A Short Story: Blood Forge #8: The Broker
“Tiver and Henderson?” The receptionist called.
“Um,” Henderson replied. “It’s Henderson and Tiver. Not Tiver and Henderson. Very important.”
Tiver rose to his defense boyh physically and vocally. “I object!”
“Over ruled!” Henderson said, slamming his palms against the armrest.
“But sir, this court must sustain my argument-!” Tiver continued.
“Nay! You will be held in contempt of court if you continue…” Henderson raised an eyebrow, beckoning the young man to challenge him.
Tiver sat back down, pouting, but the receptionist came to his aide. In a formal display, she lowered her head appealed to the prejudice judge.
“Your Honor, please hear what this man has to say. He only wants to do what is right for the defendant.” With a flutter of her eye lashes, Henderson broke.
“Well…if you insist, continue Tiver. But tread carefully. My feelings are on the line,” Henderson spoke, feigning frail composure.
“Thank you, Your Honor.” Tiver stood once again, offering the receptionist his seat. She took it graciously. Tiver paced before the two, rubbing the wiry, brown scruff of beard on his face. Buying time to think of a suitable defense.
“Well! Spit it out. They’ll come for us any moment now,” Henderson bayed.
Tiver began. “Your Honor, there is nothing the defense can do about the charges for they are whole heartedly true! We plea guilt.”
The seated spectators gasped.
“Nay!” Henderson booed. “That’s not even allowed!”
“Yay! For the trial was bullshit anyways,” Tiver pronounced. “For our lady decided that ‘Tiver and Henderson’ sounds better than ‘Henderson and Tiver.’ Sorry, old friend, but you’ve lost. And I,” Tiver’s lip quivered, his many uears in his collegiate drama club surfacing. “Have lost a dear friend?”
Henderson deflated entirely. The receptionist patted Henderson on the shoulder with care.
But don’t worry,” Tiver voiced, holding out a hand. “Think of all the money this deal is getting us!”
Henderson’s eyes lit up at the mention of the law firms new headquarters in Chicago. He jumped up, rejuvenated, clasping Tivers hand.
“Yes!” Henderson exclaimed, noticing the completely silent secretary standing at the far end of the lounge. “You’re quite right! I do enjoy the business she brings! And the company.”
The secretary approached the two gentlemen. She cleared her throat before addressing them.
“Henderson and Tiver?”
“Haha!” Henderson exclaimed. Tiver slapped his forehead comically.
“I jest. The Broker would like to see you now.”
The two mens demeanors hardened with the mention of The Broker. The time for jokes had ended. The menial banter could wait until after their meeting.
Tiver offered the receptionist his hand, assisting her in rising to her eight inch heels. Their eyes met and youthful longing shown forth, blinding Henderson.
“It was a pleasure as always, Shelly.”
Shelly smiled thinly, but her true emotions lay staunched in light of their situation. She turned, returning to her desk. Tiver watched her go, a longing in his eyes. Henderson elbowed him firmly.
“Yes, I know,” Tiver said, trying to placate his worried partner.
“Then you’d better cease and desist, before you get hurt. Our business partner does not remain largely anonymous by allowing too many leaks.”
Tiver had no idea how the receptionist felt, but to him, she was a cool, refreshing breeze. Meek to a fault and expedient in her work. All irreplaceable facets of her character. His heart yearned for some sort of connection with her. She captured his heart on first sight and the man knew of no greater good.
But the Broker would never allow such a union. She ran a tight ship with no leaks. He watched her go, but the receptionist didn’t glance back once.
Tiver turn and followed his partner out of the lounge.
The mens high-end, leather shoes clicked on the marbel floors. The secretary made no sound which always disturbed Henderson, dating back to his first visit to this place. Henderson leaned toward Tiver.
“Alright, all we’ve gotta do is put the usual charm on her and nothing else okay. I’ve got a bad feeling in my bones. And wipe that look off your face. You might fool everyone else, but I know that look. Don’t. Do it. Whatever you’re thinking.”
Tiver smiled thinly. “Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”
Henderson couldn’t believe him. They’d been partners for years, since law school, and this bastard was fixing to throw away for a love interest?
Henderson thought back to the odd start to their relationship. Henderson had finally saved up enough money for law school and he’d decided to attend Chicago Municipal. Though he was nearly 35, the older man had bunked with the 18 or 19 year old buck and they’d hit it off.
Tiver was Henderson’s kind of people. Jolly, light-hearted, and comedic to a fault, which had lead to them keeping in touch. But Tiver attended college on the graces of his wealthy family. Though he didn’t lack talent, he lacked ambition. A death nell for a wealthy family.
