What might someone do for $250? They might just kidnap a Reedsy editor and hold them hostage.
Trigger warning! The Receptionist puts their hands up. I’m aiming a paper bag, covering a gun at her head.
“Don't shoot. Pineapple! Pineapple!”
“We’re cool,” I’m telling The Receptionist. Her pinky is painted yellow. She’s one of us. I put the banana gun down, then toss it to The Receptionist.
“Potassium is the opposite of sodium. You need to balance out your salt intake,” I say.
The Receptionist looks down at her desk at an opened bag of chips. “Thank you,” She peels the banana and takes a bite. “So you're gonna just barge in there and do what exactly?”
“I'm looking for the Boss. They’re going to pay me,” I say, pulling another banana from my coat pocket, then placing the paper bag over top.
She covers her mouth, chewing the banana. “Do you have a PayPal account?”
“Well, you should get one.”
-Ding- The elevator opens, two people wearing matching crocs and Reedsy fanny packs walkout.
I look down at my Jesus sandals, black skinny jeans and head up to a pink floral top.
“I just thought of a story when I was rolling in a bed of my published novels and -viola-,” they kissed their fingers, “$250 again right into my PayPal account,” said The Writer You’re Thinking of.
“I remember my first shortlisted story,” said A Past Contest Winner.
“Oh, yes when youth was plentiful and when my prose was but a baby. Before the times of $5 entry fees and when $50 was easy pickings.”
A past Contest Winner points at me. “So cute. Look at that baby writer over there.”
The Writer You’re Thinking of stops in their tracks and looks right into my eyes. “I hear he’s a failed social worker who got too traumatized and gave up on his career to pursue writing. Now he mainly just daydreams and writes stories about going crazy. Guy has lost a screw or two.”
They don’t seem to care that I can hear. My eyes are dripping with jealousy. My chest knots into itself, getting tighter.
“I hear he’s gay.” A Past Contest Winner pulls chapstick out of their fanny pack and slaps on a thick, wacky coat, then pops their lips.
“I hear he's straight with a non-binary partner,” said The Writer You’re Thinking of.
I wipe snot off my nose, caused by a sinus infection that could make a plane sneeze.
“Here.” The Receptionist hands me a tissue. I blow into it.
“So precious,” says The Writer You’re Thinking of.
The Receptionist holds out a squirt bottle of hand sanitizer. “Here Boss.”
“Not now, you’re embarrassing me,” I’m telling her, throwing a tissue onto the ground.
A janitor walks by pushing a cleaning cart, sees the tissue and sighs. Upon seeing my face his lips gleefully open wide.“Pineapple,” he says, tipping his cap to me with reverence, intentionally sticking up a yellow-painted pinky. I mouth the word “pineapple” back to him.
The janitor gives me a thumbs up.
I wave awkwardly at the 2 people with Reedsy fanny packs as they walk out the door. I want their fanny packs. I want to be like them.
I walk through the elevator doors. Press floor 11. The highest floor in the building. Where the boss is at.
Mix kitty litter with orange juice and soap. Stuff it into the cement foundation holding up Reedy's Regional Corporate Offices. It takes a lot of people power and enough skilled workers to buy out 3 fully staffed warehouses worth of the best, most discreet construction teams around. I had to infiltrate the:
and all Reedsy staff who listen to classic rock music were easily turned over to my side.
It can all be done one bribe at a time.
First, you pay off the building contractors to raise a blind eye to the ‘maintenance’ happening on the first floor. Drill open enough of the foundation to pour explosives into the concrete. Anyone with an orange vest carrying traffic cones is likely going to have full access no questions asked, but regardless paying the contractors is an essential key to cover your ass with paperwork in case anyone comes sniffing around.
Best currency I've used to bribe people is to spam their computer with ads that over time collect enough information to uncover their identity, social security number, bank information, and current employer.
Your personal information is blackmail, all I need to do is press search.
I have access to all of you.
I see all of you.
