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Red Triangle - a GTA Fanfic

slimeball supreme

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slimeball supreme





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

One - Slaves of Babylon

Two - Aqua Vitae

Three - Princeton Offense

Four - Glare

Five - Matryoshka

Six - Tocsin

Seven - The Brothers Cohen

Eight - Employment Opportunities

Nine - The Bond of all Bonds

Ten - Young Turks

1997 - In The Field

Eleven - The Scoundrel

Twelve - The Next Guy's Pocket

Thirteen - Kissed Teeth

Fourteen - Chopping the Blinds

Fifteen - Dumachus' Posse

Sixteen - An Eye Opens

Seventeen - God's Lonely Man

Eighteen - Discordant

Nineteen - Je Ne Sais Quoi
Twenty - Break & Run

Twenty One - Pray to God

Epilogue - Mud



Prologue - Kings No More

One - Okay, Dickhead

Two - A Whole Lot Less
Three - Lazarus

Four - Those Unwinding Paths

Five - Nutcracker

Six - Pomp & Circumstance

Seven - Where The Towers Are Tall

Eight - Y'know?

Nine - Clockwork Dog

Ten - Yeah, My Bad

Eleven - The Dry Cleaner

Twelve - Tomato Can

Thirteen - Who Are We To Judge?

Fourteen - Therapy

Fifteen - A Letdown

Sixteen - Left

Seventeen - When the Charade Ends

1999 - Or Was It a Lie At All?

Eighteen - The Fan

Nineteen - Good Evening

Twenty - Black Broth

Twenty One - Royal Minority

Twenty Two - Ganymede

Epilogue - Mistakes, They Were Made



Prologue - There Was No Rain

One - Loyalties Remain

Two - Son of Peter

Three - Where Do We Go From Here?

Four - Shadow of Death

Five - Sound Investment

Six - Watch the Wink

Seven - Swimming with Barracudas

Eight - Latrell Palmer and the Depths

Nine - You're My Soldier

Ten - Last Shabbat

Eleven - Men of Many Leashes

Twelve - Avel

Thirteen - Stories

Fourteen - I Am Followed By One Thousand Ghosts

Fifteen - Talking Kindly

1999 - Before It Began

Sixteen - On the Styx

Seventeen - Ecclesiastes

Eighteen - Saddled Wolves

Nineteen - I Won

Twenty - There is Nothing Beautiful in America



Thank you.





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 mess 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 tooth-chatter tick tick tick of running printers could be heard behind a wall, the voices running the cash machine or the presses speaking Spanish and chattering in 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 GLOSSARY - For New Lore and Locations

A Guide to Liberty City's Geography

A Guide to Vice City and South Florida Geography

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slimeball supreme



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, sure, but I really 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.”


“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 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 Hematite 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 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, smug. Joking? Couldn't tell. 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.”




“...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 hell 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, that stuff. I get that feeling. Everyone does, but man, look out the window for once.” He made a gesture, pointing toward the window, beaming. “Look at that view. You can see the little ants down there, man! Sure, for a law firm, for the IT stuff, the pay is… eh. It’s eh.”




“Yes, eh. And sure, sometimes the guys working the computers can be a little dicky, but, like… look at all the cool sh*t. We can go to the boss right now, say ‘we’re going out for a while, call us!’, and we can just head out. That's in the contract! I know a great Korean place that’s literally a couple blocks away, on Hemusite and Denver, 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 get too much dust in the keyboard 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 him. Ask for a raise. I’m sure Isaac won’t mind. And sure, sometimes you can’t keep up with the rent, sure. But in the end, who cares? Who can these days? That's why you have a roommate. Things are still cool. Rahim doesn’t mi-”


“Well, I don’t kno-”


“Don’t interrupt me," he was sounding agitated now. "Besides, where the hell 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 Bolt Burger? Make sandwiches at that deli? Move carpets at your dad’s f*cking rug store again? That sure as sh*t wouldn’t fix the rent problem, would it? I mean, come on, A! You're gonna throw this all away, and for what?”


Beat. Long beat. Awkward beat, a couple of the other IT guys staring over.


“Whatever, man,” Abbot muttered. “I just… I just feel this isn’t working out. You know how my dad is. Hell's that for?”


“Okay, okay, sorry,” Lawrence piped, running his hand through his hair. “Look, man, I'll level with you, I’m as frustrated as you here. Really. I’m sorry if I get really pushy with this, man. I am."




“No, really. I went too far with your dad. I'm sorry."


“Yeah. Thanks.”


“I just don’t want you to go. I don’t. You keep talking about this, like, every single week and it screws with me. 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, man. Of course. This is in your interest, bro."

Back to silence. Took a long while, broken by sips from the mug. Abbot broke it: "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, it's always these weird Broker joints with neon lights and sh*t drinks."


“Dude. Don’t be like that.


“Oh come on, man. I mean, he’s just…” Lawrence sighed. “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. Usually that settles."


Ironic. “Yeah…”

Lawrence got up, mug in hand. Feigning a smile and scratching behind his ear, really doing anything he could to not just stand there. “We should probably get back. We’ve probably missed a few rings at this point.”


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


The Glossary

Chapter 2: Aqua Vitae

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  • 2 weeks later...
slimeball supreme


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, 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 the Main Drag - distinct by the use of a giant green neon sign stuck on the roof. It had good reviews, usually good music, and cheap drinks. But it all seemed to blur out between all the faces, focusing more on the man seated next to him rather than the yuppie couple having a dispute by the bar, lanyard looking guy in the back with his tie wrapped around his head. For a 'grungy, hip' place like this, prime selling points, there were definitely a lot of those people. Lanyards. Lanyards like him, lanyards like them. Lanyards like Rahim.

“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 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'd barely touched it.

“Okay, dude, cool it.” Abbot said. “Don’t want you getting... worked up again."


“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?”




“I dunno, a pink baby? You ordered it."


“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 gray long-sleeve and a pair of dark skinny jeans; the nicest clothes in his wardrobe. 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. “Where’s Lawrence? Wasn't he coming?”


“I told you about Lawrence. He’s moving furniture.”


What?” Other conversation overpowered theirs, and Rahim wasn't exactly his best self with a double digit BAC.


Abbot groaned, raised his voice to match theirs, “His mom’s moving. Like, houses. Apartments. And, uh… Bheru's 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 just stop.”


“I, er, wouldn’t say that.”


“There it is again! The 'er'. It’s the 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.”


“This is what I mean when I say 'worked up'. 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 schnook. Listen to yourse-”


“Schnook? Schnook? What's with the f*cking snake tongue Jewy bullsh*t?”


“Oh, cool, yeah. Just say that. Y'know--”

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

He’d come back, oblivious. Thin, scraggy, with neatly combed hair and a clean shaven face. Bheru, even when he wasn’t at a desk, seemed to be always working, or hung over, or both: 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 freaking 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. Goddamn cheesy drink names. The obliviousness had melted, and mild annoyance remained.

“Oh, come on, dude,” Rahim said. “It's just banter.”


“Banter? What's the banter here?” Bheru pushed his mug slightly forward, agitated. “Do you people just thrive on tension? That feeling, like, when the air is tight and you wanna claw each other’s throats out?”


“No, apparently I thrive on awkward silences."


"My god. 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.”


“Really?" Abbot snarled.




Abbot gave him a look. Bheru knew. “Sorry. I'm sorry. Just… damn.” Bheru sighed. “I’m j- I’m just sick of it. Really. Can we have a discussion, one freaking 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…”

He drew blank. Bheru looked unimpressed from across the table as the two fumbled for a conversation starter. “Uh… work?” Abbot began.


“Well, I can’t say much.” Rahim sighed. “Confidentiality… uh…”


“Privileged communication, right?" Bheru guessed. "Thought that was for real therapists.”


“Yeah, yeah, sure.” Rahim snorted, quickly. “Uh… how about you, B? What have you been, uh, up to?”




“Yeah. What’ve you been doing at work? Any, uh… updates?”


“Well, I don’t know exactly what you mean, but, sure. We recently had to update some UI stuff.” He took a sip from his mug. “There was a general interface bug that needed to be ironed out - functional issues. Someone messed with the coding and broke a bunch of things, so we had to go through th-”


“Okay, sweet,” Rahim interrupted.




“All you need to do, is like, speak English.”


“Speak English? Speak English? Are you f*cking kidding me? Like, did you even do, like, 10th grade Computer Science, or- or did you jigg it to roll joints at Meadows Park? This is simple sh*t. Like you'd know, f*cking... rubbing rocks together or whatever.”


“Hilarious,” Rahim grunted. "It's spiritual. You connect with the f*cking soul. It's still therapy."


“Sure," Bheru scoffed. "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. 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, pausing.

“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. "Take your time."


“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, you don’t look too good.” Rahim glanced over at Abbot, brow raised. He was right, Abbot didn’t look so good. Mouth slightly open, his brow furrowed. “Something up?” he 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…”




“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 the Main Drag. Abbot, UnderPass in one hand and phone in the other, hastened his walk towards the train station, panic beginning to settle in.

The Glossary
Chapter 3: Princeton Offense

Edited by slimeball supreme

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  • 2 weeks later...
Mokrie Dela

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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  • 3 weeks later...
slimeball supreme

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 the 69th Street Diner. Diner wasn't on 69th. Was between Black and Bart Street, a block or two away from a YouTool warehouse near Firefly Island Creek. Van was haphazardly on the curb of West 17th right behind the joint as late night buses 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 all gave the impression of being disorganized, erratic.

"Huh?" Latrell yawned.


"Eh, you listening? We taking bets on the finals. Second game comin' up."




"No sh*t," DB replied. "X here having trouble thinkin’ clearly. Heretics 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 Ticks.”


“Exactly, Trell,” X said. “See, Ticks suck dick, at the end of the day.”


“Son, f*ck outta here. They got DeShawn, my mans.”


“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 defense in the LOB, so on. I mean, it's a closed case.”


“How good is a good defense gonna do when you got the best player in the sport 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. Ticks also got two of the best Point-slash-Shootin’ guards in the league, facts.”


“Delgado and Ingram?”


“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…” His eyes darted to DB.

“f*ck you, X. 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 in Secure Unit.”


“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, 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, my man?” X said. "Thinkin' a' gettin' me some good, y'know. Celebration after this lil' lick R been throwin'."


“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 - and we ain't gon' be celebrating nothin' in a jail cell.”


“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 Glossary

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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.


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 A2Z 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 tiny Orthodox 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 temple?” Abbot spat. “When mom died, when the stroke happened? During Shivah? 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.”


“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 Wappinger 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 Glossary
Chapter 5: Matryoshka

Edited by slimeball supreme

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“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 ocean sounds and chopped grass smell. Beachgate was house after house, narrow buildings and long streets crowded with nice cars. Gated community nonsense. Three guys in the backyard, 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.”


“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.”


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 $500 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 Serrano, 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 Glossary

Chapter 6: Tocsin

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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 Debonaire cigarette, positioned in between his fingers as he stared out the window. Smoke alarms didn't tend to work on the towers.

They’d passed the van off to Ramon and his brother down in Dartford. They'd tooled up the thing originally; stole it, swapped the plates at their garage called 'Double E Motors'. Tipped the four off to the house and the loot - which Slip didn't have to know. He didn't have to know a lot of things.


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. That's what Slip thought, anyway. 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 arguably never was. 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? Don't let 'em know anything they don't gotta know.”

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. Especially considering he was one of the only two not currently in the clink. “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.


“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 Studs from down 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, Stiff’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 Double E’s during the trade off?”

“I thou-”

“A bag of the cash, two of the X,” Knot piped, fast. The heat was getting to him.

“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.”


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


“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 Glossary

Chapter 7: The Brothers Cohen

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The Brothers Cohen


2:15 PM. June 7th. Sunday. 2015.

Abbot kept looking at the display and up at the building in front of him. Back, front, back, front. Anxious.

Cars passed up the avenue. Occasionally people walked by, maybe a car went into the repair shop to the right or the bicycle place to the left. Still, nobody paid attention. It felt weird. It felt like people were ignoring something important, like they were in the middle of something big and were avoiding it. At least that’s how it felt to Abbot.

He’d talked with Rahim yesterday, about it all. About Achban, about his father, about the time and the place. He seemed almost concerned, which was out of the ordinary. When he said 'go', Abbot went, and now he was here: about a 50 minute train ride out from his apartment in Rotterdam Hill, right outside some tacky looking Uzbeki joint. The Claypan.

Time to face the music, Abbot thought.

Inside, the place was more rustic. A lot of wood, surprisingly, flags and pictures here and there, wreaths hung on the walls, light leaking through antique looking curtains, so on. At the front: an aged looking woman, distracted by something out of vision, lines on the face and tired eyes. When she saw him, standing by the doorway like a moron, she beckoned him over.


“How can help?” the woman asked, straightening herself out. Her name was Guldasta apparently, according to a little nametag sagging off her shirt.

“Is there an Achban Cohen here? He’s my brother, and we’re-”

“Oh. Over there,” she pointed, right out to a table near one of the windows. Right there, Achban, shorts and an overshirt draped over the chair, was tapping the table and staring at nothing in particular.

“Thanks,” Abbot said, turning. The woman mumbled, sighed, and sat back down.

When he was only a little ways away, Achban smirked. “What took you so long?” he asked.

Abbot stood. “I’m sorry?”

“Second time I’ve asked you to come down and you’re late, man,” he said, smiling crooked. “Is this a habit or something? Or like…”

“I don’t have time for this.”

“No- no! You got it wrong! ...It was a joke, dude.”

Abbot nodded. “Okay.”

“Look, I, uh, I got the seats. It’s a good place, I used to come down here when-”


Achban sighed. “You know I’m not talking about the chairs for no reason. Sit, man.” Abbot hesitated, glanced, and then sat down. Achban, almost uneasy, drummed his fingers on the table. “So…”

“Did I come here for a reason, Achban? I thought we were gonna work things out. Talk. Not...”

“Sorry. Way hotter here than I thought it would be, kinda out of it. Let’s… let’s talk.”

Nobody spoke for a little, the air still. Abbot glanced over a few times, Achban scratched his neck, but nothing happened. “You’re bad luck,” Achban murmured, slowly, quietly.


“You’re bad luck. A friend of mine… well, it doesn’t matter, but I wake up and his house’s been thrown apart. Some guys ran in and took his stuff, Mexicans or Puerto Ricans or whatever. I’m half awake and the guy I’m bunkin’ with-”



“Who’s the guy you’re bunking with?”

Achban paused. “You remember Kaz?”

Obviously, yeah. Used to hang--”

“Yeah, yeah. House you parked up at is his. Working full time with his dad, and-”

“What? Selling newspapers?”

Sure, sure. I guess. But he’s working full time with his dad, doing some things, so I’m staying over at his place. I’m making coffee yesterday morning and he comes down shouting, like, ‘Paulie’s been robbed, Paulie’s been robbed!’, and we’re like, we’re-”

“What happened?”

“I’m telling you, Paulie, Pavel down Firefly. You know Pav-”

“No, Achban,” Abbot said. “In Florida. I don’t… I don’t know him, and really, I don’t care. I don’t. I want to know what happened. Answers.”

Achban nodded, frowned. “Okay… like I told you, like… what I told you back when I left.”


“Yeah, Mackie. Mak. Like I told you, he made the investment and-”

“Why did you… man,” Abbot sputtered. “So you stopped calling because of what? Did your phone magically stop working, did you spill some f*cking printer ink on it, or, like, what?”

“Because… look, Abbot, I’m sorry. I did the wrong thing, right?”


“I f*cked up. I get the news about the… whatever, about the-”

“You can say it. The stroke.”

“Yeah, sure,” Achban shook his head. “I… back in Florida everything seemed to just spark up at once. I get the call and I’m crushed. Can’t get up, you know? And then, like, the shop is getting looked at and Mak’s getting divorced and all this sh*t just piles up. It’s like, like a f*cking avalanche. Next thing you know I’m helping another guy with his stuff, and working part time at his joint, and the years melt away,” he snapped his fingers. “Like that.”

“And you couldn’t call?”

“I could and I tried, you know? I never… I never stopped thinking about it, right?”

“For, what, a couple years? You never even thought to look but you kept thinking?”

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to f*ck with you guys. Push came to shove and I couldn’t even find your number, remember your email, whatever.”

“A phonebook might’a helped.”

“An LC phonebook? In Vice City?”

Beat. “Yeah. Yeah… sorry, A.”

“No, Abbot, you’re not the one… you’re not supposed to be apologising. But, yeah. Yeah.”


“You need anything?” an unfamiliar voice said.

Abbot turned: a waitress stood. She was younger than the woman at the register, brown hair. Felt like she’d just materialised. “You two have wait here for long time, and-”

“We’re fine,” Achban said.

Xop. Call if need anything.”

She left, Achban strummed. “Nice,” Abbot said.


“We’ve come to a restaurant. Are we gonna eat? Or..."

Achban let the question linger. “Doesn't matter,” he said.

Abbot said nothing back.

Silence was punctuation, it seemed. The two sat, eyes barely meeting, fiddling and tapping. Again. It was all too much, Abbot thought. Maybe he should've left. Walked out the door, said goodbye, tried to talk again when it wasn't so tense, if he ever would. Achban wouldn't have it: "Well, uh, what've you been up to?" he asked.

“Huh?” Abbot shook his head. “I still haven’t go-”

“Look, I’ve told you. We both know, right? I go up to Florida to work at the print shop and I didn’t come back. Now I’m back. It’s not hard to get, Abbie. Your turn.”

That wasn't the answer Abbot wanted. “Uh… okay.”

“Sorry. I’m sorry. I just want to know how things have been, right?”


“How was college?” Achban beamed. “You’d just head off when I went, man, I wanna know, how’d it go?”

“Uh… not very well I guess.”


“I mean, after whatever, uh… I started working at that computer repair place in Fulham, by the Parkway. Moved in with another guy, Rahim, he does therapy, but, like, it’s spiritual or something.”

“That make a lot of money?”

Abbot waved his hand, “Kinda,” he said. “Up and down. It’s not a very lucrative industry, he does sh*t with rocks and… whatever. As soon as you say ‘therapist’ you think he’s making millions.”

“Are you, Abbot? How much are you making at the store?”

“Uh… what’s with the money questions?”

“Dude, please,” he shrugged. “I’m your brother. You complain about the money in the car, look, I need to know, right?”

Abbot thought this over. “Okay… well, I’m not working out of the store anymore. Me and these guys from work, Lawrence, Gabe, a few others, we started working in house for this law firm.”

“Doing what?”

“IT work. Fixing computers, you know? They’re on a high floor up in Midtown, nice office, we have our little cubicle space in one corner and we…”

“Do you like it?”


“Do you make good money?”

“Oy, no,” Abbot laughed. “I made more money with, uh, with Kassian.”

“Yeah, about that...”


“Look Abbot, I, uh… if you need money, if you’re on your ass… I have options.”


“Kassian’s dad. Teddy. I’ll give you his phone number, his newsstand address, whatever.” Achban, in turn, leaned in: “He can let you have a little extra work,” he said, voice lowered.

“Like what?” Abbot said. “Like stocking the fridges or whatever?”

“Nah, I mean…” he sighed. “How do you think Kassian got the stuff we used to sell? You know?”

“Oh my f*cking god.”

“It’s good money! It’s good money, and you’re just moving stuff. It’s delivery work, just-”

“Is that why I f*cking came here?” Abbot spat back. “A job offer? To move f*cking-”

“No! No… kinda, okay? I wanted to iron things out before, y’know? I wanted to talk to you. And then we get in the car, and you’re going on about how you needed money, how you need money.” He sighed. “It’s good money, okay?” He assured. “Better than what you’re pulling fixing computers. I’ll put in a good word, tell him you don’t wanna do anything serious, right?”

“Dealing drugs isn’t serious?”

“Keep your voice down,” Achban hushed. He looked around a little, jittery, before continuing. “It’s a lot less serious than the other stuff he does. Which you can do! I mean, if you want. I understand if you, like, don’t want to. If you think I’m being a moron right now.”

“You are,” Abbot said.

“So that’s a no?”

Abbot paused. “No,” he said. “Write it up, I guess. I’ll think about it.”

Achban smiled again, grabbed for his wallet. “Sweet,” he said. “You’re not making a mistake here, really.”

“Never am, am I?”


The Glossary

Chapter 8: Employment Opportunities

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Employment Opportunity


“So… you have experience? Your brother tell me you do work with Kassian, no?”

Abbot was looking at a stocky, tall, Ukrainian guy. Square jaw, greying brown-blond hair, moustache, brown polo, apron over a pair of grey slacks, so on. A lot of words, really, but he wasn’t a looker. No tattoos, no scars, just an old guy with an accent who talked fast. You wouldn't think he was involved, really.

It was after work, a couple hours after on a Wednesday, so Abbot’d went home, changed into more casual clothes (a pair of jeans, a shirt, and some sneakers), and taken the D line down to Goatherd Station. About 50 minutes, give or take.

It felt like Abbot might as well move down to South Broker sometime, everything seemed to be here now. The restaurant, the newsstand, Achban’s apartment. For the center of the world it sure wasn't a very interesting place. It all felt almost suburban, the houses-turned-apartments and the working class people that lived there. It was a lot different than his usual haunt up in Rotterdam Hill, busy streets and that uneasy feeling of gentrification.

Teddy’s ‘newsstand’, more aptly a convenience store if anything, was right by the El-station, 1500 Goatherd Road. Green sign, a couple misspelt words (newspape, convinient, etc.), looked like every other place on the block. Normal. Inside, exactly the same, stocked shelves, a couple ads for the state lottery, way too cold, nothing out of the ordinary. Abbot almost thought he had the wrong address.

