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Ty Hutchinson

The Accidental Criminal

The Accidental Criminal

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 170+ 5-Star Reviews

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Synopsis

Darby Stansfield is a low-level sales associate at Teleco Communications who dreams of rising to heavy-hitter status. He longs for monthly monetary bonuses, gold-plated plaques reaffirming his rock star status, and a whole lot of “atta boys” from senior management.

Desperate to kick start his career, Darby conjures up a scheme filled with the promise of endless, high-spending clients. It’s brilliant, it’s international, and it has Darby on a plane to Hong Kong, where he signs his latest client, a Chinese gang.

Meanwhile, bodies are piling up in San Francisco, and Darby has no idea that his brilliant plan has just put him on a collision course with a killer. Darby will have to make a tough decision—give up on the one good idea he ever had or risk it all.

Read An Excerpt

San Francisco, California

Life at Teleco was much like life at any other massive corporate blob. Two thousand people entered the revolving doors every morning between 8:45 and 9:30. They shuffled through like drones, two at a time, each of them sporting a Starbucks cup in their right hand and a Timbuk2 bag slung over their shoulder. Of the two thousand people employed there, roughly three percent were what the company referred to as their “heavy-hitters.” They were the earners, the ones who hauled in the cashola by the truckload. Every single one of those moneymaking machines worked in sales, and they made Teleco gazillions of dollars by selling wireless business solutions to Fortune 500 corporations. 

Those so-called rock stars were privy to a life recognized with yearly monetary bonuses, gold-framed plaques reaffirming their position, and a whole lot of “atta boys” from senior management. Mitch and Murray from downtown would pay a lot for those closers. 

“If you work in sales, you can become a heavy-hitter,” I was told.

Nothing could have been farther from the truth. I, like most of the sales department, fed at the bottom of this spectrum. Our livelihoods at the company were not pedestal-worthy. Yearly recognitions would never be lavished upon us, nor would we be worshipped as closing gods. Invisible was what we were.

As usual, I exited the elevator on the sixth floor and took a moment to survey the wasteland of sectional cubes. My fellow sales associates were already four to five calls in on potential gold mines. They still had hope. Every five seconds or so a frenzied head would pop up from a cubicle. Whack! Whack! Whac-A-Mole! Back to work, you cogs. Only closers get coffee, remember?

We were told wireless business solutions could improve the bottom line of any company. Even a company with four employees needed phones. 

I took a seat in my cozy cubi-cell and turned on my PC. Turnover in my department was ridiculous. The average bottom feeder lasted six months, tops. I had been there for almost two worthless years. 

“Yo, Darby! What up, fool?”

I looked up and saw Tav walking down the hallway toward me with a swagger that would do George Jefferson proud. Tavish Woo-Kaminsky was my co-cubicle buddy at work. We’ve also been inseparable since the age of seven. 

Tav was half Caucasian, half Asian. You could tell from his eyes. Both were slanted but the left eye had a Caucasian eyelid while the right one was missing it like an Asian eye. His legs gave him a height of six-foot-one. His torso? Not so much. 

“Watched some Def Comedy Jam last night. They was tight and slinging some funny-ass shit.”

“Really? I never would have guessed,” I said. 

Whenever Tav took an interest in someone, he would mimic that person the best he could. Sometimes it would last a day, sometimes an hour. I usually found Tav’s multiple personalities interesting, but that day it was annoying.

Pulling up his chair, Tav plopped down beside me. “Yo, you feelin’ me, bro? You look like you been jacked.” 

“I look like I’ve been mugged?”

“Yo, you know what I’m sayin’… Wait, I got it. You got a little sumthin’, sumthin’ last night? Sum hollaback girl creep over?” 

“I wish.” 

Tav jumped up from his chair and kicked it back under his desk. “Yo, I gotta bounce. Got me a sit-down with the white man. Check you later, a’ight?” 

In the beginning I had done fairly well at the company, but a setback prevented me from truly excelling. Now it seemed impossible to get ahead, yet I hated being on the bottom. Why couldn’t I be happy like Tav? 

Tav was a numbers guy––crunch, crunch, crunch, all day long. Normally he would have been assigned to the second floor, but by some mix-up in HR, he had been directed to share a cubicle with me. We never bothered to get it straightened out.

I turned back to my desktop. The big blue Teleco logo on my screensaver stared back at me, daring me to become a heavy-hitter. I knew I could be a heavy-hitter. All I needed were the right clients and life would be different––better. 

