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The Deal With Futureman This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     Futureman came down from upstairs with his eyes closed and his voice heavy, and told us it was over. “I don’t know,” he said, so we agreed.
His shirt was a dirty shade of gray and his pants were black with dirt or ash. We were never really sure. His hair had this tangled quality and always stood up in strange contortions that certain circles of girls considered stylish. His name was John, but everyone called him Futureman because he always talked about spaceships and computers and other things he read about in Popular Science. He was certain that technology was changing our world before our eyes. He drove a pretty crappy car, though, and he lived in an old mansion that was peeling, rotting, and dying.
We had come to his house because he had a parcel for us. Futureman was a salesman of all things vulgar and profane. At school during lunch he sat alone eating his egg salad on rye, and all kinds of kids would come talk to him. He conversed in a thin, mercurial manner; words would ease from his mouth like heavy smoke. Usually after a minute or two, the kid would get up and Futureman would go back to his egg salad. The deal had been made.
I was the one who had to make the deal with Futureman. We picked straws and although I was sure that Walton had lost, he pleaded not to go, and I wasn’t going to argue. So I went to Futureman. He had on these long, round sunglasses and there was egg salad in his stubble. He didn’t look up when I sat.
“Don’t worry, Bob. I know what you need.” My name isn’t Bob; that’s just what he called people.
“Yeah? How you so sure?”
“Does it matter how? You’re gonna pay two hundred for it.” So the deal was made. Manfred had said that anything above three hundred would be unreasonable, so I took it. When I got back to our table, the guys seemed fine. No one was ecstatic, but Futureman wasn’t the easiest kid to deal with. We got our money together and decided to call it a day.
***
I was the only one who had been to Futureman’s house before, but I didn’t tell anyone because then they would have made me go in alone. Forsythe drove because he had the BMW and we wanted to look respectable, or at least that’s what we told ourselves. I think Manfred wanted to show Futureman that we were better than him, had more money and class. Walton even wore a suit. We looked kind of ridiculous, the four of us getting out of a BMW at Futureman’s dilapidated castle.
Inside the house it was dank and empty. Our guarded footsteps echoed as we made our way up the stairs to Futureman’s room. He looked up from his desk, smoking something that probably wasn’t a cigarette. A grin formed when he saw us.
“Nice Beemer.”
“It’s mine,” Forsythe blurted.
“Great, Bob. Great.” Futureman removed the cigarette from his mouth and took off his sunglasses. His eyes were frightening. They were set far apart and were a sad shade of green. “Roger,” he said, rubbing his face. “Take the money from the kid in the suit, and tell your friends to wait downstairs.” Walton looked at me in disbelief for a few seconds, but took the envelope from his coat. Forsythe and Manfred stood still for a moment, but got the idea and left. When it was just me and Futureman, the room fell silent. I sat down and threw the envelope on the table.
“It’s all there,” I assured him.
“Don’t worry. I believe you. I just have one question, Roger. Why do four kids like you need this?”
“I can’t go into it.”
“I guess everyone’s entitled to their secrets.” Then he stood and brushed off his sweater. “I’m gonna need you to turn around, you understand?” I turned my back to him. I heard the rustling of items. Something fell and there was more digging; then it stopped.
“You need to go downstairs,” he said.
“What about our money?”
“Just go.” I didn’t want to put up a fight, so I went. The more I thought about it, I didn’t really need the parcel. Downstairs they were all waiting impatiently, sweating through their coats. No one asked questions. I took a seat and began tapping my foot.
***
It was Manfred who wanted it in the first place. He needed it the most and we all knew why. “I have some loose ends to tie up,” he said. He also had the money to buy it himself, but it would have looked bad if he had gone alone, and he was dead afraid of Futureman. Getting the three of us to chip in and come was just a formality. Forsythe had the BMW and Walton could be talked into anything, so we all went. Manfred knew that I had a history with Futureman, so he drew me in, but he talked in a sly manner. “Come on, Roger. What’s the big deal?” he assured me. So I agreed.
Manfred was wealthy and well respected and wore his hair in a slick style that certain girls considered stylish. He was painfully shrewd and no one quite knew his true intentions. He would pick me up on weekends in his sports car and take me to dull parties with even duller girls. I think he liked me because I beat him up a few years back after I caught him trying to steal my sweater in gym. Stealing a sweater was the kind of thing everyone knew Manfred would do, but no one would call him on it. I wouldn’t have either if it hadn’t been my sweater. After the fight, he shook my hand and told me to hang out with him and not to tell anyone what had really happened.
He wanted the parcel because there was a girl he had to keep quiet. I don’t know what happened in his sports car that night, but I knew it couldn’t be covered up with a handshake and a grin. He had a nervous sheen on his face when he asked me about Futureman. His veins were bulging and sweat was ambling down his forehead. “You know Futureman, right?” he asked. He knew the answer. The next day Forsythe and Walton were at the table and we were told about the possible expenses. The only thing left to do was interrupt Futureman’s egg salad on rye and make the deal.
