Benny looked out over the bay, trying to rub the tension out of his neck. There was something in the air tonight, something that made his hair stand on end. But the boss said tonight was the night, so Benny was here… waiting. Off to the east, he could see the entrance to the Yacht Yards. He wondered what the rich folk would do if they knew he was there, waiting for the drugs that their kids would be dumping their soft-earned allowance on come tomorrow night.
Two flashes from the dark water told Benny that his contact was rowing toward shore. The docks on the western side of the bay were dark this time of the night, most of the warehouses abandoned for the much nicer, cheaper accommodations closer to the Commercial District. Benny took his flashlight and flashed it three times, signaling that the coast was clear for the smugglers to dock and unload.
Then that ominous feeling hit again. Benny’s hair was once again standing on end, this time not just metaphorically. The wheelman didn’t turn around… he was afraid of what he might see. The voice was enough to nearly make him jump into the cold, dark water.”So, Benny… I’m thinking snow. What about you?”
Benny froze. It was mid-October, but the Garrison City weather service was predicting an early winter. Still… the temperature wasn’t the source of Benny’s chills. No… Benny knew that voice. He knew it all too well.”Yeah… snow. Really cold already.”
“Funny that.” The voice unnerved Benny, but more so was the casual conversation… almost small talk. What was he gonna do? “Go to your car Benny. Sit in the driver’s seat. But don’t leave. Don’t even start the engine.”
Benny nodded half-heartedly and turned around. There was nobody there, but Benny knew better than to think he was safe. He very slowly, very casually started to walk. “Don’t even start the engine, Benny,” the voice repeated, and the wheel-man started, and hit the pier at a dead run.
The smugglers pulled into the docks and slid their boat silently beneath the pier. Once tied on, they pushed it out just far enough to unload. The first one reached up to the pier, trying to pull himself up. His hands tingled from the cold, and getting a good grip wasn’t easy. “Yo… some help here?”
“No problem,” said a voice from above. A black-gloved hand, some of the fingers missing, reached down. The smuggler reached up and took the hand, stepping on one of his crates to push himself up. Instead, he was pulled up… faster than expected. The second smuggler heard a thud, followed by a crash.
“What the Hell’s goin’ on up there?”
The voice of the man that helped his partner up chimed through the night. “Sorry… slipped on the pier. It’s pretty damp.”
The smuggler didn’t know what to think… but he didn’t like it. Mikey should’ve answered. “Yo Mikey… you okay?” There was no answer. Slowly, the smuggler reached up with both hands and raised his eyes above the level of the pier. Mikey was there… laying in a heap next to a broken barrel. Their mysterious helper was nowhere to be seen. Then, as suddenly as he’d heard the crash, his boat rocked slightly as a new weight hit it… hard.
“Benny couldn’t be here tonight.”
The smuggler spun, reaching for his gun. He never got a look at the other man in his boat. He just felt five fingers brush his cheek; three gloved, two bare, and then felt a sharp, burning pain. The last thing he perceived before losing consciousness was the back of his head striking the pier as his body shot backward as a result of the electrical shock.
Two minutes later, there was a fire on the bay as a small, wooden boat floated out into the night, its cargo in flames.
Benny watched the flickering light from his car. He was playing with the keychain, toying with the idea of turning the key… but he thought better of it. The car sank suddenly as a body landed on the hood… a body clad in green. Goggle-clad eyes stared out from the shadows that hung over the costumed character’s face, and Benny silently said goodbye to his girlfriend, his dog, and his apartment. This time was going to be the time… Benny could feel it.
“Tell Begnini that the next time I have to burn a shipment of drugs, he’ll be tied to it.” As fast as he’d arrived, the costumed man was gone. Benny waited to breathe, waited even longer to start his car. There was a smell in the air… something damp… and it wasn’t sweat. Benny though better than to care… he tore rubber, and fled the scene before the police could arrive.
Once he was well clear, Benny pulled out his cell phone. He flipped it over, pressed 2, and hit the call button. After a few seconds, he had an answer. “Boss… we got a problem….”