Exports Chapter Four (chapter Four)

A few weeks ago, the business suffered a severe blow. We were winning, no doubt about that; Junior's decision to include the soft-spoken, nerdy Kevin in the business had proved a masterstroke; after several altercations with the good doctor, we had established a trade route all the way from the source back home, no back-payments and no commission, it was all direct. Then Junior's notorious impulsiveness struck, and the wily old doctor had his opening.

The doctor was one of several clan members introduced into the business by Papa, he had been a genius back home, or so Papa always said. He came hungry and angry, ready to perform, a man for all occasions. He got his nickname (that has stuck ever since) due to his credible performances in treating bullet wounds whenever there was a gun battle in the early days; rumor had it that he had a survival/recovery rate of up to 90%!

After the product's boom, he took a more administrative role, working closely with Papa as a kind of consigliere until he was able to impressively carve out his own little empire; just like Tony Montana, he made what he could from the sides but stayed loyal to Papa. It all disintegrated when Papa became terminally ill; the testosterone and tussle for leadership increased massively; the doctor had always admired Mama but stirred clear; Papa's hotheadedness and angry outbursts were enough to scare even Junior himself.

For a man that considered himself a legitimate brother of the great emperor, the doctor felt he should have automatically and undisputedly inherited the empire, and who would question such reasoning, he had been there through thick and thin, through Papa's grief over his only son's demise, through the rough periods with the security agency, through the dangerous gun battles and fight for supremacy in the early beginnings and through it all, he had been there for the emperor, however as Papa declined in health, the more cynical he seemed to become, never one to express what was in his mind, he became increasingly detached with his long-time friend and colleague, and sought advice from a man he secretly referred to as Kev-boy.

After Papa's demise and his modest legitimate wealth were distributed evenly, Mama mysteriously chose to return back home and run the home front; the queen seemingly didn't rate the wily old colleague of her late husband, so the good doctor had one bitter taste. Junior immediately took command of the main product center and expelled every one of the doctor's loyalists; in doing so, he automatically controlled large chunks of the empire, leaving the good doctor nothing more but scraps for someone termed "just an action guy" he did pretty well there.

Finally, the home front being controlled by Mama meant that Junior got the best products available in the Homeland and the doctor just the leftovers, so as far as Junior provided the proper kickbacks, everything was set. But the doctor was wily; he took to annoying the hell out of the main guy; knowing he had fewer soldiers and far fewer muscles, he chose a guerrilla-styled attack so as to provoke Junior into some obscene and unthinkable foolery that would attract the security department, in other words, he tried to make the security agency fight his war.

Then Kev-boy came along and changed the whole scenery; he had wits and was a pure diplomat; he also had that dark Glee that hid in the back of his eyes like some rattlesnake waiting to strike; anybody that had been in the game for a long would recognize it immediately, this guy was dangerous, really dangerous even the wily doctor avoided direct confrontation. So the fact that Junior had pissed him off for some weeks was really worrying even for the seemingly unperturbed Junior; I could see it with his every move, the knee jerks, the random frowns, and the disappointing face every time a yellow car passed the street. He didn't want this guy as an enemy, even I didn't, but for quite a different reason altogether.

We had not seen him since the night when he did "Ode to nightfall" for my listening pleasure; he had left or, more aptly put, "vanished" his yellow car was gone too, and he left no messages as to where he was going or when he was coming back. Meanwhile, business was suffering; sales were low, they seemed an insider despite the oath, and they had been revealing the means of sale to the security agency; we had more interceptions over the last two weeks than we had throughout the entire previous year.  

