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Living Standards

by Bill Kowaleski

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Living Standards: synopsis

In a future world marked by extremes of poverty and wealth, 13-year old Jiri has known only poverty. One day, a wealthy woman appears in Jiri’s enclave, the slum he calls home, and offers his mother an unimaginable amount of money for Jiri’s services. Little do Jiri and his mother know what the woman intends, but they accept. As Jiri grows and prospers in his new life, he becomes involved in a dangerous movement that will change his life and everyone else’s as well.

Chapter 19: Carlo Spills

It hadn’t been easy. Carlo was a prisoner in all but name in Teresa Walters’ sprawling mansion, one of several monstrous residences that dominated the lush riverine landscape of Norristown, an old community that had grown to become the major business and wealth center of the eastern part of the state once known as Pennsylvania, now merged with three other states and called Midatlantic.

Bain had tried several different ruses to get Carlo to meet him in Lake Forest, but what finally worked was to get Teresa Walters out of the house instead. Since Teresa sat on the Supreme Council subcommittee studying tax reform, he cajoled Chairman Greene into calling a face-to-face meeting, which was required whenever highly confidential issues were discussed. As soon as he learned that Teresa had arrived in Washington, he rushed to her mansion.

Carlo himself answered the door, took one quick look at Bain, and whirled on his heel, intent on shutting the door in Bain’s face.

“Wait a minute, Carlo,” Bain implored. “I’ve got an offer for you, something you might really like to hear.”

“What could you offer me, asshole? I’m already stuck with one molester, I don’t need two.”

“Just let me talk to you, OK?”

Carlo paused, studied the floor. “Why not? Nothing else to do.”

They sat in a gigantic room of austere, light gray furniture, light gray window and floor coverings, and dull blue walls. Bain felt that the room sucked the energy out of him. He took a deep breath, trying to overcome the draining effect of the room, deciding he needed to be blunt and direct.

“Look, I know your situation. She keeps you on Soma-K, she uses it to get you aroused and service her. If you ever were to walk out of here, you’d be homeless, penniless, and probably die because you wouldn’t be able to pay for detox, and with Soma-K you can’t go cold turkey.”

“Yeah, right so far,” Carlo grumbled. Bain paused to take a look at him. He was still a nice looking guy; a little heavier than Bain liked, but many women would find him to be muscular, masculine, and very intriguing. He still had the sharp Latin features that he’d had in his youth, and his black hair and eyebrows still contrasted nicely with his symmetric face.

“So here’s my offer. There’s a guy in my car outside with a video system. If you’ll just truthfully answer some questions about your situation in front of the camera and this witness, I’ll give you a nice place to stay in Lake Forest after you get out of the best detox facility in the country. You remember what I told you many years ago, don’t you? I don’t go back on my word.”

“I remember that you offered me the good life if you could just rape me for a year. Yeah, I sure got the good life didn’t I?”

“Look, I didn’t make you hook up with that witch. And you’re living in one of the best places in the world, in a massive mansion. Did I lie to you?”

Carlo laughed, a jeering, taunting laugh that Bain bore stoically. “And what are the hidden strings on your offer now? I’m not thirteen; I don’t think you want to have sex with me.”

“No, absolutely not. But if you do this, you’ll have done me a huge favor. I’ll make sure you’re well taken care of. I have the means to do that. You should talk to your former co-star Jiri. He’s done pretty well by me.”

“I did talk to him, at the last Supreme Council meeting. Yeah, he said he was independently wealthy. But then, he made most of the money on those videos.”

“If you do this, I’ll get you a good job in Bain Enterprises. You’ll be self-sufficient, you’ll be able to marry, to lead a regular life. Isn’t that worth an hour of your time?”

Carlo stared hard into Bain’s eyes. He had little to lose, and if this was what he thought it was, it would at least allow him to strike back at his hated oppressor. “Sure, man. Why not? Bring the dude in. Let’s get on with it.”

Proceed to Chapter 20...

Copyright © 2016 by Bill Kowaleski

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