“Execution” by Scott Scheible
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, a good idea brings several people bad luck in Oakland, California.
by Scott Scheible
Downtown Oakland, California
Rage. The worst kind.
That’s what filled Brody Altmeyer’s entire body after he finished reading the TechCrunch article on his iPhone. He’d been nursing a Lagunitas IPA at Radio, a little dive on 13th that catered to a diverse mix of locals and, more recently, nonnative tech entrepreneurs hell-bent on disrupting something.
Landing in Oakland was never Brody’s intention. After finishing up at Stanford, he’d set his sights squarely on San Francisco. Then he saw rent prices, and reality kicked him squarely in the balls.
‘Oaktown’ wasn’t all bad. Sure, certain parts were straight-up ghetto and strolling down the wrong street after dark might get you pistol-whipped, but it was affordable, and the same VC money that had fueled San Francisco’s tech boom was spilling over into Oakland, making it the perfect place for wannabe Zuckerbergs to eke out a living and keep the dream alive. And when you heard about another hustler’s success, you raised your glass and convinced yourself that you’d be next.
Unless that hustler happened to be Nathaniel Dunn, a former classmate and fellow Oakland resident who stole your idea and turned it into TechCrunch’s hottest-selling app of the month. In that case, you knocked back five successive shots of shitty tequila and decided to confront the duplicitous son of a bitch at gunpoint.
Technically, the original idea was neither Brody’s nor Nathaniel’s. They’d stolen it from somebody else. But hacking into the iPad of Simon Dorian, a computer science whiz kid they’d befriended at Stanford, hardly counted as theft because that brilliant yet on the spectrum motherfucker was too busy being obsessed with League of Legends to take an idea to market, especially this one. It was an app that used specialized algorithms to generate foolproof pickup lines based on a girl’s name, eye color, and approximate cup size. Whole thing was bullshit, but there were bound to be a few million desperate chumps willing to pay ninety-nine cents for it. Presto, early retirement.
The plan had been to find a competent—and gullible—developer who’d work for peanuts and transform Simon’s prototype into a sellable product, at which point Brody and Nathaniel would dump his ass. Turns out Nathaniel had accomplished this already—and dumped Brody’s ass in the process.
Brody tucked the Beretta Nano inside his waistband and headed out the backdoor of the bar. He’d scored the gun from Tavis, a bartender at Radio and local playground legend who ruled the same courts once frequented by native sons Gary Payton and Jason Kidd. Tavis was also a semi-reformed gangbanger who was happy to loan Brody a piece for three hundred bucks, no questions asked. A very hefty fee, but oh well. Sunk costs are sunk costs.
He’d asked Tavis to empty the magazine because killing Nathaniel wasn’t the objective. Fuck retribution—Brody wanted restitution. With the Beretta pressed against his forehead, Nathaniel would realize that bringing on a legally binding cofounder was in the best interest of the app’s future success.
Brody hoofed it to Nathaniel’s apartment building in under ten minutes, taking Broadway and Telegraph Avenue to get there. Tavis had once remarked that Oakland was on the way down, shaking his head as he said it. Brody still didn’t understand. Shit, look at Telegraph and all the trendy new coffeehouses and cocktail lounges regularly packed with guys like Brody and Nathaniel. On the way down? Please.
After entering the building, Brody took the stairs to Nathaniel’s third-floor apartment. The door was half-open already, and Brody walked in without giving it much thought.
“Get your ass out here, Nathaniel. I saw the TechCrunch article. That was our idea, asshole. If you don’t cut me in on the action I’ll k—”
Brody stopped in his tracks as soon as he entered the living room. Lying facedown on the carpet was Nathaniel, categorically dead from a gunshot wound to the back of his head. Woozy and on the verge of vomiting, Brody sensed someone else’s presence and turned toward the footsteps.
“Wow, never thought I’d get to eradicate two enemies at once. Maybe Simon the Great’s luck is changing.”
“Jesus Christ, Simon. Don’t do it, man.”
“Dishonorable scoundrels. Both of you.”
Staring down the barrel of Simon’s much larger and presumably loaded handgun, Brody finally came to grips with the most fundamental principle of entrepreneurship.
Good ideas aren’t worth jackshit by themselves—it’s all about the execution.
SCOTT SCHEIBLE is hard at work finishing his first novel, an excerpt of which was recognized at the 2013 Eckerd College Writers’ Conference. His first published flash piece, “Dipshit,” appeared in Akashic’s Thursdaze series. He grew up in central New York and now lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and son.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: May 9, 2016
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