Today alone, we have at least six shipments stranded by the security department at the port; the products were, of course, well hidden but how they figured out the particular shipments to look for it remained a mystery. "Do we have anything left if they crack that ship?" Junior was tensed; I could feel it on his palm as I grabbed him to reassure him; it was stiff and white like he'd been dead for quite a while. "We'll be ok, and moreover, Mama assured me that only she could decipher the product" it was a crazy thing in this line of business; I tried to sound as real as I could; I think he knew I was putting on an act, but he needed a reassuring voice, so I got a free pass. "We're fucked, aren't we? "Hell no, we're just fine, but we've got to find the son of a bitch responsible for this nonsense; the security agencies don't have shark senses; someone has been putting them on our trail for weeks now" "The good doctor surely has his revenge" "You're sure it's him?" It's him, alright; we've traced his vendors and snitches point blank; the only reason we're not making a move is that with so much security going on, a gun war would be too risky." "If he's responsible, then he's suffering too, his shipments are also on the deck, and if they get busted, he loses a lot of money."

"I don't think he gives a damn anymore; that Kev-boy maneuver was the tie-breaker; he knows he can't compete anymore, not for long anyway, so he's out for sabotage, just give your mum the codes, and when it's implemented the security department would quiet down, God knows I can handle the doctor." Getting the codes to Mama was not as easy as Junior made it sound; it had to be exceptionally difficult to unravel as well as so easy on the eyes so as not to attract attention; it also had to be crammed as Papa as well other business owners forbade the writing of codes decades ago, so the carrier was given a simple harmless code which the handler couldn't crack while Mama would with her resources crack on her own, with the distance and difficulties in implementing such codes, it might take months for any action whatsoever to be taken concerning the issue.

"Have you heard from your new boyfriend?" Junior snapped, "You jealous?" "Of his brain, maybe." 

"Ouchh, well, this night might change your mind, and no, he's still at large" "Did he just get pissed off and walk? Gosh, I would have apologized if he had just asked" "You know he worked really hard to get us that deal, he had the doctor beaten, and that's not very easy to do; I think he went away to cool off."

"Again, you seem to know his every move; he has to hurry up; we're losing a lot of money, and at this rate, there won't be anything to monopolize by the time he gets back" "He doesn't work for you, remember?" "Oh, he works for the profit, I assure you, and the money is vanishing!" "Junior, a messenger, just arrived; he said he's from the doctor." Junior's lieutenants already had the little kid stripped and searched. Junior came in blazing; "What the hell does he want." 

"He wants to meet, each with his accountant, you can have protection, but they are not to step more than 30metres near the chosen perimeter," The boy spoke calmly, unafraid of Junior's blazing eyes.

"Where is this perimeter?" I asked tenderly. He turned his eyes, stared directly at me, and replied;

"Same place you have almost shot" "What kind of stupid trap is this? If your boss was trying to lure me out, he should be smarter than this" "It's no trap, as you said; if it was, it'd surely be more elaborate than this. To prove this, the doctor has asked you to hold me till you return safely from the meeting" "Who the hell are you, some boy genius that he thinks I might need in the future?" "I'm James, his only son."

The meeting was strange, with two bitter rivals and more bloodshed between them than hugs; hell, the last meeting ended in a shootout that I was extremely lucky to survive. But here they were, the doctor walking boss-like with his silver walking stick, his accountant, a British young man, quite bookish in looks, with glasses not more than 30 years old and a lumpy way of walking, the doctor, was dressed in an orange and black shirt with his trousers matching his walking stick, the boss for all to see.

Junior cared little about dressing; he knew where his authority lay; he jumped vigorously down from the chopper and aided my landing like some prince charming; he had a very tight shirt that revealed all his workout benefits and dark glasses just to look the part, almost a young black Tom Cruise.

