Knock Knock: Episode 46: Calamity

Howard Bergman had been on a trip to Subala so his sister, Law Maker Hell Hound Sophie, had left a message at their estate over there to contact her as soon as possible. In the meantime, she had her Golem, Mr Raminoff, seek information on the unexpected freighter the Wigan had mentioned.  

“Find out who authorised it,” she instructed.  

Speaking in his native tongue of Levinkrantz, the Golem made some enquiries as to the mysterious freighter. Howard was never one to make such an oversight so it was expected that it would be confirmed that no such event had ever occurred and the Wigan was merely making conversation, or was mistaken in some way. Imagine Sophie’s surprise then, if you will, when Golem told her that a Bergman freighter had been sent to the inlet. Not only that, the authority on it was her son, Isaac. 

The next course of action was to speak to her son. It seemed Isaac had gone to a girlfriend outside of the city and hadn’t been seen since. A message was left with him, too.  

“Call home immediately,” Golem warned.  

Isaac didn’t return the call.  

*** 

WELCOME TO VIOLET. 

The purr of the luxurious Cooper car with glistening purple paint could be heard approaching CPD in City Main.  

PARKING ACTIVATED. 

The smooth long body took its place. Emerging from the spectacular vehicle was the long frame of Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Owen. Ronnie entered the CPD building at a dash.  

“I need to speak to Billy,” he told the front desk.  

The bro that had been placed on such desk obliged. Given the scrutiny The Cappy was under at that time, fast access to the commissioner was given to any who shared his blood. For all intents and purposes, Ronnie’s legal presence was welcome. The commissioner was under a lot of strain.  

William ‘Billy’ Owen was on a call with Irvine Stoker who had been informing him of the enquiries that Sophie Bergman had placed.  

“Those fucking bead rattlers,” he was complaining of the Wigans.  

“It’s lucky we got told, mucker,” Irvine assured. “I’ve had to pull the plug but the body has been moved. We just need to find Isaac. We paid a visit to the girlfriend he was supposed to have gone to see but she didn’t know anything. She says she hasn’t seen him.”  

“So, the risk lies in the hands of a Shylock that knows everything?” Billy wanted to clarify with some frustration.  

“Even if he does squeal, he’ll have to prove it. That’s where we got your back,” was Irvine’s reply. 

Billy nodded. “Keep an eye out for him. Let me know the minute he comes slithering back.” 

“Will do,” Irvine agreed.  

“A’body knows those Bergmans are all psycho. Ain’t nobody that nice.”  

Irvine offered his agreement and then the call was closed. Upon doing this his cousin, Ronnie, entered the scene.  

“About time,” Billy exclaimed. “You done anything yet about the damn Cappy?” he asked.  

“He’s still on lockdown at the ranch. I’ve asked for Jackson’s proposal. He’s thinking about it.”  

“Thinking about it?” Billy growled. “That’s fucking mighty kind of him. My own father. I never thought myself spawned from such a limp dick. Do I look like the spit of a limp dick?”  

Ronnie raised an eyebrow. “I’ve not been at the board meetings for a while so I don’t know how all this will go down. I can’t leave Coldford in case they call me in to testify. I’m here because of the complaints that are being brought against the department.”  

“I’m getting shit done,” Billy stated.  

“On paper you’re doing swell,” Ronnie concurred. “But this Wigan situation needs to be resolved. The office of Law Makers is looking to remove you. I told you when you first got here, they wouldn’t be comfortable letting our Kappa So boys take over.”  

“A’body knows those Wigan fucks are needing run out the damn city. I’m the man for the job,” was Billy’s response with a cold raspy laugh. He was still full of confidence despite the dark shadows of stress underneath his eyes. 

Ronnie finally took a seat. “I need you to tell me every dealing your department has had with the Wigan church. Peter Millicent is good at what he does so I need to be armed with everything I can.”  

Billy grinned. “You ready for that cuz?” he asked.  

Ronnie didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic but he was no stranger to the darker shades of Coldford. He was, after all, an Owen.  

