One job some years past started with five pre-gang Vancouver kids who believed growing up meant doing something illegal—cool. I had done my homework. They all wanted to be “Gangstas.” They held their heads crooked. They wore medallions the size of the chocolate-chip cookies they’d eaten two years ago in grade school. Their baseball caps were backwards, and their pants were about five sizes too big. They talked with “Yo”,”‘coz”, and “nigga” interspersing about every third proto-word. Martin Luther Jr. rolled over. Civil rights in reverse. Self-actuated slavery to a marketing strategy designed to sell violent song lyrics and baggy clothes.
“Bid ness.” You have to say it just right with your head tilted and pretend to hold a pistol in your, sideways, hand. I wanted to laugh myself unconscious, but I had to work with the resources at hand. Some games are tougher than others, but some are just too easy. I’m a manager. I don’t manage a burger joint or bank, but I still utilize people to accomplish financial goals and affect change. Human resource management the academics call it , but it’s really chess with me and god pushing people around. Sometimes, he even wins a game. For me it’s just a hobby, but for the Big Kahuna–it’s more important. So what if I don’t often get to use the white pieces; I like black better.
Hades, sometimes it just ruins the fun when I have to S-P-E-L-L it out. Ah, fuck, back to the story. So I had five kinder mafia sitting in the back seat of my limo with me on my the white “Corinthian” leather and they were so impressed with how the upholstery creaked and moaned when they sat down, they almost forgot to ask why I had asked them out of the rain. Cars ghosted by on the other side of the rain splashed windows anointing them with caresses of illumination; they faded from black to charcoal to mocha and back again.
“So wus’ up pops?” asked Rafe the fourteen year old Latino don from under his fake fur hood. The four others, meanwhile, were unable to contain their awe at the plush interior and explored every nook, cranny, and crevice of the back seat. For kicks I had left half of a Marlborough in an ashtray, and sure enough Slitch, the only female “gangsta,” cached her prize in the front pocket of her pink leather jacket. She probably planned on smoking it later. Smoking can kill…her call though. Fucking ironic.
“I need a Hispanic man…whacked,” I said with a straight face, “and if this job goes well, I’ll have more work for you and the…uh, gang.”
Tomblike silence hung like a three day old corpse as the implications ran through the sieves of their mal-educated, substance impregnated, multi-racial, gray matter. I could almost hear their hearts trying to explode from the confines of their little breasts. Sweat stood out on Rafe’s face as the ‘homeys’ stared at him. Eyes flitted back and forth, white on black and brown, with wet chocolate irises leaping—and a surprising splash of scarlet from Slitch.
“We’z neva dun dat so’ta shit befo’ pops,” Rafe said, not allowing his fear to show in front of his boyz.
“It’ll be easy. I even have the details worked out for you…”
“How much?” whispered Junior, Rafe’s one sixteenth brother. One sixteenth black and the rest Jawanese.
“Who?” burst in Joplin the burly and dark East Indian. Lots of whispering and licking of lips.
“Well…$20,000 and Jose Padilla. I think you know ‘im,” I said as chaos erupted. Jose Padilla was a little known software designer with some very generous and recent enemies. His politics made finding local droogs willing to whack him easy. He had to be dead by tomorrow morning because I had to be in Dallas in two days.
“Lotta bling bro…” “Jose’s…asshole…”
“… a fuckin’ knife?…” “…he got friends…”
“…otal shi’storm man…” “…momma fin’ out we’s…”
I allowed it to continue until Rafe asked me the important question. Raising my hands I said, “Yes, I already have the weapon for you, but you have to return it. ‘Cuz dats da key to da ho’ ting.” I couldn’t resist mocking their proto-speak as I removed the Glock and handed it to Rafe. Now was the only risky moment.
“How come?” asked Joplin, thankfully allaying all the tension.
“Shut the fuck up man!” yelled Rafe, waving the gun sideways and reasserting leadership, but with Joplin in his place, Rafe wanted the answer. Good. Logic was important. Good call. Predictable.
“Obviously to pin the…uh, whacking on the real owner of the gun. Like on CSI,” I intoned with wide, sincere eyes. “I’ll even tell you where to pull it off and when. I’ll pick you all up–post-whack. The Glock has a full clip and the safety is ON. To turn the safety OFF–just push it up.”
“Wha’s ‘post-whack’ mean?” asked Slitch, definitely the smartest if physically least assertive. She was an UnPawn and maybe a Queen in my game. Dark sweet chocolate. Her eyes met mine in one of those hormonal magic moments and she knew I wanted her. Her tongue actually traced the edges of her mouth. I smiled and looked away. Slitch knew.