And out comes the aforementioned Ukrainian. “Oh,” he’d said. “How can I help?”

Abbot replied with something along the lines of “I think Achban sent me,” showed the guy the card Achban wrote up at the restaurant, something to let him know he wasn't bullsh*tting or at the wrong place. Next thing he knew, he was at the back of the store.

Abbot’s mind snapped back to the present, with the store owner, Teddy, staring back at him from behind a desk. “Yeah, that's right,” Abbot responded. “Achban explained, right?”

“Of course. So if you’re familiar, you know how all of this works, yes? What to do when cops show, how to present, whatever.”

“I’m capable.”

He paused. “And you know what to do when things get hairy?”

Another beat, “Yeah,” Abbot said.

Teddy smiled. “Good.” He got up, “This is background check,” he continued. “Nothing serious, I trust you. Your brother tell me good thing about you, tell me what I need. You work for lawyer?”

“Just computer work.”

“Huh. Anything-”


“That’s fine. Nonetheless, I get glowing recommendation. You know this isn’t high school, yes? You know they’re not going to just pull knife on you?”

“I’m not an idiot.”

“I thought so. Not like you’ll need that anyway,” he nodded. “Let me give you rundown, yes? I want to see how hot the sh*t is.”


He laughed. “I like you.” He opened a drawer, took out a little taped up box, like a birthday gift wrapped in butcher paper. “I run a little… delivery service. There is quite a bit of the big H in here, yes?” He tapped the box, smiling. “Enough for full bundle, good sh*t. I need you to take that to man named Osip Prokofiev, yes? Lives on corner of East 21st and Avenue O, big apartment building near Vlackwood with a guy named Slava, only 10 minute drive. Ring him up at door, give him the package, come back with cash. Simple job, child could do it.”

“I got it,” Abbot responded.

“Beautiful,” he said, sliding it over the desk. “We agreed on price, no need to ask. He’ll have the money ready at the door, don't even have to go inside.”

Abbot grabbed for the box, picked it up and put it right under his arm. “You sure this isn’t too hot to carry?”

“Not if you have a car. You bring car?”

Abbot shook his head. “No. I took the train.”

“Sh*t,” Teddy tutted. “I mean… f*ck, okay.”


“I’m gonna do something I no do to my own son,” he said. “Look, take my car. The BF Stromata parked on other side of road. I cannot let you get caught by metrocop with that on you. What time is it?”

“Uh… probably around 6:20.”

Дерьмо… okay, okay. Get back to me within hour with car. I’m trusting you with pride and joy, okay? You scratch that car, or worse, take the junk for yourself, and I come to your apartment with butcher knife. Catching the drift?”

Abbot stared for a moment. “Yeah,” he said. “This is going a little different than I expected.”

“What were you expecting?”

“I’m moving a full bindle, right?”

“Yes. The guy is distributor, take some, move some, bring back some, yes?”

“But that’s a lot of weight to move in one go, though.”

“Of course!” he answered, leaning back in his chair. “But how do I know if you are good or not?”


“Confidence will get you far, my friend. Hey, you do good job, great job, then I can let you in on more work. Yellow jackets, anasha, whatever. You follow?”

“I think,” he replied. “One more thing.”


“How much am I making? Getting paid.”

“For you, if you do good job, couple hundred. It little more inflated than usual, but I always like to get more bodies.”

Abbot nodded. “For sure.”


The door opened. In it’s way, stood a skinny, bald Russian guy, Star of David chain over a baggy grey shirt and blue track pants. He smirked, surveyed the hallway, and looked straight ahead, right towards Abbot.

It was Osip. Local yokel, apparently. Abbot didn’t know the guy but the moment he laid eyes on him, he knew he was a seedy character. Osip squinted: “I am assuming you are delivery guy?” he said.

“And you’re-”

“The guy you’re looking for, of course,” he interjected. “In flesh and bone. Stay quiet. You have delivery, da? My pizza or whatever the f*ck Teddy is calling it.”

“Piping hot,” Abbot smiled, tapping the box under his arm. It wasn’t a long drive of course, nobody bothered him, but he still felt anxious with this much brown on him.

“Well, you have merchandise. Превосходный,” he laughed.


“Excellent, I say. Now… hand it over.”

“The money?”

“Ah, well… this is where you’re mistaken.” In turn, he smiled, almost winked, and pulled up his shirt.

Right there, tucked in his waistband, a snub nose, handle up. He tapped it, grinned; “I want you to go back to your employer. Teddy, Benny, whatever. I want you to tell him, right to his face, that I am no scared of him. You give me money, you give me the smack, you walk.”

Abbot gulped. “Uh…”

“I hope you understand that if you stay here for any longer, you will be making grave mistake. You don't want to make mistake. Not like this.”

“You don't want to do this. I don't want to this this.”

Osip laughed. “Do what? Тощий человек думает, что он Джек Гаубица. This isn't The Redeemer, придурок. What are you going to-”

Crunch, the leg went. Osip crumpled, screaming, clutching his shin, eyes watery. Abbot, growling, kept kicking, another crunch as foot connected with his face, throwing him to the floor. Abbot stepped through, over Osip, grabbing at his nose and shouting.

Inside, the apartment was marred by disarray and disorganization, discarded food and clothes draped on furniture, that same musty ‘didn't take out the trash’ smell you'd find at a halfway home. These guys were dealing H by the ton in a neighborhood like this and they couldn’t even keep the apartment clean. What would the landlord have thought?

Meanwhile, Osip wailed, “Блядь, сука! Слава, иди сюда!” He had more than enough occupying his attention, specifically the waterfall of red pouring out of his broken nose and the f*cked up leg. That, paired with the bad headache he probably had, meant he wasn't really much of a threat anymore.

If he was to begin with.

Abbot pulled up his shirt while he writhed, pulled out the revolver, aged, and examined the print. 38 caliber, Hawk and Little, and to his surprise, unloaded, light in the hand.

“I told you.”

Abbot stomped, hard, and the guy stopped moving. For now, anyway.


Slam, bat to the wall, little cracks in the plaster and a dent in the aluminum. The guy, a 6’2” brute with grown out hair and a Heat track jacket, snarled. His voice was hoarse, like gravel, his panting like scraping a rock against a brick wall. This man was probably Slava, the roommate, square jawed and stubbled when he turned around. He wasn't pleased, obviously.

Abbot barely had time to react. Flipping the gun around, crack, butt of the gun straight in the temple. Slava screamed, grabbed for his forehead, right until the wood grip slammed against the back of his head again. It cut deep.

He toppled back, fell on a wooden table and onto the floor, moaning. Abbot, breathless, stared at the body below him, almost gasping for air. He was speechless. Slava oozed, blood out the back of his head, and like Abbot, also couldn't say a word.

“You don’t… I didn’t mean...” He thought of saying more, he did. Taunting, maybe. But one was out cold and the other was… well, it was better not to check. He didn't wanna risk waking him, or knowing he wasn't gonna wake up. He did risk, however, raiding the cupboards, found a couple bundles under the sink, a stash of what seemed to be Oxycontin under a loose floorboard, so on. They were hiding it, yeah, but they weren't hiding it right. To Abbot, he was just doing what the cops were gonna do anyway. Mostly.

In the hallway, he mulled it over. Kept looking at the box. What happened in there, what just had happened, none of it felt right. He didn’t feel bad, or remorse, or shame. Just shock. Shock, and… that rush. Back when he was in school, back when this was normal, he felt the same. That same feeling. He didn’t feel empty.

The past few years, he had felt empty. The work, the bar runs, all of it - it just made him feel empty. There wasn’t anything to it, no talk, no conflict, nothing. But this? With the cash, and the skag still in the box, he felt alive. He felt free, like there was air in his lungs. It felt selfish to think that, to think that going back to something like that made him feel better.


But it was true.

He returned to the newsstand with the drugs, the money, more drugs, more money, the car, the any real evidence, and a few disorderlies leaking on the ground who wouldn't do it again. Teddy was surprised, really.

“How did you do that?” he’d asked. “You no seem like the type.”

Abbot didn't know how himself, and he said the same. But from then on, well, Abbot had a new employer.


The Gloss'

Chapter 9: The Bond of all Bonds

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slimeball supreme


The Bond of all Bonds

“So what you saying?” Xavier asked.

Right through the window, Noodles stared, idle. The car, a dark blue Presidente, was parked by the curb by the playground on Norman Avenue, adjacent from the tennis courts at Milden Park and a couple of the bigger towers in the projects. Latrell, who’d got in just before this joker decided to push his head through the window, stared back, unamused.

Noodles, or Noland, was a sort of courier, if you will. Some skinny kid who wore baggy clothes and thought he was authoritative, spoke with a big voice. The top guys used him as a relay, so if anyone wanted to talk, most likely he was gonna show up and talk for them. The kid had loose lips anyway, of which he was currently using to try and persuade the two guys in the car.

“I’m sayin’ Kenton wanna talk with y’all,” he explained. “I know you’ve been busy f*ckin’ with the Es, but these guys, his guys, they got the mooga, man, for real. Business, dude.”

He was a hookup. Kenton, a middle aged Jamaican who ran a little smoke shop in South Slopes, sourced weed, heroin, girls, whatever he could get his hands on. This guy had business sense, realised that he needed a distribution outlet, and a couple years back had decided on a burgeoning outfit in East Liberty; Slip’s little branch of the A9’s. There were enough West Indians in the BOB for it to feel comfortable, and Slip's crew were making enough money already, so to him it must’ve felt right. Latrell didn't know Kenton personally, however, aside from dealing his dope and seeing him around the towers with some of the generals and his own goons every now and then.

“Everyone wanna f*ckin’ talk, b,” Xavier sighed.

“Everyone wan’ talk because everyone wan’ do business, nigga. Work. Y’all respectin’ them power dynamics or some sh*t.”

“F*ck outta here. Bound to be a couple other dudes like that, I got a laundry list of kids from wherever who ready to do odd jobs for ‘em.”

“But you niggas is reliable. Your little crew’s the only peoples gettin’ sh*t done these days. Self centered-ass, disrespectful types, you know? G’s too easy with the sh*t, balla. More importantly, they too scared to move thanks to our little problem.”

“You mean the feds?”

“Son, the thought of goin’ back to the clink for doin’ sh*t makes niggas freeze up, man, what can I say?”

“That the rather be movin’ sh*t in rather than actually bein’ in?” Xavier here was referring to one of the BOB’s best rackets, moving weight into prisons which were distributed by their people on the inside.

With the nature of the job, it was easy to get locked up, which in turn, spread their distribution even further. People went in unaffiliated and went out balling, selling dope on the inside to people who needed another fix. It was a good gig, and something everyone got involved with at some point. More than half of the B’s in the towers had went purple in prison, a lot for a bite of the pie.

“I mean, sure - I guess, man,” Noodles replied. “Slip only got out a few months ago, so, like, usually you get kinda paranoid. So he’s offering this one to y’all.”

“He knows?” Latrell asked.

“Who you think settin’ this sh*t up, man? Kenton’s paying, and Slippy won't tax nothin’ if you do it in for him,” Noodles offered. “He wants dudes he can trust, Kenny too, that's why y’all takin’ it in and it ain't one of the BG niggas.”

The two froze. “So you're saying…” Xavier trailed off.

“I’m saying if you guys go in, Slip won't shake none.”

Usually, a little cut of the payments on anything went down to the top guys for ‘gang purposes’, that type of thing. Sale proceeds, robberies, whatever, a cut always went to the top guys, it got ‘shaked’. This was different.

“A’ight,” Latrell said.

“So you niggas is in?”

“You heard Trell, man,” X replied. “Money’s money.”

“Exactly. Who don't need money, son? This good work, and it's good money. Big money. Y’all driving ‘round in the Albany, man, but think Benefactor type sh*t. An’ nobody’s making big money these days, not Families, not Lords… unless they doin’ some tight ass sh*t.”

“We get it.”

“So you in?”

“Whatever, man, sure,” Latrell snapped. “Now, you goin’? We got a little thing going on. Meeting with peoples. So I’m suggesting you f*ck off.”

“Fine then, nigga,” and with an attempt at bouncing back, the kid moped away. Almost as a reply, Xavier sped off, the proverbial dust in the wind as the ghetto around him blurred. Or, well, ‘blurred’ as much as it could at 9am traffic in Liberty City.

East Liberty. Not as in the direction, but the neighborhood; nearly 100,000 people squeezed into about 1,850 square miles of concrete, asphalt, and the occasional bit of marshy goo, most of which in less-than-prime condition. Otherwise known as ‘The Murder Capital of Broker’, or at least in second place, behind the similarly beautiful neighborhood of Suydam (which coincidentally was the destination the two were travelling).

“So…” Xavier’s voice broke a silence that had subsisted for a minute or so. “Who’s goin’?”


“We gon’ tell the others, or is this whole ‘no taxes’ thing gon’ be a you-and-me thing?”

It was a tempting idea. “You sure?” Latrell raised.

“They don’t have to know,” Xavier proposed back. “I mean… Kenton’s a busy guy, you know: plus we both need the money. We gon’ be gettin’ enough with the boys down south. I got Reggie and Jazz, you got your mom’s…”

“DB got his grandparents ‘n sh*t.”

“And he’s moving away to South Carolina, b. He ain’t gon’ be around by the end of the year. Might even drop his flags, so who cares?”

Latrell exhaled, hard. “Maybe.”

“You flinchin’?”

“Nah, like, I’ll tell ‘em he called. I might leave the ‘no taxes’ thing out, tho’. You know... conveniently or somethin’.”

“Mmmm…” Xavier couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’m likin’ that.”

“But, yo, how is Reg?”

“The little guy?” Xavier shrugged. “He’s, uh… a handful. You know.”

“I guess.”

“It’s just… you need dollars to get it working. I need dollars.”

“I get it. How many times you gotta say it?” Latrell laughed.

“Well, I’m just sayin’,” Xavier spoke, a hint of frustration in his voice. “I’mma need some big money soon. Cleethorpes type sh*t, you know… more than just living.”

“I mean… we all gotta eat.”

Xavier gripped the wheel tighter. “Yo, f*ck that,” he said. “I mean, I just…”

“Nah, I feel you. I get it.” Latrell added: “Yo, though, you heard he runnin’ for President?”


“Cleethorpes, man. You know, announced, like, yesterday.”


“I mean, it doesn't matter, he gon’ lose anyway, but, uh… just funny you bring that up.”

“Yeah…” Xavier switched the subject quick: “Anyway, why we meeting at this chicken spot?” he asked. He was referring to the meeting place, a fried chicken restaurant on Moses Avenue, Burnett Chicken, some old ghetto spot with nobody around.

“I’unno. His moms probably lives around here or somethin’, plus it’s somewhere where they ain't gon’ notice a tradeoff,” Latrell replied, motioning towards the duffel bag at his feet. “We can have our little sit down, make sure we got some privacy.”


“Whether that's bystanders or them blacked-out-windows types, yeah, them. These blocks is F turf, anyway, so cops is-”

“Yeah, yeah. I get.”

They talked for a little more, nothing important. The playoffs, which DB and Knot were watching back at the towers, came up as sort of a passing note. The Bandits were set to win. And of course, when they'd passed enough run down liquor stores, bodegas, and angry-looking guys in green, they reached the spot.

Moses Avenue was a Main Street, went all the way through this part of town right up to Dukes, which mostly meant there were a bunch of shoe stores and a lot more people, which meant traffic of both foot and vehicle. About vehicles, Xavier’s Presidente slowed into a side street by the restaurant, wheel almost hitting the curb, prompting X to pull the brakes.

Parked up, they said nothing, waited. “We goin’ in or what?” Latrell asked.

“Yeah, man, just get the bag in the back.”

While Xavier left and went inside, Latrell opened the backseat: a duffel bag with ‘ProLaps’ printed on the side, grey and red. Latrell grabbed it, hitched it over his shoulder, and entered the chicken shop.

Inside, the radio blared. Words came up, little tidbits nobody paid attention to, ‘Cleethorpes debuts Presidential campaign’ here and ‘Police discover body in Vlackwood’ there. Thing’s he’d heard before, the president thing crowding the headlines for a while now, and the Vlackwood thing an old case from last week. Some guy killing his roommate over fentanyl or something. Latrell didn’t remember exactly.

Inside, the place was kinda grimy. One or two people in the booths, tired cashiers, faded blue-and-yellow paint and an older looking menu in serif font. And in front row center, the man of the hour, Gerardo, grinned as they entered. One of the brothers Lozano.

The guy was kinda scruffy; greasy hair like the chicken on his plate, balbo, kinda dirty Cadet tank and baggy shorts. Olive skin - Puerto Rican. Like everyone here, he just sort of existed, toying with his food with a plastic spork, sitting at the far back of the joint.

“Well, well,” he started as the two approached him. “Took you long enough, homes.”

“Few days,” Latrell shrugged. “Had to slow it down so nobody was sus’ about what we said.”

“Right, right… take a seat.” Nodding, the two obliged, sliding into the same booth, cordoned off from each other by the duffel bag. Gerardo, meanwhile, kept toying with the chicken. “There is a Cluckin’ Bell up the block, but this place is closing down in a month or two, so might as well give ‘em a little mileage, right?”

“Uh huh,” Latrell affirmed. “Might as well be at CB, zambaru, all this yellow and blue.”

“Yeah, no,” Gerardo laughed. “They do that kind a’ sh*t on purpose. It’s… I think the word is homogenisation. But yeah, so… how much you say you handed over, man?”

“Just a bag of the green,” Latrell explained. “Don't think I was exact with the pills.”

Gerardo chortled at that. “You snake-ass motherf*cker.”

“I’m better at this whole lying thing than I thought, I guess. Got myself believing in it.”

“And,” Xavier interjected. “They gave us back the merchandise.” He patted the duffel bag at his side.

“Well, sh*t, man, unzip that sh*t!”

Latrell almost threw the bag onto the table, unzipping; revealing the treasure wrapped inside. The porcelain duck.

The duck itself was kinda beat up, old. White with faded paintwork, looping blues and pinks that had become fainter throughout the years. If the thing still had any value, it was purely sentimental. The seemingly permanent Cheshire grin on Gerardo’s face widened further. “How’d this thing not get pawned off already?” he laughed.

“No sane fence is gon’ take somethin’ like this, dude,” Latrell spoke, like he was stating the obvious (which, well, he basically was). “sh*t’s tacky as f*ck. Get it for, like, 20 bucks at some cheap ass china shop. Surprised Ramon even wants this thing.”

“Righ’... he’s got this thing for souvenirs or some sh*t, dumb motherf*cker. Luckily, I ain’t the one keepin’ it. You get the tablet?”

“Nah, sorry,” Xavier admitted. They were able to get that one, one guy’s cousin knew how to reset it or something. Ain’t too clean on the details.”

“Damn…” Gerrardo muttered back. “That coulda been useful.”

“How you mean?” Latrell asked.

Gerardo hesitated, scanned the store for open ears, of which there weren’t any. “Well, we have a gig lined up,” Gerardo explained, getting in closer. “Huge. That’s why we picked out that house.”

“Yeah?” Latrell’s brow arched. “So you knew we was walking into some freaky ass dragon den?”

“When you put it like that...” Gerardo chuckled. “You guys… you guys is okay wit’ that, right?”

“Sure, man,” Xavier said, nonchalant. “Rich niggas like they sh*t, who woulda thought? Now you gon’, like, explain this little ‘gig’?”

“Uh… yeah. Yeah. The tablet had a manifesto or some sh*t on it, for real. Drugs, or guns, whatever. Maybe it’s the Mona Lisa or some sh*t, who knows - Russians use it for all kinda sh*t. It’s somethin’ me and R been cookin’ up for a while, but… we need more bodies. You get me?”

“So you want the other guys?”

“Need, yes,” Gerardo nodded. “Need. The problem is trust factor, though. We need peoples, but I ain’t sure ‘bout the other two. They still ‘loyal’ to that BOB nonsense?”

“Knot, definitely,” Latrell exposited. “DB moving down south by January, though, so…”

“Yeah. We’ll think about that later, right? For now, we’re trying to mosy on in: Ramon is cooking up some sh*t with the Russians, tryna mosy on in too. We gotta do some snoopin’.”

“So we’re robbing Russians?” The same few words echoed in Latrell’s head, Teflon’s warning. “You sure that’s a good idea?”

“You’ve already done it once, man,” Gerardo laughed back. “Just because they makin’ dollars don’t mean we can’t take it.”

Latrell thought for a moment.

The Gloss'
Chapter 10: Young Turks

Edited by slimeball supreme
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The Nefarious

Finally getting around to reading this properly man. I've only gotten three chapters in so far (I know I really need to catch up) but I just thought I'd leave a comment while they're fresh in my mind. First of all I really love the contrast between the black guys in chapter 4 and the white dudes in the earlier chapters. Somewhat stereotypical some might say but scarily true to life. I think you've summed up the different personalities and mind states perfectly and I think the lackluster flow of consciousness really worked when Abbot and his friends were talking to one another. Some might not be able to relate to it but that's exactly how'd I'd expect those type of guys to interact with one another. I'd also go as far as to say that chapter 3 was probably one of the best pieces of writing I've seen on here. That last line.. Absolutely brilliant :D

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slimeball supreme

to preface this chapter i just want to apologize for the, like, 2 month absence, as well as thank you for reading this far (or at all). i appreciate the criticism/praise ive gotten and i'd appreciate more so i can improve my writing, so please, do that. anyway...



Young Turks


The door shut.

“You seen him?”


“Harry. In the hall, going door to door.”

“Uh… yeah. What's up?”

