‘LIVING THE LIFE’ is a series of four short stories that take place in the year 2020 in a fictional State named Callisto located in the Northern part of the United States. In Callisto, life is the same, yet different, because no one outside the State really understands anything about what actually goes on here. Along with the location; the characters, events, and conversations, are completely made up and you’re not meant to find morals, or meanings, or signs; But neither I, nor anyone else, can tell you what you think. Here we meet one of our characters trying to enjoy dinner at his parents house.
LIVING THE LIFE, CHAPTER IV: RUNNING MISSIONS, PT. 1
“I just feel like none of this matters.”
“What are you talking about?” His father gave him a puzzled look.
His mother looked at him, very concerned. “Did you have a bad day at school?”
“No, I had a great day. I’m just saying; What is life?”
“Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out the answer,” his Mother said.
“I feel like I have to.”
He looked at his younger brother, who was the only one still eating; He was thinking, with one hand drumming on the table and the other used to lean his head on. His parents were just eyeing him, waiting to hear what their son would say next.
“We’re all gonna die anyways.”
Jonathan felt goosebumps hurtle through his body. He shivered. “Sorry,” he said. “I’ve just been thinking a lot. Spending too much time by myself, I guess.” He took a big bite out of his meat lovers pizza and enjoyed every bit of it.
His parents eyed each other and shook their heads.
“You know you can come back home if you feel alone,” his Mother said in her motherly tone. “Your room is just how you left it.”
Every Friday since he moved out, Jonathan has been going to his parents house for pizza. He has kept up this tradition for two years now and still hasn’t gotten tired of it. In the weeks before he left for good, his mother kept on telling him how she’d miss him, so to get her to not be so worried, he told her he would come home for dinner every Friday. At first he didn’t think he would actually do it, but after the first couple Fridays he realized it wasn’t hard to make time to go, and he also wasn’t one to turn down pizza.
“So how was your day at school today?” His mother asked, since Jonathan ignored her last statement.
“It was great, like I said. I only had two classes, but I also made a friend,” Jonathan said.
“That’s fantastic! What’s his name?”
“She’s a girl. Her name is Lexis.”
“Did you say she. Girl. And her?” His younger brother Shawn said sarcastically.
Jonathan’s dad laughed. “I was thinking the exact same thing.”
“Stop, you two,” his mother said, trying not to smile herself. “Lexis. That’s such a wonderful name.”
Jonathan just finished rolling his eyes. He wasn’t offended, though; that was the reaction he always got when he told his family about girls. He told them that one day he’d bring a girl home on a Friday night for pizza. It hasn’t happened yet.
“Yeah, she seems nice. I got her number, too, so I’ll send her a text tomorrow; it’s too late now.”
“It’s never too late!” Shawn said.
“You’ll see when you’re my age, Shawn.” Jonathan replied.
“Am I supposed to listen to you?” Shawn answered back.
Jonathan finished off his last slice of meat lovers pizza and glared at Shawn until he was finished chewing. He wiped his mouth across his sleeve and got up from the table to wash his hands, still glaring at Shawn, then he turned around shaking his head.
Jonathan took a look at his watch and saw that it was getting pretty late. He wanted to get home soon so he could relax and watch the sports highlights. He had no plans for tomorrow, but that was nothing new. He enjoyed staying at home, though; he could do whatever he wanted.
When he was finished in the kitchen he met his family in the living room; his mother and father were on one couch, watching the evening news, and Shawn was on the recliner, focused on his cell phone. Jonathan looked at them and smiled; they looked happy and free of stress, which is what he wanted. He was glad he was able to move on from his parents house and see them doing well without him. He enjoyed that moment for a little while longer before he told them that he had to get going. Just like every Friday, everyone groaned and said it was too early. As usual, he told them he’d see them next week.
Shawn walked with Jonathan to the front door. “So you’re coming again next week?”
“As usual, Shawn. I got nothing better to do, you know.” Jonathan didn’t mean to sound like the way he thought he sounded but Shawn didn’t react in any way so it was okay. “Maybe I’ll bring you something next week.”