It broke Henderson’s heart to see such a young one suffer, so he aided him in his studies, getting the fool to graduation safely. But Tiver still had no idea what it was like to suffer in poverty. A feeling Henderson could not swiftly forget.
It had been 20 years since, then and Henderson was approaching his old age not so gracefullly.
The group rounded the last corner and came to a stop in front of two large, white door. Two guards, big men with automatic rifles, starred down at Henderson and Tiver. Tiver was taller than Henderson by a couple of inches, standing over six feet tall, but these men dwarfed Tiver in height and size.
“H7839869208:$&%#%_JL.” The secretary recited.
The guards froze, guns leveled at the two men. Time passed and Henderson became quite intimate with the gun barrels dark interior, as if he stared into death itself. The guards unfroze, turning to heave the doors open wide, bearing a pitch black room to the gentleman.
The secretary entered without hesitation and Henderson followed close behind. This would be Tiver’s second time entering this room, but he did not seem intimidated in the least.
“Stop here,” the secretary directed. The group halted, and the doors closed behind the Tiver and Henderson, sealing them in.
A light blasted on, cast from high above over a mahogany desk and a large-backed chair, displaying the ominous figure in question. Though the light showed the females clothing and exterior in vividly, a deep shadow hid her face from view. Long hair hung around her face, deepening the shadow to ghoulish proportions, proving a stark contrast of light and dark.
Henderson assumed, if they got much closer and glimpsed her face, they may not ever be released from this place. Something was different.
“Sit,” the Broker commanded, voice echoing off the walls.
Henderson’s heart pounded. She’d never spoken, directly to the gentlemen. Henderson recalled his other visits and an aide usually broadcast the Broker’s will in her place.
Henderson glanced around, taken aback, but he remembered the Broker’s command. He searched for a chair, but saw none. Front and center, the secretary made her way to the ground with difficulty. He did the same. Tiver did not.
“How much for the receptionist?”
Henderson reached up to grab Tiver’s wrist, but Tiver withdrew his wrist out of Henderson’s reach.
Tiver looked down at him with a shine to his eyes, then averted them in favor for the Broker. The Broker remained silent.
“I know that most of your employees never venture tol far from your grasp. I know that you’re the type of person to offer a deal for something you want, we’re partners after all.”
The Broker remained silent.
“I don’t want to buy her as a prostitute or something of that nature. I want her hand in marriage. Or, at least, a chance at a healthy relationship, and God knows I’ll never get a fighting chance without your consent.”
Tiver’s voice echoed across the dark marble and died. The Broker tilted her head, ever so slightly, as if considering his offer. She snapped her fingers and Tiver flew back into the darkness.
A great gust of wind sent Henderson sliding to the side leaving him sprawled, steeped in darkness. He jumped up and started toward his friends aide, but the Broker’s voice stopped him.
“Stop!” The Broker yelled, loud and commanding. Fear got the better of Henderson and he obeyed. If he died here…
“If you come any closer, you’ll see my face. And I know you dont want that.”
Henderson swallowed, hard. “You didn’t have to do that.”
The Broker took a moment as if thinking, “…I’ve indoctrinated him into our organization. Out of pity.”
“Pity!” Henderson voice rose. “If you pitied him, you’d let us go! Ignore his plea. Turn him away, but you-”
“Silence.” Henderson recognized that tone. The low hiss before someone died. “Henderson, we allow you to live on the outside with a measure of freedom. He will do the same. Do not forget your place in all this.” There was nothing but darkness all around and Henderson saw that fit the organizations modus operandi perfectly.
“It’s miniscule and irrelevant enough, but WE have nothing to do with anything of your other endeavors.” Henderson dropped to his knees. “Please, he doesn’t understand anything about our deal.”
The Broker’s shadowy face locked on Henderson. He lowered his head, trembling uncontrollably. He knew the payment for such a settlement and Tiver would never be able to except it. He would strain against the Broker’s control and die in a horrible manner or worse…
A pair of bunny slippers shuffled into the corner of his vision. Alarmed, he began to raise his head, but a delicate touch halted his progress.
“For you, I will make an acception. You’ve served us well,” a familiar voice soothed.
Tears burst forth from Henderson’s eyes. “I’ll take responsibility. We’ll be looking forward to the grand opening your new construction in Chicago?” He choked through gasping breaths.
“Emily-,” Henderson gasped.
Henderson held in the horrible sadness that an insect might experience, when trapped in a spiders web. He’d lost this fight due to his greed and ambition, falling further and further beneath the Broker’s boot.
The slippers left his view and padded away. He stood and walked to his unconscious friend, dreading the days to come.