Prologue: The Amazing Survivalist, Celebrity Edition
Former Utah Jazz basketball player Karl Malone sat in his beach chair along side his young wife, Nina. She had light brown skin and short, shoulder-length black hair. The two had recently married after a brief courtship. There was a lot of flack about a man in his fifties marrying someone so young. It didn’t help that she was from a rich family, and they saw Karl’s involvement with Nina as a washed up basketball player’s stab at making a mint. Despite the odds stacked against them, the two fell in love almost instantly, and Karl knew that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this woman. So the two were married, and they began their life together.
Then Karl received the offer to be in the reality TV show, The Amazing Survivalist, Celebrity Edition. His first inclination was to say no and ignore the offer, but Nina insisted. The show was filmed on a remote tropical island in the pacific, and the celebrities were allowed to bring guests for a small vacation before the show began taping. Karl found it dreadfully hard to say no when Nina asked with those big brown eyes. So Karl accepted, and was flown by private jet to the small island alongside other celebrities who had also accepted.
Karl felt Nina’s hand land on top of his own, and he turned to see her moonlit face. He had been continually harassed by action film star Steven Seagal (who had also accepted the invitation). It turned out that he was a huge fan, and took every opportunity to spend time with Karl. Luckily, it seemed like Steven had better things to do tonight.
“I have something to tell you,” Nina said, breaking Karl from his thoughts of Steven Seagal and his tenacity. “Now seems like a good time.”
“What is it, babe?” Karl asked.
“I’m pregnant,” Nina said.
“I love you so much,” Karl said with a tear rolling down his cheek and past his well-groomed mustache. Suddenly, a thought came into his mind. “I’ll be right back.”
“Where are you going?” Nina asked.
Karl smiled and ran back into the small shop and bar area that was just off the beach. Anything he wanted was paid for by the network, and Karl knew just what to get. He grabbed a bottle of champaign from behind the the bar along with two glasses. He gave the bartender a thumbs up, letting him know that the network would pay. He left the small shop and began walking back towards the water and his waiting wife.
Nina turned to look at him coming back onto the beach. She smiled at the sight of him wearing only his blue and black swim trunks and carrying the champaign and glasses across the sand. Karl was thinking about how much that smile lit up her face when fire began to rain down from the sky.
There was a thunderous commotion all about the island. The palm trees bent towards the ocean as the blast behind Karl sent him flying into the sand. He crawled despite the fire toward Nina. The left half of her body had been taken by some shrapnel, and Karl was able to get a good look at her right eye as a piece of tile flew from the shop and hit him in the back of the head, knocking him out.
Karl was playing for the Utah Jazz once again, wearing his trusty number thirty-two. He dribbled the ball form half court, uncaring that the arena was burning and those watching him play were the crisped remains of those who had died in the fire. He dribbled to the free throw line and took to the air. He twisted his arm in an arc, aiming for the the center of the rim. The ball was about go through with a satisfying swish when the scene disappeared.
“Shit,” a voice said in the blackness. “Can we take a rest?”
“There is no rest when you are in war,” a deeper voice said.
“Fuck you, Seagal!” the first voice said. “Jim and I are lugging this guy around. I agree we couldn’t have left him on the beach, but we need to rest.”
“I once body-slammed King Kong Bundy,” a slurred voice said. “I can carry Karl on my shoulders if you need me to, boss.”
“Not necessary,” Karl said, easing himself up. He opened his eyes to see that former wrestler, Hillbilly Jim and former NFL and college football player, Brian Bosworth were dragging in him a makeshift stretcher made from sticks and debris. Hillbilly Jim was wearing his overalls with no shirt underneath. He had considerably less hair than he did in his glory days, but what he has was untidy on the sides of his head, matching his beard. Brian Bosworth was wearing his white and blue Seattle Seahawks jersey, which he had cut a shape of a V under his neck. His graying blonde hair was shaved on the sides. Karl guessed that he had done it for the show.
“What the hell is going on?” Karl asked.
“I’m glad you’re awake,” Steven Seagal said, stepping in between Hillbilly Jim and The Boz. Steven had on a black kimono with red trim. He was doughier than he had been in most of his action movies, but his stare said that he would still fight. “We were under attack. Some people died. As far as I can tell, we are the only four that have survived.”
“They’re dead!” Hillbilly Jim wailed. “All of them! Rosie! Gilbert Gottfried! Paulie Shore. That Baldwin Brother. Sarah Palin. Even Robert Griffin!”
“They got RGIII?!” Karl spat. “Who the fuck bombs a reality show anyway?”
“It was ISIS,” Steven said. “We’re going after them. We’ll cover more ground now that you’re awake.”
“What the fuck makes you think we can take on ISIS?” Karl asked.
“Nothing makes me think anything,” Steven said, stepping up to Karl and looking him in the eyes. “But they killed friends and family. Did you not lose someone too.”
“Nina,” Karl said, looking downwards. “Those mother fuckers killed my Nina.”
“Do you hunt?” Steven asked.
“Mother fucker, you know that I do,” Karl replied, looking into Steven’s eyes with fire in his own.
“Then we’re going hunting,” Steven said. “For ISIS scum.”
“Woo-HEE!” Hillbilly Jim shouted. “I like the sound of that!”
“I think Jim got hit in the head a little too hard during the blast,” Brian whispered to Karl. “He thinks he’s his wrestling character from the eighties.”
“Show him the guns, Boz,” Steven said.
“With pleasure,” Brian replied. There was a damaged and scorched cooler attached to the back of the stretcher. Brian opened it, revealing a cache of handguns and a couple of semi-automatic weapons.
“Holy shit,” Karl said, picking up a .44 magnum and checking the chamber. “Where did you get all of this?”
“We’ve been busy while you were napping,” Steven said. “Sorry Karl, but we started hunting without you.”
“Shit,” Karl said, inserting the chamber back into the side of magnum. “Then it looks like I have some catching up to do.”
The four of them snuck around the back of the island, armed with whatever they could carry (except for Hillbilly Jim, who preferred to fight without a gun). They found the ISIS base easily, and silently snuck inside.
“What’s this?” Hillbilly Jim said, picking up something from the ground that he nearly tripped over. In the dark, Karl thought it looked like a rounded pineapple.
“Jim, that’s a head!” Karl said, realizing what it was.
“It’s Adam Sandler!” Hillbilly Jim exclaimed, tossing the head aside.
“What was Adam Sandler doing here?” Karl asked. “He’s too big to do a reality show like this.”
“They were filming his next movie on the other side of the island,” Steven said, not breaking his normal tone of his voice. “I was going to swing over to make a cameo, and now he’s dead.”
“I was in The Whole Nine Yards with him,” Brian said. “I was a prison guard.”
“You mean the Longest Yard,” Hillbilly Jim corrected.
“Oh shit,” Brian said. “That’s what I meant.”
“I liked that movie until Stone Cold called that rapper guy the N-word,” Hillbilly Jim added. “That wasn’t cool.”
“Quiet,” Steven whispered. “They’ll hear us.”
The quartet followed the path that Steven had set them on until they came across an opening. “Holy shit-balls,” Brian whispered as they entered the cave that ISIS had turned into a base for their operations on this island. “I forgot that Leno was the host of this show.”
The others looked in horror as Jay Leno stood, tied to a log that was protruding from the ground. “This extermination of American celebrities is just the beginning!” the man in the black turban and matching face-shroud said. “We have already destroyed the infidel reality show and the movie set! Soon, we will set our sights on Hollywood, eradicating all the filth that you have poured into the world!”
“You’ll never get away with this!” Jay Leno said.
“You are in no position to stop us,” the man in the black turban and mask said. He nodded to one of the guards on Leno’s side, and his head was removed with the swift motion of a sword.
“They killed Leno too!” Brian said. “I’ve had enough. I say we strike.”
Summoned by Brian’s voice, two guards came down the cave’s path. The others were too stunned to move, but Steven moved like lightning. He chopped one ISIS guard in the throat, took him to the ground in a quick motion, and swept the legs of the other. He then climbed on top of the second downed guard and snapped his neck with his hands.
“I told you to be quiet!” Seagal said.
“Fuck it,” Karl said, holding two .44 mags. “They know we’re here. It’s time we take care of the rest of them.”
“Agreed,” Steven said. He pulled one of the uzis from his kimono. He stepped into the open side by side with Karl. “Fire at will.”
Karl obliged, barking fire with the guns in both of his hands. The ISIS guards scrambled to find their own weapons, but it was too late for them. Karl’s aim was true, and each of the bullets he fired found its marked in the flesh under their burkas and turbans. Steven sprayed in a wide berth, cutting down the charging soldiers.
Two more soldiers came from behind, and Brian sprung into action. He charged the pair, clotheslining them both to the ground. One tried to get up, and The Boz dropped his knee into his throat. He grabbed the other one by the neck and strangled him until he gurgled his last breath, trying to claw at Brian’s big arms to get free.
Hillbilly Jim shrieked as he ran past Karl and Steven. “Hold your fire!” Karl said to Steven. “You’ll hit that crazy mother fucker!”
Hillbilly Jim charged the soldiers, body slamming or suplexing all that were unlucky enough to get in his way. He came across a guard trying to unjam a gun. Jim put his head between his legs, fell backwards, and pile-drove the soldier’s head into the hard cavern ground, breaking his neck. The gun finally became unjammed, went off, and fired a single bullet.
“AH FUCK!” Brian shouted as the bullet bit into his arm. “I’M HIT!”
“We’re done anyway,” Steven said, looking around. The bodies of the small ISIS cell were strewn about the ground. “I thought they’d put up more of a fight.”
Karl looked about the bodies as well. “I wish I could kill these mother fuckers again,” he said. “Rest in peace, Nina. I’ve avenged your death.”
“We should leave in case there are more coming back,” Steven said. “We fall back and wait in the jungle. If more come, we will do the same. Grab what you can on the way out. See if there’s a first aid kit for Boz’s arm too. I’m going to tie the wound so he doesn’t bleed out. If anyone is still twitching; put a bullet in their head.”
Karl nodded and started looking around for guns, ammo, and a first aid kid. Hillbilly Jim came down with a large bag and started carrying anything that Karl picked up. He didn’t like using guns, but he didn’t seem to mind carrying them.
“Hurry up!” Brian shouted from the mouth of the cave after Steven was done tying a piece of ripped turban around his arm. “My arm is killing me!”
“Don’t stand in the way of a bullet next time,” Karl said, exiting the cave with Hillbilly jim and the bag of guns. The four of them went out of the cave and into the jungle that surrounded. They got far enough away so they could light a campfire and tend to Brian’s wound. Steven extracted the bullet and sewed the wound shut with the first aid kit that Jim had found. Brian was sitting against the tree while Karl cooked up some of the food they took from the ISIS camp.
“That smells like donkey asshole and curry,” Brian said.
“It’s what we got,” Karl said. “Be grateful that Jim found it and thought to grab it.”
“I ain’t never ate donkey before,” Hillbilly Jim said. “I’ve had squirrel, though. Tastes good.”
“Do you think Jim will come out of character if we hit him in the head again?” Brian asked.
“I’m more worried about getting off this island and getting home,” Karl said.
“We did something tonight,” Steven said, staring into the fire. “Do you really want to go back to your old lives after what we’ve done?”
“What are you talking about?” Karl asked, turning toward Steven.
“We avenged the fallen,” Steven said. “We made a difference. We killed bad men. The world is a better place without them.”
“I’m not arguing that,” Karl said. “I’m just trying hard to see your point.”
“How can you ever make that big of a difference again?” Steven asked. “Doing a documentary? Visiting the troops? Funding some politician who’s looking for reelection? I tried to make a difference before when I became a sheriff, but the network’s camera crews turned into one big joke.”
“You signed the contract with the TV people,” Karl said. “Nobody forced you to televise yourself like that.”
“I wanted people to see me make a difference in other’s lives,” Steven continued. “But more people watched clips of me on The Soup and laughed than saw what I really wanted to do. I have the opportunity now. We have that opportunity. What can we do as celebrities? We can’t go around without the cameras in our faces. If we do this, then we do this as vigilantes.”
“Are you out of your damn mind?” Karl asked.
“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.
“What’s left for you, Karl?” Steven asked. “Your wife is dead, and the kids you have are all grown. Mine too. Everyone here has an out to get out of their old lives. We let the media report all of us as dead, go back to America, stay underground, keep moving, and make a difference.”
“I’m in too,” Brian said.
“How?” Karl asked.
“The only way we know how,” Steven said. “By kicking the shit out of the bad guys.”
Karl looked into the hardened face of Steven to gauge whether or not he was serious.
