I paused for a moment trying to get a read on Dr. Danner. I know she has a flight to Japan this evening, and I didn’t want my ramblings to hold her up. It felt as though I had been talking for hours, but in reality it had been only minutes.
Dr. Danner was looking at me as if she were in the car with me when it wouldn’t start. Her face looked terrified, like she was just as screwed as I was in that moment. I didn’t even ask if she wanted me to stop this time, I figured she would let me know when she had to go.
I furiously slammed my foot on the gas pedal as Kayla’s voicemail picked up for the 10th time in a row. Pounding the steering wheel out of frustration, I turned the key off and began to sob. What the f*** am I supposed to do? I don’t want to call Lazarus, he would probably invite me to stay there — and we all know how that would turn out.
I can’t call Chuck, because I’m supposed to be at Walmart 5 minutes from the house…
Think Tiffany, think.
I began flipping through my internal Rolodex once again. It’s amazing how quickly ones mind can race when it’s in “scheme and manipulation” mode. Each person that popped into my head was immediately shot down for various reasons, and each moment that passed made it harder for me to avoid being caught in this predicament.
Suddenly it hit me… Jacob.
Jacob and I used to be best friends, well, the kind of best friends that slept together often. Anyway, I would spend every waking moment with him and if I’m being honest, one of the main reasons was because he was a drug dealer, and he was ridiculously rich.
Jake was born into money and always had everything he ever wanted. Once he became the biggest dealer in my town… The guy had so much money he didn’t know what to do with it. He would by motorcycles for his friends just so he had people to ride with, we would go to a movie and he would buy every ticket for the row in front of us just so he didn’t have to look over peoples heads. He was fun to be around, but he was crazy.
I hadn’t spoken to him since… Crap. Since I robbed him and ran out of his house with 10 pills… Damnit Tiffany, why can’t you just be a normal person, I thought to myself as I dialed his number anyway out of desperation. Maybe he forgot.
My heart pounded as I waited for him to answer.
“Well, well, well. I thought you had my number blocked. I’m amazed you were able to find it after all these years.”
“Heeeey Jacob, what’s up, man.” I said sheepishly.
“Oh, not much. Just um, ya know, wondering where the hell my pills are that you stole from me 3 years ago. I would have asked you awhile ago, but… You blocked my number, and you blocked me on Facebook and then…Ya know, moved to another town. So, other than that… not much is up.” he said, clearly making his point.
“Listen Jake, I know. I am so sorry, I never should have done that to you and I feel like a real a**hole about it. I have the money, I can pay you back.” Liar. I am a liar why the hell did I just tell him that. I don’t have $250.00 f***ing dollars. What the hell is wrong with me?
He was silent for awhile and I could tell he was thinking.
“Tiff, it’s not about the money. You hurt me. You were like a sister to me and then you just disappeared.”
I tried my best not to be offended after he referred to me as a sister, seeing as how we had done things that normal siblings don’t do.
I had to win him over again and I hoped that he would miss me so much that he would be willing to overlook this small blunder on my part.
“No, I know Jake. Like, when people ask me if I have a brother I’m always like ‘yeahhhh but…we don’t talk anymore it’s so sad’, ya know? Cuz you’re like, totally my bro, bro.”
I glanced nervously at the clocked and began to panic. I should have been home by now.
“Listen…Jacob, I know you hate me. I don’t blame you. But I have no one else to turn to and I’m in a bind. If you can help me out tonight, I will owe you my life. I will pay you back with interest. I’m begging.”
I did my best impression of a damsel in distress as I explained my predicament. I told him everything — minus the fact that my boyfriend was a cop— and pleaded with him to bring me a can of gas.
I could hear his engine before I could see his car, but I knew it was him. No one else in this part of town had a car that purred like that. His Lamborghini pulled up beside me and he rolled down his window and smiled.
“Hey pretty lady, you need a lift?” he joked, in a terrible country accent.
“Shut the hell up and put the gas in before someone steals your car idiot, you do realize where we are right? I can’t believe you brought that car.” He owns so many cars, he could have picked a more inconspicuous choice.
After he finished putting the gas in, he climbed into the passengers seat of my car and shut the door. He had a briefcase on his lap and was smiling at me awkwardly without saying a word. He was probably on shrooms.
“What’s… up?” I asked, nervously glancing at the clock. Now was not the time for small talk, I had to f***ing go.
“I miss you.” he said giving me a puppy dog pout. Jesus Christ. What is this.
“I miss you too, man. Thanks so much for saving me, it really means the wo–”
“Yeah, so on the way over I did some thinkin'” he interrupted. “And, I thought of a way that you could repay me for… well for the money you owe me and for tonight.”
