Bad guys are so predictable sometimes.

There are too many ways to find trouble in this city he thought to himself.

Summer was over now, and the days when going to the bars at night could be done comfortably in a t-shirt were almost over. His name is Darrell, and he is a mule and a thug for a small gang in Calgary.

“The scenery is going to be going nowhere but downhill from here.” he commented to his friend Mark in the seat next to him.

“You need to get yourself a better class of girlfriend buddy.” was all Mark had to say.

He had a point. Darrell had a habit of dating some pretty scary girls. There was the girl last fall who wasn’t happy with her man unless he could beat her in a fist fight, and then there was the girl right after who was obsessed with scars. An odd coincidence that one.

Then there was Fiona.

She was special. She could make you believe that she was a prep school beauty queen, all poise and stature, and then while you were trying to imagine how you could ever measure up to her clearly superior demeanor she would punch a bartender in the ear for missing a drink and curse a blue streak six feet wide while the bouncers dragged her out of the bar.

A real class act.

They lasted a whole year, until daddy showed up and showed Darrell where she learned to punch. He beat him so bad he was actually thinking that he would be permanently disabled, but as he healed he realized he had simply been educated by a professional ass kicker. As it turned out Fiona had the poise and stature of prep school because that was where she was supposed to be, and daddy didn’t appreciate this street scum keeping his daughter from getting herself a valuable man for a husband.

Darrell was not really much in terms of being a keeper.

“I want women who have spirit, not those annoying bitches you hang out with.” was all he could respond with.

Mark couldn’t help but launch into a rant.

“Harsh, dude. These girls are looking for a man to help them better themselves, and you call them annoying. They want to make you more than a drug trafficking turd, and you think they’re annoying. I can see why you like the violent ones. No danger in their ever trying to make you a better person.”

Darrell was a bit surprised that Mark actually thought about that sort of thing. All Darrell cared about was making sure his rent was paid, by making sure his deliveries were on time and on scale, and the asses that needed kicking got kicked.

Improving himself was an issue that the future could think about.

They were both sitting uncomfortably in sticky fake leather seats, looking out of the front window of a twenty year old Trans Am, waiting for an ex-friend to step out of a building. They were supposed to approach him and suggest that he return a large sum of money he stole, and then when he told them to piss off, they were supposed to kill him.

Darrell was finding it hard to keep his attention on his job. What did he even look like was all he could think. He couldn’t even remember if the guy was short or tall.

“What did ass clown look like again?”

“He was the guy who bailed you out of the Remand Center last year. Tall guy, skinny, and he likes expensive watches.”

“Are you kidding me? We’re supposed to muscle Frank? That bastard is nuts. He’ll eat our hearts on toast if he gets away. You don’t muscle Frank, everyone knows that. They sent us out here to kill him plain and simple.”

Darrell was finally engaged. The fear was up. The adrenaline was pumping. Frank was as close to the boss as a guy could get without being it. He was the one who made other people behave, not the other way around. They would never have sent us out here unless they meant for us to whack him.

“So Mark, you know Frank’l shoot you in the face if you try anything, right? How are we going to do this?”

“I was going to be nice.”

That never occurred to him.

“This ‘nice’ you speak of. What is that supposed to do?”

“We are going to be polite business men. We are going to tell him straight up that our boss wants remunerative compensation for acts he committed against the organization, and when he asks ‘or what?’ we’re going to be polite and tell him that we’ve been authorised to negotiate terms of a truce.”

Darrell was more than a bit freaked out. This was supposed to be a boring get the money or get the head kinda job, not some major gang negotiation. I’m a car driver. I’m a delivery guy. A hired goon. I don’t want to get involved in this kind of crap. His response to Mark was less eloquent though.

“That’s fucking insane. He’ll shoot you and then he’ll sell your body for parts.”

Mark was equally short in his reply.
“Not me smart ass. You. You are going to be doing the talking tonight. I am just your hired goon.”

