In the Gentleman's Shadow

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
Nico, once a smuggler for an Italian Crime Syndicate, recalls a memory in which he's forced into carrying items that came with great rewards, but an ultimate risk. Aided by the Underboss' sister, he must smuggle 4 women into Las Vegas in order for his crime syndicate to achieve more allies and terriory. This piece features action, thrills, guns, chases, and dialouge that aims to entertain. Nico's main motivation is money, but his objective is to come home alive.

Submitted: July 07, 2015

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Submitted: July 07, 2015

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In The Gentleman’s Shadow

That was a very strange night . Either way, it happened, now I just think about it sometimes. It was night outside. The door of Cal's lounge opened and the man, now with 4 women, walked in and sat down at a table near us. Vedette noticed all five of them looking at us, waiting. There was a 4 piece jazz combo on stage, they'd been playing standards since we got there. I avoided making eye contact with any of them, looking at Vedette, then at my drink; the waitress had brought me a 7&7. Then, he finally walked over, slowly, and with purpose.

“Well…What do you say?” He said.

“I can’t,” I told him. “I’d like to do you the favor, but I can’t tonight.”

“Why not? I'll double the offer I made you last night,” He said, he spoke English really well.

“That’s not it. I can’t do it, I just can’t.” I responded, I remained calm, patient .

He signaled at the girls, three of them came over and stood near Vedette, one looked frustrated and the other two looked sad, but attentive. They were nice looking girls, and all three were petite with short chopped hair. I would’ve done him the favor, gladly, I just didn’t want to. I was on a date with Vedette, or that's what I thought anyway. I look past these girls and toward the one sitting alone at their table. I wondered why she hadn’t come over.

“Five thousand for each,” Said the man with the girls.

“These girls are depressing me,” I told him. “I’m being real honest now, I can’t do it,” My patience reduced.

“The checkpoints are the only problem, but you need not worry about that. From what your boss tells me you've never had problems with that.” He tried persuading me.

"I wish that were the truth,” I told him, and then I drank from my glass. "And if it were... if I get cracked with these girls I'm going away for a long time,” I said, gesturing at the ladies. “I can’t lose that car. I lose that car, I lose my living. But you don't care because you can afford to lose $20,000," I said. I knew he was big time. I knew that for sure. These parachute girls were landing stateside  by the dozen every hour of every day. 'He'll have a fresh batch of ladies come lunchtime tomorrow,' I thought to myself at the time. “What about her?” I said, pointing to the girl sitting down all alone. "It doesn't seem like she wants to go."

“You've got a lot on your mind, don't you? Listen, I've been told you're fast, I know you can get there in less than four hours. As for her…she won't cause you any trouble.” He told me. “Hell, you'll be able to get a much faster car with that money, plus the more money you're bound to make working for us,”

“From prison?”

“I was told you were an optimist, a professional that knows how to evade things like a police checkpoint.”

He thought that persuasion would change my mind.

“I respectfully tell you, in that way, only and always: find somebody else.”

“Honestly, boy, I grow tired of your rejections. Your crew isn't as strong as it was. Your bosses and Capos are chasing for allies, and you've no one to turn to except us. You think this is a favor I'm asking," He stopped and smirked at me, "It's more like an audition for your 'Family.' It’s a lot of money, its twenty-thousand-dollars, and all yours from what your boss led on.”

“Please, I don’t know what my boss told you, but the state boarder is real hot right now, and I’m not carrying anything into Nevada that can talk.”

“We work, no talk!” One of the ladies said to me. The one that looked mad said this. She looked really angry, and suddenly the others grew angry as well.

“Don’t get tough with me, Legs,” I told the leader of the girls. Vedette suddenly kicked me underneath the table, she began speaking to the man.

“Listen, give us a couple of minutes to talk. Is that ok?” She said.

“I am pressed for time, these girls must be in Las Vegas tonight, Vedette!”

“Yes, yes I understand, Mr. Xiao. Give us a minute, please,” She told him. The man agreed gracefully and stepped back, he was pleased with Vedette’s calm demeanor.

“You don’t need to get rough, Nico,” She said.

"You know this man?" I questioned.

“Listen, we do this favor for them and we gain an ally for the Family. Damien will likely promote you to Capo if you pull this job. He's brash, Nico, but that doesn't mean you have to be. Even if it's hard to play it cool, just act,” She knew how to convince me.