“You’re the best brother.”
“I’m your only brother.”
Jonathan put his shoes on and reached into the closet to get his jacket. He put the rest of his gear on to protect him from the cold; he was about to make the long, brave walk from the front door to his car. Jonathan opened the door and yelled bye to his parents. He gave Shawn a high five and stepped out into the cold February air.
He slowly walked down the slippery steps and slid into his dark blue Mazda. Jonathan continued to sit in his car, waiting for it to heat up. The thoughts he had at dinner slowly crept back into his mind. He was generally a positive person but today he just felt off about something, and he wasn’t sure what. He wasn’t worrying or feeling panicked. He was just thinking; If his life was sure to end, what even was the point of worrying? The only thing he had to do was live his life. He realized he hated being by himself, living a boring life, not being productive.
He started to feel the heat and once again felt goosebumps crawl through his body. He shivered then drove back home.
A little while later, Jonathan arrived at his house. He was renting a small bungalow, which was the perfect size for a young bachelor like himself. He shut his car off and continued to sit in the drivers seat until he felt like he was ready to get up. It was close to 9PM now and he wondered what he would do once he got inside; he had some pages to read for school, but he also had better things to do like watch the icicles on his windows melt. Without making up his mind, Jonathan braced himself for the cold weather and got out of his car.
He could hardly see anything. It was so icy, and the wind was blowing with such force that he had to cover up his face. He thought he memorized the path from the drivers side door of his car to the front steps, but he stumbled and fell when he tried climbing up. Jonathan picked himself up and brushed the snow off his body. He continued to limp up the front steps and when he was finally able to open the screen door, he noticed that his front door’s lock was broken off.
Jonathan felt a pit instantly open at the bottom of his stomach. He turned around to make a break for it, but as he was about to bolt to his car and drive back to his parents house he got a hold of himself. He had to make a decision: run back to his parents house, or face whatever went on inside his house. After a minute of contemplating, Jonathan became aware that it should’ve been an easy decision. This was the most that his heart has beaten in years. He slowly approached the front door and pushed it open.
“Who’s in here?” Jonathan screamed out from the door mat. “Show yourself!”
He felt like he could hear a pin drop, so he took his time to take more steps and as his eyes gazed around he noticed that his house looked like it had been ransacked. Nothing was where it was supposed to be, everything was all over the floor. What were they looking for? He ran to his room, and he was devastated to see that it was also infiltrated. He flipped his bed, figuratively, inside out; his laptop was gone. Shook. His xbox was gone. One of his T.V’s were gone. His record player was gone. No one was looking for anything; he was straight up robbed.
Jonathan found himself spinning around his room in a daze. He couldn’t think straight, he couldn’t see straight; he felt like punching a hole through his window but he refrained from injuring himself when he began to swing his fist. He couldn’t even stand up straight, he was so upset, and frightened. Then he collapsed onto his bed and lay there breathing. Just breathing.
February went by. So did March, April, May, and June. Today was the first day of July and Jonathan was sitting on a curb outside, underneath the fiery hot sun. He has been steadily improving since the day his house was viciously broken into. Understandably, it wasn’t easy to get over that traumatizing experience. What if he had been home? He probably wouldn’t even be here sitting under the sun. He still lived in the same house, figuring he wouldn’t get hit twice, and that he wouldn’t allow himself to be scared away from his home. The school year finished a month ago, his grades didn’t get much better, though, but he still talked to Lexis everyday. He even went out with her a few times; he told her about what happened and hoped she didn’t agree to go out because she felt bad for him. He doubted that. He was thinking about his summer job at the supermarket that he started a few weeks ago. Working at a supermarket wasn’t bad for a summer job but he didn’t like doing it, anyways.
It was the middle of afternoon and the heat was beginning to make him feel uncomfortable. He got up from the curb to head home so he could drink a cold glass of orange juice.