*** 

“He’s gotta be removed. After the accusations against Jerry and his side of the family, Chick should have stepped down in disgrace years ago!”  

That was the sentiment of Jackson ‘Jackie’ Owen. He had been locked out of his social media accounts several times but each time he kept coming back. The Owen-owned publication, the Coldford Daily, was admitting to a divide on the board of Owen Inc. and their enemies were smelling blood. Not to mention it was surfacing family troubles, which was something the generations of Owens before them would never have done no matter how mad they were at each other. Times were tough. With Charles ‘Chick’ Owen under lock and key by the Law Makers it seemed unwise to air dirty laundry on such a public forum.  Jackie seemed confident in his statements, though. All week he had been blasting his views across social media about how Owen Inc. had no business being led by the brother of a known child rapist. He said that The Cappy had been incompetent for a long time. He even posted photos of a dishevelled looking Chick being escorted from the airport by Bailiffs.  

“Is this the future of Owen Inc?” he had captioned with a large, bold question mark.  

That wasn’t my decision to make. I was merely there to tell the story, but as an outsider I could see Jackson was making enemies. That was how businesses in Coldford were run so I’m sure he knew what he was doing. Still, it seemed unwise but as I said, it was not for me to comment, only observe.  

“Jackass!” was all that an email from his son, William ‘Billy’ Owen had said to him.  

Some might have thought it was in agreement with his father against The Cappy but that wasn’t it. Billy was on team Chick through and through. Familial loyalty was to his cousin once removed. As far as Billy was concerned his father was being a jackass.  

Disruption and chaos on the Owen board was only increased by The Cappy having had his wings clipped by the Law Makers of Coldford.  

“I feel for my cousin,” said Jackson in an official statement. “What he is going through is unprecedented. But the law is the law and he should stand down if he values the rest of us. Pops would be so ashamed.”  

Jackass!  

That had been his son’s cry because as far as Billy was concerned, they were entering a whole new era for Owen Inc. and they needed The Cappy at the wheel to navigate.  

“The balls on the man!” Billy said admiringly of Chick. He wasn’t shy of telling anyone who would listen that his cousin had huge God balls like no other. He had what it took to lead Owen Inc.  

Jackson had expected his son to come around. It didn’t matter what Billy said though. Jackson was what the company needed. He was not a shy man nor was he a stupid one by his own reckoning. The Owens were having everything thrown at them. He couldn’t have handled it any better than Chick had. He knew that. He was no fool. But that wasn’t for the board to know. So, he spoke to the press of his concerns for his family, his cousin especially, and for the future of Owen Inc.  

“I fear he has been using William’s special ops training to bully his way into CPD. Why would you use your cousins like that? What do you have to hide? Do the right thing Chick and resign now! #chickmustresign” 

“Jackass!” Billy raged at the quote now going viral. “Throwing me under the bus now, are ya?”  

For failing to flock to Jackson’s side immediately he set his sights on discrediting his son.  

OWEN INC. CEO NEEDS TO STEP DOWN. 

THE CAPTAIN IS DRUNK AT THE WHEEL. 

“I’m going to string him up!” The Cappy warned.  

“Leave it, Chick,” Ronnie advised. Chick’s younger, lawyer brother had been keeping a close eye on Jackson’s activity. “We’ve got enough to deal with, with Tabitha and Reggie Penn. Not to mention the Law Makers all over the estate. Sit quiet. I’ll see about a gagging order.”  

Jackson had already managed to leak some old photos from Billy’s military days, where he was shown to be less than accommodating to Subalan prisoners he had taken. Naked, on their knees, begging for mercy, Billy was shown to be taunting them.  

“I’m going to the Great States, right now. I’m gonna see that damn traitor myself,” Billy decided. 

Again, Ronnie had to be the level head. “Leave it Bill,” Ronnie instructed. “The moment they see you leaving on a plane they’re going to come down hard,” he said of the Law Makers. “The only reason they haven’t put you under arrest too at this point is out of politeness. You still have a position in this city. Don’t give them an excuse.” 