“Is this why you're here?” I asked her, “To make sure I follow through with this plan. Has your brother’s faith in me worn thin?”

“You were about to say no to $20,000…For the second time in less than 24 hours I’ll add. I’m with you to Vegas and back. It’s not a set-up...somebody else would be here with you if it were.”

“Ok, Vedette. You know more about talking than I do,” I said, and I thought we were on a date.

“Nico, the money’s all yours. That's all you need to worry about.” She said, but she was wrong. I didn't really have the choice of saying no anyways. If I don't do the job, I risk expulsion from the territory. If I do this, I face jail time if I'm caught.

“The Impreza only sits 5."

“I guess one of these little bitches is riding in the trunk.”

“Right.” I told her. She waved the man back to our table.

“Ok,” He said.

“$30,000,” I ordered.

“That’s high.”

“Interest,” I told him.

“Hmph. Ok, $30,000. I don't understand what your boss sees In you," He said, real snooty like.

“Do we have a deal?” I said. He nodded and opened his briefcase, handed me a money bag with a black 15 written on the side (the down payment), and slid it to me on the table.

"The rest will be given to you upon a successful delivery of these girls. If anything happens to these women, I'm holding you responsible, not your crew. I hope that's understood."

He waved the girls back over to our table. We were to meet an associate of this Mr. Xiao at an off 'the strip' lounge, the Sandstorm, ‘before or at 1 A.M.’ It was 8:58 P.M. when we got into the Impreza. I gave the girl riding in my trunk a full water bottle and a quick prayer. I closed her in and we hit the road.

We’re just outside the California/Nevada border when Vedette leaned over and told me some bad news.

“Checkpoint in 2 miles.”
“Is there a way around it?”

“Off road…”

“Just sit tight,” I said. I looked toward the back seat, “That girl better keep quiet in there,” I told them. They must’ve understood me because their mouths sealed up real tight, and suddenly they seemed nervous. In the distance I noticed red and blue lights getting closer and closer, spinning round and round. I slowed the car down, a long line of cars, trailers, and trucks had formed. My stomach felt real tight, my palms were soaking wet, and we only kept getting closer and closer to the checkpoint.

“I’ll say we’ll be at the front in 3 minutes.” Vedette told me. She was on her phone, her index finger slicing at the screen. The three minutes came sooner than expected.

“Maybe they’ll skip us,” Vedette told me.

“Maybe,” I said. The officer signaled me forward, I obliged and began to roll the window down. I felt like slamming my head into the steering wheel, I was sick. 'Keep it cool. Don’t blow it girls.' I thought to myself.

I pulled forward toward the manned checkpoint, I grew nervous from the red and blue lights running across my face. In the rearview I saw the three Korean girls whispering amongst themselves.

“Calm them down, Vedette.”

“Jinjeonghae!” She said in Korean.

“You know Korean?”

“Shut up and pay attention.”

“Good evening.” The officer told us, he looked toward the backseat. As dark as they are, the windows of the impreza weren’t tinted enough to hide the ladies and he knew they were in the backseat.

“Good evening, Sir.” I said.

“What’s your business in Nevada?”

“Observance, Sir. My sister got into Stanford,  post-grad, we’re going to celebrate tonight.” I said, he looks toward Vedette, she smiles at him. She was too much of natural beauty for the office to resist from smiling.

“Congratulations.” He said, a wide smile on his mug. “Where are you coming from?” His smile had vanished as quickly as it came.'s

“Los Angeles.” I told him.

“There weren’t any good parties in LA, or what?” He asked, I felt like he was onto us.

“’Vegas seems perfect for the occasion. She’s the first to go to graduate school in our family. Well, the first to go to University, actually. ” I told him.

“Give me your license and registration.” He demanded, not aggressively, but a demand nonetheless. I grabbed the things he had asked for and gave them to him.

“Awfully crammed in there I bet.” He started, reaching for a pen in his front pocket. He was looking suspiciously at my driver’s license. The girls in the back began whispering again, but now they seemed frustrated. The girl behind Vedette began whispering ferociously at the one next to her, pointing violently as though she was scolding a child.

“Chill them out,” I whispered to Vedette.

“Pardon me?” The policeman said.

“I hope there isn’t a problem officer,” This was Vedette, she seemed level headed.

