Chapter Thirteen: Cain

Rob reflected twice that week that if things got any worse, he would have a nervous breakdown. He now stood corrected; as more bad news came down the pipe, he still managed to hold back tears of hysteria. It was if the very fibre of his character was being tested and so far he had not cracked. So far.

Rob piloted the Trans Am down the two-lane that led God knows where. He was out in Langley county, away from the city and its unsolvable problems, in the country where the trees grew green and tall and the mountains seemed to reach out and blot out the northern half of the sky. There were no clouds today, for the first time in months. The warm temperature and the new greenery served notice of spring approaching. Rob wondered if he would last that long in Vancouver.

A full tank of gas and he could be gone! His ass could be in Calgary before Sunday. He had three grand in the bank, with four hundred in his pocket. Farther east, he had an older brother in Toronto who ran a nightclub, always on the look-out for good people to help out with this and that. They had not talked in more than a year but blood was blood, and Robby could prove his worth quick enough. He could leave Vancouver and all his problems behind. He could run like…

“A chickenshit,” John said, and it seemed to the crowd gathered in the weightroom to be a statement of momentous importance, like the proclamation of a new era.
“I say, I fucking repeat, what we got here is a chickenshit.” John said again.
Rob sat up slowly, carefully. He had been laying down doing a couple of bench presses, with a weight just heavy enough to make him sweat. On the seventh repetition, while looking up at the ceiling, he had seen a hand come out of nowhere and just ease his spotter to one side. The hand had turned into an arm, then a shoulder, and then John had fully stepped into the picture, staring at him from an upside-down point of view. He had thrown the insult in an loud but even tone of voice, a tone devoid of emotion, full of calculation. Rob had felt safe in the weightroom, surrounded by members of the football team, of which a few had been his boys, totally at his beck-and-call. One or two of them looked at him now with total shock on their faces. The others were unreadable; they must have known beforehand. Betrayal. The realization rippled up from the pit of his stomach and roiled ever so briefly around the corners of his mouth before Rob clamped down on his emotions. Think like a fucking machine, he thought, but he could do no more than gut-react to the drama unfolding around him. Too bad he was playing a starring role.

“Do you know for sure what you’re doing, Poleshaw?” he asked. He immediately felt that statement to be lame. John was flanked by Woody and Mike, and Rob was damn sure that Scott was hovering somewhere behind him. His boys? They sure as hell weren’t backing him up, they were backing off.
“Exactement, Gates,” John answered, “Right down to the T.”

Rob had an incredible urge to jump the bench and commence an ass-kicking on Poleshaw. He’d bet he could move quick enough to get one hand around Poleshaw’s neck and then with the other hand, he could put a thumb in John’s eye. He could really fuck him up in no time flat, but Woody looked huge and mean standing beside him. Rob realized that it had been a mistake to cut the gorilla off from coke.
“Whatsamatter Gates,” John said, “You can’t think of anything to say? You look like you just shit your pants.”
A furtive titter ran around the room, and it loosened Rob’s tongue. “You’re acting pretty brave with that big side of beef beside you.”
“Yeah, you’re right, I guess I am. Maybe you want to go one-on-one with me? I promise none of my boys will join in. Then again, maybe they will. I don’t pretend to control them, know what I mean? Besides, when the fuck did you ever do somebody face-to-face? That bruise I got running around the track took a long time to fade. You don’t remember asshole? Fuck you. I know one thing for sure. Your boys won’t join in. I’ll be here next year, and the year after that maybe. You’ll be gone in a couple of months anywhich way you look at it. Ain’t that right?”

Rob said nothing.
“Damn Rob, you’re really taking the fun out of this. You listening to what I saying? Show yourself. Your army is gone. It’s just you now. Go down like a hero and don’t leave the Tigers hanging. No, it won’t be a fair fight but hey, I learned that from a good teacher, whose got to go out to pasture now. C’mon chickenshit, jump me.”
“Do I look stupid?” Rob said.
“You look scared.” John said. “There’s more to the business than this power-play bullshit.”
“But this is where it starts. And where you finish. I stripped your organization while you were out partying, and now I just took your balls. You’re toast. Get out of here.”