“Here’s how I see your situation,” Steven said. “You can throw free throws to raise money for hungry children through a corporation that will take a large cut of the money you raise, or you can take down a drug ring and use the money to feed those children yourself.”
“You have to think about the bad guys too,” Brian added. “ISIS would know it was us that killed their cell here, and they would seek revenge. We put those we love at risk by resurfacing.”
“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.
“We know,” Brian replied.
“I know you can do this, Karl,” Steven said. “Leave your life here and start a new one. It will be thankless, but we can actually make a difference in people’s lives.”
Karl looked into the flames of their small campfire, deciding on whether or not to join the others as underground vigilantes. Nina and his unborn child were gone, and his other children would thrive with or without him. He raised them to be independent after all.
“Fuck it,” Karl said, looking up from the flames. “I’m in.”
“Excellent,” Steven said, showing the hints of a smile. “Our next step is getting off of this island while keeping up the illusion that our bodies were vaporized by the explosion that killed the others. I have just the plan for that.”
“I’m in,” Hillbilly Jim said.
Chapter 1: Eighteen Months Later
“GET THOSE TWO MOTHER FUCKERS!” Carlos Perez shouted amongst the gunfire. The nude hispanic women all hid under the tables that were covered with tubs of the white powder they were ordered to weigh and bag for distribution. The drug pushing business was good to Carlos up until these two vigilantes decided to pay him a visit.
“We’ve been found out,” Steven said to Karl as he crouched behind a large wooden box, holding his trusty uzi. Splinters of wood flew around him Carlos’ men pumped bullets towards them.
“No shit?!” Karl spat, reloading his twin .44s. “We need to thin the herd. Give them a good spray and I’ll aim for their heads.”
“I have a better idea,” Steven said. He lifted up the large automatic weapon that Brian had modified for them. “I’ll mow them down with this, and you can clean up the scraps.”
“Just use the mother fuckin’ uzi!” Karl said. “We don’t have time to fool around with Brian’s mods!”
Steven ignored Karl, and lifted himself up. He aimed the large barrel of The Boz’s modified weapon towards Carlos’ guards and squeezed the trigger. A fireball shot form the side of the gun, and the ammo spilled onto the floor.
“Fuck,” Steven said, throwing the weapon to the ground as it smoked. “Fuckin’ Boz!”
“I told you,” Karl said. “Now get that uzi and…”
“Spray!” Steven said, finishing Karl’s statement. “This isn’t my first fire fight.” He rose again, this time spraying randomly with his uzi. The guards stopped firing to look for cover. Karl rose next, putting a single bullet in the head of the guards. When he was done, Carlos was the only one left.
“You can’t stop me!” Carlos called, stepping out with his gun to a woman’s head. “You’ll never stop my product from hitting the streets, you fools! I am Carlos Perez! I am invincible!”
There was a tap on Carlos’ shoulder. He turned around slowly to look into the face of Hillbilly Jim. Jim smashed Carlos’ face with his replica WWF Intercontinental Championship belt, knocking him to the floor.
“Woo-WEE!” Hillbilly Jim shouted. “He’s down, guys!”
Karl and Steven came out from their cover and walked over to Carlos. “What do we do now?” Karl asked. “Should we leave this one for the cops?”
“He’d be back on the street in a week, and you know it,” Steven said. “Do what we came here to do.”
“With pleasure,” Karl said, pointing the barrel of his gun towards Carlos’ head.
“Wait,” Carlos said. “Don’t kill me! I can make you rich.”
“I already was,” Karl said, pumping a bullet into Carlos’ skull. “I like this better.”
“I hate that part!” Hillbilly Jim said. “It’s so messy!
“How many women did you count?” Steven asked, hiding his uzi under his kimono.
“Seventeen,” Hillbilly Jim replied. “I had to count on most of my toes, but I counted seventeen.”
“They won’t all fit in the van,” Steven said. “Unless we make two trips.”
“We can’t come back here once we leave,” Karl said. “We’ll have to make an anonymous call after we’re gone.”
“Oh, can I do it?!” Hillbilly Jim asked, shooting his hand in the air. “I can make the call on my way to Springfield.”
“Give us a little bit of time first,” Steven said. “Karl and I have to clean out whatever cash and guns is in this place before we go.”
“Will do, boss,” Hillbilly Jim said with a big smile on his face. “I’ll give you plenty of time.”
“Not too much,” Karl added. “We want the police to come pick up these girls before any of Carlos’ buddies stop by.”
Hillbilly Jim left through a side door and left Steven and Carl to their business. Vigilante work didn’t pay, so they had to clean out any drug dealer, pimp, or criminal they took down or killed. Any money they didn’t spend on their crusade was put back into the community. Karl believed in carrying a zero balance in cash, and Steven agreed.
Once the safe was cleared out and a trash bag full of cash was in Karl’s hand, the pair left, made their way to their van quickly, and drove off. They were blocks away and clear when the police cars started pulling into the old warehouse where Carlos Perez had set up shop and eventually died.
The four men that left the island after taking down ISIS separated soon after making their way back into America. Brian Bosworth was the first to leave the group, opting to stay in the shadows and provide the team with weapons and devices of his own making. He never stayed too far behind Karl and Steven, although he still went in missions if an extra man was needed.
Hillbilly Jim stepped back into the squared circle since the head injury that caused him to revert to his old in-ring character never healed, and he began wrestling as a Hacksaw Jim Dugan imitator when he wasn’t helping with the bad guys. The others never knew when or where he would be going to these shows most times, and they had no idea how he kept finding them afterwards since they never stopped moving. He always seemed to show up to help in a scrape.
Karl and Steven were the only two that stayed together. They drove around in a van dedicated to feeding kids and their families in low income areas. They would lay low, using the money they stole from drug dealers or sex traffickers to buy food or clothing for those in need. They found that the street police tended to look the other way on what they were doing since they were doing so much good for the communities.
Two days after Carlos Perez’s death and the liberation of the women he held captive to cut and measure out his heroine, the van driven by Karl Malone pulled into the Grand Court Projects in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Steven opened the back of the van marked “FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY” on its side. The slogan on the van changed as often as Brian could get it repainted so they could remain under the radar as they traversed around the country. Steven dragged one of their tables out while Karl set up the grill.
“What are you guys doing?” a man from the Tulsa Housing Authority said.
“Look,” Steven said, reading the mans tag. “Tom. We provide a service for the downtrodden. We are going to set up, cook some food, hand out some goods and clothing to anyone who wants it, and we’ll be on our way.”
“Do you have a permit for that?” Tom asked, looking past Steven’s shoulder to Karl.
“Since when does one need a permit to do some good with his life?” Steven asked. “We have been blessed, and we want to share the blessing with the people here.”
Tom looked around at the gathering crowd for a free lunch and some goods to take home. “You two got names at least?” he asked.
“Legaes,” Steven said. He pronounced it ‘Le-Gaise’. “My partner over there is named Jazz.”
“Legaes?” Tom asked. “How do you spell that?”
“It’s spelled like ‘Seagal’, only backwards,” Steven said. Tom began to give Steven a questionable look.
“Why don’t you get the tables set up and I’ll talk to your new friend,” Karl said, hoping to break the moving gears that were going around in Tom’s head. “We aren’t doing any harm. We’ll only be in this space for a couple of hours at most.”
“Well OK,” Tom said. “But I better not hear about any trouble.”
“You won’t,” Karl said, turning back towards Steven who was getting the grill lit. “Why the hell did you do that?”
“Do what?” Steven asked.
“The ‘Seagal’ backwards bullshit,” Karl replied. “You wanna get busted?”
“Steven Seagal has been dead for a year and a half, my friend,” Steven said. “Nobody is going to make the connection.”
“At least wear something other than your damn kimonos all the time,” Karl said. “You’re acting like a walking bullseye. You and Boz with your ‘hiding in plain sight’ shit.”
“Sure thing, ‘Jazz’,” Steven said, opening the container of paper plates. “Let’s do what we came here for.”
Steven started cooking up the burgers and hotdogs and handing them out one after another. Karl handed out the boxes of food and other home goods. After less than three hours, they were just about out of stock.
“Hey,” a teenage boy said, coming up to Steven. “You that guy from those action movies?”
“I get that a lot,” Steven said, cleaning the grill as it cooled down. “You’re thinking of Steven Seagal. He’s dead kid. I just happen to look just like him.”
“You sure do look an awful lot like him, though,” the kid said. “Mind if I take your picture?”
“I’m all over the internet, kid,” Steven said. “People with their ‘Steven Seagal never died’ theories. Get in line.”
Karl ignored the annoying conversation that happened way too often, focusing on a young, black girl who was sitting on the curb and staring at the ground at her feet. Karl stopped what he was doing and walked over to the girl. “Hi,” he said. “Is everything alright?”
“I’m not s’posed to talk to strangers,” the girl said. She couldn’t have been older than eleven or twelve.
“It’s alright,” Karl said, sitting next to her. “My name is Jazz. I like to help people. Are your parents around?”
The girl started crying again. “They’re gone!” she sobbed. “My mom and dad got taken away!”
“Do you have someone to stay with?” Karl asked, making a mental note to look into this girl’s parent’s disappearance. “I can help you find someone.”
“I’m with my auntie,” the little girl said. “Over in building six.”
“Building six,” Karl said, making another mental note.
“Tricia!” an older woman yelled. “Get off of the ground and get home!”
“I gotta go,” Tricia said, running off in the direction of building six.
“I’m sorry that she bothered you,” Tricia’s aunt said, smiling at Karl. “I’m Nancy, by the way.”
“The name’s Jazz,” Karl said, extending his hand and shaking Nancy’s lightly. She was either in her late twenties or early thirties. Something about her face reminded him of Nina. “Tricia said something about her mother and father being taken away. Is everything alright?”
“Not really,” Nancy said, looking away. “But you’ve done enough with your food and clothing drive today. There’s nothing you can really do about her parents.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Karl said. “My friends and I help people in need. Maybe we can lend you a hand.”
“I don’t want to impose,” Nancy said.
“I insist,” Karl replied. “My friend and I will come by later tonight around seven.”
Steven took a bump of cocaine from his false ring. While Karl was busy with Perez’s safe, taking the money and whatever guns he could carry, Steven took a small amount of the cocaine for himself. He usually only took the pills that he pillaged from various criminals, but a bump of coke helped for the longer days.
Karl returned after talking to the little girl and the woman.
“What was that about?” Steven asked as Karl came back to the van. He had everything but the grill packed up.
“A job,” Karl said. “Girl’s parents have been kidnapped. Maybe they’re in bad with drugs or something. Might be a lead to another dealer we can take down and get the kid’s folks back to her.”
“Maybe it’s a lead to another Carlos Perez,” Steven replied. “You want to go get some more info from the lady and the kid?”
“Tonight,” Karl said. “We need to find Boz to see how he’s spending the cash we gave him.”
“Help me get the grill in the van,” Steven said. “Boz is probably back at the hotel.”
Chapter 2: Plain Sight
Karl and Steven entered the old hotel where they knew their friend Brian Bosworth was staying. He had a knack for making connections and getting the materials he needed to keep them all going throughout their arduous task of putting criminals in body bags and keeping the streets safe for people. They couldn’t find Bosworth anywhere in the hotel, so they went outside to leave. That’s when they found him.
The Boz was standing across the street from the old hotel. He was wearing his old Sooners #44 jersey and had shaved the sides of his head again. He was wearing dark aviator sunglasses and was having a blast with the locals who thought he was a nut doing a tribute to deceased Oklahoma native, Brian Bosworth.
“Have you lost your goddamn mind?!” Karl said, approaching Brian. “Aren’t you from Oklahoma? This is just plain stupid, Boz!”
“Hiding in plain sight,” Steven said. “It’s genius.”
“Get the fuck out of here, Steve!” Karl snapped. “You have any idea what’s going to happen if the three of us are photographed together?! We were all supposed to have died on the same island during the same bombing!”
“Jeeze,” Brian said, leaving the curb and walking across the street to the hotel. “I didn’t want to stay cooped up in this place!”
“You could have come to Perez’s drug warehouse,” Steven said. “Your damn mini-gatling gun broke and spilt the bullets on the floor. Luckily, Jim was able to come in and stop Perez from killing one of the kidnapped girls.”
“Where’s Jim now?” Brian asked. “Another gig?”
“He went off to Springfield,” Steven said. “He’ll find us again. He always does.”
“What have you been working on for us?” Karl asked as they went back into the hotel and followed Brian into the basement. Brian was using recent funds to rent the place from the slum lord that wanted nothing more than to tear it down. Brian was able to convince him to keep it for a little longer (with the help of a few stacks of dirty money).
