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Red Triangle - a GTA Fanfic

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slimeball supreme
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#1

Posted 26 March 2017 - 07:09 AM Edited by slimeball supreme, 6 days ago.

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Heads up: This is a GTA fanfic, and there will be plenty of lore and universe expansion relating to locations, brands, and, like, other stuff also.

I'll be linking a Google Doc I'll update with some of the more niche brand references or new ideas.

 

Thank you for reading, by the way. Your attention and hopefully your criticism is appreciated.

 

Prologue - Overture

 

BOOK 1 - SUMMER

One - Slaves of Babylon

Two - Aqua Vitae

Three - Princeton Offense

Four - Glare

Five - Matryoshka

Six - Tocsin

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Overture

 

The room stank of mosquito repellent and dust, the beginning of summer's heat beating through the windows of the building. It was a messy space, littered with the clutter of busy people - yet nobody had came here for real work in years. Nothing legal, anyway. The old music playing on a nearby portable radio reflected this idea, the concept of a time both easily remembered and far away. A time when this neighborhood wasn't a quickly gentrifying sewer. A time when this place was more than a laundry used for dirty bills.

The slow tick of a running printing press could be heard behind a wall, the voices operating it speaking Spanish and chattering with Cuban slang. There was an immediate contrast between the workers and the two men in the office, white guys wearing summer clothes and sunglasses, grim faced. They weren't from here. They hadn't said anything for what seemed like hours, the two of them staring at the ground in silence as the air become tighter around them.

"I'm sorry," one said. His voice was guttural yet nervous, simultaneously worried and threatening, with a light accent that could be placed somewhere in Eastern Europe. He motioned his head up, his tired face, his sandy hair, his pockmarks and sunken eyes that flickered. His uncertain gaze that regularly focused on other parts of the room. “I… I understand this is touchy subject. I do. But it is necessary precaution.”

 

"Bullsh*t." The other sneered. He, on the other hand, was younger. Late twenties or early thirties, slim faced, with a shaved head and unruly facial hair. His voice was unaccented, American, somewhat nasally and well pronounced, much different than the man seated in front of him. He sat there, wearing a Mambas cap, a pair of gold Rimmers sunglasses, and an exasperated, gnarled expression. "You know..." he grunted. "You know I, just... I don't want to. I don't want to. There has to be, like, someone else. Anyone else."

"No." The other replied quickly. "Extinguish the flame before the fire spreads. You are just going to relay communications, A. I get you have a history, but that's exactly what we need. You have leverage. You have people. We both know that. I would go myself, but you know our situation here is not exactly flexible, especially with those degenerates from Tampa o-"

 

"Okay," A said, begrudged. He stood up and turned away, defeated, walking towards the door before coming to a sudden stop.

 

"Just... I'll call you, Mak. We can talk about this... later, alright?"
"Okay, alright. Just, please... do not disappoint me."

 

~

 

The Gloss' - For New Lore and Locations

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slimeball supreme
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#2

Posted 26 March 2017 - 07:20 AM Edited by Mr. Fartenhate, 4 weeks ago.

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Slaves of Babylon

 

“You’re a scumbag, Abbot. A real dick.”

“F*ck you.”

“No, no, no - really. You are. What type of degenerate drinks decaf?”

Abbot snickered and took a sip, smiling. It had been a long day, time ticked slowly at the office as the light murmur of keyboards clacking could be heard in the background. Conversation helped the time go by, he thought. He gripped his coffee mug, green with stripes, with one hand as he leaned with the other on a bench in the break room. In front of him stood his colleague, Lawrence.

“Like, the whole point of coffee is that it’s supposed to, uh…” he made a quick motion with his left hand, his right clutching a white mug reading ‘Don’t interrupt me when I’m boring you’. “Wake you up. Energize you, you know? I mean, getting rid of the caffeine is like getting the nylon out of a rug. It’s a key component. Otherwise it’s just trash.”

“Not if you drink the right kind of coffee,” Abbot said. “If you get that Bean Machine brand stuff, no sh*t you’re gonna hate it.”

Enter Lawrence, a twitchy guy with light hair and of average build. Round faced, brown eyed, wore his clothes right and talked fast. Abbot himself was lanky, careful, dark glasses and short hair matched with disheveled stubble. Lawrence shook his head, chuckled, and took a sip from his mug.

“That’s not the point. It tastes like dirt regardless," he said.

“Again, not the case. I don’t wanna have to reiterate myself here.”

“Okay, sure, whatever. Point taken. That’s not what I’m getting at here. What I mean is that one of the perks of coffee or whatever is the energy, the caffeine. I mean, you aren’t pregnant. Or prepubescent. You don’t really need to limit your intake.”

“But there’s the health factor,” Abbot replied. “You know, I heard it was healthier or something. Caffeine is a drug, you know.”
Lawrence put his mug on the bench. “Where did you hear that? I mean, I know the drug part, but uh... I- I don’t think that’s the case. It boosts metabolism or something.”

“I mean, I don’t remember, but I read it somewhere.”

“Or are you assuming it? I mean, coffee gets a heap of sh*t but I don’t think it’s the case. I don’t think it’s deserved is what I mean.”

“Look,” Abbot laughed. “I’m just gonna assu-”

“Nope, f*ck that.”

Lawrence made a grab for his phone, a Tenshun with a cracked screen and a Righteous Slaughter case. “I’m gonna Duplex it. I know for a f*cking fact that I’m right here.”

“Man, it's no big deal.”

“No, no. No. I know I’m right here, man. Watch, check it out.”

“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Abbot was already disinterested. He stared out of a nearby window, a large glass aperture with a good view of the street below, the pedestrians and the yellow cabs ambling on 34th Street. The people down there were bugs, grains of sand among the asphalt. He sighed, somewhat quietly, Lawrence not looking up to respond.

The office the two were in could be called almost palatial. Classy designs, rigid lines, open windows and open cubicles in monochrome and rich browns. Men in suits hurried through the halls of the establishment, some clutching manila folders and others holding paper cups emblazoned with the Bean Machine logo. The duo, along with a few others, lounged in the familiar walls of the break room, some seated and others near the water cooler or the vending machines. Abbot took it all in - the atmosphere of professionalism, of competence. Of sheer c*ntiness.

Nouwens & Visser LLP and Affiliates. You could feel the slime drip down the walls, the stench emanating therein. It was a poetic way of referring to the place, Abbot thought.

Lawrence laughed. “I f*cking knew it. I knew it. Eat sh*t.”

“What?” Abbot asked, pulled out of a trance.

“And I quote, and I f*cking quote; Despite having been demonized in the past, the truth is that coffee is mostly good for you. It is linked with numerous health benefits, which are mainly attributed to its antioxidant content and other active substances.”
“Yeah, yeah. I promise to never doubt you again, in, like, coffee related discussions.”

“What can I say? I can’t help being always right.”

He grinned, jokingly smug. Abbot, in turn, craned his neck back to the window and kept staring.

“You alright?” Lawrence picked his mug up from the counter and moved closer. “You seem kinda… quiet.”

“I know.” Abbot furrowed his brow and sighed. “I’ve just-... I’ve been thinking.”

“About?”

“Y-… you know.”

“Oh not this again, man.”

“What? What do you expect, dude?” He paused, momentarily. “Second time I haven’t kept up with my share. I mean…”

“Just because you don’t make enough to pay the rent every month doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. sh*t, that’s why you share the rent. With a roommate.”

“Well, yeah, but still. He usually isn’t very happy about it.”

“Okay, sure, he might be pissed off, but if Rahim has enough to take you and his yuppie pals to nice bars and big parties, then he sure as sh*t can occasionally pay slightly more. I mean, doesn’t he work at some counseling place or something? Pretty sure it was therap-”

“Yeah, okay. We’ve been through this. But even then… I just don’t know if this whole thing is working out. I mean, I sure as sh*t don’t like people here. I don’t… man. It’s hard to explain.”

Abbot muttered, setting his mug down and leaning on the bench. Lawrence sighed, looking up at Abbot and making a weird face.

“Okay, um…” Lawrence sighed, again. “Okay, okay. I get you. I think. Prospects aren’t great, job is dead end schlock, that stuff. I get that feeling. Everyone does, but, man, look out the window, for once.” He made a gesture, pointing toward the window, slightly grinning. “Look at that view. You can see the little f*ckin’ ants down there, man! Sure, for a law firm, for the IT stuff, the pay is… eh. It’s eh.”

“Eh?”

“Yes, eh. Not the point, though. Okay, um…” He tried to get his train of thought back. “Right, uh, sometimes the guys working the computers can be complete dicks, but, like… look at all the cool sh*t. We have loose work hours, we can go in and out, like, f*ck it. We can go to the boss right now, say ‘we’re going out for a while, call us!’ , and we can just head out. I know a great Korean place that’s literally a couple blocks away, on 35th and 6th, y’know? They have gr-.”

