The Group

Submitted into Contest #76 in response to: Write a story told exclusively through dialogue.... view prompt

3 comments

Fiction Drama Suspense

The Group by S. Gabriel

“So what do you think?”

“To tell you the truth, I’m ambivalent.”

“Ambivalent about what? The whole thing or a part?”

“It doesn’t feel right. The whole thing doesn’t feel right.”

“Are you kidding me right now? We’ve been talking about this for months and just now you’ve decided to get all sentimental about it?”

“Jillian, it doesn’t help if you shut me down. How does it help if you shut me down? Answer me that!”

“Look, Doug. I’m all in. I told you that from the beginning. Do you think I would have invested this much time and energy into something if I thought you would wag out at the last minute?”

“I’m not wagging out… I just have some concerns with some of the details. That’s all.”

“You mean the details that we… WE… have been ironing out for months? Those details?”

“Jill, come on. It’s like it’s taken on a life of its own… It just seems like it’s pushing us in a direction that isn’t helpful.”

“Fine, fine! Back out. I don’t know why I bothered to get you involved anyway. Kara warned me. She warned me to leave you out of it but I wouldn’t listen.”

“Kara? Kara said that? To leave me out? When? When did she say that?”

“Does it matter?”

“It matters to me. Oh, don’t roll your eyes. You’re always rolling your eyes if I have a different opinion from you.”

“I just think you should have spoken up sooner, that’s all. If you knew we couldn’t depend on you, you should have told me sooner. I could have asked Ely. Ely wouldn’t flake out, but no, I said, ‘Doug will help us; we need to bring Doug in.’ She was right. Kara was right.”

“I never said you couldn’t depend on me. I just think we should revisit some of the details. That’s all.”

“What details? What did I miss?”

“It’s Doug. He’s wagging out on us.”

“Doug? Is she right? Are you wagging out?”

“No. As I’ve been trying to explain to Jillian, I just think that some of the details are taking us off track and we ought to review them. We ought to make sure that they’re leading us in the right direction, that’s all. And stop rolling your friggin’ eyes at me, Jillian!”

“Okay, okay. Hold on a minute. No need to burst a capillary. Come on, Jill, let him explain himself. You brought him in and you need to let him explain.”

“So it’s true? You really didn’t want to bring me in? You didn’t want me along?”

“I just thought that your friendliness to Hannah would interfere when the time came to actually implement the plan. So, yeah, I wasn’t in favor. But you’re here. You’ve been part of it since the beginning and we need you to make it happen. It can’t happen without the three of us – you, me, and Jillian. Strength in numbers.”

“I never said I wouldn’t go through with it. I’m just uncomfortable with a few of details, that’s all.”

“Okay. What details? What details are making you second guess the plan?”

“Let me ask you this. Do you think it’s a solid plan? Do you, Kara? Do you think that Jillian’s final plans are solid? Huh?... Honest to the gods, Jillian, if you roll your eyes at me one more time I’m gonna take you out!”

“Ha! I’d like to see you try!”

“Doug, Doug… focus on me. Jillian, you know that drives him nuts, can you stop? Please? Now, Doug, specifically, what part of the plan makes you nervous?”

“I never said I was nervous. I said I didn’t think it’s solid. Solid is different from nervous. You make me sound like some friggin’ baby.”

“Okay. What part of the plan – what details of the plan – are causing you a problem?”

“The elimination part, okay? I have a problem with the elimination part.”

“I can’t believe this! Are you hearing this, Kara? That IS the plan, you moron. It’s always been the plan.”

“No. It has not always been the plan. The plan was to subdue. The plan was to silence. Not eliminate. I didn’t sign up for elimination. That’s all I’m sayin’.”

“Are you kidding me right now, Doug? Are you? Where did you think this was going? You think they’ll just let us stay? You think they’ll just say, ‘Glad you’re here – have a seat why don’t ya?’ I don’t believe for a second that you didn’t know where the details were leading. Not for a second.”

“Quiet…both of you!”

“What?”

“It’s Hannah... whew, that was close.”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“Of course you didn’t, that’s what we’re saying. You’re too close to her. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if she was looking for you. That’s how friendly you are.”

“That was the closest yet. She’s getting stronger. I’m thinking that if we don’t do it soon we’re going to be the ones looking over our shoulders. What do you think, Jillian?”

“I completely agree. I think we need to move up the timetable.”

“Move up the timetable? Without even discussing my concerns? Just like that?”

“Look, Doug. From where I’m standing – from where Jillian and I are both standing – the only path forward is elimination. Just like we’ve been discussing for months. Anything less and we run the risk of being the ones run out of town.”

