Redwood Nine: Season 02 Ch. 07byRoyceConnors©
Ch.7 Reflections of Deception
JT and the club rode into Stockton the day of the meet, a few hours before schedule. They met up with Benny and Lamont and noticed the small army of black youths they brought with them. The numbers looked impressive enough, but the average age of seventeen worried him greatly. They stopped and got off the bikes and greeted them, then got down to the task at hand.
Benny said they scoped out the meeting place and the area around it, letting them know there was an ample amount of places that they could stake everything out from and not draw suspicion. JT wanted to know if there were any advantageous spots to be ambushed from, or be left without an exit. They told him the place was in the middle of the block and there was only one way in and one to get out back. The other bit of news that put everyone on edge, was that it was a confirmed mob hangout. Whoever was inside during the meet, was going to be on Jimmy's side, so JT became leery about going in alone and looked to Piney and Lenny.
"I want you guys inside somewhere. Wherever their guys sit, you guys stay just as close to me. No way these fuckers are pulling a fast one on us."
"What about guns?"
"There's not supposed to be any, but now we might have a problem with that. They could stash them anywhere in there and even if we search all the guys, we'd need to search the whole place too and they'd be bitching about that."
"So what do we do about it then?"
"I'm not sure, Piney. This wasn't talked about, so we have nothing in place to do anything about it, other than hope we don't get fucked in the deal, or talk to Gianni again and gripe to him about it. He might just tell us to fuck off and then decide to kill us, or not."
No one had any ideas on how to safeguard their president and his two top men, once inside. They were contemplating outcomes of every kind, when the rumble and whine of gears shifting, made them look to the parking lot entrance. Gus was rolling in with the 62 GMC he was going to give to Jake, pulling up to the gathering.
"Not too late am I?"
"Nope, right on time, Gus. Come on down and listen to what our situation is and see if you can help us with how to handle it."
The respectable look he had at the funeral was gone and he was back to his usual dishevelled look, as well as leaving the false teeth behind as well. He gummed a smile at them, standing in the circle. He listened to JT's worries and what was unknown about inside the club. Gus pondered it all and opined his thoughts.
"Here's something. I give you what, say ten, fifteen minutes to go in and get acquainted. Now, I know these guys and they know me, but they don't know, I know you. You got me so far?"
"Oh yeah, I'm following you."
"So, I go in there, see and of course, they won't say nothing to me and they wouldn't bother to frisk me, 'cause I got nothing to do with what's going on. I sit and mind my business like and have a drink or two, shoot some shit with the guys and if anything does go south, I'll have a gun and pull it out, making sure no one else does. There'll be guys outside the door, right?"
"Oh yeah, all the guys. I say we ride up and stop out front. Keep the guns in the bags and show we're not carrying like we said, but nothing was said about having them right next to us."
"Good, I'll holler loud enough for them to hear and they can get in there and get things under control."
"That sounds cool, old dude. Me and my boys will be hanging near by and can be there in thirty seconds."
Gus spun around to look at Benny, his face showing the offence to the remark.
"Who you calling an old dude, you young fuck?"
JT saw the reaction to the slur and didn't need that getting involved. He stood between them and held them back.
"Benny, we don't refer to people in terms that way, not if you're going to be doing business together."
"I ain't got no business with him. What's the problem anyway? Guy's an old dude, ain't he?"
Before Benny did another thing, or JT even saw what happened, Gus was by him and had his hand around Benny's throat and was squeezing it tighter and tighter, making Benny panic for his life and his gang getting threatening for it to stop.
"Gus, Gus, back off, let him go. You made your point and I'm pretty sure Benny knows it too, don't you, Benny?"
Benny did his best to nod his head, as he struggled to get air. JT placed his hand on Gus' sinewy arm, patting it to let go. When Benny's eyes seemed to be bulging enough to pop out of his head, Gus let him go and stared him down, as he collapsed to the ground gasping.
"Old dude, eh? I'll fucking old dude ya. Learn some respect for people. Honestly JT, you gotta learn to pick better friends. Insolent, little bastard."
"I think he gets it, Gus. Just calm down and try not fuck things up before they start. This is for Jake remember, so let's not disrespect him with this, okay?"
"Yeah, you're right. Although Jake wouldn't stand for that either and would'a done the same thing, maybe squeezed a little harder and said fuck it, stupid asshole deserved it."