He walked by the mailbox and felt around the pockets on his shorts to check if he had the key, he conveniently remembered to bring it, so he made a detour to check his mail.
He scanned over the envelopes, and saw the usual: flyers, bank statements, bills. Then he saw a shiny, silver envelope, it felt silky smooth. Jonathan thought the mail man put it in the wrong box but when he flipped it over he noticed that it was definitely addressed to him. This had to be the fanciest envelope Jonathan had ever seen. His heart sped up a little as he carefully ripped it open. He pulled out a thick piece of parchment paper and unfolded it. It was a letter, hand written in silver ink, in the most elegant cursive writing. The sun was way too bright, so he shifted the parchment in his hands to get a better angle, then he read the mysterious letter:
Life hits us out of nowhere, and it always seems to be when we least expect, but what can we do about it? We have to hit it right back, we can’t sit around sulking while the rest of life passes us by. What happened to you was tragic, but also just one event in your hopefully long, successful life.
This may sound odd, but I’ve been keeping a close eye on you, observing your behaviour, seeing how you reacted to your hardships, and I have to say, you have been dealing with it quite well.
There’s always room for improvement in every situation, though, so lets see if you want to improve your situation;
For a once in a lifetime summer job opportunity come to 23 Galaxy Avenue Friday night at 10PM. Don’t be late, or, don’t even show up, it’s up to you; but you will never get this chance again.
Feeling more than a little confused, Jonathan read the letter a couple more times. A bead of sweat fell from his forehead onto the parchment and he quickly folded it back up. O.J? Who was that? He thought as he turned to go home. He tried to remember everyone he ever met whose name started with an O, but he couldn’t think of anyone. He felt like someone was playing a cruel prank on him. Maybe it was the same thieves who broke into his house, and once he arrived at that address they’d kidnap him. Galaxy Avenue; He heard of that area of Callisto but never went there; it was supposed to be where the rich people lived. The letter said to be there on Friday; today was Wednesday so Jonathan had a day to think it over.
He didn’t want to tell anyone about the letter, not even Lexis, because he knew she’d be concerned and tell him that it was a trap, or she’d want him to call the police, or worse, she’d want to go with him. His parents would do the same thing.
“‘A once in a lifetime summer job opportunity,’” Jonathan said aloud as he walked up the steps to his house. He unlocked the door, and looked around like he was expecting someone to be there. Then he went to his room and paced around his bed. “Who is O.J? What does he mean he’s been keeping an eye on me? … What will happen if I go? … I’m not sure.” The various worst case scenarios leapt inside his head. “But if I don’t go … I’ll never know what could’ve happened and it’ll always be in the back of my mind … What should I do? … Be afraid? … Go? … I can’t be afraid anymore and theres no point in it, either. I’ve made it this far in life and it’s just been going by … None of this matters anyways … we’re all gonna die in the end … it’s my choice because …it’s my life … For once, I feel like I have control of how my life will turn out.” You could probably walk to California from Callisto if you added up the total distance Jonathan paced around his room.
Of course Jonathan went, and even though the letter said be there at 10PM, he turned into 23 Galaxy Avenue at 9:45. He pulled up to the gated entrance and looked around for a button. All of a sudden, a voice came on over a microphone.
“Who goes there?”
“I’m Jonathan! I got a letter in the mail telling me to come to this address tonight at 10.”
He heard a click somewhere and the gates slowly swung open. Jonathan drove into an incredible sight: a massive estate; it reminded him of mansions he’s already seen; but actually being in the presence of a house that big was wild. The path from the gates led to a semicircle driveway, which led to another path leading back towards the gates. In the middle of the semicircle driveway was a large fountain that had water gushing over it into a tiny surrounding pool. Jonathan parked his beat up Mazda beside a blacked out Mercedes Benz and another blacked out Maybach.
As usual, he took his time to leave his car and when he did he walked over to the fountain and peeped over the edge into the tiny pool. He was pleasantly surprised when he saw such colourful and exotic fish swimming around.
