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Oscar is a down on his luck thief who starts dreaming the future.
Robyn is a high school science teacher searching for answers after her mother is murdered.
Romeo is a dangerous assassin plotting to infiltrate a secretive Columbian drug cartel.
Johnny is an ambitious and manipulative nightclub owner looking to move up in the world.
Zulse is a geeky university student who discovers he is bulletproof.
Zyrkan is a special forces soldier worried about his family and gets offered a dangerous hostage rescue job overseas.
Masud is a foreign exchange student trying to cope with ISIS terrorists living with him.
These seven people’s stories intersect and conflict in a manipulative, sexual and deadly tale set against the backdrop of the vibrant city of Sydney.
CHAPTER 1, OSCAR
Oscar was stressed. In his thirty five years he had never been wealthy, however the hit to his current finances was more dire than he had ever faced before. Faced with alimony payments to his ex wife Belinda, the various repayments on his small three bedroom brick veneer villa in the south side of Prospect combined with the ever increasing repayments of his two credit cards to the NAB and Commonwealth banks, he was feeling decidedly poverty stricken.
He had purchased the villa in happier times, back when he had a safe job as an IT security expert for a one of the larger companies in Sydney’s North Sydney IT area, his wife Belinda still not an ex yet and his prospects for the future much brighter and as such the villa’s current condition reflected this chain of events.
The downturn in the IT industry along with the rise of outsourcing had wrecked his career path and his marriage and the decor of his house reflected this downturn, the decor was now very bland, where previously the woman’s touch had adorned it, its previous colourful setting now replaced with a black wooden chipped coffee table and a grimy white cotton fabric style futon couch upon which he currently lazed on as he flicked between the channels on his wall mounted older style Plasma flatscreen TV.
He eventually settled on watching a rugby league game being played between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Parramatta Eels. He followed neither team, but mildly disliked the Eels so decided to become a temporary Rabbitohs supporter for the duration of the game having nothing better to watch on a cold Friday winters night.
Oscar was not a classically handsome man but he did have a certain roguish charm. His fair skin meshed well with his mousy brown hair, piercingly warm blue eyes, five o clock shadow and short goatee style beard. He was a tall man, broad of shoulder with his previously chiselled body just beginning to show the signs of neglect. He had never had much trouble for female attention when he wished it, or male attention when he preferred that. Sexuality and labels were something Oscar never cared for, at a young age he had realised that sex was something to use in order to advance his status in lots of areas of life, socially, in the workplace and later in more clandestine circles, he enjoyed the company of both men and women and more recently both at once. A naturally dominant man, this personality trait echoed into his private time and as such he found himself drawn towards more submissive couples, something he was glad to be able to keep private.
Recently, two big changes in his life were teaching himself how to pick all sorts of locks and safes, something he had a natural aptitude for and a budding future with and the other thing was that he had enjoyed being intimate with a fairly high ranking police officer and his wife, a prominent solicitor. The couple were both very dominant people socially but enjoyed submitting to him in private, something he took great pleasure in.
A loud crack of lightning in the night sky above interrupted his concentration on the rugby game, a frown beginning to sweep across his face as his eyes flicked across to the glass pane window above and behind his position on the futon. The inevitable raindrops that nearly always follow the sound of lightning began to bash themselves against the ceramic tiles of his roof and the glass pane of his window with increasingly rapid duration, the rain beginning to hammer itself against the window and streaking its way into little pools at the base of the wall underneath the window.
Unlike most people he knew, Oscar disliked the rain at night, the smell and sound of it irritated him, he much preferred the company of the bright sun or the constant sound of the crickets on a clear night, their constant chirping a reminder that no evil person was able to sneak up to his door without their silence as an instant detection against the potential intruder.
Rain was a minor annoyance to Oscar, and as such he found himself irritated and decided the best course of action for him was to pick up the TV remote, press the red button, watch the TV quickly flicker to the standby position and pick himself out of the couch. He made his way past his small dining room and kitchen combo and through to his bedroom.
The bedroom was a scant improvement over the lounge room, his bedclothes strewn on the floor, white sheets that probably should have been washed the week before covering up his teak antique four poster queen sized bed. The bed really dominated the room, the only other possession of note in the room was his cheap black plastic IKEA bedside table, the surface currently being covered with his cheap leather wallet, a set of keys and his older model Apple iPhone complete with a big crack right through the middle of its screen.
Oscars eyes settled on his bedclothes, he made his way over to them on the floor, bent down and picked them up. He quickly sniffed them, the old male test on whether clothes should or should not be worn apparently failing on the bedclothes, so he returned them back to the floor before taking the three steps he needed to get to his bedside table, open its bottom drawer revealing cleaner bedclothes. He changed quickly, turned off the light and put himself to bed.
As usual, sleep came easily to Oscar, something he took great pride in. A lucid dream overtook his brain, he dreamed that he was strolling peacefully through a park close to where he lived, an upwards glance towards the clear blue sky revealing a cheeky kookaburra making off with a magpie chick with the magpie’s parents apparently none the wiser. He smirked at the bird as he walked, the half-smile making the most of facial features.
The sound of a car door closing on a large black SUV at the far side of the park drew Oscar’s dreamy attention. The door closer was a strikingly attractive woman, in her late twenties or early thirties, olive complexion, dark hair and eyes and the slim build Oscar admired in middle eastern women. She was short but graceful looking, her purple dress billowing gently in the apparent summer breeze. If he were awake, he would have probably just continued on the way to wherever he was originally going, but dream Oscar would have none of it. He strode confidently up to the SUV and went to introduce himself to the woman but she was engaged in a loud argument in what he thought was Arabic with an overweight aggressive middle eastern looking man with a hook nose and a large wart on his right cheek with otherwise dark features.
