When Friends Take a Turn for the Worse

Have you ever known somebody who turned out to be somebody else? Come to rely on that person, that go-to person, only to find out he had feet of clay? Sometimes that friend was never your friend, they were just setting you up for their advantage. I’m going to talk about a friend who did not betray me, but he let me down because I thought he was better than that. I’ll call him Daniel for anonymity. This is his true story.

He drove down the busy highway with a mix of paranoia and excitement. It had been a while since his last fix, and he needed it now. It did not matter if it was late on a Tuesday night—right before a customer meeting—or that he had to drive 26.2 miles from his house.

When he pulled into the apartment complex, the excitement died down. He had not been here before, and the complex was run down. Even at night under the streetlight he could tell that the residents here learned to live with depredation.

He stopped his BMW Z3. While it was an older model it still cost more than any three cars in the parking lot. Would he make it out? Would he score? Without any movement outside, he fought the urge to peel out and just go home. I could at least have left the top up.

Just before he gave into panic, he saw movement. It was a young boy trotting toward him from an area of the complex that was unlit. As the boy came to his car, my friend wondered how could a six year-old get into this business?

“You got the money?”

Daniel handed over his cash without a word.

The boy trotted back into the darkness, oblivious to the nature of the business. Not long after, an older boy—a teenager—walked out of the darkness. His relaxed stroll made Daniel feel a bit more confident that he would get out. Something about the natural gait had a soothing effect. Or, maybe it was the box under the teen’s arm.

The teen handed the box to Daniel without a word and walked away. He fought the urge to challenge is it all there? Instead, he put his car into first and did what he wanted to before—he peeled out. Better to get out of the area before criminal or cop came after.

Throughout the drive home, Daniel resisted the urge to open the box. He felt foolish for even going, knowing he could have gotten his fix anywhere. But, the prices at that apartment complex were the cheapest around–even online.

Finally in his 3-car garage at his micro-mansion, Daniel let his excitement win. He put the box in his lap and ripped the top off. His eyes gleamed with delight as he saw what he risked his reputation, and his car, for.

Inside were over a dozen decks of Magic: The Gathering. He would need them for a competition that weekend. Now he had the rest of the week to plan his strategy.

This is “Daniel’s” true story. I know far too many geeks. But, not too unlike the intrigue in Scintilla, my first Science Fiction novel due out this Summer.