It wasn’t an overly special thing, just a piece of simple card stock. No embossed this or hologram that. Just a 10-digit number, no dashes or spaces. It looked used, worn somehow, as it had likely been through a lot of things. A little bit of a corner was torn, the space just under the number looked like sandpaper had been taken to it. Even with these things though, it was an unremarkable thing.
The young man, we’ll call him Al for now I suppose, turned it over in his hand a few times and flicked it with the pointer finger of his opposite hand, a satisfying little noise was elicited and Al shrugged and picked up his cell phone and looked at the card again. All he had to do was call the number? All he had to do was say the thing he had been told to say and all of the..everything..would be over? As leery as he was of the claim, did it cost him anything to dial a phone number and find out if it was all bullshit or not?
That thought still in his head, Al decided to bite the bullet and quickly dialed the oddly rememberable number on the card. He didn’t know what to expect but it didn’t even really ring before a very genderless voice spoke in his ear. A pleasant voice and as nondescript as anything.
“Phrase in Full.”
Al swallowed and nodded as he repeated the words he had been told to say to the person who answered the number.
“Delightful Occurrences Happen For Reasons No One Ever Actually Imagines.” He emphasized each word and was probably over-loud as he emphasized the pronunciation and the enunciation of each word.
A half a heartbeat later the voice answered.
Now, this was the thing. The thing he didn’t understand. Al was on autopilot at this point and decided that the worst thing that could happen was that, well, nothing would happen right? So he said exactly what the request was, not a vague thing, a specific thing.
“I owe two-hundred thirty-seven thousand euro to a man named Loroche. He said he will hurt me if I do not pay him the money. There is no way that I will ever be able to get the money together in the time he has demanded and I would like this to..not to be the case.”
Another half a heartbeat.
A click. An audible click before the connection was severed on their end and Al wondered what the fuck had just happened. He looked down at the card and sighed before cocking his head to the side. Was that the number he just dialed? He checked his phone and raised an eyebrow when he couldn’t find that he had even dialed a number. His heart started to pound in his chest and then there was a soft triple knock on his bedroom door that damn near made the skin jump off of him and hide.
“There’s a bloke out there that needs your signature on some document or other. It isn’t a subpoena, that’s all I could get out of him.” Trevor, his flatmate, was audibly pissed off and Al knew he needed to take care of this immediately or there would be a huge scene that no one fucking wanted, least of all Al.
As he stood up, he absently let the card fall to the ground as he opened his door to see the rather puzzled face of his flatmate.
“It’s fucking 7:15 in the morning on a fucking Saturday you fucking asshole, Go sign this fucking thing and let me get the fuck back to fucking sleep.” The words were spat at him and then, before a response could even be formed, the door slammed as Trevor went back to his room, leaving Al in the hallway.
He made his way to the front door and a very normal looking guy from the post was there with a half-smile on his face. He had a clipboard with one of those carbon-copy triplicate forms on top of it and he thrust it towards Al as he reached into the pocket of the jacket he was wearing and retrieved an envelope.
“Please, forgive the early hour, it came across as urgent and I was dispatched immediately to make sure you received your letter promptly. I just need you to read the paperwork and sign on the bottom line and I can let your and your house get back to your lie in on a Saturday morning.
Al vaguely looked at the paperwork and scribbled his name on the bottom of the page and the postman gave him an envelope that felt empty. Al thanked the man and closed the door. He opened the envelope rather quickly, hoping this wasn’t some bloody bill.
It was a cashier check, from the Bank of England for €237,000. The memo line simply read:
Gobsmacked, Al made his way back to his room on shaking legs. He sat down on his bed and read the check’s numbers over and over again and still couldn’t believe it. He knew he had to call the number back and say…something. He had to thank them for saving his goddamn life. he had to do..anything.
He saw the card laying on the ground, it’s blank, black, back facing him and he picked it up with still trembling fingers and flipped it over to get the number only to find it blank. Nothing.
He flipped it over again and again. It was a perfectly blank piece of card stock. The damage, the aging, gone.
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