Twenty minutes later Deborah is parking her car in stall #17, the spot assigned to her by the apartment complex. Cassandra owns a motorcycle that she hasn’t ridden in at least a year; and probably won’t until her leg fully heals. So until then, Deborah essentially has to drive her everywhere. It’s a burden, but one that she has gotten used to.
Once inside, she pats Bruce on the head. Bruce is their orange tabby whom they adopted from Cassie’s brother, whose new wife is allergic to cats. Deborah never thought she’d ever become a mommy, but that all changed when this adorable ball of fur entered her life.
“Meow,” Bruce purrs with gratitude.
“Meow, meow back to you, little guy,” she whispers. Deborah finishes her banana strawberry smoothie and tosses the cup into the trash. She drops her purse onto the kitchen counter and takes out the envelope. She reopens it and counts the contents inside. Sure enough, it’s 100 $100 bills, which indeed adds up to $10,000. Deborah may never have been good at math, but she can do basic arithmetic when large sums of money are involved. She closes the envelope and places it back inside her purse.
She doesn’t know if Cassie is still awake, so she proceeds cautiously to the bathroom to brush her teeth. All of a sudden, a familiar soothing voice breaks the silence.
“Good evening. Or is it officially morning yet?”
Deborah looks up at the wall clock. It is only 11:30.
“No, it’s still evening. Hello sweetie.” Deborah approaches her lover and kisses her with more intensity than usual. Cassandra heaves after their lips come apart.
“Wow! That’s more than just a simple good night kiss. What’s gotten into you?” Cassandra switches on a light and takes a good look at Deborah. Her hair is unkempt, but that is not unusual. She appears to be like a walking zombie, which is definitely out of character. Usually the Debbie she knows carries herself with more pomp and authority.
“The strangest thing just happened to me as I was walking out of the gym,” Deborah begins. “I still haven’t been able to process it.”
“Well, that’s quite out of the ordinary. Did that asshole start to flirt with you again?” For years this random spray tanned muscle bro would always hit on her at the gym. Finally, he stopped only because Cassie clocked him in the nose after he called her a dyke. There were hundreds of witnesses, but no one felt any sympathy for the douchebag. In fact, the crowd cheered her on.
“No, I haven’t seen that guy for several months. Just as I was leaving, this guy I’ve never seen before struck up a conversation with me in the parking lot,” she says. Deborah goes to her purse, takes out the envelope, and hands it to Cassandra. “He offered me a deal on behalf of his ‘client.’ He didn’t say who his client is. Then he gave me this.”
“What’s in it? It’s pretty heavy.”
“Go ahead. Open it.”
Cassandra does. After looking inside, her eyes become as wide as Deborah has ever seen them.
“Holy shit! Is this for real?” Cassandra takes out the bills and begins to count them one by one. “Holy mother of God, this is a shit ton of money!”
“I’ve counted it. Twice. It’s ten thousand dollars. Real dollars. I used to work at a bank, remember? I know a fake dollar bill when I see one. And every single one of them is real. No doubt about it.” After the initial shock wears off, Cassandra next discovers the business card that is also tucked away inside the envelope. She reads it.
“I’m guessing this is the phone number of the person you talked to?”
“Yes. He told me I should think about his offer. If I want to take him up on it, I should call this number.” Deborah sits down at the dining table. Cassandra, sensing a longer conversation is about to commence, joins her.
“What was his offer?”
Deborah clears her throat. Bruce meanders over to his water dish and drinks from it.
“He says his client wants me to spend the night with him. He didn’t specify what we’d be doing, but you can use your imagination,” she begins. “His client is willing to compensate me with one million dollars–”
“Are you serious?! One million dollars? In cash?”
“He sounded serious. And he gave me this money to prove he’s not blowing smoke. Says I can keep the ten thousand bucks regardless of whether I choose to go through with it or not. He told me I have 48 hours to reply.” Deborah sinks back in her chair and sighs. Bruce jumps on her lap and rubs his head against her hardened abdomen. She scratches the orange fur ball’s underbelly, much to his delight.
There is a long pause.
“This is unbelievable. He cannot possibly be serious.”
“That’s what I thought at first as well,” Deborah says. “I’ve been thinking nonstop about this ever since. I don’t know what to do. He didn’t seem dangerous or anything.”
“Did he follow you home?” Cassandra asks. She peers outside through the window facing the main street. Not a single car has zipped by in the past fifteen minutes. After all, it is the dead of night.