Jackson had attempted to bring an alliance with the Beckingridges. He knew it would be a sure-fire way of gaining influence in The Shady City so he reached out to one of the richest families in Coldford.  

“And who are you!?” spat Elizabeth Beckingridge, still frustrated with her own lockdown.  

Jackson tried to explain but as far as Elizabeth was concerned it was better the devil you know.  

“Jackie Owen ma’am. Think of what we can achieve!” he propositioned her. 

“I deal with the organ grinder not the monkey,” she said dismissively. “Have Charles call me if he wants to talk.”  

Jackson refused to give up.  

“I’m going to be taking over things,” he told her. 

She seemed to have been distracted by Law Makers on her lawns. “Fuck off!” she yelled. “The rose bushes assaulting you? Maybe if we weren’t stepping all over them, we wouldn’t get pricked by thorns.” 

“Ma’am, if you would…” Jackson tried to call her attention. 

Elizabeth sighed, “I don’t really have time for whatever your nonsense is, nor would I care for it if I did. I’m not shopping at the moment but if I ever need whatever it is you’re selling, I’ll call you.”  

“Ma’am, if you’ll hear my…” 

“Gah! He just won’t shut up,” she murmured to someone else who must have been in the room with her. 

“It’s important that we talk,” Jackson suggested. 

“Who even are you?” she asked again. 

“Jackson Owen.” 

“No,” she returned sharply and rang off. 

Elizabeth would rather battle Chick on her terms than play nice with a distant cousin she had never met. Presley Cage had already advised her against getting involved in the Owen dispute anyway. Bored under house arrest, she was finally starting to listen.  

‘She’s not the real CEO anyway,’ Jackson grumbled. ‘She’s a stuck-up author who’s throwing her grandfather’s money about like she has her own mint.’ 

With this in mind he turned to George.  

“Kappa So!” he yelled down the phone at him. “You ain’t got the God balls.”  

Jackson could swear he heard Buddy’s squealing laughter in the background. Weren’t they supposed to be on community service?

“As frustrating as it can be we need to play the Law Maker game right now,” was Ronnie’s suggestion.  

Chick groaned but he hadn’t gotten as far as he had by letting things get to him. He may not have been able to get to the Great States and stop his board from abandoning him completely but he still had those loyal to him. 

Marshall Cooper – VP of finance and distribution. Austin Perry – VP of marketing. Both of them were Kappa So and Chick’s brothers for life.  

*** 

8am. Star State. The Owen Inc. board was assembled. The smell of fresh coffee was in the air. A plate of pastries that had been baked just that morning was on the table.  

Jackson had deliberately kept Austin Perry and Marshall Cooper at bay. He only needed a 70% vote anyway. He was convinced of all but those two. The motion to remove Chick was all but done. What choice did the board have? They were in a sticky situation and things in Coldford were getting worse by the minute. Jackson himself looked pleased. He had it. It was so close he could feel it in their hands. They only had to vote.  

“We’ve got a lot to do today so I’m just going to go ahead and get started,” Jackson announced.  

“Shouldn’t we wait for Ozzy and Marshall?” Kathleen spoke up. She was an old squeeze of The Cappy’s and the mother hen of Kappa Si sorority. 

Jackson frowned at the interruption. After paying a visit to the Sorority House he thought they had an understanding.  

“Chick doesn’t care about you,” he had said the previous night. “He only cares about his own damn dynasty. He’ll screw anyone that gets in the way of that.” He had tried to ply her with alcohol but it had been he who had passed out, not she. Still, he figured they had reached an agreement.  

“Austin and Marshall have made their feelings clear already,” stated the meeting’s chair.  

Kathleen gave a wry smile. “You’re really going to do this?”  

“Gross incompetency, criminal activity, allowing profits to fall because of theft from terror groups. Tell me why I shouldn’t do this?”  

Kathleen’s smile spread a little wider.  

