Double Down

I wrote this piece for a school application with the following prompt – ‘Write a 300-500 word story utilizing three things: a fruit, a popular song and a sport.’

Double Down

“One more step and it’s over,” said the snarling voice.

Benny was disoriented. He’d been fading in and out of consciousness for who knows how long. All he knew was that he must’ve been abducted. His entire body was sore as if he ran two Ironmans back to back. He was being held up like a puppet by some sort of chain. His mouth was duct taped. He was blindfolded. He could feel sweat dripping into deep cuts on his head and legs. His arms were wrapped around him.

Must be a straitjacket.

“Choose wisely. Your next move could be your last,” the voice said.

Benny tried to clear his mind. He ticked off each sense. Taste. Cotton mouth like the Sahara. Sight. Can’t see shit. Touch. Everything hurts like hell. Smell. Burnt rubber filled the air. Sound.

The links of the metal chain clanked when Benny shifted his weight. His abductor took slow, calculated steps and was taking bites of something.

Sounds like an apple.

There were other faint voices talking and laughing to each other; not a care in the world. They were probably there to watch the show.

Tonight’s feature presentation? My slow death.

“Benny boy. Why so quiet?” the voice asked. “It’s not like your usual self. You were so confident and brash when we met two weeks ago!”

Fuck, fuck, fuck. What the hell did I do?

He started racking his brain. He got nowhere. The pain was clouding his thought process. He’d been trying to take the straight and narrow for the past few months. For himself and for her. She was special. She understood his faults because she had them too. They were going to grow and have a better life together. Scarlett was going to kill him; if he didn’t die here first.

“Tick tock, tick tock. Big Rob, what’s the time on the clock my man?” the voice asked in glee.

“2 minute warning ha haaaa!” Rob shouted back in a voice deeper than the Grand Canyon.

“Benny boy, it’s been 58 minutes and you still haven’t made up your mind. Left or right? Simple. One step leads to 12 extra hours for you to GET MY FUCKIN MONEY!” the voice shouted. “Or one step leads to a long, drawn out death. My boys here are anxious. They need to take some batting practice.”

Whoops and hollers echoed around the room.

Holy fuck. It sounds like at least 20 people.

“Oh yeah,” the voice said, “I also got an ex-boxer and a few former UFC guys with me. They were banned though. The sporting commission called them…too dirty. Too much unresolved anger.

More hollers. “Tell him boss!”

“You know what my favorite song is, Benny? I forget who sings it but the first words are unmistakable. Na na na na…” the man said as he trailed off in song.

Benny started sobbing but he was so dehydrated that nothing came out. He tried thinking of what he’d done recently. At this point, it really didn’t matter but he wanted some clarity if he was going to die soon.

Ok, me and Scarlett came back from a weekend vacay to the Keys and we got back to life. I went straight to work and back for dinner with Scarley every night.

He was trying to be a good boyfriend. They just built and painted a flimsy shelf together last week. It was boring but doing anything with her made it fun.

Finally, it hit him.

Last Saturday night, he went out to meet his best friend from high school, Dex. The two of them were troublemakers back in the day. Detention, arrests, juvie, you name it. Benny had him beat though. 1.0 GPA vs. Dex’s 0.56.

Dex had been trying to make his life better too. He had a 9-5 that he could tolerate. Enough to get by.

That night, their girls let them off the hook and the two met up for a drink at the local pub.

It was the playoffs and the Dolphins were huge underdogs. They had a miraculous season filled with comebacks and the talking heads on ESPN were giving them a shot against the Pats. Brady was out due to an ankle sprain so all the money in Vegas swung toward Miami.

Benny wanted desperately to get in on the action. But he knew better. He’d promised Scarlett that he’d never gamble again. But the itch would not let up. By halftime, Dex and Benny were 2 shots and 5 beers in. Things were getting really hazy. Neither of them had downed this much alcohol in a while. But tonight, the two of them were back to their old ways, causing a ruckus.

Then, Dex’s phone rang. His girl was 7 months pregnant and feeling contractions. Not good. Dex left immediately. Benny stuck around to finish the game.

An old man next to Benny struck up a conversation. The man seemed distinguished. Like he’d been places. Done things. Didn’t give a fuck about anything.

“How bout them Dolphins, huh?” asked the man.

“Incredible. It’s unbelievable what they’re doing,” Benny replied.

“I know, I know. Fun to watch.”

“This kid is a prodigy. Undrafted to playoff starter. In one season? We’re so goddamn lucky.”

“I hear ya,” the man said as he took a swig of beer. “Hey. You a betting man?”

“Ha, used to be. I’m off that now though. Starting a family.”

“Life calls. Understandable.”

“Those odds though. Whew. If this was 3 years ago, I’d be putting down 10 large on Miami for sure.”

“Oh wow. You’re a big better.”

“Yeah, it was an ebb and flow. Highs were like Everest and the lows…I don’t want to talk about.”

“Haha, I’ve been there before.”

“How much you put down?”

“Me? I’m on the other side.”

“You a bookie?”

“Close to that. Loan shark. Emphasis on the shark.”

“Haha that’s a good one. Never heard that before,” Benny said as he noticed a large scar on the man’s right cheek. “You look like you’ve seen a couple a things. Been through some shit.”

The man chuckled. “You have no idea how true that is.”

Benny turned his eyes back to the TV.

Do not bet. Do not bet. Think of Scarley. Do not bet.

“What’s your name bud?”

“Ben. Ben Peters. But my friends call me Benny.”

“How bout I buy you a round?”

I’m a complete fuckin idiot.

“3…2…1…AHHNNNT. And the crowd goes wild!” the boss said in a mock announcer voice. “Time’s up Benny boy. Make your choice.”

The silence disappeared as the boom box grew louder and foretold his future. Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey hey. Goodbye.

Benny felt the chain being lifted off and he was now forced to support his own weight. He hadn’t been paying attention to his legs at all. They felt like a thousand pounds each. He shifted his bare feet side to side and felt cold concrete beneath him.

Scarlett, baby. I’m so, so sorry.

He lifted his right foot and hoped for the best.

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