Rahim sighed, exasperated. “Extortion, Abbie. Extortion.”

It clicked. “He's raising the rent?”

“Yeah. Again. A few hundred, which I, we, can manage, but whatever. Just… f*ck, man.”

Harry Gillespie: landlord. Scruffy old guy with sandpapery skin and a gravelly voice. Abbot only saw the guy occasionally, whether that was rent collection or utilities repair, characteristically just spending time in his suite on one of the higher floors. Something like this, however, was expected.

Abbot was still in his work clothes, wet with sweat from the cramped subway ride. He was bored, again, a long day at work doing nothing and staring out the window, waiting for the shift to end. As Abbot threw his lanyard to the kitchen bench, Rahim looked on.

The apartment itself on the lesser side. Two bedrooms, a bathroom, the main living area, so on. It was cozy, but it was expensive: about 2.3 thousand a week… or 2.5 now. The rent hikes felt hourly at this point, and even Abbot wasn't sure how much it would be next month.

“You’re going to that work thing, right?”

“Yeah. Why?”

Rahim shrugged. “I dunno. You've been going a lot recently, I guess.”

“You don't mind?”

“No… just saying. You’re getting caught up in it.”

“I mean, not really. It's a temporary thing.”

Abbot brushed it off. He’d knew it had been a week. Or two. He’d kinda lost track. After whatever happened in Vlackwood, he’d been heading there after work every chance he could. It was good money for relatively little labor, what could he say? It was basically postal service, pizza delivery with better tips - a part time job.

“You're making enough cash, though, right?”


Relief. “I’m glad,” Rahim replied. “Because, y’know.”

“Not really, Rahim.”

“I mean,” Rahim sighed, let out a laugh. “The rent, man.”

“Oh. Right.”

“It’s just… sh*t, you’re going there, like-”

“I know. It’s better than restarting computers I guess.”

“Yeah. You guess?”

“I dunno. Larry’s nice, but…”

“How’s he been, by the way?”

“He’s been fine. The move was fine.”

“Yeah. Does he wanna talk?”

“I dunno. I’ll ask.”

Rahim nodded, and Abbot moved on. Truth be told, work hadn’t been occupying his mind much. He was busy with other things, he supposed. A few minutes later, he was changed, headed to the door when Rahim stopped him. “You taking the train?” he asked.

“Nah. Might take a cab. Faster.”



It was too humid. Sticky against Abbot’s neck as he crossed the street. The A2Z had parked a little ways up the block, for some reason, which meant Abbot had a few blocks of storefronts to clear before hitting the bodega.

The fan was on. Several actually, kinda necessary in this weather; the elongated, windowless design of the store not helping to keep things colder. It was a cramped place, hole in the wall, kinda dated. It felt like it had, and probably had been, around here for decades: a few old magazines from the 2000’s still on the shelves being suspect.

“Hey! Abbot! Good to see you, man!”

That was Teddy, perched on a stool behind the counter, originally watching a tiny box of a TV but now turned to face his subject. “Hi, Ted,” Abbot greeted.

Teddy chuckled. “You seen Kassian around?”

“Uh… no. Not recently. Not for a while.”

“Kaz! Идите сюда!”

From behind one of the shelves, there had been a few noises: cans rattling or something. Poking his head out and standing up, the source of this became apparent. Kassian.

Kassian was near-brown blond, like his father - and unlike his father, hadn’t carried over the accent. He was beak nosed, widows peaked, scruffy f*ck where the snout was the clearest feature like it sloped right down from his forehead. Youngish enough in his early thirties letting himself on like a teenager: dressed in weathered jeans, blue baseball cap, baggy Heat t-shirt. Glanced over from the other side of the store and blinked out of a daze, almost forgot what he was doing.


“Hey, Abbot,” he said. “Long time, no see… I guess.”

Right…” Abbot muttered.

“Right!” Teddy added. “You seen the news?”


“Nah,” Kassian said. “Look.”

Abbot spun around to face it, the CRT TV buzzing by the counter. While fuzzy, Abbot noticed the figures: a stubby, tired, older looking man, identified as ‘Gerardo Giordano’ from the ticker below the image, was being escorted from a courthouse with federal agents in tow.

“Gangsters, man. Lupisellas,” Teddy laughed (though Abbot wasn’t sure why). “Their guy got locked up on some construction thing, plead guilty. Spending another few years in the jail.”

“Yeah,” Kassian affirmed. “Funny thing, too, this wiped the Vlackwood thing off the block.”

“Huh?” Abbot perked up at that statement. “Wha--”

“You been listening to anything? Turned on the radio?”

“No… not really.”

“Your playdate with Osip made tri-state. Good sh*t,” Kassian laughed. “Doesn’t matter, though. Old news.” He turned away, dismissive. “Hey, pa?”


“I was gonna do that thing, you know. The roof repairs.”

Teddy leaned over. “Uh huh?”

“Yeah. Vadim isn’t here, so how about you put him to work on the shelves? I’ll take Abbot. See if he’s capable for a little more work, right?”

Teddy thought for a moment, but nodded. “Yes… Alright. Good thinking. Is Vadim-”

“He use to work with his uncle, at the thing. He’ll be fine, pa,” Kaz replied. He motioned to Abbot: “C’mon,” he said.

Across the street, a foot or two in front of Teddy’s car, Kassian had his parked: an unremarkable silver Fathom K15 sedan with old plates, had a rattly engine that jingled for a moment before they drove off, the short silence between starting the ignition and driving off being peppered with an occasional clunk. Guess he hadn't gotten around to servicing.

“So…” Abbot began, breaking the silence. “The news thing.”

Buddy. You’re not gonna ask how I’ve been? Abbie, c’mon.”

“Fine. How’ve you been, Kaz?”

“Well… good, really. Now, moving on - you were there. You should’ve known what happened.”

“I dunno… I just kinda hurried out of there. Checked under the sink and all but that’s about it… y’know, they wasted my time.”

Kassian chuckled. “That’s cold.”

“What’re you gonna do, I guess. But what happened?”

“Well, uh… sh*t. The big guy, Stanislav or whatever--”


“Yeah. He bit the dust. Hard. Blunt force trauma f*cked him up on impact apparently.” Abbot bit his tongue. “The other one’s still missing,” Kassian continued. “Osip or Iosif or whatever. Cops think he killed his buddy and ran for it. Pops went crazy when he heard how it turned out.”

“Crazy how?”

“Crazy, as in, like, good crazy. The whole situation was wrapped up without loose ends, whether you meant to or not, so there’s that. Plus, he likes you, a lot. I mean, sh*t, he lets you call him Teddy. Half my friends can’t do that.”

“Uh… yeah.” It was humbling, being ‘liked’ by a drug dealer, it seemed. “And the mob stuff?”

“Oh, right. Dad actually met the guy, funnily enough. Gerry or whatever, moved some brown with him back in the 90’s or Noughties or something like that. They all come down from Bantonvale or whatever, you go into this business and you almost expect them to come and ask for taxes and favors and all. But, er… this whole ‘15-to-20’ sh*t is gonna set off a few sparks, though. Always does…”

“Yeah,” Abbot muttered back. “So what’re we doing? What’s this whole roof repair thing?”

“Well… okay. We’re heading down to Bialann Avenue right now, Restaurant Row, you know.”

“Yeah.” Bialaan Avenue was a main road by Goatherd Bay, home to a few boat clubs and a few bait and tackle places originally. But as of late, the place had sort of become a hotspot for Mediterranean food: Greek, Turkish, Persian, so on. Enough for the place to literally be known as ‘Restaurant Row’, at least. “So… some Greek wants some smack or something?”

“Nah,” Kassian said. “This guy, Yusuf Tiryaki, he’s not paying his dues, hasn’t for a very long time. Too much time playing poker on top of existing debts, I guess. Runs a seafood place with his son on the row, so we’re paying him another visit.”


“It’s basically weekly. Always excuses, can’t touch the guy or anything either, place is usually packed and he’s a friend of a friend.”

“Sh*t... didn’t know Teddy was a loan shark.”

Kassian shrugged. “We’re full of surprises.”

The restaurant, Tekne, was this nice place by the boat dock, classy wood panels with the name printed on the roof in blue lettering, right up on the street next to a fishing supplies place and one of the many local boat clubs. Inside, pushing open the establishment’s door (the sign behind it marked closed), it was similar: a pretty view of the bay surrounded by murals and wall mounted fish.

“Must’ve been a big loan,” Abbot mused.

“You bet,” Kassian replied. “People… they have their vices. You?”


“Nothing. Forget it.” Kassian stopped in his tracks, pointed out towards the dining area. “That’s the guy,” he said.

A few people, workers, were rushing around, fixing up tables, setting up cutlery and menus, rushing in and out of the kitchen; the most notable of which being a stumpy guy near the windows, suited up in a sports coat and a striped dress shirt, sweating like a pig. He wasn’t doing much, if anything he was directing it all; pacing around the room and yelling in a foreign language.


“Yeah,” Kassian clarified. “Let’s say hi.”

With Abbot in tow, Kassian approached, heading down a small staircase to the dinette. As the two loomed, Tiryaki turned: expression going from ‘angry boss’ to ‘desperate’ in a matter of seconds.

“Thought I left the door locked!” he exclaimed. “We’re busy!”

“Why’s the place locked up? It’s 6 in the afternoon, buddy, you keep it closed and you’re gonna have a harder time paying up.”

“We have accident. F*ck you.”

“You know why we’re here,” Kassian said. “My father, as generous as he is, is getting impatient.”

“Look: I will get you money as soon as I can,” he spat. “I will. But the interest, it is f*cking extortion! You and are being very unreasonable.”

“You wouldn't be here if you played a better hand,” Abbot snarked.

“And who the f*ck do you think you are? Piece of sh*t. The f*cking game was rigged.”


“Why you provoke me? I ought to call cops.”

Kassian’s cocky smile faltered for a second. “Let's not get hasty. We’re trying to be--”

“Do not give me that sh*t. Here you are threatening me, coming in bullsh*t goons who speak of sh*t to me. I do not care if your father is good man, or generous, or anything. Next time you f*cking come here, with dumbsh*t goons, I will call police. Now, please--”

And at that precise moment, Abbot flipped a table.

It was to his right, one of the few that had been completely set up. Without warning, the thing was on it’s side, forks and napkins all over the floor. Splintered.

The fat one, Tiryaki, was in shock. “What the f*ck?!” he cried. “You have any idea how much--” blah, blah blah. In that instant, his panicked justifications turned into a tirade, blabbering on about how Abbot was a ‘psycho’, how he needed to clean up the mess. At the same time, the rest of the restaurant had stopped; people who were previously darting around the place had frozen up. Dead silent, in awe. Kassian included.

When the ringing in Abbot’s ears had mostly subsided, he span around, faced the guy. “I call f*cking cops!” he was still shouting. “This is insult, embarrassment! You know who I know?!”

Abbot’s retort was grabbing ahold of Yusuf’s neck.

“Listen here,” Abbot growled. “Listen. You listening?”

Yusuf gurgled back.

“You call the cops and I’ll be out the doors within a day. They're with us. Always have been. Do you understand?”

Another gurgle.

“Good. Now I hope you understand that you best be paying soon, otherwise we call up the PD; and I swear to god, they’ll be helping us bury your body too. You even try, you even f*cking try, and we’ll cut your face off. Clear?”

“I think he understands,” Kassian said.

Abbot nodded, letting go. “Sure,” he replied.

With Yusuf’s panicked nods corroborating, the two left, Tiryaki still lying on the floor as they walked out. When the hot, unfiltered air was whipping at their faces again, Kassian laughed.

“You’re good.”

“I try.”

“Seriously. This is your first time, right?”

“Well, yeah.”

“How'd you come up with all that?”

“I-... sh*t, I don’t know. I just thought--”

“Doesn't matter. You weren't that far off, actually.”

The Glossary

Winter, 1997: In The Field

Edited by slimeball supreme
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In The Field


Four men were seated at a table in the kitchen. Achban had his eyes on them - mostly late middle age, around the same age as his father, dark hair and occasionally shaved heads. They spoke in an eclectic mix, sometimes Russian, sometimes English. Achban picked up pieces.

“You either find the hole that they are living in, you find the people that they are talking to, or you find out how they are getting funded,” he recalled one saying. The guy who said it was stocky, turtleneck and a little chain. “I don’t want to f*ck around with this, Adam.”

“I understand,” Achban’s father replied.

They had cigarettes, some of them anyway. Either that or a mug of something ma had made, likely tea. Achban, at this point, had left the TV on and was just staring at them from the sofa from the other side of the small apartment. Intent.

Hand on his shoulder. “Why don’t you head outside, Achban?”

“It’s cold, ma.”

Neé Trusigolova, Lidiya Cohen was a good woman. Sweet, gentle, a contrast to her feeble carpet-seller husband who she’d met in Chișinău after the passing of Jackson-Vanik. They moved to America two years later, had their kids in the states and huddled up on the outskirts of Hove’s Russian community, her talent with English giving her a step ahead but not enough to stop her from leaving work as a textile cutter by 1981. She smiled, warm despite the frost on the windows. History seemed to show on her face.

“Play with your friends. You know how papa is when his friends come. He doesn’t like you hearing what they talk about.”

“Why not, ma? I’m watching the TV. Can’t hear anything.”

A sympathetic half smile. “I’m sure Kassian is free. It’s business things, you are too young.”

Achban always keeled. “Alright, ma. Does Abbot have to come?”

“Not this time. He’s got the mathematic homework to do. You know how he is.”

Achban smirked at that.

He was out shortly after, parka on, riding his bike down to where the neighborhood boys hung, the neighborhood lit up in reds and greens while his bike dredged through the white on the sidewalk. Hanukkah season, though the family never got themselves wrapped in festivities.

Achban hung out with some of the other local kids - Kaz, Lenny, Tony, a few others. Jewish kids who did little errands for neighborhood guys and bummed cigarettes at De Payster Park in Firefly Island, near the trash cans across from the chess tables. Usually they’d be there or the pool hall, but as of late, partially because of the weather, they’d made their little hangout spot especially obvious.

On the corner of Wappinger and Mohawk was a little Georgian bakery and café - Lamazia, next to another restaurant named Little Gorbachefs, under the train tracks. Had a little dining area to the left of the counter, a few tables that were never really occupied. Aside from decent eats and decent heating, Achban knew the real reason they chose this spot, of all spots.

It was a block or two away from Perestroika.

The place was mostly painted with oranges and browns - striped wallpaper, Mr. Kurashvilli shouting in the back room at somebody over muted pop music on the room’s corner speaker. Head Radio. Cluttered tables, cheap seating, an empty restaurant apart from the kids hanging out near the store window. Kaz, wearing a Rearwall down jacket and a black knit cap, stood up. Grinned.

“Hey, Ack! C’mon.”

“What's up?”

“Lenny wanted to show you something.”

“Yeah,” Lenny said. “Pretty f*ckin’ cool.”

Lenny had glasses, blue and grey tracksuit, black wool gloves, blond. Probably the most ‘Russian’ of the kids, despite the fact he was born around here like the rest of them; had an ever so slight accent that seemed to get heavier under duress. His hands were in his jacket pockets.

“A’ight,” Achban said. “I’ll bite.”

Tony was next to talk, Swingers baseball cap and oversized leather jacket. Real name Anton. “Can I say it?”

“Nah, let Len show him.”

“Alright, you ready?”

Achban was seated. “Lay it on me, L.”

Hand unsheathed: a bloody snub revolver. Dried, at least.

Woah, f*ck!

“I know.”

“Where the f*ck’d you find it?”

“Little urban exploration, man. Me and Tony climbed up the fire escape near that little alleyway on Delaware, right? Near that place with the big Cherenkov sign.”


“We’re hanging around, seeing what's what.”

“Could be a drug deal or some sh*t goin’ on,” Tony added.

“Right.” Lenny continued, “We’re just checking around, nothing’s there. Waste of time, we’re thinking. So we’re heading back to the bikes and… there it is.”

“That's f*cking sick.”

“Yeah, must be some real sketchy gang sh*t.”

Lenny’s little grin had expanded; ear to ear, almost. “You know, if I show my dad this--”

“Please don't,” Achban cut.

“--he’d probably say it was that Faustin guy.”

“Well, your dad would know all about that kinda sh*t.”

“Whatever. Maybe it wasn't Faustin. But it was definitely one of the… you-know-what types, I figure.”

“God, that's f*cking awesome. Is it loaded?”

Look to the left, look to the right. “Yeah,” Lenny said, carefully. “Five rounds.”

“Holy sh*t.”

“Yeah,” Kaz mused. “It's pretty crazy.”

“You think someone fired a shot?”

“Why’d there be a missing bullet if that weren’t what happened?” Tony seemed drawn to it.

“So… what are you gonna do with it?”

Nobody said anything. Not for a long time. Deep thought, Lenny kinda staring at the gun, Anton kinda staring at the gun. Everyone kinda staring at the gun.

Then, Tony simpered. Breakthrough. He looked up, at the others. Excitement seemed to beam through.

“Wanna try it out?”



“This is turban warfare, motherf*cker!

Bang. Through the backfire pops on the freeway you could still hear the shot echo.

“What the hell, Tony!”

“What? It’s a good movie.”

“Chill with the f*cking gun,” Lenny said. “You’re gonna break your wrists.”

“Nah.” Anton must’ve thought he was in a Howitzer flick. “My pa’s friend, uh… Walt. He used to be a cop in Rhode Island, right? Always held the single shots like this.”

Guy was holding it around 1 foot away from his face, both hands wrapped around each other on the grip.

“I don’t think so, man.”

“Kaz, I know what I’m doing, I’ve been to a range before. I’m not a dumbass.”

“You sure?”

“Shut up, Achban.”

They’d ridden their bikes to a little clearing off the creek, basically underneath the parkway. Project towers peering over the horizon, nothing but unkempt grass for a few hundred feet; until you hit either the water or the Firefly Train Yard. Nowhere in Liberty City was really secluded, but to the guys this was the single place, within pedaling distance at least, where people wouldn’t hear a shot.

Frost shaded the ryegrass, piles of snow in erratic locations. Greens and whites. The boys wore black and blue.

“You gonna give anyone else a turn or what? Three left now, you better not be hogging it.”

“Relax, Kaz.” Hand outstretched, Tony passed it on. Kassian’s turn.

“You know how to hold a gun, right?”

“Yeah, Len.”

“Without hurting yourself?”

“Unlike somebody, that’s something I’m trying to avoid.”

“F*ck yourself,” Tony said.

“I’d love to, Anton, but I’m kinda busy right now.”

Pfft. “Whatever,” Tony replied.

Taking aim now, towards the buildings in the distance, orange and beige brick towers tinted blue by the fog. “How much range you think this has?”

“Kassian, it’s a revolver, not a hunting rifle.”

“I’m just saying.”

Ready. Aim. Fire. The shot pulled out and Kaz nearly fell to the ground.

“F*ck! This thing kicks like a f*ckin’ mule. God, my ears.”

“And you were saying I was holding it wrong.”

“Tony, you nearly had your hand wrapped around the bullet thingy.”

“The cylinder,” Achban corrected.

“You nearly had your hand wrapped around the cylinder.”

“Whatever. Who’s next?”

“Achban ain’t had a shot.”

Everyone looked at him for a moment, to which Achban meekly shrugged. “When he’s right, he’s right. I haven't.”

“Two bullets, too. Would've gotten it earlier if wiseguy over here didn't think he was Al Di Napoli.”

Tony scowled. “What's everyone ganging up on me for? You're allowed to take your time, man. Don't blame me for actually tryna’ test this thing.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just gimme the gun.”

It felt warm in his hands, metal still kind of hot. Felt strong holding it, fingers brushing over the grip, the Hawk and Little insignia cut into the side, the dried plasma on what felt like every surface. He felt like he was a big man. Like he was Jon Gravelli, like the gangsters in Ubers and Benefactors probably felt cruising through Hove. Like he was tough. Like a gangster.

Anton noted the little expression, the little jolt. “Yeah, feels good, huh?”

“You gonna shoot the f*ckin’ thing or what?”

Back to the real world. “Right, sh*t,” Achban pardoned. “Sorry.” He held it carefully, tried to anyway; he felt like he wasn't an amateur, had seen people hold it right in documentaries and whatnot. Everyone there had, they just didn't want to admit it.

He pointed at the dirt.

“You're gonna shoot the ground?”

“Yeah. We don't know how much kick this thing has, right? Wanna see how much dust flies.”

“If anything does,” Kassian laughed. “The soil is pro’lly frozen solid. Might bounce off and hit you in the face, heh.”

Lenny, now: “Imagination goes a long way, huh?”

“I try.”

Prepped now, hands in place, eyes on the target. Three, two, one.


“Goddamn it!” Ears ringing, alarm bells. This one was louder than the others, obviously. Really f*cking hurt to boot. There was no smut, no dirt. Just a few chunks of mud and the lead in deep - like he'd shot a cake. Hand over right ear, “So much for dust!”

“I told you, Achban.”

“Well, it didn’t go and bounce and hit me in the face, right?”

“Lucky, lucky.”

From out of nowhere, Lenny snatched it. Power drained. He stared at the thing.

“You could’ve asked,” said Achban.

“You would’ve asked to shoot the last round,” he replied.

“So that’s it?” Tony sighed. “We’re just gonna throw it?”

“Yeah,” Lenny replied again. “If we’re lucky it lands in one of the big snow piles. If it doesn’t, we hope that eventually it gets covered up. Our fingerprints are all over this thing now. Well… except mine.”

Addressing the gun: “Good times were had,” said Kassian.

“It’s a f*cking gun, dude. You’re not losing an arm.”

