An Offer You Can’t Refuse
“Whoa! Hang on a minute,” exclaimed Logan, holding up his hands. “You’ve got to be joking, right?”
Harvey looked at him with no hint of jest in his eyes, and shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m not joking.”
Logan laughed slightly. He crossed his arms. “Sure. Okay, where have you got the hidden cameras?”
Harvey smiled patiently. “There are no hidden cameras and this is not a joke, Logan. I have told you the complete truth.”
“But it’s ridiculous,” Logan told him, his voice almost a whine. “You can’t possibly expect me to believe I’ve been employed to fight supernatural creatures?”
Harvey’s smile grew as he sat back in his chair. “Perhaps not right away. You did, after all, circle no when asked if you believed in the supernatural.”
Logan’s shoulders fell and his hands dropped into his lap. He just stared for a moment, incredulous. “That question was serious?”
“Yes, and the answer you gave me at the end of the original interview was what made me, as well as Mr. Gerard, decide you were the best person for the job.”
“But it’s so ridiculous,” Logan groaned.
He didn’t believe it was true and he didn’t want to believe it, but there were tiny doubts beginning to creep into his mind because of how calm and genuine Harvey seemed.
“I assure you it’s all true,” Harvey told him, his expression earnest. “Mr. Gerard has been building his collection for many years.”
“And what sort of supernatural creatures does Mr. Gerard have?” Logan asked, wanting to see just how ridiculous this could get.
“Oh, all sorts. There are a couple of werewolves, a few zombies, banshees, shape shifters, fairies, some various demons, and one vampire. Mr. Gerard has been looking to add another one to his collection for a little while now.”
Logan crossed his arms once more. “Why doesn’t he get the vampire he has to just turn someone?” He was no expert, but he had seen enough vampire movies to play along.
Why not, he thought to himself, this is probably just some crazy dream anyway, but I really didn’t think my brain was this imaginative.
“Because she won’t,” Harvey answered, surprising Logan. His reply was a bit too serious to be a part of a crazy dream. Logan would have expected him to say something like ‘Mr. Gerard wouldn’t allow that’ or ‘she can’t be controlled enough not to slaughter the person.’
Maybe it wasn’t a dream after all and Logan was really sitting here having a conversation about a vampire.A vampire I may have to fight, he mentally added to himself.
Logan started to laugh. He couldn’t help it.
“Seriously, this has been fun and all,” he said through his laughter, although it was slightly strained, “but I really can’t play this prank any longer. I need a real job.”
Logan stood up and turned away from the other man. He kept laughing, but he felt panic rise in him with every step to the door.
“If you need a job so desperately, Logan, then what’s the harm in seeing if what I say is true?”
Harvey’s words brought Logan to an immediate halt. His fingers clenched the cold metal of the doorknob, but he didn’t turn it as he considered what Harvey just said.
What’s the harm? Logan repeated, his heart accelerating at the thought.
What was the harm of accepting a job offer for something that seemed completely unimaginable? There was plenty, but he desperately needed a job, and those who were desperate couldn’t be picky.
The truth of this settled over him. It engulfed him. I’m desperate, he thought.
And this is what swayed him.
Logan slowly turned back towards Harvey, who was now standing up behind his desk, giving Logan an encouraging look.
He took a deep breath. “Okay, I’ll take it.”
“Are you sure?”
He wasn’t sure. He didn’t believe. He couldn’t believe, but he couldn’t not take this job. He needed it. Even if it all turned out to be some huge hoax, the worst off he could be was jobless and on the street.
Where I was going to be, anyway, he told himself.
“I’m sure,” he informed Harvey.
The other man eyed him for a second with a considering expression. “Good. You will need to leave for the estate this Saturday.”
Logan swallowed audibly, panic rearing its head again. How was he supposed to pack, tie up loose ends, and say goodbye to his grandparents in just two days? It wasn’t enough time.
Perhaps it’s better this way, he tried to tell himself. At least it will give me less time to think about what I’ve done.
