Muscles burned and sweat dribbled to the floor as Harmon reached sixty pull ups. The sound of footsteps echoing off the cool concrete failed to deter. Only when Marla spoke his name did he drop from the exposed steel ceiling beam and turned to face the interloper. Marla’s eyes roamed to the man’s pale, naked torso, shrinking and swelling from his labored breath, muscles starkly defined from his ardent regime. Marla swiftly returned her gaze to the man’s shadowed face and spoke with great agitation.
“That friend of yours, the one you used to room with, he’s in the news. Been arrested. Thought you should know.”
She held up her phone, proffering it to the half naked man, who slowly ambled forth and took the device and beheld upon the screen a news article titled, ‘Local man arrested for possession of fentanyl after posting about it on social media.’ Adjacent the title was a large photograph of Sprawls, presumably taken after his arrest. His eyes were watery and his face was marred by creases of tension. He looked terrified.
Harmon nearly laughed aloud. Nearly. Exerting considerable willpower, he stayed his excitement and returned the phone to Marla.
“He never was big on self control.”
She studied what little of his face was visible through the basement’s murky gloom.
“You two were close, right?”
“Used to be.”
“Fentanyl. Been cropping up everywhere.”
“100 times more potent than morphine.”
“Mmhm,” she nodded, “Story says your friend had tons of it. Huge bagful. The odd thing was that it wasn’t the usual kind. Preliminary investigation revealed he had connections with a suspected local drug dealer named Evrik Karst, police suspect he’s manufacturing some kind of fentanyl, among other things, but can’t find any proof.”
Harmon’s mind reeled back to the shifty, strange-scented vagrants at the old coalbreaker. Thought to the rumors he’d heard that cooks moved among them and remembered how he’d nearly followed them to their queer abode in that blasted reach.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” Harmon responded, wiping the sweat from his brow, “Sprawls never had much in the way of character assessment. Thanks for letting me know.”
The woman stood expectantly a while, observing Harmon’s half-shaded face, backlit by the faint, filtered light of the single slated basement window, then turned and left the man to his exertions.