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Liberty City Limits: A GTA Fan Fiction

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albanyave
  • albanyave

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#1

Posted 27 April 2016 - 04:51 PM Edited by albanyave, 2 weeks ago.

Author's Note

 

This is my very first Fan Fiction. I was so impressed by the writers here on WD that it really inspired me to invest the time and effort to write this composition. I truly enjoy the writing process and hope to get better. It was fun writing this and I hope you guys enjoy.

 

Feedback will be appreciated.

 

 

 

Chapter 1      Welcome Back

​Chapter 2      An Old Friend

​Chapter 3      Coffee and Coke

​Chapter 4      Good for Business

​Chapter 5      A Seed is Planted

Chapter 6      Making Contact

​Chapter 7      Three Way

​Chapter 8      The Go Ahead

Chapter 9      The Real Deal 

​Chapter 10    Not Broke Yet

​Chapter 11    One Step Forward

​Chapter 12    We Could Be Friends

​Chapter 13    Lords of the Jungle

​Chapter 14    Don't Blink

​Chapter 15    Lost and Found

​Chapter 16    Partners in Crime

​Chapter 17    Let's Talk

​Chapter 18    Unbalanced

​Chapter 19    In Too Deep

​Chapter 20    Taking the Bait

​Chapter 21    Special Delivery

​Chapter 22    Dead End

​Chapter 23    The Night Shift

​Chapter 24    An Angel Among Us

​Chapter 25    Moving On

​Chapter 26    Hello Goodbye

​Chapter 27    A Soviet in America

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albanyave
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#2

Posted 27 April 2016 - 05:10 PM

Welcome Back

 

The polished glass doors to the Adios Terminal swished open, dragging in the familiar odors of Liberty City. Russell Cobb’s nostrils flared as gasoline fumes emanating from a line of taxis idling along the terminals rushed past his face. A fat balding man waddled through the doorway ahead of Russell heading towards one of the yellow cabs. Russell was a remarkable man, standing six feet tall with strong broad shoulders.  His deeply tanned skin stood out against a lose-fitting floral shirt. He wore his thick black hair combed back away from his face and parted on the left side.

 

Russell leaned heavily against a concrete column relieved to breathe real air even if it was pungent with gasoline fumes. After being sandwiched between two old annoying stuffed suits on the flight, the exhausts were more than welcomed. He adjusted the shoulder strap of his bag and plucked his phone from an outside pocket. He dialed a number and waited. A quiet male voice answered the line immediately.

 

“Hello.”

 

“I’m here,” said Russell. 

                

“Good, I like promptness,” whispered the man. “There is a package waiting for you at the Pill Pharm in East Island City. You know what to do and where to start.”

 

The line went dead.  Russell searched through his contacts list and found the number that he hoped still worked. The phone rang a couple times before a familiar voice answered.

 

“Yeah?”   

                  

“Packie?”

 

“Who the f*ck wants to know?”

 

“Can’t you guess man?  I know you haven’t seen me for a while but d*mn.”

 

A momentary silence fell on the other end of the phone.  Then a burst of laughter exploded in Russell’s ear.

 

“Russell Cobb, you bastard. I almost didn’t answer.  Where you at man?”

 

“Here in Liberty. My plane just landed.”

“Jeeze man. Take the train down to Lynch Street and I’ll pick you up.”

 

“Alright man, I’ll see you there.”

 

Russell hung up and quickly shuffled across the street to the train station.  He hurried up the steps two at a time to the platform just in time to see the train speed away in the direction of Meadow Hills. He found a bench where he sat to wait for the next train. Soon his mind reeled with memories of how he had left Liberty City more than a year ago.

 

The Steinway cemetery was the last place he visited before fleeing the city. He didn’t even have time to say goodbye to Carlie, his girlfriend at the time. His jaw clenched at the thought of why he had come back to Liberty. Russell had made a promise to a friend that he intended to keep. One way or the other he would find the truth and the one responsible. A young man bumped into Russell on his way to the other end of the platform.  Russell blinked back to reality as another train screeched to a stop in front of him.

 

He picked up his bag and quickly scooted through the doors, taking a seat near the window. The train eased from the station and sped on to Lynch Street.  The neighborhoods rushed past in a blur and soon Russell was one of many passengers that exited to the platform in Meadow Hills. He made his way through a short tunnel and down the stairs to street level.

 

Packie was parked near a street light with his headlights on high to help guide Russell’s attention.  He spotted his friend and honked the horn.  Packie noticed that he still looked the same; dark hair, tall, and tanned.  Russell heard the horn and spotted the high-beams so he quickly made his way across the street and sat on the passenger side.

 

“Still got the Vincent I see,” said Russell, a huge grin on his face. 

 

“Yeah, man. She’s gotten me out of many sticky situations”

 

Packie revved the engine allowing Russell to hear the power still left in his aging car. Russell slipped on his seatbelt as Packie threw the Vincent into gear and roared down the street leaving the Lynch Street station behind in a cloud of white exhaust.

 

“So man what you wanna do?  Get something to eat? Grab a beer?” asked Packie as the light up ahead turned red. 

 

Russell placed his bag down on the floor between his feet. No beer tonight.  I’ve had one h*ll of a day getting here from Vice City.  I just want to get something to eat and some rest. Is Cluckin’ Bell still open over in Cerveza Heights?”

 

“Yeah, it sure is and greasier than ever.”

 

“Sounds just like something I need. Let’s grab a sandwich over there.”

 

“Okay, CB it is.” 

 

The two men drove across town getting reacquainted and telling off-color jokes as familiar sights and sound made Russell notice how this part of the city had remained the same. A few new construction sites had sprung up but other than that, this part of Liberty remained untouched. A procession of motor bikes, led by a Hexer, roared towards the two as they turned onto Dukes Boulevard. Clad in their club gear, the bikers sped on a determined route to the East Borough Bridge.

 

“Them guys still hangin’ around?” asked Russell, craning his neck to follow the trail of bikes from the rear window.

 

“Yeah, The Lost, them bunch of meth-heads still dukin’ it out with the Angels of Death.  Looks like they’re headin’ to Bohan.”

 

“D*mn. Sh*t hasn’t changed since I left.”

 

“Them boys still gonna be at each other’s throats until the day they die.  It was supposed to be some kinda loose truce between the two clubs but you know how that goes.”

 

“Yeah, I know all too well,” said Russell as he settled back around in the seat. “How’s your family?” asked Russell changing the subject.

 

Packie sighed with disgust. “Derrick’s still the same, strung out, Gerry is Gerry, ma and Katie are good, and Frankie is still the selfish prick he was born to be.”

 

“Things really haven’t changed so much,” replied Russell.

 

“Yeah, that’s my family in a crazy nut shell. So, tell me the real reason you left town like you were runnin’ from a child support case. You just dropped sh*t and left. Carlie called me a couple of times but I didn’t know what to tell her.”

 

Russel felt his stomach churn at the mention of Carlie’s name. “Long story short, a deal went bad and somebody ended up dead.  I was fingered but of course I wasn’t the one to pull the trigger.”

 

“You think it’s safe to come back here now?”

 

“I’ll be alright,” said Russell, lowering his head.

 

Cluckin’ Bell was half full when Packie and Russell entered.  They snake their way through the order line and each ordered The Mighty Cluck, Battered Rings, and an eCola. They settled in at a rear table and wolfed down the greasy food and warm soda in minutes.  Packie reared back in his chair, taking a deep breath trying to work down the meal.  He noticed his friend walk in with a tall bald headed black man so he threw up his hand and called out to get his attention.

 

“Hey Niko.” Packie bent forward. “You’re gonna love this guy.”

 

Niko heard the familiar voice so he went over to say a quick hello.

 

“Hey boy,” said Packie putting one hand on Russell’s shoulder. ”This is Russell Cobb, a friend of mine.  Everybody calls him Russ though.  He just got in from Vice City.”

 

Niko extended his hand.  “I’m Niko Bellic.”

 

Russell shook Niko’s hand firmly, noticing the Eastern European accent. “So where are you from?”

 

“I just got off the boat myself,” said Niko trying to avoid giving a direct answer. “Nice to meet you. I’ll let you and Packie get back to your meal and I’ll get started on mine.”

 

“Alright boy, I’ll call you,” said Packie as Niko made his way back to his companion.

 

Russell looked at Packie sideways. “Not too many words from him.”

 

“He gets the job done though.”

 

The two men emptied their trays and left the restaurant. The night had gotten much cooler since the train station. A careless driver had left an ugly scratch along the driver-side door of the Vincent.  Packie noticed but didn’t make too much of it.

 

“So you can stay with me at my ma’s if you don’t have other arrangements,” said Packie as he examined the scratch.

 

“Thanks buddy, but I’m gonna get a hotel room.  I’ll call you tomorrow. I got something you might be interested in.” said Russell as he retrieved his bag from the car.

 

“Okay. Suit yourself.  Anyway, welcome back and I’ll wait for that call.”

 

Packie slid behind the wheel and drove away.  Russell stood on the sidewalk outside Cluckin’ Bell, ears ringing as a train roared overhead. The greasy smell lingered like a thick cloud pouring stench into the air. He hailed for a taxi. The driver stopped near the curb to pick up the fare.

 

“Where to friend?”

 

The Pill Pharm in East Island City.”

 

“You got it,” said the driver as he pulled away.

 

The city had sprung to life since he and Packie left the train station. Downtown Broker wasn’t as vibrant as parts of Vice City but Russell was glad for the stir of nightlife. The cab buzzed past the LCPD station and Russell could see the pharmacy just up ahead.

 

“Alright pal, here we go,” said the driver as he swung around to park near the store.

 

“Can you wait for me? I’ll only be a minute.”

 

“Sure buddy, but don’t be all night.”

 

Russell grabbed his bag and headed into the pharmacy. An armed guard stood at the front of the store with his arms folded behind him. The short balding man behind the counter sifted through a thin stack of papers. He wore eye glasses that were too small for his round sweaty face. Russell stood patiently in line behind a skinny brunette that trembled from head to toe. She wore heavy makeup to help disguise the dark circles under her eyes. The man reached under the counter to retrieve a small square package. He handed it to the woman, she turned with her head slightly bowed and left the store.

 

“How can I help you sir?”

 

Russell stepped forward. “Pickup for Donnie Bean38.”

 

“Cash or credit?”

 

“Cash.”

 

His tiny hands once again sorted through the same stack of papers. He lined through an entry. “That will be $500 even.”

 

Russell reached into his pants pocket and pulled out five folded $100 bills and tossed them onto the counter. The man took the money and reached for another small package and placed it on the counter. Russell grabbed it, tucking it safely inside his bag and left the store. The cab driver was waiting by the curb as promised. Russell slipped inside and gave the driver an address in Rotterdam Hill.  Traffic in Downtown Broker was almost at a stand-still but soon the cab driver pulled up to a dilapidated tenement.  Russell paid the fare and slowly stepped out into the cool night air. 

 

 

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Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

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#3

Posted 02 May 2016 - 06:37 PM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 02 May 2016 - 06:39 PM.

Welcome Back
 
The polished glass doors to the Adios Terminal swished open, dragging in the familiar odors of Liberty City. Nice simple but effective description to start with but immediately I'm thinking: what are the smells? I (the reader) am not familiar with Liberty city's smells so they're not familiar to me, therefore this does not tell me much. It'd be better to introduce the character and state that they're familiar to him, and to state what the smells are first. If you want to describe the scene more before introducing him, why not show us the sounds and activity of what is likely a busy terminal?Russell Cobbs nostrils flared as gasoline fumes emanating from a line of taxis idling along the terminals rushed past his face. add in any other smells that might be familiar, and this is the better place to say as such A fat balding man waddled through the doorway ahead of Russell heading towards one of the yellow cabs. I also think it'd be better to show us the cabs as soon as the doors open( as Russell sees the road and smells the familiar smells, show is the cabs then. Then you can say 'one of the cabs' because without previously a showing them, your telling us that they're already there, if that makes sense. (Saying the cabs instead of a cab, implies familiarity)Russell was a remarkable man, standing six feet tall with strong ditch the 'strong' - you don't need it here. broad can imply strength, and less is more broad shoulders.  His deeply tanned skin stood out against a lose-fitting floral shirt. He wore his thick black hair was combed back away from his face and parted on the left side.
 
Russell leaned heavily against a concrete column add a comma here relieved to breathe real air even if it was pungent with gasoline fumes. i like how you avoided saying FRESH air After being sandwiched between two oldnot sure you need to say they're old, unless you were to elaborate is some way, also a comma would be useful here annoying stuffed suits on the flight, the exhausts were more than welcomed. He adjusted the shoulder strap of his bag and plucked his phone from an outside pocket. He dialed a number and waited. A quiet male voice answered the line immediately.you have a contradiction here. If he's waiting, then the voice isn't answering immediately. Does the phone ring at all? Does he wait for it to be connected?
 
Hello.
 
Im here, said Russell.

Good, I like promptness, whispered the man.Why is he whispering? (You could have the answer here, perhaps vis Russell's thoughts, or you could leave it and have a small mystery, but if the latter make sure you answer it later. If we meet the man, then you could hint that he's got people around him or something There is a package waiting for you at the Pill Pharm in East Island City. You know what to do and where to start.
 
The line went dead.  Russell searched through his contacts list and found the number that he hoped still worked. The phone rang a couple times before a familiar voice answered.
 
Yeah?  

Packie?
 
"Who the f*ck wants to know? nice to see you've got that brash, almost aggression in packie's voice
 
Cant you guess man?  I know you havent seen me for a while but d*mn. is the censoring deliberate or Gtaf? If the former, there's no need(I hate censoring)
 
A momentary silence fell on the other end of the phone.  Then a burst of laughter exploded in Russells ear.i do wonder if you could be subtler here and have packie chuckle instead of staying full-on laughter. Just a though; I often will write two different things and see which works better. Sometimes the idea doesn't pan out and you revert to your previous one
 
Russell Cobb, you bastard. I almost didnt answer.  Where you at man?
 
Here in Liberty. My plane just landed.
Jeeze man. Take the train down to Lynch Street and Ill pick you up.
  what's going on with the spacing here? You don't need to double space the dialogue (but it's fine If you do) but if you do, keep it consistent!
Alright man, Ill see you there.
 
Russell hung up and quickly shuffled across the street to the train station.  He hurried up the steps two at a timei love this little detail. Really effective in showing urgency instead of telling to the platform just in time to see the train speed away in the direction of Meadow Hills. He found a bench where he sat to wait for the next train. Soon his mind reeled with memories of how he had left Liberty City more than a year ago.
 
The Steinway cemetery was the last place he visited before fleeing the city. He didnt even have time to say goodbye to Carlie, his girlfriend at the time. His jaw clenched at the thought of why he had come back to Liberty. Russell had made a promise to a friend that he intended to keep. One way or the other he would find the truth and the one responsible. A young man bumped into Russell on his way to the other end of the platform.  Russell blinked back to reality as another train screeched to a stop in front of him. I wonder if you'd be better with a full on flashback here. This passage doesn't really offer anything, aside from the tiny hint of his 'quest' and the way it's just thrown in doesn't make me interested in it. I'd like to have seen Russell at the graveyard, then a mad dash to the airport, perhaps evading people - a bit of action and tension which the story is lacking so far; nothing's happening. Add a bit of spice to the recipe
 
He picked up his bag and quickly scooted through the doors, taking a seat near the window. The train eased from the station and sped on to Lynch Street.  The neighborhoods rushed past in a blur and soon Russell was one of many passengers that exited to the platform in Meadow Hills. He made his way through a short tunnel and down the stairs to street level.
 
Packie was parked near a street light with his headlights on high to help guide Russells attention. I think it'd be better if packie flashed his lights; a car with lights on isn't going to be that obvious I don't think, and it's not how people would normally act IMO He spotted his friend and honked the horn.  if he honks his horn, there's no need for the lights Packie noticed that he still looked the same; dark hair, tall, and tanned.  Russell heard the horn and spotted the high-beams so he quickly made his way across the street and sat on the passenger side. the perspective shifts to packie here. That can work, but I'm not getting the impression that this is packies story. Maybe that's incorrect, in which case ignore this comment
 
Still got the Vincent I see, said Russell, a huge grin on his face. 
 
Yeah, man. Shes gotten me out of many sticky situations
 
Packie revved the engine allowing Russell to hear the power still left in his aging car. Russell slipped on his seatbelt as Packie threw the Vincent into gear and roared down the street leaving the Lynch Street station behind in a cloud of white exhaust. seems a bit aggressive to me, racing off for no reason. It just feels... Out of place. But then that's packie I guess
 
So man what you wanna do?  Get something to eat? Grab a beer? asked Packie as the light up ahead turned red.  I think it'd be better to have the 'said packie' part after the first sentence
 
Russell placed his bag down on the floor between his feet. Was he holding it then? Why wait so long to put it down? Also you're missing a " here ---> No beer tonight.  Ive had one h*ll of a day getting here from Vice City.  I just want to get something to eat and some rest. Is Cluckin Bell still open over in Cerveza Heights?
 
Yeah, it sure is and greasier than ever. I must admit I did chuckle at this bit
 
Sounds just like something I need. Lets grab a sandwich over there.
 
Okay, CB it is. 
 
The two men drove across town getting reacquainted and telling off-color jokes as familiar sights and sound made Russell notice how this part of the city had remained the same. here's the problem in seeing. So far, nothing's happened. We don't need gunfights and explosions but there's a golden opportunity to go into the characters here. And both feel flat; just going through the motions. Packie could be a bit stronger in his own personality, and Russell... It feels like you're holding back. There's glimmers of the characters personalities but it's a bit drab so far. Also you're not setting the scene as well as i think you could. LC has a good atmosphere, and you can really emphasise it. The man who bumped into Russell; describe him. The sounds and motion of the train, the smells of the city, street vendors, hustling crowds, announcements on the pa at the station. The sound of packies car. Show us the world; paint the picture. And do the same with the characters. use this time because you could cut most of this and I don't feel we'd be losing anything from the storyA few new construction sites had sprung up but other than that, this part of Liberty remained untouched. again, elaborate. I like this detail but it's hollow. What is the site? What did Russell remember being there before(referencing places in gta iv will help ground us in the game world because ATM it could be literally anywhere A procession of motor bikes, led by a Hexer, roared towards the two as they turned onto Dukes Boulevard. Clad in their club gear, the bikers sped on a determined route to the East Borough Bridge. I liked this detail
 
Them guys still hangin around? asked Russell, craning his neck to follow the trail of bikes from the rear window.
 
Yeah, The Lost, them bunch of meth-heads still dukin it out with the Angels of Death.  Looks like theyre headin to Bohan.
 
D*mn. Sh*t hasnt changed since I left."
 
Them boys still gonna be at each others throats until the day they die.  It was supposed to be some kinda loose truce between the two clubs but you know how that goes.
 
Yeah, I know all too well, said Russell as he settled back around in the seat. "Hows your family? asked Russell changing the subject. You have two people talking so dialogue is alternative between the two; there's no need for 'said Russell' - the reader knows who's talking (can be good to remind after a long dialogue). One thing you can do is have actions in here:

"Yeah, I know all too well." Russell reached into his bag, pulling out s carton of cigarettes. He offered one to packie, who shook his head.he looked out of the window. There were some things he wasn't quite ready to talk about, so he lit his cigarette and changed the subject. "How's the family?"


 
Packie sighed with disgust. Derricks still the same; strung out. Gerry is Gerry, Ma and Katie are good, and Frankie is still the selfish prick he was born to be.
 
Things really havent changed so much, replied Russell.
 
Yeah, thats my family in a crazy nut shell. So, tell me the real reason you left town like you were runnin from a child support case. You just dropped sh*t and left. Carlie called me a couple of times but I didnt know what to tell her.
 
Russel felt his stomach churn at the mention of Carlies name. Long story short, a deal went bad and somebody ended up dead.  I was fingered but of course I wasnt the one to pull the trigger.
 
You think its safe to come back here now?
 
Ill be alright, said Russell, lowering his head.
 
Cluckin Bell was half full when Packie and Russell entered.  They snaked their way through the order line and each ordered The Mighty Cluck, Battered Rings, and an eCola. They settled in at a rear table and wolfed down the greasy food and warm soda in minutes. nitpick: wouldn't the soda be cold? Most soda machines are chilled and distribute ice (I always ask for no ice and they're always throwing sh*t loads of ice in, then glare at me when I tell them again)Packie reared back in his chair, taking a deep breath trying to work down the meal.  He noticed his friend walk in with a tall bald headed black man so he threw up his hand and called out to get his attention.
 
The issue I have here is 'he noticed his friend walk in", and I immediately thought of Russell. I feel it'd be better to just show an unlabelled man walk in, with packie noticing him. Then the recognition is when packie says hey.

Hey Niko. Packie bent forward. Youre gonna love this guy.
 
Niko heard the familiar voice so he went over to say a quick hello.
 
Hey boy, said Packie putting one hand on Russells shoulder. This is Russell Cobb, a friend of mine.  Everybody calls him Russ though.  He just got in from Vice City.
 
Niko extended his hand.  Im Niko Bellic.
 
Russell shook Nikos hand firmly, noticing the Eastern European accent. So where are you from?
 
I just got off the boat myself, said Niko trying to avoid giving a direct answer. is niko trying to be difficult here? Because iirc (it's been a while), he doesn't meet packie until a while after getting off the boat; here it's implied he's literally just arrived. Also it's implied that nikos companion is dwayne, who niko doesn't meet until a lot later. Nice to meet you. Ill let you and Packie get back to your meal and Ill get started on mine.
 
Alright boy, Ill call you, said Packie as Niko made his way back to his companion.
 
Russell looked at Packie sideways. Not too many words from him. I feel the same about Russell :p
 
He gets the job done,though.
 
The two men emptied their trays and left the restaurant. The night had gotten much cooler since the train station this isn't strictly needed . A careless driver had left an ugly scratch along the driver-side door of the Vincent.  Packie noticed but didnt make too much of it. It wasn't Niko, was it?
 
So you can stay with me at my Mas if you dont have other arrangements, said Packie as he examined the scratch. capitalise the m on Ma. Also, you previously stated packie wasn't too bothered about the scratch, then he examines it. Cut the former part.
 
Thanks buddy, but Im gonna get a hotel room.  Ill call you tomorrow. I got something you might be interested in. said Russell as he retrieved his bag from the car.
 
"Okay. Suit yourself.  Anyway, welcome back and Ill wait for that call.
 
Packie slid behind the wheel and drove away.  Russell stood on the sidewalk outside Cluckin Bell, ears ringing as a train roared overhead. overhead? The greasy smell lingered like a thick cloud pouring stench into the air. this is closer to that level of detail I think was needed earlier. These kinds of details should have been present as soon as Russell would have experienced them; when he got out of the airport, the train, etc He hailed for a taxi. The driver stopped near the curb to pick up the fare.
 
Where to comma friend?
 
you're missing a " hereThe Pill Pharm in East Island City.
 
You got it, said the driver as he pulled away.
 
The city had sprung to life since he and Packie left the train station. Downtown Broker wasnt as vibrant as parts of Vice City but Russell was glad for the stir of nightlife. The cab buzzed past the LCPD station and Russell could see the pharmacy just up ahead.
 
Alright pal, here we go, said the driver as he swung around to park near the store.
 
Can you wait for me? Ill only be a minute.
 
Sure buddy, but dont be all night.
 
Russell grabbed his bag and headed into the pharmacy. An armed guard stood at the front of the store with his arms folded behind him. The short balding man behind the counter sifted through a thin stack of papers. He wore eye glasses that were too small for his round, sweaty face. Russell stood patiently in line behind a skinny brunette that trembled from head to toe. She wore heavy makeup to help disguise the dark circles under her eyes. The man reached under the counter to retrieve a small square package. He handed it to the woman, she turned with her head slightly bowed and left the store. personally, I didn't find her moments of the description that natural
 
How can I help you sir?
 
Russell stepped forward. Pickup for Donnie Bean space, or hyphen here I think 38.
 
Cash or credit?
 
Cash.
 
His tiny hands once again sorted through the same stack of papers. He lined through an entry. That will be $500 even. Even?
 
Russell reached into his pants pocket and pulled out five folded $100 bills and tossed them onto the counter. The man took the money you're at risk of using too many 'and's here; replace this one with a comma to create a listreached for another small package and placed it on the counter. Russell grabbed it, tucking it safely inside his bag and left the store. The cab driver was waiting by the curb as promised. Russell slipped inside and gave the driver an address in Rotterdam Hill.  I think you can break this up and start a new paragraph here Traffic in Downtown Broker was almost at a stand-still but soon the cab driver pulled up to a dilapidated tenement.  Russell paid the fare and slowly stepped out into the cool night air. 
 
