Rome wasn’t built in a day.
It was an unusually sunny day in London. Indeed, after 2 weeks of never-ending light drizzle the welcome sunshine was a blissful reprieve. This, of course, was lost on West-End thug Remus. As his car made a turning off Brewer Street on to Brindle lane, he felt the slight vibration of his phone against his thigh. To many this might have required immediate attention. Not to Remus. No, he knew exactly who it was, and what they were going to say. The incessant ringing informed Remus that whomever was on the other side of the line knew exactly what Remus was about to do as well.
“Brother,” Remus, didn’t even look at the caller ID; this was his fourth call in the last 20 minutes from his brother, “what is it that you want to say now?”
“Don’t do, whatever you think will solve this problem. Fuck it, they have cut our dope and sold it to a few junkies in Bethnel Green. Who gives a shit Remus, give it 3 weeks and we will more than recoup that loss.”
“You know as well as I Romulus that we have been mugged off by a couple of thieving scousers. And we both know that we won’t recoup anything if we don’t send a message. We got enough shit coming in from them Dagenham faggots; we don’t need this on our hands.”
“Your right about one thing Remus, we won’t recoup our loss. No, but we also won’t be fucking drug dealers either. Then who gives a shit about Dagenham and that bunch of inbred two bit gangsters. We will be rich brother. But how the fuck can I go through with the purchase. How can we get any creditability in this town, if we are up shits creek with the police? Use your fucking brain.”
With that Remus hung up the phone, he had no time for his brothers whining. Couldn’t he see that he was ensuring they were going to be taken seriously? Who cared about going clean and making real money, sure they might get just as rich. But Remus had grown up around dope, dope was his game. And he was fucking top notch at it. It was then he nodded at his driver, they had reached Lexington Street, just one block over. His driver, having been with him for over a decade, simply veered into a spot and parked, parking was only for 20 minutes, plenty of time he thought. They rushed out of the car, there were two beautiful things Remus had always said of drivers in London, they always found a fucking park, and they always carried a gun. His driver, Danny, was no exception.
They opened the door to the second floor flat, 8H. Inside it was smelly, belying the upper crust surroundings around it. On the floor there was an assortment of needles, and dope that Remus took to be his. That made him angry. On a bed he saw a baked out girl, lying half naked in a drug induced coma. He nodded at his driver. Two rounds entered her body, her mind to numb to notice that her life force was ebbing away. Pity thought Remus, she was not half bad. Too bad she had to het jacked in this apartment.
“Willy my boy gets the fuck out of the kitchen.” Having noticed that all the other doors leading to the bedrooms and bathroom, he realized the boy must be in the kitchen. When Willy didn’t come out immediately, Remus roared.
“Get your scrawny thieving arse out here now boy or I’ll come in there and cut your fucking ears off and really make you deaf.” That got results; the boy came out, carrying a rather large, cumbersome looking knife. One look at his eyes showed him to be nearly as drugged as his dead girlfriend. Easy, thought Remus as he looked between at his driver and back at the scrawny doped up drug dealer facing him.
“What the fuck is that? A knife? You think you can just flash weapons in front of me? You really are as fucking stupid as they say aren’t you?” With that the boy dropped the knife, although he wan’t sure if that was the right thing, he was not able to think clearly.
“Did you sell my drugs in Bethnel Green?”
“Y-Y-Yes sir, but I swear sir I didn’t take any, I bought my own stuff I swear”
“That’s a lie, and you know it. You are not helping your chances by lying. Now tell me, did you, or did you not cut my dope, make it less pure? Remember, you telling the truth could very well ensure your survival.”
The boy’s eyes lit up, called salvation be as simple as telling the truth? “Yes sir, I did. I admit I took some of the dope too, it seemed a bit powerful for the missus…” it was then that he saw her limp body, blood having ceased to being pouring out, having already soaked the mattress. Looking at her, he froze, and began to shake visibly.
“You see boy, this was one of those chances were you should have lied. That might have saved your life. One word of advice, when you see St. Peter, don’t tell him you were a two bit thieving c*nt.” With that he turned, hearing the thud of the bullets impact Willy’s body well before he heard the discharge from the silenced pistol.
