Toni Petti LIVE

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Chapter Nineteen

“Back off Blue. I’m serious. I have a real job.” I point to the CP24 News logo on my windbreaker to make him understand that I’m a working professional now.

“Tone. I bee tryin ta signal,” Blue says, “Yah nah safe.”

“You’re the one threatening my safety.”

Drubbin and Goat step from behind the scenery on my right and left sides. The way forward is still open, and normally I’d just antelope the hell outa here, but with a gimbal mounted camera strapped to my waist, I’d be lucky to make it to the street.

“Back off guys.”

“Hand over ya phone Tone.” Drubbin comes close and reaches for my butt. Goat grabs my left hand and Blue takes my right and steadies the expensive camera I’m wearing.

“Okay listen, I’m done. It’s over.” I shrink away, “back off!”

“Toni,” Blue shakes his head like he has a lot to say. “Ya gots ta listen. Ya gots to come wit us. Please.”


“Chantwell wans ta speak to ya.” Goat says.

“So what? He can kick rocks. Stay away.”

“Is that your phone?” Drubbin spots the square bulge in the back of my Daisy Dukes.

I try to power-up the camera to record the trio assaulting me, but I’m not fast enough. “Get away from me!”

Goat and Blue holds me as Drubbin pries open my back pocket and pulls out my phone.

“You’ll hate me for this now.” Drubbin says, “But thank me later.” The black youth jumps in the air holding both ends of my precious iPhone. He drops and cracks the gadget on his knee and bends its metal case. The glass shatters and sprays plastic shards. He tosses the mangled appliance on the concrete and steps on it again for good measure.

“You bastard...” My eyes on my beloved, the full horror of the loss is beyond comprehension. A girl’s phone is her sacred treasure, her ambassador to the world and my phone was extra-special. It was the digital repository of all my networking throughout the protests thus far. It had hundreds of contacts and pictures from Gagner and sentimental videos. Arrrgh! I’d murder this hoodrat if I wasn’t wearing all this camera equipment. This black youth with his hair in corn rolls and his stupid mesh jersey and baggy jeans just robbed me of something that's core to my being. I feel sick.

“Ee’s jus followin ordahs.” Blue says, reading my mind.


Drubbin kicks my electronics against the side of the dry fountain. “Jawill tank me when you know...”

Blue and Goat hold my arms.

“You bastards owe me an iPhone. I’m not kidding.”

Drubbin loses interest in the destroyed device and returns to help the strip the Canon camera off my body. They’re careful with it, I notice. They march me over to a familiar looking Cadillac, the same vehicle Chantwell drove on Tuesday, but there’s no sign of the old catfish.

“This is abduction... Paul!” My eyes scan the exterior of the Eaton Center for cameras which could have recorded the malevolence.

“Toni, we know ya talked to da cops yesterday,” Blue looks disappointed.

“So what if I did? You’re watching me?”

“Ja bess naht ave sed anytin bou Chanwell,” Drubbin says.

“I didn’t.”

“They ask?” Blue glares at me; he’s more serious than I’ve ever seen and it’s unnerving.

“They showed me his picture yes. Told me his real name.” I try to reason with my friend, “let me go.”

“I kena do dat”

“Why not? Paul!”

“Trust me Tone, I known you long time. We been true sum tings.” Blue says, “you gotta truss me now.”

The three Trinidadian youths put my new camera in the back of the Cadillac. The light grey interior still has a new car smell. I sit in the back seat on the hump behind the center console. Drubbin sits on my right and Goat on my left. Blue drives and there’s nobody in the front passenger seat.

“Chantwell put you up to this?” I ask.

“Ee be your only hope.”

Blue turns north on Bay and I see a white-robed nurse with a red cross on her back slowly making rounds in the homeless camp behind Toronto’s new City Hall. I lament the lost opportunity to make an artful video of that healthcare worker’s visit. Arrrgh. That’s news. If I’d taken a nice wide shot of the camp with that nurse in the middle, they might have used it on the air.

“No Paul. I’m done.” I point to the silver CP24 logo on my black windbreaker, “I joining this gang.”

“Butchu haven joined yah,” Blue says. I glare at him in the mirror. How do you know anything?

Blue picks up a sheet of paper that looks like a script. He begins to read aloud the words on the page as he drives. Drubbin giggles.

“Ja geh ma email?” Blue reads in a lower-than-normal voice. He switches to a higher octave, “No. What did it...?” Back to a lower pitch, “I sent you a link to apply for a temporary position...” He pauses and then continues in the low pitch, “a temporary camera position.”

