Posted in Feature Short Story

The Dirty Deal

Looking back, after the fact, things kinda sucked. I was in need… I wanted what I wanted, but a little self-control goes a long way.

“So what are you going to do?”

I was in a fog and forgot Layla was sitting next to me, until she spoke up. We’re barely acquaintances, so I wasn’t about to bare my soul to her.

“I don’t know,” was my honest answer.

“You don’t have much time.”

Her unsolicited opinion made me give her a sharp look. I don’t know why she was rushing me to make a decision.

“Can I focus with the little time I have left?”

“Sorry.”

“Do you have any idea what I should do?” I was desperate.

“No… You fucked up.” She shrugged her shoulders like I missed out on a TV show I could see anytime.

“No. I could have made better choices, but I’m not fucked up yet.”

“If you say so. You don’t have the money to pay Jeff back and you couldn’t find Dre.”

I gritted my teeth and ignored Layla’s comments. I didn’t have time for an argument. I didn’t deliver on my promise and having Layla assist me has led me to all dead ends trying to track Dre. This girl has wasted my money and my time.

“Okay, I’m done talking to you. Get out my car.”

“Wait a minute. You’re not driving me home?”

“You got two hundred bucks from me for doing essentially nothing. Get out and catch an Uber.”

She looked pissed, but she left with no problem. Maybe she realized she’d taken advantage of me. Fuck the deal. I need to go back to the beginning and find Dre. He’s not that smart, so now I’m actually a little worried. I’ll find another way to square things with Jeff.

I drove fifteen miles out to a suburban area. The neighborhood park had trees in the background, looking like a forest. It was light when I first came by looking for clues at the last place Dre was seen. Now it’s dark. The street lights are out. I have my flashlight and my gun, so I walk in the wooded area cautiously. I listened carefully to the night sounds. The loudest were my own steps crunching on fallen branches. The hoot of the owls were too close for my liking. I stepped up to a clearing and I heard the sound of water that I didn’t hear the first time I came here. How did I miss this?

Suddenly, I heard steps fast approaching and a shadowy figure swung a big stick toward me. I ducked and raised my arm to protect myself. My flashlight got knocked down and I struggled with the shadow that didn’t appear to be stronger than me. I kicked it hard.

“Ah!”

The shadow collapsed. I felt around the ground for my flashlight and shone it on the fallen figure. It’s Layla.

“What the hell are you doing? Why did you attack me?”

She laid there giving me a nasty look. I cocked my gun and pointed at her.

“I asked you a question! I can shoot you right now for attacking me. I have enough bruises on me to prove my case.”

“I was paid to make sure you failed. Jeff knew where Dre was and he loaned you the money so you’d be indebted to him.”

“So the whole ruse of Jeff needing a wannabe bounty-hunter was a setup? What were you trying to accomplish here? Why didn’t Jeff hire someone who had a chance of making me come back and deal with the consequences of failing?”

“What makes you think I’m alone?”