Tuesday, August 30, 2005

When pushing comes to shoving P.2 ...

"

Blake was being used by some tough boys. After the fact, one person was sure it was the Russian mob, another was certain it was the Irish mafia, and another was sure it was Rupert Murdoch. Who it was never really mattered, it was what was going on that was important.

Blake had a crush on eye-grabbing Gwen since they went to grade school together, so she decided to test his love for his Chicago-resident girlfriend one night at a bar she knew he haunted. Blake broke down and admitted the relationship in Chicago was a cover story for a delivery he made. Blake, it turns out, was a runner. All Blake knew was that a guy from work, who was nothing more than a stockboy at the same grocery store Blake worked at, would give Blake $300 and a suitcase. The rule was that the suitcase was loaded into the trunk of Blake's car by a friend of the stockboy’s who would show up at closing time. The suitcase was to stay in the trunk and remain unopened – no touching for Blake. Blake would then drive to Chicago, and go to a little bar on the North Side of the city. I think it was Johnny O’Hagan’s… or Fado’s... anyway, it doesn't matter. Once at the bar, he’d go inside and ask the bouncer for a Luke. Blake would pull his car to the alley, and Luke would come out to meet him. Blake would pop the trunk and step back. Luke would first give Blake another $300, then take the case and send Blake away. Blake usually blew the $600 bucks partying downtown all night, but that's another set of stories. He’d drive back Sunday and go back to life as usual. He always figured that each trip was going to be the last one, but each month, his co-worker would ask him if he’d do it again. It was a recurring date. Until Gwen found out.

- This is supposed to make me trust you?

The truth shall set us free, Jimmy. For a long time, Blake just hopped back in his car, and drove off, not wanting to peek at Luke, who always checked the case before re-entering the bar. Curiosity eventually won out on Blake, who watched in his rearview mirror, to see the stacks of bills in the case. In fact, anyone could’ve dragged this info outta Blake once he saw that – even a measly $600 a month planted the seed of greed, and was pretty pissed off that he was being paid pennies compared to the loot he was transporting.

Enter the Dream Team. Our job, Jimmy, was to convince Blake to miss a trip. We sat him down one Thursday night, before his upcoming trip, to bombard him. At first he was pissed off, but all 6 of us were masters. We had a whole plan – we’ll drive just out of state, stage an accident, throw in some corrupt cops, and we all become rich. Blake bought it, and we were off.

We followed our plan to a T, Jimmy, and our surprise came when we found out there was more in there than just $500,000 in that case. What was in there, Jimmy, doesn’t matter. What does matter is that we all used those fortunes to build ourselves – it’s the foundation of all of this – but it came at a price. People don’t like to lose things like that, Jimmy, and we were good at convincing people of lies. Blake wasn't. As a result, I’m the only one of that group still alive. If they ever do find me, they’ll kill me. But, time has long passed, and the person you see before you is what the world… and under-world… know.

- Wow. Great. I’d like to be sure I don’t get a ticket, so if you don’t mind –

I know a lot of people, Jimmy. People who want this Cube. They know what it does. Or at least what it might do. This thing has stirred up every good, bad and ugly buyer of mine across the globe! Everyone wants it, yet no one can find it.

- So you’re giving me a raise, is that it? This isn’t about money.

No, Jimmy, it isn’t. This is the first time in my life I can atone for my past. This Cube… I’ve already arranged a team. Scientists, researchers, mathematicians. Once you find this, Jimmy – you – we bring it here and dissect it. You and I, together, will find out what this is. Then, you, yes you, and I will decide together what the next step is. You’ll be paid in full and get to help decide what happens next.

- What an empty promise.

This is a win-win, Jimmy. If it’s a bad thing, then you’re one step away from all the unsavories I know that want this. You’re in the belly of the beast, so you’re closer than anyone. If it’s a good thing, then you can easily tell the world where I’m at if I don’t give it back to its recent owner, Mr. Kiteway. If I'm lying, you're still the one who gets the Cube first. And, if I’m telling the truth, then you really don’t have a thing to worry about.

- What if someone else finds it first?

We’re not at that bridge yet, Jimmy. We’re still waiting to see if you’ll stay in the hunt…

[Dammit.]

- You said something about security?

[He smiled. Jackass.]

Perfect solution. I have a pair of twins who need a little… lighter work. Katrina and Melina. Very good. You have nothing to worry about with them watching your house.

- I don't know... I don't know...

[Mr. A. came back around and sat back down behind his desk.]

I'll get on the dog-nappers. In the meantime, I need your brain on the matter at-hand. Have you gotten any cards yet yourself?

- No, I… I don’t know how to do the thing online.

Tell you what. Bernice can show you, outside. I want you to buy as many packs as you can, see if they let something slip through they didn’t mean to. If this is as bad as you think it is, Jimmy, I want this to go the right way, too. With your help.

- I guess.

Am I still the villain?

- I don’t think it matters anymore.

Our fates, Jimmy, you and me… their intertwined now. This has no escape hatch anymore, no parachute."

-----------------------------

I hit stop, here. I left with Roxie. Welcome back, Jimmy!

I know.

One other weird thing. I got a letter in the mail today. From a “Gertrude Stein.” She was a friend of Emily’s. She says she’s new to the area and wanted to see how I was doing. She left her phone number and mailing address in case I want to say hi. The thing is, I was married to Emily for 25 years… and I never heard of this “Gertrude.” Strange, indeed.

Well, now that the arthritis is acting up, I need some sleep. No news from Potter, but it may take a while.

Goodnight, E.

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