I knew I had broken the final straw when my father didn't show up at the police station to bail me out. I was left to rot overnight in the holding cell with drunks and other dregs of society and in the morning there was still no sign of the old man. He had warned me several times that my juvenile behavior, piss poor attitude and recklessness would catch up to me and I was pretty sure his absence now was serving as my final judgment.
The next morning passed without a rescue mission from my father. I was now alone in the holding cell, the other culprits processed, released, or transferred and nobody would answer my questions. I wasn't even given my entitled one phone call!
I was finally led from the holding cell and brought into one of those small ugly interrogation/interview rooms with the one table and a couple of chairs and the one way window on the far wall. I sat unattended for what felt like forever before the door finally opened and I did a double take when I saw that it was my Uncle Dan entering the room.
Dan was a cop out in the western part of the state so he had no jurisdiction here in Boston but he looked impressive in his police uniform. He was hip with a dark black goatee and thick black hair that he wore longer than most cops. He had modern expensive shades on to add to the look.
I could only assume my father had summoned Dan to deal with me. He tossed a manila folder on the table and took a seat opposite me, shaking his head with disappointed disgust.
"What the fuck is wrong with you, Matt?" He asked, finally taking off his sunglasses and looking me in the eyes.
I could tell he was pissed so I resisted giving him a smart ass reply.
"You barely graduate from high school. You flunk out of Boston College. You get kicked out of UMASS-Dartmouth. You withdrew from the community college, the last stop on your academic fall."
"Are you my school counselor, Dan?" I asked. "I thought you were in law enforcement."
"Yes, shall we address that?" Dan growled, opening the folder in front of him. "Are you familiar with your rap sheet?" He asked sarcastically. "Driving to endanger. Reckless Driving. Speeding. Resisting arrest. Destruction of personal property with a motor vehicle. Leaving the scene of an accident. Driving without a license. Urinating in public. Disorderly conduct. Vandalism." He eyed me over the top of the folder. "Shall I go on?"
"That won't be necessary."
He closed the folder and tossed it on the table. "So I ask again, what the fuck is wrong with you?"
"Are you here to bail me out?" I wanted to know.
He laughed. "No way, Jose."
"I'm already late for work," I said. "The old man has me loading trucks in one of his warehouses."
"Not anymore, Sherlock," Dan rebutted. "You're fired."
"Great," I mumbled.
"You're also not welcomed at your father's house," Dan announced. "I have some of your stuff in my car."
"He kicked me out?" I asked indignantly.
"It's time you discovered reality, Matt," Dan let me know. "You're twenty three fucking years old and you've accomplished nothing."
I slumped back in my chair realizing I was now unemployed and homeless. "What are you doing here, Dan?" I asked.
"The Police Chief has kindly signed you over to my custody," Dan informed me.
"You have no jurisdiction here," I said smartly.
"Fine," Dan replied, standing. "You can stay here. Face the charges from last night. With your previous offenses, last night's driving 135 miles per hour on Route 128 with no license should leave you rotting in the county lock up for quite a while. Good luck to you." He started for the door.
"Wait!" I relented. "What are my options?"
"You can come with me," Dan replied simply, standing at the door.
"Where?" I frowned.
"Back to Greenville."
"What for?" I squinted. "What in the hell would I do out there?"
"I got a job for you," Dan replied. "You do the job, you stay out of trouble doing the damn job, you get your shit together, and the charges from last night go away."
"What kind of job?" I asked, knowing his offer sounded better than the county lock up.
"There's a serious opioid and heroin epidemic going on in our town," Dan said, returning to the chair and taking a seat. "We need some undercover informants in the high school so we can bust some of the dealers. We're not interested in the kids making the buys but we want to shut down the supply lanes."
"I'm twenty three fucking years old," I said sarcastically, repeating his earlier remark.
"You've got the baby face," Dan shrugged. "You were in the drama club in high school. You can play young."
"Jesus Christ, Dan, high school was torture enough the first time around."
"Maybe you can do it right the second time through," Dan replied, showing zero sympathy for me. "You in or not?" He asked impatiently. "I got a long ride back."
