LITERATI!!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! ALL HAIL THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF HIMSELF, THE PUNSTER OF PUNSTERS, THE DADDY OF ALL DAD JOKES, THE ONE AND ONLY THORNTON SULLY!!!
Was that a big enough introduction to you?
If anyone needs someone to blame for my inability to stay in the word limit lines, I volunteer Thorn as tribute because he’s over the limit too! But that’s ok; he’s only the Editor! Hah! So without further ado:
“Up to you. Blood or money?”
But I am getting ahead of myself.
It all started to fall apart while I was in Singapore. I left Balikpapan, my factory in the Valley of Hope, Senin and Sabtu (Saturday and Sunday, my orangutans) and my three gibbons in the house I occupied in the kampong, and Tuti, the house servant who delivered coffee, every morning, genuflecting shortly after the muzzein called the morning prayer. I was to be gone only a week.
One week became two, became three, became six. Immigration can be a mother fucker. But in that part of the world, and that time in history, the department of immigration in Indonesia was the best beaurocracy money could buy. It just took longer than I thought, and a bit more than I had budgeted.
As the time dragged on, it occurred to my local partner that I would not be able to return, and it inspired a bit of larceny. He would steal my company, and embezzle the funds and absorb the contracts I had won from Union 76 and Mobile Oil. It required only a very small lie to the Chinese to whom I was heavily in debt: Mr. Sully has absconded, and stolen the funds. Such a scenario was not uncommon.
And so the money intended to pay the company bills ended up in pockets of Arif, the partner whom by Indonesian law I was required to have, if I wanted to do business.
To Pak Karsona Budi Utimo, Arif explained I took the money and ran. This accomplished two things: it got Arif off the hook, and to my thinking what was of much more important, Pak Karsona Budi Utimo put out a contract on me, should I ever be so stupid as to return to Balikpapan. I heard it through the grapevine, which had tendrils in Indonesia, and in Singapore as well.
I was so stupid.
I managed to piece together enough money to at least make an installment on the debt owed, and push forth on my gambit. Part of the plan was to confront Pak Karsona Budi Utimo before anyone at the airport or points in between saw in me an opportunity to make a few bucks.
I made it to his store, his place of business. There was a clear path and a clear view to his desk, with shelves to the left and right bulging with wares that were sold to the oil patch.
Bulging, also, were his eyes, as he saw me enter his fiefdom. His stare was frozen upon me, a strange metaphor where the temperature rarely dipped below profuse summer sweat.
It was time for a bit of theater, for such is the nature of bluff. He still wanted me dead. As did others.
As I walked slowly towards him, I made it a point not to lose eye-contact. I would not blink or waver, and I realized my survival might—no—was dependent upon this. I rolled up my left sleeve as I walked. He did not offer me the chair in front of his desk. I helped myself. Words had yet to be spoken.
I sat down, casually and placed my left arm, the one with the sleeve rolled up to the elbow, passively facing up, my palm open, my forearm an invitation. With my right hand, I reached into my breast pocket and produced a knife. I plunged the blade into the teak, and then reached once again into my breast pocket, this time producing a stack of bills, which I placed between the blade of the knife and my completely vulnerable forearm.
“Te sera anda.” I said. Up to you. “Mau dara atau uang?” You want blood or money?
Negotiations had begun.
How ’bout the GOLD?! TWO MORE ENTRIES TO POST! FINALISTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT WEEK!