were in D.C., we decided to fly Adam in and
have him take some promotional photos for
future hypertext novels and book jackets. He suggested we take some shots
in front of D.E.A. Headquarters. We thought that was a fine idea. We did
not, at the time, consider ourselves recreational users. We were professionals.
And this fact, thanks to the war on drugs, made us martyrs of a sort.
So we felt we owed the D.E.A. for being narcs, busting users, locking
up artists, and, in general, making us into heroes and rebels.
We were in the park across the street trying to line up a shot that included
the face of the D.E.A. Headquarters along with the flags when a few suits
came out and started to approach us. It was at this point that I realized
that I was holding. It just hadnt occurred to me to leave the marijuana
in the car for the D.E.A. shoot. I started sweating. The suits walked
up, wingtips impeccable. They had mirrored shades.
Looked like one of them was packing a .33 in an ankle holster. The other
one looked mean and he was reaching inside his jacket, his hand moving
toward his shoulder. My knees turned to theory.
I wanted to run. He pulled his hand out of his jacket wielding a copy
of The Unknown.
Autographs. They wanted autographs.
They turned out to be great guys and they took us out drinking. They were
pros, too, it turned out. Rourke had been working twelfth floor under
the marijuana desk for about three years. South was about to go undercover
in Illinois, and this day had been the last day he would spend behind
a desk for many weeks. We tried to get him to talk about his project,
and we eventually, many rounds later, did get him to talk. Were fiction
writers, we said, except Dirk, were expert liars. Even if we tried to
expose your mission, it would just be literature, it wouldnt be a threat
Turns out that there was a certain celebrated metafictionist in Illinois
whom the D.E.A. knew had previous ties to some big dealers in the Boston
area. South had enrolled in a Masters program to try to get close to
him. To pull off the cover, he had had to read a lot of John Barth
in a short time, in order to be a convincing graduate student.
This was too much. I pulled Scott aside and we played pinball.
I expressed my concern:
South is about to embark on a mission that has
already failed. Not only is he going to get an advanced degree in English
Studies, hes going after a man whos cleaned up his life and lost his
connections. A professor. Hes going to
Normal, Illinois. We should tell him to call it off.
Scott skewered me with a skeptical glance. South is a great guy, but
hes a narc. Narcs suck. Let him bang his head against a wall. Maybe hell
end up reading Thomas Pynchon and learn a
little about life.
I saw his point. So we let the narc have it. Then we
went to dinner.
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