Trigger warning- strong language.
Never wanted to go to my damned reunion, but my parole officer said it would help me socialize. Whatever the fuck that shit means. Ten years out of high school and I've spent eight in stir, just for running a chop shop. Now, I got five more on parole before I'm a free man. So, I put on my best fucking clothes, not much on the shit wages I make while banned from my only trade. And I come here to make nice with all the shits I knew before I got busted by a rigged system.
Typical stupid crap. Weak punch and sugar cookies for refreshments coupled with decorations a tweenager would call kiddyfied. What chickenshit. Right over there, the son-of-a-bitch who insisted I come is chatting up the whore stoolie who sent me up. Probably wants to get in the dyke's panties. Good luck asshole, hope you catch AIDS from her.
"Hey, Brian, that you man?" Gary Darnell, the math club president and all around pissant. Only good thing is, he never talks shit about you. He has his hand out. "Good to see you again."
"We never hung out," I say, but I take his hand. "You were in the nerd patrol."
"We were on the soccer team in fifth grade." He smiles. "I just never got into a class with you except junior English."
"So what have you been up to?" I'm scanning the crowd, hoping I can find dirt on someone. Time in stir teaches you all sorts of useful skills- like blackmail.
"Got a masters in mechanical engineering from Purdue, then went to work. Same old same old." He's still smiling, like he enjoys my company. "How about you? Still work on cars?"
"Nah, I'm just outta stir." I want to see him flinch. "Only here at my parole officer's insistence."
"Never heard anyone put italics into speech before." He pulls out an honest-to-fucking-god business card. "I just got a promotion and can hire an assistant. Call me at work and I'll walk you past HR. I swear those people are useless."
"Why are you being nice to me?"
"You have practical experience with cars," he says. "You'd be useful."
"And I'm not allowed to work on them."
"You won't." He notices someone. "I have to go make nice. Steve Munford married my boss's daughter. He expects me to treat him like royalty."
He walks off and I read his card- head of R&D for a company I never heard about. If I had a decent phone, I'd look them up, but I...hold the phone. I know exactly who to taunt with this one.
"Yo, loser, hear you spent time in stir." John Quinn, school bully, now fat and sloppy. "You like taking it up the ass that much?"
"If you push enough to ruin my parole-" I lean in close and whisper, "you won't leave this reunion alive. Now fuck off."
He measures me. Eight years, I exercised daily. Not just weights, but the bag, jumping rope, and a treadmill. If I was five years younger I might be able to try my hand at pro boxing, but I'm already on the downhill slope. He sees the danger in my eyes, the times I had to fight to survive. He backs away, scared.
I push through the milling losers to my parole officer. I hand him the card. "Oh, look. I have a job offer. Personal assistant to a big exec. You were right, I did need to come here. I bet I can keep this job for five years and spoil the surprise you planned."
He's on his phone right now, looking it up. Wants to ruin it for me. I look over at Sandy. "Nice to see you again. Got a good sugar daddy?"
"You threatened me. I have a restraining order. This gym's too small for you to attend while I'm here."
"Lying cunt. I was ordered here and you know it."
"It seems you have a violation. Too bad, sounds like you get to start over." My dick parole officer shows me his phone. "This company makes specialty parts. You can't work for them. You're violating a restraining order. That's a strike. Your employer just called and told me your work isn't satisfactory. No job. Second strike. And I bet I can find testimony that you threatened someone earlier. Three strikes and you go back to prison. No questions asked. Full original term restored from the start."
"That's crap." Gary is there. "You set him up. My company is legit. We make specialty parts for medical equipment. How is him working as my assistant forbidden? I want to speak with the judge."
"You make parts. Parts go in cars. He can't have any job related to cars." That's the prick I know.
"That's like saying a burglar can't have a job that involves houses, then telling him he can't work at Testors because Testors makes paint and houses are painted." Gary gets right in pig-man's face. "But Testors paint is used for models, not houses. Only that doesn't matter. You just want to send him back. I thought you were supposed to help reintegrate people into society. Did I hear wrong?"