As his accidental eavesdropping started, he could not help looking into the rear passenger seat of the SUV. Its window was open and a small woman’s handbag could be seen in the SUV. The handbag itself was not of note, a simple worn black leather handbag probably seen on thousands of western women across the globe but the contents of the handbag were definitely of note, the handbag was partially open and large wads of the lime green hundred dollar notes wrapped in red rubber bands could be seen protruding from the woman’s handbag. Oscar seized his chance, reached into the SUV, took the handbag and walked quickly back in the direction from which he came, his theft apparently unnoticed by the arguing couple on the other side of the SUV, the smile across both dream and real Oscar’s face was wide and large before more real sleep overtook him and the dream faded to the black of unconsciousness of deep sleep.
Several hours later, the agitated bark of the little shaggy black poodle that lived next door drew Oscar back into being awake, if not totally alert. He glanced across at his silver wristwatch, a knock off Rolex, and saw that the time was bang on 8am. Breakfast, he thought to himself wryly knowing full well there was no real food in the house to eat. He slowly pulled himself out of the comforting embrace of his bed and rose to meet the day.
He thought about what was planned for the day as he showered, the ice cold water an immediate reminder that he had not paid his gas bill the last quarter. By necessity, the shower was quick, his thoughts mainly revolved around his job for the day and his visit of his cuckold couple afterwards, assuming the job went well.
Showered and feeling refreshed if not a little chilly, he dried himself off and strode naked back to his bedroom and pulled out a black leather sports bag from underneath his bed. He unzipped the bag, the contents included a black long sleeved skivvy, unbranded but new and still in its store packaging, a black pair of cargo pants in his size also new and in original packaging as well as a pair of short black socks and black sneakers, both of which were also in their original packaging. Careful to return the packaging of all of the articles of clothing back to the sports bag, he quickly dressed in the clothes from the sports bag before marching quickly to his front door.
Oscar glanced at his wristwatch, saw that it was 8:20 am, right on time. As promised, a dark grey late model Subaru Liberty wagon pulled up out the front of his villa stopping crisply and precisely in the dead centre of the tight gap between a battered old model Jeep in front and an older model white Holden Astra hatch behind. Oscar strode purposefully to the rear passenger door of the car, pulled its plastic handle expecting to hear the low thunk of an unlocked car door but instead hearing the metallic high pitched clink of a locked car door.
Oscar shot the driver of the car, his friend Ryu, who was a short wiry Japanese man of indeterminate age with jet black hair and dark brown eyes a questioning look, eyebrows and the left corner Oscar’s lip raised. Ryu just stared straight ahead, initially trying to maintain a serious look but failing, his straight serious face quickly conceding to a large shit eating grin with the hint of a giggle.
The other occupant of the car was Arutha. A taller, thicker set Slavic man with hazel brown eyes and dark unkempt but thankfully shortish hair and goatee beard, he grimaced at Ryu’s antics, turning and facing Ryu and in a commanding but gentle tone ordered “Come on mate, don’t play silly buggers. We have a big job to do today, serious dogs mean serious business.”
Ryu retorted “I know, I was just messing with him.” Ryu followed this up by pressing the unlock button on his right hand side. Outside the car, Oscar could hear the click of the Liberty’s central locking unlock all the doors. He tried the door handle again and was able to enter the rear passenger door and sit himself down on the leather seat. Both driver and passenger were dressed the same as he was, long sleeved black skivvys, black cargo pants and black socks and sneakers.
Oscar respected Arutha. He was a man of meticulous planning and preparation. He knew Arutha believed strongly in his prep work and knew that if Arutha was coming on a job with you, the money they were about to steal was a done deal. Arutha was a thief of the older variety, believed in only working with trustworthy allies, not being too greedy and never letting emotions cloud his judgement. You got in, you took the money, you got out. He believed strongly that violence was for amateurs and the police tended to come after you with much more force if you hurt anyone and really pushed that view anyone that worked with him. He made you really stick to his plan but he gave you a fair cut and always played it safe.
Oscar had done four other jobs with Arutha. Two suburban branches of two different banks, the first one in Hurstville, the second in Moorebank, one large sports club in Eastern Sydney and the last one was a truck full of Apple iPhones taken from a commercial dock at Port Botany. All four jobs had gone down quickly and quietly and he had been paid his fair cut each time, so he had every reason to expect full success this time too.
The three men travelled in silence, Ryu manoeuvring the larger vehicle expertly onto the Great Western Highway, temporarily joining the Sydney traffic that was snarling its way east into the city. Oscar hated traffic and was pleased when Ryu drove the men off the highway onto the Prospect Highway exit making three fairly quick turns down smaller side streets until they reached their destination, Ryu again pulling the car crisply to the kerb.
The house they had stopped in front of was a larger two story yellow fibro house common to this part of Western Sydney, a little shabby granny flat at the front of the house that desperately needed a coat of paint was the apparent destination of the group, the last member of their party was inside.
Ryu checked his watch, the Japanese preferring a digital Seiko brand with LCD display, the time was 8:30 am. He smiled at Arutha, knowing full well he had done well to get them here exactly on time despite the traffic on the Great Western Highway. Arutha noted this gesture and just nodded in admiration but it was short lasting, his admiration towards Ryu quickly turning to irritation towards Jackie, the last member of the party for not being ready to go when they arrived. Minor details like this irritated Arutha.