I hear everything.
A little birdy told me, Reedsy is a cult.
They say you all have the same handwriting, matching fanny packs, boxers, and ankle tattoos that all have Reedsy branding on them. They say the corporate offices have a fountain of kombucha and all the staff do hot yoga together while meditating over whose story should win each week.
But birds chirp and nothing is anything without a little faith.
So when I tell you that I am desperate, I’m telling you with my feet tapping rapidly on the elevator carpet. I tell you I have about as much faith in my writing as I do a real gun sometimes.
I’m just a simple man here with a banana and a dream, on my way to get the trigger for a bomb.
The doors open, all the lights are turned off, except for flashing neon strobe lights in every direction. People are dancing on top of desks, racing in office chairs, peeing in the office plants. I drop my banana gun onto the floor.
One white man wearing only an oversized diaper is reading Infinite Jest (by David Foster Wallace), leaning against a wall. “You just don’t get it, man,” he says to me, “Best book of all time man. Selfishness and capitalism will rule us all man.”
Rainbow rave paint and glitter cover the walls and ceiling.
“HA! All white men LOVE Infinite Jest don’t they,” says a woman wearing an apron splashed with blue, pink, and purple paint. On top of her head is a glittery pink beret. She's standing confidently, her hip cocked out, holding a paintbrush in one hand and a glass of pink wine in the other. “Rest in peace of course.” She's waiving the paintbrush around. Some paint splatters on my nose. A portrait of a puppy riding a hot dog is on a canvas behind her. “A sad ending to a brilliant man's life of course.” She looks me up and down, then flicks the paintbrush at me, smiling. “But, I have a better book. HAVE YOU READ Choke by Chuck Paulanuik?”
I wipe paint from my eyes, then pick up the paper bag with my banana gun.
“Well, does the book talk about addiction and the plight of man's dreadful existential existence?” asked the baby diaper man, closing Infinite Jest dramatically.
“You mean humankind? Or people don’t you?” she says, taking a sip of wine. “it's not just men that experience existential strife. Choke is a book about a guy who attends a support group for sex addiction and needs money to pay for his mother's life-saving surgery. He trains himself to purposefully choke on a piece of steak or thick meat in high-end restaurants, then waits for a pretentious, wealthy person to save him because they feel all warm, altruistic, and bubbly from the high of saving someone's life. If Grey's Anatomy has taught us anything, it's that playing doctor really does make people horny and waste their money. These people send him money in birthday cards when it's not even his birthday, because they pity him. They feel a sense of purpose and obligation to pay him. But the catch is he isn’t really sure if he wants to use this money to save his mom’s life, and also kinda wants to bang her doctor, because he's still a sex addict and a jerk.”
“That actually doesn’t sound bad. Have you read IT by Stevin-”
“-King. Yes, but we don’t talk about that unspeakable scene near the end,” she says.
“You have a point there. So many other ways to get out of a sewer….,” says The Baby Diaper Man.
“So many,” she says.
Two women fighting each other with glow sticks notice me, then grin wide. Their teeth glowing neon in the dark.
“Welcome party boy,” one of them says. “We were just about to diagram sentences and GET THIS-CONJUNCTION FUNCTION- POPPIN!”
“Adverbs got me sweatin all day!” I hear someone say, riding a pig. “Yeehaw!” They smack the pig's butt, then continue down the hallway.
A bullet zips right past me then ricocheted off the wall behind me. I cover my head, duck, and fall to my hands and knees. I feel wet paint on the back of my head and neck, touching my hands.
“I hear you're looking to get paid,” says a dark figure emerging from the shadows. I hear cowboy boots clicking. A tall white-bearded man emerges carrying a paintball gun. A belt carrying small canisters of paintballs is strapped around his Reedsy fanny pack. “You really should get a PayPal account.”
He raises his pinky. It's painted yellow. He tosses me the trigger switch to the bomb, I catch it.
“Pineapple,” he says.