THE BLACKMAILER
By Kevin Strife

High School: Near the Boys' Toilets
Early Afternoon

Jake pins Fred, a weakling, against the wall. There's nobody else around. Fred is scared as he looks into the eyes of his attacker. Jake tightens his grip on Fred's throat.

Jake: So, let's make sure you understand. If ever you're asked about the incident… what will you reply?

Fred coughs as he tries to answer.

Fred: That… I know nothing… about it.

Jake smirks.

Jake: See? That wasn't so hard, was it?

Jake loosens his grip before tightening it again. Fred's eyes are about to ball out. He is having trouble breathing.

Jake: Now, what about the other part?

Fred's eyes tear up as he answers with difficulty.

Fred: This… talk… never… happened…

Jake now smiles and nods. He lets go of Fred's throat and steps back. Fred is apprehensive, thinking Jake is going to hit him or something. But Jake stands still.

Jake: If ever you speak about what you know… you're a dead man. Now, fuck off.

Fred doesn't wait around to be asked twice as he rushes off without looking back. Jake smiles to himself.

Jake: Losers are so easy to scare.

Jake walks off.

Not far away, someone is hiding. Someone who witnessed what just happened.

High School: Boys' Locker Room
Early Afternoon

Jake walks in as the others are finishing off changing into their gym clothes. A few of the guys tease Jake for being late. But it's friendly teasing. The jocks all greet him as one of theirs. Jake is a popular kid. The teacher, who's passing by, stops at the door and says with a smile:

Gym Teacher: The girls are already about to warm up and you are still changing? You should be ashamed of yourselves.

This gets a few chuckles out of the guys as they head out. The teacher looks at Jake.

Gym Teacher: Hurry up, young man. If you're not out soon, you'll be doing some extra work.

Jake simply nods with a smile as the teacher walks off. The boy takes off his shirt and tugs off his shoes. He'll be changed in less than a minute. He enjoys Gym classes. He likes sports in general. Though he's not obsessed by it like some of his friends. As he puts on his gym shorts, he hears someone entering the locker room. He turns around and sees it's someone as popular as him, if not more. But, popular in a different way. Jake smirks as he says with a touch of sarcasm:

Jake: You here? Wow. What a miracle. No letter today? Or did somebody force you to come?

Christian smirks back as he crosses his arms over his chest. There's this look on his face. Jake realizes that he's wearing nothing except his shorts and socks, so he turns around to grab his t-shirt. As he puts his t-shirt on, he hears Christian closing the locker room door and… locking it. Jake turns around to face Christian.

Jake: What are you doing?

Christian stares back at Jake before smiling slightly. It had a touch of obscurity to it. Jake heard the rumours about Christian. Though Jake doesn't mind people like Christian, he does mind about those smiles. Jake decides to bail so he quickly put his shoes on and walks over to the door. He whispers to himself:

Jake: Weirdo.

As Jake is about to grab the doorknob, Christian speaks up.

Christian: I know.

Jake freezes for a moment. He then grabs the doorknob as he says:

Jake: Didn't think you'd hear it.

Jake opens the door as Christian replies:

Christian: I know what you did.

Jake freezes again. Then he closes the door. Jake looks at Christian and asks calmly:

Jake: What did you say?

Christian smirks.

Christian: You heard me.

Jake shakes his head.

Jake: What the hell are you on about?

Christian walks over to a bench and sits. He stares at Jake for a moment before saying:

Christian: I heard Mr. Saunders had to pay about $300 for the repairs of his car. That's a lot of money.

Jake frowns as he steps closer to where Christian is sitting.

Jake: Why are you telling "me" this?

Christian lets out an almost involuntary chuckle.

Christian: Are you playing dumb or are you really that stupid?

Jake stares coldly at Christian. He then cracks his knuckles. Christian rolls his eyes.

Christian: Ooh, he cracked his knuckles. I'm so scared.

Jake rushes to Christian, grabs him by the collar and throws him against a wall.

Jake: You piece of shit! You picked the wrong guy to mess with!

Christian looks back at Jake, unstirred by the latter's violence.

Christian: So, what? You're going to beat me? Unless you're really "that" stupid.

Jake tightens his grip on Christian.

Jake: Don't ask for it!

Christian sighs.

Christian: Are you done? Can we talk business now?

Jake stares a hole into Christian, toying with the idea of beating him up. But as Christian is obviously smarter than Fred, Jake lets him go and steps back. Frustrated and annoyed. Suddenly, there's a knock on the door. It's the teacher.