At that moment Romulus was staring at the painting of his father, well more accurately, his adopted father. He often did this when there was a family crisis, or as his brother called it, a family fuck up. He often wondered if they were even related. He wanted more from life then the criminal life his father had brought them into, Remus seemed content to remain a drug runner until one of the rival crews killed him, which was likely, or he ended up in prison. Again. Romulus, however, who had up until then been the brains of their gang, wanted more. He wanted to be legitimate. London was money, and he was there ready to take his cut. Now, he would have to clean up the shit his brother had undoubtedly made, again. His dreams were about to be shattered because the thick bastard couldn’t get his kicks anywhere else then mindless, pointless, and strategically unimportant killings. Romulus had decided, quickly after the phone call, that he had to sever the ties to his brother. He had to move quickly. Murder was common in a city of 7 million people, but in the suburbs of the rich and glamorous? That would simply kick start a media frenzy that will shit on his parade. And if he did this right, what a grand parade it will be. Thus, he started by calling his lawyer, Max, he was a shrewd and cunning man, and Romulus was grateful for a second time that he hadn’t shared a lawyer with his brother, whom would then have easily been able to find out his plans.
“Max, its Romulus, I want my brother out of the business. I’ll buy him out; just make sure I am clean of him.”
“Hello to you too, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. But it is a vast sum of money. 2 million squid mate, where you going to get that sort of money from, if you don’t mind me asking..?”
Romulus stopped for a second, that was a lot of money Max was right. Indeed, his father’s inheritance had covered them both, but hell he couldn’t take his brothers share. Hell the only money he could take was the fund that his brother had he had made, to ensure that their legal fee’s were covered. Considering the risks in their line of work, that little fund had blossomed massively, it could easily, he thought, cover his brothers half of the investment.
“Max, I want you to bill me as if I had, had a DUI, I should be able to then call up my fund managers and extract the money to buy Remus out, I’ll need to take it from our money reserved from legal fee’s. I should be able to do that now.”
So it was that within about 5 minutes of him saying that, he had amassed the 2 million, having drained the account all but dry of the 2.3 Million pounds in there. He felt relieved, but then he remembered he had to call his brother. This, he thought would not be pleasant.
“You fucking what!”
“Calm Remus, you must have realized this, damn I called you enough fucking times to tell you this, don’t worry you get all your money back, plus a little extra, consider it a treat, go buy yourself
a car or something.”
“You’re a greedy bastard did you know that? I have worked just as hard as you to secure that fucking business, and now you sell me out? So what, you can go and pretend to be posh? You’re a fucking joke.”
“Remus, settle. You must have realized this was coming, besides you were always so hesitant about actually making this business, you can keep the whole of the drugs business, run it however you like. It’s yours, no risk, your own business. You can even…”Before he could continue the line went dead; his brother had clearly not been consoled. Fuck him, he thought, he nearly ruined me. He can do whatever he fucking likes.
After a week, they had still not talked. Odd, they both thought internally, for brothers whom had talked every day since before they could remember. For a week Romulus had consolidated his finances with Max and Wilfred, his accountant, and given his projected returns, he was sure that without the drug business, come a year he should be sitting pretty on a yacht somewhere. Remus, however had gotten drunk, then high, then angry. After a week of stewing however, and surrounding himself with his father’s advisors, men whom still lived in the 60’s era, were guns could solve any long term problem, and he began to see the folly in his brothers attempts to go clean. “Fuck him,” he roared as he downed the remainder of his pint, and he and his men toasted to a hopefully failed enterprise, and promised that they would rather die than see Romulus back in their firm.
Thus it was that their months panned out very differently, Romulus having opened his store, was busy ensuring cash flow. It was stressed, and long nights that persisted throughout this time. In contrast, Remus was quite happy. He had never enjoyed this level of control while Romulus had directed operations; he had always told himself that he enjoyed the actual enforcement. But as he and his men engineered their aggressive expansion of their drug running, he felt quite at ease. By the end of the month, 2 simultaneous hits on the Dagenham crews had left them leaderless. Without the direction, Remus had been able to exert his control over much of that East End part of London. That was, however, quite far from the main of his West End business. Thus, he had given himself a mere two months to carve out his territory to connect those two profitable dots. It was at this time, that the news first heard of the story of a dead junkie drug dealer in an expensive, if gritty apartment in the middle of the West End. It was but a few days later before Detective Robert Stevens began to see a connection between the deaths at Lexington Street, and the growing scenes of violence raging in the Dagenham projects.
