Fifteen Percent!

By Torn MacAlester

Pho­to by Anna Nekra­she­vich from Pex­els

Deputy Miller smiled.

It was that smile of hers, Nils real­ized, the one that led to cer­tain dis­as­ter.

“Okay Miller,” Nils attempt­ed to gain the ini­tia­tive. “What do you want?”

“What makes you think I want anything?”

“Dammit, Miller!”

Why do you answer a ques­tion with a question?

“You’ve got to want some­thing,” Nils said. “Or do we talk about the usu­al non­sense? Are you want­i­ng to go through every­thing? Are you wor­ried because I might smug­gle some­thing? I have legit­i­mate busi­ness in the bar. I need to attend to it.”



“How do I know that?” Miller asked.

“Well…” Most of his con­tracts were arranged through the bar­tender, Alex. But he also told sto­ries to tourists. Some even hired him for more jobs after hear­ing of his wild exploits. It rep­re­sent­ed sig­nif­i­cant income. Even if this might…

“See, I told you there might be something.”

Nils sighed and rolled his eyes.

“So, a legit­i­mate busi­ness might be some­thing I’d be will­ing to support.”

Oh no!

“Part­ner­ship seems too com­pli­cat­ed,” Miller said. “Call­ing me a con­sul­tant makes bet­ter sense.”


“Yeah, con­sult to deter­mine the legal­i­ty of said busi­ness opportunity.”

“Miller, that sounds con­vo­lut­ed. No one would ever seek a con­sul­tant on those grounds.”

“Real­ly? It’s appeal­ing. You can check with me and you can stay out of trouble.”

“How much?” Nils sighed.

“Fif­teen per­cent is appropriate.”

“Fif­teen per­cent! I’d rather have to stay off sta­tion forever.”

Miller looked at him. She seemed to be study­ing him, intent upon fig­ur­ing out some secret.

Dammit Nils, stop mak­ing it hard on your­self. She could call that bluff.

“Yeah,” she said at length. “Fif­teen is too expen­sive for you. I’ll make it ten. You pay me once you get paid.”

Why does it feel like I got a lucky break?