224/366 – Cutting Ties

Day 82 of 100 Word Prompts: Gamble

“Come on, Trystan. You can trust me. You know I’m good for it,” Titus begged, looking up at his friend with desperate eyes.

Trystan looked down at Titus with disgust on his face. He had never seen him this desperate, and certainly never this pathetic. He shook his head slowly, closing his eyes as he turned his head away.

“Wait!” Titus screamed as two bodyguards pulled him toward the exit. “I swear I’ll do better. I can do this. I know I can. P-please, don’t let them hurt me. Don’t make me go away, Trystan! How long have we been friends?”

Trystan opened his eyes and looked at the pale, skinny, tear and snot streaked face of Titus struggling in vain against the bodyguards. The disgust was still there, but seeing his friend like that added a giant bubble of sadness, mixed with guilt, to the strange tangle of emotions pulling at his insides.

“Why should I let you stay, Titus?” Trystan asked. “You’ve done nothing but screw up since you came on board. When I had you in charge of security, I nearly died when a crazy person talked their way through your checkpoint. When I let you be my handler, you kept me away from anyone and everyone that I actually needed to speak with about the business. When you were just an aide, you did nothing to help me.”

“I can do better,” Titus repeated, still struggling against the men. “We’ve been friends for nearly twenty years! You know me, and I know you! You can bet on me. I swear it.”

“Titus, you know I’ve thought of you as a brother for years, but this isn’t working anymore. You’re not the man that I knew for so long. You’ve changed for the worse, and I’m hoping that it’s just the money,” Trystan said.

“Come on, man? I haven’t changed a bit,” Titus protested. “It’s you that changed. You made millions and hired a bunch of people. You’re the one that decided that to keep your friend around, he needed to work for you. I’m just your friend, Trystan, not a guard, handler, or aide. I shouldn’t have to work for you to spend time with you.”

“It was the only way that we’d be able to hang out as much as we did before,” Trystan said, shaking his head. “You’ve seen in the last year how much I’ve traveled. Do you think that if I left you in that tiny little town that we’d still have time to hang out? Did you pay attention to my schedule at all the whole time you’ve been out here with me?”

“Did you pay attention to the needs of the people around you?” Titus shot back, his face changing from desperation to anger. “Did you stop for a second to think what your life is doing to all the people around you? You spend your existence as the most important person in the room when everyone around you thinks you’re a dick because you can just replace them.”

“That’s not how I think,” Trystan replied, shaking his head. “You know that. I took a gamble on you, and you let me down. That’s all that happened here. You can go home, and go back to your life and I’ll see you when I see you. Brady, Flynn, don’t hurt him when you take him outside, okay?”

“You’re a coward,” Titus snapped back. “You’re a coward and a bad person.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Trystan replied as Titus left the room with the guards.

A moment later, Shay walked into the room with their clipboard, black, skin-tight clothes, and slicked back dyed hair giving Trystan a curious look.

“Is it over?” they asked.

“I think so,” Trystan replied. “Make sure to buy him a first-class ticket home. Provide every amenity.”

“You’re really going to be that kind to him after everything?” Shay asked, holding their pen just off the surface of the clipboard.

“He’s still my friend. Even if he doesn’t like me right now and I’m not happy with him. We’ve known each other for far too long for this to stop that from being true,” Trystan said, though it came out more like he was talking to himself than his P.A. “What’s on my schedule today?”

“At ten, you have a meeting with IdentityBook. They want to pitch a commercial to you. At noon, you have lunch with Lola. She wants to discuss franchises in other countries. At three, you have a photoshoot with Lillianna and Aisha. After that, I believe your night is open,” Shay replied, reading down the list in their hand.

Trystan nodded and pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel the headache already coming on from the thought of meeting with Lola.

“Do you want me to change something?” Shay asked.

“Can Lola be avoided?” he requested.

“I mean, I can try to keep her at bay, but she is your agent,” Shay replied, suddenly looking panicked. “I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep her away from you.”

“Just do the best you can for a bit, please,” Trystan said, lying back on the couch.

“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Shay asked.

“Can I ask your opinion on something?” Trystan said.

“Of course,” Shay replied.

“But you can’t lie to me about it. It won’t cost you your job if I don’t like the answer,” Trystan said. “Do you think I’m a bad person? I mean, I know I don’t kill people or anything terrible, but a bad person because of the way I treat the people around me.”

“I don’t think you’re a bad person,” Shay said, frowning slightly. “Is this because of what Titus said?”

Trystan nodded.

“You can’t let him get under your skin,” Shay said, shifting their balance from one foot to the other. “I’ve met loads of people like that before. I know he’s your friend, so I’m going to say this as politely as I can. He’s a leech. It’s sad to watch friendships devolve into that, but it happens especially fast when one of them gains the resources at your disposal.”

“A leech?” Trystan repeated, cringing. “That was as politely as you could put it?”

“Yes, sir,” Shay confirmed. “I’ve observed your relationship for some time. You gave him plenty of chances to work with you, and he only ever wanted to do nothing. He wanted to reap the benefits of being close to you with absolutely no work.”

Trystan nodded, understanding what they meant.

“Thank you, Shay.”

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

Trystan shook his head and sank back, thinking about Titus’ face as he left the room.

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