Monday, March 22, 2010
Black Sun Episode 017: "Drag The Waters"
Once you hit rock bottom, there is nothing. The only thing you got left to do is to swim back to the surface. In that rainy back alley, behind the “Mandingo” with a body and a suicidal case on my hands, I had a moment of clarity. An epiphany, if you will. I figured out that things couldn’t really get worse that they already were. After pulling Will from the jaws of death, I dragged him back on the grind with all the enthusiasm I could gather, given the situation. Beating up desperate people wasn’t my idea of a good time, but my priority for the moment was to keep Will from himself. What I needed was help, but what I didn’t need was another corpse on my hands.
That night, we’ve brought back sixty grand on Tony Cullen’s office. No false promises, no goods with fishy exchange value, not even a post-dated check. We dropped sixty grand in green bills on his office by six in the morning. After the Lionel Johnson debacle, Will accepted to lend me his .357 Magnum for safety purpose. I worked that baby up so good that none of the following indebted found any excuse not to pay. What surprised me was that all of them had access to enough resources to solve their problem with Tony. Throughout the night we assisted two emergency triple mortgages, pawned two sets of jewels and escorted two assholes to the bank so they could retrieve the money from their safe. One of these two assholes was Darius Johnson, Ralph’s father. He was down ten grand to Tony, but somehow kept thirty grand in his safe.
“For potential emergency” he said.
I couldn’t resist smacking him across the head with the butt of the gun when he said that. And taking two grand extra away from him. One for me and one for Will, for the extra trouble that asshole cost us. I would lie if I’d say that his son, tying me up for an appointment with Shea Thornburg had nothing to do with it. I was still pretty sour to have been caught in such a dumb trap and my tongue was still burning with questions. The time wasn’t right though. In the last few days, I realized I didn’t know shit, but I still knew that I was way over my head if I tried to double cross Tony as I worked for him for redemption.
The boss was impressed with our findings. Who wouldn’t be happy when money is waterfalling down on your desk without even moving a finger? Tony’s smile shined through floating bills. We worked a little too well for Tony to let us go, but it was a part of my plan. If I wanted to find who killed Glen Winchester and potentially save Trevor Greenwell from the electric chair, I needed to gain the trust of the big shot. So far, I had been on slippery grounds, but I knew the game just changed. I was about to get on black ice. I had to be the fastest skater.
“You’re a good kid Mikey, you worked well. You too Will.”
Will didn’t budge. I nodded accordingly, flattered that the boss of my brothers liked my work. I expected him to place me on a new assignment as soon as he could. You don’t earn 60K to a mobster in one night and get away with it. Money binds as much or if not more than blood.
“How much is there, you’ve counted?” he asked me.
“Of course Tony. There are sixty grand in bills of hundred, fifty and twenty. Nothing else.”
“There was sixty-three grand on the list, what happened to the three grand Lionel Johnson owed me?”
“We killed him.”
“Yeah, he’s behind the “Mandingo”. You can go check him out if he hasn’t been found already”.
John, in whose office the discussion took place, choked on his glass of scotch. Tony was a little unsettled by the brutality of my honesty. Will kept looking down, but had a strange smile that pointed his lips upwards. I’m not even sure he was paying attention to the conversation. He looked trapped in a world within.
“ …‘the fuck you did that for? How am I going get my three large back now?”
John stepped in: “Tony, he’s just a kid you know? He probably got a bit hot blooded around the guy and let a few rounds slide. Happens to the best of us.”
“I DIDN’T GIVE HIM ANY GUNS JOHNNY. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU END UP DOWN THREE LARGE AND A BODY? Kid, you’ll have to repair this, you’ll have to work for me again. You too.” Tony said, pointing at Will.
“Tony, Tony, Tony, come on, circle of truth here” I said, drawing an imaginary circle around my chair. “You didn’t expect, not one second that I would come back with more than five grand didn’t you?”
“Mike, shut up” said John.
An uncomfortable silence settled down with the slow thud of nuclear fallout. I could see shades of red at the base of Tony’s neck. He was getting angry, but he was trying to contain himself. The business face like he calls it.
“So you want to figure out who killed Glen Winchester, don’t you?”
“Remember Mike, circle of truth.”
I decided to play the game. I started it and it wasn’t like the man was going to disappear from my life at any moment. Tony Cullen and me were going to have to deal with each other for years to come. That or one of them was going to bury the other.
“Yeah, I want to find out. I spent a lot of time on this case and it could probably make or break me as a private detective. Of course I want to find out who killed the guy. I mean, who doesn’t.”
Tony nodded, absorbed in himself like he always was. Absorbed by the weight of his own power and responsibilities.
“I’m going to give you two options. If you want to leave this place, resume duty and catch Glen Winchester’s killer, go ahead. You’re free. But don’t expect any help from me, my crew or your brothers. Everyone in my organization will have the word to leave you to your own fate.”
I gulped: “And the other option is?”
“You close your office. It’s my fucking building anyway. You’ve been a cost for me for many years now, step up come work for me and give up this empty search. It’s going to lead you nowhere but to your demise. If you do that, I free Will here from his obligations and give him his dealership back. You have my word that I won’t interfere with his business again.”
Tony Cullen was the master of lies and deception. He was trying to lure me into selling my soul to him. I barely knew Will, but everybody that crossed his path could figure out after a few minutes he was in a dangerous state of desperation. He was, in fact, the only one who believed in what Tony offered. John’s eyes were sending me alarm messages. He wanted me to let him talk. I didn’t. Tony’s offer was a part of my be-all, end-all plan. I was tired of being played, Karen, Tony, the Greenwell family. I had a gut feeling that Trevor Greenwell was about to be framed for something he didn’t do and I needed more power in order to help him.
“Let Will go, I’ll work for you Tony.”
Tony nodded. John looked down at his shoes. He sacrificed his life in order for me to have one. I wasn’t going to have a life if I didn’t risk it all though. If I walked out the door at this very moment, the only thing I could logically do was to close down my office and take a job in a gas station. Eight years ago, I almost died for no reason. I got my neck slit for a handful of dollars in a McDonald’s cash register. “Really, I’m free to go?” asked Will.
“Yeah, get the fuck out of here” said Tony.
“Thank you, Thank you so much Mike.”
Will kissed me on the forehead and dashed out of the place in no time. A lot of recognition from a guy I gave his life back to him. Eight years ago, death came in crawling with no purpose. That’s what has been haunting me for so many years. Greatness, purpose, the empty gambling one risks his life for. When an anonymous thief slit my throat for no reason, it was just a crazy dream for me. Every fifteen years old dream of self-importance and celebrity. This became an obsession for me. I would die if necessary. Die in atrocious pain, but people would remember me as the man who did the right thing to pull Seattle out of the rut it was in. Glen Winchester would’ve loved to have me working for him.