“I don’t think so. He drove off before I did.” Bruce has decided he wants to sleep on his favorite mommy’s lap. Deborah continues to stroke his belly.
“Are you sure? He could have had someone else tail you.”
“Don’t be paranoid, Cassie dear. He didn’t seem threatening. He did give me $10,000, right? That’s not something a scary man would do.” Reluctantly, Deborah also looks out the window. She sees an old retiree walking a dog. Why the fuck would you walk your dog this late at night?
“Hm. 48 hours, you say? What will you do? What did he say if you said no?”
“He said if either I said ‘no’ or I never contact him, he would pursue other candidates or something like that. Either way, I keep this money. I just wouldn’t be eligible to get the bigger prize.” Cassandra stands up and closes the blinds. Deborah is happy to see how effortlessly she can move around without wincing in pain. That wasn’t the case not too long ago.
“Other candidates? What is this, a job interview? Wow. What are you going to do?”
They stare at each other for a long time. Bruce yawns. Deborah feels a yawn of her own sneaking up on her.
“I have no fucking clue.”
The screeching of an alarm clock awakes both Deborah and Cassandra from their slumber. Bruce has already awakened hours ago, which isn’t surprising considering cats sleep for twenty hours a day – or so it seems. He dutifully sits next to his food dish, ready to be fed. Today is Thursday, which means it’s Cassie’s turn to give the feline what he demands.
Deborah lies in bed staring up at the ceiling. Was last night a dream? Did that encounter with Thin Fedora Man really happen to her? As Cassandra plops a lump of wet food into Bruce’s dish, Deborah suddenly makes her decision.
“I’m going to do it.”
Cassandra’s ears perk up. Bruce could not care less, chowing down on his food with the ferociousness of a starving Dickensian orphan.
“It’s only for one night. Plus, I can talk to him, ask a few more questions, and back out if he reveals further details that make me uncomfortable.” Deborah sits up in bed and rubs her eyes. “It never hurts to ask, right?”
“Maybe not, or maybe so,” Cassandra answers, with a slight hint of melancholy in her voice.
The rest of the day proceeds as normal. Deborah drives Cassie to work. She’s a part-time laboratory tester at a pesticide company. She makes sure new anti-insect products won’t poison humans. It’s a pretty important job.
Deborah also works part-time as a nutrition coach at a fitness gym across town. The gym itself is small, dirty, and low-grade. Never in a million years would Deborah ever train there. But she will earn a small paycheck from them. But would she ever work out there? Not a chance.
“I look forward to our next meeting,” Deborah says to a short overweight man named Calvin. Calvin is one of Deborah’s best clients. He may be overweight, but he used to be much more overweight. So much so, his doctor told him to lose 175 pounds or he might not live to see his 50th birthday. That was quite a wakeup call, to say the least.
“Thank you. See you next time, Debbie,” Calvin says. She prefers that he not call her “Debbie,” but he’s a pleasant enough fellow so she doesn’t mind all too much. As Calvin stands up to leave, out of the corner of her eye she sees a man wearing a fedora walk through the front door. She intently watches the mysterious man, and then sees it’s just Jeff, the boyfriend of the gym’s manager. God, how paranoid is she getting? Deborah then realizes she’s kept a close watch on every single person who’s entered the gym. Why is she constantly looking over her shoulder?
Deborah takes a sip from her water bottle and deeply sighs. She can’t keep going like this. Frightened. Anxious. Suspicious of everyone. Unable to focus on the task at hand. She sees the time is 11:17. A bit early for lunch, but late enough in the day that she can take it. Deborah checks her calendar. Her next appointment is at noon. Perfect.
Ten minutes later, Deborah is sitting in her car with her phone and Thin Fedora Man’s business card sitting on the dashboard. She breathes in deeply like a Buddhist monk and exhales.
“Let’s do this shit.”
She quickly dials the number and waits. Six rings later, a voice that resembles that of Thin Fedora Man answers.
“Good day, Miss Frost.”
“Hello, whoever your name is. Is this the gentleman I spoke to last night?”
“Indeed, it is. Have you made a decision?”
“I have,” Deborah says. She looks around to see if anybody is watching her. Other than a squirrel that has just run up a nearby tree, the coast appears to be clear. “I’m interested in taking up your client’s offer. I’m saying yes.”
