A FEW CASUALTIES SO WHAT

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Chapter 2

“What the hell is keeping him?” asked Crowe. He was the deputy mayor. A strong thin five-six

physique. His bald pointy-head was surrounded by thick curly brown hair that made his head look more

like an egg in a nest.

“Relax Harvey, he’ll be here.” said Red.

“He better be … this is important.”

“You didn’t want to meet at the state house.”

“How the hell would it look for a killer to meet with the mayor at the state house?”

“He’s not meeting the mayor. He’s meeting you,” Red sighed. “He’s not a killer, he’s … “

“Pone still kills,” said Crowe.

“Only bad people that deserves it.”

“Yeah, right.”

“He has helped you Mister ex- D.A. And he still doesn’t know he helped you and by

the way you have killed too.”

Crowe pointed and frowned. “I use to put bad guys away. Not a bullet in them.”

Red smiled. “Lethal injection, the electric chair … those are the bullets you use.”

“Why are you so protective of this guy?”

That has always been the number one question on the minds of many, especially her family.

They had hoped it wasn’t anything intimate. She was the only one not married and not in any hurry.

Red enjoyed the bachelorette life of going home to peace and quiet. She had no need for a permanent

man since she owned her own law firm, had her own wealth, as well as her family’s wealth and she

was a great cook. But she was also a woman, and like most women she had needs. She found Pone

extremely attractive and at times wonder what it would be like to be wrapped in his strong arms,

cheek to cheek with his stubble free face and to taste those smooth lips. For every Rose, there’s a

thorn. The Brigand Band was the thorn Red had to think about. Her siblings seemed too happy with

their married lives. They had children and all was good, but they were concerned with her relationship

with a hired killer. Pone now worked for her as a troubleshooter. Red loved her father, but hated the

life of organized crime matriarchs. She got into law because she wanted to cleanse the family name of

of all the blood that was on their hands; talk about sins of the father. When word got around that Pone

wanted out, it wasn’t Mary that got upset, but Linda was furious. She saw hired killers as just

cockroaches who should count their blessing just for not being stepped on. She embraced her inherited

wealth more than the other children despite the blood that was spilled. Of all the children she was the

one with her father’s ruthlessness when it came to protecting the family wealth. Some of the Brigand

family members felt a little guilt about how they got their wealth, but not Linda. She was afraid Pone

would leak important information to their enemies and for that possibility she wanted his head on the

chopping block.

Red came to the rescue of Pone and convinced the family that he would not leave the family, but

would only answer to her. Linda agreed with the terms that Pone must always reside in Retro City,

any-where else, then all bets were off. Pone agreed since he had family in Retro and he would no

longer be a killer-for-hire.

Red checked her text. “He’s in the lobby.”

Pone entered the lobby of the Ritz building. He always stopped to stare at the ceiling of the building

given to Red by her father as a gift for passing the bar. The ceiling wasn’t the Sistine Chapel, but it was

pretty close. God wasn’t creating life or anything, but it was just the periodic display from the past to

the present of powerful men and women who looked important and educated. Pone never asked who

the artist was, but Michelangelo couldn’t have done it better himself. The sand colored marble lobby

had a security desk with two guards decked in blue sports jackets, white shirts, red ties, gray pants, and

black loafers. Both in their thirties about six-foot tall and military style hair cuts. They knew who Pone

was and nodded as he entered the lobby elevators. He got off on the sixteenth floor where he met

Benedict Arnold of the legal system, Lars Lambert, who Pone called Lard. The third shift janitor.

Because of who he was, Pone also called the frail man a professional ass wiper. Lars Lambert was

once a prominent lawyer who worked for a crime family known as the Webb. They were a big family;

the problem was that they wanted to overthrow the Brigand Band. Lambert worked for the Brigands

and the Webb family under the table. He felt slighted by the Brigands and allowed greed to cloud

his better judgment. Because of Lambert, the Webb family had every layout of everything old man

Brigand owned and associated with, but a big obstacle the Webb were unaware of was that Brigand

was well connected with the World Council. They formed a special task force consisting of the Army,

Air Force, Navy, and Marines. That special force was simply called the Combine.

Every member of the Combine were blood-thirsty, cold-bloodied men who would discard their own

mother if need be. Pone once thought about joining the Marines in order to join the Combine, but a

9 p.m. Curfew and 5 a.m. Wake up call was not for him. Besides he heard from some of Wisdom’s

friends who were veterans say, (don’t believe the military commercials when they say be all you can

be. The phrase calling a soldier a dog of the military meant you belonged to Uncle Sam and did as he

said). Pone knew that he was his own man at an early age, and he planned to keep it that way, so the

military route was not for him. Some of his school chums went into the service and for some, it served

them well allowing them the opportunity to pursue jobs in the law enforcement field. However, there

an pros and cons to all parts of life. Some of his peers ended up being low rent security guards and

some ended just living minimum wage lives. However, for some people like the Brigand Band, the

military can be very valuable.

