A FEW CASUALTIES SO WHAT

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Chapter 1

Twelve a.m. Saturday and the Friday night movie crowd escaped the movie theater filling the cold

night air with teen spirit. The vibrant I’m-going-to-live-forever-attitude made their way to their

respected chariots. Cars from the past to the present littered the theater parking lot. Sixteen to eighteen-

year-olds earning the trust of their parents to go out and have a good time was coming to an end. Well,

at least some of the teen kings and queens, over all the giggling and the I’m-in-love eye contact came

your typical teen business of going to a late-night party and hitting the drive-through for a bite to eat.

Then there were some who had enough excitement for one night and agreed it was time to head for

home. Two teens in particular, both about seventeen, made their way to a bright red Nissan Juke. This

couple shared a stare from their fellow teens, and not because they were a bi-racial couple which was

now the norm, but-like gay couples out in the open.

These two youths, black and white, were the elder children of two of the most prominent crime

families in Retro City. Reginald Grant, called Reggie, by his family and friends, was the oldest of -G’s

four children. The six-foot-four all-city shooting guard was headed out of state to attend college up

north on a basketball scholarship. To keep the chill off his body, he donned a red hoodie, loose-fitting

baggy blue jeans revealing his boxers and white Nike’s with untied laces. His companion was -also

the oldest of four belonging to Macone. Helen Macone, Irish-Italian was headed to the Ivy League on

an academic scholarship, though her dancer legs could have gotten her an arts scholarship to any

university in the country. Her gray attire was conservative from her head down to her feet, and her

blonde hair was held in a librarian bun style. Reggie opened the- door for Helen. She gracefully got

inside the car, and he hustled to the driver’s side to get out of the cold. Neither of the families knew of

the forbidden romance.

As soon as Reggie got inside the car, he and Helen gazed into each others eyes. They flashed

their pearly whites, leaned in, and locked lips. At the same time, Reggie turned the ignition.

Hopes and dreams went up in flames when the red Nissan Juke exploded. The future of two youths

proved that life is indeed short.

The Spaghetti Warehouse was located at 100 North Park Avenue beside the city mono-rail tracks.

It looked exactly like its namesake: a big block shaped building with stained glass windows and its

armor was a 100 percent red brick. On the inside, the decor screamed pure restaurant with waiters,

waitresses, and a Maitre d’. The walls had pictures, paintings, and movie posters of movie stars. The

menu had an ongoing list of Italian cuisine: Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, and, of course, spaghetti and

meat balls. It seemed to attract a standing-room only crowd every night, which is why it surprised the

citizens when it went out of business.

It went from being a five star brasserie to the hottest nightclub in Retro City. Nadine was the club’s

name and it still serve food including three types of pizza; sausage and bacon, pepperoni, and cheese

and hamburgers; single and double with or with-out cheese, and that was the menu. The tables were

minimum, bar stools were plenty for sitting at the bar, and there was a stage area for a live band and

entertainment. The owner whose name was as strong as the club’s name was Mona Clark. She and

Pone agreed to name the club Nadine after the woman who practically raised them. Shelia Green was

the woman and Nadine was her middle name, she was a strong independent woman who ran a

children home where Mona and Pone both grew up.

Mona’s circle called her Song Bird, that was her stage name because of her hypnotic siren voice.

She would grace the stage from time to time, but booked most of the acts for her club. Her close

friends called her Birdie.

She proved to be all business when she turned the former restaurant into a night-club and a

gambling joint down in the basement. It wasn’t a casino, though it cost you a thousand to enter the hole

of poker chips and slot machines. The basement was sealed off, but had enough room for a couple of

Black Jack tables and five small round tables for poker players. It was also equipped with two muscular

bouncers standing on opposite sides of the elevator dressed in black muscle shirts, slacks, and loafers.

Two eye candy hour-glass figure waitresses clad in sleeveless black body-hugging mini-dresses, hose,

and heels moved among the tables serving drinks. A mid-sized bar with a burly bartender stood along

the back wall. The club was closed upstairs and only four patrons remained playing poker.

All four were cold-bloodied killers, which were what club Nadine catered to, but every killer left

their bad attitudes at the door and weapons in their vehicles. One particular killer was one of her club

benefactors and dearest friend, Chubby Pone. He was also the reason the poker game was still going

on or the basement would have been lights out like top-side.

