Authors: Carmen Faye
Tags: #dpgroup.org, #[email protected]
"What are your first instincts about running, say to New Orleans?" Cole inquired.
"You thinking along those lines?" Brian asked in return.
"It would be a major hassle with the house and other stuff, and the Horsemen aren't there, which was actually one of my reasons for picking it out of the blue. Maybe getting out of town for a few months and waiting for things to cool down would be a good idea."
"My first thought," Brain answered, "is that with Antonio's demise, this shit is only going to calm down with a short list of solutions. The way I read it, Antonio was more or less a calming element with Gabe and now Gabe's making decisions all by himself. That's going to keep the waters churning for a while, because that man uses way too much coke. But to the first question, it's a good choice. San Diego would be better. Gabe doesn't have nearly the arm his delusional ego believes. Twenty miles outside of Chicago and your threat level drops to near zero. Hate to see you leave, though. I think you and I got some good miles to ride together."
"Same," Cole nodded and then to Jack, "I need to shoot a trash can. I'll meet you at your car. No sense taking the bike. It's safe here."
Jack nodded and walked toward the door.
Cole kissed her lips and then rubbed her nose with his, "See you soon. If you decide to cause some trouble, at least make it interesting for Brian."
"I can do that," she nodded and returned his kiss with one of her own. "Sooner is better."
Cole was able to make it back to the club before midnight. He shook hands with Jack, thanked him again for the backup and perfect language skills, and then got out of his car. He looked back inside to the lawyer, "Think they'll call me in again?"
"Not really," Jack decided after a brief moment, "I can't prove it, but what I saw in their eyes was
They didn't seem motivated in sifting around for a few months in order to pin anything on you and even less motivated in expending effort in looking for Nicole. A runaway call girl isn't high on their priority list, which means they're stupid in this case, but that's the breaks."
Cole nodded his head in agreement and thanked him again as he closed the door. Scanning the long parking lot to the side of the bar, as Jack guided his Mustang out and into the light traffic, Cole counted ten men spread out, looking casual while being heavily armed. Across the street, around the small hotel, he picked out five more men with the same attitudes.
Gang wars should be avoided, he was told by their last president, Sam, but if you are going to engage, then you hit hard and often. As Cole approached the door, a group of ten more men filed out and every man in sight began heading for their bikes. One of them was Rat, who he waved over.
"What's up?" he asked his friend.
"Oh, just a little strafing and harassment," Rat told him. "Jim wants to draw first blood before sunrise, so we are going to put a bunch of holes into some choice real estate and then catch the late movie. Want to come?"
"What's the movie?"
"Not sure which one, but one of those old Clint Eastwood's, I think," Rat said seriously.
“Oooh, that is tempting
we get to shoot at houses," Cole smiled. "but, have to pass. I have an extremely attractive woman who is delusional enough to seriously like me who has promised sex of the circus act variety inside. Otherwise…”
"Yes, I was given some of the scoop on her, a call girl or something," Rat said, studying Cole's face. When his comment failed to raise an immediate response from Cole, he shrugged and said, "Well, do me the favor and don't trust her too much. She's hot, extremely hot, and over at the end of the bar with Brian, but… still."
"Can't promise that one, amigo. I've already gone past what caution would advise," Cole admitted, "Planning to go much further, too."
Again Rat shrugged, as if this wasn't an important matter to him, which Cole knew wasn't the way of things, as Rat said, "You're a grown man, so I see nothing to complain about."
"Thanks for that, but --"
"But, you weren't asking," Rat broke in.
"Actually," Cole said thoughtfully, "that's a lot cooler than what I was going to say, so I'll go with that, but when I said it, I sounded more like Clint Eastwood than you just did, which brought up the coolness value several degrees."
"I don't think you need to worry much about your coolness value right now," Rat told him. "You're a major topic of discussion, being that you took down Antonio and Davis, together -- in a gun fight, no less. Even I'm close to doing a little hero worship of my own and making sure everyone knows that we are friends and shit. And you know I don't get into that kind of play."
