The Pick-up

Jerry sat in the car parked outside the warehouse, engine idling, struggling to keep his eyes open. He was sure he fell asleep at some point each night but, he could barely tell. He would be laying in bed  each evening in, his alarm  sounded and it was morning again. The time between just gone, blank, devoid of either rest or dreams. What he really found draining right now, however, was how monumentally boring the waiting was. He began to think the reason why Maslow’s guys all smoked was just to pass the time.

He reached down to the console for his coffee, the cup now half empty and cold. This was supposed to be a simple pick up. Something in a shipment, something hidden from customs, was delivered to the warehouse. Jerry didn’t know what it was but it had to be small enough for Victor and Joseph to carry it out themselves. Drugs, jewels, art, the people who dealt with Maslow had diverse tastes. Somewhere, high up, Jacob would be looking at the car, just in case something went wrong. In case Jerry couldn’t be trusted. He was fairly certain there was a rifle involved. It didn’t worry him, just more of Peter’s over zealousness when it came to planing. Betrayal wasn’t part of his job at the moment.

The more he thought about it the less sure what is job actually was in all this. He began to wonder what was taking the other two so long. This thing should be pretty straight forward. The warehouse was friendly. Peter said he got the call confirming the package was delivered earlier today. What if someone else had gotten turned? Working for someone else? One of the warehouse employees, one of Maslow’s people?

Suddenly Jerry could feel the cross hairs weighing on him. He wanted to throw the car in gear and take off. He knew that was the worst decision. If he wanted to get through this he had to ride it out. He just had to wait. He breathed out slowly.

Glancing into the rear view he saw the door to the warehouse open. Joseph stepped out and walked to the rear passenger side door of the sedan. He just stood there. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look at Jerry he just watched the door he had just come out of.

A long minute later Victor emerged. He held the door for an older woman in a business suit and dark green sunglasses; hair graying probably in her fifties. Victor took her arm as the door closed behind them. They walked towards the car. Every step she took seemed thought out, purposeful.

Joseph opened the door of the car and the woman entered the vehicle. Victor stepped around to the other side and got in. Joseph closed the door behind the woman then stepped into the front passenger side. They sat for a moment in silence.

The others began to have a quick paced conversation in Russian. Jerry struggled to understand at the speed they talked. He was able to figure out they were discussing his credentials. He just stared forward and pretended not to listen.

“Your name is Jerry?” the woman asked with a slight accent.

“That’s right ma’am.” Jerry looked at her in the mirror, his gaze reflected in her sunglasses. His head began to ache slightly.

“Do you know who I am?”

“No ma’am.” The dull ache in his head seemed sharper now, almost piercing.

“I am Liliya. They,” she waved her hand around the car indicating the two other men, “they call me Baba. For you, ma’am will do for now.”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Good, you will take me to see my nephew Peter now.”

She turned her head away from him. He felt the pain begin to ease.

Jerry put the car in drive, and headed back to the office.

This scene is 14th in a story currently known as “The Untitled Thing”. The rest of the series is indexed here

The Watchman

This is the tenth scene in the serial“The Untitled Thing.” The previous installment is here You can get up to date on the rest by checking out its index page.

The door of the hotel room was open by muscular,  grey-faced man wearing  a black wife beater and an annoyed look. He stared for a hard moment at Jerry then, seeming to reach a judgement, turned and walked away across the room to the balcony and stared out. Jerry followed him in part of the way before he was greeted by an all too familiar face.

“Hey there kiddo,” Davis smiled at him getting up from his chair, “you look a hell of a lot better than you did  at breakfast a couple weeks ago.  You’ve been damn hard to get a hold of, when I told you to get some rest I didn’t mean for you to go on damned two-week sabbatical. Good lookin’ suit by the way”

Jerry unconsciously ran his hand down the lapel of his jacket. “Thank’s, I’m going for the over achieving middle manager look. I’m thinking Maslow will relate, well to the middle manager part anyway.” he crossed the room and shook hands with the older man, “So any reason why you wanted to meet here? It’s a little more upscale than your office, roomier too, so I’m not really complaining.”

