You are sitting at your desk attempting to read an important case file, but it’s no use, you can’t concentrate. Your meeting with Alexander is occupying your mind, so much so, it’s all you can think about.
You pick up your phone and swipe the screen, staining the glass with a protracted fingerprint. When you see the time, you realize he’s late. His appointment was scheduled for three. Suddenly, there’s a knock on your door.
Your secretary walks in and announces that Mr. Young is here.
“Good,” you reply, abandoning the case file in your hand to the pile of files on your desk. “Show him in.”
Your secretary walks out and Alexander Young walks in. A man in his mid-sixties, he’s wearing a tailor-made suit and the same college ring that you wear.
You step out from behind your desk and shake his hand. “Alexander, it’s good to see you. Please, take a seat. I was surprised by your call. It’s been what? Two, maybe three, years since we spoke?”
“Three years, three months, twenty-seven days,” he replies, smiling.
You frown, somewhat disturbed by the pin-point accuracy of his knowledge.
“As I said, we’ve been watching you. In fact, we’ve been watching you for some time.”
“I haven’t been an active member of the Knights since college. Why on earth would they be watching me?”
“We watch all of our people. You know that.”
“Yes, but why now?”
“Because you’re smart. Because you’re driven. And because we know you have… aspirations. Political aspirations.”
You frown. How on earth could he possibly know that?
He looks you in the eye with deadly seriousness. “That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
You frown, uncertain. “I've thought about it…”
“The Knights are offering you an opportunity, Michael. A once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Now you look him in the eye with the same deadly seriousness. “What’s the price for this opportunity?”
Now it's your turn to be direct. “We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch.”
Alexander smiles. “No, there isn’t.” He gets up from his chair. “The price is your loyalty, Michael. Your absolute loyalty.”
You smile as you scoff, somewhat confused. “That's it?”
He narrows his eyes at you. “It's not as easy as it sounds. And you will have to prove it.”
“We have to be certain you’ll represent our interests in Washington.”
“You're right, I do have aspirations. But I know how you expect people to prove their loyalty. It's reprehensible, morally, ethically, and spiritually, and I won't be a part of that.”
He nods as he looks down at the pile of case files on your desk. “Do you enjoy working here, Michael? Do you enjoy the mind-numbing cases assigned to you? Is it the way you saw your career unfolding?”
You poke your tongue into the side of your cheek. How is it possible this man knows so much about you?
“You have three days to make your decision. If you decline, the offer will be withdrawn, and you will never hear from us again. However, if you accept... Well, let's just say you know the price will be steep.”
He heads for the door but stops and looks back before taking his leave. “You know we have the power to make your aspirations a reality. You just have to choose.” Then he turns and walks out leaving you to contemplate one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.
As much as you want to think about it right now, you can't. You have to meet Jenny and your friends for your birthday dinner.