Aidan 14

By Asa Montreaux 

Over the couple days I couldn’t take my mind off waiting to find out would happen when I talked with Calum, but I still stayed focus on helping my mother. There was no improvement. Though it was only two days. I’m sure my distraction had little to do with. I don’t think she knew what I was trying to do or even what was going on, but she was definitely aware that while she was upstairs sometimes, I was silently pensive, thinking about something.

So no one asked me about my secret meeting and I was feeling it was all quite, well, secret, indeed. As my pensiveness became more secret, as I noticed here interest in what I was up to, the veil of subterfuge was complete. We would we two meet, and discuss, discuss, and open up a can of worms.

Finally, at nearly 2:30 pm, I received the phone call from Calum. It rang, and then it rang one more time and I realized I had to pick it up. It was actually a phone call. I answered as quickly as I could. There wasn’t even a third ring. ‘Hello?’

‘Oh, Hi. Aidan?’

‘Yea. Hey.’

‘Hey. I’m here. Why don’t you meet me at the Wolf and Hound?’

‘Sure. When?’

‘Now. I can make me way there.’

‘Okay meet you there in fifteen.’

‘Sounds good. You ready to talk.’

‘Yea. Yea I am.’

 ‘Great. See you in a bit.’

I went and grabbed my keys. And my wallet. Did I need anything else? Of course not. Off I was, I suppose.

When I got there, Calum was already there, and he was seated in a booth in a corner. It wasn’t too busy, so I guess it wasn’t too difficult for him to get a spot that was clandestine.

I said as much as I walked up to him, trying to appear confident, though not so conspicuous at the same time. ‘Clandestine spot, man.’

‘I was going for reclusive. Do sit down.’

‘So how are you?’

‘We haven’t much time. How much do you know?’

‘I just know that I haven’t gotten paid since that first royalty cheque.’

‘Well, there’s no easy way to say it. They want all of your money.’



‘Everyone who.’

‘Everyone who works there. And…’

‘And who?’

‘There’s this gang.’

‘Another gang. Again.’

‘It’s related. And… the editors. And the copywriters.’’


‘All the execs even. They all just got sucked in. They’ve started stealing your money. There’s no easy way to say it.’

‘But why would this happen to me?’

‘They’re stealing client’s money. It’s not that personal. But it is. This is the best book we’ve had in a while. And other people agree. They thought if they all got in on it, you’d not know about it. They could control you, completely leave you in the dark, lie to you.’

‘But all they do is ghost me?’

‘Well, yeah. You found out.’

‘But why?’

‘Well, I guess they weren’t expecting that.’

‘But how would I not know.’

‘I don’t know. Not everyone in on this was so smart. They tried to control it out of the papers, but well, it’s even better than they thought. It’s still selling.’

‘They thought I’d not know the numbers.’

‘Yea, that’s con art. They thought they could invent a fabric of lies around you, and you’d never see the truth.’

‘But… then, that would mean…’

He interrupted me. ‘I know what you’re going to say. Don’t’


‘Yea. She’s in on it.’

My agent. I was stunned. Someone who discovered me. Had been me with me through all those things. When Jayden died. Who sat beside me in the hospital. I couldn’t find the words.

‘Hey, buddy, it’s okay.’

‘And, you?’ I asked.

‘I couldn’t do it to you, bud. Let me tell you, I considered it. But, it wasn’t worth it. Plus I like you. He looked at me. He smiled.

‘You know,’ he said. ‘It seems like you take two people, three people, then you add five, ten people. Even more. Then there all these splits. At the end of the day, these people had not got much out of it.’

‘And there’s a gang…’

‘Well, exactly. Those numbers, all those votes, or percentages, and no one got a lot of anything.’

‘But… well, we can just stop them. We can call the police.’

‘Maybe. They’ll just tell you, and I suppose the police know they’re not going to give in. Remember it’s a gang. And they may be in it for the long hall they may want your royalties forever. Otherwise what’s the point of them investing their time in this?’

‘I see.’

‘Look. It’s not that bad a break. They’ll be other novels. Other deals.’

He looked down, upset. He sighed. ‘Ah. Well… you think… they’ll want your next novel, I meant the royalties for it, and the one after that, and then maybe forever after?’

‘We’ll maybe I’ll die. Maybe there won’t be more than even three.’

He started laughing, and then he looked at me very soberly. ‘No, you’re not going to die. Well… That’s not fair.’

