Double or Nothing

25 Jun

Sirens wailed as I paced up and down the alley. I promised myself I’d never come back here. Add that to the long list of promises now smattered to pieces. My heels panged against the uneven pavement as my thoughts weighed the insanity of it all. How a 4th grade math teacher ever ended up owing $50,000 to a bookie is one equation that will never add up. One ill-placed bet was all it took to lose more than I make in a year. But if I go through with this, my debt could magically disappear: It’s a gamble I couldn’t afford not to make.

My fingers shuddered as they rapped lightly on the unpainted wooden door. Nothing. Swallowing, I knocked again.

“Coming,” a gruff voice yelled over the muffled television.

I tugged at my dress as I heard footsteps slowly near. The outfit was Constantine’s idea. Knee-length skirts and button-downed blouses had for years hid the Zumba-carved curves that were now on display in the snug number. I tried to relax as I felt a pair of eyes size me up from peephole on the other side. Minutes passed and snippets of sentences were tossed before the door finally stood ajar.

“You’re late,” the raspy voice’s owner smirked as a cigarette dangled from his lips.

Summoning every ounce of acting left over from long-gone college days on stage, I smiled.

“You know I’m worth waiting for,” I whispered into his ear.

I offered a hug to the man I knew simply by the letter G. He’d been a scary staple in my hometown for years. And now my life depended on him.

“I can’t believe it,” another voice boomed from across the room.

I swiveled slowly. Alex. It had been almost 10 years since I’d laid eyes on him. He was my first everything. I was a 17 and smitten by the man with the long brown dreads and tattoos sketched across his sculpted body. The dreads were now gone. And a white button-down covered the names of his dead mother, wife and daughter etched eternally in his caramel skin. Still, time had been kind. His longing stare made me almost forget my mission. Almost. I strutted across the room and wrapped his body around mine.

“You’re all grown up, now,” he laughed, playfully running his hand through my hair.

His charm and guile had placed the entire city under his thumb. Alex had become one of the region’s most notorious politicians. His knowledge of the rich and powerful’s dirty, little secrets had made him influential by default. It had also made him many enemies. And Constantine now stood among their ranks.
Alex chuckled knowingly as we sank into the couch and sipped the drinks G passed us.

“I know why you’re here,” he finally blurted.

I squirmed.

“Tell him, it’s done.”

“Then tell him,” he growled, “double or nothing.”

A quick kiss and he was gone. G remained. As the sirens blazed closer, he grabbed my arm.

Once a week, WritersDigest.com posts a prompt that writers can coin a response to in 500 words or less. My goal for the rest of the summer is to participate in this weekly challenge. It’s great writing practice and pushes me out of my comfort zone, which is now non-fiction articles. Here’s the prompt:

This time, you’re in too deep. You’re gambling losses have been mounting and, with a recent ill-advised bet, have put you $50,000 in debt. Your bookie, knowing you don’t have that kind of cash, is willing to wipe your debt clean if you carry out a very dangerous mission for him.

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4 Responses to “Double or Nothing”

  1. Joe Pineda June 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    The narration was excellent. Very often I see people use first person perspective because it’s the in-thing, what’s hot and what everybody else does. And you see they made a poor choice because of the chances they miss to expand upon their work.

    I don’t see that here. I can tell you have a lot of practice with this style –or at least have read numerous books in this vein–. Great! The only thing I could possibly point out is that the ending feels almost too ambiguous. It’s obvious you want to create a suspenseful, open ending for the reader to elaborate on, but nothing stops you from leaving clues, details that can help readers fill that gap better.

    Amazing job.

    Like

    • lcooksmarketer1 June 25, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Thanks so much for the feedback! Endings are always so tough for me. Definitely something I’m hoping to build on through watching the pros do it and practicing doing my own. Thanks again!

      Like

  2. Joe Pineda June 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on The Bard of Steel and commented:
    I rarely get to read short fiction as good as this online. As I told the author, the choice of first-person perspective does not feel like an afterthought. Instead it’s used brilliantly to tell a story about mistakes and the risks we undergo to fix them, even when deep down we know we’re chasing a pipe dream. Highly recommended.

    Like

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