“Something big,” Brian said. “I may have finally figured out how to get The Bozinator to work.”
“Really?” Steven asked.
“Not this Bozinator bullshit again,” Karl said, rolling his eyes. “You’ll kill us with those things!”
“Not if it works!” Brian retorted. “Anyway, I’ve got your general guns and ammo. I have that sawed-off shot gun you wanted, Karl. Got you a holster and plenty of ammo to boot.”
“Sweet,” Karl said, taking the gun from the table and looking at it. “My grandma had one just like it.”
Brian looked at the gun as well. “I can add some mods…”
“No thank you,” Karl said, trying on the holster. “This won’t be easy to conceal. I’ll stick with the .44s until the time for the sawed-off is right.” Karl had kept the twin .44s he used to kill ISIS back on the island. He took care of them and oiled them regularly.
“Can I have a sawed-off too?” Steven asked.
“I have something better for you,” Brian said. “I know your aim isn’t as good as Karl’s, so I got you a pair of uzis with modified clips. They’ll hold twice as much ammo.”
“Any word on our van?” Karl asked.
“None,” Brian replied. He kept his ear to the police scanners and his connections to find out if the police were closing in on them and their vigilantism. They didn’t know how he did it, but The Boz was able to have them ditch any vehicle that the cops started looking into.
“I still want to get rid of it quickly,” Karl said. “The guy from the housing authority gave us some shit this morning. I wouldn’t throw it past him to make a few calls to see if we’re legit or not.”
“I’ll work on getting something new,” Brian said. “Anything else?”
“Yeah,” Steven said. “Karl has a lead on a couple who was kidnapped. We are going to pay their daughter and her aunt a visit tonight. We think they may have been taken by a dealer or a drug lord. We want you to come.”
“Sure,” Brian said. “What are we doing in the meantime?”
“Steven needs to go to the Post Office,” Karl said.
“I don’t have any mail to deliver,” Steven replied.
“Not the actual post office,” Karl said with a sigh. “The gym. You’ve got some sparring to do, mother fucker.”
“Fine,” Steven said. “But don’t blame me if you get hurt. My hands are registered as deadly weapons after all.”
“I think I’ll be OK,” Karl said, smiling. “You need to keep your cardio up, dude. You’re in your sixties. You coming with us, Boz?”
“I need to hit the weights,” Brian said, flexing his arm and staring lovingly at it. “So count me in.”
There was a ruckus from the floor above them. It sounded as if someone had knocked something over. “Mother fucker, I told you that this ‘plain sight’ plan was a bad idea,” Karl said. “Who knows that you’re here?”
“Nobody,” Brian said. “I’m dead too. Remember?”
“We’re in your home state, Boz,” Karl said. “You need to be more careful.”
“He needs to be in plainer sight,” Steven said. “He’ll be better hidden. That gives me an awesome idea for a script: Plain Sight Vigilante.”
Karl took sawed-off shotgun from the table and loaded it. “You guys stay here and continue to sound smart,” he said. “I’m going to shoot the dick off of whoever thinks they can roll up on us like this.”
Karl left the other two and headed up the stairs, holding the sawed-off shotgun in his right hand. He got to the top of the stairs and almost fired at the figure that was stumbling around the hotel’s lobby. “Shit,” he said. “It’s only Jim!”
“I found you guys!” Hillbilly Jim said. There was dried blood on his forehead and he was only wearing his overalls once again.
“Did you come all the way back here right after your match?” Karl asked.
“Ayup,” Hillbilly Jim said. “Hitchhiked the whole way here right after. Nice guy gave me a ride in the back of his truck. Had a pig named Froggy. Who names a pig Froggy?!” Hillbilly Jim held his stomach and laughed loudly.
“Jim!” Brian said, coming upstairs. “Did you win?”
“Nope,” Hillbilly Jim said with a smile. “I body slammed a King Kong Bundy look-alike and nearly pinned him too until his midget kicked me in the head.”
“I thought wrestling was fake,” Brian said.
“It is?!” Hillbilly Jim said, genuinely surprised.
“We’re heading to the Post Office,” Steven said, coming up the stairs as well. “You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”
“Nope,” Hillbilly Jim said. “I have an achin’ head, and I think I’m going to sleep it off.”
“You sure you don’t have a concussion?” Brian asked. “Sleep might not be the best thing for you right now, big Jim.”
“Bah!” Jim said, waving a hand. “I got into a moonshine drinking contest with that damn pig. I’ll be fine once I sleep it off and piss it back out.”
“Did you win the drinking contest at least?” Brian asked.
“Nope.” Hillbilly Jim replied. He took a cushion from one of the hotel lobby’s chairs and curled up on the floor with it like a large, moldy-smelling teddy bear. “Goodnight.”
Karl, Steven, and Brian watched as Jim slept on the floor, snoring loudly. “He’s as unpredictable as ever,” Steven said. “Making him completely predictable.”
“At least he wrestles as a different wrestler than Hillbilly fucking Jim,” Karl said. “He’s the only one out of your three that doesn’t think hiding in plain sight isn’t a terrible idea when you’re supposed to be a dead celebrity.”
“If you’re so concerned, why don’t you shave off that mustache,” Steven said. “Then you’d be even more incognito.”
Karl walked up to Steven. “Don’t you ever fuck with my mustache,” Karl said.
“You’re going to need to back up a step there, Karl,” Steven said. “We’re the best of friends, but I won’t hesitate to karate chop that mustache off your face.”
“What did I just say about the mustache?” Karl asked.
“Come on guys,” Brian said. “Save it for the bad guys.”
“Save it for your mustache,” Steven said, not breaking his menacing tone.
“Say ‘mustache’ again, mother fucker, and see what happens,” Karl said, taking one more step towards Steven.
Steven took a step towards Karl. “Mustache,” he said.
The two stared into each other’s eyes for a moment before breaking down in a fit of laughter. “Come on,” Karl said. “Let’s get your ass to the Post Office.”
Chapter 3: The Post Office
Steven sat in the empty locker room of the gym that Karl dubbed “The Post Office”. Brian had found them these gyms in every major area they visited, and Karl had dubbed every one “The Post Office”. Brian had somehow gotten them private hours as well. It has something to do with the piles of money that Brian required to do what he did. Steven opened his laptop and connected to the gym’s wifi.
Steven opened Skype, signed in, and had the program dial up his contact. While he waited for the call to connect, he popped six Xanax. Finally, the image of Lhamo Donrub, the fourteenth Dalia Lama appeared on the screen.
“Namaste, Legaes,” Lhamo said, keeping up with Steven’s false identity. “What can I do for you on this lovely day.”
“I need guidance,” Steven said. “I have set my self on the path of violence and death to make the world a better place. I don’t know if I can ever stop.”
“Your fate is yours to make,” Lhamo replied. “I have told you this in the past. I abhor your use of violence, but I believe it was why you were put on this earth. Are you still using drugs?”
“I am,” Steven said, lowering his head in shame. He would lie to everyone else, but he couldn’t lie to the face of the Dalai Lama. “I can’t stop that as well. The pace we have set for ourselves is too much for me to take without them.”
“You must find a happy in-between, Legaes,” Lhamo said. “I believe that you can change your bad habits. We have spoke of this before. I also believe that there will be a time when your bad habits will come between yourself and your team.”
“What of the prophecy?” Steven asked. “Does it still hold true?”
“The prophecy of the elders will always hold true,” Lhamo replied. “But you have to go now. Your friend has much to say to you, and he can only speak true while he spars. You know this.”
“I do,” Steven said. “Thank you again. Namaste.”
“Namaste,” Lhamo repeated, closing the connection.
“You ready?” Brian asked, coming in the locker room as Steven was closing his laptop. “Karl is waiting.”
“Yeah,” Steven said, getting up. “Let’s do this.” He waited for Brian to leave the locker room before taking a quick bump of coke from his ring. He took the ring off and set it on the top shelf of his locker. He needed the coke to keep up the pace during the sparring. Karl was intense when he worked out, and didn’t care that Steven was more than ten years his senior.
Steven followed Brian to the boxing ring in the center of the gym. Karl was waiting in the corner, wearing his dark blue shorts and black tank top. His boxing helmet was dark blue like his shorts, and his gloves were white. “What are you doing?” Karl asked. “You can’t spar in your kimono. You don’t even have your gloves or your bucket on! Mother fucker, you aren’t even wearing shoes!”
“I don’t need gloves or that padded helmet to fight,” Steven said, stepping into the ring with Brian (who was now holding pads for the pair to punch if they weren’t punching each other). “I promise to go easy on you, but you still might die.”
“Yeah yeah,” Karl said, jumping back and forth to loosen up. “You ready, Boz?”
Boz took out the locket under his shirt, opened it up, and kissed the picture inside of Barry Switzer, his college coach. “Ready, Karl,” he said, holding up the two black pads.
Karl started by giving the pads two quick left jabs. He followed up with a heavy right that had Brian step back a couple of feet. Brian then turned towards Steven who gave the the left pad two quick karate chops and a swift knee. Brian had to step back once more.
“Ready?” Karl asked.
“Ready,” Steven replied, getting into a fighting position. Steven put his right fist in his left palm and bowed towards Karl. He then swung a kick, towards Karl’s mid-section, which was blocked by Karl’s forearm.
“Not today,” Karl said, throwing a jab. Steven knew that Karl was faster, but he didn’t want to hurt his friend who refused to wear his in-ring gear. Steven stepped back before moving forward again, answering Karl’s jabs with a fury of open-handed chops to Karl’s chest and shoulders.
“Damn, you know how to hit,” Karl said, backing up a couple of steps and swinging his shoulder. “After this job with the girl, I think it’s time to move on.”
Steven knew this was the reason for sparring. Karl seemed to open up more when they were in the ring. “I agree,” Steven said, dodging an overhand from Karl. “We shouldn’t tarry here after busting up Perez’s ring.”
“We’ll ditch the van and get some other mode of transportation,” Karl said. “I think we should head north from here. First, we’ll go through Kansas and then Nebraska. There’s probably a ton of meth labs up in those farm areas. Should keep us busy.”
“No way!” Brian said. “I am not going to Nebraska. You can go if you want, and I’ll meet you on the other side!”
“Come on,” Steven said. “What’s wrong with Nebraska?”
“Fuck Nebraska!” Brian said, getting agitated. “Fuck those Cornhusker fucks! Fuck corn altogether! I haven’t eaten a piece of corn since I was six years old! You know what? Fuck that band Korn too! Fuckin Nebraska can suck my dick!”
“Alright,” Karl said. “We get it. You can get over it or meet us when we get out of the mother fuckin’ state.” He threw a punch at Steven that connected with his forehead. It was clear that he was mad about Brian spouting off about his hatred toward Nebraska, but he was taking it out with his gloves on Steven.
“We work as a well-oiled machine,” Steven said, sending a pump-kick into Karl’s abdomen to force some space in between them. “I would rather have you with us. I am sorry you feel so strongly.”
Karl and Steven continued to punch and chop at each other in silence until Brian announced that time was up. They stepped away from each other, sweating from the workout.
“You still move fast for a big man,” Karl said.
“The tiger is my totem,” Steven said, taking a drink from his sports bottle. “It cannot be caged; not even within myself.”
“That’s deep,” Brian said, pulling Karl’s gloves off for him.
“He probably stole it from a fortune cookie,” Karl said, propping himself on the top rope of the ring.
“No,” Steven said, tapping his chest. “That’s pure Seagal right there.”
Chapter 4: Little Tricia and her Auntie
Brian read the note that Hillbilly Jim left while they were sparring at the Post Office. “What’s it say?” Steven asked, tossing his gym bag on the sofa that still had its cushions on the floor from Jim’s nap.
“He’s gone to Branson,” Brian said. “He’s going to wrestle against a midget Andre The Giant impersonator as a Hillbilly Jim impersonator.”
“He’s impersonating himself?” Steven asked. “I hope he does a good job. Hate for him to do his own memory an injustice.”
“Are we really going to leave without him?” Brian asked.
“He’ll find us,” Karl said. “You know he will. Besides, we still have this matter with little Tricia and her Auntie to focus on. I want to find her parents before we head north.”
“Agreed,” Steven said. “We don’t leave things unfinished. That’s not our style.”
The three got ready to head out (Brian had to ditch his Sooners jersey on Karl’s order). They travelled back to Grand Courts in Brian’s SUV and walked from the street to building six, where they found Nancy waiting outside for their arrival.
“Come in,” Nancy said, opening the door to the cramped apartment. “I have some chicken on in the oven.”