Oscar, sensing Arutha’s irritation, asked quickly “Should I go get him?”
Arutha responded calmly but with a resigned air “No, it’s ok, I’ll get him.” Oscar watched the other man open the passenger car door and make his way purposefully over to Jackie’s granny flat. He knocked on the door of the granny flat, a single cockroach scurrying away in fear.
Oscar had met Jackie at Cheezels bar, the small dingy dimly lit bar that most of the reputable local criminals hung out at. Jackie was a younger man, a big stocky guy with a thick messy ginger beard, green eyes, very fair freckled skin and sunburn apparent everywhere. Two things were obvious to Oscar about Jackie, firstly that he was a lover of the sun but the sun did not return his love and had burned him mercilessly, and second that singlet tops did not look good on big chunky solid men.
Oscar could hear a voice inside the granny flat, Jackie was clearly awake. The door then opened and Jackie could be seen, brandishing the same singlet top and a pair of black Penrith Panthers football shorts that Oscar had seen him wear at Cheezels bar. Oscar knew this would irritate Arutha, the man prided himself on punctuality, readiness and details, and he was not surprised when Arutha gestured to Jackie to get his things and get in the car with a slap across the air between the two men. Ryu noticed this too, he watched and stated sarcastically “Yep, Jackie isn’t prepared again. What a damn surprise.” Oscar just chuckled, glad he had been prepared and on time.
To Jackie’s credit, he seemed to take the discipline well and in under a minute was dressed the same way as the others and was sitting beside Oscar in the rear bench seat of the liberty. He looked the part but still smelled of stale beer and sweat. He was sure the other men in the car noticed but none of them mentioned anything.
Ryu started the car again and took off briskly, he loved Japanese cars and while the Liberty was not the same as his beloved Toyota Supra Turbo that he lavished all of his spare time on, it was still a nice vehicle and he enjoyed putting the car through its paces. He glanced at his wristwatch again, saw that he still had nearly an hour to get to their location and that the drive was only forty five minutes away.
While Ryu drove, Arutha broke the silence in the car by clearing his throat softly before following it up by saying “OK guys, you all know the drill and your roles by now. Are there any last minute questions?” The other three men in the car all declined this chance to ask, all three knew their purpose and their roles in the heist they were about to pull.
The job was to steal the contents of a safe of a small fishing club in Sydney’s Northern beaches, Harbord Fishing Club. Ordinarily a fishing club would not warrant the attention of such professional thieves as Arutha, however this one was unusual. As a general rule in Australia, most RSL and Sporting clubs are non profit organisations, usually putting their profits back into the club or into local non profit organisations as donations. The directors of clubs typically are fair people and usually try and do the right thing by the communities that bring them their income, forming a symbiotic relationship with their communities and client base.
Harbord Sports Club was an exception to this rule. A large club with four hundred poker machines and six restaurants, the club sat on some prime land right on the water, you could literally step outside its rear doors and onto the beach, the land value of the club alone was seven figures. The prime location alone guaranteed the sports club to be a real success which it was, its income was comparable to the larger clubs like Panthers and Canterbury Leagues further west, the poker machine income flowed in and all six restaurants inside the sports club were usually booked out days in advance despite their hefty prices.
There were six directors of Harbord Sports Club and they shared a few things in common, namely they were all fishermen and all believed they had earned a little extra from their time at the club. To further both aims and appear to the public to meet their community obligations, they decided to create a Harbord Fishing Club as a non profit organisation and use this Harbord Fishing Club as a “donation point” for a large percentage of Harbord Sports Clubs profits. To date, the Harbord Fishing Club had received about five million dollars and change from the Harbord Sports Club, all of this was detailed for anyone to see in the club’s annual general meeting and tabled in all directorship meetings for anyone to read.
What wasn’t for anyone to read was the actual membership of the Harbord Fishing Club. The Fishing club boasted six members. It was not easy to find the names of the six members, but Arutha had, and he was not surprised to see the names of the spouses of the six directors from Harbord Sports Club listed as the names of the members of Harbord Fishing Club.
A disgruntled former duty manager of Harbord Sports Club, Andrew, had cottoned onto the scheme six months previously and been fired when he brought it up to the board of directors. Unfortunately for Andrew, he had been seen on the CCTV footage receiving oral sex from a nubile fifteen year old girl with blonde pigtails while he should have been closing up the club instead of enjoying the attentions of her sweet lollypop mouth. When Andrew had threatened to leak the details about the Harbord Fishing Club to the media, the directors had been smarter, they leaked the footage of him receiving oral sex from the girl to the local newspaper along with a small bribe to the editor to splash it on the front page. The editor had thought this was manna from heaven, getting paid a bribe to do his normal job really well and of course had made a nice big fat front page headline of Andrew’s mistake and earned his bribe in the process.
The resulting six months for Andrew were hellish, he barely managed to avoid prison but he was not so lucky with his marriage, his wife took his kids and took him for everything he had. Andrew was left close to destitute, having been forced to move out of his beachside house and into a little single bedroom apartment across the road from Cheezels bar.
It did not take long for him to start drinking at the bar and for his story to end up in Arutha’s ear and from there the seeds of a plan had hatched, the plan being the one they were executing today.
Reading over the Sport Club’s Annual General Meeting was very useful for Arutha as it not only confirmed Andrew’s story but it also happened to contain the blueprints of the club. The club was in the middle of planning an extension and as such the directors wished the community to see what was happening, a form of free advertising of their new areas being built. Arutha was using their own plans against them. He had been back several times on little scouting missions as was his way and had laid the framework for their plan.