Oh my God. It’s my phone conversation with Mark Dixon yesterday. How did they get that printed on a sheet of paper?

Blue continues his performance. He returns to the higher pitch voice. “Are you kidding?” He mimics the excitement I had when Mark informed of the job possibility. Drubbin laughs aloud at the comedy and Goat winks at me.

“Are those your comfortable shoes?” Drubbin asks, admiring my black Madden Girl boots.

“How did you get...”

“Ahlwah be explain’d.” Blue concentrates on his driving.

“Dat’s why ja phone ha-ta-be destrah,” Goat says and pouts a frown, a facial apology.

“Let me out.” I squirm and both Goat and Drubbin restrain me.

“Dere’s been cops all over da coffee stain.” Blue ignores my struggles to talk and drive, “one of dem covid clubs on Drummon was buss and during da hubub dere was a robbray on Carlyle.”

“So? I don’t care. Let me out now or I swear to God...”

“Shit be going down tonigh and you’re part of dis whether you like or nah.”

We drive in silence and I contemplate the situation.

“I seen ya wit seepee twenny fouh Mark Dixon and I know ya caught a break,” Blue catches my eyes in the rearview. “Dis be a rael quick meetin Tone.” I remain silent and stew on my predicament. He drives up Bay street and we cross Bloor.

Five minutes later we nip around the bend to Avenue Road and he makes a right and we drive even further north through the posh Forest Hill neighborhood and then to Oriole Parkway and finally to Eglinton Ave West, also known as Little Jamaica.

Little Jamaica is a thriving community that runs from Allen Road to Keele and it’s quite developed with all manner of Caribbean restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, fabric shops, salons and tattoo parlors. There’s a Western Union at the far end and every convenience store up here advertises phone cards for long-distance minutes.

Blue parks Chantwell’s luxury SUV in a small parking lot behind some Eglinton St business. We all exit the vehicle and Blue, Goat and Drubbin lead the way toward the back patio of a restaurant called Rum & Cola. I smell tangy BBQ chicken and spicy pork sausages being cooked over a smoky grill. I hear people laughing, glassware tinkling and Soca music plays softly underneath.

The restaurant establishment has an old fashioned Pepsi business sign with the clip-in letters that would normally display the names of musical performers or drink specials, but now in the age of Covid it simply reads, 'Please maintain social distancing'.

There’s a smoky grill on the far side cooking lunches and a big screen TV shows a soccer game being played somewhere in the world. Every table is occupied, mostly by middle-aged couples. We enter the building itself through an arch curtained with string beads pulled tight to the sides. The inside is beautiful.

The walls of the Rum & Cola cafe are lined with portraits of great Calypsonians from the 1920s and 30s. They have names such as Attila the Hun, Mighty Terror and Macbeth the Great. One poster from the 1930s shows a black man in a coat and fedora. The headline: Sir Lancelot. The caption below reads, ′Let the fascists talk about superior race, it will lead them to defeat and disgrace.′

The speakers hum and an old Black man sings, ′when i was a young my Grandad he said to me listen boy never ever worry or your problems will simply grow bigger. Never ever worry ..”

Blue is not a thug, and this is another reminder. Yeah I’m mad that he smashed my iPhone and abducted me, but I don’t consider him a hardened criminal. I’ll forgive him if he buys me another phone. Underneath his fuzzy blue hair, Paul has a beautiful mind. He’s a very talented singer and songwriter.

Calypso is protest music. Not many people know that Island Music contains ballads ripe with social commentary. The big hits tackle themes like racism, the Cold War, and the cost of living. As Blue once explained to me, Kaisos were performed by a griot or a local bard who told stories in song. The music became a means of communicating and interpreting political events, and it was a primary news source for many islanders.

“Chantwell is upstairs,” a voice from the kitchen informs us, and Blue leads the way.

The narrow stairway is lined with more phrases which must be popular song lyrics. One slogan reads, public transportation is an abomination, and another claims that children come out of college without elementary knowledge. At the top of the stairs appears the phrase: If you tell them the economy is no longer in full bloom, then you become a prophet of doom & gloom.

The stairway rises to a hallway landing between two rooms in the attic of the building.

On the north side is what looks like a waiting room. There’s a coffee table and flat screen opposite a black leather sofa. The north wall is a wide open sliding glass door out to a 6x6 balcony which overlooks the backyard patio of the café.