"I cheated," Cole told him.
"Well, shit, of course you did," Rat said with a tone of voice that suggested he was affronted that Cole didn't believe he figured that out already, "I know that much, because you are still walking around without holes in you or leaking everywhere. But who cares? They are dead and you are not. This is a good thing."
"I agree with that," Cole said seriously.
Bikes began starting up across the parking lot. Both of them looked in that direction and then back to each other, "Safe wind buddy," Cole said.
Rat began moving for his bike, "Call me tomorrow," he yelled back to Cole, "we'll do something maybe. Or bring your new friend over for dinner or something. Angie is making a roast and she likes it when you stop by."
"I'll try, but with…" he began to say, but then just shrugged.
"Yeah, sure. Well, try harder," Rat advised and then turned, heading quickly for his bike.
Cole remained where he was, watching the outriders of the club hitting the road with targets in mind, and very little mercy in their hearts. After Rat's bike thundered by, Cole turned and walked into the club.
Scanning the room, he decided that the general mood was much more somber than normal, which he supposed with the news coming down, the mood would then be considered normal. He also decided he needed a beer and perhaps shot, and then some good sex with Nicole. He walked in the direction that Rat said she would be and found her surrounded by Brian and four other men, all smiling and flirtatious.
"Having a good time?" he asked, coming up behind her and putting a hand on her shoulder.
"It just got a lot better," she said as she turned with a blazing smile and wrapped her arms around his neck, "Everything good?"
"Well, except for the possible prison sentence, yeah," he said with a subdued voice.
Her smile vanished with such suddenness the room got darker.
"Kidding," he explained quickly and kissed her, "Everything is fine. Great, in fact. They are no long interested in me, not interested in you at all it appears, and couldn’t care less if the case were closed tonight. Seems Antonio and Davis were not the kind of community members these detective give a shit about."
She slapped his chest lightly with the palm of her hand, "That was not funny. Not at all," she pouted.
"Ah," he mused, "I'll try something different next time."
"Better be a lot funnier than that or I might stick you with a pin while you are sleeping," she warned.
"Maybe we could try that pompoir again tonight," he suggested.
"No, not tonight, not after that joke. I don't want you to feel rewarded. It would only encourage you to dabble and dabbling in those areas of amusement is dangerous. So really, it’s for your own good."
"Of course," he agreed, cynically.
"I could be enticed to explore other areas of pleasure and interest, though," she said with a alluring and very affecting voice while running her hand down to his chest, and exploring in a way that suggested everyone else just left the room.
"Hmm, that sounds hopeful," he mused with a grin.
She nodded slowly, looking him over with lust-filled eyes, "And I'm quite sure you will maintain those feelings of hope right up to the point where you become graphically and overwhelmingly grateful for the level of fulfillment I plan to bring you to," she told him, returning his grin.
"Well, I need a beer and perhaps a shot before I jump into monkey-sex mode. You want another?"
"A coke, maybe. I've had several beers already and a handful of shots," she reported.
The men who were gathered around her, flirting shamelessly, were giving him greeting smiles and drifting away behind her back, all except for Brian who looked a little uncomfortable with the level of overt flirtation going on between Nicole and him, which made this even more fun for Cole. But now he wrapped his arm across her shoulder and called out to Hank with his order. With his order in, he turned his attention to Brian.
"She give you any trouble? Try to drag you to the mall for a quickie shoe purchase?"
Brian smiled lightly, "Not at all and no signs of any problems on the horizon either. I'm sure that will change in the morning when the smoke clears around the outriders activities tonight, though."
"Yeah," Cole agreed, "I got the impression from Rat that they are going to stir this pot up and shoot up the town."
"In so many words, those were the orders. There are a couple of party dens they are going to hit and a couple of red-light houses, as well. They aren't hitting Gabriel directly, though."
