I’d already put it together in my head. The main phone for the store was out in front. Ralphie had been out in front. I now knew why Wil and Ralphie were fighting too. I could only imagine what Ralphie had said to these people. I threw up a little in my mouth at that. I only hoped that we would find a way to salvage this.
“Stevie, go out front and tell Ralphie to come back here. Then make sure all the customers pay and shut the shop down. I know it’s early, but please just do it.” He nodded and scurried off. He was just so good at following instructions. That would prove to be a huge advantage in the coming months.
As Stevie was on his way out, I returned my attention to The Wills.
“Did one of you at least try and intervene, or did he completely fuck us?” they both just looked at each other, apparently unaware that I’d put it together on my own.
“We got it kinda fixed, but they want to talk to the person who makes the decisions in matters of ‘importance and finance n’ such’ and we all agreed that was you homey.” How could I argue with that logic.
“How do I contact them?” Seemed such a simple thing.
“You don’t. They’re coming here after we shut down for the night.” Ok, so this was a local group. I suddenly wasn’t sure how I felt about this. Dealing with a group, terrorist or otherwise in some far off foreign land was one thing, but shitting where we ate was another thing all together. But what choice did we have in the end.
“Fine, but let’s try and at least be ready. In the meantime I have some questions. First, how were sales both in the store and online today? Second, did you boys get contact information for the Russians and the Columbians, or are they coming here too?” I had to chuckle a little inside at this.
At the same time though, how could I be so calm when faced with our new would be business partners. All the gangsters, killers and what I would eventually find out weren’t just Germans, but were more of the fourth reich Nazi variety.
“As for sales, online was enough that it’ll cover the stores expenses finally. We aren’t losing money daily anymore which is a start I would think.” Wil did it all matter of fact. Guess he was expecting this sort of thing. I was just so predictable back in the beginning.
“And we got the contact info too. We were just waiting for you before we moved forward on anything.” William was then and has been since so very, very prudent.
“Alright, just remember that sales are gonna be a big thing for us for the next little while. Now, in regards to the Russians and Colombians, I trust you two can set up some sort of meet and greet. I don’t want them here though. I’ll go to them, and as much as it pains me, I’ll be taking Ralphie with me. Just do what you can and get something set up.” It suddenly dawned on me that Ralphie and Stevie still hadn’t come into the back. I was gonna have to once again go see just what the hell that giant fool was doing out front.
Ralphie and Stevie were just sitting there talking when I came out from the back. What I didn’t notice was that we still had some people in the store, or at least not right away. There were three people in the store now. They consisted of a fat man, a not so fat man and a woman. All wore the same style of grey suit, though I couldn’t help but think that it looked a whole lot better on the woman than on either of her companions. Once again, I just wasn’t quick enough on the draw mentally for this to click. It took the fat man speaking to have it all make sense.
“You must be the one they call Jonah?” It was the thickest German accent I think I had ever and with any luck will ever hear in my life. I could barely understand what he said, but at the same time knew just who he was.
“That would be me, but you can call me Mr. H. My friends call me Jonah and last I checked I don’t even know you, and in that you’ll have to forgive me for not knowing who you are. Stevie, why don’t you go in the back and make some coffee?” Phrased like a question, but anything but, Stevie just headed off to make the coffee.
“You may call me Hans, and if the boy could stay, that would really be better.” To which Stevie stopped and just stared at me. I could tell he was expecting me to say or do something to give him confirmation one way or the other on just what to do here.
“Well Hans, while I sincerely hope that we can have a business relationship, the boy works for me and not you and I told him to go in the back. He’s not the one who makes the decisions that are going to need to be made here, I am. Now if you want to talk business, then he goes and you and I can sit down and talk some business. If not, then you can feel free to let yourself out. Just remember we didn’t come to you, you came to us. Are we going to do some business here or what?” I had to just let the question hang in the air for a moment, before I looked at Stevie and gave him a simple nod, at which he went into the back and I sat down.
The German’s sort of huddled together and conversed quietly, not that it would have mattered, since it was all done in German. None in our group could speak the language. I made a mental note that one of us would need to learn at least some conversational skills in the native tongues of whomever we wound up dealing with. It seemed to me that it would give us a leg up firstly, and less chance of getting fucked with second. It’s harder to screw someone by speaking a different language when they can understand you.
After a minute or so of Ralphie and I just looking at each other, he took my cue and finally just did as he’d been instructed to do in our previous encounter, he just stood there rather stoically with his arms crossed in front of him. To a stranger it had to have the appearance of something remotely intimidating. Finally the woman spoke.