This helped a bit, but Logan still felt overwhelmed. Still felt as if he were on a speeding train taking him to an unknown destination.
He and Harvey spoke for a bit longer then Logan left, his mind reeling as he walked from the building. He began to make a mental list of all the things he needed to do before Saturday, and tried his hardest not to think about the job itself. He was afraid if he did that he would run screaming down the street before getting carted off to the hospital, where he would rave about vampires and werewolves being real.
The image of this brought a smile to Logan’s mouth as he got on the bus to head to his grandparents’ house. He knew he needed to think about what Harvey told him eventually, but for the time being, Logan would concentrate on his to do list.
The bus rattled along, and Logan barely noticed the smell of perfume and sweat that permeated the confined space. He was too focused on wondering how he was going to do the first item on his list. He was hesitant about asking his grandfather if he would help Logan move out of his apartment, as well as let him store his extra belongings in his grandparents’ basement. He was even more hesitant about asking if he could stay at their house Friday night, but this was just because it made Logan feel uncomfortable. He didn’t want to take advantage of his grandparents and he also knew his parents definitely wouldn’t like it.
As the bus slowed to collect some passengers and Logan picked at a hole in the leather seat, he knew the hardest part of the first item on his list wasn’t asking for his grandparents’ help. It was telling them he was leaving.
What am I doing? thought Logan as he watched his luggage being loaded into the trunk of a black town car at six o’clock Saturday morning. I’m walking into a hoax. It’s got to be a hoax. What have I done?
“Hmm?” he murmured when he felt a touch on his arm. He pulled his eyes away from the car and brought his thoughts back to his surroundings where he stood on the sidewalk in front of his grandparents’ house. He looked down to find his grandmother’s hand on his wrist.
“Cookies for the road,” she told him as she handed Logan a plastic bag full of choc chip cookies. Her eyes were red and filled with tears, but she wore a small smile.
Logan was still pretty full from dinner last night, as his grandmother made him his favorite meal of lasagna, but even if he wasn’t, he doubted if he would be able to stomach anything. He wasn’t going to say no to his grandmother’s cookies, though. “Thanks, Grams.”
She squeezed his arm then let go.
Logan’s grandfather stepped up to her and put his arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him, wiping her eyes.
“This is a good thing,” Logan told them, although his stomach was tight with sadness and unease.
His grandmother’s strained smile grew. “We know, sweetheart. We’re just going to miss you.”
Logan felt his eyes sting at her words. This was the moment he had been dreading, when they would have to say their proper goodbyes. Last night his grandparents didn’t want to dwell on the fact that he was leaving, which Logan was all too willing to go along with. Now they needed to say goodbye. Who knew when he’d have the opportunity to see them again?
Logan cleared his throat and blinked rapidly. “I’m not sure when I’ll get to contact you. The place is pretty remote apparently, so communication isn’t always reliable,” Logan told his grandparents, relaying what Harvey Vale told him two days before, but omitting that the electrified fences surrounding the estate also played a part in this.
“Have you found out exactly where the property is yet?” asked his grandfather, voice gruff, but this was his only sign of emotion. He was being strong for Logan’s grandmother.
When Logan originally told his grandparents about the job, they of course wanted to know more about it, but due to the confidentiality agreement Logan couldn’t tell them. He knew he had to tell them something, so he lied, saying the job was as a farm hand on a property somewhere north of Los Angeles. Besides, even without the confidentiality agreement Logan wouldn’t have told them the truth. Telling his grandparents he had a job fighting supernatural creatures would reveal just how truly idiotic he was.
“North is all I know right now,” Logan answered, putting on a smile, but feeling his uneasiness grow. He didn’t want to worry them, but he was becoming a little worried himself. “I’ll let you know where I am as soon as I can.”
His grandparents met eyes for a moment in silent communication. As they both turned back to him, Logan noticed his grandfather’s arm tighten around his grandmother’s shoulders.