“I’m not a big fan of Korean,” Abbot said.

“Okay, then we can just take the train to Lucky Plucker or something - it doesn’t matter, this is purely hypothetical. We can just head there, eat or whatever - and then if the suits break their HDDs or something, they can just call us! We’re lucky, dude. It’s the dream job.”

Abbot mulled after this for a moment, swirling his mug and frowning. “Ok, sure. Let's just say that's actually going to happen, that Isaac's actually gonna let us do that. But again.”

“Again what?”
“The pay. The money.” He scratched his nose. “I mean…”

“Then man up. Pull up your socks and talk to the bossman. Ask for a raise. I’m sure Isaac won’t mind. And sure, sometimes you can’t keep up with the rent, sure. But who c- who cares? That's why you have a roommate. Things are still cozy. Rahim doesn’t mi-”

“Well, I don’t kno-”

“Please don’t interrupt me. Anyway, uh… look. Where else are you gonna go? What else are you gonna do? I don’t think you should give this up, dude. You - we - have been doing well, we’ve been pushing through it. Where else would-slash-could you work? You wanna flip patties at BoltBurger? Make sandwiches at that deli? Move carpets at your dad’s f*cking rug store? That sure as sh*t wouldn’t fix the rent problem, would it? I mean, come on, A!”

“Whatever, man,” Abbot muttered. “I just… I just feel this isn’t working out. For me, anyway. A-a- and you don’t have to bring up my f*cking dad and all the other sh*t, okay? I mean, f*ck.”

“Okay, okay, sorry,” Lawrence piped, running his hand through his hair. “I’m sorry. Look, man, I’m… I’m as frustrated as you here. Really. I’m sorry if I get really pushy with this sh*t, man. I am. Heat of the moment and that sh*t.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“No, really. I went too far with your dad. I get he’s still working sh*t out. It’s… it was insensitive.”

“Yeah. Thanks.”

“I just don’t want you to go. I don’t. You keep talking about this sh*t, like, every single week and it f*cks with me.” He grinned. “We’re like the dream team, you know? We work great together. I just… there’s job security and payment stability and… I just don’t want you making the wrong choice here. That’s all.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, man. Of- of course, f*ck.”

The two said nothing for a while, silence as they occasionally glanced over at each other after taking sips. It took a while for Abbot to break the silence.

“Uh… you coming to the bar?”

“Nah.” Lawrence took a slightly obnoxious sip, setting the mug down. “I… nah.”

“C’mon, man, I asked Rahim to invite you this time. It’s gonna be fun.”

“I don’t like Rahim. I don’t like his sh*tty cocktail runs either, he’s a f*cking pain.”

“Dude. Don’t be a dick.”

“A dick? Come on, man. I mean, he’s just…” Lawrence sighed. “Sorry. Here I go again. Just, I don’t and can’t. Family stuff.”

“Family stuff?”

“My mom’s moving tonight. Helping with the furniture.”

“You coulda just said that.”

“I mean, it’s family stuff, Abbot. Just, private.”

“Yeah…”

Lawrence got up, mug in hand. He was less than pleased, it seemed, feigning a smile and scratching behind his ear.

“We should probably get back. We’ve probably missed a few calls at this point.”

“Yeah,” Abbot laughed, uneasy. “Time to get to work, I guess.”

 

The Gloss'

Chapter 2: Aqua Vitae

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slimeball supreme
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#3

Posted 08 April 2017 - 06:33 PM Edited by slimeball supreme, 4 days ago.

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Aqua Vitae

 
The band was off. They'd just finished a set, some punk song with a harsh bassline and a vocalist who sounded more than a little stoned. Three guys; a drummer, a guitarist, and the aforementioned singer. All some grungy 20-somethings wearing dark denim and colourful jacket pins. They were going to come back on 'soon', something to do with a pulled muscle or a disagreement of some kind. Abbot wasn't really paying attention admittedly, the low hum of conversation that followed the performance was more of an interest to him. The smell of wood and sweat seemed to filter through without the distraction, and as soon as the crew got offstage, the penny dropped, a cacophony of Friday night chatter following suit.

She’ll Be Fine. Hedgebury’s premier live music bar, or so they said on the website. It was a nice place, sandwiched into a little crevice between two buildings on Roadbed Avenue - distinct by the use of a giant green neon sign stuck on the roof. It had good reviews, usually good music, and cheap drinks. Abbot was honestly surprised Rahim hadn’t taken them there sooner. He smirked, focusing more on the man seated next to him rather than the Puerto Rican couple having a dispute by the bar.

“F*ck work, man,” Rahim grinned. “F*ck work. I mean, f*ck. Just... f*ck. I get so tired of these, uh, these f*ckin’... these guys, sometimes.” The alcohol was talking, vodka mixed with frozen grapefruit and cimarrón. Too exotic for Abbot’s tastes, hence why he was stuck with a cheap glass of ‘whatever’s on the counter’ - the bartender picking out a yellow bottle of Cerveza Barracho and pouring it into a nondescript glass. Par for the course, he hadn’t even touched it.

“Okay, dude, cool it.” Abbot said. “Don’t want you getting, uh, worked up. Or, y’know.”
“Sorry, sorry.” Rahim feigned a smile before downing the rest of his glass. “It doesn't really, like, suck or anything… but just, man. This stuff really clears your head - yeah?” He laughed. “What’s it called again?”
“The drink?”
“Yeah.”
“A pink baby.”
“Really? Huh.” His lips curled as he started to fiddle with the glass. “Good name.”

Rahim was young faced, stood out usually. Big grin, olive skin and attractive features. Moroccan descent, Steinway bred. He sat there, red Rearwall puffer jacket thrown over the seat, revealing a white Sand Castle shirt. Abbot himself sat next to him, wearing a tasteful gray long-sleeve and a pair of dark skinny jeans. Rahim drunkenly smirked.

“You know, I’m glad we came here tonight. Good band on.”
“Eh,” Abbot grunted. “Not my thing.”
“Man, you listen to JNR. Like, Mingus sh*t.” Rahim retorted. “So automatic, uh… discarding. That.”

Abbot rolled his eyes.

“But that’s not the point, man,” Rahim continued. “I love t- uh… the energy here. I live for this stuff, this bar sh*t. You, like, you go in and out and… man.” He grinned. “I just love it. This is my sh*t.”

Whatever Rahim had said wasn’t exactly coherent, Abbot thought. He simply nodded in approval, getting a good reaction out of Rahim. “Y-... yeah.”

“Hey, where’s Bheru?” Rahim queried. “And wait, where’s Lawrence? Wasn't he coming?”
“I told you about Lawrence. He’s moving furniture.”
“What?” Truth be told, even after the music had ended, the chatter of the bar’s patrons still seemed to overpower conversation at some points.
“His mom’s moving. Like, houses. Apartments.” Abbot was sort of half-yelling at this point, talking over the crowd that seemed to be getting louder. “And, uh… Bheru is still in the bathroom.”
“Really? Damn.”
“Damn what?”
“I wanted to talk to him again... Lawrence, I mean. He seems cool and… yeah. He’s cool.”
“H- huh,” Abbot meekly muttered in response.
“But, no. If he’s helping his mom or whatever, that's fine. Like, I get it.” He slightly laughed, frowning before moving back into a slump.

Nobody said anything afterwards. Well, not nobody. The patrons still stirred, kept talking. The band was still off and the crowd was not happy. People kept going to the bar and complaining, the murmur of dissatisfaction getting louder by the minute. Abbot shrugged and looked back at Rahim, looked at him messing with his napkin and sighed.

“What?” asked Rahim.
“Why do you always, uh,” Abbot started. “Play with your… whatever, your napkins and sh*t.”
“Why are you always, uh... stopping?” Rahim responded. “Like, constantly. You, uh, you say something and you don’t continue. You don’t say anything. You just stop.”
“I, er, wouldn’t say that.”
“No, no. Yeah. It’s an awkward silence. That’s what it is. You love them, huh? That’s why you start a conversation… and then just,” he pushed his hand out. “Stop.”
“You don’t have to be a dick about it,” Abbot sniffed. “Always, always. When you’re drunk you alw-”
“Drunk? Oh, ho ho! I was just f*cking around, man - but of course it gets personal with you.” He scowled. “Drunk. I’m not f*cking drunk.”
“You’re not? Christ, you f*cking shmendrik. Listen to yourse-”
“What the f*ck is a shmendrik? What's with the f*cking snake tongue bullsh*t?”
“Snake tongue? Really? Is this what we’ve co-”

“Hey, uh… what’s going on?” Bheru asked, interrupting both.

