Story: “A Closet Full of Secrets”

There he was…


sitting on a cold green metal chair…

backed into a corner…

of an 8 x 7 cement block room…






that he was home…

in his warm bed…

and in a hurry…

to go nowhere…

Inspector Dribble and Sergeant Drool rumpled into the room…

They introduced themselves and set their coffee down…

Then they each grabbed their own cold green metal chairs…

turned them around…

and placed them backwards…

in front of and next to his…

They sat down like cowboys…

their legs straddling each side of the seat…

heels dug in…

hands griped tight…

to the backs of their chairs…

like holding on to a saddle horn…

pushing and pressing forward…

as if they were in a rodeo…

riding bucking broncos…

getting ready to conquer…

the eight-second clock…

the impending buzzer…

He took a deep breath…

and silently exhaled…

He looked up at the ceiling…

and saw those foot square white plaster tiles…

filled with hundreds of little black holes…

that seemed to bleed into each other…

until it was all just an ocean of nothing…

He looked back down to the floor…

and watched an ant crawl over his shoe…

He wished they could change places…

even though that would be cruel to the ant…

Desperate people often forget to consider the little things, he thought…

Inspector Dribble spoke first…

“So you know why you’re here Mister”…?

He looked back up…

“Because I’m not there”, he said.

“Because you’re not where”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Where I ought to be”, he said.

“And where might that be Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Anywhere but here”, he said.

“Oh, you don’t like it here”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“What’s to like”, he said.

“Well, we saw where you live Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, and it’s a real shit-hole”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“No, it ain’t much”, he said, “but it’s mine”.

“Oh, so it’s yours is it”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, it’s mine”, he said.

“So everything in there is yours too, right Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, it’s all mine”, he said.

“Well, that’s good to know Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, good to know”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Cause we found some disturbing things in your house Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, some goddamn mind-twisting shit “, said Sergeant Drool.

“Mind-twisting”…? he said.

“Mind-blowing”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Mind-blowing”…? he said

“Mind-fucking”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Let me ask you a couple of questions Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Ok Inspector, you go right ahead, ask away”, he said.

“Right, so what’s with all those weird masks, perverted paintings, naked photographs of jungle people, and all those strange sculptures you got in there”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“I like art Inspector, all kinds of art”, he said.

“You call that voodoo crap art”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“It’s that ‘eye of the beholder’ thing Sergeant…

…one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure”…? he said.

“Treasure my ass”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Treasure your ass Sergeant”, he said.

“What’s with all those books Mister, you got more books than a damn library”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“I like to read Inspector, I like to think, I like to learn”, he said.

“Well tell me Mister, just what have you learned from all those damn books”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“That would take quite a long time to explain Inspector”, he said.

“Well, me and the Sergeant got nothing but time Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, nothin’ but time”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“I’m sure that’s true Sergeant”, he said.

“So go on, sum it all up for us Mister, what have you learned from all those crazy books”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Ok Inspector…well, I’ve learned about the nature of man and his world”, he said.

“You’ve learned about Nature”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Well, that too.  But mostly about the nature of man’s world”, he said.

“And just what exactly is the nature of man’s world Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“That’s hard to say in just a few words Inspector”, he said.

“Well take your best shot Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, take your best shot buddy”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Well, man’s world is really composed of ideas, not things”, he said.

“Composed…what the hell does that mean…?  This ain’t fucking music class buddy”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Well, you see things everywhere but they’re manifestations of invisible ideas”, he said.

“Invisible ideas”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“That’s right Inspector, invisible ideas”, he said.  “Most everything really important is invisible”.

“Is that right Mister”…? said Inspector Dribble.

“Is that right”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Yes, that’s right gentlemen”, he said.  “Take for instance, the wind, gravity, dark matter, dark energy”.

“The wind”…! screamed Sergeant Drool.

“Yes, the wind Sergeant”, he said.

“I can see the goddamn wind Mister”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“No, not really Sergeant”, he said.  “What you really see are its effects on things.  You don’t actually see the wind itself”, he said. 

“What the hell are you talkin’ about fella”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Never mind Sergeant.  Ok, let’s consider Love.”, he said.