According to Arutha, the fishing club just consisted of a single room on the top floor of the Sports Club. The room itself just housed a wooden boardroom table, six old expensive leather chairs and the older style Heritage Centennial gun safe that had been repurposed by one of the directors in order to temporarily store their slush fund from their poker machine takings from the Wednesday’s trade. Arutha had determined that the director that worked the Wednesday night shift stored every Wednesday nights poker takings in the safe very early on Thursday morning before he left and the director banking it would remove it from the safe early on Thursday afternoon after his shift ended and go and bank it into the fishing club account.
Traffic slowed Ryu’s drive by a few minutes, he was still able to have them at the carpark of the Harbord Sports Club well before 930 am. Ryu parked the car facing the sea and stayed in the vehicle as was his part in Arutha’s plan, the other three men exited the car and made their way over to the fire escape of the building.
The three men quickly made their way across the carpark to the rear fire escape door. The door was an older style fire escape door, its big heavy metal hinged door with the words FIRE ESCAPE NO ENTRY emblazoned in circled red writing across its front. Arutha paid no notice to this and instead slipped a credit card from his pocket and slid it expertly into the gap between the door and the wall, right in front of the laser alarm sensor. While he did this, he removed a silver metallic key from his pocket and handed it to Jackie, who took the key and slipped it into the lock. It fitted perfectly and turned first go, the soft sound of tumblers in the lock the only sound emanating from the area as Arutha quietly swung the door open and the three men slipped inside the fire escape. Jackie closed the door softly and Arutha gingerly removed the credit card from the slot, waiting for a possible alarm sounding. He had catered for this contingency in his plan, however he need not have worried, the siren was silent when the card was removed from the front of the little laser sensor.
The door closing removed the only source of light from outside, the small concrete corridor was completely dark inside. To combat this, Arutha fished in his pocket for his iPhone, pressing the screen a few times before a bright light shone from his phone. He then started walking down the corridor, motioning for the other two men to follow him along. Oscar did so, moving quietly along the corridor. The corridor was about thirty metres long and eventually it ended at a stairwell doing both up and down. Arutha started climbing the stairs, holding out the phone in front of him for vision, so Jackie and Oscar followed, their sneakers extremely soft sounding on the hard concrete floor.
The stairs led to a second corridor and also continued up. Arutha ignored the second corridor and continued up the stairs, the other two men close on his heels. The staircase then ended at a third small corridor with another metal door at the end of the corridor. The men walked over to it. Arutha then repeated his trick with the credit card and motioned for Jackie to open the door, which he did.
The door opened into darkness, the light from the phone revealing a lounge room sized white painted room smelling of cigars and bourbon, the windowless room obviously not having sufficient ventilation. The old antique lacquered boardroom table in the center dominated the room, the old worn leather chairs around the table at normally spaced intervals, the Heritage gun safe placed against the left hand side wall exactly where Arutha had said it would be, the polished silver gleaming against the light emanating from Arutha’s phone, the floor some sort of dark carpet. They even got lucky with the door on the other side of the boardroom, it was already closed, the hallway beyond covered in darkness, all seemed to be going exactly to plan.
While Jackie kept watch of the hallway corridor, Oscar made his way over to the safe, this was his part of the job. He pulled out a small piece of blank folded A4 paper from his pocket and slid it gently in between the base of the safe and the door of the safe. Next, he pulled a can of black Lynx deodorant from his pocket and sprayed the piece of paper, trying to get as much of the mist in between the bottom of the door and the piece of paper. He expected to see either a single or dual laser lines from the bottom of the door to the base of the safe, but to his astonishment he saw none which meant the safe was literally unlocked. He cranked the silver handle of the safe and to his surprise it turned fully and he swing the thick metal safe door back by its hinge, revealing six bundles of cash.
There was a small bundle of the lime green hundred dollar bills, a medium sized bundle of canary yellow fifty dollar bills, an inch thick pile of mango orange twenty dollar bills, an even thicker pile of the teal blue ten dollar bills and a small pile of the mauve five dollar bills all wrapped in nylon string bundles. Oscar smiled at this, quickly stuffed the bundles of cash into the pockets of his cargo pants and swung the safe door closed but careful not to re-engage the locking mechanism.
Arutha, having seen Oscar complete the opening and looting of the safe, tapped Jackie on the shoulder, it was time to leave. He again slid his credit card into the fire escape door, opening it and closing it gently once again, the three men made their way silently back down the small concrete fire escape corridor and down the two flights of stairs and along the corridor back to the original fire escape door. They paused at the door while Arutha fished out his phone, he dialled in Ryu’s number.
Ryu picked up on the first ring. Arutha whispered “One” softly into the phone, Ryu responded with “Two.”
Oscar knew this meant that there was someone in view of the fire escape door on the other side, so the three men crouched and waited for Ryu to say “one” back to them. What felt like hours was probably only five minutes or so, the three men crouching in the dark empty fire escape corridor. After what felt like an eternity to Oscar, eventually they heard Ryu say “One.”
Arutha did his credit card door opening trick, the door opened to reveal the brightness of the sunny day. Their eyes adjusted quickly to the daylight and they closed the door gently behind them and made their way across the two car spaces to where Ryu had parked the car, engine running. Oscar had to resist the urge to sprint, the adrenaline pumping through his veins as it always did after the completion of a job. The three of them opened their respective car doors and entered the Liberty. Ryu waited until they had all buckled their seatbelts and closed their doors before taking off casually, their plan a total success so far. Ryu pulled the Liberty out of the Harbord Sports Club and back onto the street running parallel to the beach and away to freedom.
