“The Deal,” by Daniel Winn

Dec 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

As an experiment, a very rich man gave me one hundred million dollars, with the stipulation that I’d let him kill me in ten years, about ten years ago. For some reason it kind of slipped my mind. That’s how I am: taxes catch me by surprise every year; I forget plans until the last second and rush out of the house; once I left my private jet in the Cayman’s because I went back commercial by mistake. The only thing that was on my mind when I got the text reminding me about my agreement was the excruciatingly drawn-out remodeling of the left side of my mansion (when facing the mansion). It was a fairly nice text, as texts about your eventual murder, from your eventual murderer, go.

“Hey, so there’s only one more month. Just wanted to give you a heads up. Let me know if you have any questions. -Drew”

I guess I shouldn’t call it murder since I agreed to it legally. Maybe ‘legally’ is the wrong word, but I signed something. It’s sort of like a reverse Kevorkian. Killing me when I’m doing the best I’ve ever been doing. Although I suppose the best I’ve ever been was certainly before the remodel, and before Trudy left, and before I lost my Patek with the engraving I can’t quite remember. But certainly after Drew gave me a hundred million dollars.

They say that lottery winners aren’t happier for having won the lottery. That it lasts for a month or two, and then they return to their baseline happiness. That may be true—in fact, I believe that it is. But not in my case. I love having lots of money: it’s the most fun I’ve ever had having anything.

Should I not have taken the deal? Let me point this out: I took it during the recession. Remember the recession? It was 2011, I was unemployed, and my friend Steve had just told me that he didn’t want me crashing on his couch anymore, as I had been doing for the past six months, because his girlfriend wanted to move in (not like she would be sleeping on the couch though, so I don’t see why I had to leave, but I guess she found my behavior “troubling and unpleasant”). I couldn’t find a job and I had been out of work since my manager at Blockbuster caught me stealing DVDs from Blockbuster.

Because of the recession, I had exactly two dollars left, so I went to the convenience store and bought a lottery ticket, because even though people say you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than winning, at least you have some chance of winning, whereas those condescending assholes are either going to get electrocuted or nothing. Of course I didn’t win. I threw the ticket on the ground and stomped on it like life had stomped on me and went on a profane tirade of self-abuse, sprinkling in some stuff about how I hated the universe too. My gesticulations knocked over some Pringles cans which caught Drew’s attention as he was on his way to the bathroom while his limo driver put gas in his limo. Just a one-in-a-million kind of thing.

There’s two things you might’ve guessed about Drew, and in both cases you’re right. He inherited his massive wealth, and has been wallowing in boredom since birth. Obviously there is something wrong with him that a psychologist should have a word with him about, because he really likes the idea of killing. He admitted to me that he’d killed one person before, and since then desired to do it again, but was afraid of the consequences, which is where I came in. He came close to being convicted of murder the first time, and he really wanted to avoid that happening.

“People think it’s so easy for rich people to get away with murder, but it’s actually pretty hard!” he explained. I must’ve looked aghast, because he told me to stop acting like it was a big deal. “I killed one person,” he explained. “It’s not like I invented murder. You’re acting like I invented murder.” And he’s actually a vegetarian—bet you didn’t guess that.

He explained all of this over lunch, beginning with being a vegetarian, then the rest, because after he calmed me down at the convenience store, he took me out for a burrito.

He didn’t want me fleeing, especially now that I had so much money with which to flee, so he had to put a chip in my arm, and hire two guys (Fred, I think, and no idea the name of the other) to watch me twenty-four/seven. Other than that, I had total freedom. He put the money, in a few installments, in a dumpster outside the same convenience store, and I didn’t hear from him again until that text. The thing is, between you and me, I still planned to flee. I might as well try, right? Good thing he texted me or I might’ve forgot.

I could buy two plane tickets. One round trip to Oregon, ostensibly to see my family for one last time, and one one-way to Mongolia, or somewhere. At the airport I’d make a quick dash from the fake flight gate to the real, board the plane, dig the tracker out of my arm with a knife, and go on the run, forever looking over my shoulder, expecting Drew in every shadow.

Then another idea occurred to me. I texted him, “Sorry, I know this isn’t the deal, but if you try to kill me, I’ll kill myself first (I have bomb), so you’d better not.” I got the text ellipses for a while. He clearly did a lot of revising. Finally he said, “Fine, keep the money, live, whatever.” Then in another text, “Asshole.” So I’m free now, and let me tell you, I love it.

Or wait. Did he just say that so I won’t expect it when he does kill me? Shit. Just when I thought this was all so neatly concluded. Fine. I’m going to Mongolia after all. If Drew asks don’t say a thing.


Daniel Winn is a writer and person of other hobbies living in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been published on Defenestration, Oddball, Citius, and very few other places.

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