Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Home

The four old men sat out on the porch of the home while the evening sun toiled its way across the heavens, a cool breeze rippled the soft grass of the lawn as they watched some of the other residents potter around the garden.
“You don't get sunny days like you did back in the day” The man who spoke was an Egyptian gentleman sitting on the left of the group. He had the look of a man who had been tall and muscular in his day but now was small and withered, he sat in a rocking chair with a blanket covering his legs. He was wearing a baseball cap with an eagle on it which would've shielded his eyes from the sun were it needed, his eyes were milky white and obviously didn't work. He swung his white stick in a line close to wear he imagined the horizon must be. “Not like today, can hardly see a thing” With that he let out a sickening wheezy laugh closer to a death rattle than a sign of amusement.
“Ray, that joke was old when you first used it and it won't get younger.” The man next to him responded with a thick Norwegian accent. The second speaker didn't appear to belong here he was old but in the same way a grizzled marine sergeant is old, he was almost completely bald but what hair he did have was long and white and tied into a pony tail going down his back. He took a sip from a large metal tankard. “Why won't they let me drink beer, can't stand this fucking water.”
“Because your liver and your bladder are shot and when you drink beer that nice young nurse has to clean up your piss.” The man on the far right of the group replied with a very passable Italian accent with only the slightest hint of it's Greek roots. He had a short crop of white hair that stuck out in all directions giving him the look of a man who had spent to long in a Faraday cage. He spoke with the soft coolness of a man who is used to people listening to what he had to say regardless of what volume he spoke at. “I don't understand why your always in a bad mood these days Don.”
“I don't get why your not.” The Norwegian replied. “I mean look at you, back when we were young we used run the scene, we were powerful men. You stabbed your own Father in the back just to get a shot at running the family business.”
“True, true,” The Greek nodded in response, “but you mellow with time, plus running things just takes it out of you, if you'd told me back at the height of it all, with the politics and the violence that I'd live to be an old man I wouldn't have believed you.” As he said this he pulled out a pipe and pouch of tobacco.
“You see that's where you went wrong,” Don replied “I never wanted to run the show I was happy being out and about. When there was trouble I didn't want to be stuck behind a desk I wanted to be on the front line sorting things out.” As he spoke the Greek loaded his pipe and held it in front of the much smaller man sitting between, them there was a bit of a shuffle and the pipe was lit.
“Thank you, Bill.” The Greek said and took a lug on his pipe.
“No problem, nice to be useful.” The man in between them spoke with a clipped British accent. He was the smallest of the four and had small goatee beard with a kind of ragged look to it, his hands where coated with strange pock marks and nicotine stains. He reached into his unkempt red hair and pulled a cigarette from behind his ear. He cupped his hands over the cigarette and fiddle with the top pocket of his green jerkin for a moment and when he sat up right the cigarette was lit. Almost as soon as it touched his lips he coughed ferociously. The Greek slapped in on the back until he spat out what looked like a piece of tar. “Cheers...” Bill took another, much longer, lug on his cigarette. “Don's right though Chief we used to be big news and now look at us. I mean what happened.”
“Well I know what happened to me” Ray croaked from the end of the line. “Some fucker muscled in on my turf.”
“Alls fair in love and war.” The Greek replied. “Anyway I'd have more sympathy for you if I hadn't rolled with the punches.” As the Greek said this Bill nodded along. “Look when then fucking Italians rolled up and started trying to take my turf what did I do. Did I roll over, no I re-branded, I knew I had the stronger product and I pushed it. Not to long later I had the whole of Europe in the palm of my hand” As he said this Bill nodded in a very matter of fact way.
“Indeed, Ray as I recall you just rolled over and before you knew it all bang...” Bill added “That's all she wrote.”
“Fuck you, Bill.” Ray wheezed. “At least people fucking remember me, my name still carries some weight in the world.”
“Fuck me.” Bill retorted. “Fuck you. They may not remember me but they remember that it was my lads who were the first to start giving the Italians a good hiding. No disrespect Chief” He said nodding to the Greek
“Oh, none taken at all Bill, that was an over ambitious move and was widely regarded as a mistake believe you me.” The Greek responded
“Better than what happened with us.” Don stated.
“What exactly did happen with you?” Ray asked
“Exactly.” Don said taking another swig of his water. “I wasn't even around turned me back for what seemed like fifteen minutes and when I came back the Jew had muscled in took over the whole show. I mean I'm still known about and I get a lot of respect, but that's not money in the bank is it?”
“Fuck the Jew” The Greek responded and all four of them nodded in agreement.
“Do you think he'll ever end up in here?” Don asked in the tone of one who doesn't particularly care for the answer.
“Oh of course he will.” Ray responded. “Look I've been here long enough to see nearly all of them come through here. Some are lucky, people remember them, and maybe they last a little longer than the others but in the end we all go the same way.”
“It's not like it was.” Bill said “I blame education, time was anyone could get a gang together, get out on the the street and move some product and within no time you were a player. Now you've got to be ruthless to push your way into the game at all, people know to much these days, they've seen the results.”
“I mean the only people making any money out of the game these days are the Jew, the Fat-Man and the Arab.” The Greek responded.
“Oh but anyone can push to addicts and that's all those three are doing.” Don replied
“I wish I'd thought of doing it the way the Jew and the Arab do it though” Ray chipped in. “Just franchise the entire damn operation, no additional employees just all the pieces of pie flowing right to the you.”
“And your Dad” Bill said, the four of them chuckled at this which seemed to nearly kill Bill and Ray.
The conversation continued like this for the next few hours, with back and forth about the old days. Old rivalries turned to amusing anecdotes by the passage of time, the same passage that had turned these old enemies into friends as the differences between them had crumbled to dust. Their camaraderie strengthened by shared hatreds and a fondness for looking back based on a fear of looking forward.