 

What's the deal with the size tags? There's no need to change the size of the text TBH. Especially on each line (or was this a result of copying the text over?)


One of the problems here is that nothing happens here. There's no conflict, no really immersive setting of the scene and not as much character development as there could be. You can break this story down to this: Russell gets off the plane, eats with an old friend and buys something in a store. This would be okay if you'd the characters were shining, but they're not.

That's not to say this story is bad; it's not. It's just you've taken a long time to say little. I think you could have tried to build tension, then have a climax at the pillpharm. Some form of conflict, have a structure of evolution to the chapter. Now granted you don't need action in every scene but you need it all to feel like it belongs there. Maybe niko will reappear but it felt like a gratuitous cameo; there just to show niko. And like the building sites, it's good to route it in the game world, but it all needs to feel like it belongs.

Keep working and have a look (proof/edit) at you next chapter. Think about what I said and see if stout can spot anything in the next chapter - if you do, fix it. If not and you're confident it's good, post that bad boy. I made a guide on the writers forum main page (it's pinned) that might help you.

Great to see you posting and writing though fella, and I did like this, just it could have been turned up to full volume.
I'll be following this...

Note: apologies for any typos or errors in this; it's all done on my phone in the notes app, not the easiest thing

albanyave
  • albanyave

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#4

Posted 03 May 2016 - 07:45 PM Edited by albanyave, 03 May 2016 - 07:53 PM.

Thanks Mokrie for the critique. Really appreciate it. Yes I should have added more details of what Russell smelled and saw. My mistake. I guess I had in my head that I know the smells and sites but I have to think of the reader at all times.

 

I see now where I could have had a little conflict. Like you said, it doesn't have to be a huge battle to create tension.

 

As far as the censoring, I did it because I didn't quite know about the profane language restrictions on the forum. It must be a copy and paste thing because I didn't change the font size.

 

I will definitely try to put your advice in Chapter Two.


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

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  • Most Creative [Writing] 2016
    Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#5

Posted 03 May 2016 - 11:18 PM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 03 May 2016 - 11:22 PM.

The forums filters are automatic. I'm typing sh*t, here. i typed that "i"... it was a nitpick though.

 

I'll put the size thing down to the copy and paste; it just made it a pain to remove them to do my critique (not that i needed to, mind).

 

RE: the sights and smells - It's always difficult trying to get that from your mind to the page. But as a rule of thumb, what you see in your mind, the reader needs to be shown. You can always remove detail (or add) when you edit :)

 

Edit: It appears that, somehow, my critique managed to lose many of the quotation marks. damn, that's a pain.


albanyave
  • albanyave

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#6

Posted 06 May 2016 - 08:12 PM Edited by albanyave, 06 May 2016 - 08:48 PM.

An Old Friend

 

Parts of Mohawk Avenue receded into darkness, concealing the shameful deeds of those whose life lost purpose years ago. The empty lot behind the Broke Bus Depot was a prime location for quick exchanges of illicit drugs for small rolls of cash. A homeless man brushed past Russell, smelling like alcohol and stale cigarettes. Russell ignored the man when he asked for money, probably to support his bad habits. The smell of soy and curry drifted through the night air from Ming Inn making Russell wish he had settled for something other than the greasy scraps from Cluckin’ Bell.  His stomach moaned from the stress of trying to digest such a heavy meal. 

 

Russell swatted away a swarm of flies and gnats as he passed a pile of garbage waiting near a street light for an early morning pick-up. Part way down an alley, a hooker argued with her john over payment for services. It seemed like he wasn’t satisfied with the results of their encounter. A short distance past the alleyway, Russell recognized his friend’s tiny apartment building. The adjoining structure had finally collapsed and now the small run-down building was being supported on one side by metal support beams, anchored to the ground on concrete posts. He walked over to the front entrance, hoping his friend would be home.

 

The exterior door to the tenement sat slightly ajar.  Russell still heard the muffled argument between the hooker and the displeased man as he climbed the crumbling concrete steps leading into the building. The ragged door groaned on its hinges, resisting the effort it took to pull it closed.  The cramped hallway was nearly pitch-black but Russell remembered that the apartment was straight ahead.  He approached the door and shifted his bag to his left hand.  He could hear the beat of music emanating from inside as he knocked on the door.  The music stop then a male voice spoke through the door. 

 

“Who’s there?”

 

“Russell Cobb.”

 

There was silence on the other side of the door. 

 

“Does Jermaine Andrews still live here?” asked Russell with a slight hesitation.

 

A quiet suspicious voice spoke from behind the door. “Russ is that really you?”

 

“Yeah man, open up.  I’m alone.”

 

Russell heard the deadbolt click and then another click and the door pulled open slightly.  A shaft of light filtered through the crack and landed on Russell’s face.  The chain remained linked in place. Jermaine stole a quick peek through the crack of the door.  Seeing that it was Russell, he immediately removed the chain.  The door swung open and Russell entered the small but neat apartment.  Republican Space Rangers played on a boxy television set with poor reception.  A half empty container from Ming Inn sat precariously on the edge of the coffee table.  Jermaine, a slimly built black man, quickly bolted the door and slid the chain back into its cradle. 

 

“Have a sit down man,” said Jermaine as he turned up the radio volume. "Damn it's good to see you."

 

"Yeah, I been gone far too long. But I'm back now. ​"

 

Russell flopped down on a mashed in chair across from the sofa and placed his bag on the floor.  Jermaine, who had been lounging in a long pair of blue and white basketball shorts and a black tank scooped up the food container and tossed it in the garbage. 

 

“So, when did you get back?” asked Jermaine as he wiped at the corners of his mouth. “I didn’t think I would ever see you in this town again.”

 

“You know why I had to leave like I did.”

 

“Don’t blame yourself man. The whole situation that night was f*cked up from the beginning to the end.”

 

“Yeah, I know. But I was the one…”

 

Russell lowered his head recalling the horrific events of that awful night in Schottler. Jermaine might didn’t blame him but he felt responsible for what unfolded down that darken alleyway more than a year ago. For months, nightmares tormented every moment Russell closed his eyes to sleep. Pools of blood on the ground appeared redder than red, bubbled and reached for him, dragging his paralyzed body to the darkness below the cold wet concrete. The deafening blasts from a shotgun reverberated inside his head for what seemed like hours at a time. The sickening cries for help made him spin out of control in a swirl of yellow, green, and black, searching in all direction for the soulless shrieks. Wicked laughter pouring from a faceless mouth was always the last thing Russell remembered before waking up, cold and sweaty, in a corner of his bedroom clawing at the wall. 

 

Jermaine tapped on the coffee table to bring his friend back to reality. “You alright man? I kinda lost you for a minute.”

 

“Just thinkin’.”

 

“About that night?”

 

Russell nodded, wiping an open hand across his face to clear his mind. The two men were silent for a while. Jermaine respected his friend enough not to interrupt. He could tell that he was still grieving the loss. He did scamper off to the kitchen to get two bottles of cold water. He placed one on the coffee table in front of Russell and waited for him to begin the conversation again. Russell snatched up the bottle, removed the cap and gulped down the freshness in a few swallows. He exhaled a satisfied sigh as he crumpled the bottle into a small plastic ball. Feeling better now, Russell shifted his weight trying to find a more comfortable spot to get back to the reason he had come to see Jermaine.

 

“Vice City was good for me.”

 

“Vice City? I thought you would’ve gone to Los Santos.”

 

Russell chuckled at the thought. “Vice turned out to be the better place. If things work out, Liberty might be good too.”

 

“What things?”

 

Russell looked away trying to find the exact words.  He could tell that Jermaine already had an idea. He shuffled his bag to the other side of the chair and looked around the small apartment once again.

 

“Why you so locked up tight in here?”

 

Jermaine stirred slightly. “I don’t know man.  It could be my imagination, but I think the cops is watchin’ me.  Seems like wherever I go there’s some uniform right on my *ss.”

 

“What did you do to get so much attention?”

 

“Not a d*mn thing,” said Jermaine, chuckling at his own response.

 

“Then it’s probably all in your head,” said Russell, putting a finger to the side of his own head. “You still working at Native Engines?”

 

Jermaine flashed a sideways grin knowing what Russell really meant. “Yeah, I'm still workin’ there.”

 

Russell stroked his chin.  “Business good?”

 

“It’s alright.”

 

“You wanna make it better?” asked Russell with a lowered voice.

 

Jermaine reached over and turned up the radio volume.  DJ Mister Cee was in the midst of introducing the next artist. 

 

“Come on man. Why you bein' so mysterious?”

 

Russell reached down and unzipped his bag. He rummaged through the contents and pulled out a neatly wrapped package. He laid it on the coffee table and zipped the bag closed.  Jermaine frowned at the sight of the small box. He leaned forward reaching to pick it up but was stopped short when Russell grabbed it first. 

 

“Come on man. What’s goin’ on?” asked Jermaine as he sat back on the sofa.

 

Russell held up a hand insisting that Jermaine wait. “You’ll see.”

 

He then started to tear the paper from the package. Russell stopped abruptly when an unexpected banging sounded at Jermaine’s apartment door.  Both men were surprised by the sudden noise.  Neither man said a word.  Jermaine looked at Russell with wide anxious eyes. Russell sat straight up putting a finger to his lips letting Jermaine know to keep quiet and gestured to sit still.  Another series of bangs and then a heavy voice called through the door.

 

“Hey man I hear your music.  You must got your *ss on the pot or in the bed.  Check your phone homie.”

 

Jermaine picked up his phone and checked his messages. Jimmy had left a text that he would be stopping by later.  He eased the phone back on the coffee table.  He and Russell quietly sat there until they were sure that Jimmy was gone. 

 

“You never did check your messages,” said Russell exhaling sharply. “Jimmy still not paying his debts?”

 

Jermaine wiped at his face relieved that he was able to avoid his visitor.  “Jimmy owes some guy over in Hove Beach and I don’t have any money to give him. H*ll, I hardly have enough money for myself sometimes. I tried to tell him to leave them guys alone but he won’t listen.”

 

“Sounds like the Jimmy I know,” said Russell as he ripped the paper from around the package, revealing a glossy black box beneath.  He removed the lid and plucked a small tube from inside the box.

 

“So, you gonna tell me what this is all about or what?”

 

“Be patient. You’ll see,” insisted Russell.

 

Russell removed the cap and placed it on the coffee table. He plucked at a piece of foil. Jermaine sat across from his friend staring intently at the small pieces of foil flaking away as Russell continued working to uncover the opening.  The last piece peeled away to reveal a small clean hole.  Russell sniffed the contents then poured one thin line of the powdery substance onto a cleared area on the coffee table.  Jermaine leaned forward to get a better look.

 

“This is the cleanest sh*t that you’ll ever see in this city,” said Russell, musing over the single line.  “Go ahead, try it.”

 

Jermaine threw his hands up. “I don’t touch the sh*t no more.”

 

“Since when?”

 

“I mean I might pass it along but I don’t use it myself.”

 

“Well, do you know anybody that I can pass it along to?"

 

“So, I guess that’s where I fit in,” said Jermaine, a wide grin spreading across his face. “What’s in it for me?”

 

“If you get me the right person, you and Native Engines will get a piece of the action.”

 

“Who’s the right person?”

 

“I’m testing the waters here. You get me somebody big, somebody good and I’ll take care of the rest."

 

Russell could see that thoughts were playing around in Jermaine's head. He just hoped they were the right ones.

 

“I might know somebody.  He’s been out of the game for a while but I think he’s still hungry,” said Jermaine as he sat back on the sofa rubbing at the stubble on his face.

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albanyave
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#7

Posted 12 May 2016 - 04:19 PM

Coffee and Coke

 

Russell woke up, startled by the sudden commotion on the street outside Jermaine’s apartment. Not fully coherent, Russell wasn’t sure exactly where he was. He had gotten used to hearing the soft waves lap at the shoreline next to his beach house in Vice City. The unexpected ruckus made his head spin as he stirred on Jermaine’s flimsy sofa. Russell rubbed at the back at his neck trying to work the kink away. He eased out of bed, careful not to make the stiffness worse.

 

Jermaine snored loudly through his bedroom door so Russell quietly slid into the bathroom to shower.  He dressed in black jeans, a simple white button-up shirt, and tan Hinterland boots. Jermaine was still sleeping hard when Russell grabbed his bag and headed for the door.  Seeing the line of locks, he thought that he should let his friend know that he was leaving.

 

Russell knocked on the bedroom door then pushed into the room.  Jermaine was lying there wearing only his boxers.  “Jermaine.”

 

A snort and slight stir was all Russell could coax from him.  He called again this time shaking Jermaine on his shoulder. “Jermaine!” 

 

Jermaine shot straight up in bed, hands and arms flailing like a dying fish.

 

“D*mn man you sleep like a rock.  Come on lock your door, I’m headin’ out.”

 

Jermaine scooted out of bed with droopy eyes and followed Russell to the door staggering along the way. He banged his knee hard on the pointed edge of the coffee table. A quiet groan escaped his friend’s mouth as Russell proceeded on to the door.

 

He unlocked the door pulling it slightly open. “Remember what we talked about last night.  Give me a call when you know something.”

 

Jermaine, still not fully awake, nodded in agreement as he yawned and picked at the corners of his eyes.  Russell left the apartment, closing the door behind him. He heard the locks click into place as he exited the building. It was almost 5am.  Too early to call Packie. Russell cut down the alley where the hooker and her client had been arguing the night before. He climbed a flight of uneven steps at the other end of the alleyway. Brunner Street, straight ahead, had nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic with early morning commuters. Russell heard the muffled sounds of morning talk shows and news broadcasts as the vehicles zipped past.

 

A temporary break in the procession of automobiles allowed Russell to hustle across to the other side of the street. He knew the city well. Dukes was home until he graduated from High School. He immediately moved into a small apartment over in Outlook, a neighborhood of Broker. Six months later, his parents were tragically killed in a car accident as they crossed the Algonquin Bridge. Memories of his childhood rushed back as Russell stared up at the majesty of that same bridge brilliantly illuminated against the dawning sky. Across the Humboldt River, Algonquin stood as the life of Liberty City. The trendy shops of Suffolk as well as the seedy corners of Chinatown made the allure of Algonquin so powerful. The whole of northern Algonquin remained caught in the death trap of gang related violence. The glimmering lights from some of the city’s tallest buildings began to dim as the breaking dawn turned the sky pale blue. Russell pulled his thoughts back to Broker, a quieter less chaotic part of Liberty.

 

A cab approached. He threw up a hand and the driver pulled over to pick up the fare. Russell quickly scooted inside the back of the cab, the radio being far too loud for such an early morning ride.

 

“Where to?”

 

“Firefly Island please.”

 

The driver looked in the rear-view mirror. “Please?  I don’t get a lot of those.  You must be from outta town.”

 

“Kinda sorta,” said Russell.  “I used to live here but been gone for a little while.”

 

“Well the city ain’t changed much,” said the driver as he punched in the destination.  “Unless you want to count the increase in dirt and crime.”

 

“Oh, wow, that’s too bad,” said Russell.

 

“And to top it all off, our politicians are just as bad if not worse than the scum that’s really runnin’ this city.”

“Sounds like I’ve gotta get caught up on what’s been happening.”

 

“Yeah.  Grab yourself a Liberty Tree paper or any paper for that matter.  They even got it on-line and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ about.”

 

The driver continued to spit insults about the city leaders, whom he seemed to know personally, and gave his own critique about how corrupt the Police Department had gotten over the years.  Russell tried to chime in, but was cut short by another rant from the driver. He was content with watching the city pass by, noticing the blatant Eastern European influence in Hove Beach.

 

“Okay, here we are, this is as close as I can getcha.”

 

“Thanks for the info and keep the change.” Russell paid the fare then exited the cab.

 

The cab pulled away leaving Russell standing in front of a Hardware store on Crockett Avenue near a paper box. He dropped some change in the coin slot and retrieved a fresh Liberty Tree newspaper.  Across the street, the beach was deserted but a scattering of early risers meandered along the boardwalk. Even though the glory days of the amusement park at Firefly Island are but a distant memory, the famous boardwalk still offered a few attractions. The savory aroma of the street vendors whiffed through the air, enticing Russell even more to quell his growling stomach. Russell quickly scanned the headlines of the paper before stuffing it deep inside an outer pocket of his bag. He froze when a distinctive voice from behind called his name.

 

“Russell Cobb, you are a dead man.”

 

Russell spun around only to catch a glimpse of a tall, broad-shouldered man with braided hair pulled back in a ponytail dashing towards an alleyway. He knew that voice. A voice he would never forget. Samuel Barkley was the one that set the deal that ended in tragedy. Russell bolted after the man. The alley quickly fell into shadows. Samuel had a good head start but Russell had conditioned himself well. His Hinterland boots pounded heavily against the concrete. The man looked behind to see how close Russell had gotten, causing him to stumble over garbage bags hidden in the shadows. Samuel managed to regain his balance but that mishap was enough to allow Russell to close the gap. He was close enough to hear the Samuel gasping for breath.

 

Traffic on Bart Street had stopped for a red light.  Samuel burst from the alleyway with Russell right on his heels. He sprinted between cars and headed towards a narrow alley on the other side of the street. Russell vaulted over the hood of a cab, landing sure-footed on the other side. The two men almost entered the skinny passage simultaneously. Russell was almost within an arm’s reach of the man’s ponytail. Samuel struggled for air. Russell pushed harder, propelling himself forward. He seized the opportunity, reaching out and grabbing a fistful of Samuel’s braids. He pulled down hard, dragging the heavy man to the ground. Samuel lurched forward, struggling to get to the clearing at the end of the alley. Russell dove, landing squarely on top of his back, wrenching Samuel’s right arm at an odd angle so that it dislocated immediately.

 

Russell pushed the man’s face hard in to the cracked concrete to muffle the agonizing hollers. Once the shrieks had subsided, Russell rolled the man onto his back so that they faced each other.

 

“Why did you set me up?” asked Russell through gritted teeth.

 

“It wasn’t you,” answered Samuel, still struggling for air. ”But it is you now.”

 

Shocked by the answer, Russell pulled away but kept a tight grip on Samuel’s left wrist.

 

“Why Jimmy?” growled Russell.

 

Samuel’s chest heaved up and down. “You’re gonna have to ask Olive”

 

“Where can I find him?”

 

“You don’t. He finds you. And you are a dead man.”

 

“That’s where you’re wrong.”

 

Russell snapped the tiny bones in the man’s wrist, sending lightning-sharp pain running up his arm. Russell reached inside his bag, retrieving the 9Mm pistol that Jermaine had given him last night. He stood up, towering over the injured man. The train roared past on its way to the Hove Beach Station.  Russell squeezed the trigger, placing a single bullet in Samuel’s head. He tossed the newspaper over the man’s mangled face and left him lying there in the shadow of the Broker Bridge.

 

Russell emerged from the narrow alley disheveled and a bit disturbed by what Samuel had insinuated. The 69th Street Diner was just across the street but he didn’t feel like eating. Besides, he had to get himself in a better frame of mind to meet with Packie. Russell crossed the street and bought another Liberty Tree newspaper before entering the diner.

 

A petite blonde stood behind the counter. The smell of fresh coffee and sausage filled his nostrils but did little to bring back his appetite.  There were six booths that ran along the front wall of the diner. Russell chose a booth at the far end which was the perfect place to wait for Packie to arrive. He faced the side entrance and had a good view of the entire area.  An older gentleman and two young women were already eating a delicious looking breakfast. It was still early but Russell decided it was time to call Packie.  The phone rang once, twice, three times and then a tired hoarse sounding voice answered.

 

“It’s too early man.  I just got in bed.”

 

“Well I got something that will make you jump out of bed right now,” said Russell, sounding more enthusiastic than he had to.

 

“Yeah right.”

 

“If you want to know, meet me at the 69th Street Diner in Broker.”

 

Russell disconnected the line before Packie could throw up a protest. He tucked the phone back inside his bag then went to the restroom to get cleaned up. He quickly returned to the booth, pulled out the newspaper and began reading a story about a suspected serial killer. He had read through most of the paper by the time Packie finally arrived.  He filed into the diner behind a Liberty City Police Officer.  The Officer ordered at the counter while Packie made his way back to where Russell had been waiting.

 

“Hey man, I know you’re my friend and all but this better be good. I had to take the train. Damn car wouldn't start.”

 

“Yeah it is,” replied Russell. “But let’s wait awhile,” nodding in the direction of the Officer.

 

Packie glanced back over his shoulder then sat down across from his friend.

 

Soon the Officer left the diner with a bagful and two cups of coffee. Russell folded his paper and laid it aside. 

 

“Go get us some coffee and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ about when you get back.” 

 

“Do I look like I’m the freakin’ waitress?” asked Packie wrinkling his forehead.

 

“Yeah, you do,” said Russell with a silly smirk on his face.  “Now go get the coffee.”

 

Packie reluctantly slid from the booth and stood in a short line at the counter.  Russell pulled the small tube from his bag and took a quick look around the diner before pouring a single line of the cocaine onto a cleared spot near the salt and pepper shakers.  He moved the newspaper closer to conceal the pure white powder. Packie returned to the booth with two fresh cups of coffee and wide curious eyes.

 

“So what am I supposed to see? asked Packie, as he placed the steaming cups on the table. 

 

Russell slowly slid the newspaper aside to reveal the powdery substance. 

 

“Holy sh*t.  So you just gonna do that right here?”

 

“Lower your voice man. Of course not.  I don’t do this sh*t. But I got a lot more where this came from. I just need to get it out there and I think you’re the man for the job.”

 

“I might know somebody who knows somebody.”

 

Packie discretely reached over and tapped the powder with his pinky. First he smelled it then he tasted it, smacking his mouth to get a better discernment.   

 

“D*mn, this some good sh*t.” said Packie looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

 

“The best sh*t,” responded Russell as he sipped at his coffee.

 

“Already cut?”

 

“What do you think?”

 

“I think it can be cut some more.”

 

“Well you do your thing and get back to me, said Russell as he brushed the remaining powder onto the floor.  I’m gonna look for somewhere to stay.  I think I’ll be in town for a while.”

 

“Where’d you lay up last night because my ma sure wanted to see you again?”

 

“I got a room at The Hamilton over in Algonquin.  Just couldn’t resist going across the bridge.  But for right now I think I’ll look for a place here in Broker.”

 

“Alright man sounds like a plan.  I’ll do my thing and get back to you.  Now this was worth getting outta bed for.”

 

“Say Pack, before you leave.” Russell hesitated slightly, lowering his head. “How’s Carlie?”

 

“She’s good Russ, really good. She still works with Katie at the Community Center. Want me to…”

 

“No. It’s not the right time.”

 

“Okay. I’ll be in touch.”

 

Packie gulped down the black brew and left his friend at the diner.  He crossed Mohawk Avenue heading towards the Hove Beach Subway Station with his iFruit phone to his ear. The morning was already hot and muggy.

 

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albanyave
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#8

Posted 16 May 2016 - 01:08 AM

Good for Business

 

Packie stepped of the train at the Suffolk station. He pushed past a group of people waiting to board and quickly made his way up the maze of stairs, taking two steps at a time. He was anxious to speak with Ray about the prospects of bringing new business to the family.  He could hear the deafening wail of police and ambulance sirens before reaching street level.  He hurried past the armed officer at the exit. Curiosity had gotten the better of him.  The smothering afternoon heat wrapped around Packie as he left the coolness of the underground subway tunnel.

 

Officers had blocked off an entire block of Garnet Street, carefully directing traffic away from an accident.  A green Virgo lay upside down, in the intersection, dented and twisted.  Broken glass lay scattered near the car.   The driver remained inside barely conscious.  A short distance down the street, the front end of a black Rebla had been pushed way back.  The driver-side windshield was rammed through creating a jagged gaping hole. Packie spotted paramedics a few yards from the Rebla working feverishly on a young man with his face torn to bloody shreds. 

 

Packie had seen enough of the gruesome scene so he pushed through the crowd that had gathered along the sidewalk and made his way to Drusilla’s, an Italian Restaurant, just a short walk from the subway station. He crossed the street and followed Feldspar Street the rest of the way. The fresh smell of brick-oven bread filled the air as Packie grew closer to the heart of Little Italy. Pot-bellied men hovered near fruit stands, swearing and openly speaking of their criminal exploits. By now, Packie could see the restaurant, quaintly tucked away on Denver Avenue. Not waiting for the traffic light to change, he sprinted across the street, dodging a yellow cab, and entered the restaurant.

 

The dining room was cool and empty. Ray Bocinno sat at a table near the bar having an intense conversation on his mobile phone. Packie stayed at a distance to give Ray some privacy. Ray had been capo in the Pegorino Crime Family for years, headed by James Pegorino. No one gets that far up the chain by being a nice guy or by not being well connected. Ray is a good earner with aspirations of being underboss one day. The Family is based in Alderney but has high hopes of one day being accepted by the other five crime families as a member of the Liberty City Commission.

