Contest #166 shortlist ⭐️


Fiction Thriller Drama

This story contains themes or mentions of sexual violence.

Is this what you wanted? Huh? Is this what you sought to accomplish? All that hard work, all that good shit, all that talking about it. Is this what you've been looking for? Well, you got it. Man, do you got it! I hope you're happy, you son of a bitch. At least one of us will be getting out of this shit alive. But, hey, it's what I signed up for, right? It's what we knew was going to happen. I mean, come on, let's not kid ourselves. We knew our fate when we decided to pull this off. I must be stupid. I thought we'd get out of this alive. Oh, wait! You are! I forgot, excuse me. I tend to forget things when I'm locked up.

Maybe you've forgotten, too, buddy. What am I saying? Of course, you have. Then, let's go back to the beginning. What do you say? You had this big idea. Remember that? The biggest and best idea since Internet porn, you said. I remember when you called me up like it was yesterday. It might as well be since I don't know what time it is in here. You sounded so out of breath I thought that you had a panic attack. But no, you had a fantastic idea! It came to you in the middle of the night, you said. I love that little bit. I mean, who hasn't had a near-religious revelation at the stroke of midnight, huh? I'm getting ahead of myself. When you asked me to meet you for coffee, I figured, what the hell? Let's listen to what he has to offer. In my line of work, everyone is pitching stories to me. Why should this be any different?

When you came to me, you looked like absolute shit; Bad sleep messed up your hair, your eyes were beet red, and you looked like you hadn't slept in a fortnight. Your suit was so full of wrinkles I swear you were wearing an old man. In your right arm was a stack of papers. You must've sweated all over it because they looked like they'd dried out. I didn't even get to my first sip of coffee before you slammed them down onto the table in front of me.

"Okay," you said. "Hear me out. I know I look like hell, but listen."

I leaned towards you, not saying anything.

"So you know that people are looking to start fresh, right? People are always looking to start a new life somewhere but don't always have the money to do it."

"Let me guess; you want to start a loan operation?"

You didn't even notice the cynicism in my voice. You nodded your head up and down like a puppy on crack.

"One, banks already do that. Two, we're not bankers. And three–"

"You didn't let me finish!" you screamed. "I know we're not bankers. What I have is something different!"

I put my hands up in the air, trying to calm you down. It seemed to work. Has anyone ever told you that you have way too much energy?

"Okay," you squeaked. "I've been talking to other interested people. I've talked to some significant guys and told them that I wanted to start this thing. At first, they didn't think this would be such a good idea, but I got them to believe me. I'm telling you, this is something that will make us rich!"

"What is it?" I inquired.

You spread out the papers in front of me.

"A bail bondsman company."

I'll admit, the reveal still makes me laugh. It was like something out of a Hollywood comedy movie. I couldn't help but chuckle at the reveal.

"Man," I snorted. "A bail bonds company? Nobody gets rich off of that! I mean, unless you've got something else in mind."

I should've eaten those words now that I think about it. You kept on.

"Oh yeah! Not only that but a self-defense training AND security company! Three in one company! We'll call it Ares' Hand Security company. What do you think?"

Still, I laughed. There was no way that this was going to work. So, I said as much.

"Look, man. Even if we did get this going, how would it work? Self-defense training, security, AND bail bond agents? Neither of us had any training or was in the army. We have no credentials in any of those worlds! How would investors work with us if we don't have the resume to back it up?" I threw my hands up. "This whole thing sounds like bunk, man. And honestly, you're crazy for thinking this would work. Take it easy."

As I got up to leave, you surprised me. It surprised me; you took me by the hand and forced me back into my chair. I almost backhanded you for doing that! I mean, nobody does that unless they expect to get hit. Right before I did it, there you went with your tricks again. You pointed down at the table again, slamming your finger so hard I thought you would break it. I followed your direction. I couldn't believe it. I absolutely could not fucking believe it! You had the number of a retired general in front of me. Not just any general; you had the phone number of General David Petraeus. That was all the convincing I needed.

We had to negotiate a little bit, though. There'd be no way that a company that did all that would cause no controversy. So you handled the security affairs while I dealt with the bail stuff. We'd trade back and forth so that our employees would always have something to do whenever they weren't on contract. Instead of a full-blown company, we had a partnership. I'll admit that it still doesn't seem real. All the success, all the money, all the connections we created. Nobody ever gets this lucky. I should've known that something was up. But I was a fool. I let myself get swept away by all of it. I voluntarily allowed so many things to go wrong. I guess I'm just as bad as you.

I should've remembered that when a bunch of FBI agents kicked down my door. Four o'clock in the damn morning was when it happened. They pulled me out of my bed and threw me into the street in my underwear. They said the Department of Justice wanted me for war crimes. On contract in Albania, some of your boys decided to have a party and kidnapped some women and girls. They kept them hidden in a small bunker and had their way with them for weeks. When they finished, they executed them. Further, they also found that they were attempting to sell heroin and cocaine to some of the locals in a small business to get more spending money, as one of them called it. Monsters.

I tried to tell them that it wasn't me, that I had no business in any of that. But the prosecutors had it all against me. They had documents in my name that had my signature authorizing the contract. Moreover, some of the informants there said they had personal relations with me, whatever that meant. I put two and two together; you were using my name! You were using my name and information to do your dirty work this entire time. Once I figured it out, I tried to make a defense. I even hired the best lawyer I could to go to bat for me. I pulled every string I could to make a case against you, but you were too powerful. You got so many people to back you, and all of your evidence against me was airtight. They got me on war crimes, drug smuggling, and attempting to build a black market empire. 

I hope you're happy. I hope this is all you ever wanted. You worked hard for this, and you've got it. The only downside was that you stabbed your partner in the back. I suppose part of it is my fault, too. I let your crazy talk suck me into a life I should've never gone in. I should've just kept doing what I was doing. It wouldn't have been sexy, but I'd be free and not stuck in this cell waiting to die. Sooner or later, this is going to bite you in the ass. I hope it bites you hard. There's a place in hell for people like you. For my sins, maybe I'll see you there. 

October 02, 2022 14:48

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Amanda Lieser
15:13 Oct 29, 2022

Hi Donovan! Congratulations on the short list! This was such a thrilling piece. I think I loved the way you grabbed us right away. I also thought it was a creative take on the prompt. That final paragraph was my favorite. Especially, that love line. Nice job!


Donavan Barrier
22:28 Oct 29, 2022

Thank you so much!


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Donavan Barrier
22:28 Oct 29, 2022

Thank you so much!


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Philip Ebuluofor
09:17 Oct 19, 2022

Fine line men. With real names and quasi-real events thrown in. Congrats.


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