“All right,” said his grandmother, “but make sure you do. I’m going to miss you, sweetheart.”
Logan stepped forward and so did his grandmother. He leaned down and hugged her fiercely. “I’ll miss you too,” he mumbled into her hair.
He moved from his grandmother’s grasp to be swept up in a giant hug from his grandfather. He felt his spine vibrate as his grandfather thumped him on the back, but Logan didn’t mind.
When his grandfather released him, Logan received a last kiss from his grandmother. He squeezed her hand then turned and walked away towards the town car where Harvey stood waiting.
Harvey opened a door and motioned towards the back seat of the car. “Ready?”
Logan looked at the car’s black interior and he couldn’t help but think that it resembled a shadowy cave. A cave he was about to enter where anything could lurk in the dark. Nerves saturated his body, but he made himself reply. “Yep.”
As Harvey rounded the car to get in the other side, Logan turned back to get a last look at his grandparents. His grandmother was now openly crying and his grandfather held her firmly against him, whispering, no doubt, comforting words in her ear.
The back of Logan’s throat grew tight and he had trouble swallowing as he waved to them. He cast his gaze aside and with the bag of cookies clutched in his hand, he slid into the back seat of the car beside Harvey.
As Logan closed the door, he really hoped this wasn’t some hoax. But really, how could it not be?
As they traveled, Logan and Harvey barely spoke. Logan spent most of the trip deep in thought or looking out the window. There was hardly anything to be seen, apart from trees and more trees.
They stopped once for a restroom break at around eight-thirty in a small town that Logan didn’t know the name of. When they got back into the town car, Logan went back to thinking. His mind raced with the possibilities of what was ahead. He wondered over and over again if what he was headed towards was real. What would he do when the hoax was revealed? What would his grandparents think when he turned up on their doorstep? More than anything, what would he do if all this was actually real?
Logan felt the hair on the back of his neck stand on end.
No, it’s got to be fake, he told himself for what felt like the hundredth time. It can’t be real.
But what if it is real, what will you do? asked a tiny voice in the back of his mind.
Logan let out a breath. Nothing. I’ll just take it as it comes and do what I have to until I can go home.
The thought of home sent Logan’s stomach churning. He didn’t actually have a home to go back to. He had nothing to go back to as he’d given not only the entirety of his final paycheck to his landlord, but also the small amount of furniture he had collected over the last two years to cover his back rent. All he possessed now was a few bags of clothes and some boxes filled with old toys, yearbooks, trophies and various other high school memorabilia. It was everything in his bedroom when his parents kicked him out and in two years he hadn’t collected much more.
He tried to calm his stomach and his thoughts, but Logan knew he wouldn’t find any solace until the truth was revealed.
Two hours later, the car began to slow and it turned off onto another road. Logan looked out the window once more, but he could still only see the green and brown of leaves and bark rushing past, as the trees lined the road in a tight cluster now. He sat back in his seat, but he wasn’t left waiting long. Not quite ten minutes after turning onto the new road, they began to slow once more and came to a stop.
Logan turned to Harvey. “Are we here?”
“Almost. We’re at the gate now.”
As Harvey stopped talking, Logan heard the sound of a motorized gate opening.
When the sound stopped, the car started forward once more. Gravel crunched beneath the tires. Logan’s heart almost jumped out of his chest in panic. He wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans and tried to take deep breaths as he attempted to catch a glimpse through the windows of what lay ahead.
This was it. In the next minutes he would find out if what he had gotten himself into was real. At this moment, Logan didn’t know what he would prefer more. If by some crazy chance it was real, Logan would have a job and a home. But if it was...
Logan swallowed deeply, and when the car stopped again he looked at Harvey. The other man nodded, a reassuring smile on his face. Harvey turned to open his door, and Logan did the same. With his shoulders tense and his breath held, he stepped out of the town car to find the biggest house he had ever seen.
© 2012 Jade Fowler