Would the fame and glory change me? Yup. Would I acquire material things at an alarming rate? Of course. 

I wrapped my hands around my coffee mug for warmth and settled into my thoughts about the rewards of heavy-hitter status. Like being able to date Hillary Kate, Alix Layng, and Maggie Dolen for instance. They were the three hottest admins in the entire company. I called them HAM, and I wanted me a bite. I also knew exactly how my encounter with HAM would play out.

With heavy-hitter status in tow, I would swing by their desks one by one and zing them with classic Darbytastic one-liners, the perfect icebreakers. We’d talk about the latest viral video that showed a cute kitten stuck in a cereal box or hiding behind—

“Darby!”

Fantasy over.

I looked up and saw Harold Epstein staring down at me. He was the manager who oversaw the bottom-feeder floor. He had on a short-sleeved white dress shirt picked up from Kmart, the kind that didn’t need ironing. A pair of tan Dockers rounded out the rest of his edgy outfit.

“Hey, limp dick, did you hear a word of what I was saying?” 

I quickly shook the thoughts of HAM out my head. “Sorry. I was mentally running through my massive to-do list.”

Harold smiled at me with his Cheshire Cat grin. It was obvious that he spent a greater part of his day outside lighting up with the other puff-puffs. 

“Well, you better start listening,” he said as he pulled up a chair and positioned his chipper self opposite me. This enthusiasm wasn’t normal. What could possibly have gotten Harold this excited? 

“Management has tasked me with snipping the smallest balls around here and you ain’t exactly swinging a pair. Looks like your run here is about up,” he said, beaming.

I reached for my coffee because I really had no response and thought taking a sip of that generic swill would buy me time to think of one.

“Put! That! Coffee! Down!”

For a second I thought of bitch-slapping Harold. He was at the right distance, too. But the rent check that was five days late talked some sense into me.

He knows not what he does, my son. Bite your tongue. And that’s an order.

Harold continued his persecution. “Only two new accounts in the last six months. What the hell are you doing here every day?”

Why the rhetorical question, Harold? You know the answer is “Nothing.”

I sat up straight and in my most enthusiastic voice said, “Two? Really? I thought it was only one. That’s great news.” 

Memo

RE: Bite Tongue

Status: Unread

Harold wrapped his grubby fist around my only good tie and jerked me forward. His beady eyes tightened like a sphincter.

“Don’t fuck with me, Darby,” he said through crooked teeth. “You got six months. You hear me, ass-sucker? Six months. Either shape your shit up or I’m shipping your shit out. Capisce?” 

Harold stood up and kicked Tav’s chair over as he left.

“You’re not even Italian,” I mumbled as he walked away with his knuckles dragging behind him.

I was screwed. I knew it. How am I supposed to compete when all that’s left to go after are pizzerias and beauty shops? As much as I dreamed of bringing in a big account and becoming a heavy-hitter, the situation was what it was. All the large accounts were locked up. If only there were territory no one had tapped yet, things would be different. I was sure of that. I picked up Tav’s chair and sat back down, depressed about my options.

Tav popped back into the cubicle, slurping on his coffee. “What did Harold want?” he managed between sips.

“What happened to Def Comedy Jam?” 

“Eh, it didn’t go over well in the meeting.”

“Harold told me I had six months to improve or he’s going to fire me.” 

“Whoa, that’s harsh.”

“What am I going to do? I can’t get fired.”

Tav played with his chair, more concerned that it wasn’t at the right height than he was about me. 

“Hey, are you listening?”

“Yeah, it’s just… this chair was fine earlier. Look, you need to pick up the phone and attack. Call every business in the Yellow Pages. You’ll be fine.” 

“Screw that. I’m better than those piece-of-crap businesses.”

“Come on, let’s head downstairs. The buses will be leaving for the picnic soon and I want to get a window seat.”

“I’ll meet you down there. I want to change out of this suit.” And hopefully, out of this slump.

His best idea became a nightmare for everyone else.

Tarantino meets The Office describes this page-turner. The Accidental Criminal is non-stop action, mystery, and laughter mixed into one book.

"It is both intrinsically funny and inherently evil, a strangely intoxicating blend, one that keeps the action rolling." — SeattlePI

"The plot is amazing." ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ — Reader Review

Series:  Darby Stansfield Thriller #1

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