Jared Lipof
| Fiction

“You know what this means?” said Benny.

“This’ll be good,” I said. “And you can stop yelling. He can’t hear you anymore.”

“Someone’s coming to get him,” he whispered. “If we’re going to collect that reward, we need to act fast. He’ll be in the wind before you know it.”

“Maybe we should get Nader and Mike involved. We can cover more bases.”

“Oliver, allow me to explain the concept of division,” said Benny. “Ten thousand divided by two equals five thousand, correct?”

“Fine, then,” I said. “If you’re worried about your cut of the reward, then why get me involved? You could keep it all to yourself.”

“Ollie, please. We’re best friends.”

It delighted me to hear him say this aloud. Within the dynamics of our quartet, I had always cast myself as Benny’s right-hand man, the Chewbacca to his Han Solo, but there were times I wasn’t so sure. Sometimes I’d catch wind of sleepovers I hadn’t been invited to, and when we hung out the following week, I would find myself squinting with confusion at new terms that had entered the group’s private lexicon in my absence, phrases like douche chill, inside jokes with me on the outside. Hearing him call me his best friend made my ribcage swell.

That is, until he continued, “Plus, we’ll need to get your uncle involved.”

Uncle Stan. My connection to the Hanover Police Depart-ment. That’s all it was.

Uncle Stan lived on Beech Street, a couple of miles from our apartment complex. We decided to approach him at home the next day, while he was off-duty, instead of marching into Hanover PD and whipping the entire force into a lather and, as Benny put it, “gathering investors along the way.” Every person we told, Benny said, would want in on the reward money.

“Not sure investors is accurate,” I said.“Irregardless,” said Benny. “We only tell your uncle, and if he can slap cuffs on Thurston by himself, we’re still talking thirty-three hundred apiece. Not too shabby.”

Jared Lipof is a sound engineer for documentary television programs. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review. He lives in Tallahassee, where he is at work on a novel.

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