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Red Triangle - a GTA Fanfic


slimeball supreme
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slimeball supreme

StAREfn.png

You're My Soldier

 

Looked in the mirror.

 

He’d been wearing hats. Was fine, since it was always brick the f*ck out in December, always had to wear skullies.

 

But the gash had scarred. Wound was festering. From the top of his eyebrow up past his hairline, would’ve needed stitches on a good day. But he didn’t get stitches at the police station. He got a bandage, got told to shut the f*ck up, got some cop mopping up blood from the back of a cop cruiser.

 

And now he was here. Scar was gnarly as f*ck.

 

Grabbed the durag off the sink. And he wore it to hide - wore it even though he shaved bald. Tied the strings and kept his eye on the scar to make sure it was hidden, and kept his eye on his eyes.

 

Stopped.

 

Stared.

 

Finished tying and got the Swingers fitted cap and left the bathroom and told his mom he was going out. And his mom said “Alright, honey,” and was in the middle of some other request when Latrell was already out the door down the cramped steps of the PJ towers.

 

Dull cackle-creak of the Hinterland boots pressing into the concrete. Hands sweeping prison-brick walls gleaming like laminate, like wax, big numbers sprayed on denoting floor-level. Descending past new paint-coats for covered graffiti and marker scratch with names and nicknames and nothings. A.9BG FK SLK, BALL UP FROG EATING, BOB, BOBBY P. PJ AK EBK, so on. Kids laughing on the second floor with one of the doors ajar and Bob Marley whistling out through the gap.

 

Then was out in the snow, and then whipped out the menthol Debonaires. Flicked out the stick and went searching.

 

Was looking for DB, and DB was looking for him.

 

Didn’t take long.

 

Red-brick Milden Houses sky-pointing on the way down to DB near the playgrounds past Van Benthen. Kid had earbuds in, absent-mindedly looking out and trotting nowhere, not as much looking for something as vaguely looking for anything. Skullie and three layers of hoodies: second layer purple, first blasting Los Santos Boars logos. Dreads poking out the hat, chewing his own face off anxious-like.

 

Latrell said “What’s poppin’, b?

 

“Huh?” Eyes lit up and shut off on recognizing, “Nah, balla, it’s all good.”

 

“You been eatin’, son?”

 

I do what I do. We walkin’?”

 

“Hop to it, son.”

 

Moved on past the playground, “We with the set. We goin’ banana man?” Was asking if they were gonna keep to codes. “I ain’t too keen with Bobby P, s’all I’m on.”

 

And Latrell smirked, and asked “Who the f*ck listening?”

 

DB hesitated.

 

Repeated, “C’mon son, who listening?

 

“I got held up in a cell, son. Xavier’s where Xavier’s at. They got the Knotman gone. I got a visit from Teflon--”

 

“Don’t let the OGs scare you, zambaru.”

 

What’s with this Balla sh*t? Since when the f*ck was you on that?”

 

Latrell put the cigarette out his mouth, “I’m just talkin’ how I talk.”

 

DB side-eyed sad-like and just murmured “A’ight, then.

 

“You can’t shake that sh*t,” Latrell was going. “You grow up Ballin’, you die Ballin’. Don’t matter what the f*ck you wanna say you are afterwards, you gonna have purple in your blood until a nigga die. And sh*t, I might not f*ck with the OGs no more. Might not f*ck with A.9 Gangsters, might not f*ck with Bobby P. But I been with this sh*t long enough I know- you know what I’m saying?

 

“I feel you, son.”

 

I got love for you. Okay? Keep that sh*t straight.”

 

DB wasn’t keeping eye contact. “Okay.”

 

Everything good at home, b?

 

DB hesitated. Said “No.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“I got a call from my brother asking if was alright and sh*t, if I needed to talk.”

 

“What’s wrong with that?”

 

“My brother outta state,” DB went. “He got out. He went to Cheraw too, then came back, then went outta town. Asked if I was f*cking with the wrong niggas still.

 

“You ain’t,” Latrell said. “I got nothing but love.”

 

You say that,” DB sighed.

 

“It’s true.”

 

DB was looking forward out at the path, out the road, out the snow. Red brick buildings. “I’m gettin’ outta Liberty in February. January, maybe.”

 

Latrell stopped.

 

Twitched.

 

“I’m just--” DB was going on, but Latrell put a hand on his shoulder and gripped harder than he intended to.

 

DB stared.

 

“It’s Christmas in, like, four days, b,” Latrell said.

 

“I know.”

 

When in February?

 

“Sooner ‘n later. I mean- sh*t, the second. I don’t know. My grandma pissed off, son.”

 

“She find out you been to the cop shop?”

 

Nobody found out nothin’, but you set ‘em off. Lyin’ and sh*t. She thinks you sell me crack or some sh*t, she asking why the f*ck some old ass bald motherf*cker come to the apartment and start finessing all this sh*t about black power and f*ckin’ Marcus Garvey and helping out at the rec center. Why I ain’t got no friends my age, why I hang out with triple-zero seven-thirty niggas.”

 

Scrambling over Latrell’s own thoughts, “I did- I mean, sh*t, I did--”

 

I know what you did,” DB said. Stern, mature, “But if she sees you again she callin’ the f*cking jakes. And she sh*t-scared. She know I been up to sh*t, she know I f*ck with the set, so you know. I only got a couple weeks, man.

 

Latrell was tapping his foot.

 

This really f*cked with his f*cking plans. His f*cking timeline.

 

Rubbed his face just muttering “Okay, okay.

 

“I’m sorry,” DB said. Looked so f*cking sad.

 

“I wanted you on this thing,” Latrell said. “And it’s good money, you know what I’m sayin’, you can bring that sh*t to Cheraw- you can, you can--”

 

Sighed. “I don’t think I’m gonna bang no more,” DB said.

 

Twitched.

 

Tapped.

 

“Son,” Latrell was starting.

 

But DB cut him off, “I mean. I tried earning, with y’all. When I started Ballin’ I was doing what I could. You know I’m still YG, you know what the f*ck happened the other year with juvenile, you know that sh*t. But look where I been on the recent. I been f*cked.”

 

“You been cracking locks, motherf*cker.”

 

Stop calling me that. I ain’t that. I go to the hall for a few months for a break-in don’t mean I’m the f*ckin’ break-in guy. I’m who I am.”

 

“The locks is metaphysical,” Latrell said. “They ain’t literal locks. You breaking boundaries, is what I’m saying.”

 

DB squinted. “Really?

 

That was bullsh*t. “Sure,” Latrell said. “‘Cause you on this respect the B sh*t, and then you woke the f*ck up on what the scam was. What the taxes are, what shaking is, what happens when--”

 

“I’m just sick,” DB said. “I don’t wanna do nothing no more.

 

“This ain’t even being shaked. This is what we was doing with Ramon,” Latrell was near-begging. “No taxes, no nothing--”

 

“Is that your only problem with the Ballas? Taxes?

 

“No. I mean, taxes is f*ckin’ bullsh*t, son, let an entrepeneur do his own f*cking thing. Why the big sitting chiefs in this f*cking clique get all the cash a balla make even though they don’t do nothing, that’s some fa**ot-ass dick suckin’ bullsh*t.

 

“I don’t care what the opportunity is. And with Ramon, that sh*t was f*cked up anyway. Why you gotta jump on every opportunity to make some f*ckin’ hay where they ain’t shaking--”

 

Because I give a f*ck about you!” Latrell said. “Because you all that’s mattering. Because I do this sh*t for you, young balla, I do this sh*t for you.

 

“I just think I’m done flagging. I’m done with this sh*t. I’m done banging, I don’t know. I seen too much--

 

“You ain’t.”

 

DB squeaky, “I am.

 

“You just in this rut, nigga, give it a week.”

 

“I’m giving it what I’m giving it. I just ain’t feel it no more. I’m done earning, done eating, done balling. I- just gon’ keep quiet, maybe, f*ckin--

 

“No.”

 

“No?”

 

No.

 

“Latrell--”

 

“What I got is pure f*cking gold. And I don’t care if you too short sighted to see what the f*ck this is.”

 

Man, f*ck you, L.”

 

“No. No. I ball for you--”

 

I’m done with--

 

Harder, “I ball the f*ck for you. So you gonna do this. Because I need another balla and you the only balla got, and it’s for your f*cking sake.”

 

Get Noodles.

 

“f*ck Noodles, and f*ck you if you think you getting your ass outta this sh*t because you too pussy to make some preen, bitch, that’s it. That’s an order, motherf*cker.

 

“An order?”

 

“You heard the f*ck what I said, Delmar.”

 

And DB wasn’t sure what he was hearing.

 

But he was hearing it. “What the f*ck is your rank?

 

DB didn’t know what to say. “Latrell--”

 

What the f*ck is it? And what am I? You YG, I’m BG. That’s it. So I tell you to do something, nigga, you do it. That’s the rules.

 

“f*ck the rules, I’m done balling--”

 

Then the 5 star gotta hear about your sh*t with the fent and you tryna keep that sh*t away from the Ballas.

 

DB stopped.

 

Eyes dropped. Color out his face. “What?”

 

You come to me and say you ain’t tellin’ nobody.

 

“You was in on that.”

 

No. I ain’t done sh*t because we was never at no station.”

 

We was, Latrell, we was, what the f*ck?!

 

“You got proof?”

 

Latrell, c’mon.

 

“So you don’t do this sh*t for yourself and work on this sh*t with me, then that’s disobeying an order and that’s f*cking yourself and lying to Teflon and the generals.

 

“You was right there, Latrell.”

 

No I wasn’t, balla. You gonna back that sh*t up?”

 

Latrell.

 

“I got my word as a BG and you got dick. I’m your only saving grace in this world, Delly. You gonna f*ck me because you too stupid to see you’re f*cking yourself, I’m gonna make sure that sh*t literal.”

 

DB’s mouth just sort of hanging open. Like he was dead.

 

Like he was thinking, and he was searching for words, and he kept coming up short. So he just repeated, and repeated squeaky, “Latrell.

 

“You doin’ this thing for us?”

 

“Latrell.”

 

Are you?

 

Blinked. DB blinked. DB blinked. And just said “Okay.

 

“You don’t forget that you matter and matter so-the-f*ck hard I ain’t gonna let you waste an opportunity because you decided to play crab bitch nigga. That’s on you, D. You the only sh*t mattering and you ain’t even smart enough to recognize. Understand?

 

DB didn’t say anything.

 

I’m texting you the sh*t. The address. You come down and we keep this sh*t straight.”

 

DB didn’t say a word.

 

Latrell nodded, popped his lips, and walked the f*ck off.

 

DB didn’t say sh*t.

 

***

 

It was the next day and Latrell texted DB the meeting spot, but not for AnarKiss. AnarKiss was where L and the guys got together to figure out the details, and DB didn’t need to know that sh*t yet. Details had already been gathered a couple months back, on a little trip up to the docks with a fellow named Ramon, but that was ancient history. Whatever records he’d gotten had vanished a long time ago.

 

So they needed to do their own reconnaissance.

 

Phil had picked up Latrell in Frankie’s car. And Frank wouldn’t let Latrell drive his car, normally, but Latrell insisted on using his whip for the “space and style.” Translation: because he knew for a fact Frankie’s car was bugged. To make sure he caught anything anyone in the car said, he’d put on a wire and had the guys at the Disruption Team fit a mic into his hat. Latrell was double mic’d up, no problem.

 

And then when they got to DB, Phil and Latrell switched seats. And Latrell, motherf*cker, was f*cking driving. And Phil found the whole thing funny.

 

Titus was in the back watching the whole show and kind of chuckling to himself.

 

He was here because Frankie and Reuben decided they shouldn’t have to, and Kevin was at the pharmacy for his mother, and Titus was around and wanted to tag along besides. Had been on-and-off talking to his dad trying to mend the unmended, get Loopy to stop foaming from the f*cking mouth whenever he heard the word ‘Mazza’. Occasional trip to Astors, occasional phonecall, occasional message to ferry around to capo-on-capo or some bullsh*t Latrell wasn’t keeping up with. What you had to be sure of was that he’d been talking that Frankie was onto good money, and that meant whatever sh*t he’d gotten into with whoever and whatever happened there, it didn’t matter. The money mattered, and money was always green.

 

Or preen. Sure. Keep up with that cutesy Balla sh*t some more.

 

Xavier still hadn’t said a word while awaiting trial. So the only guys that knew what really went down with Spadina were the guys that did it. Them, and the Disruption Team.

 

DB said his hellos.

 

This is my boy Delmar - DB - he’s been on this sh*t with me, we gonna keep this sh*t good. DB, this is my nigga Philly, and this is Titus.”

 

“Pleasure’s mine,” Phil extended a hand.

 

Howya’ doin’.” Titus didn’t.

 

DB shook and kept the eyes going and you could see some sh*t creeping on his face. And he just said “Okay.

 

They were going for a jaunt down half the borough. Weren’t exactly a group for much conversating. Placid sh*t, vapid small talk you could tell the guys didn’t give much a f*ck for. Latrell thinking of Noodles looking at the kid in the backseat bug-eyed like he weren’t sure what was going on.

 

Didn’t know where they were when Phil asked “So where you from, DB?

 

DB kind of jerked up and eyed the passenger seat and didn’t really know what to say.

 

Latrell said “Around. He good.”

 

“One of your boys from the projects, Latrell?”

 

“Yeah,” DB said. “Sorta.”

 

You one of them Ballas or whatever? Like L, right?”

 

DB repeated, “Sorta.

 

“He’s who he be,” Latrell said.

 

“You don’t gotta be easy on it with us,” Philly said. “Come on. Your people is your people. Frankie got into this whole thing because he was reading up on this gang sh*t online, we know the score.

 

“Oh, yeah,” Titus went. Didn’t say nothing else but you’d have to suppose that served some other purpose, like he weren’t a limp dick along for the ride.

 

“I do what I do,” DB said. “I’mma hit this and then we’ll see what I’m doing, I don’t know.

 

Phil, “But you’re one of the Ballers or whatever?”

 

“Yeah. Sure.”

 

How old are you, son?

 

DB adjusted his waistband with his eyes locked on the headrest of the passenger. “I’m how old I be.”

 

“He’s 19,” Latrell said.

 

And Phil said “sh*t. Really?”

 

DB didn’t reply.

 

“Ain’t no shame in it,” Titus said.

 

“Ain’t no shame,” Phil said.