“Feels like I am, eh?”

Eye roll. Like the gun shots, Lenny prepared, rolled his arm back like he was pitching. Three, two, one.


A couple feet in the air, a good distance away. Too far away to tell. Deep into the shrubbery. “Let’s pray that sh*t’s covered,” Lenny hoped.

They all hoped.

The walk back was a fair distance away. Their bikes were all leaning against a concrete pillar supporting the overpass; where no snow had gathered and in an area easily identifiable, the vibrant graffiti and the shadow of the train tracks leaving an easy landmark. Home stretch.

“Well… that was something.”

“Sure was.”

Attitudes had changed, the adrenaline seemed to subsist, that hot feeling when you felt you could take on the world. All replaced with cold disappointment. Nobody got to fire the last shot. Wasted potential, they all thought.

“God-f*cking-damn it.”


“My f*cking wheel,” Achban swore. “It’s all jammed.”

The others had gotten on their bikes fine, without a hitch. Achban, however, had more trouble. The wheel wouldn’t move.

“Sh*t… you need help?”

“It’s fine, Len. I’ll catch up.”

“You sure?”

Frustrated sigh; Achban continued to gingerly play with the wheel. “Yeah, I’m sure. It’s not a big deal, you just gotta wiggle it or whatever. You guys going to the bakery or the pool hall?”

“Yeah, we’ll head back to Lamazia. See what’s what. If we aren’t there, you know where.”

“Right, yeah. I’ll see you guys.”

Goodbyes were shared, and off they went. Pedaling into the horizon, or rather just down the dirt path. Out of sight, out of mind.

Achban pulled the branch out of the pedal. Tested it out, bike was fine. Suckers bought it. He laughed to himself about it, tossed the stick and waited for a moment. Made sure nobody was watching.

And with that, he ran back into the grass.


The Glossary

Chapter 11: The Scoundrel

Edited by slimeball supreme

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The Scoundrel


“So… where‘re we going?”

Abbot had gone to the corner store, gotten in Kassian’s car, and they drove. No fanfare. He didn’t even try going into work that morning, called in sick, Food poisoning or some bullsh*t. He could hardly remember.

“It’s a surprise,” Kassian replied, in earnest. “Or something like that. It’s a big deal, though.”

Kassian had gotten the call in the morning, 8 am sharp, woke him up. The big men wanted to talk. Same spot. As soon as possible. They’d be there all day. He could hardly remember the exacts, but things like this always had the alarm bells ringing. They wanted to meet the new guy, it seemed.

Yesterday had been a weird blur after… whatever it was. It felt like a fluke, a joke, but to Abbot it was as real as it got. Adrenaline pumping through his veins long after he’d been with Kassian, his brain still on this weird kick when it was midnight and he was sleeplessly staring into the ceiling. He wanted to do sh*t, he wanted to do it now and he wanted that to be the end of it. So when he got Kassian’s call in the morning, he wasted no time. Mentally he was already set.

The car took a turn, left on East 12th. Kassian was silent, Abbot was silent, no tension but an odd feeling in the air of tight anticipation, the radio off and the cold, ringing nothingness leaving an odd, awkward effect. A thick conversational fog.

“So…” Abbot broke the silence, again. “What’s happened?”


“I mean, if it’s a big deal, something’s happened. Something bad, usually.”

“No…” Kassian‘s car stopped at the light. Red. “No,” he repeated.

“Oh. So it’s good?”

“Something like that, Abbie. You’re gonna be talking to some big names.”

Thrilling. Names I know?”

“Maybe. Maybe not.” He tried to smile, but the nerves stood through. “Big deal, though,” Kaz repeated.

Abbot laughed back; insincere, tried to shake the tension. “I figured.”

The K15 rounded the corner; past the Fathom dealership on Iroquois and Cisco, past the boxing gym and the big towers, past the little row houses on the little side streets. Nearer and nearer they approached the mecca, the heart of Hove Beach.

Mohawk Avenue.

Mohawk was Mohawk. A visual caterwaul of signs in Cyrillic, different colors, different fonts - an almost alien mimicry of a foreign place. It didn’t feel like Liberty City. It didn’t feel like Odessa, or Moscow, or the dozens of other places in Eastern Europe it’s inhabitants hailed from. It felt like Hove Beach. The old stomping ground. It was familiar, distinct.

“Things haven't changed, have they?” Abbot murmured.

“They never do around here,” Kassian replied, sighing. More apprehension. The car continued to roll down the thoroughfare. Was Abbot supposed to be worried? Apparently so. Did Kassian want him to be worried?

Was giving him the silent treatment the right way around it? Kassian was trying to think the whole situation through. This stuff, meeting with the big names; it never comes easy. Kassian did sh*t himself and it took him months, years to get where he wanted. Maybe more. And still, Abbot was here - dressed kinda shabby, ready to meet some important names, remember some important faces. Kassian was happy for him. Worried, but happy.

The car slowed by the sidewalk, right up to a metallic little newsstand nearby a fabrics shop, sandwiched by Japanese sedans, the sound of hustle and bustle flowing through the closed doors.

“So… here we are,” Abbot said. “Are you gonna-”

“Not yet,” Kassian cut back. “We’re crossing the street.”

“Okay, sure, but are gonna explain what’s happening, or…”

Another sigh, deeper. “You’re meeting the bosses,” Kassian said back. “I already told you.”

“You told me big names.”

“Yeah. Big names means big men; the brigadiers. You know, bosses. Look: just… chill. This is all about impressions.”

“So this is a job interview?”

“Think of it like that, sure. Be excited or some sh*t. I am, y'know. For you.”

Another nod. “Really, now?”

Kassian didn’t reply.

On the corner of one of the streets, a shiny Enus - a Caesar Cipher - stood parked near a little café, not a slight inkling of grime on it’s almost pearl-white body, clean as a whistle. Light seemed to reflect off it, almost; a beacon to passersby. The same seemed to apply to the rest of the corner, luxury German sedans all seemed to collect by this strange, apposite restaurant. The Undersea Café.

It was built into the corner, a triangular shape - deep blue sign with a little mug insignia, the blues and occasional yellow contrasting with the deep red of the ‘closed’ sign at the door. “Are you sure this is the spot?” Abbot asked. The unease was starting to get to him, the nerves.

“Always has been.” Forced smile: “Just… straighten yourself out. You’ll be fine.”

Pierogi hit the nose as soon as he entered. A musk, almost overpowering to the senses. It wasn’t like there was much else to note, though, greys seemed to be the color of choice in here; the chairs, the countertops. Contrasting directly with the well lit, blue-and-yellow menu sign, and the colourful cloth-

“Hey. Hey! Who the f*ck is this?” Like gravel funneled in his ear.

There was a hand on his chest now, kinda strong looking dude, fat gold around his neck and fingers, crew cut, face fleshy and pink. A black Heat sweatshirt with sleeves rolled up. He snarled, barked, like a pitbull. A guard dog.

“You see the f*cking sign on the door?” He snarled again.

“Seva…” Kassian tried to butt in. Seva wasn’t having it.

“It means,” he continued. “The store is f*cking closed. You see white car out there? It means you do not come inside.”

“He’s with me, Sev.”

“Kaz, друг, buddy,” Sev started slapping at his own forehead, frustrated. “When byki are coming in to discuss business, you don’t bring guests or whatever the f*ck. This is not-”

“Эй! Заткнись, Сева. Успокойся.”

From one of the tables, in the corner, two old men sat. One of them, wearing spectacles and a tacky Flying Bravo polo barely hiding the blue ink tattoos on his arms, growled back. He spoke again, more harsh Slavic Abbot did not understand. Seva, once at Abbot’s throat, backed down.

“Apologies,” he said. “Enter.”

He stood aside. The two passed through.

Two tables were occupied in an otherwise empty establishment. One, aforementioned, was in the corner. Two old men; one in a polo, greying combover, splotchy skin and spectacles, the one who talked. The other wordless, aged, sharp looking grey silk suit, lavender shirt and tie, Perseus belt, a teacup in his paw. The two eyed him, hard. The suited one stoic and the other… well, his face was hard to decipher. Was he mad? Vetting someone new, or scrutinizing the new blood? Abbot couldn’t tell.

The other table did little to sway this. More young men of Seva’s variety, muscular and fleshy in brand name clothes, leather jackets over the seats (despite the 80 degree heat outside), and neck chains - some proudly displaying the Star of David. They stared, the same fervour of the old men at the other table. Dead silent intimidation.

“Shalom, Pasha,” Kassian greeted. The two approached the men at the table, slowly through the vacant café. “Mr. Saravaisky.”

The man in the suit nodded. “Shalom, Kassian,” the man in the polo said. The suit nodded again, in Abbot’s direction.

“Ah! Right. Abbot, this is… these are the avtoritet. On the left, Mr. Pavel Utkin-”

“Shalom,” polo said.

“-and Mr. Venyamin Saravaisky.”

“Доброе утро,” suit said.

“Right.” Abbot struggled to think of the right words. “Er… good morning.” He extended a hand, the two shook.

“Uh, Kassian…” Pavel said, pitter-pattering fingers on the table - thick like sausages. “Us three have things to discuss. Why don’t you head over…” he motioned his head to the other table. “Vadim is here.”

Kassian sighed, like the pressure was taken off his chest. “Yeah. Yes. Thank you, sir.” And like that, almost at the blink of an eye, he was gone. He didn’t want to be here, it seemed.

Hushed reticence followed. Four eyes on him. Expecting.

“Well…” Pavel uttered. “Come down and sit. We have a fair bit to discuss, eh?”

Abbot obeyed.

More quiet. “Do you want anything to drink, Abbot?”

“...I’m okay.”

“I do not intend to make this, er, hard to do. Awkward, yes?”

“Of course, Mr. Utkin.”

“Please. Call me Paulie. Pasha. Whatever.” He turned to Mr. Suit, Saravaisky. “You have already been introduced to my associate, Benny. He is not usually attending these, uh, meetings. He does not always handle what happens down in Hove.”

“But I always like to, how you say…” Benny interrupted, pondered for a notable moment or two. “Check new blood. Something like that.”

Pasha agreed. “Yes,” he said. “We get a call, several times, from Feygin. Teddy. You have been working for him, yes? Few week?”

“Uh huh,” Abbot said.

“And you were the man behind what happened with this Iosif individual. Taking pills. Taking his little friend.”

Abbot was slower to reply. “He wasn't so little, but yes.”

A smile crept up on Saravaisky. “Same with the dumb f*cking Turk with the restaurant. Owes money. Made him pay up fast, f*cking bitch Feygin been easy on payment because he is big friends with important people, the men he is in debt to. Make me and my associate look like pussy.”

Pasha, now; “Easy.”

“Да, да.”

“End of the day, you have done good. We get two canaries in our ear chirping about how good you are. Feygin and his boy. Raving or however you say.”

Didn’t seem like he was f*cking raving in the car, Abbot thought.

“You speak language good? Russian. Yiddish.”

“Uh, no, Mr. Utkin. Some Yiddish, no Russian.”

“I tell you, Pasha. Call me Pasha.”

“Sorry. Pasha.”

“But it is no matter, Cohen,” Benny said. “Half the new kids in Broker hardly can these days. New generation.”


“I will try to spare the, er… theatrics, Abbot.” Pasha continued. “That is how you say?”

“Yes, Pasha.”

“What he is trying to say,” Benny elaborated. “Is that you have made quite name for yourself. Gotten few people talking. Which is something else, you know, half these boys do not graduate for quite while unless they make big earn.”

“And you have been down here two weeks.”

Abbot tried to laugh, humble. Tried. “I don’t- heh, I don’t make the rules, I guess… so you’re saying, uh, I’ve earned my stripes?”

“Stop with the mumbling.”

“Sorry, Pasha.”

“No, Cohen, we are not saying this,” Saravaisky said. His brow was arched now, more serious, if he could be. “Usually, men ‘earn their stripes’… enter our little organization, by ubrat. A, uh… hit, yes?”

Uh oh.

But,” Pasha stressed. “The way we see it… the bones have already been made. This Iosif was, er… адекватный. Good enough. He was worthless, petty drug dealer. Starts talking me and Benny up like we mean sh*t. Starts to talk with these Chinese about this fentanyl. Tries to screw one of my good friends. And you dispose of him. Better yet, cops think he kill his buddy over smack.”

“So we give you easy task,” Benny said. “This Turk you f*ck with, Yusuf. He has son, name is Cenk. Runs the little restaurant with him. Probably washes the dish or cleans the toilet or something like that, little sh*t.”

“He has a nice car. ‘96 Obey model, C3: first generation. It’s silver, license plate HFG-5309. It’s modded to sh*t, you’ll know it when you see it. Me and Benny are, er… partial to it, yes? Going to be dealing the Turk weed with his Turk buddies at a parking lot on Tulsa Street, near elementary school. PS-something.”

Benny reached into his pocket, pulled out a screwdriver, rolled it across the table. “Take the car,” he commanded.

“Yes. Bring it to repair shop on corner of Cisco and Iroquois. Cross the street from Fathom dealership. Owner, his name is Evgeny - Eugene. Very good friend of ours, will use it how needs be. You know where that is, Abbot?”

“Yes, Pasha. Kassian drove past it on the way here, I think.”

“Good. Don’t hurt the kid. Maybe rough him up a little if you need, teach him lesson. But don’t kill him. You do this for me, there will be little payday for you. More important, though, there will be much more work for you after fact.”

Abbot took it all in. “Alright,” he said. “I can do that.”

Pasha smiled.

“Well.” Benny put his cup down, stood up. “It is nice meeting you, Cohen.”

“Likewise, Mr. Saravaisky.”

Benny gave him another look, indecipherable, like before. “Hope to see you soon, Abbot.” He stretched out a hand, Abbot reciprocated, a tough few seconds with eyes interlocking. “You seem to be good listener. You get this done.”

“I take orders, don’t I?”

A smile. “Don’t we all. Sevastyan!

Seva perked up again. “Да?”

“Найдите машину. Мы уходим.”

“Да, сэр.”

And thus, the two left; the suit and his driver. The Enus drove away.



Tweedledum and Tweedledee, smoke billowing from the tip of the Debonaire. Pasha was right, the thing was modded to sh*t. Blacked out grilles and rims, modified bumper, chromed mirrors, so on. Wasn’t quite sure how they could’ve considered it a ‘nice car’ at this point, but whatever. A gig’s a gig. Abbot observed from afar, leaning up against a merlot Annis SUV outside the lot like he had a reason to be there. The Turks continued to take drags.

Subject one: elder of the two, chubby, neck length hair, Pounders snapback and basketball shorts. Given the fact he was currently sitting on the Obey’s hood and carried this air of faux-importance around him, he was most likely the Cenk guy they were talking about. His buddy was less notable, sleeveless shirt and a complex looking arm tattoo Abbot couldn’t make out thanks to distance.

There were around three rows of cars on a mix of gravel and cement; the Turks at the end visible through a patchwork mess, a few empty spaces here and there giving away their position. They were distracted, obviously; conversation tends to do that. So with as much elegance as he could muster, Abbot moved on in. Tried playing it cool.

Were the nerves getting to him? No. He'd done jobs like this, boosting cars were pretty much dime-a-dozen back in the day, rookie sh*t. Any schmuck with half a brain could hotwire a car; twist a few wires in the right place and you're off. But that was about ten or twelve years ago.

Bam, up against another car. White SUV. Thumbing at the trunk lock so he looked like he was fumbling with his keys, just in case the Turks a row over were looking (which they weren't). Conversation was audible now: “What your dad say about the idea?” Tank top was talking, sounded agitated.

“Nah. No. Can’t do it.”


Cenk took a drag from the smoke, shook his head. “These f*cking Russians, man. My dad weren't no good for it anyway, but they come down to the restaurant other day. Teddy Feygin's son and this new guy, skinny f*cking four eyes type.”

Abbot noted the irony.

“What'd they do?” Tank top asked.

Cenk laughed. “Four eyes went nuts. Choked him out, smashed a table.”

“F*ck, man,” Sleeveless said. “Sounds rough. If he don't want to help finance the place now, it’s cool. I can wait, man.”

“Speaking of f*cking waiting,” Cenk spat. “Where the hell is Tuncay?”

“I dunno. Says he’ll be here by, er…” Sleeveless pulled his phone out, tapped at the screen for a few seconds. “Noon.”

“Great start to the f*cking evening when we’re waiting out here for, like, hours and sh*t. Asshole.”

Abbot tried getting a good look of the car, but he was blocked off. The guys had peripheral vision of essentially the entire lot - if he was gonna make a move they'd notice him immediately. Not a risk to take, Abbot thought. They could be strapped for all he knew, get too sketchy and he'd get a bullet for his trouble. He was stuck, the car was held hostage.

Sleeveless grunted. “Speak of the dog, ready the stick.”


Out of nowhere, Abbot could hear it. Crunching, wheels rolling on gravel. He turned - tricked out Dinka Blista; red paint, bronze-looking aftermarket ricer rims, smoked out windows, park bench spoiler. A gaudy bolt from the blue. It rolled on by, stopped to the right.

“F*ckin’ asshole,” Cenk snarled. “Get the sh*t. Window’s open.”

Sleeveless obliged, Abbot looked on. While Cenk approached, Sleeveless took a step back. Leaned into the car window and pulled out a little baggie. Go time. When his back was turned, when both guys were at the Blista’s window, Abbot made his move.

“What the hell took you, Tuncay?”

“I'm sorry, Cenk. Uncle needed help with painting the place.”

At this point Abbot was feeling for the door handle, hand up against black pleather before the thing was unlocked. He almost fell in, regretted not jumping through the window. Here came the fun part.

Eyes on the steering column. Screwdriver goes in. Screwdriver turns. Screw comes out. Repeat ad nauseam. One thing on Abbot’s mind: ‘Dear God, please tell me this thing doesn't have an immobiliser.’ They'd been putting those f*ckers in more and more cars since the 90’s, put a lot of enterprising young hoodlums out of the job back in the day. Abbot crossed his fingers.


With the panel, the wires poured out. Thank Christ. Things were bundled with a bunch of harness connectors, easy fix. Move the right wires, pull the right ones out. In this case: middle leads to steering column, pop the top, twist off the wires leading to the battery, twist ‘em together. After a quick spark, the thing was on, dash lit up, components kicked into gear. All in all a pretty easy lick for a car like this.

Abbot thought it over for a moment, combed his mind for what to do next. Two more steps. First is to… rev the engine. Oy vey. Like pulling a trigger, this was. Quick countdown, deep breath, another spark.

The engine came to life.

“Hey, is that your car?”

“Huh?” Cenk turned, face red. “Hey, what the f*ck?!

Oh no. One step left: breaking the steering column. Usually a bit of elbow grease did the job if you yanked the thing hard enough, but the pressure was on.

“What f*ck you doing?!”

Another countdown, another breath. Snap. Oh god, oh god, oh god.

“I got the burner on me, man.” Sleeveless had his hand by his waistband. Abbot had his foot on the accelerator. Wheels grinded on the ground, beads of sweat started dropping, everyone, everyone, was shouting.

“F*ck you!”

The thing span to the right, almost slammed into the row in front of him. Two paths out, one was blocked by the Turks; heart racing at the thought.

Soon after, a shot popped off. Sleeveless was obviously carrying a 22 caliber at best, since Abbot heard the shot fly into the trunk but he didn't feel it in his back a second later. Cheap sh*t. Three more shots, all misses, flew right by as Abbot made another right, sped off through the gate. Essentially home free. Nobody pursued. The rush came flowing through.

By the time Abbot got to the garage, this tiny old place with dated banners and chipping paint, Eugene was occupied. Almost bald, wrinkles like tree roots across his face, eyes buried in a Yiddish broadsheet. Abbot didn't know what to say.

“Thing’s kinda busted up.”

“Yeah?” Eugene didn't look up.

“Yeah… bullet in the trunk. Had to hotwire it.”

Eugene turned a page. “Uh huh. Collateral. No big deal. We’ll cut her up for the parts and take the goodies.”

Double take. “Goodies?”

“Cenk is idiot. Keeps his hash all over car, probably more. Moron would go to prison for life if K-9 unit got within a mile, so I’m told.”

Abbot nodded, though Eugene couldn't see. It all started to make sense. “Should I go?”

“Payment is in my office. Six hundred, cash. One thing, though.” He looked up - searing blue eyes staring directly into Abbot’s. He was dead serious, this was important.

“You forgot Benny’s screwdriver.”


The Glossary

Edited by slimeball supreme

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slimeball supreme

sorry for the wait and sorry if this post is weirdly formatted, new site update sucks



The Next Guy's Pocket


They were all in the car; Ramon, Latrell, DB, and Xavier, the latter in the driver’s seat as the quartet cruised down the freeway.


“I got it online, nigga,” he was saying. “Some sh*t was up with the gas or something, got it on the cheap. It’s an old ass car, son, had to drive down to Alderney, got the thing off some middle-aged type wop dude who was swappin’ it for a Rebel.”


DB shook his head. “F*ck you need a 4x4 in Alderney?”


“Exactly what I’m sayin’. Dudes got a Presidente and he wanna switch it around for an all-terrain. None my business.”


Passenger side rolled his eyes, Ramon. “Or you stole it.”


Xavier craned his head around to the side, not exactly a wise decision while going 35 miles an hour on a busy road. “F*ck you sayin’?”


Ramon Lozano looked slick, opposite of his brother. Dressed relatively nice, groomed facial hair, brainy-looking, currently looking out the window and grinning. “Nothin’, man. Where in Alderney?”