He eyed his watch and saw that he only killed three minutes. Jonathan sighed and turned around to face the colossal mansion that was brightly lit up, thinking about what would happen when he walked up those stairs and rang the bell. He wouldn’t admit to himself that he was scared but even if he was, as long as he did it, it didn’t matter. He ran up what he noticed to be marble steps and pressed the doorbell. He heard it echo loudly through the house.
Jonathan was so restless, he was pacing again in-front of the huge wooden front door. He wished whoever was inside would hurry up and answer it. Maybe they’d open the door at exactly 10 o’clock; he’d have to wait another ten minutes, imagine that level of pettiness. Finally, he heard footsteps coming towards the door and it opened up.
A middle aged young man, so he seemed about 27, opened the door. “Jonathan?”
“That’s me, the one you sent the letter to. If you’ve been keeping an eye on me, shouldn’t you have known who I am?” Jonathan delivered that mini speech before he took a step inside the house.
“Calm down, I’m not even the one who sent you that letter, man,” the young man replied, with the same attitude. “Come inside, though.”
“Oh.” Jonathan walked inside and scanned the area. This was a beautiful home. The word he thought of was medieval.
“I’m going to have to search you before we go any further,” the middle aged young man said. “My bad, man.” He began to touch up Jonathan from bottom to top. Jonathan was standing still as a statue in awkward disbelief. Couldn’t they get to the point already. He wanted to know why he was here.
When the 27 or so year old finished patting him down he introduced himself properly. He said his name was Jackson. They shook hands and Jackson told Jonathan to follow him.
He led Jonathan through dark, dimly lit corridors that looked like they were heading to the crypts at Winterfell but he tried to stay calm and continued following. Jonathan was observing the different art work on the walls; there were mostly unique paintings of sceneries. One stood out to Jonathan and he stopped to look at it: it was a painting of a huge silver tree standing alone in the middle of a circle in the snowy woods. There was a crescent moon, with a bright aura around it, and the night sky was pitch black and had tiny yellow stars dotted all over.
“That’s an interesting painting, huh?” A voice suddenly said from behind him. He spun quickly to see who it was. Jackson was gone.
The man in-front of him was standing tall and proud. He was wearing late night home attire; a loose fitting plain white t-shirt with sweatpants. He was also wearing a silk robe. He extended his hand out to Jonathan.
“Nice to meet you, Jonathan. My name is Alonzo, I’m glad you decided to come tonight. You won’t regret it.”
Jonathan was very confused because the letter was signed ‘O.J’ but he was sure that Alonzo started with an A. “Nice to meet you, too. Yeah, that is an interesting painting, did you paint it?”
“No, I didn’t. See, I live here but it’s not really my house – but follow me, lets sit down and talk.”
Jonathan followed Alonzo through more of the cryptic corridors. He hoped Alonzo wouldn’t vanish like Jackson did, he was just starting to be cool with him.
Alonzo went up a short flight of stairs and opened a door leading to a living room. It was like a living room, but inside a bedroom. There was a T.V, couches, games, and there was Jackson sitting down at the computer desk with headphones in.
“Take a seat, Jonathan.”
He sat down on a leather double couch. Alonzo sat in-front of him and signalled to Jackson to take his headphones off.
“The reason you’re here is because I know you were robbed in February and I know you haven’t been the same since.”
“How do you know that I was robbed in February?”
“My boss has eyes all around Callisto.”
“So his eyes tell him when a poor guy like me has been robbed?”
“Something like that..” Alonzo paused to see if Jonathan was going to ask anything else. “Do you have a summer job yet?”
“Yeah, at the supermarket. It’s not like I want to work there, though.”
“At a supermarket? You shouldn’t be working at a damn supermarket.” Alonzo said disappointingly. “How would you like to work with us? Where you’ll actually be useful. You’d be Jackson’s partner.”
Jackson head nodded Jonathan.
“What work do you guys do?” Jonathan asked, very intrigued.