No matter how threatening the youths tried to look, Gus struck a chord of fear in every one of them, backing them down rapidly, as he looked at them.
"Let's not go there, Gus, these guys are helping us and they're not the enemy. I say you save that same feeling for the guys inside and use it on them."
Gus took a deep breath and calmed himself, relaxing the anger and hostile stance he was taking. He held his hand out to Benny and waited for him to take it. He helped dust him off and gave him a hearty pat on the back. Benny still had a look of fear in his eyes, as he looked at Gus, who played it to his advantage.
"Sorry about roughing you up, young un, but I figured you needed a lesson in respect. Never know who you insult, might just take enough offence to it and settle it with a bullet to the head, know what I mean?"
Gus pulled a .45 revolver from behind his back and spun the chamber in front of Benny's face, snapping it shut, solidifying his position as trouble with a capital T. He tucked it in his pants, behind his back again and winked at Benny. Tensions slowly eased between everyone, as Gus no longer paid attention to the gasping Benny. Lamont went over to him, but Benny pushed him away, still trying to save some face.
"Are we good?"
"I'm good, JT."
"That's good, Gus. How about you, Benny?"
"Alright, let's get back to why we're here. I like your idea Gus, that puts us a step above them. Benny, you and your guys cover both ends of the back alley and see if you can get a few on the roofs, without being seen. They'll be looking for a ground level assault and won't know to look up. War has its benefits, I guess. Piney, you and the guys will be right outside the door, so someone stay close to the guns, so we have quicker access than them. Surprise is on our side here guys, so as long as we take advantage of that element and keep control of everyone, we can avoid gun shots and anyone getting shot, or killed."
"So, what you want happening, if they get guns and start shooting?"
"Shoot back at them, Benny. This is supposed to be a friendly meet, so if they break the deal, all bets are off and it's kill, or be killed."
"I want it clear that we don't shoot first, is that understood by everyone?"
No one was unsure of what JT ordered and nodded heads in their show of acceptance.
"I say we clear out of here and get ready to go. Gus, give me the time and I hope you get in without any problems. If you get stopped from going in, we might have a problem situation that puts us behind the eight ball."
"No worries, JT. I'll get in. Like I said, they know me, I come here to drink and shoot the breeze, so they'll have no reason to suspect I'm there for anything else. I do have a history, you don't know nothing about, so give me a little credit here, that I know what I'm doing. This ain't my first go round, doing this sort of thing."
JT clapped him over the shoulders, showing he was willing to put his faith in him and could hold him to his word. No one had any questions, as to their part to play, so they left the parking lot en masse. Benny and his gang pulled up the next street over and parked, waiting for the meet time of two. JT and the guys rolled up at five minutes to and parked in a line up, along the curb out front. The thunderous rumble of nine bikes quieted, but it had aroused the attentions of those inside, bring Vinnie and Louie outside. As much as they knew bikers were coming, the club still made them take a tougher stance, to show their authority over the situation.
"You's the guys to see Jimmy?"
"Yeah. You's the guys to make sure we have no guns?"
"Yeah. Open the vests and let Louie pat you down."
"No problem, but open your jackets and show that you have no guns first."
"We got no problem with that."
Vinnie and Louie opened their jackets and showed there was no shoulder holster and turned, so they could see nothing tucked in the back. They both raised their pant legs and showed they had no back up stashed.
"Now, if you please."
JT opened his cut and let Louie frisk him, while Vinnie kept a careful eye on everyone. One by one they were cleared and satisfied no one was carrying.
"I'll go in alone as agreed, the guys will stay here by the bikes."
"You must be the JT, they're expecting."
Vinnie opened the door and let JT enter, then Vinnie and Louie stood side by side and barred the way. The guys sat on their bikes and acted casual, while guns and ammo were less than a foot away from several hands. JT was right in his assumption, that the guys wouldn't pay any attention to an unbuckled saddlebag, leaving them with no more than a second or two and they were armed.
JT walked in and looked around, getting waved over by a sharp dressed, young man, about his own age and knew it was Jimmy. From Marlene's description of him, he could see the attitude immediately and knew to be on guard.
"Come, sit at my table and talk to me, JT Teller. Let me know why I should let you whack one of my guys."
