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Nov 06, 2020

Suspense

Roman logged out of his Facebook. There was nothing interesting there, of course, just people showing off pictures of their families or political posts. He looked around his apartment living room which was mostly empty except the couch he was sitting on, the recliner, and the flat screen TV. This was his life. 35-years-old and single without any kind of woman in his life, living in a one-bedroom apartment. He always had gotten good grades in school and graduated college with a 3.6 GPA and a business administration degree. He always wanted to have a lot of money and that was what he had worked hard in school for but here he was, 35, and barely making ends meet working as a customer service representative in a call center.

He logged in to his email, fully not expecting to find anything interesting there as no one used email anymore, but he had nothing else to do so why not go in there and delete some of the inevitable junk mail that would be in there? He saw an email telling him that he had a new message on LinkedIn. That was odd. He hadn’t logged into that account in months and barely used it. He had just made a vague profile one day when he was bored without using a photo and just put in his college credentials, GPA, and a brief description of his current job.

He had to reset his LinkedIn password to even get in there as he had forgotten it. The message was from “Nicole”. He thought on LinkedIn that you had to use your last name but he supposed he didn’t use it enough to know that for sure one way or the other. 

“Hey!” her message said. “I saw your profile and I’m really impressed. That’s a Dean’s List GPA you have. Not many people can maintain that all four years. Are you open to new opportunities? I have one for you that is probably three times would you are making per hour right now. Write me back if you want to learn more. See ya! -Nicole”

Finally. He knew someone at some point would have to recognize his good grades and want to offer him a good job. This was the break he needed. It took long enough but he wasn’t going to complain now that it was here. Nicole’s profile picture was small but from what he could see, her face looked extremely attractive. Being approached by a good-looking female made this seem that much more appealing. If he was really lucky, maybe he could finally get a date out of all of this too.

“Hi,” he wrote back. “Yes, I’d be interested in learning more. –Roman.”

He hit send and proofread what little he wrote before he began to logout, figuring that it was probably going to be at least a day before he got a response, if not a few days. But before he could press the ‘sign out’ option, a reply popped up.   

“That’s great, Roman! I’m telling you, I have reviewed your profile and I know that you are absolutely the perfect candidate for this opportunity that I have for you. Would you be able to come meet me in person tomorrow at 3 so I can tell you about it?”

Tomorrow was Friday and it would be tough for him to get out of work like that on short notice especially when he wouldn’t be able to tell the truth about what he had to do. He would just take a sick day. He had plenty of them saved up and it would be worth it. Nicole seemed excited when he told her that worked for him and she gave him the address of the building to meet her.

“Just go to the front desk and ask for Nicole,” she said.

He lay in bed that night excited about what the next day was going to bring. He was going to tell her about how well he did in college and impress her. If she liked what she saw on his very brief LinkedIn profile then she’d definitely be impressed when he elaborated. He couldn’t wait to find out how much money this opportunity was going to pay. He’d finally be able to get a nicer place to live. He’d get a nicer car. And he’d finally get a woman. Not having enough money was what was holding him back from all these things. He was finally going to get all of the things he deserved.

****

He walked into the building at 2:45 pm on Friday, making sure to be there early but not too early. The building was not what he expected to be. It was extremely old and looked like it was some very old courthouse building or something. Wooden pillars came down from the ceiling to the floor and he was standing on a carpet that was stained and torn. It didn’t seem like the kind of office building that had a lot of people making good money in it. But there were a lot of suites in this building maybe Nicole’s company was just a little more frugal so they could pay their employees better.

But the bigger more immediate problem was that the lobby of this building was packed. There were three lines each leading up to a teller with Plexiglas in front of each teller but space between the Plexiglas and the counter in case anything needed to be put underneath. All three of the tellers were older ladies, all looking over 65. They didn’t look attractive, even for older women, and looked like retirees who were just doing this job for something to do. Roman picked the shortest of the three lines but he still had seven people in front of him and quickly became concerned that he wasn’t going to be able to check in by 3 p.m. He didn’t even get a phone number from Nicole so he couldn’t call her and explain the situation.

“No, there is no Nicole here!” he heard the teller working in his line say loudly to the woman at the front of the line. “Do you have a last name? A company name? Anything?”

“No,” the woman said and she seemed embarrassed and upset. “She just told me to ask for Nicole.” Roman would have felt bad for her if he hadn’t felt pretty sure this problem was going to be his as well. 

“Well I don’t know anyone in this building by that name!” the teller said and she seemed incredibly flustered and upset as well. “You’re the fifth person that’s asked me that today already but this must be some mistake.”