Rob didn’t move. If John backed down on the threat, Rob had a chance to come back later, and save a little face in front of the school.
“Everybody who’s with Gates, step forward. Everybody else, turn around and face the wall or close your eyes. No witnesses.” John said in a quiet voice.
Everybody heard him, and nobody stepped forward to join Rob. There was a shuffle of feet, and excluding John, Woody, and Mike, everybody turned to face the wall. Rob himself turned around and walked towards the door without thinking, knowing that he had lost it all. Scott had been keeping watch just outside the weightroom all along.
“Take it easy bro,” Scott said in an amused tone of voice.
There was a big smile on his face too, the asshole. As Rob walked down the corridor he could hear a whoop of joy, and then scattered laughter. That had hurt more than anything John had said.

Rob’s world had fallen apart on a Wednesday. Two days later Mr. Black called Rob into his office for the icing on the cake. On the way down, Rob had mused to himself why he hadn’t just taken the rest of the week off. God knows he needed to retreat somewhere and get a handle on what was going down. He decided that he just didn’t want to give up what he had worked for since the age of thirteen, when his brother had turned two twenties into the rent money in the space of one lousy day. Rob had phoned or met face-to-face with all his enforcers, movers and general groupies the last forty-eight hours, but John and his people had gotten to them first. Some had tried in a gentle and wussy way to explain to him the facts of life, like you would explain to a virgin at her first beer-bash, the cost of a six-pack and a jay. Others, like that bitch Debbie, had laughed in his face and had told him to go fuck himself. It seemed Poleshaw had told everybody at Laurentian that a new sheriff had taken over the business. Pardon, there was one exception.

“And so, Mr. Gates, are you looking forward to graduation, to making your way in the world?” Black asked to begin the conversation.
“Yes sir. Lately, I’ve just had the itch to get up and leave.”
“Yes, it looks like you’ll graduate right on time. You don’t know how much satisfaction that gives me Gates. Your eldest brother wasn’t quite able to grasp the brass ring -by the way- has he been released from Okalla penitentiary yet?”
“A year-and-a-half ago, sir. He’s in Toronto now.” Rob said.
“How is your father doing?”
“Dunno sir, haven’t heard from him in awhile.”
“Mmmmm, yes… I talked with your mother just the other day. Wonderful woman, she seemed very happy that you’re doing so well in school,” Black said.
“I aim to please,” Rob said, and he could feel a sick smile breaking out on his face.

Black was staring holes right through him, like a critical fisherman gauging the best way to gut his catch. What did he know? If John had weasled through channels just a few tidbits about Rob’s organization to Mr Black, then he might as well just bend over and kiss his butt good-bye. Black hadn’t run a hard-ass school like Laurentian with a limp wrist, and much of Gates’ success had been because of an ability to keep a low profile. Now it seemed everybody was rushing to paint a bullseye on his ass.
“It’s so difficult now for an adolescent in this day and age to concentrate solely on his or her studies, especially with the rampant consumerism of this materialistic society,” Black said.
Rob swore he could feel a steel trap chomping up his leg, inching slowly towards his testicles. “For example, so many students nowadays feel the need to have spending money, to buy clothes, music tapes, perhaps even an automobile.” Black continued.
Oh shit, Rob said to himself, as he saw the trap spring shut.
“You have a car, don’t you Robert. A black Trans-Am, I do believe.”
“Yes sir, that is true,” Rob said. He thought it best not to lie, but he sure as hell wasn’t going to volunteer any information.
“A muscle car, an expensive sports car,” Black said.
“Bought it secondhand, got a good deal,” Rob said, and that was a mistake.
“With your dope money? With the filthy cash that you make pushing crap on schoolchildren?”

The force and tone of Black’s words hit Rob like a slap on the face. His eyes went wide as he went into speechless shock for the second time that week. Rob came closer to breaking in Mr. Black’s office than he did in the weightroom with John, as the principal called upon every bit of his formidable will to break Gates in half, to spill his guts all over the light tan carpet of his office. I came so close, Black would think over and over again for days afterward, but the boy kept his cursed mouth shut. In the end, Rob walked out Black’s office with a white face and not much else. Black would hold him responsible now for every infraction committed by any member of the school body. Any shit that went down, Rob would be called into the office for another chat. Rob felt nausated just thinking about it. Black would not be above phoning his mother and play mind games with her. The son-of-a-bitch all but told him that a three-month continous spanking was coming right up for Mrs. Gates little baby boy. Oh God.

