Frank was enjoying his lunch. He had already eaten his turkey sandwich and was finishing up his tomato soup. Basic, but very good. He still had 20 minutes left in his lunch hour, so he decided he was going to check his ATM balance. It was payday, so he wanted to make sure that they had deposited the correct amount into his account. The last pay period they were off by 43 cents, and he wanted to see if he could avoid that headache this time. He pulled up his account on the machine, and typed in his password. He was not sure how, but someone had made a very large error. $66,666,666.66. That was more money than he expected to have in his entire life. How had they made this mistake? He pulled up the recent transactions, and his three latest transactions were the deposit of $838.26 from his employer, the withdrawal of $5.25 for the sandwich and soup, and a deposit of $66,648,616.22. The deposit from his work was correct, but he had no idea what was going on with the latest deposit. He clicked on the memo information, and it just read “Call My Number, id: 666-666-6666.” Frank had no idea what this could be, but he had to call to get to the bottom of this. He went to one of the side rooms for privacy. He opened his phone and started typing in the number. He wasn’t sure how the number had gotten exactly to all sixes, but he was going to see what this was about. He did not even know if this was a real number. He put the phone to his ear, and heard the phone ring. It did not even complete a full ring before someone picked up.
“Frank David Anderson. Good afternoon. I hope you enjoyed your lunch.”
Frank’s jaw dropped. The voice had a rhythmic quality to it, but with an abruptness that Frank did not like. “Well yes I did, thank you very much. I’m calling because there appears to be a mistake-”
The voice cut in. “There is no mistake. I am just paying you in advance for some services I would like done for me.”
“What would those services be?” Frank asked.
“I have some desires of your co-worker Jeremy Cruz.”
Jeremy was one of the managers, but not Frank’s boss. Frank wasn’t even sure if he had said anything to him. “What about Jeremy? He seems like a nice enough fellow, but I don’t really know him that well. You would be better off asking him yourself, or asking one of the other managers.”
“Frank, if I wanted to ask someone else, I would have. You seemed in the best position to perform this particular task. I would like you to stop him from getting home before 7:30 tonight.”
“Why? How?” Frank asked.
“For reasons that do not at all concern you. As for how, that is up to you. Ask him to get drinks, fake a disaster, smash his car, kidnap him, kill him, I really do not care. I just need him out of his house until 7:30.”
“Kill him? Why do you want me to kill him?”
“You are asking a lot of questions. When your boss tells you to do something, do you ask why?”
“No,” said Frank.
“Well now I am your employer. As I said, I do not need Mr. Cruz dead, but if that is the easiest way to keep him away it will suit my purposes. I will consider this task completed. If you do not plan on accomplishing it, return the money. You can keep up to 43 cents as a courtesy if you would like. If you keep the money and do not keep him out of his home, things will go very poorly for you. You have the rest of your lunch break to decide.” Click.
Frank looked at his phone, and saw the time was 12:47. Thirteen minutes left. Thirteen minutes to decide. He did not know who was on the other end of the call, but whoever it was seemed to have only bad intentions. There was no telling what it meant for Jeremy. But did he really care? Bad things happen to people all the time, and he wasn’t going to get this opportunity everyday. He looked at the clock again. 12:48. He pushed the power button and put his phone back in his pocket.
Frank left the cafeteria and walked back to his cubicle. He normally passed Jeremy’s office, and when he did this time, he looked into the office. He needed some clue as to what could distract Jeremy for the needed few hours after work. He did not want to have to do anything drastic, but he needed to find something to keep him occupied. On the desk with the computer was a coffee mug saying World’s Best Dad. There was also a framed picture of him with a blonde woman holding a baby in a pink dress. None of that seemed helpful to Frank’s cause. Then he looked behind the desk and saw a pennant for the New York Mets on the wall. Maybe that could be helpful.
Frank scurried over to his desk and logged into his computer. He typed “New York Mets game” into Google. He had no idea what sport they even played or how far into the city that was, but they could have a game tonight. Google came back with results. It was apparently a baseball team. They did seem to have a game that night. He clicked on it, and saw “vs. PHI 7:40.” He was unsure if that would work. He would have to get Jeremy to go early, and not go home beforehand. He also would need to buy a ticket, and all he knew about sports games was how much money they were. He hoped he had enough to get a ticket. Then he remembered how much money he now had, and knew money was no issue. Still, he had to try to see if this would keep Jeremy from going home.
Suddenly he felt someone standing behind him. “So you’re a Mets fan I see,” came a jeer behind him. “I wish you were as big a fan of your work.” His manager was an overweight man with a big crocodile smile on his face. “When will you be doing what you are paid to do?”