“Before I tell you, I have to know you’ll do it, so I’ll just tell you this: you’ll be making money. A great amount of money.” Alonzo looked like he was thinking about something. “Around the same time you got robbed, my life changed in the most unbelievable way. I won’t tell you what happened but I thought I was sure to be a deadman. Then I was approached with an opportunity just like you are. I agreed and look at how I’m living now. This may not be my house, but that Mercedes outside is mine. You could have a whip like that, too.”
Jonathan was actively listening the entire time, taking in everything Alonzo told him. When he got the letter he paced his bedroom thinking about what to do; he chose to come to this house tonight. Now that he was here it was time to stop thinking and do what he knew he wanted to do. It didn’t take long for him to make a decision.
“I’ll do it,” he said casually, as if he was taking out the garbage or washing dishes.
“Easy choice, huh. Can’t say I’m surprised.” Alonzo continued to eye Jonathan. “Alright, well now I can tell you what you’ll be doing.” He saw Jonathan’s eyebrows raise ever so slightly. “We run a delivery business: Customers order items from my boss and we deliver it to them. Items such as drugs, guns, explosives, things like that.”
“Wow. What have I gotten myself into,” Jonathan thought aloud. He didn’t plan on backing out, though.
“You got yourself into nothing you can’t handle, don’t worry. So, just like any other job, you’ll need training; come back here on Monday; July 6th. At the same time; 10PM. Training is 3 days then you’ll be on the road by Friday, the 10th.”
“That’s intense, but damn, this sounds like fun. I already know I made the right choice.”
“Just know, you have no idea how good this gets,” Jackson finally said something. “And I’m not only talking about this job.”
“What do you mean?”
Jonathan scratched his head.
“You said you know you made the right choice. You’ve always made the right choice. Jonathan, by even coming here today, you showed who you are. I think you’ll find out more about yourself as you go along. What you can really do, compared to what you think you can’t do. Jackson said it: you’ll see.”
“Do you have any questions?” Alonzo asked.
Just like everyone else, Jonathan hated being asked that question at interviews. He never thought of good ones, but he never really prepared for this interview, or any interview. “How do I get paid, how does that work?”
“Straight tax free cash. When you deliver the products, they pay you, and then you have your money.”
“What? No one needs a percentage?”
“No way. We’ll get into that after you finish your first batch of deliveries, but don’t worry, this is not one of those too good to be true scenarios.”
“Where will we have to go?”
“Around Callisto mostly to start and if you do a good job, maybe you’ll go out of state.”
“What kind of drugs do you sell?”
Jonathan had been here for just under an hour but he felt his eyes get sleepy, and he kept feeling the need to stretch his restless body. He yawned. Alonzo and Jackson both grinned. Alonzo suggested that maybe he’s had enough for one day. Jonathan refuted but when he yawned again and rubbed the water out of his eyes, he admitted that Alonzo might’ve been right.
So all three of them stood up and left the room. They didn’t talk about much on the journey back through the dungeon looking hallways. Alonzo reminded Jonathan to return on Monday and then they were back at the front door. Jonathan said it was cool meeting them and then he left.
Were those guys new friends? Jonathan stood outside, on the top of the steps and began walking down. They seemed pretty suspicious, but they also seemed genuine. He got to keep all the money? Who was Alonzo’s boss? He figured he’d learn more on Monday but that didn’t stop his questions, which he all of a sudden had. Where would he go first? Who would he deliver to? What if he got into trouble? Not with the police, they didn’t matter, but with the people he was supposed to deliver too. He was just glad that Jackson would be with him, maybe they’d end up being friends.
Jonathan finally made it to the bottom of the steps and back to the driveway where he saw Alonzo’s blacked out Mercedes. He guessed that the blacked out Maybach was Jackson’s. He gave a dirty look to his beat up Mazda, imaging it was a blacked out Range Rover, got in, then he drove back home.