Chantwell sits behind a glass desk on the south side of the attic space, and his window overlooks Eglinton Ave. The old black catfish-man has an open laptop and books and papers spread out before him. It’s from this small triangular attic space that he runs his business empire.

“Ja phone smashed gyrl?”

“Ya owe me another.”

“Dat’s possible,” Chantwell studies me with a wide smile, “Buh I don wan no connexion betweeh us.” He motions me to sit down in the chair opposite his desk. Blue stands behind me and his two friends behind him. The slanting walls up here are completely covered in vintage musical hall posters and valuable portraits of early Calypso singers.

“You have to let me go.”

“Ja ken go.” Chantwell waves, “buh jawall be taken an questioned by policemah tonigh””

“The police are not going to arrest me, or question me,” I say. “Now can you please return me downtown. I have a real job thank you very much.”

“Jawal should thank Chanwell for tha,” Blue says. “Twas ’is tip ya? An he donna ax ya fur ’is money bah.”

I turn and stare at my blue-haired friend. My expression asks, whose side are you on?

“There’s some bidness we muss disscuss Toni,” Chantwell clears his throat and spits into a garbage pail. It’s disgusting and I wince at the sight and sound of it. He continues, “anudder opportunny fur you. Tings goin dow tonigh, and den it twall be over. Jawall be taken fur questioning if you go home nah anywah.”

“Okay, I’m going to give you one chance to tell me what’s going on in a way that makes sense.”

“You know about him?” Chantwell turns over the top sheet of a stack of papers on his desk. I see a black and white paper print-out of a video frame showing the two agents in grey suits from my Dark Alley video upload. It’s a bad frame and they’re hard to discern, but I recognize the image and know their faces from memory.

“McKenzie...” I try to remember his first name, “Clinton McKenzie.”

“Nah dis one.” Chantwell taps the image of the short haired Quebecois police lieutenant.

“Govan Cochutemete?”

“Da puppet master.”

“But he’s police, er law enforcement.”

“Is he?”

“Yes. I saw him cross the police lines at 52 Division. I saw him chat and mingle with them.”

“Ee’s da man who scares da police. E can walk right tru dem and dey never arrest him. But e’s durdy.” Chantwell says and I do recall how he tried to bribe me.

“So what happens in the alley?” I ask. “What’s it all about?”

“Ee’s come to stop da music and get paid.” Chantwell taps the picture of Cochutemete. Then he turns over another sheet and there’s another paper print out from my video. It’s a black and white picture of the two motorcycles in the garage. “Times up for dem you see. Guns & Gangs task force. Dey beda reepers.”

“Okay,” that’s good information. I remember from Googling and reading the PDF report; Commander Govan Cochutemete Appointed to Lead Special Division of Guns & Gangs Task Force. But why were the doomed bikers’ motorcycles parked in the garage? I’m about to ask, when Chantwell answers. He turns over the next sheet and I see an OPP police mugshot of Johnathan Herbert Dannon, AKA Johnny Danger. This is the same fellow the cops showed standing beside his blue Harley Davidson motorcycle. I wince. He died because of me.

“Da cops be squaring tings up... Make a sugah cube.” The aged bald man wipes sweat from his brown and his bracelets, rings and necklaces jingle with the exercise. “Dey singled ow Johnny an turned ’im. Dey promise ’em ’is freedom ana a lil kiss.”

“Okay,” I absorb the information, but it’s difficult to look at the fellow’s face knowing he died because his Fatboy motorbike was spotted in my video, allegedly. “So what’s with the van?”

“Ah dat’s da rael drama,” Chantwell shows the next picture which is another frame from my video. It’s a bright clean B&W shot of the Mercedes Sprinter van under a streetlight. It’s from the start of the clip, when the vehicle passed me on Carlyle. I can see the two creeps in the cab. I remember how the fat passenger glared at me as they passed. This was recorded before I’d found the entrance to the alley behind the apartment building. These guys drove to the end of the Carlyle and then turned up on Drummond to enter the alley from the west, which is the proper direction on the one-way conduit. Chantwell waits until I look at him again before he explains, “normally da van brings da baby gang leaders. But dat night it brough a turd biker. We don nah es name.”

Now I recall Mark Dixon’s story about how he saw a wealthy Somali enter this van in the Green P parking lot below Nathan Phillips Square. He’d said the cops were all over him for his details after he accidently recorded the clandestine taxi operation.