 

DB just said “Yeah.”

 

And that gang sh*t neither,” Titus was going, “You done time? You gotta do what you do.”

 

Just muttered “Some time at juvy or whatever s’all.

 

“I was f*cking sh*t up I was your age, too,” Philly went. “These kids from my neighborhood, wily f*cks like me. Gerry McReary, you know that name? I knew him.”

 

And Titus chuckled.

 

Philly said “What?

 

“You sure you wanna brag about whatever that was?”

 

“We still f*cked around.”

 

“The McReary sh*t, that name don’t play. You think this kid even knows the surname? I mean, I say Gravelli, he knows that. You used to f*ck with Loopy too, right? On the occasions. I mean, that’s a name he’d probably give a sh*t about, right?”

 

Loopy I only worked with a few times.

 

DB asked “Loopy?

 

“Okay,” Titus was going, “maybe not Loopy. Gravelli, though.”

 

“Sure,” DB said.

 

Yeah, see? Gravelli - we got a Gravelli working with us. I knew Gravelli’s great-nephew, that’s the guy we’re working with. You might even meet the kid--”

 

Yeah?

 

“Yeah, sure.”

 

DB was still looking at the headrest, Titus was chill as-you-like with his arm out the open window riding the air. “Cool,” just said that.

 

“Yeah,” Titus said. “And I knew the man himself, I met him a couple times at cookouts. And, and- I knew his kid. I don’t judge nobody for this gang sh*t neither, what you guys do, because Jon Junior - that’s the kid - he’s doing time as long as the cops can do him for. And he hooked up with the Spanish Lords in the joint.”

 

DB frowned. “But he’s, y’know.

 

“That sh*t don’t mean nothing inside. And sh*t, they let anyone in the Lords, too, he’s aces. Don’t matter he’s Italian, they got Italian Lords. Junior’s been inside… sh*t, since 2004… fifteen year sentence… my math ain’t good, Philly, when the f*ck is he out?”

 

Latrell’s first word in a while: “2019.” Wanted to see how far self-incrimination could go.

 

“There you go! 2019. But no, I visited him upstate and the guy’s got tattoos and everything. He ain’t even smoking crack no more, he says.

 

Phil just laughed to himself.

 

Titus said “What?”

 

This sh*t is all ridiculous.

 

“Hey, I don’t judge,” Titus said. “What the f*ck was that one Lord’s name, the kid outta Botolph or whatever? He’s been better to Jon any of us ever-the-f*ck been, so I got no problem he wants to play Boricua.”

 

“That kid is a f*ckup.”

 

I knew June a long time, he’s as much a f*ckup you are.” Turned back to DB, “It was Lord Portent, by the way. And I think his uncle was a Pavano so it was what it was.”

 

“You’re a f*ckup,” Phil said.

 

Oh, am I?

 

“Yeah, you are.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Why, you’re a f*cking cokehead like Junior is too. So I see your f*ckin’ sympahthy.

 

“Hey, do we have a problem?”

 

“Just don’t sh*t talk me, you f*cking guinea motherf*ck--”

 

Oh! What? Go f*ck yourself.”

 

Latrell said “Cool it.”

 

I’m sorry, kid,” Phil was saying, “but this f*cking guy--

 

“You wanna get racist,” Titus said, “be my guest you mick fa**ot.”

 

You’d be heavyweight champion if you weren’t such a cokehead retard.

 

“And Gerry McReary might not a’ done a few years you didn’t run out on him in ‘92--”

 

Phil was red in the face, “Get f*cked.

 

And Titus was still f*cking smiling, “I ain’t scared of your sh*t, man.” Turned to DB who was f*cking wide-eye petrified, “Don’t mind the mick--”

 

“I ain’t scared of your father.”

 

Who brought up my dad?

 

“Prick piece of sh*t.”

 

“Phillip, Prince Phillip - who brought up my dad?”

 

DB half-whispering, barely holding together, “Your dad?

 

“My dad is Loopy. Who brought up my dad, Phil?

 

“You did. You did, f*cking earlier, you said more people knew--” deep breath, “you said, you said more people--

 

“I said, I said, I said. You stutterin’, mutterin’, retarded--”

 

Latrell slapped the dash.

 

Everyone shut up.

 

And Latrell said to make sure, “Y’all gotta shut the f*ck up, son. Goddamn.”

 

“I’m sorry, Leland,” Titus said. “But this f*cking guy. I done--”

 

“Latrell.”

 

Okay. I done boxing promos before, I’ve sh*t talked people, this guy is a f*cking amateur.

 

“You’re a f*cking amateur.”

 

Big man,” Titus laughed. “I gone in the ring with motherf*ckers got cocks like boulders, and Phil Irish who calls himself Jelly Phil thinks he can go toe-to-toe--”

 

“You, uh, you- you lookin’ at people’s dicks, and you lookin’ at their balls and sh*t--”

 

Nice try, Phil.

 

Muttering, “Betyournutsisallshriveledfromthesteroidsandsh*tf*ckinfa**otpieceash*t--

 

And Titus just laughed it off.

 

They were somewhere on Munsee. Saw the Onondaga Station and kind of felt a shiver down his back going down, and looked to Phil and saw him just glaring out the window red-faced. They’d been passing MounteBank Center soon. A million ghosts haunting him in the borough. Maybe if they turned back around they’d pass the burger place on Munsee they trashed a Spanish Lord guy’s Cavalcade.

 

And Latrell just smirked. “Jon Gravelli, a bumblebee?

 

Phil snickered at that. Titus just said “Yeah.”

 

“You done any time, Titus?”

 

“My dad’s in prison the rest of his life. I done a few on possession, nothing serious. And sh*t, he’s a bumblebee? You and the kid are Bruises or Sacks, right? That what Grove Street motherf*ckers call you?”

 

We got the last laugh, and them Frog motherf*ckers got ate sh*t outta Davis. But that’s not our thing.”

 

I got no disrespect for it. Another life I’d probably gotten into it.”

 

“You woulda’ been a Balla in another life?”

 

I think I’da been the best goddamn motherf*cker to ever Ball or Fam, I’d make OG and be white.”

 

DB laughed a little.

 

I ain’t even joking neither,” Titus was grinning, “First white boy OG in Davis.”

 

“This is Broker,” Latrell said.

 

“Broker, Davis. LS, LC. Whoever, wherever. Do they call it Famming like you call it Balling? Family-ing? What the f*ck that even mean?”

 

“They call it f*cking,” DB said.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah, they f*ck they homies. They f*ck every nigga they see, Families. They f*ck OGs, they f*ck YGs, they f*ck men--”

 

Ah, I see,” laughing, “I see.”

 

“Yeah, but they don’t f*ck women so much, they don’t f*ck women.”

 

“Maybe I wouldn’t join the Families then, huh? ‘Cause me, I f*ck women. I don’t f*ck men, I ain’t like that.”

 

“Yeah,” DB laughed, “yeah. Me neither.”

 

Latrell was wondering what the DT guys would be thinking when they played these tapes back.

 

Was a straight shot down Munsee to East Hook and Champlain Street. Old Champlain Street, an old friend. Bandage on his head like the brain was poking out and pumping something fierce as the car was riding up the avenue and stop-starting at traffic lights. And bail bond places, and pickle trucks, and northern Broker pretty-facade apartment brownstones juice bar nothing f*ck you.

 

Green bridge. Where’d Latrell know that green bridge? It was where they parked Xavier’s Albany. Underpass of the Broker-Dukes Expressway, had this mural. They passed it. DB would’ve remembered.

 

Latrell did, too.

 

They’d asked him why he busted up his knee.

 

Turned onto Champlain.

 

Eased the car up a little with the dock crane in sight and started driving slow.

 

We gonna park up with all the other cars?” That was Titus.

 

Latrell didn’t reply. Was just thinking.

 

PORT AUTHORITY OF LIBERTY CITY

LIBERTY MARINE TERMINALS

BROKER PORT AUTHORITY PIERS

ADMINISTRATION BUILDING

 

“Latrell?” DB.

 

“Huh?”

 

“What you thinking, b?”

 

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

 

Titus squinted, “This the terminal?”

 

Phil said “Says right there.

 

“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.”

 

DB stared.

 

Long pause.

 

Titus broke it, “Nobody really asked for the little spiel, but y’know... what’re you saying?

 

Phil said “f*ck up, Titus. He put thought into this thing, you pay respect to it.”

 

“Okay, f*ck it. Kid’s being all cagey, then he comes up with that.”

 

And Latrell smirked. “It don’t matter, anyway. It’s all technical sh*t. We gotta keep going.” Was getting a ride outta this.

 

“What, it ain’t good enough for me or us or whoever?”

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

Was a minute or so, maybe. And they were on the corner of Champlain and Wayne Street again. Latrell pulled the car up, smirked harder. Eyed the fence, saw the LomBike station. Was looking for the gap in the fence.

 

Couldn’t find it.

 

Latrell?

 

Latrell turned back, “DB.

 

What is this? Why are you saying this?”

 

Latrell bit his tongue, completely ignored it. “Me and Jelly. We’re gonna do some reconnaissance. A’ight?”

 

Titus, “So who’s driving?”

 

“You. Okay? You, I need you driving, watch our backs.”

 

Philly chuckled. “I could do it. Frankie told me to drive, right?”

 

“No, need you for a reason. Titus, ride up the block--”

 

“How the f*ck am I watching your back if I ride up the goddamn block?”

 

It- look, it doesn’t matter. Just you ride up the street, you turn right, you keep the car idling there. Okay? You and DB hit that, we’ll be up right with you. We’ll only be ten minutes, maybe.”

 

Fine.

 

“You see a big brick building, two floors, you stop around there. I ain’t remember the street name. Philly, come on.

 

DB watching.

 

DB thinking.

 

Titus and Latrell switched seats. Phil got out.

 

DB stayed in the back.

 

The car rode off.

 

Latrell watched.

 

Phil was walking, “C’mon, dipsh*t.” Meant it playful.

 

Latrell followed.

 

They had hopped the knee high fence, barbed wire, into the knee high grass coiling around shoe soles, little patches of snow. Latrell was eyeing the big fence, looking for the hole. Couldn’t find it.

 

Phil was watching.

 

Latrell turned.

 

Phil looked at him.

 

What?” Latrell said.

 

“The- uh…” Phil frowned. “The kid. Delmar, he was acting all, uh… what was that?

 

Latrell sucked his cheek in. “Yeah. That’s what it is.

 

“You know, I mean no offense, right? When I’m saying what I’m about to say. But I never had much of a respect for this green and purple gang bullsh*t. I just never saw much in it.”

 

Latrell knew that from the wiretap. “I grew out of it.”

 

“Did the kid? And he was- the way he was talking to you. What was that? You being all silent.”

 

Latrell turned back. Started looking for the hole again, walking up the fence. “You want the truth?”

 

“I always want the truth, bud.”

 

I saw through that sh*t a long time ago. With the Ballas sh*t, the Families sh*t. It’s all a racket, nigga, it’s all taxes. All niggas trying to suck you dry like a vampire in this sh*t. I’m trying to help the kid see that. You feel me?”

 

“Okay.”

 

“That’s the sh*t, you feel me? He’s gonna be outta town by February, so I got this sh*t in to get him some paper before he flies out.”

 

“Where’s he going?”

 

“I forgot. Met the kid because he just got outta juvenile for cracking locks, so I always called him picklock. He’s got a head on his shoulders, he’s good for it.” Paused, tried to remember what Ramon said to him. Helped make the pause seem dramatic. “I knew kids who was banging purple when they nuts dropped all the way up ‘til they was thirty, son. Thirty-five. And they got dropped for it, because they put color before they dogs. This guy Xavier. This guy Knot. Lightyear. Because they didn’t listen to me. And they got popped because they didn’t listen to me.”

 

“Was that why?”

 

“Yeah, because they was dumb niggas. Me, I always tried to teach a balla sense. But you know. No prospects. They got done up, got they sh*t took, got they heads blast.”

 

Phil squinted. “Who was that guy who shot Spadina?”

 

“Noodles,” Latrell said. “Another sad motherf*cker. And he’s doing time and won’t say a word. Which I respect, but these niggas is lame.”

 

“Yeah.” Sighed, “I don’t know. I hope the kid is kosher, is all I’m hoping.”

 

I’m out here with you because you my main dude, Phil. You the main motherf*cker who matters - not Frankie, not DB, not Titus. I f*cking hate that nigga Titus, was just talking back to me, f*ck that sh*t.”

 

“It’s your idea. Should respect you.”

 

Exactly. But it’s because- I mean, he’s the kind of dude who’d call a nigga lazy, call a nigga stupid, say they deserve sh*t they don’t all behind they back. Racist as f*ck and pretend they aren’t. I know you ain’t like that, right?

 

Phil squinted again. “I guess.”

 

“Yeah. Because you ain’t like that,” Latrell spat. “But Titus, maybe.”

 

Titus ain’t- I mean, I don’t know. Don’t think he never had a problem with black guys.

 

“Frankie then. I bet he drop the f*ckin’ n-word when a dude back turned. But I know you ain’t like that. Right?

 

Could see discomfort creeping up on Phil’s face. “Yeah.

 

Latrell couldn’t find the f*cking hole.

 

He was gonna f*cking flip if he couldn’t find that f*cking hole.

 

“I don’t trust the wops,” was getting down, lower. “I trust you, b, but I don’t trust the wops. And that’s why I’m- why I got you… out here.” Grit his teeth.

 

“What are you looking for?”

 

I’m trying to level with you here, Jelly. Listen. I don’t trust- I mean, f*ck, listen- you the only guy who matters, okay?

 

“You said that.”

 

Because it’s true.

 

“I know, kid. I mean--”

 

Motherf*cker!

 

“What?”

 

“There was a f*cking hole. Where the f*ck it at?

 

“You come here before, Latrell?”

 

“Yeah. Sure, sorta. I had this f*cking thing on my phone and everything?” Swore the hole was here, “Where the f*ck, man?

 

“It don’t matter, kid. We’ve seen what we need to see.”

 

No, I had- f*ck, man, goddamn it.” On his f*cking knees, “Goddamn f*cking motherf*ckerf*cking F*CK f*cking F*CK man--

 

“It ain’t nothing--”

 

“I swear. I swear. Goddamn it.

 

Stopped looking.

 

Just collapsed into the dirt, jean knees dusty. Wet from mud-slick snow.

