I get to the club about 7 p.m. A few minutes early.
Serge and I are tight, but you never really wanted to be late.
Walking in, front room loud, tables of Portuguese and Italian kids hollering and playing pool. Makes me laugh. As all the wall photos and menu items made clear, he had wanted this to be an East European hangout.
I don't know...maybe Ukrainians don't shoot stick.
Not that Serge was Ukrainian. Who knows what the fuck he was? But he did hang out with them.
I went straight through to the back "private" room. Darker, not only because it was ill lit, but because of its colours. Whore house colours to be crass, but interior design is not my thing. Maybe they were just fanciful or Moulin Rouge.
Drago was in the rear right corner. I made sure to mark him. We had long hated each other. He glared briefly at me over the racing forms before getting back to working out whatever it was he could garnish from today's fix.
There were a couple other of Serge's men about. One aimlessly shooting darts, the other smiling up at the altogether too young waitress sitting on his lap.
Serge was dapper to a fault. Perfect style as always. Tonight a double breasted dark blue Hugo Boss, striped, with an olive shirt beneath and a striking neon tie. He barely looked from his cigarette to greet me.
I sat down to the panorama of delightful looking smoked salmon, accompanied by a Swedish plate of toasts and sides, and a bottle of Stoli in a bucket of ice. I would have killed for this dish. But it was Serge's...not mine.
When Andre, his waiter and maybe his sole friend, came over Serge awoke for a moment.
"Rib Eye rare. Side Waldorf salad and a glass of our second Shiraz. The Australian one."
That was my order. He didn't ask. I didn't object. On the whole, it seemed a good meal.
Several minutes pass. Small talk. Serge, as always, asks after the kids and Betty. I eat the steak, delicious, with Provencal butter melting atop, pools of blood forming on the plate to be soaked up by terrific fresh bread. He never serves this to his "customers". Only associates.
Andre is back. An Aperol with sparkling wine perhaps?
The reddish drinks arrive, over ice, and Serge smiles wryly.
-We should do this without a reason sometime...
Now it is time for business. Andre moves away, but still looks on from behind the bar. Serge tells the others to get out.
That was who was to die then. Of course I remembered. Gregor had stood over me, scarred face, after I had taken the shot meant for him. Laughing. Looking down as I tried to hold the blood in (funny how the brain thinks it can stave off the inevitable).
-Fuck, I am sure you are a dead man...
And he grunted...walking away as the sirens started to come into focus.
-Clean or messy?
So he wanted them all killed.
-I don't do kids.
-His daughter is in Europe.
I am sitting at Gregor's years after the shooting and forced truce. Katherine, his daughter, plies through the crowd. Seventeen and beautiful. I guess the less enlightened would call her jail bait.
She takes my cigarette. Gregor, angry, stares from across his own house as she pulls my head down.
-Want to make my father mad...
Serge smiles, bitterly.
-They are expecting you.
The Saab purrs sleekly along the highway out of Toronto. I placed the H&K silenced semi automatic on the seat beside me and the H&K silenced sub-machine gun model in the briefcase. The "plans" they were expecting.
Radio stations playing endless pop crap until I alight upon the ball game. Toronto winning for once. Brewers down by three. Listening to the ninth soothing as I cruise along the 410.
Pulling off as ordered, down Rural Route 6 past the farms, past the trailers, past it all to the cabin, darkness descending, sideroad harder to navigate than I recalled.
Idling in the car, looking at the light glowing from the safehouse, pausing to get my bearings. Turning the dial. Jazz music...maybe Glen Miller. I tuck the sidearm into the back of my pants.
We are in the middle of nowhere. Stones crunching under foot as I make my way to the front door. I hear inside music playing loudly. Good thing.
I knock gently. Roman answers.
Chiseled features. A huge man. Looks like an idealized Greek statue. He smiles.
I know Roman. We worked together. A few times. He thinks I am here for a reason.
Drake, before Serge, had asked us to do a mule train once. Normally a little low end. He had wanted some muscle for some reason. We had pulled into Sudbury and checking in to the hotel had seen the bargirls on the way up. When we came back down we left our wedding rings in the room.
-Good to see you!
Turning he makes it three strides before I shoot him in the back of the head.
Waiting. The music still playing. They know nothing.
I approach the door slowly down nondescript hall. Leaning against doorside...opening the briefcase, weapon out, pushing...
Funny part, so far as you can say that, is Gregor standing up, (smiling, stupid eh?) cigar in hand, mouth open...
I shot him twice in the face.
I saw a big guy to the left, bewildered, still with a stunned looked as the bullet drove into his brain, exploding whatever little was left there.
Looking out, exposed, where is number three?
-You are fucking dead you mother fuck...
He was leaping up like some kind of avenging Ninja, screaming comic book style. I shot him through the neck.
Holding it in futility, stumbling. Blood cascading out of his mouth. I shot him again only to shut him up. He deserved to suffer.
Funny how much shorter the hall seems on the way out.
The walk to the car. No rush now.
As I stride down the driveway I see her. Out of the corner of my eye. In the front seat of her father's car. Looking with terror over the steering wheel. Katherine.
I am still holding the H&K and I press upon the trigger. Gently. Our views connecting, tears streaming down her face.
I should kill her. But I can't. I can't.
Firing a bullet over her head, through the upper windshield, she ducks panicked as I get into the Saab.
-Get the fuck out of here kid!
I am fucked. Serge will never forgive me. Letting her live means the end for us. And he would not have let her live.
No going back. I can see Serge. An invitation to an event is how it would likely end. But, fumbling through the bags, seizing passport, how far is Mexico?
I can make it to Mexico I think.
The hairs on my neck stand up. The slight touching right to the side of my face, the rattling of hardness upon the car window.
I don't want to, but I look over.
And there she is. Katherine. Sly and almost sadistic smile on her face. Eyes meeting. Shotgun barrel right up a foot away...
Well fuck me.