Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Staying Dead" A Tale of Virgil by: C. William Russette

"Staying Dead"
A Tale of Virgil 
by: C. William Russette 
as published in
PRO SE PRESENTS Masked Gun Mystery #2 

Kyoto, Japan, one week ago.
Fuyuhira Minami exited his favorite Karaoke bar well on the road to complete drunkenness and happier than he had been in weeks. Even the near torrential rain coming down didn’t bother him, despite the fact that he had left his umbrella at the office or maybe back in the bar. It didn’t matter, nothing did. He had closed the biggest deal of his life today with a rival genetic research corporation. The fact that the company he worked for was going to be losing five years of breakthrough stem cell research didn’t phase him. They would learn not to pass over worthy researchers for promotion after all is said and done, most definitely.
The money he carried in his briefcase would buy him many nights of pleasure in the arms of which ever lady he chose at his massage parlor. His wife thought he was still at work and she would remain thinking that.
I worked for this.
I deserve this. All she does is whine and cook poor tasting food.
Standing in the downpour he stared out into the traffic, searching for a cab to take him to the pleasure palace. Fuyuhira was having trouble keeping his snake in its cage as he thought of the night that lay ahead. He was about to flag down an oncoming cab when he saw her.
A woman walked toward him under a jade colored umbrella. She wore her hair down and her skirt just above the knee revealing shapely legs. She wasn’t doing anything but trying to navigate the sidewalk amidst other pedestrians, but her body language suggested virginity and innocence. Fuyuhira didn’t know how he could detect such a thing from body language alone, then decided it must be the alcohol speaking.
A grin began to spread across his face, her attempt to walk in heels was very endearing. She must have been new to the job of secretary, and no more than twenty-one.
A cab pulled up in front of Fuyuhira and stopped. Finally! Tonight’s ecstasy will be the stuff of office stories for weeks to come. So much face would be gained!
Just as Fuyuhira’s hand reached under the door handle the office girl‘s heel broke and she fell to the wet cement with a shriek. Fuyuhira shifted his stance to see if anyone was going to stop and help her. He opened the car door.
No one is even paying any attention to her! This world is becoming more western every day.
Fuyuhira closed the car door and approached the girl, who was now holding her ankle.
“Miss, are you okay? I saw you fall,” Fuyuhira asked, squatting down and taking a knee in front of her. Her legs were perfectly toned. He began fantasizing despite the woman’s obvious pain.
“It-it is my ankle. This cheap shoe broke and I think I twisted it. It may be broken!”
“Come now, you don’t know that yet. You are getting all wet. I’ll hold the umbrella and you lean on me to get your balance.”
“Thank you, sir,” she said, watching him pull the umbrella over them, shielding the two of them from everyone’s view for a second.
In that moment, Fuyuhira, lost in the sight of the young woman‘s legs, didn‘t notice her crumble the powder in her hand, raise it to her mouth and in a controlled burst of air, blow it into his eyes.
“Ha!” he gasped and stumbled backwards only to be caught by his loosened tie, his egress stopped dead.
“Sir, are you well?” the young woman gripped Fuyuhira’s hand and the umbrella it carried and started forcing him backwards, “You seem very ill, perhaps I can help you from any further shame.”
She placed her hand in the small of his back and directed him with impossible force into the alley and out of view.
“No... ugh... my eyes…”
“I understand completely, Minami - san,” the young woman said.
“Y-you blinded - kak!” His words were cut off by a throat chop.
The young woman made a fist with her right hand. From a cybernetic port in her index finger a four centimeter tine extended. She slammed it into a carotid artery of the still choking businessman. His body locked and he moaned as the uncut H began working its way through his body.
“Your employer doesn’t like industrial espionage, Minami-san. Know that you die blind and alone in this blackened alley. Your family will remember you only as an adulterous junkie.”
The kunoichi removed her high heels and began sprinting down the alley as the rain continued its descent. The subtle treads formed on the soles of her feet as she hit twenty-five kilometers an hour.
She removed her raincoat; it was far too noisy. The alleys were vacant given the hour and the horrible weather. The rain would make her indescribable to those that did see her as she peaked at forty kilometers an hour.
She stopped at her midnight black RX 7, scanned the soft tamper-field that surrounded the vehicle. Discovering it was intact she then disengaged the lock and got in. The kunoichi opened her steering wheel to find the LCD display. The AWAITING MESSAGE icon blinked. She sighed, paused a moment to compose herself and touched the screen.
The voice mail said four words:
America. High priority client.

McQuade, Nevada. Now.