 

Pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

“Latrell?” Phil was down with him, hand on his shoulder, “You good?

 

And Latrell stood up.

 

Stared.

 

Phil still down.

 

Whatever,” Latrell said.

 

Got up, “Okay.”

 

“Man… yeah.

 

“Kid, you good?”

 

Yeah.

 

Beat.

 

“We go to the car?” Phil asked.

 

Beat.

 

Latrell nodded.

 

They walked.

 

Car was waiting on the corner a good few minutes away. And the skyline poking up from the chain-link.

 

Latrell laughed.

 

Latrell stopped.

 

Latrell walked.

 

The Glossary

Liberty City Map

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Hey, Slimeball, I've been meaning to ask--who are your biggest inspirations for your style? I'm getting real Elmore Leonard and Chandler vibes, maybe with a little bit of James Ellroy.

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slimeball supreme
5 hours ago, Ziggy455 said:

Hey, Slimeball, I've been meaning to ask--who are your biggest inspirations for your style? I'm getting real Elmore Leonard and Chandler vibes, maybe with a little bit of James Ellroy.

Funnily enough I've actually never read Chandler but Leonard, McCarthy and Elroy have been big influences on my writing style. I've always been a big fan of Donald Goines and Clockers by Richard Price too on top of a bunch of places I've drawn from - including true crime (specifically Red Mafiya and stuff by Raab). Ofc The Wire and the Sopranos too but that's probably everyone else.

 

I think I've tried to unite, throughout everything I've written but especially here, a really punchy and mean and verbal kind of prose alongside these larger, detailed depictions of the criminal underworld. That was something I even liked about IV, how there's always this idea that there's something beyond the protagonist going down and everyone is subject to a thousand different rules and relationships - here it's no different. I have no idea if people are liking those subtleties, and I'm really happy you shot this little question at me, but there is a broad universe every character here is apart of. That whole idea where there's this cerebral, tunnel-vision style view from the protagonist while a million-piece chess game is being played out around them is central to RT

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Still going strong? You got great dedication. Keep at it. 

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slimeball supreme
Posted (edited)

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Last Shabbat

 

Kassian was happy the arm that got broke weren’t the one he used for smack.

 

That was half true. They’d broken his wrist and fractured his arm. Run of bad f*cking luck that was, but Kassian had never injected into a broken arm. Didn’t want to try. But he was lucky, at least, they f*cked up the wrong one.

 

It was Christmas tomorrow. They’d been putting up lights in Hove Beach, all over town. Eddie Guberman’s dealer - who Vadim had gone to for scag which Kaz bought off Vadim on account of Kaz’s dealer being short that week and his backup being out of town on vacation - he was rocking some novelty f*cking Christmas sh*t in his apartment and had the tree up and everything.

 

Weren’t a tree in Kassian’s apartment, and that was okay.

 

It was morning. He was bleaching his hair. Mucked-up and thick with bleach-goo sh*t while his other arm was pinned to his torso and Kaz was laughing at the comedy of it. And Abbot was strung-out on the sofa and his eyes were red and he was moving with the waves of the world. Sunday nodding off on the leather with CCC on and a leg off the davenport.

 

Scag-sex eye-f*cking everything like everything was good. Phone halfway on the coffee table plugged into a charger a mile off and Abbot was staring at it.

 

Staring at it.

 

Graphite slab stared back.

 

Sunday. 20th of December.

 

It was on silent, and it rang.

 

Staring at it.

 

Staring at Benny on the display.

 

And Abbot slumped off the sofa and grabbed it with the wrong hand and answered it sloppy going “Hello?

 

“The cafe.”

 

“What?”

 

“Undersea. Now.”

 

He hung up.

 

Abbot blinked. Like there was a wall between his eyelids he was breaking apart. And he massaged his face with both hands and slid the phone into his jeans and looked for his jacket. Looked for his gloves, a hat, the gat. Subcompact two-tone Wilhelm pistol hidden by the bicycle that Abbot stuffed into his jacket with another magazine.

 

And he took the bike. And he said “I’m going,” and Kassian said bye still dyeing.

 

Ten minute ride. And needed to shake off the high. So he took the bike down the stairs past the parked up cars, past Kassian’s Fathom and the new-old Cavalcade that Kaz had said looked a lot like Yevdokim’s old whip that he’d give up to Benny for the sports bet debt, and Abbot grunted fighting the smack on the icy road.

 

He was riding down Wappinger Avenue after turning off the avenue. Riding down this part that went over the Baldric Parkway that was only two lanes - moved the cycle onto the sidewalk and nearly toppled on the curb f*cking with the black ice. Onto the intersection off Ferryman by that little park and his nose was all f*cked up congested-like with dribble-spit rolling down the philtrum and f*ck. Stopped the bike off the crosswalk when he’d nearly got run over by a gray Karin and had to keep going and woosh. Like nothing. Crossed over Iroquois. Two minutes later, was on Mohawk.

 

They’d put up the tinsel red-and-greens on the underside of the elevated train again. Old Russian ladies in big seasonal fur coats, but f*ck if they needed the excuse since they wore that sh*t in July.

 

Road still icy. Congested-like with a dozen cars and the bicycle skirting by the train-track support beams on the inside of the road. Subway cars screaming up above his head while his ears were still ringing and his eyes were click-clicking past a dozen neon cyrillics. Back on the sidewalk now, past construction by one of the subway entrances.

 

Stopped the bike.

 

Looked up at the sign for the Undersea Cafe. Looked to his left, and saw the white Enus. Window too frosted to get a good look inside. So Abbot leaned the bike on the window. Abbot leaned on the door. Abbot hesitated.

 

Abbot opened.

 

Hadn’t wondered who’d been driving in lieu of himself, but got the answer. Only people inside were Benny and Yulya. Yulya looked up from where she was sitting, a table by the door, nodded him in. Abbot nodded back.

 

Benny was rapping the table with his fingers and a teacup gone cold. Velvet red turtleneck and a brown jacket draped over the back of the chair. Glasses on the table. 

 

Eyes on him.

 

Abbot said “Yeah.

 

“Sit down.”

 

Abbot put his hands on the other chair. Didn’t sit. Just stared and rubbed at his glasses, “What.” What like ‘what is this’, a what showing off the congested nose, the red.

 

Benny blinked.

 

Abbot looked.

 

Sit down.

 

And Abbot sighed, and Abbot threw up his arms, and Abbot sat down.

 

He was still high.

 

Benny couldn’t tell. Maybe. Or maybe he could? He wasn’t saying. Just staring.

 

Just rapping his fingers.

 

I’m sick,” Abbot lied.

 

You need to do something.

 

“I know. What? Yeah.” Sniffle, “Y’know--

 

“Hush.”

 

Abbot blinked.

 

“I need you--” he stopped himself. Breathed a little, “I need you to do something.

 

“What?”

 

We have problems.

 

“Okay.”

 

“Look, we… okay. This is from Kenny.”

 

Abbot blinked. Slower, “Okay.

 

“We have problems.”

 

“...Yeah?

 

Benny was blinking too fast. “We got word from a friend of ours. Kuzma got word. So this is legitimate. That the- well, okay. Okay, bozhe.

 

“What.”

 

“We are going to get indictments.”

 

Abbot didn’t blink. “Okay.

 

“We know who is going to get the indictments. And we know why. We know this, uh, this whole thing, this goes to what the preacher - mister man you do in - he’s going to, uh, he’s- he was already talking to police department about what he knew.

 

“Just local?”
 

“Not exactly.”

 

So federal?

 

“FIB, maybe. But a lot of this is come from Revaz.

 

Stopped. “Why?”

 

Remember the chocolates?

 

Squinted. “No.”

 

Revaz had these chocolates. From Switzerland. And he didn’t vet the buyers for the chocolates. And one of them may have been undercover police, or they might have been talking to police. And something about this thing he does with the casinos in Venturas, with these card reading machines. And these other things, like Tamaz. You know Tamaz?”

 

“Yeah.

 

“Tamaz they know has cocaine so they going to raid his apartment.”

 

“Did you tell Tamaz?”

 

No.

 

Abbot wasn’t blinking anymore. “Why?”

 

Benny was blinking too fast. “Because we need somebodies to go.”

 

Let that sink in.

 

God f*cking damn it.

 

Abbot asked “So Tamaz?”

 

“Tamaz. And Revaz. And we think maybe Pasha, too. Pasha they have connected to Revaz because of the mutual thing they have going with the dick pill doctor Yugo Churkin.”

 

“So they’re all going down?”

 

We need someone to go down.

 

“Are they- f*ck, are they gonna talk?

 

“Yugo maybe. But he only has a few people he can talk about, that District Attorney care about. One of them is Pasha. One of them is Revaz. And then one of them is Teddy.”

 

Abbot involuntarily said “Motherf*cker.

 

Benny blinked.

 

“So what?”

 

Pasha won’t talk. And they’ll only get him on the pills and maybe for paperworks. With Revaz, you know, Revaz can’t talk.

 

“Revaz can’t?

 

“Security Enforcement don’t want nobody uh- and he has his kid. The NOOSE want someone to call a ring leader and he has his kid. His little kid Daniel, we make sure he don’t go down. And if Revaz decides to talk we are going to kill his son.”

 

Benny said that so plain it was like nothing at all.

 

“And Teddy?” Abbot asked.

 

He was looking out the window. Looking at the cars. Benny said it slow, “We don’t have anything on Blondie.

 

“Wait--”

 

“Blondie has everything on us.”

 

No--

 

“He knows Achban, he knows me, he knows you, he knows Kuzma, he knows the Turk - he sent you to knock the Turk’s teet' in, yes?

 

“What are you saying?”

 

No eye contact, “You know what I’m saying.”

 

What about- uh, with Kassian--”

 

“Teddy doesn’t care if his son dies tomorrow. That’s nothing we can do. And Kassian isn’t in anyone else crosshair.”

 

“So--”

 

Don’t.

 

“I… okay.

 

Benny looking at him. “We need a story to tell. Something for whoever is going to prosecute. And Revaz, you know. Revaz was always what he was. So Revaz goes down for this.”

 

“For…”

 

Yes. That’s what Kuzma says the friend says to him. They put someone away for a murder charge and this becomes a maybe deportations of some sort.”

 

“Anyone else I know?”

 

Benny was still looking out the window. “Seva and Felix.”

 

Goddamn.

 

“Felix,” Benny said. “He’s a soldier. He’s done time before. He’s a good man. Won’t talk. Seva was talking.”

 

“About?”

 

Nothing that mattered. But he was talking about something. I knew and Kenny didn’t. So to them, their informants or their CI or whatever the f*ck it is, he’s gone. But what really happened? That’s not their concern.”

 

“And so we’re telling a story that ain’t really happened?”

 

As many as we can. And what you do, that’s whatever happens for what Revaz was boss of. The Revaz Devdariani Organization. They put that up in the press release. They’re going to round up as many people they can, we need to make sure they round up the right ones.”

 

Abbot was looking down at the table. “Expendable guys, right?”

 

Pasha’ll do a single digit maximum. His son’s not on the list, so he won’t take a plea. Revaz gets life or he get sent back to Russia. Yugo and Tamaz double-digits. Felix isn’t expendable but he go down no matter what. And Teddy, he can’t go to the court.

 

“And I gotta… yeah.

 

Nobody else knows.

 

“And Revaz--”

 

Him and Tamaz. They get charged.”

 

Abbot nodded. Rubbed at his nose and felt the gunk stream out and rubbed it with his glove. Looked up at Benny with red eyes. “I do it now?”

 

Benny nodded.

 

Was looking back to Yulya. And Yulya was looking at the door and out the window - knew she had her ears closed for whatever was being said.

 

Then to Benny.
 

Was still looking out the window.

 

And Abbot grabbed at the hem of his glove, pulled it up, and said “Okay.

 

***

 

Abbot rode the bike up across the street.

 

Not next to it. On East 16th Street was this building for sale, right up next to the bus stop. Former offices maybe, across the street from a Lombank branch, brickfront gyro seller. Leaned the bike up against the glass and started walking with his hands in his jacket.

 

Past a Whiz retailer, past a gourmet, the sub shop. The criss-crossing wires above the busy street, the cars. Would have to account for the noise, for the activity, for the people.

 

He saw Teddy’s car parked out front. The BF Stromata near the tax center.

 

Saw the sign.

 

btFyOLlDII504qUo2SGuFSgSa1LcMVdjj3NGACCVAb-2reqyaHg0EW2_CGgm_H8ftUygvd6WPsSaI-BKwwigH9ORl9olwhTQlxXy0MowwZPBndqIoPfdPg5hcVy27gHiLoyXMu8s

 

Yeah.

 

That f*cking misspelt name.

 

Curled his left arm around the back of his head to scratch behind his right ear looking long at the front, at a vending machine Teddy or someone mighta’ moved out from the store standing haphazard on the sidewalk.

 

Abbot crossed the street. Felt in his jacket. Felt in the pockets.

 

Opened the door.

 

Ding-a-ling bell.

 

They’d had the Republican debates a week ago, the people on the TV were still talking about it and could hear them bitching about Lyle Cleethorpes on and on, how he’d made Joe Lawton’s brother wet his pants onstage or some sh*t. Some f*cking nonsense, burbling out on that sh*tty CRT Teddy had by the cashier since the guy wasn’t at his station. Yellowed out lights like it was always hazy in here, always June.

 

Always June. Abbot rubbed at his nose, because Abbot was still kinda high. Couldn’t shake it.

 

Hey?” Abbot let that ring out through the empty newsstand.

 

Oh!” From somewhere in the back. “Abbot?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Abbot! Hello, hello, er- hold on--

 

Yeah.

 

Abbot tugged at his gloves.

 

Teddy walked out the backroom the same as he always looked, shaved his moustache but that was it. Same apron. Square-jaw motherf*cker with this big smile on his face, chain poking out this fuzzy-ass red-blue sweater, “Abbot, huh?!

 

“Long time.”

 

Had totally caught the old man off guard. “Long time, my god, let me see you--”

 

Merry Christmas or, uh--” and Teddy hugging him a moment, “Happy f*cking Hanukkah or holidays or whatever...”

 

And it holding.

 

Holding.

 

Abbot said “Yeah.

 

Teddy laughed a moment, let go. “Okay.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Wow. So good to see you.”