“We can’t take any food from you,” Karl said.
“I insist,” Nancy said. “If you’re going to help up, the least I can do is give you a proper meal!”
“I can’t argue with that,” Steven said, taking a seat at the round table. Tricia was already there, coloring a picture on a piece of notebook paper of Karl and Steven handing out boxes from their van. “What are we having with the chicken?”
“I made some corn on the cob,” Nancy said.
“Fuckin’ corn,” Brain said, under his breath as he sat next to Steven. Karl took the seat at the end of the table.
“My name is Jazz,” Karl said. “You met my associate Legaes this morning. This is our other associate.”
“Boz,” Brian said, getting a dirty look from Karl.
“Boz?” Nancy said, looking over Brian. “You do kind of look like that football player from University of Oklahoma with your hair shaved the way it is. What ever happened to him?”
“He died,” Karl said before Brian could open his mouth. “He was one of those celebrities that got killed on that island by ISIS.”
“Oh right,” Nancy said. “That was so tragic. I sure do miss Maury Polvitch in the mornings. I loved that show!”
“I’d like to know what happened to your parents,” Karl said to Tricia as Nancy began to place chicken on all of their plates. “Any idea who would have taken them?”
“The bad man,” Tricia answered, not looking up from her drawing. “He used to come ’round to see mommy and daddy sometimes. Used to say that daddy owed him. Daddy promised he’d pay him back, and the man would only say that he would.”
“Any idea where this bad man is?” Steven asked. “I’d like to ask him a few questions personally.”
“You’ll find him here after midnight most times,” Nancy said, sitting down. “But he won’t come out if you guys are around. He only sells to those he already knows.”
“And what is it that he sells?” Karl asked.
“Cocaine mostly from what I hear,” Nancy said. Steven perked up a bit. “His lower-level dealers might talk to you, but they won’t snitch easily.”
“I didn’t plan on asking nicely,” Karl said. “Where can I find the lower-level dealers?”
“Between eight and midnight,” Nancy said. “They’re usually by the parking lot. They’ll hide in the backs of the SUVs if they think you’re a cop, so you’ll have to be careful.”
“How do you know all of this?” Karl asked.
“I’ve been here a long time, dear,” Nancy said. “These dealers are a plague. I begged my sister to tell that husband of hers not to borrow money from them, but she couldn’t convince him to listen. He thought he’d have his wife and Tricia far away from here before they came to collect.”
“Do you know where Tricia’s parents are?” Steven asked.
“Head to your room for a minute, dear,” Nancy said, motioning towards Tricia. She got up without and argument and headed for her room, stopping briefly to hand Karl the picture she was drawing of him and Steven unloading the van. They were stick figures, but the figure of Steven was drawn fatter. He was carrying a box while Steven was cooking on the grill. Karl smiled at the picture, folded it in half, and put it in his pocket.
“Knowing how things work,” Nancy started once Tricia was in her room. “My sister is working as a prostitute and her husband isdealing on the other side of the city. Why risk a loyal dealer when you can send someone with no value to jail for dealing drugs, right?”
“What’s this scum’s name?” Steven asked.
“I don’t know his real name, but they call him Lil’ Diamond,” Nancy said.
“Lil’ Diamond,” Karl mused. “I’m going to find that jive-ass mother fucker and make him spill everything.”
“Just to me one favor,” Nancy said.
“Sure,” Karl said.
“Don’t kill him,” Nancy said. “Just make sure he can’t walk ever again.”
“I can’t promise that,” Karl said. “Scum is scum; on legs or in a wheelchair. The world is better off without men like Lil’ Diamond.”
Chapter 5: Now it is Night
The night following their dinner with Nancy and Tricia, Steven, Karl, and Brian sat in Brian’s SUV in near the projects. After much debate, they decided to have Brian be the one to try and score the drugs.
“Why do I have to do this?” Brian asked. “You guys are better at the face to face stuff than me.”
“According to Steve, I look like a cop,” Karl said. “And he talks like a cop.”
“I was a cop,” Steven said.
“Besides,” Karl continued. “If any of us looks like he’s looking to buy some cocaine, it’s you with that haircut and tee-shirt with no sleeves.”
“You must stay strong, Brian,” Steven said, putting a hand on Brian’s shoulder from the back seat. “If I can’t fight beside you in my material form, then I will fight from within you with my spiritual form.”
“Really?” Brian asked.
“I will always fight from inside you,” Steven said.
“Bring this,” Karl said, pulling a revolver from under his seat. “It’s a small one, so it won’t matter if they take it.”
“What if I get frisked!” Brian exclaimed. “They’ll get pissed if they see I have a gun.”
“They’ll be more worried if you didn’t come into the neighborhood to buy coke and didn’t have it,” Karl said. “Trust me. If they ask, tell them you’re carrying and give it to them. We’ll be watching and waiting.”
“Fine,” Brian said, stashing the gun in the back of his pants. He pulled out his locket with Barry Switzer’s picture and gave it a quick kiss. “Don’t go too far.”
“We won’t,” Steven said. Brian left the car and started walking into the dark projects.
“You ready?” Karl said.
“Ready,” Steven said. Karl turned the car on and drove a block over. Karl drove into some bushes in an alley and got out. He started putting together his sniper rifle while Steven watched Brian with his binoculars.
“What’s he doing?” Karl asked, snapping the last piece into the place and putting the stand at the end of the barrel on the hood of the SUV.
“He’s just looking around,” Steven said. “Wait.. He’s moving north near the light poles. You see him?”
“I got him,” Karl said, looking into the scope of the rifle.
“Those must be Lil’ Diamond’s dealers,” Steven said. “Boz found them easily enough.”
“Remember what Nancy said,” Steven said. “He uses the low level guys as fodder so he doesn’t do any time himself. Start heading down that way. Pop your earpiece in and I’ll let you know if the dealer moves. Remember, we need him alive.”
“Got it,” Steven said, putting his earpiece in and clicking on the radio on his belt. “Testing.”
“We’re on the air,” Karl said. “Get your ass over there and pick up the dealer.”
Karl watched through his scope. Brian kept the dealer talking like he was supposed to, giving Steven the time to sneak around them. Karl could tell that the dealer was getting twitchy. “Legeas,” Karl said. “Hurry up down there. I don’t think Brian is going to keep his interest for much longer.”
“Roger,” Steven replied though a lot of panting.
Steven was sneaking as best he could, but there wasn’t too much cover in the area. He had a .45 with the safety off in the holster under the back of his kimono, but he didn’t want to draw it and fire it unless it was absolutely necessary. Boz put a silencer on Karl’s gun, so he would rely in him to do the shooting.
Steven saw that Karl had been right. Brian was now trying to hand the dealer his money, but he dealer was refusing. Stalling him for time had been a mistake after all. Steven saw that the dealers were now reaching towards their backs for weapons, and that’s when he went into action.
Steven caught up while Brian was trading punches with the dealer. He went down after a quick right, and he he moved on to one of this buddies who was rushing him. Steven’s hands moved like lightning, chopping at the heads and necks of the dealers. More started coming out of the homes, and he had to move faster to take them down. He wondered why Karl wasn’t providing them any cover from the rifle.
Karl stashed the rifle int he back of the SUV after the barrel exploded due to Brian’s silencer. He jumped back in the front seat and started the SUV back up. It roared to life, and he hit the streets in the direction of Brian, Steven, and the drug dealers. With luck, he’d be able to help them out before the police showed up.
Brian swung a huge arm, connecting with the head of one of the dealers. He fell in the pile with the two others he had already punched out. “Steven!” Brian said. “You OK?!”
“I’m fine!” Steven said, kicking a dealer in his stomach and sending him to the ground. Steven followed and snapped the dealer’s neck. Brian turned to see another coming at him quickly. He turned his body, hitting him with a clothesline and sending him to the ground unconscious. He saw the man on the ground he had originally tried to buy cocain from get up and scurry off.
“Steven!” Brian shouted. “We got a runner!”
“I got him!” Steven said, pursuing.
Steven ran after the dealer, but it didn’t take him too long to catch up. The dealer had tripped over the curb and skid on the ground. “Where is it?!” Steven said, holding the man by the front of his shirt and shaking him. “Where is the coke?!”
“Fuck you, cop!” the dealer said, spitting in Steven’s face.
“Do I look like a cop?!” Steven asked, slapping the dealer with a hard backhand. “Give me the coke!”
“Here!” the dealer said, throwing a baggie full of cocaine into the bushes. “Just take it and let me go, man!”
“I’m not done with you,” Steven said. He leaned over to get the baggie of cocaine from the bushes, giving the dealer the chance to get free from between Steven’s legs. Steven cursed as his fingers finally grasped the baggie, pulling into his pocket. He ran back after the dealer towards where left Brian.
Brian looked around the mess of unconscious bodies around him and huffed a sigh of relief. He thought the stream of them wouldn’t end, but he finally got the last of them. He turned to see his SUV pulling up quickly with Karl at the driver’s seat. He waved at Karl, but Karl was yelling something and pointing.
Brian turned as the dealer was on him. He leaned into Brian, letting his blade cut into Brian’s abdomen over and over. He pushed Brian down as Karl got out of the driver’s side of the SUV with his gun drawn, shouting at the dealer to get on the ground. The dealer turned to make a run for it when two shots rang out, but they weren’t from Karl’s mag. They were from Steven’s .45, and the two bullets found their home in the stomach of the dealer.
“You idiot!” Karl said. “We needed him alive!”
“Did you see what he did to Brian!” Steven shouted, crouching along side Karl who was pressing a cloth onto Brian’s wounds. “How bad is he?”
“I don’t know,” Karl said. “A couple of these look deep. We need to get him some help. This is more than what we can sew up for him.”
“Karl,” Brian said, opening his eyes. “Steven. Fighting with you this last year and…”
“Stop it,” Karl said. “You’ll be OK.”
“No,” Brian said. “I won’t. You need to know…”
“I don’t need to know a mother fuckin’ thing,” Karl said.
“I met Bo Jackson once, Brian,” Steven said in a calm voice. “You know what he told me?”
“What?” Brian asked, focusing on Steven.
“He said that Brian Bosworth was a fuckin’ pussy,” Steven said. “Do you want to prove him right?”
Brian smiled. He coughed, spraying blood on Karl’s shirt. He closed his eyes.
“Dammit, Bosworth!” Karl said, slapping him in the face.
“What?!” Bosworth snapped.
“Don’t you die on me!” Karl said, unravelling a roll of duct tape with his teeth.“You think I have a choice here?!” Brian said. “You can’t take me to the hospital. We’ll all get busted.”
“Where’s the underground guy you found?” Steven asked. “The retired mob guy.”
“Shit,” Brian said, thinking as Karl duct taped pieces of cloth over his stab wounds. “I forgot about that guy. Corner of Fourth and Smith Street. Basement door is on the left side.”
“You should make it,” Karl said. “I stopped most of the bleeding. Steven, pick up that guy you shot. He’s still squirming.”
Steven moved his .45 to the dealer’s temple. “Steven!” Karl snapped. “Pick him up and put him in the car. You need to tape those bullet wounds while I drive.”
“He’s a drug dealer,” Steven said, sweating. “Let’s put him out of everyone’s misery.”
“He’s low-level, dude,” Karl said, helping Brian in the back. “Get him in the truck so we can interrogate his ass and find Lil’ Diamond!”
“Fuck,” Steven sighed, putting his gun back in its holster and lifting the dealer up in a fireman’s carry. He unceremoniously tossed him in across the backseat of the truck on top of Brian.
“Hey!” Brain said. “This guy is bleeding all over me! His blood is going to get in my wounds!”
“Move that fool to the way back,” Karl said. “We don’t have time for this shit, Steven!”
“Fine,” Steven said, dragging the dealer to the back of the SUV and laying him next to the sniper rifle with the blown-out barrel. “I guess this is why we didn’t get any cover fire.”
“Thank Boz for that,” Karl said, tossing Steven the duct tape. “Get back there with him. I’ll get us to the doctor.”
“Better hurry up,” Brian said, leaning upwards to see out of the windshield. “The cavalry is here.”
Chapter 6: Pursuit and Prescriptions
Karl put his foot to the floor as the police pursued him from the Grand Courts projects. “Fuck!” he spat, turning a corner to avoid a busy intersection a block up the road. “I told you not to fire that gun!”
“It’s not my fault!” Steven shouted, taping up the dealer’s abdomen with duct tape. “I saw the guy that stabbed Brian running away, and I made the same decision you would have made.”
“It really wasn’t Steven’s fault,” Brian said, wincing at every bump or pothole that Karl drove over. “Where was our cover fire.”
