"Is this Hislop?"
The Detective shrugged and smiled at the Dance Instructor. "This is Hislop. Who, may I ask, is calling?"
"Delivery. Alley. Now."
The Detective scrunched his face. He had a deep mistrust of people who spoke in serialized single-word sentences. He was about to press the caller again to identify himself when the line went dead. He could feel the rumble of a heavy truck in the alley. He went to the window and saw a cube van with a painting of the Oregon Coast on its panel idling below. "I guess I'd better sort this out," he said to his officemates and slipped out into the hallway and then down the back stairwell, and out the heavy firedoor into the alley.
He felt the can leave his fingers and the grape soda hit his face before he realized he'd been punched in the gut. He could see the he sticky purple liquid seeping through his shirt as he buckled over and regretted eating five pepperoni sticks for lunch as another blow to his stomach brought them back up.
The Detective felt a hand on his collar and was in motion, independent of his own free will. He felt a greater power than his own lift his slack head up. His eyes finally focused on a man's face in front of him. He locked eyes with the face and saw panic and terror. Was he in front of a mirror? Had he gained fifty pounds since he'd shaved this morning?
"This the guy? This Hislop?" The voice from the phone.
Now he was sure he couldn't be looking at a mirror, as the face in front of him, a face he was now sure he'd never seen before in his life, spoke in a voice that was not the Detective's. "That's him, that's him!"
The Detective's head went slack again and he saw his can of off-brand grape soda roll by his inert feet before it all went dark.