It was a huge payday. My biggest ever.
The end-of-day Friday bell had gone and endless numbers of suits poured out of their office buildings. I skipped my way through the masses. My leather shoes squeaked against the concrete while the many Wall Street big shots cocked their eyebrows.
Weekend freedom or not, a twenty-six-year-old dressed in an Armani-knockoff suit fluttering around like a hummingbird makes you stick out in a place like that. Had it been any other day, I would have reeled it in the moment I realized how much attention I had garnered. The spine would straighten, tie would be adjusted, and my pace would quicken.
But not on that Friday. That one belonged to me.
The Hexagonal pillars of Sixty Wall Street were getting closer. They’re the same damn grey colour as every other building. It was my home-sweet-home. That high rise cubicle prison is where I’d spent the better part of my waking life for the last five years.
The three stooges would be waiting on the thirty-second floor, just like every other Friday. It was part of their week’s end celebration. Just a little pre-party after work before a night of drugs, strippers, and overpriced escorts.
Good, wholesome fun.
They were mostly known as the Under Thirty Club around the office. The only one in their twenties who wasn’t in their little brigade — was me. Apparently, they didn’t see me as one their kin. That was going to change. They would have to let me in once they heard the news I was packing.
At that point in time, their little club consisted of the big boss, Eli. He was a real go-getter and had been minted at only twenty-two. He was a really nice and approachable guy — so long as you didn’t talk to him. It had Brenner, who really wasn’t such a bad dude. Just a rich kid who got put it in a good position he didn’t deserve because of how deep daddy’s pockets were.
Lastly, there was that double-crossing, money-hoarding, rat-faced mother-fucker, Gilligan. That little subset of the vermin species always found a way to wriggle himself in on a good deal. Never did things in a clean way. Always made sure someone else looked bad when things went wrong. Threw me under the bus the few times I’d worked close by him.
But he wouldn’t be standing tall above me on that Friday. No sir. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t invited to their little shindig. It was my turn to by top dog.
I grossed $213,000 clean for shorting a bunch of early-rising, mid-sized tech start-ups earlier that day. I was able to repurchase everything for less than half of what I sold it for at noon. And I did it all without any inside tips or crooked information. Just good old-fashioned, clean investment banking.
By my calculation, that capital gain would put me in the top five percent of average annual income in the US. And it was only past the start of the third quarter. Pretty good for a twenty-six-year-old.
I made it to the front doors with three minutes to spare — just before my key card was deactivated for the weekend. The cleaning staff, which had already started mopping the luxury vinyl tiles, looked at me suspiciously as I strolled towards the elevator.
I stepped inside and pressed number thirty-two. I felt for the expensive, surprise party gift in my pocket. I couldn’t wait to bust it out.
I was hopping up and down by the time the ride was over. I jogged out once the doors opened and headed for the front wing. That’s exactly where they’d be — hanging out in the last row of cubicles, the ones lined up right by the window overlooking the street.
I could hear them laughing and shouting before I even pushed the glass doors open. They hushed down once they realized someone was coming and stared at me like I was going to rat them out as I turned down that last row of desks.
I just smiled. I sure as fuck am not a narc.
They sat in a closed triangle with a little table in the center. Their expensive suit jackets were off and hanging over their chairs. Their ties were loosened and the tops of their dress shirts were unbuttoned. Brenner sipped from a Heineken Tallboy. That was pretty soft-core, even for him.
“Did one of you invite him?” Gilligan whispered, clearly unaware I was already in earshot.
“Gentlemen,” I said. “So happy to be here. Mind if I join you?”
Their eyes crossed glances with one another as I pulled a chair out and stuck it between Eli and Brenner. Both of them reluctantly slid apart to make room.
“You know, I’ve always wondered what your little Friday parties were like. Kinda feel like I’ve been missing out all this time.”
“Mitchener, seems a little intrusive and out of character for you to just barge in here,” Eli said. “Don’t you think it would be in good taste to ask for an invitation first?”
He gave me that smug look that I’ve seen so many times from the other end of the desk in his big corner office. The one that said, achieve the exact result I want with my vague instructions or I will sell you out so hard. One of his signature power-trip moves. But the big boss wasn’t getting inside my head that evening.
Gilligan grinned so you could see his little Rat fangs. Brenner leaned the other way and kept sipping his beer.
“C’mon now, boss,” I said while turning to Eli. “I brought a present for everyone. I’m sure you guys can make some room.”
I pulled the baggie from my pocket and threw it on the little table. It was partially unsealed and little bits of white powder spilled across the surface when it landed.
“The fuck is this shit?” Gilligan said.
“What do you think it is, Gilligan?”
“Looks like some cheap generic trash to me?”
“That’s amazing. You can tell with just you’re beady little eyes.”
Gilligan leaned back and put his feet on the table. “I know good shit when I see it.”
Eli laughed. “Don’t be so quick to judge. Give big Mitch’s powder a taste at least.”
