Issue 9

“Since we have that all taken care of why don’t you two go ahead and finish getting things set up with the Russians and the Columbians. That would make this spectacular day.” I knew the guys were still gonna be pissy about the whole Stevie the killer thing but we still had work to do. These guns weren’t gonna sell themselves and we only had a couple days until we had them in had so we needed to get our shit together.

So while they got to work on that I had Ralphie and Stevie get started on opening up for the day and I sat down to do the bookkeeping for all of the previous day’s sales. It was an hour or so of silence before Wil finally had something to report.

“Hey man, just wanted to let you know that we’ve made contact with a Cartel. A meeting is in place for the day after we get everything. They’ll want to see pictures of anything we’ll have to offer. And it turns out you were right. They are also keen to buy the heli. They seem to think that it will make a beautiful middle finger to wag at the dumb americans or some shit. I know spanish but couldn’t understand everything.”

“Cool. Get us three round trip tickets to Columbia then. How’s it going on the Russian front?” One and a half down and one to go. I could work the Columbians, no problems there, but not being able to even try to deal with Russians was frustrating.

“We can’t hammer down a means of contact just yet, but we will have it today.” A wry little smile. There was something that he wasn’t telling me.

I played along, “How can you be so sure?”

“We were able to get a line on some low-level hanger-on and we’re trying to use him to set up a meeting with someone of importance. We expect to have that worked out today today. I had wanted to surprise you with it.”

“Well, sorry to spoil the surprise. Good work.” And he turned to walk away.

“So uh… are we cool?” It would make things so much easier if there was no hostility amongst the lot of us. He stopped and turned back around.

“I don’t have to like it, but yeah we’re cool. It’s the same with William and Ralphie, if you were curious.”

“Let me know when you have news on the Russians. This afternoon we can start working on a cover story for the trip next week. It’s gonna have to be pretty good to make it work.” Once again he turned to leave. This time I didn’t stop him. No need now. Everything was more or less on track. Just the way we needed to be.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that we were neglecting the one thing that we should most definitely not be neglectful of, that being our web-comic. It was Time to check in with William and see what was up with it.

“William, I keep forgetting to ask you, how’s the comic coming?” He just pulled out his notepad and opened it. He had a bunch of sketches of all of us.

“Look’s amazing as usual man.”

“The art’s not the problem, the story is. I’m having trouble with the first issue.” He seemed genuinely concerned by this.

“Just use the truth man. It’s so fucking far-fetched and unbelievable that nobody will ever buy it as anything more than a story. Just leave some of the details out, like our trips and whatnot. See what you can come up with. Make it your top priority after the Russians are tracked down.”

“Sure thing. That gives me some ideas. I’ll work on it when I can today.”

“I also wanted to make sure that you and Wil are shown a proper level of appreciation for all the work you’ve both put into tracking the individuals in these organizations down. It’s ultimately going to make the difference between us making money, and us sitting on millions of dollars in guns and shit.” I should have known that Wil would be listening to the exchange.

“We know, dude. We know.”

“God, you guys should just fuck already.” Nothing ever beats Ralphie being a douche-bag. His comment earned him the much lauded and laughed at, and with all three of us in unison mind you.

“Fuck you Ralphie.”

“If you’re back here, there had better be a damn good reason for it. What the fuck do you want?” William and Ralphie were so mean to each other it was hard sometimes to put it together that they were brothers and not hated enemies.

“Fuck you too, asshole, I just wanted to see if anyone wanted to go in on a pizza with me.”

We all just looked at each other and nodded.

“Sure thing Big Man, and the store will pay.” He was clearly pleased with this and he just kinda lumbered off to make it happen. Not sure what that said about us a group that he no longer had to ask what any of us wanted on it/them.

“Alright back to work fellas. We need to get some actual results today. I want this third buy either in place or on the hook by the time we take receipt of the guns. So if you would be so kind…” As I turned to head back to the office I realized there was one last thing to cover.

“If it’s a waiting game right now then work on sales and the web comic. There are two of you back here after all.”

“Blah, blah, blah, we’re on it. Christ, if I wanted to listen to this much nagging I’d just go home.” God how I loved when I could get Wil to be bitchy.

I just chuckled and went back to the office to finish up the paperwork. I hated to spend all day in there. I’d rather be on the floor mingling with the customers. I felt comfortable there. Lately I was feeling comfortable with a lot of things, like being a gunrunner and wetwork, I think they call it wetwork, coordinator, so I wondered again about just what I was becoming.

About an hour later I was finishing up the accounting in the office when the pizza finally showed. Ralphie came back to let me know and just as we were heading back out front to eat the phone rang. I saw him look at the rest of the group for approval to answer and as he clearly expected got none.

“Don’t you fucking touch the phone, dumbass.”

“William, be nice to your brother.” Since Fletcher’s death it seemed to be Wil to always be playing the peacemaker.

“Shouldn’t one of you get the phone? You guys are the ones who were working this out with the Russians in the first place.” So William went ahead and answered it.

I’m not sure how it played out completely as I only had his side of the conversation to go off of, and he was so nervous he could only remember the specifics of who and when to contact people.

“Hel…hello. … yeah, this is the one who does the web comic. Um… only face to face? … Yes, I understand … tomorrow at midnight … Yeah, got it. … He’ll be there.” He hung up the phone and it looked like he was going to pass out.

“Well?” The peacemaker sounded a little impatient, but I could understand it given the circumstances.

“The meet is tomorrow night at midnight at the abandoned airstrip north of town. Jonah can bring one person with him. Any more than that and the meet is off. Since I’m the one who initiated contact they insisted that the plus one was me.” Shit, William was not a small man by any stretch of the imagination, but he lacked the imposing presence of his little brother.

“Fine by me. It’s only a negotiation anyways. It’s nothing to get freaked about. Can we have some pizza now?” And I walked over, sat down and started eating. If they didn’t see me freaking out they wouldn’t either.

“Looks like it’s all coming together now, huh?” Ralphie coming through with the simple question wasn’t ever a shock.

“It does at that big fella. It does at that.”

Outwardly I was calm and cool. I had to be. I was a leader and a wheeler and dealer. Inside though it felt like my heart was going to explode, or that I might just throw up all the pizza I was eating. Either way, it certainly didn’t feel very pleasant.

The rest of the day thankfully passed by uneventfully and I was able to spend a majority of it in the office plotting how things would be progressing. I also took the opportunity to give T a call and let him know that everything was falling into place.

We had a decent days sales to top it all off at that. It was making things more interesting now that we were finally making enough money to at least be breaking even on shit. Better to break even than to lose money every day. But were things really looking up for us? I could only wonder.