Pone, sat at the table holding a winning hand. He loved stepping out into the night clad in black

with a hint of white added to his attire: slacks, a crisp white shirt, black vest usually laced with twelve

six inch ninja throwing knives, a black bowler style hat and black and white wing tips with rubber

soles. He had a chiseled baby face and a cleft chin. His counter parts sitting at the table were: Sonny, a

past-his-prime senior-citizen, with an average height and a saggy pudgy body, he proclaimed himself

as the world’s oldest teenager. He wore a brown fedora, pink shirt, tan slacks, and brown loafers: Then

there was Stick, who looked like a walking skeleton with ivory skin. He wore a gray suit, black shirt

with a loose-fitting thin gray tie, and black roach-killer shoes, which were famous because they were

pointed and, jokingly, good for killing roaches who tried to hide in a corner. The last of the four poker

players was Big Ben Donovan. All six-nine and three hundred pounds of what he said was soul-brotha

muscle. Black as coal, bald-headed as smooth as a baby’s bottom whose pet word was shit ending with

a D sound at the end. He wore a green polo shirt, black slacks, and penny loafers, though he preferred

blue jeans and Timberland boots, but Nadine was a classy joint. You didn’t get in wearing: blue jeans,

sneakers, Timberland boots, and T-shirts.

The game was nearing the end as it came down to Pone and Big Ben. Sonny and Stick had

already folded and were both finishing off the last of the sausage and bacon thin crust pizza with

extra cheese. Ben glanced over at Sonny.

“Better ease up on that pizza, old man. You know your stomach can’t handle that shit.” said Ben.

Sonny glared. “If you keep calling it shit I won’t eat it and stop calling me old man.”

Pone laughed. “Ignore him, Sonny. Ben wants another slice and he upset because you and

Stick about to finish off the pizza.”

“What’s that you drinking? Asked Ben in his baritone voice.

“Malta Goya.” responded Pone.

A beverage that wasn’t a beer, wine, ale, or even soda. A carbonated malt drink that appealed to

Pone. He discovered the drink when he dropped in for a bite at a Mexican diner off of Central Avenue.

“What’s a Malta Goya?” asked Stick.

Pone held up the brown long-neck-shaped bottle examining the label. “Non-alcoholic malt

beverage.” He took a sip. “Sweet … not bitter … “

“Shit’d … I thought that was some kind of new beer.” said Ben.

“If it was made with some hops, then yeah.” remarked Pone.

Ben frowned and shook his head. “Give me a classic beer anytime.”

“Getting older, I need to keep a clear head especially driving home at night.” said Pone. Lately, at

night, Pone had to deal with car chases on his way home that included unwanted gun-play.

“Shit’d, the only thing old is that old fossil eating up all the damn pizza.” growled Ben.

Sonny sucked his tooth. “Keep on makin’ them old remarks, you just keep on,”

“Better watch it, Big man, Sonny gonna blow you up.” chuckled Stick.

Sonny smiled. “As soon as he get his big ass up from that chair.”

Ben froze. He looked at Sonny and then the chair.

“Ben, leave Sonny alone and worry about me beating your ass.” retorted Pone.

Ben snorted. “How come you the only one I see drinking that shit?” asked Ben.

“You ain’t sweet on the owner.” blurted Stick.

The room got quiet as Pone displayed one of his many talents giving Stick a stare down. Stick

realized he had put his foot in his mouth and, like a snake, he coiled his long, lanky body.

“When y’all gonna finish this damn game?” asked Sonny in his raspy voice. “It’s late, and I need

to get home.”

“Shit’d … been past yo bed time, old man,” remarked Ben.

“Boom!” said Sonny.

“You cut that shit out!” roared Ben.

“When I beat you, don’t blame it on Sonny.” said Pone.

Sonny took a deep breath and raised an eye-brow. He and Stick finished off the pizza. Stick was

now nursing a Vodka Martini and pulled the Olive off the tooth-pick with his jagged teeth while

Sonny clutched his Gibson tightly after being called old man by Ben one too many times.

“Sonny, finish your drink. That damn onion beginning to make my eyes water.” said Pone. He

never understood the drink, a dash of dry Vermouth and two ounces of Gin with a slice of onion. He

shook his head thinking that’s got to be an old man’s drink. “Ben, it’s late … let’s finish this.”