“Means afta’ bitch–you jus’ stupid!” said Rafe as I realized I had allowed my mind to wander. My limo lurched around a midnight crack addict. Rain beat down on the roof in heavy drops as beams of light from passing vehicles swept, once again, over their vacuous faces like a supermarket UBC scanner.
I pictured a blonde in a green apron., “Beep…that’ll be $20,000 please. Cha-Ching!”
Hades, they’re so stupid, but I had little time for humor. They needed more obfuscation, and my mind had been sidetracked by sweet little Slitch. I hurried on.
“$5,000 cash, up front, and the rest when I pick you up. Oh yeah, I have five special phones so you can call me as soon as you’ve finished Mr. Padilla and retreated to safe positions,” I said, pulling up a black attache-case and flipping it open.
“Huh?” everyone parroted. Yeh, everyone. So predictable.
“Phones?” asked Rafe with a look that begged me to help him with the quantum logic leap.
“They’z wrapped up like li’l black twinkies,” giggled Slitch with her scarlet nails in front of her raspberry lips.
They were individually wrapped phones, and as I handed them out, plastic crackled. “These phones are special, high-tech. They can’t be tracked via GPS or by the P.D. They have a special antenna–that’s the cone shape sticking out the back. They only work once and then ‘poof’ it goes dead. They’re a direct line to me. My number is written on the front of each one. First, tear off the wrapper. Then all you do is dial the number, and then watch for the little green light on the screen and I’ll come pick you up. Here’s the catch…After Mr. Padilla is dead, everyone has to split up and go somewhere busy to make their call. That way the cops won’t see you together and you cannot be charged. So split up! If I see you together I will not pick you up and none of you will get paid and I will not do business with you anymore. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Silence…Good, if not exactly what I wanted.
“Why the cellophane?” Slitch finally asked, making eye contact again. I really did reconsider picking her up special. Sweet little girl; just like a Big Turk bar—best sucked real well before eating the pink insides.
“The plastic is so it doesn’t get wet,” I said. They shook their heads. I coughed to cover up a momentary loss of composure. They didn’t catch it. They never do.
“Fuckin’ waste of phone,” said Rafe with his bravura once again in place. “How come we can’ jus’ call ya’ll?” his face crinkled up in befuddlement.
“If you do good this time—then next time you’ll have my number,” I said coughing.
Rafe looked around and then back at me–decision time. He licked his lips and said, “‘Kay. When and Where?”
B-I-N-G-O. I counted cash and knocked five times on the glass divider. The limo changed direction and speed as bills went into Rafe’s pocket.
“I’ll take you there now and point out the place,” I said to their howls. “Yes, that’s why your getting paid so much,” I said with a smile. Slitch locked eyes with me yet again, and this time I winked. She deserved special treatment. Coco on red satin sheets—Chocolate with pink inside. I love my line of work.
Twelve minutes later we sat a hundred metres from Mr. Padilla’s middle class home and I pointed out the door as cold rain soaked my left sleeve, Rolex and glove.
“He’s there now–alone. You know him. Go…whack him,” I said, as they climbed out into the chill morning, breath fogging in the nasty, early, air. Five kids totally in the dark. There was a hint of salt in today’s breeze.
“I expect your calls within the hour,” I said as they swaggered off rapper style. Joplin was grabbing his crotch to keep his pants from the puddles, and Slitch clutched her pink jacket around her; she cast me one more look and I mouthed, “later” Her raspberry lips smiled.
I drove away. I use proto-gangers often. They have so much to prove that they can be predicted and controlled. Thirty-five minutes later I started getting their calls. After the fifth, Slitch’s, I drove to Priss’ place and on the way tossed the stolen cell into a concrete culvert. It landed with a sloppy plop and I never saw it again.
Priss is special. She reminds me of Daryl Hannah. Sweet special Swiss chocolate. She isn’t a throwaway. She’s an interior designer. The morning sun made a brief appearance as Priss watched the news in a black silk robe with magenta feather trim. She was horrified at the awful events that had occurred overnight. As I came in, coffee in hand, she stood allowing just a glimpse of breast. She slowly walked over to her purse, removed her phone, and examined it as though it were some plague. She then sat with me and told me how CNN was reporting that five phones had exploded the night before—killing four boys and a girl.
“What kind of cell phone do you use?” she asked, concerned.
Thinking back to what Andre, my contact, had said about combining a cell phone, and a small shaped charge I replied, “Priss, you know I don’t use cell phones…I use people.”
I had one last image of two violently disconnected raspberry lips—on wet black pavement