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Chuma Nwokolo



Chuma Nwokolo

Nwokolo is publisher of .

Deal or No Deal is short fiction from the series, Tales by Conversation


 Deal or No Deal

Hey Kiddo,
I am fifteen. I am not a kid.
Good for you, but why are you following me around?
It’s a free country, innit?
 So it is, but if I were following you around like this I’d be in police trouble by now. Don't you have a girlfriend or something?
Girls think I'm weird. They say I stalk them.
Can't say I blame them... but try buying them expensive gifts and they'll start stalking you, you'll see.
Don't have that kinda money.
Aha, that’s where good grades and good jobs come in. Go hit your books Kiddo, and do stop following me around, it makes me nervous.
What's that stuff you keep sticking on lampposts?
Me? Sticking stuff to lampposts? What have you been drinking? Look here, stop dogging my heels or I'm going to call the cops on you.
Okay what?
Call the cops. My camera phone has a picture of you sticking up stuff.
I even have a video of you taking stuff from the boot of your Lexus.
Shit. What do you want? I'll get you a box of ice cream or something.
I'm not a kid! Can't you get that? - And if you come near me, I'll scream.
That’s so adult! Who's coming near you anyway? I'm just taking my stuff.
That won't help you. I've taken one of them gray matchstick-things just in case. What’s it anyways?
It's nothing. Where’s the one you took? Give it back. Didn’t your mom teach you about taking things that don’t belong to you?
That’s between me mom and me, innit? Your matchstick’s somewhere safe. I’m no fool, y’know?
I see. Nice young blackmailer, eh? Okay, what do you want?
Nothing. I just want to be friends.
You're crazy. I'm thirty-three. You and I can’t be ‘friends’ in England. Look, here's a hundred - no two hundred - pounds, go crazy. Buy anything.
Two hundred? You think I’m an idiot, don’t you?

What do you want? Five hundred? Six? Deal! Go buy yourself a nice Ipod or something. Just return my receiver and give me a break, okay?
I don’t want six hundred pounds and I hate Ipods; but I like your car.
Okay, I'll buy you one of those fancy, radio-controlled models...
I'm not a kid! Get it already!
You're not talking about a real Lexus! What are you smoking!
Whatever. I'll get my licence in a couple of years. I want to start saving up.
You don't save up for this type of car, Kiddo. You read up for it. You should be hitting your textbooks, aiming for straight As, not following strange men around London.
What did you read yourself?
Engineering; I have a PhD in electronics from Cambridge.
Yeah, right. So how does a PhD end up sticking matchsticks on lampposts for a living?
They're not matchsticks! They're blue... cripes! You'll drive me crazy! Come, I'll buy you a drink.
Okay, but I’m watching you close.
You don't want me date-drugging you, yeah? You watch too many films.
I like films, but I've never seen anything as weird as this: an old man sticking stuff on lampposts.
So what do you want to drink? Coke, Fanta?
I'll have a beer. Gimme a Stella.
But you're just-
I see. How about a brandy then?
You're trying to get me drunk aren't you? I can handle a beer, I don't know brandy.
      So. What’s this blue stuff all about?
There’s your pint. Blue what?
Thanks. You said you were sticking a blue thing on lampposts?
Me? I didn’t say any such thing.
You did. You said it was a receiver or summat.
I didn’t.
You did too.

This is childish! It's not blue anything. Just drink your beer and forget it.
    Look, let’s talk man-to-man. I'm a businessman, okay? How much do you want for the pictures on your phone and the… matchstick you stole? My final offer is seven hundred. You’ll be mad to reject it.
I want to be your partner.
My what?
I don’t want a fish. I want to learn how to fish.
Go find your own pond, Kiddo.
You need someone to watch your back, mister. To fetch stuff from your car – and when it comes to sticking blue-gray stuff on walls and things, nobody notices us kids hanging around. That’s what we are meant to be doing, innit? But it’s kinda suspicious when an old man in your threads starts to hang around lampposts in Westminster, y’know.
Easy with this ‘old man’ thing, I’m only thirty-three, and I don't want - or need - a partner. I'm not doing anything illegal. I’m doing a research project on-
So why were you so nervous when I said to call the police?
Red tape. I’d forgotten my project licence at home. The cops would have made me waste a morning, going all the way home for it-
yeah, right,
So what do you say to one grand? I have the cash right here. Shall we shake hands on it?
No deal.
That’s not bad for a couple of fuzzy pix! Even The News of the World won't give you that for a man-and-matchstick photo!
What’s that matchstick stuff, then? It's gray, so you weren’t going on about its colour. Bluewhat, were you going to say? Blue... blooming... bluetooth?
Aha. There's a brain upstairs after all!
I'm no dunce, okay? Electronics engineer... Bluetooth receiver... that’s it, innit? So why are you sticking bluetooth receivers all over London?
You know what? Maybe I need a runner after all. What’s your science grade like?
It’s rubbish, alright? I like cutting classes – that's what I'm doing right now, innit? But I help out weekends at a phoneshop – unlocking mobiles and all. So I can do weird stuff with phones – that how come I photographed–
Okay, okay. Let’s walk to my car.
      It’s a Bluetooth Harvester, that gray matchstick thing. Are you satisfied? I am a data-miner.
A what?
That’s the first grown-up word I’m using and you’re lost already. You're too young to work; you want to run back to school now? Bone up on your science books?
No, no. I’m with you. You are a determiner, okay?
A data miner. I mine data for a living. I was working on a project with the Ministry of Defence before I went rogue. I sorted out my pension privately by stealing a prototype wireless interceptor receiver that circumvents the authentication protocols on mobile devices. Have I lost you yet?
You're saying you get to browse people’s phones and laptops on the sly?