He’d come back, oblivious. Thin, scraggly, combed hair and clean shaven. Bheru, even when he wasn’t at a desk, seemed to be always working - whether it was because he tried to dress sharp or always seemed like he needed another coffee.

“Nothing, Bheru.” Rahim pushed his hand through his hair, buzzed. “Abbot just can’t take a joke.”
“Nice," Abbot scoffed.
“Great. Great. Glad to see you guys are super f*cking peachy, as per usual.”

Bheru sat down opposite, in front of both his friends and his Coco Ortiz - rum, ginger, lemongrass and coconut. Half full. The obliviousness had melted, and mild annoyance remained.

“Oh, come on, dude,” Rahim said. “It's just banter.”
“Banter? What the f*ck is banter?” Bheru pushed his glass slightly forward, agitated. “Like, you guys have been… you've been on each other's asses since the rent thing. Do you people just thrive on tension? That feeling, like, when the air is tight and you wanna claw each other’s throats out?”
“Can we please not ta-” Abbot began.
Bheru swiftly cut him off. “No, Abbot, no. You both need to just… f*cking chill. It's constant. You both mutter something to each other or talk sh*t. It's getting boring. Just f*cking kiss already, jeez.”
“Oh, funny guy.” Abbot snarked.
“Just… f*ck.” Bheru sighed. “I’m j- I’m just sick of it. Really. Can we have a discussion, one f*cking discussion without you two trading insults?”
“Alright.” Rahim looked at Bheru for a moment and then back at the table. “Fine. Fine! Let’s have a normal discussion. So uh…”

Nothing for a few seconds. No thoughts. Bheru looked unimpressed from across the table as the two fumbled for a conversation starter. There was still tension, it hadn't quite faded, but Bheru’s presence seemed to burn away any current grievances and slow the mood.

“Uh… work?” Abbot began.
“Well, I can’t say much.” Rahim sighed. “Confidentiality… uh…”
“Privileged communication, right?” Bheru guessed.
“Yeah, yeah.” Rahim snorted, quickly. “Uh… how about you, B? What have you been, uh, up to?”
“Me?”
“Yeah. What’ve you been doing at work? Any, uh… updates?”
“Well, I don’t know exactly what you mean, but, uh, yeah. Yeah. We recently had to update some UI stuff.” He took a sip from his glass. “There was a general interface bug that needed to be, er,  ironed out - functional issues. Someone messed with the coding and broke one of the main contact links, so we had to go through th-”
“Okay, sweet,” Rahim said, abruptly.
“Really?”
“All you need to do, is like, speak English.”
“Speak English? Speak English? Are you f*cking kidding me? Like, did you even do 10th grade Computer Science, or- or did you jigg it to roll joints at Kamerios Square?”
“Hilarious,” Rahim grunted.
“Yeah. How about you, Abbot? What have you been up to? Make sure to dumb it down for Wittgenstein over here.”
“Wow, Bheru.” Abbot sighed. “Way to have a normal conversation.”
“Look - guys.” Rahim perked his head up. “Like, sorry. Sorry for putting you all in, like, a bad mood. Can we please chill? Please? I’m… I’m just glad we’re all here, okay? Can we have a nice night, a good time out? I wanna enjoy Friday before I… whatever. Before the hangover. Alright?”
“Look,” Abbot began. “I th-”

Ring ring. The sound of muffled jazz, the opening riff from Slippin’ & Slidin’ by Yusef Lateef, filtered through Abbot’s left jean pocket and sent conversation to a grinding halt. Abbot pulled it out, Duplex make, no case - one word appearing over a picture of a brightly lit Tokyo alley. The other two looked on, interrupted.

“Uh, sorry,” Abbot pardoned, reading the contact’s name. “It’s dad.”
“It’s fine,” Rahim murmured. “I get it. You, uh… you get to it.” Bheru nodded in agreement.

Abbot got up, walking to a more quiet end of the room, away from the crowded tables and chatty guests. Bheru and Rahim looked over at him walking away for a moment, before turning back to each other and attempting to jump start the conversation again. Meanwhile, Abbot tended to the call.

On the other side of the receiver was a dazed, confused voice. Elderly, slightly accented, strained. “He’s home,” he said.
“Huh?” Abbot perked up. “Dad?”
“What?” he responded. He sounded choked up, like his head was spinning and he couldn’t think. His words came out muddied, mumbled, on the verge of tears.
“Are… are you okay?”
“No. Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. I…”
“W- who’s home?” Abbot meekly asked.

There was silence over the line for a few seconds. “... come to the carpet store.”
“What? Why? Is ever-”
“Take your time.” He laughed, weakly. “It’s a surprise.”
“Dad? Dad, hello?”
In return, silence. Dead air. And then, a repetitive, low beep. The caller has disconnected. Abbot slowly slid the phone back in his pocket before spinning around and heading to his seat.

Meanwhile, the band was back. All three of them seeming down, annoyed. “Uh, hey everyone,” the vocalist said. The crowd responded with clear enthusiasm, hollering and the occasionally shout of 'finally'.
“Uh… sorry to keep you waiting,” the vocalist continued. “Er, we had a little… a little disagreement. But it’s nothing.” The bassist half glared before switching his gaze back to his instrument. Abbot stopped paying attention at that point, returning to his seat - his two friends seemingly happier than when he’d left.

“Hey, man,” Bheru said. “They're finally back.”
"Huh?" Abbot asked.
"The, uh, the band," Bheru replied.
“Hey, uh, you don’t look so good.” Rahim looked over at Abbot, eyebrow raised. He was right, Abbot didn’t look so good. Mouth slightly open, eyebrows furrowed. “Something up?” Rahim asked.
“Yeah… dad called.” Abbot scratched at his head before sighing. “I need to go.”
“What?” Rahim straightened himself out, focused. “Why?”
“He sounded… f*ck. He was really just, uh…”
“Well?”
“Vague. Unspecific. He sounded choked up, and… I’m just confused. He doesn’t sound in trouble or anything but I need to chec-”
“No, no,” Bheru said. “It’s fine.” Rahim nodded.

The group exchanged goodbyes, Abbot giving his share of the tip before walking out of the bar, Rahim and Bheru staring and murmuring. As Abbot pushed open the door, the band began to play a new song. A cover, he thought. Not that Abbot could hear much of it, he was already a block away a minute into it.

The heat seemed to beat down through the clouds, the sky black and starless, illuminated by nearby buildings and the tips of skyscrapers across the Humboldt River. The occasional pedestrian or several walked by, the street filled with parked mid-range cars and more of the same driving up and down Roadbend. Abbot, UnderPass in one hand and phone in the other, hastened his walk towards the train station, panic beginning to settle in.
 
The Gloss'
Chapter 3: Princeton Offense

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#4

Posted 21 April 2017 - 08:46 AM

This has been sitting on my phone for the last 2 and a half weeks. Bout time I got round to reading it!

From a technical aspect, its mostly solid. No real spelling errors, grammars mostly good; boy nitpicks I won't bother with.

It did feel different to much of what I read here. The narration voice much more casual, and coupling with the dialogue, I can believe we're seeing things through perhaps abbot's viewpoint.

The dialogue runs with a heavy style, I assume to show the characters' inebriation, and that's fine, but I did feel at times I was walking through treacle; the ums and errs did feel like they got in the way a little - but as said, they're there for a purpose. Maybe tone them down a tiny bit.

The onlyy real gripe I can say I have is that there's little other than setting the scene here. We're introduced to the characters, and there is a degree of character to them, but there's not a strong sense of that hand pulling us in - only really the question about his father. The conflict between the characters is minimal and drunk speak - perhaps that'd be expanded later. Obviously there's more to this, so get that up when it's ready and let's see where it goes!
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#5

Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:59 AM Edited by Mr. Fartenhate, 16 June 2017 - 03:47 PM.

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Princeton Offense

 
Hey.. you done?

The phone glowed, white on green in the messaging app as Latrell stared at the text. It had been a sequel, a third message following ‘Yo’ and ‘Knot man’. No responses from either, leaving him in the dark. He muttered, placing his iFruit on the dashboard and staring out at the passing cars and passing headlights across from him.

He was seated in a van, Vapid Make. Speedo. Gray with a little dent on the metal behind the left door handle, the words ‘Beijing King - Eat-In & Take-Out’ printed on the right side in faded red text. The thing was parked near a diner a block or two away from a YouTool warehouse near Firefly Island Creek, sort of haphazardly on the curb of West 17th Street as late night busses and random cars paced along the nearby Casey Avenue.

“Back me up on this one, Trell.” A voice hollered from the back. In turn, Latrell was kicked out of his trance and turned around.

In the back of the van sat two men, guys suited up in nondescript clothing and shrouded in the darkness of the poorly lit vehicle. To the left, Xavier Mills. Had a sort of mischievous look, like he was always thinking, always planning. The rest of him told a different story, however. Dry hair that stood up, bags around the eyes, and haphazardly shaved facial hair gave him the impression of being disorganised, erratic. He was anything but.

