Soul Bringer

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A Plan is Hatched

Robert and James McDougal, better known as Bobby and Jimmy in Vander’s crew, were brothers, three years apart, from a small town in Florida. After a misspent youth consisting of petty theft and smalltime drug dealing, they hit it big when they were sent to prison for grand theft auto ten days after Robert’s twenty-fourth birthday. It was there where they ran into Vander Bartholomew Nash, who was doing a stint for unarmed robbery at the time. Naturally, the felons fell in together, and as the saying goes, they became thick as thieves while doing time for their crimes. A charmer, natural leader, and quite intelligent, both street smart and book smart, Vander quickly assumed the role as boss, and upon parole, the small group started pulling off small jobs together. Through careful recruitment, over the years, they brought on six other guys, and the crew graduated to felony organized crime.

Flash-forward to present-day and Vander connected the team with the Moretti crime family out of Cuba where they were arranging for delivery of high-end sports cars packed with drugs at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The job was simple. Take delivery of the vehicles at the port, move them to a designated parking lot in Miami, and Moretti’s men would do the rest. It was more than Vander’s crew could handle, but given the take, he bullshitted his way to the table with the big boss and convinced him that he had the team to get the job done. Vander had a way with words. The fly in the ointment, however, was a stranger named Denny Hayes, who, still to this day, Vander’s crew was unable to place him with any of the competing crews or families. This Hayes fellow somehow, successfully, stole twelve of Moretti’s cars while they were still parked at the docks before any of Vander’s men could move them. After the heist, Bobby spotted the man at the docks and put three bullets in him. His death last week would spell certain doom for the Vander Nash crew as they never were able to recover the stolen cars. Upon his deathbed, he uttered the word “lock-box.” Thinking this meant something related to Moretti’s missing cars, Vander ordered his crew to find where Denny Hayes lived and tear the place apart to find this supposed artifact. One week later and with no lock-box in hand, the men were facing a visit with Jack Moretti the following week, and they still didn’t have a clue where the missing twelve cars were.

Sitting opposite each other in a booth at a busy Downtown Miami diner, Bobby and Jimmy were finishing up their lunch as they awaited their boss’ arrival. The diner was nothing special; typical decor, neon green palm trees on the walls, early two-thousands furniture, pop music from the satellite radio station piped in around them. As usual, the joint was hopping for a Tuesday afternoon.

“So, how you gonna start?” Jimmy asked, forcing a greasy french fry through a puddle of ketchup on his plate before shoving it into his mouth. “I mean, what you gonna say?”

Bobby was already on Vander’s shit list, having shot and killed Denny Hayes the week prior, he was now grasping at straws to make things right before Moretti came to town in a week.

“What do you mean?” Bobby replied with a mouth half-full of bacon. He was having breakfast for lunch.

“I mean, Vander isn’t exactly the believin’ type, you know?” Jimmy reminded him.

Bobby didn’t miss a beat. He had begun to feel the heat as the days passed by. “Look, man, you heard Vander. We’re dead if we don’t come up with those cars before Moretti gets here. We spent days ripping apart every apartment and dwelling in every variation of the name of Denny Hayes in Miami-Dade County and found nothing. I think it’s time to look at other options,” Bobby explained.

Jimmy shoved another unwilling fry through the tomato paste mess on his plate and popped it into his cavity-filled mouth. “So,” he started again, “what you gonna say?”

“Christ, Jimmy! I don’t know! I’ll figure it out when he gets here, I guess.”

“When who gets here?” the low, southern voice of Vander Nash boomed from behind Bobby’s head as he sauntered his way to the table.

“Oh, hey, Vander,” Bobby greeted his boss, shifting over in the booth to offer a seat, only to watch Vander motion Jimmy out of his seat and over to Bobby’s so he could sit on his own side of the booth, opposite of the two men.

“What is that shit you’re eating for lunch, Bobby?” Vander started. “Don’t you think that you’ve exceeded the weight limit on bacon consumption? That shit will kill you, boy.” He took a moment to watch Bobby finish chewing his mouthful of meat to add, “If I don’t do it first.” He buttoned it with his famous shit-eating smile.

Jimmy led off, “Vander, Bobby and me, we…”

“Shut up, Jimmy,” Vander interrupted. “I want to hear what Bobby has to say first.”

Just then, a waitress approached the table with a menu and a black carafe. “Coffee?” she asked Vander.

“Why, thank you, darlin’. Yes, please,” he answered politely. “And you can keep your menu. I won’t be eating here today.”

“Of course,” she said, pouring the hot brew before hurrying off to the next table.

The two men watched Vander go through the ritual of mixing in two pink sweetener packets and two little creamers into his hot coffee. “You see, it’s got to be the right color brown,” he noted, tapping the spoon on the edge of the mug before taking his first sip. “You were saying, Bobby?”

“Right. Vander. I have an idea that I wanted to share with you.” He opened a laptop to navigate to a website with videos.