Rob shook his head to clear it of the bad memories. He was back in Langley, God’s country, and nobody could fuck with his mind out here. He needed to make a decision, probably them most important one of his life. He wanted to head East so badly, the only problem was that he couldn’t back out of the deal he made with the devil. Rob thought of Laurentian High as his temporary franchise, and he had been correct in thinking that way, for he had always been only renting it. Now the mutually beneficial relationship was over, only they hadn’t told him, so maybe now he had to break the news. They wouldn’t be happy. But maybe they knew already? Who was supplying John and his gang? Somebody trying to poach on the turf of his suppliers? Or maybe the time had come to ease him out of the turf and somebody had just forgotten to tell him. Rob didn’t want to have to sit on the hood of his Trans-Am and figure it all out, but maybe going East wasn’t really an option, because they were in Toronto too. They were fucking everywhere. After another fifteen minutes of contemplation Rob felt he was no closer to the truth. But he was ready to act now, instead of just standing in one place like a dope and having the world roll over him. He jumped into his Trans-Am and drove to the nearest gas station. He found a public phone and placed a call to somebody he only knew by first name. He did not hang up until a meeting had been set for that evening.

* * *

“Do you remember how this all got started?” Jason asked.
He and Rob were sitting on a large patio, drinking beer. It had a hell of nice view of rural Whiterock, not far from the Canadian-U.S. border. Rob sat back in a very comfortable lawn chair and closed his eyes.
“Yeah. It was the last year of junior high. I had sold some grass at class party which I had gotten from alternate sources, at a price not much below retail. I think I had cleared maybe ten bucks for my troubles. Anyways, word had gotten around so three chinks from my school paid me a visit as I was walking home. ”
“So what did I do? I told them to fuck off and I booted one of them in the nuts, hoping to take out one real quick. If there had just been two of them, I woulda walked away a winner. Anyways, that guy didn’t whack off for weeks afterwards, I’ll bet. I smoked the second right on the nose; a whole lotta blood which didn’t make him too happy. The third one snuck behind me and kicked out my left knee. I was down on the ground with two upright Chinamen who were both very pissed-off.
“I didn’t say shit to the nurses and doctors at the hospital, of course. I only told my brother what happened. They were Red Eagles, and one of them had a tattoo of a dragon on his inner-left forearm. I had been selling on their turf, which was made up of Laurentian High and the whole neighbourhood right down to the sugar mill.”
“How did that make you feel brother? They come right over from the other side of the world and stake out turf right here in your country. And they spit in your face.” Jason asked him.

Rob thought about the question and answered truthfully. “They’re good fighters, the goddamn Vietnamese especially. Some of them come straight from refugee camps that make Laurentian High look like a friggin nursery school. I let them deal with their own kind at school, even trade a little of this for a little of that. Business is business.”
Jason was happy with that answer because it showed Rob had a good head on his shoulders. But he still pressed his point.
“But are they in control at Laurentien? No, you took them down, didn’t you. It wasn’t right that they used to be in charge.”
“No, it wasn’t,” Rob agreed.
“I remember when your brother passed the word along to us. He’s a good man doing well for himself in Toronto. When we brought you in, we knew you had good blood in you. You served us very well over the years,” Jason said.
“So why did you turn on me?” Rob asked, and Jason spun around.
“Why the fuck am I here and John Poleshaw is running the business?”
“You got things wrong, Gates. This Poleshaw is not affiliated with us,” Jason said.