“That damn silencer you put on the gun exploded,” Karl said. “So shut the fuck up about your cover fire.”
“Oh,” Brian said. He stopped talking and tried to focus on something other than the pain of his stab wounds.
The SUV ran a red light, barely hitting a pick-up truck full of chickens. One of the three police cars chasing them skid to a halt, hitting the back and spilling the chickens into the road. The other two made it through, after they slowed to go around.
“Shit,” Karl said, looking in the mirror. “Still got two of them on me.”
“I might be able to shoot out their tires,” Steven said, looking out of the back window.
“No,” Karl answered. “I don’t want any cop’s blood on our hands.
“Not all cops are good,” Steven said, closing his eyes slightly as he watched the pursuing cars.
“Until we know if they are bad cops, we will treat them like good cops,” Karl said. He turned down a dirt road that led into someone’s backyard. He drove on the grass past an above-ground pool, crashed through another fence, drove over a sandbox, and came back out onto the streets. The police did not pursue him through the yard. They started to circle the block.
Karl took the opportunity, and turned down a dirt road between two huge trees while the police couldn’t see him. He pulled into a parking space near a picnic area and killed the engine quickly. He lowered his head and watched out the window as the police sped by.
“We don’t have long until they decide to check this place out,” Karl said. “I’ll give it a bit before driving to the doctor’s. We’ll have to torch this car, obviously. How are you doing, Boz?”
“Better now that you stopped hitting every pothole in Oklahoma,” Boz said.
“How’s our friend back there, Steven,” Karl said, ignoring Boz’s joke.
“Still alive,” Steven said. Karl wondered if he sounded disappointed.
There was no other conversation in the SUV. Karl watched the minutes tick by until he thought it was safe to leave. He backed out of the dirt road, and drove in the direction of Brian’s underground doctor. Luckily, he was able to pull in behind the building without incident. The fact that it was a moonless and cloudy night helped as well. Karl rug the bell three times before someone answered.
“Yeah yeah,” an old man said, answering the door. “Do you have any idea how late it is!?”
“I got two injured in the car,” Karl said. “One’s been stabbed and the other was shot twice. I need you to fix them.”
“I don’t think you have the right place,” the old man said. “This was on the news too. They’re looking for you right now. You’ll have to leave.”
“Wait!” Brain called, coming out of the back of the truck and holding his stomach. “It’s me.”
“Fuck,” the old man said. “You did pay an advance. Get them in here. I’m Doctor Gashberg.”
Karl got Brian out of the car, and helped him inside. Karl draped the dealer over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry and roughly brought him in. “Get them on the tables,” Doctor Gashberg said. Karl and Steven did as they were asked. Karl brought out a set of handcuffs and cuffed the dealer to the table.
“I take it that he’s someone we don’t like?” Doctor Gashberg asked.
“Yeah,” Karl replied. “But we need the mother fucker alive.”
“I understand,” Doctor Gashberg said. “Excuse me. I have to call my assistant to help me with these two. GRETA! GET YOUR ASS IN HERE, YOU LAZY BITCH!”
A woman who couldn’t have been of drinking age came in wearing a pink nightgown and fluffy slippers. She had long blonde hair. “What is it?” she asked.
“Get your scrubs on and sew up the stabbing victim here,” he said. “I’ll work on shot-up drug dealer.”
“You wanna trade?” Greta asked. “The dealer is kind of cute.”
“What am I?” Brian asked. “Chopped liver? I’m bleeding here!”
“You’re not ready for bullets yet,” Doctor Gashberg said. “Now get in your fucking scrubs before I strip you out of your undies and put them on you myself.”
“Fine,” Greta said, turning and walking out of the room. “I’ll get my scrubs on in one minute, Doctor Pushy-Pants.”
“Nice girl,” Steven said, watching her leave. “Your daughter?”
“You’re a sick mother fucker,” Doctor Gashberg said, cutting off the dealer’s shirt. “That’s a friend of a friend. Don’t let her slutty appearance or bitch attitude throw you. She’s a good doctor, and she works great under pressure. Not bad in the sack too.”
“Fuck!” Brian said. “Why’s it hurt to get a boner?!”
“I thought you were almost dead before,” Steven said. “What are you doing over there getting boners and whining?”
“You’ve been awfully talkitive for a guy that got stabbed a few dozen or so times too,” Karl said.
“Oh yeah,” Brian said. “If I die, I left you guys some stuff in a warehouse north of Tulsa. The sign out front says Jazz Shipping.” With that, Brian turned pale white and passed out.
“GRETA!” Doctor Gashberg shouted. “GET YOUR ASS IN HERE EVEN IF YOU’RE BUTT-NAKED, AND BRING A BAG OF O POSITIVE! YOU’RE LOSING YOUR PATIENT.”
“I hope she comes in to operate naked,” Steven said.
“It’s going to be a long fucking night,” Karl said.
The hours ticked by as Doctor Gashberg operated on the dealer they picked up and Greta operated on Brian. Karl knew he and Steven had to move quickly to destroy the car that the police pursued, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave Brian alone. Finally, Greta came in to wake them.
“Both of your patients are stable,” she said. “The white guy lost a lot of blood during the untaping and stitching, but we don’t think anything major was hit. We’re not a fancy hospital, so we did our best.”
“And we thank you,” Steven said. “How is he?”
“He’s asleep,” Greta replied. “Doctor Gash-breath says he could be out days while he recovers from the blood loss. The dealer is awake and pissed off that he’s handcuffed to a bed. Do you want to go see him?”
“Brian first,” Karl said.
“The white guy?” Greta asked.
“Yeah,” Karl replied. “The white guy.”
Karl and Steven walked into Brian’s small room. He was on the table with what little equipment Doctor Gashberg had to monitor his recovery. His eyes were closed and he looked to be in a very peaceful sleep.
“I should have been there with him,” Steven said.
“It’s not your fault,” Karl said. “It’s his. You didn’t know that stupid-ass silencer of his would fail and I couldn’t give you any cover fire.”
“I left him.” Steven said. “I went after the dealer, and I let him give me the slip.”
“We needed the dealer,” Karl said. “I would have done the same, and you had no idea how greasy he is.”
“Brian wouldn’t have,” Steven said. “He’s not as cold as you and me. He would have stayed to fight the hoard. The dealer could have waited.”
“Don’t forget what we’re doing here,” Karl said. “This isn’t a game. People get hurt, Steven. People die.”
Steven turned and left. “One day, your soul will warm up to rest of humanity,” he said. “Maybe then, a friend on his deathbed won’t seem like something that just happens.”
“You think I don’t care?!” Karl exclaimed. His words were for nothing as Steven didn’t even bother to stay to argue.
Karl went into the dealer’s room alone. The dealer looked at him with fire in his eyes. “You better change that stare,” Karl said. “I’m pissed off enough already.”
“I won’t talk,” the dealer said. “I won’t give up Lil’ Diamond.”
“You will,” Karl said, pulling a chair up to the dealer’s bed and turning it around. “You’re only alive because I need you to talk right now. What’s your name, son?”
“Jimmy,” the dealer said, beginning to look more scared than angry.
“Good to meet you, Jimmy,” Karl said. He swung his arm and hit Jimmy across his face with the back ok his hand. “Where the fuck is Lil’ Diamond?”
“He’ll kill me!” Jimmy wailed.
Karl punched Jimmy in the ribs. “You have bad luck,” he said. “My associate usually plays the good cop, but he’s not here. I’ll ask again: Where the fuck is Lil’ Diamond?”
“With regular Diamond!” Jimmy said. “I mean Diamond. He runs the whole operation. After what you guys did at Grand, Diamond will be keeping his best men close to him.”
“Where can I find this jive-ass turkey, Diamond?” Karl asked.
“If I tell you, will you put me in witness protection?” Jimmy asked.
Karl hit Jimmy with another backhand. “Mother fucker, do I look like I’m with the FBI?” he asked. “I’ll let you walk out of here when you heal. That’s the best I can do. Tell me where to find these fools.”
“There’s a barn,” Jimmy said. “It’s right off the main road. It looks a little out of place, but it’s been there forever. I can give you the address.”
“Good,” Karl said. “Let me get a pen.”
Chapter 7: Diamond in the Rough
The sun was high in the sky, and Karl drove the SUV with Steven driving the white “FOOD FOR THE HUNGRY” van behind him. He was glad Steven wasn’t currently in the car with him. The two were heated since they left Brian in the care of Doctor Gashberg, and he needed the time to let his own head cool.
Karl pulled into the empty parking lot behind an abondoned supermarket with no issue. Steven backed up behind him, opened the back doors of the van, can came out with two five-gallon cans of gasoline. “Ready?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Karl said, taking the gas. The windows of the SUV were open, and they poured the gasoline inside, generously throughout. When they were done, they tossed the plastic cans into the windows and Steven lit a cigar.
“Stand back,” Steven said.
“I can take the heat,” Karl said.
Steven flicked the cigar into the window. Flames erupted before the cigar even hit the floor. Karl and Steven both felt a wave of heat him them as the car burned with black flames billowing from the top. “Let’s go,” Karl said, getting in the van. “Drive.”
“Where?” Steven asked, climbing back into the driver’s seat.
Karl reached in his pocked and pulled out the paper from Doctor Gashberg’s office. He handed it to Steven and looked out the window. “This address,” Karl said. “We have enough guns in the back for this job. I’m not giving them the chance to scramble now that they know we’re after them.”
“Alright,” Steven said, turning the ignition and driving away from the burning SUV as it exploded in the morning sun.
The drive to the address that Jimmy gave them took the better part of an hour, and the barn that Jimmy had described stuck out like a sore thumb. “I don’t like this,” Steven said as he pulled up the long driveway and pulled off to the side. “This smells like a trap.”
“I know,” Karl said. “But when has that ever stopped us?”
“True,” Steven said, checking the clip of his .45. He was satisfied and put it back in the holster behind his back. “I still wish Hillbilly Jim could be with us since Brian is in a coma.”
“Jim went all the way to Branson,” Karl said. “We’ll have to do without him for a bit.”
“Does this feel weird to you?” Steven asked. “It’s always been you and me in the shit, but we’ve never been without Brian and Jim completely.”
“It’s only weird because you’re making it weird,” Karl said, putting his twin mags in the front of his belt. He took his sawed off shotgun from behind his seat and pumped it once. “Let’s go rough up this Diamond.”
Karl and Steven approached the front doors of the barn, looking around for any sign of trouble. None was too be found, and they both found it odd. They gave each other a look and a nod before Steven kicked the door of the barn in, leveling his .45 in both hands. Karl came up Steven’s left, holding the sawed off shotgun in front of him. Neither of them fired when they saw what was waiting for them.
They were surrounded in a crescent of men holding uzis. Karl figured his life was about to end and considered killing as many of them as he could before it did. “Our boss would like to have a chat with you,” a man said, stepping between the guards. He wore a black suit with a tie. “He’s expecting you.”
“Shit,” Steven said, lowing his gun.
“I’m not giving up my gun,” Karl said. “As a close, personal friend once said: You’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.”
“You won’t need to,” the man said. “My boss doesn’t think you will plan on using it.”
“Fine,” Karl said. “Lead the way.”
The two followed the man in the suit through the guards. There was silence in the barn as they were led up a set of wooden stairs to a door that looked too nice to be in a barn. Karl looked around for drugs or women like in Perez’s hideout, but he didn’t see any. This Diamond character didn’t seem to do use this barn for anything except luring enemies.
“What are we going to do?” Steven asked, looking around was well.
“We play it by ear,” Karl replied. “Follow my lead.”
The door opened, and Karl entered with Steven right behind him. He almost dropped his gun when he saw who was sitting in the chair. He had aged a bit since the two had last seen each other, but there was no mistaking the face of Karl’s old friend and tag team partner; former wrester and WCW champion Diamond Dallas Page.
“Hello, Karl,” Page said. “And you must be Steven Seagal. I don’t believe we’ve ever met, but I’ve been a fan of your movies.”
“Thank you,” Steven said.
“What the fuck,” Karl said. “Diamond? I would have never guessed that you were part of this.”
“I would have never guessed that you were alive,” Page said. “I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me while I watched the footage from Grand Courts. Oh yes, I have surveillance all over my operations. I saw you and then realized the big man fighting with his bare hands was Steven Seagal. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the third one with you was Brian Bosworth. I wonder how many of your guys survived the attack from ISIS on that island. How is the Boz doing, by the way?”
“You shut the fuck up about Brian,” Karl said. “What are you doing, pushing drugs in Oklahoma? Aren’t you supposed to be running for governor of Iowa?”
