I chuckled at the CEO’s allusion to Becket.
“Many of these troublesome talents are troubled themselves. They are prone to habits that are self-destructive in nature. Should we not just let them end themselves? As it is, people still think that Elvis is still alive and he died on his own toilet. You can’t avoid conspiracy theory, so you might as well make it work for you.”
The CEOs chuckled. As we were all media professionals, we all knew the truth of that.
“Have you ever considered writing for something other than a column?” the other CEO asked.
“Do you have an offer? I didn’t know that you had any interest in anything other than material for your superhero books.”
“We’re looking to expand our other imprints. You’ve got something that could be a good answer to that popular Japanese comic.”
“You mean Death Note?”
He nodded. “Exactly. Villain Protagonist and all that.”
Even for me, this was surreal, but this was an opportunity so multi-layered that I could not refuse the challenge.
“Put that in writing, and we’ll do business.”
The first CEO then spoke up again: “If it’s really good, I’ll ensure that it gets the movie treatment.”
“All well and good, gentlemen, but again: put it in writing, and then we’ll talk business.”
They looked at each other, exchanged glances, and then we shook on that.
A week later, I received a letter by Registered Mail from those CEOs. Within was that very letter I asked for and it was indeed a contract offer. While the language—even to a legally-educated mind—only spoke about writing stories for comic and film production, the subject matter conveyed the true subtext of the contract. This was their offer to me of a contract to kill one of the most famous talents in the world, an idol so prominent that one name alone is sufficient to identify this celebrity. The cover for them was to supply a conduit for a so-called “inspired by” crime thriller, following Dick Wolf’s long-going Law & Order franchise. This was their deniability, and thus their out should they decide to burn me.
As I considered this contract, I also checked my usual celebrity and entertainment sources. The stories regarding my target also talked about issues regarding sketchy religious issues and with equally sketchy talk about disreputable associations abroad. I scowled, and I now saw what this was really all about. Rival parties wanted had their own reason to see this fading, troublesome target taken out- this one had long ago irritated the industry’s power-brokers, and alienated the community that nourished the target’s rise to fame and fortune, so these shot-callers deemed this a vulnerable target so now came the time to take it out.
Another hometown hit. At least I knew the territory. That would be the one advantage I would possess over the other assassins. The payment would, therefore, be greater than the contract’s stated compensation. I sensed that a greater game again unfolded before me, and that I was not one of those at the table. Instead, I was one of the pieces on the board. Again, I felt that I’d been set up to prove my worth; I realized then that I was no less a talent to be used and discarded than the celebrity I’d agree to kill.