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Chapter 13

Cruising down South Tryon, the Parking Enforcement was restricting the heart of the city;

usually for sporting events and festivals. Red and orange were the wardrobe worn sometimes by

poles, parking meters, and pay stations. Orange signs on the poles displaying no parking anytime,

and sometimes days of the week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) depending on the occasion of a special

event. Red bags was the color for meters and pay stations. Large red bags engulfing the pay stations

which had the capital P in a circle and slanted line slashed over it meaning no parking which some

people still didn’t understood. Like some of the signs, the bags also had days of the week and their own

identity; Friday was yellow, Saturday was orange, and Sunday was blue. Red bags and orange

signs with anytime on them dominated the streets today. As usual, one or two cars ignored the

signs and the drivers getting out of their vehicles showed their lack of respect for the parking

enforcement. Tickets were already resting on the windshield held down by the wiper blade. A

twenty-five dollar ticket would sometimes make a violator act the fool.

Pone shook his head and smiled, he was strolling down Tryon to locate Wisdom. Instead,

he found and settled for his four-foot-eight coworker, Carmen Valdez. There she was weighing in

at one-hundred-and-twenty-eight pounds though she looked smaller. Lucille pulled up and like

the true parking enforcer, Carmen turned to face her adversary. Pone hopped out with a smile.

“Excuse me, sir. You can’t park here,” said Carmen with a cunning smile. She gave Pone

a strong hug.

“Better be careful, people might think I’m trying to get out of a ticket.” joked Pone returning

the hug. The diminutive woman released Pone and looked toward a few patrons walking by.

“Forget them,” frowned Carmen.

Wisdom convinced the single mother of two that there was more than being a cashier at the

7-Eleven. She needed a city job that offered a pension and drop the dialogue of paper and plastic.

“Looking for the old man.” said Pone.

“He took some time off,” said Carmen somberly.

In all the time Pone knew Wisdom, the man never took a day off. He was one of those people

that had to be doing something. He had to keep busy.

“Something ain’t right … he didn’t say anything, but I could tell something was wrong,” said

Carmen. “He’d always stay around after getting off the clock and shoot the breeze.”

“He just stopped coming to work … no notice or anything?” asked Pone.

Carmen shrugged. “ I’m sure management knows, but they hadn’t said anything to us.” Carmen

knew nothing about Wisdom’s past. To her he was a kindhearted middle-aged man.

“How long he been gone?” asked Pone.

“Since last Friday.”

Pone nodded. “Don’t worry I’ll check on him.” Pone climbed into Lucille and, waved to Carmen.

Wisdom not at work and being antisocial. Something wasn’t right, no sir, something wasn’t right.

A mid-day brandy was not too early for Harvey Crowe. Taking over the duties of running the

city since the mayor (Winslow) himself tucked his tail between his legs to go on an extended

vacation after the deaths of two youths from powerful crime families. Crowe circled his office

observing pictures and paintings to help pass the time with his best friend Brandy. Brandy was

so much better during the cold season, which seemed most of the time since the great meteor

made it’s presence known. Another sip and a longer sighed made him realize that this is how it

should be. Yeah, he should be the king of the city and when this mess was over he’d find a way

to make Winslow’s vacation a permanent one.

Static from the intercom. “Excuse me, sir.”

Crowe was startled. “Yes … Mary,”

“Miss Brigand is here to see you.”

An unexpected visit out of the blue. Usually a phone call, email, or text for a scheduled

meeting. Crowe took another sip.


Crowe get comfortable behind his desk. “Send her in.”

The door creaked open to the sound of elegant heels moving with deliberate grace over the city

hall wooden floor. The secretary closed the door leaving Crowe to gaze upon the statuesque beauty

that would only be a fantasy for men like him. She stood in front of his desk. Hair in a prohibition

bun though she was not part of that crew. Her blues were piercing, and her legs hidden from the

conservative black trench that gave her a bewitching look.

“Change of plans.”

Crowe pursed his lips and raised an eye-brow. “Okay … you want to sit down and tell me

what you’re talking about?”

“This won’t take long.”

“Sounds serious.”

“We’ll continue to meet on Sundays when of course there is something to talk about, but

it will be during the day.”

Crowe rose from his chair. “This is supposed to be discrete,”

“Man up and grow a pair. Stop riding around in the limo, besides you always travel around

the city with one of your goons. You have nothing to worry about as long as you come in from

the back door.”

Crowe sat back down. “Why the sudden change?”

Red smiled and batted her eyelashes. She learned from her late gangster father to treat trust

like walking on egg shells. Trusting a politician was like putting your hand in fire and not

expecting to get burned. Pone was her man, most of all he was a dear friend between a rock

and a hard place, and she was going to keep him in a soft spot as much as possible. Pone was

educated and gave up a life as a simple citizen to get revenge for a loved one which lured him

into the life of organized crime.

“It will be safer for us all. Unless there’s a particular reason you want to keep meeting

at night?”

“I thought that was safe since no one else knew about our meetings, but if you say it’s

best to meet during the day time then it’s fine by me. All I want is to make sure there will

not be a gang war.” Crowe poured himself another glass of brandy. “Your family has a lot

of enemies.”

“High and low,” said Red.

“Can’t picture a powerful woman like yourself being scared.”

Red pursed her lips. “Predators come out mostly at night and are cowards during the day.”

Crowe nodded. “Anything else?”

Red smiled, pivoted, and gracefully exited the office.

Crowe got on his cell. “Change of plans.”

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