"Huh?" Latrell yawned.
"Eh, you listening? We taking bets on the finals. Second game comin' up."
"LOB?"
"No sh*t," DB replied. "X here having trouble thinkin’ clearly. Renegades is gettin' through, easy.”

On the other hand, DB, Delmar Belcourt, was younger and newer than the other two. Clean features, fierce eyes, nappy dreads, and a competitive mindset. He worked locks, cracked safes, broke chain link. So on.

“Sh*t, dog,” Trell cut in. “You finna make a grave mistake if you f*ckin’ with the Rens.”
“Exactly, Trell,” X said. “See, big R suck dick, at the end of the day.”
“Man, f*ck outta here. They got DeShawn.”
“That don't mean sh*t.” X straightened himself out and leaned back. “Venturas is pickin’ the Bandits. LSN, The Post, Eyefind Sports, all in favour. Thing is, they just got a better team all ‘round. For real, got niggas workin’ the lanes, got the best defence in the LOB, so on. I mean, it's a closed case.”
“How good is a good defence gonna do when you got the best player in Basketball running through? Ain't nothin’. Can't f*ck with DeShawn.”
“Bullsh*t. He ain't runnin’ the team,” Xavier remarked. “It's one guy.”
“Sure, one guy. Rens also got two of the best Point-slash-Shootin’ guards in the league, facts.”
“Delgado and Ingram?” Latrell queried.
“Deadass.” DB replied. “They versatile as f*ck, work the lanes, all of that. Next, you have the backbone - Center and Power Forward. Skimmer and Orlov. The royalty, son.”
“And? That all fine, but back in the BAB, we got Braxton, Cruz, Lamar. Sweet ass back line to compliment the two niggas in the front who bust sh*t.”
“F*ck that, man. C’mon, L, you gotta back me up.”

Trell thought for a moment and sighed. “Sorry, dude, ain't feelin’ it.”
“Ah, f*ck that,” DB replied. “When Knot come back, yo, he gonna get it.”
“Where the f*ck is he, anyway?” Xavier sniffed.
Latrell coughed, “I don't know, man. Might be takin’ a while at the storage locker, who knows.”
“He takin’ long enough, man. Time he's out, it gonna be 10 am and the opportunity gonna just vanish.”
“Speakin’ of,” DB began. “Can you go over the plan one more time? Gettin’ lost in this basketball sh*t. We got sh*t to do.”
“Yeah, yeah. One more time.” X smirked. “As always.”
“Man, f*ck you. I know the gist.”
“We all know the gist, b. Break the door, shoot on in, grab as much as possible.” X sighed. “What the f*ck is there to clarify?”
“I dunno. What we’re nabbin’, maybe?”
Come on.” X tutted, shaking his head. “Meds, electronics, guns, credit cards, f*cking shoes.”
“Anything with value, D,” Trell chimed in.
“Exactly. House is two stories, enough shrub to cover the windows, one nigga inside. Simple.”
“How you sure that there ain't a burglar alarm or some sh*t?” DB asked.
“Been scoutin’ the place for ages. Posted fliers, stayed across, whatever. Nigga don't got sh*t in there, no alarm, nothing. The delivery van’s gonna help us get past the gates, the sh*t K’s gettin’s gonna help us get in the house - it’s foolproof. You'd have to be retarded to f*ck this sh*t up, but then again…” He grinned.

“Eat sh*t, X,” DB said. “Fine, I get it. Simple. Beachgate Jakes gonna notice?”
“Doubt it. Pretend to knock n’ just go round back. Friend of a friend told me that if there's any cameras, they ain't pickin’ up the sound. You’d th-”

Suddenly, vibration. A buzzing noise, the phone on the dashboard making a quick ring and lighting up.

Hold up at gate. Security guard 730, prob won't last long. Drive into the yt parking lot so we can meet rq

As Latrell read over the text, he swore, muttered. “Rent-a-Cop holdin’ sh*t up.”
“He say that on the jack?” Xavier asked.
“Yeah,” Latrell replied, quickly. “That it, too.”
“F*ck!” DB said. “Now what?”
“We takin’ the car round into the YouTool parking lot. Meet him or some sh*t.”
“Man,” X muttered. “Told you motherf*ckers, shoulda come before closin’. If he f*ckin’ gets caught, I ain't know either of you. Swear.”

While Latrell began the process of starting up the car, he snuck a quick glance in the rear view mirror. Soft eyes, shaved head, goatee. You woulda thought he was just another guy, only coincidentally dressed up in purple. But underneath all that, under the striped polo shirt, the tattoos told a different story. He blinked, shaking his head - out of a trance, and twisted the key in the ignition, noting the little dog paw key chain dangling through a hole between his index finger and thumb.

The van itself didn’t handle very well, a brick with wheels. Floaty, hard steering and weighty handling that made hitting speeds above 40 a challenge. As he tugged out of the street, he took a moment to survey the area.

Barren. The first word that would've come to your mind would've been barren. Parking lots, gas stations, a scrap yard - this entire stretch was just a glorified truck stop, the dictionary definition of urban wasteland. The van, wheels rolling over aged asphalt, seemed to have a mind of it’s own as it chugged through the slog, right after left after right as Latrell gripped the wheel as tight as he could.

As the three drove up, Xavier looked towards DB and tried to tap him on the shoulder, missing the hit by a few inches, although he got his attention anyway. “How ‘bout that thing, eh?”
“Huh?” asked DB.
“Y’know. Birmingham.”
“Oh, man. Can we not talk about Carolina, please, dude?”
“Wait, you ain’t goin’ to Alabama?” X said. “Damn, mean Noodles talkin’ sh*t.”
“Oh, f*ck. How’d Noodles figure?”
“Everyone figured.” He half-smiled, eyes front, studying the road as Latrell searched the parking lot for a place to stop.

“Look, man,” Latrell said from the front. “Can y’all be easy? Big sh*t comin’ up, can’t let this sh*t f*ck it.”
“What sh*t?” Xavier asked.
“F*ck, pressin’ DB, that’s what. Y’all gonna argue all the way to the f*ckin’ spot.”
“Yeah, X,” DB added. “It’s private sh*t, man, let’s just… cut it.”
“We needa talk ‘bout this sh*t tho-”
“No.” DB said, matter of factly, trying to sound as authoritative as he could. “We don’t. Not now, not ever.”
“Ever? We finna organise, finna get sh*t straight. How we gon’ do that if we ain’t even know if you stayin’?”
“Holy sh*t, X.” Latrell was raising his voice now. “Shut the f*ck up, for real.”
“Since when was you the boss, L?”
“Since motherf*ckin’ right now, dog. Shut the f*ck up.”
“Oh, well excuse me, Mr. Palmer. Mister f*ckin’ bossman. I apologise for defaming a big shot nigga who runnin’ the whole gig, mast-”
“Please, man. We makin’ mooga, ain’t time to f*ck sh*t. Needa chill, be easy, calm the f*ck down.”
“When the f*ck we makin’ them notes, then? Takin’ long en-”

With that, the driver side door swung open, unexpected. Nobody heard the pounding footsteps or the clinking in the duffle bag wrapped over the man’s shoulder - the man now on the other side of the door.

Long faced, small nose, a grey LC Rampage hoodie, and a little pattern shaved into the left side of his head. Kavon Nelson, otherwise known as Knot. “Yo,” he began. “Move over, we gotta go.”

So, Latrell moved. Shuffled himself into the passenger seat and said; “What the f*ck happened to your bitch at the self storage spot? Runnin’ the reception.”
“Dog, she talk the guard outta goin’ further. She a life saver, swear.”
“Damn,” DB said from the back. “God bless.”
“Lucky I still got a favour, black. Otherwise, finna be held up by bars down on Precinct 60. Them boys, nah?”
“You got anymore favours to spare, bruva?” X said.
“Nah, used up.” With that, Knot flashed a quick grin putting his hands up on the wheel. “We gotta jet, for real. Don’t want no BG cops gettin’ sus over the whole ‘delivery truck’ joint.”
“Son, I told you,” X said. “Sh*t foolproof.”
“Who the f*ck orders Chinese at 2 am?”

A quick pause followed before Xavier finally replied, smug, just before Knot started the engine.

“This nigga.”
 
The Gloss'
Chapter 4: Glare

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#6

Posted 18 May 2017 - 10:10 AM Edited by Mr. Fartenhate, 4 weeks ago.

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Glare


It was 2 AM.

Streetlights and the occasional car illuminated the dark thoroughfare as Abbot hastened his pace, boots pounding the pavement, eyes darting, jumping from building to building. Beat down signs and newly painted apartment blocks, old sedans with rusty paint and graffitied walls.