Two brothers, nephews, and cousins who were part of the combine helped J. Paul send a message

to anyone who had thoughts of defying him. G. and Macone took notice. J. Paul didn’t want any of

his personal men involved, so he had the Combine make a swift act of the Webb family. The only

existence of the Webb crime family was little Lars Lambert, not even a blood relative. Why was he

still alive? Pone got wind of the betrayal and informed J. Paul. J. Paul was so grateful that he asked

Pone what should be the fate of the little worm. The choices were a bullet to the back of the head,

slit throat, decapitation, bind each limb to four SUV’s and have them go in every direction. Pone

suggested a more humbling fate instead; to never practice law again, never leave the city, and spend

his life working a humbling job.

Lambert tried the fast food chain, but he was too recognizable. Therefore, the only other

alternative was that of a third-shift janitor. His wife left with kids to live with her sister in Idaho.

“How’s life treating you?” asked Pone.

“Piss off.” responded Lambert.

“You’d know a lot about that wouldn’t you?”

“Fuck you.”

Pone smiled. “Now is that any way talk to the man who saved your life?”

An angry sigh deflated Lambert’s body. “I have work to do.”

Pone nodded. “Yeah you do, and before I leave, I’m sure you’ll be wiping the seat my ass was

on, professional ass wiper.”

Pone continued his journey passing a few prestigious office doors and small secretarial

cubicles along the way. He finally arrived at the imposing mahogany double doors at the end of the

hallway. Even Red’s personal secretary had an impressive cubicle that stood out from the rest of the

lawyer amanuensis’s. He opened the door he knew was not still latched down.

“Finally!” said Crowe. He threw up his hands like a wide-receiver saying he’s open in the end

zone. Harvey Crowe used to be a feared district attorney. He had a reputation of putting criminals

away and was very good at his job. He never lost a case, he was a man of pure facts when he went after

the criminal element. Crowe’s vicious manner toward evildoers became legendary among his fellow

attorneys. His tenacity impressed the Mayor enough that he made Crowe his deputy mayor to help

him wage war on crime. A rumor went around prison system about prisoners saying that Crowe’s

name is in their sleep.

Pone heard the rumor and he didn’t know whether it was out of fear or pure hatred for the man.

Pone didn’t care for Crowe, and he knew that Crowe felt the same. Pone closed the door behind him.

He made his way into the grand luxurious office. Painting decorated the wall. A black leather sofa on

the left wall sitting on a pattern throw rug, flanked by two grand brown oak book-shelves featuring

law books, hard-back novels, and Encyclopedia Britannica which had become obsolete with the

invention of the PC. Near her enormous bronze oak desk was a stained display table with a Star

Trek three dimensional chess set given to her by Pone. Both were trekkies and big fans of the

original ancient series. A few plants scattered around the room in an organized fashion to add aura.

The floor was like most of the building, but of a charcoal color. Two plush antic chairs were in front of

her desk with small round brown tables made to hold beverages. Red stood behind her desk, and

Crowe was standing next to the plush chair on the left. Pone sat down on the chair to the right. Crowe

decided to park it as well. Red took a seat, rested her elbows on her desk, then placed her chin on her

clasped hands.

“Why am I here?” asked Pone.

“Two teens died a little after mid-night,” said Red.

Pone shrugged. “Driving home drunk after a party. Texting while driving. Sad but it happens.”

“Try a car bomb,” intervened Crowe.

“Who were these teens?” asked Pone.

Red gracefully rose from her desk gliding to the front to perch herself on top. Pone always admire

the natural six-foot woman. She had no freckles despite being a natural red head. She sported a

librarian bun (and she was certainly no librarian) hypnotic blue eyes, a sleeveless emerald dress

hemmed just above the knee that gloved he hour-glass figure. She believed in showing enough

cleavage and thigh to tease. Crossing her firm legs clad in black panty-hose and black pumps

added definition to her magnificent presence.

“Helen Macone and Reginald Grant.” said Red.

Pone nodded. “A job for the RPD.”

Crowe finally broke his trance on Red. “Your job. You know these people … how they think

and act. This is above the police.”

“I’ve killed these people, and they still want to kill me.” remarked Pone.

Crowe shifted his body toward Pone. “The city, mayor … we need you. We’re afraid that this

might escalate into a gang war.”

Pone pursed his lips. “Well it’s nice to be wanted in a good way, but … “

“I promised the mayor that you’d handle this, and remember, you work for me.” said Red with an

raised brow.