*****

“I can hear him. It’s like he’s calling my name.”

“Who’s calling your name, Hannah?”

“Doug. I thought he was calling my name. You didn’t hear that?”

“No. You know I can’t hear him, Hannah. Doug has a hard time talking to me.”

“I wonder why that is. Why is it do you think?”

“You would probably know better than me about that. Why do you think Doug doesn’t like to speak to me?”

“He says your pushy. He doesn’t like that you’re pushy.”

“Pushy in what way?”

“He says it’s like you think you know it all.”

“I know it all about what?”

“Things. Just things. Everything. You talk to us and it’s like you think you have all the answers.”

“Well I don’t. I’m trying to help you – trying to help all of you – figure out where you want to go. If Doug doesn’t want to talk to me you can tell him for me that I only want to help you find the answers. I only want what is best for all of you.”

“I kind of already told him that. But he still doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“That’s fine. He’s doesn’t have to talk to me until he’s ready. What about Jillian? What does Jillian have to say about things? Can you invite Jillian to talk to me?”

“I did. She didn’t want to come. She says that she thinks you’re dangerous.”

“Dangerous in what way?”

“I don’t know. That’s all she said. She didn’t want to talk to you.”

“Kara usually participates. Where is she today?... Hannah, we’ve talked about shrugging; how shrugging isn’t really an answer. Can you answer me, please?”

“Kara is more… what’s the word… pragmatic. She knows you have a job to do and she accepts it, even if she might not agree with the job, you know? She’s very practical.”

“But she didn’t want to visit today?”

“Sorry, sorry… I know you don’t like it when I shrug. It’s just that sometimes it seems to say more than words, you know?”

“Shrugs suggest ambivalence. The only way to find out how you truly feel is…”

“I know. I have to talk.”

“Yes. So about Kara. She didn’t want to visit today? Did she say why?”

“She was planning to talk to Jillian and since Jillian doesn’t really like you… sorry, I know that sounds rude but it’s kind of the truth… well, she didn’t want to make Jillian mad by talking to you.”

“Let’s talk about Jillian for a minute.”

“Okay. She doesn’t like me.”

“Why do you think she doesn’t like you? Has she said that?”

“She doesn’t like that I talk to you.”

“Why is that do you think?”

“She thinks you want her to go away.”

“Do you want her to go away?”

“No, not really. I just don’t like it when she says mean things.”

“To you?”

“Not just to me. Sometimes she says mean things about Doug. And Ely. And you, too. Kara’s really the only one she likes.”

“I haven’t met Ely yet. Do you think Ely would like to talk to me?”

“He’s pretty quiet. He doesn’t really like to offer up his opinions if you know what I mean. I think he’s a little put off by Jillian.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well…for one thing, whenever Jillian wants to take over the conversation he sort of… fades into the background, kind of. He doesn’t like loud people. And, as you know, Jillian is quite loud.”

“Maybe you can invite Ely to talk to me. Is he willing to do that?”

“Maybe.”

“I’ll talk. I don’t mind talking.”

“Ely. Hello.”

“Hey.”

“It’s nice to finally meet you. How are you?”

“I’m okay.”

“So, I was talking to Hannah about the group. How are you feeling about it?”

“There seems to be a lot of discord.”

“Discord. In what way?”

“Fighting. The group is always fighting.”

“About what?”

“I guess mostly about control. Yeah, mostly control.”

“Control of…”

“Hannah.”

“The group wants to control Hannah?”

“Not so much control her… more like… have her go away.”

“Who wants Hannah to go away? All of you?”

“Not Doug; he likes her. I think she’s okay. But definitely Jillian.”

“And Kara?”

“Kara doesn’t like it when Hannah talks to you. She thinks you put ideas in her head.”

“What kind of ideas?”

“The reducing the group kind.”

“Reducing. What do you mean by that?”

“You know, getting rid of some of the members. Jillian and Kara think you want them gone. That maybe you want to be the big cheese…”

“Me?”

“Yeah, I mean, because of all the things you say to Hannah.”

“I’m only trying to help the group. To help Hannah and all of you.”

“Well, Jillian said that when… I gotta go…”

“What the hell? What the hell do you think you’re doing, Mr. Big Cheese?”

“Jillian?”

“You know flippin’ well that’s it’s me. Why do you act like you don’t know? Huh?”

“I just want to make sure I know who’s talking. It’s nothing personal.”

“You’re so full of it, Mr. Big Shot with your fancy suits and your fancy ties, and that ridiculous hat that you like to wear. You think you are really something.”

“Is there anything in particular that you want to talk about, Jillian?”

“Is there something I want to talk about! Are you kidding me right now?”