JT went over without hurry, taking his time and showing he wasn't being commanded. He sat down and looked around at the patrons and knew every one of them, were with Jimmy and would back him up, no matter what he did.
"Nice to meet you, Jimmy Cacuzza."
JT held his hand out and Jimmy smiled, as he shook it.
"Do you want a drink, or something, JT?"
"A beer would be nice, bottle is good, thanks."
The bartender was paying attention and opened the cooler, taking out a bottle of Michelob. He passed it to a large man, who brought it to the table and went back to his stool. JT felt like he was sitting in a lion's den, as he took a long swig of beer.
"That helps take the dust out of the throat. So, Jimmy, we need to talk about the thing your father told you about."
JT hoped they'd get right down to business, but Jimmy started playing him.
"What's that, that my father told me about?"
JT looked about and figured everyone in there was in on it, so whispering wasn't needed.
"Clive Brock and what he did."
"What if I think Clive was right to shoot the cheating bitch?"
"That's up to you to decide about her, I want him for killing Jake Harding."
"That's the guy he popped, for doing his wife, right? Maybe he deserved it too."
JT wasn't liking the way things were going. What he had agreed to with Gianni, wasn't in play here. He took another drink of beer and shrugged his shoulders, as Jimmy waited for a reply.
"You have the right to think that. All I'm saying is this. Your dad and me talked and came to an understanding about Clive. He said you were going to help me. If you are, then let's stop the crap and talk. If not, I'm out of here."
JT's ultimatum didn't sit well with Jimmy, taking offence to making a decision, instead of dictating what he wanted. JT could sense the rise in tension, then the door opened and Gus walked in on schedule. He paid no mind to JT, or Jimmy and went straight to the bar, saying hello to some people on the way over. He sat so he was sideways to the bar and had his back turned enough, so no one would see the gun behind his back. He ordered his usual and the bartender poured a double of well scotch, sliding it over to him. Gus thanked him and took a good swallow, then looked around casually, as he spun the liquid in the glass, making the ice tinkle loud enough to make some look his way. He stopped and turned away, looking more at the other people in the club and how they were acting.
"Well? Are we talking, or am I going for a ride?"
Jimmy was getting hot under the collar about JT's demands and couldn't hold back.
"You don't tell me what to do, see? I tell you what's going to happen. No one walks into my place and orders me around."
Jimmy's guys became aggressive, getting up and moving closer. Gus didn't show any recognition to it, keeping any attention away from him. Jimmy stood up and looked at JT with contempt.
"I think these dirty bikers need to learn some respect. Take him out back in the alley and teach him some."
Gus noticed the bartender, Dominic, reaching under the counter, to where Gus knew he kept a .45 for protection. Gus smoothly reached back and took his gun out and pulled the hammer back, making everyone freeze where they were. Eyes were on Gus immediately.
"I'd be a lot happier, you slide that over to me nicely, Dom. I'd hate to put a bullet in a damn good bartender, for no good reason, other than being stupid."
Dominic slowly picked up the pistol and slid it along the counter to Gus.
"You sure you know what you're doing, Gus?"
"Yup, sure do, Dom. Let's just say, Gianni would be a might pissed at all of you for doing this. That young man has a deal on the table, that Gianni would like to see happen. You go against your dad, son, you're looking at more than a good spanking. These guys? Nothing but a fucking memory, Jimmy. You know it, I know, they know it. You want to sign their death warrants, cause your nose is a bit out of joint? Grow up and act like a man and stop being a pompous ass. If you were my boy and did this to me, I'd have your ass out back and put a fucking beating on you, until you did understand. Now sit down and listen to what this man has to say to you and do as your told."
With Dom's .45 in one hand and his revolver in the other, no one made a move towards him, because he had already proven to them who he was and what he could do. JT sat amazed at it all, totally thrown off balance by Gus' actions and how he talked to the mob. To his astonishment, Jimmy stared down Gus, but sat back down and looked at JT.
"So you wish to discuss with me, a proposal to take care of Clive. How would you like this to happen?"
JT felt the pressure disappear instantly, but not the ill feelings towards him and sipped his beer again.
"As I said earlier, your dad agrees that Clive should go on a vacation and not come back. I told him that if we do it, no connection comes to him or you, keeping you both out of it. We just need a way to get our hands on him and we'll take care of everything else. There'll be no trace to be found, so he'll just stay a missing person. We had an idea you might like."