Xavier scoffed back; “Where in Alderney. Alderney, nigga. Took the Eden State Parkway off the Turnpike, near the, uh… what’s the place with that big park? Rhymes wit’ Cheesecake.”


“How the f*ck you get to a place you don’t know the f*ckin’ name of, chacho? The f*ck you even driving?”


“I ain’t remember, but I know it, b. ‘Sides, I’m in this tight, f*ckin’, uh… yeah, got me in the Uber. You know, 90’s-type gangster sh*t. Remember? Drop top, pimp kinda ride. Sh*ts was in that movie or sum’n. Back me up, Trell, you know what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.”


“Pimp?” Latrell smirked. “B, you was takin’ the train back then.”


That’s when the laughing started.


They’d been on the road for… god, how long? 10 or 15 minutes, or something like that. Felt longer, probably had been - they’d driven around an hour down to South Broker from the projects. Pain in the ass gathering everybody besides: Xavier running late-as-expected, everyone kind of bickering and tired on the trip there.


Seemed nobody knew what the f*ck was going on anymore, something as simple as “we’re working with a couple Puerto Rican ‘mechanics’ on the low and making some extra cash without anyone knowing” had turned into a barrage of codewords, lies, bullsh*t. Knot didn’t even know who the Lozanos were, kept being called ‘the Es’ for the chop shop they both worked at. Messy stuff. When you’re forced to tell the generals that this is happening at all after they find a stolen delivery truck under tarp, you already know it’s a messy plan. It was going to get messier.


After a boring morning jaunt down half the borough, they met up with the Lozanos at their garage, corner of Elway Road and Ecker Court, grimy place with the same few people working there. Did the math; after a small discussion, they’d split up - Knot, whining, same as always, heading with Gerardo to hit up some guy for ‘equipment’ while the rest had all bunched into Xavier’s clown car on the way to the docks. Good times. 

“Shut up,” Xavier growled. “Diapers over here think this hysterical.”


“It is,” DB said back. “Son, how you even keep hold ‘a stolen whip?”

“Nigga, shut the f*ck up.”


“Y’all cool down, a’ight?” Latrell was ever the peacemaker. “This sh*t ain’t the time. Look, it pro’lly ain’t stolen.”


“Bullsh*t it isn’t,” DB said. “How the f*ck a dude get a motherf*ckin’ Albany when he barely payin’ rent? How the f*ck he even get there?”


“‘Dunno, man. Don’t matter how, his money’s his business. Pro’lly took the bus.”


“Yeah, nigga,” Xavier snapped. “Pro’lly took the bus. I mean- sh*t. I did.”


DB kept laughing, Latrell frowned; “C’mon, son, you gettin’ the balla mixed up with his words ‘n sh*t. Time to focus.”


“Yeah, DB. Get wit’ them sh*ts. Speakin’ of,” attention turned to Ramon, Xavier kept going: “Where we headed?”


“Told y’all the address,” he replied.


“Specifically, tho’.”


The car rounded a corner. Ocean to the left, nowhere to the right. “We stoppin’ by the army terminal, down 58th. Then we movin’ a little further, up East Hook. That’s where sh*t be poppin’ off. Nice little place thereabouts where we can scope out some action, son.”


“What you lookin’ for at the army terminal?”


“Might as well, it’s on the way. Just a quick once over, scope it out. Nothin’ to it, call it homework.”




“Me and Gerardo gon’ be doin’ some stuff on our own time. It’s out cut too, right? We ain’t going in.”


They didn’t. Flash a couple minutes later, another 10 or 15, parked across the street from this huge, packed parking lot and large, faded beige-brick building. Industry town, or at least what was left of it - a couple blocks down warehouses were being turned into galleries and clubs and condos. The sad state of the Broker waterfront, but in this part of Sunrise Park things still looked sorta blue-collar. Ramon scrawled sh*t into a little notepad.


“What you writing?” Latrell asked.


“Stuff,” he replied. “Businesses. Entry points. If we get inside the terminal at all, there’s this little spot I wanna check out.”




“Yeah. Torpedo Imports. Fishy little spot, big ticket, has a few contracts with some warehouses from what I’ve Duplexed. Say they move alcohol and produce, whiskey ‘n vodka ‘n sh*t, but I’m just seeing a lot of names being repeated.”


“How you mean?” Latrell asked.


Pause. Ramon’s eyes kept darting, kept jotting. “...Don’t matter. It’s all technical sh*t. We gotta keep going.”


F*ck you too, Latrell thought.


You could feel the heat, both proverbial and literal, as they continued to drive: criss-crossing warehouses, delivery depots, refurbishings and construction sites. Dump trucks and GoPostal vans. Same sh*t, over and over - new billboards being posted up, advertising condo developments, moving companies, all the same, all blending. As Sunrise turned to Great Thresh, as Great Thresh turned to East Hook: all Latrell could think of was how… necrotic it all was. How dead it felt. Not the neighborhoods themselves, god no, they were thriving, dumpy little hipster coffee shops, parks, the huge Krapea warehouse by the docks you can’t keep your eyes off. But the rusting cranes. The rusting warehouses. The chipping paint. An urban dust bowl, it was.


“Ease up the car a lil’.”


“Why?” Xavier asked.


“Just do it.”


“Motherf*ckin’ mystery man.” He obliged, the car slowed. “Better be for a reason.”


“You think reconnaissance ain’t a good reason, then sh*t-”




“Recon, cabrón. Recon.”


“Then say f*ckin recon then.”


Latrell, then; “Ease up, chief. Ramon, what you seein’?”


They’d slowed by shuttered storefronts, shabby places: maybe closed for now, maybe closed indefinitely, right up on the corner of Champlain and Wayne Street. To their west, where Ramon was gazing: fence, empty lots, a LomBike station, and most importantly - rows upon rows of shipping containers, cranes peering off into the sky, the tips of the Algonquin skyline gallantly gleaming off into the smoggy horizon.


East Hook Container Terminal. The last port in the borough.




He turned back. “Xavier.”




“Me and L finna do some,” he stressed the next word hard, “recon, scope out this lot, a’ight?”




“Keep driving. Check your GPS, you wanna head up corner of… sh*t, head down the underpass of the Broker-Dukes Expressway, short ass drive. End of the road. ‘Pending on how long we take, we’ll only be, like, ten minutes. Who cares.”


Xavier sighed, nodded. DB: “Can I come?”


“Nah. Need two dudes checkin’ out if we good, might see us through the chain link if you want. Place still got security and I still ain’t sure if this a pedestrian area.”


DB sighed, nodded. Xavier: “You two do wha’chya gotta do.”


Seconds later, car was off, L and R were off. Short climb over a chain-link fence, little gap with the barbed wire razed off, and they were deep into dock country. more of the same, concrete and containers, trucks lined up, row after row. Some were even moving.


“What the f*ck was your problem back there?”


Ramon sighed, didn’t nod. “I don’t trust ‘em.”




“DB, Xavier. I trust Gerardo. I trust you. You’re level headed; got your head on straight. You think X back there know sh*t? You think DB do? How the f*ck old is he, anyway, thirteen?”


“Nineteen. Twenty. Somethin’ like that.”


“Why the f*ck you hangin’ ‘round kids, L?”


“I’unno. sh*t, he’s cool. Got a head on his shoulders. Can crack a lock.”


“Very marketable.”


“Whatever. He ain’t gon’ be ‘round for long, so why not? Takin’ his sh*t down to Alabama or some’ by next year. Probably herdin’ cows or some’ so why the f*ck it matter?”


“There’re Ballas in Birmingham, papi. He’ll live. ‘Sides that, wanna keep the lick short. Maybe you can start f*ckin’ with us, maybe Xavier. Not the kid, though. And sure as sh*t not that flashy motherf*cker tryna play hisself off like a Balla G or nothin’.”




“Yeah, whatever the f*ck his name is. They got they heads in the game too hard, think it ain’t a lost cause.”


“Can’t blame ‘em.”


“Maybe. That’s why you tight though, L. You ain’t fallin’ for this dumbass gang loyalty bullsh*t, you ain’t f*ckin’ with the B’s and the F’s and the L’s, which is the best way to go. I knew kids who was f*ckin’ with Spanish Lords ‘till they was thirty. Thirty-five. f*ck, some even was workin’ at the chop shop, back when pops was runnin’ it. And they got f*ckin’ bodied for they colors. Could list off the names for you right now, holmes: Yandel, Fernando, Valeria, Lyle, Dariel. f*ck. No prospects. Got done up, got they sh*t took, got they heads blast.”


“Yeah, yeah. I feel you. I’m too old for it, b. Twenty-eight next year. Same with Xavier. He wants out that sh*t. Only real niggas in the set is havin’ kids, gettin’ shot. You know. Petty sh*t, three letter crews tryna make a name. Xavier knows.”


“Does he? Don't look like it. Keeps talking 'bout his boy but don't look like it. Ain’t got no independence. Ain’t bright, no offense. Without you he’d just get bundled up in that Bobby P, purple world bullsh*t like the others, get got on a smack beef or some’in.”


“Yeah. Known him since we was kids, but... sh*t. I'm seeing holes, b. Mad holes. Ships are sinkin' right now. Finna make sure I ain't on board when it's under, and if I'm the only one wit' my head above that, then so be it. Y'know? Only one nigga I care about. You feel?”


“I feel.”


Breathe in, breathe out. They kept walking. “So… what’s so interesting out here?”


“A’ight. Stop here.”


They stopped - moved a little to the left, the plentiful trucks to either side giving them some cover.


“Look… there. T’word the river.”


Big warehouse at 12 o’clock, blue and white, “Broker Port Authority - Pier 14” in Helvetica placed at the top. Couple hi-vis jackets vests milling around, few trucks in a little loading bay. A little bit far off, naturally, couple hundred feet.


“They lease the big warehouses out to multiple tenants,” Ramon continued. “Certain sections are reserved, means plenty of offices, plenty of business. Most of the space in this loading area used for cargo traffic ‘n sh*t, trucks, moving all these containers.”


“Ain’t got the best view.” Latrell absolutely didn’t, as the subject of conversation was a couple hundred feet away. Ramon met that with an um, an ah, and a sigh.


“Hold on.” Took him a little while, but he pulled out his phone, opened an app. “See this?”






“That’s where we’re getting inside. Them little doors on the left. You see it?”


“Uh… yeah, yeah.”


“We can’t enter frontways since they got guards posted at night time, would do. And I don’t know if they port authority or they the type to put someone in cement shoes, you feel?”




“So we finna move past ‘em, clock the doors, and find what we’re lookin’ for. I got a feeling they keep the dirty stuff up inside the warehouse, move ‘em out all discreet-like. Make sure they don’t get checked by customs on the way out. Could be anything.”


“How you know that?”


“Irregularities in the books. Back at the army terminal they got the offices for that company.”


“Torpedo or whatever?”


“Yup. They renting out space at this pier, got pretty much the entire thing locked down. Checked some sh*t and they profits higher than pretty much any other part of the East Hook Complex. And if you do the math you realise a big chunk’a that ain’t being added to profit reports. If a big ticket is making this much cash they wouldn’t just have an office at some rundown-ass complex, and the PA would be putting that sh*t in they quarterlies.”




Ramon groaned. “Basically, they making more money than the port is saying they is. And the port only reports cargo that’s processed through them. The contracts that they make ain’t line up with the cash the port says they make.”


“So… what? That’s just fraud sh*t. Taxes.”


“It’s a sign the thing is a front. Then you actually check info on the company and you get more details. All these contacts in the Mediterranean, in Central America. People who have criminal records. A lot of Russian and Italian: Alexey Goralski. Gennady Roitman. Ivan Sapozhnik. Really, mijo, I could go on, some these guys you don’t e’en wanna mention. You start going down the rabbit hole, sh*t. You get dudes like Jack Acri, Roy Zito, f*cking Donato Cantavespre or some sh*t. Roy motherf*cking Zito! Dudes who have they own pages on the internet. Dudes who aren’t just connected, but are f*cking in the Gambettis, dudes back in Italy. Bad mother-”


“My nigga, I think we’re trespassing right now. Can we do this later?”


“We might not be.”


“We jumped a big fence, homie, are we moving or not?”


“A’ight, a’ight. We can’t go in the warehouse now, though.”


God-f*cking-damn it. “What?”


“I told you, the place is locked down.”


“Then why the f*ck we here?!”


“Well… look over, uh…” Ramon pointed, a little to the left, through a gap in the chainlink, this light brown, pebbled brick building. “There. That’s a port office. They got security guards in there. And, by any chance, records. Floorplans.”




“Oh yeah. So, we movin’, or not?”


In the shadows, they moved. Slunk past, through the parking lot, by abandoned containers. By sketchy looking guys taking smoke breaks, by laborers moving all over; dudes with clipboards. You could see, in the corners, these guys not dressed in the de-facto uniform - some wearing hi-vis, sure, but they didn’t look like stevedores. Couple out of place logos: a bit of Eris here, a couple sneakers there. That was the distinction. The longshoremen wore work boots. These guys wore sneakers.


One of the windows was open, jarred it a bit, hopped on in. Break room. Stale coffee, tables, water cooler or two. Little TV by a white board. Nobody on break, though.


“Who’da thought we could do this sh*t in broad daylight?”


Shut the f*ck up, L.” Maybe that was for the best.


Out the door, into the hallway: empty. More doors both sides, signs reading bullsh*t, desks and lockers visible through frosted glass. Nothing of value, not what they were looking for. If they were getting ledgers, they weren’t getting it from Johnny P. Schmuck.


Only one way to go. Upstairs was similar, nothing but unremarkable doors, frosted glass with text enshrined, oranges and browns, but… ah.


Records. Jackpot. Furthest away from the staircase, by a window, view of the dockland, the expressway snaking by parks and residentials. Latrell pointed, Ramon nodded, they moved on. The door was unlocked.


Inside: shelves and boxes. Boxes on shelves. Cabinet after cabinet, computer and a desk in the corner. Maybe this was a union treasurer’s place? Latrell didn't really know, at this point to say he had a familiarity of the ins and outs of the American cargo shipping industry would be a tad exaggerated.


“F*ck they do here?” he inquired, voice hushed.


“In the room?”


“Nah, son. The building.”


Ramon shrugged. “Important part is they keeping documents here, papi.” Guess it wasn't Latrell’s business to know. “You need'a keep watch, L. Place empty so far but who knows.”


“Who knows? Nigga, this ain't too good for my confidence. I'm breakin’ into some sh*t and I ain't know what the f*ck is going on. Again.”


Deja de quejarte. Just check the door.”


Silence was deafening, cracked the door a bit. Too hot for this sh*t. Humid, too, collected. Turning on a fan near the desk didn't do much, so he had to crack the door open. No air conditioning, apparently.


Ramon coughed, a little *ahem*, kept digging. Pulled a file, thumbed through a little, dropped it on the table nearby.


“You sure they ain't gon’ check for prints?” Latrell asked.


“You watch too much Science of Crime, my friend. Fingerprints ain't magic, nobody got they own special one or nothin'. Ain't no cameras either.”


“How the f*ck you know that?”


“I don't. But this ain't something they gon’ wanna report, right? Means they have to check the files, and this lick ain't exactly legit. Could be-- eyy.”




“Got something. I think.”


“You think?”


Ramon checked the pages, fiddled with them, lips curling. “Nah, homie,” he grinned. “I know. Bro, keep watch, man, I needa get some pics.”


“Just take the file and we’ll look it.”


“Nah, they can’t know what we was lookin’ at. Can't steal sh*t.” He placed the folder down on a nearby table, got his phone out. “We get busted for trespassing, but we don't get busted for burglary.”


Latrell just nodded. This was procedure now, likely would be. Didn't even bother to ask what he'd found. F*ck was it anyway, what could possibly be so important? Blueprints, documents, what? What? Disrespect. That’s what it was. Disrespect. Risking his ass, his reputation, for some bullsh*t ‘score’, like this was some heist movie. Heists, and jobs, and raids. Just call it a robbery. Says he respects him more than anyone else and can’t even pull himself out of this fantasy Vinewood-type bullsh*t. Pissed him off, looking back, and forth. And back. And forth. Hallway was empty. Ramon was snapping pictures. Back and forth. Too hot. Too goddamn hot.


One hand on the doorframe, he turned. “Are you done?”


“Hey, chill the f*ck out, man. Just checking to see if--”


Latrell knew what had happened even before there was a grip on his wrist. You could feel the presence. Big hands, sweat. Was it his sweat or Latrell’s? Whatever.


“F*ck,” Latrell said.


There was this weird moment where they all just kind of stared at each other: deer in the headlights. Latrell was looking up at this burly guy in work boots, receding hairline, strong jaw. Work-boots was looking at these two guys, the black guy that was half-in the hallway and incredibly conspicuous, the other guy wide-eyed with some documents and folders strewn on the table and his hands on a phone. Look up, look back. Back and forth. It was only a couple seconds, really.


So Latrell punched the guy.


Dockworker was probably more than 200 pounds of muscle, but he was caught off guard, clocked straight in the nose, a punch hard enough that blood was drawn. Latrell wasn't sure if it was his or the other guy’s. He didn't have time to find out. It was fluid, quick, phone in his pocket, the two bolted. Stevedore was still wailing, cursing the world for a second, kneeling, hand on his nose. They were at the staircase before he could get up.


Feet racing, bang-bang-bang. If the cursing upstairs didn't alert anybody, the banging sure did, and sure enough a door was open at the end of the staircase. Another guy, black dude, fluoro-vest, froggy face switching from confusion to anger.


“Hey, what--”


Body check, right to the chest, into the door. Slammed shut, second dude on the ground. Latrell didn't have time to dust himself off, nearly slipping on the lino floor, leading the charge. Guy upstairs was on his feet at this point, you could hear the bang-bang-bang, no time to think. No time to think. They were in the break room again, less a climb but more a jump out the window.


Scraped his f*cking knee. Christ. Ow.


You could hear a door nearly bust down by the office. Burlyman shouting. Moolies, he was saying. “Some f*ckin’ moolies breakin’ in the office!” right to this guard guy, hoodie on, smoking something, could probably see the sweat glisten off his head from half a mile off. And then there were three. Latrell didn't have time to check.


They were up at the fence, wind breaking, hot air against the face. It was screaming, the wind screaming along with the men behind, deafening. An explosion of adrenaline, an explosion of sound. The metallic clang as he jumped on didn't silence it, scrambling as he grabbed for the top. Heart beat going, thump-thump-thump-thump, staccato.


He lept.


Another stumble, no grazes this time. Home free.


“Rat motherf*cker! f*cking rat motherf*cker, get back--” Frogface was croaking out, rattling the fence, voice trailing as feet dug into the pavement. Nobody else was going for them, no more rattling.


They ran through the street, back on Champlain, into a little alley between the shuttered storefronts, a closed down delicatessen and a maybe-open-maybe-not hipster bar. Dust still kicking, they mashed right, past a parking lot, alley after alley. Street after street. Full sprint.


It was three blocks until they stopped.


Some park. Basketball court. Out of breath. Latrell was grabbing his knee now, bleeding harder. Dribbling down his leg, mixing with the sweat. Ramon was on his ass now, hard breaths. Latrell up on the hoop’s pole.


Wordlessly. They looked at each other, this quick, desperate look.


And that’s when the laughing started.


The Glossary

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slimeball supreme


Kissed Teeth


You could hear the air-conditioner rumbling in the background, hard. What was it today, 80 degrees? 90? Latrell couldn't tell, brain kind of baked. You could see the little bandage on his knee: shorts, dressed in a sleeveless with a Swingers cap, durag underneath. Felt like two thirds of his wardrobe were jackets, basically only thing he had. Sweating through his clothes. Needed a boost.


Latrell made a move for the Debonaires.


“You got a thing for D’s, man.”


Turn to Xavier. Beef and broccoli Hinterlands, camo shorts down to the knees, hair kind of growing out now into frizzy twists, standing on end. He was unamused.


“F*ck you mean?”


“Y’know they pro’lly sell cigarettes or whatever at Kenny’s.”


“Just gonna be some rollup weed sh*t, b. Ain't menthol, ain't my thing.”


“I’m just sayin’, son. You got an addiction, all's I'm sayin’.”


Latrell had made sure to get Xavier to stop by a bodega on Hickcock Street, Stop-1 Deli & Grocery, a block or two away from Kenton’s place on the corner of Chief Street and Onondaga. Just a quick fix was all he needed. Wasn't going to let him know that, though.


“F*ck outta here. Ain't just gettin’ Debbies. You already know.”


“Yeah?” Xavier smirked.


“Yeah, yeah. We gettin’, uh...” Quick scan of the store. Chips, magazines, pastries… suddenly, it clicked. “We gettin’ malt,” Latrell beamed.


“You f*ckin’ kidding me, L?”


“Nah, son.”


“It’s, what, 2 PM? Of all the things in the store, you zone in on a forty ounce? What we gon’ do next, run down to Cluckin’ Bell? Get us some watermelon?”


“This ain't an excuse or nothing, I just want--”


“You just wanna say you ain't here to buy Debonaires.”


They simmered for a moment, Xavier eye cocked. Few seconds later, Latrell shrugged. “Whatever you wanna believe,” he said. “Just making the most out of Liberty liquor laws.”




The two started moving toward the freezers. “You Jamaican, right?” asked Latrell.




“Like, parents is from there ‘n sh*t. Your moms was always… y’know. Got the words n’ sh*t, y’know?”


Latrell opened the fridge door, pulled out a bottle of Normandy 600. Hard malt, stuff you see guys on street corners downing. Xavier shrugged, “Barbados, but yeah,” he said. “So?”


“So you can translate.”


“F*ck outta here.”


“What, is that offensive or something?”