A full five minutes of silence ensued, each of the men letting their senses go back to normal, Ryu constantly checking to see if they had been followed. They had not been seen, but Ryu took no chances. Jackie was the first to let his guard down, he looked over at Oscar and started to let out a big smile, his smiling eyes were infectious and Oscar couldn’t resist smiling right back at him. Jackie then let out a big “Woop woop fuck yeah!” And the other men in the Liberty all started to laugh.
Oscar had to resist the urge to pull the cash out and count it, he knew that could only happen in private in a place far from prying eyes, but from what he had seen he knew a decent payday was about to happen.
Ryu then pulled the Liberty into the driveway of a suburban brick townhouse in Manly. He stopped the car in front of a closed double garage door and opened the glove box of the car and pulled out a small black remote, pressing the single blue button on it. After a couple of seconds delay, the garage door started to open up and once it had, Ryu drove the Liberty into the garage. Once he had, the others opened up their car doors and exited the car. Jackie pressed a button on the inside of the garage wall and the door started to close, leaving them inside the shelter and safety of the garage.
The garage was a double garage, the other side of the garage not occupied by the Liberty was empty save for a single fold up blue table with a bottle of expensive blue label scotch and four shotglasses resting on it and four white plastic chairs placed around the table. Oscar knew that Arutha was a fan of saying a simple thank you to his partners in crime, and this little ritual was his way of doing so.
Jackie saw the scotch first and could not help himself, he let out a “Oh hell yes” as he ran to the bottle, picked it up with a beefy paw and started pouring the amber liquid into the shotglasses, clearly overfilling the first shotglass he attempted to fill and spilling some onto the little blue table. Arutha watched Jackie and just chuckled letting the big man have his fun. Oscar walked more sedately over to the table and sat down on one of the chairs, reached into his pocket and handed Arutha the bundles of cash.
He had considered trying to slip a few of the notes out of the pocket the cash was stored in and into another pocket but resisted the urge to do this, he knew that if he did the right thing and was reliable that Arutha would ask his services again and that as far as there was such a thing as a semi regular stable income stream in the criminal world, Arutha was it and he had no wish to put him offside.
Ryu meanwhile had been unscrewing the number plates from the Liberty, revealing a second set of number plates underneath. Once he had done this, he took the original plates and placed them into the back seat of the Liberty, knowing Arutha would dispose of them on the way home. Jackie by now had finished pouring the drinks and was waiting impatiently for the others to finish their tasks, digging his beefy elbow into Arutha’s ribs egging him with “C’mon boss, count that shit later, lemme drink!”
Arutha good naturedly brushed the bigger man’s elbow aside as he sat down and started counting the cash saying happily “Come on idiot. Work before play. Let me finish, I won’t be long.” Jackie laughed, bent over the table and started to lick up the spilled scotch with his tongue with slurping noises, much to the delight of Ryu who had now joined the others at the table.
Oscar watched Arutha count the money from across the table, watching intently and counting the amount in his head silently, gently checking in his head to see if Arutha would try and shift them. Arutha had not noticed this, and when he had finished counting, the amount Oscar had in his head was exactly $125000. Once he had finished counting the notes, Ryu and Jackie looked at him expectantly. Arutha drew out the moment slightly, then held up his shotglass, announcing “Well boys, I’ll be damned if we did not just make one hundred and twenty five big ones today. Pretty fuckin good days work eh boys! Slam your shots down and enjoy the moment you ugly bastards!”
The three men cheered and high fived each other and then did exactly as Arutha had asked, the expensive scotch going down the throats of the three men all too easily. Jackie quickly poured the men another shot and they repeated the downing of the lovely scotch. Arutha removed the bottle from Jackie over his protests saying “C’mon mate, you gotta drive home, be damn silly to get done for DUI now wouldn’t it?” Jackie agreed sadly and relented, with Arutha placing the bottle into the back of the liberty on top of the number plates.
Ryu then began to divide the cash up between the men, handing them each their portion of the money. Ryu counted off Oscar’s cut and handed it to him, smiling at Oscar and saying “Enjoy” as he handed him his slice. As Ryu did the same for Jackie, Oscar then stashed his cash back in the pockets of his black cargo pants. Arutha started to collect the shot glasses from the men, reminding them “Remember to throw out those clothes. Dont keep them, burn em, even the underwear.” The other three all just nodded back to him understanding Arutha’s serious overcaution but all fully respecting and intending to comply with the request.
His work for the day done, Oscar decided it was time for him to leave. He walked over to Jackie, held out his hand saying “It was sure nice to work with you Jackie. I hope to see you again soon.”
Jackie shook the hand, responding “Yeah man, you too!”
Ryu was next. Oscar offered his hand to Ryu, saying “Always a pleasure, you dumbass!”
Ryu shook the hand, chuckled, and just smiled back at him.
Arutha was last, Oscar offered his hand to Arutha asking quietly “Thanks mate, I needed this. Do you have anything else coming up?”
Arutha took the hand and responded in a concerned tone “Not at the moment. Are you in some trouble Oscar?”
