Redwood Nine: Season 02 Ch. 12byRoyceConnors©
Ch.12 Pay the Piper
The meet with Jimmy's men went easier than they thought, the stacks of money fitting in the bags with room to spare. The exchange made, the ride to I-99 was a short one, before they opened their bikes up and cruised the highway south.
Despite being a man short, Tom recovering with the help of the girls tender loving care, the club rode down to TJ as scheduled, the Friday afternoon chillier than before. They never even made it out of Stockton, before jackets came out of the bags to cover bare arms. Once buttoned up, the riders took control of the road they were on and no one interfered with their space on it. Looks given to them might still show resentment towards them, but there was a respect that was afforded them, the common patch worn by all, showing a force of many to reckon with.
The drop off spot at the back of the restaurant went just as easy with Jimmy's men, getting unloaded in minutes and a thick envelope handed to JT in return. The envelope was stuffed inside his cut and the ride continued on to the border area. Smiles were broader, knowing what they had made, before the run even started.
The warmer climes down south had the jackets opened and the shivers ending. Wally pulled into his hiding spot to wait, while the rest of the guys rode along the improved trail. They parked and readied their bags, as Manuel and friends did the same on the other side of the border. Once ready, a steady stream of kilo bricks flew over the fence and were caught by the guys and stuffed into bags. Once all were filled, Manuel took a break and kept watch, as the guys rode slowly out to Wally and filled his trunk with them. They rode back and the process started all over again, kilo bricks arcing in the air to ready hands.
The sound of a jeep echoed from between the hills, letting them know company was coming. Manuel had informed them of the increase of border watching and knew the jeep would travel away from them first, before heading their way on their route. The friendly skies above were clear and bright, affording them ample time to spot a plane coming. They acted like they were playing catch football, the seriousness of their actions not showing, when the faint drone of an engine was heard. At first, only one engine was heard, then a second could be made out. Bodies began moving as fast as they could, collecting the branches and covering their bikes. Manuel was doing the same and he and his friends were under the truck, waiting for the fly by.
The first plane flew overhead and passed heading west, while another was coming east and passed a few minutes later. Wally watched from the safety of his car, looking through his binoculars and watching the watchers searching for his friends. The planes passed and the guys gave them a few minutes to get out of sight, before they uncovered the bikes and said quick goodbyes, getting out of the area fast. Wally was loaded and the bikes evened out for weight, before they began their journey back north. They cruised along the old road slowly, the potholes and ruts making it treacherous to ride on.
Their speed increased, once they got on the smoother secondary road, making it more like the pleasure ride they wanted people to think they were on. The highway was a few miles down the road, their cut off coming up to go north again. JT leaned into the corner and led the club onto I-10, unaware of the Aztecs riding north a half mile back.
La Roca saw the club and looked back at his Sgt. At Arms and nodded for him to pull up beside him.
"Looks like our friends from up north are back again and I don't see no girlfriends this time. I think we need to have a talk and see what's up."
La Roca twisted his throttle, getting the same response from the others. The numbers were about the same, each club riding with eight members, but the mindsets were completely different in both. Wally saw them coming up behind him in his mirror and beeped his horn at Lenny in front of him. Lenny looked back and saw Wally pointing behind him and looked past and saw the formation of bikes. He didn't need to do anything more, than speed past everyone up to JT and cruised beside him.
"Looks like we have some riding company behind us. Our friends, the Aztecs, I'm sure, are coming up on our asses. I say we get a move on and put some distance between us."
No more was said, as JT opened his throttle wide open and surged ahead. The others did the same and passed Lenny, waiting to duck back in to his position. He pulled beside Wally and shouted through the window to him.
"Don't let them pass you. Block these fuckers and hopefully we get out of their territory in time."
Wally nodded and eased off, as Lenny pulled in front of him and checked his pistol in his cut, flicking off the safety. The Aztecs were moving flat out as well and gaining on the heavier bikes. Wally moved to the left and took up both lanes, letting the Aztec leader know he wasn't letting them past him. La Roca sent two riders ahead of him to go around either side of Wally, but he veered sharply back and forth, making them back off on their attempts.