"What happens if I get outed?" I worried.
"Nobody's going to know except the principal," Dan assured me. "You'll have a cover. You'll play the part of a transfer high school senior trying to score some pot, coke, H, prescription drugs or Ecstasy - whatever comes your way."
"Do I have to do the homework?" I asked.
"I'll give you a grand if you can make the honor roll," Dan replied. "Just play yourself - a sullen, disaffected, depressed spoiled, pampered teen who thinks the world owes him something and that he can get a free ride off his wealthy old man for the rest of his life, killing time by loading trucks in warehouses."
"You're an asshole," I complained.
"I'm not the one who spent the night in a holding cell," Dan stated with detachment. "You coming?"
"You really think I can fool the teachers?" I asked with doubt. "The other kids?"
"If you take the assignment seriously, sure," Dan replied. Nobody's going to suspect anything."
"I'm going to end up with an ulcer."
"You gave the rest of us one a long time ago," Dan said with a long face. "Come on. Maybe you can finally get yourself on track with a change of scenery and a meaningful mission."
I knew I didn't have much of a choice. My father had severed his ties (at least for now) doing the tough love thing after enabling me for the past several years, overcompensating for my acting out following my mother's death (and his remarriage) but now apparently burnt out and fed up with giving me endless second chances.
I was appropriately chagrined, embarrassed, ashamed and disillusioned as Dan drove us to Greenville in his squad car. My Uncle was one of my hero role models when I was a kid. I liked it when my mother brought me to Greenville for visits with her family and I got to see Uncle Dan in his crisp police uniform.
"Your mom would expect more from you, Matt," Dan commented after miles of silence.
"I know," I sighed. "Maybe I can play some sports since I quit all the teams at my school after she died."
"Sorry, no can do," Dan informed me. "The teams would have to forfeit their seasons if it came out after the fact that you were a ineligible player."
"Damn," I grumbled.
"You could do the plays maybe," Dan suggested. "Mostly, I'd try to keep a low profile. Don't talk too much. The less you say the less you have to pad your cover. And for god sakes don't have sex with any under-aged girls!"
"How's this going to work?" I wondered.
"You'll wear a concealed device during transactions," Dan explained. "Hopefully we'll be able to flip the user by getting information about the dealers in exchange for letting them off."
"I'm not sure if I want to be a narc," I confessed.
"Look, kids are dying," Dan replied bluntly. "This is serious stuff. It's hard to pull off undercover drug operations in schools. It's rare to get believable undercovers in there. You look like a high school kid."
"But can I play a high school kid?" I worried.
"Haven't you all a long?" Dan said with disapproval.
"You're really pissed at me, aren't you?" I realized.
"We all love and miss your mom, Matt," Dan replied. "I know it sucks. But life goes on. You've got to get your shit together and live a life she would have been proud of to honor her memory and legacy. She deserves that much."
How could I argue with that?
"I'm going out on a limb with this plan," Dan revealed. "There's been criticism about sending people into schools undercover. Some don't like fake students sneaking around talking to real kids and getting kids busted. I understand their concerns but we have a responsibility to protect students too. The drug problem is out of control and we have to do something."
"I know you probably won't believe me but I've never bought drugs before," I revealed. "I may be a screw up but I didn't go down that road."
"Yes, all your fuck ups were performed clean and sober," Dan verified sarcastically. "Don't worry, we'll give you a crash course on buying illegal drugs."
"I'm going to have to learn the current lingo teens use these days," I groaned. "I'll have to Google the acronyms and slang."
"Jesus, Matt, you're 23 not 63," Dan growled. "It won't be that hard. Marty McFly did it."
I thought about how I ended up in such a pathetic and foolish position. Why did I become so bitter and resentful toward the world? Why did I blow every opportunity presented me - sabotaging my high school career by losing all interest in sports, skipping just as much as attending classes, and barely qualifying for my diploma before doing even worse in my three unsuccessful attempts at college. Could I salvage my reputation with my family and finally do something constructive with my life by going undercover in Greenville?