Oscar looked into Arutha’s eyes, the look of concern and sympathy on the other man’s face was plain to see. He was tempted to just break down in front of Arutha and just tell him all of the problems he was currently facing, but he knew such an admission would instantly lose him the respect of the group’s leader and quickly decided against it. He instead offered “No mate, just enjoy working with ya, you are a top operator.” Arutha thanked him for saying so, and Oscar walked to the garage door button on the inside of the door, pressed the button and exited the garage twenty five thousand dollars richer. He walked back down the street to the bus stop and waited for the bus that he knew would take him back to the City Center.
As he alighted the bus once it arrived, Oscar thought a bit about his current fiscal situation. He was currently twenty three thousand dollars in debt, his two credit cards his sole source of sustenance for the last five months. He had expected to make about fifteen thousand from this job, so the bonus would keep the wolf from the door this month, but he really needed something else soon to get himself back on top.
Arutha was a great operator, but he was really cautious and would never take anything he was not 100% sure was a winner, meaning he often let chances slide because he viewed them as too risky. Still, guys queued up to work for Arutha because of his stellar rep in the criminal underworld, a reputation that was all too rare. It did not stop Oscar from wishing that Arutha had more work for him, simply because Oscar really wanted to win his ex wife back, and the only way he believed he could do that was to be able to provide for her like a real man, something he had basically failed at. He had tried in the past to go it alone with jobs but learned the very hard way that when intel turned out bad that jobs could go south extremely quickly, his current freedom of movement was only made possible by an extreme piece of luck with a police officer tripping over an undone shoelace previously. Oscar knew this and had decided to not get stupid again, hence the working for other, more experienced crews.
The bus ride over, he got off the bus and walked his way over to Town Hall train station. The station was pretty empty at this time of the day, a few dozen people scattered around the multitude of confusing platforms that make up the underground Sydney CBD railway station. Oscar made his way down the escalator, breathing in the humidity of the underground tunnel, his train was literally pulling into the platform when he reached the bottom of the platform, today clearly was his day. He entered the train, a nice shiny new model Cityrail Bango train painted on the outside with all native aboriginal colours that he knew would be vandalised by local scummy kids before the month was out. It did not stop him from admiring the patterns briefly as he entered the train, found a seat and began an uneventful train ride back to Blacktown railway station.
He exited the train at Blacktown railway station and began his walk home, a roughly twenty minute walk depending on roads crossed. As he walked home he was daydreaming about not having his credit card debt when he realised he was walking through the park he had dreamed about the night before. He smiled at the memory, and on impulse looked over for the Black SUV, but there wasn’t one. He sighed and kept walking, only to be distracted by the sound of a kookaburra making off with a magpie chick above, the magpie’s parents none the wiser. This made him smile, then suddenly he jolted, this was feeling suddenly familiar.
The sound of a car door distracted him and his eyes were instantly drawn to the sound, and she was there! The girl in the purple dress standing behind a black SUV from his dream was there, right where she had been in the dream! He paused for a second, pinched himself to make sure he was not dreaming. The pinch hurt, so he knew he was awake. He quickly but quietly walked over to the SUV being careful not to be seen by the girl using the SUV as cover for his approach. Just like in the dream, he made it to the SUV undetected. He felt a sense of absolute euphoria as he heard the couple arguing in Arabic, the same hook nosed man from his dream was right there too! Oscar could hardly contain himself as he peered into the rear passenger seat of the SUV, the handbag was there, and he could see the wads of lime hundred dollar bills protruding from the outside of the handbag!
Oscar did not hesitate, he reached into the SUV, removed the handbag and walked off quickly in the direction from which he came, hardly containing himself until he was safely inside his house.
Oscar locked his front door before collapsing on his grubby futon. He then emptied the contents of the handbag onto his little coffee table and was absolutely amazed at what he saw. There were 3 small stacks of hundred dollar bills, six passports, a red lipstick and a clear chapstick, black and purple eyeliner, a packet of Tic Tacs and a small black Beretta 92R handgun, five spare clips for the pistol and a locker key for a storage deposit box at Kennards Hire in Greystanes. He counted the cash and found it amounted to thirty five thousand dollars.
He quickly flicked through the passports, saw that the same two pictures were on three passports each, the man and woman that were arguing in Arabic when he took the handbag, all passports in the names of Salil and Leilla al-Mansour. There was an Australian passport for them, a United States passport for them both and an Iranian passport for them both.
Oscar was no expert on spies, but he knew that he has just jacked two foreign spies of their equipment. The thought of this game him a quick shiver of pleasure. He considered what to do with the passports and the storage key and thought that his rendezvous with his cuckold couple later tonight might just potentially give him the answer.
He took the cash from his pants pocket out, added it to the pile of hundred dollar bills from the handbag, took the combined pile in his fist and the gun and its ammunition and walked up to his plasma TV. He then slid the TV to one side along its wall mounted rails, revealing a small red Huntingtons wall mounted metal bracketed safe. Unlike the idiot who last used the safe at the fishing club, his safe was in the locked position. He punched in the code to his safe, cranked the handle and opened his safe. It just contained various documents, the last of his cash stored here used long ago. He placed the gun on the top shelf of the safe and the ammunition and cash on the bottom shelf before closing the door of the safe and setting the safe back in the armed position and swinging the television back into the middle of its wall bracket, once again hiding the safe.
Oscar could not remember ever having such a good day. But it was about to get even better. His iPhone then rang in his pocket, its shrill Gangnam Style ringtone distinctly calling him to it. He fished in his pocket for the phone and answered it with a basic hello, to be greeted by an old friend of his, the leader of the George street mafia, Johnny Portelli.
