Curiouser and curiouser…
Or at least I hope so.
Anyway, enjoy. 🙂
After checking very carefully for any suspicious types in the area, I let myself into my apartment. (Once in a while I still find myself checking over my shoulder before I unlock a door). The first thing I saw was a garbage bag – the bag I had put my clothes in after using them to sop up piss that morning. My eyes went from there to the spot Massimo had dropped me.
I punched the wall as hard as I could, then sank to the ground, clutching my fist. Fortunately, I’m not in very good shape or I might have really hurt myself. Even considering my pathetic physical state, I did manage to do a bit of damage both to my hand and the wall. Sadly, my first thought was about whether I’d still be able to play WoW.
Talk about a pitiful response. I stood up and walked down the hall to my bedroom, stumbling a bit as I stripped off my clothes and got into the shower, where I stayed for 15 minutes.
When I got out of the shower I caught sight of my naked body in the bathroom mirror. It prompted a powerful moment of self-actualization. A two-part moment, in fact. The first part was that moment shared by every man when he finally realizes that no, he’s not a ninja. He’s not going to be a ninja. He’s also not a pirate, or James Bond or a viking or any of the other bad ass motherfuckers who would have thrashed the shit out of Massimo and his little friend and then tracked down the person who hired them and beaten his ass to a pulp just before screwing the hot girl and then sailing off into the sunset on a luxury yacht.
The second realization was that I didn’t need to be a ninja. At least not that kind of ninja.
I stepped into a new pair of boxer shorts and strode from my room to my office. Massimo and his buddy might have smashed my gaming setup, but they had overlooked both my Linux box and my laptop.
It took me 5 minutes to get my desk rearranged and both computers humming. Another hour to dig up everything I had on fishmouths and get it functional. Two hours after that I got root access to the company network.
Looking back, it definitely seems insane that I ignored credible physical threats. If I had the chance to do things over, these aren’t the choices I would make. On the other hand, I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now and this story wouldn’t really be worth telling. So there it is.
I was about to start gutting everything Brad had ever worked on when my hacking was interrupted by a knock on the door. My first reaction was that it must be Massimo and my heart jumped into my throat. A quick moment of reflection told me that didn’t make any sense. I hadn’t actually done anything yet. Well, aside from quitting my job. But I hadn’t actually told anyone about that, so it didn’t seem likely that anyone was acting on it yet.
I crept down the hall and checked the peephole. It was Carly. She’d never been to my apartment. All of our dates that were, well, consummated, had ended at her place. I leaned against the wall, trying to decide what to do, but the decision was made for me when she called through the door, “I know you’re there, Mikhail. I saw your shadow through the peephole. Let me in, we need to talk.”
Well, shit. What was the point of a peephole anyway?
I unlocked the door and swung it open.
“I called a bunch of times but your phone was off. I figured you must be on your computer,” she said.
“Uh, yeah, I didn’t feel like talking to Brad.” I waved her in and we walked to the living room. She did a pretty good job of hiding her disgust at the state of the place and it only took me a minute to clear a spot for her to sit.
“I can understand that. He’s freaking out a bit,” she said as we sat down. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
I snorted. “I hadn’t exactly planned this out, if that’s what you’re asking.”
She sat and stared at me for a moment, then her expression hardened. “Mikhail, I know a lot more about what’s happened today than you think.”
Hmm… I’m not sure what I thought she was going to say, but that wasn’t it.
“What do you know, exactly?”
“I know some people came to your apartment this morning.”
“And how could you possibly know that?”
“I didn’t get this job at random. I’m supposed to be keeping an eye on Brad.”
Wow. Things were starting to move just a little too fast.
“Keep an eye on him? Why? What for?”
“He’s managing some money for some people I know. When the HR position came up they asked me to take it so I could let them know if he started doing anything suspicious.”
“Are you working for the cops?”
She laughed. “No. Kinda the opposite, I guess.”
I got up and started pacing. Well, I paced as far as I could in the tiny disaster of my living room. “Brad? You? This doesn’t make any sense. What exactly is he working on?”
“He’s kind of like a front corporation. A layer of insulation for these people I know.”
“That’s a good summary, yes. He’s responsible for collecting and hiding money and then passing it on when it’s needed.”
“Brad? A money-launderer? Really?”
She rolled her eyes. “I realize this is pretty strange. If Brad had any idea who he was actually working for he would shit himself.”
“He did mention they were dangerous.”
“They are. Trust me.” She paused for a while. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but Brad has panicked. He’s asked them to kill you.”
I sat down. “Are they going to?” I finally managed to squeak out.
“No! I wouldn’t be here if they were. Or maybe I would. I don’t know, this has all gotten really confusing for me. I talked to my uncle and he told me about what Brad said. I asked him not to do anything and he said it wasn’t a problem. Someone he works for wants to talk to you.”
“I’m not sure.”
“This is really fucked up.”
“Well, it could be. But I think it will be ok. We just need to go talk to this man and he should be able to sort everything out.”
It was Carly’s turn to start pacing. “I’m sorry about the way I’ve treated you. I was feeling very pressured from a lot of different directions and I needed some time to think.”
“About what to do. I was worried I might lose my job. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep the promises I made.”
“So what’s changed?”
“Well, everything, sort of. If you aren’t working there any more I don’t have to worry about breaking any policies. If you go to work for these people my uncle knows, you won’t have to worry about Brad anymore.”
I thought about that for quite a while.
Carly sat quietly, on my dirty couch, in my filthy apartment, and let me think. I really did love her.
“Well, what the hell? I guess I quit my other job. I might as well get a new one.”
Carly smiled and gave me a hug. “It’ll be great! I promise.” Then she kissed me.
And then I had to clear some things off the bed.