Friday Flash #16

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Nick Slosser, Only Friday Flash, The Whole Works

“The Proposition” by Nick Slosser

“I got a proposition for you,” said the fat man in the purple track suit sitting in my favorite chair and fumbling with my remote controls.  The chair was one thing, but fucking with the remote controls—of which there were four—was just not right.

“Well?” he said, as if I wasn’t paying attention.

“Well, what?” I said, feeling surly.

“Gordon,” he said, still eyeing my home electronics, and fireworks lit up my brainpan and thunder echoed around inside it.  Gordon was the four-foot-ten-inch hunk of raw, deformed beef standing behind me, waiting to smack the back of my head with an open hand that could have been a phonebook.  Plus, I think he wore a ring, one of those heavy class rings they sell graduates for not thinking.  I hated Gordon and his medieval hands and his stupid suburban name:  Gor…don.  Now, I watched The Sopranos.  I would take it from a Vinnie or a Tony or even a Paulie, but a Gor…don?  Fuck that noise.

I rubbed my head and sat up, wondering what the fat man had pushed to get what sounded like Russian to spew from my speakers.

“Well?” the fat man said again.

“Well, what?” I said just to antagonize him.

I heard Gordon shift his weight, ready to strike, but I was ready to dodge this time.  If Gordon hit only air, I might have the few seconds necessary to fundamentally alter the situation.

But Gordon never tried, because the fat man started laughing like a tree-dwelling monkey:  whoo-hoo-hoo-hoo.

“You are tough, I’ll give you that.  That’s probably the army in you.  Special Forces, right?”

I shrugged.  So was my roommate.  So were many of the guys in the building.  My landlord favored veterans.  He was a no-load, a John Wayne freak who’d never been in uniform, but we didn’t complain:  rent was low and he often treated us to beer and hot wings.

“Maybe the sources were right about you.”  I had no idea what this guy was talking about:  who would recommend me, for what, or why this guy might doubt them.  I had no idea who this guy even was.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“Never mind that.  You want the job or not?”

“No.  But thanks anyway.”

The fat man stared at me in disbelief, then laughed again.

“Real fucking asshole, you are,” he said, “but I like you.”  He nodded to Gordon, which caught me off-guard, and I flinched.  “Relax, cowboy.  Take a look.”

From over my shoulder appeared a brown paper bag, roughly in the shape of a stack of bills—a hundred of them or more.

“Not interested,” I said, though I kind of was.

“So you said, but look inside.”

“Listen, I’m not going to say it ag—”

Gordon had dropped the bag into my lap and it hurt.  It wasn’t paper, it was lead.  Where the corner had hit, my leg would be bruised.

“What do you think?” he asked.

I opened the bag and pulled out a bar of what must have been gold—I’d never seen any before, not it real life, anyway, and it was much duller than in the movies.

“What am I supposed to do with this?”

“You eat it.  Sprinkle it over your cereal.  Spread it over saltines.”  He laughed, thinking he was funny and nodding to Gordon so he’d laugh too.  “Dip it in your coffee.  Soak up your egg yolk with it.  What do you think you do with it?”

I stared at him blankly, glad he’d stopped listing foods, though I was getting hungry.

“Here, give it back,” he said, obviously disappointed.  “This is just a sample.  So you know what we’re talking about.”

“What are we talking about?”

“We’re talking about a score…a big one.  An armored car that’s never found again.”  He watched the effect that had on me.

I nodded stupidly.

He went on:  “Here’s the number.”  Over my shoulder, Gordon held a small slip of paper.  “You call it and identify yourself, and you’ll be told what to do and when.  Don’t write it down, just commit what he says to memory.  And don’t try calling a second time.  Got it?”

I nodded.

“The man you’ll be dealing with has no compunction.  You know what I mean—no compunction?”

I just kept nodding.

“Good, now we’re getting somewhere.”  He stood, hitching his pants around his bloated middle.  He handed the gold back to Gordon, who tucked it into an inside jacket pocket.  The jacket hung goofily to one side, which explained why I thought Gordon was deformed.

“Make the call tomorrow afternoon.  Got it?”

“Who should I say gave me the number?”

He smiled, first at Gordon, then at me.  “See you ‘round.”

Not five minutes after those guys left, my roommate came home.  I was still trying to undo what they’d done to the remote.

“What happened to the TV?” he asked.

I smiled.  “You know that girl from the pool hall?”

“Shelley?”

“Yeah, that one.  She was here last night.  She screwed it up trying to watch Sex in the City or something.  I still haven’t figured out what she did.”

He smiled, but I could tell he was jealous.  We both wanted Shelley, and up till now I bet he thought he’d be the one to get her.  Well, it’s not my fault if he takes my word for it, thinks I’ve already been there, and sets his sights somewhere else.  Besides, all the better for me if he does.

“Hey, anybody stop by for me?” he asked.  “Maybe a fat guy?”

I stared at him blankly and shook my head.  “Not today.”

“Oh.  Well, if anybody does, just holler.  I’ll be in my room.”

“You got it.”  I laid the remote on the coffee table and picked up the slip of paper Gor…don had handed me.  All the better for me, I thought, and stuck it down my front shirt pocket.

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