We’d made the decision to run guns to try and save our asses, and believe me I understand just how ridiculous it sounds, but you have to understand how desperate we were. All of us who had wives and kids were slated to lose our families in the very near future, Stevie’s life lacked any real direction, so the store was pretty much all he had, and T just plain hated to fail at anything.
When reflected on in that light it really makes a warped kind of perfect sense that we would end up doing this. Maybe it was destiny after all that the store performed the way it did. It was decided that Stevie would work it out for us to have a meet with ‘Crazy Russ’ within the next few days. Until then we just carried on, bided our time, and worked the store as normal.
When the time finally came for our meeting T couldn’t be in attendance due to a prior school commitment and Stevie was sick, so it was just the Ralphie, The Wills and I in attendance. I thought that it was shitty that Stevie wasn’t going to be there, since he had done all the legwork after all in scheduling the meet up, but time was a commodity we couldn’t afford waste. So, that fateful Tuesday night, after closing we met in the basement with man called ‘Crazy Russ’.
Russ was a special kind of guy. He was pretty out there on his best days, which we suspected was a side effect from both the years of some pretty heavy drug use, and the short stint of a couple of years he spent in prison. Apparently his time spent with both had been some real quality growth time for Russ and helped him to get all the connections and training one would need to become fully immersed into the criminal subculture of America. God bless the American legal system. The major downside to the way Russ turned out was an increased level paranoia and the occasional balls crazy flashback. But, you know, other than that Russ was cool.
“Ok, so Stevie tells me you guys are having some money problems and I’m sorry to hear Meryl left.” He didn’t was time and he always seemed like a genuinely nice guy, but Stevie had told him more than he needed to know about our situations.
“Yeah, he’d be here but I guess he’s not feeling well today. And thanks’ for the concern. The hope is that our business venture will get us all back to good and make life just a little bit smoother. So tell me about this guy you know with stuff to sell.” I didn’t waste time either.
Ralphie had been told in advance that he was not to speak during this meeting if the conversation and was just to stand there quietly with his arms across his chest. It was the kind of job he was built for. The Wills and I had reached an agreement that I would take the lead on working this deal, and they would offer the assist if it looked like I was overlooking something.
“Sure man. My guys name is Tom. At least that’s what he says anyways. When I was inside I kind of saved his little brother’s ass so the family feels they owe me.” I cut in on him here. He wasn’t getting to the point and I hated that. I still do, but have learned a bit of patience.
“Wow, this is all fascinating stuff but did you come here to tell me your life story or are we going to do some business? Cause if that’s the case I’m just going home and you guys can lock up when you’re done here.” It felt like he was just jerking our chains. I knew it’d piss my guys off cause they hated when I got sarcastic like this, but they knew I had the situation under control. At least I was hoping that’s what they thought.
“Damn man, you really are an asshole, you know? I thought you’d wanna know how I knew this guy, but I guess not. Anyway, this guy Tom works in an old military warehouse. Government agencies like put all this shit they just don’t want anymore. It’s either broken or outdated. Well, anyways, Tom’s always telling me how he’s the only one that works the night shift and that a lot of the stuff they got is in real cherry shape. The best part is that apparently whoever’s shit it is doesn’t give a damn about what they have in there.” I liked the sound of what he was selling but needed to know some more. I could tell that The Wills had some interest too, but I just tried to play it cool.
“Why come to us though? Why not cash in yourself?” I figured I’d just set the hook and see what kind of bite I could get.I will try and avoid fishing metaphors in the future. Sorry about that.
“Well, the thing is that selling this shit would be great and all but I’m still on paper, so I can’t just leave the state let alone the country to try and move this stuff.” He seemed genuine in this, so I didn’t push it. I just asked the question that I knew the others were thinking.
“So what kinds of shit exactly are we talking about here?” Seemed like it was a simple enough question.
“Guns, explosives, and a huey are the things I know of for sure. The guns are military grade assault rifles. The explosives range from simple grenades to mines, to some sort of plastic explosive. There are other things held in this place, but Tom never told me what those are.” Russ seemed to know his shit. If he knew this much then it seemed to me that there was something he wasn’t saying, but we didn’t have all the time in the world to work this deal out.
The Wills apparently got tired of the amount of time I was taking here to work this deal.
“A question then. What kind of government agency just leaves that kind of shit lying around, and that poorly guarded?” I wasn’t all that surprised when William asked this since I was just getting ready to, and he was way more cautious than me. What did surprise me though was Wil’s follow up.
“How does this Tom guy fit in? Would we just be walking out with this stuff? Does he just want some sort of cut out of the sale? Are we just buying all this shit from him?” Russ chuckled a little at this.
“Ok, so it’s a multi-departmental facility, right. Used to be just the Army, but recently they’ve been moving all this Navy and Marine shit into the place the past few months, and I guess there are talks of changing the way the facility is managed. Some things have come up missing in the past. Tom just wants to have one more big payday before they force him into a reassignment. He figures that he’s got about two to three months before he’s moved to some other post and he knows that if he gets hurt defending the place, it’ll take the heat off of him. So yeah, he wants a cut, and you’d be buying from him and just walking out with your goods. If you worked it out beforehand you could probably empty the place in a night. I have no idea what you could do with all the stuff you took though. I just know it’s worth some serious cash.” This was starting to sound way too easy, but our backs were against the wall.
