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.”

“Legitimate?”

“Yes.”

“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.”

“Consultant?”

“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?