Rory looked at the business card again and then up at the man across from him at the large desk. “So, this is the place, right?”
The man smiled and replied, “Yes, Mr. Avery, you’re in the right place.” He turned his chair a bit and started to type into a computer as he continued, “Now, we don’t usually take walk-ins. But your situation is unique, so we’ve decided to make an exception. Just so you understand, sir.”
Rory nodded enthusiastically. He’d been fretting for weeks about his situation but was frustrated. He had no experience getting even with those who had falsely accused him. But what had been done to him by people he had trusted could not go unanswered. And that was what brought him to the man’s office this morning. He glanced at the card again and mouthed the words embossed on it, “Revenge, Inc.” Looking up again, he said, “Okay, so where do we go from here?”
The man behind the desk stopped typing, stood up and moved over to a white board where he picked up a magic marker and wrote three short phrases in longhand:
Take Your Time
Let Your Emotions Settle
Learn About Your Adversaries
“Let’s take this first item, Mr. Avery. You’ve come here not only out of frustration at what’s been done to you, but also in great anger. And you want retribution against your enemies. It drives you crazy to think they’ve got away with lying about you. Does that reasonably describe where you are at, Mr. Avery?” the man asked.
Rory’s face betrayed his frustration and anger as he nodded and said under his breath, “In spades!”
“Fine. So, the first thing you have to do is realize that we will not help you in your search for revenge until that frustration and anger have cooled. Revenge, Mr. Avery, is a process best planned and executed with cold rationality. If you want instant gratification, go to the Mafia, sir.” The man looked at Rory and asked, “So, are you willing to cool down, Mr. Avery? Because if you aren’t, this meeting is over.”
Rory breathed out, sat very still for a moment, and then reluctantly replied, “Okay. I understand. . . but it won’t be easy.”
The man then pointed to the second phrase and continued, “We’re going to put you in touch with some experts who will guide you in settling your emotions, Mr. Avery. I think you will be surprised how quickly our methods will turn that frustration and anger of yours into something much more productive.”
Rory was already a bit calmer than when he entered a few minutes before. So he asked the question that was at the top of his mind, “So, I’m guessing that you guys employ a lot of people for all kinds of situations. What I need is a couple of guys, you know, some muscle, who can beat the crap out of a few people. Can you make that happen?”
The man smiled, sat down at his computer again and explained, “That’s not how we work, Mr. Avery. We don’t actually get involved in physical revenge. We leave that up to you. What we do is advise you on forming a comprehensive plan. We probe your enemies for their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We train you in certain special skills you will need. And that takes time.”
“How much time are we talking about?” Rory wondered as he began to understand that what he wanted was going to be a longer process than he had anticipated. “Weeks?”
“Years, Mr. Avery, years. We wait and we plan. And the plan we develop will be exquisite, comprehensive, and one that can never, ever be traced back to you. . . or us.” Then he added, “The plan will take care of everyone, sir. Even some of whom you are not currently aware of.”
Rory sat back in his chair. Years he thought to himself. “Years, huh? Why so long?” he asked the man.
“Think about it, Mr. Avery. Your enemies will have lost any fear of retaliation from you by that time. They will have moved on with their lives. Made lots of money, had children, grandchildren, got very comfortable, very secure. They will have let their defenses down. In short, Mr. Avery, they will have a lot more to lose years from now.” The man stood up, leaned across the table, and added, “Our plan will include the obliteration of everything they’ve come to love and hold dear. Believe us, Mr. Avery, when we tell you that the wait will be ever so delicious.”
“Jesus!” Rory exclaimed. “Your plan might target the grand kids, too?”
“Great grandchildren, too, sir. Nothing is off the table. Are you beginning to understand how we work, Mr. Avery? Wait, plan, act in cold ruthlessness and leave no trace. That’s how it’s done, sir.”
Rory stared at the floor as he digested what he’d just heard.
The man let Rory sit for a moment, then told him, “Don’t worry, Mr. Avery. Your plan won’t include any physical violence to anyone. Your revenge will be fulfilled by watching your enemy’s carefully crafted lives crumble.” He watched Rory for a few more moments and then asked, “So, are you in, sir?”
Rory smiled as best he could and said, “Yeah, I’m in. So, you help me settle down. I get that. Makes sense. But you said something about getting me trained in specific skills. What skills are we talking about, anyway?”
Handing Rory a list, the man explained, “We’ve learned from long experience what kind of skills someone in your situation will need. As you can see, you’ll be learning a lot of new things.”
“Yeah,” Rory said as he read over the list. “Let’s see, Identity theft, Computer hacking, Creating Deep Fake videos. Wow, that’s a lot of stuff.” Then, continuing down the list, Rory stopped and asked, “B & E. What’s that?”
“Breaking and Entering, Mr. Avery.” The man smiled and continued, “But learning these skills is worth it, sir. Would you care to hear about some of our most recent successes?”
The man pulled a file folder from his desk, opened it, and started to read. “Let’s see, here’s one where a client posted a deep fake video on a grandchild’s social media. Showed the girl in blackface using the “N-word” repeatedly on a video clip. Ruined the kid’s chance of getting into a good college.”
“I like it. You got more.”
“Here’s one where a client recently posted some child porn on an enemy’s computer. Worked like a charm. Ruined the enemy’s life.”
"And the ever popular social media posts showing one of your enemies sitting by an endangered species he or she has just shot."
“But, Mr. Avery, before we proceed, we need to see a list of your enemies. You see, we have to cross-reference your list with our client list, past and present.”
“You mean . . .”
“That’s right, sir. Someone may have, in the past, hired us to target you. And we wouldn’t want to double-dip, as it were. Not good for business. You understand, don’t you, sir?”
Rory said he understood as he reached into his suit pocket and withdrew a yellow sheet of paper. He handed it to the man who typed the seven names into his computer. They both waited.
A nearby printer could be heard printing out a short line.
The man retrieved the printed message and returned to his chair. He read and reread the short message and then looked over at Rory and said, “Well, none of your current enemies have ever been our clients, sir. So, I think we can proceed. I’ll get the contracts for you to look over, sir.”
As the man got up from his chair, he handed Rory the sheet he’d retrieved from the printer. Rory, left alone at the desk and waiting for the man to return, looked down at what had been printed out.
“Subject Avery targeted by his son, R. Avery, Jr., nine years ago. Son not a client. Free lancer used.”
Rory dropped the printout and stared blankly ahead. As he did, he reached across the desk, retrieved the yellow sheet of paper, and added a name to the bottom.
But he was going to need those emotion control experts and soon.