“No, no problem. We can’t be too careful, I’m sure you’ve heard of the spike in prison breaks between here and Los Angeles.” He said. “Go on ahead. Congratulations, Miss.” As he said this, there was a boom that came from the trunk. The Korean girl behind me yelped. “Wait! What was that?”

“The exhaust,” I hoped this lie would work. “It makes a pop sound if I shift wrong," I told him, but it was as though he looked straight through me. He started walking toward the back of the car. He bent over to take a closer look. My palms were sweating more than before, practically leaking sweat. I look into the rearview mirror, but the girls block my view of the officer and his actions. He began walking to my side of the car, his boots were clicking and clacking on the gravel, this sound was intimidating me beyond control, but i breathed and played it as simply as I could. The trick is to assume you've been caught from the first words out of the officers mouth. Work from the bottom of the hill to the top.

“Go on,” He said, and I took the advice, I didn’t wait for him to say something else and drove off.

It’s was about 12:46 in the morning when I’m able to spot the beam shooting from the Luxor. Two of the girls were asleep in the back. The one who was sitting alone at the lounge in LA was still awake. I used the mirror to look back at her, we stared at each other for a couple of seconds. She turned away with a smile and began looking out into the pitch black vastness of the desert. Vedette’s also asleep, I shake her carefully, hoping she’ll wake up.

“Vedette. Wake up.”

“Yea,” She said, she sounded groggy. She rubbed at her eyes and sat up.

“Find the Sandstorm.” I said, she pulled out her phone and began to map out our destination. It takes us 15 minutes to get to the lounge. The boulevard was packed with traffic.

“Turn right, here.” Vedette said to me, we were near the Stratosphere. The street got darker and darker as I cruised forward. Slowly. Vedette spots the place out, I pulled into the small box shaped parking lot and chose a spot. Park. I popped the trunk open to see if the other girl was ok, she was sweating a little. I looked into the backseat from outside to check on the other girls. Vedette got out and looked at me with suspicion, I winked at her, she smiled and shook her head.

“Get them out, Vedette. Tell them I don’t want to hear a word until their Don Juan comes to collect.” I said, helping the girl out of the trunk, she smiled at me too.

“I don’t speak Korean.” Vedette told me.

“What was that back at the border?”

“I looked up the translation for ‘calm down’ on the net.” She said, but she was looking at the front door of the Sandstorm.

“Let’s go, we’re late.”

We get inside, there’s hardly anyone around: a few waitresses, and a couple of customers scattered around different tables. The room is large, which is surprising due to the buildings small appearance from outside. There’s a stage, but it’s empty and dim. The jukebox was playing an instrumental track. It had a great hip-hop beat: boom…click…click-boom-boom, click, colored by a nice synth on top of that beat. We took a seat at an empty table facing the bar. Behind the bar was a long mirror that showed the entire club from end to end in its reflection. In the middle of this long stretch of mirror was a single door that lead to an unknown area. One of the waitresses came over and began taking our orders. I looked at Vedette, signaling with my eyes for the waitress to take her order first.

“I’ll have a Jack and Cola, please. Plenty of Cola.” She said, and then she smiled at me, thankfully. The waitress looked at one of the Korean girls next. She sat in silence, her eyes drilling a hole into the waitress’s forehead. The girl didn’t know what to say. She looked at me with a terrified expression on her face, like she knew she was blowing it. She didn't mean to. Either way, she was blowing the calm vibe.

“Water. All of them will have waters.” I told the waitress. ‘I’m growing tired of babysitting these girls.’ Is what I was thinking.

“And for yourself, Sir?”

“Got any vermouth?”

“Yes, Sir.” She said.

“I’ll take that with some cola, please.” I said.

“Yes, Sir. I’ll have those drinks out quickly, and Mr. Chiang will be right out to see you.”

The waitress was quick with our drinks, she placed them out in front of us. From the door behind the bar emerged an Asian man dressed in Giorgio Armani from head to toe. He walked toward us and introduced himself.

“Hello. I’m Mr. Chiang, and I believe that these are my packages. Direct from Los Angeles, if I’m correct?” He said. Something about this guy gave me the creeps and I couldn’t figure out why.

“Yes, Mr. Chiang.” I said, then I took a swig from my glass. “There is a reward for handling such precious cargo with care and caution, isn’t there?” I said, he didn’t enjoy my mordant sense of humor.

“Ah yes. $15,000 sounds about right.”