“Right now, sir.”
“You better.” The manager walked away and went back to his office. Frank minimized the tab, pretending to work. He thought of all the things he would do after the day was over and he didn’t have to do anything else for money ever again. He would quit and tell that manager what he could do with that smile. Maybe he could buy the company. It could be fun to be in charge of him for awhile. He stood up, made some comment about going to the bathroom, and hurried towards Jeremy’s office. He saw he was in there and knocked on the door. Jeremy looked up from his computer and waved him in. He had a puzzled look on his face. “Hi, can I help you? Anderson, is it?”
“Yes sir, Frank Anderson, sir. I just noticed you were a fan of the New York Mets, and was wondering if you want to go to the game.” Frank stopped and stared at him.
Jeremy’s face burst into a smile. “I mean I do enjoy the Mets, but it depends on my calendar. When?”
“Tonight,” said Frank. “It starts at 7:40.”
“7:40 tonight would work. I can meet you there at 7:20-7:30?”
Frank fidgeted. “Um, I also would need a ride to the park, and would like to get there right after work.”
Jeremy’s face faltered. “I see. I actually had plans right after work today. I would still be able to meet you there though.”
Frank gulped. “Are you sure? I really need to get down to the park as soon as I can after work.”
Jeremy thought about it for a moment. “How good are the seats?”
“Very good. Very near the front.” Frank wasn’t sure how to describe seat placements he hadn’t bought yet, but he hoped that was good enough to get Jeremy to agree.
“I don’t remember. I would have to check. I just know they are good.” Frank tried to smile, hoping it looked convincing.
Jeremy sighed. “My wife won’t be happy, but I think you might have twisted my arm just enough there.” He chuckled. “Do we meet in the parking lot?”
“Yes that sounds great, sir.” Frank could feel a huge weight off his shoulders.
Frank went back to his cubicle. He looked at his manager’s office, and saw him sitting at his desk with the phone up to his ear. Frank opened the Mets page on his computer and bought the most expensive tickets he could find. Section 19, $168.00. He hoped the two digit number meant they were good seats. He continued, putting his credit card information into the blanks. He would periodically check on the manager’s office, but the door remained closed.
That biggest issue of the night was that Frank had to sit through a baseball game. They left for the park at 5:00, getting to Citi Field around 6:15. Frank wandered around the park for an hour, buying a hot dog and a drink while watching all the people. He eventually went to his seat. At 7:30, his phone buzzed with a text. “Mission accomplished.” Frank considered leaving, but didn’t want it to look suspicious. The game started, but found it incredibly boring. Jeremy seemed to really like the seats though. He also liked that the Mets pitcher wasn’t giving up any hits. Frank liked that too, but only because it meant the game went on faster. Around 9:00 he became restless, but he knew he couldn’t just tell Jeremy to leave. He waited until the end of the game, then asked Jeremy to take him back to his apartment. Very happy with the results of the game, he obliged.
The next day, Frank woke up at his usual time, but debated going into work. He eventually decided to, if only to see what happened with Jeremy. He took the bus, getting there at 8:46. Jeremy was already in his office, and when he saw Frank pass, he smiled and waved. Frank waved back, confused as to why Jeremy was so happy. The caller must have done something to him. Maybe Jeremy hadn’t realized yet. Frank stepped into one of the meeting rooms, closed the door, and dialed the number again.
Half a ring later. “Our business has concluded. You have no need to ever contact me again.”
Frank was startled. “Yes, sir, but I don’t understand. Everything seems alright with Jeremy.”
“It is. This was about you.”
“Wha-what about me?”
“I was in the mood to collect another soul. And all it took was $66 million dollars. Actually $66,648,616.22. I know how particular you are about those pennies.”
Frank was alarmed. “My soul? I didn’t agree to that.”
“Now, now, now, you know that is not true. If you can honestly tell me you thought no harm would come to Jeremy, your soul is in the clear. But you know you cannot.”
Frank could feel a panic attack coming. “But but but why? How? How do I get it back?”
The voice laughed. “Get it back. You think I will just restore your soul. That is not the way this game is played. You knew you should at the minimum reject my offer, if not tell Mr. Cruz that someone was interested in keeping him away from home, but you did neither of those things. So you get to keep your money, just at the loss of that soul. Now do not try to contact me again.”
Frank felt the room turning. He sat in one of the chairs and clutched his stomach. He tried to breathe but it kept turning into panting. He was unsure what to do, so he stayed there.