“When you showered this morning did you clean your ass?”  

The rest of the board looked to Jackson for an answer to this all-intriguing question.  

Jackson scowled. “What’s your point Kathleen?”  

Kathleen pursed her lips. “I’m just saying. If you’re going to show everyone else’s skid marks you better make sure your ass is squeaky fucking clean.”  

“I’m worried,” was Jackie’s reply, trying to keep a professional tone. It was, after all, to be his first meeting as the Owen Inc. CEO. 

“We’re all worried,” was the reply.  

Marshall Cooper of Cooper Garage and Austin ‘Ozzy’ Perry of Perry Zoo had decided it was a board meeting worth attending after all.  

“We’ve got a word from our real CEO,” said Austin. A thick Southern Hemisphere accent danced on his tongue.  

He tapped his phone a couple of times and an image of Chick flicked onto the board room screens.  

“Good mornin’,” he greeted with a warm smile. “I’m sorry I can’t be there with y’all in person but I guess we all have to take our turns sitting on the naughty step from time to time. I don’t need to tell you that, huh Dutsy? Been in every penitentiary in the state and still carrying on.”  

Dusty – addressed by The Cappy – chuckled nervously.  

The Cappy went on. 

“I can see y’all are set up quite nicely. CJ, you lay off those pastries now. You know Marsha is worried about your cholesterol.” 

CJ shied away. He had probably already been thinking about the pastries.  

“I would just like for you all to know that I have no intentions of leaving you. I most certainly wouldn’t be leaving you in Jackson’s hands. Bless him. Snakes don’t have any arms. Those of you who object to that can feel free to depart your stations, no hard feelings. If you do choose to stay, however, you are on the understanding that it is my leadership that you abide by.”  

Chick awaited the response from his board. When there was none, he continued. He turned to Jackson.  

“Jackie,” he began. “You and I need to have words but I worry that if I begin, I might not be able to curb my cussing. These good people don’t need to hear that. They don’t need to see me having a dying duck fit because you are one slimy, yella, egg-sucking son a’ bitch. So, it’s sufficed to say you are to pack your belongings and, as much as it would hurt our dear pops, you are never to grace my office or my home ever again. In not so many words – you’re fired. The rest of you? Should you choose to continue you will be toeing a very thin line. If those terms aren’t agreeable to you then join Jackson there as he scrambles to pack his suitcase. Need a help there Jackie? Marsh, give him a hand there, will ya?”  

Marshall Cooper lifted Jackson’s briefcase and slid it across the conference room table. Jackson caught it just before it fell off the other side.  

“Damn it, Chick!” Jackson grumbled.  

The Cappy was unmoved. “That’s Captain to you,” he replied with a slight curl of his lip. “If you could slither out of my conference room with a little more urgency, I’d be much obliged.”  

“Now that we have that most unfortunate business behind us, I have some ideas for the next quarter that Marshall will be happy to take you through.” 

“We got projections,” agreed Marshall eagerly. “Good projections.”  

“Then I’ll leave you to it,” said Chick. “I’m only a phone call away and despite what Jackson would have you believe, I’m not in prison. I’m merely helping the Law Makers of Coldford with their investigations.”  

Jackson did depart the office. They would still have the vote but there was sure as hell no way they were going to motion for The Cappy’s removal now. His thoughts were to regroup. The Cappy had other ideas.  

*** 

“Barbara!” Jackson was yelling down the phone in a message to the secretary. “Chick has pulled a fast one with the board. The board won’t vote on the appeal. Damn it, Barbara! I need you to book me the next flight out of here.”  

ZOOM. 

He had fled the Owen Inc. building in such a rush he hadn’t realised how far onto the road he had stumbled. He had almost been hit by a prestigious looking blue car.  

“I’m fucking walking here!” Jackson screamed after it sped off round the corner onto Second Street.  

“Barbara, call me back as soon as you get this.”  

Unbeknownst to Jackson, Barbara was at her table listening to the message but she wasn’t accepting any calls. Instead, she was stood with a group of Kathleen’s Kappa Si around her – her little chickadees.  

