Verbal Roulette

“You want me to what?”
“You heard me.”
“That makes no sense.”
“What are you talking about? It’s ingenious.”
“It’s asinine!”
“Why do you care? You’re getting paid.”
“What are you? A masochist?”
“Somewhat, but as a sadist, who are you to judge my preferences?”

He stared at her blankly, trying to assess the situation. She stared back, intrigued by the amount of his incredulity.
“Hello, what would you both like?” the waitress asked the duo, diverting their attention from the topic at hand.
“Hi, I’ll take a coffee, two sugars and a spoonful of cream,” the young woman replied with a smile. The waitress jotted down the lady’s order and turned towards the man,
“And for you sir?”
“Clarity,” he muttered through his teeth.
“My associate will have a coffee, black. Umm, make it decaf while you’re at it. Thanks,” the lady interjected.
“Coming right up,” the waitress chirped as she sauntered away.
“Associate?” the man commented to his company.
“Well what else would you call our little partnership, sir?” she remarked.
Shrugging his shoulders, he changed the subject. “So,” he began, eyes slit and serious, “you’ve summoned me because… What? What’s your angle?”
“I hired you because you’re the best at what you do,” she casually stated.

“I don’t understand. This is a job you can do yourself.”
“Trust me, I’ve tried. It’s not that simple.”
“What the hell are you talking about? Take a few damn pills or something! Don’t waste my time and expertise on an easy job.”
“It’s deeper than that.”
“Listen, you’re really getting me annoyed. Make some friggin’ sense.”
“I would if you didn’t get so testy!”

The man sharply inhaled and let out a slow exhale, filling the void of space between them with extinguished frustration. “Fine,” he started, “Explain yourself. Give me every single reason why you want me to kill you.”
The woman gave a wry smile and replied, “Certainly. So this is the thing: I want to die. That’s
quite obvious. The hard part however, was deciding the right course of action. I thought about taking sleeping pills, but that is so cliché. Then I thought about drowning or choking myself, but that would take way too long. Plus, could you imagine how bloated I would look? How unattractive! Then I considered the classics. You know, jumping in front of a moving train, shooting myself, slitting my wrist, but it all just seemed way too macabre and melodramatic—,”
“And hiring someone to kill yourself for you struck you as less dramatic?” he retorted, annoyance in his tone.

“Oh, hush. I’m getting to that if you’d allow me,” she scolded. “Anyway, like I said, nothing seemed to be right. Moreover, besides the fact that all of these suicide attempt ideas were lousy and unimaginative, it hit me that if committed, each of these acts actually looked like suicide.” She paused for effect, expecting the man to praise her ingenuity. Instead, his only response was a face full of bewilderment.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she answered in response to his puzzled expression, “let me just continue explaining. So anyway, yeah, they all obviously looked like suicide and for me that is a huge no-no. You see, just because I want to die doesn’t mean I want everyone else to know I did, get it? Besides the fact that people are biased and cruel, which would lead them to talk and form negative opinions about the matter, my parents and family would therein have to also deal with the embarrassment of a child who had “quit” at life. Picture it: honor student with many suitors and a bright future, not to mention an heiress who would inherit three big companies, killed herself. The shock value is so through the roof that heartbreak among those I cherish would be imminent. Then, along with that, people will have their little opinions like people always do, and they will try to speculate why ‘a young lady with so much to look forward to’ would perform such a ghastly deed. Schizophrenic? Bi-polar? Secretly depressed? Accusations would flourish and I don’t want my parents to have to bear that additional pain.”