 

“Yeah--”

 

What brings you, huh? What’s is up with you, huh, you here for some veschestva or nothing or--”

 

“No business.” Sniffled, “No business, well- sh*t, maybe business, uh, but--”

 

“Nothing?”

 

No, no- just came to say hi, huh? You busy, you want help?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, help is good yeah, I is doing some of the cans, I move some of the, uh, the boxes with the stuff in thems--”

 

“I can do that.”

 

They’re in the- we got the truck for this to come around the back with the construction site--”

 

“The noise bad?”

 

No. But they come around with this stuff, you can help, come on--”

 

And he’d scurried off.

 

That conversation was like a shot to the f*cking knee. Jitterbug stutter like he was talking to Lawrence again. All manner of flashbacks.

 

Abbot followed.

 

Door to the office doubled as storage space, because there wasn't enough room on the ground floor of the building to get both. Was maybe a garage when Teddy bought the place - enough room for a van or two, that van space occupied by shelves and cardboard boxes. Teddy’s desk, same as it always was, facing the concrete wall where the chair sat. The screwed up paper piles, the landline phone. Teddy’d sit down at that desk and he’d be staring at the wall, and whatever schmuck took the other seat would be looking at Teddy in the shadow of box box box.

 

He stepped over an electrical cord.

 

How’s things?” Abbot asked.

 

“Good, uh- here, uh--” Teddy already holding two boxes two-handed coming up, “--you get this--

 

And Abbot pulled the top box off, and held the thing under his arm, and Teddy said “No!” and told him to hold the thing right so it didn’t shake the cans up. And Teddy lead on into the store.

 

The cans are for this- uh, you stock--”

 

“Have you talked to Kassian recently?”

 

Yeah, yeah.” Moved on, “Tomatoes and the corn- I don’t want to shake them up, maybe that doesn’t mean anythings but that’s not what I want to do. Maybe that’s superstitious or something, huh?” Chuckled to himself.

 

“Maybe.”

 

“I just don’t want to disturb it.” He’d opened the box, already moved off a little, just muttering to himself. “Man.

 

“Man?”

 

Teddy was smiling again. “It’s great to see you. I haven’t heard much from the other guys, just Peter. And Pavel, too, but that’s whoever. Some of the guys at the bathhouse.”

 

Didn’t expect,” Abbot went, was sorting through the canned corn for the shelving, “to hear you were gonna be working on Shabbat.”

 

“I always work Shabbat.”

 

Kassian said--

 

“I always work Shabbat, Abbot. You work Shabbat, I work Shabbat.”

 

“I’m not religious.”

 

Hey,” was still putting the cans up, “neither am I. What can you do? Enough sh*t in the world. I work Shabbat, I work holidays. I work in Merry Christmas, I work in Merry Hanukkah. Somebody’s gotta work.”

 

“True.”

 

Kassian say I don’t work Shabbat?

 

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

 

“You been talking to Kassian a lot recently?”

 

Sure.

 

“Okay.”

 

“Have you? He been coming around the store?” Was no point asking, Kassian had stopped coming around so much since he tried selling the oxy to the guys on Double E.

 

Sure,” Teddy said, and Abbot knew that was a lie. “Same as always.”

 

“That’s good.”

 

“These things in the Ukraine have been f*cking me out,” Teddy said. Whip crack subject change, “Make you sick. I haven’t been back in, I don’t even know, but it gives you the f*cking willies, no?

 

“What part?”

 

It’s like Nazi Germany. I don’t know. I can’t talk to Pasha about it because Pasha gets all sh*tty about Ukraine. Peter, Georgian. You know how it is.”

 

Abbot didn’t. “Yeah.”

 

“And they burn down the temples and everything, like f*cking Nazis. What’s wrong with you, you nose is all red, you not doing nothing, you okay?”

 

“Huh?”

 

Teddy repeated, “You okay?”

 

And Abbot rubbed his nose and realized he was just standing there.

 

Blinked.

 

Yeah,” Abbot said. “I got a cold.”

 

“You aren’t going to give it to me, are you?” He’d asked that seriously.

 

“No, no. Don’t worry about that. It’s fine.”

 

“I don’t want to get sick.”

 

It’s fine.

 

“Or you get it on any of the food and then--”

 

“It’s canned, Teddy--”

 

I mean the others stuff, like if you get it on some fruit or some vegetables, why didn’t you tell me this?”

 

“I’m fine, Teddy, really.”

 

“Okay.” He hadn’t looked at Abbot once. Almost done stocking.

 

You got any other employees here?

 

“I don’t need other employees. I got Kassian, I got Daniel, Vadim, I have you. And you no get paid for this, but other stuff, perfect. But this Nazi sh*t, it gets on my f*cking nerves with Pasha, he such a f*cking sh*t. And his son Tsezar, f*cking idiot. Can’t have no conversation with Tsezar.”

 

“Yeah.” Abbot was done with his box. Just waiting on Teddy.

 

“You met him?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“You seen him in a while?”

 

“No.”

 

“Okay. Okay.”

 

Kept stocking.

 

Abbot blinked.

 

Okay,” Ted said. “Come on, I have some more.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Yeah as in yes or yeah as in no? I always say this sh*t to Kassian, I always say it, talk serious. This bullsh*t. Come on with me, huh?”

 

Abbot was crouching a minute. Staring off. “Okay.

 

Teddy waddled off.

 

Abbot felt his jacket.

 

Watched Teddy. Fedir. Feygin.

 

Blinked. Sniffed. “I wanted to,” Abbot stutter-started, “uh, well--”

 

“Hm?” Turned around in the hallway.

 

“I wanted to, actually, to talk to you about something.”

 

And Teddy shrugged, laughed, smiled. “Well, what? Come on.”

 

Abbot followed, “You know I’ve been with Benny these past few months, right?”

 

He got a nod back.

 

Yeah,” Abbot said. “It’s a real trip.”

 

“I haven’t spoken to him in a while. Is he okay?

 

“He’s Benny.” Abbot took a seat.

 

And Teddy was halfway to get another box when he saw Abbot sitting, and his face kind of screwed up, and said “Didn’t know it was break time, huh?

 

Abbot did something with his hands, like a “y’know” gesture. “My union allocated break.”

 

Which got a chuckle back. “Cheeky f*ck, I always thought that was a good thing with you. Because even Kassian, even everyone, always barumph-barumph bullsh*t. You know what I mean?”

 

“You asked how Benny was, sh*t, that’s Benny.”

 

Teddy chuckled again.

 

Abbot muttered “Yeah.

 

“So what is it, then? Is Benny wanting something?”

 

“Sure,” Abbot said. Was pulling at the hem of his gloves again. Straightened out his glasses, “You know the produce up at the port?”

 

Those words made Teddy’s face harden. “Yeah?”

 

“The legit stuff. Not the stuff stuff. The bananas or whatever.”

 

“Okay.”

 

You get your stuff from there?

 

“I get it from Gennady Roitman and he gets it from there, sure. What, is this serious?”

 

Well, it’s in relation to that.

 

Teddy crossed his arms. “Then Gennady or Vanya would’ve told me.”

 

“No, no, I mean…” Abbot felt in his jacket again. “Sort of. It’s in, sort of, relation to that.”

 

Frowning harder. “Okay.”

 

The NOOSE guys. They had some guys who weren’t on us--”

 

“NOOSE?”

 

“Yeah, PIA.”

 

“Is this about drugs?”

 

Sort of. It’s about--”

 

“PIA is immigration, Abbot, they don’t do drugs.”

 

“I know. It was Security Enforcement. They were doing something. And it wasn’t our boat, and it wasn’t even in East Hook, it was in Pequot. It was at Port Tudor. But they opened up one--”

 

Is it something to do with that preacher guy on the TV?

 

“Maybe.” Abbot sniffed, “I wouldn’t know anything about that.

 

“So what?”

 

“So there were some girls in a container. Some girls from, like, Colombia or Mexico. And NOOSE are getting all f*cky about it.”

 

Abbot, this is--

 

“Big?”

 

“No, I mean, I would know. Benny would’ve said.”

 

“I’m saying it on his behalf.”

 

No, I mean if this was big enough deal for us- and I’m sure we can grease palms anyway, but Benny would’ve gotten the lieutenants, it wouldn’t be anything.”

 

“It’s a security thing.”

 

I know,” he was frowning hard as you f*cking could, “that’s what I’m saying.”

 

“Are you calling me a liar?”

 

“No, Abbot, I’m just--”

 

“Okay.” Abbot was crossing his arms too, “Good.

 

“I just saying that I don’t know about this. Benny told you?

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Benny would do Felix to say this, maybe.”

 

“It was Benny.”

 

Okay.

 

“You don’t believe me, Teddy, you can call him right now, he’ll back me up.”

 

Teddy scratched his chin.

 

Abbot didn’t break eye contact.

 

“Sure,” Teddy said.

 

Got a nod back.

 

Teddy walked over and leaned on the desk with his back to Abbot. Picked the corded phone up and started pecking on the keypad breathing out the side of his mouth.

 

Abbot got up.

 

Slow.

 

Side-stepped past.

 

I don’t know if he’ll be there now,” Abbot said. “But leave him a message maybe, even.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Unzipped his jacket, “Because I don’t know. I mean, maybe I’m getting the wrong info, maybe.”

 

“It’s okay,” Teddy said. “I’m not worrying.”

 

Pulled the ear plugs out his pocket. “That’s good. Because, you know--”

 

It’s okay, Abbot.

 

One in. “I hope so.” Two in.

 

Teddy said something. Had the ear to his phone’s receiver now.

 

Abbot pulled the Wilhelm pistol out his waistband. Just said “Sure.

 

Teddy said something.

 

Abbot aimed. Abbot said “Sure.”

 

Teddy said something.

 

Abbot said “Be easy.”

 

Teddy turned.

 

Abbot fired.

 

Or did Teddy turn, and did Abbot fire?

 

Teddy fell.

 

He’d held the pistol one-handed aiming at the back of his head. And then it was his face. Didn’t hold the gat steady and the recoil jolted but Teddy went down like a doll. Arm swept the table and knocked the landline phone off and got his shoe caught in the wire running across the room. Wire got caught on the desk, Teddy collapsed into the shelf behind it knocking his head on the boxes.

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Abbot could hear it.

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Teddy’s jaw had popped off like it was nothing. Like it was porcelain, this bone lying right by him with his mouth agape and sticky red pouring out like he’d punctured a tank. A stream pouring down the neck, down the shirt, down the apron, f*cking screaming.

 

Abbot said “No.”

 

Stepped over.

 

Abbot said “Please.”

 

Teddy was screaming.

 

Abbot aimed again.

 

Teddy flinched.

 

Abbot fired.

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Teddy’d put his hand up and his fingers went. Shot hit him in the hand, right in the hand, blew it to sh*t now grabbing at his wrist with the other hand screaming. Teddy was kicking the table, kicking his leg through the cord, kicking at Abbot. Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Abbot said “Stop.”

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Stop it, please, stop it.

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Stop f*cking screaming, please!

 

Teddy was f*cking screaming.

 

Abbot fired.

 

Abbot fired.

 

Abbot fired.

 

He’d shot him in the forehead twice.

 

He wasn’t moving.

 

Abbot stepped back.

 

Abbot stumbled on the cord. Tripped into the desk Teddy’d given him the delivery in June, dislodged the drawers and his ears were still ringing with the ear plugs in. Tossed them out, threw the plugs while eyes were locked on the dead man. And he got off his ass staring at him on his hands on his feet and he was running. Abbot was running, almost ran into the shelf and past the TV and out the door. Ran onto the street, past Teddy’s f*cking BF, and Abbot underarm tossed the f*cking gun into the drain and kept running.

 

Down the street.

 

Down the street.

 

He was gone.

 

***

 

Abbot woke up.

 

Abbot was in bed. Was naked, had the blanket wrapped around his leg staring at the ceiling blinking through it.

 

Blue pinstripe wallpaper through the darkness and the blur. Kassian’s room.

 

He’d been tensing up his hand and hadn’t realized. Sat himself up and squinted.

 

And the door was open.

 

And there was a silhouette.

 

Kassian with his arm in the cast pinned to his chest, shirtless, ribcage bone playing patterns with the shadow and the light from the stairway. He was holding something with the free hand, leaning on the doorframe.

 

Abbot said “Hey.” Repeated, “Hey.”

 

Kaz nodded. “Merry Christmas.”

 

Abbot squinted. Didn’t know where his glasses were. “Yeah.

 

Nothing.

 

Nothing.

 

“Abbot,” Kassian said.

 

Abbot blinked. “Yeah?”

 

Could make out Kassian nodding. Putting the free hand up to his face, then back down.

 

Abbot said “What? What time is it?

 

Silence.

 

“My dad is dead,” Kassian said.

 

Silence.

 

“Oh,” Abbot went.

 

“Yeah,” Kassian said.

 

They didn’t say anything a while.

 

Kaz stopped leaning.

 

And Kaz came closer.

 

And the details came through. They sharpened through a sea of swimming nothing, and Kaz came right up close.

 

And Kassian Feygin was smiling.

 

I’m sorry,” Abbot said.

 

“I don’t need condolences,” Kassian replied. “He’s gone.”

 

“Yeah,” Abbot said.

 

He’s f*cking gone.” And he was grinning. He shook his head, “He’s f*cking gone.”

 

And Kassian offered Abbot the needle.

 

And they got high at four in the morning.

 

The Glossary

Liberty City Map

 

Edited by slimeball supreme

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Men of Many Leashes

 

The car drove off.

 

Minutes of silence, of dull silence, of crackle-pop silence of the recorder and the sound of the engine and the nothing-nowhere of the outside.

 

Could hear Titus chuckle, or maybe make some kind of instinctual sort of twitch-noise like he did it automatic. And he said “You a good friend of Latrell, then?

 

DB was kinda caught off guard. “Yeah.”

 

“How long?”

 

“I- you know, I been… nahmsayin’, I been- uh… yeah, a while. You know.”

 

“He been around the towers?”

 

Always, son. Yeah. Always, with Latrell.”

 

“And he’s good?”

 

DB kind of paused.

 

Long pause.

 

Titus kind of laughed, out of the awkwardness of it. Moved on, “How you met?”

 

I’unno.

 

“C’mon.”

 

“How you met Latrell?”

 

Got a ‘hmph’. “Few months back. Kid walks into the tattoo parlor--”

 

“The tattoo parlor?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“What tattoo parlor?”

 

“Rodney runs this thing--”

 

Who?