Another gig and this one was an even bigger pile of crap than the last one. The wops have a distribution problem and once again they don‘t want to get their hands dirty. Who’s ass do they fling in the fire?
Like I figured the Italians were more than a little surprised that I came back from their little death trap at the Yakuza run heroin plant. There were some empty wallets afterwards too. Burned them something fierce havin’ to pay me what they owed, but its just good business to do so. I also figured that they’d have some gutter-work like this to make sure I didn’t come collecting again. It‘s the fate of outside help with these people. If I do the job then there’s no one left to complain. If I fail it’s sorry, guys, we don’t know who that guy was that hit your place. We can still do business right?
It took me a week to get my arm back up and running like it should have after that Yakuza with the blade fetish removed it for me. I walked confidently into the Gemstone Casino just like I did the first time; the place was mine.
I’ve been through so many of these gangland money - pots, they’re all the same. The House always wins, everyone knows that, but the wiseguys like to put the odds a bit more in their favor. They also extend too much credit for those that can’t possible pay it back or tack on an insane amount of interest. The whole thing makes me sick, but it wasn’t why I was there. It didn’t take long for the word of my unforeseen return to spread and Dion Valachi, Mr. Knows-a-lot himself, to hold my hand as we walked to see Capo Frank Sabatino in one of the back offices.
Franky was leaning back against the front of his beast of a desk, cigar in hand. He was sporting this ‘well, look who the hell it is’ expression that made me want to nail him right there.
“Well, you’re somethin, ain’t ya? The Japanese are just lit up over your work,” Franky said.
I just sat down and placed my right ankle on my left knee while I took in the office. Dion hid just out of my peripheral behind me while Franky stared stupidly at me, waiting for some kind of response.
“Relax, mate, the money is down the hall bein’ counted right now, as we speak. Have a drink?”
I shook my head.
“All right, lets cut the crap, I gotta know, how did you pull that off? You had help, ya?” Franky asked.
“No, just me.”
“Bull,” he said getting off the desk. “Fine, we all got secrets.” Franky walked around the large desk, tapped his cigar and locked eyes on me again.
“Feelin up to more work, or what? I got a crew ready to roll with you but you can run the show.”
“What’s the work?” I knew it would be more dangerous than the last gig. Cosa Nostra is thinning the herd down here. Throwing people at impossible jobs like water balloons at brick walls. Young punks wanna test the odds, get made and live the life, but these bastards are using them as pawns in a lethal chess game.
Not that it’s a bad thing really. Anyone who wants to be in the mob deserves to be there. The military is the same way, just more organized. Not much, but a little. I was starting to see how the mob was stayin’ on top of the gang war. The Italians were trimming the weeds below the grass line and the Japs would mostly be drawing from at least half Asian stock. It limits the choices.
“Simple verbal communication. Very low end danger so long as you keep her head,” Franky said.
“What do I need a crew for then?” I asked.
“We are having difficulty negotiating with one of our distributors,” Dion said from behind me.
Right on cue he stepped into view and began his lil here’s-the skinny speech. I was starting to think that Dion was the real brains here and Franky wouldn’t be all that useful without him.
“These guys we have bringing in guns for us from L.A., call themselves the Dirge, they decided they don’t like our business agreement anymore. They figure they should be getting paid more all of a sudden. Word is they recently had a change in leadership and the new guy wants more.”
“More money?” I asked.
“Doesn’t everybody?” Franky said, blowing circles in the air.
“Why do they call themselves the Dirge?” I said, ignoring Franky.
“They’re bikers, its their gang name,” Franky said.
“Club,” I corrected.
They ain’t gangs anymore. They call ‘em clubs now,” I said. Dion just watched me with his tiny eyes.
“I don’t care what these animals call themselves now. What they are is getting knocked down cause this new guy, what‘s his name, Dion?”
“Divir, but he’s called Alpha.”
“Cute, eh? Alpha wants to increase the transportation fee and we want you to go out there and tell him that the price stays or we find new drivers. That simple.”
Right. Like the warehouse of Japanese shooters was simple.
“Safe bet he isn’t going to like this.”
“Bet on it,” Dion said.
“The old Petrol Station, Carlton District, north of Rotterton.” Dion said.
“Fine. One condition, though.”
Franky arched a brow, Dion didn’t.
“I work alone. No crew. Same billing as before.”
“These are bikers that are known to be the largest club on the west coast as well as the most violent. We don‘t have their numbers, but they are transporting a shipment of arms for us.”
“I got that part. It‘s the only way I’m doin this.” I stood and headed for the door.
“Whoa, hey, relax. You wanna play Clint Eastwood that’s your business. We’re just warning you is all. You could get yourself killed if you’re not careful. How’re we gonna know when to come and pick up our toys?”
“I’ll call you,” I said.
“You gonna give us a name now that you‘re on the payroll or what?”
I took a cab to the Metromall, stole a Honda Accord and switched the plates with a second car. From there I drove south to the golf course. Found myself a nice rich man’s car, switched that plate with the Honda‘s and headed over to the Hamilton Horse track. Once there I switched the Honda with an old beater of a truck, placed the rich guy’s license on it and drove the truck back up north. Coppers, insurance companies and owners would be juggling this for a week before they found the abandoned truck, stripped most likely, depending on where I left it.
I jumped on Heim Street and started driving without any great hurry. It would take me north, traveling parallel to the railway for most of the journey. Beyond the rail I could see the desert. The sight was something else. Claire would have loved it. She should have gotten to see it. Wasn‘t right, her checking out like she did.

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