"I'm an officer of the court. Threaten me and get arrested for terrorism." Dickhead sure is on a roll today. He'll love destroying Gary's life. "He's a three strike loser. You gay for him or something?"
I clench my fists. I won't let this shit-heel take down a guy who's just being nice. I don't know many nice people. Gary steps in my way, then says, "Don't do it Brian. He's trying to provoke you. He knows how little leg he has to stand on. He only came her to be sure you did. If you didn't, he'd count it against you. If you did, Sandra's alleged restraining order would be a violation. Lose, lose situation. I don't know why he's doing it, but he's not going to get away with it. Not if we keep our cool and have an honest investigation sort it out."
"Sounds like Miss McIver in Junior year." He nods in agreement.
Then the shit-stain parole officer pulls his gun. "I'm arresting you both for conspiracy to commit terrorist actions."
"What?" Gary sounds confused, but I know the score.
"He wants to deny anything we say."
"You mean he'll claim we're lying by preempting our charge."
"I don't think so." Gary glances dismissively at the gun. "Everyone in hearing range knows nothing along those lines occurred."
"Really?" The little swine laughs. "Look around. It's so noisy only one person is a good witness. Now everyone is starting to wonder."
"Sandra," Gary says. "Don't do this. You won in that damned class. McIver marked all the guys down because we were male. You got your win. Don't commit perjury now."
"I'm just relating the truth." Sandra pulls out her big innocent act, the one teachers used to eat up. "You two threatened the nice officer. Now you have to go to prison."
"Unless you can hork up a load of cash, we're fucked," I tell Gary.
"I can afford some very good attorneys."
"I meant a bribe." I nod toward Todd, the man with the plan- and gun. "He's got a rep for taking a little on the side. So does Sandy, to be honest."
"Don't be so crude," Todd says. "I'm completely honest."
"How much?" Gary asks.
"See, that's a tough call." The current song ends. In the resulting quiet, Todd loudly says, "I'm placing you two under arrest. Now cooperate or I'll have to use force."
Gary turns, grabs my shoulder and guides me out. I don't know his play, but I guess he's waiting for Todd to bilk him of twenty grand. Maybe more. Anybody watching should know cops don't let real perps walk together, but nobody cares. Once we're outside, Gary asks, "How much to stop this nonsense."
"Hundred grand, mister moneybags." Sandy gets in on the action.
"It'll take a few days."
"Tonight or go to prison," Todd insists.
"My cash limit is fifteen grand. Any more needs a direct bank transfer or a few days." Gary turns to look at them. "Which do you prefer?"
"We take the fifteen tonight," Sandy says. "Then more after."
"That'll do." Todd agrees.
I want to warn Gary. These two will milk him dry. He'll never be free. My life is forever shit. One mistake and I'll never be allowed to get over it. I want to kill both of them to save him, but my legs won't work. Gary stands for a moment, then laughs. "Took the words right out of my mouth."
Lights flash and a loud voice says, "Drop the gun and assume the position."
Todd freezes and Gary leads me away from the two as a dozen police, some wearing FBI jackets, converge on the hapless couple.
"Gary, what just happened?"
"Sting operation." I feel sort of betrayed. No job, just a different parole officer. And they'll hate me for what happened to Todd. They're vicious fucks that way. "I heard you were about to get out and tried to offer you a job though your parole guy."
"I need a vowel."
"Your sister's my secretary." He looks like it's the simplest thing in the world. I knew she worked someplace as a secretary, but nothing more. "She asked for a couple days off when you got out. Piqued my curiosity."
"Are you a fed?"
"No. I contacted them when I smelled a rat. We're going to get you a new hearing. I might pressure the governor to drop your sentence to time served."
"You were a decent guy, back then. Sometimes, we need a little help from our friends."
Now, I'm glad I came to the reunion.