 

“Oh. Right, Rodney- Rodney’s this- uh, he’s the grand-nephew. Of Gravelli. It’s Rodney Gravelli. Rodney runs this tattoo parlor, in Dukes. And Latrell met us there. All of us hang out there, or uh, some of us. I go there because me and Rod, we go way back. I’m talking sh*t, I’m hanging out, the guy walks in and says what’s up. Because he’s for Frankie.”

 

“Ah.” Latrell didn’t remember if DB knew who Frankie was. “Okay.”

 

“So, your turn.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Your turn. How’d you meet the guy? He get you into the whole thing?”

 

DB kinda muttering, “What thing- what thing?”

 

“The Ballas.”

 

“No.”

 

“So, what?”

 

“S’uh- uh… okay. My cousin this one nigga, know what I’m saying. And- and- no wait, no. Okay. I grew up in East Liberty, okay?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“I got into ballin’ ‘cause Ballas was ballin’ out the houses. That’s what it was, son. That’s what it was- I mean, sh*t looked cool as f*ck. And I got this guy I know, his name is Noodles.”

 

“Noodles? Like what? Beef and broccoli f*ckin’ chow mein f*ckin’ Noodles?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Was he Chinese?”

 

“Noodles still around.”

 

Is he Chinese?

 

“Nah, son, his name is Noland. Jamal Noland.”

 

“Okay. And what?”

 

“I mean, he was a couple years older than me, but he was cool. I mean, and we was- I mean I knew a bunch of guys around the houses. And they say they got this one dude in one the apartments on the block, on one the blocks, he- I mean we was gonna catch the nigga in a gaffle he was acting the f*ck up, he was posted up with all kinds of sh*t, you already know--”

 

“What?”

 

“This dude got, like, he got this fly ass motherf*ckin’ car out the front, and I got Noodles telling me he got mad kinds of sh*t in his house. And he’d come around the projects to deal on Balla watch, but he weren’t a Balla. And he was mad dumb.”

 

“So what, this guy’s a drug dealer?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Did Latrell help?”

 

“No, Latrell- uh, I- it was me by myself because Noodles was hyping me up. And I thought, f*ck it, I can hit this dude, I can f*ck his sh*t up. And I head out around the back and I try picking the lock. And then the neighbors saw me, and then an alarm go off, and then I got the police on me and- I mean. Yeah. I got busted. And Latrell picked me up because that’s what one the OGs said.”

 

This little pause. Titus taking it in. “So what is he?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What?”

 

“I don’t know. I mean- he, uh, he got me tight. I don’t know. He, uh- Slip weren’t out the pen yet--”

 

“Slip?”

 

“Slip the OG. But the guy I tried robbing, he never found out. So that was fine. He got killed, actually, like, a f*ckin’ few months later- I was still in juvy.”

 

“Who did it?”

 

Latrell stopped the tape.

 

Latrell rewound.

 

Always, son. Yeah. Always, with Latrell.”

 

“And he’s good?”

 

DB kind of paused.

 

Long pause.

 

Titus kind of laughed, out of the awkwardness of it.

 

Latrell stopped the tape.

 

Latrell fast-forwarded.

 

“So what is he?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“What?”

 

“I don’t know. I mean- he, uh, he got me tight. I don’t know. He, uh- Slip weren’t out the pen yet--”

 

“Slip?”

 

Latrell stopped the tape.

 

Latrell rewound.

 

Always, son. Yeah. Always, with Latrell.”

 

“And he’s good?”

 

DB kind of paused.

 

Long p--

 

“The f*ck are you doing?”

 

Latrell stopped the tape.

 

I told him he could hear it if he wanted to,” Shane said. “He wanted to.”

 

Grant, shadow in the doorway, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said “Yeah?

 

“Yeah.”

 

“And--”

 

And what? And what, you want him supervised? I’m right here.”

 

“That’s tampering with evidence or some sh*t.”

 

Like you give a f*ck. Go to OCB with that sh*t, stick it up your drippin’ f*ckin’ pussy.”

 

“Yeah… okay, yeah. We let the CI play with the toys--”

 

That’s right, we let him play with the toys. You wanna throw up sh*t for breaking rules then you’re talking to the wrong guy and speaking from the wrong friggin’ mouth is all I’m saying.”

 

Where’s Jake?

 

Shane leaned back on his chair, “Other room. We’re taking the kid to see the Bureau boys, the downtown motherf*ckers. He’s on Dez, you want to speak to him.”

 

Looked at Latrell, “He’s coming?”

 

“Yeah, Grant.”

 

“Why?”

 

Get our stories straight. And sh*t, you remember Chris Perez? Dumb spic? I been talking to him about this whole thing, we share some notes, all peaches and dreams.”

 

“Cream,” Latrell added.

 

“Shut the f*ck up,” Shane added.

 

Grant adjusted his jacket - cargo coat - and shot his cuffs before saying “Screw it.

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah. Have fun with your monkey, man.

 

“Yeah, will do, brother.” Tipped a nonexistent hat and let Big Grant soldier on.

 

Latrell watched the door.

 

Looked back at Shane, back reading that book. The Big One, by Hugh Welsh. Scratching at the chin stubble and licking a thumb and flipping the page.

 

Latrell tapped his foot.

 

Pressed play.

 

--ause.

 

Titus kind of laughed, out of the awkwardness of it. Moved on, “How you met?”

 

I’unno.

 

“C’mon.”

 

“How you met Latrell?”

 

What about you, buddy, you having fun?

 

Latrell didn’t reply. “Want a smoke.”

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“No smoking, cugine.” Looked up a little from the page with hyena eyes, “That’s department regulations.” Was probably a lie.

 

“--uh, he’s the grand-nephew. Of Gravelli. It’s Rodney Gravelli. Rodney runs this tattoo parlor, in Dukes. And Latrell met us there. All of us hang out there, or uh, some of us. I go there beca--”

 

Stopped the tape. “We gotta trim a lot of this, son,” Latrell said.

 

“Do we?”

 

“My name’s in the sh*t.”

 

You the boss of that now? What we give and don’t give the prosecutors, you gonna be up there saying who does what does why, Fido?”

 

“You said I didn’t have to testify.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah, son, so I’m just saying, they got my name in the sh*t, you know, I’m f*cked--”

 

Okay.

 

“--or confidential testimony, you said.”

 

“Yeah, sure. None of this is getting used, it’s all nonsense except the sh*t with Rodney. But we do this all the time. We just f*ck with the recording a little or edit in some static or something so the name gets concealed. Real IAA sh*t, you ain’t got nothin’ to worry about.”

 

“And that’s legal?”

 

Shane flipped a page it was clear he hadn’t read. “No.”

 

“A’ight.”

 

“You care about that sh*t?”

 

I guess not.

 

“So do you care or not?”

 

“Huh?”

 

Do you care if your name is in the f*cking recording, cueball?

 

“I do, but--”

 

“So you do care!” Put the book down and folded his arms, “Is that what I’m hearing?”

 

I just care about that and not the other sh*t, you know what I’m sayin’, that’s all.”

 

“Uh huh, okay. Whatever you say, cuey.” Bemused little grin on his face.

 

Latrell stared.

 

Blank face.

 

Blinked.

 

Shane’s grin faded.

 

Latrell stared.

 

Blinked.

 

Shane got his book again and--

 

Who’s Denny?

 

Squinted. “What?” Shane asked.

 

Latrell repeated, “Who’s Denny, I asked.”

 

Shane was staring now.

 

“They keep saying his name,” went on. “Dennis. He’s inside. That’s all.”

 

You don’t know?

 

“No.”

 

“Actually?”

 

“I don’t.”

 

Shane smiled.

 

Chuckled.

 

Laughed.

 

Hyena cackled so hard he put the book down and wiped his eye, “Oh, man. Wow.”

 

“What?”

 

“That’s the- he’s the whole f*ckin’ reason they even called you. Come on! You don’t f*cking know?”

 

Latrell didn’t react. Just tapped his foot. Just “No.

 

“Jesus f*ck, okay… uh, Mondello. Dennis Mondello. He used to be in their whole little thing with Frankie and Reuben and them all. Doper. I mean, they never gave a sh*t about Astors, right, only the detention center in Sunrise. Because that’s where Denny is, on his grand larceny beef, and they want to call him on the cellphone. And, they want to get him dope.”

 

“Like heroin?”

 

“Like pot. Like, he’s a pothead. But yeah, heroin too, sure.”

 

Latrell just squinted, “You can’t get addicted to no pot, son.”

 

“He’s a f*cking pothead.”

 

“But he ain’t an addict.”

 

“He’s a- he’s a f*ckin’ bum, and they just wanted to get some stuff to their friend. Smuggle an eXsorbeo into the f*ckin’ jail they woulda’ wanted. And he got the full 15 so he ain’t gettin’ out no time soon, so it’s even more retarded. Probably already been moved out the MDC somewheres, they only keep guys there on the short term. I thought you knew that.

 

“Just knew Denny was in prison, b, was all I knew.”

 

Just- pfft. Just knew yuz’ was being strung along, was what you knew.”

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

“They didn’t think it through. Didn’t care to. Lost their interest and moved theirselves on to whatever was next, with them Messinas. And then this, and then that. Always the same with these losers, always trying to make a buck. Smash parking meters for f*ckin’ dimes and pennies.

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

“Oh. But that’ll be something you tell our boy Chris Perez, huh? His unit. They’ll f*cking love you. ‘Cueball the Retard’. We run that by the Horn and see if we can put that on Page 6. Put that on the court transcript instead of Latrell Palmer, you want your name taken off so bad.”

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

I detest you. You are a sad, rotten motherf*cker. If you weren’t worth CI I’d have strung you out and told those Baller punks youse was feeding us info from the start so they could carve you up like a roast, rape your mother, all that sh*t. And you’d deserve it. Because what you are, cueball, is you are clueless. You think youse clued in but you have no idea.

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

“You don’t even know their surnames, do you?”

 

Mazza,” Latrell said. “Procida.

 

“Bravo. You on the wiretaps sucking off their piddy little cugine dicks, I’m glad you know their f*cking names at least. So you can repeat ‘em back to us for us, so you don’t f*ck that up like you f*cked everything else up.

 

“Man, would you--”

 

“Shut up. I didn’t ask you to speak. You don’t even know Dennis Mondello, and he’s their best friend. You don’t know what family they’re with until a few we--”

 

Shane.

 

Shane stopped.

 

Turned to Jake.

 

Jake said it again, “Shane.

 

“What?”

 

“You’re scaring the sh*t outta’ him.”

 

Shane snorted. “You good?”

 

“Dez and Peshy got me some of the notes,” held up a few folded pieces of paper in his right hand. “Pezeshkifar was saying they had some stuff they wanted to run by cueball. I’m just hoping you ain’t scared him out of it.

 

“You ask him.”

 

Jake turned to Latrell, “He scared you out of it?”

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

Looked to Jake.

 

I’ll do whatever you dudes want, son. I’m yours.”

 

***

 

They didn’t cross the bridge.

 

In fact, they weren’t going near it.

 

They’d picked up Latrell earlier that day and taken him to the same East Island nowhere-land The Precinct seemingly resided; that sort of suburbia that’s so interchangeable it could switch appearances even if you were paying attention. Latrell wasn’t, and wasn’t gonna try, because there wasn’t a point.

 

But when they got on the Baldric Parkway, they didn’t turn near Francis International onto Milden Boulevard. Milden would’ve meant crossing the borough westward, crossing over to Algonquin.

 

But they rode past Salmond City, and it was when they’d hit Maschapi Latrell decided to ask.

 

We aren’t going to Algonquin?

 

Jake snort-laughed. “No.”

 

Didn’t respond.

 

Jake was tap-tapping the steering wheel while they were listening to WSOS 2000 bulletins low-as-can-be. Quiet. No words.

 

They were over water, over snow-capped dead trees and the low-lying upper-classes in Hansen Basin.

 

Latrell asked “Why aren’t we going to Algonquin?”

 

Shane turned over the passenger seat with his hand pressed on the console. Sneered, “Can I ask you something, Wittgenstein?

 

“What?”

 

“Let me ask you something.”

 

Latrell twitched. “Okay.”

 

So, we’ve got a confidential informant. Right?”

 

“Me?”

 

“This is a hypothetical, cueball. We’ve got a confidential informant - one who could be in serious dangers to themselves if they was seen in the presence of a police officer. Right?”

 

“...Okay.”

 

“Okay. So. Lets say we’ve got ourselves sloppy, and we’ve got someone wise we’re cops. So they decide to track our CI in the car to see where he goes. And he just so happens to go Directorate Plaza, and he just so happens to get led into the big skyscraper the Federal Investigation Bureau got all their guys. Right?

 

Shane was chuckling. Latrell just said “Okay.”

 

“What the f*ck is the tail gonna think?”

 

Latrell smirked. “He’s getting a sandwich.”

 

You could see him gripping the console harder. “You think you’re f*cking funny?

 

Latrell stopped smirking.

 

“Cueball, you think you’re a f*cking comedian?”

 

Sorry.

 

Jake said “He thinks this is Split Sides” out the corner of his mouth.

 

“How do I know,” Shane said, “you ain’t been f*cking with us on any of the other sh*t, too? That this sh*t is too serious for you, cueball?

 

“Because it is f*cking serious, Latrell.”

 

You slack the f*ck off and act like a retard, Latrell, then I can air your goofy f*cking ass and burn you right now.”

 

Haha.

 

“You think that’s funny, Jake?”

 

“I think it’s f*cking hysterical, man.”

 

“You want to make a f*cking joke, Latrell, then we’ll make sure this sh*t gets real funny. They can put it in the comedy papers, or on the TV or whatever, right? ‘Dumb coon thrown off the project roof naked makes a cute print on the pavement’. That’d make a good skit for- who was the goofy motherf*cker’s name?

 

“What?” asked Jake.

 

“The guy who used to do Split Sides, the black one, he got arrested all those times?”

 

Dave Chapelle?

 

“No. Katt Williams! Katt Williams, he could make a joke outta that.”

 

“Is Katt Williams still funny?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Latrell. Is Katt Williams still funny?”

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

Shane was searing those jackal eyes into him.

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

Jake laughed.

 

Shane laughed.

 

Jake kept laughing.

 

Jackal cackling. Shane couldn’t breathe, eyes closed, wiping his face, just laughing.

 

Latrell didn’t reply.