“He will be most pleased to hear that,” the voice responds. “Will your girlfriend mind that you’ll be taking on this endeavor?”
Deborah’s heart sinks. How the fuck does he know that she has a girlfriend? How does he know about Cassie? Is her life in danger? Is she being watched after all…?
“How do you know I have a girlfriend?” she inquires with urgency.
“You’ve mentioned her on your Instagram page,” Thin Fedora Man says. “It’s public knowledge.”
Oh. Right. That pesky thing. The perils of putting your whole life out there to the public.
“Right. I have talked about her publicly. Silly me.”
“No worries,” he chuckles. “Do you know where the municipal airport is outside of the city?”
“Yes. It’s not too far from here.”
“Good. Now listen to these instructions very carefully. Go there this Saturday morning at 9 o’clock. Park your car in the main garage and grab a ticket from one of the kiosks,” he says. “Then, proceed to the ticket counter and tell them you’re scheduled to ride the Silver Hawk. It’s my client’s private jet. Give your ticket to the front desk employee and he or she will validate your parking. We’ve already paid for it in advance. Got all that?”
“Delightful. You will be escorted to the Silver Hawk. I will be standing outside it on the runway. Then, we will board and fly off to the location my client has chosen for this little adventure.” Deborah realizes she probably should be taking notes, but so far nothing about this seems particularly complicated. “You can expect to return home by Sunday evening. Are we clear on this?”
Deborah watches the squirrel nibble on a lone French fry that somehow fell on the ground. The squirrel seems so at peace with not a care in the world. She envies the little bugger.
“Crystal clear. I understand.”
“I’m glad to hear it. Unless you have any further questions, I will end this conversation now. Just so you know, the moment I hang up, this phone number will become disconnected, so you can’t redial to reach me again,” he warns. “So the next time we chat will be on the tarmac.”
“Okay. That’s fine. I have no questions.”
“Excellent. Goodbye, Miss Frost. See you in two days.” Thin Fedora Man hangs up. She hears nothing but the dial tone. Deborah ends the phone call and drops her phone on the passenger seat. She can do nothing but stare ahead into the nothingness in front of her. It may be lunchtime but at this moment Deborah has no appetite.
That night, Deborah breaks the news to Cassandra about her conversation with Thin Fedora Man. She seems stoic and confident that everything will turn out alright when all is said and done.
“It’s basically a really elaborate muscle worship session, right?” Cassandra asks. For the uninitiated, a “muscle worship session” is a type of erotic service many female bodybuilders offer to male clients. Lots of muscular women – both young and old, married and single, mothers and the childless – do this. There’s no shame in it. It’s not particularly taboo or discouraged by the female bodybuilding community. Deborah has never offered such services before, but at a steep price of $1 million she may never have to work another day in her life again if the evening with Thin Fedora Man’s client goes well.
“That’s one way of looking at it,” Deborah admits. “I know lots of girls who do that sort of thing. I’ve never done anything like that, but it’s not because I’m a prude. It’s just not something I’m comfortable with. But you’re right. One million dollars is a shit load of money.”
Cassandra approaches her lover and kisses her deeply. She reaches out and feels Deborah’s massive biceps. She’s just gotten back from the gym, so Deborah’s muscles are more swollen than usual. Once their lips come apart, Cassandra unzips Deborah’s jeans and pulls them gently to the floor.
“It is a shit ton of money. More than we could ever imagine. Think about what we could be doing if we never have to worry about money ever again…”
But Deborah is in no mood to think. And judging from Cassandra squatting down and pulling down her panties, it appears she isn’t either.
Five minutes later, the two lovers are in bed. Cassandra is sucking on Deborah’s enormous clitoris, desperately wanting to bring her lover to orgasm. Deborah does eventually come, but she feels no pleasure as her mind has wandered off in another direction. After a full hour of making love – and it’s been several months since Deborah and Cassandra have engaged in a lovemaking session this long and intense – the two lovers find themselves intertwined together, covered in sweat and the grime of the day. They smell awful, but it’s the least of their worries at this moment.
“I’m not scared,” Deborah reassures her partner.
“I know you aren’t,” Cassie whispers back, caressing her lover’s dark brown pubic hair.
Two days later, Deborah follows Thin Fedora Man’s directions just as he instructed her. Carrying only a small black suitcase with a change of clothing, lingerie, makeup, a can of pepper spray, a pocket knife, a Tupperware container of food (steak, brown rice, and asparagus), and a hair brush inside it – she decided to “pack light” for this overnight excursion – Deborah drives to the barren municipal airport and parks her car in the main garage. She takes a parking ticket from the nearest kiosk and scurries to the front desk area at a brisk pace.