Exactly. So long as their Bluetooth is on, I can bypass the normal authentication processes and frisk their phones. If I find something really juicy, it’s black money in my pocket. Some weeks I can make a hundred grand – all tax free of course.
Bullshit science fiction. My own Bluetooth is always on. Unless I authorize you, you can’t ever get in-
Are you a betting man?
A tenner says you can’t.
You’re on. This will be fun. Pop into my car. I’ll get my console from the boot.
Don’t try any-
You’re getting boring already.
                Is your Bluetooth on then?
Alright. This strong Motorola signal must be yours. Here we go... Wooow… Don’t you ever delete any mail at all? And why’s everyone calling you ‘wanker?’
That’s a load of crap, old man, Give me something that says you’re actually in my inbox, not faking it-
Your friends can’t spell, that’s for sure. Okay, here’s one interesting text message from three days ago:
Hi m8.We’re klobbing tonite at Rikkis. Brng yr crowbar for sum axn. Andi.
Crowbar action… so you’re a part-time burglar then?
You’re fibbing.
You face says not. Come on, hand over the tenner.  
Okay, forget the bet. So you have a point. Okay, I’m in.

In what? Not so fast. First you hand over the tenner.  You just lost a bet, Kiddo.

Come on, man, forget the tenner already! Christ! You drive a Lexus! I’m just a kid! What’s with you rich stiffs? You actually expect me to give you a tenner?

Aha, now you’re a kid right? Hand over your tenner, boy! It’s a matter of principle. I don’t go into business with folks who have no integrity.

Look, I got plenty of integrity, but I’ve only got me a fiver right now. Okay?

That's a cashpoint right there–

Don't have them plastic cards. This fiver's my last card.

You only have five pounds? In London?
          Well, if your mouth is writing cheques your body can’t cash, you can’t be my runner, no way. A fiver! Pull the other one. Nobody’s that poor.

You’re gonna make me rich, aren’t you? Actually, I don’t want to be your partner any more. You’re too sarcastic man, and life is too short for all your aggro. Just give me the grand and I’ll split, okay? I’ll return your bluestuff, erase your pictures and we call it even.

How’s that? I win a bet for a tenner, and I have to pay you a grand? Hey, why not ten grand? Will you take ten grand for the bet?

Very funny. So that’s how you want to play it, yeah? You want me to call the cops, yeah? I’m not joking here, y’know. I'm a streetsmart kid, I’m gonna call the cops on you-

What are you waiting for? If you’re out of credit, I could loan you my phone-

I don’t need no credit to call 999. You think I’m a fool?

No, I know you’re a moron. Call the cops m8. Let me read you one of the mails I’m going to print out for them:  Hey, wanker, whrs ll d crack we brawt ovr 2 yrz lst wk? If u smoked my profit, I’ll fkng kil u. Kris. You’re the first crack dealer I know who doesn’t have a tenner to his-

You’re crazy. Look, just give me seven hundred and we’ll call it quits.

Ha ha.

Okay, five hundred,

You’re in cuckoo land, boy. Hang on, I’m just checking out your photos- cripes! It’s not just me you’ve been photographing… God, you’re one sick kiddo! The police-

Just shut up, man! Give me a hundred bucks and we’re square!

First you pay the tenner you owe me, you weasel, then we’ll talk… hey, shut my door, it’s cold out there!

I’ve got the number of your Lexus,  I’ve got your bluestick and I’ve got your photographs, remember that…

Wake up, Kiddo. I’ve got a few hundred bluetooth harvesters on lampposts, public toilets and tube stations all over London. They’re disposable. When I finish data mining, I don't bother to pick them up, so you can keep your souvenir if you want. But I’ve deleted the photo and video you were so cocky about. And you'd better start praying the cops never pick me up, because if I ever speak to them, your burglary transcript is the first one they’ll read. You’ll be in the nick before they’re done investigating me,

You prick! I’ll bring you down anoni… anonymously. Tell the cops what you like; you don’t even know my name! You don’t even know where I live!

That’s what comes from cutting classes. You’re so thick. How do you think I trace all the people I blackmail? From your mobile phone ID, my console here can track your movements for the past few months.


Here, I’ll give you a free demo: three days ago, between 4am and 7 am you were at an address at SE9 3AQ... was that where your lot hid out after the burglay at Rikki's' - hey! Wait, where's my tenner? Fine! Run back to school, moron, and don't leave till you learn some commonsense!

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