Curtis knew he had a problem but really, who didn’t? His problem, however, was one he could easily remedy with a mix of diplomacy, bribes, and his back-up secret weapon, which was currently tucked into the waistband of his pants as he got out of his car and walked towards the non-descript house where his dealer the Fox was having a birthday bash for his three-year-old daughter. The perfect time for a conversation.
Curtis knocked on the door, then entered. The living room was filled with people: young adults like him, aunties talking in clusters, and children. So many children. He smiled to himself.
“Yo, Curtis!” Big Ed came over and slapped him on his back. “The Fox would like a word with you.”
Curtis tried to slow his racing pulse. He’d anticipated confronting the Fox on his own terms. Instead, he shot Big Ed an easy smile. “Sure.”
Big Ed led Curtis by the elbow to a small garage out back. He paused outside the door, knocked, and then pushed Curtis inside.
“Hey, man. Have a seat.” The Fox gestured at a folding chair next to him and grinned, a grin implying they were just two guys voluntarily hanging out.
“You owe me a lot of money.” The Fox’s voice was low, his gaze glued to the pregame show on the flatscreen TV hanging on the wall. “But I’m a nice guy.”
“So you’ll let it slide?” This was easier than he’d anticipated.
“No.” The Fox laughed. “Fact is, I should kill you for having the audacity to come into my home carrying. But I like you, so I’ll make you a deal. Cavs win, you work for me. Cavs lose, the original terms stand.”
Curtis’s fingers itched towards his waistband. “And if I decline?”
“You don’t leave this garage.”
“Where am I supposed to get thirty grand in three days?”
The Fox pointed to where the party had spilled into the backyard. “You could ask her.”
Curtis shot out of his chair as he saw his baby sister Rana, joking with Big Ed.
The Fox chuckled. “Like I said, I’m a nice guy. You gonna have a seat?”
E.D. Martin is a writer with a knack for finding new jobs in new places. Born and raised in Illinois, her past incarnations have included bookstore barista in Indiana, college student in southern France, statistician in North Carolina, economic development analyst in North Dakota, and high school teacher in Iowa. She draws on her experiences to tell the stories of those around her, with a generous heaping of “what if” thrown in.
She currently lives in Illinois where she job hops while attending grad school and working on her novels. Read more of her stories at her website.