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CONNECT/Mzc/weJ Lundell 1STOPPED TAKING the heroin. At least for now. I made no vows. I didn't go to a place where I paid people to tell me heroin is bad. I didn't find eternal love or realize that drugs are Satan's ambrosia. I just stopped. When I told James, the security guard at the building where I do the money stuff that makes the salary that bought the heroin, he just srrdled. "Quit," he said. "Just Uke that." "Just Uke that," I said. "Pretty much." "You haven't been in since Friday. I figured that might be it." I said it was like he'd told me; it was a question of who was in charge. "And so it is, Captain, and good for you. Just remember, for you the store's always open. Kinda wonderful, don't you think? That you can always change your mind? Makes you kinda nervous, don't it?" I said I would remember, and as I was no longer a paying client, did he perhaps need a Uttle money? "Thank you, Captain. ReaUy, thank you. But no, I don't need no money, thank you. I got a dozen clients in this building. Coke, smack, other stuff. AU them women lawyers, too; you gotta help your women. You knew, didn't you?" I had known there were others, but James was very circumspect. When I wanted to talk to him, I went down to the lobby and stood in front of the window, looking out at traffic. Eventually James would join me, and we would talk without looking at each other, twitching a hand when someone came close. James said this was the way guys in the prison yard talked. I asked him if he'd ever been in prison. He said no, of course not, why would I think that? He was always polite and formal, calling me Mr. Gallo or sometimes Captain. I asked him to caU me Bill, but he said no. "Folks'd begin to wonder just why we're aU so friendly, you know?" "So what?" "No, Mr. Gallo. No sir, we do not want people to wonder. You work upstairs. I work down here. It's that simple." He wanted me to put the cash (three, then five, then six hundred, and a hundred for James) in a stamped envelope, addressed to a post office box somewhere, and to ask him if he wouldn't mind mailing The Missouri Review · 153 it for me. The next day he would greet me and mention that he had mailed that letter, and I would find the foil-wrapped package under the mulch of one of the lobby plants. We did this every two weeks, sometimes sooner if my supply grew mysteriously meager. I asked James if he wanted more than a hundred for himself; he said no thanks, a hundred was correct. I once heard James explain gravely to a weeping little girl how no parent or anyone else would ever leave her, ever, no matter what. I once saw him with his arm around the president of my company, a seventysix -year-old man who prefers people not to stand too close. He always made women laugh. "I am the connect," he told me. "I make connections." He called me Bill on only two occasions. The first time was the day after he told me my package might be a little late arriving, and did I have extras or should he try another source? I said fine, and the dope came the next morning, and that afternoon I found him sitting down with his large, handsome head in his hands. I asked him how he was, and he said not so good, and then he nodded to me and walked outside , and after a whüe I followed, and we walked around the block. "Bill," he said, "Tm feelin' kinda wrong here. Kinda wrong. I disconnected there for a minute, and now I can't go back on it." It was yesterday, he told me, when he went to score. "Like, I mean, I know this guy, BiU, I know his woman. Name's...


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