You can have the incriminating photos for a million dollars.
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This is blackmail!
Kyler Torreson swore to himself as he studied the photos. Hi-resolution, crisp and clear, full glorious color, printed on 4" x 6" glossy paper. They were incriminating as heck, and they were real. There he was, plain as could be. No doubt that was him. No doubt at all about what was going on, with each shot revealing the action in vivid sequence. There was also a note made from letters cut from newspapers, demanding $1,000,000 for the original image files, and explaining how to pay using untraceable e-funds.
Gritting his teeth in frustration, he smacked the photos down on the table and examined the envelope. Hand addressed in block letters in pen, no return address, postmarked from here in town two days ago. He had no way of checking for fingerprints or DNA or all that fancy stuff from TV shows. And he didn't dare to go to the police. In fact, if anyone saw the photos, his life would be over. His career ruined. His marriage ended. His respect in the community and the business world shattered.
He sat for a time, mouth hanging open, shoulders slumped, eyes closed, barely breathing. Finally he shook off the shock like a dog shedding water.
He took out his cell phone and dialed the private number of the only person he could turn to, the one man he could trust: the lawyer he'd used for decades. They weren't friends and had never met socially, but it was a solid professional relationship.
"Dirk Benson here."
"Dirk, I really need your advice. I have a problem. Bad problem."
"Hey, Kyler. What's up? Sounds serious."
"You're my lawyer, so whatever I say stays between us, right?"
"Not necessarily. If I'm advising you about a legal matter, that advice is part of lawyer-client privilege. Other matters are confidential but not privileged and I can be made to divulge them. If you're planning to commit a crime and try to use me as part of that, there is no privilege. If you tell me you're diddling a kid, I'm required to report you."
"No, no, nothing like that. Um, I hate to admit it, but I'm being blackmailed."
"Then my advice is to go to the police."
"Dirk, I can't. At least, I don't want to. I mean, this could ruin me. There are photos."
"I'd rather not say. But they're bad. They show me in a very compromising situation."
"Are they photos of a criminal activity?"
"Uh, I don't think so. Not in this state, anyway."
"Are they sexual in nature?"
"Come on, Kyler, if I'm going to help you, you have to tell me exactly what is going on. As your lawyer, it's my job to provide you with accurate and helpful legal advice, and as long as those photos don't show you abusing a minor, you can be humping a horse for all I care. As long as you aren't asking me to help you engage in a criminal endeavor, what you tell me is privileged."
"Thank God." He explained about the photos and the note.
"We'd better meet in my office. Bring everything in and we'll look it all over and plan a strategy."
"Oh, God, no, Dirk. No way. I don't want anyone to see them."
"Hmm. Kyler, are you sure of the consequences if those photos become public? You say it involves two consenting adults. It would be embarrassing for sure, and you'd take a lot of flack. You'd have to resign, of course. Your wife would probably demand a divorce. Don't know what you'd tell your kids. The media response would incredible. But it would all die down after a while."
Torreson hung his head and fingered the crease in his trousers. "Never." He spoke so quietly that the lawyer turned up his phone to hear. "Never. I'd rather take the .38 out of the nightstand and put a bullet through my brain."
The two sat in silence as the seconds stretched on.
"Okay. If you refuse to take this to the authorities, and you refuse to take the chance of the photos being made public by not paying, then you have no choice but to pay.
"However, I think you might be shafted. Digital images can be duplicated indefinitely. There are no 'originals' or 'negatives' to turn over or destroy. They could give you a thumb drive or a hard drive to pound to fragments but still have copies. There is absolutely no guarantee that the blackmailer will not come back for more money, or even still make the images public."
"Shit. Shit, shit, shit. I've got no choice but to pay and take my chances"
"I'm afraid so."
Later that day, Dirk Benson studied his computer screen with satisfaction, noting the million dollar bump in his offshore account. Well that takes care of His Honor the Mayor, Kyler Torreson. Probably embezzled a few city accounts to get that million. Get your gun ready, asshole. He switched tabs and glared at the photos of the beautiful woman with the mayor. Photographer was worth every dollar. She's never done that with me, the bitch! Well, he'd deal with his unfaithful whore of a wife next. Then the photos would hit the Internet.