 

Didn’t speak for the next ten minutes. Not a word.

 

Rode on the Baldric through Hansen Basin, through Goatherd, through Dartford, past Firefly and the station he’d run off the other month and the Bolt Burger he’d run from. The f*cking YouTool and Secure Unit off Casey Avenue. Could see them on the parkway.

 

Could f*cking see them.

 

They turned off.

 

Onto Anger 8th Street.

 

Around the Van Woady golf course. Around Russey Row, onto 7th Avenue, onto 92nd Street. Right onto Doubleday Avenue and left onto 90th.

 

They slowed on 90th.

 

Stopped.

 

Cranked the stick to park.

 

Jake just said “Out.

 

Door slammed.

 

Eyes right.

 

Shane already out airing his shirt out out the curb eyes trained on Latrell.

 

Latrell breathed.

 

Door pushed open with Latrell in the middle - Jake leading, Shane at his rear - these cramped apartments at 623 90th in red-black brick facades and burgundy fire escapes. Hallway small enough to spread your arms out and touch both walls with the elbow bending. Up the stairs past the mailboxes and the woman by apartment number three sweeping clean floors cleaner.

 

Shane said “C’mon, move it.”

 

Jake said “Move it, f*cko.”

 

Didn’t head up the stairs on the second floor. Right at the edge by the windows seeing Jake’s Bollokan streetside behind some other--

 

Bang bang bang bang.

 

Shane knocking with his elbow, covered the peephole with his index and chuckled to Jake.

 

Voice behind the door - “Yeah?”
 

We got your black eyed f*ckin’ peas.

 

“Wiseass f*ckin--” clack clack unlocking “you scared the sh*t outta me’--

 

“Open the f*ck up, retard,” Jake cackled. “L-C-P-D.”

 

Door wide open.

 

Five-foot-six latino guy with greasy top-head curls and a goatee, squinty little dart-dart eyes was skipping between the three of them. Lime polo underneath navy windbreaker. “Howdy-doody, officers.”

 

“Christopher.”

 

Pointing, “Jake,” moved, “Shane,” moved, “Laquell.

 

“Latrell,” said Latrell.

 

Sniffed, “Shoulda’ guessed. I listened to some of the tapes--”

 

Can we come the f*ck inside?” Shane was barking. “Come the f*ck on.”

 

Christopher shrugged.

 

Invited them in.

 

Waxwood floors beckoned into another tight-ass halway. White walls leading into the kitchen, leading into the center. Big living room with a sofa turned into bacon central - recording equipment, desktop computers, coffee machine on the floor by the printer and a piddly little potted plant. This guy in the kitchen, portly pasty white boy holding a blue-white striped mug watching the trio enter.

 

Tiny little whiteboard between two windows with the shades drawn while the lights were on. A million names: Gerry Giordano, Whiz Caro, Mark Lupisella, Big Al Borgogni, Sammy Mazza.

 

Latrell sniffed.

 

Guy by the computer with headphones on - one ear in, one ear out - older dude with crackle-crack skin and baggy eyes and thinning gray hair. Disheveled button up a size too large anxiously tap-tapping the table. Looked up.

 

Christopher put his arm around Latrell.

 

Latrell flinched.

 

Christopher said “It’s okay, pal.

 

Shane said “My favorite mormon faggot.”

 

Mr. Disheveled said “Go f*ck yourself.

 

Shane cackled. Jake back in the kitchen talking to the fella with the coffee mug.

 

Christopher whispered “You been with the DT long?

 

Latrell flinched, “DT?”

 

Disruption Team.

 

Blinked. “That’s an official name?”

 

“They aren’t an official unit. That’s what everyone calls them. You been with them long?

 

Latrell nodded.

 

Christopher nodded.

 

Let go. “Okay. Introductions--”

 

Disheveled said “Introductions. These morons,” pointed to Jake and Shane, “screw ‘em.

 

Jake chuckled. Shane said “Bite me.”

 

Back to Christopher - “I’m Agent Perez,” he said. “This,” pointed to the guy with the mug, “Agent Moskalonek. And over there by the computers is Agent Enqvist, he’s supervisi--”

 

You don’t wanna ask this dude’s real name,” Shane was laughing, “it’s nuts.”

 

Enqvist said “I go by my middle name.”

 

That’s cheating! Tell him.”

 

Rolled his eyes. “Nephi.”

 

And Shane just laughed harder.

 

“This a goddamn circus, now?” Moskalonek said.

 

And Jake was going through the kitchen asking “Where you keep the mugs?

 

Enqvist said “Why?”

 

“Colin said I could have a coffee--”

 

Enqvist said “Did you?

 

And Moskalonek shrugged out a “Yeah.”

 

Latrell barely keeping up.

 

Latrell sat down.

 

Latrell looked at the whiteboard.

 

Looked back and saw Enqvist staring at him.

 

Christopher sat next to him. Jake with a coffee. Moskalonek by the computer.

 

Latrell said “What the f*ck is happening?

 

Jake went “Pfft.

 

“We’re with the FIB,” Christopher said. “With the Lupisella-Gambetti-Messina squad.”

 

“Why you acting like he’s all insomniac?”

 

You said the guy was all finicky.

 

Latrell said “Finicky?”

 

“Like you- yeah. Yeah.”

 

“You came at a bad time,” Enqvist said. “I just got this memo--”

 

Jake said “What do you mean?”

 

We’re already bled out dry,” Enqvist went. “But I get word back from up above they can’t be screwed paying the rent for this place- I mean, we gotta be close to Lennox Island, but they wanna move this little spot out to Alderney.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Yeah. They have these places in Koresh Square, Westdyke, goddarn Normandy, all these spots in Guernsey. Rent’s cheaper, blah blah--”

 

“Goddarn?”

 

“Bite me.”

 

“You get Alderney tomatoes and the weather’s better. What’s wrong with that? Lupisella crew in Alderney too - and Latrell, we’ll get to you about that--”

 

“This whole dock thing, we need to be close. I can’t commute from East Island to Alderney, that’s like two hours and then ten tolls.”

 

“Move to Alderney.”

 

I told these guys, this is ridiculous. Because mobsters don’t go to mosques. There’s--” Enqvist looked straight at Latrell, “There are 25 agents on the entire federal mafia task force. You believe that crap? 25 for all five families. There should be 25 for the Pavanos alone. Should be two squads for the Gambettis and them. And yet. And yet.”

 

Latrell just said “Yeah.”

 

“Like he’s gonna know,” Jake muttered.

 

“I’m just saying--”

 

“It sounds like a raw f*ckin’ deal to me, son,” Latrell said.

 

Enqvist nodding, and nodding faster, and going “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, we’re closers. We’re gonna book Giordano.”

 

Latrell looked back at the board.

 

FSOBtp8.png

 

Him?

 

“Yeah, him. He’s in pr- well, he was in--”

 

Jake said “You tryin’ to impress him?”

 

I’m just saying. Giordano’s gonna get life. All the stuff we have on the tapes, we’ll take down the Mazza crew. Everything--”

 

If you get the OC detail you’re a dog. You guys are all dogs. The f*ckin’... the retards of a retard agency. Moskalonek- you see that retard by the PC, Latrell?”

 

Latrell nodded.

 

“This is a demotion to him. He’s been on the Lupisella detail since--”

 

Moskalonek saying “Shut up--

 

“--hey, since ‘08 and his financial crimes thing went and blew up in his face. Isn’t that right?

 

“Shut up.”

 

“Mr. Vinewood. You know Steve Haines, Latrell?

 

Latrell said “Yeah.” Obviously.

 

“Steve Haines was in financial crimes and he went- get this- he went undercover. He went undercover, and was building a legend for two years straight working as a doorman at a gay club. You believe that?”

 

“It’s not that funny,” Enqvist said.

 

You people are a laughing stock. What was he going by- Terry?

 

“Troy Soto,” Christopher said. First words he’d said in a while, “And yeah, that was dumb.”

 

Moskalonek said “Screw you, man.”

 

Two years trying to peg Gay Tony for tax evasion and drug trafficking. At Maisonette. And he’s so desperate to move from Hercules that they won’t f*cking move him! So much for that, huh?”

 

“We had good reason.”

 

“You should’ve investigated Haines. And he gets that little TV thing- he always wanted to be an actor, Steve Haines. I met him once when the OCB thing was crossing wires, such an entitled little sh*t. I heard he was a virgin--”

 

We had good reason,” Moskalonek repeated.

 

“He was a transfer anyway,” Enqvist sighed.

 

Oh, but you got him, didn’t you? You got his bouncer, his dick cut off and left in the Wampum Bay with two other spic retards. You found Gay Tony yet, Colin?

 

“I let you get a coffee, man.”

 

“When we round up Roy Zito by March, you wanna ask him where they left the pieces of Gay Tony in Alderney? Maybe threw him in some garbage incinerator--”

 

Enqvist hit the table.

 

Jake shut up.

 

Shut up, Jake.” That made it clearer.

 

“I was supposed to compare notes, man, give cueball the rundown, not hear your moaning about rent--

 

Christopher put a hand up.

 

Jake stopped. Sighed. “Okay.

 

“You got the tapes?” Chris asked.

 

“Already on the table. Waiting for what we got cueball here for, we get some... whatever.

 

Beat.

 

Jake walked away to the kitchen.

 

Where’d Shane gone?

 

Latrell all quiet, “Where’s Shane?

 

“He’s taking a sh*t,” Jake shouted from across the room. Last words - went and pulled out his phone.

 

Beat.

 

Beat.

 

Looked at Christopher.

 

Looked at Enqvist.

 

Both staring.

 

“Latrell,” Christopher said. “We got some in-roads we want to make into the LCPD investigation. OCB usually work hand-in-hand with FIB, this is that. But we need to know what you know and what you’ve done.”

 

Latrell nodded.

 

“You have, on tape, a list of the stuffs you’ve done,” Enqvist went. “We wanna hear it live. And there was the issue with the Bufano brothers we’re already familiar with, we want you to start with that.

 

Latrell nodded.

 

“Go on.”

 

“Okay,” cleared his throat. “Is Bufano…” looked at the board, “is he a Lupisella?”

 

“Those are just captains and the brass,” Christopher said. “The Bohan side of the family are in Alderney, the Broker side of the family are in Lennox. Big Paulie, who you met at the car dealership in Tudor, correct?”

 

“Yeah,” Latrell said.

 

“We have reason to believe Paul Bufano is acting capo in place of Russell Lippi, who’s in prison. But he has a brother and a son, James and Joshua, who could be running it. It’s either that or Bufano is a high priority earner for Lenny Luongo, who’s another Alderney captain. Does that make sense?”

 

“Yeah,” Latrell said.

 

“You shot Angelo Bufano?”

 

Latrell hesitated. “Yeah,” he said.

 

“How?”

 

Latrell stared off. “These Jamaican guys in South Slopes. My five star, he got a connect from them, nahmsayin’, he got some sh*t and we got it to some our dudes. So he told me to talk to Kenton Beard and his two nephews or cousins or some sh*t. Andre and another guy.”

 

“And it was Kenton and Andre who shot Angelo?”

 

“No, it was… Andre and Delroy. I forget what them was related and sh*t, but they was blood relatives. Kenton heard about trucks, coming up from Florida. And didn’t know who was doing it, but we got our sh*ts on and we boosted the truck. And Andre, the dumb one, he shot Angelo in the face.”

 

Christopher said “Okay. And--”

 

Also, was uh… was Ticky, this kid Ticky, and another dude named Scott Nana. That was there, when we boosted the f*ckin’ Mystaspot f*ckin’ dish soap.

 

Patiently, “And then you met the Lupisellas in Broker?”

 

“Yeah. Yeah.”

 

And it was unrelated to what happened in Alderney?

 

“Big coincidence, son, and- I mean… okay. I went to Paulie’s place in Tudor, nahmsayin’, and I saw Scott, and I heard all this sh*t, but they didn’t know I did it and I was--”

 

“You’re going a little fast, man.”

 

Where you want me to start?

 

“Okay. You met Reuben Procida and Francesco Mazza in East Liberty?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Car crash, right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“With your, uh, your friend Xavier’s car? Xavier Mill, I think?”

 

Xavier Mills.

 

“So you and Xavier were working with Frank Mazza?”

 

“No. No, only, uh, only I was working with the Italian dudes. I got Xavier because I needed another dude for the thing with the guy and that was some sh*t I needed a dude I trusted, so uh, I got him.”

 

Enqvist out of nowhere, “Did you sell the dish soap?”

 

No,” Latrell said. “It was- I mean, who the f*ck we sell it to?

 

“The racket they’re in is they sell the stuff on the cheap. Stores or bodegas or however. What did you do with it?

 

“I dumped that sh*t in the river, man.”

 

Pfft. “Figures.

 

“And the plan,” Chris was still patient, “was to work the inside of a prison?

 

“Sorta,” Latrell said. “Yeah. What we do up in Broker, son, is we set dudes up in Astors with our sh*ts we get from some dudes we got.”

 

“Their names?”

 

“I don’t know ‘em.”

 

Oh.

 

“They wanted some peoples to do the same sh*t in, uh, the MDC or whatever the f*ck. I didn’t know any of that sh*t but I was just going along with it. I just said scream at a nigga and that’s what niggas did.”

 

Enqvist said “What?

 

“What?”

 

“Scream at--”

 

Christopher, “Hey. But the Spadina thing.”

 

“What the hell does ‘scream at a n- uh, dude’ mean?”

 

“It means--”

 

No, hey.” A little less patient. “Spadina. Spadina. What happened with Spadina?”

 

Latrell paused.

 

Blinked.

 

“What do you mean?”

 

Christopher said “What happened, why’d it happen, that sort of thing. You know.”

 

“Uh.”

 

“What?”

 

“Okay.”

 

Enqvist snapped “Okay, what?

 

“Like what?” Latrell went.

 

Why? Why?”

 

“Why?” Christopher bleated. “Why’d you do what you did?”

 

“Uh.”

 

Stutte--

 

“I don’t know.”

 

This long pause.

 

Enqvist staring.

 

Christopher said “What?

 

Latrell said “I mean, you know. I did it for, uh, you know, for Frankie and them. Uh, you know, for this, uh, this Albanian guy.”

 

Slowly, “Okay.

 

“And that was- yeah. This why I did it, son, ‘cause of that.”

 

“What was his name?”

 

“Mergim.”

 

A surname?

