Detective Story, by Jesse David Fox

detective
A man walks into a bar. The room is cold and empty, like an igloo—an empty igloo. Why’s this bar so cold? Is it just me? He looks around for someone wearing a jacket, but the bar is empty and cold, like a meat locker—an empty meat locker. Maybe it’s one of those ice bars and I just walked in the wrong entrance, missing the place where you pick up your faux fur coat. He looks left, then right, then behind himself real quick, as if there were a 40-person surprise party deftly moving just out of his field of vision every time he turned his head. Nothing. No one. This can’t be an ice bar. Ice bars are super cool and popular. Hmmmm.

The man sidles up to a stool. There’s something funny going on here. He places his hat down. The bar is smooth and cuboidal, like one of those prank plastic ice cubes that look like a fly in cryogenic suspended animation, but there is no fly and it’s a bar. He keeps his blazer on because it’s cold, like an ice bar. Why don’t I know where I am? Am I detective? I do have a hat. But wouldn’t I know where I was? I’m pretty sure detectives do more than just get put in rooms and try to figure out what sort of room it is. Unless this is detective training? Wouldn’t I know if I were in detective training? Maybe I have that Memento disease and forgot everything before 45 seconds ago. Yeah, that makes sense. A lot of sense. I AM a detective.

And just then, the man hears a loud crash.

He ignores it, as he is lost in thought, wondering if Memento still holds up. It’s definitely a cool concept, but I bet it would feel real gimmicky if I were to see it now. Like how a kid nowadays probably thought the spinning top at the end of Inception was cool. Dumb babies.

Another crash.

What was that crash? He looks for where the crash came from. Man, this place is empty, and cold. Brrrr. Who thinks “brrrr” instead of saying it? Detectives? Memento-disease-havers?

Another crash.

“Oh yeah, the crash,” he screams. It’s coming from inside the kitchen. Brrrr.

The man swings open the door of the kitchen. The room is warm, like if you were to step outside a meat locker and into a kitchen. He flicks on the light. Flick.

A rat scurries in front of him, quickly running out of sight. How rude. Didn’t say hi. It’s not like I’m a cat. Or am I?

Before he could answer, the man sees a large pot filled with a curious, bubbling, brown liquid. He takes one of the spoons knocked over near the stove.

Dunk.

Slurp.

It’s soup!

The soup is hot, like soup—hot soup. Ow.

He dunks a new spoon in the soup, knowing not to dip the first spoon in again. Don’t want to get my mouth germs all up in this soup. 

Dunk.

Slurp.

Yummy! This is good soup. Suspiciously good soup. Where did it come from? Who made it? If only there were a chef here to answer me.

Looking.

Looking.

The rat! He knows—from Ratatouille—that if anyone finds out he’s a master chef, he’ll be ostracized from the community or, worse yet, killed. Well, your secret is safe with me. The man winks. Wink.

On his way out of the kitchen, the man looks at the pots hanging above the stove. They shine, like a new car, or a new pot. He sees his reflection. What’s that?

He looks closer. Letters.

He rubs his forehead. It’s a tattoo.

He reads.

B.

R.

R. 

R.

R.

Brrrr! Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr?

And just then, the man hears a loud slam.

He ignores it. Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr? Brrrr?

Another slam.

“Oh yeah, the slam!,” he screams. It’s coming from the bar. Brrrr?

The man swings open the door and walks into the bar. It’s cold, and Wait!

“Who the fuck!?” the man curses. Nice. Subtle. Play it cool. Brrrr.

“Oh hey, Aaron.”

Aaron? Brrrr.

“Sorry, I’m late.”

“Yes. Late. Of course.” Brrrr. “What exactly are you late for?”

“My shift?”

“Your shift?” Oh, I got it! “Your detective shift, of course.”

“What are you talking about, Aaron?”

Aaron? “Your detective shift.” Brrrr.

“I’m not a detective.”

“Yes, of course, because you are training to be a detective.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry. I forgot.”

“It’s okay. It happens to me—all the time, apparently.”

“No, I mean. Umm. Sit down.”

The man has a seat.

“Aaron…”

Aaron?

“You’re not a detective.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Pretty sure I am.”

“You’re not.”

“Then what am I doing in this detective training center?”

“This is an ice bar. Your ice bar.”

“I’m pretty sure I’d remember if I owned an ice bar.”

“Well, ummm…”

“Yes?”

“This is always the hard part. So you have that Memento disease.”

“I knew it! I told you I was a detective.”

“You’re not a detective.”

“Yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not.”

“Pretty sure I am.”

“You’re not. You’re the owner of a brand new ice bar. That’s why you got ‘BRRRR’ tattooed on your forehead, so you’d see it and remember.”

“But isn’t that a little cryptic, especially if I’m not a detective, as you are saying?”

“Take off your blazer.”

The man removes his blazer, revealing that he’s wearing a sleeveless shirt. Up the inside of his right arm in small font it reads:

Your name is Aaron Rodgers. You know, like the professional football player. That’s you: Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers. You have the disease from the movie Memento. (Before you ask: yes, it totally holds up.) You got it playing football (concussions). After your forced retirement, you sued the NFL for creating a culture that lead to your life-altering mental injuries. You won the landmark case and bought this ice bar with the winnings, saying, “What’s every cocktail have in common? Ice! Think how much money we’ll save.” Then you tattooed “BRRRR” on your forehead because you thought it would remind you that you 1) Own an ice bar, and 2) Are named Aaron – like Aaron Burr, the duel guy, you know? You didn’t know. It didn’t work. Which is why you got the tattoo you’re currently reading.

Aaron Rodgers is silent. Aaron? Football? Injuries? Landmark? Ice bar? Brrrr?

“I won such a big case and all I could afford was this super cool bar?”

“Look at your other arm.”

After the super cool ice bar, the lion’s share of the money went into researching experimental brain surgeries, with the hope of one day fulfilling your dream of an all-rat kitchen staff. Ratatouille is your favorite movie. Also, you have the IQ of a nine-year-old.

“Case closed!”

“Hahaha. Yes, case closed. Good job, Aaron,” he says patting former Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the back.

Aaron? Who’s this guy patting me on the back? Why’s it so cold in here? Brrrr.

Jesse David Fox is a Senior Editor at Vulture.com. This is a true story.

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