Pockets

A Whimsical Short Story

Dimensions. That's what Doctor Takagawa called them. Dimensions. Like something out of a corny old comic book. After six hours of prodding and poking me with a hundred different instruments, from the standard to the exotic, that was the best he could come up with. Dimensions. I'd had access to the things for years, and I figured the best term for what they really were had come from an old friend of mine, a professional thief who had a front job in the daylight world as a shrink, one of those therapist types. He called them Pockets.

Which was perfect, because that's exactly what they were. Pockets. You put stuff into them, carry it around and have easy access to it later. You never really think about where it goes, it just isn't in your hands anymore. It's out of your way; it's in your pockets.

It made stealing things really easy. That old friend had taught me all the tricks of the trade, but having the kind of pockets I did gave me an advantage. I was the only one that could open or close them, so when I got manhandled and searched by some of the less reserved salesmen and cops, they never found anything. No evidence, no case. I walked every time.

I also did a quick stint as a smuggler, but finding myself under the gun every time I picked up a shipment or unloaded it in some dusty warehouse was too much for me. I didn't need the money that bad.

‘Course, they begged me to keep working the route. I was the only guy that could walk across the border dressed in nothing but shorts and a Hawaiian shirt with three hundred keys of pure Columbian in my pockets. The border guys never hassled me. I knew most of them by name, and the dogs couldn't smell the product when it was in my pockets, so I never had to deal with cavity searches or random spot checks. I was just the wealthy eccentric guy that everyone liked, flashing my passport and trading friendly words with the esteemed representatives of good old Uncle Sam. In the end, though, I called it quits, and moved on to simpler things.

One week. That was the shortest civilian job I ever held. Postal employee. The boss was a good guy, but it unnerved the rest of the staff when I loaded my entire route's mail into my pockets and hit all the boxes on foot.

There was also a job doing pizza delivery, but that came to a screeching halt when a customer complained I'd been keeping her pizza in my pants. Pervert, the boss called me, and wouldn't stop screaming it until I was out on the street, walking very fast in the other direction. So much for two weeks notice.

After that, I stayed away from food jobs. I did a stint doing slight of hand magic tricks for kids parties and whatnot, but that got boring quick. I couldn't do anything too impressive, just the standard "watch as I pull a hundred yards of steel chain out of my pants" routine, which wasn't very popular to begin with. Too phallic, they said. I didn't care. It was a job, and it didn't take me long to figure out that it wasn't a very glamorous one.

I think that was when I turned to smuggling again. Not the Columbian stuff like the first time, but quasi legal things like cigarettes, booze, and pharmaceuticals from Mexico and Canada. Some of it was just stuff you couldn't get in the States, but most of it was just more expensive or a little harder to get here. Once, I brought fifteen cases of Absinthe and a dozen bottles of some really great tequila back, which was kind of fun. A couple hundred dollars and a couple of free bottles of both had made it well worth while.

But that didn't hold my interest forever either. By that point, I was becoming increasingly aware of retirement, or rather, my lack of preparation for that eventual reality. Sure, I was only twenty-seven, but the programming had kicked in, I could hear the clock ticking, and I was already feeling insecure. So, I took a month off, wandered around Nevada for a while, dropping cash into slot machines, hoping to hit the big jackpot, and picked up a job transporting bills and change for a couple of the smaller casinos. It was great. Nobody suspected someone dressed like a Janitor would be hoofing thousands of dollars for the management in place of an armored truck. They just wondered where the armored truck went, and probably spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was being done with the cash.

Those jobs paid pretty well, but it wasn't going to get me the retirement I was after, so I started looking to good old Uncle Sam for my next paycheck. I talked briefly with some military-type stiff, discussing options like loading me up with supplies and dropping me into hot zones, but I made it pretty clear I wasn't interested in getting shot at, and general stick-in-the-mud made it pretty clear he didn't have any use for me then. Just an intimidation tactic, I know, but I couldn't stand that kinda life anyway. Too spartan.

Law Enforcement, though, was looking at something along the lines of the smuggling I'd done earlier, except this time it was transporting all kinds of illegal stuff to incinerator complexes or seized possessions to auctions. I actually gave that one a shot, until I found myself under the gun again, and just as quickly called it quits. State retirement wasn't worth getting shot over.

But by then, people had begun to talk, and journalists with little notepads and half-chewed pencils started appearing on my doorstep asking for interviews and demonstrations. First it was just papers like the enquirer and little, low budget college things, but then the heavies caught wind of what was going on and people like Jack Harrison from Time/Life started showing up with their little packs of camera men and laptop-wielding interns. Within six months, I had a spot on one of the morning shows, and a whole passel of doctors and theorists had cropped up, just itching to shake my hand and ask me about my pockets. Jed, the mailman, brought a rubber-banded stack of dog-eared letters and proposals to my door every day, said he'd never seen one person get so much mail before, asked me if I was a writer or a musician or something. I just smiled and told him I used to be a postal worker. Then I showed him how much mail I could put into my pockets.

So while Regis had me pulling a practically endless number of luscious rose bouquets out of my pockets on live television, and Conan O'Brien watched in hysteric awe as I systematically deposited a full mile of 60H roller chain on the stage next to him, a thousand men of science were slavering in the dark, clamoring to bring investors on-board to finance exorbitant research grants that ultimately weren't much more than bribes to try and get me to walk into the mechanical embrace of their offices. I got lots of contracts with long waivers in the mail, promises of thousands of dollars after these men were done prodding and poking me with needles and whatnot, but nothing that really interested me. At least until Doctor Takagawa showed up on my doorstep, handed me a couple of crisp hundreds and delivered the line that hooked me: "I think you're a fake. Prove me wrong."

I was never able to turn down challenges like that. I spent the next six months in his facility, putting things in my pockets and pulling them out again while Takagawa and his associates ran thousands of tests -none of it painful or involving needles- and every day more researchers joined the cause, the staff growing almost as fast as my savings account. And yet, even after all that, dimensions was the best thing Takagawa could come up with to call my pockets. Alternate, semi-accessible dimensional spaces protruding beyond the fabric of the known and visible universe. What a mouthful. I told him I figured I'd just keep calling them my pockets.

Lately I've kinda been slipping from the corporate radar. They don't talk about me much anymore, and the fact that Takagawa hasn't managed to turn his research into a saleable product yet has got most of the investors turned off. Only a few diehards are still funding the project, either clinging to their wet dreams of having pockets like mine some day, or more likely, just looking for a cause to finance so they can keep calling themselves "philanthropists." Rich people are a joke.

Whatever. I'm still sitting on a pretty fat stack of cash. I figure as soon as Takagawa calls it quits, I'll disappear to some Carribean island, hang out on the beach drinking corona with a bunch of naked Mexican women or something. Sounds like a hell of a retirement to me. Or, who knows, maybe I'll disappear to Alaska or Siberia or some other place where the air is still crisp and clean, and the women still have blue eyes like glaciers. Either way, I'll pay for everything with green. I'll get it all converted to ten dollar bills and keep those practically endless reams of cash stashed safe in my pockets. After all, with pockets like mine, what's the point of having a bank account?

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