“And just what the hell do you know about Love…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Well I admit, not as much as I wish I did.  But I know it’s invisible”, he said.

“Bullshit buddy”, said Sergeant Drool.  “When I hug my kids and my wife and my dog, you can see my love”…!

“I know what you mean Sergeant, but actually, Love is the feeling that motivates you to want to hug your kids and your wife and your dog, but feelings are invisible…even the really bad ones.  Some people can hide and never express all their feelings, good or bad.  Others can hug their kids and their wife and their dog and not really give a hoot about them.  Love is invisible.  Didn’t you ever love someone or some thing and nobody ever knew it”…? he said.

“You’re fuckin’ crazy buddy, you’re a fuckin’ whack-job.  Somebody ought to lock your ass up”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Do you believe in God Sergeant”…? he asked.

“Of course I believe in God, you nit-wit”…said Sergeant Drool.

“Well, I don’t, but He’s invisible, right”…? he said.

“Not to me He ain’t”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Ok, I give up Sergeant, I’m a nit-wit”, he said.

“Oh, I get it buddy”, said Sergeant Drool.  “You’re settin’ things up for a goddamn insanity defense, aren’t you fella”…

“Insanity defense, Sergeant”…? he said.

“Yeah, you want the court to think you’re a fuckin’ nut-case, don’t you buddy”, said Sergeant Drool.

“We’re all crazy”, he said.

“Well speaking of invisible Mister, we’ve been watching you”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, we been watching you buddy”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Why don’t you tell us where the explosives are Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, where the hell are you hidin’ the fuckin’ bombs buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“They’re between the pages”, he said.

“The pages”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“The pages Inspector, the pages of the books”, he said.

“You’re a damn smart-ass, aren’t you buddy”…! said Sergeant Drool.  “A goddamn smart-ass”…!

“We’ve had you under surveillance for some time now”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, for some goddamn time”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Really”, he said.

“Yes, really Mister.  We’ve been tapping your phone, monitoring your social media, following your car and peeping into your windows for months now”, said Inspector Dribble.

“For fuckin’ months now”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“We’ve had a drone over your house and GPS under your shoes”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Under your ass”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Wow”, he said.

“We’ve gathered up quite a lot of nefarious information on you Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, a lot of…a lot of that kinda information”, said Sergeant Drool.

He looked back up at the ceiling and wondered…wondered if he’d have time…

…time to count all the little black holes…the hundreds of holes…the ocean of holes…

…he’d already counted all the cement blocks…the amount of square foot white plaster tiles…

…and the number of blackheads on Sergeant Drool’s nose…

“So let me ask you this Mister”, said Inspector Dribble, “What’s with that coat-closet in your home that’s all boarded up and pad locked”…?

“It’s a closet full of secrets”, he said.

“A closet full of secrets”…? said Inspector Dribble.

“What fuckin’ secrets”…? insisted Sergeant Drool.

“Now they wouldn’t be secrets if I told you Sergeant”, would they”…? he said.

“Oh, you’re gonna tell us buddy, you’re gonna tell us every goddamn thing”, said Sergeant Drool.

“You know what they say about secrets, don’t you Sergeant”…? he said.

“No, what the hell do they say about secrets buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead”, he said.

“Are you threatening me and the Sergeant”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No”, he said.  “I’m just talking about secrets”.

“We’ll get back to your secrets in a minute Mister, we saw all those musical instruments in your house, you’re a musician, right”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“I like music”, he said. “I’ve always felt a little funny, calling myself a musician”.

“Why’s that Mister”…? said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, what’s up with that shit”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Well, I’m self taught.  I only know a little.  I have a style.  But I’m not really a virtuoso musician.  That was never really important to me.  I use music just to hang my words on”, he said. 

“Hang your words”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Yes Sergeant, like fruit on a tree”, he said.

“Words on a fuckin’ tree”, said Sergeant Drool.  “You mean like turds on a tree, don’t you buddy.  You’re a fuckin’ queer, aren’t you”…!

“I suppose I am a bit odd”, he said.  “At least in your world I am”. 

“You made some records, didn’t you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, I made some records”, he said.

“You wrote some songs too, didn’t you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, I wrote some songs”, he said.