 

“Calm down Ash.  I’ll fix it. Everything will be okay,” said Ray consolingly.

 

Ray listened, his head bowed with obvious concern on his face.  His long slim body suddenly tensed with emotion. He slapped the salt shaker, sending it sailing to the floor. The tiny crystal container shattered immediately, spilling its contents near the bar.

 

“He said what?” shouted Ray.  No I won’t calm down.” His voice quivered with anger. “He shouldn’t talk to you like that.”

 

Standing, nearly knocking over the chair, Ray pointed with a stern open hand at an empty chair. “You stay home Ashley and I’ll be over as soon as I can. I promise. Go take a shower and wait for me. I’ll fix it.”

 

Ray carelessly tossed the phone onto the table.  He mumbled obscenities under his breath not noticing Packie standing at the corner of the bar.

 

“She alright?” asked Packie as he moved closer.

 

Half hearing, Ray turned. “Yeah. What? How’d you get here?”

 

“You know she’s never gonna get off that sh*t don’t you?”

 

“Hey, hey, you worry about your b*tches in Dukes and let me take care of Ashley okay,” growled Ray.

 

Packie threw up his hands in defeat. “Alright, alright, jeeze I was just saying…”

 

Still bothered by the phone call from Ashley, Ray interrupted Packie. “So what do you want?”

 

Annoyed that Ray was distracted by his personal life, Packie answered with a bit of sarcasm.  “This morning.  The phone call.  We needed to meet to talk about some product.”

 

His eyes flickered with interest as he gestured to an empty chair. “Right, sit down and tell me about.”

Packie filled Ray in on the details. He sat quiet but attentive to all that Packie had to say.  An occasional grunt, acknowledging that he was listening was encouraging.  Packie spoke slowly but eagerly tried to convince Ray that this would be good for business. Hearing that the product was better than anything in Liberty, Ray sat upright, folding his arms across his chest. Packie could tell that he was hooked.

 

“Alright, okay, enough.  Let me meet this friend of yours.  What’s his name?”

 

Packie pushed up his sleeves.  Russell Cobb but everyone calls him Russ.”

 

Ray started again with the awkward stiff hand gestures as he spoke.  “Bring him here.  No. Don’t bring him here.  Bring him to The Star Café in The Triangle later tonight.  Maybe nine, nine-thirty.”

 

“I’ll get on it.”

 

Eager to get the deal set up, Packie sprang from the chair and headed towards the door. He yelled back over his shoulder before leaving the restaurant. “You won’t regret this one Ray.”

 

Ray didn’t answer. He already had other things on his mind as he moved on to the kitchen with his phone in hand. The conversation with Ashley concerned him greatly. She’s always fallen in with the wrong crowd and needed someone to rescue her. But this time, it seemed different. She sounded really scared and lost. He dialed her number from memory and waited. No answer. He redialed, this time leaving a message on her voicemail.

 

Packie spotted Niko Bellic across the street from the restaurant. He hurried across on his way back to the subway station.  “Hey boy, I’ll be callin’ you soon.  I’m almost sure of it.”

 

Packie was down the street before Niko had a chance to respond.  He didn’t bother yelling, he simply made a quiet acknowledgement to himself.  Figuring Ray was definitely inside the restaurant, Niko quickly cross the cobblestoned street ahead of a procession of vehicles. He pushed the door open, poking his head in first before stepping inside from the heat. The dining room was cool and vacant. Niko quietly closed the door behind him and called out for Ray.

 

“Ray, you in here?”

 

The restaurant was still and sanitary.  No movement or aroma anywhere. Niko walked past the bar, tiny shards of glass and salt crystals crunched under his heavy Hinterland boots. He called out once again.  This time Ray pushed through the swinging doors that led into the kitchen. He stuffed his phone in an inside pocket of his blue blazer and fumbled with a ring of keys.

 

“Nikki.  How you doin’?”

 

Niko bobbed his head. “Okay, I suppose.”

 

“Look, somethin’ came up.  Gotta run over to Alderney. I’ll call you later.”

 

Before Niko could throw up a protest, Ray hastily guided him to the front door, nearly shoving him out onto Denver Avenue. Niko stiffened, pushing back against Ray.

 

“Hold it Ray, barked Niko as he swung around to face him. “You said you were going to help me find someone. I’m tired of being led around by you.”

 

Ray slightly eased off Niko. “Look Nikki, I can’t help this.  I’m working on something good for you and I’ll let you know real soon.  That’s the best I can do right now.”

 

“No more games Ray.”

 

“I promise Nikki,” Pleaded Ray.

 

Niko stared blankly at the door being closed in his face.

 

*   *   *

Packie and Russell darted between cars that seemed to be frozen in place. They pushed their way through the overly enthusiastic crowd that had gathered in front of The Star Café. The Triangle was normally busy, but tonight the crowd was especially excited. Russell was the first to pop out the other end of the cluster near the entrance and the two men followed a neatly dressed man into the café. Three slightly animated women hovered at the bar enjoying a highball and a friendly conversation with a bizarre looking man.

 

RAMJAM FM poured through the PA system, playing a hypnotic version of ‘54-46 Was My Number’. A single microphone stood in the center of a small round stage just left of the bar. It was a little before 9 o’clock and most of the tables were occupied downstairs.  Russell ordered some drinks at the bar then he and Packie inched up the spiral staircase to the upper level.  Packie looked around for Ray. There was no sign of him.  They chose an empty table at the far end of the room to wait.

 

Downstairs the MC enthusiastically introduced the star attraction. “The young man about to take the stage is a hometown up and coming rapper that has worked the street corners of Star Junction, tirelessly promoting his music. He dreams of being a big time rapper known world wide.  Where else would be a better place to start a brilliant career, than right here at the Superstar Café. Put your hands together to welcome, Pathos.”

 

A roar from the crowd nearly blotted out the first few lines that flowed freely from the performer.  Russell and Packie were out their seats looking down over the railing to see the young rapper in action.  He worked the tiny stage like he was in a huge arena. Neither man noticed Ray as he jostled his way through the crowd and sat at their table. Russell tapped Packie on the shoulder when he noticed an impatient man staring in their direction.  Both men quickly joined him.

 

“So you must be Russell Cobb,” said Ray, eyeing the man closely.

 

Extending his hand, “I am and you must be Ray Boccino.”

 

Ray shook the young man’s hand then got straight to the point. “Packie has already convinced me to meet you. Now you convince me to buy from you.”

 

Russell cleared his throat.  “What I have is better than anything here in Liberty.  I can get however much you want for as long you need it. It’s clean, uncut. Purer than two virgins on their wedding night. Of course the price has to be right.”

 

Russell was direct and precise, something that Ray liked and trusted.  He stared a long while at Russell trying to detect any uncertainty or weakness.  He finally leaned back in the soft cushioned chair.

 

“Purer than two virgins?” Ray chuckled at the thought. “I like this guy already Packie.”

 

“Okay Russi, give me your number. You’ve persuaded me to think about this a little more.” 

 

Russell quickly jotted down his number on a napkin and slid it across the table.  Ray looked at the number then tucked it in his pocket.

 

“I gotta get back across the river. As far as the price goes Russi, remember I already have a supplier.  Enjoy the show boys.”

 

Ray left just as quickly as he arrived.  Russell looked at Packie fearing that he had made a huge mistake. He kicked himself for mentioning anything about money. He needed to get rid of the product and get rid of it quickly. 

 

“He’s gotta talk to his boss.  But he ain’t gonna pass this up. I’m almost sure of it.”

 

 

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Mokrie Dela
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#9

Posted 17 May 2016 - 11:57 AM

No critique but I read chapter two

And I really enjoyed the scene setting. Some great imagery. It did end up feeling like a list a little bit I got a real strong image in my head

A touch of mystery, a little tension... Needs some work but it's good

albanyave
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#10

Posted 20 May 2016 - 10:40 PM

Thanks Mokrie. I've really tried to do what you said. I find myself really digging deeper than I ever have to show more than tell. It's a process that opens up the world and develops the characters. It takes practice and more practice.


albanyave
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#11

Posted 20 May 2016 - 11:13 PM

A Seed is Planted

 

The train rocked from side to side, jostling Jermaine Andrews in his seat. The lights flickered as the train continued through the tunnel, breaks howling as it rounded a curve, on the way to the next station. The announcer called out the next stop before the train screeched to a stop at the platform. Jermaine let his mind wonder as passengers filed by to exit the cart. The unexpected arrival of Russell at his apartment last night brought back memories of the last few days that Russell spent in Liberty.

 

He had been lying low at Jermaine’s apartment in Rotterdam Hill, trying to avoid the LCPD. A warrant had been issued for his arrest in connection to a murder that occurred in Schottler. During the week that he spent with Jermaine Russell broke into a thousand pieces. He was afraid, confused, angry, and most of all grief-stricken. He had just witnessed his best friend from childhood blown to bloody shreds in what seemed to be an ambush which he barely escaped with his life. Jermaine had desperately tried to convince him to turn himself in to the police. But Russell was not swayed. He knew what had happened down that dark alleyway and surrendering to the police was not an option. Two days after the funeral, Russell quietly slipped out into the darkness of the city and disappeared.

 

The train rumbled to a halt at the Vespucci Circus Subway Station. Jermaine had vaguely heard the announcer but noticed the sign on the wall through the window. The graffiti laden doors flapped open and Jermaine stepped off.  He hated this station. The floor was littered with scraps of paper and food containers. It smelled like urine and most of the light fixtures had been broken out. A young man had been assaulted and left in a corner, bruised and bleeding. The weight of his 9Mm pistol in an inside pocket of his jacket gave him some comfort. He pushed through the crowd to make his way to street level.  Gov. Greg Johnson Housing had an imposing presence in the Northwood neighborhood.  Jermaine craned his neck upward to view the three eighteen story buildings that occupied an enormous city block.  Dwayne Forge lived on the second floor in the building directly ahead.

 

Jermaine rarely ventured across the Humboldt River. He had promised Russell a capable client and now he just had to convince Dwayne that he wasn’t washed up. That he still had a vicious bite that could command respect even after all the years that he spent behind bars. In certain circles, Dwayne Forge was thought of as a living legend. The pride of his people. However, over the years, the reverence of his stature throughout the city dwindled and in many instances was replaced by his protégé, Playboy X. He was an ambitious young man who erected an empire on the foundation laid by Dwayne many years ago. He rejected his former mentor; labeling him as old and out of touch with the changing times.

 

Jermaine pulled his jacket collar close around his neck. The night had grown cool, a stark change from the sweltering heat this afternoon. Three men bolted past Jermaine as he descended the block of concrete stairs leading into the housing project. They darted through the courtyard and entered one of the buildings. Thinking that it would be safer inside, Jermaine made a bee-line for the front entrance to Dwayne’s building. He trotted past a small group of men huddled near a bench, not noticing his friend Jimmy.

 

“Hey Jermaine, what’s up?”

 

Jermaine caught the familiar voice making his stomach tighten. He turned back to greet his friend. “Jimmy, I almost didn’t see you. How you doin’?”

 

“You know how that sh*t goes. I stopped by your place last night.”

 

“Yeah man, I got your message but I musta been in the shower or somethin’”

 

“That’s what I thought or laid up.  Let’s get together and do somethin’ real soon.”

 

“Sounds good. I’ll holla atcha.”

 

“Alright. Later man.”

 

Jermaine left the men huddled in their group and moved on to the building that loomed ahead.  He entered the building noticing the gang tags and other profane scribbling on the walls. The stairs leading to the second floor were just past the mailboxes and around the corner.  A couple of skinheads charged past Jermaine determined to get somewhere. Dwayne’s apartment was at the top of the stairs. He landed two quick knocks and waited.  No answer.  Jermaine was about to knock again when the door pulled open.  Dwayne Forge stood in the doorway wearing a dirty white t-shirt and holding a bottle of Dorsche Gold.

“Hey Jermaine. Hey man. Come on in,” said Dwayne trying to regain his balance.

 

“Yeah, sorry I’m late,” said Jermaine as he stepped inside the drab-looking hallway.

 

The bathroom door stood open. Foul odors seeped out into the corridor making Jermaine wipe away the wetness that had formed on his upper lip. He was struck by the foulness that Dwayne lived in. The bathtub was half full of brown filthy water that had not fully drained. Something scurried past Jermaine’s feet but quickly disappeared before he could identify it.

 

Dwayne closed and bolted the door. “I didn’t think you was comin’ so I guess I kinda drifted off. I’m down in the living room.”

 

“I caught the show at the Star Café in The Triangle. Mass hysteria down there tonight.”

 

Dwayne didn’t comment. He led the way down the hall to a small plain living room. The area was dimly lit by a single light bulb hanging from the center of the ceiling.  Old newspapers were scattered across the floor. Marvin Gaye poured from a small radio on the floor.  Jermaine took a seat on a mashed sofa stained with yellow and brown spots. Dwayne relaxed on a flimsy worn out plaid-covered chair.  Discarded cigarettes filled an ashtray on a nearby tiny wooden table where Dwayne had placed his bottle of Dorcshe Gold.

 

“So what brings you way over here to Northwood?” asked Dwayne who had slid way down in the chair.

 

Jermaine hesitated for a moment. He looked around noticing the squalor that surrounded Dwayne. The kitchen area was overrun with dirty dishes and the stench of stagnant water lingered in the air. Empty beer bottles littered the living room floor. Dwayne had fallen far from the man he used to be. Pity and self-defeat hung around his neck like another prison sentence. Jermaine swallowed hard.

 

“Hadn’t seen you since your release,” said Jermaine clearing his throat.

 

Dwayne frowned and rubbed at his bald head.  “Thanks man.  Since I got out, ain’t nobody came by just to say hi.  Don’t nobody call except this cat I just met named Niko…”

 

“Niko Bellic?” interrupted Jermaine.

 

“Yeah, he’s a real cool cat,” said Dwayne sitting a little more upright now.

 

“I know Niko through his cousin Roman.  I use his taxi service over in Hove Beach. Bellic Enterprises.”

 

“I’ve never met Niko’s cousin before.  He just talks about him sometimes.  Say man, you want somethin’ to eat, drink.  I don’t know where my manners are sometimes.”

 

“I’m good, thanks though,” said Jermaine as he slipped off his jacket.

 

Dwayne liked that he and Jermaine knew Niko. He didn’t feel so cut off from the world now. The two men sat in the dimness of the living room listening to the soulful sounds of The VIBE.  They talked about old friends and new associates and how things had changed since his incarceration.  Jermaine even talked about Pathos but time behind bars had gotten Dwayne stuck in a musical period before Rap ruled the world. The conversation finally moved to plans for the future.

 

“How would you like to get back in the game man?”

 

Dwayne took a long swallow of the Dorcshe Gold and tossed the empty bottle on the floor with the others before answering. Jermaine watched him inhale deeply as though he ached for just a piece of his old life.  Dwayne shifted his body trying to adjust to the thoughts racing through his head then finally answered Jermaine’s question.

 

“Why?”

 

“I might know a way that could put you back on top of your kingdom.”

 

“What kingdom?” barked Dwayne quickly standing up, wobbling slightly as he moved to look through his living room window? “I ain’t got sh*t.  My club is gone, my woman, my crew, most of my money.”

 

“You can get it all back man if you want to,” said Jermaine trying to boost Dwayne’s confidence.

 

“How?” snapped Dwayne.  “Look how I’m livin’.  I went to Playboy soon as I got out and he acted like I’m some stranger.  Offered me half my own crew back.  I ain’t for that.

 

Jermaine joined Dwayne at the window.  “Pull it together man.  “Playboy thinks he got it all but there ain’t no loyalty to him.  Trust me.  My friend can help you get it all back.”

 

“What about Marlon?”  

 

“Yeah Playboy might have a few b*tches stuck to his *ss.”

 

The two men shared a quiet moment amused by the thought.  Jermaine was glad to see a glimmer of happiness in Dwayne even if it was short-lived.  He looked down on the small groups that had gathered inside the housing project.  Dwayne could almost see his kingdom and his loyal subjects falling back into place.  The mistakes that were made in the past would not be repeated.

 

“Who’s your friend?”

 

Russell Cobb. You probably don’t know him.”

 

“I don’t,” responded Dwayne. “I need to trust him if I’m gonna do this.”

 

Jermaine stepped away from the window, rubbing his hands together to warm them. “Russ is a good guy. I been knowin’ him ever since he moved over to Outlook about seven, eight years ago.”

 

Dwayne turned away from the window to continue the conversation. “Where did he live before Outlook?”

 

“Dukes. He could have played college football but his parents were killed in a car accident and everything just changed for him.”

 

Dwayne went quiet for a while, remembering his own mother’s death. Jermaine sat patiently on the sofa fearing that Dwayne may second guess his instincts. Maybe too many years had gone by, draining the fight from his soul. He watched Dwayne closely for any indication that he was the least bit interested. The probing questions about Russell could just remind Dwayne that Russell is a stranger and his trust had already been violated by the one person that he thought he could trust. The rejection by Playboy X was the most hurtful. Dwayne wiped an open hand across his face, inhaling deeply.

 

“Where is he now?” asked Dwayne as he flopped down on the plaid chair.

 

Jermaine wavered, not sure of how much he needed to tell Dwayne. If he said too much, Dwayne may feel that Russell carried more baggage than he wanted to deal with. Telling him too little could lead to betrayal. In the end he decided that trust was paramount and he didn’t want to be the cause of another betrayal in Dwayne’s life.

 

“He just got in from Vice City yesterday. Before you say anything else, there was a warrant for his arrest a year and a half ago. Cops said he killed someone. So he ran and he’s just getting back.”

 

Dwayne sprang from the chair, “D*mn man. Why you come over here whispering in my ear, getting’ my hopes up for nothin’ If the cops was lookin’ for him a year ago, they still lookin’ for him today. Sh*t man, I don’t know if I can do this. If the cops get on his *ss, they get on mine.”

 

Jermaine drew away from the forceful statements, putting his hands up as a shield. He felt intimidated by the bitterness in Dwayne’s voice. Jermaine stood to match height with Dwayne, taking a few steps away to get a little breathing room. He hadn’t meant to offend his friend.

 

“Look man, this is a big city and lots of people hide in plain sight,” said Jermain, trying to dampen the situation. “And besides, there are people right now on the LCPD Wanted List and they are still out there doin’ their sh*t.”

 

Dwayne waved the comment away and moved back over to his living room window. “That don’t mean nothin’ when I don’t even know this man.”

 

The self-doubt and pity was back. Dwayne lowered his head, leaning heavily against the wall. Feeling the opportunity slipping away, Jermaine tossed a hook hoping Dwayne would grab ahold.

 

“Russ has cocaine straight out of Vice City. Lots of it. He calls it the best.”

 

Dwayne remained silent.  He stared intensely through his living room window. There could be a possibility to get it all back.  He hated the disrespect out on the street.  He hated living in this hole with nothing but dirt under his fingernails.  And he almost hated Playboy X for looking down on him.  After all, Dwayne was the one who taught him everything about the hustle.  Jermaine eased back and plucked his jacket from the sofa, turning to walk down the hall.

 

“It’ll work man,” said Jermaine. “Russ is a good guy and I trust him.”

 

Dwayne didn’t bother to walk Jermaine to the door. He stood gazing through the window for a long time after he left.  He worked one scenario after the other over and over in his head.  If he had any chance of regaining his kingdom he would need money. Lots of it. Dwayne found his phone on the kitchen counter and pushed 1 for a quick dial. 

 

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Mokrie Dela
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#12

Posted 23 May 2016 - 11:08 AM

Thanks Mokrie. I've really tried to do what you said. I find myself really digging deeper than I ever have to show more than tell. It's a process that opens up the world and develops the characters. It takes practice and more practice.

It does, and I could tell in chapter two and see improvements. You'll find yourself writing better but also, you'll have setbacks. You'll discover the traps of being too mindful of it, and perhaps trying too hard. trust your instincts; as you learn they become more reliable

Also the key is patience. Write the whole thing (or chapter) and let it sit. Leave it for a week. Then come back to it, edit it etc (check out this guide),
I'll check out the other chapters when I can (my work break is almost over :()
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albanyave
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#13

Posted 29 May 2016 - 12:45 AM

Making Contact

 

Russell fell, thrashing about on the hardwood floor. His head pounded. His breath came in short huffs, catching in the tightness of his throat. He struggled to free himself from the tangled snare. It seemed to hold an unyielding grip around his sweaty rigid body. A grasp that grew stronger the more he battled to free himself. Sickening swirls of yellow, green, and the blackest black spun around a disembodied gaping mouth, out of which poured echoes of mocking laughter. The nightmares had returned.

 

Strands of awareness began to form inside Russell’s mind, washing away the bloody horrors. He lay on the floor tightly clutching a portion of the bed spread. His breathing, tortured and short, began to ease back to normal. Russell stared up at the ceiling allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness of the room. He exhaled as the remaining muddled thoughts drifted away from his mind. He easily removed the twisted bedding from around his shivering body and sat upright. Using the edge of the bed for leverage, Russell lifted his heavy body from the floor and turned on the lamp next to his bed.

 

He squinted at the brightness of the light, turning away to shield his eyes. His mouth was dry, making it difficult to swallow. Russell headed to the kitchen for a bottle of cold water hoping it would help loosen the knot in his throat. His legs, not as sure as they should be, barely carried his weight. He devoured half the bottle, instantly washing away the dryness. Feeling satisfied, Russell set the bottle aside and headed into the dimly lighted living room. His mind had finally cleared completely from the nightmare, something that hadn’t happened for nearly seven months.

 

The tiny one bedroom apartment had simple furnishings and smelled like mildew.  An assortment of pictures depicting some of the most well-known locations in Liberty City hung neatly on the living room walls. Russell sat at a small wooden table, pushed into a corner, near the only window in the room. A black and white picture of the Broker Bridge eerily hung near the kitchen area reminding Russell of the confrontation with Samuel Barkley. Images of the man’s mutilated face flooded his mind.

 

He quickly glanced at his watch. 4:57am. There was no sleep to be found and Russell needed to talk to someone. He trotted off to the bedroom, legs much stronger now, to retrieve his phone. Russell dialed a number from memory and put the phone to his ear as he walked back to the living room. This person had been there when Russell was at his lowest. He had just fled from a warrant in Liberty City and needed someone he could trust. Timmy Carrillo was that person. He had been the one to talk Russell down off the ledge when the nightmares had gotten to be too much for him to handle. Timmy was a good friend but no one could ever take the place of Jimmy D. A coarse sounding man answered almost immediately.

 

“You got me.”

 

“Hey Timmy, this is Russ.”

 

“I know. What, you homesick after a day or what?” chuckled Timmy.

 

“I can’t even laugh right now.”

 

Timmy heard the seriousness in Russell’s voice and grew concerned. “What’s wrong kid?”

 

Russell inhaled deeply trying to shake away the nerves that had suddenly cropped up. “You know how I always thought that I should have been the one to get killed that night instead of Jimmy D.”

 

“Yeah. The nightmares are back?”

 

“Just woke up from one but that’s not why I’m callin’.” Russell paused briefly then continued. “I don’t even know if I can believe this or not.”

 

Growing a little anxious, Timmy was eager to find out what the problem was. “Spit it out kid.”

 

“Samuel Barkley. I saw him in Hove Beach yesterday.”

 

“Yeah, so.”

 

Russell struggled to say the words. Just the thought made his stomach knot. “He hinted that Jimmy D. was the real target. Not me.”

 

“What the h*ll? Why?”

 

“I don’t know,” responded Russell, desperate for answers. “That’s what has gotten me stumped.”

 

“You couldn’t beat it out of him? Knock his teeth down his throat.”

 

“No, because I blew his d*mn face off. But he did tell me that I’m the target now. And if I wanted to know why Jimmy was killed, to ask Olive.”

 

“Olive f*ckin’ Reckord. He’s the gift that just keeps on givin’”

 

“Samuel probably was just talkin’ sh*t. Wanted to scare me.”

 

“Well, did he?”

 

Russell sat straight up, sounding stronger and surer. “H*ll no. I ain’t nobody’s b*tch. But I couldn’t take the chance that he wasn’t tellin’ the truth.”

 

“I bet he didn’t see the end of his life coming.”

 

“I bet my *ss he didn’t see it,” chuckled Russell.  And I’ve been playin’ the last few hours of Jimmy’s life over and over in my head all day tryin’ to pick up on something I could have missed.”

 

“You come up with anything?”

 

“Only that I had to talk him into going. But that wasn’t unusual. Especially if it was a big score. But he always came around. Just like the last time. Only, he ended up dead,” said Russell as his voice trailed off.