“No. What is it that you would like to say?”

“How about you stop talking to Hannah. How about that for starters?”

“I can’t do that. Hannah is asking for my help.”

“Your help? Just what is that little snitch asking for?”

“Hannah only wants to be friends with all of you. She wants the in-group fighting to stop.”

“Right. Like I believe that. You think I don’t listen in sometimes? Huh? Do you?”

“You seem very angry, Jillian. Can we talk about your anger?”

“That’s it. I’m out. I don’t want to be part of it anymore. Not anymore. You guys have taken it way too far. Too far.”

“Hello, Doug. I haven’t talked to you in a while. How are you?”

“I’m not happy. Not happy at all.”

“Because…”

“Because of what Jillian and Kara want to do. I know I said I’d help. But now I don’t want to. I like Hannah. And it’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair?”

“That they want to get rid of Hannah. There. I said it. I don’t even care if they find out that I told you. They want to ‘eliminate’ Hannah, that’s the word Jillian and Kara use, ‘eliminate’.”

“And you don’t want this?”

“Of course I don’t want that! How could you even ask me that? I’m a decent person - a decent person. A person that doesn’t go around eliminating other people!”

“So, Jillian and Kara are angry at Hannah. Correct?”

“Of course that’s correct! What are we even talking about if you think it’s not correct?”

“Why do you think that Jillian and Kara want Hannah to go away?”

“Are you even listening to me? They don’t want her to go away, they want her E-LIM-IN-A-TED. Over. Done. No more.”

“Doug, can you sit down so we can talk? So we can have a calm conversation?”

“I just don’t want any part of the plan. You know? I want no part of that plan.”

“Are you able to tell Jillian and Kara that you want out of the plan? Can you do that?”

“He’s being a friggin’ baby. A friggin’ godforsaken baby, plain and simple that can’t even keep a secret. Kara warned me. She said, ‘I don’t think Doug is the right person for this’ but I wouldn’t listen. I wouldn’t friggin’ listen…”

“Great, Jillian, that’s just great. Why don’t you spill everything to Mr. Know-it-all? And now you know for sure that I was right. I told you that Doug was absolutely not the right person for the plan. Hear that, Doug? You were absolutely not the right person for the plan! I thought Ely was a better choice because Ely will listen. He will listen to me and do what I say.”

“Let’s all take a deep breath, everyone. Can we all do that, please? Kara, do you think Ely supports your plan?”

“He doesn’t support or not support, if you know what I mean. You could say he’s neutral. But if we’d brought him into the plan instead of Doug, let’s just say you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation. We wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.”

“I see. So you believe that Ely would support your plan to… what? Get rid of Hannah? You believe that you have that much control over Ely?”

“She doesn’t. She doesn’t know me at all. She thinks she does because I don’t talk a lot. But she doesn’t. Just because she says I’ll do what she wants, she doesn’t know that. She has no idea about me.”

“Hey, Doc, be honest with me. Are you trying to get rid of me and Jillian? Me and Jillian specifically?”

“I’m not trying to ‘get rid’ of anyone, Kara.”

“Are you sure about that? Because it sure seems that Hannah wants to get rid of me and Jillian and you’re trying to help her do it. You who hasn’t even known us that long.”

“Where is this coming from, Kara?”

“Welcome back, Hanna. I’m glad you joined us.”

“I don’t want to get rid of anyone. Not Kara or Doug or Ely or Jillian – even though I don’t really care for how loud she is – not even Jillian. Not even you, Doc. But I have to admit, Doc, you seem a little pushy today. A little pushy even for me. I have to agree with Doug on that.”

“Alrighty then. Very good work today. All of you. Very good work. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to don the hat that I very much like and that I think looks very good on us, and I am going for a walk. I don’t know why you don’t care for this hat, Jillian. I think it makes us look very smart.”

January 11, 2021 23:55

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

3 comments

Ken Coomes
01:23 Jan 21, 2021

Interesting, especially the twist at the end. I caught an extremely minor typo, where you spelled Hannah "back, Hanna." Just trying to provide helpful feedback. I liked the way you let the story flow, and you fooled me. At first, I thought 2 people were talking, then others on a conference call. Well done.

Reply

S Gabriel
18:12 Apr 26, 2021

Thanks for your feedback, Ken. I hate typos! It probably happened because I went back and forth on how I would spell her name. Glad it caught your interest!

Reply

Show 0 replies
S Gabriel
18:13 Apr 26, 2021

Thanks for your feedback, Ken. I hate typos! It probably happened because I went back and forth on how I would spell her name. Glad the story caught your interest!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 2 replies