Four A.M.

I get up in the middle of the night, my head hurts and my mouth is dry. How much did I drink? Too much. The answer is always too much. I stumble into the kitchen alone but someone is already in there sitting at the table. He’s dressed in a black suit and my disheveled image reflects off his sunglasses. I check to make sure my dick isn’t hanging out of my boxers.

The man sits motionless and doesn’t say anything, but I know he’s watching because he keeps snorting out of his nose every time I perform a sluggish, hungover function, like bending down to pick up a crusty Poptart that falls on the floor from the container I tried to grab from the top of the fridge.

After regaining my composure, I start digging through the fridge and find a pitcher of water my girlfriend keeps chilled in a purifier. I tear off the lid and down most of it in a few gulps. The strange man begins moving and is rifling through papers until he finally settles comfortably, quietly, again. Meanwhile, I pull out a new loaf of bread and some old cheese slices. I fix a sandwich and prop myself against the sink. It’s not comfortable. I’m just hoping sink holds me up because my shaky legs won’t.

The strange man clears his throat.

“The government is poisoning the atmosphere with Chemtrails,” he says. “They’ve been doing it for years, and it’s making the entire population of the United States sick and subservient.”

He watches me suspiciously to take note of my reaction.

I sigh, biting through the remorseless cheese. “No they’re not,” I reply. “Chemtrails—also known as Contrails—occur when water vapor freezes and condenses around aerosols at high altitudes.” I pat myself on the back for being so smart and hate myself for being so hungover. “Conspiracy theorists have come to a false conclusion. A misconception based upon misinformation.”

“But, you once believed it was Chemtrails,” he said in reply, and then jotted down a note. It probably had something to do with what a huge douche I was all those years ago.

“I used to believe in a lot of things,” I say, thinking of Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and God. “I used to be interested in being a Cryptozoologist, too.” I think about what I said for a moment and then realize I still want to be a Cryptozoologist, if only ironically. Even now, just thinking about walking through the woods looking for signs of Bigfoot or analyzing cow carcasses for familiar bite marks that only the Chupacabra could have committed intrigues me.

As the mysterious man jots more down on his paper, I realize that I’m not even bothered by this odd exchange because of how hungover I am, nor am I disturbed by the cold cheese and colder bread. Leaning against the sink I almost feel like David Duchovny from the X-Files: the light from the kitchen window shines on me like a UFO tractor beam and I know I probably look pretty sexy. But then I remember I’m stinky, hungover, exhausted, and Gillian Anderson would never have sex with me.

“HAARP is programming your brain to accept your crumby life and your crumby pay,” the mysterious man says. “They want you to be just another calm, lethargic, albeit industrious, little worker.”

“Who’s they?” I ask nonchalantly, finishing my sandwich.

He fumbles through some papers. “That’s not pertinent.”

I take some aspirin and start eating the crumbs left on the bottom of a cereal box. It’s strange how there always seems to be a half-cup of cereal at the bottom of the box, like somebody planned it that why. I can’t imagine people would be that shitty to each other, then again maybe I’m not that far off.

“Who are you and why are you reading from the Conspirator’s Bible?” I ask, before dumping the rest of the crumbs into my mouth.

“The government owns you.”

“What the hell do you mean?” I’m a bit intemperate now. “What part of the government? The FBI? The CIA? Congress? One of the twelve-million bureaucracies? Is it because I hate paying my damn taxes? Everybody hates paying their taxes.”

“You belong to the owners.”

“You’re killing me,” I say. “You’ve been listening to too much George Carlin. Alex Jones, maybe.” I dismissively leave the room, waving my hand like my father used to when the church solicitors would knock on his door.

“Alien abductions happen every year!” he yells after me as I head upstairs. “They’re hiding humans and Reptoids under Dulce Airbase!”

“Lock the door behind you on your way out!” I shout back angrily.

“Stop lights are there to control you!” he screams desperately. “THE ONE PERCENT, MAN! THE ONE PERCENT!”

Looking into the bathroom, the globules of puke on the toilet remind me of bad decisions. I steer my way to my room and climb into bed—my brain is on fire. I shouldn’t have drank a whole twelve pack of beers … and the shots didn’t help either.

“Who was that?” my girlfriend asks sleepily, turning just enough in bed to watch me pull the covers back and climb in.

“I think he works for the government.”

“What?” she says raising her head from her pillow. .

“Nothing. Just a crazy guy selling insurance. Go to sleep.”

She nods in drowsy acquiescence and goes back to sleep. I am lying there thinking about hunting aliens for a book about crackpots when I hear the front door slam shut as the mysterious man leaves.