Wally could see the anger on La Roca's face and knew they had no chance of stopping and working this out peacefully. JT looked back and saw how close they were and knew trying to outrun them, wasn't an option anymore. The large, green sign showed Palm Springs to be five miles ahead and JT hoped they could make it there and find some safety in a public area. He could hear Wally's tires screeching, as he rocked the Chev back and forth across the lanes.
When a shot went through the back window and miraculously passed by everyone, JT knew their time for running, had run out. Up ahead, he could see the roadside restaurant that still looked busy and pointed to the guys that that was the destination to seek cover. JT raced into the parking lot, followed by the rest and pulled as close to the building, as possible. They got off their bikes and made for the door in as much of a hurry as possible, without drawing too much attention to themselves. The Aztecs were close on their heels, parking behind the bikes, so they were blocked in, offering no chance to escape.
JT and the guys walked to the back, where the restrooms were, leaving plenty of space and people between them and the Aztecs now coming in. They spotted one another and looks were shared, both sides knowing what was on the table now. La Roca sent three guys outside and around the back, cutting off any exit from there. Things looked dire for them and JT hoped beyond anything, it didn't erupt into a gun battle with so many innocent people that would be caught in the crossfire.
The front door opened and to JT's biggest surprise and happiness, Jimmy Cacuzza and several of his crew walked in. He came towards JT and his club, showing great happiness at seeing them.
"Stopping off for a bite to eat, before you head back up?"
"Not really, Jimmy. We seem to have some pissed off bikers from down here, who don't like us riding in their territory it seems."
"Is that right? Let me look into this."
Jimmy and his men walked over to the Aztec crew, letting them know they were in charge.
"You gentleman have a problem?"
"We got nothing to do with you, just those guys you were talking to."
"Those gentlemen happen to be friends of mine and are very welcome to be in my establishment. You and your friends are equally as welcome to enjoy the atmosphere and a fine meal. What I will not allow to happen, is any of my guests to be disturbed by any disruptions. Do I make myself clear?"
La Roca wasn't going to heed Jimmy's words, until he saw his men open their jackets and showed them the pistols inside. La Roca knew enough not to try anything and backed down. He looked at JT and the others at the back and stared them down with a look of death to them. JT moved forward towards Jimmy, as the Aztecs moved to the door.
"Thanks Jimmy, Thought we were goners there, for a moment."
"Not while you're in my establishment, it won't."
"This is your place?"
"One of them. Why are these dirt bags after you anyway?"
"They don't like that we cross their territory on our runs, I guess."
"You are moving your goods through someone else's territory and not paying for the privilege?"
"Why? None of his business what we do."
"Would you be happy with some other crew operating in your fair town and not pay up anything to you?"
"Yeah, I see your point, so what should we do about it?"
"Hang on, let me see if I can smooth out some hurt feelings here."
Jimmy went outside, where the Aztecs were still waiting for the club to come out. He walked over to La Roca and motioned him to come talk to him. The huge man got off and met Jimmy halfway and looked as though he would rather take his anger out on him, just as easily.
"I am now made aware of what the conflict between you two could be. I was told my friends have not been good guests in your neighbourhood and forgotten to thank their hosts properly, are you following me on this, so far?"
"Si, I understand you, hombre."
"It would make me very happy, if you and one of your associates came back inside and we'll see if we can clear up this misunderstanding. It seems my friend is new to the business and didn't understand the rules properly about paying a safe passage fee through someone else's territory."
La Rocha could see that he was being treated fairly and for the most part, with a fair amount of respect. He called his second over to him, a man who looked the part of enforcer to a tee, and they followed Jimmy back inside. He called JT over and explained what was going to happen. His club went outside, along with two of Jimmy's armed men to watch over them and avoid any conflicts, while he and Lenny went with La Rocha and his guy, Renaldo, into the back office with Jimmy and one of his men.
Once everyone was sitting and easing up on tensions, Jimmy took a neutral position and began.
"JT, It seems you are not aware of certain things one must do, when being in one's territory and conducting business, while in said territory."