Gym Teacher: Hey, what's going on in there?

Jake sighs. Christian goes to hide behind a locker.

Christian: We'll continue later.

Jake shakes his head. Christian is definitely a weirdo he thinks. Jake unlocks the door and exits.

Gym Teacher: Why did you lock yourself up?

Jake smiles.

Jake: It was probably locked already when someone closed the door on the way out. Sorry I took so long to change.

The gym teacher smiles back.

Gym Teacher: That's alright. Now you have to do 3 extra laps. Come on, get going.

Jake sighs as he starts running. Some of his friends taunt him and laugh at him.

High School: Hallway
Afternoon

Jake and his friends Ross, Jennifer and Charlie are walking to their last class of the day. They are chatting rather happily about their plans for the coming weekend. Well, except for Jake who is looking rather grim. Charlie notices something.

Charlie: Hey… is the fag coming towards us?

The others look in the direction Charlie is referring to and see Christian walking towards them. Jennifer discreetly laughs and Ross looks intrigued. Jake, however, looks rather nervous.

Christian: Hi.

Christian beams a smile at the group as they stop walking.

Christian: Sorry but…

Christian looks at Jake.

Christian: Can I talk to you for a second?

The others look at Jake, confused and surprised. Jake almost frowns but nods.

Jake: Yeah… sure.

Jake turns to his friends.

Jake: Just go on ahead. I'll be right there.

The others agree and walk off. Jake then looks at Christian with eyes that would be shooting daggers right now if they could. Christian smiles back with that obscure smile of his.

Christian: I want your phone number. Mobile.

Jake: Why?

Christian: Just give it to me.

Jake hesitates, but does as he's told. He takes out a piece of paper from his bag and a pen, and writes down his number.

Christian: Careful. I won't be very happy if you give me a fake.

Jake frowns as he throws the paper at Christian.

Jake: Careful too.

Christian smiles back.

Christian: Don't plan anything on Friday. I might call you then.

Before Jake can say anything, Christian walks off. Jake sighs to himself, wondering in what mess he got into. He then heads to his last class for the day.

The Creamy Parlour
Late Afternoon

Jake and Jennifer are at a table, enjoying milkshakes. She is holding his hand as she beams a warm smile. They've been going out 'unofficially' for a few weeks now.

Jennifer: We could go see a movie and then head to my house. Dad won't be back until past midnight. So, you know, we'd be all alone for a little while.

Jake grins.

Jake: You're obsessed, you know that?

Jennifer blushes.

Jennifer: I'm "passionate". That's waaaay different.

Jake chuckles as he leans over to kiss her.

Jake: Sure.

Jennifer smiles back.

Jennifer: So, that's a plan?

Jake nods as his mobile phone starts to ring.

Jake: Yup, sounds good to me.

Jake looks at the caller i.d. and notices that it's a new number calling. He answers.

Jake: Hello?

Male voice: Um. Hi. Jake?

Jake: Yeah?

Male voice: It's me. Christian.

Jake's face grows grim as he gets up. He steps away from the table. Jennifer looks at him, confused.

Jake: What the hell do you want?

Christian: Calm down. What's that music?

Jake sighs.

Jake: I'm at the Creamy Parlour.

Christian: I see. Well, how soon can you get to Guildford?

Jake: Not until tomorrow.

There's a moment of silence.

Christian: I told you not to plan anything today.

Jake: Well, sorry, but you'll have to wait.

Christian is now getting annoyed.

Christian: Don't test my patience. I want you to come to Guildford and head to Blueberry Avenue. Number 17. It's close to the bus station.

Jake is also getting annoyed but does his best to be discreet about it.

Jake: I said I can't!

Christian isn't giving up either.

Christian: From the Creamy Parlour to here, it should take you no more than fifteen minutes. If you're not here in half an hour, I'll consider this as "I don't care if you go speak to Mr Saunders". Got it?

Before Jake can reply, Christian hangs up. Jake stares at his phone in frustration for a moment. Then he goes back to his table where his girlfriend seems more and more confused.

Jennifer: What's going on?

Jake stares at her for a moment before answering:

Jake: That… was my Dad. I need to do something for him. It can't wait.

Jennifer lowers her eyes, disappointed.

Jake: I'm sorry. I promise I'll make it up to you.

Jake takers her hand in his. She then looks back up at him and smiles a bit.

Jennifer: I hope so.

Jake smiles.

Christian's House: Hallway
Late Afternoon

The door bell rings. Christian looks through the pinhole and sees it's Jake. He opens.

