The wind whipping of the river shot through them like shardes of ice. Anton, Mike and Wendy stood in the shade of a massive container ship, huddled together. Standing here, in the grey morning light, looking out over the river, Anton couldn't help but think of the stories he had heard of this section of the city. Stories of raves in the warehouses, of drug deals gone bad and of an army of dead men, cement shoes in line, feeding the fishes. It wasn't just the rumours that made Anton's hair stand on end. The area they were standing, while open, was surrounded on three sides by a maze of warehouses, cranes, shipping containers, trucks and other assorted material. It would be very easy to ambush them.
"They should be here by now," Wendy muttered, checking her watch.
As if the people they were meeting had heard her, three black cars pulled onto the dock. They parked up behind the station wagon, effectively cuttin off the trios exit by car. Anton put his hands behind his back in what he hoped was a casual manner. His hand curled around the grip of the gun tucked into his belt, hidden by the heavy, dark blue hoodie. Three men got out of the car- one in a dark suit with iron grey hair and a neat beard, and the other two in leather trench coats, with a hand hidden inside the coat, no doubt clutching guns as well. They walked towards Anton and co, heads swivelling in every direction, as if they were afraid of an ambush and not the other way round. When they got close enough, Wendy stepped forward and bowed slightly.
"Don Percival. An honour."
"Wendy, looking beautiful as always," Don Percival said, not even glancing at her. His eyes had zeroed in on Anton. If he had any suspicion about who Anton was he didn't say anything, not until he and Wendy had completed their Buisness. Apparently, the Don owned the cargo ship whose shadow they were standing in. He was moving some "precious cargo for a family member," and he feared that the Triads would make a move. They needed some extra muscle for unloading and moving the shipment, people that wouldn't trace back to the Don or his associates should anything go wrong. Wendy and Rico were the middle men, putting out the word and hiring local thugs for the job. Once Wendy had assured the Don she had the numbers, they had haggled over an appropriate fee. It all went pretty smoothly, and the Don was about to leave when he addressed Anton.
"Mr. Dubrovsky, I want you on the job."
"Don Percival, that wasn't the agreement."
"Wendy, while I trust you and your associates will do an excellent job, I don't trust some of the lowlifes of this city. Consider what I have to say to Mr. Dubrovsky as an extra insurance policy for both of us," Don Percival said in a tone that brooched no argument.
"Why me?" Anton asked, though he could guess why. There was no love lost between the Mafia and the Russian Mob. His uncle had been a high ranking member of the mob. His death had created a vacume that had weakened the mob, allowing the Mafia a stronger foothold.
"You did us a favour by getting rid of your uncle," Don Percival said, smiling. "Not just by killing him though, even if that was a major help. A lot of the older criminal organisations in this city, the ones with power, dislike a rapist. The Russians don't want people reminded what one of their Captains did, not if they want to continue doing Buisness. That's why there is no contract out on your life. In fact, you proved yourself to a lot of people. You showed that when you were loyal to someone, you wouldn't hesitate. You showed you were an excellent marksman and that you keep your head in a stressful situation. Impressive for one so young. Finally, you are a prison escapee. Under this cities penal code, you would be charged with criminal escape and your sentence would be tripled. So you can take the job and the money that comes with it, or a phone call will be made to the police saying you are alive and you go back to prison for a very long time. Finally, Wendy and her crew will also be reported, and charged with aiding a fugitive."
There was silence for a moment. Don Percival had them, and everyone knew it.
"Fine, I'll o it. But on one condition. I bring my own backup. I trust the local thugs as much as you," Anton said.
Don Percival smile.
"A sensible decision. Agreed, you can bring your own backup. Go see my guy Chico on Redwood Avenue. He'll sort you out for clothes and other equipment," Don Percival said as he walked away.
No one spoke on the way to Chico's. Wendy had called Rico. They could hear exactly what he said as he roared down the phone. What he wouldn't do to Don Percival wouldn't be worth saying. Anton felt the same way, been forced into this job, but to be honest, he did need the money if he was to start over again. Twenty minutes after they left the docks, they reached Chico's shop on Redwood Avenue. Chico was waiting for them. Anton's first impression of him was that he was so camp he made Elton John look like John Wayne. He had looked Anton and Mike up and down and chose clotes mainly in black and greys- lots of tight fitting jeans and tops. When that was done, he waggled his Finder at them.
"Follow me gorgeous. Don Percival wants you set up with accessories," he said as he swished off to a back room.
Guns, ammo and holsters were laid out on benches. There wasn't a lot of choice. There was evidence that there was a lot more stock, but that it had been cleared away in a hurry. Obviously the Don didn't want them having too much fire power in case they got ideas.
"Chose what you want dears. It's all on the Don."
Mike and Anton exchanged glances. Each knew what the other was thinking- go for something small and concealable and something powerful. Mike grabbed a Remington Model 1100-p and slipped it under the leather trench coat he was wearing, seeing would it be concealed. When he was satisfied, he held it up.
"I'll take it, and as much ammo as you can give me. Give me that Browning Hi-Power as well. I take it that holsters will be provided?"
"Of course dear."
Anton took out his Colt detective special.
"You have ammo for this? Good. I'll take it. Give me a holster as well. I'll take that Steyr AUG A1 as well."
It was the only assault rifle on display, tucked away at the back of a table, partly hidden by a blanket. Chico grimaced.
"If the Don is paying, give me a lot of ammo and a bag," Anton said, smiling.
Ten minutes later they were back in the car, driving back to the safe house as Chico made a call to Don Percival.
Raised voices told them that something was wrong. Cautiously, they entered, making their way to the back room. It was covered in plastic, and a naked man was kneeling in the centre of the room.
"Paul, what's going on?" Anton asked.
"This is the prick that turned me in. Apparently, Don Percival gave this guy a lot of money to rat on me."
"It wasn't me. I'm being set up too."
"Your lying," Wendy said, a bit to quickly for someone who didn't know the whole story. Anton had an idea who the real culprit was, but he couldn't do anything about it. If he acted on it, the Don would either have him shipped back to prison or joining the army of dead men at the bottom of the river. He felt sorry for the guy, he really did, but he was backed into a corner.
"The question is, what do we do with him?"
Anton grabbed the colt dective special and took aim.
"This is not an ordinary Buisness. There is no severance package."
He fired, planning to deal with Maria later.