Hi and welcome (back). Thanks for the very warm reception of the ‘Terminal 8‘ series. Hopefully, the dots begin to emerge from this episode (you choose when and how to connect them). In case you missed the opener, you can find it here.
Today’s post was written by someone I’ve got tons of respect for – Michael. If I had no more than three words for him, they’d be: Genius, Industrious and Adventurous! He’s (amongst many other things) an excel consultant, and you can learn to fix an ailing government on his blog ;-). ‘Crime Pays’ [sic]!
There I was in in my living room, reading the police account of my handyman’s death. It was the second time in three months one of my top associates had been whacked. I always thought my crew was air-tight – that we had things on lock. But, all that was changing quickly. Instinct told me there was more to the deaths; someone could be making a move on me. It felt like fiction, only realer!
My wife is the best woman God made. She thinks her husband is into the booming haulage business, so she focuses on raising a great family. Even though luxuries abound, we vowed to teach our kids the walk of honour. My daughter is in the uni, studying to become a lawyer and the boys graduate from college in a few months. Overall, we’re the perfect family – and I, the father of dreams. But no one can know the truth – at least not them; I would die to keep them safe from it.
When I’m not being their loving father and husband, I’m the head of a full-blown criminal empire. I should know better; I once did – but things are hardly what they seem.
Being the only child in an almost perfect family, crime didn’t even feature on my list. But, tragedy soon barged right in. I lost both parents in a crash while I was just 13. The extended family claimed all they had – all, except me! The hospital took care of my wounds, but had to turn me out when no one showed up to claim me two months down. Things quickly got cold and dusty from there.
The only human willing to pick me out of the streets happened to be a rich crime lord, and I soon rose through the ranks. I became the brains of his whole operation. I knew everyone and who they knew. I knew who to pay and who to scare. I knew what to do, when and how. The boss could rest when I was in on any score; he trusted me.
But soon, I began to miss my dreams. I wanted a regular life; it was time to move on. Sadly, there are some ventures one just doesn’t walk away from – moreso as I had been the brains for 12 years. The boss didn’t want to lose me – but, more than that, he was scared I could turn on him. The crew stopped including me in operations or briefings. I knew those signs all too well. The boss had given the word; there was a bullet with someone’s name on it. I had become the mark. Only option was to disappear – forever.
I came here in hopes that thing would be different. I wanted a clean slate – but I had gotten really good with crime. Much as I tried to hide, it found me out and set a feast before me. That was many years ago. Today, I own an envied chunk of the dark world. My empire was built on rules and the sanctity of human life. We encouraged kids to stay in school, and didn’t kill anyone the law didn’t want dead!
Things have, however, not been the same in a while. The death of my second ranking associate could not have been coincidence; someone was coming for my seat! But, who? One of my own, or someone from outside? I picked the newspaper again and said a prayer for the departed. Whatever was going on had to end.
If I could expand the business, I would have taken care of any external interests. And, if it was from the outside, they’d eventually offer a truce. The other option was skipping town till I could figure things out. But, what if the leak was from within? Who could I trust to take care of my family? No way I was letting any harm come to my family. It was time to dine with the devil; I would take Colonel Pipe’s offer.
As always, he sat alone in the corner of his favourite bar. I had called ahead, so his massive guards didn’t put me through much of a hassle. A quick pat-down and we were on course.
“Been a while, Iron Pipe. How’s you?”
He looked at me for a while, wondering if I came with anyone. “Drink?”
“Nah; air for me. We gotta talk. That deal? I’m in!”
“Ah”, his eyes brighten as he placed his glass of Guinness on the table. “Shipped sailed, man – but another’s coming. Really heavy. 20% for using your warehouse; another 10 for logistics. My friends from the new republic need to know you’re good people. So, oversee my next drop; got some heat on me. My boys will load something in your car. Simple exchange: arrange a secure spot, drop the bags and pick up the briefcase. Bring it here in 48 hours.”
“Sounds great, Pipe”
“Deal’s for tomorrow night. So call me by noon with the location. One more thing: don’t mess around with these guys.”
Pipe had always been a man of few words – but, few as they were, they brought great delight. With the backing of his friends from the new republic, I could expand and get a share of the downtown markets. We shook hands firmly as I made to leave the bar. He knew I was in for sure this time. The only thing left was to figure out a location for the drop. A while ago, I didn’t have to worry; Farouk and Smokey would have handled it. Whoever took them out has ensured I have no one left to trust!
As I drove back from the meeting with Pipe, I couldn’t help notice the uncompleted part of the train station; somewhere after the seventh terminal. It felt like the perfect spot for the drop; no one would ever suspect anything was going down. A few calls later, and I knew who to speak with if I needed to use it. The space was under the watch of a dead-end police officer. Dude had never done anything crooked his entire life; they said not to even try– but I know every man has a price. As luck would have it, his wife was due for critical surgery. Even the rich found the procedure expensive. But, I knew a man like that would do anything for his family – so I made him an offer. I would foot his wife’s medical bills; half before the drop, half after! All he had to do was keep the cops away from that station before, during and after my operation. Hesitant as he was, it was an offer he really couldn’t refuse. Terminal 8 was ours for the night!
One hour to the drop, I called the three ranking members of my crew and gave them a sketchy brief. Then, we said our psalms, grabbed our weapons and headed to the terminal. 8 was the lucky number. We weren’t expecting any issues – but, in this business, you just never know!
It was a dark and cold night – a dealer’s fantasy. The wind blew softly as we awaited the crew from the new republic – and they were soon with us. Impressive team; they knew what they were about – and I could tell I wanted to do more business with them. Things were going as planned. We had spotted the briefcase and were about to swap when someone ran in from the sealed section screaming ‘excuse me’. Before any of us could think, bullets began flying in the direction of the accosting voice, reducing him to an island in a sea of blood. The intrusion caused enough panic to scatter the deal and we all fled the scene in frantic haste. Scary end to an otherwise beautiful evening.
Sweaty palms nervously gripped my gun and a bottle of rum as I sat on the floor of the safe-house. I wondered if Pipe would blame the flop on me; he was never the most reasonable of humans. Who knows if he had been the one trying to take me down all this time. Maybe this was just the excuse he needed. But what about the innocent life we took? After all I’d seen and done, I understood how that weighs on a man’s soul! I wasn’t sure which my head needed more – the rum or the itchy bullet peeping down my gun’s barrel.
A quick swing of the bottle brought brief consolation. It could have been much worse if we hadn’t taken silenced weapons; people may have rushed in from nearby terminals and increased the body count. At least I still had the colonel’s original bags. I could try to explain to him – even though there’s a huge chance he won’t listen.
A few tears made their way down my pulsating cheeks as the consequences sunk deeper. I would be totally wiped out if the colonel chose not to listen. My crew, my business, my family – all I ever labored for. It was much easier to run before I had a family; not now. For years, all that kept me going were thoughts of what the rival crews would do to my family if I pulled out. I was trapped in the maze I built. Crime certainly pays – but all who share always pay more in the end! That’s clearer now than ever before.
Thanks for reading. Michael will be waiting in the comments section. We’ll take one of ‘Terminal 8: Highs n Lows‘ or ‘Terminal 8: Friend In Need‘ next! Merry Christmas in advance! 😉