“It could be legit,” I reason. “High level police work?”

Chantwell shakes his head no. “Da bikers.. Dey import cocaine. Den use juniors to salt da boroughs. Parcels layn ou peacefah. Everyone profits gurl. Scooby Doo bad man ova ere make tree gran a wee. But den... Guns an gangs. Big man comes an blows da whistle. Times up. Music stops. Everyone mus find a seat Muck Raker. Publik be ungry for arrests.”

“Dey collude Tone. An da durdy copper dere fixin to make killins,” Blue stands up and points at the picture of Cochutemete. Chantwell motions him to sit down again.

“Killings?” my fear rises, “meaning they take bribes?”

“Da baby gangs dat pay, dey can stay.” Chantwell confirms. “An when it goes down, da big money never ges foun,”

“Okay, so I don’t care.” I fold my arms and look around at their faces. Blue looks disappointed, his friends are mad at me, but Chantwell seems amused at my defiance.

“All da liddle folks be clipt.” Chantwell waves his arm towards Blue. “And dat includes Scooby Doo bad man ere.”


“Axe em why lader” Chantwell waves away my concern. Blue looks down at his feet. Why are the police after him? How did he make three grand a week? I feel sorry for him, but my thoughts are still on my own anxious predicament and how Mark and Exter and Terry English must be worried. They're probably waiting for me to return with stock shots and how I have no phone anymore. We’re twenty minutes away in traffic. I’m eager to get out of here and put all this nonsense behind me.

“Da cops’ll clip you too,” Chantwell fingers another paper which he doesn’t flip. “Dere was a ver strange robberee in da koffee stain yeserday.”

“They can’t put anything on me. I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Do you know a lawyer?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. One contacted me,” I retrieve Chantwell’s own business card and turn it over. “His name is Howard Ruby.”

“Ya. Howard works for da police. Ee’s a police informan. Ee’s brudder’s an Outlaw banker. Oh yah, ee’ll take ur case. Ee’ll learn as much as possib, den advise ja tah a plea. Donever call ’im.”

“Fortunately, I have no reason to call him.”

“Police gonna ask you bout dese two.” Chantwell turns over his last sheet of paper and I gasp. It’s a long lens photo of Samuel Parris lifting the retractable steel grate and breaking into Rabethgie’s Jewelry! Mikey Doodles stands beside him with a stupid grin on his face. Sam had no doubt just unlocked the gate the secret key, its hiding place exposed in my unpublished video. I cringe. A dozen thoughts rush to mind. I recall how he watched my laptop in Mikey’s apartment while I slept on the couch. His gold cross necklace and Gorie’s diamond earring confirm my worst beliefs. The girls that were going through the recycling bins outside my window, now I know what they collected; the white cushion jewelry boxes all had a gold stamp and that moniker must have said Rabethgie's. The sheer audacity of the robbery and the clumsy disposal of evidence enrages me. I feel extremely betrayed because of last night. Arrrggh. I’ve let another petty thief steal my heart.

“Where did you get this?” I reach for the print.

“I’ve loss of lidal eyes in places ja canever imagine. I collect da pass, but also da fuwtcha. Da police be arrestin dese two tonigh.” Chantwell studies me and then asks, “ja know dem don chu?”

I picture Sam in my bed, the image fresh in my memory. I want scream at him. I knew he was unconventional, but to commit Break & Enter? Such petty crime. It was something I did as a kid, and something I paid dearly for as a Youth Offender. He’ll go down as an adult.

“Do the police have these?” I ignore his question. He smiles and I hear Drubbin giggle.

“Oh yes,” Chantwell has more photos of the robbery. I gasp at perfect shots of Sam and Mikey leaving through the front door with white garbage bags stuffed full with lumpy loot. They’re not even wearing coronavirus masks; the boys made no effort to conceal their identities. “Dese pics be scans fresh from Fitty-One Divishon,” Chantwell says and he watches to see how I’ll react. I frown because I know that’s the closest police precinct to Neill Wycik. How did he get these pictures? He must have people on the inside, police officers on his payroll.

“So what do you want with me?” I just want to get myself back downtown, but also, I’m beginning to wonder why exactly Chantwell brought me here. He isn’t aware that I know the two thieves, or that I’m indirectly responsible for their robbery. Does he want me to go out creeping again? I wont.

“There’s no way I’m going back to that alley,” I tell him.

“Is nah da same spot tonigh,” Chantwell waves away my guess and then motions towards Blue and his two henchmen, “I gos plenny of lital bees. Buh...”