“How come I’ve never heard of you before Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, how come we’ve never heard of your sorry ass buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“I had my time fellas, fame isn’t everything”, he said.  “In fact it’s nothing, at best it’s a burden, hardly worth the chase, the effort”.

“Fame isn’t everything…?  That’s what failures say”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Failures say a lot of things”, he said.

“I bet you took a lot of drugs, drank a lot of booze, smoked a lot of dope, didn’t you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Like I said Inspector, I had my time”, he said.

“You took that LSD shit too, didn’t you buddy, and that’s the reason, the reason why you like all that sick perverted crap you call art”, said Sergeant Drool.

“That must be the reason Sergeant”, he said, “That must be it”.

“Don’t you belong to a world-wide subversive organization Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Subversive organization Inspector”…? he said.

“Yes, an anonymous, subversive organization”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Oh, you mean Alcoholics Anonymous, right Inspector…? he said.

“Yes, that’s it.  Just like those Hollywood Marxist Elitist types who use to get together in those clandestine meetings. We have it on good authority that terrorists are doing the same thing now”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Terrorists”…? he said.

“Subversives”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Fuckin’ commie subversives asshole, like Ringo Starr and Joe Walsh, members of Monty Python and those Led Zeppelin fags”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“I wouldn’t know about that”, he said.

“Bullshit”, said Sergeant Drool.  “You’re one of ’em”…!

“Let me ask you a really serious question Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“These others haven’t been serious questions Inspector”…? he said.

“You ever kill anybody Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Not that I know of Inspector, but there’s lots of ways to kill somebody”, he said.

“You mean lots of different weapons you can use, don’t you fella”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Sort of”, he said.

“What a ya mean, sort of”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Well for instance, you can kill a person with deprivation”, he said.

“Depra what”…? said Sergeant Drool.

“Deprivation Sergeant.  You can deprive a person to death”, he said.

“Deprive them”…? said Sergeant Drool.  “You mean like starve them”…?

“Yes Sergeant, starve them”, he said.  “Deprive them of love, kindness, empathy, comfort, compassion…”

“What the hell are you talkin’ about buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“Well, you deprive people of these things and they die”, he said.  “They die of a broken heart.  Like zombies, they’re still walking around, but there’s nobody home, they’re dead inside, you killed them”.

“You’re a fuckin’ lunatic fella”, said Sergeant Drool.

“I know”, he said.  “That’s no secret”.

“You’ve been married twice haven’t you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, twice”, he said.

He looked down at the floor for that ant on his shoe, but it was gone…

“How come you got married twice Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

He looked back up…

“Well, once because I thought I had to, and once because I thought I ought to”, he said.

“Because you had to and you ought to”…? said Sergeant Drool.  “That’s no damn reason to get married”…!

“Oh, my guess is that’s why most folks get married Sergeant”, he said.

“Bullshit”, said Sergeant Drool, “Folks get married cause they love each other buddy”…!

“Well, the lucky ones do”, he said.

“And you’ve been divorced twice Mister, isn’t that right”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yes, that’s right Inspector”, he said.

“You don’t have children from those marriages, do you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No”, he said.  “I don’t have any children”…

“You got no damn kids”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“No”, he said.  “No kids”…

“Lucky for them”…! chuckled Sergeant Drool.

“Lucky for them”, he said.

“You got any family at all Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No”, he said.  “They’re all gone”…

“What a ya mean, they’re all gone”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“They’re all gone or they’re all dead”, he said.

“What does that mean”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“People come in and out of your life Sergeant, some stay too long and some don’t stay long enough”, he said.

“Is that right”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“Yes, that’s right Sergeant”, he said.

“Well, lucky for them”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Lucky for them”, he said.

“You don’t own that place you live in, do you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No”, he said.  “I don’t own it, I just rent it”.

“And you don’t have any money in the bank, do you Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No”, he said.  “I don’t have any money in the bank Inspector”.

“As a matter of fact, you’re pretty much broke, right Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Pretty much”, he said.

“You got rotten credit too, you ever file for bankruptcy Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“That’s legal isn’t it”…? he said.

“So you’re just a deadbeat, aren’t you Mister”…?  said Inspector Dribble.

