When you find yourself securely duct-taped to an all too sturdy chair in a very dark and empty room, you might find yourself thinking a whole lot about how you got there. In my case, I certainly was, and I was also really thinking about a new line of work. Bankers and accountants probably don’t find themselves in this situation all that often. Well, who was I kidding; nobody really ends up like this.
Since I had some free time, I let my mind wander to the events of the past few days, and how utterly avoidable this could have been. It’s fantastic how self-centered you become when you think you’re about to die. Everything is always, “me me me.”
As the lone door in the room swung open with a rather surprisingly dull thud, I stopped thinking about myself so much, and more about the three unhappy gentlemen who wished to speak with me. I had a feeling they had something on their minds.
I should probably explain what exactly it is I do. By education, I’m a lawyer. A good ole boy from the south, I was born and raised in Florida, and went to law school there too. When I was taking the Bar I never thought I would end up being shot at, beaten, taped to a chair, and tortured; but then again I never thought I’d be this wealthy either. But I digress. A lawyer by trade, I quickly found myself under disciplinary review for sleeping with a client. She was hot, what do you want? Anyway, while I was awaiting my fate from the ethics review committee; I was approached by some agriculturalists from South America. They were less interested in my certification, and more interested in my negotiating skills, which were somewhat legendary by this point in my career. To be honest, it’s really quite amazing that it was sex with a client that they busted me for, as that was probably one of the more ethical things I had done since law school.
I was known for representing my clients zealously, perhaps a little too much so. I frequently made use of the back alleys that danced through the legal system. Sure, sometimes I may have cut across a law or two, maybe I ignored some, but that’s what made me the best. So when I was asked to represent some simple coca farmers for what could only be described as an incomprehensible sum of money, I couldn’t refuse.
It seemed the perfect job. I wouldn’t have to worry about the law anymore, and I could simply use my natural negotiating tactics to help influence my employer’s business associates to bend to our will. For years, this was a dream job. I was paid truck loads of cash, and all I had to do was threaten and intimidate competing drug dealers, and buyers. Yeah, my hundred thousand dollar education was really paying off when this seemed smart. The life was too good for me to care though, and I was still really good at my job. I got to travel, meet new people, mostly women, and overall just have a good time. Well, except for the parts where people were pointing guns at me.
I guess I should be somewhat specific about my duties. My employer, let’s call him Hector, would tell me that he had a potential deal set up, and I would go speak to our potential importer/distributer. He would offer to take our product, and sell it, and with the proceeds he would then pay us back while keeping a small profit for himself. Now, I think you can see the potential for problems with this setup. Most stores wont loan you money without a credit check, but here we were parting with millions of dollars of product on a criminal’s word that he would repay us. Not particularly bright really, but they didn’t hire me to overhaul their system. I was sent to our potential partners, and was charged with giving them a message. Don’t steal, pay us back. Real simple. I usually spiced it up a little, a few threats here, a picture of someone’s child there, just the little things that made sure they understood our position. I also had to negotiate the deals, but that really isn’t as hard as the movies make it look. People pull guns, sure, but that really becomes less and less intimidating every time, so once you’re used to it it’s no big deal.
I was pretty good at my job, and pretty used to it at this point, so when Hector told me to head to Florida to work on a deal, I was actually a little excited to head home for awhile. I hadn’t been here since my first day of work with the farmers, and I was looking forward to seeing how things had changed. If there’s one good thing to be said about Florida, it is that it changes rather quickly.
When I landed at the airport, I noticed that the town I grew up in had, in fact, changed. I barely recognized it. Having flown in over the coast, I saw new office buildings, houses, marinas, it was crazy. What I noticed as I stepped out of the car rental agency was that the one thing that hadn’t changed was the insufferable summertime heat. If you haven’t been to Florida in the summer, good, don’t. Wherever you’re from, you may think you’ve felt the heat of summer, but you really haven’t until your balls have stuck to your thigh from the all encompassing humidity. I hadn’t made it ten feet toward my car before the summer blaze had me sweating uncontrollably. Bear in mind, I have been to the jungles of South America. Reaching my completely non-descript car, I hit the small remote button that popped the trunk, and tossed my bags inside. As I got behind the wheel, I turned the engine and cranked the A/C as high as it would go. It wasn’t high enough.
The drive to the hotel was fairly unremarkable, aside from the wealth of trained monkeys that were given licenses in this state. I decided not to tell my dad that I was in town yet, we hadn’t really spoken in some time, and I wasn’t sure how things would go over, so instead I just booked the hotel, and decided I’d figure out what to do with him later, if I had to.
At the front desk, I was greeted by a blond girl who had clearly let herself go in recent years. You could tell that she was once gorgeous, but now was overweight just to the point of being disgustingly fat.
While I checked in with one of my usual fake ID's, I mused to myself how the movies always got shit wrong. I never had a package waiting for me, no messages, nothing. Really because we never let anyone know where we stay, how stupid would you have to be to do that sort of thing?
As I finished up checking in, I artfully dodged some of the clerk’s unwanted flirtations, took my room key, and headed upstairs. I wasn’t particularly tired, but knowing that the next few days could be rather trying, I forced myself to take a nap. I didn’t know just how bad I was going to need it.