Prompt: Buy or sell | Word count: 755 words | Genre: Fiction
“Senator! A word?”
The Senator turned toward the sound of the voice in the shadowy parking garage. He peered at the source, trying to identify whoever had called to him. A young man stepped out from the dusk, his face vaguely unfamiliar, the dark suit generic.
“I’m in a bit of a hurry,” the Senator turned and continued.
“Perfect,” said the young man. “Me too. I’ll walk with you.”
“What would it take to secure your lack of support for the bill they’re reading tomorrow morning?”
Now the Senator stopped and turned, really exploring the face of the young man in the suit.
“What would it take?” the young man asked again, his face earnest and bright.
“Are hoping to bribe me?”
“Oh gosh,” the man in the suit actually blushed.
The Senator turned and began walking again, this time at a faster clip.
“But sir! Senator!” The man in the suit leapt ahead to engage with the Senator again.
“Who do you represent?” the Senator asked, leaning into the man’s face. “I’m not that kind of Senator.”
“Oh, I’m not so sure you’re not.” He gripped the Senator’s arm just above the elbow.
Wincing, the Senator rotated his arm to release. The man’s hold was like an iron band. “Leave me alone.”
Backing away, the man smiled. “See you later.”
The Senator stumbled a bit as he resumed his walk, rubbing his arm.
“They’re trailing me. This guy in the parking garage! On Wednesday, I was followed here!” The Senator picked up the highball glass his aide had just set down. He exhaled and then brought the glass to his lips, finishing the contents in one fluid motion.
“Sir, we can make sure it won’t happen again.”
The Senator held up his hand. “Can you get – oh what’s his name? Jimmy? Can he be here by the end of the meeting? To get me home and back.”
“I’m on it.” The aide’s phone was to his ear before he’d even exited the office.
The Senator crossed his arms and sat brooding over the lights of the city beyond the window. A sharp knock, then the door opened.
“Sir,” Marla entered, pencil tapping on the clipboard in her hands. “Jimmy will be here to escort you home, no later than 8:45. Your 7:30 is here.”
“Thank you, Marla.” The Senator did not turn from the window as Marla left.
The man entering adjusted his tie and smiled. “Senator. We meet again.”
The Senator stood, his chair rolling into the credenza behind it. “You? From the parking garage?” The Senator’s hand shot out to buzz security on his intercom, but the man in the suit intercepted his wrist.
“Let’s talk. The two of us. No need to involve anyone else.”
The Senator twisted his arm to release the man’s grip. The man raised both arms as if to surrender.
“May I?” The man gestured to the upholstered chair behind him. He sat, looking quite comfortable, while the Senator remained upright.
“Well?” The Senator prompted.
The man smiled, his gaze down. As he looked up, “Are we ready then?”
The Senator said nothing.
“I don’t need to tell you who I work for. But I do want to say that we can develop a mutually beneficial relationship.”
“Get to the point.” The Senator spoke through his teeth.
“Don’t let the bill come to the floor. You have the power to stop it.”
“I need to know-“
“No.” The man stood now. “No, you don’t. But if you stop that bill, you will be rewarded. If not…” He shook his head. “Well, you don’t want to know, do you?”
The Senator shook his head in fury. “You don’t understand who I –“
“It’s you who lacks understanding. The bill will not come to the floor. It will not.”
The man walked around the desk and held out a hand to shake. He took both of the Senator’s hands in his. Smiling broadly, he said, “This bill. Will not. Come to the floor.”
The Senator was twisting and crumpling. The man released the Senator’s hands and walked toward the door. The Senator cradled his hands as best he could. The man turned as he placed his hand on the knob.
“Are we clear?”
The Senator emitted a small yelp.
“Wonderful.” The man opened the door. “I’ll be in touch.” He exited.
The Senator struggled to find his way across his office, his hands swelling and becoming purple even as he did so.
“Help,” he cried. “Help.”