“A goddamn deadbeat”…! said Sergeant Drool.

“I’m not dead and I’m not beat…not yet”, he said.

“You know what the problem with a deadbeat is Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“No, what’s the problem with a deadbeat Inspector”…? he said.

“They’ll do just about anything for a dollar Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Just about any goddamn crazy thing”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Well, in my experience, the only truly free people are those with more money than J.P. Morgan or those with nothing to lose”, he said.

“And just what the hell would you know about Freedom”, said Sergeant Drool.

“Very little Sergeant”, he said.

“You goddamn right buddy!  Good American boys have fought and died for your fuckin’ Freedom; so you can have all that pervert art and shit and sing your stupid songs.  So you just shut the fuck up about it”, said Sergeant Drool.

“What ever you say Sergeant”, he said.

“What ever I say goddamn it”, said Sergeant Drool.

“You got any friends Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“I think so”, he said.

“You think so”…? said Sergeant Drool.  “Hell, either you got friends or you don’t got friends buddy”…!

“It’s not that simple Sergeant”, he said.

“It damn sure is fella”, said Sergeant Drool.  “I see my friends every damn day”…!

“Lucky you Sergeant”, he said.

“Yeah, lucky me”…! said Sergeant Drool.  “What’s your damn problem”…?

“Well, I don’t get out much any more Sergeant”, he said.  “And most of my friends are in cyberspace now”.

“Cyberspace, what the fuck is cyberspace, some kinda goddamn outer-space bullshit, or is it like a sanitarium, or a crematorium”…? chuckled Sergeant Drool.

“That’s one way of looking at it Sergeant”, he said.

“Let’s get back to that coat-closet of yours Mister, the one that’s all boarded up and pad locked”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, what the fuck’s up with that closet buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“I told you”, he said.  “It’s a closet full of secrets”.

“Well let me tell you something Mister”, said Inspector Dribble, “that’s why you’re here, cause you got secrets, but we tore the door off that closet and there wasn’t a damn thing in there”…?

“Not a goddamn thing”…! echoed Sergeant Drool.

“Yes, I know”, he said.

“You know what”…? said Inspector Dribble.

“I know about the closet”, he said. 

“What about it”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“I told you, all the important things are invisible”, he said.

“What exactly are you talking about Mister”…? asked Inspector Dribble.

“Yeah, what the fuck are you talkin’ about buddy”…? asked Sergeant Drool.

“The closet Inspector, the closet Sergeant.  It’s a metaphor for my mind.  Like my mind, it appears completely empty”, he said. “But it’s full of invisible thoughts, invisible ideas, invisible feelings and desires, invisible music, invisible…”

“That ain’t no goddamn fuckin’ secret buddy”…! screamed Sergeant Drool.

“No, not any more Sergeant”, he said.  “Not any more”…

“You got any other secrets bozo”…? chuckled Sergeant Drool.

“Well, did you look underneath my bed”…? he asked.

“There’s nothing underneath your bed Mister”, said Inspector Dribble.

“Oh but there is Inspector.  That’s where I keep my heart”, he said.

“Under your bed, you got a heart in a glass jar under your goddamn bed”, chuckled Sergeant Drool.

“And did you check that old broken bird cage”…? he asked.

“What about the damn old bird cage buddy, there’s no door on it and there’s no damn bird in it”…! scoffed Sergeant Drool.

“No, but that’s where I keep my soul”, he said.

“Stand up Mister, I’ve heard enough of your crap for one day, you’re under arrest”, said Inspector Dribble.

“What’s the charge Inspector”…? he asked.

“Impersonating a human being Mister, alliances with Aliens, talking in tongues, dirty things and dirty thoughts, trespassing on Sacred Ground, spinning lies in endless circles, blowing up the World Trade Center, whatever…!  Read him his rights and take him away Sergeant”, said Inspector Dribble.

“My pleasure”, chuckled Sergeant Drool.

“Your pleasure Sergeant”, he said…

“Secrets indeed”…! said Inspector Dribble.

“Secrets my ass”…! said Sergeant Drool.


(c) Billy Batson, Saber-Tooth Stories

A closet full of secrets