"The Tower of Pain"
(To join, see the note at the bottom)
The gang banger's
expression showed his disappointment in the man standing before him. ""You're
"I am," the man in the business suit and expensive, eye-hiding sunglasses answered simply. "And you would be K-man
be," the thug decked out in gang colors familiar to the City said in a tone mocking Mister Black's professional air.
"What does that mean ... the K
-man, I mean."
K-man pulled the waist band of his over sized shirt up to present a 9mm with an extended length clip. "Kill
"Kill it," Mister Black repeated, obviously unconcerned at the sight of the weapon. "Yes. I heard that that was your answer to any situation that didn't seem to be going the direction you wished."
"Works," K-man said simply. He very conspicuously tucked the waist of his shirt behind
the hand gun, leaving it exposed and more easily accessible.
The meeting with Mister Black had been carefully arranged, so K-man was feeling confident. He
had set the location, he
had personally watched Mister Black swept with a metal detector, he
was holding in the small of his back the small .38 the strange visitor had announced he was carrying, and he
had chosen the hiding spots for his two shooters
, the nearest hiding in a van with an AK-47, and the furthest -- a sharp shooter drummed out of the Army for killing civilians in Afghanistan and stealing a truck load of hashish -- armed with a semi-automatic sniper rifle.
"What's with this Men in Black shit," K-man said. He chuckled, and -- in step behind their leader -- the eight gang bangers
in a semi-circle behind K-man laughed as well. "You think you're hunting aliens or something?"
"No," Mister Black said, "I'm hunting people who are in my way. And ... you're in my way."
K-man didn't like the threat, and his sudden change in expression -- and the tensing of his body -- showed it. "How the fuck am I in your way."
"The Timmons Tower," Mister Black said, knowing it was all he needed to say.
"Belongs to me," K-man said firmly.
"Not any more. May I reach into my pocket...? Inside left jacket. You're boys already swept me."
K-man slowly lifted his hand to the butt of the Nine
in his waste, then nodded. Behind him, the other eight readied themselves in a variety of ways, from casually drawing their weapons, to handling their already drawn weapons in a more ready fashion, to looking around for signs that Mister Black might not be alone.
Mister Black reached very slowly to the inside jacket pocket and, even more slowly, pulled a sheet of paper. He offered it out, and -- after K-man nodded one of his boys
that direction, handed it over and said, "The Timmons now belongs to me. Building, grounds ... everything."
K-man kept his eyes on Mister Black as the man with the document read, then summarized. "He bought it for a dollar. A fucking dollar, really?"
"Well, the back taxes and liens were a bit more than that," Mister Black said, sounding like he was in a business meeting with a bunch of suited executives. "But the payment to the bank was, yes, a single dollar."
K-man studied Mister Black for a moment, then smiled widely, then began laughing. Some of the others laughed, too, but a few of them were smart enough to understand that this man in a business suit wouldn't have come to an isolated, abandoned construction site alone to meet known killers if he didn't have some kind of plan or back up.
Ironically, K-man knew this, too. But his over confidence had blinded him to reality. "So, you think this piece of paper is enough to take The Timmons from me?"
"No, of course not," Mister Black said, his tone becoming more friendly with almost every word. "I was hoping that I could convince you to ... resettle
... somewhere else. I might even be able to help you with the expenses. Maybe a moving van ... motel rooms for you and your boys while you look for a new home ... that sort of thing."
K-man's expression was somewhere between amusement and confusion. "Fuck! You're serious, aren't you ... Mister
"Yes. Beginning right now ... this moment ... The Timmons is off limits to you and your boys." Mister Black shifted his head, to ensure than each of the other eight knew he was looking at them, despite the fact that he'd been eye balling
each one of them periodically through the entire meeting from behind the dark glasses. "If you would like, I could arrange a suite at the Marriott for you for a couple of nights ... hookers, booze, drugs ... what ever you need to feel comfortable while you make other arrange--"
you!" K-man cut in, his hand now gripping tightly on the butt of the 9mm that -- inconspicuously but still noticed by Mister Black -- he'd just switched from safety
with a slowly moving thumb. "The Timmons is mine ... and if you don't want to be dead, you'll get the hell out of this City."
