We walked along a little used path that went behind the homes on my street. “Not bad,” said Kane. “I’ll have to remember this.”
“Twinbrook has a lot of small paths away from the roads. It’s useful to explore, wander around the back ways. But don’t wear good shoes.”
“There are a lot of small boggy patches around, and some of the paths just go through them. I was walking along fast one afternoon and went into a bog. One foot got wet, and the next step, I tripped over a tree root. Face first into the muck.”
“Yep, and getting wet wasn’t the worst of it. The water stank. I swear it took three days and god knows how many showers before I knew I didn’t smell like swamp.” I laughed and Kane joined in. It wasn’t funny at all at the time but it’s hilarious now.
“Anything you care to tell about the locals in The Company?”
“I’m not really up to date with the crew. Marta Tomasi leads the thieves. Ted Ginger organises the other operations. They both run the important stuff in other towns, so the cops don’t see much crime here. Just enough petty crimes that it’s not entirely quiet but nothing big. You’ll be part of Ginger’s crew. Don’t screw him over, he is a bastard. Follow orders and you’ll get a fair share. He’s a demon on the computer, if it’s anywhere online, he can get it.”
“Ted’s more than a bit paranoid about someone trying to take over his position. His limp is from the last try. Don’t give him any reason to think you might be ambitious or hanging out with someone ambitious.”
“Sounds fair.” We arrived at Red Rendezvous and stopped in the small entryway. “You wait here. If I’m not back in a minute, it’s safe for you to come in.”
I shrugged. Kane was doing his job and I couldn’t fault him for that. Though even amateurs should know better than taking someone out at one of the neighbourhood bars. There would be witnesses. I waited, doing my best to look like I was waiting to meet up with someone. I let a couple of minutes go by before I wandered in. I walked to the bar, straight past Kane who was sitting at a dimly lit table facing the door. The drink in front of him looked like a soft drink.
“Hey, Trey, I need a drink.” The bartender started pouring me my favourite brew then brought me the mug.
“Tania was by, I tried to get her to played a few numbers. She didn’t though. We need to set up a gig, been too long since her guitar brightened up the joint.”
I nodded. “I’m supposed to fly to China next week, but maybe the week after? I think we might be able to set up something then.” Assuming that all goes well. He handed me my drink and I nodded my thanks.
I drank the first quickly then called for a second. Trey brought me another and this one I sipped slowly.
I started with the positives. At least I had a bit more knowledge and some professional backup. But I still didn’t know enough about the enemy motives or their ultimate goal. They knew some things about me, but how much?
Fucking damn it. I can’t make a proper plan with so little to go on. I finished the brew and called for another.
“One more and I’m going to have to take your keys,” warned Trey.
“Don’t worry, there’s someone here who can drive me home if I’ve had too much,” I replied. “He won’t mind.”
As I sipped at the mug, I realised part of my problem was that I hadn’t a clue where I could find them or how I could contact them. I’ve never had that as a problem before. How to contact them was going to stay a mystery until they told me. But where to find them was something I could work on. There were several vacant properties around and a number of parks big enough to camp in.
Oh my fucking god, I hadn’t thought of that before. That they might be camping, suppose they were using the same park as Tania and the kids? I reminded myself that I’d called them earlier and all was fine. They weren’t after my family, they wanted me. I just had to be sure they could find me. Better though would be if I found them.
I pulled out my cell. “Hey Ted? Could you print me a list of all the vacant homes in town?” “Yeah, but if you wanted to stay in a town for a few days, would there be a better place?” “Well, yeah. That’s actually what I think Kane and I will be doing tomorrow. Checking to see if anyone is camping in either a park or a vacant house.” “So far, he’s fine. I don’t think he’s planning on murdering me in my sleep but if I don’t pick up the list tomorrow…” “Seriously, he still seems very sincere.” “Hey, I learnt to trust you, didn’t I? Eventually.” I hung up after a promise to have the list of vacant homes by early tomorrow.
The only other possibility that I could see was that they were staying with someone in town. That seemed remote but why not ask a bit? “Hey Trey?”
“I warned you, another drink and I need your keys.”
“Nah, I’m good. Just wondered what the gossip around town was. You heard anything good?”
So for the next ten minutes, I heard an earful about who is definitely cheating, who is suspected of cheating, who has been promoted recently and other local gossip. I made the appropriate noises as Trey told me the various things.
“Anyone new in town?”
“Actually, there’s a dude sitting over there, he’s pretty new. I hear he married one of the Greenwood girls,” Trey nodded toward Kane and I glanced that direction.
“Big dude, wouldn’t want to make him angry, would you?” I commented as I turned back.
“You got that right. Mind you, making people angry is bad for business so I try not to.” Someone further down the bar called for a refill and Trey went to serve them. I dropped a decent handful of coins on the counter and slowly ambled outside holding my car keys loosely in one hand.
“Which car,” said Kane softly as he snagged the keys while walking past.
“Blue one, just across the street.”
“Wait till I’ve started it, then get in.” He moved quickly while I ambled on. The only reason he’d want to start the car without me would be…fucking hell, that’s insane. The only reason I can think of is car bomb and he’s just taking that risk.
Or maybe he’s being devious? Back in the day, I would have assumed any ‘threat’ Ted found was one he had created. Well, my gut still tells me that Kane is playing it straight. He’d started the car, so I popped into the passenger seat.
“Dude, what you just did. Would you classify that as brave, thorough or just plain dumb?”
“If those are the only allowed options, then thorough. I’m supposed to be keeping you breathing. So I will do what I have to.” He glanced over at me as we drove up the street. “Any conclusions from the thinking?”
“Tomorrow, we are going to hunt around very cautiously and see if we can find their base of operations. There are some vacant houses and several parks that have facilities for camping.”
“I like the word cautiously,” he pulled the car up outside the house. He got out and went inside. He was back in a minute. “As far as I can tell, it is safe but…”
I found out the ‘but’ the moment I entered. My house stank, something partly decomposed and partly burnt. It didn’t take long to find the source. There was a still smouldering pile of rotting fruit and veg just outside of the back door. I found the shovel Tania used for the garden and buried the pile at the corner of the yard. Kane stayed inside, opening all the window to let fresh air in.
“See what I mean? Minor harassment. Annoying as all shit but not actually painful in any way.”
“I hate fucking amateurs,” he growled. “Give me a pro any day.”
“So, if we search for the culprits tomorrow, we need sleep tonight. Do you want to sleep now or later?”
He looked me over. “You sleep now. I don’t like the odds of you waking me up for my turn. And you going without sleep for a day is not going to help anyone.”
He was probably right about that. My mind kept going in circles and I might not wake him under the general theory that at least one of us was sleeping. “I’ll try but it’s probably not going to work.”
“You mean to tell me that you don’t have some sort of sleeping pill, knockout drop or anything else around here? You shock me, boss.”
I had to smile. “You know, there’s a good chance I could find something like that. Just never anticipated using it on myself.” I took a couple of pills and hit the hay. What does it say about my life that I’m going to sleep when I know damned well the only other person around was involved in an attempt to kill me?