“Up yours Jerry. Let me introduce you to Ellis Durant,” Davis said indicating the man at the balcony. “Mr. Durant here is the gentleman in charge of our surveillance team on our boy Peter and company. He’s who got you everything in the files you’ve been studying so far. Ellis, this is Jerry, our inside man.”

“Nice to finally meet you Jerry. Mr. Davis expects a lot from you,” Durant shrugged. “Help yourself to the mini bar if you like.”

“Careful there Ellis,” smiled the old man, “he’s likely to bite your head off if you offer him a drink.”

“Jesus Davis, let it go. I already said I was sorry.” Jerry walked past the bar towards the man staring out into the city. “You’ve done some great work Mr.Durant, I feel like I almost know Maslow personally. Like Davis said though, I’ve been out of the loop for a couple of weeks, anything new happening with him?”

“Peter Maslow is a very boring man lately.” Durant spoke without turning from the balcony, ” He rarely ventures far from home unless it is to go to his office. Except on Thursday. Thursdays he goes out to dinner. ”

“Where does he go? Who with?”

“Different restaurants. Different people. Sometimes there are drinks afterwards. There will be a pattern. There is always a pattern.” The gray man said in a hollow tone. “You should call me Ellis. We will be working very closely from this point.”

Jerry glanced at Davis.

“Ellis is going to be my eyes on you for the next leg of the job here kiddo. He’s very good at watching people, it’s what he lives for. He’s kinda strange that way.” Davis walked over to the bar and fixed a fresh drink.

“So what, you’re done with this?”

“Nope I’m still in part of your life for the foreseeable future sport, I’ll just be a little more behind the scenes. Our friend here will let me know how things are progressing. You’ll be using this hotel as home base.” Davis finished his drink and picked up his shoulder bag, “You have a room reserved on the next floor, right above this one.” He fished a piece of paper out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Jerry. “From now on, if you need me call this number. Leave a message on the voice mail if no one answers. Just don’t be dumb enough to call from your cellphone.”

With that he walked out the door.

“So Ellis, what’s next here?”

“In the morning I will bring you more information,” Ellis said. After a long silence he finally turned his gaze away from the balcony. “It is a beautiful night. You should spend it with Janice.”

Jerry felt something sink in his gut. “What do you know about her?”

“I would be surprised if there is something I don’t already know about your life Jerry.”

“I think I’ll have that drink now.”

Conversational Russian

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The door opened and Mr. Davis stepped into the apartment. In one hand was a plastic bag from the deli on the corner,  over his shoulder was the shabby, brown, leather briefcase he always carried when he left his office. He strode towards the kitchen and set the to go bag on the counter. After a moment of fiddling with the buckles on his satchel  he reached in a pulled out a large, plainly wrapped package, which landed next to the plastic bag with a dull thunk, rattling the coffee pot.

“What’s that?” Jerry asked motioning towards the older man with his chin.

“Meatball sandwiches,” Davis grinned as he took off his jacket, “from Sal’s, they make the best tomato sauce in town. There’s one in there for you.”

Jerry sighed, he wasn’t in the mood for this. “The package, Davis. What’s in the package.”

“Oh that, it’s a language course, conversational Russian. Totally immersive, software, books, audio files, online content, the works.” he said, removing the foil wrapped sandwiches from the bag.

“Alright, I’ll bite. Why did you bring me a course on Russian?”

“Cause you’re gonna learn it.” Davis informed him. “Our guys say most of the people we’re lookin’ at seem to be from Slavic families, a lot of them from the mother’s side of the family, so it took us a bit to make the connection. Good chance you’ll run into some heavies from the old country as you work your way up the chain.”

“Don’t you think it might make them suspicious,” Jerry pointed out as he walked over and picked up the package, “that I conveniently speak Russian?” He turned it over in his hands glancing sideways at Davis.

Davis just smiled and rolled up his sleeves. “You don’t need to speak it, you just-,” he stopped and looked around the kitchen briefly. “Say, you got anything to drink around here?”

“Not really,” Jerry shrugged, “haven’t had a chance to get out to the store today.”