On the table the pot was five-thousand dollars. Pone studied the large man. He could tell that

Ben was craving for one of his signature stogies, but smoking was not allowed in club Nadine. Each

man took one last card from the deck. Ben had on his poker face, but Pone notice when Ben had a

good hand his body filled up like a balloon. The big man’s body expanded.

“What’cha got big man?” asked Pone.

Ben laid out three Queens and two Jacks. A full house. He leaned back with the sound of the chair

struggling to support his weight. He toasted, then downed his beer

Pone glanced at his cards, the cards on the table and then at Ben who displayed a confident smirk on

his face.

“Well, nothing like a good woman especially if you got three and two of them brought their sons

along.” said Pone.

Ben flashed a broad smile until Pone laid down his hand. Three kings and two deuces known as a

full house Kings high. Ben stared at Pone. He was aware that his com-padre had a couple of nick-

names: leave ’im alone Pone and lucky. Luck was on his side.

“Boom!” said Sonny.

Ben glared and sighed. “Shit’d.” He shook his head watching Pone collect his winnings. The rest of

the observers breathed a sigh of relief because they wanted to go home.

Pone and Ben rode the elevator together.

“Mind if I holler at you if you got the time?” asked Ben.

Pone and Ben took a seat at the bar.

The temporary-bartender attending to them was a Sicilian name Antonio. He was the manager and

the reason they still had pizza on the menu, and most of all he was Birdie’s boyfriend. He knew of the

connection between Pone and Birdie and didn’t like it at all, but put up with it anyway. He told Pone

and Ben to take their time that he’d be in his office and to let him know when they were done.

Ben nursed a popular Canadian larger, Moose head beer. “So he’s cool with you and Birdie?”

“Birdie and I were raised up like brother and sister. You can’t beat that, if he can’t keep her,

it won’t be because of me.” said Pone.

Ben cleared his throat then took another swallow of his Moose head. Pone sipped his Goya.

“You remember Al McGee?” asked Ben.

“Your sometime partner,” replied Pone.

“He’s gone missing.”

Partners were far and few considering your partner could easily become your enemy if hired to kill

you. Pone didn’t believe in having one for that reason of possible back stabbing literally. He preferred

to work alone for the most part in the killing business; who’s better to trust than yourself. He knew

that some jobs were for two men or women who made a living in the business too. If he ever needed

support, he knew he could rely on his poker buddies.

“What do you mean missing?” asked Pone.

Assassins and hit men alike played the disappearance act when the job was finished. They lay low

for at least three months until things quieted down. Pone didn’t know much about Al McGee except

what he heard from Ben. In other words, Ben was the reason McGee survived the jobs they did together

McGee was one of many who had no business in the game and he had Ben to thank for still being

alive. Pone wanted to tell Ben maybe McGee took a solo job and fucked up. Most people in their line

of work were either; ex-military, former agents, special ops, or like Pone himself had a mentor that put

him through intense training to make sure he could take another person’s life. From what Pone heard

about McGee from Ben gave him the assumption McGee was not that type of guy.

“Gone … disappeared … vanished.” responded Ben.

Pone sighed.”You know, for what we do, sometimes we have to lay low.”

Ben shook his head. “Naw man, not Al … he doesn’t need to hide. He doesn’t fuck up.”

“Nobody’s perfect, Ben.”

“Al’s always careful.”

“Every time you talk about him, it’s always you and him partnering up. Which means he’s not the

type that likes to work alone. He’s a dependent and may be this once he took a solo job and ...”

“I just got this feeling, man.”

Pone studied the giant. He acted like he lost a little brother that he promised his parents he’d look

out for.

“Okay, tell me more so I can believe he could be missing?” asked Pone.

Ben nodded. “Al got a woman, Ruby and a couple of kids.”

Pone frowned. “When you say, woman … “

“He didn’t jump the broom, but hell we all need love.”

“Well, if he didn’t marry the woman then maybe he’s with another woman.”

Ben shook his head. “No man, he ain’t like that,”

“Not everybody follow the rule of leave us not into temptation. Even some married men

got a little something on the side.” stated Pone.

“McGee ain’t that easy on the eyes.” said Ben.

