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by Victoria Clayton Munn

“Santa don’t want no dog biscuits, girl.”

I woke and cracked one eye open to see a large woman chastising a small girl next to me. The couch I slept on was filled with fleas, I could see them jumping on me like small dots of pepper from a shaker.

“But, Nan, we, we ain’t got nothin’ else. No cookies. And I want Santa to bring me toys and presents and a new house.” The little girl looked expectantly at the woman.

“But it ain’t even Christmas, child. It’s August. Oh, I see our man woke up.” Nan looked over at me, and I grimaced at her war-torn face. She looked as if she’d been beaten more than a few times, and was missing teeth as well.

“Excuse me, but where am I?” I appeared to have a bit of an upper-class accent, but aside from that, I really wasn’t sure of much about myself.

“You downtown, found you with a needle in your arm. Tryin’ that new S?” She looked at me disapprovingly. Although this appeared to be a drug house, it obviously wasn’t. Maybe just a transient house.

S was something I remembered. Silence, silburaturaturmine — the new club drug on the scene. It was supposed to make you forget who you were — but only for a little while. I couldn’t have overdosed on S, could I?

Nan came over and yanked my arm up. “You rememberin’ yet? I can’t be hidin’ no drug-takers, dealers or whatnot. I need you to leave now.” The little girl put a finger into her mouth and began to suck on it rhythmically. I fixated on that finger, unable to think of who I was.

“I think... I think I can’t remember who I am.” I felt vulnerable admitting this, but I was sure I’d been stripped of all ID, money and cell phones before I’d ended up on flea couch.

“Well, you’d best remember that soon. You can’t stay here. This is our home.” Nan pushed me across the floor like a vacuum cleaner. I dug in my heels, but she was stronger. I was at the door before I knew it. The doorstep showed shining sun and I squinted to get my bearings.

I walked outside, and smelled the scented air. Governor Daley had mandated an aromatherapy plan for the state a few months back, and each city was bathed in a scent depending on “need.” As Deluna needed to perk up, our scent was that of oranges, or peppermint. Overall, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded.

I couldn’t just admire the air, however. I needed to find out if I’d been dosed with S, and, if I had, what I could do about it. The drug had been developed as many recreational drugs started out, as a sedative. It was used during surgery so that patients would simply forget the surgery ever happened.

People used it recreationally to forget the things that they did — it sounded stupid but with today’s cameras everywhere, people could film themselves if they chose and watch their actions, or simply forget the evening if their friends said they acted horridly.

This drug was just gaining popularity with some club-goers, especially high-end ones. So why would Nan guess that the needle in my arm was S? I could have just as easily been injecting old-school heroin. This was getting interesting.

I walked down Bother Street, the worst street in Deluna — the only one patrolled by police 24/7. The first thing I did was look for one of the police. I didn’t have my ID badge on, so of course, I was harassed. This time I was looking for it.

“Please sir, I have no idea who I am. I’ve been robbed, I woke up in a flop house, I was told I did drugs...” I trailed off at that point, realizing that might not be the best tack to take with a police officer.

“S?” The cop looked bored. “It’ll wear off after about two hours.”

“But sir, it’s been longer than that, and I still don’t remember who I am.” I was at my wits’ end.

“Maybe you asked for this? There are clinics that will wipe your memory, but usually not in this neighborhood. Hmm, let me check with them to see if a man fitting your description came in yesterday.” The cop radioed a few people then looked back at me.

“You can always apply for a new life you know,” Police Officer Johns said after finding out that there were no clients fitting my description at any of the stations last night. “Many people do that even remembering their old lives. Gov. Daley’s made it pretty easy to change your life.”

I wasn’t very sure about that, but after a day of not knowing who I was, I was already ready to give up. I followed the directions given and went to Elm and Rosenthal for the reassignment station. The reassignment was quick and painless.

Once I became Tom Detrell, I went back to Bother Street and looked for Nan. Tom was a great man, a social worker, who could help Nan. She wasn’t there, but the little girl was.

She’d put out the dog biscuits. “Nan sure didn’t like you. You know who you was, right?” I shook my head, confused.

“Well, she gave you way too much S because you kept comin’ round bugging us about cheap rates and other houses catchin’ our fleas. You was from the pest control company.”

Copyright © 2009 by Victoria Clayton Munn

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