“It ain’t like they speakin’, like, French or some sh*t. Well, some do. But sh*t, these dudes still speakin’ English.”


“In small doses. I get sh*t like batty boy, but when you string that sh*t together? Might as well be.”


Xavier laughed. “They speakin’ the same language we speakin’, ‘sall. Like sayin’ you can’t understand the dude at the Chinese place on Foxarbor or sum’n. He’s still American. Just got the face. You just discriminatin’ and sh*t.”


Latrell paused. “F*ck.”




“We can’t go there again, can we?”


“Oh sh*t.” Xavier completely forgot, somehow, that they just up and stole one of their delivery vans, used it to rob the house. He wasn't there when it went down, sure, but still. Got the plates removed at Ramon and Gerardo’s chop shop, but it was still very clearly theirs. “Guess not.”


F*ck. They had good sh*t there, son. Pork fried rice. Chicken wings. Like, a block away from the towers too.”


“You can get that sh*t at every other musty ass Chinese place with bullet-proof windows.”


“Not that sh*t! They was unique, son! Can’t even show my face ‘round there no more, man, f*ck.”


“Not like he can tell us apart or nothin’. You pro’lly good.”


“They got CCTV, my nigga. I shave my head. Recognizable features, I put myself in a police lineup and they pickin’ me out.”


“If you get put in a police lineup it’ll be with a more bald dudes. You think he gon’ tell you apart in that crowd? Duck duck goose sh*t. You think you some Bruce Spade type, like you famous? Not like you no different from nobody.”


“Yeah. Maybe. I’unno.”


They meandered down the aisle as they talked, their captive audience of dog food and cold drinks. Nobody else in the store, just the two of them and the guy at the register, kind of just staring out the window at cars as they passed by.


“You talk to Knot? DB?”


That caught Latrell by surprise.


“Uh… no. I forgot.”


He hadn’t forgot, he just didn't care. Didn't really matter if they came or not, right? As long as he got his cut. Knot probably wouldn't have been on board anyway, he drew his line with the Lozanos a long time ago, fixing for a promotion, cozying up with the generals. Or would be, if most of them weren't upstate or on Astor’s Island. Just business.


“A’ight. I was just thinking.”


“What, you expected them to meet us there? Ain’t said nothin’ on the way.”


“I know. It’s just… sh*t, they tight. DB’s new, but Knot’s Knot, you know? Kavon always been straight wit’ us, and just… I don't know. Don't feel good leavin’ a homie in the dirt like that. Regret what I said. If we ain't bein’ shaked for it, you know, it's good for all us. We brothers. Ballas for life.”


“I…” Latrell sighed. “You don't get it. We got an opportunity here, Xavier. We make money, we make it good, you know? The two of them… they cool, but they ain't cool cool.”


“The f*ck?”


They were approaching the counter now.


“They ain’t got the sophistication we got. If we gettin’ organized, we gettin’ organized, you feel me? They liabilities.”


“You done picked up all this complex-ass fruity type homo sh*t from Ramon, balla. Sophistication. Liabilities. Reconnaissance.”


“They just… look. Only one nigga that matters in this sh*t. You. We got that sh*t going before anyone else. They’ll be eatin’ dirt, too afraid to make moves when they got cars scopin’ us out. We got the brains they don't. I got love for you, man, respect. We was doin’ our thing before DB was in diapers, y’know. Knot was just tag-along. This means something…” He sighed again. “You feel me?”


Latrell wasn't being entirely genuine, but it didn't matter. X bought it. He was just nodding at this point, trying to force through a smile. “That’s why I f*ck with you, L. You got that loyalty.”


If only he knew.




The door chime rang, signalling the smoky, musty belly of the premises before them.


Quality Tobacco, Kenton’s smoke shop, mid-afternoon. A cramped, dank, and mucid place, hole in the wall, bottom of the barrel. The occasional aging concert poster, bongs by the dozen, glass shelves, glass vape pens, glass… well, generally just a lot of glass paraphernalia, all different tints and colors with neat little inscriptions on it - a blend of transparent colors contrasting with the sad, chestnut interior. It was empty, as per usual, gave off the impression it was just as legitimate as the man who owned it.


“Yuh’,” came a voice.


At the cash register was Andre, or at least that’s what the nametag said; a lanky, dopey looking kid with a baggy striped polo, thick brows. Latrell thought he’d maybe seen the kid around, thought he was maybe a nephew or grandson or something, had a familiar face, always lingered around the towers whenever Kenton came to visit. Said it all really.


“We’re here to see Kenton,” Latrell said.


His face didn’t change, but his voice did. “Yuh… he yain’t here… or yeah. Who yuh’ be, ting?” His speech was a slurry, mangled patois, talking like his mouth was full of cotton. Seemed kind of tired, slow, but you could detect some agitation in there.


“Do you, uh… know us? Remember us?” Latrell scratched his neck. “Latrell? Latrell Palmer? Y’know, Xavier? Ballas?”


“Duh’... duh’ you... buy? Want to buy?”


Xavier groaned. “Do you know Kenton? Kenny?”




“Do you know where he is?”


“Oh. Basement. He inna’ basement.”


“Can we… see him?”


“Mi’... yuh’. Okay.”


Oh boy. “Where he at?” Latrell asked.


“He’in down deh’ stairs, wit’um... I’ll take yuh’... Delroy… he cyan take duh’ register.”






“No, Delroy. Who’s Delroy?


“Oh. Mi braa’.”


The two let that sink in, traded vexed looks. “Whatever, man,” Latrell said, shook his head.


Andre nodded in response, blankly.


Behind the register was a little red door, and behind that was the back room, which was empty. Kenton’s desk was unoccupied, a couple pictures, a computer, so on. Completely silent, apart from the faint, muffled sound of plastic hitting wood somewhere, seemed underground.


“Y’hear that?” Xavier asked.


“It’s bone. Dey’re playin’ bone. League training.”


Older Caribbean men - Bajans, Jamaicans, Haitians - they played Dominoes, Bone as Andre had called it. They placed bets on games in basement rounds, occasionally moved over to friend’s houses where they might’ve played or practiced for leagues or in friendly matches. It was a cultural thing, back on the islands they would’ve been playing it often, so here it was sort of a reminder of home. And, well, it was fun.


“Can we, uh… head on in?” Xavier inquired.


“Yuh’. Door inna’ desk.”


Traversing down a flight of cement stairs, they arrived in the subterranean club: four old men surrounding a wooden table, under a bunch of keshan rugs, with blue and red streamers hanging from the cement ceiling above them. The previously mentioned ‘other’ nephew, Delroy, sat by the entrance, rubbing his nose and keeping watch. He had his hair down long, white sweatshirt, chino shorts.


He looked back. “Ah.”


Latrell cut to the chase. “Are you, uh… like him?”


Delroy frowned. “Jah know he don’ bite.” Kinda had the patois.


“W-... yeah, a’ight. Sorry.”


“Yuh dem deh’ two, some? Dem East Liberty boys Slip said ‘n dat.”


“Uh… yeah,” Xavier muttered. “We’re the two.”


Delroy nodded. “Aye, Kenny!”


“Wah’ it?” a voice croaked from the table.


“Some them Slip boys is here.”


“Alrite’. Take up’n de’ regista’, seen?”


Once again, Delroy nodded. “He be wit’ ya in a moment, righ’? Sidung’a while.”


Pulling himself up, Delroy left - leaving the two alone with the aged men at the table. They conversed, beefy statures like their voices, like slang they spoke, indecipherable to the two of them as they presumably talked small, chatting about ‘fyah fi yah’s and ‘samfy men’.


“You gettin’ this?” Latrell asked.


“I ain’t your f*ckin’ translator, nigga. I ain’t know.”


Took a while for one to break it, a heavy-set man (though that didn’t really set him apart) in a green-and-yellow rugby shirt; making a final comment about ‘qwengas’ before sweeping up a few bucks from the pot, putting down his dominoes, and approaching.


“Wah gwan?”


This man, the paunchy one coming from the table, was Kenton Beard. The man of the hour - less an uncle, almost a grandfather. He was near bald, on the older side of middle age, his chubby, pockmarked, grinning face creased with wrinkles and marks, all culminating in a man who looked about 10 years older than he probably was. “Everyting criss?” he greeted.


Latrell nodded, apprehensive. “We, uh… yeah. We criss, I think.”


He kept up the beaming. “C’mon. Need ta’ talk a lickle bidness ‘nd that, righ’?”


He was gushing as they walked up the stairs: “Good way you ‘nd all looked after that ting down Firefly. Ten dousand, righ’? Righteous. Righteous.”


“The house?”


“Seen, them Russian pickney, them. Good ting.”


“It, uh…” Latrell looked for the right words. “It ain’t that serious.”


“Eh, yuh talkin’ bagga nonsense. Ya’ done good. Where di’ others, star?”


“Uh… they, well… they ain’t joinin’ us. Ain’t interested.”


Kenton screwed his face up in reply, made a little ‘hmm’ noise as they got back up to the backroom. “We be headin’ out.”


“Where we goin’?”


“Down a few of di’ block ‘nd that. Lickle walk, ‘grossing di road.”




The road out was endlessly busy, same old storefronts, choked up with congestion, people talking. South Slopes was a divided neighborhood; Jews and West-Indians thrown into the melting pot, maybe not so well. ‘Enclaves’ never really grew, divisions weren't street by street but person by person all melded together. Folks like Kenton walking side by side with Orthodox Jews slinging Hebrew, some Russian. Latrell was in Creole turf right now.


“It’s betta’ to chat outside,” Kenton explained as they strolled. “Less eyes p’on wi, ya’ know?”


“Right,” Xavier replied.


“You two mean bidness, bad sh*t. From what mi be hearing anyway. Slip got it, think yuh guys them good troop, bad ja’know, ‘nd me need some bad type troop pon me team, seen? ‘Spesh wit’ what goin’ down ‘n ting.”


Latrell cocked a brow. “‘Pends. What's goin’ down?”


“Fair fair, straight to bidness… erm,” he thought for a moment as they walked. “Well, lickle dear sh*t be comin’ up down south. Vice City or some type like that. Drugs, guns, arts, someting like that. Come back a’ here by giving up the sh*t from truck to truck up the coast. Dun’ know who or what be carryin’ the stuff, but I ‘nd I know that it be a lickle pricey.”


“When this goin’ down?” Xavier asked.


“Few weeks, so it's a waiting ting. Not yet, though. Not yet. It be them new pickney... they no overstand yuh haffi’ respect the bigga’ heads, ya’ know. Me been dealing pon these corna’s fi’ years, star… Haitians. Dominicans. Them haffi stay inna ‘dey own alleys, ya’ know. Dealing pon the avenue a me f*ckin’ bidness, nobody else's, seen?”


“Uh, yeah…” Xavier mumbled. “But the truck?”


They’d stopped. Electronic red hand, blinking. Impatient, Kenton muttered. “Irie… the truck a guh be stoppin’ up some gas station inna Tudor, A.C., someplace. Ald'ney. Dun’ kno’ the place yet. Like me say, them trade up the sh*t between each otha’, some ‘chupid type police sh*t, ya know. My guy a’ been lickle... claffy, wit’ the dates. It a guh’ be soon, tho’, trust.”


Light go green, they walked. Xavier: “And we just gon’ be goin’ down there an’ bustin’ sh*t, right?”


“Yeah,” Latrell concurred. “Just us?”


“Four man job, star. This wa’ guh be yuh, and then the oddah’ guys.”


F*ck, Latrell thought. “So… what we gon’ do then?”


“Y’eh… wi ‘ave backup, suh wi good. Delroy. Andre.”


“Your nephews?” Not a good impression, but whatever. He took it.


“Good few, good few...”


For a moment, they stopped. Didn’t seem like anywhere interesting, anywhere particular, a crossroad with a couple of banners hanging from the roofs, stretching over the streets: green, yellow, black. But Kenton just stared off, kind of laughing to himself. Not a cheerful laugh, one tinged by something. Latrell couldn’t pick out what.


After a few seconds, L sighed, rolled his eyes, tapped him on the shoulder. “You good?”


Like out of a trance, “Ah. Ah, yeh’. Yeh’. Just look who we buck inna.”


Kenton nodded towards this congregation - a group of teenagers, young adults, just guys hanging out in front of a restaurant, Jerk n’ Gizzada. Chatting sh*t, hanging out, minding their own business. Nothing stood out.


Latrell’s brow creased. “Who they?”


“Haitians,” he said, venom staining the words. “We haffi’ do a lickle sup’m, chat to that one.” Point, eyes on one. Skinny dude in a baggy purple-blue Eris shirt, nappy dreads, can in his hand. At this moment he was actually breaking off from the others, waving the other guys off, on his way. “Mackenson.”




“Wi cyan cut him off… lives ‘pon Scanlan Place, nuh pay fi him dues. Just need sum muscle, nah hurt him too much, star. Nuh good bidness, seen?”


Latrell said nothing, kept watching the guy. Couldn’t have been older than DB. Nineteen? He was blank faced, Xavier apprehensive.




Xavier gulped. “M--”


“Seen,” Latrell said, interrupted, almost reflexive. “Seen. Seen.”


Kenton left it there and then. Whatever light in his eyes was gone now. His pace quickened, brisk, Latrell had no choice but to follow.


The kid was paces ahead, crossing through the street, but Kenton was faster. Feeling for his pocket, then his back pocket, looking for something. Turned his head, nodded at Latrell, “Grab ‘im.” That was the go ahead.


The two sped up, fast as they could, closing the gap, kid unaware. Drinking his soda. With a grunt, Latrell lunged, grabbed him by the arm. Xavier followed, crossed ‘em to his back. Didn’t see it coming.


The can fell to the ground. Spilt all over.


“‘Ow ‘bout this... humidity, chargie?”


You couldn’t see it, but you could feel the eyes widen. The kid froze up. Under his breath, Latrell could hear it: “Oh f*ck.


“Come... wi guh ‘ave a likkle chat.” He nodded again, “Up ‘deh.” Ahead, between two rowhouses, a little alley.


“Oh no.” The kid didn’t raise his voice, kept it at normal volume. “Oh no, oh no, oh no. Please, Kenton. Please.”


“Yuh making a scene, Mackie? Mackie Bwoy?”


“Please, Mr. Beard. Oh god, please. Who- who--”


Latrell gave him a little shove, tripped him up. “We employees, son.”


“Look. Look, look! It- I’ll get it. I’ll get the-... oh no.”


“Lack off,” Kenton snarled. “Yuh don’ spoke your piece.”


The alley was shady, dark. Sun was burning the street up ahead so it was a welcome break. Wasn’t for the kid, though, grip relinquishing, L and X throwing him onto the cold, hard ground. He sputtered, winced, scrambled for a wall. Kenton kept walking toward him, kept snarling. Dog off the leash.


“Mi nuh like being played, Mackenson. Mack.”


“I wasn’t f*cking playing--”


“Watch di tongue.”


“I- I wasn’t playing you! I wasn’t playing you. I wasn’t playing nobody. A bad batch is--”


“Yuh haffi understand, Mack, yuh haffi understand… yuh betrayed mi... mi truss’. Mi famb’ly truss’. Cyan style ‘pon wi, cyan style ‘pon mi. Think ja’ smart? Special? Samfy man think he buck off an’ run an’ that?”


Kid flashed puppy eyes, looked back at Latrell, Xavier. Helpless, he was, stuck in the spider’s web. “It- f*ck, it wasn't anything! I just need time! I’ll get you your sh*t, I just- I need f*cking time. Time. Time! C’mon, man.” He was whimpering. “C’mon. Please.”


“Yuh buy an’ yuh say you'll pay mi back... an’ yuh nuh pay mi back, eh? An’ now I hear you sold--”




And now… I heard…” He was f*cking fuming, looked like he could barely breathe, “I heard yuh done sold it. So…”




He reached for his back pocket. Silence.


Kid looked at Latrell again, begged with his eyes. Silence.




“I-... it-... it’s just some dope, ma-”


Snap. Latrell didn't even see it, really. But he heard it. Kenton had a hammer. And the hammer was in the kid, Mackenson’s, knee. It was so dry, such a sharp, loud snap. And Latrell looked down and saw it. He saw the knee, almost bent backwards, bone showing, bleeding out. On the ground. Dribbling out the side.


And Mackenson started screaming.


Kenton let the wailing, the curses, go on for another few seconds, silent, but he swung again - this time for the face. Snap was wet this time. Knocked the kid forward. Knocked teeth out.


Xavier looked like he was going to throw up. Latrell kept looking at the knee. Back at his. Back at the bandage.


Another snap. Wet. A tooth flew, he thought. Saw something white spin out. Kenton must’ve saw it too, since he went for the jaw, the teeth again. Snap. Snap. Snap. Snap. Real dentistry. He was spitting blood, streaming out, could see these skin tears by the flesh, a goddamn water fountain. Teeth gone. No screaming.


He was twitching. Barely moving. Eyes drifting off. Almost half dead, jaw almost unhinged. Broke like a twig.


Kenton kept staring. That stare from before, the dead eyed, cold stare. And he laughed. Not manic, not like a lunatic or nothing, this quiet laugh. This under-his-breath laugh.


Xavier was still in shock when he said it. “You… you good?”


“Irie,” he said. “We good.”


The Glossary

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  • 5 months later...
slimeball supreme


Chopping the Blinds


He caught a glimpse of the guy as he walked up the stairs. Thick ponytail, face all angles, goatee. Three words on the door, apartment 3; Russian Social Club, dude perched up right up front next to it. Had this gaze on him, harsh and harsher as Abbot approached.


He opted to introduce. “Uh, hi, I’m--”


Membership only,” doorman grunted back.


“Membership how?”


Membership only.


Abbot sighed. “Hold on...” Looked down, readjusted his glasses, pulled the scrap out of his pocket. “There’s a password, right? Teddy told me. You know Fyodor? Blond guy?”


Grunt didn’t respond, just squinted harder.


Looked down. Paper read ‘доставка хлеба’, wished Teddy gave him a better run through with pronunciation. “Will you let me in for, uh, devorka… dostavkha khleba? Is that right? Dostavkha khleba?” Guy kept staring, Abbot stared back. Firmer, “Is that f*cking good enough?”


Grunt pursed his lips, brows creased. “Whatever,” he grunted, opened the door. “Welcome aboard.”


Abbot nodded back, kept the eyes going. Grunt did the same.


Russian Social Club was less a ‘social club’ and more a ‘dingy sh*thole’ above a wine store, corner of Masterson and Mohawk. Gray fleur-de-lis pattern wallpaper, little kitchen in a groove to the right, blinds shuttered to the left. And dead ahead, the first thing you saw, was the poker table. Mahogany, camel-beige felt, round-table type with the indents for cards. Up on deck were about six people: all dead concentrated, sunglasses, cards welded to their chests. From the husky guy in the salmon-pink shirt to the looker with the crooked nose and a double-headed eagle chain, they all carried themselves serious. They meant something.


Money meant something too, and boy, was there an almost obscene amount of cash on that table. Mostly neat bundles, but enough to pay Abbot’s student loans back twice per strap. He was tempted, he had to admit, bills just sitting there. But they weren't gonna let that happen.


Swamping the room were three rough-and-readies milling around, two by a sofa near the windows, one in the kitchen. Young dudes around Abbot’s age, younger: guy in the kitchen, red polo shirt and a single earring in his left, barely older than 20. Looked over his shoulder before looking back at the board of smoked sausage he was slicing, meat smell mixing with the overpowering, nauseating musk of cologne and testosterone.


Stranded in a sea of sensation, Abbot paused, took it all in, then walked up to kitchen boy.


“You are?” kid asked, no accent. Well, no Russian accent. Definitely some Brokerese. Didn’t look up from the cutting board.


“Abbot. I’m looking for a guy named Kassian.”


“Yeah, he’s taking a leak. Might wanna wait a while, combo a’ molly and a prostate the size a’ the Atlantic means he’s usually in there about two hours.” Smirked.


Abbot didn’t. “What, he got problems down there?”


“...No. It’s a joke. I’m just f*ckin’ around. How would I know?”


“Just wondering. Proctologist on the side or what?”


Got a weird noise and an eye roll back. “Think ya’ so f*ckin’ funny,” boy sighed, wafted his hand. “I’m tryna’ slice over here.”


Flush, on cue. Kitchen boy gave a one last smug glance, this ‘don’t let me keep you’ with the lips turned up. Abbot wasn't gonna. Head turned, door creaked, out came Kassian. Same guy as per: buzzed blond, unzipped red track jacket, zipping the fly of his jeans. Smiled as he looked up.


“Kaz! You texted?”


Kassian didn't reply for a second. Stopped dead. Outstretched his arms. “Eh?”


He wanted a hug.


Abbot reciprocated.


He went in. “Ha-haa! My f*ckin’ brother,” Kaz pulled away, hands on shoulders: “Good to f*ckin’ see ya’, man.”


Cue snickering rightways. Kitchen boy. Kaz broke - “Yeah, yeah what? f*ckin’ what’s so funny?”


Kitchen boy just tutted. “Slicing, dude.


Kaz snarled, “f*cking Daniel. Guy thinks serving cold cuts to his dad’s friends is gangster sh*t. Only reason he's here, his pops is Revaz Devdariani. Up on the tables, y’see him?” Motioned to one of the guys: no shades, mid-40’s with a navy Didier Sachs sports coat. Stone cold. Pretty much indiscernible from anyone else there. “He’s important.”


“Noted.” He didn’t really.


“Right,” Kaz went on, snorted a bit, lowered his tone. “Don't want to disturb the players. It's, er… friends and ‘family’. If you catch my drift.”


“I’m really trying to. Look, am I here for an actual reason?”


