Billy Adams heard the scrabbling sound, like a rodent in the wall, before he opened his eyes. He tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't stop. He banged his fist against the wall. The noise stopped for a minute, but soon started up again. Pissed, Billy sat up, rubbing his hands over his face, still feeling pretty buzzed. The noise stopped.
In the darkened room, he pulled his phone from the bedside table and squinted at the numbers. 10:15. Still early evening. His eyes burned and his head felt like someone had stuffed it with feathers.
He'd ditched senior seminar at school and spent the afternoon at the Roach. Lassiter had just gotten a new shipment and was offering samples to his best customers. Billy couldn't recall how he'd gotten home, but he did remember the stuff smelled jinky. When the other two guys didn't say anything, Billy kept his mouth shut, too. He didn't want to sound like a jerk, but now he thought there must've been something weird in that weed, because it wasn't like Billy to pass out on his bed before ten. As he rubbed his head again, the scrabbling sound returned.
Damn. What the hell was that?
He swung his legs over the side of the bed.
It was coming from the closet.
Billy tried to focus his eyes through the darkness of the room. The hair on the back of his neck rose as his closet door slowly creaked open. Even though everything else in the room was obscured by darkness, he clearly saw Frankie Lassiter walk out of his closet.
"Dude. What the fuck?"
"Hey, little buddy," Frankie said, casual as could be. "How're you doing?"
"Uh, fine." Billy rubbed his face again. "What're doing in my closet?"
"Oh, was that what that was? Jeez, man, it's a mess. Stinks bad in there, too."
"Yeah, well, stay out. Why are you here, anyway? I thought you had some big plans for tonight."
"Yeah," Frankie nodded. He moved to the other side of the room, sat on a chair at Billy's desk. "My plans got a little messed up. That's what I came to talk to you about."
Billy didn't like the tone of Lassiter's voice. There was somehting vaguely threatening about it.
"So, okay. What?"
"Ah, that's your trouble, kid. You talk too much."
"Bullshit." Billy's head was throbbing. "You're not making any sense. Go away."
Frankie laughed. The hollow sound sent chills down Billy's spine. Something was wrong. Billy couldn't figure out what it was, but Frankie looked creepy, kind of smeary and out of focus. Then Billy realized it must have been the shit he'd smoked earlier that was making everything weird.
"So, kid," Frankie said, "you know how you was telling me that your folks were going to be out tonight?"
"What about it?" Billy fought an urge to pull the blankets around himself.
"I cooked up this little adventure. I figured since you also mentioned you had a couple grand stashed in your bedroom, I'd leave you and those other morons huffing away, while I came by your place. I could help myself to your piggy bank while everyone was out partying. Would've worked good, too, except you came home early."
"I don't remember."
"Billy, I trusted you to stay out and you let me down."
"Man, you're messing with my head. You trusted me to let you rip me off? Are you nuts?"
"No, buddy. You are."
Slowly, Lassiter seemed to be absorbed by the darkness until he couldn't be seen at all. Billy stood, walked unsteadily to his desk, and turned on the light. There was no one in the room.