Roman watched the woman who was in line turn around and she had tears in her eyes. She stopped where she was and looked like she was considering if she should turn around and argue more with the teller or if she was too embarrassed to. Roman still had six people in front of him and he now wondered if it was worth continuing to wait in this line just to be turned away like the poor woman. But he wanted to find out what this opportunity was and maybe it would get resolved by the time he got up front. 

“You here to see Nicole?” he heard a female voice pop up out of nowhere and say to the sad woman who nodded. “Come with me.” Then she spoke louder, seeming to be addressing everyone there.  “Anyone that’s here to see Nicole, come over with me!”

Roman recognized her face from her LinkedIn picture. This was definitely Nicole. Her face was just as beautiful as it looked in the picture. She had dark hair and wore a short-sleeved blue sweater-shirt. The skin on her arms looked tan, soft, and feminine and she looked like she was in her late twenties. She wore a tight pair of black pants that made her lower body look good and a black pair of boots. She was without a doubt the best looking woman in this room that had a lot of women in it.

The next problem was that there were over 25 people waiting in the lines and it looked like close to twenty of them followed Nicole as she led them out of line and to the back corner of the lobby. She definitely didn’t look like the friendly, happy person that she seemed like when talking to Roman online. She looked stressed which Roman could understand because he had a feeling that if she didn’t say whatever she had to say soon and get out of there she was going be kicked out or worse. Something gave him the feeling that if he approached her and introduced himself that she wouldn’t even remember their specific conversation. An anxious crowd of mostly women followed Nicole as she made her way to the back corner of the room. Roman was towards the back of the crowd and lost sight of Nicole since she was only about 5’1. He saw her again when she stood up on a bench then turned to face everyone. 

“So I know you all want to hear about this opportunity,” she said to them loudly and seriously. “I do want to let you know that you are all going to be billed for today.”

“What?” an angry sounding woman said. “You are billing us? You told me this opportunity was going to pay me three times what I am making now. And now you’re telling me you’re going to charge me for this? Oh this is ridiculous. I should have known. You’re not getting a penny out of me, I can tell you that much!”

Once that woman started to walk away, Roman started to hear other angry grumblings from the crowd as close to half of them cleared out. Roman wasn’t going to leave yet, though. He could feel the anxiety and anger in his stomach that this woman thought she could waste his time like this. He was going to find out exactly what she was up to and then give her a piece of his mind. Based on the anger he could see on everyone else’s faces he had a feeling he wasn’t going to be the only one either. 

“OK, you are not actually going to be charged for this,” she said to everyone. The tension in the audience eased a little bit but everyone still looked anxious. “I only said that because we had a much bigger response than I expected and I needed to clear some people out.” Roman was angry that she had contacted anyone other than just him. But he was still listening.   

“My mother is offering a large sum of money to anyone who is willing to have sex with my younger brother,” Nicole said. “He is 23-years-old. He is an extremely handsome man who is in great physical shape. But he is also very socially awkward and has a lot of trouble talking to people. So he remains a virgin and my mother is trying to help him out. She is very wealthy and she will make it financially worth it for you. The offer is available whether you are a man or a woman. But it is a first come, first serve basis.”

“Oh this is absolutely disgusting,” a woman said as she began to walk away and a couple of more followed. “I’ve seen my share of scams over the years but this is the ultimate low.”

“Don’t waste my time with this bullshit!” another guy yelled at Nicole who looked unaffected. “If I ever see your brother I’ll punch him in the mouth.”

Feeling like a fool for being so easily fooled by what had Nicole had hyped him up for when they were talking on the computer, Roman watched the rest of the people, that had also been fooled into coming down here to talk to Nicole, clear out. He looked at the extremely attractive woman still standing on the bench, looking around like she actually thought she was going to get someone to go along with her outrageous proposal. Based on how good looking Nicole was, Roman had to imagine that she was telling the truth that her brother was also very attractive. He wondered how bad her proposal actually could be if there was enough money being offered. He walked up to Nicole who was still standing on the bench and when the short woman looked down at him he said: “How much is your mother offering?” 

Nicole smiled.   

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2 comments

Leya Newi
06:48 Nov 08, 2020

Freaky. Such a strange proposal and yet it felt entirely natural. Nicole’s attitude was quite interesting and you portrayed it well. The last line really drew it all together. Great job as usual, A.j.!

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A.j. Brown
22:30 Nov 08, 2020

Thank you Leya, I always appreciate the feedback!

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