“But what?” Let’s hurry this along. “What exactly do you want?”

“I nee yur channel,” Chantwell pushes a blank piece of paper and a pen towards me on his desk. “Everyone be watchin. I nee ta uploa befor midnigh an I worry jawall be locked tup.”

“You’re demanding access to my YouTube Channel?” I ask. I assume that’s what the pen and paper are all about. It’s similar to how Cochutemete asked me to record my username and password. I’ll never give that up.

“I feel you owe me dat,” the gang leader says.

“Well... ahh...” the full horror of his demand floods my brain and clouds my thinking. I don’t owe him shit. Just relax and think this through. I'll never give my user credentials or compromise my channel, so, there must be some way to talk him out of this?

“It doesn’t work like that.” I claim, “you know, user protections. It’s tied to my Gmail. If the user tries a new device the system will challenge with weird questions.” I obfuscate, but that identity theft mechanism is present, and what I say might even be true. It sounds good. Chantwell’s face clouds over in a frown, and so I offer a better solution, “I’ll upload whatever you give me...”

“Butchull be in da clink.”

“I’m not tied to the robbery,” I lie to him and everyone in the room, “I don’t know these two. Not really.”

“Jawall sleep ina ’otel wit WiFi. I pay.”

“You think the cops are gonna kick in my door?” I ask. “Tonight?” Is he just trying to scare me?

“Ummmm,” Chantwell weighs the situation like he’s debating how much to say. “Yass. Dey take ya in for questioning.” He holds up his right hand and spreads his fingers, “five ours.” He glances at his own designer wristwatch to confirm his prediction and then nods an affirmation.

Five hours? He’s so specific. Is he so tapped into the Toronto Police Services that he even knows when I’ll be taken-in for questioning? How much more does he know?

We hear a dog bark outside and Chantwell cranes his neck to peer out the open window behind his desk. “Well done Casper. Bring er roun,” he shouts down at someone who stands in front of the restaurant on Eglinton ave. He waves and all his jewelry jingles. Someone in a passing car honks and he waves again. Then he turns and motions the henchmen to take me away. “Jawall lea us nah. Blue you stay.”

“So that’s it?” I ask. “I just upload what you send and I’m done.”

“Ifya too scare to venture ou... Doesnay bother ya scandal-broker? Durdy cops?” Chantwell presses me, “don ya wah ta expose ’em?”

I stand and Drubbin closes to contain me. “Don’t touch,” I tell him and he lowers his hand.

Chantwell chuckles and nods at Drubbin to stand clear. He speaks to me again, “ja smar gurl Tone. I ken coun on ya ta poss wha dey bring ya no matter wha or when.” He says and looks at me and I realize it’s a question. I nod yes, and he continues, “Den I keep ya safe tonigh. I pay for de ’otel and les see wha we see.” He waves us away.

I descend the rickety staircase filled with slogans and Drubbin grabs my arm to steer me towards the lounge. I shirk away. Blue is still upstairs getting some last minute instruction and I’m alone with his goons. “Don’t be touching,” I warn the hoodrat again and he smirks, as embarrassed as gangbangers ever feel. “Do it again and I’ll kick you in the head.” I state matter-of-factly.

I traipse away past the well-stocked bar and through the empty restaurant. Blue’s henchmen stand by the back door, content to let me wander. The karaoke machine dominates the dining room and it must be on a loop because nobody is here. A video projector paints words on a big screen; a yellow dot bounces over song lyrics by an artist named Shadow. The track is called, Poverty is hell.

A poor man living in a teeny-weeny hut
The children hungry, nothing in the pot
He gone by the neighbor to beg for some rice
The neighbor under pressure, “Boy, things ent nice.”
He gone in the big shot area to beg
A police put a bullet in his teeny-weeny leg
He gone in the courts and he lost the case
The prosecutor say he have a bandit face.

Poverty is hell. Poverty is hell.

“Toni.” Blue comes downstairs and tries to reassure me.

“What did he mean you’ll be rounded up?” I ask him, “why are you in trouble?”

“Toni...” He mumbles and tries to deflect but I’ve know him so long I instantly understand.

“Oh my God. Your deliveries weren’t all food.” I realize it was Blue who first contacted me, and introduced me to Chantwell. He’s the one who put me in the center of this whole fiasco. “You knew! This shit storm.” I’m right. I can tell by his mournful expression. “Why? Would you?” He looks down at his shoes. I continue to guess, “your mom? Your family?”