Oh God. Here we go. Two guys trying to get me to do sexual favors in one night… This was getting out of hand.
“Look Jake, I can’t do anything with you anymore, okay? I’m in a relationship with a great guy. I told you I could get you the mon–”
“Shhhhh..” he said placing his finger over my lips. “I’m not trying to bang you, don’t worry about that. Speaking of, have you been putting on weight? I hear when you get into a relationship you let yourself go but Jesu–”
“F**k you, d*ck. What the hell do you want? Do you want pills? I just got like 10 of them you can have a couple, I just need like 4 for tomorrow.” I was growing more and more impatient by the minute and just wanted him out. And also now I felt fat.
“Here’s what you are gonna do,” he said, sitting up straight. “I’m giving this briefcase to you. You are in charge of it. You need to get rid of everything that’s inside it and once you do, you will not only have made enough money to pay me back, you will also have a couple hundred left over for yourself. Sound good?”
“Um, well no. Not really. It doesn’t sound good at all actually. What the hell is in there?” I asked.
“Just take it, open it when you get home. I’ll text you the code to unlock it once you get to your house.” he said opening the passenger door.
“No dude, this is weird, and sounds complicated and… I’ll just give you the money, okay? I’ll pay you interest for the um.. years that have passed since I, took your stuff.”
“Nope. I’d like you to take the suitcase. It would be helping me a great deal, and it would also make me feel better because it would show that you genuinely do care about our friendship. I’m leaving it here.” he said, standing up out of the car.
“What the hell is this “Deal or No Deal?” I don’t want the f***ing briefcase. Listen, I have a feeling I know what’s inside and honestly, I can’t mess with stuff like that. I didn’t tell you before but… My boyfriend, he’s actually in Law Enforcement, so I gotta be really careful what I do.” I said, knowing damn well the minute he heard that he would run for the hills.
“You think I don’t know your boyfriend is a cop, Tiff? It’s a small town, everyone knows. All the more reason for you to take it.” he said with a devilish smile.
“What the hell? That doesn’t make sense. Why is the fact that my boyfriend is a cop, more of a reason for me to take your illegal briefcase of– God knows what?” I asked, desperate to go home.
“Because, I have been recording our entire encounter,” he said pulling out his cell phone and waving it at me. I could see the big red record button. Just above it read 15:23 minutes, “so if you don’t take this s**t and get rid of it for me, I’ll have no choice but to let him listen to it. He will probably be surprised don’t you think? I mean you’re a pretty good liar, just look at how you lied and pretended you missed me just so I’d help you. You are a user, a thief, and a liar. It sucks it has to be like this, but I’ve been hurt for a lot of years, Tiff, now it’s your turn.” He slammed my door shut… and walked away.
I stared out my windshield in shock and listened as his Lambo started up and peeled away. It wasn’t until my phone rang that I snapped back to reality and realized I had somewhere to be.
“S**t. Hey Babe, I’m so sorry. I’m on my way now. The lines were so long and then my card wouldn’t work and for some reason my car wasn’t starting but I got some chick to jump it and … whew. I’m on my way. I need a hug when I get home, okay?” I said. The last part was true. I needed someone to hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay because right now it felt like everything was falling apart.
As I reached for the handle of the front door of my home, it swung open and Chuck was standing there with a sympathetic look on his face. “Come here, Baby. I am so sorry you had a bad night.” His hug momentarily made everything disappear. I took a deep breath inside of his embrace and desperately wished that I were someone else, anyone else. I wished I could be normal, he deserved normal. I hated myself and wanted desperately to crawl into a hole and never come out.
“What’s in the briefcase?”
His question sent a shiver down my spine and I gripped the handle tightly in the palm of my hand. “Oh…it’s, my boss, Kathy, the female manager bought it for me. She said I could use it for the deposits and stuff at work.” I lied. “Well look at you, Miss. Business Woman Pants. I made some popcorn and have the movie ready whenever you are.” he said following me inside.
“Awesome. Just give me one second I want to pee and change into something comfy.”
I texted Jacob as I entered the bedroom and shut the door behind me. I was pulling my pajama shirt over my head I heard my text message alert go off. My heart started racing, he had sent me the code.
I opened the text and read:
“Thanks again for all your help, great catching up. Hope to hear from you soon. 669.”
I threw the phone down on the bed and picked up the briefcase. I didn’t know what was inside but I knew I had no choice but to look. I was still in shock about the whole interaction, mainly because I thought I was the one doing the manipulating. In reality, he was one up the entire time.
I shut the bathroom door behind me and sat on top of the toilet seat. “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” I said, pulling the leather briefcase up onto my lap. My hands shook as I fumbled to line the numbers up on the combination lock. 6… 6…Deep breath… 9. “CLICK.”