Rob gasped and let a groan of absolute relief. Then he started to laugh because the tension had wound him up like a piano wire. But now he could relaxed, because at least he had not been betrayed by the Warlocks. Jason saw Rob’s display of emotion and suddenly everything clicked into place as for the reason of the meeting, and why Rob had been acting so cagily. He offered Rob another beer and posed question after question for the next forty-five minutes. He sucked Rob dry.
“Poleshaw is the leader of the gang?” Jason asked.
“Yeah, the crafty little shit cut me off at the knees, I’ll give him that.” Rob said.
“Woody is his main enforcer?”
“A cokehead. Poleshaw must be supplying him with a lot of stuff to keep him happy. That don’t make him any smaller though.”
“Who else?”
“Mike and Scott seem to be the last of the main men. That’s the circle right there.”
“They coloured too?”
“Scott Chartrand is, Mike ain’t, though I think there be a little Indian blood in Mike. He acts crazy sometimes like a fucking Indian, ‘specially when he’s pissed.”
“Where do they hang out?”
“Woody’s uncle place, the Patty Shop. Another big fucking Jamaican. Size must run in the family.”
“Jamaican? The niggers are Jamaican?” Jason asked.
Jason got up from his chair to pace the patio and think.
“That explains a few things, Gates, everything is starting to make sense now.”
“You figured out who the suppliers are?”
“Maybe, just maybe. Have another beer. Here’s a jay. I gotta go for a walk and chew on some stuff. You were smart and brave to come here. We shouldn’t have left you in the dark for so long.”

Jason walked away through his backyard, six acres square. In the middle of his estate there’s was a small shack which looked as if it hadn’t been used in years, pretty well hidden out of sight by a few bushes planted here and there. It was true Jason needed time to think. He also needed to place a few phone calls on a secure line. In less than an hour Jason walked back towards the patio, a plan of action firmly decided upon and on its way to being executed. Robert Gates would play a starring role in the plan if Jason could seduce him; now he must play the role of tempter.

“Come over here, Robby, let’s go for a walk,” he said.
Rob got up slowly up from the lawnchair and sorted of floated over to where Jason was standing. It had been a good joint. Jason placed his hand on Rob’s shoulder and smoked the last of the joint. He let it drop on the ground and stubbed it out with his foot.
“You have been wandering in the wilderness for a long time, Gates,” he said, and he turned to away to walk on an easy footpath.
Gates followed him.
“Is it a good stone?” Jason asked.
“A good stone like that is worth a lot of bread. You’ve done that for us for years now. Turn stones into bread.”
Rob gave up a chuckle and shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s not enough is it?” Jason said, more of a statement than a question.
Rob dropped his smile and tried to figure out what Jason meant. It wasn’t enough, that was true. For one thing, it fell away so easily. All he had was a little bit of money in the bank to show for all those years of worry, sweat, and blood. But there was something else too. He was empty inside. He had no higher cause to live for beside making it through one lousy day to the next.

“Do you know what it means to be bound to a higher cause Robby?” Jason asked. “I’ll tell you. It means giving up yourself to something bigger… it means sacrifice, but what you get back in return is so much more than what you give out. I can’t explain it, except to say it’s like throwing yourself off a high building just knowing that an angel will catch you before you land on the ground. It’s like a faith almost.”
He looked at Gates, who stood there stunned, trying so very hard to understand what he was saying. Jason felt that he had almost had him.
“How would like a family with a hundred brothers? How would you like this mansion with all the land that surrounds. How would like pussy up to your earlobes? A new Harley-Davidson in the garage every year? How would you like the WHOLE FUCKING WORLD AT YOUR FEET?” “YES, GOD YES!!” Rob cried out, and he fell to his knees.

He felt as if his soul would jump outside of his mortal body and leap into the sky. He felt a gargantuan release of emotion, as if a curtain across his spiritual sight had been rent in two and for the first time he could see the world beyond materialism, the shadow-world of a higher belief came clearly into focus. He would dedicate his life now to the Warlocks, become a soldier in the band of glorious warriors. He would serve and be served, and be part of a greater cause. Jason looked upon Robert and was happy. He knew now that Gates belonged to him and his club. It felt good to find a lost soul and bring them into the circle, to show them that there were more important things than get fucked and sucked before sundown. But now he had to take care of business, and Rob would be his apprentice.

Copyright 2008 by DJ Dunkerley. All Rights Reserved

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