I caused it by being on drugs? What else am I supposed to do about that but laugh?”
Edgar clearly doesn’t see the humor. Shows what he knows.
While I’m washing my hands in the bathroom, I take some water from the faucet and rub the outside of the cup with it. It’s childish humor, and a bit petty, but I can’t be expected to change all at once. Anyway, just because I understand Edgar better now doesn’t mean that I have to like him, especially after he’s just accused me of being a drug addict, and possibly a dealer to boot.
I bring the cup back to his office and place it nonchalantly on some paperwork on his desk. “I’ll see you in an hour, Edgar,” I say. “If you find anything in the tests, please let me know before I come in for a shift. It’s a real pain catching the bus with crutches.”
I see Edgar noticing the damp ring that the cup is making on his papers, and trying to decide if he can pick it up without polluting his hands. I’m just about to turn and leave him to his dilemma when something on the paperwork catches my eye.
“Sorry, where do you want this?” I ask solicitously, gesturing to the cup. He motions with distaste to a corner of his bookshelf, and as I pick the cup back up to move it over there, I take the opportunity to confirm what I thought I’d seen. Attached to the paperwork is a business card from the police department bearing the name of Sam Peterson, the helpful fellow who gave me a ride home two nights ago.
It wasn’t just the police, third person impersonal, who were back here asking questions. It was the same cop. I have no idea what police shifts are like, so maybe it’s a coincidence. I have the feeling it isn’t, though.
So, the police are taking an interest in my affairs. I feel a mild paranoia about this, but as I think about why, I genuinely can’t find anything to be concerned about. I legitimately haven’t done anything wrong. In this specific case, anyway. Shoot, maybe they can even be helpful.
I pause to picture that conversation. “Hello, Officer Peterson? This is Dan Everton; yes, we met the other night at the museum. I was the one who’d just killed a man in self-defense. Good, you remember. Well, the reason I’m calling is that I think I have superpowers, and I don’t know why. Can you help?”
That would definitely go over well. In a best-case scenario, Officer Peterson just thinks I’m playing a stupid joke on him. In a worst-case, I get involuntarily committed as a lunatic. There’s no version I can imagine where he believes me.
Check me out: noticing small details, engaging in subterfuge, and considering plans before rushing into them. Seems like maybe that extra brainpower didn’t completely wear off! I’m like a whole new man, one who can use 11% of his brain now. And yeah, I know that ten percent thing is a myth, but “I’m thinking one percent harder” doesn’t have the same ring to it. I wonder if I’m one percent stronger now, too?
Instead of getting myself in trouble with the police, I allow these thoughts to distract me while I head outside and get that hot dog from the street vendor like I’d considered doing earlier. It may not get me any closer to figuring out what’s going on, but I’m pretty sure that it’s still a significantly better use of my time.