“Just let the call go,” the Chapter Leader warned her.  

Barbara didn’t really have much choice.  

The roads were getting busy. The little blue compact car had just turned the corner when a yellow one – stream lined and sleek for speed – came rushing by. Jackson had just managed to get out of its way, edging onto the sidewalk opposite the Owen Inc. building. 

“Fucking world’s gone mad,” Jackson was still grumbling but as the road quietened again, he came upon a most luxurious vehicle. A shimmer glinted from Marshall Cooper’s personal car. Long, stately and with a body to die for she was named Jewel and she was Marshall’s pride and joy.  

“You fucking prick, Marshall,” Jackson scowled at the car.  

He could see his angered expression reflected in Jewel’s tinted windows. It actually helped him to feel a little better.  

Zoom. 

Apparently, there were no fucking speed limits on the road because this time a green car zipped past. Was that a Cooper badge on its ass? Probably. They were all Cooper cars in these parts.  

Jackson took a pen knife from his pocket. The alarms would start screaming the moment he touched the precious jewel like a big old rape alarm but hopefully he could at least get in some deep scratches before she bit back.  

The tip of the knife touched the paint.  

BOOM! 

A car fired its exhaust with gusto. Its bark seemed to bring all other sounds to a halt. The birds in the trees near by hushed their song.  

Jackson turned. Shit! It was Cooper badges on those other cars. He should have known. Marshall had brought his show cars with him, the fleet he proudly called the Mad Dogs.  

The red one, Cherry, was now facing him. Her engine was growling deeply. Named after the deep red paint on her sturdy body, Cherry was the dog with the loudest bark. 

BOOM! 

Her exhaust fired again sending angry flames sparking behind her. Jackson backed away from Jewel. He dropped the knife and ran through the alley that led onto second street but just as he got there Sunny – the yellow dog – was racing down the road towards him. He had stupidly dashed towards a quiet section of the area where no one was around. Sunny was sleek and fast. Even Jewel herself would have trouble keeping up with her. That dog was a racer and she loved to run.  

At a slower pace, the blue one – Sky – rounded the corner. She didn’t need speed. With a compact, two-seater body, Sky was the dog with the ears. Navigation was her attribute and she was the spotter on the hunt. True to her nature she stopped and she watched as Sunny darted to the bottom of the road towards Third Avenue, rounded on open ground and turned to come back.  

BOOM!  

Cherry barked her exhaust angrily as she turned the corner from Main onto Second to join her pack.  

“There’s one more,” Jackson remembered with a gulp.  

Where the fuck was the green one, they called Emerald? 

As though in answer to that Emerald came charging through the alley. Stream lined and with a steering system so tight there wasn’t a corner she couldn’t handle. Emerald was the performer of the Mad Dogs and she loved to show how smoothly she could take the sharpest of corners, dance and nip into tight spaces. She charged through the narrow alley which would prove problematic for the muscle-bound Cherry or even the speedy Sunny. The breath escaped Jackson with a sudden whack against his back as Emerald nuzzled him onto the road.  Sunny cut his path as he scrambled forward. All the while, Sky kept her eye on her pack’s prey.  

BOOM!  

Jackson was thrown back by Cherry’s fiery bay. The heat of the flaming exhausts sizzled on the skin of his face.  

Still gasping for breath, Jackson tried to clamber to his feet. His heart was racing. The hit from Emerald had blurred his vision. He could hear Cherry’s engine rumble in a low growl. The sun glinted on Sunny’s shining body obscuring the vision of all else.  

“Wait!” gasped Jackson.  

SCREECH! 

Emerald skid. Her wheels screamed and Jackson was thrown forward just as Sunny zoomed past catching him as he fell.  

BOOM! 

Cherry roared and dashed towards him.  

Thud. The full weight of the bulkiest dog crushed his leg beneath her paws.  

SCREECH!  

Emerald twisted and leapt, only just nudging the body over onto its back. Jackson choked as blood began to gather in his lungs.  

