The Adventures of Gaius Cornelius Ferrarius
The Extortionist Incident - Part II
By Douglas E. Gogerty
"What do you want from me Apollodoros?" asked Mettius Aedinius Primulus.
"I am sure it was you who gave my name out," replied Gaius.
"And, I would like you to return the favor."
"What do I get in return of this favor? No one would believe anything a barbarian like you would say -- especially after I tell them what I know about you."
"In exchange for your information, will not kill you."
"That is a good joke -- you are joking -- right? Right?"
Gaius just coldly stared at Mettius. Mettius began to squirm and sweat began to bead on his face. He was going to try to outlast Gaius, but Gaius knew the coward of the Third Servile War too well.
"All right!" exclaimed Mettius after a few moments. "You win. The man goes by Spurius."
"Is that all you have? No praenomina? No cognomina? How am I to find this person?"
"You do not find him. He finds you!"
"He already has. Now, I want to return the favor."
"Listen -- I spend all my time avoiding him. I have no interest in where he lives or who his friends are."
"And you know nothing about places to avoid."
"He is powerful and has influential friends. They will destroy me or even kill me!"
"You are wrong. A person like this has no friends. His acquaintances will cheer his demise -- not seek vengeance."
"You do not know that. His business could be quite lucrative. He may spread his wealth around."
"Very well," replied Gaius as he got to his feet. "I hope you sleep soundly."
"What? What is that supposed to mean?"
"I will see you around."
"Wait. Is that it?"
"I guess so."
"So it is farewell then?"
"Yes for now," replied Gaius as he began walking away.
"You were satisfied right?"
"What do you think?"
"I really do not know anything."
"If you say so," Gaius said without looking back.
Gaius stopped and looked over his shoulder. "I am listening."
"Do you know that magistrate that investigated your little incident at the inn?"
"Good day to you Primulus. Sleep well."
"You never heard that from me!" Mettius yelled as Gaius began walking away again.
"I do not even know who you are," replied Gaius.
Mettius Aedinius Primulus slumped into the chair vacated by Gaius. Relief washed over him, but anxiety soon over came that. He thought a trip to the country was in order. He began making plans to leave in a few days. If there was going to be trouble, he did not want to be around.
It was dusk when Gaius made it back to town. He wandered around a little bit more, and then went to the mansiones for his evening meal. Gaius had a long day, and a good meal was most welcome.
While Gaius was eating, the magistrate entered. He was shocked to see Gaius eating his meal in peace. The magistrate watched him suspiciously for a few moments before beginning his own meal. He would occasionally look up at Gaius as he ate, but Gaius fully ignored him.
After getting his fill, Gaius got up and went to his room to rest. He had had a long day, and he had a long night in store for him. Thus, he wanted to get in a little rest while he could. At times he heard footsteps outside his door, but no one knocked or attempted to enter. The footsteps would just stop in front of his door, pause, and continue on a short time later.
Gaius rested for several hours and it was well into the night when he left his room. The magistrate peeked into the hall as he left, but Gaius pretended not to notice. Gaius walked outside for while. Unlike in Rome, it was quiet at this time of night. He took a seat under a tree, and reveled in the quiet sounds of the night.
A few hours later, the magistrate was awakened by a man sitting on his chest. He struggled and tried to scream, but Gaius was in full control of him. Gaius had one of his large hands covering the magistrates mouth to keep him quiet. In Gaius's other hand, he held his dagger which he showed to the magistrate.
"I have been doing this a lot lately," whispered Gaius admiring his dagger.
The magistrate struggled, but his struggles were in vain.
"You will listen first, and I will let you say something on your behalf. However, if you try to scream, cry out, or even talk loudly, you will be dead before you emit one syllable. Is that clear?"
The magistrate nodded.
"It has been brought to my attention that you have used people's secrets against them. Further, you have used these secrets to collect other secrets. In this way, you have a large collection of people from which to extort money, influence, and the like. A list in which I was added today."
The magistrate shook his head in denial as best he could.
"In your denial, you have confirmed my suspicions. An innocent man would be confused by such a twisted set of facts. Thus, I want the list."
The magistrate did not know what to do.
"Now, I am going to allow you to speak on your behalf. Do not bother denying the truth of these accusations. It would be a waste of your final breath. However, I will allow you to say anything you wish. Remember, anything above a hushed tone will be quickly squelched. So, what do you have to say for yourself?"
"You work quickly Ferrarius," whispered the magistrate. "or should I call you Apollodoros? Or, do you have other names? In any event, I am impressed with your skills."
"I indeed have many names, but thank you for your kind words. Now about that list..."
"Why would I give you my list? What could you possibly offer me to give you the list?"
"You are right," replied Gaius as he cut the magistrate's throat. "I would have spent my last words on something more repentant -- to each his own."
Gaius left the magistrates room as silently as he had entered. He went out to find the magistrate's cohort, and then he hoped he could still leave in the morning.
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