"What's your idea, JT Teller?"
JT could see that, as much as he was listening, he was still harbouring a big resentment and wondered if he was being taken seriously, or just complying to the threat of hot lead to his brain.
"You're pissed, because Clive stole your car to do the hit on them and now you have to get rid of it. Your dad said you really liked that car, so I figured, why not let you have Clive's car and you can trade it in for a new Coupe de Ville, along with whatever cash Clive has, to make up the rest. We have a spot out in the mountains, close to the border that no one goes to. Very quiet and works for what we need to do. You tell Clive you found a guy selling a Caddy that was just like your old one. He drives out to see it and we ambush him, bring the Corvette to you and everyone's happy."
"Just like that? I'm just supposed to give up one of my best earners, so my dad can feel happy about things? I'm supposed to be happy getting a used car and a big loss in income and my dad says this is a good thing. I said I'd take the meet and talk, but this is over. This just ain't happening, not that way."
The men moved again, making Gus remind them that he was still there. While the attention was on him, Jimmy pulled out a small pistol from his waistband and pointed it at JT's head. He got up and made JT rise as well, using him as a shield and a hostage.
"I'll remember this, Gus. No one pulls a gun on me and lives."
Jimmy dragged JT backwards towards the rear entrance, making Gus holler loudly. It stopped everyone momentarily, waiting to see what he did it for. Nothing happened to cause alarm, so Jimmy continued on. Outside, Vinnie and Louie heard the yelling and raised voices and turned to go in. They barely had the doors open, when they heard the sound of gun after gun being cocked and readied to fire behind them. They stopped and looked back, to see eight guns pointed at them and eight faces that said they were serious. Piney walked them in and they fanned out inside, joining Gus in covering the people sitting at the tables.
Jimmy didn't heed the threat approaching him and continued backing outside with JT. He used his back to push the bar latch and pulled JT into the blinding sunlight. Jimmy looked around to decide which way to go, then heard no less than a half dozen guns cocked above him. He looked up squinting at them, trying to see who they were and was surprised to see the black gang members up there.
"Who the fuck are you guys?"
"We're the fucking guys going to put a bunch of bullets in your dago ass, unless you let that guy go."
Jimmy looked at them, then behind him, then noticed the alley blocked at both ends by more of them. With no where to go and the club members coming out now as well, Jimmy lowered his .22 pistol and put his hands up in disgust. JT straightened himself out and turned to him. He started poking him in the chest as he talked.
"I think you'll have to explain to your dad why you did this, 'cause I sure as hell ain't. Should have listened to Gus and done what was on the table with me. Now, I can already hear your dad saying, 'This is not a good thing that you done, this is a very bad thing'. If I got it right, that means some serious hurting coming your way. I'll spare you that pain and leave it to your dad, because he's going to be really, fucking pissed at you for this fuck up. Have a good day, Jimmy, nice meeting you. If your lucky, maybe we'll meet again...maybe we won't."
JT patted Jimmy's cheek and left him standing in the alley by himself, as he and his cohorts disbanded, his crew walking back through the club and out the front door. No one spoke to them, or made any move to stop them, as they mounted up and followed JT back to their meeting spot in the parking lot.
The cars and bikes gathered together and stopped, everyone getting out, as shows of bravado and machismo started being displayed. Gus pulled in after with the rig and stopped close by.
"Fuck, JT. We showed that motherfucker who's boss. Should have seen his face, he come out the door and see us all up there with our guns on him. Shit bro', I could almost smell the ka ka in his pants up there, he was so scared."
"Don't kid yourself, Benny, he'd just as soon put a bullet in you first, trust me. What I want to know, is about you, Gus. How do you know these guys?"
JT spun and looked squarely at Gus, his eyes demanding answers from him.
"Well, I didn't always buy and sell scrap metal and such. Was a time, I did a few other things that made money. Not legal mind you, but I had to be a tough bastard to do it, or get my ass handed to me in a hand basket. I had to add some lead to a few guys to make my point, that they should take me serious. That's how I met Jake. He was in for drunk and disorderly and assault and a few other things, so we had a fairly long time to get to know one another. Jake saved my ass a couple of times from getting my bell rung. I owed him my life and respected the man, no matter what he was into."