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The Story of Andre Venge
About the Author: Alan Orloff has published ten novels and more than forty short stories. His work has won an Anthony, an Agatha, a Derringer, and two ITW Thriller Awards. He’s also been a finalist for the Shamus Award and has had a story selected for THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES anthology.

As you might imagine, the gash on my head hurts like the dickens.

I’ve never been pistol-whipped before, and it certainly wasn’t on my bucket list, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. But there we were last night, in that deserted alley, my lady friend and I, and—oh wait.

Forgive me.

I probably need to explain, so let me start this story closer to the beginning.

A few days ago, my acting buddy, Kev, and I were at his dump in Brooklyn drinking beer and discussing our lives. We’d both auditioned for the same role that afternoon, and judging by the face of the casting director, neither one of us was likely to get a call back. Which ran my unsuccessful auditioning streak to nineteen—twenty-seven, if you didn’t count the part of Background Partygoer that everyone who auditioned booked.

Being a starving actor hadn’t gotten any easier during the eighteen years I’d been trying.

Kev hadn’t been much more successful, although he was only thirty-two years old and still had five more dry years to reach my level of futility.

“So tell me again about this arrangement with your sugar mama,” Kev said, sprawled on his couch, with one foot on the floor and the other flopped up over the back of the cushions.

“Her name is Joyce. I stay over most nights. We go out to fancy restaurants and see shows and indulge in the finer things in life. We’ve been going on like that for about six months.”

“Exactly how old is she?”


“Wow. My mom is only fifty-nine.” Kev had a sour look on his face, but I bet he would have traded places with me in a flash.

“I know what you’re thinking, but the sex is actually pretty good.” Joyce liked it a little on the rough side and a lot on the frequent side. And I wasn’t lying, it was pretty good, even if she always had to be in control. It was how she treated me the rest of the time that wasn’t any good. But I’d figured on that, going in. I knew a little something about Joyce—and women like her.

“I don’t know man, what happens when things dry up—no pun intended. What happens when she tires of you and tosses you aside? You still won’t have a cent in the bank, and you’ll be knocking on that door to old age yourself.”

Kev brought up some good points, ones I’d been contemplating myself. Joyce bought me presents now and then, and she had a yachtful of money. Actually, two yachtfuls. But I had no illusions that we were going to get hitched or that she would be starting up an André Venge Charitable Foundation. And even if she did want to get married, I wasn’t keen on playing the part of Ex-Husband Number Four. Besides, I had something else in mind, and it involved more than just the money. I craved payback for what she’d done to me.

No time like the present. “Listen, dude, I’ve got a role I think you’d be perfect for.”

Kev sat up straight on the couch. Gave me his full attention. “I am listening.”

“I want you to portray a mugger.”

“A mugger? For what? Play? Movie? Webisode series?”

“Let’s call it performance art,” I said.

As if taking a note from an imaginary director, Kev furrowed his brow on cue. “I don’t follow.”

“When Joyce hits the town, she dresses to the nines. And slathers herself in jewelry, diamonds mostly. Diamond ring, diamond bracelet, diamond brooch. Diamond Tiffany watch worth thirty large. She isn’t simply dripping in diamonds; she’s drowning in them.”

Andrayyyyy.” Kev drew my name out and looked at me expectantly. And I pretty much knew what he expected me to say.

“We’re going to La Bohème tomorrow night at the Met. Wouldn’t it be tragic if someone mugged us and made off with all of her valuables?”

He was already shaking his head before I’d finished the question. “No way, man. I’m no thief.”

This story appears in our MAY 2023 Issue
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