“Me and your man in LA struck a deal on $30,000,” I said, I felt like I was being cheated.

“”Yes. $30,000 if you had these girls here at 1 one o’clock, or before. You’ve been sitting here since 1:07. I suppose it would’ve paid to have been punctual this one time,” He said.

Vedette noticed as I grew more and more frustrated, and so she took control.

“Mr. Chiang, the offer you’ve presented is more than understandable.” She said, then she looked at me with a stern expression. The face read: Get with the program, chump. He smiled at me.

“I got them here safely,” I said.

“Yes, unlike my other shipment at 12. They got here in time though. Still, a penalty was issued,”

“I guess that’s the difference between me and some. Safety over punctuality,” I said, growing irritated by these peoples set as you go rules.

“Regardless, your negligence of the rules of the contract must have consequences. I am only fair,” He said, calmly. Cheap bastard.

“We’re satisfied, Nico,” Vedette said, she too grew tired of my attitude.

“Yea,” I said, and he smiled at us and threw a manila envelope on the table. Then a big Asian dude with shades and a nice suit signaled the girls to get up and follow him, he led them behind the door behind the bar. Suddenly, in the mirror behind the bar I saw three men walk into the club. They wore sunglasses and heavy attire. Then, I saw all three pull out pistols from within their jackets. The first thing gone was the mirror, bullets smashed through rows of bottles all along the back of the bar. The guns went on and on and on. Bop, bop, bop, bop. I grabbed Vedette and pulled us beneath the table. I flipped the table on its side and used it as a shield. Vedette kept her eyes open and put her hands over her ears, she didn’t scream or cry or panic. Mr. Chiang’s body lay lifeless next to our table-shield. I didn’t see him drop, but there he was. His eyes were open, and I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t want to die that night. Finally, I heard a unison of clicks, I realized they went dry and needed to reload. Clack, clack, clack, their clips hit the floor. I grabbed Vedette and ran straight to the door behind the bar. I grabbed her by the biceps in order to keep her near and in front of me, the gunmen faced my back. Who was I kidding though, a bullet could easily rip through both of us, even if I was to try and shield her from any. The three men kept on Vedette and I, intending to waste the both of us.

“The exit is straight ahead!” Vedette said, pointing at the emergency exit. The corridor was long, and dimmed with red lights. . As we ran, I couldn’t help but notice door after door after door to the sides of us. I heard men and women moaning and shouting with pleasure. This wasn't a lounge, it was just a real fancy prositution house But what stood out from all this noise were the aggressive clicks on the floor caused by the mercenaries’ shoes, they were running as fast they could. Then, I heard something even scarier, the insertion of clips into pistols.

“Get the door, Nico!” Vedette told me. I put her in front of my chest and push the metal bar that opens the door. An alarm went off, violently, and loud. We’re behind the building now, we started sprinting toward the Impreza. The door we came out of opened again, the men continued chasing us. We get to the car.

“Unlock it, Nico!” Vedette shouted.

“I did, get in!” I told her. I insert the key into the ignition without putting my seat belt on. I turn the key, shift, and roll out with force. Bop, bop, bop, bop, bop. The sounds of the gun blast.

“Go faster, Nico!” Vedette shouted, I shift again and we go faster. I don’t look into the rearview, I just go faster and faster. “They’re out of sight,” She told me, but they weren’t out of mind.

“Who the hell were those guys, Vedette?” I asked her.

“I don’t know. Let’s get home. We’ll meet with Damien. The Family should know who those men were,” She said, on edge, but focused.

“Take a nap, Vedette.”

“Are you fine?” She asked.

“Nah.”

“What’s the matter?”

“I cut my pinky on the emergency exit.” I said.

“Nico…” She didn’t want to put up with me, she was actually worried for me. “Are you hit?”

“No...Damn, all we have is the down payment.” I told her.

“Want me to drive?” She offered kindly.

“Take a nap,” I said. “I’ll wake you up when we’re home.

"Ok," She said, and few seconds passed until she asked, "Nico, will you have dinner with me tomorrow night?"

"Let's do lunch instead."

Driving in the dark and the desert, she reclined the seat and tilted her head to look out the window. The bright blue light from my interface lit up the interior of the Impreza and I saw her smile. In a little while she was asleep and it was quiet for a long time after that.


© Copyright 2020 C. Avina. All rights reserved.

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