"What's that, Jimmy?"
"If you wish to do business like you are doing, it would very polite of you to offer some compensation to those whose territory you're doing business in. Mr. La Rocha here, is upset and rightly so, for not receiving anything for safe passage through his territory. You can see why he and his associates are upset with you, am I right, Mr. La Rocha?"
"Si, this is the problem."
"So you see, JT, this must be resolved, so that both of your operations are able to work together and none of this happens again. I feel it would be fair to offer him a little restitution for hurt feelings and come to an agreement of co-operation."
"So, what do you feel is a good restitution and cost per run?"
"Knowing what I know about your business and the need for more business for these gentlemen here, I would offer them five hundred for compensation for past runs and two hundred to have safe passage."
"Make it a grand for back payments and two hundred is good with me."
"That's a bit much, La Rocha, for back payments, we haven't done that many runs since we saw you that time. How about we split it and go with seven fifty and two a run?"
"Sounds good, I can live with that."
"Now, see how easy that was? No blood spilled, no hurt feelings and everyone goes away happy."
JT reached in his cut and took the envelope that Jimmy's men gave him. He counted off seven hundred and fifty and another two hundred, then handed it to La Rocha. The big man held it up and looked at JT.
"You are welcome to come and visit my lovely area any time you wish, JT. I look forward to seeing you soon."
La Rocha stuffed the bills into his cut and reached across to shake JT's hand. Once again, JT felt his hand dwarfed inside the large hand taking it. This time, there wasn't the same control used and it was taken as a sign of good faith in the bargain.
"I'll make arrangements to meet up when we come down and visit. I'm glad we could settle this, without problems. Honestly, La Rocha, my club doesn't want any trouble. We just want to enjoy riding and make a little money to have a good life."
"Si, JT, my club is the same. We aren't looking for trouble, but we also don't want business that should put money in our pockets, going into someone else's."
"And this, is how civilized people conduct business. I'm happy I could be of help in bringing a resolve to your business conflicts. Now, I have some business to attend to of my own. So if you gentlemen wish to discuss other matters, please feel free to enjoy my establishment and discuss things over anything you like, it's on me."
"You are a good man, Senor Jimmy. I and my club thank you for doing this for us. We will show our thanks to you, whenever you are in our area and need to say hello."
"My pleasure, Mr. La Rocha. JT, as always, be good and stay whole, my friend."
Jimmy shook hands with both of them and his new right hand man showed them outside and into the restaurant, talking to the manager, before returning to join Jimmy. JT went to the front and asked to have some seating for sixteen and the manager began putting an area together for them in the back, keeping a good distance between them and the regular customers. The leaders went out and invited their clubs in to eat and talk, allowing Jimmy's other men to go to the office. The two clubs sat opposite each other, in part to keep an eye on things.
After a good meal and several beers each, the two clubs shook each others hands and left the place peacefully and with laughter following them. The other patrons felt easier in their leaving as well, as the clubs sat on their bikes and gave directions to their new meeting place. The deafening roar rattled windows and glasses inside, as the two groups split and headed in their own directions.
The ride back to Charming was still feeling a bit uneasy to the guys, having to deal with unknowns and what it might cost them in the future. As much as money was coming in, money was going back out to pay for it. Business might be good, but it had its down sides to it, as well.
Oakland was the fun part of the run, unloading the pot and getting paid. Chico was as close to JT as he could be, when his cousin handed him the money. JT saw the face on him and laughed.
"Chico, what are you worried about? I said this money was Marietta and it is. I'm just hoping we don't come up short before the next run."
"What do you mean, prez?"
"That little contribution to the Aztecs, took a huge bite out of the run money. I might have to pay for her tuition in two runs now. I wasn't expecting to pay out half our run money like that."
"Yeah, I guess so. It's okay, two runs, three runs, as long as she's going, it's okay with us."
"Don't you worry, brother. I said she was going and I meant it."
