Chapter XXXII: Special DeliveryLeaving The Last Round, I paid Larry a call, wanting some new hardware. I nodded familiarly as I approached, the fat man gesturing when he saw me.
'What's your point Larry?'
'Action? What action do you have in mind?'
I raised an eyebrow, listening to the machine-gun words firing from Larry's mouth.
'In spirit at least. Care to tell me what you need one for?'
I thought. Whatever was in that case was valuable, to Larry at least. I could tell by the eagerness in his voice, the way he danced on the spot. If it was so valuable to him, surely he could do better than that...
'Sounds alright Larry, a good friend like me would be willing to take on a few gangs for a good friend like you.'
Larry grinned, opening his mouth, but I continued to talk.
'And a good friend like you, well, if he was done such a good favour, he'd have no choice but to give his close friend a discount on his merchandise, right?'
'Of course', I responded smoothly, shaking the man's hand. 'Consider it a done deal.'
'Not right now. See you soon.'
I turned, looking at the open below-ground carpark. Walking past the too-unobservant guard, wondering idly who had paid him off, I peered into the darkness.
Creeping quietly down to the first level of the carpark, I edged around the corner, eyes darting, counting. At least four men patrolling, plus others standing guard at intersections. There was no way I'd be able to move through them quietly. I quickly dismissed the idea of brawling my way through. Perhaps I could make small work of the men, provided they were unarmed. So many, and with semi-automatics, that might even cause me trouble. Then there was always the chance that one would manage to get out, raving about a monster who could get shot and live, who crushed some men like insects and fed from others. I'd have to do this quickly, and quietly.
A maintenance ladder provided the perfect alternative. Climbing up, I quietly opened the grate and climbed through the ventilation system, around the perimiter of the room, climbing down towards the ramp to the second level.
The second floor was covered by darkness, most of the lights on the level switched off. Those that did shine illuminated the cement walls only dimly, in a flickering, pale light. Under this cover, I was able to easily avoid the patrols, sliding silently past them, a ghost, a shadow amongst other shadows.
Invisible as I was, picking up snippets of information was simplicity itself. The Tong had become involved in a lucrative business deal, although the details remained a mystery. The Tong would not speak of it, and the local gang didn't know. It had been lucrative however, and it seemed that its culmination resulted in the Tong gaining effective control of the Chinatown district. The other gang was concerned, fearing an encroachment into their territory. This handover was in the way of a truce, an agreement to respect boundaries.
Heading down the ramp to the third level, I was momentarily annoyed to find a member of the Tong guarding the walkway. Standing in the light as he was, proceeding down to his level would alert him to my presence. I could not afford the chance of being noticed before he could be removed. Luckily, to my right I found another maintenance ladder, giving me the opportunity to bypass him completely. Crawing hand over hand through the vent, I could hear the sound of footsteps underneath me, safety-catches clicking in the comparative silence, the occasional cough. Coming to the end of the shaft, I removed the cover, and dropped down to the floor, landing with a muffled thud. A maintenance ladder across the room gave me the opportunity to bypass this floor altogether. Presumably, the handover would be occuring on the lowest floor. Gangs were nothing without their flair for the dramatic.
The bottom floor was crowded in comparison to the others. Cars lined the wall, grim faced men standing behind them, guns pointed over the roofs. Not a word was exchanged, as the representatives eyed eachother, hands gripping the case handles firmly, knuckles white. Moving quickly, I circled the cars, taking advantage of a shadow, stunning one of the guards. I crept forward, seeing a lone briefcase lying behind the leader of the Tong.
I swiftly lifted the briefcase, marvelling at the weight. Whatever was in there was heavy, too heavy to be money. Creeping back into the shadows, I headed back up the ramp.
'What the fuck?', screamed the heavily accented voice behind me.
'What's your problem?', yelled back another more local tongue.
'Where's the other case, you bastard?'
'Huh? Don't fuck us around, hand over the merchandise!'
'You double-crossed us, you mother-fuckers! NOBODY fucks with the Tong!'
I smiled to myself slightly at the sound of gunfire. It seemed that for now at least, downtown LA would be a little quieter. I quietly made my way back through the carpark, avoiding detection, a sense of relief falling over me as I saw the streetlights once more. Larry was waiting for me, his movements jerky with anticipation. 'D'ya get it? Huh?'
'I got it'.
I handed over the case easily, smirking with amusement as Larry took it in both hands, straining with the weight. He opened the case reverently, grinning widely as he looked inside.
'Everything to your satisfaction? I don't usually do special deliveries you know.'
'You're a gentleman Larry, I'll kill anyone who says otherwise. Now, as a sign of our new friendship, hand me that glock over there, I have a feeling I might need it.' Larry tossed me the gun, taking some crumpled notes in return. He shoved them down the front of his jersey, ignoring me as I shuddered slightly.
Well, the money is as safe there as it could ever be.
I smiled, genuinely touched by the offer. In my new life, friendships were fleeting, and distant at best. Perhaps there was some hope for humanity after all.
'Sorry man, I've got some commitments out of town tomorrow. Tell you what, next time I see you, we'll get a few beers.' I figured I could try drinking them.
'I'm always interested in making some money, tubs, you should know that. I'll catch you later.' I smacked my fist against his, giving him a quick grin as I headed back into the centre of town. I had some time to blow before heading to Hollywood anyway.