It was six months later. Romulus, having made it over the introduction of his business into the highly competitive magazine market, had been able to draw on his considerable number of financial backers to ensure that his magazine achieved record sales. Indeed, he was already being mentioned in the Financial Times as an example of business success, and the Economist had just run the first of a two part series on him, entitled: “The self made rise to fame, how a business man with significant investors can do anything.” It was, as he would always tell himself in the mirror, a good year. That, and his girlfriend, the Russian super model Andrea Volkstov had been told she had been pregnant for the last three months. But given the starving diet Andrea was on, he wondered how the baby could possibly survive. It was in this mood that he would soon descend into sadness. As he sat down to eat breakfast, sitting as he was, on a stall on the penthouse sweet of the newly designed apartment buildings by Arabian oil tycoon: Al-Islam Hussain that he turned on the news. And as he flicked through all the channels that he had, he became aware that the lead that some insignificant detective had found, was coming more and more likely to be related to his brother’s organization. Although they didn’t speak, Romulus still had contacts to the seedy underground he had so tirelessly left behind. And what they told him, was that his brother had been successful, perhaps two successful. He was living it large, having killed or incarcerated all those whom stood in his way. They were even saying that he built a network as far north as the Shetlands, as far West as west coast Ireland, and that even some cities in Germany were rife with his dope. Could this all be ending, Romulus thought?
It was. Remus could sense it too, for 5 months he had been unstoppable. For one of those months he had complete hegemony over the entire London drug trade. And although the talk of Germans buying his dope was bull, he had managed to export his drugs all around the country, even getting to the small back streets of Gaelic Ireland. But that didn’t seem to mean much now, as he waited, pending two police inquiries. He had burned all his documents, but he still knew, no matter what happened, by the end of the year he was going away for a long time. Hell, half his crews were either dead or in prison, only Alfred still stood by him, but Remus figured he was probably on a wire half the time, and was simply snitching for the cops by now. He was screwed. Indeed, it hardly shocked him when he heard the knock at the door. The police didn’t barge in, and he noticed they didn’t arrest Alfred. He was right; the weasel was a fucking snitch. Oh well, he had money, he had burned the tapes, he was sure he was fine.
He was wrong. It had hit him like a sledgehammer, all his money had been frozen, and this, his lifeline was gone? He asked how 2.3 million could just disappear at a time when he was using it for its intended purpose. And then the reason came. A misdemeanor had given Romulus, whom was also in the account, the access to the funds. He had withdrawn the funds, stating that the withdrawal was also in part to cover an investment he had made to ensure that he would no longer need the use of the trust. A term explicitly allowed in the terms of the contract the secretary had been at pains to make sure to him as he screamed into the phone. The case was a walkover, for all the wrong reasons. He had escaped life, just. But had the understanding that 15 years was going to be a bitter, bitter experience for him.
Thus it was that the ten years went by very quickly for Romulus. Magazines having been saturated, Romulus quickly expanded into new markets. TV next, most major TV productions being on either one of the two networks he ran. But that was not sufficient, for a man whom embraced capitalism; he lobbied hard to ensure the breakup of many socialist programs in the UK. When this became insufficient, he pumped money into giving Max the coverage and support to make his Objectivist Party a serious third party candidate in the general elections. Many political pundits even announcing that the party stood as a serious contender to knock the conservative party off the post of representing the status quo in Britain. He didn’t stop there, he wrote his memoirs at the age of 39. By 40, he was named Times man of the year for a second time, having opened up several enterprises in the Russian Federation along with developing his Russian wives, and his mistresses, own clothes and perfume brands. By 41, the same year that Remus left prison, it had just been discovered that Romulus had been selling cheap medicine to Kim Jong Il, in exchange for a lucrative contract to open the first sweat shop in the country, having to pay no labor costs for the workers. Many of whom came from the nearby concentration camp. Year after year, it was a good time for Romulus.