Pone glanced at Crowe, the ex-DA sat back crossing his miniature legs as if he won a court case.

If this were a chess game. Pone would be the black knight, and he was just captured by the white

queen.

“I assume they were both killed in the same car. ” Pone snorted. “Damn … they were dating.”

“And I don’t believe the parents knew about it,” said Red.

“Somebody on the outside did this,” said Crowe.

“You think,” said Pone.

Crowe pointed his finger. “Now look … “

“We need to set up a meeting with the Prohibitions and Hip-Hoppers,” said Red.

Pone glanced at Crowe. “Beautiful minds think alike. I’ll make some calls and set up

a meeting with the lieutenants.”

“Where will this meeting take place?” asked Crowe.

“The state house.” remarked Pone.

Crowe almost had a seizure. “Are you crazy? How do you think it would look to have

criminals … “

Pone laughed. “Pull your heart out of your tight whites. The meeting will take place at

Nadine.”

Crowe adjusted his tie. “Yeah … right … because that’s where all … “

“The cool people hang out,” said Pone.

Crowe shook his head. “Why would anybody want to kill a couple of kids?”

“A lot of toes get stepped on, and nobody has enough manners to say excuse me. You make

a lot of enemies in organized crime. By the way Red, how are your nephews and nieces?” asked Pone.

“Under lock and key,” said Red. “So you’re on board?”

“Oh I makes you real proud, massah,” remarked Pone.

Crowed looked bewildered and Red straightened up.

Pone smirked. “You’re the boss. Besides nothing irks me more than mobsters using kids to make

a point. But I need concessions.”

Crowe frowned. “What are you talking … “

“Name it,” said Red.

“Contact the families for a parlay so that I can do my job. I’ll also confirm it at the meeting

with the lieutenants.”

“What if this doesn’t work?” ask Crowe.

“Then we call in the combine,” said Pone.

Red and Crowe turned a different shade of white. A long eerie silence was broken by Pone’s

laughter. “Take it easy, you two should play poker.”

“A bluff … of course,” said Red hitting her forehead as if she would’ve had a V8.

Pone studied Crowe.

“Spill it, Pone … what’s on your mind?′ asked Crowe.

“Let’s get one thing clear, I work for Red. I am no longer a killer-for-hire.”

Crowe pursed his lips. “You a detective … right?”

“No detective, no private-eye, and no killer-for-hire.” responded Pone.

“Bravo Miss Brigand,” said Crowe with a scrutinized look. “You can teach an old dog new

tricks.”

Pone rose glaring at Crowe.

“You better go Harvey,” said Red. “Remember, you wanted this to be discrete.”

Pone stared the politician out of the plush office.

“Does he have my number?” asked Pone.

“How long have you known me?” smiled Red. Ever so the lady that she eased off her desk gliding

over to Pone face to face. Before Pone could blink twice, Red slapped him twice and pointed her finger.

“Don’t you ever used that slave attitude with me. You know that’s not what I’m about,”

Pone had known Red for a long time and he knew he pissed her off acting as if he was her

slave and she his master. The woman was the ultimate professional, so he knew he crossed the

line when she was about to curse.

Pone shrugged. “I was only joking.”

“You know I don’t like racism.”

Pone nodded. He remembered Red smacking one of her nephews for referring to a black man

using the N word.

“Won’t happen again, boss.”

Red looked Pone straight in the eye. “What’s with you? Never known you not to be punctual.”

“Ran into some gun play.”

“What?” Red escorted Pone over to the sofa. Many including her family believe that she and

Pone have a more intimate than a business relationship. She had no problem keeping the many and

her beloved family in the dark.

“I’d rather have coffee black than bullets any morning and you know I take cream in my

coffee.”

Red shook her head. “Not that it’s ever a good time for a drive by … but this early in the

morning … “

“They knew,”

“What do you mean, Pony?”

Pone always felt like a teenager when Red called him Pony.

“Somebody wanted me dead. Well, a lot pf people want me dead. I wasn’t supposed to make it

to the meeting.”

“This was tight. You, me, and Harvey.”

“Right … they were setting for me.”

Red studied Pone. “Did you get a look at your hatchet men?”

Pone chuckled. “Hatchet boys. Late teens to earl, mid-twenties. Hip-Hoppers”

“My God!” Red shook her head. “Somebody was desperate.”

“There are two kinds of desperate, low rent hoods still trying to make it big and punk kids

waiting to live in the fast lane. Somebody tried to get kids to do what a lot of men couldn’t.”

Red squeezed his knee. “At least you’re safe. No worse for wear.”

