Every so often a certain piece of media rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it could be done better, it could fall into infuriating tired tropes, or sometimes it just simply pisses me off. This is an exercise in petty revenge.
The warehouse was a thing of beauty. The fruits of his struggle, his empire, covered the shelves. In this building alone there were enough narcotics to supply the Northern provinces for six months. Five years ago he’d been nobody, another every-man working through the slog of a petty job, a nagging wife and an ungrateful daughter. They’d secretly always though he couldn’t provide, he’d shown them.
His lieutenants moved around him, the men who’d been with him from the beginning. Some were more committed to his business than others, but he didn’t care. They were scared; it was far more efficient than loyalty in his mind. Mission, one of his first compatriots, nodded to him and the two middle aged men headed towards the abandoned office space at the end of the warehouse block.
“You were late.” He growled.
“Chelsea threw a fit last night. She thinks I’m cheating on her.” Mission said sullen.
“Of course she does, they always go right to that.” He shook his head. Mission’s girlfriend was an issue. She drew his mind away from business, took up time he’d pledged and he acted stupid about her. “Keep her out of this. You can’t trust her not to do something irrational.”
“Not like I was going to tell her what I do.” Mission stuffed his hands into his pockets, defensive. “You know the guy waiting for us?”
“Never met him. Some head from the Pacific trade, wanted to talk about opening up supply routes into the North. Took them long enough.” Five years for them to notice him. The pacific trade had been segmented for a long time, each family and forerunner working against each other.
The abandoned office buildings at the end of the warehouse housed the mildewing remnants of cubicle dividers and desks. It was depressing even for someone who had escaped the dredge of the ‘real job’. It amazed him anyone put up with office life, but then, he was not most people.
He and Mission were joined by a few more before they stepped into the old conference room, put to use once again for a very different sort of meeting.
He blinked. Three people waited for them. Two were the normal fair, thick looking men with tattoos peaking from beneath their sleeves. The third, the one that drew his attention and made Mission gape, didn’t even come up to his shoulder with her heels.
The girl couldn’t have been older than his daughter, with a lace blouse and grey skirt that was not out of place among the desk chairs. She smiled at them, either oblivious to their surprise or enjoying it.
“Gentlemen—“ She began.
“Who are you?” His voice was low and dangerous. His own men stiffened around him. They knew his temper.
The girl to her credit did not seem cowed by the sudden change. “You know who I am. I contacted you. Unless you know longer think trade is possible between us, we should talk about opening routes.” Her voice was flat. The men behind her looked dully worried even if she did not.
This was the problem; he realized slowly watching the upward slant of her chin and the self-satisfied glint in her grey eyes, with family businesses. Suddenly everyone, not just the sons who would inherit, wanted a piece of the pie. You got smug little cartel princesses who thought they were bad shit because their daddies bought their toys with drug money. He lowered his voice into a threat. “I was told I would be meeting with Pacific’s representative. I won’t be toyed with.”
Her eyes narrowed, anger slowly showing for the first time. “You are being insulting. This is a good opportunity.” She said, words clipped.
“You’re insulted? Tell your daddy or your boyfriend or whoever sent you that they won’t touch the northern routes until they show up themselves.” He leaned in, using his substantially larger frame to punctuate the point
To her credit she did not flinch or step back. Instead she nodded, face stony.
Good. He thought. They would pay him the respect he deserved; there was no other way to do business. He’d burned bridges before and he’d survived worse than a little girl could bring. “Mission will escort you out.” He dismissed himself and walked out, leaving Mission staring after him, the girl standing face blank and her body guards shifting uncomfortably.
“Ms. Soto?” Ric asked softly, still holding the car door open. His partner was checking the perimeter, making sure there would be no further surprises.
His boss shook her head, clearing whatever thoughts had been causing her small frown. “I’m sorry. Distracted.” She said.
“That was quick; he didn’t even let you speak.” The large man mirrored her displeased expression. “I had heard he was some sort of genius.” Ric snorted, making it clear what he thought of those rumors.
She smiled at him. “He probably is very intelligent in a lot of ways. The man created his empire from nothing in five years.” She ducked into the car and Ric swung into the driver’s seat.
“You’ve made yours in less.” Ric said and she smiled at the defensive tone. The men crawling around the warehouse behind the car feared the man that led them. She wanted to trust the people at her back, especially as they were often armed. “So what now?” He asked as his partner slid in next to him.
She shrugged. “We go home. The man inside has very specific ideas on the people he’ll negotiate with, and I am not among them.”
Ric’s hand paused, keys half in the ignition, and twisted to look at her. “That’s it?”
“Of course not. I need the the northern border.” She leaned back on the leather seats and pulled out her phone. Ric started the car and began their trip home while she dialed a number.
It may not be pretty or better…but it feels damn good.