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With his hands clasped together behind him, Rob paced the length of his living room while listening to his friend, Matt. They were coming up on their third hour since Matt had come to visit and laid his problem at Rob’s feet. In a shaky voice, Matt had told Rob he may have gotten a girl pregnant. 

“Let us go over this again,” said Rob. This was the fourth time he had asked Matt to recount the story.

           Matt had met a girl at a party hosted by his rugby team. They had just won the championship game and the party naturally followed. After consuming unknown amounts of alcohol, Matt eyed a girl sitting on a sofa in the corner of the room. He staggered over and plopped down on the couch. She turned suddenly and asked Matt if he was on the team. After confirming her inquiry and learning her name was Vicky, Matt tried to continue to hold a conversation with her. The combination of loud music and drunken slurring prompted Vicky to continuously ask Matt to repeat himself. He eventually suggested they go somewhere quieter. 

           Taking her by the hand Matt lead Vicky to his bedroom. The two college students talked and drank until well into the night. The next morning came and Matt found himself lying next to a disheveled Vicky. They went out to breakfast and muddled their way through conversation. As the meal went on they discovered they had quite a bit in common with each other. When the middle of the day came they parted ways, but not until after they exchanged phone numbers. This was three weeks ago. 

           As time passed Matt’s schedule filled up. Matt redoubled his efforts in his schoolwork so as to maintain his scholarship. With studying consuming his time, Matt forgot to keep in touch with Vicky. Now it was three weeks later and his phone rang at 7:30 in the morning. Matt saw the name on the screen and quickly pushed the green button on the phone to answer the call. When he greeted her she instructed him not to speak. She told him she was late. Matt sat there in deafening silence after hearing the news. She said she was going to buy a pregnancy test and let him know the results and then hung up.

           The grandfather clock in Rob’s living room struck 11:00 a. m. He was still pacing. His hands were still clasped behind his back.

           “What do you want me to do?”

           “If I knew the answer to that, I wouldn’t be here,” retorted Matt.

            Rob stared at Matt. He looked his best friend up and down. Matt saw Rob’s expression and proceeded to bury his face in his hands. Rob walked over to the couch and sat beside his friend. He offered Matt a handkerchief, but it was pushed away. Matt’s sobbing flowed through his hands and eventually filled the room. At this point Rob stood up and smacked his friend on the back of the head. He told Matt to start acting like a man. He said he would help Matt, but it would not be easy. 

           “There is only one way out of this which allows you to not father a child and not ruin your life,” Rob told Matt.

           Matt sat up and looked Rob in the eyes. It was then, when Rob stared back, that a chill ran up Matt’s spine. 

           “Don’t say it. I don’t think I can handle it,” Matt pleaded with Rob.

           “We have to kill her.”

“I don’t think I can kill someone,” said Matt.

“You do not have to. We’ll do it together,” answered Rob.

“Are you insane? I came to you this morning looking for advice and you stand there and look me in the eyes and give me the answer, ‘We have to kill her.’”

“You always were good at summarizing.”

“And you were always good at coming up with extreme solutions to simple problems.” 

“Simple problems? Was it a simple problem when you lost $500 of your parents’ money freshman year of high school? Was it a simple problem when you asked me to help you pass three final exams our senior year so you would not flunk out? You never have simple problems and therefore, I can never have ordinary solutions.”

“But how can you ask me to do this? She is going to be the mother of my child and you are asking me to kill her in an effort to make my life a little easier.”

“No,” Rob responded firmly, “I am not asking you to kill her. I am telling you we have to kill her. Do not make the mistake of distorting my words. And another thing, do not sit there and act like my solution is such a shock. It was you who came to me this morning, pounding on my door and desperate for help to figure a way out of this situation.”

“I know how I got here. You don’t have to remind me.”

“Maybe I do. You seem to forget that you came to me and said, I quote, ‘Rob, I am in a lot of trouble. I need the Problem Solver.’ That is me, the Problem Solver.”

“But there has to be another way,” Matt reasoned. “Let’s just slow down and think this out. We are talking about killing an innocent girl here. Not to mention her unborn child. I mean, I made the mistake here. I have to do the right thing.”