“We will do business then, but you will address me only as these two serve the same function as your man there I think. Protection is for protection and a leader is for thinking.” The complete and utter lack of an accent made me wonder how she was connected in this, but I didn’t care. I just smiled and offered her a seat at the table.
I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that a week before at the very same table, a group of grown men were pretending to be wizards and elves thwarting a world controlling syndicate in a very heated role playing game session and now tonight we were getting ready to work what would be one of the biggest deals we’d known to that point in our lives.
“Certainly, miss…?” They knew who I was and it seemed only fair.
“You may call me… Greta. Yes that will do nicely I think.” She just smiled at me. Ok fake names worked for me. I’d have Wil figure it out with a still from the shops security cameras.
“Alright then… Greta,” I smiled to let her know that I could tell that the name she gave was bullshit and continued. “I think we need to set up a few simple ground rules before we continue. If you find my terms acceptable then we should be able to have a both fruitful and long business relationship.” I let it hang until she simply nodded.
“And they would be?”
“First, that after you and your muscle leave here you don’t come back here, ever. That point is the ultimate deal-breaker. There are frequently children here, and whatever my associates and I should choose to do with our lives should in no way put them in any potential danger. Agreed?” She nodded.
“That seems reasonable, but how shall we initiate contact when we have needs?”
“That’s would be my second point. Contact will be initiated only through our website and in a code that we provide you with. I’ll make sure you have that code to take with you when you leave.” I motioned for Ralphie to lean down, whispered to him to go fetch Wil for me. He nodded and walked off. The Germans started to look a little concerned.
“He’s getting one of my tech people. They’re the ones who are making the website contact possible and I want to explain to him directly what I need him to do. So, does that sound amenable?”
“That sounds acceptable, but I do have a question for you? Do you only provide military merchandise, or do you provide other things?” I couldn’t tell if she was baiting me into something. I tried to make it as though I was playing coy when in truth I had no idea what she was talking about.
“One of our past business partners also provided for our occasional need of specific threat removal.” Did she just use some fancy wordsmithing for assassination?
I had to force myself to not look shocked when she said it. That would only succeed in making us as an organization look poorly equipped to handle ourselves.
Thankfully before I could answer Wil was at my side. I could tell by the look on his face that he had heard the question and he was just as horrified as I was. The only difference is that I kept a straight face on the point, and he wore a look of surprise. I got to him quickly in the hopes that the Germans wouldn’t notice.
I pulled him aside and told him to go into the back and come up with something with William fast. They had about ten minutes to get a working code system set up. It didn’t need to be perfect and we could modify it later if need be. He expressed some concern over what he’d heard and I told him I would take care of things. I then sent him on his way and sat back at the table.
“To answer your question, at this time that is not a service that we provide, but we have been discussing expansion into new markets, so perhaps something can be arranged. If the price is right of course.” I think I just committed us to killing people. I wondered, albeit briefly, who was I turning into that I could just disregard human life so quickly.
“That’s a fair answer, but you should be aware that we are willing to pay a premium for threat removal. Let’s talk hardware shall we? In our area of operation we are always in need of guns. Have to arm the soldiers in a war and all that.” She’d been at this for a while, since that sounded almost like something that she’d had to say more than once before.
“Alright then, why don’t you just tell me what you need and I’ll supply you as best I can. If I don’t have it I’ll see what I can do to get it, and if I can’t get it then it probably can’t be gotten. Other than that it’s really just a matter of cost, time and delivery.” Figured I needed to blow a little smoke on this one, since it wasn’t much only about one step removed from a job interview. Well that plus us not actually having any actual inventory to speak of. But that was just a detail.
She rattled off the following so fast that I almost had to ask her to repeat herself.
“Assault rifles, small arms and explosives would be our typical needs, though on occasion we have need for the odd sniper rifle and the occasional rocket propelled grenade. Are these things you can obtain for us?”
“Yes and no. We can do everything but the RPG’s. The best we can do there is rocket propelled rockets. I hope that’s acceptable.” I knew it would be. Why buy shit when you could get the cream of the crop. I’d nearly forgotten one last point of negotiation.
“There is one more minor point. We will not ship anything outside the country. It lessens our exposure and consequently our prices. We will however ship anywhere within the continental United States.”
She just smiled, nodded and stuck out her hand. It looked as though we had our first client.