***
I had always liked Walton because he wasn’t pompous or entitled like Manfred; he was just nervous. Walton easily could have been a big man like Manfred - he had the money and the hair - but he rattled like a roller coaster. You could tell he was especially shook up when he wore a suit. It was always royal blue with gold buttons and brown pants. Sometimes, when he was really worked up, he would wear an ascot. The suit was his protection against the less refined people who were always getting in his way.
A few years back, Walton said something he shouldn’t have to someone he shouldn’t have been talking to, and he got really nervous. It was a kid from Southtown, someone who was dangerous. Walton was wearing his blazer and rushing to a test and he bumped into the kid. Walton fell down and erupted. He started spewing all sorts of things that no person of his reputation should say. Things got ugly but they rushed Walton away. After that, Walton got really scared. He started driving to school in a big truck with a bodyguard. Rumors spread that he was wearing Kevlar under his suit. Walton started avoiding Southtown like the plague.
Manfred kept Walton around because, in comparison, Manfred looked calm and collected. When Walton was in the back seat of Manfred’s sports car biting his nails, Manfred was up front with a girl riding shotgun. It was hard to tell if Walton was smart enough to realize what was going on. Anyone whose teeth chatter when he answers a math question is prone to look stupid. I had a hunch that Walton was a smart guy though. He read The Times every morning and watched “The McLaughlin Group.” Maybe Walton caught Manfred trying to steal an ascot, and that’s why he was always around.
***
When Futureman came down the stairs, we stood. There was a look of exasperation on his face. I don’t think anything got Futureman frustrated enough to do anything drastic. He just kind of looked us over and took out a cigarette. I could smell the sweat dripping down Walton’s face. Forsythe was behind me, clasping the keys to the BMW in his pocket. Futureman sat on the couch and spoke.
“I don’t know,” he said, staring blankly at our shoes. Manfred was fuming.
“What happened?” I asked. I was kind of relieved.
“It’s not where I left it. I don’t know what happened. But I can assure you that this wasn’t intentional.” He looked up at Manfred. “You do know it was a heavy thing that you asked for. It was a weighty item.”
“What does weight have to do with anything?” asked Manfred. His face was red.
“What I mean is. You guys tried to get a very heavy item, and sometimes things just wield too much power - too much authority - over others. You understand.” He threw the envelope at me. “I’m sorry.” He got up and climbed the stairs, making labored sounds with each step.
“What happens now?” asked Manfred.
“We leave,” I said. “We go home.” I started walking to the door, and Forsythe followed with his keys. Walton followed too, and then Manfred. Manfred’s eyes were quiet. There was no sly grin on his face. His hands were in his pockets, fingering his wallet.
When we got to the car, Forsythe shook my hand. He was thankful, for what I didn’t know. I never really knew much about Forsythe. He was kind of ephemeral. Sometimes he was there, and sometimes he wasn’t. He was this strange ghost of a kid, gliding swiftly between people and groups, to the point where no one knew him. I never really saw him after he dropped me off. No one ever mentioned him.
The more I think about it now, maybe he wasn’t real. Maybe he was just in my head, driving me nowhere and saying nothing, not breathing or eating. I guess I’ll never know.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the February 2008 Teen Ink Fiction Contest.





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This article has 7 comments. Post your own!

In_Love_with_WritingThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 16 at 2:07 pm:
Wow! This is fantastic! Thanks for a good read :) Can you comment and rate some of my work?
 
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IntrepidRoseThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 16, 2011 at 2:33 pm:
It's amazing what wonderful writing can be found on this website, especially if you dig a bit.
 
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LlamaSensei said...
Feb. 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm:
I'll never forget the first time I read this; it's always struck me as incredibly deep. Awesome job!
 
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M.A.C said...
Sept. 15, 2009 at 7:30 pm:
Hey, the writing's good. Turn it into a full flowing chapter, and it'll be one of the greatest books I'll ever read
 
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Freetorun said...
Sept. 15, 2009 at 2:20 pm:
Very intriguing! Perfectly suspenseful...
 
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Mr.Knightley said...
Apr. 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm:
I got bored around the middle, and it was somewhat anti-climatic. Overall, though, it was good. :)
 
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beckyg said...
Nov. 15, 2008 at 6:39 pm:
I read this story when it was first published and never forgot it. I liked it so much when I was bored I looked it up on the website and read it again. It held up the second time. It's really original and intelligent. I don't say this about many people, but I think you have The Gift.
 
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