[Edge1.1.11] Assume The Worst – Dave Bailey

[Edge1.1.11] Assume The Worst

Frank and Joe escorted him into a large room that definitely wasn’t at the police department. Art looked around a bit confused.

“What’s this boys?” Art asked. “I thought I was under arrest for murder.”

Frank and Joe glanced at each other nervously.

“Yeah, um, but you’re not a citizen of the United States of America. And LocTech is responsible for your coming since they signed a letter of invitation for your business visa. They want to handle this discreetly.” Frank answered.

“It’s better for you,” Joe butted in.

“Uh huh. Sure.” Art said. “That’s just an excuse to get me in here. How much is Tony paying you guys?”

“Hey, watch it, bud,” Frank said. “That’s a strong accusation.”

“Look, we know you didn’t kill Berta,” Joe said. “But Johnny is missing, and you’ve been accused of having been the last person seen with Johnny. They showed us video footage of you two leaving the building last night.”

“And you made us think that you were looking for Johnny but hadn’t found him. Which you have to admit does make you look pretty suspicious.” Frank said.

“Look, guys.” Art started to say, but then Tony walked into the room interrupting him.

“Well, well, well. What have we here? The infamous Brazilian genius who came to kill our best employee and was trying to escape.” Tony said.

He motioned to the door for Frank and Joe to leave. There were two large security guards holding the door open for them.

“Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your help in locating this man. We’ll take it from here and see what we can get out of him. If you find Johnny, please let us know immediately.”

Frank and Joe still seemed a bit nervous. They glanced at each other as if trying to come to a silent agreement. Joe didn’t look comfortable leaving Art with Tony and his henchmen. But Frank nodded in affirmation and indicated they should leave by jerking his head toward the door for Joe to follow. Joe looked at Art again and then left with his partner.

“Well, Art! Nice to finally meet you. Let’s get down to business. I’m going to make this short and sweet. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by playing games or beating around the bush. I know you didn’t kill Johnny. Personally, I don’t think you look like the kind that could hurt a flea. But I do need to close this deal. So, I’m going to make you a really, really good offer which I highly recommend you take for your own sake. But if you don’t, I will have you charged with Johnny’s murder and thrown in jail for the rest of your life. And I will close the deal directly with Pedro, your boss.”

“Pedro will never make a deal with you. He hates American’s and globalization. He’s one of the most outspoken socialists I know.”

Tony chuckled. “Socialists and their rhetoric make me chuckle,” he said. “Do you know capitalism was a word that socialist dictators invented to take power. They needed a common enemy to unite the people to their side. So, they blamed the natural state of affairs of society for all of people’s problems by giving it a name that made it sound bad. And people bought it hook line and sinker.”

“But it’s greedy capitalists like you that kill people for money.” Art shouted. “It’s evil. You’re evil.”

“No, Art. I didn’t kill anybody. Our enemies did. Somebody that wanted what we have.”

“It’s all the same. It’s about money. You made it available for them.” Art replied sullenly.

Tony sighed and sat back.

“I’m disappointed you think that, Art. The least you could do is ask questions. Do you automatically assume the worst in everybody you meet like this?”

Art didn’t know what to say to that and waited for Tony to continue. Tony snapped his fingers, and the bodyguards opened the door. A young lady entered the room pushing a small table full of food and drinks.

“I thought you might be hungry, Art.”

“A little,” Art said. “I suppose I can eat something.”

The woman smiled warmly and poured him a large mug of coffee. She served him some croissants and a plate of fruit. After she left, Tony continued.

“I’m not in the mood to argue politics this morning, Art. So, let’s forgo all the hullabaloo. Regardless of what Pedro’s political preferences may be, he has shown an interest in selling us your team’s research after hearing Johnny’s proposal.”

“What?” Art exclaimed. “Why did Johnny go to all the trouble of having me convince them to take the deal, and why bother spending all this money bringing me here personally?”

“Because it’s your idea and you came up with the breakthrough. I know you think we’re greedy corporate monsters, but we’re not out to steal everything we want in life. We have money, and we’re willing to share it. Consider it our way of distributing our wealth with society. We reward those who are creative, exercise discipline, and apply it in a way that benefits others.”

Tony’s answer didn’t convince Art that was what they were really after. He could tell there was more to the story. But he knew he couldn’t push Tony into giving him the answer. He would have to discover what it really was by reading between the lines and working his way down through Tony’s mysterious hidden levels of secrecy.

“So, who killed Johnny & Berta,” he asked.

Tony didn’t beat around the bush but pressed directly into the core of Art’s doubts. The slick man smiled wryly.

“I know Johnny was trying to turn you against me. I assume he told you that I did it and that you shouldn’t close this deal with me today. Am I correct?”

Art didn’t answer him but shifted his eyes uncomfortably to the table.

“That’s what I thought,” Tony said. “Berta was a loyal employee. Our guess is that she discovered what Johnny was planning and who he was working for. We think he killed her himself.”

Dave Bailey

Dave Bailey started writing short stories when he lived in Brazil to help his students learn English. Now, he lives in Florida again where he continues to write fun and inspiring sci-fi and fantasy fiction stories. You can read his weekly short stories here on his blog. Make sure to join his advanced reading crew so you know when new stories become available >>> https://davebailey.me/go/crew