14th Avenue, District Park. The heat pelted against the skin, if Abbot’s rolled up sleeves were any indication as he sprinted down the street. All Abbot could think, as he ran past the religious goods store on Old New Bunnik Road, or the kosher place on 38th Street, was the regret.

The train ran about 50 minutes, got delayed at the stop on Settler Hill after some guy puked on the train platform. No big deal, he would've usually thought. It's Friday night, same old. Some dumb schmuck overdid it at the bar, accidents happen.

But.

This was sort of a different situation. Time seemed to be ticking slower, every second, every millisecond counting as Abbot’s mind flashed between all random scenarios and horrible situations he could be walking into a while from now. What he could've missed. According to Duplex Maps, he could've reached his father’s carpet store in around 23 or 25 minutes if he drove. Should he have taken a cab? It would've been surge pricing on Zurst right now, a taxi might've been cheap if he just called them. Apparently, it was the same with taking a bike or something. He would've had to rent a LomBike, sure, but he still would've gotten there within 40 minutes at best. That would've been something, better than this.

But no, he continued to think, racing down the street as the familiar blue sign above his father’s store got closer and closer. He had to take the f*cking train.

Speaking of, the store. Cute little place, cooped up between a synagogue and some unlabelled café, aged walls and chipping paint on the window frames. Right on top, the aforementioned blue sign, ‘Cohen Family Carpets’ written above in white Cooper Black. The establishment, of which felt like it was miles away only minutes ago, was right up close now, Abbot himself only 20 feet away and getting closer and closer, Hinterlands pounding, eyes darting, mind racing as his feet did the same.

And there he was. It probably only took around 6, 7 minutes to get to the store after he got out of the train. But to Abbot, the time had been on fast forward, every single jiffy seemed like an opportunity he missed. But here he was, he thought, staring down the sign like it was staring back at him.

Was there anything out of the usual, anything that could've caught your eye, made you think ‘my father is now dead’? No. Nothing of the sort, just cars lined up and down the street, just empty road and dark windows - the only light apart from the lamps and apartment windows being a dim yellow spark radiating from the inside of the store. His father’s car, a black Pinnacle with a little air freshener dangling from the mirror, was untouched, no broken windows or dents from bats. At least it wasn't a car thief.

Abbot looked in, surveyed, studying the interior, the shabby carpets lined up on the walls and piled up on the floors. The dried, off-white wall paint. The little chip in the wall near the rear exit. But, shadows among the store’s light, two talking heads moving around the back room. The possibilities, while they still seemed to be ever present, ever dangerous, only seemed to shrink as he came closer and closer to the light.

Thus, he pushed through the unlocked door, half crouching as he came nearer and nearer to the back room door, trying as hard as he could not to make a sound. In lieu of a knife, he pulled out an aged pen he had stuffed into his back pocket as a sort of makeshift weapon, something to thrust into the neck if the other guy was a crook. He winced at the thought. Was he gonna be on the news?

He didn’t wanna be on the news.

And so, back to the wall, eyes on the door, he waited for noise. For any indication, anything that he hoped, nay, prayed would show this was all for nothing. He heard chatter, sure, but what was the intent? Was this some loan shark, some weird gun-to-head talk? He'd watched gangster movies before, he’d lived through 2008, and even though he couldn't make anything out; his mind was going a million miles a second.

All these thoughts, all those questions, culminated in one action. Hunched over, ready to pounce, he gripped the door and pushed it open.

But, no. There was no thief, no mobster, no crook. No guy with a gun or some weird cartoon character in a mask holding a money sack. His father, grinning, almost shocked in his joy, was in no danger. But what stood in front of him was worse than that.

There was a guy. Tall, gaunt looking, shaved head and more recently shaved beard. He seemed almost relaxed, calm. Unbranded work boots, grey cargos, white shirt, and a beat up green-and-yellow Mambas cap.

“Abbot?” He said. “Hey, man!”

His father, the same tired, frail man with the beige sweater and patchy beard, he looked towards the two with warmth, with a smiling, surprised happiness that radiated the room, a feeling that hurt. Achban was back. His brother was back.

Abbot couldn’t help but glare.
 

***


“What took you so long?”

He continued to glare as he drove, knuckles white on the steering wheel as the car lurched through familiar neighborhoods, old apartments passing by and blurring together as Abbot focused on the thick black line in front of him. The car, a rental. Little yellow Escalera sticker slapped onto the dashboard and a couple scattered bits of paperwork in random spots, mostly the backseat. Abbot looked at his phone in the cup holder, the one currently telling him to ‘turn left on Dartford Neck Rd.’, and then at the figure to his side.

The man, Achban, who seemed more and more foreign every time he caught a glance, was more than happy to kick back in shotgun and admire the scenery, the townhouses and little corner stores. To him, he was home, chewing the scenery and admiring his old stomping grounds. His mind going back to the little things, the newsstand on Goatherd where he used to work part-time as a clerk, the basketball courts at Sunrise where he'd meet with his friends, so on. If his brother knew what he was thinking, he would've puked.

“Huh?” Abbot asked.

“You took, like, an hour to get to the store. What happened?”

“Train ran slow. What can I say?”

“Yeah… y- you’re right.” Achban scratched his neck, sighed, and turned his attention toward Abbot. “Look, I don't want to get off on the wrong foot.”

“Wrong foot?”

“Yeah. Like, dad’s happy. Dad’s very happy. But… you don't seem to be. Is something wrong, dude?”

“I don't know, Achban.” Abbot’s grip only tightened. “I don't know.”

“C’mon, dude. You do.” He smirked. “Is it… is it a relationship thing? A work problem? I mean, I don't mean any offence, but, like, when I'm down it's usually beca-”

“Don't talk to me like that,” Abbot said.

“Like how?” Achban’s smirk faltered. “Dude, we can always talk. Always come to each other, right? That's what family is. I mean, you're my brother, man.”

“Are you?”

Red light, couple of cars in front. Traffic crossing, Abbot noted.

“What's that supposed to mean?”

“What's what? Like, what the f*ck do you think, Achban? What the f*ck is this?”

“I- I don't know, man. I missed you guys! I missed you, I missed dad.”

“No you f*cking didn't. If you missed us, you would've called. Would've Gryped, would've emailed, would've… I don’t know.”

“I was busy, man.”

“Busy? For a couple f*cking years, for this huge period, you were just constantly, endlessly busy?”

“Look, man, I get you're bitter, and you have every ri-”

And that’s when the nuke dropped inside Abbot’s head, the thin ropes snapped, patience wore thin, so on.

“Then why the f*ck didn't you come to the synagogue?” Abbot spat. “When mom died, when the stroke happened? Where the f*ck were you? When dad and I were both low on cash, when I had to pay a share of his f*cking rent so he didn’t get kicked onto the goddamn street, where were you? If you missed us - if you really were f*cking sorry, wouldn’t you have said something?! Wouldn’t you have done something? Helped us?

“I- I know, dude. I know. I just didn’t want you to get mad.”

“Mad? Mad?!” Abbot seethed. “Too f*cking late. I’m mad. You usually get pretty f*cking mad when some dumb f*ck decides to come back home after 3 or 4 or however many years of f*cking around in Florida, in some sh*thole in Vice City, and just… nothing! Saying, telling us, telling me, nothing. And here he f*cking is! Sitting there, and staring, and… it’s like I don’t even f*cking know you!”

“I know, I know, I know! I’m…” Achban sobbed, his voice light. “I’m sorry. I know I haven’t been here for you guys and… f*ck. I know.”

“Oh, man,” Abbot spat, brows angled, eyes focused on the road. “You don’t know. You don’t know anything.”
 
"I'm trying to! I'm trying to get it," Achban was pleading.
 
"Oh f*ck off. F*ck off. You should have tried. Don't you f*cking get it?" Abbot was red in the face, eyes watery, on the verge of explosion. "Time is up. Game over. No more chances. You had however many f*cking years worth and you wasted it, threw it away. It's over. I'm driving you to the f*cking spot, and then it's ov-"

“I’m begging you, dude. I am. I really am. I just… I don’t want it to be like this.”

“You should’ve thought.”

“Dude, dude - please. Please! I know I should’ve thought, I know. This all looks… it looks bad. It is bad! But I just want us to be friends, you know? To be good with each other. I missed that and I miss it now. I missed dad, I missed BK… I missed everything. I want to help now, help dad, help pay fees, do whatever. And I’m sorry I haven’t, and I’m sorry I haven’t been here, and you don’t know how sh*t I feel right now. I… we need to-”

“We’re here,” Abbot grunted, cutting him off, like he wasn't even here before. Like he wasn't shouting a minute or so ago.

“What? We’re here?”

“We’re at the spot.”

