Thursday, May 19, 2011


This week's challenge was to create a story about negotiation, and have our character(s) use at least two tactics. Any genre, with a max of 1,000 words. I decided to keep mine Among Friends. Please enjoy.


Tonight has gone straight to hell. I‘m supposed to be off, but a situation has developed that demands my attention. I’m a hostage negotiator, and I’ve been trained to talk people out, avoiding at all costs, any type of collateral damage. So, what is so different about this occurrence that requires my special brand of arbitration? The suspected killer of one of our detectives is my best friend, and his hostage is the vic’s widow. We‘ve all been neighbors and friends for years. How could all our lives suddenly go so terribly wrong?

What I’ve been told is Serena, Detective Edmond Rayston’s wife, hadn’t been well and was resting while her husband prepared a late meal for the two of them. She heard a knock on the door and her husband invited in their next-door neighbor, Richie Bender. She had started to fall back asleep when she heard them arguing. She heard glass breaking and went to see what was happening. As she rounded the corner leading into the kitchen, she saw Richie with blood on his hands and her husband lying on the kitchen floor with a carving knife in his chest. She ran back to the bedroom, called 911, gave them the details, and told the dispatcher she was going to ask Richie to give himself up.

When the units arrived moments later, Richie came to the front door with his hands around Serena’s neck and told the responding officers that this was a set-up, and that he didn‘t kill Eddie. Serena began screaming that Richie threatened to killer her too. Richie begged them to contact me, and if they complied, Serena wouldn‘t get hurt.

I was already in bed when I got the call. It happened so fast, as these situations always do, but I never believed friends would be involved. I’ve known Richie since grade school and I was best man at Eddie and Serena’s wedding. This is what I do for a living, but this time, where do I begin?

On my arrival, they had communication set up with Richie via the Rayston’s phone. Training and experience aside, I decided to just go with my gut.

“Richie,” I began, “this is Jer. I‘m here for you, my friend. Why don’t you come out and tell me what happened.”

“No, Jer.” Richie’s icy tone was one I’ve never heard before. “I know you‘ll listen to me. I’ve been set up, and I don’t know why. Serena called me and said something’s wrong with Eddie and asked me to come over. When I came in, I found Eddie on the floor with a knife in his chest and what’s Serena doing? Laughing. She said the cops were already on their way and that she told them she overheard me fighting with Eddie and that she was sure I stabbed him.

It’s a lie, Jer. I don’t know why she’s doing this. I came in and saw Eddie lying there and got down on my knees to see if I could help him. I touched the knife and got blood on me. I know this looks bad, but I didn’t do this. Tell me what to do, Jer.”

I wasn’t sure whether Richie understood the magnitude of the trouble he was in. His story was shaky, his prints were on the knife, he was covered with Eddie’s blood, and there was a witness who overheard the confrontation between him and the victim. He was reaching out to me, and I knew if I remained his friend, I could end this peacefully.

“Richie, listen. I don’t believe you realize just how bad this is. Eddie was a cop, and all the cops out here believe you killed him and you’re holding his wife hostage and threatening to kill her too. If you don’t let Serena come out now and then come out yourself with your hands up, they’re going to set up a shooter to take you out. That house is full of windows, Richie, and they’ll find you. If that happens, we’ll never find out the whole truth of what happened tonight. Is that what you want? Please. Let her walk out of there, then you come out and lie down on the grass. I’ll come along and we’ll straighten this out together, my friend. I’m going to help you any way I can. I promise. Okay, Richie?”

Serena came running out the front door, with Richie right behind her, and he was taken without any fuss. As they put him in the squad, he looked in my direction, and I gave him the thumbs up. He smiled and sat back, believing I wouldn’t be far behind.

Thing is, the moron hadn’t been set up only by Serena. I was actually the one who came up with the plan. I knew the dumb-ass would touch the knife--human instinct and all. Besides, who were the cops going to believe anyhow? Some weird used car salesman who lived alone or the wife of a slain detective who had been held against her will and terrorized? I know Richie, and he’s not all that stable. I could recount so many instances… Naturally, they’d have to take my word for it, but of course, they would. After all, I’m one of the brothers in blue, aren’t I?

On the way back to my house, I passed the ambulance where they were checking Serena out in the back. I glanced in her direction and she winked at me. Stupid broad. I told her not to act friendly toward me, at least not for awhile. Our affair had been going strong for some time and Eddie was suspicious, which is why he had to be removed. But I told her after a suitable mourning period, we could begin to date publicly and take it from there. It will all work out if she doesn’t fuck it up. It would be a shame if she was taken hostage again and negotiations failed…


  1. Great story! One of the scariest of yours I have ever read really, given how I do not trust figures in power it seems very possible. Great work!

  2. Egad! Nice twist. It made me long for Jessica Fletcher to show up and crack the case.

    Well done!

  3. Excellent!! Wow, this is a great story, Joyce! I love the twist at the end... wouldn't have seen that coming in a million years!

    "...why he had to be removed." "It would be a shame if she was taken hostage again and negotiations failed…" Oh my god... that man has stone cold heart! That is so chilling... I got goose bumps... brrr...!

    Smashing read, Joyce! It is such a joy reading your stories... they always have me going through a whole range of emotions, and most often... leave me a bit breathless!

    Thank you, for another wonderful story!

  4. Got me again! LOL I was like ok, did he do it, did she do it or someone else. That narrator is truly sinister, friends like him, who needs enemies. Great story!

  5. Great story, Joyce - and a nice twist.

    Sneaky negotiator - I wonder how long it will take Jer to tire of Serena? She'd better watch her step!

  6. Oh man, now I don't trust anybody! That negotiator is pure evil. Very nicely done!

  7. This one is harsher Joyce as is befitting to the thematic content. You pull it off brilliantly as always with your usual aplomb.

  8. Beach, Thanks for your comments and I'm happy you enjoyed it. It is terrifying because it could happen. Hard to trust in this situation. I mean, the guy makes his living lying, after all.

  9. Flannery, Thanks for your comments. Glad you liked it. Jessica would have handled it properly and fairly right from the start! I love her!

  10. Veronica, Thanks so much for your comments. Our negotiator's as icy and phoney as they come, which is why he's so good at his job. Of course, I doubt anyone realizes just how dangerous those traits make him as well!

  11. Reg, Thanks for commenting. I'm happy you liked it and glad I had you going too. That sure is one fellow you don't want 'watching' your back!

  12. Sue, Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Tread carefully, Serena. He's watching...

  13. Barbara, Thanks for commenting and I'm happy you liked it. How can you trust someone who lies for a living? Of course, this guy brings his 'skill' home with him too...

  14. Richard, Thanks so much for your comments. I wanted this to hit hard--just like reality would. How would we ever know if anything like this really occurred with a hostage negotiation? Only the parties directly involved. Now, that's scary.