“Can’t I be both a drug kingpin in Oklahoma and a candidate for governor in Iowa?” Page asked, shrugging. “Never shit where you eat, Karl. I wouldn’t dare push my drugs in Iowa.”
“Where are Tricia’s parents?” Steven asked.
“Lil’ Diamond!” Page shouted.
“Wha’chu need, boss?” A tall and lanky black kid said, entering the office. He couldn’t have been older than eighteen.
“Where the hell are these girl’s parents?” Page asked.
“From Grand Courts?” Lil’ Diamond asked.
“Yeah,” Karl said. “Her name is Tricia.”
“Fucked if I know,” Lil’ Diamond said. “Fools must’ve owed me money. I send the men from up here down to Oklahoma City to deal, and I send the women to Dallas to hook. I dunno what happens after dat.”
“There you go,” Page said, smiling. “Happy?”
“What about Perez?” Steven asked, taking a step forward. “He work for you too?”
“I actually wanted to thank you two for that,” Page said. “Perez was like a cockroach, and he kept overstepping his turf. I’m assuming it was you who took him out for me.”
“What do you want Page?” Karl asked. “I highly doubt you had us brought here just to thank us for taking out that scumbag.”
“You’re right,” Page said. “I want to give you this one opportunity to walk away. We go way back, Karl. We wrestled together. We hunted together. You fucked my wife while I watched that one time at your ranch in Louisiana. If you leave now, I won’t pursue you, and I won’t leak the secret that you three are still alive. If you plan on fighting, then I will go all out.”
“You’re a dirty mother fucker,” Karl said.
“Oh,” Page said. “There’s one more person who wants to say hello.” Page made a signal with his two fingers and the door was opened again. A tall, black woman came in the room with long, blonde hair. She had tattoos on her arms and a nose ring. She batted her eyelashes at Karl.
“Who’s the hottie?” Steven asked, looking the woman over.
“That’s no hottie,” Karl said. “Dennis Rodman?! Is that you?”
“Call me Denise,” she said in a dark brown voice. “Denise Rodwoman. Diamond paid for my operation with his wonderful drug money. I’m all woman now, as you can see.”
“You’re no woman,” Karl said. “You’re just a sick fuck that had his balls mutilated.”
“Whoa!” Page said. “Not cool!”
“Really,” Steven added. “I know they’re the bad guys, but that’s how she wants to he identified now.”
“Whatever,” Karl said.
“That was really hurtful,” Denise said.
“Oh shut the fuck up, you attention starved tranny!” Karl exclaimed. “You’re a big man. You can take it.”
“Dude,” Steven said. “That’s so uncool.”
“You need to make your decision,” Page said through folded fingers. “Do you ride off into the sunset, or do you attempt to fight me and die?”
Karl and Steven looked at each other. They knew what they had to do.
“One last thing before you decide,” Page said, putting off the final, epic gunfight that was about to ensue. “Did Steven tell you why he left Brian to get stabbed?”
“He went after that little shit dealer,” Karl said. “That’s why we were there.”
“Oh really?” Page said. He turned the computer monitor on his desk and pushed a button. Karl watched as Steven wrestled with Jimmy on the ground. Jimmy threw a bag of white into the bushes, and Steven leaned into the bush to get it. Jimmy squeezed out and ran off. Steven stayed to retrieve the baggie before giving chase.
The image changed to Brian. He turned to see the dealer coming at him, but it was too late. The knife was plunged into his abdomen over and over. Karl rushed towards the scene, and Steven finally came from the path, blasting Jimmy with two shots from his .45. The screen went blank.
“What the fuck was that?” Karl asked. “Did you let that dealer run off while you fished a bag of coke from the bushes?”
“I have a problem,” Steven said, looking embarrassed.
“Fuckin’ right you have a problem,” Karl said. “We’re supposed to be getting this shit off the streets, but nobody told you to store it up your nose!”
“Fuck you!” Steven snapped. “You don’t know how it is. I was on the top of my game, and now I’m struggling to keep up with the rest of you. So what I pop a few pills and snort a little coke. It helps me keep in step with you, OK!”
“Don’t blame me for this shit,” Karl said. “This doesn’t mean shit to you, does it? You just wanted to play action star for real. That’s what that whole ‘hiding in plain sight’ bullshit was about too. You want to get caught doing this vigilante thing, don’t you!?”
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Steven said with a serious look in his eye.
“Yes I do,” Karl said. “I’m walking away from all this bullshit.”
“You can’t walk away!” Steven said.
Karl threw his keys to Steven. “Take the van,” he said. “This shit was bigger than us, and we ain’t shit now. I didn’t leave my life behind to play action hero with a coke head. I’m out.”
“This shit is intense,” Page said laughing.
“Fuck you!” Karl said, turning on Page. “You didn’t even invent the self high-five!”
Diamond Dallas Page stood up from his chair. “I believe you were leaving,” he said.
“Fucking right I am,” Karl said. “Goodbye, Steven. Goodbye forever.”
Chapter 8: Separate Paths
Karl walked to the outside of the barn through a side door. He found some guards smoking amongst their motorcycles. He pumped a quick shot into the chest of one of the men. The others scrambled for their guns. “Relax,” Karl said, bending over the guy he just shot. “Mother fucker’s wearing Kevlar. I’m taking his bike. Ask your your boss for a new one.”
Steven came running out the same door. He caught up to Karl as the bike roared to life. “Wait!” He shouted over the engine. “Can we talk?”
“We got nothing to talk about,” Karl said. “I’m through buying into your bullshit.” He hit the throttle and drove off in the direction of Tulsa.
Steven walked towards his vans while the guards helped their friend from the ground. He sat in the front and sighed as he turned the key. He had nowhere to go except to Brian’s hotel. He intended to wait for Brian to wake up from his coma before making a decision on whether or not to move on without Karl. He wondered if Karl would head to the hotel too, but he knew the answer would be a definite no.
Karl drove north, the way he intended to when they were done in Oklahoma. Too much had come to light at once, and he needed time to clear his head. It felt good to be on the back of a hog again too. He longed to be back in his home in Louisiana, but his life there was over as soon as he let the old persona of Karl Malone die with over a dozen other celebrities. For the first time since the attack by ISIS, Karl actually felt vaporized by an explosion.
He knew he should stop at the hotel and get some things for his travels, but he knew Steven would be there. The last thing he wanted was to blow up at Steven again. Steven was the one who made the mistake, but Karl was the one choosing to walk away instead of fighting.
Diamond Dallas Page was right about one thing. They had meddled in something bigger than them. They had survived the attack from ISIS and made their way back to the states unnoticed. They took down many drug lords and kingpins in the year and a half since The Amazing Survivalist attack, but nothing had prepared Karl to see an old friend sitting in the chair, behind the biggest operation they had come across.
“Page,” Karl muttered. He couldn’t even hear his own words over the motorcycle’s engine, but it didn’t change the rage he felt behind them. He didn’t know if the rage was for Page, Steven, or himself. He revved the cycle’s engine and sped off towards a safe-house that Brian had already set up for them north of Tulsa.
Steven sat cross-legged on the floor of the random hotel room that he had chosen. The place was eerily quiet without the others. He had hoped that Hillbilly Jim had returned from his wrestling show in Branson, but he still hadn’t. Steven wondered in Diamond Dallas Page had found him and taken him out, but he pushed the thoughts from his head. There was only one person he could turn towards for advice now. He opened his laptop.
“Namaste,” Steven said to the image of Lhamo Donrub, the fourteenth Dalia Lama.
“Namaste,” Lhamo repeated. “You seem troubled, Lagaes.”
“I am troubled,” Steven said. “I’m all alone. Brian is in a coma, Jim is off in Branson, and Karl left me.”
“And why is that?” Lhamo asked.
“It’s my fault,” Steven said, holding back his tears. He almost lied to his oldest friend, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. Besides, the Dalia Lama always knew when someone was being untruthful to him. “I tried to get a bag of cocaine, and the dealer slipped away from me. He stabbed Brian, and how he’s recovering from his wounds. Karl saw the video of me doing it, and he left.”
“You let all of this happen because of your addictions,” Lhamo said. “How many times have I told you that it would come between you and your team? Do you think my words of wisdom are merely words?”
“I was hoping you’d advise me,” Steven said. “Not give me the third degree.”
“Excuse me?” Lhamo said. “I have been advising you, but you’ve refused… You know what, Steven? I’m done here. Forget about the prophecy. I think I have the wrong guy.”
“You don’t mean that,” Steven said.
“Go fuck yourself,” Lhamo said, closing the connection.
Steven put his head down. He felt more alone than he did moments before. He didn’t think that was possible. He reached into his bag and pulled out the baggie of cocaine that he had stolen from Jimmy moments before he stabbed Brian repeatedly. He reached in again and pulled out the emptying bottle of Xanax that he had stolen from a bad guy’s medicine cabinet a month ago. He reached in one last time to find the remnants of a donut he had saved from when he had gotten coffee with Karl and Brian the other day.
Steven was no longer interested in putting those things in his body. He finally understood what the addicts had called “hitting bottom”. He went into the bathroom, dumped all the stuff into the toilet, and flushed it. He then turned the AC in the room all the way up and got ready for the withdrawals.
Karl spent the night in Brian’s safe-house. The was a cot stashed under some old desks, but it was brand new. He had slept in worse, and he was able to get a full night’s rest when his mind finally stopped playing back all that had happened. When he woke up, he ignored the truck that Brian had waiting for him and got back on his stolen motorcycle. He drove as short while until he found a small diner off the side of the road.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asked.
Karl read her name tag. “Coffee, Alice,” he said.
“How do you like it?” Alice asked.
“As black as I am,” Karl replied with no hint of a smile.
“That’s how I like it too,” Alice said with a lustful grin. “Anything to go with your black coffee, sexy?”
“Eggs,” Karl said, not bothering to even glance at the menu. Most diner fare was the same, and he didn’t give a fuck about the specials. “Sunny side up. Toast. Rye. Bacon. Burnt. Hash-browns. Also burnt. Ketchup. A shit-load.”
“You got it,” Alice said, scribbling on her pad. “If you need anything else, give me a holler.”
Karl nodded and went back to his thoughts. Steven could have repeated that order verbatim. He also knew what the others would have ordered if they were still with them. Steven would have had scrambled eggs with ham mixed in with a few donuts on the side with nearly an entire pot of coffee with a ton of sugar. Brian would have ordered eggs and ham with orange juice. No caffeine or carbs. Hillbilly Jim would have had six chocolate chip pancakes with a pitcher of chocolate milk.
Karl smiled at the sight of the waitresses when they made their orders. He wished they were there to put that look on Alice’s face, but they weren’t. He considered moving on that day, but he was reluctant. He didn’t know what was holding him back; the others or Diamond Dallas Page.
Steven was sick of his withdrawals, so he walked the streets of Tulsa. He saw a drug deal going down and hesitated to do something. He was all alone, and Page had given them an ultimatum after all. Something had gone wrong with the drug deal, and the dealer was now slapping his customer around. He fell to the ground, and two others stepped in to kick him while he was down.
“Fuck Page and his ultimatums,” Steven said to himself, unaware of the old woman slowly backing away from him. “Karl took that bullshit deal. Not me.”
Steven walked down the alley, ready to fight despite the way he currently felt. The punks down the alley were in store for the ass-kicking of their lives.
The fight lasted only minutes, and ended with Steven in handcuffs. In his daze, he didn’t notice the police man that watched him go down the alley. It took three cops, but they subdued Steven and hauled him off in the back of one of the cruisers. Minutes later, he was being locked away in some cell in a tiny police station.
“Who’s this guy look like to you?” One of the cops said, looking through the bars. “Doesn’t he look like that guy from all of those action movies.”
“Oh yeah,” another cop said. “He’s the spitting image. What was that guy’s name again?”
“Jean Claude Van Damme!” the first cop said.
“Yeah,” the other cop said. “We caught Van Damme’s twin!”
Steven reached through the cell with lightning-fast speed and pulled the cop close to the bars. “Do not compare me to that dick-stain, Van Damme,” he said, pulling the cop tight up against the bars so the two were nose-to-nose. “Fuck that frenchie, ballet-kicking bastard.”
Steven was sent backwards from the bars as he was shocked in the ribs through the bars with a cattle prod. “Take his picture,” the guard with the prod said as the other backed away from the bars with his hands on his throat. “See if this is one of the guys that the boss said was disrupting his dealers.”
“Boss?” Steven muttered from the ground as his insides threatened to heave out of him. “Page.”
“Coffee,” Alice said, setting a full cup of coffee down in front of Karl without asking for his order. “As black as you.”
