Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Microstory 1823: Brother Confessor

You don’t know us, but you’ve heard of us. You’ve heard what we do for each other. We rely on a lot of secrecy, but we are not evil. We’re just a group of like-minded individuals who help each other succeed in life. We don’t cover up murders, or child-trafficking, despite what many of the rumors say about us. At least, I don’t think that ever happened. I ended up in a pickle once, and it nearly ruined my life, so maybe I’ve always been naïve about the whole thing. This will be my final confession. I was walking home from a night class once when men in masks jumped me, and stuffed me into a van. I’ve never been much of a fighter. I don’t like violent sports, or watching two dudes go after each other in the parking lot. But this was a life or death situation, as far as I knew, so I kicked and I screamed, and I got myself out of there. I actually jumped out of a moving vehicle, and started to run away. Well, they caught up to me, and took off their masks, promising that they weren’t trying to hurt me. I was being recruited into a secret society. It wasn’t associated with the school, though I know a lot of things like this are. Their requirement is that every new member be in their first year at university, but I never really did understand how they chose us, or what criteria they looked for. The reason I mention it is because it takes a certain type of man to agree to join a group that just scared him half to death. I was skeptical, of course, but I was intrigued, and a little excited. I joined, and found myself surprised, and a little bored. We mostly just sat around, talking about fair women that we knew. There was a tutoring program, and a sort of insurance fund we paid into that could be used in extreme circumstances. Again, it wasn’t meant to be for a murder charge, but a request could be made to get out of jail.

Our brotherhood developed a network; a network like any other. Everyone does this; they know people, or they know people who know people. We just do it more officially and formally. This was before social media made it easy to crowdsource the solution to problems. But like social media, some members of the network were less connected than others. They weren’t completely unconnected, and they weren’t left out on purpose, but they weren’t as good at maintaining relationships. There was one guy who was particularly unconnected. He really only knew me by the time his problem rolled around, which meant that I was the guy he called. We worked together, but I didn’t know him that well compared to my relationships with some people outside of the brotherhood, but he probably would have considered me to be his best friend. So he calls me up and tells me he thinks he’s run someone over. He felt a bump as he was driving, and found blood on the grill of his car once he got home. I manage to calm him down, and tell him that it was probably just an animal. Well, it wasn’t. I saw on the news that night that a young woman died from a hit-and-run, and it was about where my brother described it. I regretted my earlier advice, and told him to turn himself in, but he claimed he wasn’t obligated to do a thing. He threatened to have me fired, and he had such power at the time. I didn’t know what to do. It may seem obvious to you—especially now—but things were really complicated from that side of the dilemma. He was putting me in such an awkward position. I had to choose between doing the right thing, and protecting my career. So I stayed quiet, and I’ve lived with that guilt for the last fifteen years. I guess the silver lining to dying is finally being free from this burden.

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