Hard Boiled – Episode One: A New Day 1.108

bwvatarThe night was still relatively young, and Bluewolf was sure that Begnini ‘worked’ well into the evening. The chances were even better with the information Kardiac had provided about the inbound drug shipment. He could spend a few hours around the docks, and still make it to Begnini’s estate for a late night ‘chat.’ A few moments after Capin left, Wolf drew back into the shadows and began a sweep of the warehouses. As much as we’re all solo operators, we could use a certain amount of communication and coordination… passing thoughts ran through his mind as he silently crept to the roof’s edge. He’d heard muffled snippets of conversation from several rooftops away, a good place to start.

Three men stood huddled half in shadow between stacks of industrial sized shipping containers the size of boxcars, and the building from which Wolf was observing them. The cherry-red end of a lit cigarette glowed brightly. For some reason these types never learned that a lit smoke sends up a beacon for anyone who might be ‘observing.’ Exhaled smoke mixed with the condensed breath of the other two men, hands were shoved deep in pockets, and shoulders hunched under oversized coats to try and ward off the chill of the night. If there was one thing Wolf had learned in all his time running surveillance, it was that when a group of men is in a place that they don’t particularly want to be, confidential information has a way of becoming casual conversation. He might not get everything from these three, but again, the night was still young… and Begnini could wait. For now.

“Man, why we gotta be hangin’ out here in the freaking cold when the shipment ain’t even getting in till t’mara night?” the youngest of the three complained.

Smokey the thug answered him with a cuff to the head, “Because the Boss tells us too, that’s why. And keep your freakin’ voice down.”

“Yeah, dumbass,” the other one cut in, “Just ’cause that warehouse bust went bad don’t mean the cops still don’t have this place staked out.”

These were low-men on the totem pole, hired hands to try and bolster Begnini’s network of security, they wouldn’t know the shipment’s source; wouldn’t be trusted with that kind of information. The young punk looked as if he were about to say something in reply when a soft static click came from a two-way radio the smoker had in his pocket. Wolf opened a cover on his armband, activating a signal trace. This bunch might not be in the know, but whoever was on the other end might.

Smokey took one last drag and tossed the cigarette down, Wolf heard the sizzle as its heat struck the wet pavement just before getting stamped out by Smokey’s shoe. “Man what do these jokers want now,” he said before keying the radio. “Yeah…”

The display in Wolf’s visor pinpointed the location within seconds… across the bay, in one of the shipyard management buildings. His acute hearing picked up the conversation without any need for the suit’s amplification abilities.

“Checking in.” the voice crackled.

“Man, we ain’t seen no sign of cops or costumes…” The rest of the conversation would be played back later through the listening device Wolf planted. He wanted to see what these other goons had to say. The fact that they were in a building instead of out in the cold meant they were somewhat higher up the food chain.

It was getting close to half past twelve, and Wolf had been in the same position for almost two hours. So far the two men inside had done nothing but swill coffee and talk sports. The temperature had dropped dramatically, and the thin layer of frost on parts of his armor let Wolf know just how uncomfortable the trio he’d left behind must be. That fact in itself was enough to draw the corners of his mouth up in a smile.

“I hear the boss has hooked up with a new supplier.” Wolf’s ears instinctively perked up. This could be what he’d been waiting for.

“I was talking to one of Messina’s boys over at Castiglia’s the other day. He told me the rumor is the Boss made a deal with some South American bunch… Vega, I think the name was.”

The first man coughed, “What little I heard about them… ain’t none of it been good.”

That’s about all I need from these fellows. Time to pay a visit to Alfonse… Wolf planted another listening device to make sure he’d get any other information that Kardiac might be able to put to use and headed off to Hiland.

Begnini’s estate was expansive with a great amount of detail having gone into landscaping. The driveway up to the main house had been cleared as had the sidewalks and paths to various outbuildings. The main gate looked new, and fresh mortar and brickwork gave testament to the disregard for personal property of the police raid several nights passed. Trampled shrubbery and deep ruts in the lawn would wait for spring to be repaired, no doubt at the cost of the city. Where the raid at the processing facility had been less than a success, the search and seizure operation of Begnini’s property had proven a disaster. He’d heard that the police commissioner had been called to the carpet in the mayor’s office, and things like that tended to roll down hill quickly.

Begnini had tight security, but Kardiac wasn’t the only one with an EMI emitter. He just happened to be one. The security cameras that Wolf couldn’t slip past, simply recorded static for a few moments. The locks proved to be less of a challenge and the guards were walking a regular patrol. Wolf shook his head, Alfonse, you should really think about getting a new security manager… Slipping down the hall to Begnini’s office, the door was only partially closed with low light streaming out. No guards at the door… they could be inside. Tapping a button on his armband, he activated the tapper he’d placed outside Begnini’s window. The device tapped an irregular pattern and intensity on whatever surface it was placed and was used as a distraction. It worked like a charm.