“That’s right,” Karl said. He hadn’t moved on like he knew he should have. Instead, he stayed another night and had come back to the same diner the next day. He knew the dangers of starting a pattern, but he couldn’t quite bring himself to move on just yet.
“I already put the rest of your order in, sexy,” Alice said.
“Thank you kindly,” Steven replied.
Alice looked at the television. “Did you see that on the news?” she asked. “They arrested some celebrity look alike during a drug bust yesterday.”
Karl looked up at the TV. It was on mute and there was no picture of who was arrested. Karl had a bad feeling in his gut. “Which celebrity was he impersonating,” Karl asked, already knowing the answer.
“Steven Seagal,” Alice said. “That action star that got killed by ISIS.”
“I know who he is,” Karl said, watching the TV as pictures of a kitten parade replaced Steven’s story. He found himself at moral crossroad and didn’t know which way to turn. He could go back and get Steven out, probably pissing off Diamond Dallas Page, or he could move on and let Steven get a bullet in the head for sticking his nose into Page’s drug operations again.
“My dad used to love his movies,” Alice said. “Too bad he died.”
“Yeah,” Karl said, looking down at the table and calculating his next move carefully. “It was a damn shame.”
Chapter 9: The Breakout
Steven sat in his cell, waiting for the guards to come back to end his life. He was helpless in the small, metal cell. He had played characters in his movies that would be able to break out easily, but they were only fiction. In reality, Steven would die even before he had the chance to put up a fight. He only hoped that Karl had been smarter and moved on.
The sound of rattling chains broke Steven’s daze. He wondered if the crooked police in this backwater sheriff’s department had some kind of plans for him. The chains stopped and Steven let his mind wander again. He would have to utilize all of his mediations to take himself out of this cell and move onto a plane where he wouldn’t be tortured and eventually killed.
The chains moved again, except this time it was accompanied by the sound of a truck’s engine. Then, there was the groaning of the walls before the collapsed outwards into the sunny afternoon.
Steven stood up. The wall of the cell was gone! He didn’t have time to contemplate how his meditations had done it when Karl walked towards him in through the rubble. “Get in the truck, mother fucker,” he said.
“Karl!” Steven exclaimed.
“Save the tears,” Karl said. “Get the fuck in the truck.”
Steven did as Karl said, and climbed into the passenger seat of the eighteen-wheeler. “You think you can get away from the police in this?”
“Unless they got choppers,” Karl said, driving the truck onto the street. “But these are Page’s cops from what I gathered. They let it slip to the media that they arrested a Steven Seagal look-alike, but I bet they’d want to keep the rest of their little operation here a secret.”
“What made you come back?” Steven asked.
“We’re a team,” Karl said. “A well-oiled machine. I was wrong to walk away when I learned that Diamond Dallas Page was behind this, so I made a big deal out of breaking you out.”
“Why’d you do that?!” Steven exclaimed. “Now he knows we’re coming for him.”
“Exactly,” Karl said. “I’m not taking him out at that stupid barn of his. If we are going to take down the big man, then we are going to do it big. They’ll move him to his compound on the Oklahoma-Kansas state line, where he thinks he’ll be safe and secure. We bust in there, fuck shit up the way we always do, and take him out. The real police won’t be too far behind, and the world will know that the candidate for governor of Iowa and former WCW champion, Diamond Dallas Page, is nothing but a drug pushing kingpin-wannabe.”
“Are you OK with taking down your old friend?” Steven asked.
“He ceased being my friend when he decided to become what he is now,” Karl said. He glanced in his side mirror. “We got company. Page’s cops are on our ass.”
“Shit,” Steven said. “You got weapons in here?”
Karl smiled. “Look behind your seat,” he said.
Steven looked behind his seat, and came back out with a gym bag full of weapons. “Holy shit,” he said. “Are those grenades?”
“Sure are,” Karl said. “Curtesy of The Boz. Mother fucker set us up. Pass me one of those.”
Steven passed Karl a grenade. He studied the cars following in his side mirror for moment, pulled the pin, hesitated only a moment, and released the grenade. It bounced off of the ground twice before exploding once it passed the back of the truck, sending the cruiser from the sheriff’s department flying off the road along with chunks of the highway.
“Good aim,” Steven said, loading an uzi. “I’ll get this guy on the right.” He unrolled the window and hung outside. The bullets from the police were ricocheting off the side of the truck, but Steven ignored them, breathing in and focusing his chi. He opened his eyes and sprayed the cruiser full of bullets. Steam issued from the holes in the hood, and he hit the driver through the windshield. He couldn’t tell if the shot killed, but the cruiser veered of the road and crashed into a tree.
Karl heard the bullets pinging to the left of him and saw another cruiser coming up on the left with another behind it. He looked in the passenger side mirror to see another. “Three more,” he said. “Hang into something.”
Karl ignored the road in front of him for a moment, aiming the side of the eighteen-wheeler instead. He cut the wheel, sidling the truck to the left. The cruiser closest to him ended up under the truck, becoming crushed by the back wheels. Steven held his hand on the roof and the truck shook and bounced. “Pass me another grenade,” Karl said. Steven did as he was asked.
Steven put down the uzi and brought out the rifle that was behind his seat since the cruiser on the right was getting closer. More bullets bounced off the side of the truck as Steven took aim at the driver. He pulled the trigger, but the driver hit the breaks right before, causing Steven to hit the street, sending pebbles into the cruiser’s windshield. “Fuck!” Steven exclaimed, taking aim and firing again.
Meanwhile, Karl watched his mirror for the perfect opportunity to throw his grenade. He pulled the pin and tossed it out. The cruiser rolled off the road into the grass as the grenade exploded to the right of it, spraying pieces of the road into the air. The cruiser rebounded onto the highway. Karl swerved again, but the cruiser was ready for this too, driving off the road. Karl took his belt off and tired the end around the steering wheel. He took his magnum in his left hand, and pointed out the window as he kept the truck steady with the belt. He fired one shot, hitting the driver in the head and sending the cruiser off the road, where it crashed into the side of a rock wall.
“The mailman always delivers, mother fucker,” Karl said.
Steven fired another shot, this time he was able to blow out the driver’s side tire of the cruiser. It swerved off the road, flying into aravine and exploding with a cloud of black smoke. “That’s the last one,” he said, sitting back and breathing a sigh of relief.
“Steven,” Karl said. “I want to apologize for what I said and did when I found out about your coke problem. It wasn’t cool to turn my back on you like that.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Steven said. “I dried out in lockup, and my meditation helped a lot with dealing with that. I’m sorry for letting my drug usage get in the way of the team. I just need to apologize to Brian for leaving him.”
“There will be time for that later,” Karl said. “Let’s get our asses to Page’s compound and take that mother fucker out!”
Chapter 10: Diamond’s Compound
Diamond Dallas Page lit a cigar while he looked his main window towards the horizon. He knew that Steven Seagal had escaped from his sheriff’s cell when the wall was taken out by an eighteen-wheeler. He thought Karl Malone would be on his way after their chat, but he was wrong. He should have taken him out when he had come to the barn. It seemed he had a soft spot for his old friend, and it had proven to be an error.
“They’re coming,” Denise Rodwoman said, hanging up her cell phone. “They took out the cops that followed them.”
“Shit,” Page said, fighting the urge to throw something. That was an entire sheriff’s department that he had under his control gone. “They’re likely all dead.”
“What do we do now?” Denise asked.
“They don’t know about this place,” Page said, trying to think if he had told Karl about his compound and ranch on the state line. He may have mentioned it over whiskey and wife-swapping, but he couldn’t remember.
Page’s question was answered as the eighteen-wheeler busted through his front gate and crashed through the front doors of his compound, nearly taking down the entire front wall.
Page made sure the safety on his AK47 was off. “They’re here,” he said.
Karl jumped to the ground from the driver’s side door of the truck, firing his sawed off shotgun at the nearest guard and blowing his head off. Steven got out on the other side holding two uzis, spraying all that were unlucky enough to be around. The body armor was heavy on Page’s personal guard, so head shots were a must.
Machine gun fire rained from above them as gunners took to the veranda. Karl and Steven found themselves behind a flipped desk, in a very familiar situation. “Why is it that we always end up here?” Steven asked.
“It’s a goddam shame,” Karl said. “You spray. I take the head shots.”
“Deal,” Steven said, turning and firing both of his uzis at the gunners above them. They began to pull back for cover, but Karl was faster, firing his .44 magnums like a gunslinger in the old west, and putting a hole in six foreheads. He ducked back down as the gunfire began anew.
“Good shooting,” Steven said as Karl reloaded his gun. “I got a couple myself.”
“I thought there’d be more,” Karl said. “We must have caught Page off guard. Maybe he figured we’d leave this place alone.”
“One more time?” Steven said, putting a new clip in one of his uzis.
“One more,” Karl said. “Steven got up and sprayed again as Karl turned the guards into corpses. Karl dropped back down after only firing three bullets. “That’s it.”
“They’re backing off?” Steven said, falling next to Karl.
“They’ll be back,” Karl said. “Then we’ll be in trouble.”
“Oh Karl!” a not so womanly voice crooned. “Come and and play with me!”
Steven craned to see who was calling, and a bullet almost took off his head. “Is that….”
“That thing that used to be Dennis Rodman,” Karl finished, sneering.
“That’s still not cool,” Steven said.
“Shit,” Karl said. “We need to get to DDP before he escapes. We can’t be held up with Dennis.”
“Denise,” Steven corrected. “I’ll take care of Rodwoman. You go after Page.”
“You sure?” Karl asked.
Steven put his fist forward. “You guys have bad blood,” he said. “Go shed it.”
Karl bumped Steven’s fist. “You take care of that shemale freak,” he said. “For every good man and woman in this country.”
“Dude!” Steven said. “What the hell is wrong with you! I’ll take care of her because she’s a drug dealing murderer! The fact that she’s transgender has nothing to do with it!”
“Fine,” Karl said, getting ready to move. “Go distract Rodman. I’ll take care of Page.”
Steven jumped up again and sprayed the last clip of his uzi, giving Karl the cover he needed to run in the opposite direction to the stairs that would lead him up to Diamond Dallas Page’s offices. He took aim with his sawed off shotgun, blowing the head off a guard in his way. He then took to the stairs, three at a time. Within seconds, he was out of Steven’s line of sight.
“It’s just you and me, big boy,” Denise said approaching Steven.
Steven tossed his uzi to the ground. It was useless carrying it around now that he was out of ammo. He still had his .45 in the holster behind his back, but he wanted to keep that as his trump card. “I won’t go easy on you because you’re a woman, Rodwoman,” he said. “Wait a second… Rodwoman?! I just got that!”
Karl made his way to Page’s office, but he found it empty. He had run out of shells for his sawed off shotgun, and it was already tossed aside. He now held his mag in both of his hands, aching to get a clear shot at Page’s head.
He entered the hallway once more, and was surprised to find it empty. He looked around, trying to figure out where Page had gone to, but he saw what he needed from a large window. A helicopter was touching down on the roof outside. Page, flanked by his security, was waiting for it to lower enough to take him. Once he was on that chopper it would be hard to get another shot at killing him, and Karl knew this.
Karl ran towards the window as the chopper was coming down, picked up a metal chair as he ran, and hurled it towards the window as he fired his mag at the glass with his other hand.
Steven dodged a punch from Denise. Even thought she was a woman now, there was nothing feminine about the haymakers she was throwing. Steven answered with quick shot to Denise’s kidney and backed away.
“You’re still quick, old man,” Denise said, jumping back and forth like a boxer trying to pump himself up. “I was hoping to get a shot at Malone, but you’ll do just fine.”
Denise came in with a fury of jabs, and Steven wasn’t quick enough to dodge them all. He tried to stay focused as he spun around Denise and put her in a headlock from behind. “That’s not how we do things,” Denise said. “I’m not a bottom!”
“You’re all bottom, bitch!” Steven said, squeezing tighter.
“You don’t have it any more, do you?” Denise said. Her voice sounded strained as she tried talking through Steven’s headlock.
Steven squeezed harder and harder, twisting Denise’s neck as he did. His biceps felt like they were going to pop out of his arms, but he had finally gotten Denise to shut up. She fell to one knee, and Steven didn’t let up. Finally, Denise’s head flew from her neck with a pop.
“What the fuck!” Steven shouted, as the bloody head rolled across the floor and the body fell to the ground. “That’s never happened before.”
He looked in the direction that Karl ran. He took the .45 from its holster and ran up the stairs, pausing only for a moment half-way up to catch his breath.