Gilligan swept a bit of the spilled portion into his palm. He cupped it and brought to his nostrils and snorted. His eyes watered and squinted a little before returning to normal. He dabbed his finger in again and put some under his gums.
“Well?” Eli said.
Everyone looked me. I got angry.
“Have you even done coke before?” Gilligan asked.
My fist clenched into a ball. I fantasized about planting it in his face. If I didn’t still have the big payday news to break, I likely would have followed through.
“Yes, I have.”
“Then you need to develop your pallet a bit. Cause your stuff tastes like shit and I can already tell it won’t take me very high. Here, let me introduce you to some aficionado grade product.”
He tossed my baggie over his shoulder. More of that precious white powder spilled out over the floor. The rage inside me pulsed a little stronger than before.
Gilligan pulled a bigger baggie out of his bag that was packed so tight couldn’t believe the seams weren’t bursting. He dropped it in the spot where my inferior bag filled with inferior product had just been.
I looked around the group. Eli and Gilligan relished this very unique form of humiliation. Brenner was still trying to stay out of it. I think he wished we could all just get along.
And what better recreational activity than doing lines of coke is there to achieve peace?
I fished a twenty from my wallet. I rolled up into a tight cylinder and held it in place between my ring and middle finger. With my free hand, I pried the little bag open and let a bit slide out.
I separated a fair sized line and leaned over. Gilligan hurriedly slid some extra over, nearly doubling the amount I had allocated myself.
“Have at it, Mitch.”
The white powder flew up past Andrew Jackson’s face and all the way up my nostril. It was by far the biggest line I’d ever inhaled and the immediate burn was crippling. I swore I could feel the brain cells melting inside my head. My heart, already plagued by its own hereditary palpitations, felt like it was struggling with its following pumps.
It was perhaps the first honest thing that piece-of-shit ever told me. His coke was top grade stuff. Quite frankly more than I was cut out to handle.
Gilligan slapped me hard across the back as I leaned over the table trying to regain myself. Through my blurred vision, I could see that fucking smile still ingrained on his face.
“Atta boy,” he said.
I tried to hand my twenty to him and he promptly pushed away. He flashed his own bill instead.
A crisp one-hundred.
He rolled it up without looking down and proceeded to snort a line twice the size of mine if not more.
When he was done, he passed to Brenner, who did likewise and passed it to Eli. All of them taking lines far bigger than the one that crippled me. It was time to initiate the second sequence.
I collected myself and leaned back in my chair. “So, what did you boys think of the big tech slide today?”
Eli wiped away the White Christmas Party above his lip.
“Not as good as we were hoping for, but not bad. We’ve been counting on it for a couple of weeks now. Glad it did finally come. We’d be down on our short next week if everyone didn’t realize those dweebs in Silicon Valley were full of shit.”
“Wait, you guys shorted it too?”
“Who didn’t? It’s all we’ve been talking back on the grapevine. What rock have you been living under, Mitch?”
“No. I did. Cleared over two-hundred grand today. Most I’ve ever made. I’ve been riding the high since then.”
I smiled genuinely momentarily before they pulled me down from my pedestal.
“That’s all you made!” Gilligan said. He swan dove down for another line and came back up with white all over the lower portion of his face. “We pulled in over a million each on this one. And that was playing it safe!”
Even Brenner joined in on the laughter after that. My fist clenched again and only released when I went down for another line.
Then I went down for another. After that, one more for good measure.
It felt like my heart was going to explode inside my chest. My nose burned like a furnace and I staggered to my feet. I looked at the three men still sitting with a kind of deep contempt I never knew possible.
Eli’s face changed from amusement back to the smug, disapproving boss.
“You know, Mitch. I’m actually a little pissed about this. Why were you doing your own thing on it anyways? You shoulda been on the same boat with everyone else. That’s lack of communication and…”
He swooped down for another line.
“That’s a problem.”
I wished there was a trap door I could just fall down and disappear. The one hundred foot wave I rode on had crashed.
“Need to use the washroom,” I said. I marched away from them, my teeth starting to hurt from all the grinding.
“Use the one at the very end on the back wing, big guy,” I heard Gilligan say as I pushed through the doors and back into the main hallway.
His voice rattled all around my head until I did finally reach the bathroom.
My reflection in the mirror was noticeably different from the one I saw in the elevator doors on my way in. My cheeks were crimson. The vein running from the side of my forehead towards my hairline looked like it was going to break through the skin.
I rubbed my hands up and down my face in an attempt to calm myself. I started to take in long audible breaths through my nose. It must have been loud enough to hear outside the bathroom.
I fell fain long enough to lose my balance. One hand caught the marble counter and the other caught the towel rack hanging from the wall next to me. The metal cylinder, which a white towel hanging from it, was hard and cold.
It was bolted in firmly enough for me to pull myself back up. But, as I soon saw, you could just slide it up from the metal brackets and take it off. The towel fell to my feet when I ran my hand up and down the free blunt object.
It was heavy and seemed to be one solid piece — not hollow. Its circumference was such that I couldn’t quite wrap my fingers all the way around it, but still small enough for me to wield it accurately.
