“And that’s it? That is all I have to do?” I asked.
“If you want to stay in this game,” he said, in the most Bond-villain-ish, eastern European accent imaginable. “Sometimes you need to smile like the crocodile while you are chewing off your own leg.”
“But that doesn’t make sense – a crocodile?”
He tapped the piece of paper that was laid flat between my hands a couple of times with a fingertip and nodded a knowing smile.
“If I were to make perfect sense in the creepy things that I say then this story would not have it’s antagonist.”
“Yes, surely you understand. Every story needs an antagonist,” he opened up his arms and pointed at his chest. “And every story needs its…” he aimed a nicotine-stained finger at my face.
“err… Pro… taganist…?”
“Well…” he laughed. “I was thinking more victim of the most inventive and imaginative murder in the history of creative writing, but I’m not so trusting of our author today, he seems a little off his game. So, yes, if you want to be the protagonist instead of the victim then you have the power to be so.”
“I have just given you the pen!”
I looked down between my hands. The blank piece of paper with a black fountain pen lying on top of it. It looked tempting.
“And all I have to do is write?”
“Yes, and then this will all be over, and we can both go about our day.”
“But, write… write what?”
“This story, for this challenge, so that we then get to fight another day. Because on that other day… maybe we can be…” he beamed a huge smile. “Pirates…”
“I’ve always wanted to be…”
“I know.” He finger-tapped the paper. I picked up the pen. We looked into each other’s eyes and for a moment I felt a connection. A sense of the possibilities and joy of what was to come. And then I knew all in the world would be okay and I could afford myself a smile.
“Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of…”
“…Rum.” I laughed. “Just write this story?”
He smiled and nodded, then took out a packet of cigarettes from an inside pocket. His day was done.
“Okay,” I said. “Here goes…”
He pushed the paper closer to me. Smiling. Cold.
Brief #12 Like the Prose 2021: Bargaining
Copyright © 2021, Ray Hopkins, All Rights Reserved