Authors: Carmen Faye
Tags: #dpgroup.org, #[email protected]
In fact, it sounded like only one shot and the effect was as if Brian just turned Hell back off, like he might turn off a radio. The gunfire was gone and he heard nothing on the other side of the car. Then Brian holstered his nickel-plated guns and looked to Cole, "I think there was a small hole in my plan."
Much too curious to lay there any more, both he and Nicole got up, and peered over the hood of their shield. The Cougar was against a parked car across the street, coming to rest there, because the driver was dead and so was the gunman. Both were shot in the head, from what Cole could tell.
Cole was too experienced with violence to be in shock for very long. He left Nicole's side and ran across the street to the car, yanking the dead driver back from his dead-weight slouch against the wheel. A quick search rendered him a new 9mm, a cellphone, and the driver's wallet from the inside pocket of his suit jacket, which felt very expensive.
Brian finished with the gunman, taking a large automatic pistol, which Cole thought might be an Uzi, and said, "Let's go, we'll round up your men on the way."
"I'm behind you. Lead," Cole told him and they ran back to Nicole. Cole yanked his idling bike up, and a got on in one smooth motion. A breath later, Nicole was on the seat behind him. Instead of backing the bike out to the street, he gunned it up over the sidewalk curb, ran around the bullet-riddled car, then back down onto the street with Brian behind him. Just as he was giving his bike fuel, Brian's bike roared past into lead position, heading for the men waiting for them.
Nearly halfway back to the club, the four riders pulled over at Cole's signal and Cole got on his cellphone, dialing Jim's by memory. As soon as Jim answered, he ran down the ambush details without preamble and told him they were on their way to the club. "I think they’re going to hit the club, Jim. It's burning in my gut."
"Got it and I'm on it," Jim told him and the connection was broken.
"Jim's on it; let's ride," he said to the others and they rode through the streets as fast as they could with the traffic, weaving in and out of cars and sharing lanes between them.
When they arrived at the club, there were chains across the parking lot entryways and a large sign that said the club was closed due to remodeling;
please come back soon
. As they approached, two men dropped the chains and let them into the lot.
Once inside Jim's office, Jim asked, "All right, tell me what happened" with as demanding and threatening a voice Cole could ever remember hearing, including what was used during all of the action movies he's seen.
Cole was about to begin his report when Nicole said, "Well, we had breakfast and then Brian came up with this amazing plan that was simple, easy to execute… just brilliant, really, but then he decided to just kill them so we could get back here."
Cole and Brain tried really hard not to laugh, and failed miserably. A second later, Jim joined them and in a release-of-stress moment, he took her in to a bear hug that lifted her up and had her legs kicking about a foot off the ground. After he set her back down, he tousled her hair and said, "You're all right, kid. I'm really starting to like you."
"You're all right, too, big guy," she smiled.
"Now, once again," Jim chuckled, "but with a little more detail.”
Fifteen minutes later, Logic, a wiry man standing five-ten and weighing little more than Nicole, was on his laptop, hacking into the CPD database to look up the names of the two men in the Cougar. Cole recited the license plate for him.
Bear, the club's Sergeant at Arms came in right after him – a large, burly looking man with a full and wild beard that had several colored memento beads braided through the whiskers. He received a recap of the drive-by from Brian and was then on the phone lining up rosters and summoning men.
George, the List Master, who ran the security and outrider details, came in right behind Bear. George looked like a CPO who rode on the weekends. His hair was perfect, fingernails perfectly trimmed on manicured hands, and white pearl teeth, which generally smiled often. He wasn't smiling right now and his face became more serious as Brian recapped the story.
"What makes you think they'll hit the club?" Jim asked Cole.
"The driver's suit," Cole said, "it was too expensive. A suit like that might have cost him close to five grand, maybe more. No one on Gabriel's crew brings down enough to wear a suit like that on a drive by. These guys were skilled, patient, and professional. Gabriel has brought in mercs, probably from the docks. Mercs aren't going to fuck around with strip clubs and liquor stores. They'll hit us where it hurts. They'll hit us here and at our homes. They'll buy lists of current members from CPD contacts and start hitting where there will be no security, and no protection."
Everyone in the room was silent and had only eyes for Cole. Then Logic spoke, "He's right about the two guys, Jim; they are both heavy hitters for Lou."
"Fuck," Jim hissed and rested his forearms on the desk, staring at the wood grain.
"Lou?" Nicole asked.
"Louis Donadio," Brain clarified. "He runs the smuggling at the dock yard. Nothing moves in or out that hasn't been taxed by Lou. He's honest-to-god, real-as-it-gets mafia and very unhealthy to get tangled up with." Brain explained to her, making her eyes go wide.
"How the fuck could Gabriel bring in Lou on a skirmish like ours? How could he
to bring in Lou?" Bear asked.
"He's insane, he really is, medically insane," Jim said, his voice low and filled with awe. "He's got to know this will cost him his business."
"No," Cole told him, "Gabriel doesn't. He's obviously delusional enough to think he'll find a way out of that eventually."
George came out of the corner, where he went to make a call, snapping his cellphone shut, "Just got off the phone with one of the guys scouting out Gabriel's house. There are at least fifty suits walking around with auto rifles and subs in the open, dogs, large armored trucks, the whole works. The place is locked down. If we attempt to charge that, a lot of men are going to go down trying."