He looked at me, his gaze stayed on me a while. His eyes were soft, even watery. And he seemed genuinely a little hurt, and a little moved. He was definitely becoming sympathetic to my situation. It seemed whatever he had made up his mind to do. Perhaps eventually to steal the money with them, or perhaps to turn a blind eye to it all, and leave me out in the cold. 

‘There’s definitely something we can do. I can fight for you. I’m with you.’

‘That’d mean everything to me.’

‘Good. We can do this together. I promise.’

‘You can get the money back?’

‘No. But like I said. I can help.’


I was waiting at home with my Mom, as she learned how to get back to being herself. She could do more and more things, with more enthusiasm and quickness. As displayed in the way she was eating right now at the breakfast table. She took every bite with a little more happiness. And every gesture had a little more life to it. Sometimes when I looked away, I could swear she was humming to herself in her head. She swayed back and forth a little, a girl at a concert. But when. I looked back she was just patiently eating, though looking lost in thought, like preparing for a day when she had many meetings, though none of them necessarily of high importance.

Every improvement was a little blessing for all of us, everyone who missed her. Calum decided to stay around for the next couple weeks. After that he’d return to New York, but we needed time to come up with our plan and then very much so put it in action. Calum thought the first thing to do was decide if anything was with us.

Rather unconventionally, because we had already decided no one wanted to help us, we contacted the police in New York, and told them everything. Our idea wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed. Of course we asked for their help, and if they would investigate that would be great. I mean, come on, what a criminal operation, what a crime! It was a million dollars, though, versus the one hundred million in their heads concerning some gang or cartel bringing drugs in through the port of New York city. They of course said they would not investigate. But what we had done, is made the police force aware of the situation. Certainly we made a police report about it, even if it wouldn’t be investigated. For lack of substantiality or evidence, whatever the case. If something happened, then the police could be there with some knowledge of what was happening. They would already be informed.

And then we reached a lawyer. We weren’t sure whether it would be worth the costs, as a good lawyer was anyone that was going to rack up a good charge. I suggested to Calum that would pay with partial contingency. And he agreed it was a good idea. We offered a percentage of everything we recovered from the publishing house, but used a retainer and a normal hourly pay to offset the large sum he could take away from me, that could essentially re-rob from me.

We were ready to take them on. We had some back up, and the fight wouldn’t just be underground. But Calum was the main thing we were relying on. One day he told me the thing that set this plan up.

‘Aidan, I have to tell you. The truth.’

‘About what? About all of this?’

‘About who started this. I don’t think you know it was.’

‘No. But I’ve been wondering who it was.’

‘I knew that. But I’ll tell you, right now. It was Janelle.’


“Yes. She set the whole thing up. She saw what you made, and said, hey, why didn’t I make that. With your panic attacks, you’re fainting.’

‘I was an easy target?’

‘Yes, you were. And you really wanted to be a writer. You were so naïve. And it was the classic case. Someone jealous. Hey, why is he a writer? Why did he make it.’

‘I see.’


‘No, I get that.’

‘Then what is it?’

‘It’s not right.’

‘No, it definitely is not.’

‘We have to not let her get away with it.’

‘No. I promise you, we will. We’ll stop her. She won’t get away with it.’

‘Good. That means something to me. They’re can’t be that kind of injustice in the world. If someone can get away with this… then what’s to stop them from stealing a Lawyer’s pay, or a Teacher’s?’

Calum looked at me for a minute, a pensive look on his face. ‘That is a great point. I don’t why you thought of that. But it’s completely true. This is the worst kind of corruption. This was a major agency. And a very major publisher. I suppose we weren’t the good guys.’

‘I feared I’d truly gone commercial.’

He laughed. ‘You had. And as you may know, or may not have known, you are not the bad guy. The sleazeballs are the one peddling you lies at the commercial publishers. And agencies. That you’ll sell a million copies. Make a million bucks. It wasn’t the lottery, Aidan. But your book sold. And it was well reviewed. There were no critics. You didn’t compromise yourself. And you were popular. They were sleazy and there’s nothing they did but give your book copy. It’s all you. And by the way…’


‘Yes. I’m not a sleazeball.’


Calum got up and came over to me and put his hands on my shoulder’s looking down on me. He was quite tall. A few inches taller than me. ‘Aidan. I’m gay. I get it.’

