I came to terms with my job yesterday after Mr. Fredrick left. I realized I could not keep holding back anymore and it was high time I let go, I was not the eighteen-year-old boy who was kicked out of the orphanage with a big dream; I was Mike Divine, an eighteen-year-old who was a legal adult and old enough to make his own choices in life, I did not need to see another adult to do this, it was my responsibility now. The job was paying, so why could I not take it? I just had to be careful of what I said and how I acted.
Yet I knew I had to know more about the job I was going into, it was a necessary precaution, so I could avoid things that were really dangerous and underworldly. It was a Saturday morning today and I decided it was the perfect time to know more, and who was the best option for such a task?—Derek.
I picked up the burner phone from drawer where I threw it when I came back from meeting the Downworlders, I did not want to have anything to do with the Horus then, but now it was a different case. I turned it on, clicked on Derek’s number and called, it was the only number saved on the phone after all. I sat on the bed and waited for him to pick up the call, my hands drumming on my laps in eagerness. It did not connect the first time, I tried again and waited while the line buzzed, when it clicked, I knew it had connected finally.
“Do not call me, except I call first,” he ordered from the other line, his tone was businesslike and not the cheerful one. I knew I did something wrong, but it was too late to back-out now.
“I am sorry, I just needed to ask a few questions,” I replied.
“Okay, put on your running shoes and come to the donut shop down your block, we are going for a run,” he ordered and disconnected the line.
I quickly changed my clothes to something more comfortable for running, picked up my running shoes, wore it and tumbled down the stairs. When I got out the gate, I moved into a slow jog, passing buildings as I went by, my eyes on the prize in front of me. Derek was waiting outside in his running wears, he eyes motioned for me not to stop but continue, and I passed him and went on.
It was not long before he joined me and together we continued the pace; when he increased his movement, I followed in accord. Our movements were in sync, like a practice dance, each swing of the hand was the dance, the tapping of our feet on the hard earth was the music only such precision could produce. None of us spoke, the only sound that could be heard was our heavy breathing, we ran past several blocks and continued on the way leading to the river. The river was a popular spot for men to talk about their problems while fishing, it was a men’s hangout spot, and hardly would a woman be seen there.
If that was where we were going to have our talk, it must be really a serious one, one that needed us to be men. Derek stopped at the bank of the river and sat down to catch his breath, he was dripping sweat all over, and it was the same for me. We were both too tired to think of starting a fight or arguing, we lay on sand at the bank of the river and let the morning breeze refresh us. “You can ask your question now, Mike,” he broke the silence with his go-ahead statement.
I took a deep breath and said the first thing that came to my mind, “Derek, I don’t want to go into whatever this in without knowing everything,”
“True. It is important to commit to something with the right information.”
“Exactly. I need to know everything.”
“Protocol is protocol for a reason; I can’t tell anything until you prove your worth,” Derek countered.
This was not going as I planned, Derek did not want to open up and I understood he was bound by protocol, it did not help that I felt a little hurt.
“But I can make a little exemption, you pack a punch kid, so you’ve earned it,” he said as he sat up, his top was stained with sand, they clung to him like a second layer.
“Thank you,” I said.
He grunted as a response, his attention was on the flow of the water as they moved their limbs over one another. “The underworld is this river; we are all connected one way or another, our limbs gliding over one another. But there is a hierarchy in our system: the Horus, the Downworlders and finally the Chaos. All have their own set of rules and trade, but these three are connected, their actions affecting one another.”
“At the Downworlder’s villa, the boss called me one of the Horus’ underdogs,” I said, recounting what the man told me at the villa.
“Conner Debunk is the leader of the Downworlders. Sylvester Russo is the leader of the Horus, and Cain Salvo is the leader of the Chaos. The person you met was Conner and he is a vicious businessman. You have also met Sylvester; he was the one who gave you the card, so keep it well.” He turned to me and said, “The Underdogs, which you’re one of, are new recruits. I am an Underlord, your direct boss while Sylvester is our Overlord.”
I already got the part that Derek was my boss in a way, since I never met Sylvester Russo after that day he gave me the card. “What about the parcel? What was in it?”
“It is none of your business, Mike. Never ask about that. That is all I can tell you, and the fact the underworld pays good money, so don’t be a dumb fool by fucking it up. You would know more as you run more errands,” he said and that signaled the end of the conversation for that day. I should be happy Derek was my boss, if it was someone else; I knew I would not have gotten any information at all.
“I am going to hit the water to wash away the sand.” Derek stood up and waddled into the water. I watched him as he went in, I could not summon the interest to take a swim, so I sat back and watched him dive in and before making the decision to always follow Derek.
“The agreed price was one million, so what changed?” The underlord, a representative from the Chaos asked, his veins popping out. He was angry at the switch in price which had already being agreed on from the onset, but Derek said he knew what he was doing, so I allowed him do the talking. We were in a construction warehouse, the sun was long gone and the moon was beginning to be at its full peak.
The underlord had arrived late with a smirk on his face; although Derek did not show he was angry, I could feel the wave of fury oozing from his pores. The Chaos were the last in the food chain, Derek called them ‘Warriors’, they were in charge of defense and attack against the Area 2 Underworld. The Horus was the Alpha, the Downworlders the beta. The sight of a third-rate representative showing such blatant disrespect to a representative of the Horus was not tolerated. I learned more about the hierarchy from Derek and I knew that the act of the Chaos man would lead to his death.
I did not know what gave him the guts to act so proud, especially to Derek, who was the right-hand man of Sylvester Russo; this representative man was seeking a playmate called death.