"You're the best, JT"
Chico hugged him and went over to his cousin, speaking Spanish and laughing heartily. JT went outside to the guys and told them it was time to party. Cheers went up and the bikers started the celebrations off, the ride back to Charming, one of play and enjoyment. The guys were getting comfortable with their bikes and started playing a game of tag along Kettleman Road, as they came through Lodi. When they got to Charming, JT stopped at the drug store and picked up something. No one knew what it was, as they headed to the clubhouse. They went in and JT straightened away the money first, then took out the paper bag from his cut. The guys broke out laughing, when they saw it was a gag get well card for Tom. Everyone signed it, but most poked fun at Tom's riding skills, as well as the large scabby patch on his ass. No matter what they wrote, it was done with love and concern for him and wished him well.
With club business taken care of, they went over to the shop and looked at the progress on Wally's bike. It was only a couple hours away from being ridden and tomorrow was a designated build day for it, making Wally excited to get on his own bike at last. Otto said he would do his car, once the bike was up and running, but what made Wally worry about it, was Otto saying he would do something totally different and wild to it.
They finally packed up and headed out to the farm by late afternoon, the fall weather getting cooler and bringing out jackets to ride with again. They pulled up at the entrance and noticed the old, rusty gate was missing. JT looked around and didn't see it, then rode down to the house and parked by the barn. Phoenix came out of the barn and called the guys inside. They followed him in and saw why the gate was missing. Moon and Star were holding a newly finished wooden gate, painted rainbow colours and a sign on it that read, 'Welcome to Peaceful Acres.'
"Is that what Golden wants to call the place?"
"It was this, or Welcome to Golden's Gate of Love."
"I like this one better, I think."
"Yeah, we do too."
"So, is it ready to go on?"
"Yes, we just put the hinges on and ready to take it out, when you came in."
"Okay, let's do it then and get it hung and see if it swings."
The guys helped carry the heavy gate out to the entrance and lifted it up, so Phoenix could screw it into the post. The guys let it go and gave it a swing to close it. The gate swung halfway, then a loud cracking sound started and the post snapped off, the gate falling down.
"Shit, that sucks."
"Yes it does, Tom. It appears we need a better post to hang it on."
"No sweat. We just pull this sucker out and stick a new one in, no?"
"Might not be as easy as that, Chico. The bottom part is probably three feet in the ground and I don't see how we can get it out."
"This is why we need a tractor, man. See, I knew it was a good idea to have one."
"Yeah, you're right, Lenny, we do need one here."
"We found one for sale that we liked. The farmer two concession roads over has one."
"How much is he asking for it?"
"Six hundred dollars. I bet he'd take five hundred, if we gave him the cash."
"Wally, Moon, let's go get a tractor, shall we."
"What? Right now?"
"Sure. I got the money on me right now. Let's go say hello to Old MacDonald and buy the tractor."
"Are you sure?"
"Positively sure, let's go."
Wally went and started his car and JT and Moon got in, as he stopped by them.
"We'll be back in a flash with the tractor, see if we have anything around here we can use to attach to the post, so we can pull it out."
The trio drove away, as the rest began looking in the barn and elsewhere for something to use. Moon gave Wally directions to the farm and they pulled in the lane way, the tractor sitting where it was the day before. They stopped and got out, looking it over and JT jumped up and sat on it, checking it out. He was sitting there pretending to drive it, when they heard a voice shouting at them from the house. The farmer didn't look very happy with JT sitting on it, so he got down and waited until he came up to them.
"What you doing on my tractor, boy?
"Just checking it over."
"You ask a man permission, before you just decide to hop on it."
"Sorry about that, but we're interested in buying it and I was looking it over. My friend here was out the other day looking at it and asked me to look it over and see if it was mechanically okay."
"She's a good working tractor, nothing wrong with it."
"Good, good. You wanted six hundred for it, right?"
"Can we hear it running?"
"Sure can and the price is still six hundred."
Before the farmer passed him, JT stopped him and held his hand out to him.
"Sorry, don't believe I caught your name. I'm JT, this guy is Moon, he was by the other day looking at it and this is Wally."
"Nice to meet you boys, you can call me Walter. So what you president of, JT?"