Chapter 1 – The Team
There are people out there that hide within the shadows, watching, waiting, protecting you from the darkness that surrounds you. These people exist only because evil walks among everyone, pretending, manipulating, disguised as your local milk bar owner, your neighbourhood hairdresser or even your daughter’s best friend. I will never tire of these scum being put away, having justice served on their deplorable acts and crimes against their fellow humans.
Nothing is more satisfying than taking down the evil of this world.
Those of us who work out of the shadows are The Brothers. We were formed by my father, Chase Ramalio, son to Former Mafia Kingpin, Vincent Ramalio, years ago. The story, as I’ve been told, goes…
The Ramalio’s were feared Mafia criminals and my father could no longer stand the evil and wrong that they were being forced into, so, he took down his own father’s empire, the Hells Demons, one of the oldest gangs in history and even took out their rival’s, The Black Dragons, after they made the mistake of kidnapping my mother, Aiya. When he formed, The Brothers, their sole purpose, was to right the wrongs that others have done and suffered through. Due to my mother’s history of being sold into child slavery, this is now one of our main targets with the help of my Grandfather David Carlson, who works as a Private Investigator and my Grandmother Detective Mariella Momenetti. The Brothers operate within the shadows, working outside the law restrictions, to apprehend the perpetrators. Today, we managed to take down a large network of child pornography distributors.
My father never wanted this life for me, the stuff I have seen haunts my dreams, insomnia has become my close and personal friend and living this lifestyle doesn’t leave much room for socialising but I’m glad I chose to do this. The people we help is well worth it, to know you saved someone’s life or a child’s life - there is no greater gift.
We were the ones criminals whispered about in fear, the ones the law knew about but could never find and the ones you prayed were coming when you were in need… we were retribution.
“Having trouble sleeping again, son?” Dads deep husky voice always calmed me, ever since I was a baby. Mum taught him how to sing and once he started, he never wanted to stop.
“I envy the dead.” He clasps my shoulder and squeezes as we both looked out over the water. The moon’s reflection danced rhythmically across the ocean below.
“I’m sorry I didn’t choose a less torturous lifestyle,” he stated in earnest.
“Dad, we have been over this, it was my choice to follow in your footsteps,” I took a swig from the mouth of my beer as he watched me out the corner of his deep green eyes.
“Arlo… You have given everything you have to the cause, hell, your namesake gave his life and you’re still so young, you should be worrying about the next woman you’ll be fucking not this stuff.” I laughed at him.
“Only you could encourage me to go find someone to fuck in a way that doesn’t sound like encouragement,” I teased, shaking my head.
“Yes, and if you ever tell your mother, I will deny until I’m blue in the face.”
“How do you do it? Keep your mind clear?”
“I fuck son,” I rolled my eyes at him while he snickers mischievously. “No, in all seriousness, growing up with the evil bastard that was my father, having to murder innocent people all because of their addiction to drugs, that were designed to be addictive - I learnt to close off that side of my mind. It still rears its ugly head in my dreams every now and again, but when I look over at Aiya and then at the pictures of you and your sister, I realise it was all worth it and my mind calms. You will find her ya know, that woman that stills your turbulent mind. She will be everything you thought and so much more.”
I smiled at him. He was my hero and my best friend in one, Dad was a far greater man than I thought myself to be. He grew up with real blood on his hands and dedicated his life to cleaning that blood from all our lives, “thanks, Dad.”
The way they talk about the horror they went through to survive life, the unimaginable circumstances they found themselves in, yet, they didn’t break. They turned their negative into a positive for the world, honourable they all are and the reason behind so many living the life they live, even if they never got a thank you.
The following week brought about a new assignment and more scum. I assembled my team and headed to Dads office, “morning Aunty Mags.”
“Arlo, you spunk rat, let me look at you.” She rounded her desk to hug me, her platinum blonde hair tied back into a high ponytail, her blue eyes sparkling with happiness. She had been my mother’s best friend since ninth grade and eventually married Luca, one of my father’s oldest friends. They ended up having Tristan, who is my oldest friend and right-hand man. “God, you look more and more like your father every day.”
“We have a meeting with him,” I try to change subjects. Sometimes, I felt Mags slip into her memories so, distraction was best when dealing with her.
“Of course you do, but your mother is in with him right now, you can wait here until they finish. Tristan, come, give your mother a kiss.”
Tristan looked a lot like his mother only he stood almost 6ft, broad muscular physique with midnight black hair but her sparkling blue eyes. “Sorry mum,” he gave her a kiss on the cheek with a middle finger pointing in the direction of the rest of my crew. Tristan and I were highly skilled fighters, we thrived off pushing our bodies to the extreme and found Parkour to be an effective way to train both our bodies and mind but the competition between us was fierce.
There was Brady, 6ft 2, with brown eyes and brownish gingery hair. He was built like a brick shit house, solid bulky muscles that would put Dwaine ‘the rock’ Johnson to shame. He was the muscle of our crew but was blessed with a silver tongue and a gigantic cock. I guess that’s why he had a revolving door of exotic women, never the same one twice and all leaving with smiles the size of the Mississippi River. Brady we met in school in Grade 12, he just showed up one day and never left.
Next, there was Tamelia, a rather muscular woman with long red hair and big brown doe eyes. She could tackle the most intense obstacle courses in the world and smash it in record time but her speciality was guns. She could shoot a target the size of a pin from 50 yards away, her and Brady were exercise buddies but best of all, she had just as much pulling power as him. The only difference is, she had a 7 day fuck roster and the moment one of them asked her to DTR (define the relationship) she would replace that woman with another and her 7 day fuck roster continued.