CHAPTER 2. JOHNNY
John Portelli, otherwise known as Johnny, was the type of man millions of men worldwide wished they could be. Despite being on the wrong side of forty, he had a body like a Greek God, endless hours working construction and then in the boxing ring and gym had honed his body to extremely ripped proportions. He was a tall man, at six feet 11 inches with long straight black hair he towered over most other men, both in stature and in power. He wore his gold bling like a badge of honor, covered in gold chains and gold rings, any of which probably cost more than your car. Johnny was the undisputed king of George Street in Sydney, he owned outright 7 different hotels along the street that was the lifeblood of Sydney’s nightlife and had various shares in another 11 hotels in that same vicinity and had connections to the criminal underworld all over the world. As he lifted the phone to his ear, he started to daydream, remembering how he got to this position in life.
He had worked his way to the top. Born to very poor Italian immigrant parents in rural Lismore in northern NSW who worked as trainers at a suburban greyhound and horse racing stud farm, Johnny had started life dirt poor. He made his first two hundred dollars as an eight year old by first pickpocketing $20 from a random racegoer at a greyhound meet, then he slipped into the kennels of the race and put laxative he had stolen from his dads medicine cabinet in the bowls of five of the six dogs in a greyhound race and promptly placed the $20 he had stolen on the other dog on odds at 10 to 1 from a kind looking old man who had thought this poor kid had no chance. The greyhound promptly won, and he was able to collect his $200 from the surprised bookmaker.
He initially had aspirations of being a jockey, but such dreams were cut short in his teenage years, for despite his family all being short and thin, Johnny grew to be his full height by age sixteen, a large rugby players build he honed even further by working as often as he could by getting a part time job as a construction worker at the local building operator, Corral Constructions of Lismore
Johnny quickly worked out that most of the guys he worked with at the construction yard were being underpaid by their employer, so he asked his employer if they could have a chat about this one sunny Friday afternoon. His manager at the time, a fat balding but compassionate and decent man by the name of Bruno, admitted that it was true, and that the company could no longer pay the men their full wage because the work had been drying up due to them having to compete with a Chinese owned construction company based in Beijing called Sino Constructions. Bruno explained that the Chinese corporation would bring in foreign workers for a quarter of the wage that local ones cost and that was how they were undercutting Corral Constructions. He said that he thought Corral would go out of business in a few years because of companies like Sino.
Johnny appreciated the direct honestly that Bruno had given the sixteen year old, and vowed to put a stop to it. He borrowed Bruno’s Toyota Hilux and digital SLR camera and drove out to the Sino Construction building site after dinner that night and had a bit of a poke around. What he saw shocked him, with Chinese workers working all hours of the night to get their construction done, totally ignoring any type of Occupational Health and Safety acts, men on scaffolding without harnesses and all kinds of things. He took a lot of pictures of them in action and was about to leave when a trio of short wiry Chinese men all wearing matching expensive looking black suits and jackets approached him, apparently having seen him put his camera away. One of the men asked Johnny for the camera and when Johnny refused, produced a Smith and Wesson revolver from his pocket and asked the question again.
Johnny was scared but reacted quickly and instinctively and grabbed the man’s small wrist and just twisted back, unintentionally snapping the man’s wrist and forcing him to drop the revolver. He was also fast enough to catch the gun with his other hand. Thinking quickly, he had then pointed the gun at the three men and told them to back off. To his surprise, the second man produced a wad of cash, asked if he could buy the camera back from Johnny and that he could keep the pistol as a gift.
Johnny was having none of it, he took the cash from the man, thanked him for the gift then turned and ran back to Bruno’s Hilux, complete with their gun, cash and his pictures in tow, making his escape successfully.
When Johnny showed Bruno the pictures, the older man jumped up and hugged Johnny to him, saying these would get Sino kicked out of the country for good. Johnny offered Bruno the gun and cash, Bruno refused to take them and instead replied with words Johnny would later use as his life’s motto. He said “Johnny, you are a real man now, you stood up to your enemies and deserve the rewards. You reaped what you sow, go and enjoy that money, spend it on your family and use the gun to protect them.”
Johnny’s rise to the top after that was meteoric. While Sino was not kicked out from the country, they did lose all of their government contracts in New South Wales for the next ten years and Corral Constructions regained most of the business they had lost. This made Johnny something of a celebrity out of the men inside the construction yard with Bruno promptly restoring their pay due to the increased workload in no small part thanks to the efforts of Johnny Portelli.
Two weeks later, Samuel, one of the older senior workers that worked for Corral came over to see Johnny as he worked. Samuel looked seriously dejected and watched as Johnny was in the middle of lifting a hundred kilo sack of concrete from a truck onto a big wooden pallet. Samuel couldn’t help but watch in awe of the task that three men were typically assigned. Johnny dumped the sack easily onto the palette, looked down at Samuel and said “Hey man, what’s up?”
Samuel replied sadly “Johnny, I need your help. I have this big problem and I dunno who else to ask about it. I know you are just a kid, but you worked some fuckin’ magic with Sino and I’m hopin’ you can work some more for me.”
Johnny asked “What is it Sam, what’s got you bugged?”
Samuel responded pleadingly: “It is my wife Sasha. She has been fucking this abo faggot while I am at work. I know it is none of your business and stuff, but I will seriously be your man if you somehow make it stop. I love her and don’t wanna lose her.”
Johnny wondered why Samuel, a much older and seemingly wiser man would come to him, a sixteen year old kid for help on this issue. Even at that age though, he sensed this was an opportunity to put the older man in his debt and quickly seized the chance by responding with “Sure Sam. I’ll take care of it. What is his name? I’ll go sort it out tonight for you.”
