A Novel by Jeff Vrolyks

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2012 Jeff Vrolyks

Chapter 1

Make Yourself Comfortable. Three simple words. Three words addressed to a visiting friend from yesteryear; three words addressed to a patient from a frowning doctor (lab-test results in hand); three words addressed to a Person of Interest before being steamrolled by accusation. Howard felt the three words closest resembled the latter, and profoundly regretted making the appointment. A momentary lapse in judgment, nothing more, nothing less.

Howard eased back into a recumbent position on the burgundy leather couch-thing and stared vacantly at the ceiling, heart racing.

Then a flashback. A high school science project. Got an A on that one; rightfully so, he thought. Changing a rat’s diet from exclusively protein to carbohydrates to fat, and monitoring the consequent results. He couldn’t remember what the hell the results were, but the rat sure was cute. And friendly, didn’t once bite him. Melvin. Melvin the Rat.

What ever happened to Melvin?

“Comfortable enough, Howard?”

“Yeah, fine,” he said nervously.

“Relax, bud,” Phil drawled. “We’re neighbors. Don’t think of me as a professional. We’re just two friends who haven’t seen each other in a while, right? Getting caught up, that’s all. Here, I’ll start. My wife’s cousin came over on Saturday. Kathy. She boasted, ‘I cleaned up my life! Quit the booze!’ Naturally we were happy for her. We woke up Sunday morning to find our alcohol cabinet wiped out and Kathy had disappeared. She took with her my private scotch collection. Great weekend, huh? How about you, Howard?”

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