I brought it down with all my weight against the countertop. Little pieces cracked off and fell to the floor. Vibration from the impact ran all the way up to my shoulders and shook my entire body. I actually quite enjoyed the pain of the collision. I found it very invigorating.
That rush paled in comparison to the one I felt when I brought it down on Eli’s skull a minute later. I had to hide it behind my back when I re-joined the group. Hopefully, I looked calmer and more collected than I did when I stormed off.
He had just come up from another line. Just as his back straightened, I connected with his head. I swore it dug in so far, the bone almost wrapped around it as I flattened his face against the floor. I had to really wedge it out to free my makeshift weapon again. His brown curly hair was all wet and red afterwards.
Brenner screamed and fell back in his chair. He scrambled on all fours before jumping upright and running back towards the elevators.
Mr. Gilligan sat frozen for a moment before getting up with surprising calmness. He was still composed enough to pick up his chair and throw it at me.
I batted it down like a beach ball and he high-tailed it in the other direction. And his memory must not have been with him at that moment, because he went the wrong way. He darted towards the outside terrace. He probably thought he could run to the end and enter the back wing and take their elevators down.
Big mistake. It was after hours. He wouldn’t be able to use his key card to get back inside.
He looked like a completely different person by the time I had him cornered against the far wall and the railing. It seemed his deep pockets weren’t of any use to him in that situation. My presence wasn’t so amusing to him anymore. He was on his knees with his arms out like a dirty vagabond.
“Mitch, please,” he said. His hands shook as he held them out in front of him. “Don’t do this. I’m sorry.”
I wondered how many lines deep he was in by that point. Because a stream of blood was trickling out of his right nostril. It doesn’t matter how good the shit is. That really shouldn’t be happening.
His rat face got a lot redder really quickly. He was able to deflect the first couple swings, but it wasn’t long before I started connecting that cold steel rod with his face.
I’d never felt so powerful as I did watching the man I hate so much collapse against the ground and wither in pain. I’d reduced him to his true form. A helpless dying vermin species, all bloodied and about to die at the feet of its predator.
I’ll never manage a rush that good again. Doesn’t matter how good the coke is.
But the little guy still had one last desperate attempt at survival. He swung his leg out and connected with my ankle. It was enough to make me stumble back. It bought him just enough time to scamper to his feet and trudge pathetically in the other direction.
His body wobbled and struggled to stay upright. He faltered to either side and kept nearly toppling over. I had nearly caught up to him again that he veered too far to the right. He hit the low railing with more than enough momentum. His feet went completely airborne before he disappeared over the ledge.
I leaned over and saw a group had gathered around his body on the sidewalk. Some of them were looking up and pointing accusing fingers in my direction.
His contorted body position made me smile. It didn’t look like any of his limbs were in their original place. He looked like a demented piece of origami.
It didn’t appear that he crushed anyone when he landed. And even if he did, would that really have been so bad? I mean, it is Wall Street after all. That means whoever was walking down there was probably some 1%, Alpha-male, Type-A personality mother-fucker, right?
I helped myself to a few more lines when back inside. I’m not usually one who likes to party alone. But these were extenuating circumstances.
I decided it best I clean up before leaving the scene. Back in the bathroom, my reflection in the mirror at an all-time low. It was a totally different person looking back. New lines on the forehead with bulging and veiny eyes. It looked like the kind of dude who would actually kill someone.
My head started to ache like crazy. Perhaps those few last lines were over the top. I swear I could hardly breathe as I ripped all the buttons down my shirt. I must have been clumsy with that towel rack too because it looked like I’d gotten Eli’s and Gilligan’s blood all over.
Where was my Tylenol? I couldn’t for the life of me remember. I might have left it at home. Usually, the headache doesn’t start coming in until later. But Gilligan’s shit must have been too much, and I definitely exceeded my maximum capacity.
The pain started to reignite that rage inside of me again. And I didn’t know what I could possibly use to diffuse it.
Something rustled in the stall behind me. A hushed and terrified whimper followed.
I walked over and peered under. Brenner was huddled on top of the upper part of the toilet. His feet shook on the closed lid. His eyes widened while he looked back at me like I was some kind of monster.
Why didn’t he take the elevator or the stairs down when he had the chance? It’s almost like there was some illegal substance in his system that clouded his judgment.
It was a bad time for poor decision making. Because I really wasn’t in the best of spirits at that moment.
My head kept throbbing. And the reality was setting in that I likely wasn’t getting out of the building without being in police custody. I’m going down for this crime. My fingerprints and my drugs are literally all over the scene.
I’ve got some bank now — enough to hire a fancy-pants lawyer to delay and draw things out as long as possible. But it’s only a matter of time before I’m behind bars.
The way I saw it, I really didn’t have a choice. I needed something to take my mind off the pain. I just took the closest available outlet.
It was time to kick that door down and start swinging for the fences. I didn’t have any specific objective in particular. And I couldn’t be blamed if that towel rack accidentally connected with someone’s body over and over.