The Client

“Let me get this straight, sir,” I said, setting the teacup aside. “You wish to hire our firm to babysit your daughter?”

Smoothing back a lock of silver hair, the doctor shook his head. “Not precisely, Mr. Tate. My daughter requires a companion, someone who can persuade her to think before she acts. There have been past difficulties… contretemps with both the media and the public… my hope is that you’ll be able to smooth over any possible future awkwardness.”

“Fair enough. If I may ask, how old is your daughter?”

The doctor hesitated. “Her emotional age is seven. There are communication issues… delayed speech. A specialist is working with her.”

“How severe are the issues?”

“She grunts.”

This dismayed me. I hadn’t expected this level of difficulty when I agreed to take Dr. Stein as a client. “Sir, I’m uncertain whether our firm is appropriate for your needs… perhaps a nurse?”

He sought to reassure me. “No, Mr. Tate, your firm is exactly what is needed. Trust me, you’ll quickly attune yourself to her moods and learn to anticipate her behavior.

“I don’t think I need remind you,” he continued in a clipped European accent, “this is a very lucrative opportunity for a neophyte firm…”

I nodded assent. Tate & Cross was only beginning to assert itself amongst a field of public relations giants. We needed the doctor more than he needed us.

I paused, studying his well-appointed office. Its Old World flavor was both claustrophobic and imposing. A painting of a woman in 18th century costume dominated one wall.

“My wife,” said the doctor quietly, noting my interest. “Elisabeth. She died a number of years ago. Strangled. An unfortunate affair. My son was in the house at the time… there was a question of culpability.” His eyes clouded with pain.

“Your son?” I frowned, wondering if the firm would be responsible for him as well.

“He’s dead, Mr. Tate. A fire… he always feared fire…”

“Tragic. Perhaps the trauma led to your daughter’s communication problems.”

“She was not yet… born.”

“But your wife, you said she had died.” I blushed suddenly, realizing my faux pas. “Miss Stein is the child of a second marriage, of course.”

“Not quite.” He pressed the intercom.

A female voice responded. “Yes, Viktor?”

“We’ll see Frankie now.”

Raising the teacup to my lips, I froze when Miss Stein staggered into the room.

The seven-foot creature walked unevenly, as if the action of putting one foot in front of another was foreign to her. This was no child. It was difficult to assess her age. Her mottled complexion was gray; her brown eyes lifeless. I tried not to stare at signs of scarring around her neck and wrists.

“Sit, Frankie,” commanded the doctor. She dropped heavily into a chair.

“Frankie, say hello to your new friend, Mr. Tate.”

Dead eyes turned in my direction.

“You and Mr. Tate shall be very good friends, Frankie,” said the doctor. “Understand?”

Frankie tilted her head. I shivered, glimpsing something of the grave in those inscrutable eyes.

She flexed her fingers and grunted.

images (4)

Word Count: 518
Author’s Note: This flash fiction is written in response to ThainInVain’s challenge to write a story in which a public relations firm’s newest client is a PR nightmare. ThainInVain’s weekly challenges can be found here.

About Kate Loveton

Aspiring novelist. Avid reader of fiction. Reviewer of books. By day, my undercover identity is that of meek, mild-mannered legal assistant, Kate Loveton, working in the confines of a stuffy corporate law office; by night, however, I'm a super hero: Kate Loveton, Aspiring Novelist and Spinner of Tales. My favorite words are 'Once upon a time... ' Won't you join me on my journey as I attempt to turn a hobby into something more?
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34 Responses to The Client

  1. Reblogged this on The Woods Between the Worlds and commented:
    This a fantastic clip. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. Taylor Eaton says:

    Hi Kate! I’ve been loving your stories and have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog award! Keep up the great posting!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Taylor! Thanks for dropping by to read and comment. I’m jazzed to hear you enjoy my stories! I want to thank you for the kind nomination, but I’ve accepted the award in the past. But I’m sincerely honored that you thought to include me among your nominees – some pretty fine writers to keep company with. 🙂

  3. W. K. Tucker says:

    Ah, you are a twisted sister of my heart, Kate. I love your tales, the creepier, the better. I know I don’t always comment, but I read each and every one and enjoy them immensely. Keep ’em coming. 😀

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Kathy, I willingly accept the title of ‘twisted sister’ – it’s a keeper! 😀 I’m glad you like the tales, especially the creepy ones. I admit, they are great fun to write!

  4. willow1945 says:

    Once again, didn’t see the ending coming! Well done, Kate, creepy and fun :-0

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Willow! Glad you didn’t see where it was going until the end; I’d worried I was being too obvious and kept trying to pull it back a bit throughout the story – at least until the end. I mean, seriously (:D) – Frankie Stein? I couldn’t resist!

  5. Helen Espinosa says:

    Kate, you are a master mind! What a delightful turn. I really enjoyed this quite a lot. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Flash Fiction Challenge – Week 39 Submissions | Thain in Vain

  7. I knew you’d be doing something clever with this from the beginning. You definitely took the nightmare of PR nightmare to heart, Kate. Creepy story but it made me chuckle!

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Hi Noelle, you are such a supportive friend. Thanks for the kind words. It was a creepy tale (did you get the part about the scarring at her neck and wrists? yuck!). 😀

  8. Such a cheeky take on the Frankenstein story, Kate!

    It wasn’t until the last few lines that I realised where you were going with this tale. Clever stuff! ❤

  9. Lucy says:

    Suitably gruesome Sister. Lucy

  10. markbialczak says:

    Your ending hit me like a bolt, Kate. Whew.

  11. stacilys says:

    This is great Kate. You wrote in such a way that I was curious to find out just what was up with this ‘Frankie’. Certainly kept my attention and interest.
    Great job.

  12. What a chilling tale!! I didn’t know what to expect and I love was you gave me!! But I want more!!! What is Frankie? How did she come to be? Does Mr. Tate help her? Nice work, Kate!! TiV

  13. And a nightmare you’ve given us, Kate – not the writing of course, the writing’s splendid, riveting, but that tall creature, Miss Stein.. reminded me of Frankenstein’s monster.
    Wonderful from start to finish.

    • Kate Loveton says:

      Excellent – I’m glad you thought of Frankenstein. I put a few clues throughout, and gave the female monster a silly name. It was fun to imagine the doctor in a modern day setting, trying to persuade a PR firm to take on his ‘dead’ creature and keep her from causing havoc – at least in public. I wonder how Tate made out once he was alone with Frankie? I’m guessing not too well, the good doctor’s admonition about ‘being friends’ notwithstanding. 🙂

  14. Brilliant! Awesome job 🙂

  15. Loved this! Really clever once again, you are always so imaginative when it comes to prompts 😀

  16. I really wasn’t sure what to expect until Frankie walked it. Well done – superb response to the prompt!

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