 

Timmy stayed quiet, allowing Russell to absorb the finality of Jimmy D’s death once again. Clearing his throat, Timmy offered an explanation for Jimmy’s reluctance. “Think he could have been into somethin’ that you didn’t know about? I mean, just throwin’ things against the wall.”

 

“No, I don’t think so. I don’t know, but I need to find out.”

 

“Whatever you do, don’t get in any deeper kid. We don’t always know everything about the people we’re the closest to.”

 

Russell didn’t comment. But Timmy did raise a valid question. “I’ll be talkin’ to you.”

 

Russell hung the phone up and placed it on the table. He made no promises to Timmy. The future, at best, was uncertain and he had no idea what the past could have been regarding Jimmy D. He needed answers. Answers perhaps only Olive Reckord could provide. Russell made a promise to himself to find out why he and Jimmy were ambushed in that alleyway. Now knowing Jimmy was the true target, he intended to keep that promise if it was the last thing he ever did.

 

It was 5:40am and Earp Street moaned with early morning commuters. Russell yanked the blind half way up and the dingy little room brightened. A car had stalled across the street near the Grocery, backing traffic up for almost an entire block. Timmy had raised a question that Russell had not considered. He sat at the small wooden table for a long time, staring through the dirty window pane wondering if it could be true. Was Jimmy D. involved in something that caused his death that night? Olive Reckord was on his mind when the phone rang. Russell checked the caller ID before reluctantly answering.

 

“This is Russell.”

 

“Meet me at Ali Moe’s in South Slopes. 8:00am.”

 

The line disconnected before Russell could respond. He gripped the phone in a clenched fist hard enough to make the plastic case crack. He was already mentally and physically drained and now he had to deal with another scumbag. He headed to the shower hoping it would rejuvenate his mood. The water felt cool and refreshing, washing over his tired body. He showered longer than usual. Feeling more alert, he quickly dressed in a pair of dark-blue jeans and a black t-shirt that fit snuggly around his lean muscular torso. Noticing the time, Russell grabbed a cap then left the apartment.  Sirens cried out as he pulled the door closed.  Deciding to chance a ride down on the old lift, Russell tapped the button and the doors awkwardly jerked open.  He adjusted his cap and slid inside just before the doors banged shut.

 

The sirens were long gone by the time Russell reached the ground floor. Relieved to be free of the confined elevator, he left the building through the rear exit.  The morning air was brisk, making goosebumps pop out on his bare arms. The red Blista Compact that Russell had gotten from Hank’s Rent-A-Car was parked right where he had left it yesterday. Russell unlocked the door and slid inside. The seat was pushed way back to accommodate his long legs. It seemed like small spaces were becoming routine. He shoved the key into the ignition, turning it twice before the engine finally caught.

 

Ali Moe’s was a short drive through the narrow streets of South Slopes. Russell remembered he and Jimmy used to go there all the time. The Fish diners were the best. He pulled over to the curb in front of Firefly Projects and parked about a block away from the restaurant. He walked the remaining distance being careful not to attract attention. His Rampage cap was pulled low and his head remained bowed, pretending to fumble with his phone.  Crossing at the corner with other pedestrians, Russell entered the restaurant unnoticed.

 

His contact was tucked in a corner booth at the back of the dining room. Russell was early. Being anxious to get this over and done with, he walked straight back, ignoring the young lady as she greeted him at the door. The man was already eating a hearty meal when he arrived at the table. Russell noticed a plate of equal heartiness in front of him as he slid into the booth. The high-back seats gave the two men an air of privacy.

 

“I hope you don’t mind me ordering for you. I knew you would be either early or right on time, but never late,” said the man, biting into a crisp slice of bacon.

 

“You think this is the best place to be doing this?” asked Russell, scornfully pushing the plate aside.

 

The man threw a serious look of contempt at Russell.  Leaning over his plate, “You are in no position to ask me anything. You tell me what I want to know and do as I say.”

 

Russell smoothed the scowl on his face and pushed back hard against the seat, trying to calm the awful thoughts racing through his mind.  The man wiped at the corners of his mouth and took a sip of his steaming tea.  He looked down on Russell from his high post in society. He tried to keep up appearances as a family man. Tossing his money and influence around like they were toys to appease children, seemed to buy him favor. When deep inside, he was the worst kind of criminal. The kind that could fool himself into believing the fantasy.

 

“Now, how are things progressing?” asked the man as he sat back, adjusting his necktie.

 

Russell exhaled, pulling the plate of food back to his side of the table and took a forkful of scrambled eggs before answering. He swallowed hard, taking a sip of orange juice to wash the eggs down. He knew his life was in this man’s hands. After all, he did agree to do the job. His freedom depended on it. “Not too sure about Northwood. I got somebody workin’ on him but haven’t heard anything.  I think Alderney will bite. I met with him last night and he seemed very interested.”

 

“Good.  You hit the ground running. Like I knew you would. Bear in mind, Liberty City is a huge place so make as many contacts and connections as possible.”

 

“That’s the plan,” said Russell, sounding contrite.

 

 “Where are you living?”

 

“I found a place in Shottler on Earp Street.  The lease is monthly.”

 

“Prime location, for now.  You might want to go pick up a game of pool at the Homebrew Café.”

The man wiped his hands and tossed a single bill on the table to cover the meal.  He then slid Russell a plain white envelope with BOHAN stamped on the front.  “Read that after you’ve secured your first deal. This should be more than enough to get you started,” he said tapping a black duffle bag next to him.

Russell’s eyes floated over the envelope but he did not take it up. He knew what was inside the bag.

 

“I’ll be in touch.”

 

The man left Russell sitting alone at the booth plucking at his food. He hated this pretender to the throne.  He hated how this man walked on both sides of the street and spoke from both sides of his mouth.  He was a good guy to those who mattered and a despicable scumbag to everyone else.  Family and his moral compass were just fronts to cover his wicked ascension to the greatest heights in Liberty City. One day the foundation that this foolish man is standing on will crumble to the ground. Russell hoped that day would come sooner rather than later. He finished his meal and left the restaurant.

 

It was still quite early when he returned to the apartment.  This time Russell walked the five flights of stairs instead of taking the aging elevator.  He found a nice little store over in East Island City that carried a variety of name brand clothing so he bought a few outfits to spice up his wardrobe. The Grocery across the street carried his favorite energy drinks and cereal. His phone rang as he was putting away the groceries.  It was Jermaine so he answered.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Hey Russ, Jermaine here.”

 

“Yeah man what’s up?  Got any news for me?”

 

“Not yet man. I did the best I could to boost up his confidence.  Give it a little more time.  He’s really down on himself.”

 

“Alright man, thanks for callin’.  I’ll give him a couple more days and then I might have to move on to someone else.”

 

“I know he wants it Russ so I’m gonna keep after him and call you when I know something.”

 

“Agreed.  I trust your instinct Jermaine.  So I’ll wait to hear from you.”

 

The line clicked off and Russell exhaled showing a degree of frustration by how slowly these two were jumping on board. Time wasn’t on his side. He questioned his tactics. Maybe he should have sought them out directly. Maybe he should have been the one to approach Dwayne and Ray instead of having a middleman. How hard would it have been to find either one?  He finished putting away his groceries and grabbed a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator.  Collapsing on the rickety sofa, Russell clicked on the television.  Surprised by such clear reception, he quickly flipped through the channels, stopping when he found The Men’s Room.  He used to watch this show all the time in Vice City.  Bas’ over the top antics reminded him that he definitely needed to get to a gym.

 

As Bas and Jeremy babbled on about cleansing and bodily harm, Russell pulled the plain white envelope from the bag and laid it on the coffee table.  He was curious about the contents but left it sealed.  South Bohan was the place to be when he left over a year ago.  The Spanish Lords and The Dominicans had a real strong-hold on the area.  Even the Angles of Death grabbed a piece of the action.  Russell finished off the bottle of water, crunching it into a small plastic ball and placed it on the coffee table next to the envelope. He let his mind drift back to Jimmy D. and the scumbag that killed him.

 

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#14

Posted 04 June 2016 - 01:23 AM

Thanks everyone for following. Hope you guys are enjoying.


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#15

Posted 04 June 2016 - 01:37 AM

Three Way

 

Niko Bellic rarely refused or hesitated to do a job. If the price was right, the mark was dead. He kept an assortment of weapons at his safehouse in Bohan. The seven inch knife can be used to get up close and personal, while the sniper rifle would be an excellent choice for anonymous kills.  Niko honed his skills fighting a war in his homeland of Eastern Europe. A place where his demons were born. Tonight he would need to conjure those skills to finish what he agreed to do.

 

It was 7 o’clock when Niko reached over and swatted the off button to stop the annoying buzzing of the alarm. He lay there for a while staring up at the water stains that had formed on the ceiling. Evening had come quickly and he needed to ready himself for later tonight.  He slept on a pull-out bed with a very thin mattress that made his back ache.  Niko threw one leg over the side of the bed and willed himself to stand. Memories of his date last night with Carmen and how soft her bed had been, played like a trip-wire in his head.  He donned a coy smile and headed off to the kitchen to fix a quick meal.

 

The refrigerator was nearly bare except for some leftovers and a couple bottles of Sprunk.  Niko fumbled through the foil wrappers until he found a half-eaten something that looked like chicken from Cluckin’ Bell.  He tossed it in the microwave to heat the sandwich enough to take the chill away.  He grabbed the sandwich and soda and plopped down in front of the television.  The meal was not satisfying but enough to get him started for the night. 

 

A game of high-stakes Poker played out on the television as Niko sifted through the closet to find a better suited outfit for the upcoming job. He pulled out a brown Hinterland jacket, dark brown fatigues that he picked up at the Russian Shop in Hove Beach last week and black boots before heading to take a shower. Niko caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror noticing how the stubble on his face had grown into a coarse beard. He hadn’t bothered to shave for a few days. It bothered him tremendously that Ray had brushed him aside so easily. He was slow to return the promise to help Niko find someone and that’s something that Niko would not accept.

 

The poker game was in full swing when Niko returned to the living room.  The shower was refreshing and had given him the jolt that he needed. He dressed, tying the strings of his black boots especially tight so that they would not trip him up at the most crucial moment. Niko’s phone chimed, indicating an incoming text.  He finished lacing his boots and grabbed the phone from the kitchen counter.  Packie had invited him out to a game of pool.  Niko quickly tapped out a message apologetically declining the invite and slid the phone into his pants pocket.  He clicked the television off, not being too interested in the outcome of the poker game.

 

Tucked way back under the pull-out bed was a rectangular black case.  Niko kneeled to reach for the case and drag it forward.  It slid out easily and he flipped the lid revealing a small cache of weapons.  Niko plucked the seven inch knife from its cradle and tossed it on the unmade bed.  He did the same with the Glock 22 and three 17-round magazines.  Niko considered the heavier more powerful Desert Eagle combat pistol but decided that the Glock, with its larger clip would be the better choice.  Before sliding the case back into place, he scooped up the leather concealers and closed the lid.

 

Staring down at his weapons of choice, a sudden wave of anxiousness swept over Niko.  Not often had he ever second guessed an order but he questioned this favor he agreed to do. He stood and walked into the kitchen to grab a cold bottle of water from the refrigerator, finishing it in one long gulp and tossed the empty bottle onto the counter top.   The ticking clock echoed loudly inside Niko’s ears. He turned, seeing that it was nearly 8 o’clock; Niko fished his phone from his pants pocket and scrolled through the list of contacts.  He found the number and placed the call.

 

“Hey Niko,” said Dwayne Forge. “Anything wrong?”

 

“Nothing’s wrong Dwayne,” said Niko hesitantly.  “I was getting ready to head out and wondered if you had second thoughts.”

 

“No. Do you?” answered Dwayne immediately.

 

“No, not really.” Niko searched for the right words to say.  “You just have a second chance to smell the roses outside a prison cell and...”

 

“You a good friend Niko but I’ve smelled the roses and they smell like sh*t,” interrupted Dwayne.  “I just need my life back.  The respect I used to have. The streets is all I know.”

 

“I understand all too well.”

 

“Call me when it’s over.”

 

Resolved that Dwayne was not going to change his mind, he clicked the line off and tucked the phone away. Niko inhaled deeply and moved on to the bed where he gathered his supplies into a neat pile.  He had done this more times than he could remember. It was second nature, no thinking, simply muscle memory taking control.

 

He palmed the pistol, sliding a clip into the handle and tapping it into place with the butt of his hand.  Hearing the magazine lock into place, he laid the Glock aside and plucked the knife from the bed.  Niko’s image reflected perfectly in the seven inch blade as he traced a thumb along the serrated back edge.  He flipped the dagger around and slid it inside the leather sheath to clip it to his waistband.  Next, Niko chose the leather holster, straightening the straps before wriggling it over his shoulders.  He made a few adjustments for a more comfortable fit before holstering the pistol.  The brown Hinterland jacket slipped on easily, concealing Niko’s weapons perfectly. Niko took one last look in the mirror before pulling on a cap. It wasn’t much of a disguise but any concealment would help. If things go as expected, he would be in and out very quickly before anyone could make a good identification.

 

Shots rang out at the apartment building across the street making Niko inhale sharply. Gunfire was not unusual for this neighborhood but tonight, Niko was more anxious than he’s been in a while. The stakes were high. Even though he did not mention it to Dwayne, Niko had reservations about doing this job. He did not want to be the one to pull his friend back into a life of crime. Trying to reconcile his feelings with his actions, Niko finally accepted that Dwayne is his own man and he makes his own decisions. The wail of sirens filled the air and soon red and blue flashing lights bounced off the living room walls. Niko switched the lights off and left the apartment.

 

Niko stepped out into the cool night air. The LCPD was in the middle of a serious gun battle with a group of Spanish Lords in front of the apartment building across the street. Not wanting to get hit by a stray bullet, Niko quickly scooted behind the wheel and started the engine. A couple of squad cars were parked at odd angles on Mehash Avenue but Niko was able to easily maneuver around them. Niko tuned the radio to IF 99FM and turned the volume up a couple of notches trying to blot out the guilt that still lingered.  An incoming call from Roman appeared on his phone but he allowed the call to filter through to his voicemail. He didn’t want Roman to hear the apprehension in his voice.

 

Maybe he had spoken too quickly when he suggested to Dwayne that he would get the gentleman’s club back for him.  The short time that he had known Dwayne a real friendship had developed.  In many ways Niko recognized himself in Dwayne.  They both had terrible childhoods and fathers that had deserted them long ago. As younger men, they fought battles filled with lies and betrayal.  Life was expendable so easily.  Dwayne paid his debt to society by spending years behind bars of a prison cell.  Niko believed he was a damage man with no hope to be repaired only a chance for revenge. He had no right to help Dwayne back into a tragic way of life.  Friends were hard to come by and Niko was glad to call Dwayne his friend. Now he feared he is driving his friend down a path with no return.

 

Niko met an ambulance with its sirens howling, no doubt on its way to the shooting in South Bohan.  Soon, the bright pink neon lights that trimmed the rooftop of The Triangle Club stood out prominently against the night sky. Niko clicked off the radio and slowly continued the rest of the way to the club. He guided his Esperanto into an empty parking space near the entrance and cut the engine.  He sat grasping the stirring wheel with both hands.  There was one security guard out front as usual.  The parking lot was not as full as it could have been.

 

His phone rang once again.  Niko ignored the call from Roman, once again.  He snatched the key from the ignition and exited the car. The Glock 22 was strapped close to his body as he casually walked to the entrance.

 

“Enjoy yourself tonight,” said the security guard.  “Try not to get into any trouble. And remember no weapons past this point.”

 

“Alright,” said Niko trying to remain focused as he continued up the ramp and into the club.

 

A seductive club remix permeated every inch of the building.  Niko walked past the club office and out to the edge of the raised platform.  He scouted the area noticing the two regular guards at their normal posts, one at the front near the bar and the other at the back just outside the private dance rooms. Two men standing near the ATM were having an animated conversation speaking with heavy Spanish accents.  Niko strained to hear over the heavy beat of the music.

 

“Where is Jose?” asked the man wearing the baseball cap.

 

“He’s in the office countin’ the money and he don’t wanna be disturbed.”

 

“Well he’s gonna get disturbed tonight.”

 

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you. Jesus is in the back and Javier is down there talkin’ to some girl.”

 

“D*mn, he gonna be back there all half the night. But I’m gonna have my money before I leave this joint tonight.”

 

The two men left the ATM and found an unoccupied table near the main stage. Niko was solicited by one of the dancers for a private dance but gently turned her down and moved on to the bar.  He ordered Dusche Gold and managed two full swallows before his attention was pulled in the direction of the smaller round stage.

 

A scuffle and a series of screams pierced through the hypnotizing club beats.  The security guard near the bar left his post to assess the situation.  With the guard gone, Niko took advantage of the opportunity.  He quietly slipped away from the bar and disappeared inside the club office undetected.  A chubby Hispanic man sat at the desk with his back to Niko sifting through and counting a pile of cash.  A shotgun sat up against the wall at arms-reach of Jose Trunchez. Niko quickly pulled his seven-inch blade and swiftly sliced at the side of the man’s neck numerous times. The man had no time to respond.  Jose groped at the side of his neck desperately trying to stop the gushing blood. The fat man slumped forward, gurgling as he gasped for air that was not going to come.  Niko wiped his blade on a discarded towel and sheathed the weapon. He pocketed as much of the cash as he could before checking to make sure Jose was dead.  Niko pushed the door open enough to see that the way was clear and quietly slipped back to the bar where Packie sat with a bottle turned up to his mouth.

 

“You just getting here?” asked Niko as he reclaimed his seat at the bar.

 

“Just walked through the f*ckin’ door boy.”

 

Niko leaned close to Packie. “It would be a good idea if you left right now,” insisted Niko, turning away to make his point clear.

 

The situation at the stage appeared to be under control.  Niko sat at the bar for a few moments before moving to his next target.  The security guard was back at his post surveying the main stage.  The two Hispanic men were still sitting at their table when Niko walked by.  There was a tall gentleman with a mustache talking to a young woman at the far end of the stage.  Niko walked past them purposely on his way to the ATM.  He stood at the machine for a while hoping someone would call his name. And sure enough, his name was mentioned.

 

“It’s Javier b*tch.  How many times do I gotta tell you?  Pronounce the J like a H.”

 

That was all Niko needed to hear. His eyes widened to let in as much light as possible.  The music was drowned out by the deafening sirens wailing in his head. The beads of sweat forming on his forehead rolled into his eyes making them water and burn. He blinked to clear his vision.  His breath was hot.  The drumming of his heart pounded in his chest.  Niko folded the cash withdrawal from the ATM and tucked it casually inside his jacket pocket noticing the security guard just outside the entrance to where Jesus Trunchez was getting his last lap dance.  Javier Trunchez was arguing with a beautiful woman for the last time. The sirens inside Niko’s head bordered on insanity.  He needed to stop the wail. The same woman that had solicited him earlier, approached Niko once again.  This time he did not answer her.  He did not hear her. He only heard the terrible alarms. He saw Javier.  He saw the security guard.  He knew where Jesus was. Niko stole a moment, reaching on the inside of his jacket and whipped the Glock 22 out into plain view. 

 

He pulled the slide, injecting a .40 caliber S&W round into the ready position.  Javier was the closest an easiest target.  Niko aimed, pulled the trigger once.  The bullet whizzed past the young woman he was talking to and smashed into Javier’s forehead.  Blood and brain matter sprayed from the back of his head landing on the stage.  Javier stumbled backwards with his mouth hanging open as the young woman ran away screaming hysterically.  Niko pumped two quick rounds into his chest sending the man crashing to the floor.  Javier lay lifeless near the stage.

 

Niko ducked behind the nearby railing, feeling the heat from a round burn past his ear.  The security guard was moving in his direction with his weapon drawn.  Niko brazenly stood in the open firing one round after the other, filling the man’s chest with a barrage of blazing hot bullets. The man’s body snapped back as his chest absorbed the velocity of each round.  He dropped to one knee, clutching at his chest then fell face down onto the carpeted floor. 

 

Chaos ran rampart through the building.  The dancers ran screaming from the stages towards the front exit.  Men careened over each other trying to move away from the gunfire as fast as possible.  A torrent of guards flooded the main floor as Niko made his way to the private dance area.  He glanced around the corner just in time to see two men running for the exit.  He raised his pistol and let loose the remaining rounds, striking each man several times.  The two men fell forward, one reached for his weapon.  Niko quickly reloaded his pistol and landed a fatal shot to each of their heads.  Niko could hear the approaching security guards so he bolted over the two dead men and pushed through the exit stumbling into a brisk Liberty City night.

 

Quickly holstering his weapon, Niko crossed Leavenworth Avenue with a crowd of pedestrians. Sirens rang out as he disappeared down an alleyway, hiding in the shadows until the squad cars past.  He pulled his phone.

 

Dwayne sounded wide awake and sober when he answered. “Tell me you have good news.”

 

“It’s done and I have something that belongs to you.”

 

“Thanks Niko.  Come by tomorrow and we’ll talk.”

 

“Sure Dwayne.”

 

The line clicked off and Niko found a gray Blista Compact parked on a nearby street.  The door was unlocked so he slipped inside and headed back to South Bohan. The alarms were quiet in his head now.

 

*   *   *

Several blocks east of The Triangle Club a young man wearing a baseball cap pulled low over his face huddled in the shadows near a row of abandoned buildings. He pulled his phone from inside of his jacket, hands still trembling. He and nearly everyone at the gentleman’s club ran for their lives as a crazed gunman infiltrated The Triangle Club and massacred the managers and whoever crossed his path. His stiff fingers desperately chopped at the number pad searching for the corresponding number that tumbled through his head.  He slapped the phone to his ear and waited for someone to answer. One ring. Two rings. A third ring and finally a sleepy voice sounded on the other end.

 

“This sh*t betta be good.”

 

“They say the Trunchez brothers is dead,” said the young man in one exhausted breath.

 

Silence.

 

“You there?”

 

“Yeah I’m here. Get over here right now.”

 

 

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#16

Posted 10 June 2016 - 04:46 PM

The Go Ahead

 

“Anthony!  Anthony!”

 

A tall nervous young man pushed the study door open, dejected but eager to please.

 

“Yeah boss.”

 

“Where’s Ray!”

 

“He’s driving up right now boss.”

 

“Send him straight in here!”

 

“Sure boss whatever you say,” said Anthony as he bolted from the room.

 

“D*mn right whatever I say!  And close my d*mn door!”

 

Anthony Corrado reached back and pulled the door closed. As bodyguard to Jimmy Pegorino, Anthony is never too far from his boss. Even before the tragic death of his son, Jimmy had developed a close bond with the young man. Thinking of Anthony as a son, he demonstrated his love for him the only way he knew how. Tough love was something that Jimmy suffered through with his own father. Now Anthony is taking the brunt of Jimmy’s outbursts. Verbal abuse was a normal occurrence directed at him by both Jimmy and his wife Angie.

 

Ray slowly inched his mid-night blue Oracle up the driveway.  The home was tucked away atop a hill in Westdyke far from the hustle and bustle of the more active areas of Alderney.  Ray had spent the last two nights with Ashley and was reluctant to leave her so early in the morning. She had seen her fair share of hard times as a drug addict and times were getting worse by the day. She and Ray had gotten close again recently as her addiction grew. She needed rescuing and Ray was the perfect one to step in and save her. He shimmied around in a loop and parked near a low wall.  Anthony was already out the front door urgently beckoning for Ray.  He switched the engine off and exited the car, engaging the alarm through habit.

 

“Hey Ray, boss wants to see you right now.”

 

“What do you think I’m here for, to water the lawn?  Get outta the way,” growled Ray as he shoved past Anthony.

 

Ray walked heavily on the hardwood floor as he entered the foyer, leaving the door open, he headed to the study.  Anthony followed behind, closing the door before taking a seat just outside the study. Jimmy Pegorino was behind his hand-crafted mahogany desk carelessly sifting through a square wooden box when Ray knocked on the door.

 

“Come in Ray.”

 

The door swung open and Ray stepped inside with his hands set in that awkward way when he wanted to argue a point.  Pegorino stood to confront Ray, abruptly slamming the box top closed.

“I don’t want to hear it Ray! You called me two nights ago to tell me that you had something real good.  Then you kept me waiting here in suspended animation before you finally show up to tell me. It better be real real good Ray.  This ain’t the way to become underboss. You don’t keep your boss waiting!  Phil Bell wouldn’t have kept me waiting.”