As the sun dipped lower in the sky and the four men sat around the table by the window continuing another round of the exact same conversation they'd been having for years
“... No she wasn't my girlfriend she was my daughter...” The Greek was saying
“One of” Bill interrupted with a chuckle.
“...fine one of my daughters.” The Greek continued.
“Then why was she your date?” Don asked.
“She wanted to see the place... Always look after your kids that was my rule.” The Greek said with a authoritative tone.
“Shame your wife didn't agree.” Ray responded.
“Oh she looked after her kids...” the Greek paused for a moment, “and I looked after mine!” There was another round of the throaty coughs which the passed for laughter in the home. As they continued talking a small sweaty black man hobbled towards them wearing traditional African garb.
“Hey Jengu, how's it going.” Don said as he saw him.
“Fantastically my friend...” he spoke with a voice that was so deep and powerful that it often caught people of guard. “Have you heard about the Jew?”
“What about him?” Asked the Greek without turning to face the wizened African.
“He's on his way down.” The smile on his face transmitted to his voice and filled it with a vengeful joy. The Greek turned in his chair and a series of crackles that might have been his back where all ignored. Even Ray's useless eyes were fixed on the African. Don got up and grabbed a chair from nearby and made a space for this bearer of interesting tidings. Jengu took his seat and looked at them, he coughed and in a flash a glass of water and a cigarette were presented to him he settled into his chair with a grin that threatened to take the top of his head off he put the cigarette in his mouth and within seconds Bill moved forward and lit it for him. He had the air of a man who was about to clean up at the poker table, savouring the moment before he lays his cards down. Time seemed to slow down. Still he didn't speak.
The Greek leaned forward and put a hand on his shoulder. “Jengu I know you like to build the moment,” the Greek was almost growling as he said this, “but I swear on my honour that if you don't tell us what you know soon, you'll leave this table in a body bag.”
Jengu laughed “Fair enough, well the word on the street is that, he's having some major problems with his people and not the sort of thing he can use his influence to sweep under the table. Turns out a lot of his street level employees, have been dipping there pen in the company ink so to speak.” Jengu said glancing over his shoulder.
“So they've always done that you just kick 'em out or make 'em apologise.” Ray chipped in. “Basic public relations.”
“Not when the company ink is under-age boys.” Jengu's grin grew bigger as their jaws dropped. “This isn't a one-off either turns out it's rife in the organisation, the last three or four of his top guys have been working to cover the whole thing up.”
“Now, that's not right I never hurt kids and anyone working for me who did was looking for trouble.” The Greek replied.
“Now they're trying to play the innocent and are coming out and criticising the police. They've even been arguing with out-right facts for a while now.” Jengu sat back as he said this with an air of achievement on his face. “Apparently he said that what he's going to do those guys will make Hell look easy.”
“Well beginning of the end for the Jew then.” Bill responded.
“Oh he'll hold America for a while, that markets hooked on what he's pushing but yeah not much longer if you ask me.” Ray replied.

Some time later Bill was sitting out front of the building looking towards the gate, he was the only one there and he'd never been gladder to be anywhere as the car pulled up to the bottom of the steps, two orderlies rushed past him and jogged down to the car door.
“GUYS!” Bill shouted but no-one responded. So instead he rubbed his hands together quickly and then clapped as hard as he could, a massive fire ball exploded making a noise that reverberated through the building, within seconds Don, The Greek and Ray had hobbled outside to see what the noise was. Bill was sitting there with half of his clothes burnt off pointing down the stairs. The three of them looked at the car.
“What the fuck was that noise.” Ray asked.
“It was Bill he made an explosion.” Don replied without moving his head.
“Why did he do that? The orderlies won't like it.” Ray replied.
“Shut up Ray.” The Greek replied.
“I don't need to shut...” Ray was halfway through responding when the Greek cut him off.
“It's the Jew, Ray, they're bringing in the Jew.” The Greek responded. More people had congregated at the door, a whole host looking to the bottom of the stairs where the orderlies were opening the door of the car, the Jew stepped out. He stood at about six foot tall with an incredibly straight posture and had long hair and sandals other than that though he didn't look much like the man they remembered, he'd put on weight he was wearing an incredibly expensive suit and sunglasses that were clearly helping him nurse a hangover his beard was ragged. He looked up the stairs and took his glasses off. He saw the assembled crowd looking down at him and glance over them with a smirk. As his eyes reached the Bill, Ray, Don and the Greek the smirk fell, and a look of fear fell over his face, he turned to climb back into the car only to be grasped firmly by the two orderlies who started to drag him up the stairs as he got closer they could all see that he looked older, and the look of terror on his face just made it worse. The Greek clicked his knuckles while he kept his eyes trained on the Jew as he was dragged past him still struggling all the way.
“You can't put in here with those psychos they'll kill me... You can't do this! You can't! Don't you know who I am?” The screams faded as the orderlies dragged him of for orientation.
“This is going to be fun” The Greek smiled. He looked at his cohorts and smiled, he hadn't seen them this energetic in years, smoke was rising off of Bill and he had a strange fire in his eyes, Ray's dead eyes were pulsing with the power of an exploding star and Don's hands were clenching and unclenching.
“Yeah it is” said Don. “Just wish I had my hammer.” The Greek smiled and as he did electricity pulsed over his teeth in the most alarming fashion.
“Yeah this'll be fun” The Greek chuckled and with that the four of them went inside to await the newest resident of their little community.

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