Kassian didn't catch a beat. “Did dad tell you about Pyotr?”


“He said some sh*t about being brothers with a guy. But not like, in blood? I dunno.”


“Yeah. He told you about Pyotr.”


He led Abbot to the back side, this decadent king-size with the same monotone color scheme as the rest of the room. And sitting atop, next to a little platter of khachapuri bread and sliced kupati, was Pyotr. About 5’4”, linen button-down short sleeve with matching slacks, wispy grey hair. Cut a slim figure, sharp cheekbones and acne scars, relaxed. Deep blue eyes wandered, trance-like, carefully shifting from the table to the two ahead.


“Как это, мой племянник?” he said.


“Хорошо, Петя,” Kassian replied. “Вы знакомы с Abbot?”


Pyotr sized him up. “Он новый?”


“Вроде. Он не говорит по русски.”


Pyotr nodded, gave Abbot another look. Wasn't sure if that was a good thing or what, language barrier didn't help. “I was told another friend of Kassian’s was coming to help,” Pyotr’s voice was strained, high pitched. “That’s you, yes? You help Kassian?”


“Yeah,” Abbot said. “That's me. I think.”


Pyotr’s expression flickered, nodded. “I hear words, good words, but I’m yet to see action. A thousand whispers is not a yell.”


“Uh, y- uh, yeah. Sure.”


To Kassian: “Не так хорошо со словами?”


Kassian shrugged back. “Он слушает.”


He laughed. “Two good talkers are not worth one good listener. Look, Abbot. You get this done, my friend, and as the flower blossoms in the summer day, I see a fruitful partnership begin to form. Okay?”


Abbot put on his best airs. “Alright, sir.”


He gave another glance at Grunt as they barreled out the door a minute or so later. “What the f*ck was that?!” Looked straight ahead as he said it. “Goddamn fortune cookie sh*t.”


“He looks that kinda thing up online. I don't think he understands most of it, but what can you do.”


“Swear to god, I’m meeting like, 50 different Russians, all telling me I'm worth something. Seriously, what am I worth? Did you even tell him about me?”


“I told him there was a guy who’d been doing stuff for us who looked a good fit for this. Didn't tell him he was worth a partnership, though.”


Groan, “Very nice of you.”


“He runs card games for Benny, it’s not exactly glamorous. Any work you’d be doing would basically just be… sweeping floors or cutting kielbasa either here or, I dunno. Some of the higher stakes games.”


That wasn't high stakes?”


“That was high stakes, but not high stakes. It's not the executive games, you see all kinds of faces drop down there. A-listers, politicians, Barium Street guys. I already told you about Revaz, he's flying back out to Venturas next week, but I’ve seen way better. Vadim was at this one game with Bruce Spade, Ernesto Asaltacunas. I think Martin Serious? Or the other radio guy, I dunno.”


“Names don't really work on me, man.”


Kaz opened the front door, onto the street. “You get the idea, though,” he went on. “All talk, no game. Only names and merchandise, none of the stock. A real 90’s throwback, trust me. Good old days. C’mon, my car’s a little ways down there.”


You could see it when you turned the corner, by the alley. Kept going. “Didn't know you spoke Russian.”


“Honestly,” Kaz mused, “I didn't know you didn't. Well not ‘till our little reunion, besides. Achban knew a bit. What happened with you?”


“Kinda just… I dunno. Ma never taught. Picked up yid since Dad started going to classes.” He looked to Kaz, Kaz didn't look back. “What’s this all for, anyway?” Abbot asked.


“We’re playing legbreaker again.” They were nearing the car now. “This doctor up in Fulham, runs a pill mill. Name’s Yugo Churkin. Guy’s a degenerate gambler, and he ain't got the red light like our good old Turkish buddies, so we’re putting the squeeze on him. Thinking we can get a little extra out while we do it.”


Could hear the little click-click as Kassian tapped the car keys. Doors opened, they hopped inside, “Like what?” Abbot asked.


In the driver’s, Kaz looked out the side, grinned. “You’ll see. We gotta pick up Vadim. Hey, you met Vadim?”


“Name sounds fam--”


Kassian turned the key.




Alto saxophone. Kaz jumped, panicked; “Motherf*cker!




“Sorry, f*ck. I don’t normally have it tuned to--”


“It says you have the CD in there.”


“Uh… friend’s. Maybe. I dunno, no biggie. Let me just--”


Abbot stifled a laugh, “Chill, man. It’s good. Leave it in.” Was met with a glance, a sigh from Kassian. “This is Mingus, right?”


“Y-, uh, yeah. Sure. How’d you know?”


“Well, it says on the LED.” It did, read back MINGUS AH-UM: OPEN LETTER TO DUKE. “...But he’s one of my favorites. I’ve got the vinyl back home.”




“Yeah. I don’t play it. I don’t have a record player, but, y’know. I keep it around. It’s a nice cover.”


Kassian just kinda nodded at that, perked a smile. “Really? Cool… cool.”


“Didn't take you for a jazz guy.”


“I try not to show it. Others… eh. Ain’t receptive. Vadim don’t like it much, none of my friends really do. Tough crowd I work with, you know.”


“I can relate.”


“Is that a thing? Hating jazz?”


Abbot shrugged, lips curled. “Guess so. Rahim, he hates it. Sometimes I just don't put the headphones in, man, I just rock it, and he busts the door down like ‘turn that sh*t down’!”


Both laughed.


And then nothing.


Pause. Felt like a lifetime.


And Kaz smiled. Warm, looked over.


“Heh.” Now Abbot was too.




Abbot was too.




“Y’know, I would have drived.”


“Yeah, Vadim.”


“He knows I’m right, right buddy?”


Abbot didn't quite. They'd only met around 10 or 15 minutes ago, introduced themselves, the whole shebang. Vadim was with this guy named Eduard, Eddie, at the meet, dumbf*ck with glasses and a potbelly, expensive sneakers. Actually kinda reminded Abbot of, well, Abbot. If Abbot were 100 pounds heavier and were born in Moldova. Eddie didn’t say much, didn’t seem like he thought much either, so he wasn’t the focus. Vadim took the spotlight.


Shaved his head clean, kept laughing, pricey-looking down jacket in sweltering heat. Basically your standard Russian X-nut. Now they were on foot, a result of packed streets and always-inviting Liberty City parking laws, a jolly stroll with that lovely ‘melting trash bag’ smell lingering in the air, typical come mid-to-late summer.


“Why couldn't you?”


“f*cking feds,” Vadim grinned. “Feds, cops, pigs. All the same bacon, eh?”




“Bullsh*t reason. It's last December, they go issue those travel bans and you can't drive on road so good during the blizzard. But my mother, her electricity, it goes out. Yeah?”




“I don't want the woman to f*cking freeze to death. What am I, an animal?” He laughed, “You might think so. f*cking wolf sh*t. We’re hunting in our pack right now, eh?”


Kassian affirmed with a little “hm” noise.


“That's right. So I pack my car, is beautiful, I have the new Emperor SUV. New last year, anyway, Habanero T. Pack it with some water bottles, air heater, you know. Only problem is I'm off my f*cking rocker on goddamn pills, eh? That and some Loggers but you know nobody is on road so who the f*ck matters, eh?”


“And you got pulled over.”


“f*cking DUI. Or DWI, I forget. I make the news, actually, Morning Horn, talk about this and that and my record. Duplex my name and you get it! Ha!” Sniffle, “What month is it?”


“...Nearly August, I think.”


“I get my license back… soon! Don't remember when. About a year without it, so you do math. When I finally can drive, I drive some place real nice. I know this great club in East Hook, is called ‘JUNGLE’. Big lofty warehouse, rave club, is beautiful. Get you some fine f*cking пизда́, eh? That means pussy, brother. Hot bitches!”


Kassian shot a sympathetic glance at Abbot, half-smiled. “Bet he’d be delighted, Vaddy. But we gotta cut this short. We’re here.” Thank god. Up on the red-brick wall, ‘Yuri Churkin, MD’. Board certified physical therapist. Gambler too, apparently.


Up the stairs, a grunt, “You know you can just call me Vadim.”


Ha. He does that to everyone,” Abbot said. “Did it to me, did it to my brother, everybody. When we were kids it was always Ackie and Abbie and sh*t like that. Never made any sense.”


Playfully, “Shut up.”


“You two knew each other?”


“Oh yeah. I used to sell pot for him. Guess nothing changes.”


“Difference is,” Kaz said, “you're my equal now. We’re business partners. You ain't my employee. Abbie comes in with his brother, wet behind the ears, going all Vin Falcone on me. ‘Bout 13 years old thinking he's gonna be dealin’ keys like a Colombian. Couldn't take you seriously.”


“Good to know that that's changed.”


Vadim frowned. “His ears were wet? How does this happen?”


They plodded upward, one by one, single file. Troupe reached the receptionist, buzzed in by the lady at the gate, fat woman not too keen on the angry looking men before her. Nondescript enough location, didn't look fishy. Fliers on the wall about anxiety and migraines and whatnot, ads for Hingmyralgan and Ampheterate, old magazines by the pleather chairs.


“I got a trick,” Kaz whispered. “Vadim, watch the doors. Abbot, baby. Watch me.”


Yugo was this slender thing, grey hair, face all dry and puckered: a peach-skin, sun-dried tomato. Doctor’s coat big on him like a kid playing dress-up, this flashy silk pattern button-up underneath. Baroque flowers, gold and black: odd clothes for a practitioner.


He opened with weasel words, “My friends, my friends!” Got out of his seat.


Abbot pushed him back in.


Kassian opened. “Where is the f*ck our money?” Fake Russian accent.


Abbot nearly cracked up then and there.


“I tell you, I tell you--”


The sh*t come out your mouth, friend.”


“I swear! Is not due this week, I tell Petya and he extend--”


You tell Petya, you no tell me.”


“I’m sure we can--”


Kassian turned to Abbot. “Vovochka, my friend. He winked. You know of what we do.


Abbot held back a smile. He did.


He walked up.


Right up to Yugo.


And put his elbow in the man’s gut. He crumpled, off the seat. Made a noise halfways between a cough and a wail, didn’t sound human.


Kassian crouched down. “Mr. Baazov, Petya, he no f*ck about when you are to pay the money, da? Especially when you have are to waste it. Understandable?


“Да, да!” He spat, “Мне просто нужно немного больше времени!”


You no need more f*cking time.” Kassian snapped his fingers, “Interest, motherf*cker. Interest. We need placate.




Sigh. “Vovochka!


Abbot did a quick scan of the room before, all sterile, not much to work with. Computer, some equipment, chairs, stool, window.


Actually, nevermind. He had an idea.


Abbot went for the stool, grabbed it by the end, and tossed it.


Bang. Right through the f*cking glass. Yugo winced, shards shattered, spread. Could hear it bounce two stories down, crash and clank into some metal, some guy shouted “The f*ck?!”


Placate!” Grabbed him by the chin, “Bargain chip. Prescription, jewelry, you wear the nice clothes--


“Prescription!” Yugo tried breaking out his grip, sat up, leaned on a cupboard. “Yes! I maybe can give you for free! Free pills. Oxycodone. You want? Hingmyralgan, Aladdine. I hear Paulie, he get his house it stolen, you can give some? Anything! Anything, please, just give the more time!”


Kassian was beaming, a knowing smile. He got what he wanted. “Sound okay. It sound okay.” He looked to his side, looked out the smashed up window a moment, then to Abbot. “Vovochka, you think?


Abbot didn’t bother with an accent, couldn’t help but laugh. “Guy’s got a better pitch than Duane Aller.”


The Glossary

Liberty City Map

Edited by slimeball supreme

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  • 3 weeks later...
slimeball supreme


Dumachus' Posse


Knot brought his dog, Zambaru, this Doberman Pinscher with a goofy smile he’d adopted a few years ago. He didn’t live in the towers, his place was a converted house-turned apartment a few blocks up, so he had a backyard for her. Loved her to f*cking death. Latrell didn’t, tried to ignore her as she bark-bark-barked somewhere behind him.


He had his eyes on this woman getting her groceries out her Karin on the other side of the street. Stared at her, woman trying as hard as she could to look elsewhere. Milden Houses weren’t gang houses, far from it, civilians lived here. All too many. But you didn’t come into the west tower block’s shadier hallways, and you especially didn’t wander into this parking lot, if you didn’t want to find yourself lying down.


Unless you were Balling.


This big fat guy from the 3rd floor, Rashad, no nickname - he had this huge gas guzzler, pearly white Brute Gakona with gaudy, way-too-expensive rims, and this f*ckoff big, bass boosted stereo blaring Waka Flocka at what felt like 200 decibels. They weren’t making friends with the neighbors, that’s for sure, kinda just hanging around, shooting sh*t. Some guys playing cee-lo, no purpose to none of it. Just how it went.


“Hey, hey Latrell!” Xavier. “Hey, c’mon over.”


The woman had the bags in her arms now, hurrying over to the doors. Nothing to see. He pulled the cigarette out his mouth, stamped it on the ground. He had more.




“You know this song?” Latrell just nodded, Xavier continued, “Grove Street Party. So me and Rashad was needin’ a second opinion. Is Waka ballin’?”


“Who gives a sh*t?”


Rashad gave him a look, “Well, he either one of us or he ain’t. If he’s throwin’ up Groves, he talkin’ Bamily Groves or Balla Groves? That simple.”


Trell shrugged. “He’s Cottonmouth. Probably ain’t know any of that sh*t.”


“Cottonmouth is mostly throwin’ up Bobby ‘stead them Covenant type West coast cats, so if he ballin’ he ballin’ with us. The video he was in was green, b,” Xavier said. “He pro’lly do know. There’s history there, so if he’s fakin’ he’s f*ckin’... extrapolatin’ that sh*t.”


Appropriatin’. Vro, just look it up. You got a phone.”


“That’s the point. You bet, we Duplex, whoever wins gets the pot. So he ballin’ or he croakin’?”




“‘Cause they frogs, nigga. Family frogs.”


Rashad grinned, “Yeah, son, yeah. Ribbit sh*t.”


X looked back at Latrell for affirmation, got nothing back but a blank stare. “I ain’t doin’ this.”


“Just kick a couple over to your old buddy Xavier, say he throw up green, get some cash back and we can go pick a different song. C’mon.”


Sigh. “Fine. Five. He ballin’.”


Rashad’s grin got wider. “Suit yourself,” Xavier said. “Easy money you be turnin’ down but if you tryna’ throw some paper my way I respect that. I got mouths to feed, Reggie livin’ on canned sh*t. I feel it.”


Latrell moved on, nodded goodbyes when he noticed DB hanging out by himself, looking out over the townhouses and the trees and the night sky. Nobody near. Didn’t let Xavier cursing up a storm, “sh*t’s rigged,” he was saying, distract him.


“You good?”


DB was kinda surprised, lost in the stars. “Uh, y-, sh*t, yeah.”


“What’s poppin’, kid?”


DB looked back, at Knot getting way too close to his dog, then back out into the distance, at God-knows-what. “I’m gonna miss this.”


“What, you mean low-rent block parties? Ain’t you goin’ out next year?”


“Somethin’ like that,” shook his head. “And no, not this. I mean... alla’ this. Friends ‘n sh*t. Even if we doin’ all this confusing sh*t and we organized and we disorganized and we whatever, I dunno. I feel cool wit’ y’all. Better than company I’m gonna get wit’ my gramma’ on some ranch or some sh*t.”


“You goin’ full cowboy?”


Another shake of the head. “I-- sh*t, I ain’t told nobody about how this all goin’ down, apart from you and Noodles. f*ckin’ Noodles.”


“You don’t know why they call him Noodles.”


“I don’t really want to, he ain’t occupy my sh*t no more. But it ain’t a ranch. This little town, uh… Cheraw. Basically North Carolina, right near the border. Think it’ll be good for me or my soul or whatever. But I ain’t never really been out the city before, y’know? Just ‘Derney, but that don’t count. So it’s like - everything I know. Gone. Think they wanna get me in this community college sh*t or some’ since they know I’m readin’ sh*t and doin’ my own sh*t. But it’s- it ain’t what I want to do, you feel me? It ain’t myself to be d--”


Muffled music, little jingle on the piano, stopped that line of thought dead. Ringtone. Latrell pulled the phone out, squinted, brows jumped.


Ramon. Urgent.


“Delmar, Delly, look.”


“Delmar? You ain’t my dad, why you call me that?”


Look. I need to take this, when he callin’ you know he callin’ for a reason. We can talk later, and it’s good talkin’, but I need you to go get the other two. Whatever the f*ck they doin’.”


He understood. Went to go, but -


“Just remember,” Latrell said. DB turned. “Remember. You matter, aight? Don’t let this sh*t make you be thinkin’ you temporary or you don’t. You matter. Might be the only one.”


Eyes on the ground. He thought for a moment. “Okay,” DB said. “Okay.”




“Can’t believe you brought the f*cking dog.”


“The f*ck am I ‘spose to do?” She was basically sitting in Knot’s lap. “Leave her there? Rashad gon’ f*ckin’ eat her I leave her unsupervised.”


Ramon texted an address, 19 Howlett Street: basically across the road from the cemetery on Wampum Avenue, when East Liberty’s projects started to fold into Dukes’ suburb. Only a short ways away from the towers, Xavier’s car slowing down by this little house with lilly-white panelling and whiter fencing. Ramon or Gerardo or whoever’s car outside, bronze ‘09 Merit, haphazard on the curb.


Latrell rolled his eyes. “She ain’t comin’ inside.”


“Fine,” Knot went. “Fine. I got her leash, they got a fence.”


They left, Knot stayed. The doors loomed.


Latrell went in first, got a good look at the foyer - stairs, shoes, white walls. And sounds. Human sounds to the right, door closed.


“Took you long enough.” Eyes on the stairs, and Latrell met again with Gerardo’s Cheshire grin. Always there. Penetrators jersey and… leather gloves. He must’ve noticed that’s where Latrell was looking, “Handy in this line!” he said.


“I brought the others,” motioned to the others. “Knot’s outside, he brought his dog.”


“He brought his dog? Do it bark?” He left that question unanswered when he realised what he just said. “Whatever. Look, Ramon’s in there,” thumbed at the room to the right. The human sounds.


“Is he okay?”


Gerardo didn’t say anything. Still smiled.




“I need you guys to be cool about what he doin’, aight?” Gerardo stopped smiling. “It’s necessary.”


The human sounds got louder.






He walked. Nearly tip-toed. The other two lingered, Gerardo talking to them now. He didn’t care.


Ramon was facing away. Living room, decent TV in the corner, floral print sofa. Guy on a chair. Taped to it, around the arms, the legs, the mouth. Cable-knit sweater stained red around the chest.


It was Frogface. From the docks. Heavyset black guy’d been rattling the fence. And here he was. Here he was, again, looking back at Latrell.


“L!” Ramon noticed, turned. Screwdriver in his hand. Red stained. “Keep it to the initials when we’re with our gracious host.”


Latrell stared. “What is this?”


“I found some employee names. Addresses. Doesn’t matter. But as you can see, it’s led to our little reunion here. His mother’s upstairs, so please keep it down.” Latrell looked at the gun on the table, a Kreuger MkII, rimfire pistol, .22 caliber. “We don’t want to wake her up.”


“Is he alright?”


“Bruised, but he’ll live.” If Frogface’s eyes could talk, they’d be screaming. “If he lives.”


Woah, the f*ck?!” Turn around, X and DB staring back. Same thoughts running through their heads too, Latrell thought. Damn.


Ramon sighed. “Look, L--”




“I was gonna babysit, but I’mma let you keep watch on big boy here. I tried gettin’ some sh*t out but he won’t budge.” He turned to the other two. “I want you guys searchin’ the joint with me. G gon’ send up K when he comes, too.”


“Four guys searching this place?”


Three. Makin’ sure y’all thorough. And quiet.” Back to Latrell, “You stay here. Make our master a’ ceremony here understand the value of keepin’ his damn mouth shut right about now, since we don’t want two bodies.”


With a point, Ramon backed out, same as the others, shut the door. Two remained.


Latrell debated his options, looked at the couch, back at Frogface, at the TV.


Ah, f*ck. Here goes nothing, he thought. Here goes goddamn nothing.


He approached, slowly, Frogface bracing for something; a hit, another scar, anything. “I don’t want to hurt you,” Latrell said.


Frogface didn’t seem eased.


“I’m gonna take the tape off, a’ight?” Latrell knelt down, to his right. “I need you to keep your voice level down ‘n sh*t, you feel? Can you do that?”


Frogface nodded. Didn’t understand. Guess Latrell didn’t either.


When the tape came off, slow, Frogface breathed. Hard, shaky. “Th- thought that weren’t gon’ happen no more again.” His voice was deep, croaky. “Oh god. Oh god.”


“I need you calm, a’ight? Need you to stay calm.”


“I’m gon’ die, ain’t I? Oh god.”


“You won’t die. You aren’t gonna die.” Latrell looked around, thought. “What’s your name?”


Frogface eyed him. Sighed. “Cristóbal. Cris.”


“A’ight. Cris. You don’t sound Spanish or nothing.”


“I ai-... I ain’t sayin’ nothin’. You done tied me the f*ck up. You threaten to kill my moms. We ain’t friends.”


Latrell kept thinking. “We ain’t, you right,” he said. “But I ain’t doin’ nothin’. I want to leave just as much you do, a’ight? I need you calm. So c’mon, where you from?”


He was pulling his best Mother Hen act, thought it was the best way of keeping things light. As light as they could be. ‘Cris’ bought it, “Fine,” he said. “Colombia. My mother Colombian. But I ain’t. So I’m just Cris. Th-, f*ck, thought y’all knew. f*ckin’ lunatic with the- f*ck, he said it.”