Nobody spoke for a long time and Cole really didn't think he had anything to say either. Then Jim picked up his cellphone and speed-dialed a number.
"Lou? This is Jim Hawker," Jim said into the phone and then listened. Everyone in the room froze and it felt like they weren’t even breathing.
"Sally is good, just finished high-school; how are Tony and Beth doing? Tony should be out of law school by now, eh? That's great. I wish him the best and maybe we'll throw some business his way. I don't want to waste your time Lou, so I'll get right to the point.
"It seems that fate or really bad decisions have put us and some of your men at odds, and I would like to ask about rules of engagement. One of my crew believes that personal homes, wives, and children are on the hunting list. Of course, I told him that would never be the case, but I wanted to clarify it with you before someone does something seriously stupid." Big Jim held his face still as stone as he listened to the man on the other side of the connection. "Thanks Lou. I'm glad to hear that. Your wife's birthday is in a couple of weeks, isn't it? Any ideas? Really, I know just the place for those. Have a good day Lou." Jim set down his phone, and scanned the faces in front of him, "No homes, women, or children. I don't know why I don't feel better right now."
"Because we're still up against Lou and they were on the list before you called," Brain suggested.
"Yeah," Jim nodded, looking grim, "that's exactly why."
"What if Lou was lying?" Nicole asked, her eyes still wide.
Jim shook his head, "No, Lou wouldn't bother lying about a thing like that; he doesn't have to. What could we do if he simply said, 'yeah, your man is right; that's the way things are'? No, he took them off the list because I called him and he was feeling generous. We're good business for him."
Jim leaned back a little, straightening his shoulders, "I'm thinking he sided in with Gabriel, believing we would back down as soon as we found out, which would be the logical move, granted. But his real goal is to take over Gabriel's operation. That's long term, steady cash coming in there. A takeover is much cleaner and more profitable in a shorter amount of time than trying to build up his own.
"And like it or not, Nicole, I'll let you know that, by reputation, Gabriel's call girls are known all the way down the East coast and through most of the mid-west, and you are the star of those recommendations. I did some checking and made some calls after talking with you last night," he told her as way of explanation. "So, Lou knows what he's getting into is a good investment of his time and resources. He'll make returns of a hundred-fold in two years after he takes over."
"So, really, Lou is after Gabriel, not us," Bear clarified.
"That didn't stop him this morning," Brian pointed out.
"No, no it didn't and it won't," Jim agreed and rose up from his chair, "and it doesn't mean shit until this is over. We have some time before the pow-wow. So, I'm going to get some air; then we'll all get back here and sort out how we're going to work this."
"But…" Nicole whimpered.
"There's no buts here, Nicole. None at all," Jim told her and then looked at Cole, "Glad you read that thing right this morning, so we know what we're up against. Do you have a safe house for Nicole yet?"
"I'm running her to Rat's place as soon as I'm free to leave," Cole confirmed.
"You're free to leave then and take some of the boys with you," Jim told him.
"I'm with you, bro," Brian said, clapping him on the shoulder and then heading for the door."
Cole took Nicole's hand and said, "We're right behind you."
It was near twelve-thirty and the meeting was well underway, though things were already sounding bad, when Cole's phone rang. Since phones had been ringing from the start and well before, he checked the display and saw it was Nicole calling. He answered, walking to the corner they were using for this, so as not to interrupt the discussion.
Cole was actually a little surprised he was here at all since he wasn't an officer, or even an outrider any longer.
"Yeah, what's up?"
"Hey, Cole, look, I tried. I really tried," Nicole began.
"What are you -- "
"Just listen, all right? I have to get ready, so I don't have a lot of time for this. But I thought you deserved to hear it from me. Since we have hooked up, you've almost been killed how many times? Two, three? And now there's a war and men are already dying. I don't know if they were good men or not, but you could be next and might be as soon as Gabe puts this together. Now we know Lou is in the game and, baby, that's not the life I was looking for when I left here. I know exactly who Lou is, just needed to know we were talking about the same Lou. See, he's a client, Cole. I know what he's like. I know him a whole lot better than anyone else and he couldn’t care less how many of your men are blood splatters. He really, very truly, doesn't care. Lou's already been paid, up front, by Gabriel for the month.
“So, anyway, honestly, the bottom line is I miss it. I know I told you I wouldn't and I really believed that was true when I said it. I really did. But I do. So, I'm back and hopefully we can all get back to business. You can check with Angie and verify that I got into a cab all on my own, and had it drive me back here.
"Goodbye, Cole. It was more than I've ever experienced before, but I got to go. Oh, and always remember what I told you. Bye."
The connection broke.
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When Nicole left Big Jim's office, earlier that day, with Cole and Brian, the sunlight hurt her eyes as they stepped out into the perfect blue day. The emotional wars inside of her created patches of shivers in unpredictable places, and she couldn't slow her churning thoughts down. Cole apparently noticed that she was distraught, but he didn't understand why, and she couldn't tell him, or he would stop her -- and now, it had to be today. She definitely had to act today.
Learning that Louis "Lou" Donadio, was now invested in this gang war between the Chrome Horseman and Gabriel's organization, meant that there was going to be a great deal of blood spilled today, and even more tomorrow, if she didn't do something. Big Jim understood what he was up against, and was still planning on finishing this war. That simply wasn't acceptable to Nicole. She couldn't live with this afterward, knowing that if she had acted, she could have saved many of the Horseman from deaths they didn't deserve.