The dark chocolate scrawny man with glasses is Jeremiah or better known as BLITZ. Blitz was found by my father when he was just a kid, with thick glasses and an oversized afro, he’s some kind of computer genius. He is responsible for all of our tech needs including covering our tracks and creating false identification. Jeremiah has always been a little shy, my father took pity on him and hired him a ‘professional’ lady to lose his virginity too, we still don’t know if he did it or not but I know every Thursday night no one can get a hold of him and he always has the cheeriest disposition when Friday rolls around.
The last to round up my crazy bunch of mates is Zavion, his speciality is weaponry, anything you need, desire or thought you didn’t need but do, he is your man. The stuff he can get his hands on was insane, all completely untraceable - almost like he built them himself. He was a quiet man, likes to observe from afar, he is the adopted son of my uncles Joel and Carter, Joel just happens to be my father’s right hand. It was an obvious pathway for him being apart of this life, just like Tristan and I. Zavion adores his fathers and even though he looked nothing like either of them with his forest green eyes and ginger hair, it never seemed to bother him, even when he got teased in school about having gay Dads. He would simply just brush it off and carry on, although, when we hit tenth grade, one bloke who’d been bullying him pretty bad, ended up in a ‘mysterious’ coma for ten days and has never spoken a word to Zav since.
The door swings open and out walks my mother Aiya, hand in hand with my father, she spots me and her face lights up. “Arlo my love, I had no idea you were here,” she cups my face, “god, you look more and more like your father every day, those deep green eyes and dark brown hair.”
“Mum, you act like we don’t live in the same house,” I rolled my eyes.
She sashayed back to my father’s side, “we may live in the same house son but the last time I saw you was three weeks ago when you were looking for your father and happened to wander down to our end of the mansion, so don’t give me that look or tone.”
“Sorry, Mum.” I heard my friends snickering behind me and I flipped them the bird.
“I have to get back to it beautiful, see you tonight.” Dad leans down and plants one on mums cheek before he smacked her on her ass, that made my ears recoil in discomfort. “C’mon on in guys,” he waved us in with the hand he just smacked my mother’s ass with. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and groan painfully at their actions.
Dad held onto my arm as everyone walked past and took a seat at the boardroom table. “You know son, your mother and grandfather both roll their eyes the exact same way,” his booming laugh had me smirking.
“This is Carmelito Esperanza, five days ago Carmelito, this decade’s biggest crime boss, shows up dead, wrapped in black plastic and caught in a drainage system. The word on the street is, he tried to put this man,”… Dad flicked the slide… “Eddie ‘Murderman’ Muntz, out of business for good. Witnesses claim Carmelito’s right hand, Louis Bandeta, was responsible for double-crossing Carmelito and now serves as Eddie Muntz’s right hand. The reason we are involved is that it seems ‘The Murderman’ has underage girls working in his clubs - as both waitresses and sex slaves. The reports say, some even as young as ten years old. Your job is to infiltrate his circle through illegal weapons and get us the necessary information so we can move on him.”
We all sat there with the same folder in each of our hands, same faces, same details, same scumbags. Carmelito definitely looked like a dodgy man, sinister and untrustworthy, “it says here his family’s whereabouts are unknown?”
Dad flipped to his notes, “two daughters, one just twelve years old the other twenty-six, both different mothers, both grew up with him, no mother’s involvement.”
“So, have the mother’s been interrogated?” Tristan asked.
“They have, both have not heard from either of the girls since the day he was awarded full custody when they were babies.”
“Do you think The Murderman has added them as sex slaves?” I asked.
“I am choosing to believe not but in this business, you can never be sure.”
I sat in the car with Tristan and Zavion after we left dads office, waiting at the lights of the busy intersection, I happen to look up to see a goddess in living form.
The world stops to an almost standstill. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears, sweat forms on the palm of my hands, the air ripped from my lungs as she’s walking past the car in slow motion - directly in front of me. She wore, what looked like hospital scrubs, under a Chicago Bulls jacket. Her long waist length caramel wavy hair with blonde highlights sparkling in the midday sun, her beautiful hazel eyes, red rosy cheeks and plump full pink lips. With her earphones in her ears, she looks directly at me with a soft smile dancing upon her lips - I was lost in a dream.
I had never seen any woman as beautiful as my goddess, she was a vision and almost dream, yet, her light shone from within her like a homing beckon, floating in amongst the debris of city life.
A car’s horn honks from behind, breaking me from my daze and all of a sudden, the world starts up again. “Ahh hello?… Are we moving or what?” Tristan asks.
“Ah. Yeah. Sorry.”
“What the hell were you thinking about?”
“Nothing, nothing important.”
“Are you sleeping?” A deep voice chimes in from the back.
“Not as much as I should, Zav.” Zavion places his hand atop my shoulder.
“The images haunt my dreams too, Dad says they won’t always be there, he has the faces of the innocent people he’s murdered that haunt him.”
Zavion rarely talks but when he does, I listen. He’s an observer and feels things a lot deeper than others. “My Dad says the same Zav.”
But I know, for once, this wasn’t a dream.
Her, my goddess - I don’t know who she is, or how I’m going to do it? But I am going to find her. Is it crazy to believe in fate? Destiny? To follow your heart? In this business following your heart leads you to trouble. I must be a fool for thinking somehow this woman is important? I don’t know how but we will meet my goddess, I will find you again.