Flames of Prague

November 22, 2017
November 22, 2017 Author

Flames of Prague

“My Prague meeting ended up with a great contract,” Michael begins his story. The company he worked for had just become a global player. So, his team in the Czech Republic believed a proper celebration was in order. He met with his Czech business partners at a fabulous restaurant in the heart of Prague. The food and drinks were sublime. An entire table full of local specialties. They drank the best wines and, of course, Slivovice. After several hours of merriment, his Czech colleagues suggested a way to make the night even better: they moved on to one of the most notorious bars of Prague’s red light district. Wine was replaced by absinthe and waitresses by beautiful girls in revealing outfits.

Supper was served, ablaze with blue flames of absinthe. The night went on: relaxing on velvet couches surrounded by sparkling mirrors and beautiful women dancing in dimmed lights…At the crack of dawn, Michael returned to his hotel, struggling to walk and…singing. This is the best day of the year, he thought. No! Not just the year—best day of my life! He didn’t yet know how wrong he was.

His wife and children greeted him at the airport back in Berlin. He had a huge hangover, but his wife found it understandable considering the size of the contract he had signed. Soon, he had forgotten all about his headache and was simply basking in his success. His colleagues and even his boss came to congratulate him personally. Every day, new messages arrived from his Czech partners, outlining further ideas for the deal. Everything seemed perfect, and Michael enthusiastically read every message with high expectations for the future.

And then—a different kind of message arrived. At first, Michael couldn’t understand what he was looking at. But the pictures showed him everything: he, a married man, was completely surrounded by nude women. And they were not just playing. They were having sex. Michael had no doubt. He was the man in the pictures. And none of the women was his wife. “I don’t even remember that,” he muttered to himself. And now he had to pay for it. In cash.

Michael panicked. Then he made another mistake: he paid the blackmailers. It wasn’t easy to send the money under the radar of his wife, but in the end he succeeded. It’s over, he thought. But he was deeply wrong.

Another message came, demanding an outrageous sum of money. But considering that the images attached to this email were even more damaging, it was no wonder the blackmailers wanted more. “I can’t remember that either,” Michael groaned. But he knew it was him. He realized that he would have to make another payment. And then another one. And another one. To his last penny.

Michael was neither stupid nor a typical cheater. He was just a guy who had celebrated his success too much, once, with people he thought he could trust. He was no James Bond; there was no chance of him returning to Prague to settle the matter with his fists. No, Michael was simply a guy whose marriage was finished. His business was finished. He was finished. At least, he thought so. And he probably would have been right, if not for one of his friends, who mentioned Mr  Black’s services.

“I’m not a bad guy. I have never been in such a situation. I don’t know how to solve this. I don’t even want to know how to. I just want a way out,” he confessed to the Mr Black detective who met him during a business lunch. That was his one and only meeting with anyone from Mr Black’s agency.

But from then on, he stopped receiving threatening emails. He didn’t know it, but within 24 hours Mr Black’s employees were in Prague. Unlike Michael, they had already dealt with such cases. Many times. They knew what to do. Within a week they reported that their job was done. A couple of days later, a courier delivered a special package “for Michael‘s eyes only”– an HDD drive. On it, Michael found all of the pictures from the bar, pictures documenting a time he did not remember. He didn’t want to remember either. There was a strange pleasure in his eyes as he destroyed the drive by himself: the satisfaction of knowing that his business and marriage would survive.

Many people experiencing blackmail don’t know what to do. They are usually good people who merely made a mistake. Mr. Black is the one who helps them to contain the situation. In most cases, victims of blackmail don’t even want to know the details of a case. They just want the problem to vanish. And that’s Mr Black’s job.

If you are ever blackmailed or extorted, never pay. Instead, follow these steps to protect yourself: first and most important, don’t panic. Fear and desperation are poor advisers. Second, take your time and compose a description of events as you remember them. Write it down with as much detail and precision as you can. Draft it by hand, not on a computer. Third, hide it somewhere only you know.  Fourth, show your writing to no one, and discuss it with no one. Don’t involve other people needlessly: at this point, you don’t always know whom to trust. Fifth, contact a detective agency or the police. Sixth, continue your daily life as if everything is normal to avoid arousing suspicions. If you follow these steps, there’s no need to worry. You’ve already taken six steps toward safety. And the last step is the one Mr Black will take for you.

Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

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