Head held high
“It doesn’t count if you’re already planning your defeat”, Donald grunted. I stayed silent. I couldn’t agree with him or disagree with him. We had 24 hours to get this done and I needed him. “I suppose you could be right”, I said. “Could be?” “Is it that hard for you to admit when you’re done for?”, Donald said. I laughed. “Dragged into the arena against my will. Definitely sounds like defeat to me. Should we get a move on - it's half past ten already.”
Donald had spent his whole life running circles around everyone around him. When I met him he was living in his car and completely broke. A few months later he was washing down caviar with champagne as his tea time snack. He claimed that he had to hit the bottom to be catapulted to the top or over the top as it were. I understood. He lost everything, gave in, gave up and found more than everything he had lost. He planned for every success and survived every defeat. He fought to the very end and this is why he would never understand.
“Are you sure about this?” I realised that Donald had misinterpreted my silence for doubt. He had stopped talking and was staring across the table at me. I smiled at him and said, “yes, I am. So I will wait for your confirmation on retrieving the documents and then approach Mr. Peters within the hour.” “Very well”, Donald said, “You do realise that Nikki will never forgive you for this right?” Lilac scented perfume, red stiletto heels and that trench coat with nothing under it. I could almost see her standing in front of me with a cigarette in her right hand and a glass of brandy in her left hand pouting at me. She may have understood if I had told her what they had on him. Why I had to do it. I remember when she introduced me to him. A proud dad of a proud daughter. Mr. Lenovese said, ’My boy, you stick with me and we will take care of each other. We’re family now’. We are family now.
“Well, I’d best get going then,” murmured Donald. “I need to confirm the details for my alibi during that hour of breaking into the Cambinon offices. Who’d have thought I’ll be helping a snitch”, he laughed as he picked up his cash and walked out of the warehouse.
“Mr. Peters, this is Raphael. I’ve got the lists. Where do I meet you?” “Well, why not walk in through the front door? After, all there’s no going back is there?” There is no going back now. Rivers flow forward down hills and over valleys into the ocean. I thought of every step in my life that had taken me backwards like Roadrunner in reverse. How were we to tell whether we were moving forward or backwards in life? I paused at the front door. Was I really done for? Would all that I had worked for evaporate because I couldn’t tell if I was running uphill or tumbling downhill. I swung open the door, walked over to the reception and said, ”I’m here to talk to Mr. Peters. It’s about the Lenovese v Cambinon matter”. The officer on duty sipping his coffee, stopped mid gulp and hurriedly placed his mug back on the table. “Come with me”, he said and ushered me into a little room down the corridor. I sat down on the crumbling brown sofa and stared at the patchy yellow walls.
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t the type of scum that bites the hand that’s been feeding it. Pleased to meet you. I’m Peters. Isn’t there something you need to show me?” He was a tall and lanky man. Clear shaven and bald. Thick rim glasses. I reached into my jacket pocket and took out the iPad. “It’s all in there. Everything we talked about” “Good, it had better be. We’re gonna spend some time sorting through it and then I’ll be back to have a chat with you. Sit tight, pretty”.
“Dad, is it true? Did he go directly to law enforcement? How did he get into the Cambinon offices and why didn’t he bring the information directly to you?” Nikki was distraught. She tried to pour the whiskey into the glass on the table but gave up when she couldn’t stop her hand from shaking. “Why would he do such a thing? What was the point of going to them. We, I mean he, can never recover from this.” “Darling, I’m off to get my nails done. Would you like to join me? Oh, also I’m having lunch with Mrs. Bamino and her gorgeous son- would you like to join us? Petreo would love for you to join”, Deedee yelled from the staircase, “We are in need of some good mother- daughter bonding time - oh do come dear”. Mr. Lenovese turned the page of the book he was reading and without looking up, quietly said, “Yes dear, Nikki will join you. Go along then. We are done here”. Nikki opened her mouth to say ‘But’ when the phone began to ring. Mr. Lenovese answered it on the first ring and looked up at her and through her into the hallway. Nikki slipped out banging the door shut behind her.
“Well, Raphi, the information checks out. We can get a move on dismantling the Cambinon network. We’ve got a location for the main man. We’re moving in now. In the meantime we are moving you out of the city. We can’t risk anything going wrong. You are over now. We’ve won the war”. I smiled to myself as Peters left the room. They’d won the battle. The hunter lays a trap for its prey and waits for it to crawl into defeat. He’s so focused on the trap laid out that he forgets about the noose laid out for him. The rope of game laws that can be carefully placed around his neck and slowly tightened and tightened until he is gasping for breath. As I was escorted out of the room and out of the building, I remembered the words of Alfred, “You see my boy, sometimes an end is really the means to an end. It all depends on you.” I stopped and bent down to my ankles. “Get up man. Get in the car. We’ve got no time for that”, yelled the voice above my head. I jumped up quickly apologising for tying my shoelace with the pill quickly transferred from sock to mouth. My head started spinning and my legs felt heavy. I lifted up my hand and then fell to the ground.
Lilac scented perfume. Mmmm. I opened my eyes and found myself looking into Nikki’s eyes. Our lips locked and I could taste her strawberry flavoured lip gloss. “Ahem, I still need to speak to him”, said Mr. Lenoveese in the background. Nikki touched my cheek, smiled at me and sat down at the end of the bed. “It seems that in an unfortunate mixup for our law and order brethren the contacts they’ve arrested and the places they raided were those associated with the Mendeza family. What a pity. My sources say that they thought they were moving in on the Cambinons. I wonder how that could have happened”, said Mr. Lenovese moving towards my bed and handing me a glass of whiskey. I took the glass and smiled. “They really believed that they had successfully vanquished me and you of course”. Nikki exclaimed. “You exchanged the details, didn't you?”, she cried out. I laughed. I was hungry for some crab cakes and sushi. I could breathe free again. “Well, I will catch up with you kids later,” said Mr. Lenovese, “I’m off to meet Cambinon. He can’t say no to me now given what I’ve found out about him. Or what you found out rather. He’s just got himself a new partner; he can say goodbye to the Mendezas and work with me on his Euro plan. We've got some exciting times ahead of us”.