CLICK. CLICK. CLICK.  

Sky rolled a little closer. 

The Mad Dogs’ chew toy had just enough consciousness to see the pack of primary colours draw in on him, ready to tear him apart as per their master’s command.  

Page Break 

*** 

Bleep. Bleep.  

The crash test car appeared excited to be put to use. The motion-sensor lights sparked to life as the Cooper drivers wheeled Jackson to the back of the garage. The Cooper Crash car, Calamity, had already been set up for a frontal impact test.  

“Let’s try thirty-five miles per hour,” it was suggested. The excitability of the attack had calmed to cold callousness.  

Jackson was placed in position in the driver’s seat. The paint that would normally be splashed onto the high impact areas of the dummy was splashed on the him instead.  

The passenger door opened. Jackson’s head dropped onto his left shoulder. The driver of Sunny popped her head in. She raised a phone and took a photo.  

“Before and after,” Marshall had requested.  

Jackson had no more energy to resist or object. The pain of the injuries they had inflicted on him was starting to intensify as the shock wore off. A dummy was on the seat beside him. Its head was turned towards him. He tried to reach out and push it away but the strength in his arm failed him. There was knocking on the window. The Mad Dogs were watching him. Their faces were covered with their protective gear. The wash of colours of their signature suits seemed quite surreal.   

He looked out the window and could see the driver of Sky head to the control panel. The button was pushed. Thirty-five miles per hour. The car smashed into the concrete wall. It was a crushing impact. Don’t try to take the driver’s seat if you can’t keep a hold of the wheel.  

*** 

A week passed after Jackson ‘Jackie’ Owen’s death. When I learned of it, I contacted The Cappy to gather his thoughts.  

“An automobile accident,” he said. “That is most unfortunate. I always told him to keep his mind on the road. That is a busy juncture there outside the building. He had been caught short before, I don’t mind telling you. I had warned him he was going to meet an untimely end if he weren’t careful.” 

I knew then that there was more to it.  

“An accident, was it?” I pressed.  

“Now, Mr Crusow, I have answered everything I am prepared to regarding that. As far as Jackson is concerned, I would appreciate it if you allowed me to deal with my own family affairs.”  

That had been that. Accommodating enough that he didn’t seem to have anything to hide and dismissive enough to show he was not inviting any more questions.  

“Jackass!” was all Billy would say on his father’s death. 

The Cappy seemed confident that he had managed to navigate the choppy waters so far. The Law Makers were easing off, finding everything in order as far as Jerry was concerned. It seemed the call made to Jerry the night of the club attack had come from none other than Jackson. Coincidence? Of course. The truth? Highly unlikely. So, whilst Sanjay took a closer look at the call records, Sophie and her Golem were treated to all the hospitality Owen Estate had to offer.  

Marshall Cooper had taken a detour from his showcase in Luen to the board meeting in the Star State but was now on his way to Coldford promising the arrival of his Mad Dogs in the city. Joining him was Austin Perry, Ozzy to his friends, and given everything that had happened in Coldford thus far it was actually good to see a little vibrancy and excitement garner around the zoo located in the heart of Coldridge Park.  

So, when Jewel pulled up outside of Owen Estate there was a reunion of old Kappa So brothers and one would be treated to seeing Charles ‘Chick’ Owen, respectfully tilted The Cappy, greet his old bro with a Kappa So handshake.  

“Coops!” he cheered. “Good to see you, brah.”  

A young man with a law maker pin approached them demanding to know the name of the visitor for the record. 

“My name?” Marshall scowled. “You little prick. What’s your name?” 

“Cooper,” the Cappy answered for him. “He’s Cooper. He’ll provide identification.”  

Marshall reluctantly dug into his wallet and showed the Law Maker his driving licence. Satisfied he had completed his duty the Law Maker wandered off to liaise with his superior. 

“Little prick,” Marshall grinned. “How you doin’ Chick?”  