“Now who is insane? A mistake is only a mistake if someone else notices it. We can make sure that no one else ever notices it.”

“I just think…”

“Do not do that,” Rob shouted. “You thinking is a bad idea and you know it. If you felt you should think you would not have come to me.”

“But…” Matt tried again.

“But nothing. Have you forgotten what is at stake here? We have a plan for our futures. That plan relies on both of us fulfilling our parts. You need to finish school. You need to make something of yourself. You will not be able to do that if you have to care for a child right now.”

“Maybe I can talk her into giving up the baby.”

“I have already thought that through. If you talk her into giving the baby up for adoption, all you are really doing is lengthening the fuse to the powder keg. You know that someone, either you, her, or the child, will go looking for the others years from now. Do you really want that?

“No.”

“The other way is terminating the pregnancy. That road is even worse than adoption. Twenty years from now when you might be running for office she comes out of the woodwork and tells the tabloids about the child you forced her to abort. That is no good.”

“Why is it always the worst case scenario with you? Why can’t anything have the potential to work out for the best?”

“This can work out for the best? How?”

“What if this girl turns out to be the one. What if through this pregnancy we find out we were meant to be together. I’ll admit this is all happening kind of fast but it’s possible.”

“How old are you?”

“What?”

“Answer the question, Matt. How old are you?”

“I’m 21, just like you.”

“Really? By the way you were believing that fairytale you were telling it sounded like you were 4-years-old!”

“You shouting isn’t making this any easier.”

“We are trying to get you out of this situation.  It is not supposed to be easy. The easy thing would have been to not sleep with some random girl at a party and get her pregnant.”

“How dare you? You stand there and say barely two words to me while I pour my heart out about a serious problem I have. Then you tell me that the only solution you can come up with is cold blooded murder. And just now you have the gall to throw my mistake in my face. What kind of friend are you?

“The best kind,” answered Rob.

“Yeah right.”

“I am. Seriously. Any other type of friend would not look at this situation as objectively as I have and you know it. You know that your emotions are getting the best of you and so you come to me knowing that I will make the tough decisions. That is why I am the best kind of friend. That is why I am your friend, because I always come up with the most effective solution.”

“You’re right. That is why I come to you.”

“I know.”

“And the only effective solution is to kill her?” asked Matt.

“Are you asking or agreeing?”

“Agreeing.” 

Rob smirked as he heard his friend accept what he believed to be the most logical and effective course of action. The atmosphere in the room was no long one resembling a tug of war between Rob’s planning and Matt’s morals. Rob walked over to the bar and proceeded to pour two large glasses of Jameson. He walked back over to Matt and handed him one of the glasses. Rob then sat down in the chair directly across from his friend and sipped his beverage.

Matt looked down at the glass full of whiskey. Normally he would have enjoyed sharing in some of Rob’s favorite liquor but today was different. He sat the glass down on the coffee table between himself and Rob.

           “I don’t think this is something I should think about while drunk.”

           “Fine by me,” said Rob,” but for God’s sake will you please use a coaster? This table is oak for crying out loud.”

           “Sorry,” Matt said as he quickly picked up his glass and sat it back down on a thin piece of cork covered wood. “So, how do we do this?”

           “Delicately,” replied Rob as he sipped his drink once more before placing it on a coaster in front of Matt’s. “We can do it either one of two ways. One way would be to make it look like an accident or the other method would be to make it look like a random killing and thus giving you an alibi.”

           Matt’s eyes went wide in reaction to the swift manner in which Rob came up with those methods. The drink on the table began to look like a good idea. He picked it up and allowed a mouthful of whiskey to enter his body. He tried to fight the grimace that usually followed his consuming of whiskey but failed. The sour face caught Rob’s attention.

           “What’s wrong?”

           “Nothing. Just can never get used to the taste of straight whiskey. So how would we make it look like an accident?”

           Rob smirked again. “A fall down some stairs would do it. If the staircase is long enough and made of concrete, she should snap her neck during the tumble down.”