The man nodded his head slowly, processing the new information. Suddenly, he stiffened, and the woman knew what question was going to pop out next, “Wait a second, you’re a brilliant heiress who has a future that could out glow the very Sun! Why the hell would you want to die?”
“Marvelous question,” she admitted. “Unfortunately, I have no answer for you. Let’s just say that the grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes it is rotted brown and painted over with acrylic and pastels. I know the truth. Even my parents don’t know how I truly feel, and in case you pondered it, no, I do not suffer from depression. I’ve just been through hell and apparently I have a time share there. If you knew the crap I’ve endured, you’d back me up on this decision. But—”

“Here’s your coffee you guys,” the waitress interrupted, “tell me if you need anything else,” she added as she strolled away.
“Go on,” the man urged the woman impatiently.
“Oh yeah,” she went on, taking a quick sip of her beverage. “So, as I was saying, there’s a lot of shit wrong in my life that I plan on taking to the grave with me. However, growing up in a Christian household, they’ve—poorly—instilled in me that suicide is terrible, evil, etc. and normally I don’t give two rats’ asses about other people’s opinions, but this is family we’re talking about. Their views mean everything…”
Not missing a beat, the man said, “And that’s where I come in, correct?”
The woman grinned Cheshire-cat style; her message had been received.

“Yes,” she replied, “this is when you come in. If I committed suicide, it would be taken as a sign of weakness and in death I’d still be shamed. Homicide, on the other hand, when committed on individuals such as myself would be viewed as a… hmmm… A hate crime if you will? A sad mishap. You kill me, and no one would suspect a thing.”

“You mean?”
“Yup, I’m committing suicide in the most unique way probably ever imagined: by hiring somebody to commit homicide.”

The man rested back in his seat in awe. “Insane,” he whispered.
“Correction, ingenious,” she reiterated matter-of-factly. “I have it all worked out, too. I’m going to leave my house in the morning. On my way out, I will text my parents saying that I’m on my way to go volunteer as usual. This is where you come in. I’ll go into the woods where you’ll meet me. Specific instructions will be given later on. There, we will sort through details and you will proceed with shooting me in the head. Add in a couple stab wounds here and there to make it look like a believable struggle was put up. Maybe make it look like you raped me too. That will make it look off the charts realistic. If sex with a dead person feels too gritty for your taste, we can have sex beforehand. Overall, this is a win-win-win situation. You’ll get paid, I’ll experience a death on my own terms and conditions and my parents… well they won’t have to pay for grad school, so yay for them.” She sipped her coffee nonchalantly while watching him stare at her, mouth agape.

“What? You have done this before, right?” she questioned. “I mean, you came highly recommended and I heard that you are the best in your profession.”
“I am the best but this… I mean a suicide framed as a homicide…” he stated slowly, still dumbfounded.
The woman licked her lips and smiled. “Clever, no?”

“Ingenious actually. Honestly is… wavers on insanity though.”
“True but then again the line between insanity and genius is a wobbling thread. The two practically coincide.”

The man nodded in agreement and motioned for the waitress to bring the check. “One second!” the waitress shouted from across the café. The man returned his gaze to his associate and with a sigh, he extended his hand. She shook it gratefully, a sign of their secret agreement. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out a long white envelope and slid it towards him on the table.
“You will find that all the money is there,” she whispered in a husky tone, no longer portraying the innocent young lady that friends and family knew. She was now a stranger. The man eyed the envelope and tentatively slid it closer towards him until it fell off the table, nestling into the crook of his lap.

“Here you go honey,” said the waitress. “Sure you all don’t want nothing else? I see you didn’t eat a—”
“We’re fine,” the man said with finality in a gruff tone. Insulted, the waitress scurried away.
“Well,” his associate began, “I should be on my way now. Don’t want people familiarizing themselves with us together. You got the check this time right?”
He smirked, “This is the last time. Isn’t it?”
“If you do your job right, it should be,” she responded with a chuckle.

The woman stood up and shook the man’s hand again, “It has been a pleasure doing business with you, sir.”
“Same to you,” he retorted.
As she began to walk away, she stopped, looking back at her soon-to-be assailant. “Hey,” she called to him. Question in his eyes, he looked at her and she continued, “Make it look like an accident, okay?”
The man took in her words as if they fueled his very being and with a devilish grin, he replied, “Don’t worry, I always do.”

Nykemah Warren, Age 16, Grade 11, The High School of Fashion Industries, Silver Key

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