 

Phil Bell had been a long time business associate of Jimmy and held the title of Capo in the Pegorino Crime Family. Jimmy was impressed by his hard work and trust worthiness. Ray, on the other hand, was ambitious and seemed to have a hard time following orders. Jimmy felt his overly ambitious attitude could serve as a threat to the Family so he needed to keep Ray on a short leash.

 

Ray stood there in the doorway and took his beating like a man, shifting his eyes away from Pegorino’s insults. Jimmy finally settled back in his chair taking a moment to calm down.  Ray eased the door closed noticing Anthony sitting with his face buried in his hands. Pegorino gestured for Ray to have a seat in one of the leather wing-back chairs in front of the desk. 

 

“I’d like to apologize for my tardiness,” said Ray as he sat down.

 

Still irritated by Ray’s actions, Pegorino was on the brink of another outburst. “Get on with it.”

 

“Right.  We could potentially have a new supplier for our narcotics, specifically cocaine.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Kid by the name of Russell Cobb. McReary’s friend.”

 

“That punk Packie McReary!”

 

“Yeah, yeah but he’s proven himself every time when it counts. And I got a good feelin’ about this one,” said Ray, leaning forward to defend Packie.

 

“What’s so d*mn good about another supplier?  Is it gonna cost me less or is it free?”

 

“I don’t know how much it’s gonna cost, yet,” said Ray sinking back in his chair, waiting for another outburst.”

 

“I’m getting impatient Ray.  What did you keep me waiting two days for?”

 

Ray straightened up in the chair, clearing the uncertainty from his throat. “Packie has seen it, tested it, and he said it’s the real deal.  It’s coming outta Vice City and we can get as much as we need for as long as we want.”

 

Pegorino leaned forward.  “And."  We already have that deal right now.”

 

“Its good quality stuff and close to pure as pure can get.  That means our guys can cut it and cut it some more.  This could be a real money maker.”

 

The room went quiet.  Pegorino sat back in his chair, head slung to one side contemplating what Ray had just told him.  The clock ticked loudly as the minutes slid by Ray shifted in the chair and cleared his throat.

 

“Don’t interrupt me Ray.” bellowed Pegorino.

 

Ray sat still and quiet for a few more moments wondering why the old man was taking so long to decide.  This was a great opportunity for the family, a chance for expansion and maybe even a spot on the commission.  Pegorino had to be thinking about that?

 

“Alright Ray, let’s try it out.  Now listen to me, make a deal with this kid for one kilo.  If we like it, we might have a future with Russell Cobb.”

 

“Right boss,” said Ray as he stood.

 

“Make it good Ray. And I said one kilo and that’s what I mean.”

 

“Will do boss,” said Ray as he turned to leave the room.

 

Ray quickly walked past Anthony on the way to the front door.   The young man began to say something but Ray was out the door before he could get a word out. Anthony slumped forward digging deep inside his ear with his pinky finger. Pegorino was at the door starring at the young man that he considered to be his son.

 

“Anthony!”

 

The young man bounced to his feet, startled by the sudden outburst. “Yeah boss.”

 

“Stop digging in your ear and get Timmy Carrillo on the phone.”

 

“Timmy “No Eyes”?”

 

“Yeah!”

 

“Well he’s in Vice City now boss.”

 

“I know where the f*ck he is! I said to get him on the phone!”

 

*   *   *

 

Russell was dressed in a pair of blue track pants and a white tank ready to spend a little time at the gym. He sat on the sofa head slung back counting the number of tiles on the dirty water-stained ceiling. Four days in Liberty City had taken its toll on Russell. He hadn’t slept much over the last few days. Although, he did manage to wake up this morning like a normal person instead of suffering through the horrors of another nightmare. Even though the refrigerator was fully stocked, he could only stomach bowls of Choco Rings and small bottles of energy drinks.  Russell rubbed the coarse stubble on his face wondering why no one had jumped at the opportunity to earn sure money. He was beginning to worry that this was going to be much harder than he had anticipated.

 

Packie had been so sure that Ray Boccino would have dove head first for an opportunity to earn for the Family but more so for himself. The missed call counter on Russell’s phone read zero.  Jermaine had gone silent also. There was a real possibility that neither prospect would work in Russell’s favor. Liberty was a huge place. Surely there would be other possibilities but Russell needed this to work. He couldn’t give up so easily. He wanted to trust both Jermaine and Packie to pull through for him even if it felt like the opportunity had slipped through his hands.

 

Russell’s eyes suddenly darted from the ceiling to the envelope still lying on the coffee table. A pinch of panic began to well up deep inside his chest.  He got up from the sofa and head for the door. A good hard workout might clear the raging thoughts in his head. He grabbed the keys to the rented Blista Compact even though he would be walking the short distance to the gym across the street. Russell was half way to the rickety elevator when his phone rang.

 

“Hello,” said Russell.

 

“Let’s meet.”

 

Russell recognized the voice immediately. “Where?”

 

“Fanny Crabb’s in Leftwood an hour from now. I’ll be waiting in the outdoor dining area.”

 

“I’ll be there.”

 

Russell clicked the line off and pushed the button for the elevator. A sudden surge of optimism raced through his body. This could be exactly what he had been waiting for. The gym would have to wait for now.

 

 

*   *   *

 

Jermaine turned on the boxy television set just in time to see the ending of a Weazel News broadcast. It was reported that the three managers at The Triangle Club were massacred last night along with a security guard and one other unidentified male.  Only one hysterical woman was able to identify the shooter as a white guy with a funny sounding accent.  The LCPD concluded that the incident was gang related with few leads.

 

“My man Dwayne is back,” said Jermaine as he quickly dialed his number.

 

“Yeah,” answered Dwayne sounding coherent for the first time in a long time.

 

“Man, I just caught the news. Was that you in Bohan last night?”

 

A small laugh escaped. “Yeah man, well somebody for me.”

 

“Yeah, yeah. D*mn. Does that mean…”

 

“It could.  Look man, somebody’s at my door.  I’ll holla atcha.”

 

“Alright, yeah call me.”

 

Dwayne disconnected the line and headed down the hall to see who was knocking at the door.  He looked around for anything else that needed to be tossed in the garbage.  Another series of knocks and Dwayne quickly pulled the bathroom door closed as he smoothed a hand across his bald head.

 

“Who is it?”

 

“It’s me, Niko.”

 

Dwayne quickly pulled the door open and invited his friend inside.  Niko followed him down the hall to the living room where the radio was tuned to The Classics 104.1. New School Hip Hop was what Dwayne enjoyed most. The songs brought back memories of a time when he reigned atop an empire that consisted of large patches of territory in North Holland, East Holland and Bohan. During the 1990s before Dwayne was incarcerated, he had everything that money could buy. The poor kid from North Holland had apartments, apartments stuffed full of bank notes, and boasted a $50,000 a week income from various investments and drug dealing. Most of all, he had the love of his life. Times were good.

 

Niko sat down on the mashed sofa. His eyes traced around the tiny room noticing how different the area looked and smelled. The odor of stale cigarettes and pungent alcohol was gone, replaced by the salty meaty smell of bacon. The cardboard that had covered part of the windows had been removed, allowing more natural light to pour through, brightening the small area substantially. He saw how clean the carpet appeared. All the old newspapers and discarded beer bottles had been cleared away, probably put into the garbage bags that were piled in the hallway. Even the kitchen seems cleaner and brighter. The alluring smell of bacon swirled in the air and landed on Niko’s upper lip, making his mouth water.

 

“You want somethin’ to eat man.  I got eggs and bacon.  Juice is in the fridge.”

 

“Sure man.  Smells good,” said Niko noticing how peaceful Dwayne acted as he headed to the kitchen. 

 

 

“You know, I saw Cherise the other day over by Cluckin’ Bell near the basketball court.”

 

“What, you two dating now or something?” asked Dwayne as he fumble around looking for another plate.

 

“No, not at all. Her boyfriend was mistreating her and she just asked if I could help her out is all.”

 

Dwayne shoveled a mound of scrambled eggs onto the each plate, scraping the bottom of the pan for every little piece.  “Well I don’t know what to say about that. Cherise was the love of my f*ckin’ life back in the day but she decided to move on years ago when she laid up with that rat Jayvon. So I guess it’s time for me to move on too.”

 

Niko bobbed his head in agreement. “Yeah, I guess so. But if you’re wondering, Cherise don’t have to worry about that guy mistreating her anymore.”

 

Dwayne kept his back turned away from Niko. A trace of sadness played across his face. “For what it’s worth, thank you. Now about last night.”

 

Dwayne returned to the living room with two plates of steaming hot food and two glasses of orange juice. A hint of a smile inched onto his face as Dwayne shoved forkfuls of egg into his mouth. His eyes glimmered with hope. Niko put his fork down for a moment and pulled a crumpled brown envelope from his jacket pocket.

 

“This belongs to you,” handing the package to Dwayne.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Take a look,” said Niko as he settled back on the sofa.

 

Dwayne ripped open the envelope, finding a small fortune inside.  His small smile quickly grew into a broad grin. He peeled off a suitable amount and hand it to Niko.

 

“You did good man.  Real good.”

 

“I’m glad you’re happy Dwayne,” said Niko, graciously taking the money.  I couldn’t get all of it though.  I’m sure the cops have the rest.”

 

“I’m positive that they have it.”

 

“So, what are you going to do now?  The club is yours again.”

 

Dwayne bit into a piece of the salty meat.  “I think it’s time to meet Jermaine’s friend.”
 

 

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albanyave
  • albanyave

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#17

Posted 16 June 2016 - 07:47 PM Edited by albanyave, 16 June 2016 - 08:17 PM.

The Real Deal

 

A black Cavalcade idled along the curb in Northwood near the Pay ‘n Spray. The SUV bounced to the thunderous beats pouring from massive custom-made speakers as two young men sat quietly inside waiting for their companion to arrive.  He was never late and tonight wasn’t the night to start.  Armando Torres changed the clip in his Micro Uzi anticipating what was still to come.  His friend, Henrique Bardas sat in the rear seat with a comical smirk stretched across his face.  His Glock 22 was confidently tucked inside his jacket pocket.  Armando wiped his weapon and carefully slid it back under the passenger side seat.

 

Armando and Henrique both were born and raised in Northwood where they met and became fast friends with Luis Lopez. Life was tough in the neighborhood and the trio soon found trouble. School offered no reprieve from the pitfalls of their poverty sickened community. Older kids, who were already involved in criminal activity, eyed the burgeoning trio, introducing them to the ways of drug dealing. For a while they worked together, hustling on the streets of Northwood. However, the collaboration ended shortly after Luis completed a two year stint in prison for grand theft auto.

 

“Yo, where is this fool?” asked Armando as he eyed his watch.

 

“L ain’t never late,” replied Henrique.

 

Armando lowered the radio volume.  “He gonna mess sh*t up.  He needs to leave his boyfriend’s *ss alone and get his *ss on point.”

 

“Here he come right now,” said Henrique noticing a dark green Serrano pull up across the street.

Armando peered through the tinted window. Seeing his friend exit the vehicle, he scooted over to the passenger side to free up the driver’s seat. Luis quickly crossed the street and slid behind the wheel of the Cavalcade.

 

“Yo, where you been L? Tell your boyfriend to let you go next time,” bellowed Armando.

 

“Just because I want to better myself and get a real job, you get all upset. Tony is my boss not my boyfriend. I’m sure you would know the difference.”

 

“What the f*ck is that supposed to mean?”

 

“I don’t know. I’m just saying what I heard.”

 

“We ain’t gonna get paid if we just sit here guys,” said Henrique interrupting his friends.

 

“That’s right L, so stop talkin’ about sh*t you know nothin’ about.”

 

“Calm down Armando,” said Luis. “Where we gotta go Rique? I don’t wanna get killed doin’ this sh*t.”

 

Henrique pushed his glasses back into place as he leaned forward. “We goin to Berchem over in Alderney.”

 

“What the h*ll’s in Berchem?” asked Armando.

 

“Wait and see.  We gettin’ the cash and the stash.”

 

“You better be right,” said Luis as he pulled away from the curb.

 

*   *   *

 

The woman behind the chicken wire swooned to the hardcore rock music thumping from the amplifiers.  Leather clad men staggered around the bar guzzling more alcohol than any of them needed. They howled obscenities as beer bottles were carelessly hurled at the stage, falling to the wooden floorboards and shattering.  Fragments of broken glass and crumpled flyers littered the clubhouse floor.  Her session was almost over so Johnny made his way through the crowd of intoxicated men to the stairs leading up to the second floor.

 

At first glance, most people would avoid contact with Johnny Klebitz. His hardened features are no accident by any stretch of the imagination. An extensive criminal record, stretching over two decades, eventually earned him a four year prison sentence. Since his release, Johnny has been second in command of the Alderney Chapter of The Lost Brotherhood, a ruthless motorcycle club. As Vice President for the past four years, Johnny wanted to move the club in a more lucrative direction and leave petty squabbling in the past. He and the Chapter President, Billy Grey disagreed over how the club should move forward, dividing loyalties amongst club members. Recently the club has called for a truce with their rival, The Angels of Death. The truce is tenuous at best and any act could spark another war, something that Johnny does not want.

 

Clay, Terry, and Jim were standing at the memorial wall for fallen club brothers. They were huddled in quiet conversation near Hank’s plaque when Johnny reached the entrance to the recreation area.  He hoped he would ride off into the sunset before a day came that he would have a plaque of his own.

 

“Brothers, gear up. We got some business to tend to.”

 

Jim Fitzgerald was the club Treasurer and he and Johnny had developed a close friendship over the years.  Even though Johnny was much younger, Jim respected and looked up to him.  “I hope it’s the earning kind,” he said.

 

“Yeah, but you know we gotta go through some sh*t first to get there,” said Johnny as he turned to head back downstairs.

 

“We’re with you Johnny,” replied Clay and Terry in unison.

 

Clay was the first to break away from the memorial wall to follow Johnny back downstairs. He and Terry are close friends with Johnny and fiercely loyal to him. As Road Captain, Clay is probably the oldest ranked member of the club. Whenever Johnny or any of his brothers are stranded or in need of a bike, Clay is the one to call for assistance. A brother can depend on Clay in battle and on the highway. Johnny stopped by a small storage room and grabbed a black duffle bag from one of the lockers. The men slipped past the rowdiness and exited the clubhouse through the side entrance. The cool night air bit at the men as they mounted their motorcycles. 

 

“So what kind of business Johnny?” asked Jim as he mounted his Zombie.

 

“We gonna get us some rich man’s aspirin,” replied Johnny as he adjusted the shoulder strap on the duffle bag. “Cash for stash.”

 

“Some yeyo? asked Clay sounding a bit surprised.  “I know it ain’t for us.”

 

“No, it ain’t for us.  It’s for Ray.”

 

“Ray Boccino?  You trust that prick?” asked Jim.

 

“No, but we got his money,” said Johnny tapping the bag. “And it’s all about business. Let’s ride boys.”

 

The men pulled away from the clubhouse, the roar of their bikes cutting through the streets of Acter. They rode in formation with Clay and Jim straddled behind Johnny and Terry, the Sergeant-at-Arms at the rear. The graveled covered lot was abandoned when Johnny and the others arrived.  They trailed to the rear, near a shabby group of storage houses and cut their engines. 

 

 

“We must be early,” said Clay, looking round the empty lot.

 

“Yeah, I like to be early just in case,” replied Johnny as he scanned the tops of the buildings across Aspin Drive.

 

“We got your back,” said Terry.

 

The men huddled near their bikes waiting for any sign of the contact. “This is supposed to be a quick easy exchange but be ready for anything,” said Johnny as he looked down at the combat rifle cradled alongside his Hexer.

 

“The guy is in big trouble if he comes in here wrong,” replied Jim.

 

Johnny rubbed at the stubble on his face. “I hear you Jim but let’s not jump too soon.  Just be ready or wait for my signal.”

 

Johnny was the first to spot a red Blista Compact ease around the tight curve on Aspin Drive and slowly trail away. He couldn’t see inside the vehicle but had a feeling that this was the guy they had been waiting for.

 

“Get ready boys,” said Johnny as he moved out in front of the bikes. “This could be him.”

 

The men stood in a four man front waiting for the Blista to return.  A short procession of vehicles passed the storage facilities in no particular hurry to go anywhere.  The Blista Compact did return and slowly turned into the lot where Johnny and his companions were waiting.  The car quietly rolled over to the storage houses near Plummer’s Skyway and parked at an angle.  Johnny could see that the drive was alone and his silhouette appeared to be slightly bigger than himself. The car idled for a while longer as the man inside appeared to be talking on his phone.

 

“I don’t like this Johnny,” said Jim stepping forward.

 

“Hold tight guys. Give him a chance.”

 

Terry ran his hand on the inside of his leather vest and released the safety on his pistol.  Clay eyed the pump-action shotgun cradled alongside his Diabolus feeling a rush but left it in place. Johnny held his breath. This guy was taking far too long to show himself.  Ray is a prick, but would he really send us to a trap? With his money?  Finally the engine died and the door clicked open.  A tall man with black hair stepped into view.  He carried a dark rectangular case and peered deep into Johnny’s eyes.

 

“You Johnny?”

 

“You Russell?”

 

“I have something you want.”

 

Russell gently placed the case on the hood of the car. He released the latches and pulled the lid open. Five neatly wrapped packages lay inside the case. Johnny moved a step closer. Russell raised his hand to stop his advancement.

 

“Not so close. It’s only fair that I see what you have in exchange.”

 

“Fair enough,” said Johnny as he slipped the bag from over his shoulder.

 

Jim’s nostrils flared with distrust as his eyes swept over Russell and finally rested on the contents of the case. Russell turned away from the contempt, focusing on the shotgun cradled alongside the Deoblus and the men standing behind Johnny. Jim had been in enough situations like this to know that anything could happen in an instant. Even after the deal is done and pleasantries are exchanged, betrayal lurks around the corner. Russell was a stranger from out of town. The one that vouched for him has had questionable motives in the past. Ray Boccino was someone that Jim did not trust and hated to have a business associate.

 

“This should be more than enough,” said Johnny pulling the bag open to reveal the bank notes.

 

“Looks right.”

 

He handed the bag to Jim and walked towards the car. “I’d like to test the product now.”

 

“You choose,” said Russell waving a hand over the case. “All my product is good.”

 

Johnny found a small pen knife inside his jacket pocket and used it to cut a tiny slit in the center of the middle package. He scooped out a small amount of the white powder and lifted it to his face. He took a whiff and then a quick taste letting the powder play on his tongue then smacked his mouth to discern the taste better. Johnny inhaled deeply returning the knife to his pocket.

 

“Give him the money Jim,” said Johnny as he slammed the case shut and secured the latches.

 

“Nice doin’ business…” said Russell as a spray of bullets caught the side of the Blista Compact, shattering the passenger side windows.

 

Russell dropped in front of his car, taking cover behind the engine block as the barrage of bullets slammed into the hood. Jim, Clay, and Terry scattered with their weapons, finding safety behind the storage units. Johnny ducked behind a garbage bin after first snatching the rifle from the side of his Hexer.

 

“Hey L move up,” shouted Armando.

 

9mm rounds from Jim’s Micro Uzi picked at the gravel covered ground around Luis’ feet as he darted for the storage units closest to the Blista Compact.

 

“What the f*ck is this Johnny?” shouted Jim. “We were set up.”

 

“I can’t believe that Jim,” roared Johnny as hot bullets whizzed past his left ear.

 

Johnny repositioned himself as a second Hispanic man moved from the rear of a black Cavalcade to the front end. Johnny let loose the heavy rounds of his combat rifle, eating away at the sheet metal on the side of the vehicle. The young man ducked low behind the engine as Johnny emptied the magazine, tearing holes into the metal. The thunderous boom of Clay’s shotgun threw buckshot at the young men giving Johnny time to reload.

 

Luis and Russell were locked in their own personal battle exchanging volleys of .40 caliber rounds.  Chunks of concrete tore away from the storage units as bullets flew past Luis’ head. Armando reloaded his Micro Uzi and sprayed the small houses once again. Johnny and his men seemed trapped. Terry cautiously moved around the rear of the houses unnoticed, having a clear view of the young man with the Uzi. Henrique popped over the hood, emptying his Glock in the direction of the trash bin. Johnny heard the break in gunfire and managed to squeeze off a few more rounds before a single bullet from Terry’s pistol found its mark.

 

“I’m hit,” hollered Armando as his Uzi went flying from his hand, tumbling across the stony lot.

 

The young man fell forward, grasping his right shoulder where the 9mm round had entered. Blood had begun to stain his gray jacket as he lay helpless near the rear of the vehicle. Henrique scrambled to help his friend get inside the vehicle, careful to stay away from Terry’s line of fire. The Cavalcade shook violent as it absorbed round after round of ammunition. Seeing that Luis had abandoned his post, Henrique pulled the door open just as another .40 caliber round from Terry’s Glock buried itself deep inside his left thigh. Henrique yelped, nearly stumbling but managed to slide behind the wheel.

 

“I can’t breathe Rique,” gasped Armando.

 

“My leg is coming off,” cried Henrique as he threw the Cavalcade into gear and roared from the lot.

 

Dust and smoke swirled in the air as the black SUV tore away from the chaotic scene. The back window shattered as a single rifle slug whizzed through the cab and exited the windshield. The lot was littered with spent casings and disfigured rounds of ammunition.

 

“What the f*ck was that?” shouted Russell, looking in Johnny’s direction.

 

“You tell me,” roared Johnny. “We weren’t the ones shooting at you. Jim. Terry. Clay. Everybody alright?”

 

“Not a scratch,” said Clay.

 

Russell made no comment as he picked up the cash bag and brushed the debris away. The Blista Compact ached with full body damage.  All the windows had been shattered but the tires were untouched. Getting back to Broker might be a challenge but not impossible. Russell snatched the door open and cleared away the shards of glass from the front seat. The engine shuttered but finally moaned to life and Russell circled out the lot.

 

“What you think Johnny?” asked Jim.” He shows up alone and then them three fools bring up the rear.”

 

Johnny picked up the case, examining it closely. “I don’t know James. What would Ray gain from settin’ us up?”

 

“Not Ray but maybe Russell, if that’s even his name. Those guys found out about the deal from somewhere.”

 

Johnny stared at the wreckage that used to be his Hexer. Ray had some explaining to do.

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Ziggy455
  • Ziggy455

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#18

Posted 21 June 2016 - 07:48 AM

This is written quite well, definitely some effort put into it. Keep writing it, and once you get further in, I'll start with some feedback. So far, it's just good, enoyable writing!

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albanyave
  • albanyave

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#19

Posted 22 June 2016 - 08:56 PM

Thanks Ziggy. I really have invested the time and effort to do the best that I can. Yes, I'm gonna continue writing and I'm looking forward to your feedback.

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albanyave
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#20

Posted 24 June 2016 - 06:38 PM

Not Broke Yet 

 

The ambush in Berchem reminded Russell of what Olive Reckord had done in Schottler last year that left Jimmy D. dead and him running for his life. Only this time, Russell stood his ground, fighting back against the memories of betrayal.  The drive from Alderney was challenging but not impossible. Russell managed to avoid the police by traveling side streets and staying away from precinct buildings. Several times he wanted to abandon the damaged car and deal with the fallout from Hank later but decided it would be better to just continue. Russell finally pulled up to Native Engines in Hove Beach and honked the horn. It sounded like the comical sounds that you would hear at an amusement park, obvious damage done by the barrage of bullets tearing through the body of the car.

 

Russell waited patiently as the Blista trembled and sputtered, nearly coking out at one point. He gave a gentle tap to the accelerator to keep the engine from dying before he could get inside the garage. Soon the metal door rolled up and he inched the smoking wreckage inside. Jermaine was waiting near a work bench still wearing his coveralls.  The car shuttered and coughed, belching black smoke from the exhaust before finally failing. He grabbed the tattered duffle bag, and exited the nearly destroyed Blista Compact.

 

“D*mn. What the h*ll happened here?” asked Jermaine wiping his hands on a grease-stained towel.

 

Russell slipped the duffle bag across his shoulder, bits of broken glass falling to the concrete floor. “Didn’t happen quite like I thought it would, but it’s done and that’s all good for me.”

 

Russell did not share the details with his friend but Jermaine could guess what he had just gone through. Jermaine looked at the severely damaged car. The entire passenger side was peppered with bullet holes, leaving large areas of sheet metal malformed or completely gone. The windows had been shattered. Yet the tires remained untouched.

 

“It’s a wonder you got out this one alive man. You must be workin’ on your third life.”

 

“Something like that.” Russell eyed the car not believing how close he came to having his body loaded with bullet holes just like his car. “Do your magic man. I don’t want to have to explain sh*t to Hank.”

 

“Hank don’t care. Where he gets his cars to rent is kinda suspect anyway. Just pay the rent and you won’t have any problems with ol’ Hank.”