"Aye. Everting. I knew ja’d guess it.”

Blue’s father ran off when he was a child. He had to grow up quick and tried some shortcuts which made him a youth offender. I met him when Gagner joined Brookside to pick trash and rake leaves. He told me then that his clan always needed money and he'd do anything to help. He must still feel the same pressures and so he'd delivered narcotics alongside normal food which I will admit is good cover for such activity. Now I know why so many wealthy people wave to my blue-haired friend.

We exit the restaurant the same way we entered, through the back patio. The place is over capacity I’m sure. There’s a fourteen year old boy getting a lot of attention. The black kid wears a backwards baseball cap and holds a slobbering boxer dog by the collar.

“Take Da Pooch.” Chantwell’s voice is heard. He stands on the balcony above us and bestows instructions to Blue and his minions. “Casper. Led ’em boro.”

Da Pooch, a slobbering cream and tan coloured boxer is eager to smell everybody’s legs and feet and if anyone kneels or bends for any reason, the dog invariably licks their face. Casper, the young black teenager rather reluctantly hands Blue his leash and my friend reassures him the animal will be safe. It seems Chantwell has arranged the teens take the pet as cover.

Back at the Cadillac, I check to make sure all my gear is still present and it’s all there of course. They probably could have left the SUV unlocked and it’d all be safe. Everyone around here must know this is Chantwell’s Escalade.

“Tone sit up fron wit me,” Blue directs me forward as Da Pooch is loaded into the back between Goat and Drubbin. The boys all thumb their phones which makes me feel the loss of my device more acutely. I guess I’m supposed to be happy they told me the police were listening. I guess Cochutemete did do something to my iPhone back at CTV McCowan? Or maybe he just cloned it somehow? Yian would know.

Blue drives down St. Clair and catches all the lights till Yonge. He passes over the great divide and turns right on Mt. Pleasant which becomes Jarvis and it’s a real fast drive south. He turns right on Dundas and the calm is suddenly shattered by a group text. All three of the boys’ phones sound alerts which are beeps and musical jingles, custom ringtones. Da Pooch barks.

“The bees are buzzing,” I say, but they all ignore my sarcasm to feverishly thumb their screens. Some time passes.

“Blue you shouldn’t do this. None of you should...” I refer to Chantwell’s evening plans. I know they’re going to stake out alleys and try to record a high level clandestine meeting on their phones. But in my opinion they have almost no chance of just randomly encountering the drop.

But I have no doubt such a meeting will occur in some alleyway somewhere in my shady neighbourhood. If you think about it, the perfect rendezvous spot is a garage lane where there are no cameras and where nobody visits except to park. Nobody will see or care if bikers and policemen and secret agents in dull grey suits accept briefcases full of money in such locales. Any restaurant or donut shop or megamall parking lot would have cameras and that means there’d be a record of the meeting. Hotels have dozens of lobby cameras, and so do truck stops and gas stations. So, for evildoers, a quick meeting in a dark laneway is a smart solution. But for Chantwell's bees to wander dark alleys randomly looking for them is super dangerous. Getting video of money changing hands between bikers and cops would be spectacularly incriminating, and for that reason it’d likely be the last recording the little bee would ever make. Cochutemete is not going to mess around with citizen journalists anymore. Yet these guys don’t seem to be too worried about the risk.

“Ten thousand dollars,” Drubbin announces, “I’m gonna put a down payment on a condo.”

“Ten thousand dollars?” I ask. Where’d that number come from?

“Get outa jail free card,” Blue gestures toward himself.

“For what?”

“To see whose in da van tonigh,” Blue answers.

“Da guy who gets da van-ride tonigh will ave a briefcase full of cash,” Goat says. “Chantwell says ten gran for proof who’s payn.”

“He’ll see when ja post da vidyo,” Blue makes it concrete.

“Because that’s the gang that's allowed to stay in business?” I venture.

“Nah when ya pos da video,” Blue says and all the boys laugh. They believe my YouTube channel will expose the corruption. I shiver at being in the center of this. Blue notices and glares, “ja cannay back ou nah.”

I stew in the new information. I consider Pat’s ideas about recidivism and the universal constants. The Wheel turns and whatever little trouble you start comes back around twice as big. There was a time when I’d be happy to research and crush police tyrants, but now I see a new path. I can’t record the police and wear the CP24 jacket.

“Let me out here.”

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