His eyes opened slowly and blinked twice, clearing the fog of last nights’ dreamless sleep from his vision. Jim’s alarm continued to blare obnoxiously on his nightstand, waiting to be slapped into silence. He turned his eyes towards clock to peer at the time; how long had the alarm been screaming at him?
It was 6:43. He dragged his arm over his body and dropped the palm of his hand on top of the clock, nearly pulling the device off the nightstand with his lazy attempt to stop the incessant chiming. It worked, at least. The room fell silent except for the sounds of the fan spinning above his head and the muffled chirps of birds outside his window.
“Christ,” he mumbled, pushing himself up into a seated position on the bed.
He rubbed his eyes and ran his fingers up through his hair, settling with his palms on the back of his neck as he breathed in sharply. The clock mocked him with the minutes moving by quicker than his body did and Jim realized he was going to be late to the sheriff’s office, again.
“I know. Don’t start today, Flo,” Jim protested as Flo stood up from her desk, following him from one end of the precinct to the other with notes of the calls that came in since dawn. As she read off each one, he mentally made a note to start making coffee at home; he couldn’t concentrate on anything she was saying without having the caffeine in his bloodstream already. “Just give me those and leave me alone for a while.”
Flo glared at him and kept her grip on the notes, refusing to hand them over to Jim until he made eye contact. He finally glanced up at her and realized she wasn’t going to give in easily.
“Thank you, Flo,” he said as sincerely as his caffeine-deprived brain would let him, giving her a knowing smirk. She tended to put up with more of his shit than anyone else would and he was grateful, even if he rarely showed it. Flo mirrored his smirk and released her grip on the notes, saying something about needing new tires on one of the squad cars’ and the order form was on his desk.
Jim closed his office door, tossed the call notes on top of his desk, and plopped down into his trusty chair. Actually, he hated this chair. He tried to covertly swap it out with one of the lobby chairs, but Flo immediately scolded him for it when she took notice. Now, she’s always on the lookout for his chair-swapping antics and he’s never gone a full hour without her realizing the switch – so, it’s his trusty chair. The coffee’s temperature finally lowered to a drinkable state and Jim downed the entire cup instantly. He immediately wanted another one.
His phone rang, breaking him out of his chair-centric thoughts.
“Yes, Flo?” he tried sounding less-than-irritated this time.
“Callahan and Powell called in to me because your radio is off. They need you to head to The Palace for a possible drug-related incident,” she responded.
Jim sat up in his chair, his brain waking up fully, “Drug related? Anyone hurt?”
“Nothing reported but you better get down there,” her voice crackled over the line.
Jim shoved the gear into park directly in front of The Palace, yanking the keys from the ignition before opening the trucks’ door. The parking lot was relatively empty at this time in the morning, which made it even more obvious that the two police vehicles were at the arcade for some nefarious reason.
Powell and Callahan were surrounding a person sitting on the hood of an Oldsmobile Supreme. He couldn’t quite make out a gender of the perp until he approached the duo, both turning to him in tandem to reveal a woman. Jim sighed, taking a quick glance at her up and down to determine that she was not from Hawkins; this wasn’t going to be as easy as he thought.
He looked at Callahan first, who already started rambling off descriptors: drugs, out of town, questionable license. Powell rolled his eyes, “None of this is proven, y’know. You’re just making this up based on what she’s said to you.”
“Yeah, but look at her. She’s gonna lie about the drugs, so I might as well fill in the blanks,” Callahan responded, pushing his glasses up higher on the bridge of his nose.
The woman looked less than amused, yet she snorted at Callahan’s remarks, shaking her head softly as she turned her eyes towards The Palace on her right-hand side. Jim looked at the woman as she made the sound, noting her body language – she didn’t really seem to care that she was surrounded by three police officers.
“Chief, here’s her ID.” Powell handed the card over to Jim, remarking about how the ID might be real but he couldn’t be too sure since he hasn’t seen one from Florida before.
The ID read LYDIA TREMBLAY.
“What kind of drugs are we talking about here?” Jim said, holding the ID with his forefinger and thumb, looking up at Powell and Callahan.
“Looks to be a large amount of marijuana, Chief,” Powell noted, pointing towards the backseat of her car. “It’s all wrapped up tight, sitting in the back.”