“Hey guys, what’s a huey?” I should have known that Ralphie was incapable of staying quiet the whole time, but he was asking a legitimately good question. He got a dirty look from me all the same.
“Some kind of Vietnam era helicopter. I don’t know if it’s still operational or not, but it does have all the original weapons, minus the firing pins for the machine guns of course. It’s got some kind of engine problem, that’s why it’s just parked in there, but Tom thinks it should be fixable.” Now it was sounding really out there, but what the hell.
“Ok, now I’m not saying no, but how the fuck are we supposed to sell this stuff? It’s not like you can just go into the local pawnshop to unload a warehouse full of of military firearms. And what in the hell are we supposed to do with a helicopter, take it to the local used car lot and see how much they’ll give us in trade? This is insane guys.” William was freaking out, but it struck me as justified. It looked like he might also be spooking Russ a little bit.
“Will, why don’t you and William go outside and have a smoke.” I just needed some breathing room and a minute to think. As they were leaving I leaned in to William.
“Dude, you need to chill the fuck out. If you have a better idea to make money I’m all ears, but time is passing us by and I want my wife back. So, go smoke. Just trust me that I got this under control.” He nodded once and he and went outside with Wil.
I turned my attention back to Russ.
“I’m sorry about him, he just gets excited like that sometimes. So what kind of time-table are we looking at? Can this Tom guy give us additional information prior to us liberating all the merchandise from his facility?” Knowing how fast they smoked I figured William would be gone about five to ten minutes with Wil, depending on how his nerves played into the speed he smoked, so I was on a clock to get this all worked out before they got back.
“Like I said, no more than 90 days, but it could get bumped and be sooner than that. I don’t know what additional information you could want, but I’m sure Tom can give you more. Do you want to meet with him to discuss this, so you can get all your questions answered firsthand?” I hadn’t even given thought to meeting with this guy. We couldn’t afford to have him in the store, and we certainly couldn’t be seen publicly with him. So it begged the question of where to meet with this guy. At the time I didn’t have the answer. God bless Ralphie and his inability to listen. Sometimes it was like he was a savant.
“You say this guy Tom is a friend of yours right? Well why don’t you have him at your house, and Jonah and I can just happen to stop by when he’s there to drop off your month’s comic pulls. And if we should happen to stay and talk for a bit…” He really was a fucking genius sometimes. Then as if to counter that glimmer of genius I heard him rip a big, juicy fart. All I could do was just shake my head, while Russ laughed.
“That could work. I’ll set it up. How soon you wanna meet him?”
“Set it up for the next time he’s off work. When you call to let us know when the meet is set for you talk to me and no one else. If I’m not in, then do not leave a message. If you want to tell me in person then you can stop in talk about it, but again, if I’m not here you’ll either have to come back or call back. I don’t want any kind of paper trail on this and would prefer we don’t discuss it on the phone. Does that work for you?” I had to hope that he would pick up on the non-optional nature of what I’d just said. Of course, now that I thought about it, we hadn’t discussed what any of these other players were wanting as far as a cut went, but we had some time to work that out.
“Yeah, that works for me. I’ll have something for you probably tomorrow.” With that he stood up and extended his hand to shake mine.
“To a long and fruitful business partnership.” With that we shook on the dealings we’d done.
When The Wills came back I had Ralphie fill them in on what they’d missed. They were a little pissed about being excluded from the meet with Tom the supplier, but they understood. I let Wil know that he and I were gonna need to create some electronic goodies for this trip. I wasn’t gonna show up unprepared. I was sometimes as careful as I was impulsive and if this was any kind of set-up I’d know it.
“I’m gonna need to you to go to an electronics store and pick some things up for me. I’ll give you a list tomorrow.” He just nodded.
“Ok, guys, now since we aren’t going to have much of a time-table to get all this straightened out, I’m gonna need you guys to help me out on this, I just don’t know exactly what I need from you just yet.” Again I just got nods.
It looked like it was all coming together nicely. I went ahead and told the guys to go home and we closed up for the night. I was already figuring out just what I was going to need from the local electronics store. I’d need the pieces and parts to make myself a little signal jammer. Nothing too fancy but it would need to cause electronic disturbance in about a ten to fifteen foot diameter. Just enough to block out whatever room we’d be talking in. I was also figuring out just what I’d need to make myself a signal scanner to check that same sized space for recording devices. I’d like to house them within the same unit and keep it as simple as possible. I’d sort of learned how to do this in college, when I was taking some electrical engineering courses. The professor was this conspiracy theory nut and his lectures just really connected. The skills I learned were certainly coming in handy. Once I got home I quickly jotted down what I’d need and jotted down a little circuit diagram of what I’d be building before I went to bed. Nothing else I could do until I heard from Crazy Russ anyways.
Not that it mattered all that much, since we really just needed to do something cause I was really getting tired of coming home to an empty house. I missed my wife and I missed my baby and as I thought about how that was really depressing so I made myself a very strong drink and instead of going to bed I turned on the television and slumped down on the couch with a bottle of rum and started drinking pretty hard. It was I don’t know, two or three in the morning before I finally drifted off into a drunken sleep, but who needs sleep anyways?