Remus, however, was not so lucky. By the time he left prison, to the news that his brothers wealth was exceeding the GDP of the poorest half of the world’s population, he had experienced many things. Not one of them nice. He had been in solitary confinement for a total in those ten years of 700 days. Although not consecutive, the experiences had left him severely scarred. So to had the cries of those being raped in the halls, and not on one occasion had he had to fight tooth and nail to ensure the same fate didn’t occur to him. One thing had not changed in him though, and as he grabbed his haversack, he was still overcome with the same intense loathing for his brother. And as he entered the taxi, paid as it always was by the state, he simply drove himself back to London. Once back around his old haunts, he could see that things had changed. He was a nobody. Life had moved on, but why should it? Had he not ruled these streets? Had his name not earned him instant respect? He was Remus. He was betrayed. And now he would have his vengeance. Vengeance, however, would take time.
Romulus had his son sent off to sports training, he was many things, and attendant father he could perhaps admit to failing in, but he justified it by his continued ability to provide for his family. He went out on to the veranda. He was by now, far gone from his first penthouse. Indeed he owned this entire block of flats. All of which were deemed as high class, many had seen the 28 stories as an eyesore on the London cityscape. Not the mayor, however, whom quickly bought into the scheme when it became know he could buy one wholesale for retirement, for a fraction of its actual price. Money he decided was it. What else could he possibly want that he couldn’t have? He loved his life. He thought it then, later, that it was ironic that at the moment of true euphoria in life, that his brother should appear. It had seemed that after 2 years of freedom, petty jobs had given Remus the liquidity to enact his vengeance. This coupled with his single-minded obsessive desire to kill his brother, had meant that he had eventually discovered not only how to enter the building, through the shafts, he enjoyed this, making his mission seem more movie-like, and therefore more exciting, but also how to ensure that he would never be traced. He had made his own gun. A contraption made of plastic tubes, it had in it two bullets of different caliber, giving what he would hope would be the appearance of two gunmen. Thus when he caught his brother’s eye he ordered him inside.
“You fuck, here I am ruined. And you live in this? Your private fucking castle? It’s a shame your money can’t protect you.” Remus laughed at his brother, laughed in his face. Romulus took position by the mantelpiece, he had no gun, but he was sure that the fire stoker was close at hand.
“I didn’t ruin you, you ruined yourself.”
“LIAR. You took the money, you left me I could have had life. For what, so you can get rich? So you can exploit people. So you can exploit your own brother, your flesh and blood.” With that he fired a shot into Romulus’s knee cap, he yelped in pain, clutching his knee he fell to the ground. In the fall the stoker landed behind Romulus, he grabbed, still seeing clear enough to see its utility. Remus had one shot left. But rather then be subdued, Romulus simply shouted louder.
“I will not listen to you talk to me about exploitation. You killed people for money, you used people, made them dependent and then took all they had. You, you sit there and tell me I am evil to try and leave such a corrupting and terrible business. You were afraid, I saw potential where you saw threat. You’re a nothing, nothing at all. No more than a scared little whelp.”
With that Remus stormed to him, his face grotesquely pulled as he became fully enraged. He shoved his gun into his brother’s face.
“I’ll enjoy watching you die, you miserable bastard.”
“So will I”
With that Romulus jerked out the stoker, having just enough time to impale his brother, but not before his brother could shoot, the bullet exploding through his skull. So it was, that when Romulus son, Julian, came home he saw not only his dad dead, blood spraying the walls, but also a strange man, a man quite similar in build to his father lying limp, a metal rod squarely through his stomach. In years of therapy later, he would often recall that he was not sad to see his father go. Indeed, after being endowed both his father’s wealth and corporations. He also learnt that all the odd man’s money, after tax was taken, was to be unfrozen and given to him. Thus it was that a wily 17 year old became owner of not only vast inherited wealth, but also many corporations. Although he knew little of business, he was to learn. He was a quick learner at that, but his ambitions were grander. And now he had the time and the capability to enact all his fantasies. From that day it became clear that between the 7 metal mountains along another river Tiber, after the bitter duel of two brothers that Rome did truly start being built.
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