 

“If that’s the case, tone down the respray. I don’t know why I picked red. Gimme somethin’ a little less conspicuous.”

 

“Will do. Plenty of replacement parts for the Blista. I shouldn’t have a problem finding anything that I need,” said Jermaine as he circled the vehicle to determine the amount of damage. “Looks worse than it really is.”

 

Russell pulled at the shoulder strap, turning to leave the garage.  “Alright man, I’m gonna see if I can get home in one piece.”

 

“Hold up Russ. I almost forgot. My man Dwayne called today. He’s ready to talk.”

 

Russell turned to face Jermaine. “I had almost given up on him. What’s his number?”

 

Jermaine found a scrap piece of paper and quickly scribbled Dwayne’s name and number down and handed it to him. Russell took the crumple piece of paper, examined it for a moment then shoved it into his shirt pocket.

 

“Alright. I’m out man. Call me when you’re done. And thanks for this one man. I haven’t forgotten our deal. If this works out with Dwayne, then there’s something definitely in it for you.”

 

Russell left the garage and hailed a cab. The yellow taxi pulled over to the curb and Russell scooted inside. He gave the driver an address on Earp Street and settled in for the ride. He pulled the paper from his shirt pocket considering when to make contact. He looked out the window and watched as Downtown Broke rushed past. It had been a long difficult day. More difficult than it had to be and he wanted to just get home to end it. Soon the driver pulled over behind a black Landstalker. Russell paid the fare and exited the cab.

 

The night air bit at Russell’s exposed skin. He had calmed down since the ambush in Berchem and confidently entered his apartment building. He was tired but felt good that things had begun to come together. Ray Boccino had brokered a deal for one of the most powerful crime families in Alderney with promises of more to come if the narcotics moved quickly on the street. The three men could have stumbled onto the scene in Berchem and decided to take the opportunity to shake things up. Too bad for them. Russell called for the elevator as a crocked smile oozed from the left side of his face. The thought of the new contact brought a much needed relief. This dark road that Russell agreed to travel may not be as long as he once thought. Returning to Vice City and rebuilding his life is more than just a possibility now.

 

He could hear the rusty old lift creeping towards the lobby. The money bag weighed heavily on his shoulder, pulling at an old football injury sustained during a high school game. Russell adjusted the strap and stepped closer to the elevator doors that reluctantly strained to open. The light inside flickered and sizzled but did not fade away. Russell graciously stepped on board and tapped the number 5 button already thinking of the mashed in sofa that he was going to collapse on and drift to sleep. The doors banged shut sealing Russell inside the dimly lit box. The lift moaned as the pulleys hauled him to his destination.

 

The elevator finally shuttered to a stop and the doors jerked open. Glad to be free of the death-trap, Russell did not notice the boisterous commentary of Bas Rutton pouring from behind his apartment door. He continued on down the hall digging into his pants pocket for the key. The commentary caught his attention a few steps from his apartment. He knew he had not left the television on and quickly moved to cover outside the apartment door. He surveyed the dimly lit hallway as he pulled his pistol from its holster. Nothing was out of place.

 

Russell pressed his body close to the wall trying to detect any movement inside his apartment. A caller from Vice City lingered on the line receiving dubious advice from Bas and Jeremy. He cautiously reached for the door knob checking for the lock. It twisted fully in his hand. Someone had been there. Possibly still inside. He cursed under his breath and wiped his sweaty palm across his chest, grasping the strap of the money bag. Eyes wide, and breathing measured, he reached for the knob once again and silently slid down the wall to a crouching position.

 

Russell knew the layout of the small apartment and knew there were only a few places that he and the intruder could take cover. The living room was at the center of the apartment with the kitchen to the left and the bedroom to the right. The bathroom was straight back from the entrance. He slowly reached for the knob once again. His pistol raised, ready to be used. The doorknob secured in his grasp. He guessed left and with one graceful move, Russell flung the door open and pounced inside crouching low. His pistol aimed out in front of him scanning the small area. Russell pulled back quickly when he saw someone in black near the window overlooking Earp Street.

 

“What the f*ck are you doing here?” bellowed Russell.

 

“Put that away and I might tell you,” answered the man.

 

Russell reached for the door and swatted it closed with one hand.

 

“You could have screwed up everything,” said Russell through gritted teeth. “What if I had had someone with me?  A whole lot of sh*t could have been started.”

 

The man walked towards Russell with hands tucked deep inside his jacket pockets. “Do you think you’re walking around this city unchecked? I have eyes on you all the time. I won’t remind you again to watch the tone you take with me.”

 

Russell turned away. His index finger played over the trigger on his pistol.

 

“Think about what you’re doing young man. I’m not Samuel Barkley that you can just discard like a piece of garbage under the Broker Bridge.”

 

Russell quickly shifted his gaze back towards the man. His heart pounded like a jack hammer. How many were watching him? He would never know. Who were they? Anyone. Surely the man couldn’t know about Samuel. Things had happen too spontaneously. He couldn’t have the entire city under his thumb. Could he? I can’t trust him. Don’t trust him. Thoughts blazed through Russell’s head at lightning speed. He tightened his grip on the pistol.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talkin’ about.”

 

“Sure you do.”

 

“No I don’t,” insisted Russell. “Someone ends up dead in this city and I did it.”

 

“You’ve done it before,” said the man as he sat down at the small wooden table.

 

Russell turned to face the man. The contempt that he felt inside oozed to the surface, spilling out his mouth in a ferocious roar. I had nothing to do with Jimmy D.’s death. I did not know we were walking straight into a setup.”

 

“You had to have known something Russell. Why was that kid blown to h*ll here in Schottler and you ended up having the time of your life in Vice City? Now I’m going to ask you once more to put that away before things get out of hand.”

 

Russell’s chest heaved up and down. The anger inside was almost unbearable. He exhaled slowly, trying to get control of his emotions. It seemed like an eternity past as he considered the few options he had. But in the end, deciding to tuck his pistol back inside its holster.

 

“Right decision. Come, join me in a bit of a conversation.” said the man waving Russell closer to the wooden table.

 

“I ain’t got nothin’ to say to you.”

 

“Okay. Have it your way. I came for one thing anyway.”

 

Russell grasped at the strap across his chest. “I will have it my way.”

 

“Don’t toy with me boy. I know what happened in Berchem tonight. Short of almost getting your *ss blown off, you handled yourself well.”

 

Russell’s lips parted slightly. He closed his eyes and turned away trying to control the anger bubbling inside his chest once again.

 

“Yeah, those three punks heard about the deal. You ain’t the only one running from their problems and needing someone to help you out. I had to see how you would deal with the fire. You did very well.”

 

“I could have been killed tonight.”

 

“But you weren’t. So get busy giving me my f*ckin’ money so I can get the h*ll out of here.”

 

Russell slipped the bag over his head and handed it to the man. Small bits of glass clung to the bag, some falling to the hardwood floor as the man grasped the handles, weighing it in one hand.

 

“Feels right. I don’t have to count it do I?”

 

“No,” replied Russell flatly.

 

The man straightened his tie and headed to the door. “That prick Ray Boccino has no idea what he just stepped into.” He paused.  “But if he does find out, I know where to look for the one who told him.”

 

“He won’t find out,” replied Russell.

 

“For your sake, I hope he won’t.”

 

Russell watched as the man quietly slipped open the door and left his apartment.

 

*   *   *

 

A black Futa pulled up alongside the Liberty Club in North Holland and cut the engine. The occupants sat quietly for a long while watching as a young man and woman staggered from the club, each supporting the other while they both attempted to hail a cab. No takers as one cab after the other sped by the pugnacious couple, passing up the fare. Being drunk and belligerent was an obvious turn-off for the drivers. The young woman turned down the car radio then reached out to touch the stoic man. She was met with resistance. He gently pulled away folding both arms tightly across his chest.

 

Niko and Carmen had been dating for a while. They met about two months ago on Love-Meet, an internet dating site. Initially Niko was just looking for a good time with as many women as possible. He liked her profile so he put in a request for a date. He wanted someone who was adventurous and he found it in Carmen Ortiz. At first, Niko didn’t mind that Carmen was seeing other men; actually he was glad that there were others to help satisfy her vanity. The proof of her conceit was evident on their first date. Carmen did not mind eating at a cheap restaurant if Niko was going to spend the rest of the money on buying her a gift. The sex was good and he really did not care about her shallowness.

 

However, the relationship quickly began to develop past cheap meals and fast easy sex. Niko found himself in the unusual position of being pinned down in a vicious gun battle and dangerously low on ammunition. He had stepped unknowingly into the middle of gang activity and found himself quickly trapped with only one way out. With the last clip secured in the Micro Uzi, he covered himself as he darted from cover to cover. His luck ran out when a volley of 9mm slugs peppered his chest sending him tumbling to the ground. He lay there writhing in pain as the howl of sirens grew nearer. The men gallop past his wounded body, fleeing in the opposite direction of the approaching sirens.

 

Once Niko was released from Schottler Medical Center Carmen was there to help him recuperate. She had only been a nurse for a few years but she knew more than enough to get him back on his feet. Had it not been for the body armor that he was wearing, the doctors believed that he would not have survived. The deep muscle bruising did however cause tremendous pain that kept him confined to the bed for a few days. The week that Niko stayed with Carmen at her apartment in Bohan allowed him to see her in a whole new light. She was kind and thoughtful, something that she rarely showed him in public. That’s the Carmen that Niko fell in love with.

 

“What’s wrong Niko?” asked Carmen. “You hardly said ten words the whole way over here.”

 

Niko sighed and loosened his arms slightly. “I think I may have made a huge mistake last night.”

 

“Who’s the hoe?” snapped Carmen.

 

Niko shook his head. “No Carmen, it’s not like that at all. Last night I helped out a friend but I think I might have done more harm than good.”

 

“What did you do?” asked Carmen, gently laying her hand on Niko’s chest.

 

Niko surrendered to her touch letting his arms fall to his lap. He was in no mood to deal with intoxicated, loud-mouthed people tonight. He almost regretted answering Carmen’s text. Niko allowed her to softly embrace him. He released a sorrowful sigh and grasped ahold of her hand. Vulnerability had crept to the surface of Niko’s soul, something he doesn’t show too often.

 

“Let’s go back to my place Niko. We don’t have to be here tonight.”

 

“No we don’t,” agreed Niko. “But, how about going over to my place? I don’t thing I can make it back to Fortside.”

 

“Whatever you want baby.”

 

Niko smiled graciously and turned the key to start the engine when he felt his phone vibrate inside his jacket pocket. He hesitated for a moment but answered on the third ring before checking the caller ID.  A mistake that would ruin the rest of his night.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Wake your Slavic *ss up.”

 

“Who is this?” asked Niko turning away from Carmen.

 

“You know d*mn well who it is.”

 

Niko let out a conniving laugh. “How are you doing Playboy?”

 

“Don’t f*ck wit me. Word on the street is that you were the one to shoot up the club last night.”

 

“There are lots of words on the street Playboy. You gonna believe all of them?”

 

“Anyway, you tell Dwayne he’s too old and he bet not take nothin’ else from me.”

 

The line clicked off and Niko tucked the phone back inside his jacket pocket. He looked over at Carmen. The two said nothing as he pulled away from the curb.

 

 

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Cebra
  • Cebra

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#21

Posted 28 June 2016 - 04:01 AM

I'm very much enjoying this. Your first few chapters seemed a little too list-y for my liking, but you've fixed that on your newer ones. It's a good blend of exposition, believable dialogue, and taking advantage of the possible connections IV never established upon.

 

Looking forward to more.  :^:


albanyave
  • albanyave

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#22

Posted 30 June 2016 - 04:48 PM

Thanks Zebra. I'm trying to find areas that I can improve. Feedback is good because I know I don't know everything. I only want to get better.

 

When I started thinking about writing a IV FF, I wanted to follow the path of "what if". We all know what happened in R*'s storyline so why not mix it up a little. A lot could have happened that, we as players, never saw or it could have happened differently. That's what I'm trying to present.

 

Glad you are enjoying and hope you keep reading. :) 


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

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#23

Posted 30 June 2016 - 05:07 PM

The thing about fanfiction is there's zero point in writing Unless you can take it somewhere the game didn't. You need your own story, your own voice, you own statement if you were

Admittedly I've still not caught up, but from what I read it looked like you were heading in the right direction; it definitely sounds like you know this

albanyave
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#24

Posted 02 July 2016 - 09:18 PM

I'm sure you will catch up when you have time. Different, yeah, but not totally unrecognizable is what I am shooting for. I want it to be something that could have happened in GTA IV world but not quite the same as R*'s story. I'm still having fun writing it.


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#25

Posted 02 July 2016 - 09:34 PM Edited by albanyave, 02 July 2016 - 09:41 PM.

One Step Forward

 

Niko rested comfortably on his back with his arm tucked behind his head. He had counted the tiny opaque square tiles that formed the window inside the bedroom more times than he could remember. The phone call from Playboy X last night still lurked in the corners of his mind making him question his unyielding loyalty to Dwayne. He should have never been the one to reopen the door that allowed Dwayne to step back into the criminal world so easily. He moved closer to Carmen who rested quietly at his side. It almost seemed like a smile touched her perky lips. Niko gently brushed her hair aside that had fallen forward, covering part of her beautiful face. The first tendrils of daylight played through the window, brightening the room slightly. It had been raining since last night just before he and Carmen had gotten to his Algonquin apartment in Middle Park. Niko reached for his phone and turned it on, careful not to disturb Carmen. Two new text messages flashed on the display.

 

He eased from bed and ambled off to the bathroom to shower, hoping the cool water would help to wash away the distractions from last night. Playboy was a young punk but he had connections in this town and could make things happen if he wanted.  Dwayne may not be prepared for the power his protégé gained during his incarceration. Carmen was sleeping peacefully when Niko returned to dress. The shower did little to relieve the guilt but he was wide awake now. He left Carmen a note on his pillow apologizing for having to leave so soon and promised to make it up to her. Niko checked his email before taking the elevator down to the lobby. A message from Roman was short but filled with concern. He had not returned Roman’s calls for a couple of days. Being preoccupied with himself and then helping Dwayne had used up a lot of his time and energy.

 

The lobby was cool and quiet. The heavy rain shower beat ferociously at the front of the building. Niko pulled the collar up on his jacket and stepped outside. Trying to dodge the sting of the driving rain, he quickly slid behind the wheel of the Futa parked in the reserved parking spot near the front entrance. He placed his army cap on the passenger seat and jammed the key into the ignition. The Futa started on the first try and Niko reached forward to click the wipers on high to beat back the muffled deluge spraying across the windshield. He plucked his phone from an inside pocket and quickly dialed a number from memory and waited for a response.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Ray?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. It’s me Nikki.”

 

“I got your text and I’m heading down to your restaurant now.”

 

“Good idea Nikki. I been sittin’ on this sh*t long enough.”

 

“Alright. I’m on my way.”

 

Niko clicked the line off and tossed the phone on the seat next to his cap. He checked the mirrors before pulling out into heavy traffic on Albany Avenue. Drusilla’s in Little Italy was where Niko and Ray had met on several occasions.  That was the place where Ray had promised to help Niko find someone from his past. Liberty City was a good place to get lost and be d*mned with the consequences. Niko had done just that but now he needed answers. He demanded that promises be kept. Because a man’s word is all he has sometimes. To him, betrayal was a far worse crime than anything happening in the shadows of this city.

 

A helicopter roared overhead but Niko kept his eyes on the rain soaked road as his mind swirled with every conceivable outcome of this meeting with Ray. Even to putting a bullet straight through his head. He reached all the way back in his memory when he first confided to Roman about the reason why he had come across the ocean to this city. He was staring down at Vladimir Glebov lying dead in Broker with a bullet in his head; a bullet that came tearing from Niko’s pistol with vengeance written all over it.

 

Vlad, as he was known, held a senior position, charged with debt collection, in the Faustin Family. A Russian Crime Family that operates in Hove Beach. The first time that Niko met Vlad, was at Roman’s cab depot in Hove Beach. The two were antagonistic right from the start. However, Niko needed money and it wasn’t long before he was tied to the Faustin Crime Family collecting debts throughout Broker for Vlad. Niko was good at what he did and the pay was decent but all of it ended late one night. Roman learned that Vlad had been having sex with his girlfriend and he and Niko hunted him down at Comrades Bar. Initially Vlad felt safe at his establishment but Niko proved to be far too threatening so he fled the bar and led Roman and Niko on a high-speed chase through Broker. The pursuit ended abruptly at the waterfront in the Broker Naval Yard. There, Niko cornered and assassinated Vlad then dumped his body into the Humboldt River. There’s h*ll to pay for betrayal.

 

Niko cursed to himself for not taking the train to Little Italy. The traffic was more than he wanted to be bothered with so early in the morning. He swerved into on-coming traffic to avoid a collision with a biker that cut in front of him, throwing a spray of rain water across the windshield, obstructing his view momentarily He shouted a few colorful obscenities through the closed window but the leather-clad bearded man had already sped away. A Bean Machine store was just up ahead so Niko pulled over to the curb to shake the cobwebs from his head before he killed himself or some innocent pedestrian.

 

He inhaled deeply and let his head fall back onto the headrest. Niko had gotten tired of running after Ray like a little puppy. Had it not been for his desperate need to find this person from his past, Niko would have surely been still lying next to Carmen waiting for her warm embrace. A heavy banging on the roof of his car cut through the downpour making Niko instinctively reach for his pistol. Niko turned to the passenger side window where Packie stood peering inside the Futa.

 

“You gonna let me inside or just look at me get wet?”

 

Niko pushed the button to release the passenger-side lock. Packie pulled open the door and waited for Niko to gather his hat and phone then slide inside.

 

“Sorry man. My mind was somewhere else.”

 

“That’s alright boy. I get like that sometimes meself.”

 

“Aren’t you up a little early Packie?”

 

“Yeah. But with good reason.”

 

Niko glanced at his mirror to check the traffic speeding towards the parked Futa. “Let me guess. She kicked you out before the sun came up.”

 

“Ha ha, very funny. I have you to know that I have never been asked to leave. And another…”

 

“I’m in a bad way this morning Packie so could you just tell me what you need,” interrupted Niko, sounding more frustrated than curious.

 

Packie threw up his hands to shield himself from Niko’s impatient comment. “Okay already. Remember Russ from Cluckin’ Bell a few nights back?”

 

Niko sifted through his memory bank trying to recall the meeting. “Oh yeah, I remember. Your friend from Vice City.”

 

“That’s the one. Well it appears that he has procured a deal with Ray for some high quality narcotics.”

 

“And?”

 

“And Ray’s gonna want that sh*t on the streets as fast as possible.”

 

“Why are you telling me this Packie? Don’t Ray have men to do that?”

 

“Yeah. But those men are gonna need muscle. And that’s where we come in. So you want a part of this or what?”

 

“I’m on my way to see Ray now.”

 

“So I’ll take that as a yes?”

 

Niko did not respond.

 

“Keep your phone close boy. I’m sure I’ll be callin’ you,” said Packie as he exited the car.

 

Niko watched as his friend darted in the direction of Bean Machine. He checked his side mirror before pulling back onto Albany Avenue. The rain had slacked some and Packie had helped to distract the wild thoughts swimming around inside Niko’s head. He had a better sense of how to approach Ray. He knew what he wanted and his work would not come cheap in return. He signaled and turned right onto Hematite Street where traffic was much thinner. Drusilla’s was not much farther now.

 

*   *   *

 

A yellow cab eased around the tight curb on Duke’s Drive in Steinway. The driver pulled over near a cobblestoned archway leading into the cemetery. Russell pulled the hood of his jacket over his head, drawing the string tight so that it fit snuggly around his face. He sat for a moment peering through the rain-streaked window following the deserted pathway as far as he could see. The driver looked up through the rear-view mirror.

 

“Hey buddy, last stop.”

 

Russell blinked and turned to look at the meter. He pulled a single bill from his wallet and handed it to the driver.

 

“Keep the change,” said Russell as he exited the cab.

 

The driver looked at the bill closer and yelled out a grateful thank you but Russell had already closed the door and was heading towards the entrance to the cemetery. He lowered his head to guard against the sharp biting rain shower spraying in from across the Humboldt River.  Part of the gapping entryway had begun to crumble at the top corner of the wall. A soft white light from ornate pole lamps washed over Russell as he followed the stone pathway that meandered through the deserted cemetery. Russell was here just before he fled to Francis International Airport to board a flight to Vice City.

 

Even though he was unable to attend the funeral, Russell did manage to get to the cemetery undetected to see his best friend buried from a distance.  He lifted his head, shielding his eyes with one hand from the whipping rain. He peered across the graveyard, scanning the hillside facing Bohan. Russell spotted the grave marker but could not read the inscription. He girded up against the gusting wind and pushed forward. A wave of guilt and anxiousness swept over Russell making him gasp for a breath, steadying his weakened legs as he neared the grave. The tragic night a year and a half ago played like a movie inside Russell’s mind. He shook his head trying to loosen the thoughts from their vice-like grip on his psyche.

 

Russell stopped near a row of grave markers. He stepped onto the rain-soaked ground and trailed to where Jimmy D. was buried on the hill. Russell crouched low to be closer to his friend, careful not to disturb the fresh bouquet of flowers that had been place at the neatly manicure grave site, something only a mother would do. He wiped the rain from his face and eyes so that he could read the inscription. James D. Bataglia 1980-2006 Beloved Son and Father was perfectly etched on the marker in plain script. Russell inhaled deeply, dropping his head to remember his fallen friend.

 

Jimmy D, it wasn’t supposed to be like this. I don’t know who fingered me but I’m pretty sure I know who set you up and you don’t know how sorry I am that you got caught in the crosshairs. The heat was comin’ down on me pretty hard back then and I had to leave.  I’m back now and I’ll set things right. I promise. You won’t have died for nothing.

 

The crackle of a single shot from a high-caliber rifle broke the eerie stillness of the cemetery. A large chunk of the stone mausoleum, near where Russell crouched, crumbled from the impact of the bullet. A spray of fine dust and particles flew forward, just past the back of Russell’s head. He sprang forward, nearly colliding head-first into James’ headstone, to take cover at the corner of the damaged tomb. He lay flat, face buried in the wet grass, waiting for another miniature missile to come his way. The pouring rain muffled the roar of a nearby engine. He risked lifting his head and saw a red and black Jetmax speeding away from the shore heading in the direction of Bohan. He had no idea if the shot came from that boat or from somewhere else completely.

 

He moved over to inspect the broken tomb, keeping low and out of sight. Pieces of jagged stone lay scattered on the wet ground. The gusting wind had stinging rain had diminished enough to allow fat soft raindrops to bounce gently off the soggy grass. Russell cautiously lifted himself up and peered down to a deserted shoreline. The boat was completely out of sight now. A tiny ting of his phone echoed from an inside pocket of his soaked jacket.  He wrestled with the zipper trying to reach his phone before the call ended. Finally Russell pulled the phone free and answered.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Why are you revisiting the past Russell?”

 

Russell almost did't recognize the voice. The caller spoke with a quiet deliberation that sent a chill ricocheting through his body. He spun around, scanning the area with wide anxious eyes but he saw no one there. The stone monuments and grave markers began to push in around Russell. He moved quickly away from James’ grave and headed towards an archway to exit the cemetery.

 

“Did you send someone to shoot at me?” demanded Russell.

 

“Careful. You wouldn’t want to wake the dead.”

 

“Why did you bring me back here if all I’m gonna be is target practice for your stoolpigeons?”

 

“Like I told you last night, I just want to let you know that I’m in charge and that you can’t hide from me.”

 

Russell was finally free from the claustrophobic confines of the cemetery and back out on Duke’s Drive with a meager scattering of pedestrians. A man wearing a hoody pulled low over his face brushed past Russell before crossing to the other side of the street. Had it been raining harder, Russell would have missed the blatant warning from the man to stay away from Beechwood City. Every fiber in his soul wanted to chase this man down and make him explain exactly what he meant but he decided to stand still. Someone was obviously watching him and he could not risk such a public scene. Russell turned away from the man who had disappeared around the corner and continued to listen to the muffled voice on the phone spilling threats into his ear.

 

“I hope you’re a smart guy and leave the past in the past. Dead men tell no tales.”

 

Russell kept quiet. The certainty in his voice sounded like a veiled threat.  The warning shot had just whizzed past his head, shattering someone’s final resting place in the process.

 

“Anyway, to the point. As you know, Dwayne Forge has been released from a prison that will remain unnamed. He pulled some decent time for dealing back in the day. Mr. Forge used to be the leader of The North Holland Hustlers. I expect you to stroke his ego. Make him feel like he’s still the man that he used to be. He’s halfway there. You make sure he gets there all the way.”