           Matt looked down into his glass of whiskey and jiggled his wrist slightly to cause a swirl in the glass. Without raising his head he peered up at Rob and asked, “Would she feel anything?”

           “What does that matter?”

           “I was just wondering?”

           “She probably will not feel any excruciating pain and she definitely will not feel a thing once her neck is broken,” answered Rob in an effort to calm his friend.

           “And what was the other method again?”

           “We could make it look like a random killing. I would attempt to rob her on the street and it would look like things just went awry.”

           Rob sat back in is chair while he watched his friend mull over the options just given. The grandfather clock struck another hour and signaled to the two friends that the time was now noon. They had been discussing all of this since eight o’clock that morning. 

           “If we use the second option, what will your alibi be?” asked Matt.

           “I do not need one. She does not know anything about me. There is absolutely no reason for me to be a suspect.”

           “And what would mine be?”

           “Let me just lay out the whole plan,” Rob said, wanting to take control of the conversation. “You will invite her to come over to your dorm room to talk about everything. You will make sure that at least one of your roommates is there with you the whole time. Do not tell them that she is coming over. On her way to your building she will run into me, in disguise of course, and I will take care of the rest.”

           “How will you actually kill her though?”

           “You do not need to know all that. The less you know the better. That way if the police decide to ask you any questions you will look very very innocent.”

           “You scare me. You know that, right?”

           “ ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,’” quoted Rob. 

           Matt gulped down the last bit of whiskey in his glass and again made his classic grimace. This time Rob did not question the reason behind it because he was not paying attention to Matt. Rob glanced at the grandfather clock and noted the fact that it was half past twelve. He quickly calculated some variables in his plan and came up with a finalization of his future actions. These were the details that Matt would be sparred in order to validate his innocence. 

           Matt recovered from his whiskey shock and noticed Rob staring off into space. He immediately asked what he was thinking.

           “I was just working out a few small details in my head is all. Is there anything about the plan you are not clear on?”

           Matt stood up at almost light speed. “Wait a minute. I never agreed to this plan. I was just asking a few questions,” Matt responded in a voice of a desperate man.

           Rob stood up to meet Matt and at the same time clenched his teeth and furrowed his brow. His breathing became labored and deliberate. The conversation was beginning to turn back around and soon they would be at square one again. Rob was not about to let that happen.

           “Look, this is the best option, plain and simple. The idea of making it look like an accident has too many uncontrollable variables. This is what we are going to do.”

           “Fine. But I am only going along with this because you are so sure it will work. I want to make it clear that I was one who wanted to take more time and think this through. If this backfires in any way, I want you to be the one who admits fault. Are we agreed?”

           “That seems fair. It is my plan after all.  If something goes wrong I will not try to blame you in any form.”

           The agreement was reached. The two friends simultaneously reached for each other’s hand and shook on it. They were in it now.

           “When should all of this go down?” asked Matt.

           “Tonight.”

           “What? Why Tonight?”

           “Because she will want to talk to you about this as soon as possible. You want to appear as though you want the same thing so as not to throw any suspicion on the subject by delaying it.”

           “Okay.”

           “Now call her and invite her over tonight.”

           Matt reached into his pocket to retrieve his phone. As he pulled it out he plopped back down on the sofa. He used the back of his hand to wipe some sweat off his forehead. He began to press the buttons on the phone to bring up Vicky’s number. 

           Nothing happened. Matt had forgotten to lock the keys on the phone before he put it in his pocket. The power button had been pressed at some point after his phone call this morning. He turned his phone on and waited for it to find a signal. No sooner had a signal been found than an alert came across the phone telling Matt he had one missed call. It was from Vicky. She had called at twenty past eight that morning.

           Matt dialed his voicemail and listened intently to the message she had left. When the message was over he locked the keys on the phone and slipped it back into his pocket. He then stood up, walked around the coffee table, and stood toe to toe with Rob.

           “What?” asked Rob.

           “I just got a message she left me over four hours ago. The test turned up negative. She isn’t pregnant.”

           Matt turned his back toward Rob and then walked out the door. 

August 30, 2019 13:11

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