“Ben, my friend, when you got money, it can make the ugliest man cute in the

eyes of some women. It’s human nature to stray sometimes. And if you want my opinion, men

like us have no business getting involve anyway.”

Pone never understood why men in his profession got married or why women in the business

did the same. It only made problems when enemies found out about the ball and chain. Some of the

cold-bloodied assassins would take out the spouse and kids no matter how innocent. The life of a

killer was already complicated to involve others. Most of the time, the innocent spouse didn’t know

what their love interest did for a living, and some did and didn’t care being narrow-minded by the

easy living of easy money. Some-times that kind of thinking led to tragedy.

Pone took another sip of his Goya. “This Ruby, does she know what McGee does?”

“Yeah, man, your point?” remarked Ben.

“She should be prepared for things like this,” Pone studied his big friend. “Okay, once again give

me something else to make me believe he’s gone missing.”

Ben released a heavy sigh. “I actually heard from Ruby … she called me about two weeks ago. I

didn’t say anything to you then because I felt just like you that he might be laid up some where with

some other woman, but what bothered me was what she said about him not contacting her and asking

about the kids. He loves those kids man and he cares deep about Ruby. He called every day.”

Pone snorted. “He didn’t live with Ruby and the kids?”

“He was concerned about enemies finding out about his family.”

“Was there any particular place he’d hang out?”

Ben nodded.”Clubs was one of his weakness, he’d always go solo. One club

he liked and bragged about it a lot was the Viper Club owned by some woman

named, Black Medusa.”

Pone almost fell off his stool. “ … Black Medusa? What she got a head full of black

snakes?”

“I heard she wears that cheap wire looking braid shit for hair that curves … “

“It was a rhetorical question, Ben.”

“Shit’d, I knew that,”

“What type of club is this Viper?” asked Pone.

“Booze and ass,” remarked Ben.

“ … So why me?”

“You really need to ask that, Man? Yeah , yeah … guys like us are allergic to the po po’s. I can pay

you.”

A zip sound went off in Pone’s pocket. He checked the text message and shook his

head. “You know I’m busy?”

“I know you still work for the Brigand Band.”

Red Brigand to be exact, she was the youngest of the Brigand Band kids who everyone considered

Pone’s guardian angel. The reason he was still alive. After the death of J. Paul, he left the

family business to his kids. Problem was, Pone wanted to ease his way out of the killing business, but

Red’s siblings would have none of it unless Pone left the game escorted by death. J. Paul’s older

children, the twins were not exactly Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb, in fact, all four Brigand kids

were college educated.

The twins Linda and Susan, Sue for short and ten minutes younger had their father’s girth and

features, but their mother Mary’s petite size. Both sported a portly five-two bodies, round faces,

wrapped around Auburn hair and hazel eyes. They were not ugly, but plain Jane with very little help

from make-up. In other words, if they found male callers, then they better not play hard to get and they

didn’t, husbands were similar, but a couple inches taller. Stanley belonged to Linda. He was bald, had

a saggy gut that was on it’s way to meet with his balls. When he sat down, his belly joined him and

when he walked, some people joked that his belly and balls sounded like bongos bouncing off each

other, an exaggeration, but funny. Sue’s man, Murray had a mop top Moe Stooge style hair and a

waistline with more spare tires than the Michilan Man. Put Stanley and Murray together and you’d

wonder where was Larry for a three stooges reunion. They even had kids: Linda and Stanley were

proud parents of two-girls. Sue and Murray had two boys. J. Paul’s younger kids: Paul J. and Brooke

(Red) had his height, but their mother’s pretty features and slender body. Paul J. was named opposite of

his father. Six-four tennis player body, blue eyes, golden hair, bronze skin, chiseled face, and a deep

cleft chin. He had a trophy wife, Angel a former super-model. A brunette with big brown eyes, oval

shape face, and hourglass figure. Three children came from the marriage: a girl first followed by two

boys which made J. Paul very happy to have the possibility of-the family name to be carried on. Since

Paul J. had a rumor about preferring a man’s touch from time to time. Perhaps J. Paul knew that his

only son had sugar in his blood, but was glad that his son respected him enough to marry a woman and

have children. As for Angel, she knew that you got old early in the modeling business and she was no

fool. Word of mouth was, she made sure Paul J. had plenty of Condoms. Red convinced her father

that she wanted to work outside of the family business and became a lawyer-though she knew she’d

always have a link to the mobster life.