Achban looked outside the window. He was right. The car was parked, right where Achban wanted; a little apartment building on Pathway Court in Goatherd, nice little brick facades and a pink potted plant next to the stoop, alongside one or two 5 gallon water bottles perched on a little brick wall. Homely.

With that, Achban sighed again, looking back at Abbot and trying as hard as he could to pull off a ‘please don’t hate me’ look. Whatever that is. “I think I need to explain things. Everything.”

“Sure,” Abbot replied, monotone.

“It’s Saturday, right? Look, how about we meet somewhere tomorrow, around 3 or something. Or Sunday! Sunday. A coffee shop or something.”

“Fine.”

“Uh… are there any Bean Machine’s around or-”

“No,” Abbot said. “Like… I’m pretty sure there’s, like, an Uzbeki place or something on Firefly Avenue.”

“Oh. Really?”

“Yeah. On the maps app or whatever. Probably cheap.”

“Oh, is that the Claypan?”

“Uh…” Quick glance, right name. “Yeah.”

“I know the place,” Achban replied. Abbot mulled over this for a moment, but left it. He didn't want this to go much longer. “Look, are we going to be okay?” Achban continued.

“How am I getting home? I obviously can’t take the car, Achban.”

“Uh…” In turn, Achban, surprised, pondered for a few seconds before reaching into his pockets and pulling out a little brown wallet, from that a couple $10 notes. “Here, I guess. I’m sorry.”

Abbot stared for a little while. “Nice,” he replied.

“Look, I’d drive you but-”

“No.” Abbot stopped him, yet again. “It's fine, Achban.”

“Look, you can text or whatever when you're ready to go."

“You still have my number?” Abbot asked.

“Oh sh*t, right,” Achban said, almost surprised. Suddenly, another reach into the wallet. This time, the fingers pulled out another note; not a bill, but a little piece of paper torn out of a book, his digits scrawled on the blank side in blue pen. The other side was a torn out page from a newspaper, the words making no sense without context.

“Wow, Achban.” Abbot continued to stare, stare at the paper, stare at Achban, just stare. Things seemed to be colliding into themselves, the world spinning, everything happening at once. He felt funny. “You continue to amaze me.”

“What can I say?” Achban joked, half heartedly. “I’m a classy guy. I’ll call you, okay?”

“Yeah, Achban, okay.” Abbot sighed, “I’ll see you.”

The door opened and shut, the two leaving on their respective sides. Achban, a couple feet away, waved and smiled, sort of closed lip, and an unsure glance as he walked away. Abbot just kept glaring as his brother walked into his place... 'his' place.

 

The Gloss'
Chapter 5: Matryoshka

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#7

Posted 4 weeks ago Edited by slimeball supreme, 6 days ago.

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Matryoshka

 

“How many more days you think we gonna be here?” Xavier asked, arms crossed, eyes focused on DB’s twitching hands and strained expression. “Because I don’t know if Mister Whoever gon’ be okay with us picking the lock tomorrow.”
 
The three stood by a back door late at night, or early in the morning depending on how you view it. No cameras, no car in the driveway, nothing. Just the sound of the ocean and the smell of dry, chopped grass. Beachgate was house after house, narrow buildings and long streets crowded with nice cars. Gated community nonsense. You’d think this was more of a Connecticut blue blood thing, right? Apparently not. Anyway, the trio huddled around the door, backpacks slung over their shoulders, garbage bags and winter gloves in hand, bandanas over the face, waiting for the lock to click.

“Can you f*cking shut up?” DB replied, eyes narrowed, speaking cautiously. “You’re messin’ up my rhythm here.”

“Rhythm?” Latrell asked.

“Yeah, dude. Rhythm. Clocking one of these things…” He breathed hard, wiped his brow. “...is like playing a song. Everything has to be in the right place at exactly the right time, b. Otherwise, the sound be f*cked. Or, uh, you bend the rod. No homo.”

“C’mon, son,” X said, eyes rolled. “Simple lick, don’t OD it. Crack the lock, get the sh*t, leave. We lucky the nigga at the gate likes green or we’d be filin’ reservations. Sh*t, we lucky Knot didn't get his ass got at the storage locker.”
 
“Yeah, yeah,” Latrell muttered. “How many times you gonna say that?”
 
“How many times we gon’ be lucky?” He shook his head. “Yo, D.”
 
“Yeah?”
 
“Move for a minute.”
 
And so he did, pulled a slightly beat up lockpick out of the door lock and moved to the right, probably annoyed. Xavier of course did what any sane man would do: rear his shoulder, brace himself, and sprint for the door.
 
It broke.
 
“What the f*ck?” DB exclaimed.
 
“Keep your f*cking voice down,” Xavier replied, dusting himself off. “Ain’t matter. He ain’t home, not like breaking the door down leaves finger prints or some sh*t.”
 
“Coulda scared the neighbors.”

“Oh, because they heard it. For sure.”

“Whatever, man. We in,” Latrell said. “Go time.”
 
“You heard zambarau,” X affirmed. “Move it, motherf*ckers.”
 
And so they did. The three, slightly shook up, walked over the now splintered and flat door lying on the home’s laundry room floor, turned on the light, and moved into the property, an aging place, flaky paint and old plaster. There were lines around parts of the walls written in black marker, buckets of paint and newspapers lining the tile. Repairs.
 
To the north was a door, and considering that the room didn’t seem to be a hiding place for blood diamonds or heroin, the crew moved through into a little hallway, of which stretched outwards towards the front door and the staircase to the second floor.
 
“You know the drill, right?” X asked.
 
“Yeah,” Latrell replied. DB upstairs, you take right rooms, I take left.”

“Attaboy.”
 
What a f*cking plan. Xavier quickly explained the idea shortly after they got past security, sounded as improvised as it was. Nonetheless, for Beachgate, a house like this was pretty quaint. No garage, only two stories, so on. It was a simple enough spot, which probably factored into picking it anyway. Nonetheless, Latrell hesitated while the other two made their way to their respective cordoned parts of the house before he scurried over to the west.
 
The first door opened a kitchen, gleaming clean floor tiles and monochromatic table tops. Metallic fridges, spice racks, big cupboards. Would be a shame to mess a place like this up, but he did so anyway, throwing open the closet drawer, where the silverware was kept, and started flinging forks and spoons out to check for hidden goods, before moving onto the next. The process stayed like this until he came across his first find.
 
Near the fridge, to the left of the room, near a small window, a row of cupboards were nestled into a little corner for food preparation, cutting stuff, that sort of thing. Naturally, after hitting the first few, he swung down to his last target, the one on the far right, the one with a little vase on top.
 
Inside: meds. Deludamol, Zombix, Alad-in, Fentanyl, Ritalin, Mollis, Adderall, Oxycodone. Reds, whites, blues, so on. Enough painkillers to knock out an elephant. Latrell swore, wiped his eyes, and threw them into the bag. Apart from the downers, the uppers and so on, there wasn’t really anything of interest in the kitchen. So, he moved onto the adjacent room to his right.
 
The living room, much like the rest of the house, had a sort of weird, wood paneled mystique to it. Apart from a relatively modern kitchen, the rest of the abode felt antiquated. Dated, almost, strange wallpapers and old technology. It felt like he’d stepped through a wormhole, back when TV still had antennae and sofas were still plaid. It made Latrell feel uneasy, the contrast between the two rooms.
 
To boot, there was nothing interesting here either. Not in the stand, under the pillows or furniture, not on the little shelf next to the hallway door. Things were cheap and would go for cheap at the fence. He moved on.
 
The final room, at least to his understanding, was the study. More wood but newer stuff, a tablet that was placed carefully on a desk, charging, and a recent looking PC. Otherwise, the study was still disorganized: loose paperwork strewn on what felt like every flat surface, the paper bin that had been re-purposed as a waste bucket, and a flag, red white and blue, crumpled into the corner. Russian or Dutch or something. It seemed like the mood in this room was one of frustration, stress.
 
It wasn't Latrell’s business.
 
After throwing the tablet into the garbage bag, and scanning the drawers (where he just found more paperwork), he went for the filing cabinet in one of the room’s corners, a green-grey box that clashed with the room’s colors. Without any thought, he threw open the second compartment, labelled in Cyrillic, and looked inside.
 
When you go to a presumably rich person’s house, you expect to find something out of order. Always. People with money have something to hide, whether that's a stash of whiskey in the garage or a dildo under kitchen sink. What Latrell didn’t expect to come upon, especially after finding a pill stash, was a loaded gun, a plastic bag filled with bundles of cash, some bullets, and a note.
 
The gun: a Noch 23, 40 caliber, clean, serial numbers filed off. Usually, a piece like this would net you around $600 at least, more depending on whose car trunk it was or which dumpster you were told to find it under. This wasn’t a middle of the road gun: it was reliable, sharp.
 