Jonathan returned to Alonzo’s house on Monday for training like he was supposed to. He went back on Tuesday and Wednesday, too, and he was finished. It couldn’t have went smoother: he learned all he needed to learn in that short amount of time. He learned how to scale and bag the drugs, how to make sure the weapons are always safe while they were being transported, he learned the techniques on how to complete the deliveries and get out in a timely manner. On the last day of training, Alonzo let Jonathan know where him and Jackson would be delivering to; they were all in Callisto, which was kind of a let down for Jonathan because he wanted to get out of the state for once. Alonzo said if they did a good job, and if they’re lucky, something might come up. He also told them to not hold their breaths about it. The only thing that frustrated Jonathan was not yet knowing who this O.J character was. During training, Jonathan asked Alonzo when he’d meet this so called boss, Alonzo said ‘soon, but don’t worry, he’s watching,’ every time. Jonathan knew that soon could mean in 2 minutes or 300 years and at this rate, he figured he’d never meet him. He probably didn’t even exist. But that was him just over thinking for no reason.
Jonathan was fast asleep in his bed at home when he was suddenly awoken by a phone call. He struggled to turn over to check the time and saw that it was almost three in the morning, then he saw that it was Alonzo calling.
“Alonzo?” Jonathan sleepily said.
“Wake up, Jonathan, it’s time to get going; one of our deliveries needs to be dropped off as soon as possible, so be at the house as soon as possible.” Alonzo hung up.
Just like that, Jonathan no longer felt tired; He felt a jolt of excitement. He jumped up out of bed and put on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, and was out of his room. He went to the kitchen to get a snack then he quickly put his shoes on and opened the front door. He took one last look inside then shut the door.
Forty six minutes later Jonathan was rolling into Alonzo’s estate. He parked his car. The moment he had been waiting for came up at an unexpected time, but he was ready. Jonathan had never felt so confident. He got out of his car, ran up the stairs and banged on the front door.
Jackson opened it. “You got here fast.”
“I’m ready to go. I sped all the way here.” Jonathan walked inside the house. “Where are we going? Where’s Alonzo?”
“He’s down by bay.”
“Where the watermelons grow.”
Jackson was dying. “He’s in the backyard with the packages.”
“I finally get to see this inventory I’ve heard about. What are we delivering? And where are we going?”
“I want to see the look on your face when you see what it is, so I’m not going to tell you.” Jackson and Jonathan began walking to the backyard. “I’m not exactly sure where we’re going; we didn’t get an address, just coordinates. It’s north of the city, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.”
“Cool.” Jonathan’s mouth was drooling from the thought of the upcoming adventure.
Then he saw what was in the backyard and nearly fainted; Bricks of marijuana, stacked up. A duffle bag full of guns and explosives. There was an all black Tahoe parked beside them, and there was Alonzo grinning proudly at his two proteges.
“Good morning, fellas, are you ready for your first day on the job?”
“This is what I was born to do.”
“Let’s get this money.”
“There’s 2 pounds of weed and ten thousand dollars worth of guns and explosives. Drop them off and you should leave with 15 thousand dollars cash.”
“Wait, how much?”
“I know, right.”
“You should get going now, though. Like I said, it needs to be there a-s-a-p.” Alonzo paused for dramatic effect. “SO PACK UP, BOYS!”
Jonathan and Jackson began to carefully, but hastily pack the bricks and the duffle bag into the back of the Tahoe. Alonzo gave Jackson the keys and Jonathan got inside the passenger side. The inside of the Tahoe was so spacious he could extend his legs all the way out and he had his own arm rest. He immediately connected his phone to the bluetooth and played a track.
Alonzo walked to the drivers side door when they were all settled in and got the Tahoe started. “I’ll see you guys soon. Drive safe.”
Jackson gently pressed on the gas and slowly cruised from the backyard to the driveway out front. Jonathan stared out the window, hoping he’d come back a different person, but he knew it was up to him to get the most out of this. Underneath the tiny stars and the sharp, crescent moon, Jackson drove out of the estate and they started their first mission.