Some-times when two people meet, especially a man and woman who are both young, it could mean

sparks. There were no sparks between Red and Pone, but there were a connection that allowed them

both to feel as comfortable as drinking a cool glass of water on a hot summer day. Pone had told her

why a college-educated man became a hired killer. Revenge was a cruel monster that reared it’s ugly

head. Pone became her father’s top man since Wisdom’s skills were decaying. Pone’s mentor did

everything except hanging him upside down from the tallest building to convince him not to go in

the life of crime. Pone knew in order to get revenge on the man who took Shelia Green from them; he

had to become a killer to get a killer. He did and Brigand replaced Wisdom with his new knight. He

told Red about his ordeal and from that moment, a special friendship was built between them. She

convinced her family that Pone would be under her thumb and work for her as a troubleshooter, but

no longer a killer-for-hire. The family agreed, but made it clear that they would be keeping a close on

him.

“I work for Red … I can’t make any promises, but I’ll look into the matter if I don’t have too

much on my plate.”

Ben nodded. “What’s that thing you say you do now?”

“I’m a troubleshooter..”

“That ain’t like no detective?” asked Ben.

“A detective gathers information to solve a committed crime. A troubleshooter resolves a

problem before it gets worse.”

Ben downed his beer and took off.

Pone dropped in on Antonio who he called Tony. Tony was sitting in his office taking shots from

a bottle of Jim Beam. His office was bigger than Birdie’s. Cream color walls with paintings of

buildings that were in Italy. The furniture consisting of two square leather olive color chairs, a

medium sized sofa of the same hue and texture. He sat behind an oak brown desk and leaned back

in a tan recliner. A color coordinator he was not, but he was in love with Birdie. He was good to Birdie

and she couldn’t ask for a better boyfriend. Why Birdie didn’t settle down with the Sicilian was a

mystery to Pone. Pone once explained his and Birdie’s relationship to Tony, but he refused to do it

again.

Pone remembered the first time he encountered Birdie and her sister Jade. He was eight and

balled as a cue ball because of his Alopecia. Pone had gotten tired of the other children calling him

baldy so he followed Sheila Green to the lobby where he got a glimpse of a teary eye Birdie dressed in

a blue loose-fitting dress, long white socks, and black buckled shoes. Her hair was braided in corn

rows and she was sitting in one of the lobby chairs holding baby Jade like a baby doll. Pone watched

Shelia convince Birdie it would be okay for her to hand over Jade. Birdie did and walked past Sheila

to stand face to face with Pone smiled and gently stroked his head. Birdie never did teased him about

his condition and from that day the three were raised up together like brother and sisters.

Pone wasn’t the pity type of guy and so he didn’t feel sorry for Tony drowning his sorrows in a

bottle of hard liquor. He had thought the reason Birdie made Tony manager was because she loved him

and wanted to keep him close by making him a part of the club. Pone never asked or cared how the two

met. He considered Tony a good guy and he treated Birdie right and that was good enough for him.

The brother sister act he and Birdie displayed; though they they don’t show any affection for each

other seemed flirtatious at times mainly from Birdie. Pone let Tony and Birdie dabble in their own

world because he had to deal with his own life.

“About to take off.” Pone looked at the half-empty bottle of booze and the glazed Italian eye. “You

okay?”

“She won’t marry me.” Tony took another shot of the hard whiskey. “Look at you, baby hair.

Porcelain skin … no stubble. Mister Hollywood handsome. Ladies pet, men’s regret.”

“Don’t forget, I don’t have eye-lashes. No thanks to Alopecia.” said Pone. He studied Tony and

what he saw was a man in need of a hug, but not from him since he hated self-pity. Pone was no expert

on love, but he believed that too many other prospects were out there to just lay around waiting for

somebody who didn’t share the same thing you wanted. After all, he was not Cupid.

“But you have eye-brows and hair on your head.”

“A miracle,” Pone sighed. “My business is done. You can close shop.”

“Good-night, Chub.” Toasted Tony.