"You sound concerned about that," Cole noted as he put a twenty on the bar and signaled that Hank should keep the change.
Brian made a gesture of agreement, "I am. If you are going to start a war, don't flirt around with it. Kick them in the nuts, put a bullet in the brain, and go home. This tactic tonight only ups the scale of combat, which Gabriel probably assessed as minor. He'll assess it much differently in the morning."
"I've heard that tactical advice before, from trusted and experienced sources," Cole agreed, then added "I believe what Jim's thinking is, if we actually show that we are committed to action and impress Gabriel with the fact that we aren't putting up with his crap anymore, then he'll wise up and drop this shit -- not only with Nicole, but the other crap he's been pulling. If it works, then what the outriders achieve tonight will be all the violence that happens."
Brian looked unimpressed and ordered a beer. When he turned back around to Cole, he said, "First off, I'm behind Jim. Whether I agree or not, I'm in. That said, you can't impress an idiot. I've only met Gabe a couple of times. He's good at business and brilliant at finding talent and promoting for new clients. His call girl service is the best in the city, but since his promotional skills are so high, it really doesn't matter if it is or not. By reputation, it is, which in areas of business such as his, where real evaluations and comparisons can't be made, reputation is reality. He's also vicious and protective of his territory, and makes powerful friends. However, his idea of self-worth is blatantly delusional; it is clinical. Medication is definitely required. He's insane and I mean that literally. He won't be impressed with the action; he'll be furious that we dared to act, at which time, he'll overreact – and, God, I hope I'm not right about that. In his mind, having Nicole back is not only what he wants, but it is also his God-given right. When you threaten a man like him, you have to be ready to put him down a second later."
Cole thought about what he knew of Gabriel Morelli, which was only what he heard from others. He never met the man; his only contact with that group had been Antonio and then Nicole. Brian had also said earlier that Antonio was the one who kept Gabriel in check and the only one who could. With Antonio dead, the Horsemen might discover just how crazy Gabriel really is. He glanced at Nicole, who had the look of agreement on her face.
Nicole looked up to meet his eyes, "Brian is right. Gabriel simply doesn't believe that he can be wrong or that his little empire can be taken down. These kinds of failure thoughts simply don't register in his mind. He'll be furious at the audacity of what the riders do, not the damage. He literally has no doubt that he can not only engage in a war with you, but he's obviously going to win the war. The first thing he's going to do in the morning is begin making calls and gathering resources. Then he's going to hit the Horsemen. He'll hit you hard and publicly. He'll want the world to know that he doesn't take shit, even from a group like the Horsemen."
Cole downed his shot and then took a long drink from his beer. "God, I hope you two are wrong, but my gut tells me differently. Either way, I've just passed exhausted, which I was at when I got home this evening and I'm now in a new and unexplored fun park of total depletion." Then to Nicole he added, "I think I need a rain check on the monkey-sex."
She smiled and leaned into him, "Monkey-sex can wait. Well, it can wait until morning anyway. Let's get you to bed."
"I'm in the room next door, to the East. If you two decide to hit breakfast before the noon meeting with Jim, I'd like to join you."
"Sounds good. Let's plan on hitting Jacob's Diner at nine," Cole offered.
"Sound perfect," Brian agreed. "See you in the morning."
Cole's last conscious thoughts were on the prediction Nicole made, wondering what would be hard and public enough to attract Gabriel's attention as a target tomorrow. As he went through his inventory of Horsemen real estate, the one place that stood out was the club. It would take some serious balls to hit them there, but if Gabriel was seriously delusional, with a firm belief in his divine right to do as he pleased, it was the only place that made enough statement for the
God of Pimps
to hit. All of the other places – the strip clubs, the pawnshops, and liquor stores – were minor compared to the club across the street. Nicole was on her laptop, clicking keys. He listened to her for several more minutes, intending to call her to bed, but never made it that far. His weariness from the long ride and everything after washed over him.