[Edge1.1.3] Out of Your League – Dave Bailey

[Edge1.1.3] Out of Your League

“You’re out of your league, Art. You shouldn’t be here. You don’t have a clue as to what you’re getting yourself into. That’s all I can say until the negotiations are over. Just hear them out and turn them down. Better yet, make an excuse that you’ve gotta go home. Tell them your kid is sick, or that you got a better offer. Anything.”

Art started to laugh. “Is this some kind of joke?” he asked? “You worked so long and hard to get me over here. Flew down to Brazil personally to convince us to work together. And now I’m here.”

“I know. Blast it.” Johnny almost shouted, then lowered his voice to a whisper. “But you shouldn’t close this deal with LocrylTech. They’re not who you think they are.”

Johnny’s phone rang. He paused to look at it and stood up as if to take it. The man changed his mind and muted the call.

“I met someone after I came back from that trip. I learned things that I wished I hadn’t, but I don’t have a way out. So, as a friend, I’m warning you not close this deal with us.”

Johnny’s phone rang again. He muted it immediately and turned to look out the window. Art was shocked. This was the exact opposite of what he had expected Johnny to tell him. He thought he would have to slow Johnny down and keep the guy from pushing him to signing the contract yet tonight.

Art felt angry. Cheated. Gypped.

“Tell me what’s going on, Johnny.” Art demanded. “I can’t just walk away from this now. I’ll lose face over it. I begged, borrowed, and stole money to bring this project together. I groveled and cajoled my workmates, partners, and superiors into believing this was the best move for our company. And I did it at your insistence. Because you convinced me that this was the best thing for both of us.”

“You’re a big boy, Art. You can do whatever you want. It’s your call. But as a friend, I’m giving you advance notice, so I sleep better in the future. If you realize later that you got screwed over, don’t come whining to me about it. Tomorrow, I’m going to come in here and negotiate the best deal I can for my boss. I won’t give this conversation a second thought.”

Johnny’s phone rang for the third time. He jerked it out of his pocket and answered it this time.

“Yeah! What do you want?” Johnny spat into the phone.

Art watched him intently trying to make sense of this who conversation. He couldn’t hear what the other person was saying, but he noticed a twinge of shock and horror flicker across Johnny’s face.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Jonny muttered. “I really am.”

He turned back and looked at Art. Then he walked into a small room and closed the door behind him for some privacy.

Art stood up and walked to the window. This was so frustrating. He had come here with a whole different set of expectations. He had planned to take the deal no matter what they offered. Or at least what he had thought they were going to offer.

He had crunched numbers with his team. Their lowest expectations for an offer were still wild beyond their wildest dreams. And all of their projections were based on numbers that Johnny had fed them. These weren’t just random numbers that they had pulled out of their head.

And now, the guy was telling him just to forget the whole thing and walk away. That was the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard. He was ready to spit nails.

Art walked over to the door that Johnny had closed and knocked on it. He didn’t answer, so Art twisted the knob. It was locked.

He banged harder.

“C’mon, Johnnyboy,” he shouted. “It’s late, and I need to get going.”

Art couldn’t believe he had caught three flights to cross the continent only to be brushed off like this. He knew it might cost him this deal, but he was going to give Johnny a piece of his mind.

“Friendly advice, my eye!” Art hissed under his breath as he pounded on the door.

Art gave the door a few kicks for good measure.

“You planned this all along, didn’t you Johnny,” he shouted. “Got our hopes up. Strung us along. Learned all our secrets and weak points. Now, you’re gonna stick it to us. Slap all the negatives together to get the price down. You’re gonna pay us peanuts just because you know our company is in the red and won’t survive another six months.”

Johnny opened the door slowly and stepped into the room. He didn’t look up.

“Have the decency to look me in the eye you worthless scumbag. I trusted you. Then you go and pull a fast one on me like this. You got some nerve. I hope you and your stupid company can’t resell our business and go broke too.”

Johnny finally looked up at him. He looked numb as if the things Art was saying weren’t registering properly.

“What are you talking about, Art?” he said. “You’ve got this all wrong. They’re gonna make you a great offer that you can’t refuse. It’s more than triple the best projections I gave you. Nobody is trying to rip you off.”

Art stood there dumbfounded. The whole world seemed to shrink around him. He so wished there was a hole he could crawl into and bury himself.

“I’m sorry, Johnny,” he finally managed to stammer out. “I just assumed that…”

“It’s okay,” Johnny said. He reached out a long arm and patted Art on the shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I’m not at liberty to tell you anything more than that. Someday you’ll understand. My recommendation as a friend remains the same. Turn this deal down and go home.”

“Well, uh, thanks for the warning.” Art stammered again. “I’ll take it into consideration.”

“Okay,” Johnny said. “That’s good.”

His friend turned around and started to walk away. Art remembered he still didn’t know where he was supposed to stay or where he was supposed to go after this. And why was Johnny acting so strangely?

“Um. Where are you going, Johnny?” he asked.

Johnny paused at the door and turned around.

“To the morgue,” he said glumly. “They called to tell me that my wife is dead.”

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