 

And Latrell said “I don’t know. He was- I mean, he was a dope guy, he was a dope dealer, apparently. He sold Frankie pot.”

 

Christopher, “And there was a thing with him and Spadina?”

 

I mean, I think. But he’d also pissed off the Lupisella guys or something.”

 

“Because,” Christopher said, “initially, our belief was you did this because of something Spadina had done. Him and some other guys- him and a man named Emanuele Di Magno, one named Chester Broccolini, Teddy Oliva. They’d gone into the social club of a Lupisella underboss. They beat up some of David Caro’s men over an unknown dispute, and the Lupisellas were rebuffed when it came to any restitution. Do you know David Caro?

 

Latrell said “No.”

 

Chris pointed at the whiteboard.

 

FSOBtp8.png

 

Got a squint.

 

“Whiz.” Chris elaborated, “Do you have a familiarity with any of the men on the board?

 

Latrell said “I met Sammy Mazza.”

 

“You remember any others? Any mentioned?

 

“I remember Big Al. Something about him in Bantonvale, something about him in Lennox Island. That and… I don’t think, uh… maybe Loopy. I heard that a lot. He’s the boss?”

 

“Yes,” Christopher said. “He’s the boss.”

 

“Frankie and them ain’t on the board--”

 

“We work downward,” Enqvist said. “We don’t got so many people with the Bureau’s mob squad so we work from the top down to the bottom. Bottom is anyone who can be connected to the top. Small fish we let PD nab and stick with racketeering when we can round up the top guys. Okay?”

 

“Okay, well Frankie and them met with Sammy Mazza.”

 

Where?

 

“At his social club. The Maritime Navi- somethingwhatever, that. On Giglio Street. Outside a bus stop.”

 

“We’re familiar,” Christopher said.

 

Enqvist asked “Do you have it on recording?

 

Latrell shook his head.

 

“So you shot- you shot Vyvyan, because you don’t know? And this was fine with everyone? You went to Bufano, you went to--”

 

“You bought guns from Bufano?”

 

Latrell said “Yeah. Well, no. He gave ‘em for free, and then Mergim was gonna pay us, and then they’d deduct a little from what we had from the hit so they could replace the biscuits, ‘cause we tossed ‘em.”

 

Moskalonek chuckled.

 

Latrell looked at him.

 

He averted his gaze.

 

Latrell looked at him.

 

He looked back at the computer.

 

Latrell looked at him.

 

Christopher cleared his throat.

 

Enqvist was saying something - got cut off. Grit his teeth and jumped back into it, “So you went to Bufano, you went to Mazza, for pot?”

 

“We thought that,” Latrell said. “Yeah?”

 

“And he was lying?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Cut to the chase - “Do you have a recording of you and Mazza discussing the killing of Mergim Keqi?

 

Raised eyebrows. “That was his name?” Latrell asked.

 

“Him, yes, and his cousin Fatbard.”

 

Latrell chuckled.

 

Enqvist said “Hey.

 

“What?”

 

“Are you out of your f*cking mind--”

 

Christopher said “Hey--

 

“I-... hmph… I just--”

 

Back to Latrell, “You’d be willing to testify?”

 

Latrell said “Without a doubt. I mean, I’ll say anything you niggas want, b, I’ll say sh*t--”

 

We only want what you can back up on the recordings, what’s true.”

 

“Or, sh*t, that- man, that too, whatever you dudes want.

 

Enqvist grabbed the bridge of his nose, and he sighed real f*cking hard.

 

And he walked away.

 

Christopher just looked at the ground.

 

Latrell watched him leave.

 

Walk right out the door.

 

Perez put his hand on Latrell’s shoulder. “It’s alright.

 

“I mean, I’m just trying to be cooperative--”

 

“He’s stressed. Look. We just wanted to set the record straight.”

 

I’m setting it. You want details on this port sh*t too?”

 

“We got enough on that. We just wanted to establish the throughline. What happened on Morgan Avenue, that was… that was heavy, you know, because of what- uh, the- you know. What happened with the others.”

 

Latrell was blank. “What you mean?”

 

“Two got caught in the crossfire. You know that, right?”

 

Latrell was blank. “Oh. Well… sh*t. Man, f*ck, okay. Tsch... really?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Okay. Well, sh*t. That was them. You know? I ain’t even fire the gun, really. I mean, at the- sh*t. Who got got?”

 

Moskalonek just said it clinical: “Old guy and his daughter.”

 

“How old was she?”

 

“Thirty-something.”

 

“She dead?”

 

“Vegetative. The man is dead.”

 

Latrell nodding. Latrell nodding. Latrell nodding. “Okay.

 

“We need as much cooperation as possible,” Christopher said. “Or you and the other two are getting life for this.”

 

There was a fourth guy, too. Jamal Noland. He was another nigga who did it, and he was shooting more than me--”

 

Christopher blinked. “Say that again, say his name again?”

 

“Jamal Noland.”

 

And Christopher pulled a book out his jacket.

 

Flipped to a page.

 

Wrote it down.

 

Stared. “Okay,” he said. “So you, Mazza, Procida, and Noland?”

 

“They was all coked out,” Latrell said. “But I don’t do drugs. They was getting so f*ckin’ hyped up for that sh*t and they dragged me along--”

 

“Was there a prior relation with Noland and Mazza?

 

“We all called him Noodles, and yeah, all the time.”

 

Looked at the paper. Back at Latrell. “Okay,” he said. “That’s a big help.”

 

Latrell smiled, and he said “Sure.”

 

This long pause.

 

Christopher flicked to another page.

 

Held it up.

 

VnpGMQw.png

 

Latrell looked at it long.

 

“Do you recognize any of the names on this sheet?” Christopher asked.

 

Kept looking.

 

Yeah,” Latrell said. “Roy Zito. Obviously. I know Spadina and the dude Manny you said. Noto. Frankie and them was talking about Harvey Noto and these other guys.”

 

“Anyone else?”

 

“No.”

 

Christopher handed the paper to Latrell.

 

Latrell stared.

 

Take it,” agent said.

 

And Latrell took it.

 

“We need you,” Christopher said, “to set up a deal for guns. We have our own undercover. Okay? He’s currently a contact of a Gambetti affiliate associated with a crew under a man under Avenue Don. Donato Cantavespre is underboss of the Gambettis, and him and his aide Jackie Acri, they run the zip faction.”

 

Zip?

 

“Zip means Sicilian or out-of-country Italians. First generation, off the boat. Our understanding is that Acri has a line right up to a clan of the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria, and they and the Messinas use the port in Broker for drug trafficking. The Idà-Tuppitiari ‘ndrina clan, or cosca, or whatever. Out of Gioia Tauro. Zito was in court in 2011 for the same reason, same clan. Just couldn’t sell it to the jury.”

 

“I thought it was Russians in Salmond City.”

 

“Salmond City? There aren’t any Russians in East Liberty. What are you talking about?

 

Moskalonek scoffed and said “Russians don’t do sh*t in this town except Medicaid fraud.

 

And Christopher agreed, “You talk to the FIB Eurasian task force they’re gonna say the same thing. We’re gearing up for a big bust on them by next year, but nothing with gun smuggling. Chocolate smuggling, maybe.”

 

Latrell just said “Okay.”

 

“We’re going to get you in contact with the informant. But we need you wired up on this deal. The undercover is also going to be wired up, and the truck he’s gonna have the stuff in his wired up. You need to get the meet as soon as possible, and say you’re using his guns for the job. Okay? We can track these guns to are UC, tie it in further.”

 

“I’m pretty sure we might be going back to Bufano--”

 

The way I see it,” Enqvist called back from the kitchen, “is that you don’t want to be 50 miles in Bufano’s radius. On account of the killing of his brother.”

 

“He don’t know that.”

 

Say you need a neutral source,” Christopher snapped. “You haven’t got a choice. But we need you on tape discussing as much as you can. Any and all of these names, any crimes, any murders, anything you can possibly think of, because we need to bolster the government’s case.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Say anything and everything. Our undercover will play along. We aren’t busting you at the deal, we’re busting you at the port--”

 

We need a big box wid’ a bow on top!” That was Jake.

 

“Ask anything and everything you can. Who the consigliere is of the Gambettis - we don’t know that. We are going to indict Gordon Blanda - Gordy Blinks - we need you to discuss him and GQ and anyone else. We need you to press Frankie and his cohort on the Messinas and their disagreement. Talk about those Dominicans or Puerto Ricans that Mark Lupisella castrated in a basement, like what Frankie said. And talk about how Roy Zito is a fag.”

 

Latrell blinked. “What?”

 

Moskalonek chuckled.

 

Seriously, what?

 

Jake shouted “Roy Zito takes it up the ass.”

 

Moskalonek laughed.

 

Christopher sniffed, “We have recorded evidence he tried to solicit sex from a man just the other month. A few other instances. He’s a queer. He’s had men killed for even thinking of saying it.”

 

And Latrell raised his eyebrows, and he said “Damn.

 

“Talk about 2009, talk about Gay Tony, talk about 2011 and Sonny Bottino and ‘two years on a plea’. We’d prefer you have this deal at Rodney Gravelli’s tattoo parlor, since we have maybe six bugs in every part of the building, but we understand if you can’t set this up at a place you frequent. Talk about his family, too. His uncle Lazzaro’s a wiseguy, his father Gennaro’s a wiseguy, he’s a little blip on a whole family of degenerates.” But he put a finger up: “Most importantly? Talk about Morgan Avenue, and talk about those f*cking murders.”

 

Latrell was looking at the paper.

 

VnpGMQw.png

 

Muttering names under his breath. “So memorize all of these?”

 

“We want them all on tape and all plausibly connected to anything. Strongest case possible. Okay?”

 

Do I call the UC or is they callin’ me?

 

“Enqvist’ll give you his number. His name is Logan, but you’re gonna be calling him Darren. Look up these names on the computer, man, you’ll get articles, you’ll get a wiki, it’s a whole thing. Just anything for the tape. Alright?”

 

“Alright.”

 

Christopher put his hand back on Latrell’s shoulder. Said it slower, “Alright?

 

Latrell nodded. “Anything you want.”

 

Smiled. Pat him on the back. “You want a coffee?

 

Latrell smiled. Said “‘Course, man, sure.”

 

And Christopher got up.

 

And Latrell stayed.

 

Looked right out the window.

 

And right back at the note.

 

The Glossary

Liberty City Map

 

Edited by slimeball supreme

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  • 4 months later...
slimeball supreme
Posted (edited)

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Avel

 

It had almost been a week.

 

Kassian’s mother couldn’t come up from Florida, and neither could her brother Naum or her nephew Kazimir. All three of Teddy’s brothers, in Odessa, had told her they didn’t want to - or simply couldn’t afford - the trip to Liberty City. Were going to sit Shiva across the Atlantic in penance, they said. She was still arranging the funeral from 1,200 miles away - Kassian wanted nothing to do with the proceedings, Teddy didn’t regularly attend any temples, and the police still had not released the body.

 

They couldn’t, they’d told her, because they needed to continue running the right procedures, and that as a part of the ongoing investigation, Fyodor Avelovich Feygin had to remain at the coroners. Kassian had come in to identify the body, and he left without a word.

 

It was 4 PM on the 30th of December.

 

Vadim had gotten his High Life card out and was showing it off - he had a platinum card, he was a big boy, big macho motherf*cker, and then after separating the lines he used the Burger Shot straw to snort the amphetamines off the glass-top of his coffee table.

 

Bozhe, bozhe, bozhe- mi mi mi mi fuccck, huh? Huh? You see that?”

 

“See what, see what?”

 

Kanye has a black card. Okay? Kanye has a black card.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Singing, “This no question if I want it, I need it. Huh? I can feel you slowly drifting away from meeee…

 

Kassian chirped “Hand it over.”

 

Hand what over? Eddie, can you put the song on?”

 

Kassian said “The straw.”

 

Eddie said “What song?”

 

Vadim said “The one where Kanye goes, uh, ‘I can never ever ever let you down, down down--’

 

“The straw,” Kassian said.

 

“Okey dokey, okey dokey, take it.

 

Vadim’s apartment was sparsely decorated but filled with stuff. A lot of new stuff, a lot of stuff with the tags still on, a lot of packaging and a full-up trash can with a bunch of crushed cardboard boxes stuffed into the next-door compartment. He had a new eXsorbeo - the new new one, the eXsorbeo Zero - he had new ProLaps and a new Schmidt & Priss TV and a new Meinmacht phone dock he’d connected to a subwoofer that he’d turned off but said he could turn on if he really wanted to, but it would piss the neighbors off. And no thanks, Vadim respects his f*cking neighbors.

 

And then Kaz did a rail and went “Oh-hooo, wow!” Smacked his forehead with his unbroken arm, “Wow, wow, wow. You want a taste Abbie, you want a taste?”

 

And Abbie said “No,” because he was saving himself for some smack later on. Had a preferred sort of high.

 

“I gotta tell you,” Kaz was saying, “I forgot to tell you--”

 

Gorgeous was playing.

 

Vadim shouted “Yes! Yes! That’s it! That’s it, motherf*cker!”

 

Abbot said “What, Kaz?”

 

But Kaz had moved on, “Vadim, Vadim--

 

“Buddy, okay, listen, okay--”

 

I’m- f*ck--”

 

“Can get an uh… can get a Beam, Eddie?”

 

Eddie said “What?”

 

I have Beams, huh, I f*cking thirsty, can you get Beam- Beam in the frigerator--”

 

“I ever tell you about eCola?” Kassian asked.

 

Vadim said “What?”

 

“Why they’re called eCola, I ever tell you about that? Because Beam and eCola--”

 

Abbot said “Hey, Kassian, what were you--

 

“Because,” Kaz was yelling, “they sound like- it sounds like ecoli, right, and with the infectious thing--

 

Vadim said “What?”

 

The slogan--

 

BANG BANG BANG BANG “SHUT UP COME ON--” muffled behind the wall was the f*cking neighbor.

 

Vadim shouted “Eat my f*cking dick--

 

SHUT THE HELL UP SHUT THE HELL--

 

Kassian yelling “Hey, listen--

 

And Abbot’s phone rang.

 

Abbot’s phone rang.

 

Abbot checked.

 

Benny.

 

Abbot got up.

 

Kaz asked “Where you going?

 

Abbot said “Work” and walked out the front door into the hallway.

 

Shut it. Still heard the music through the walls.

 

Phone to his ear - “Benny? Hello.”