The time was 2 a.m. The cold night air suited Pone just fine. Since the great meteor, the whole

world seemed colder than usual. Retro City was not the deep south, but it wasn’t the north either. Pone

loved the cold; it cleared his head. He embraced the chill on his face as he glanced at the night sky. Not

too many stars out and the moon winked at him. He had one of his ladies waiting for him in the big

parking lot. She was big, red, and strong. He climbed inside her and got comfortable on her black

interior. Pone loved everything about Lucille his Chevy Avalanche. He leaned back and thought, He

called me Chub? Tony wasn’t his enemy, but they were never going to be friends. He knew that Tony

had heard Birdie call him Chub. Tony still couldn’t grasp the fact that he and Birdie came up together in

foster care.

She was the only one out of all the other children to accept him for his Alopecia. A ll the kids would

call him baldy sitting behind him in class whispering in his ear (and it sure wasn’t sweet nothings)

till he had to retaliate and most of the teachers would blame him for disturbing the class. On his

twelfth birthday, there was a miracle or maybe puberty, and along with a lot of painful injections to the

head. He grew hair, soft baby hair, but all the same it covered his head and the kids didn’t call him

baldy anymore. His skin was porcelain, no five o’clock shadow or razor stubble. His hair was

blondish brown, but he did not have eye-lashes. He smiled because even if he was still bald he knew

that Birdie and her baby sister Jade would still love him.

Pone turned the ignition, it was time to see Red his guardian angel. The reason he was still

walking among the living. On his way to see Red, he thought about his poker buddies. He chuckled

to himself , thinking how many killers can a killer call a friend. The first to come to mind was the old

man Sonny. His facial hair and head made him look like the famous actor Redd Foxx. His tools and

talent for killing was a .357 magnum and explosives. Sonny would escort his targets to a secluded

wooded area and put a bullet to the back of the skull and when it came to explosives, a rumor was he

made a bomb out of a pack of cigarettes. Pone was glad he didn’t smoke. Aged had caught up with his

old friend, Sonny no longer had the strength to pull the trigger of any type of gun. He never mentioned

his age, but Pone knew that Sonny was twenty years over sixty. Wisdom said that if there was anything

that needed to be blown up, then no one guaranteed the job done like Sonny. Now the decaying man

lived out his years with men half his age playing poker. Pone smiled thinking how Sonny tried to

keep up with today’s colloquy, and the fellas were respectful of his ancient views which proved

how out of touch he was with today’s world. Pone thought of him as a walking library and encyclopedia

of knowledge. Sonny was helpful when it came to explaining and simplify things like explosives.

Sonny never said what branch of the military he served or if he served at all and where he got his skills

no one knew, but asking him for his wisdom made him feel like he still had something left in tank.

Pone raised an eye-brow thinking about Stick. All four men had their situations; Sonny was old,

Ben was just big as hell, but so were a lot of guys in the NBA, Pone himself had Alopecia, and then

there was Stick looking like a serpent with arms and legs. Pone didn’t know what to think that maybe

his mother was affected in some way by radiation from meteor fragments. Stick had yellow eyes and

black pupils, a chalky complexion, raven hair that stood out like porcupine quills, and jagged teeth that

he had custom made. If they live in a comic book then Stick would fit right in as a mutant and

not an X-man, but a Morlock which was a mutant that resembled nothing human and live down in the

sewers. He knew Stick had no place in the corporate world though he did wear a suit. He didn’t even

fit in as a blue collar worker or a 7-eleven clerk. No Stick was born to be a killer-for-hire. Pone didn’t

believe he had any military training, but he did have a mentor who took him under his wing because

o f how he looked and realized he’d have a devil of a time making a living other wise. Stick wasn’t

accepted among his white peers, but was very comfortable around black people and said he was an

albino which Pone and the guys knew was a lie. Stick loved black women and they love him and not

just because he made a lot of loot doing what he did for a living. Stick was a contortionist. His gun

was a German Ruger military hand-gun. His specialty was up close and personal. A garot chord and

switch blade. He could wrap his body around you like a constricting snake controlling all movement.

He look his victims in the eye like a snake knowing its prey was doomed while strangling and slitting

their throat. He even had a joker like smile. Pone got chills thinking about his freakish friend.

Then there was NBA size Big Ben Donovan. He was not quick, agile, not even close to being a

Fred Astaire. The big ox and Pone met over a poker game, both men stuck around long after the game

was over to talk about life in general. Pone knew what Ben did for a living and Ben knew the same

about Pone and his exploits with the Brigand Band. Pone knew that he needed a few friends either

to have his back or for information. Pone cringed thinking about the poor soul who had a contract on

his life and Ben assigned to be the Grim Reaper. Ben’s choice of weapons were to shot-gun pistols.

