Darren stands in the spotlight, waiting for the show to begin.
It’s a performance, what he does. The role of a lifetime. The punters don’t know anything about him, really; and he likes to keep it that way. It’d be a lot harder to maintain his tough guy persona if they knew he grew up in Surrey. If they heard the way he talks on the phone to his parents, they wouldn’t recognise his voice. The Darren they know is from the streets, hard edged and dangerous. That’s the man they want to see. When you’re selling drugs, it’s important to present the right brand.
The importance of maintaining that image was the only reason he’s agreed to this. 2am on the seafront– and not the busy part, down near the pier, with the pubs and clubs that will still be bumping and thumping and churning out revelers, no, the quiet part, 45 minutes walk down the beach, where there’s no ambient light, just the streetlamps like the one he stands under, and no sound really apart from the roar of the sea– this does not strike Darren as an enticing prospect. This does not strike Darren as a SAFE prospect.
But what can he do? Say no? Say he’s scared of the dark? Of course not. So here he is, standing in the circle of light cast from a single streetlamp, everything beyond it’s edges lost in the darkness. He could be floating in space.
Of course, he has reason to be concerned for his safety. Branding isn’t the only thing a business man like himself has to be concerned with. Markets can also be a tricky matter. Like film distributors, drug dealers can be very possessive about their territories, and there is no way to region-lock a wrap of cocaine. Recently the largest local franchise has been rather aggressively expanding it’s market, pushing for penetration into the further reaches of the city with some gusto. Darren has found himself being pressured to switch suppliers. This is not a thing he can realistically consider doing; he has an agreement with his current supplier that features some rather punitive measures should he start trading with a competitor.
So as he stands in his circle, floating in space, waiting for his punter– a regular, an office worker who likes to party all night at the weekend– Darren is not exactly at one with the universe.
A pebble rolls into the circle, and Darren jumps. He turns. “Alright mate?” He says into the darkness, loudly, trying to inject as much bravado and gravel into his voice as he can.
There is a crack. His light goes out.