Jim stepped around the front of the Oldsmobile and leaned in the open driver’s side door, catching a whiff of the heavy marijuana scent that permeated the entire vehicle. There was no mistaking what that smell was. He moved back around to the front of the car, keeping his eyes on the woman the whole time.
“Alright, Miss Tremblay, I have to take you in to the station for formal questioning,” Jim said, handing the ID over to Powell. “You do realize this was a dumb mistake, bringing these drugs into my town, right?”
She said nothing; the look in her eyes was intense, almost borderline murderous. Jim stared back at her for a second before breathing in sharply and ordering Powell and Callahan to follow him back to the station with her car. The woman was placed in the back of Powell’s squad car while Callahan manned the Oldsmobile; the three took off towards the police station.
“Alright,” Jim walked into his office and shut the door, “let’s not play games. Tell me what you were planning to do with all of that pot.”
He sat down in his trusty chair at his desk and tossed Lydia’s ID down on top, letting it slide across a mess of papers before it stopped nearly at the opposite end of the desk. Her eyes followed the card’s movement all the way before she looked up at Jim to meet his gaze.
“If I told you I was giving it to a friend, would you believe me?” she finally spoke, her cuffed hands resting neatly on the top of her thighs.
Jim sat back in his chair, “I believe you. Which friend here in Hawkins were you giving it to?”
A smirk edged on her lips and she sighed, “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that.”
“Okay,” Jim said, leaning forward in his chair and taking the phone off the receiver, “I’m going to call this an easy booking and have you officially arrested for possession of a large amount of an illegal substance.”
Lydia laughed, “Sure, typical.”
“What did you think was going to happen?” he still had the phone in his hand, “That I was going to let you drive off with all those drugs in your car? You really are something.”
“I’m helping a friend. She’s very sick and needs the pot,” Lydia said, her voice very firm yet almost upset. The look on her face was that of worry, uneasiness.
Jim stared at Lydia for a few beats before putting the phone back down, “A sick friend who needs this, huh? What kind of sickness requires a massive quantity of marijuana?”
“Cancer,” Lydia said; the words barely audible as they left her lips.
Jim felt the color from his face drain as the word struck his chest, hard. Painful, inerasable images of little Sara lying in the hospital bed, with wires sticking out every which way from her tiny body, flooded his brain. It shouldn’t have affected him this way – the word cancer – but it did. He stood up wordlessly and exited the office, bee-lining it for the kitchen. There, he shakily pulled out his bottle of prescription medication and popped the top off, downing two small white pills with a cup of water. As he swallowed, his eyes shut tight, trying to ignore the stinging sensation in his ribcage and sweat forming on his brow.
Jim opened his eyes and let out a heavy breath, then turned back towards his office where Lydia sat. She looked at him carefully, concern glittering in her eyes, following his movements as he shut the door and slowly stepped over to his desk chair.
“Are you okay?” Lydia said quietly, rotating her body forward to face Jim’s desk.
“You’re telling me this stuff will help with her cancer?” Jim responded, ignoring her question.
Lydia shifted her body, the metal handcuffs jingling with her movements, “It’s not going to cure it, no.”
Jim knew that. There wasn’t a cure for any cancers as far as he knew.
“But, it will help with her symptoms… that’s what she tells me, at least,” Lydia finished.
Jim took in a deep breath and exhaled, staring at Lydia with an undiscernible expression on his face. The clock on his office wall ticked, ticked, ticked for what seemed like forever. It was eerily quiet and tense in the closed space. Lydia watched as he mutely stood up, walked around his desk and stopped directly next to her chair; his hand retrieved a keyring from his pocket and leveled one of the keys to her chin height. She stood up and brought her wrists up to the key. They locked eyes instantly.
“I’m only doing this so I can see it through myself. If you are lying to me, you’re done.”
Jim’s voice was quiet, yet stern. Lydia nodded slowly in response, maintaining the eye contact without flinching. He unlocked the cuffs and slipped them back into its holder on his belt, slipping the keyring back into his pocket.
“You’re going to take me to your friend and prove to me that you’re telling the truth. If you can’t do that, then the cuffs go back on and you’re going away for a long time. Sound fair?” Jim stood tall, towering over the young woman, not noticing before how small her frame was compared to his.
Lydia hesitated. She chewed on her lip for a few seconds before inhaling sharply, “Yeah, that’s fair.”