Chapter 11: Showdown
Karl fired into Diamond Dallas Page’s security, taking one down with each bullet. They had thinned out, but Page was running towards the descending helicopter. He aimed at the pilot and squeezed off the last two shots. The pilot wasn’t hit, but he backed off, opting to go back into the air.
“You think you’ve stopped me?!” Page shouted as he took an AK47 from one of his dead guards. The others still stood around him. He fired at Karl as he was trying to quickly reload his mag. He had to take quick cover, dropping his bullets to the ground as he jumped behind a row of metal barrels.
“You can’t keep doing this, Page!” Karl shouted in return, digging in his pocket for more bullets. With what was in his gun and what he found, he only had four bullets left. It wouldn’t be enough to kill Page and his guards.
There was more gunfire, and Karl stole a peek from his hiding spot. Steven was on the roof now, covered in blood and firing his .45 into the guards. Page shot the AK47 towards Steven, and he had to take cover behind a stack of wooden crates. The last of the guards were surrounding Page now. Karl made a quick count of around ten or eleven, but it would be tough to take them down with what little fire powered he and Steven had when they were pinned down like this.
“Give up!” Page shouted. Karl could hear the chopper approaching again. “Come on out and I’ll make your death quick!”
“We won’t surrender!” Steven shouted.
“No we won’t!” Karl shouted in reply. “We won’t give up until you’re dead or we are!”
“So be it,” Page said. “Pull them out of their hiding spots and bring them here. Shoot their knees out so they can’t run away.”
The guards started approaching the hiding spots of Karl and Steven. They nodded to each other once more and readied their guns to make one last ditch effort. They didn’t have enough bullets to finish this one, but they would go out shooting.
“Don’t go messin’ with a country boy!” A voice shouted. The guards turned, and Hillbilly Jim and a dozen or so midgets dressed as classic professional wrestlers were already on them. Jim was in his overalls with no shirt underneath. He banged two guards’ heads together, then he turned and punched another in the jaw. He stomped his large right foot on the ground as the midgets started punching and kicking anyone near them.
“Get them!” Diamond Dallas Page shouted.
The guards scrambled to get ahold of the situation. A King Kong Bundy midget grabbed the left the left leg of a guard while a Koko B. Ware midget grabbed the right. The guard tumbled to the ground where a mini Earthquake kicked him in the ribs along with a mini Macho Man. Another guard went down the same way, receiving a leg drop from a tiny Hulk Hogan on the back of his neck. The mini Macho Man dropped an elbow on a guard’s kidney, and he screamed in pain.
“You idiots,” Page said, taking aim with his AK47. “Kill them. They aren’t children.”
“Self high five!” A midget Diamond Dallas Page shouted at the real Page while giving himself a self high five. “It’s me! It’s me! IT’S DDP!”
“Enough of this fuckery,” Page growled.
Hillbilly Jim kicked the midget Diamond Dallas Page in his rump, sending him twenty feet away. He then grabbed a guard in a sleeper hold, using him as a human shield as he was fired at by the fully-grown version of DDP. The midgets ran in every direction when the bullets started firing. “You’re a sick man!” he shouted, holding the bullet riddled guard.
Karl and Steven were out of their hiding spots now. Karl used all but one of his bullets to put down some of the guards, and Steven used his .45 to take care of the rest. Hillbilly Jim gave the last man standing a pile-driver, cracking his skull. “Where’d all my new friends go?” Hillbilly Jim asked, scratching his head and looking around. “They must have run off back to their little car. I think I forgot to thank them for the ride here.”
“Good to see you again, Jim,” Steven said.
“I found you!’ Hillbilly Jim said, smiling widely.
“You sure did,” Karl said.
The helicopter came back down from the sky, and Page turned to run towards it. “You going to let him get away?” Steven asked.
“I didn’t plan on it,” Karl said, raising his mag.
“You got any bullets left?” Steven asked.
“Just one,” Karl said, taking aim. “But one is all I ever need.”
“Uh-oh,” Hillbilly Jim said, sticking his fingers in his ears.
Page turned around towards Karl after hearing the conversation. He tossed his AK47 to the ground. “You really want to finish me with one bullet?” he asked. “That’s not the Karl Malone I knew.”
“The Karl Malone you knew died,” Karl replied. “Like you’re about to do.”
“Then put down he gun,” Page said. “Fight me like a man.”
“Fine,” Karl said, handing his gun handle first to Steven.
“Don’t do this,” Steven said. “Just put a bullet in him and walk away.”
“This shit is personal this time,” Karl said. “So I’m going to finish it personally. Don’t interfere.”
Karl walked towards Diamond Dallas Page, who had his fists balled up and ready. “This isn’t a wrestling match,” he said.
“Those days are over,” Karl replied. He rushed Page, hammering at him with a barrage of jabs, but Page was blocked with his forearms. Karl hesitated for only a moment, but Page took the advantage and connected with a blow to Karl’s temple. Karl answered with a left hook of his own, nearly knocking off Page’s jaw.
Page jabbed, and Karl sidestepped it, swinging with his left and connecting with the side of Page’s head. Page kicked out towards Karl’s stomach. He then turned around quickly and moved his hands to sides of Karl’s head, trying to give him his signature move: The Diamond Cutter.
Karl shoved Page to the ground. “What the fuck are you doing?!” Karl shouted. “That shit don’t work in real life! Get the fuck off the ground!”
Page got up and wiped the blood that was coming from his nose with the back of his hand. “Force of habit I guess,” he said. “You ready to finish this?”
“I’ve been ready, mother fucker,” Karl said. “I’m just waiting on you.”
Page rushed Karl this time, tackling him around the waist and driving him to the ground. He pounded at his foe with his fists while Karl did his best to block with his arms. Page finally raised both his arms above his head to make his fists ready for a hammer blow, but Karl punched upwards, hitting Page in the jaw. He fell backwards and Karl moved quickly to get above his opponent.
“Is this what you wanted?!” Karl shouted, punching Page over and over in his face. “It’s over, Page!”
“Karl!” Steven said, pulling his friend off of Page. “It’s over. He’s done.”
“You’re just going to let him get back up?!” Karl asked.
“We can get enough here to put him behind bars for the rest of his life,” Steven said. “Death’s too good for Page. Besides, you and him were friends.”
Karl looked down at the bloody face of Diamond Dallas Page and sighed. “You’re right,” Karl said. “Jim, find something to tie this fool up with.”
“Sure thing, boss,” Hillbilly Jim said, looking at the ground around his feet and scratching his head. “You see any bungee cords around?”
Karl was about to say something else when bullets started hitting the ground around them from the helicopter. “Find cover!” Karl shouted. Steven and Jim ran off in opposite directions, and Karl did the same, finding cover from the small gatling gun behind some crates. He peeked from the side to see Page starting to pick himself up and walk towards the helicopter.
“You mother fucker,” Karl muttered. He looked across the roof to Steven, who was trying to signal him. Steven still had Karl’s magnum, but he didn’t have a clear shot. Karl held his hands out, and Steven threw the gun across the roof as Page climbed aboard the helicopter.
Page pushed the guard who was using the gatling gun out of the way and got into the helicopter. Karl only had one bullet and once chance to end Page. He took aim while the gunman tried to get his bearings, but the helicopter was already ascending and turning in air. Karl had no shot at hitting Page, so he aimed for the pilot.
Karl pulled the trigger, firing his final bullet. A hole appeared in the glass windshield of the helicopter as it passed through, killing the pilot. The helicopter tumbled through the air, coming down on top of the roof in a pile of twisted metal and smoke.
“Holy cow!” Hillbilly Jim shouted, coming out of his hiding spot. “What a shot!”
“We need to run away from the coming explosion,” Steven said.
“Fucking right we do,” Karl said.
Karl Malone, Steven Segal, and Hillbilly Jim ran in the opposite direction of the helicopter, jumping into the window of Diamond Dallas Page’s compound as the helicopter ignited and exploded, sending shrapnel in all directions.
Tricia sat on the steps of her building and kicked a rock off the path and into the dry grass next to it. Months had passed since those four men sat at her Auntie Nancy’s table and promised to find her parents, but she hadn’t heard anything from them since. She had nearly given up hope when the taxi pulled up in front of her.
Tricia looked up as the back door opened and her mother and father came out. They both looked a lot thinner and haggard than she remembered, but she would never forget their faces. Her face lit up like a Christmas tree in a prison yard as they ran to greet her. She ran into their arms. Her parents knelt down to catch her, and the three of them hugged as if they would never let go.
“I missed you so much,” Tricia said through her tears. “But I knew you’d be back. I knew they could do it.”
“We missed you too,” Tricia’s mother said. “You have no idea how much, baby.”
“Everything will be OK now,” Tricia’s father said. “Those men gave us enough money for us to start a new life. We are going to take you far away from this place.”
“Somewhere quiet,” her mother said. “With trees and and a swing for you to play on. It’ll be beautiful.”
“I don’t care,” Tricia said, her tears renewing themselves. “I’ll go anywhere as long as I don’t lose you again.”
A large, gray van pulled up to the projects nicknamed Red Brick City just inside the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska. The phase “Knights Against Hunger” was printed on the side in large, red letters. An SUV pulled next to it, and a grill was taken out. The people of the projects started watching what was going on, and were pleased to see three men handing out food and goods.
Steven set up the grill and began cooking hamburgers and hotdogs for anyone that wanted a free lunch. Karl passed out packages of clothing, blankets, and canned goods. Hillbilly Jim ran off, and Brian Bosworth slept across the backseat of the SUV.
“Look at this!” Hillbilly Jim said, running back towards Karl with a newspaper. “Diamond Dallas page is in the news again!”
Karl took the newspaper and read the first few lines after the headline. “More of former Iowa governor candidate Diamond Dallas Page’s skeletons came out of the closet yesterday. On top of being a drug kingpin, linked to nearly a dozen drug rings in Oklahoma, Page was running prostitution rings in Georgia and Texas as well.”
“Wow,” Steven said, listening to Karl and reading over his shoulder at the same time. “It’s too bad he’s not around to live through this hell.”
“Too bad,” Karl said, continuing to read. “The FBI made over fifty arrests this week. All DDP’s men.”
“Aren’t you glad they’re following our anonymous tips?” Steven asked. “That’d be to much to handle. Even for us.”
“Page was right about one thing,” Karl said, folding the paper and giving it back to Hillbilly Jim. “This was bigger than us. It’s a good thing we can still count on the feds to clean up a bit when we do three quarters of their job.”
“Thank you,” Jim said, flipping through the paper. “I can’t wait to read today’s Marmaduke!”
“Hey!” Brian said, climbing out of the backseat of the SUV. “Get me one of those burgers. I’m starving.”
“Sure thing,” Steven said, tending to the grill once again. “How was your nap?”
“Nap?” Brian asked, rhetorically. “I’m stiff as hell. How long was I out?”
“Three days,” Steven said. “You need your rest to finish healing.”
“I’ll be back in action the next time around,” Brian said. “Where are we anyway?”
“Lincoln,” Hillbilly Jim said, still smiling at the comics section of the newspaper.
“Lincoln?” Brian asked. “Lincoln Fucking Nebraska?!”
“Calm the fuck down,” Karl said, looking around. “We don’t need any heat.”
“You dragged me into Nebraska while I was out cold, you dirty mother fuckers,” Brian said.
“You’re already here,” Karl said. “So calm down, eat a cheeseburger, and start looking for a place to stay and a new post office.”
“Fine,” Brian said, snatching the paper plate from Steven. “But I’m not going to he happy until these corn-husking bastards are in the rear-view mirror.”
“Setting up another temporary base?” Steven asked.
“Yeah,” Karl said. “Unless you’re thinking of retiring, old man.”
“No way,” Steven said. “This is way too much fun.”
Steven and Karl laughed as a tinted window rolled up from across the street. “Is that them?” a young man in glasses asked.
“That’s them,” a raspy voice answered. Diamond Dallas Page leaned forward. He was missing the left half of his face, and the scar tissue had turned dark red. He wore a diamond shaped eyepatch where his left eye used to be. His left arm was metal, and he’d walk with a limp for the rest of his life on his prosthetic leg.
“What now?” The young man asked.
“We wait,” Page replied, leaning back on the leather seat. He took a breath of nitrogen-cooled air from the tank on the seat next to him, savoring the feel of it on his smoke-damaged lungs. A half-smile full of diamond-studded false teeth sparkled. “Those four think that they’ve won, but they’re wrong. I haven’t even begun to play.”
The black car drove off, unnoticed by the four men as they did they’re work, laughed together, and listened to the stories of the people, looking for a lead towards their next mission.