Along with the money, too much considering Latrell couldn't even count it, was a note. Mostly in Cyrillic, again, but with three numbers on the back.

13C, 42AC, 29C. Something was very, very off.
 
As he examined the gun, looked at the rest of the empty drawer, he thought this over for a minute. The guy who owned the place was out at five in the morning. The was a bag of cash along with a gun in the filing cabinet. A bunch of drugs in the kitchen. A note with numbers on it. They’d stepped into something, Latrell thought, they’d stepped into something big and th-

“Trell, yo! Come up!” Xavier shouted from upstairs.
 
Looking back at the cabinet, he stuffed the sh*t into the garbage bag and moved through the room’s eastern door, which led to the staircase.
 
Matching the rest of the seaside manor, the bedroom was old, wood paneled, timid. Muted colors, browns and greys. Contrasting with this: said furniture was overturned, clothes were strewn across the room, bed sheets and rugs discarded on the floor. Alongside the wreckage were the others, Xavier trying to push the bed on it’s side from underneath while you could hear unzipping in the closet. DB’s bag.

“What the f*ck we walked into?” Latrell said, ironically as he walked into the room, agitated. “And what the f*ck you doin’?”

“Son, you wanna find gold or not? Nothin’ downstairs, so I went up.”

“Bro,” Latrell replied. “I found gold. We need to get going.”

Xavier sighed, pulling himself from under the bed. “F*ck you talking about?”

“Found a stash. Cash, gun, note. Russian sh*t. Meds.”

“So?” X quizzed back. “People hide sh*t all the time, ‘specially these rich dudes.”

“What the note say?” DB queried, poking his head out of the closet. “Hand it over.”

“What?” Latrell shook his head. “Y’all mu-”

“We ain’t leavin’ ‘till we crack the safe,” X barked. “Now give him the note.”

“Who put you in charge?”

“L, please,” DB began. “Just h-”

“Fine! Fine, fine.” Latrell stepped forward, handing the note to DB, sighing. “I’m just saying.”

Latrell diverted his attention moved for the closet, leaned against the wall and watched DB study the note. The closet itself was strangely spacious, a different coat of paint on the back wall indicating that it had been expanded, pushed out for more room. Everything in this house seemed to be pushed out, expanded, renovated with varying degrees of quality. And inside, presumably behind now moved boxes, was a little safe. Probably not enough room for much, but it was there nonetheless. Suddenly, DB beamed.

“This a lock combo, dumbass.” He pointed to the numbers on the back. “How the f*ck didn’t you think of that?”

“I dunno,” Latrell muttered. “Wasn’t really thinking about that. Just…”

“What he find?” Xavier asked.

“Combination. Letters and numbers, sh*t stands for something,” DB grinned back. And so, he crouched down, put the code in (13 clockwise, 42 anti-clockwise, so on), and pulled it open.
 
They’d hit the mother lode.
 
The vault contained a bunch of things, all of them expensive. More cash, around nine or ten identical bags filled with a couple bundles, six plastic baggies filled with ecstasy (four pill bags, two powdered), more bullets, and a little duck. Porcelain or something.

Everyone just beamed, grinning and staring as the goods stared back. Almost everyone. Latrell stood a little ways away, more worried than in awe.
 
“Dude…” DB almost laughed. “We hit it.”
 
“You regrettin’ wantin’ to leave now, L?” Xavier turned his head. “Guess we learnt.”

“Sure, X.”
 
“... Man.” DB grabbed for the garbage bag and started stuffing the baggies inside, “We need to pack this sh*t, fast,” he said.
 
“Aight. Latrell, just… keep watch.”

“How the f*ck am I supposed to do that?

“Keep out the window,” Xavier continued. “Watch for a car. We finna check out the rest of the house, man, this can’t be it.”

“Yes it can,” Latrell admonished. “No f*cking sh*t it can. Big dude keeps a stash in the study and an extra one, if cops or some sh*t come knockin’. Ain’t rocket science, nigga, this guy has to be packin’.”

Xavier mulled over this for a little. “Maybe,” he said. “But like they gon’ figure out it was us.”

 

“What if they do?”
 
“Then they go through the rest of the dogs. Ain’t nothin’, guy probably has some more sh*t stashed.” Xavier looked like his mind was racing. “Yo, how much ‘scrips you found?”
 
“F*ck ton,” Latrell replied. “Downers, uppers, an-”
 
“Then what’s stopping this motherf*cker from hiding some sh*t in a pillow or something?”

“Ain’t you checked the pillows?”
 
“It’s an example. Point being, nigga could stuff sh*t anywhere. What’s stoppin’ him?”
 
“I mean…”
 
There was a noise. Everyone sort of jumped, X ducked down and DB went for the window. As it turned out, judging by the headlights appearing from down the street, there was a car coming. The owner’s car, this slick looking Benefactor, rolled down the street but slightly slowed down as he approached the house. That’s when it hit DB.
 
The lights were still on.
 
“Times up, niggas, it’s time to roll!” He shouted.
 
“What, he’s here?” Latrell said, confused.
 
“He’s f*cking here! Get the sh*t, we need to leave, now.”
 
“What?” X asked.
 
“The owner, he's home, he's home!”
 
With that, X made a mad dash for the safe, started stuffing stuff into the bag as the other two prepped, ready to burst out the door as soon as X said he was ready. Latrell stood by the door, while DB looked out the window. They waited.
 
The car got closer.
 
“Sh*t’s in! Let’s go, c’mon!”
 
The stuff was in, so they ran out. Xavier threw the sports bag over his shoulder, holding the trash bag in his hand like the others.  Through the upstairs hall, past doors. Meanwhile, the downstairs door creaked open, a man with blue-ish tattoos on the hands and partially visible chest, a man with rugged features and nice clothes. He stood in the doorway, examined the hallway, and stopped. His shadow, burly, menacing, blocked the porch light, a barricade to the outside world.
 
There was a pause. The men upstairs stopped at the stairway, hiding behind a nearby wall. The man downstairs got expressively more worried as time ticked on, as he pondered.
 
“Дерьмо́…” he murmured. His eyes widened. “Дерьмо́! Блядь!” He ran into the study.
 
“F*ck,” Latrell whispered. They waited for a moment before moving on, slowing their pace as to not alert the man in the other room, who was shouting and raving, audibly mad as his voice moved into the next room.
 
Creak, creak. It felt like every footstep was a brick being dropped on the floor, pinching and pulling. Their fears, their worries, they were less sound when he hit the kitchen.
 
“Мои гребаные таблетки!”
 
As soon as he said this, they knew it was time. The tippy-toeing, their creeping through the hall turned into a sprint, running down to the backdoor as the Russian burst out of the kitchen behind them. He screamed, pulled a revolver out of his jean pocket and pulled the trigger.
 
Bang. The bullet seared, missed the trio and hit the wall, drilling a hole into the plaster. He fired another, missed again, hit the wall. He roared, racing out of the hallway as the three hit the backyard. The wind hit the face hard as they rounded the house, hedge to the left and wall to the right. The van was at the other side of the road, Knot had it idling as he waited for the trio to come by. While none of them thought about it at the time, of course he would, he’d heard gunshots.
 
The Russian, who’d only gotten redder, followed suit, but seemed to have difficulty navigating the narrow path to the side of the house. They’d cleared about 20 feet, since the guy had slowed down to fire shots in the house and was now slowing down as not to trip on anything. By the time he’d gotten through, the three had already jumped into the van, slammed the door, and were in the process of speeding off. Tires skirted and left marks, edging by. In that split second, he contemplating shooting again. Trying to hit the window or a tire.
 
He opted to swear instead.
 
Concurrently, and as predicted, Knot wasn’t impressed. Nobody was impressed, really, but Knot especially so.
 
“What the f*ck were you doing?!”
 
DB sighed. “Finishing up, turns out…”
 
“Turns out X is a f*ckin’ dumbass,” Latrell sighed.
 
“Hey, hey! We got the sh*t. Mission passed, son.”
 
“Well?” Knot asked, cooling off. We’ll check the candy when we drop off the van. Pick it up if and when this sh*t cools down, but you niggas f*cked up.”
 
Xavier f*cked up.”
 
In return, X glared, dipped his hand in the bag, and pulled out the porcelain duck.
 
“You call this sh*t a f*ck up?”

 

The Gloss'

Chapter 6: Tocsin

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Posted 6 days ago

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Tocsin

Inhale.

Latrell was tired. He’d had patchy sleep, woke up a couple times, didn’t know why. Right now - he was running on half a gallon, getting himself up with a can of eCola, currently on it’s side on the table, and a cigarette, positioned in between his fingers as he stared out the window.