We walked up and met this saboteur; he removed his big cigar and greeted us cordially; at his signal, his men vanished; this man was really serious this time, we could easily then open fire on him, and he would be defenseless; what was so urgent that he handed us his son and even his life to do as we wish. Junior smiled and waved his own men; they, too, vanished. "Sit down, son; we've got a very short and simple meeting here ever since I arrived here with your father" his eyes shifted to me at once, "I've always believed all was fair in war and love, but we had and still have I hope a code of conduct, one that has been present even before the big Chief decided to enter this line of business." "THE BUSINESS COMES FIRST," we might fight and quarrel amongst ourselves, the chief himself had deadly rivals before his complete monopoly, but one thing he never did was use the security department to interfere with supplies either his or his opponent's since you proclaim complete allegiance to this man and have his daughter to prove this, what is the aim of these latest sabotages, are you hoping to run me out of business because you believe my supplies are lower than yours? Well, guess what they actually are, but I don't know if that devious Kevin boy also told you that once the security department has a sniff, they never let go; the vipers of the east are relentless; you should know this as a Commander in the last war". 

Unbelievably, the doctor had taken us unaware, he was, in our minds, the only reasonable culprit of these latest leaks, and we thought he had come to negotiate on a "higher ground," but here he was reciting the hallowed code of criminal honor, could today be any bit stranger. "So," he continued, "if you continue this pathetic sabotage, I'll surely run out of business, but just a little sooner than you would too, and trust me, I'll aid that fucking department with a GPS if I could."

Junior, too stunned to speak, turned to me to bail him out; I hardly had anything to say myself, "believe it or not, sir, but we're not responsible for your business shortcomings; we've probably lost twice as much since these raids began and dare I say that the future looks a lot bleaker now that you have exonerated yourself, or have you? Or is this part of one of your elaborate plans?"

"You have my son! Do you really think I'll bring him down from Europe and hand him over to you in some attempt at genius? I knew there was no other way to genuinely convince you to come to this meeting, and where is that, your smart-ass friend."

"You mean the one that almost kicked your ass before I gave you a way out," Junior asked;

"Precisely." "He's handling some business." The doctor saw through the lie immediately; with how much contribution Kevin had provided over the past few months, it was impossible for us to come to this meeting without him unless something had happened. "That's strange, if I knew you would come without him, I would have kept my son in Europe," another jibe at Junior, but he quickly recovered. "We've established that it's unlikely that any of us has anything to do with the recent security challenge, which is very heartwarming, but then again, who else has the logistical knowledge to do such damage?" "Maybe you should run a background check on your guys" "There are only two people who have that kind of knowledge around my domain, the boy you're holding and my humble self!"

On the chopper going home, Junior looked uneasy, if the doctor was telling the truth, then the leak was coming from our side, and there were also very few people who could orchestrate such events, Junior himself, I, and of course Kevin. "We've not seen him since that irrational move I made, could he…" he trailed off; I wanted to so badly remind him of the last time he doubted Kevin, the vague threats were not meaningless, and with Kevin, you probably don't get a third chance. "Let's think about this; there are many other possibilities, could there be a mole in the camp?" "No, my guys are checked every month" "You're sure?" "Damn it, I'm sure; I wouldn't work as a Commander for your dad if I didn't know how to run a monthly check" "Ok, the doctor could be lying" "I don't think so," he handed me a checklist, "I had Sean look into the doctor's earnings since this plague began, and he has dropped rapidly, he can hardly pay his guys" "it might just be part of some elaborate plot."

"We have his son damn it; I know how much he loves that boy; he wouldn't risk him if he was plotting to be president!"

"So we're left with one option?" "I can't go over this with Kevin again; I have to be absolutely sure; Kevin himself knows the oath, and what's his gain if we all go under?" As the chopper descended, I had to be blatantly honest with myself; this crisis would require corporation with the devil himself; if he wasn't responsible, then who was? As we descended from the helicopter, one of Junior's lieutenants rushed towards us and started shouting above the roaring engine, "whatttt" "I think we found the person" "Whoooo?" "The saboteur," Junior waved to the pilot to kill the engine immediately, "Tell me it's not Kevin, tell me it's not him" "It's a she, ma'am, Rose Ejiofor!"

Those deeply enmeshed in a close-knit group may never become aware of the fact that their lives are on what happens within the group but on forces far beyond their perception. 

Rose Coser

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