 

“We have to talk,” Benny said. Benny serious.

 

Abbot asked “Where?”

 

“Saint Basil’s. Bring Kassian.”

 

Scrunch-faced when Abbot said “Why?

 

“We need to talk and Kassian needs to come.”

 

Abbot nodding silently, Abbot nodding for no good reason since Benny couldn’t see it besides. “Sure,” he said. “I’m in Weir Ridge. I’ll be a few.”

 

“Okay.” And Benny hung up.

 

Door was open and the TV was on tuned to Weazel and the song was still playing and they all had their soda now - f*cking blue can Beam - Kaz mid-sentence going “--in the civil war, right?

 

Eddie was listening, “So what?”

 

Vadim wasn’t, “So what?

 

Abbot walked over, Kaz still going “Listen, listen--”

 

Right in his ear, “We gotta go.

 

Kassian whispered “What?”

 

Abbot repeated, “We gotta go.”

 

Kassian said “What? Why?”

 

“Benny.”

 

“Okay, then you go.”

 

“No,” Abbot said. “Benny wants you.”

 

Eyes wide.

 

Stopped.

 

We gotta go.

 

And Kaz just uttered out this throaty little “What?

 

Abbot stared.

 

Vadim said “What, what he say?

 

So Kassian got up.

 

Looked at Vadim.

 

We gotta go for business reasons and stuff like that and it’s business so I gotta go and we gotta go,” spewed out breathless and he was first out the door.

 

Abbot followed.

 

Out the front Kaz shot the cuff on his Rearwall puffer, a f*cking knockoff, dusted the lint off the sweater, threw a hand through the dyed out hair with the other pinned right to his chest with the sling, breathed out heavy muttering “f*ck f*ck f*ck” under his breath headed down the stairs onto the street. Was Abbot lagging behind, pulling the keys out his white Hinterland weathergear parka he’d thrown on heading out and forgot which pocket he’d kept it in--

 

Hurry it up, man, hurry it up.”

 

Kaz waiting by the Cavalcade impatient. Not like he could drive with one arm.

 

What was being said - forgot which pocket he’d kept the thing in over the gray-brown Tree crew neck sweater going off about clothing. Had to look nice no matter how impromptu.

 

Getting late out. Wet fleck roads and the car went off and Kaz with his fingers pinched turning Bill Evans right down.

 

Said “Abbot.

 

Abbot was driving and said “Yeah?

 

“This ain’t a good time.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Did he say why?

 

“No. He never says why, he never says why.

 

“This ain’t a good time.”

 

Okay.

 

Beat.

 

Abbot reached for the dial--

 

Kaz said “Hey.

 

“Just say it.”

 

“What?”

 

You wanna say why it’s a bad time, just f*cking say it. Why is it a bad time?”

 

“I was gonna tell you at the apartment.”

 

What, you wanna f*cking go back? Tell me.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“Okay!”

 

“Okay.”

 

Say it, f*ck.”

 

“I have a thing.”

 

Well if that ain’t something--

 

“I have a thing and I need to do it tonight or today otherwise I can’t do it so you know I hope we’re done quick--”

 

“What?”

 

You remember?

 

“Remember what? Why the f*ck you being so cagey all a sudden, just--”

 

“The thing at the club. Okay? Okay?

 

“Alright.”

 

“The fentanyl. The dope, the dope, the credit card numbers--”

 

Alright, what? Okay?”

 

“I got a new guy.”

 

“Okay.”

 

Okay? That’s it? I got this guy, I don’t even need to give him the credit cards, and he’ll give me the same sh*t for a better price.”

 

“Fine. We’ll see him after.”

 

What if we can’t?

 

“Yeah, Kassian, what if we can’t? Who cares?”

 

“He does. And he won’t- I mean first of all, if I flake I look like a f*cking moron, but this is a big deal, he said this was hot and he was offloading it to me or some other guy and I was--

 

“Who is he?”

 

“Black guy up in East Liberty. Has a few guys and a big mill someplace, distributor wholesale some sh*t like that, but this is big. And they don’t know us and it ain’t a scam because I met the guy and he was smooth--

 

“Met him where?”

 

“He was bouncing at some club someplace and we talked.”

 

“Bouncing? Like, door-duty?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Okay. And he can’t wait a day?”

 

“No.”

 

“Well, f*ck him then.”

 

I need the scratch, Abbie, don’t be a f*ckin’ yutz.

 

“So if we can’t see him, he won’t reschedule his appointment, I mean- what if this is a courtesy call or something or- who’s the boss, Kassian?

 

Nodded. “Benny,” Kaz said.

 

“Yeah.”

 

“Who’s the guy you’re gonna prioritize? This bum or Benny?

 

Sucked in his cheek. “Benny,” Kaz said.

 

Abbot nodded.

 

Kassian sighed. “I had it all planned out.

 

“We’ll get it.”

 

“And what does that f*cking- I made a commitment, what does that say about me? Or whatever? That--”

 

“Who cares?”

 

“I had it all planned out.”

 

“It’s fine.”

 

God f*cking damn it.

 

“What’s the f*cking problem, what’s wrong with you?”

 

“Benny said me specifically?”

 

“What?” Paused. “Yes. Yeah. I said that.”

 

“I’m f*cked.”

 

“What?”

 

“I’m f*cked, Abbot.”

 

“You’re fine.”

 

I’m f*cked I’m f*cked I’m f*cked--

 

“Kassian--”

 

And Kassian screamed, grit his teeth and screamed, and then a second later put his head in his lap.

 

Nobody said anything until Beechwood.

 

It was 4:40 PM.

 

Parallel parked at the dentist across the street and Kassian slammed the door and trudged through the wet street grabbing the in-between of his jacket pulling it tight. Nearly got hit by a car jaywalking, car honked the horn, didn’t reply and waited at the door while Abbot checked the time and followed. Happy New Year in big red letters over the restaurant windows, couldn’t see inside. Maybe intentional.

 

He was clapping on entry for nobody.

 

Restaurant was closed for no good reason.

 

Felix.

 

Only Felix at one of the tables in TankTop jeans with the colored stitching and the logo embroidered on the back pocket, tight black t-shirt maybe Didier Sachs with the little logo on the breast, bottle of Cherenkov and no glass. Wiped his eyes. They were red.

 

Kaz was slapping his chest with the hand, “Hey hey, hey hey. Hey hey.”

 

Felix didn’t reply.

 

Benny,” Abbot asked. 

 

Felix snorted. Put the bottle down.

 

Cherenkov, huh?” Kaz did this cute little grin, “What that cost Benny, 10 dollars? He buy from the grocery?

 

Felix blinked. Put up a finger, nearly said something - then just sighed.

 

“It’s a joke.”

 

“Okay,” Felix said.

 

“I mean if you want real vodka--”

 

Abbot.” Felix wiped his face, “He tell you?”

 

Abbot said “Tell me what?”

 

“With the- haha… with the gotta do. What I gotta do.” Licked his lips and grit his teeth, “What I gotta do.

 

“I’m sorry,” Abbot said.

 

Is not the first time. Is not the first time. Is not the first time.”

 

“I am.”

 

“Is not the first time, so is okay.” Laughed fake, “What I done…

 

“It’s not easy.”

 

“I did seventeen year already. I did seventeen year already.” Slack jawed and sat back down on a closer seat, fist covering his eye. “He’s in the private room.

 

Kaz shifted. Didn’t say anything.

 

Abbot murmured “I’m sorry.

 

“Tell that to… okay. Okay. Okay.”

 

Okay.

 

Kaz lead.

 

Abbot followed.

 

Abbot looking back.

 

Felix slumping over.

 

Door opened.

 

Benny dressed simple - simple for Benny: funeral monochrome suit-and-tie, unbuttoned reefer coat, leaning two fingers against the forehead and his eyes twitch-twitch-twitching. Two phones flat on the table, one his real phone, his iFruit something-or-other. Other was a burner prepaid with the dial pad maybe from 10 years ago, something he could toss out.

 

Kassian wasn’t leading anymore. Like he was afraid of the whole thing, lingering by the door before tailing.

 

Benny looked up. Said hi with his eyes.

 

Abbot said “You told him, didn’t you?

 

Benny nodded.

 

“Told him what?” Kaz angled in, “What did you tell him?

 

Benny looked at Kaz, then looked at Abbot, then looked at the phone. “You know what happened with your father, Kassian?”

 

Kassian didn’t reply.

 

“Rami Yalon is in Florida,” Benny said.

 

“Okay,” Abbot replied.

 

“Yusuf’s in the office calling his son. Achban is out- he was here earlier, he need to--”

 

Achban?” Abbot squinted, “What’s going on?”

 

Benny folded his arms on the table. “Kassian,” sighed. “This is not to be said outside of this room, okay?”

 

Kassian nodded. Wide-eyed. 

 

We’re going to be served indictments in the new year. Our peoples are saying things are already in motion and they’re moving ahead with search and seizure warrants.” Hands up now, “We have things under control. But it needs to be said things in community be will not very good for a moment.”

 

“Am I in the crossfire?”

 

Benny visibly held back. Closed his eyes a second before opening, “No.

 

Kassian nodding faster now, “Okay, okay.

 

Abbot said “What’s Achban doing?”

 

Benny sighed.

 

What’s going on?

 

“We have a thing,” Benny said.

 

Like that meant anything. “Okay.

 

“We need some people out of the city and we need some people to organize with the points men down in Vice. Yes?”

 

“So Achban’s going?”

 

“We need someones go with.”

 

Abbot said “Why?

 

“Why what?”

 

“Why?”

 

“We need someones to organize with the points men down in Vice.”

 

Why?

 

Benny squinting. “What?”

 

“Why do you need someone down in Florida? You got people.”

 

“To relay the communication.”

 

“Tell them on the f*cking phone.”

 

Don’t be stupid, huh? Don’t be stupid.”

 

Abbot not backing down, “So what?”

 

“Because something coming into Viceport--”

 

Who’s gonna be driving you?

 

Playing with his turned-off phone like food. “Yulya,” Benny said. “Good girl.”

 

“Send her.”

 

Abbot--

 

“You want someone to go with Achban, send her. Okay? That’s it.”

 

Benny was gritting his teeth, “It’s already decided.

 

“I f*cking can’t. Send Yulya.”

 

“It is already decided. And you are going now.

 

Kaz butt the f*ck in, “Now?

 

“He’s at his f*cking hotel on the way to his f*cking hotel.”

 

“I got sh*t--”

 

“He’s already going his hotel.”

 

Why the f*ck me?” Abbot said. “Why me?”

 

Pulled a pen out his pocket with no paper to write on. “I need someone can organize with familiarities with our friend’s things.” Probably meant Roy, probably meant the docks, probably meant Kenny. “And Achban you brother, and you…” 

 

Abbot stared.

 

Benny stared. Eyes said ‘you want me to say it?’

 

Abbot’s said ‘fine.

 

“And Kassian, with you father. Okay?

 

“With what?” Kaz balancing on the ball of his foot uncomfortable, f*ck all to say.

 

You father.

 

“What, his funeral?”

 

“Police going to be asking these questions. And if you no can be asked questions at all… there no LCPD in Florida, okay? In case.”

 

Kaz nodding, and nodding faster with it all sinking in. “Yeah. Yeah, no, yeah. Okay. It actually works for me.”

 

Abbot snapped “What?

 

“It works for me.”

 

Abbot stared.

 

Meeker now, “It works for me.

 

Abbot blinked.

 

Turned to Benny.

 

Said “Tell Achban to meet us at Eugene’s, okay? We can talk about it there.”

 

“No,” Benny said.

 

So I can get my car serviced a moment for the ride, he does it for cheap and you told him--”

 

“Achban don’t like Evgeniy.”

 

What? What the f*ck has Eugene ever done?”

 

“He just doesn’t.”

 

“So we can’t even f*cking talk?”

 

You head into the city for him hotel and you get the better way for the tunnel and the bridge and--

 

“I’m doing this for you, god-f*cking-damn it. Why can’t you f*cking give me a moment?

 

“You do what you f*cking told.”

 

And I am. You know I am, you know how I am. But f*cking now, f*cking inconvenient, f*cking in the middle of something, you throw this sh*t at me I can’t even get my bags packed.”

 

“You want you bags packed?”

 

Yeah, I want my f*cking bags packed.

 

“You no talk to me like that.”

 

“You’re sending us on a f*cking whim. Bullsh*t!” Abbot speaking with his hands now, “And you know what I can f*cking say to you about all the f*cking things we said.”

 

Benny stopped.

 

Benny stared. Eyes said ‘you want me to say it?’

 

Abbot’s said ‘Absolutely, motherf*cker.

 

And Benny kept staring. Murder eyes. And he said “Fine.

 

“Okay?”

 

“It has to be today. You leave today, you go to his hotel. You go to, uh f*cking, uh Columbus Center. Not a far trek for his walk, Achban can get his dinner.”

 

“Eight,” Abbot said.

 

Eight?

 

“I’ll be there by eight.”

 

“You can’t pack a f*cking hour?”

 

If you want me to go, yeah, I f*cking can’t.

 

“He’s gearing up to go now.”

 

You call my retard f*cking brother,” Abbot snarled, “and you tell that f*cking idiot to wait. Okay?”

 

Benny was clenching his teeth, you could see it past the lips. Unblinking. Softer than Abbot ever heard Benny talk, “Columbus Center at eight. I’ll tell him.

 

“Alright.”

 

Okay.

 

Abbot softer now, “Got what you f*cking wanted.

 

“I understand,” Benny said. “With him. Okay? But it is necessary.”

 

“Oh, don’t give me that f*cking sh*t.”

 

“Listen to me, okay? Listen to me.” As slow, as soft as the man could go. “Prevention is better than cure. You doing this, you listen to Achban and Rami have to say. You get what need distribute distributed. That’s prevent. You don’t go, or someone go not know what you know, we gonna need a f*cking cure.

 

Abbot didn’t reply.

 

“You say what need saying. We need someone with history with peoples so they don’t scare. And you know the situation not flexible, f*cking police on our--”

 

Eight at Columbus.

 

Benny just blank-faced now. Staring off. “Eight at Columbus.”

 

Abbot glared at Yusuf on the way out the door. Yusuf looked back - Abbot said boo. Kaz laughed.

 

Car door shut.

 

4:56.

 

Holy f*cking sh*t.

 

Abbot just said “Yeah.” Gripped the wheel, repeated