They’d passed the van off to Ramon. He’d fixed up the thing in return for a cut of ‘whatever you get’ and ‘a little help now and then’, which meant whatever. Who cares. Their plan needed that little adjustment, he had a couple garages where people could get fixed up, and in return he’d take anything the set didn’t want.

Exhale.

Slip was less than pleased about the gunshots, but whatever he thinking changed when he caught a glance at the merchandise. Knot had counted the bills in the car and had given Ramon’s boys a relatively small cut, around a bag of the dough and some of the pills, while the four of them left their meetup with around eleven or twelve grand. When he got home, little bag in hand, his mom wasn’t awake to see, and wasn’t there when he woke up. Typical.

He was gonna reach for another smoke, right from the shiny pack laying face down on the table, when he heard a knock on the door. It was Knot.

“Ay!” He shouted, voice muffled. Latrell sighed, straightened his shirt, and put down his cigarette.

“‘Sup, homie?” Latrell greeted, opening the door and putting on a smile. Right now, Knot was in this plaid blue shirt, tan shorts and kinda aged Hancocks, standing a little ways away from the door, visibly annoyed.

“Hey…” he said.

“Somethin’ wrong, bro?”

“We gotta go to the library.”

There was a beat. “Sh*t… already?”

“Yup,” Knot sighed. “Wants to 212. ‘Go in depth’. Whatever.”

“Well, gimme a second, son, lemme just-”
“Yeah. I’ll wait.”

The hallway itself, and by extension the complex, didn’t change and probably never would. Greys, concrete, barred, small windows where you could only faintly see the outside. Not that there was much to look at, in here or out there. Broker sprawled, miles and miles of housing and roads. The projects sprawled, miles and miles of disrepair and the sweet smell of urine.

Welcome to the Milden Houses. LCHA. To say that hustlers lined the halls would be a lie, because these weren’t hustlers. They were professionals, men with an ideology, a mindset. Brothers allied, loving life and spirituality.

Ballas. The BOB, Bobby P, they owned Milden, or specifically Trell’s home crew did, the A Nines. They had a patchwork presence in the borough, a few guys in South Slopes, a bunch in Schottler, a few in Fort Benedict, all over Liberty. But it wasn’t about turf, hadn’t been for a long time and wouldn’t ever again. It was about money.

 “So… why we goin’? Latrell asked.

“Don’t ask me.”

“Because, you know, thought we ironed out this sh*t back-”

“I know. I ain’t the best person to ask here, b,” Knot sighed. “We gonna be… f*ck, and X ‘n D can’t come either.”

“Why not?”

“Same old. DB got sh*t from his gramma, ‘n Xav’s gotta look after Reggie. Runnin’ his shift I guess.”

“They runnin’ shifts, now?”

“Might as well be, son.” He looked to the right a bit, lost his concentration, and then looked straight ahead. “Just ain’t sure what to say.”

“I dunno, man, why you askin’ me?”

“Who I got to ask?”

“Nobody, man… look.” Latrell sighed. “I ain’t sure why we even goin’. Thought we ironed sh*t out wit’ Slip. I mean, I just ain’t-... you gotta put on a face. Don’t disrespect, don’t talk back, whatever. Respect the generals, nah?”

Knot paused for a moment, processed the information. “Yeah,” he nodded. “Yeah. Respect the generals.”

“You got it.”

They walked for a little bit more, passed a couple other guys, said a few things, so on. This floor, and a few others like it, were locked down like a fortress. Guys propped up on the stairs and in the hallways, lookouts, you name it. People didn’t come in or out without somebody knowing about it, and right on this floor was where things came together.

“Ey, yo!”

“‘Sup, Sean?”

The library always had a guy out front, no matter what time, except when the LCPD vertical patrol started rolling through. Made sure nobody came in with any bugs. Today, the guy outside was Sean, this big dude with kinda beady eyes, always wore a beanie. “You here for the little throw down?”

Knot sighed. “Yeah.”

“Aight, aight… and where’s-”

“We’ll explain when we’re in, okay?”

Sean eyed him up for a moment. “Sure,” he said. “Head on in.”

The library was an apartment, this cramped little thing on the 14th floor, nothing out of the ordinary. Standard couches, a little TV, samey kitchen, maybe a prayer mat in the bedroom and a crib for the kid. But one thing that did stand out in the library was the curator.

Teflon was this mangy looking guy, beard, bald. Kinda chubby, but built, ‘I can break your legs’ kind. He stuck to tank tops mostly, today it was this stripy blue Fruntalot sleeveless he got cheap up in the city. Most of all, he was charismatic, even if he stayed imposing. The 2 Star General, or any general for that matter, had to be. “As-salaam-alaikum,” he greeted.

“Yeah, er-”

“Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam,” Knot said, quickly, cutting Latrell off.

“Yeah,” Latrell mumbled back. “Wa ‘alaykum al-salaam.”

Teflon stared at Latrell for a moment. “Where’s the other two?”

“Uh… well, X is-”

“They can’t come,” Latrell said.

“Why?”

“I was just saying,” Knot said. “It’s familial sh*t, son, X’s got-”

“A’ight, sure,” Teflon said. “Whatever...” Teflon motioned them over. “Sit.”

When they were seated, Latrell taking one to Teflon’s side and Knot taking one facing him, he began: “So… y’all wanna borrow a book?”

“Uh,” Latrell began. “Are you sure we sh-”

“Nah, nah. I insist, son. Gotta thank you for gettin’ that Noch, you know, another for the shelves.” He laughed. “Uh… got these sick Caldwells from up in Cottonmouth. Wait, hold on…”

He reached over and searched under his chair for a moment, pulling out a brown shoebox. Inside, opening it, he revealed a pristine looking .45, little decal on the grip. Untouched. “Got a few more from the homies down south, man. Couple H ‘n L’s, some Deadeyes, sh*t, we even gettin’ s-”

Knot stopped him. “Look, don't mean to interrupt you or nothin’, but… why we here?”

“Right, right,” Teflon replied. “Well, okay, uh… well we been lookin’ for fences. Offloading the goods you dogs got last night.”

“Who you givin’ it to?” Knot asked.

“All over, you know? Bone’s, Ricky’s, you know. Ain’t a lot to give apart from the fruitPad and the duck.” He stopped, smirked. “The duck.”

“I mean, it was in a safe, Tef, we thought it was worth somethin’.”

“Why? I mean, it’s a f*ckin’ duck, b. I ain’t mad or nothin’, but-”

Latrell feigned a smile. “Something to make up for next time, right?”

“Right… how much you give to the E’s during the trade off?”

“I thou-”

“A bag of the cash, two of the X,” Knot piped.

“Powder and pills, right?”

“Yeah, Tef.”

“I thought we spoke up to Slip?” Latrell asked. “Ain't he know, ain't he told you?”

“Nah. You know, NDA. Gotta get it from you boys, yeah?”

“A’ight…” Knot murmured.

“Speakin’ of… the NDA. Y’all know it, right?”

“Yeah. We know,” Latrell said. “Why? Only been about a day, and we always k-”

“Look out the window.”

“Huh?”

“Check it. Get up, dog, f*ckin’ look out.”

“Uh…”

“You heard him,” Knot said. Latrell shot a glare back.

On the sofa, Knot stared, uneasy. On the other side of the room, Teflon stared back, expecting, eye cocked. As the two looked on, Latrell braced, got up, and pulled open the curtain.

And right outside, on Van Benthen Avenue, right near the bustop on the intersection, was a car. An Oracle to be exact, black, tinted windows, sketchy as f*ck.

“You mean-”

“The Uber, yeah,” Tef said. “You seen it?”

“...Yeah, Tef,” Latrell said. “I seen it.”

“Been out there for a few days. Skulkin’. I ain't askin you to approach it or nothin', but if it's Feds or what - then somebody ain't keepin' they mouths shut.”

“I mean, how that matter to us?”

“The thing in Beachgate? Too loud. We gotta keep our noses clean down there, son, end of. Let Ramon’s boys or the niggas in Goatherd take care of sh*t there. Not us.”

“Why not?”

“If he’s Russian, the guy you robbed… if he’s connected? Then we’re done. That’s it. You don't f*ck with the f*cking Russians. They've already got boys in Salmond City, we don't need any more of them here. And if that's their car in the street, that sh*t goes right back to you.”

“Ain’t it already been out there?”

“What if they seen you with Ramon? What if they put two and two together, scouted his auto place? What if they tracked your f*cking whip? Push comes to shove, don’t matter who done it. If that’s the case, if that’s a Russian car? Or worse, a f*cking cop car? Then we’re f*cked, L.”

Nobody said anything for a little while. Knot sat back, Latrell stood at the window: both concerned. Teflon sighed, “Look, it’s fine, y’all did good,” he said. “But seriously. If this is your mistake, you know I can’t let that sh*t fly, a’ight?”

Latrell nodded. “A’ight.”

 

The Gloss'

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