“Damn it,” he swore under his breath,  “I can’t eat one of these beauties without  beer, it’d be damned near a sin.” The old man sighed and pushed the sandwich away from  him. “Any way, we don’t want you to speak one god damned word of Russian, not in front of anyone. We want you listening in it. Make sure these guys buy into the fact that you don’t understand a damned word of what they say if they start talkin’ in it. If you can get at least a basic grasp of the language we won’t have to wire you for sound, and that’ll be good for your life expectancy.”

Mr. Davis unrolled his sleeves and reached for his jacket. “You have to learn it as you start making your moves on our boy Pete. How’s that coming along? Never mind, we’ll talk about him when I get back from the store with our drinks.”

“I guess I wasted my time taking french in high school, huh?” Jerry suggested as he started opening the package.

“That depends kiddo,” Davis mused as pulled on his coat, “did bein’ able to speak French ever get you laid?”

“Not that I can remember.”

“Then you probably wasted your time Jerry.” The handler affirmed as walked outside.

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Getting to Know Him

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Photos and scraps of paper peeked out from folders scattered across every surface of the small, dimly lit office. Jerry paced the room flipping through the file he was handed shortly after he arrived. “What am I supposed to do with this?” He asked the heavy-set man.

“Peter Maslow, that’s our guy’s name. That’s his life in there, well the good parts anyway.” Davis was leaned back in his chair , eyes half closed, with his feet on the desk. “That’s one you’re gonna go toe to toe with. That’s who we start with, so you better start learnin’ a little somethin’ about him.”

“I thought you said we already had this guy, that he was looking to get out.” Jerry tossed the file onto one of the piles. “We make him disappear, I take over for him right?”

The old man put his hands behind his head and shut his eyes the rest of the way. “Yeah, he’s lookin’ for a way out but, until we get you in position we can’t approach him. If you took the time to do your homework you’d see he probably ain’t bright enough to act his way out so we got to make it real for him.” Davis sat up and reached for a bottle on his desk, he waved it at Jerry who just shook his head at the offer. “How ’bout I give you the cliff notes, just to get you started.”

“His  family’s been middle management for some years now. He kinda just fell into it when his old man had a heart attack a while back. Kid barely finished the college degree that got bought for him and, bam! He’s swimmin’ with the sharks. He’s only got a basic understanding of what his dad was into and now he’s supposed to run the whole show. His mom’s not much help to him, when she’s not loaded up on Xanax, she’s in Miami doin’, well you get that picture. He’s come so close to exposing other people in their operation on a few occasions, including being put under investigation for a small time racketeering charge over an idiotic book-keeping error that he’s afraid he’s gonna get removed, and not the nice way. He’s probably right except they ain’t figured on who to replace him with yet; besides he’s still more valuable to them scared than dead, at least for the time being. So he’s faced with a long and miserable life under the thumb, or a short, messy and probably painful death if he screws up again. This poor kids life was ruined for him, comin’ outta the gate. Now here we are, coming to screw him over just a little more. It’s kind of sad, once you wrap your head around it. 

“What? Now you want me to feel sorry for this jackass?” Jerry shrugged, he gave into the temptation and poured himself a drink.

“Kiddo, how you feel ain’t got a damned thing to do with what I want,” Davis answered bluntly, raising his voice a couple of notches, “or what you have to do. I’m just sayin’ you get a guy like this, you know; well-connected, raised in a family that’s been basically morally bankrupt goin’ on three generations, only marginally intelligent. How’d you expect him to end up.” Leaning forward he squared his face up with Jerry’s “What I am saying, is before we make a decision on how you’re gonna to deal with him, we all need to take some time; watch him, listen, ask few quiet questions about him. Try and get up a long side him and find out who he really is, and how he thinks, and what other people think about him.”

“Alright, alright, I get it.” Jerry said picking the folder back up “I’ll look it over and take some notes.”

“Good, be quick about it kiddo, your boots are on the ground in a couple of weeks. This Maslow guy is the weak link, if we don’t compromise him it’s only a matter of time before someone else does.” Davis sipped his bourbon and smiled. “Still go ahead and take a couple of days to read that through, really get inside his head. ”

Jerry nodded, slammed his drink, and headed for the door.

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Inspired by a Weekly Challenge