"That's a deal. I am looking forward to receiving my reward", said the caller calmly.
"Let me think. You shocked me and I need time to apprehend things well." Replied Brad.
"You have three days as a deadline."
"Who are you?", Brad enquired.
"A friend who cares for you." The voice answered.
"How much money do you need?", Brad asked.
"One million dollars!"
"What?", Brad said in surprise.
"It is not a huge sum of money for you. You can afford it and your reputation is priceless!" He added: "I will call you soon. Don't try to play with fire. I am so serious". The caller quit the conversation so suddenly and Brad hang up the phone and tried to collect himself. He looked at his watch with a face full of suspicion.
He took his mobile phone and left his office.
Brad came back home, went straight to his desk, lit a cigarette and lay on his chair. He was so stressed and irritated that he couldn't draw his attention to something else. He was thinking of a serious matter and was in full concentration. Something was going to happen and he was the sole mind behind it.
He had spent a considerable length of time from his life in meditation but free from anxiety and stress because it was a choice and refuge, now the situation was different because he was forced to think and decide quickly.
Brand was a distinguished editor. He reached the glory after a long struggle full of its ups and downs, hope and despair, success and failure. Many people regarded him as their ideal idol and followed his life in details. He was one of the influential personalities in his country and his views are taken into account by the decision makers.
He was in his mid fifties with two well-educated sons and a daughter: the product of a successful marriage to a respectable and charming woman. He succeeded to build a strong tie with his three children who looked up to him and shared everything with him.
Brad was enjoying his professional and personal success and won the respect of the public. But ...
There is usually some hole in the person's life, that dark side that one tries to keep secret and strives to hide. An eternal war between one's dark side and one's persona. Maybe no one wants one's life to be spontaneously and utterly open to one's community. We keep many details to ourselves until death.
The phone rang, the number was unknown. Brad replied and recognized the same voice, the same tone, the same nightmare. He got familiar with this voice despite the shortest conversation they had last time. The whole world seemed to stop, all his senses left their basic function and grew more attentive while this voice was working. He could pay billions of dollars to get rid of its occurrence and unbearable weight.
"I am again, your protector. I know well that you can't stand my voice and my calls aren't welcome."
Brad interrupted the caller angrily: "please, get to the point! What do you want to say in words?"
"Ok Sir. Don't lose your temper, we can be good friends"
"What do you want?"
"My money. I can't be more generous. I let you think well and quietly and the deadline came to its end."
"What will you do if I say no?"
"Spoil your reputation and spoil the fate of your family."
"Is it blackmail?"
"It is a deal and it is for you to keep it as a deal"
"I have already said One million Dollars!"
"And what guarantee can you present to me that you won't ask the same thing many times?"
" I give you my word!"
"I can't trust you!"
"Ok. But keep in mind that I had made you save your own skin for ages. Anyway I will give you the video."
That night Brad decided to defy his blackmailer after a considerable and serious thought.
He said to himself: 'I have always been courageous and I won't betray my principles now. Besides I won people's respect thanks to my honest behaviour. I have always tried to be truthful and I will disclose the secret myself and not let a stranger do it and I will assume all the responsibility.'
He went to his office and chose to write the following article:
I did reach glory and success thanks to your full support and consideration. You have trusted my pen and given a strong voice to my words.
Every word I have published emanated from my heart and true convictions. I strongly believe in my words despite their relative correctness. I have always echoed your opinion and transmitted your suffering and misery because I simply belong to you. I have shared your joy and sorrow. Together we have withstood the daily ups and downs and succeeded to push ahead and the best is yet to come.
However, like every weak human being I have my own dark side that I have always hidden from you and even from my family. I never deemed myself as a hero or idle but you generously honored me with some huge trust that has always been a heavy burden to carry. I have made many shameful mistakes that I couldn't reveal to you, not because of cowardice, but due to respect.
In truth, I do admit that I have made many unforgivable sins because I was tempted by the lure of lust. Many years ago I got into an illegal relationship and I committed some unforgivable acts. The relationship was kept secret for two years and I won't give further details in order not to destroy the privacy of other innocent people.
Lately, I was a target of a blackmailer who threatened to publicly disclose the secret and make a video go viral. After thinking well I opted to take the initiative myself and save his time and effort. I don't care about the money he requested because it really doesn't matter. What matters is your feeling that I will hurt your trust, I will disappoint, and your love I might lose.
I am completely aware of the fact that by publishing this article, I will ruin my professional career and tarnish my reputation, but I have already promised to assume the whole responsibility."
The article was published the day after and of course brought about some disappointment for the readers. The newspaper's sales broke all records and the administration couldn't meet the unbelievable demand of the public.
The editor in chief disappeared for three days and left a note to his family telling them to take their time and make their decision and he will unconditionally abide by it.
The reaction of the public was amazing and unexpected. They led a sympathetic campaign asking their favourite writer to resume his job as soon as possible. They bombed the social media with their calls and emotional comments. Seemingly they were positively responsive to his confession and ready to save his reputation and fail the attempts of his blackmailer. He had always been their voice and now they were his.
His small family asked him to come back home so that they could reveal their final decision away from the public. When he arrived at home, he hesitated to unlock the door and rang the bell instead. His elder son opened the door and ushered him into the living room. While opening the door his son showed no emotion or reaction and his facial expressions were cold and neutral. He even avoided any eye contact with his father and all this made Mr Brad grow more anxious and shameful.
When he reached the living room, he received a strong and loud "Happy Birthday father", his wife and children were laughing and watching him merrily.
He couldn't utter a word and his wife said: "Brad, if you sometimes forget your birthday, we don't".