“Tillman and I” – Friday Fiction by Chris Tucker


Here’s a story Chris entered in a contest through Writer’s Digest.  Everyone had to start and end with the same sentence – 750 words max.  He provided the picture as well…


I never would have purchased this house if I’d known that it would have forced me to do things I never thought I was capable of.  All I ever wanted was a good view.  Someone was going to have to pay.  Someone was going to have to sacrifice.  And it sure as hell wasn’t going to be me.

It was supposed to be a magnificent outlook, and it was.  My oceanfront paradise was perfect.  Except for the old broken down house in front of it, it had an amazing scenic view.  My wife was coming soon and everything was supposed to be all ready for her when she arrived.  As I looked out our bedroom window I knew that for the money I had paid this wasn’t going to cut it.  God only knows what my wife would say when she gets back from London.  Something was going to have to be done.  And I sure as hell had the money to do it.

When I first saw Henry Tillman he seemed like a normal guy, someone who could be reasoned with.  A hard working fellow, probably saved his whole life to own that house.  How he ever wasted all that effort on a house like that was behind me.  I never could figure that one out.  I guess we were just cut from a different mold…very different.

He didn’t want anything to do with me, or my money.  He was working on the house when I first talked to him.  The only time he looked me in the eye was when he told me “Good day Mr. Wolfe”.  That was it.  Those were the last words I ever heard him speak.  I thought it would be easy to buy Henry Tillman.  I was wrong, and I’m not wrong that often.  I would dream at night that I had knocked that horrid house down that was blocking my hard earned view.  I dreamt that he was watching me the whole time and I had done it with my bare hands.

The days were counting down till I was supposed to have a big party, never mind my wife arriving.  And I wasn’t going to let some small person like Henry Tillman stand in my way.  This world isn’t ruled by honest construction workers, it’s ruled by ruthless men like me who claw their way to the top.

So I talked to some people that work behind closed doors.  They told me there were certain things that could be done.  Bank records, credit cards, things of that sort.  “And would if those don’t work” I asked.  They told me there were some other roads we could go down.  Roads less traveled.  The truth is in the back of my mind, after meeting Henry for the first time that day I knew it was going to come to that.  We were going to have to go all the way.

We had started with the financial stuff.  A check would bounce here or a payment would never arrive there.  To my surprise and anger it didn’t work.  Henry just worked harder.  He pushed overtime and even got a second job for a while.  Plan B was to send some people to his house, hopefully to scare him a little more.  That definitely put some fear in him, but it didn’t work.  And it was strange too, because he wasn’t one to go to the authorities either.  I almost think the harder we tried, the more he made it up in his mind he wasn’t going to give in at all…ever.

A few of my close friends and associates told me to give it up.  They told me to find another place on the ocean…somewhere else.  I considered it, I really did.  But the funny thing was I didn’t know who I was fighting anymore.  Was I fighting for the house or was I fighting against Henry Tillman?  In the business world you don’t give up or you fall by the way side.  The people behind closed doors I had hired slowly backed out.  They warned me of where this was headed.  They didn’t think Henry Tillman could be manipulated.  He was one stubborn son of a bitch is how they put it.  I just think he wanted to see a rich man like myself not get what he wants…his house.  Little does he know this old dog doesn’t lose a fight.

That’s why tomorrow I’m setting it on fire.


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