“What is this, Bobby?”

“I want to show you something.”

“Is this going to reveal where my cars are? Because if you’re about to show me another one of your dog videos, I’m going to shoot you in this booth.”

“No. This is a video from a television show where this guy - he’s psychic - he can talk to the dead.”

“Bobby,” Vander exhaled, rubbing his broad forehead much to Jimmy’s delight. He knew Vander would react this way. “What the hell is this?”

“Stay with me, Vander.”

“Stay with you? Boy, unless this video shows me how to keep my ass from getting fried by Moretti’s men, I don’t think we have the time to watch it.”

Bobby clicked on the video clip from a recent episode of Soul Bringer, where host, Grayson Montgomery was talking to that Jillian woman about her unborn child. Vander watched intently as he sipped his creamy-brown colored coffee. About thirty seconds or so, he looked at Bobby to give him the turn this shit off look.

“Well?” Bobby asked, pausing the video.

“Well, I think it’s a nice day, boys,” Vander started, looking out the window and then back at the two of them. “Maybe we can go for a drive down US1, find a nice little park somewhere, and pick out a peaceful place to bury ourselves because I don’t see a damn thing here that’s getting my cars back.”

“There’s a really nice park off of Sheridan,” Jimmy added.

“Oh, shut up, Jimmy,” Bobby shouted.

“Jimmy, I’m going to shoot you today, too, okay?” Vander said with a serious face, as he pointed his long index finger.

“This Soul Bringer guy. He’s the real deal. He can talk to the dead,” Bobby explained. “I’m thinking, we just get tickets to the show and ask him where the lock-box is.”

Vander stared at him for a moment, re-running the words through his head to be sure he heard them correctly. “Bobby, do you not know anything about television?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, the folks you see on that show are hand-picked, meaning, the show producers predetermine who they call upon for each episode,” Vander explained. “They aren’t going to pick hoodlums like us who want to find out where our twelve stolen cars packed with narcotics are.”

“It doesn’t make for good TV, Bobby,” Jimmy added.

“That’s right, Jimmy. It doesn’t,” the boss agreed.

“Then maybe,” Bobby pondered a bit more, “maybe we kidnap him?” The thought just came to him, and as profound as it was, it didn’t seem like a terrible idea.

The three men grew silent as the thought of kidnapping a national television host remained on the table. Could they even get close to this man? Vander wondered.

Jimmy chimed in, “You know, boss…”

“Shut up, Jimmy and let me think a minute,” Vander interrupted once again. He wasn’t in the kidnapping business, and in fact, there was only one time that he could remember that he had to take somebody against their will. It was a sloppy plan, and if it failed, it could lead to more complications. At the end of the day, they needed to find that lock-box. Denny Hayes was dead. Grayson, they rationalized, could speak with the dead. If they could get him alone, perhaps they could get him to perform this service? He thought to himself.

“What do you think, boss?” Bobby asked.

“Well, it isn’t the greatest of plans. So many things can go wrong here. The last thing we need is to surface on the radar of the authorities,” Vander started. “I know nothing of this man, and for all we know, he has an armed security detail that follows him around with checkpoints and the works. The time we would need to case his studio to identify his daily routine - we don’t have that kind of time. Moretti arrives next week.”

“Then we pull a Bo Peep,” Jimmy offered.

“Boy, what the hell is Bo Peep? Is this nursery rhyme hour?” Vander inquired sarcastically with a frown.

“He’s talking about the Bo Williams job we did last year,” Bobby defended Jimmy. “We cased his jewelry store and monitored his pattern in forty-eight hours before successfully knocking off his place.”

“And you boys think you can successful case this studio in two days without getting caught?” Vander asked the two, still looking at Jimmy with a scowl.

“We don’t have much of a choice,” Bobby replied.

Vander placed both hands on the table and pushed to stretch his back in the booth. With a long exhale, he rolled his head around to crack his neck. Taking another sip of his coffee, he cleared his throat. “Alright, boys, here’s the deal, you know our timetable and you know what we’re up against. If you indeed believe that burning daylight for the next two days is a good investment toward finding that lock-box, I will follow your lead. I mean, hell, what else do we have going for us? In the meantime, I will procure us a getaway car we can use for the abduction. Let’s meet here on Friday at 9am. Be ready to bag this guy.”

“Yes, sir,” Jimmy and Bobby responded.

“Alright,” Vander concluded, taking the last sip of his caramel-colored coffee. “I’m off. Don’t get caught casing out that joint.”

Vander stood up, fished a crumpled five-dollar-bill out of his pocket, and dropped it on the table. Nodding at the two men, he sauntered away much in the same fashion he came, leaving his two men sitting together in silence on the same side of the table.

So many thoughts swam through Bobby’s mind. Did he really just convince his boss to kidnap a famous celebrity so he could talk to the dead spirit of a man he killed just a week before?

“Well, that went well,” Jimmy added.

“Just shut up, Jimmy,” Bobby responded.

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