“What the hell…” a single shadow cast through the doorway.

No one else in the room or he would have made them check things out Wolf slipped into the office. The only light came from a banker’s lamp, allowing deep shadows to form in the corners of the room. Begnini pushed the window open slightly, knocking the taper into the bushes below.

The noise stopped and the aging capo shrugged as he closed the window. He seated himself and resumed going over whatever business was splayed across his desk. Wolf activated the backlight on the lenses of his visor, for nothing more than effect, the azure glow caught Begnini’s attention, “I thought we had an understanding, Alfonse.” Wolf’s voice came out in a low growl, reminiscent of his namesake.

Begnini’s shock was apparent, but he recovered quickly, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now if you would be so kind as to get the f#%k out of my house…”

Wolf was on him, in an instant Begnini found himself on his knees with his head being pressed into his tan desk blotter. “I told you the Fox was off limits. And if you even think of hitting that call button you won’t be alive when your boys get here.”

The capo’s hands raised as much as was possible from the odd angle Wolf had him pinned. “You and Sparky might have danced your little dance and played the game of being polite to one another,” Wolf squeezed slightly, causing a long grunt of pain from Begnini, “I don’t play those games, Alfonse. I don’t have the patience for it.”

Begnini’s words spat through clenched teeth, “I don’t know anything about the broad, I swear.” Wolf relaxed only slightly. “If she’s disappeared, it wasn’t anyone that works for me.”

Wolf leaned in close, “Why do I get the feeling you’re not telling me everything, Alfonse.”

Begnini looked at Wolf through a single squinted eye, “I’m telling you I don’t know nothin’.” It was amazing how quickly the polish went away when a character like Begnini was under duress. The disturbing part is that Wolf was inclined to believe him. Begnini was a smart man, he wouldn’t be in the position he held otherwise, but the look a fear in his eyes held more credence than any drug might produce.

Wolf leaned in even closer, Begnini’s sweat assaulted his senses… he could almost taste the fear, as the capo’s arms began to quiver from fatigue. “Mark my word, Alfonse,” Wolf growled, “If I find out that you lied to me…” Wolf manipulated a series of pressure points…

Begnini’s head exploded in agony. And then nothing. Bluewolf had gone and Alfonse relaxed slightly, but sat motionless for several more minutes. Shaken, he pulled his high-backed chair over and settled into it once more. A palsied hand reached for the phone and dialed.

“Your rogue just paid me a visit.” Begnini’s voice cracked. There was a pause before the mobster continued, “I don’t give a damn! I played out my part of the deal, and your boy screwed the hit on Pope. I want this freak off my back as soon as possible.” Another pause, “I have the shipment covered, you’ll get your money. Just make this guy dead.” He hung up the phone and pulled a bottle of antacid from a desk drawer. Taking a large swallow, he then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Freakin’ costumes… I’ll show them who runs this town…”

Wolf stopped the feed from the bug he’d planted in Begnini’s office. Begnini hadn’t directly ordered the hit on Pope and Kardiac wouldn’t like hearing that. Added to the fact that he’d been able to get zero information on Fox’s disappearance, and the night seemed to be a wash. The only positive was they at least knew the source of the inbound drug shipment, and Wolf had a feeling Kardiac wouldn’t like hearing that either. The phone tap information scrolled over his visor display, but proved just as useless. There was too much encryption for the suit to get a positive destination. He’d pass it along to Jenna in the morning to see what she could dig up.

Waiting. He hated it, but there wasn’t much else they could do at the moment. Wolf pulled his communicator from its compartment at his waist, activating it.

“Mushi mushi?” Kardiac’s real voice broke across the line.

“Funny. Has your Vixen returned to her den?”

There was a long pause before Kardiac spoke, “No, not yet.”

Wolf could hear the catch in his friend’s voice, and even very recently he knew what it was like to ‘not know.’ “I’ll keep looking, but I do have some info for you. What say we meet tomorrow,” Up the ante of trust, “Plainclothes… you pick the place.”

Wolf thought he heard Kardiac blink with mild surprise, “Uh, yeah… right. There’s small Chinese joint just off King and 53rd. Excellent Moo Goo Gai Pan.”

“Got it. And as hard as it sounds, try and get some rest.” Wolf clicked the comm off. He sighed, looking out over the city and thinking of Kaye. She was safe, and that made him feel slightly better about the whole night. Time to get back to work…

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