image copyright: Mon Macairap

“Kare wa hi busōdesu,” the brutish lieutenant barked as he walked back across the derelict warehouse to the oyabun and his three other bodyguards. All of them, Silas noticed, were heavily modified. Only one of the men was without ocular implants, all of which gave off the same dull orange glow. The oyabun, a stout yet muscular man in a grey sleeksuit, nodded and took another drag from his cigarette. Silas straightened and dusted off his coat before he spoke.

“Shall we get down to it, then?” Silas barked, his voice echoing wildly through the wide, barren facility. The oyabun gave a slight bow and dropped his cigarette to the floor. Silently and slowly, he strode closer to Silas. When he stopped, they were mere apart. The elderly man kept his hands behind his back.

“Why have you chosen now to speak with us?” the oyabun said quietly and firmly.

“I have had no interest in making friends in this business of ours until now,” Silas offered flatly. “My house was raised by my two hands and the men in my employ. I took care of mine and mine alone by keeping my messes from spilling over into my neighbors’ yards. Now, someone seems to have taken a liking to my house and they mean to have me out of it. That is not something I can abide.”

The oyabun stood perfectly still, seemingly unfazed by his words.

“When you are thirsty, it is too late to build a well,” the old man said, again revealing no emotion.

Silas bit the inside of his cheek, trying to keep his composure.

I fucking hate that I need them, but I need them.

“I came here in good faith, to speak with you, boss to boss,” Silas grumbled. “Your organization commands a great deal of influence with the other syndicates. I need friends and I’m paying handsomely for them.” He motioned to Bones, who stepped forward with a briefcase. Bones lumbered down and laid the briefcase open in front of the oyabun, then returned to his place back at Silas’ side.

A pale blue glow emanated from the open case. The oyabun’s gaze did not waver from Sila’s face.

“Inside are the deeds to five properties. All of them fences in legitimate fronts. Two on the West End, one by the river, and two near the docks. Together, those operations make up ten percent of my business. Ten percent that would be yours. A gift for the Yakuza’s assistance in this matter,” Silas offered, struggling to exude grace.

The old man stared at him again for a moment then snapped his fingers from behind his back. As he turned and walked away silently, one of his entourage walked over to the case and sealed it, following the elderly boss closely behind.

Before Silas could voice his confusion, the old man paused and turned back to him ever so slightly. His men stood still beside him.

Quietly, the oyabun said, “Be wary that you are not fleeing a tiger at the front gate only to meet a wolf at the back.” And with that, the Yakuza men walked off, disappearing into the shadows.

“Fucking wise old monk that one,” Silas muttered to himself as he turned to leave, waving for Bones to follow. “At my wife’s meeting this morning, what was your sense of things, boy-o?” Silas asked him gruffly.

Bones hesitated a moment.

“Out with it!” Silas barked, smacking him harshly on the back.

“H-he said you and the missus oughta get outta ‘as soon as possible.’ That w-was it,” Bones stuttered.

Silas sighed, shaking his head. “My wife said as much herself. You just can’t be too careful.”

Bones stepped ahead Silas when they came upon the exit, a wide and dented metal door. He kicked it open swiftly, drawing his pistol.

Silas chuckled and laid his hand on Bones’ shoulder as he stepped out into the dim evening. The alleyway was barren from end to end and the rowlights that adorned the buildings’ facades almost seemed to take turns flickering.

“If they were gonna ambush us, they’d’ve done it already, son. Relax,” Silas reassured him. He fished his phone from his pocket and dialed Morris. Leaning up against the wall, Bones lit a smoke. He had barely taken in a drag before Silas snatched it from his mouth and spiked it to the ground. He held his hand out for the rest of the pack, which Bones quickly gave to him.

“Sorry, Boss. I forgot the rule. It won’t happen again,” Bones muttered, hanging his head. Crushing the pack in his free hand, Silas pressed a finger forcefully into Bones’ chest and grimaced.

“See that it doesn’t. I’m not getting an infection because you’re fucking careless,” he snapped then let him go.

“You need me to send a car, Boss?” Morris inquired, picking up on the other end.

“Meeting’s been adjourned, my boy. Let’s get back to work,” Silas replied.

“Yes sir. On the way,” Morris confirmed.

“Right. Laters.” Silas ended the call.

The night air was cool on Silas’ face. He stretched his arms out and flexed his fingertips while they waited to be picked up. Bones fidgeted idly with some gravel at his feet but kept his head on a swivel like a good soldier.

Silas mind wandered back and forth. All he saw before him were twisted hands clawing for his business, for his livelihood. Something wavered in him about Enora also, but he couldn’t center on what it might be. He thumbed through his phone and pulled up her messages. He read the last one he’d sent to her.

  • Babes, I won’t make it back to the flat tonight. Got some nasty business needs tending to on the Eastside. Don’t be up all night with the books.

Her response:

  • I understand, love. I’m feeling a bit under the weather as it happens. I need to rest. Speak soon.

Putting away his phone, he looked to Bones. The young man met his glance.

“Something the matter, Boss?” he asked.

Silas considered his words a moment, then placed his hands on both of his shoulders, bringing their faces close enough to smell each other’s breath.

“Right now, son, the list of people I can trust is dwindling, getting smaller by the day.” Gripping him tightly, Silas added, “I want you to keep your eyes on everyone. Every. One. Anyone pulls something that doesn’t smell right to you, I’m the first to know. Got me?”

Without hesitation, Bones nodded in agreement.

“Yes sir. I’ll keep an eye out,” he said coldly.

“That’s a good man. You’ve always been someone I can count on, Skin and Bones. Even if you’s all muscle nowadays,” Silas said, patting him on his thick shoulder.

“Thanks, Boss. I won’t let you down,” Bones said, firmly.

Several minutes passed by uneventfully. Silas was only stirred his pacing when he heard Bones shift from the wall he was leaning on, kicking up gravel in his wake. Bright white headlamps turned down the alley and illuminated them harshly as the car crept closer to them. Bones stepped out in front of it, one hand in his coat gripping his sidearm. The automacar braked gently before coming to a stop. The doors hissed open for them. Silas approached the left and Bones took the right. They both climbed into their harnesses and Bones holstered his weapon.

Just as he leaned over the console to punch in the address for the club, two burly men in black suits and masks forced their way into the car with shock pistols drawn, the sound of their charging up piercing Silas’ ears. Bones reached for his pistol, but the man on the right was quicker and blasted him with a light shock. Bones’ body seized up like a marionette tangled in its own strings. He was screaming but made no sound.

“Next one is yours, so I’d be still and be real fuckin’ quiet if I was you,” the masked man on the left ordered.

Silas nodded, gritting his teeth.

“The boss wants to see you,” the mask on the left said, almost smirking.

I’ll bet he fucking does.