Christian: I was starting to think you weren't gonna show up.

Jake looks coldly at Christian before making his way in. Christian closes the door.

Christian: Go in the lounge room. I'll be right there.

Jake: Why the fuck did you ask me to come here?

Christian is a bit taken aback by Jake's anger. But he regains his composure quickly and says:

Christian: Stop asking pointless questions. You're in no position to be all bossy.

Christian walks past Jake and heads in another room. Jake rubs his eyes, almost like he's having a headache. He then goes in the living room and sits on the couch. Christian's house is an average house. Middle class. It's smaller than Jake's and his friends' though. After a moment, Christian walks in with a bowl of popcorn and two drinks.

Christian: I hope you like Coke. It was that or water.

Jake sighs as he looks away. Not even bothering to grab the glass. Christian sits on the couch as well and sips on his drink. There's a moment of tensed silence. Christian then speaks up, with a slightly quieter voice than usual.

Christian: Was it important?

Jake looks back at Christian.

Jake: What?

Christian sighs as he takes another sip of his Coke.

Christian: What you had planned. Was it important?

Jake looks away.

Jake: Why do you care?

Christian looks hurt but Jake doesn't see it.

Christian's House
Late Afternoon

Jake and Christian are on the couch, in the living room, watching televsion. The bowl of popcorn is half-empty. Jake's drink has been midly touched. Christian's glass is empty. Jake looks tired. Christian stares at the television screen. After a moment, Jake speaks up with animosity.

Jake: Is this why you asked me to come? To watch some fuckin' TV?

Christian keeps watching the television as he says:

Christian: It took you one hour to say something. And again, it's a pointless question.

Jake sighs as he gets up.

Jake: Ok. Fuck this. I'm out of here.

Christian gets up before Jake can walk past him and blocks his way.

Christian: You can't! I'm going to tell Mr. Saund---

Jake interrupts Christian, annoyed.

Jake: I don't give a fuck! Now, move away or "I" make you move away!

Christian stares at Jake, not moving one centimetre.

A car pulls up in the driveway. Christian suddenly forces Jake back to sit on the couch.

Christian: Just go along with it. Then you'll be able to leave.

Jake looks back at Christian, confused.

Jake: You're really a fuckin' weirdo.

Christian grabs the bowl of popcorn and puts it in-between them.

Christian: Whatever. Just go along with it. Ok?

Jake sighs.

A moment later, a young woman, in her mid-twenties, brown hair, pretty face, walks in, carrying a pizza and a briefcase. Christian gets up and goes to give the young woman a hug. Jake also gets up and walks over to them.

Christian: Hey! You're home early!

The young woman smiles back.

Young woman: I told you I'd be home early. I have this dinner tonight, remember?

Christian smiles back as he nods.

The young woman then looks at Jake.

Young woman: Who's this?

Christian beams another smile as he throws an arm around Jake's shoulders.

Christian: That's my best friend, Jake. And Jake, that's my big sis, Piper. She's awesome.

Piper grins.

Piper: Flattery will get you anywhere.

Piper kisses Jake on the cheeks.

Piper: Nice to finally meet a friend of my brother's. I always tell him to invite his friends over.

Jake smiles back, as he begins to understand Christian's actions.

Piper: Anyway, I've to rush. Don't make a mess with the pizza.

Piper pecks Christian on the forehead before climbing up the stairs as she says:

Piper: You should invite your friends more often, Chris.

Christian: I will.

Piper disappears upstairs.

Christian's smile fade as he goes back in the living room to sit on the couch. Jake stays still, unsure of what to do or say.

Christian: You can go now.

Even though that's what Jake wanted to hear from the moment he stepped into the house, he hesitates to leave. And instead of rushing off, he goes to sit on the couch as well.

Jake: So, you did all this to prove to your sister that you have friends?

Christian stares at the television screen, his eyes now wet.

Christian: Bingo.

Jake stares at him for a moment, then he says:

Jake: And the best way you found to make friends is… blackmail?

Christian sighs.

Christian: Always asking stupid questions. Just go already.

Jake looks at Christian, feeling sorry for him. Then, feeling guilty for judging him so quickly.

Jake gets up.

Jake: I'm sorry.

Christian looks like he's about to cry.

Christian: I don't want your pity.

Jake stares at Christian for a moment before saying:

Jake: I'm sorry for calling you a weirdo.

Jake then walks off and leaves.

Christian stays still as a few tears escape his eyes.

© 2002-2006 by Kevin Strife. All rights reserved.