The look of pure gratitude on Samuel’s haggard face was immediately apparent. Samuel replied “His name is Simon Jones. He lives on Baker Street. Thanks man, fix this and I will seriously owe you one.” With that Samuel shook Johnny’s hand and went back to work, a relieved man.
Johnny spent the rest of his shift working out how he would handle this situation. He decided that the most simple, direct method was probably the best. Upon finishing his shift, he looked up where Baker street was, borrowed Bruno’s Hilux again and drove the dozen or so blocks to the place.
Calling Baker street a street was a bit of a stretch, it was literally a twenty meter dirt lane running parallel to another street behind other houses. Johnny stopped the ute and got out, his shoes slapping into the dust that was the surface of the street. There were a grand choice of two shabby looking dust covered identical fibro and sheet metal two roomed shacks on the dusty street, the only difference between the two being the letterboxes, both of which were cheap Chinese brand knock offs. The one on the left was a freestanding letterbox, clearly diecast with cheap steel that was not meant to be left in the Australian country sun, the letterbox stand had started to lose its shape in the often searing summer sun. It had the name “Simpson” written on the top of it in black permanent marker.
That left the letterbox on the left, a cheap brick in job labelled with the number 2 in silver metallic numbering. Johnny took an educated guess that this was the Jones house. He strode to the door of the shack and was about to knock on the fibro wall when he heard the unmistakeable sound of a woman receiving a penis deep inside her, her moans of pleasure and the slap of flesh on flesh could clearly be heard to Johnny from outside the front of the shack.
Johnny decided this was an opportune time to make good on his promise, so he lifted his leg and thrust his booted foot through the pathetic rusted metal door, the sound of the strong young man’s boot crunching through rusted steel causing an almighty feminine squeal and confused male yell from inside the other room. Johnny took advantage of the confusion, striding quickly through what was supposed to be Simon’s living room, a disgustingly filthy old fabric couch, dirt floor, metal sheet walls, very aged white wooden coffee table and seemingly even older small square boxy television set sitting on the floor, through the opening on the far wall to what served as the bedroom. The sight there was literally an old mattress sitting on a dirt floor, the occupants of the room being both near naked, the attractive buxom white skinned woman with large breasts, blue eyes and curly dark hair and freckled nose that Johnny assumed was Samuel’s wife Sasha along with a scrawny looking aboriginal man with short corn cropped hair, long limbs and impossibly black eyes with a hawk nose that Johnny assumed must be Simon Jones.
Jones sprung out of the bed with inhuman speed, an animalistic growl emanating from his lips as he launched his near naked form at Johnny, his long fingernails sinking into the flesh through the shirt of Johnny’s upper chest and torso. Jones screamed “You stupid cunt! You cannot touch me you grub!” as he continued to stab Johnny’s chest repeatedly with crazy speed with his fingernails. Johnny, caught off guard by the surprise attack, instinctively realised he needed to get the smaller man to ground, so he just grabbed Jones and let his weight fall to ground, the tactic taking the smaller man my surprise. Johnny was able to land with his full weight right on Jones’s stomach, winding the smaller man temporarily. Johnny was not going to let the opportunity slip, he got both of his hands around the smaller man’s neck and began to choke the life out of him. Jones recovered from the winding and tried to pry open the teenager’s hands from his neck but lacked the strength to do so and instead tried to gauge out the eyes of the Johnny with his fingernails, cutting the younger man’s cheek and forehead. Johnny did not relent, he just shut his eyes really tightly and redoubled his efforts on the smaller man’s neck feeling the bone in Jones’ neck crack as a reward for his persistence.
With the crack, the fight totally went of Jones, his neck and head wobbled uselessly and his arms flailed about for a few seconds but then he stopped, the life-force powering the smaller man now gone. The grubby room was suddenly silent, save for the disbelieving sob coming from the woman still on the mattress who had witnessed the struggle.
Johnny slowly removed his hands from the other man’s neck and looked over at the woman as she stared wide eyed at him, her nakedness being badly hidden by her hands attempting to cover her very ample breasts. Johnny had never seen a naked woman before and a wave of conflicting emotions were charging through his brain, guilt for killing Jones but elation at the same deed, pain in his face and chest from what was probably multiple infected flesh wounds from Jones’ fingernails and hormones surging through him at the sight of his first up close naked woman, her flesh and smell of her sex all too much for his confused brain to handle.
He took a second to close his eyes and regain his brainpower, trying to clear all of the emotions from his brain. Eventually his willpower regained control, and he ordered her “Get dressed woman. Say nothing of what you saw. Go back to your husband right now, tell him I need his help here.”
When she did not respond, still rooted to the spot like a deer in headlights, he yelled at her “NOWWW!!!”
That got Sasha moving, she quickly got up from the bed, grabbed all of her clothes and got them on in absolute record time before scampering out the door as fast as her legs could carry her. Johnny walked back to the living room and sat on the filthy couch, his legs seemingly buckling underneath him as he pondered the enormity of what he had just done. Taking another man’s life was prison time, if he got caught for this crime, his life was over before it had begun. He was just starting to entertain thoughts of suicide or handing himself in when he heard a vehicle pull up outside.
Not having the mental strength to resist what he assumed would be the police, he stayed sitting, waiting for his imminent arrest, his head bowed in his hands in his lap as Samuel entered the room. Samuel looked at Johnny, saw the scars on his chest and face and quickly bent down, took his hand and asked “Johnny, are you ok? Where is Jones?”