His talent earned him Bone Crusher Ben. His mighty mitts snapped necks like a twig.

Pone’s thoughts were interrupted by what sounded like hard rain. Except that it came form the

driver’s side and not the roof-top of his red chariot. He glanced in his side-mirror and saw a cream

color Crown Victoria. A once popular police car of the RPD. Now they cruise around in SUV and

different models. But as usual, the Po Po’s or the Heat as the Hip-Hoppers and Prohibitions called

them were no-where in sight which was protocol. Let the gangsters eliminate each other the clean

up the mess. The streets were quiet which meant no possible casualties, and that was a good thing.

This wasn’t Pone’s first rodeo. The name of the game was, take him out and build your resume`.

Pone had dealt with both Probonos and Hip-Hoppers.

The Crown Victoria found its way side by side with Lucille heading down North Tryon. If it were

during the day, the street would had been the busiest in the city. Ever since the Great Meteor, all the

cities had a curfew since gangster life was back in full effect. Lucille was sprayed with more bullets.

Pone glanced long enough to observe his would be assassins. They were hip hop wannabes between

late teens and mid-twenties. Probably high school drop outs believing that a life of crime would be

a great career move. Pone could tell they were not upscale by their choice of weapons. An assault

rifle popular back in the nineteen sixties used by the Air Force and Army. M1911 used 8mm ammo.

Pone shook his head, one reason he invested in the Chevy Avalanche was for the height advantage

in battle. In Medieval times, the man on a horse was always thought to have the advantage over a man

on foot unless of course, the man on foot killed the horse, which probably happened a lot in those days.

Pone made a lot of money and he invested it into making Lucille to be able to stand up to bullets and

the youths realized that after several ricochets and the words fuck and shit came from their young

mouths. Yeah boy, Lucille was bullet-proof. Pone didn’t have time to keep dancing; he was already

late for a meeting with Red. He spotted East Seventh which was between two large brick buildings.

It was a two-way street. Lucille made a screeching sharp turn, Pone heard a long loud screeching sound

and the Crown Vic was once again in his rear view mirror, but now on the wrong side of the street. The

punks had a menu of death waiting for them: bullets, a head on collision with another car, and

reckless driving. Pone realized no matter where he turned the fools were going to follow him. He

glanced in the rear view and shots were still being fired. He shook his head thinking that’s why kids

should stay in school. He turned Lucille on North College a three lane one-way street out bound,

and on the 500 block was Tryon House Apartments. The rooms were all studio, low rent and ideal for

young people who worked within the city. Pone’s concern was now that they were traveling in

residential areas which meant they might run into civilians. The complex was still four blocks up.

Pone had had enough, while on Seventh before turning onto North College he had time so set up

Sally. Sally was a model T1927A-1 Tommy Gun. A preferred weapon of the Prohibitions. She had

a detachable butt, but he left it on to steady his aim when it was time for her to sing. He like the fifty

rounds in the magazine. Pone also preferred the The Tommy Gun because it was gangster cool.

With the Crown Victoria beside Lucille, he knew it was time to use his advantage on his executioners.

He set Sally to a single shot; the idea was to take out the driver like cutting off the head of a snake.

For almost every plan there’s always a glitch, up ahead were two homeless people, a woman pulling

a suit case and just ahead of her was a boy about seven or eight. Great thought Pone, a small family,

a mother and a son. Hits usually didn’t happen this time of the morning though it was still night. The

punks were still beside him firing away. The woman knew the drill; she hit the bricks, but unfortunately

the child didn’t; he played statue. Despite the situation Pone got the shot he wanted, he heard a (fuck

my leg) and the car turned off to the side, but not until they were up on the child and the fool in the

back seat kept firing. Pone looked in his rear-view mirror and saw a child in a fetal position; the mother

ran toward the child the child, gathering him in her arms and screamed to the heavens.

The Crown Vic headed up the wrong way on a one-way street, lucky for them it was early morning.

Pone kept going, he had appointment, but his mind was on the punks. Shooting into civilians, it wasn’t

done. That’s the Cardinal rule of the profession. It would be a lesson that Pone would be willing to

teach.

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