Betrayed This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The Visa bill sat on the table staring at Brian, its long rows of numbers taunting him. One 1987 Honda Accord for $2,225. One entertainment center for $125. Two air conditioners for $500. The list went on and on, its contents laid out in front of him.

He racked his brain to try to figure out who had purchased the items. The last time he had used his credit card was when he had stopped for gas on vacation a month ago. He hadn't given the card to the clerk at the gas station, because he had used the machine next to the pump. He couldn't think how anyone could have gotten his card or number.

Then, suddenly, he remembered his friend Rob had been two months behind on his rent and had borrowed his Visa to pay it. He swore he would pay him back and still had not. But surely Rob wouldn't do something like this. He always struck Brian as responsible. Sure, he had been two months behind on his rent, but that was because he had been out of work with a knee injury. Still, no one else had borrowed his card. He couldn't accept the fact that Rob could have betrayed their friendship. There was only one thing to do, ask Rob.

* * *

Brian's headlights pierced through the night's gloom and illuminated the side of Rob's meager, but sufficient house. The lights were off and an occasional flicker of the TV could be seen through the living room window.

The sight of the dancing light reminded Brian that there had been a big-screen TV on the invoice. He had thought that the light was rather bright for just TV ... No! There's no way Rob bought any of that stuff.

Brian walked up to the door and hesitated for a moment, trying to decide how to handle the situation. Acting casual seemed best. Besides, he would see how Rob reacted when he saw him. That might be all Brian needed to decide if Rob was guilty.

He jabbed at the doorbell, slightly annoyed at himself because he had spent so much time deliberating. What was he worried about anyway? He'd known Rob since freshman year in college, and he'd never done anything to him.

Rob opened the door with a slight smile that quickly turned solemn and nervous when he saw Brian.

"Uh ... hi," stuttered Rob. "What's up?"

Brian swore he sensed nervousness in Rob's voice, but it passed so quickly he wasn't sure.

"Oh, not much," said Brian coolly. "I was just in the neighborhood and thought I would stop by."

"Well, I'm afraid I haven't been feeling very well lately, and wouldn't be much company," said Rob in a slightly hoarser voice.

"Oh, I don't mind. We can watch some TV," said Brian, emphasizing TV. He was now certain that Rob was the betrayer from his evasive behavior and obvious deceit.

"I'm really not feeling great, and I'd just as soon be by myself, but thanks anyway," said Rob quickly.

Yeah, I'm sure he would like to be alone, so he could get rid of me and watch his nice new big-screen TV he bought with my money. Well, there's no way he's doing that!

"Well I'll see you around sometime," said Rob, clearly ready to end the encounter.

Rob began to shut the door when he was thrown back by a sudden inward push of the door. He was completely unprepared to be knocked to the floor, and found himself staring up at a red-faced madman. A minute ago this had been his friend Brian, but now it was someone else. The body was the same, but behind that mortal facade was someone completely different. That someone was insanely angry, and Brian had never been angry, let alone so angry that you could feel it run through you.

"Just what kind of an idiot do you think I am?" shrieked Brian. "I know all the things you bought with my credit card. You must think that when someone lends you a credit card for back rent you can also go on a freakin' shopping spree."

Rob just stared at Brian with a frozen expression of disbelief and fear. He searched his face in hope of finding a trace of his friend. When he saw none, he finally spoke.

"I swear, all I did with your credit card was pay my rent," said Rob in a monotonous drone.

"Oh please, don't give me that. No one else had access to my card except you, and the dates are when you had it."

"All I know is that I paid my rent," said Rob in a near whimper. "You can even check around the house if you want."

"Well, all I know is I've got a huge bill and evidence that keeps pointing to you. I'm sick of arguing, now are you going to pay the bill?"

"No way - I didn't buy anything," said Rob in a more confident voice.

Brian scanned the room for a few seconds before his eyes met with a knife set on the kitchen counter.

"Well, you may not pay me with money, but you will pay me in another way," crooned Brian. He reached over and grabbed the largest steak knife, and a dumb smile appeared on his face.

"Hey man, what are you doing?" squealed Rob.

Brian lashed out with quick precision, first at Rob's neck, then his abdomen. Blood covered Brian, and the walls were spattered. Rob lay on the floor, motionless. Brian held the knife up to the moonlight and its blade glistened crimson. "I have been betrayed once, but never again. If anyone tries to be the betrayer again, I know exactly what I'll do, and I won't hesitate a moment."

* * *

The Betrayer held the envelope that had given him so much power over Brian's life. The simple string of numbers on the withdrawal form that had been so carelessly forgotten had allowed him to have a man killed and another sent to jail. He loved it. He loved the sheer, raw power that he possessed with the numbers. Now the numbers were useless. The account had been cancelled and he was left with material things that many would cherish. But he did not; he loathed them. He had cherished the power. He needed to get it again, and he would use another one to get it. All he had to do was find another tenant unable to pay his rent, and send him a letter like the one he had sent to Rob. A letter that warned of eviction if the rent wasn't paid, and suggested that the tenant try borrowing money from a friend. Maybe, just maybe, the person would make the same mistake Rob had. He hoped and prayed it would happen, and soon. He was already feeling edgy without the power. The Betrayer knew that he would do anything to get it back. 1


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






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