It’s surprisingly crowded for such an early morning flight. All eyes stare at her, which by now Deborah has grown accustomed to. It’s quite unusual to see a tall muscle-bound woman strut around out of the blue.
“Mommy! Is that a boy or a girl?” a little snot-nosed kid blurts out rather loudly. Embarrassed and apologetic, the woman shushes her son and gives Deborah a regretful look. Deborah pleasantly smiles and walks away. The boy still stares blankly at her, confused and disoriented.
“How may I help you?” a perplexed young man asks. Deborah leans over the counter and speaks to the Front Desk Man in a low voice, not wanting anyone to hear their conversation.
“I’m here to ride the Silver Hawk,” she says.
Front Desk Man checks his computer. After a moment, he gives Deborah a stunned look of disbelief.
“That’s very strange. Usually every flight has a, uh, you know, a flight time. But not this one. It’s just sitting in Runway D waiting for…um, you to show up,” he says. “Is your name Deborah Frost?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
The puzzled young man inadvertently stares at Deborah’s defined pecs peeking out of her low-cut top and raises an eyebrow.
“Wow. You must, uh, work out, huh?”
“I go to the gym when I find the time,” Deborah sarcastically replies. Front Desk Man instantly realizes his inappropriate behavior and furiously works on his computer to process Deborah’s flight. He grabs a boarding pass that emerges from a printer and hands it to her.
“So, um, here you go. Here’s your ticket. Do you need your parking validated? It says here that the owner of the Silver Hawk has already paid for it ahead of time.” Deborah nods her head and hands her parking ticket to Front Desk Man. He enters the code in the computer and tosses the worthless piece of paper into the trash.
“Fantastic. I believe that’s it. Go to your left and walk down that hallway to the security zone. After that, head over to Gate D12. One of our employees will escort you to your flight after you show them your boarding pass,” he awkwardly explains. “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“No thanks.” Deborah holds onto her boarding pass as if her life depended upon it. She gets the funny feeling that perhaps it does.
“Great. Cool. Enjoy your flight.”
Fifteen minutes later a short Vietnamese girl wearing a suit jacket and a short blue skirt escorts Deborah to the Silver Hawk. Deborah cannot help but imagine what her pussy must look like. She’s always had a “thing” for Asian chicks. Before Cassie, Deborah once dated a tall Chinese girl who played for the school’s basketball team. She possessed the most beautiful pussy she’s ever laid her eyes on. Unfortunately, she spoke broken English so their relationship never felt natural. Oh well.
“Enjoy your flight,” the Vietnamese girl says as they enter the tarmac. Sitting authoritatively on the runway is a gorgeous twin engine silver colored jet that looks like a dream come true. Deborah doesn’t notice the Vietnamese girl walk away because she’s too busy being in awe of the plane. As if on cue, the side door opens and Thin Fedora Man walks down the stairs to greet her.
“Good morning, Miss Frost. It’s nice to see you again.”
“Likewise. Oh my God, this plane is beautiful! How much does it cost to rent?” A second mysterious person shows up out of nowhere and takes her luggage. Still, Deborah doesn’t notice this. Thin Fedora Man laughs and shakes her hand.
“I couldn’t tell you. My client isn’t renting the Silver Hawk. He owns it.”
Deborah’s mouth nearly drops to the ground.
“Seriously?! He owns this?”
Thin Fedora Man chuckles some more. He takes her hand and guides her toward the jet.
“Of course he does. I think you will discover my client has much deeper pockets than you think.” And just like that, within minutes Deborah is sitting down at her seat and buckles her seatbelt. Thin Fedora Man chooses to sit in the cockpit. She’s all alone, with an endless supply of magazines at her disposal. A stewardess enters the cabin with a tray of scrambled egg whites, turkey sausage, tomato slices, a buttermilk biscuit, fresh fruit, orange juice, and coffee. She sets the tray beside Deborah and promptly exits. A few moments later the engines turn on and the plane crawls forward.
It’s at this moment that her feelings of wonderment dramatically shift to unmitigated dread. She cannot explain why. But as the Silver Hawk prepares to fly off into The Great Unknown, Deborah only has one thought running through her mind:
What the fuck have I gotten myself into?