 

The line clicked off and Russell turned his face towards the sky letting the rain wash over him like a cold shower to wake him from this nightmare.

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albanyave
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#26

Posted 08 July 2016 - 08:46 PM

We Could Be Friends

 

The heavy rain showers had diminished to a drizzle by the time Niko reached Little Italy. He pulled over to the curb across the street from Drusilla’s and cut the engine. Other than a single car parked at the far end of the block, Denver Avenue was completely deserted. The restaurant looked abandoned. The shade was pulled to cover the front entrance and no light filter through the tinted dining room window. Fearing that Ray had pulled another fast getaway, Niko scooped up his cap from the passenger seat and slapped it on his head. He pushed the car door open and stepped out onto the sidewalk, splashing in shallow puddles as he sauntered across the cobblestoned street towards the restaurant. If Ray was inside, he hoped that he had more to offer than just another job.  Niko was relieved when Ray opened the door and called out to him.

 

“Hey Nikki, come in here.”

 

“I’m moving as fast as I want to Ray.”

 

“Okay Nikki, I give. I nearly threw you out on your ear the last time you were here, so I just wanna welcome you back in this time,” said Ray stepping aside to allow Niko to enter.

 

“Good start, but I’m not here to kiss and make up. You promised to get the information that I asked for and that’s what I want before I agree to do another d*mn thing for you Ray.”

 

“I like you Nikki,” said Ray through a sideways grin. “We could be friends if business would stop getting’ in the way.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

Ray shuffled past the bar on his way to a table at the back of the dining room, gesturing for Niko to follow him. The two men had discussed business on many occasions at that particular table and Niko hoped that Ray had kept his promise. He notice photos and papers scattered across the table but waited for Ray to comment.  The two men sat across from each other. Niko sat back in the chair, arms folded tightly across his chest. Ray was on the other side of the table, sifting through the papers then finally stopped at a particular photo.

 

“Loosen up Nikki. I told you I was working on something good for you didn’t I?”

 

Niko dropped his arms to his lap, softening his expression. “Yeah Ray, but I’ve already heard that same story enough times.”

 

“I know, I know. But this time I have the guy you wanna talk to about your friend Florian Cravic. What a name.”

 

Florian Cravic grew up in the same little Eastern European village as Niko and Roman. His life was not much different from most of the boys his age. Everyone was poor, struggling just to make it to the next day. However, Florian had a dream of becoming a Professional Wrestler.  He believed his dream would lift him out of the grip of poverty and propel him to a better life. But war raged throughout the region and soon reality set in when he and several other boys were called on as teenagers to pick up arms and fight in the Yugoslav Wars.

 

During the last days of the war, Florian joined up with Niko Bellic and thirteen other boys. The 15 man unit was given orders to gain access behind enemy lines. Every boy in the unit knew the mission was dangerous, boarding on suicidal but none challenged the order. They were given enough rations for six days and as much ammunition and ordnance as they could carry. The group set out at night, nervous and unsure but kept moving forward. In two days, they had made it half way to the enemy camp without incident. It had been slow progress but the unit kept low and in the shadows during the day and moved more quickly and easily at night. Some had started believing that they could actually accomplish their mission. When it came time to rest, three boys at a time would keep watch for an hour shift while the others slept.

 

Early morning, the third day into the mission, Niko and Florian were at their bed rolls dividing the first rations of the day. The sun had barely brightened the sky. The others were just beginning to stir when out of the shadows, to the east of their camp, emerged the blinding flash and defining crackle of gunfire. No one was prepared for the ambush. The agonizing screams of young boys being slaughtered made Niko’s blood run cold. A searing hot bullet ripped through his left shoulder, sending him spinning forward, spilling the rations to the ground. Niko lay there, paralyzed with fear that they would come to finish the job.

 

It was over as quickly as it started. Smoke swirled in the air, hovering over the stillness of the camp like a ghost. Niko dared not move. Soon morning fully blossomed, bringing with it all the familiar sound of birds chirping, rodent scurrying, and insects whizzing past; some landing on his fallen companions to allow nature to being its course. All else was quiet. No voices or human movement were detected. Still, Niko did not move. The day pushed on and before long, the sun was straight overhead, beating down on him like a razor.

 

He lifted his head slightly and witnessed the carnage that lay scattered around their small encampment. He felt numb. Fear still gripped his soul. Niko thought everyone had perished until he saw another head lift from the ground and yet another. The boys sought each other’s eyes but the horror of it all kept their mouths sealed. No one spoke even after they had scrambled to their feet. Niko grabbed up a handful of rations and stuffed them inside his bag. He found his rifle and side arm, checking his belt for ammunition. His arm hurt, but he was numb. Niko looked one last time at the two surviving boys before turning and running as fast as he could away from the massacre.

 

Niko bent forward, twisting around to get a better view of the photo that Ray was holding. “Where can I find him?”

 

“He usually hangs out on a street near Star Junction showing artsy fartsy pictures. His name is Talbot Daniels. From what I hear he’s an easily intimidated fanook.”

 

“Okay,” said Niko frowning at the peculiar word usage.

 

Niko took the photo from Ray to examine it closer. He looked vaguely familiar but the name was definitely one that Niko had heard before. Roman played cards with someone named Talbot. He would always say that he wished Talbot had more money because he was a great loser at cards. Niko almost agreed to play a few games in order to increase his bankroll but decided against it once he learned that Roman was in debt and needed the money more.

 

Ray picked up a sheet of paper with a short list of hand written locations at the top and an assortment of names at the bottom.  “And if Talbot isn’t there, you can maybe find Mr. Cravic at one of these locations or talk to some of these guys. They might know where he’s held up.”

 

Niko set the photo aside so that he could scrutinize the list of addresses and names. “Middle Park?  Hercules?  LCPD?” questioned Niko.

 

“Hey Nikki, I give it the way you asked for it. A name like Florian Cravic can’t be mistaken too many times.”

 

Niko nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. This is a start.”

 

“Well, it’s the best I can do for you Nikki,” said Ray as he gathered the remaining papers into a neat pile.

 

“So why is this guy so d*mn important to you?” asked Ray, sounding more serious than curious.

 

Niko looked up from the paper, seeking Ray’s eyes. He stared hard for a while, recalling the last days of the war. Ray never wavered. His intentions seemed genuine. Niko had confided in Roman his true reason for coming to America and he felt that Ray had earned the right to be given an answer to his question. Niko swallowed hard, clearing his throat.

 

“The Yugoslav Wars were brutal. Lots of pointless death and countless lives were destroyed.  My unit was betrayed which led to the massacre of twelve boys. I survived, along with two others. I believe the one that is guilty of the betrayal lives in this city.”

 

Ray shifted in his seat. “The Yugoslav Wars were a long time ago Nikki.”

 

“Not long enough, I’m afraid. I need to know why. Boys were slaughtered like helpless lambs in the pasture.”

 

Niko thanked Ray and folded the photo and list together and tucked them inside his jacket. After so many years of running down dead ends, Niko did not allow himself to believe that he had finally found the one who betrayed him so long ago. This is the closest that he had ever been to the man who deserved to be wiped from existence. Every day that this scum lived, was a day that Niko died a little. It needed to end. One way or the other, it was going to end.

 

“So, are we done here?”

 

“Couple other things then you can go. One. Packie will be calling you soon. He’ll need some muscle to get some stuff on the street. Bohan is prime. Two. What can you tell me about Dimitri Rascalov?”

 

Niko farrowed his brow remembering the contention between Dmitri and Mikhail. He had done a variety of jobs for the two men but was glad when the relationship dissolved. Broker was a hotbed for pornography and drug trafficking before Niko was driven out by the Faustin Family.

 

“Well, he lives in Hove Beach and he’s a man that likes to abide by the rules of the game. He’s a dangerous man. But, he can be reasoned with if there’s profit to be made.”

 

“Dangerous? How so?”

 

“You’ve been doing this a long time Ray. There are all sorts of men in this world and no one wants to play with a dangerous man.”

 

“So Rascalov is a dangerous man and the way I hear it, his boss is a loose cannon.”

 

“To put it mildly. But if you respect him, he will respect you.”

 

“Why aren’t you working for Faustin anymore?”

 

“Who says I’m not?”

 

Ray chuckled. “Word gets around Nikki. I know you were run out of Hove Beach.”

 

“Let’s just say I didn’t follow orders. Mr. Faustin wanted someone killed and I didn’t think the boy needed to die. So in a way, I did disrespect the boss.”

 

Ray picked up the pile of papers, clapping then together on the table. Niko had no reason to exaggerate the truth. The stories coming out of Broker about the Faustin Crime Family seemed to corroborate what Niko had said.

 

"Okay Nikki. That’s all for now.”

 

Niko slid away from the table and left the restaurant, leaving Ray thumbing through the pile of papers and loose photos. He hurried across Denver Avenue to his car and sat quietly behind the wheel studying the list and photo closer. He kept his head bowed and did not notice a brown Intruder pull up across the street. A well-dressed Phil Bell stepped out and entered Drusilla’s.  He turned and looked through the glass window of the front door at Niko sitting in his car before disappearing deeper inside the restaurant. The dining room was empty except for the maître d’ so Phil called out to get Ray’s attention.

 

“Hey Ray. You in here?”

 

“Yeah I’m here,” said Ray pushing through the swinging doors that led into the kitchen. Ray slapped Phil on the back, extending a hand to greet his longtime business associate. “Have a seat Philly.”

 

“Look Raymond, I ain’t no filly.”

 

Ray chuckled at his own sideways joke. He had known Phil for a long time and at times the two men would butt heads but never let their disagreements get in the way of business.

 

“Just kidding. How are the kids?”

 

“They’re good when I get to see them.”

 

“The wife still not acting right?”

 

Phil grunted his disapproval and moved the conversation on to another subject.

 

“Look, you got some guy sittin’ in a black Futa across the street. You being watched or what?”

 

“Black Futa? No. That’s just Nikki.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Niko Bellic,” answered Ray, enunciating each syllable. “He does some cleanup for me. He’s very good at it too.”

 

“So is he the reason you called me all the way over here from the yard. I do have a legit job to attend to.”

 

Ray waved away the idea. “No. But that is.”

 

He pointed to a neat stack of papers at the far corner of the table. He reached over and dragged the papers to the center of the table so that the photo faced Phil. Ray sat back in his chair and waited for a response. Phil cocked his head to one side to discern the man pictured in the photo. He glance at Ray and then back at the picture.

 

“You do know who this is don’t you?” asked Phil as he lifted the photo from the stack of papers.

 

“Of course I do. I mean I never met the guy but I know who he is,” gesturing awkwardly with his hands.

 

“Then you ought to know that he’s crazier than a sh*thouse fly.”

 

“And that’s his weakness.”

 

“So you think you’re just gonna waltz right in and take over an entire Russian Crime Syndicate?”

 

“Not the whole thing, just a piece,” responded Ray, leaning forward with his head propped on his fist.

 

Phil tossed the photo back onto the table. “You know the Ancelotti Family caught hell from the Gambettis when they tried to deal with the Russians. And when The Peg finds out…”

 

“He’s gonna thank me,” interrupted Ray. “And as far as the commission is concerned, they haven’t invited us yet. So we need to do our own thing.”

 

For years James Pegorino; leader of his Alderney based Crime Syndicate, had tried and failed to get the Liberty City Commission to recognize his Family as a viable candidate for Commission status. His top two capos Phil Bell and Ray Boccino were good earners and his Family was stronger and larger than the Ancelotti Family that already had a seat on The Commission. However, Phil Bell was part Irish and could never be a ‘made man’ in the eyes of the Commission.

 

“Too much risk for me Ray. You’re on your own with this one.”

 

“Hey wait a minute; I thought we was partners here.  Maybe you could send Frankie over to Hove Beach for a little reconnicense. Sit down, have a drink with his listening ears on.”

 

“That dimwit. If you want it screwed up, send Frankie to do it. Too risky Ray. You better find someone else.”

 

If anyone should know the abilities of Frankie Gallo, it would be his uncle, Phil Bell. Frankie lives in Westdyke, Alderney and frequents Honker’s Strip Club where his uncle is manager. Frankie always seemed to stay in trouble with the law, being arrested several times for petty larceny. His uncle has always been reluctant to trust him with the smallest of tasks. He has a tendency not to fully think things through before jumping head first into a bad situation. Word quickly spread that he was careless which led to a reputation of being untrustworthy.

 

“Speaking of risk Ray, how did things pan out in Berchem the other night?”

 

“The boys had some unexpected guests, but Johnny and the fellas handled it perfectly. He actually thought I had something to do with the ambush.”

 

"Well that makes no since.”

 

“Yeah, tell me about it. You’ll get your cut once it hits the street. I’m working on something as we speak.”

 

Phil pushed away from the table. “On that note, I’m headin’ back across the river. Gotta meet with the lawyer.”

 

The two men stood and shook hands. Ray escorted Phil to the door.

 

“Think about what I said. Frankie is a good kid. He’ll do just fine.”

 

Phil turned to face Ray. “You think about what I said. Mikhail Faustin is crazier than a sh*thouse fly. Goodbye Ray.”

 

Ray chuckled as he closed and locked the door. Niko and the black Futa were long gone. He watched as Phil pulled away from the curb and started his journey back to Alderney.

 

 

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Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

  • Zaibatsu
  • Joined: 01 May 2009
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  • Most Creative [Writing] 2016
    Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#27

Posted 11 July 2016 - 10:37 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 11 July 2016 - 10:38 AM.



Coffee and Coke

 

Russell woke up, startled by the sudden commotion on the street outside Jermaine’s apartment. Not fully coherent, Russell wasn’t sure exactly where he was.Okay, the order of information here is important and here it contradicts. You state he's in Jermaine's apartment. Then you say he doesn't know where he was - place your readers in Russell's shoes here. Russell doesn't know where he is. Therefore, nor should the reader. End the first sentence after "on the street." or even: "...startled by the sudden commotion outside." When you're writing with a single protagonist (be it in a scene or entire story) think about perspective. Check the pinned guide I wrote on the WD forum, and the part about perspective. In short, assume the reader IS Russell. Tell the reader what Russell would know, and don't tell them what he wouldn't. In this instance, Russell doesn't know where he is, so neither should the reader. You could be more patient here, too; As he wakes, show the reader the room - if Russell isn't sure where he is, the first thing he'd do is look around - search for something familiar. Maybe he'd waddle to the window, to see what the noise is about. Maybe he'd freak out and reach for a gun - which as it's not his home, might not be where he'd normally put it. You're really only telling us he's waking up, not sure where he is. There's no acting or showing; just you saying so. He had gotten used to hearing the soft waves lap at the shoreline next to his beach house in Vice City. The unexpected ruckus made his head spin as he stirred on Jermaine’s flimsy sofa. Again, cut the reference to Russell. You could be quite effective in revealing the environment here:

 

Russell woke up, startled by a sudden commotion out side. A gruff voice barked indistinct words. Another, softer voice replied, raised and shaky. He rolled incoherently off the flimsy sofa, a cushion seat sliding to the hardwood floor. He had gotten used to the soft waves lapping at the shoreline next to his Vice City beach house; the angry voices outside contrasted that, sending unease flowing through the open window. Where the hell am I? he asked himself, his mind muddy with sleep - perhaps too little. Russell looked around, seeing the torn, mismatched furniture, the coffee table that was in dire need of a new coat of varnish, the empty beer cans and pizza boxes. He reached for his jacket, thrown haphazardly on the floor. Fishing through it, he pulled out his gun and crossed the floor, his bare feet slapping on the cold, hard floor. He reached the window and looked down. A large, burly man stood on the sidewalk, wildly waving his hands at a small, slender, feminine young man. The latter was trying to back up, to walk away, but the brute relentlessly followed. Beside them a pale blue Panda stood diagonally across the road, its front quarter dented, likely by the large Bobcat that stood next to it.

"Damn hipsters," Russell growled with a sleep-scarred voice. He shut the window and looked back at the apartment. He rubbed his eyes and face as recognition returned to him: he was in Jermaine's home. He missed Vice City. 

 

Now that's not perfect - just a quick write, but see how much more information is there? And yet I'm not really just telling everything. You can get a sense of the apartment, of Russell's discomfort of being away from his familiar environment.

 

Russell rubbed at the back at his neck trying to work the kink away. He eased out of bed, careful not to make the stiffness worse.

 

Jermaine snored loudly through his bedroom door so Russell quietly slid into the bathroom to shower. This detail could be given to us a little earlier. As he hears the commotion outside, would he not also hear the grinding sound of Jermaine's snoring? This again could be used to good effect - as he hears the sound it might help remind him where he was.  He dressed in black jeans, a simple white button-up shirt, and tan Hinterland boots. Jermaine was still sleeping hard when Russell grabbed his bag and headed for the door.  Seeing the line of locks, he thought that he should let his friend know that he was leaving. Personally I'd rather see a little more action here - as in physical movements, not explosions :p Have Russell reach for the locks and, as his hand touched to brass-coating of the first deadbolt, he decides it would be polite to let Jermaine know he was leaving. 

 

Russell knocked on the bedroom door then pushed into the room.  Jermaine was lying there wearing only his boxers.  “Jermaine.”   In terms of pacing, I'd put the speech on a new line. Break it up a bit and have things flow smoother.

 

A snort and slight stir was all Russell could coax from him.  He called again comma this time shaking Jermaine on his shoulder. “Jermaine!”  I'd consider using italics here to emphasize Russell's speech along with the exclamation mark.

 

Jermaine shot straight up in bed, hands and arms flailing like a dying fish.

 

“D*mn man you sleep like a rock.  Come on lock your door, I’m headin’ out.” I'd also consider trimming this down: cut "damn" or "man" but if you're keeping both, I'd be inclined to put in some punctuation:

 

"Damn, man. You sleep like a rock."

 

Jermaine scooted out of bed with droopy eyes and followed Russell to the door Comma staggering along the way. He banged his knee hard on the pointed edge of the coffee table. A quiet groan escaped his friend’s mouth as Russell proceeded on to the door. Too much telling here. It feels like I'm reading a report. I want to see it. I'd also consider who's passive in here:

 

Jermaine scooted out of bed and Russell led his droopy-eyed friend to the door. As he passed the sofa, he heard a loud thud, followed by his friend swearing. He turned to see Jermaine holding his knee beside the now-crooked coffee table.

 

"Stop moving my sh*t around," Jermaine groaned.

 

"Man, I ain't moved sh*t. Wake your drunk-ass up and open your damned eyes."

 

Make the throwaway comment about banging his knee into something.

 

He unlocked the door pulling it slightly open. Either use a comma after "door" or throw in an "and": He unlocked the door and pulled it slightly open.  “Remember what we talked about last night, Jermaine. Give me a call when you know something.” I added in a Jermaine, mainly because I added speech previously.

 

Jermaine, still not fully awake, nodded in agreement as he yawned and picked at the corners of his eyes. This is a nice detail.   Russell left the apartment, closing the door behind him. He heard the locks click into place as he exited the building. It was almost 5am.  Too early to call Packie. I think this would be better non-italic, perhaps with an em-dash or semi-colon after "5 AM" Russell cut down the alley where the hooker and her client had been arguing the night before. He climbed a flight of uneven steps at the other end of the alleyway.  It'd be nice to have a few more details here. Just show us a dumpster, or a pile of rubbish, maybe the early signs of sunrise just sneaking through the gaps in the buildings, or the street lights glowing promisingly at the far end... Brunner Street, straight ahead, had nearly bumper-to-bumper traffic with early morning commuters. Russell heard the muffled sounds of morning talk shows and news broadcasts as the vehicles zipped past. Don't use "zipped" - it implies they're moving fast. This is LC/NYC so play up on the traffic part. Have them crawl past, maybe with the odd honk of horn or impatient yelling from cab drivers. A little more immersion, although i liked the detail about the muffled radios. 

 

A temporary break in the procession of automobiles allowed Russell to hustle across to the other side of the street. He knew the city well. you could use a semi-colon here. Dukes was home until he graduated from High School. He immediately moved into a small apartment over in Outlook, a neighborhood of Broker. Six months later, his parents were tragically killed in a car accident as they crossed the Algonquin Bridge. It seems a little hollow referencing such a major event this way. Maybe expand it a little:

 

Six months later, his parents were crossing the Algonquin Bridge when the notoriously unruly Liberty City traffic prematurely ended their journey; an  old Sabre lost control and veered through the rail, tragically killing them both instantly. The driver was drunk, and uninsured. He'd probbably served his time and was now unfairly continuing with his undeserved life. Russell shook his head at the memory. Memories of his childhood rushed back as Russell stared up at the majesty of that same bridge brilliantly illuminated against the dawning sky I'd like to see what colour the sky is. . Across the Humboldt River, Algonquin stood as the life of Liberty City. The trendy shops of Suffolk as well as the seedy corners of Chinatown made the allure of Algonquin so powerful. The whole of northern Algonquin remained caught in the death trap of gang related violence. You could be clever here and describe the lights, show how the built up part is lit by streetlights and illuminated windows of skyscrapers, while the northern "gang" areas were darker, more foreboding. The glimmering lights from some of the city’s tallest buildings began to dim as the breaking dawn turned the sky pale blue. Russell pulled his thoughts back to Broker, a quieter less chaotic part of Liberty.

 

A cab approached. He threw up a hand and the driver pulled over to pick up the fare.  The latter part of this sentence isn't really necessary. Russell quickly scooted inside the back of the cab, the radio being far too loud for such an early morning ride.

 

“Where to?”

 

“Firefly Islandcomma  please.”

 

The driver looked in the rear-view mirror. “Please?  I don’t get a lot of those.  You must be from outta town.” I also wonder if  you could play on accents here. "The driver looked in the rear-view mirror and spoke with the unmistakable Bohan slur, over pronouncing the vowels." (Just a thought)

 

“Kinda hyphen or forward slash here sorta,” said Russell.  “I used to live here but been gone for a little while.”

 

“Well the city ain’t changed much,” said the driver as he punched in the destination.  “Unless you want to count the increase in dirt and crime.”

 

“Oh, wow, that’s too bad,” said Russell.

 

“And to top it all off, our politicians are just as bad comma if not worse than the scum that’s really runnin’ this city.”

You're double spacing here - keep doing so. “Sounds like I’ve gotta get caught up on what’s been happening.”

 

“Yeah.  Grab yourself a Liberty Tree paper Superfluous word  or any paper for that matter.  They even got it on-line and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ about.”

 

The driver continued to spit insults about the city leaders, whom he seemed to know personally, and gave his own critique about how corrupt the Police Department had gotten over the years.  Russell tried to chime in, but was cut short by another rant from the driver. He was content with watching the city pass by, noticing the blatant Eastern European influence in Hove Beach. I enjoyed this bit - I like how you cut the dialogue and avoided making it mundane, but still got the details over.

 

“Okay, here we are, this is as close as I can getcha.” unless you're spelling more of his speech phonetically, just use "get ya"

 

“Thanks for the info and keep the change.” Russell paid the fare then exited the cab. We kind of know Russell's paying here with his speech but why not show it:

 

"Thanks for the info," Russell said, leaning forward, slapping the twelve dollars* into the driver's outstretched hand. "Keep the change," he said, pulling on the door's release.

 

*I guess the amount - you might want to do this journey in game and see how much it costs.

 

The cab pulled away comma leaving Russell standing in front of a Hardware store on Crockett Avenue near a paper box. state it's a "newspaper dispenser - I literally pictured a cardboard box here. He dropped some change in the coin slot and retrieved a fresh Liberty Tree newspaper.  Across the street, the beach was deserted but a scattering of early risers meandered along the boardwalk. Even though the glory days of the amusement park at Firefly Island are but a distant memory, the famous boardwalk still offered a few attractions. The savory aroma of the street vendors whiffed through the air, enticing Russell even more to quell his growling stomach. Russell quickly scanned the headlines of the paper before stuffing it deep inside an outer pocket of his bag. He froze when a distinctive voice from behind called his name.

 

“Russell Cobb, you are a dead man.”

 

Russell spun around only to catch a glimpse of a tall, broad-shouldered man with braided hair pulled back in a ponytail dashing towards an alleyway. He knew that voice. A voice he would never forget. Samuel Barkley was the one that set the deal that ended in tragedy. Russell bolted after the man. Did i miss the part where Barkley ran? Why would he threaten him  then run? Is he scared of him? Would he not just run? Or is he delivering a message? Or did Russell catch him before he could kill him? A little clarification, or showing us how he said it might help. The alley quickly fell into shadows. Samuel had a good head start but Russell had conditioned himself well. His Hinterland boots pounded heavily against the concrete. The man Stick to names here - keep it simple. looked behind to see how close Russell had gotten, causing him to stumble over garbage bags hidden in the shadows. Samuel managed to regain his balance but that mishap was enough to allow Russell to close the gap. He was close enough to hear the Samuel gasping for breath.