“Not exactly,”

“What’s wrong, Pony?”

“A mother and son … homeless … somebody didn’t teach those boys the code. You don’t fire into

civilians.”

“Pony, it’s not your fault.”

“I’ll set up a meeting with the lieutenants of the families.” Pone gazed into Red’s sapphire eyes. “I

need you to do me a favor.”

“Anything.”

“Make some calls about the boy. Let me know if miracles still exist.”

Roland White sat in the white Chevy S-10 out in the middle of nowhere on his cell.

“Hey you said you wanted the best, well I can’t do that with what you’re paying me.”

“You got kids to do a man’s job.”

“Ain’t no man gonna put his ass on the line trying to take out Chubby Pone. You gotta break the

bank for that.”

“You better find somebody other than kids to do the job or your black ass will end back in the pen.”

“Hold up man. I’ll get the job done, but if you want the best then you gonna have to put up more

cheddar.”

“You trying to put the squeeze on me? Keep in mind you and your boy are my puppets. I pull the

strings.”

“Look, we came through for you blowing up them kids. We didn’t fail you then and we ain’t

gonna fail you now. But even you should know Pone ain’t no joke. He been dodging bullets for

years.”

“I don’t give a shit how good he is, in order for my plan to work he needs to be dead. If you

can’t get the job done. I’ll go back to the pen and swap you two losers for somebody that will do

what needs to be done.”

“We can do the job, but in order to get the best we need more loot.”

“All right, I’ll get you your money, but if you fail me again … you won’t have to worry about

being homesick.”

“Hey, you said so yourself people can’t know we out and so I got to dig deep to find someone

to do the job while staying on the down low.”

“You ever play baseball, Roland?”

“Yeah.”

“You won’t get three strikes.” The voice hung up.

White sighed. I ain’t going back inside, he thought. He looked at the dark morning sky. He

took it for granted until the sound of clang which still rang in his ears. The caged bird’s song was

never so true until you go inside. He still had to get use to having coffee alone. Prison made a grown

man feel like a child. They tell you when to go to bed, get up, to eat, go outside, and to come inside.

Twenty-four seven non stop supervision; after all you were among rapists and killers. Two years in

the army was enough control for him. They had rules as well: when to go to bed, when to wake up,

but it sure as hell wasn’t prison. You shared quarters with others, but you didn’t live behind bars.

White surprised his family by joining the army who basically considered him a shit ass. Plain

and simple a no good for nothing bum. He’d showed them that he could break the cycle of being a dirty

farmer out in Rock Hill. He used those two years to learn a trade that helped him to get in good with

the Hip-Hoppers. He knew how to make bombs and blow things up and made good money doing it. No

more being told to go to bed and when to eat. Unfortunately good times don’t last and seems to end too

soon.

He shook his head trying to figure how things went wrong so quickly. His incarceration came as a

surprise and felt more like a set up. He had thought it would be a good idea try a hand at freelancing

without the Hip-Hoppers knowledge, he became a bomb maker for hire on the down low. He sat

pondering perhaps that was a mistake and maybe the reason he ended up in prison. He got a call from

a man who did not give his name, but offered a lot of money which was why he went freelance to fatten

his pockets. He was hired to blow up a building so the owner could collect the insurance policy, the

building was supposed have been unoccupied for some kind of employee day off. He blew up the

building and some people who were in the area became casualties and that made him a murderer, but

on technicality, and when the Hip-Hoppers found out about his outside business they dropped him like

a bad habit and he was on his own. He was quickly prosecuted and before he knew it he was behind

bars. Once inside, you lose your membership with the Hip-Hoppers. Once he got out he had to stay

under the radar because he was in for at least five to ten years and got out in three which confused him

since he did murder a few people on that bomb job. According to his attorney the DA office

overlooked some evidence which he was never told what the evidence was, but it was enough to

reduce his sentence. White had more confusion jammed into his head being thrown into a cell with an

outcast from the Prohibition gang. Krasko became his new partner in crime when both of them were

released at the same time and he never even bothered to ask Krasko how he ended up behind bars

in the first place because he was just happy to be out of prison. White thought even more about his

situation when he found out that Krasko had bomb making skills. The first job they completed together

was taking out two kids from their former employers. He and Krasko knew getting out of the pen early

label you a snitch and a guaranteed death sentence.

Murdering the children of two of the city’s crime families would also put them in the bone yard. So

it benefited Krasko and him to be kept on the down low. Only he, Krasko, and the man pulling the

strings knew what they did because he ordered them too, which made him an accomplice as well.

White didn’t care to know the name of the puppet master, because for now he’d just enjoy his freedom.

-“I ain’t goin’ back inside,” he whispered sipping his coffee.

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