“He don’t fill me in on much. You speak Spanish?”




“He speaks Spanish.”


“He did.”


“What he say?”


Cristóbal groaned, pain. “He- f*ck, my f*cking knee. He stabbed my f*cking knee.”


He did, Latrell saw. Big red stain on the guy’s jeans. It was funny, Latrell thought. He’d screwed up the same one at the docks. Had the bandage on. Maybe not funny, actually. “I got one,” Latrell said.


I don’t want no used bandages. I just want you the f*ck out my goddamn house.” His breathing was getting sparser, sweat beading harder on his forehead. “Please. Please, kid.” The man was pleading to someone probably half his age.


Latrell thought harder. “You religious, Cris?”


Cris just barely nodded. He didn’t have to reply, the cross on the wall behind him said it all.


“I ain’t. But… I’m prayin’ for you right now. I want us both out this unscathed. Just the knee, right?” The joke didn’t work. “Look at me, Cris. Look at me.”


Cris looked.


“I need you to tell me sh*t, anything. About Pier 14. About the guys hangin’ out in they sneakers, don't look like they one a’ you. If you know what they doin’.”


Cris looked at the floor. “I… I dunno.” A deep breath among many, “You promise that's all y’all want?”


“That's all we here for. That's why they searchin’ your office right now, or your bedroom, or anything. They want spreadsheets. Nobody tryna kill you.”


Now Cris was thinking. “Like what?”


“Who those sneakers are. What they got inside the pier. Layouts, b, anything. You work in that building you gotta know something.”

“I don't know... they don't tell me nothing. I don't know! I- don't- f*cking freight, man. Freight.”


“What kind of freight?”

f*cking produce! Alcohol, I don't know. Fu- f*ck, f*ck, they f*cking kill me I tell you.”


“He'll do worse.”


Started to hyperventilate again, “H- f*cking- f*cking drugs,” he was panting. “They got f*cking drugs! That's what they're guarding, they're guarding drugs.”




“I don't know! They don't tell me! Cocaine. Heroin. Afghani heroin. Pakistani, I dunno- f*cking- f*cking Middle Eastern! That's all I got! They hide it, they hide it in the boxes, they ship it out and they spread it and they got specific people I don't know, I don't know! C'mon, man…”


“That's good, Cris. C’mon. You can do this.”


“f*cking do what?!” The breathing turned to sobbing, the tears beginning to flow, “I don't know man, they don't tell me anything, I don't know! C- f*cking-... they got loading docks, they got a few offices, they mark the boxes- I- I- I don't know!”


“Stay with me, Cris, c'mon. Calm down. How do they mark the boxes, Cris?”


“I don't know! You can tell, you know when you see it, please! Special packaging, f*cking tape, I don't know... they don't f*cking tell me nothing, please! They’ll kill me, man, they’ll kill me!


Keep it down, Cris.


“You don't understand, man… they hurt people. Those guns ain't for show, man. I seen AKs, man, I seen Yutzis, automatics.” A wheeze, a cough. Strained: “Nobody give a f*ck. Not the cops, not nobody. They vanish or they taught a lesson. Please… you gotta quit, man.”




“You gotta quit. While you ahead. They will know. Just get out, I won't say nothing, man. Just untie me. Just untie my hands. Just my wrists. I wanna feel ‘em. Kid, I wanna feel ‘em.”




“I just wanna feel my hands, I wanna move ‘em, kid. I don't wanna die. Not like this. Not my hands tied, kid.” He gulped, tried to breathe, his face wet - perspiration, tears, snot, who knew. “Like a hog. Like a f*cking animal, kid.”


Latrell didn't say anything.


Just looked. Just thought.


Went for the tape. Slowly, unwrapped. Carefully, like a ticking--


L! Good man.”


Latrell didn't look back. “Ram-, um… R.”


Ramon chuckled. “I heard some noises. Raised his voice a little. Nearly woke up his mother. You get something?”


“A few things. They got drugs in there.”


“Drugs? Hmph. There's cheaper ways of getting that sh*t into the country than the docks. You think they use trucks?” To Cristóbal: “Do they use trucks?”


I ain't sayin’ sh*t to you,” Cris spat. Bad move.


Ramon flinched. “Then you don't need to say no more. Put the tape back on, L.”


Cris’ eyes went wide. To Latrell. All red. “Please.


Latrell sighed. “Sorry, Cris,” picked up the tape. “It’ll be over soon. Don't worry.”


“You two friends now?”


“I'd rather the guy don't be cryin’ or nothin’,” smoothed it back on. Cris mumbled something underneath. “We in a f*cked up situation.”


“I brought dogboy. He was helping, I’mma let him in. That cool?” He didn't give any time for a reply, “Hey, K! Need you inside ‘a moment!


Door opened, Knot strode in. Paused. “What the f*ck?


“Did G ain't say nothin’?”


“...Nothin’ like this, L.”


Ramon started walking, “That’s funny,” he said. Picked the gun off the table. “Asked him to brief y’all, that's some straight impudence on his part. I ain't f*ckin’ with that.”




“He bein' lazy, K,” he approached. “Hope you up to the task.” He presented it, Knot didn't take. Just stared.


“What task?” he asked.


Ramon looked at Latrell. Laughed again. “He ain't too easy on it.”


Knot kept staring. “Easy on what?”


Ramon didn't let it get to him. He shun through the unease, let the moment linger. “You gotta get rid of the witnesses,” pushed the gun up on him. “You know what you gotta do.”


Cris screamed through the tape. Tried to. Little came out. Knot gulped, looked at the gun in his hands. “I-... why not L?”


“We spilling blood, Kavon.”


Oh sh*t. “Why the f*ck you done say my name?”


“He knows it. Now he's gotta go. He’ll pick you out in a lineup, boy, he’ll see that face and he’ll know. Don't make it worse on yourself.”


Latrell, what the f*ck?!


“He ain't gon’ save you, Knot.”


“Brother, the f*ck are you done doing?”


“He's making a decision, L. Can't trust him. Can't trust you. Can't trust nobody. If he can't pull this off, what can he do?” Eyes snapped to Latrell’s, wild eyes. He'd seen them in Kenton. It clicked. “What can he do, L?


Knot hadn't moved. Hands outstretched. “W-... what…” he was breathing. Barely speaking. “What he done to me?”


“What have you done?”


“Excuse me, nigga?”


“This’ll be the first worthwhile thing you done apart from get my brother his goddamn coffee.” He waltzed over, got in Knot’s face, put his hand on Knot’s outstretched palms. “Do it.


Cris was still screaming. Trying to. He was rocking back and forth, even if the legs were taped to the carpet. Every move was futile.


Ramon pushed Knot forward. Knot shook. His hands shook.


He grasped.




Date prisa, chico. Doggy get his bones.” Ramon shot a glance at Latrell, a smirk.


Hands shaky, Knot didn’t break his gaze, didn’t shoot. Just pointed it. Cris kept croaking.






Latrell took a few steps.




Stood next to Knot.




Snatched the gun. Ramon yelled something.


Latrell didn't hear.


He blinked. And pulled.


You would expect the chair to fly back, but no. Didn’t move. Didn't even sprawl back, no flailing. Bullet went right above the right eye, slumped, wall painted bloody, skin ruptured. Eyes still open, blank. Nothing in them. If it weren’t for the tape, he woulda fell.


Nobody said anything.


Just ringing. Ears ringing for a moment, smoke out the barrel. Breathing.


Latrell blinked. Almost felt like a dream. Like it weren't real. Body crumpled like a rag doll, nothing left in it but red. Weren't Cristóbal no more, weren't Cris, weren't Frogface. Just another man, just another corpse.


Ramon was just shaking his head. Hands on his hips, eyes on the ground. “Well,” he said.




The ringing stopped. Knot stared at Latrell, these big eyes, grateful eyes. No words.


Silence. Dead silence.


Gerardo pushed through the door, almost knocked the hinges out - “I take it we f*ckin’ rollin’!”


Latrell sighed, corked his head over. “That’ll… that’ll wake the woman up.”


Gerardo just grinned.


Latrell knew what that meant.


The Glossary

Liberty City Map

Edited by slimeball supreme
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  • 4 weeks later...
slimeball supreme


An Eye Opens




A moment passed.




Keys clicking, clacking, Abbot looked at his feet and looked behind him at the cars as they passed through the suburban side street, back at the 5 gallon water jugs he’d seen just a few weeks ago. A month? Two? He didn't remember. There was one now. It was empty.


The door cricked open. Abbot caught a glance, at a discerning eye, and then a grin. Kassian wasn't wearing a shirt. Jeans on. Looked tired.




“Hey. Can I come in?”


Kassian nodded. Closed the door. Clicked and clacked a few more times. “Rude of me,” he said, the door wide open now. “Thanks, man.”


“It gets boring, uh,” Abbot looked down. Kassian wasn't wearing any shoes. “Do you want me to take mine off?”


“Oh? No. If you want, I mean. I dunno.” Pause. “Heh. I just, I don't- I don't like tracking mud. You know?”


Abbot got down, started to untie. “It gets boring with Rahim, y'know.”


“You never tell me much about him.”


“What’s there to tell?”


“What he does. Where he’s from. He’s got an interesting name.”


Abbot sighed, put his shoes by the others: some boots, few sneakers, Eris, Curbcrawlers. “Rahim… f*ck. Rahim’s Rahim.”


“Huh. Very specific.”


“Ah, you know what I mean. He’s uh, sh*t… he's a good friend. Mostly.”




“Anal, but yeah.”


Kassian’s house, or his apartment, or whatever - was overlarge. A lot of brown, whether that was paint or furniture or filth, clothes strewn and wrappers and bottles and paper bags. Old bicycle leaning on a wall by the stairs, TV rattling something Abbot wasn't paying attention to, felt smaller inside than out.


Kaz threw himself on the sofa, sighed, “You seen Achban?”


“...No. I was gonna ask you that, actually. He's not here no more?”


A shrug. “Nope,” Kaz was blunt. “He left in, f*ck, June. I thought you knew. He was only bunking here for a little, ‘til he got sh*t on his feet, I think he's lined up a place in the city or something. Y’know, he's still f*cking stingy.”




“No, that's not the right word. Uh… he didn't like mess. I meant that.”


Abbot kept looking around the room, nodded. “I can see why.”


Amused, “Hey, it’s not that bad.”


Bemused, “That bad?”


“Okay, it’s not great. Whatever, f*ck it.” He got back up off the sofa, “You want something out the fridge?”




“I do. I got beer. Man, we hang out, what for? You don't want food, you barely wanna talk, I--”


“Fine, fine. I'll have a beer. f*ck it.”


He followed Kaz, moved into the kitchen: laminate flooring, blond wood countertops, more bottles more cans more wrappers, boxes marked ‘insulin’, empty tubes and packets. Calendar, date circled.


Abbot blinked. “We missed the 4th of July, didn't we? Nothing happened.”




“Yeah. I mean, no celebrations. I didn't call my dad or nothing.”


“Yeah. So?” He didn't care. Abbot dropped it. He didn't really, either.


Fridge, this buzzing old one, red metal, was kinda barren. Leftovers, fast food. Few Noodle Exchange boxes, Bolt Burger, unused condiment bottles and produce probably past sell-by. “Logger Light, or Jakey’s Benchmark?”




Kaz smirked, grabbed a can, blue and gold, tossed it. “Hipster.”


Abbot caught it. “2015, you’re still talking about hipsters.”


“Real when it's real, Abbie.” He grabbed two from the fridge, a box of Cluckin’ Bell chicken balls and a bottle of cranberry juice.


“On your period?”


Kassian rolled his eyes, “Ha ha. I’m in the mood. Y’know, I've been on edge today.”




“Vadim keeps calling about, ah f*ck it doesn't matter, but it's annoying. One of his pet projects with that dipsh*t Eddie.”


“I’m sure what you guys are running now is good enough. For Teddy. For Benny.”


Kassian would've wagged a finger if his hands were free, kinda laughed. “No. No. You wanna do ‘good enough’, you gotta keep your fingers in a few pots. He’s trying to impress them, doing all this moron sh*t, dialing overseas friends. There are these off-the-boat teenagers, pimply kids who know computers. He's getting them to scam casinos or something, these little chips they put in the slots. Or, uh, credit cards or something. You know that tech sh*t?”




“Eh? I thought you worked computers. Achban told me that's why you started going to school. Or college. Whatever, where was it, Royalsborough? LCU?”


“Pfft.” Kassian and Abbot were just kind of leaning on the kitchen benches. “You think we should sit down?” Abbot asked.


“We should, but you're not getting out of this one that easy.”


“Not LCU, no. Community college, Royalsborough’s right. There's a difference.”


They moved out the kitchen, “You could f*cking say.”


“I’m not made for that sh*t. School.” Abbot sat down, threw a sip back. Ah. “And where’d school get me? Where'd any of this get me?”




Kassian looked at him. Blank face, sheepish.


“Ah. You don't know.”


“You don't tell me nothing, Abbie. You work at a place in the city. I think.”


“That doesn't say much, man, mostly just came along since they hired everyone else. Didn't make much sense to me, but whatever. We're in-house IT now."


Kaz squinted, “Who? What? Where?”


“Like, I worked at this computer place. In Beechwood. And I did sh*t. And then a bunch of us get offered in-house temp contracts, I don't know. It's all work bullsh*t. Some guy knows another guy, or his brother is the other guy.”


“In the city?”

“Yeah. Just some law firm. Midtown, real fancy building. We don't got much of an office though. You heard of Nouwens and Visser?"

"I think so, yeah. White shoe, right?”

"Yeah, yeah. Not my scene. Most of the guys in IT I know from the shop, y'know. This guy Lawrence, Quinn, and I've met people through there... this Indian guy named Bheru, he's some programmer or web developer or some bullsh*t like that in Boabo. But I don't really... I don't like them much. It's all lanyard sh*t y'know? Wonk f*cking losers.”


“Rahim work there?”


Abbot laughed, took a sip. “Uh… no. Look, I say he's a therapist, right?”


“Then why are you worrying about the rent?”


“Well, er… he’s not a real therapist.”




“He's, like, f*cking spiritual. He plays with rosemary and goddamn rocks.”


Kassian tried to hold back a grin. He couldn't. He cracked up.


“Yeah, yeah. Laugh.”


“What, he does aromatherapy?”


“Do you think I want to f*cking ask?”


Kassian grinned, “Yeah, I can see why you wouldn't.”


“I have to pay rent for an apartment that stinks of, like, lemons and aldehyde. Not like I got much better.”


“Hey, you want, you can crash here, I got a guest’s upstairs.”


Abbot mulled it over, shrugged. Another sip, “Maybe.”


Conversation dropped like a bad habit, just noise, empty noise from the TV buzzing Climactic Candid Channel. Science of Crime - you like this sh*t, Abbot asked. Kaz didn’t, just kept the TV on as background. Good to nod off to, he said. Took a few minutes of blanking out, stale lager smell and bad cop show talk, for Kaz to get up.


“I’m gonna liven myself up,” he declared. Thumbed back, “C’mon.”


Abbot shrugged, rose to his feet. Kassian, half empty box of chicken balls, went for the stairs. Abbot followed.


Kaz started the talking again, “So... why'd you leave?”


That took Abbot aback. “Pardon me?”


“If you don't like working computers, why did you do it in the first place? Why'd you leave the neighborhood? Your apartment’s in, like, Rotterdam Hill, right?”




“That's a long drive, and I don't think the trains are too good to the city anyway. You know the door’s always open here, right?”


Abbot bit his lip. “Yeah. It, uh, it doesn't matter.”


They were on the stairs now, “It does to me,” Kaz said.


Abbot put his hand on the wall, the stairs cramped, stuck in a little inlet with no real room to breathe. “I don't know where I belong,” he said.


“Nobody does,” Kaz replied.


“No, not like that. Just… I didn't know most of Achban's friends apart from you and Tony. Sure, he got me involved in this whole… thing, but we were hanging out in different circles, you know? Back when you were calling me a kid and sh*t. Like, I'm two years younger than you. Never felt like I was one of you guys. Never felt like that.”


Damn, you just hit the big three-one. Peeked over thirty. Can't call you a kid no more, can I? When's your birthday, March?”

They'd reached the top. “Wasted my youth, Kassian. Wasted my youth.”

He turned. “We're still kids.”

“Are we?”

“Basically. I'm 33, that's baby steps. Vadim's 37.”


“Yeah.” Kaz didn't seem fazed, “Acts like he's in his twenties with his buddies, but he's older than us. Guess that's what the molly does to you.”

“Still. Wasted my youth. I go to community college, drop out with half a bachelor's. And now, here I am. Spent half my twenties working, whether that's pretending I can fix a computer or pretending I can study code. Spent the other half dealing dimebags for nobodies--”

“Hey!” Kaz smirked, “I'm not a nobody.”

“Whatever, you don't count. When we moved up to District Park it was either Puerto Ricans or moron white boys like me.”


“And where'm I, Abbie? I was dealing weed in high school, same as you. Now look at me! I've graduated, selling X to Russians and f*cking bridge-and-tunnels. You, me, boat. Same.”


Abbot shrugged. “Yeah.” Kaz was going for the door when Abbot took a deep breath, “Pops needed help, too.”


Kaz stopped. “Really?”


Abbot shook his head a little, “Yeah. I was at the rug store… a while. I helped. Did what I could. But we, f*ck, I don’t know. When Achban left it was radio silence. Few times I wanted to head down there and kick the sh*t out him myself.”




“No, seriously. Pa was crushed. Achban stopped sending money, he stopped calling, he stopped helping with the carpets. Zip. Whatever job he was doing, it was good dough. And then he just… stopped.”




“Dad needed a little extra. So I went to school. Needed to forget. Needed… something. Purpose, hobby, I don’t know. I got it knocking heads and then it stopped. I’ve felt limp, man, like there’s this hole, it can’t be filled. And I’m--”


“A hole?” Kaz was actually in his bedroom now, cramped little place still felt like a kid’s room. 90’s sports posters, blue pinstripe wallpaper, barren aside from a bed, a closet, a desk and a drawer. Kaz was at the drawer, looked up from mismatched socks. “Like, what? This a spiritual thing?”


Abbot shook his head, firmer this time. “It doesn’t matter.”


Kaz nodded, understood. He kept looking.


If Abbot was being perfectly honest, he had no idea what Kaz was looking for. Didn’t matter. At the end of the stairs were two doors and a window - window baring out into the ‘backyard’, a few little patches of green, the tops of neighboring flats, paved over concrete and laundry lines. Garbage and garages. One door open, Kassian’s room.


Abbot decided to explore door number two.


It creaked open. Floor settled. Smelt weird in there; old, untouched. Bed still made, sheen of dust coating hard surfaces. Red paint, chipping. Just felt sad.


Abbot felt Kaz’s presence, turned. Kassian just stoic, half cocked frown. “Achban was sleeping here,” he said. “Dad’s room.”


“He doesn’t live here?”


Kaz sighed. “Not for a while.”


Kaz was holding this box under one arm, cardboard, sealed with duct tape. Abbot noticed while staring, for the first time, scars. Little bruised dots, these marks near the vein, red and brown. Clustered between the forearm and the bicep, whatever the f*ck that place was called.


Track marks. How hadn’t he noticed? Goddamn track marks. Kassian didn’t seem to notice. Probably didn’t care.


Kaz’d set the box down on the kitchen bench, got the cutting board and a gnarly looking knife out. Abbot watched from the sofa, dulcet sounds of gruff TV policemen in the background, as Kaz sliced in, pulled out a little plastic pill bottle. Kassian beamed from the bench, “Gonna test the merchandise.”


“Yugo’s sh*t?”


“The very same.”


He unscrewed the top, poured out some of the oxycodone tablets onto the cutting board. Thought for a moment, looked behind at the opened box of insulin syringes, before just shrugging and smashing them to pieces with the blunt end of the knife.


Crunch, crunch, crunch. Could barely hear the TV.


Abbot stared.


Kaz went for the counter cupboard, pulled out a few pens, tinfoil. Got back to--


“Can I have some?”


Kassian stopped, looked up. “Huh?”


“I want some,” Abbot said.


“The ox?” Kassian seemed surprised. “You sure?”


“Ain’t my first rodeo, Kaz.”


“Hnh.” Kaz set the knife down. “Okay, sure. Snort or smoke?”




He’d separated the coating, greenish powder compared to whitish powder. Got a straw, left the pens and the tinfoil for the moment. He’d get to it later.


Abbot wasn’t sure if he could feel his nose. Rubbed at it, eyes red, half felt he weren’t in his head no more. Didn’t care. You feel like you wanna cry kinda, Abbot felt a few inches away from where he was. Didn’t care.


He was sprawled on the couch and the colors danced, TV screen and room blurring. Abbot felt Kassian, wasn’t sure which part.


Didn’t care.


For a moment, you don’t care. You don’t care about nothing, not the smell, not the nose, not the dirt not the grime. It’s euphoria, bliss. It’s nodding as the world stands still, head up high, it’s nothing mattering but everything mattering. It’s indescribable, body healing like you’re scarred even if you don’t feel no pain.


Abbot was nodding. Nodding to what, he didn’t know. Nodding to nod. Hypnotic. Paradise. Sickly sweet even through the charcoal, the ash. It rains on you, it becomes you. Singularity with happiness, grief begone, holes filled, the world matters not.


He let out a laugh, wasn’t sure if he felt a tear or just eyes watering, pupils dilated, diluted. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t think. He just was.


And for once, he was okay with that.


The Glossary

Liberty City Map

Edited by slimeball supreme

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