“I changed my mind and my boss agrees with me.” Derek was bluffing, but I knew Sylvester would agree with him when Derek reported back. The leisurely way Derek handled this transaction had me on edge, it was like he would be making more than a big profit.
“C’mon, man. Underlord to underlord, cut me some slack,” the man said with fake enthusiasm, his words were vile and anyone could tell he still found Derek a joke.
“Rules are rules, so what would it be?” Derek said with a yawn, he was not tired because he could go on for a longer period of time; he was bored and excitement was about to begin.
The last time Derek had yawned was during an international transaction with the underworld of Area 6, the man had been too egotistical for our liking, bragging about how Area 2’s underworld were filled with a pack of losers. Derek challenged him to a duel, the winner would get both merchandise, and the man had readily agreed. He was in for a lot of beating, but I wanted him to feel pain for insulting folks I have come to have a semblance of comradeship for.
It was best to say we got more than we came for—two extra crates of illegal guns and, the pinkie of the man who insulted us, and a bigger honor for having the leader of the underworld of Area 6 come to Area 2 to apologize to Sylvester Russo.
“I don’t agree and you are going to sell it at the agreed price,” the man fired back, he dug out his gun from behind me and raised it to shoot me. I moved to duck, but heard the sound of the bullet leaving the muzzle, accompanied by a pained wail from a human. I froze, waiting for the pain to register, but it wasn’t from me; the human released several painful groans. I raised my head to see the representative clutching his knee where blood gushed out from, and his men that accompanied him did not make a move to help out.
“Who shot me?” he shrieked, but all his men were passive. I look at Derek and saw that his hand was still in his pockets, a bored expression on his face. If it was not Derek who shot the man, he must have been betrayed by one of his own.
“The Chaos is sorry for the disrespect by one of our own,” a young man said as he stood in front of the representative, he returned his gun to the holster at his back. The representative eyes bulged with disbelief, it must be painful to have a comrade betray you, but betrayal was common in the underworld.
“How could you?” asked the representative.
“Take him away, boys,” the betrayer said with a careless wave, and the man was dragged away kicking. Derek smiled at the man and they shook hands, the transaction was over. The representative did not need to apologize, the betrayal from his own underdog was enough to stain him forever.
They exchanged suitcases, one containing drugs and information about a particular fugitive the Chaos were looking for, while the other contained chips with certain amounts of good memories of one million, the remaining one million added by Derek would be sent soon.
“How did you know?” I asked when we were far from the Chaos’ men.
“How did I know what?”
“That one of his men would betray him.”
“It was easy; he looked like a person who would do anything for power, even if it meant stepping on his own men’s toes. Also, I paid attention to their body movement and placement of their guns, one had it so close by for easy access and he had the wicked stare in his eyes,” he highlighted his deduction. I was in awe of how he easily knew his winning end.
“You need to pay attention more, kid,” he added and together we left the warehouse.
Things went smoothly as I continued to following Derek and learning the ways of the Horus. Derek was a strict underlord, and multiple times we got into fist fights because he was being an asshole. He taught me how to fight, how to make transactions between the three classes in the underworld of Area 2. I was connected to the underworld now more than ever, I met other underlords and underdogs. The overlords were not easy to meet, and although I have met Conner Debunk during my first assignment, I haven’t had the chance to meet him again.
I was nicknamed Mockingbird because of my ability to mimic a person almost perfectly—their voice, mannerism and signature. I was good at forgery and disguise. Derek helped polish my skills to make me a wonderful asset to the Horus. Money followed in regularly, everything about me was changing with it.
I moved out of the apartment Mr. Pablo got for me some weeks back, I told him I got a better paying job and that I would not be working at Chico’s anymore. It was painful to say another goodbye to someone special, he was the one person that showed me so much kindness when I left the orphanage.
The thought of leaving Area 2 was not appealing anymore, it felt more like burden, so I had to forget that I once thought about leaving such a wonderful place.
“Hey, babe,” a lovely feminine voice whispered on my neck, her chest pressed to my back, her big breast tickling the rise of my manhood.
“How was the meeting?” I asked, turned around and held her by the waist, she wove her hands around my neck and kissed me.
“It was amazing, Mr. Pablo is a nice man, so I now understand why you are so sad to leave,” she said gently, her eyes shone with sympathy. Victoria was perfect for me, we started dating two months ago, and it had been the most amazing time ever. She totally understood me, and I did not have to push hard to make her understand my feelings, we were in perfect sync and the sex was always mind-blowing.
We met at a party organized by the Horus after every successful mission; it was to promote unity among us and it was always crazy. It was true what they say about drugs and sex, they were like two peas in a pod. The party was getting heated when she walked in, she wore a red backless gown that had a split at the hem which was up to her thigh.
When she walked, her thigh flashed through, taunting the males around, but she was blunt in turning them down. She walked up to me and asked for a dance. I would have been a fool if I turned her down, we waltzed around others who danced too. The party was a classic English themed one, we could blame it on Sylvester who loved the classics. We got to know each other while dancing, I escorted her home and asked her out on a proper date, she accepted and kissed me.
“Yeah, but it is for the best,” I said. She knew I was right, the place was not for a man like me anymore. I was now making more than they could in six months and it would be weird seeing a wealthy man in a shabby hotel.
“Derek is on the way,” she reminded me. Derek had promised to help me pack the few things I had, I knew he just wanted to know where I lived and how I’d lived for the past months. Victoria knew Derek as an older brother I never had, she did not need to know about the underworld in order to keep her safe.
“Cool. Shall we?” Together we headed down the stairs. Mr. Pablo was at the bottom waiting for to say his final goodbye. Derek took that moment to arrive, he went through the gate and walked into the building, but froze when he saw Mr. Pablo.