I glanced at my watch. “Time to get the munchkins inside. I’ll grab them. Their godfather is due.”
Tania nodded and settled into her favourite chair for the show. We both enjoyed watching their godfather interact with our children.
I went outside and found Toby first. He was easy. He just let me pick him up. Lana was in the sandbox and not in the mood to go in.
“Time to go in, Lana.”
“Don’t wanna,” she sulked.
“Come on, or don’t you want to see your godfather?” The sudden shrill scream of delight pierced my ears.
“Teddybear, teddybear,” Lana shrieked as she toddled inside.
The first time I’d heard Lana call her godfather ‘Teddybear’, I thought she was asking for a toy. It didn’t take long for me to realise that it was my daughter’s nickname for Ted.
Ted Ginger neither looks nor acts like a teddybear. He’s lean, clean shaven, a red head as well as being the local crime boss. Yet, my daughter calls him Teddybear and he answers. I do sometimes wonder what Lana is going to be like as she gets older. I have a feeling that she’s going to be running this town.
Ted distributed hugs and a couple of pieces of candy to each child. Then he stood up, looked at Tania then spoke to me. “Well?”
“Yes, Ted, we’ll go. I was wondering, can I hire Kane for the trip?”
Very few things actually surprise Ted. This one did, I could tell. “Hire Kane? What? Why?”
“I think he could teach Tania a lot about what he does. If she wants to attend meetings, she has to go as muscle because…”
“Because it takes a devious bastard to be the negotiator,” finished Ted.
“Ted, language! My children do not need to hear that,” Tania snapped.
“Sorry, Tania. I do try to keep it cleaner around the kids,” replied Ted. “At any rate, I don’t see you hiring Kane, Shrimp. Simtastic Imports is funded by The Company. No real point in you spending dough that you got from us in the first place.”
“Is that a yes or no?”
“I don’t have any operations running or about to run so it’s fine from my point of view. He may have plans of his own, you’ll have to ask him.” Ted pulled out his phone, tapped at the screen a few times and handed it to me.
I glanced and saw that Ted had set it to dial Kane with a tap. I pushed the button. He was admirably quick to pick up. Or perhaps bored out of his skull.
“Hey, boss, gotta job for me?”
“It’s Shrimp, not Ginger. I do have a job if you can leave town for at least a week.”
“Hey, other boss,” he replied cheerfully. “Leave town? Why?”
“I’m going as part of the export business. You would be going to help teach my backup a few tricks of the trade.”
There was a pause then finally an answer of sorts, “I need to pass this by Jade. But I’m sure I can. What town we going to? Or is this an interstate trip?”
“International, we are going to China, but I don’t know the name of the town. We are supposed to leave in three days, so be quick. Ginger will set up the travel arrangements.”
“Ring back this number?”
I looked at Ted. “Yeah, ring this number. Ginger will let me know.” Ted nodded at me. “Later, dude,” I said as I hung up the phone.
“He has to check with Jade but I think he’ll manage.”
“I’ll set up the third ticket now. Accommodation is easy, all tourists stay in the same complex just outside of the city walls.”
“Yes, Tania. It’s an old city, the original part has walls as protection against invasion.” Ted looked as though he was about to say something more when he was interrupted.
“Teddybear, could you read me a story?” Lana held out her favourite story book.
“Don’t your parents read to you?” he demanded with an accusing stare at me.
Lana blinked, the very picture of innocence. “They don’t do the voices like you do.”
“Your parents neglect you shamefully. Would you like to live with me?”
“Would I see Mummy and Daddy again?”
Ted gave Lana his best evil grin. “Oh no. Can’t have that, can we?”
“Mummy!” my outraged daughter shrieked.
“Lana, if you tell fibs to your godfather, he is allowed to tell fibs back.” She glared at Ted. “He would not dare take you away from me.”
“No ma’am, I would not,” said Ted. I had to leave the room before I started laughing. Ted should know better than teasing my girls. They don’t respond well and Ted wouldn’t want to upset them.
The next day, someone pounded at our door at 6:30 in the morning. “Try not to make too much noise when you kill him and dispose of the corpse,” muttered my wife as she rolled over.
I forced myself out of bed, thought briefly about getting dressed and decided I better get the door before the noise woke the toddlers.
“I thought I’d brief you on the new contact,” said Ted cheerfully.
“Go away. Come back when it’s a reasonable hour. Like noon or later,” I replied with a yawn.
“But I brought Kane for the briefing as well.”
“I have been authorised by Tania to kill anyone who knocks on our door at this hour as long as I do it quietly. Come back later.” I started to close the door when I heard footsteps behind me.
“Ted,” said Tania as she came up behind me. “Just this once, I won’t have Shrimp murder you. But don’t tempt me. Now do you want coffee or whiskey?” Somehow, she’d managed to dress and brush her hair in the time it had taken me to open the door. Magic, I swear. I was just in skivvies because who needs more to sleep in than that?
“Nothing, thanks. I’ll be turning in soon so definitely no coffee.”
Ted’s brief was, well, mercifully brief. “I have it all here. The name of the new contact is Chin Kai Taw. We’re looking to import generics for a few of the standard heart medications. And Tania?” he looked at my wife. “I checked, they truly are the medicine, just from a small local manufacturer.” He handed me a thumbdrive, “You’ll find the other details on this. The address, contact numbers, all that.”
I sighed. Trust Ted to give me this when a piece of paper would have done just as well. He is such a computer nerd. “Right, fine, I’ll boot up the computer.”
Ted glared at me for a moment, “Have you been updating it?”
I shrugged, I didn’t know anything about that.
“Hand it over, I’ll want to test everything before you take it overseas.” I handed him the computer.
He’s the one who understands security, I just used the fucking thing.
“So, I’m training your backup,” Kane stated as Ted started checking the machine.
“You all right with that?”
He shrugged, “Sure, boss. I get a trip to China and money. Nothing wrong with that.”
We had to hustle our preparations but mostly it was to do with the kids. The sitter we had last time wasn’t available so we had to find someone willing to stay and watch the kids for a few days. I wanted to leave them with Ted but Tania wouldn’t hear of it. Ted was still living with Marta and her pregnancy was getting noticeable. She didn’t need the stress of more toddlers in the house. She had one of her own.