Now Darrell knew Mark was insane, because Frank knew them both, and they all knew that Darrell was the thug, Mark was the operations manager, and Frank was the guy you kept on your good side at all costs. How Mark expected Frank to take Darrell seriously was making Darrell worry that this was a setup to take him out.

Darrell decided that if he was getting setup, he should at least try to find the flaw that gave it away.

“OK. Let’s just assume for a second you are not completely insane, why do we not want Frank gone anyway? He stole more money from the organization than anyone else has ever dared, and none of them lived to tell about it … nevermind get some sort of crazy ass hippy peace negotiations.”

Mark expected something like this and was ready.

“Frank has friends. Many, many friends. If we take him out then the message would be that the organization was at war with them, and that could be dangerous. We think Frank has created some new markets and obtained access to some new factories, so we want to see if we can make a truce that allows us to take a cut. It works out to profit, really. The boss said talk. Make peace … so that’s what we do. The boss also wanted you to be the lead, and for that one I am afraid I am as lost as you. Personally I think you will get yourself killed dead before you open your mouth.”

The sarcastic vote of confidence made Darrell shudder a bit. This was nuts. This was insane. Frank would see right through this and take us both out before we said word one.

Mark seemed to think so as well, in spite of his apparent calmness.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Mark ‘didn’t notice’ Frank leave the building when he showed up.

Darrell made up his mind. This was probably a setup, but it might be serious. Either way the best bet was to change the venue to keep the jackals off guard.

“Ready? If I am going to be a diplomat to a fucking nutjob then I at least want a drink while I am getting killed. We are going inside to talk to him. He won’t feel as threatened with his goons all around him and I might get a word out before my heads blown off.”

Mark visibly blanched when Darrell’s intent fully sank in. He was good to his word though, because all he said was “Sounds OK”, and lit one of his cheap cigars.

Leaving the safety of the Trans Am, they made their way into the front of the bar. They both knew where Frank liked to sit, and without a word they weaved through the tables to arrive at Frank’s traditional spot.

Before either of them spoke a word Frank began.

“Mark! What are you doing here? And your friend, I forget your name, have you come to join my operation?”

He said it in a way that implied anything else would be a death sentence, and when Darrell spoke it was confirmed.

After the first few words guns appeared from nowhere.

Darrell spoke slowly and clearly. There was to be no way to confuse the message.

“Frank, you know me. You know I break knees and bust heads for the organization, and I hope you know that I am not a fucking tool enough to try that on you. We are here to talk, and the boss has given me direction to make peace with you. He thinks you are into things that are going to be very good for you, and he hopes you will do him the honour of making sure he can help you in whatever way you need. When you made those deals outside he was hurt, but he is a man. He knows that the organization isn’t big enough for everyone, and he wants to make sure you have what you need.”

It was clear Frank didn’t expect that.

An invisible signal was given and the guns went away. Darrell knew he would need to be his most convincing if this was going to happen in a way that allowed him to date more violent women.

Calmly he pulled out his Glock.

Without hesitation he turned to Mark and said a quick goodbye with his eyes, before putting a round in his head.

The room exploded in noise and motion. All the patrons were running away, knowing that their time living dangerously close to the gangster just got a bit too dangerous for them. In the middle of the tempest though the group of criminals stood quite motionless.

Darrell spoke first.

“I can only guess why they sent me to talk to you, but my gut tells me they were going to kill me through you, so I have a proposal. We both know the bosses are hoping that before you kill me I take you out. If you kill me now then you will not know when the next hit will come, but we both know it will. If you don’t kill me, then I can go back to the bosses and say you were too strong and that we should work for a real truce this time. I am proposing that I be your eyes in the organization, and in return you will make sure that I am protected in case they try getting rid of me again. Mark is my collateral.”

—–

“That crazy chick just put my back out. She hit me harder than my mother!”

“Darrell, you love that crazy shit. Stop bitching. You have a smile so big it looks like you just robbed a bank. When is Frank’s guy going to get here? I hate doing deals with this guy.”

Darrell’s new underling was a goon, but he was smart and tough. It was going to be fun working downtown with this guy, he thought.

After all, there are too many ways to find trouble in this city.

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