‘I know. You… you get me?’

‘Yes. I do, I get you. I understand you.’

It felt good to have someone expressing feelings like that. I thought after that, that I could count on him. He walked away, towards upstairs. He was staying in the spare room, after the first night he came here and checked out of his hotel. While we made our plan, and started putting it in motion.

As he ascended the stairs, I wondered more deeply why he was helping me. I guess he was getting to that. He needed to help someone like him. Did it make him a good person, that he was guy? It did not. I mean, it didn’t make him a better person than anyone else, necessarily. But perhaps he had a heightened sensitivity. I hadn’t expected someone who worked at an agency to be so compassionate. Perhaps as someone who had gone through hatred and discrimination in his own life, he was ready to help. Maybe this wasn’t about me being gay, but of course it was. I was so caught up in how people would perceive my novel, whether it would be a hit, I didn’t realize it wasn’t a dream. This was reality. There were all these things I missed. And for everything good, there was bad. There were bad people in the world… There were bad people in our lives. 

I wasn’t writing after he went to bed, but I was. I was writing an op-ed that I would try to publish. I would get the word out about this story. Everything that had happened to me, I would reveal it to everyone. The people would be the judge and the condemners of the thieves. 


The next morning, Calum found me at my laptop again, typing away. ‘What are you working on?’ he asked. 

‘Nothing,’ I said. I closed up the laptop quickly as he came by. And when he walked away gain, towards the kitchen, I opened back up again. I was in the middle of a sentence and I knew how it ended. Just as. I was writing the period, he popped in again, and said. Do you want a pancake? I figured I’d cook something. 

I had closed the laptop half-way this time. ‘Ah, alright,’ I said. He walked back, to start cooking, I suppose. I decided I better just close the laptop all the way. I had half-finished the sentence I was working on, and I would leave the story for later.


I just waited while he cooked pancakes for us. I sat at the breakfast table, watching him, though vaguely looking over the newspaper for any news about publishing or anything relevant at all.

‘What are you reading?’

‘Just some news.’

‘On your phone?’


‘That’s neat. A good way to soak in several papers at once. Or a distilled version.’

‘It’s certainly that. Do you know what I’m looking for?’

‘Anything. Anything that can help us.’

Haha, I laughed. ‘Only anything that can get me out of this mess.’

‘Anything that can get us out of this mess, that’s quite perfect.’

That was weird, I thought. He just used us, instead of you. We were sharing the mess.

‘And you’re quite certain you can weather this?’

‘Of course, I can. Though I may lose my job.’

‘That is a certainty, Calum. You are already seeming like a bum.’

He laughed. ‘No, I wasn’t seriously not settling in her for some leave, time, off, whatever. It’s okay that I’m here. There was no future, with Janelle, with the rest of them. Not for me.’

‘Yea. You’re better off, at least now. There will be another position. Hey, maybe it wasn’t exactly the right career for you. There might be something that is slightly better for you. Maybe quite a lot better for you.’ 

‘I agree. I wasn’t starting to hate my job. And well, myself.’

‘I get that. I’m getting that now. I hadn’t notice that before. You hated your job?’

‘Being an agent, it’s the worst. After a while, all you think about our sales. And advertising. I guess that’s my experience of it. In the end, all I thought all day long was money, and maybe that was what I became, was someone just worried about money. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I was starting to feel I’d lost my soul.’

‘Oh. You had not sold out.’

‘I had. We hadn’t cared about you. It’s because you’re special. Otherwise, I hadn’t cared. You have changed me. You helped believe in art again. In doing something to help people understand themselves better, to feel they have a relationship with the author. You can help people.’

‘I don’t know I thought I could. But how do I help people if I don’t even have pay?’

‘You don’t have to think about that. You will. But what else?’

‘I used to think I could truly talk to people’s hearts. But now I’m not so sure. I don’t know for certain if I actually saw people as they were… maybe they were less kind than I thought. Or maybe… am I like them?’

‘Well no. You’re someone that completely see people as they are. You are a better person than them. Becoming aware of aspects of humanity that you hadn’t seen before…’

‘I knew we had a dark side. An animal side.’

‘Well this is just that. People will try to kill you because you’re different. And people will steal from you if they thought you were naïve. I suppose that is the way the world is. It’s unfortunate.’

‘I can’t change the way the world is.’

‘You can always change the world a little. You can put your mark on it.’


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