 

Traffic on Bart Street had stopped for a red light.  Samuel burst from the alleyway with Russell right on his heels. He sprinted between cars and headed towards a narrow alley on the other side of the street. Russell vaulted over the hood of a cab, landing sure-footed on the other side. It'd be nice to hear the honking of horns or the yelling of a cab driver here. Just a quick mention. The two men almost entered the skinny passage simultaneously. Russell was almost within an arm’s reach of the man’s ponytail. Samuel struggled for air. Russell pushed harder, propelling himself forward. He seized the opportunity, reaching out and grabbing a fistful of Samuel’s braids. He pulled down hard, dragging the heavy man to the ground. Samuel lurched forward, struggling to get to the clearing at the end of the alley. Russell dove, landing squarely on top of his back, wrenching Samuel’s right arm at an odd angle so that it dislocated immediately. Your pacing's good here - short sentences. He the flow quick. But they do feel a little list-like at times. This. Then that. And this. Then. Next. It can feel a little methodical. you can expand a sentence, here and there, and use plenty of commas if you do so.

 

Russell pushed the man’s face hard in to the cracked concrete to muffle the agonizing hollers. Once the shrieks had subsided, Russell rolled the man onto his back so that they faced each other.

 

“Why did you set me up?” asked Russell through gritted teeth.

 

“It wasn’t you,” answered Samuel, still struggling for air. ”But it is you now.”

 

Shocked by the answer, Russell pulled away but kept a tight grip on Samuel’s left wrist.

 

“Why Jimmy?” growled Russell.

 

Samuel’s chest heaved up and down. “You’re gonna have to ask Olive”

 

“Where can I find him?”

 

“You don’t. He finds you. And you are a dead man.”

 

“That’s where you’re wrong.”

 

Russell snapped the tiny bones in the man’s wrist, sending lightning-sharp pain running up his arm. Russell reached inside his bag, retrieving the 9Mm pistol that Jermaine had given him last night. He stood up, towering over the injured man. The A train...  Or expand slightly: The train tracks overhead rumbled, shaking the ground as a train rushed roared by on its way to Hove Beach Station.. train roared past on its way to the Hove Beach Station.  Russell squeezed the trigger, placing a single bullet in Samuel’s head. Sound - you're not showing us any sound here. In an alley, the gunshot would be loud and echoing. Make us feel it. He tossed the newspaper over the man’s mangled face and left him lying there in the shadow of the Broker Bridge.

 

Russell emerged from the narrow alley disheveled and a bit disturbed by what Samuel had insinuated. The 69th Street Diner was just across the street but he didn’t feel like eating. Besides, he had to get himself in a better frame of mind to meet with Packie. Russell crossed the street and bought another Liberty Tree newspaper before entering the diner.

 

A petite blonde stood behind the counter. The smell of fresh coffee and sausage filled his nostrils but did little to bring back his appetite. is this because of what just happened or because the food's crap? Maybe say "the smell of fresh coffee and sausage, mixed with grease" if the latter.   There were six booths that ran along the front wall of the diner. Russell chose a booth at the far end which was the perfect place to wait for Packie to arrive. He faced the side entrance and had a good view of the entire area.  An older gentleman and two young women were already eating a delicious looking breakfast. Without dwelling on it, what were they eating? IF Russell's waiting, you can get that feeling over to the reader by having him observe things and showing us them. How's the waitress moving? Like a fed up worker or like a bubbly server? It was still early but Russell decided it was time to call Packie.  The phone rang once, twice, three times and then a tired and hoarse sounding voice answered.

 

“It’s too early man.  I just got in bed.”

 

“Well I got something that will make you jump out emphasize "out" with italics.  of bed right now,” said Russell, sounding more enthusiastic than he had to.

 

“Yeahcomma right.”

 

“If you want to know, meet me at the 69th Street Diner in Broker.”

 

Russell disconnected the line before Packie could throw up a protest. He tucked the phone back inside his bag then went to the restroom to get cleaned up. Why's he doing this? Did he get blood on him? If so wouldn't he go and do this before sitting down? He quickly returned to the booth, pulled out the newspaper and began reading a story about a suspected serial killer. He had read through most of the paper by the time Packie finally arrived.  He filed into the diner behind a Liberty City Police Officer.  The Officer ordered at the counter while Packie made his way back to where Russell had been waiting.

 

“Hey man, I know you’re my friend and all but this better be good. I had to take the train. Damn car wouldn't start.”

 

“Yeah it is,” replied Russell. “But let’s wait awhile,” Have this in a new sentence --> nodding in the direction of the Officer.

 

Packie glanced back over his shoulder then sat down across from his friend.

 

Soon the Officer left the diner with a bagfulbagful of what?  and two cups of coffee. Russell folded his paper and laid it aside. 

 

“Go get us some coffee and you’ll see what I’m talkin’ about when you get back.” 

 

“Do I look like I’m the freakin’ waitress?” asked Packie wrinkling his forehead.

 

“Yeah, you do,” said Russell with a silly smirk on his face.  “Now go get the coffee.”

 

Packie reluctantly slid from the booth and stood in a short line at the counter.  Russell pulled the small tube from his bag and took a quick look around the diner before pouring a single line of the cocaine onto a cleared spot near the salt and pepper shakers.  He moved the newspaper closer to conceal the pure white powder. Packie returned to the booth with two fresh cups of coffee and wide curious eyes.

 

“So what am I supposed to see? asked Packie, as he placed the steaming cups on the table. 

 

Russell slowly slid the newspaper aside to reveal the powdery substance. 

 

“Holy sh*t.  So you just gonna do that right here?”

 

“Lower your voice man. Of course not.  I don’t do this sh*t. But I got a lot more where this came from. I just need to get it out there and I think you’re the man for the job.”

 

“I might know somebody who knows somebody.”

 

Packie discretely reached over and tapped the powder with his pinky. First he smelled it then he tasted it, smacking his mouth to get a better discernment.   

 

“D*mn, this some good sh*t.” said Packie looking over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

 

“The best sh*t,” responded Russell as he sipped at his coffee.

 

“Already cut?”

 

“What do you think?”

 

“I think it can be cut some more.”

 

“Well you do your thing and get back to me,What's missing here? :p  said Russell as he brushed the remaining powder onto the floor.  I’m gonna look for somewhere to stay.  I think I’ll be in town for a while.”

 

“Where’d you lay up last night because my ma sure wanted to see you again?”

 

“I got a room at The Hamilton over in Algonquin.  Just couldn’t resist going across the bridge.  But for right now I think I’ll look for a place here in Broker.” It's not strictly necessary but I'd probably clarify if this first sentence is a lie. Also while I'm here - i liked this dialogue. The only thing it could have used was action - showing them pick up their drinks, maybe look at the menu, fiddle with the condiments...

 

“Alright man sounds like a plan.  I’ll do my thing and get back to you.  Now this was worth getting outta bed for.”

 

“Say Pack, before you leave.” with the hesitation, maybe ellipses might work here. Russell hesitated slightly, lowering his head. “How’s Carlie?”

 

“She’s good Russ, really good. She still works with Katie at the Community Center. Want me to…” As packie's asking a trailed-off question here, use: "...?"

 

“No. It’s not the right time.”

 

“Okay. I’ll be in touch.”

 

Packie gulped down the black brew and left his friend at the diner.  He crossed Mohawk Avenue heading towards the Hove Beach Subway Station with his iFruit phone to his ear. The morning was already hot and muggy. The perspective shifts here. we're following Packie. Unless this is a deliberate shift, I'd keep the "camera" with Russell - have russell watch packie leave and cross the street, with the phone to his ear. Then have Russell leave into the "already muggy" morning.

 

On the whole this was pretty good. Lots of improvements could be had, but little things mainly. Didn't notice any/many typos, or incoherence. Grammar's mostly good. A few bits here and there. The storytelling itself was pretty good. You moved things on, a little look backward (like i said with the death of his parents - go into more detail. It's a big reveal, so don't just rush through it. I haven't touched GTA IV since before GTA V was released, but i had no problem picturing the scenes - a little bit of expansion needed, more detail here, and less needless words there, but on the whole, pretty good. I'm seeing improvement, so when I eventually get to chapter 4 (in about 27.5 years!) I'm sure It'll be even better.

 

Keep it up. Now, let's hope I can spare up an hour or two to read the other projects' next chapter on here!


albanyave
  • albanyave

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#28

Posted 18 July 2016 - 04:38 PM

Thanks Mokrie. The example of how to use the environment for action as well as to show the reader what an area looks like is exactly what I am struggling with. I can refer to your example in Coffee and Coke for guidance until I can get a good grasp on how to set the best scene for the reader.

 

A big thanks to everyone who is taking time to follow me with this learning experience.  :)


albanyave
  • albanyave

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#29

Posted 18 July 2016 - 05:00 PM

Lords of the Jungle

 

The crack of billiard balls slamming into each other echoed through the high-ceilinged penthouse. The balls spread evenly across the soft lilac table covering but none found a pocket to fall inside. Disappointed that he had missed yet another opportunity to score, the young man exhaled sharply, allowing his frustrations to bubble to the surface. He stood upright, letting the pool cue slide through his hand, the handle thudding heavily against the polished hardwood floor.

 

“My turn son,” taunted Playboy X as he examined the table for the best shot.

 

“I’m not your son,” replied the young man as his gaze wondered over to a wall where pictures of a very young Playboy hung alongside more recent photos of the leader of the North Holland Hustlers. A couple of close associates shared a moment of solidarity with a confident Playboy X standing in the foreground. He shunned away from the photo, feeling dejected by the obvious omission of himself.

 

Struck by the unpleasant tone, Playboy glanced over at the young man on the other side of the table. “What the f*ck is wrong wit you Marlon?”

 

“Ain’t nothin’ wrong. I just wanna know how much longer we gonna stay on lock-down?”

 

“What, you got somethin’ to do all of a sudden? I know what the f*ck I’m doin’.”

 

Marlon Bridges joined the North Holland Hustlers, now headed by Playboy X, four years ago. He was a brash, confident young man with high hopes of making a name for himself. His ambitious personality quickly catapulted him to Playboy’s inner sanctum. As a reward for his loyalty and respect, Playboy allowed Marlon to run a small drug dealing operation in North Holland. However, recent expansions of his operation into Northwood have angered some of the more dominant drug dealers causing friction between them and Playboy. Marlon was swiftly and sternly reprimanded for his intrusion into marked territory. Playboy demanded a larger portion of his profits, his all access VIP card to the Liberty Club was deactivated, and as a humiliation, Marlon was made to relinquish the keys to his Silver Patriot, replaced by a brown Bobcat. Even though Marlon has tried to get back in the good graces of Playboy, it has been difficult and at times, tensions between the two men have been at the breaking point.

 

Marlon did not respond to the insinuation. He laid the pool cue across the table, disrupting the game. The two men had been keeping a low profile since the massacre at the Triangle Club in Bohan two nights ago. Marlon barely escaped with his life, finding refuge down a darken alleyway a few blocks from the crime scene. Two nights of being held like a hostage at Playboy’s Northwood apartment had worn Marlon’s patience thin. He moved closer to where Playboy stood, narrowing his eyes as he grew nearer.

 

“So you want a piece of me Marlon?”

 

“I want to get the h*ll up outta this apartment. I mean the world don’t stop just because somebody got squeezed.”

 

Playboy swung around to face Marlon; pool cue balanced in his hands like a Major League batter. “The Trunchez was more than just somebody, spat Playboy. They were part of the Spanish Lords and was taken out easy as the wind blows. We gonna keep our sh*t tight. Now, do you want to get out or get put out?”

 

Marlon froze in place. He knew a threat when he heard it and stepped away from Playboy’s imposing presence. He knew his place in the gang and that Playboy was the leader who deserved respect and demanded loyalty. Marlon turned without answering and walked out onto the rooftop patio. Tiny raindrops spit insultingly at his face much like the insults cascading from Playboy in recent months. Dark foreboding clouds hung low in the blueish-gray morning sky, threatening to bring another torrential down pour.  Marlon strode to the far end of the patio, careful not to slip on the wet wooden planks. He gazed in the direction of Alderney, where fog drifting up from the West River partially concealed the city. He swiped away the wetness on his face. Playboy wasn’t the only one with aspirations.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

Marc Argo stepped off the train at a nearly deserted Windmill Street station in Chase Point, slipping slightly on the wet platform. A steady rain shower pitter-pattered on the roof of the station, making the morning feel eerily lifeless. Marc had grown up in Bohan and now had a little apartment in Fortside. He had tried to convince his friend Erik Diaz to move in with him and split the rent but Erik decided against the idea. He chose to stay at the apartment that he and his mother shared until her death three years ago. Marc pushed past a gaunt looking man dressed in greasy mechanics’ overalls and trotted down the rain-soaked steps to street level. He slyly glanced over his shoulder, checking for anyone that might be fallowing him. Not convinced, he quickly scampered down the remaining steps.  

 

Erik’s third floor apartment overlooked Guantanimo Avenue and light from his bedroom window shone brightly against a grey dreary morning. Marc leaped over the final three steps landing sure-footed on the wet pavement, causing a spray of rain water to wet the legs of his jeans. He quickly slipped inside the tenement and climbed the three flights of stairs to Erik’s apartment. Broken floor tiles crunched under Marc’s feet as he scurried past apartments that had been abandoned and boarded up by the city. He landed two solid knocks on apartment 3C and called out for Erik.

 

“Hey bro open up. It’s me Marc.”

 

Marc heard footsteps approaching the door and the clicking of deadbolts. The door swung open and Erik stood there, nearly six feet tall, bare-chested, and wearing a pair of long red basketball shorts trimmed in gold. Usually, his appearance and attire were impeccable. But today, his dark wavy hair was a bit disheveled and prickly stubble had pop out on his face. Dark circles had formed under his eyes, making him appear tired and worried. On a better day, the friends could easily be mistaken for brothers.

 

“Come on in man,” said Erik stepping aside.

 

Marc hurried inside the apartment and headed straight to the window. He pulled back the floral patterned curtains and looked down at Guantanimo Avenue for anything suspiciously out of place. The rain always seemed to keep people inside.

 

“Bolt the door man. I don’t think anybody followed me but you never know. I been layin' low since the Trunchez got wipe out.”

 

Erik and Marc had met five years earlier at a Fortside party and became fast friends. Life was not easy growing up in Bohan and the two had battle scars to prove it. Three years ago they dropped out of high school to join a crew of Spanish Lords. Erik and Marc had separate initiations into the crew that stretched over a three day period. They were kept apart from each other during the trial period to test how each would respond to the pressures and demands of gang life without the support from their friendship.

 

The boys performed fairly well during the rash of armed robberies and grand theft autos that occurred throughout Bohan. The police made no arrests or had any substantial leads for the crimes. It was simply reported as another outbreak of gang related violence. However, Erik struggled the most with the final task. The boys were given twelve hours to find and to kill someone, anywhere in the city. Marc completed his final task by quickly locating and stabbing to death a lone jogger in Middle Park. He was given high marks in regards to his ability to follow orders, exploit weaknesses, and completing tasks timely.

 

However, Erik found it distasteful to simply kill for the fun of it. He and a crew lieutenant drove around the city for hours before Erik could finally settle on a target. Erik thought of his deceased mother and how she had tried so hard to raise a good son. A son that would grow into a decent man that would value more than himself. He loved her for trying but the ravages of the city had claimed his life years ago. The struggle just to eat or get to school safely became unbearable. His mother worked two jobs just to see her children suffer through days with barely enough food for one, much less for three.

 

He envied his older brother and sister. They left the city six years ago to start a better life. Palo enlisted in the military and is stationed somewhere in Japan. Mara married a local baker and they moved to Vice City. After their mother passed away, Palo continued sending money to help with the bills. Erik knew then that his brother was not coming back, even though he promised that he would. He stayed with his mother to the end. His family was gone and Marc was more of a brother to him than Palo ever was.

 

Three hours were left on the clock for the final task when Erik pulled over near the Hove Beach subway station in Broker. He knew that a homeless man slept in the parking area under the station most nights. He exited the car followed by the crew lieutenant. The streets were nearly deserted at 3 o’clock in the morning. A few Russian immigrants staggered down the sidewalk, probably cursing in their native language. Erik pulled his cap down low to conceal his identity and quietly scooted down a narrow alley adjacent to the poorly lit parking area. He kept to the shadows as best he could and used the small patch of grass alongside the building to muffle his footsteps. The incoming train roared down the track, breaks squealing as it came to an abrupt stop at the platform. Erik peeked around the corner of the building, spotting the homeless man lying on the ground, curled up to guard against the chill in the air. Erik pulled his knife from the waist band of his jeans, grasping it tightly in his left hand. The lot was empty. The streets deserted. He crouched low and moved in quickly for the kill. Erik jammed the blade deep into the back of the man’s neck, twisting it to scramble his brain. The man’s body tensed under the pressure of Erik’s right hand. A barely audible grunt escaped his mouth as the life drained from his body. Erik said a prayer, asking for forgiveness before pulling the blade free.

 

Erik bolted the door and joined Marc in the quaint living room. “Yeah, me too. The way that Jose got all cut up, he didn’t even see it comin.’”

 

Marc slipped off his hoodie and tossed it across the back of the sofa. The apartment looked much the same as it did before Mrs. Diaz passed away. Erik kept the floral-patterned curtains hanging at the front windows and the pictures of his older brother and sister neatly perched on the bookshelf. Today marked the three year anniversary of her death. Erik had almost gotten used to the idea that his mother was gone forever but still couldn’t let go of her completely. The apartment and the way she kept it was a reminder of the good things in his life, which were precious little.

 

“You know who did it, don’t you?” asked Marc, shaking loose his matted hair.

 

“The news said some white guy with a foreign accent,” replied Erik as he flopped down on the sofa.

 

Marc pulled the curtain back slightly, looking once again down on a deserted street. Satisfied that no one had followed him, he let the curtain fall back into place and joined Erik on the sofa. “Yeah, but somebody told him to do it. And it’s singin all over South that Dwayne Forge gave the order.”

 

“D*mn, I thought he was all washed up. He old now and Playboy X has his crew and the leadership of the Hustlers.”

 

He may be old, but he’s far from being washed up if he can pull that sh*t off and get his club back.”

 

“So what we gonna do? We gonna hit back or just let it go?” asked Erik grabbing a half-eaten bag of potato chips from the coffee table. ”The real beef is between them two now?”

 

“Haven’t heard. Maybe the Northwood crew will take the lead on this one. Dwayne Forge could be a dangerous man.”

 

“Is it true that two of the Dominicans got shot over in Alderney?

 

“True that. They got more than they bargained for from a bunch of crazy *ss bikers. And I hear they still in the hospital.”

 

“Somethin’ ain’t right Marc,” said Erik as he settled back on the sofa.

 

*   *   *

 

The traffic light turned green and the dark gray Willard continued on making a right turn onto the Broker Bridge on-ramp. The three occupants sat stone-faced as the wipers thudded against the windshield, desperately trying to beat back the pounding rain. It had been raining all the morning. At times, torrential downpours threatened to flood some streets in Broker.

 

Bobby ‘Muchi’ West, the oldest of the three men, sat behind the wheel while Maxwell Caughlin occupied the passenger seat. Pete Downing, the youngest and newest member of M.O.B. sat quietly on the back seat. Bobby tapped the gas pedal and the Willard pulled up the steep incline of the on-ramp and finally onto the main passage to Algonquin.

 

“D*mn, I hate this bridge,” bellowed Bobby. It always feels like I’m drivin’ in a cage or some sh*t.”

“Must be your bald head givin’ you that feelin’ ‘cause I kinda enjoy goin’ across it. It’s like a time machine. One minute you in Broker with all that broke down sh*t and the next minute you in Chinatown looking at all those funny looking scribblings on the sign,” replied Maxwell. “Don’t they know how to speak English?”

Bobby looked over at Maxwell with a raised eyebrow. “You just jealous because your dome don’t shine like mine.”

 

The two men shared a quick laugh as Bobby settled the Willard behind a long procession of commuters. Everyone was driving especially slow and careful this morning. Bobby kept a safe distance from the car ahead of him. This bridge was notoriously known to claim the lives of careless drivers. Bobby stole a quick peek in the rearview mirror.

 

“You alright back there Peety?”

 

“Yeah, I’m good,” replied Pete, pulling his hoodie close around his face.

 

“Well you’re gonna meet a living legend today and know what it means to survive and persevere.”

 

“I’ve heard about him my whole life and had dreams of one day meetin’ him.”

 

“Well, dreams can come true.”

 

Bobby reached down and tuned the radio to The Beat 102.7. ‘I Hear Footsteps’ had just started playing so Maxwell turned up the volume, letting the rich beats pour through the custom sound system. Bobby signaled for the right lane and the three men continued their journey on to Northern Algonquin.

 

Bobby West had been a part of the gang life since his early teens and had managed to avoid the police and jail time. He had grown up in the slums of Beechwood City and was old enough to remember having to share a single bathroom with four other families. He was about nine years old when his father announced to the family that their application for residence at The Firefly Projects had been approved and a vacancy had come available. His mother had busied herself packing their belongings, which was precious little, for the move across town.

 

To nine year old Bobby, the project buildings seemed to touch the sky. He, his two younger brothers and their parents boarded the elevator with arms full of whatever they could carry and rode to the 12th floor. Young Bobby’s stomach churned with excitement. Firefly Projects was the best thing that he had ever seen. The hallways were wide, the apartment was spacious and they had their own bathroom; no sharing with other families.

 

A year after being at the projects, Bobby came home from school and was greeted by his teary-eyed mother. She explained that his father had been shot and that he had died at the hospital.  Bobby’s eyes were snapped open to reality and the ensuing years proved to be difficult ones. He became disinterested in school and lost his way. He witnessed his mother struggle to make ends meet. Without his father, the household nearly collapsed in on itself. The stress of failure became too daunting and at fifteen, Bobby got his first taste of gang life. A taste that he would enjoy for the next twenty years.

 

“Alright fellas, here we are,” said Bobby as he pulled over to the curb near the subway entrance.

 

The drive from Broker seemed endless. Several times the heavy downpours blotted out the street ahead of Bobby, urging him to pull over to wait for the deluge to diminish.  The Willard idled for a while at the curb as a quiet shower of fat raindrops tapped at the windshield. Bobby finally cut the engine and the three men stepped out onto the nearly deserted streets of Northwood. The eighteen story buildings of the Gov. Greg Johnson Housing Project loomed over the men like a beast stalking its prey. Bobby walked ahead, leading the way to the entrance, followed by Pete while Maxwell trail behind; a formation that would reduce the chances of being ambushed by a vengeful enemy.

 

Bobby pushed in the door leading to the lobby and was instantly met by a swing from a baseball bat that missed the side of his head by inches. The metallic clang of the bat striking and rebounding off the door frame alerted Pete and Maxwell to the trouble ahead. Bobby dove forward and found himself caught in the middle of two armed Hustlers.

 

“You M.O.B.? demanded the lanky knife wielding gangster as he slashed at the air in front of Bobby’s face.

The one carrying the baseball bat had a vice-like grip, ready to swing another blow at Bobby when Maxwell exploded through the door. His bulky frame yielded enough power to send Bobby’s attacker sailing down the hallway face first and losing his bat to the concrete floor. Bobby seized the opportunity to pounce on the young man. He landed two quick solid punches to the bridge of his nose, sending the man into a fit of pain as he wrapped his hands over his face, blood pouring through his fingers.

 

Pete and Maxwell had managed to disarm the other attacker. He lay unconscious at an awkward angle in the corner next to a graffiti laden wall. Pete grabbed the knife from the floor and tucked it safely under his hoodie. Bobby stood, peering down on the bloody heap then glanced over at the other man.

 

“Everybody ok?”

 

“Fine,” answered Maxwell and Pete in unison.

 

“Let’s move on and leave them two fools for another day.”

 

 

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Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    Killed by drones.

  • Zaibatsu
  • Joined: 01 May 2009
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  • Most Creative [Writing] 2016
    Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#30

Posted 18 July 2016 - 06:42 PM

Thanks Mokrie. The example of how to use the environment for action as well as to show the reader what an area looks like is exactly what I am struggling with. I can refer to your example in Coffee and Coke for guidance until I can get a good grasp on how to set the best scene for the reader.
 
A big thanks to everyone who is taking time to follow me with this learning experience.  :)

Definitely check out the guide I have pinned. As for toe problem, read other works. See how they do it. You'll grow your ability to do it. And do not underestimate the importance of edit/proof reading. When others post a story, do to it what I am. They'll appreciate the feedback and it'll help you develop; 'you never fully understand something until you teach it'
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