Mister Black's lips spread in the first smile he'd shown the gang bangers
. "You disappoint me ... K-
man. I ... I was expecting more. I was expecting you to live up to your name."
" K-man asked incredulously. "You want
me to kill you?"
Mister Black's smile faded. "I want you to try."
A moment of hesitation passed, during which each of the gang bangers
was tensing up, preparing for an imminent shoot out. For the first time, K-man began to wonder whether or not he'd been the only man to bring his own snipers to the meet. He took his eyes off Mister Black for the first time during their encounter, glancing past the man to the nearby structures.
At that moment, Mister Black dropped and slipped sideways, reaching to his collar directly behind his neck, and in one swift movement pulled and threw a ceramic knife which had escaped the metal detector sweep. It hit K-man in the throat, just left of his trachea. It punctured his carotid, and as a shocked K-man reached up to clutch at his neck, his life force was already pumping out upon him and the ground before him.
The move by Mister Black didn't go unnoticed by the others. Some of them immediately aimed their weapons at the man who had, essentially, just killed their gang's leader; while others -- fearing attack from more than just this one man -- headed for cover while simultaneously trying to level their weapons at the either fearless or insane stranger.
The move by Mister Black hadn't gone unnoticed by others, either. The stationary and moving gang bangers were taken down in seconds by snipers firing from four different directions; and the van containing the AK-47 wielding gunman was being littered with bullets from a sound-suppressed automatic rifle fired by a fifth man hidden, ironically, in the same building where K-man's sniper had already bled out from a silenced bullet to the back of his head.
Mister Black -- not one to risk his life to overconfidence as K-man had mistakenly done -- had rolled to the left, came to his feet quickly, and in a crouched position found cover behind an empty metal barrel. By the time he'd pulled a second ceramic knife from up his sleeve and looked around for a target, the fight was over.
He stood slowly moving out to check on the gang bangers
, kicking weapons aside as need be and sticking the knife into the necks of the still living, also as need be. Within 20 seconds of the first knife being thrown, the only man still alive on the construction site was Mister Black.
Five minutes later, the men who had been behind the sniper rifles had the dead gang bangers
loaded in a van and their weapons -- covered in the criminal's finger prints -- packed in a crate to establish their still living activities
in other locations.
A tall man in gray camouflage stepped up to Mister Black and asked, "Peter, are you gonna need us tonight to get you into the Timmons?"
"No, Skipper," Peter Black said. "I think with these guys out of the way, that should be pretty easy. The snipers in the buildings...?"
" the man said, glancing toward the van full of bodies. "They never saw us coming."
The two men shook, and Peter handed Skipper a back pack. "Two hundred grand, as promised."
"You know this isn't necessary," Skipper said with a sincere tone. "We would have done this for you for free. We all owe you."
"Yes, I know," Peter said, patting the man on the shoulder, then looking and gesturing to each of the other men as was their individual custom. "But you need to get out of town for a few days, just in case this blows up. Find a beach and some girls in bikinis--"
" one of the men called out, causing all to laugh.
Peter looked to his friend and former SEAL compatriot. "I have this. It's just a building full of criminals. It's not like its Baghdad or Kabul, right?"
"Right." Skipper shook Peter's hand again, then ordered the others to mount up
. He gave Peter one last look before the van pulled away, asking, "Why are you doing this? What the fuck do you care about a building full of gang bangers and whores?"
"I have my reasons, Skip." He waved politely, not enjoying keeping information from the man and men who had been there so often in six different theaters of operation over the past two decades. "Enjoy the sand."
As the van roared away, one of the men called out, "Naked women!
The last thing Peter Black heard was the laughter of the men fading away into the late afternoon.
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