Chick gave a hearty laugh. “You son a’ bitch. It’s been too long.”  

“Kappa So!” 

They were interrupted by a Southern Hemisphere voice as Austin arrived on scene.  

“Bugger me,” he said. “I just had to show my damn ID to get onto the property. They really got you hemmed in, mate.” 

The handshake was shared between them and more reunions were made. It was time to get down to business.  

“Hello boys,” greeted Kathleen, who was waiting for them in The Cappy’s den. “You all took your time. When you are done sucking each other’s cocks I’d really like to get things moving. I got an appointment at four.”  

“Good to see you too, Kathleen. Flight was fine by the way,” Austin replied in a tease.  

The Cappy took a seat behind his desk.  

“There’s a lot of trouble going on here in the city and I sure could use your help in straightening it out,” Chick put to them. “Firstly, the Coldford Daily is hanging by a thread, competing with independents and that kitty box liner set up by Elizabeth Beckingridge.”  

“Why is she having her say?” Marshall demanded to know. “Where the fuck is George and why hasn’t he taken control? The fucking compass? Bitch…”  

“George is in the fold but, well, you’ll see for yourself when you come to meet him. Suffice to say he ain’t got the sense the good Lord gave a goat. Kathleen, I would like you to take charge of the Daily. If there’s anyone I can trust to whip it into shape, it will be you.”  

“Sure,” Kathleen agreed. She was a PR maven and most of her Kappa Si chicks were following close at her heel.  

“Damage control is priority. Then we permanently remove the competition.” 

Kathleen nodded.  

“Marshall, I would like for you to take the Auction House. Now that the phoney king is gone and two of his crotch goblins are behind bars, it’s time to make some use of it and by use, I mean money. The Penn line is in the hands of the youngest. He doesn’t seem to remember much from his time with our boys but tread carefully because who knows when he may suddenly spark a brain cell. If he retrieves his Auction House back it will avoid some difficult questions later but I want to make sure we don’t leave the arrangement without recuperating some losses.” 

Marshall groaned and bit down on his own cigar. “You’re leaving me to deal with the dim wit? Bro, that sucks.”  

Chick shook his head. “I’m entrusting you with the Auction House,” he said. “It’s an important piece of the puzzle here in Coldford and if there is anyone who can get it off of our hands and still gain something from it, you’re the man.”  

Marshall relented. He removed his phone from his pocket and immediately started to research the Auction House in City Main.  

“Looks like a shit hole,” he commented as he took a draw on his cigar.  

“Ozzy, I will need you on your best behaviour because you, my friend, are going to be just what this city needs. You are going to entertain, charm and draw the crowds with the help of them Stokers.” 

Austin grinned. “I didn’t realise the circus had come to town.”  

Chick nodded. “It never really left. It’s always a three-ring circus around here as you will all find out soon enough. The Stokers need somewhere to set up and your zoo sounds about right. Does that agree with you?”  

Austin whole heartedly agreed. “Piece of piss, brah,” he said. “People don’t visit zoos the way they used to. Too many animal activists. Most of them doing more harm to the animals than good.”  

The Cappy leaned back in his chair. He had been so long dealing with his son’s antics, he was close to forgetting what it was like to work with a competent team.  

“We got a lot of work to do,” Chick assured them. “But I am mighty glad ya’ll are here. First thing’s first. Harbour House are allowing us to visit the boys in rehab. We’ll start by checking just how much those rascals have learned.”  

“Spoke to Dale just last night,” Marshall explained. “He said his bed is comfortable, the food is good and he’s got a gym. Shit! He’s supposed to be learning a lesson and that dumbass thinks it’s a fucking resort.” 

Kathleen craned her neck and looked out of the window.  

“Chick,” she asked. “Was that a Law Maker lady I just saw pass by your window?”  

Chick looked behind him. “That’ll be Sophie. Thankfully, she and her colleagues will be making a timely departure. Do any of you speak sign language?”  

*** 

It had been on an afternoon when I was visiting Olivia and Milo that I first became alerted to the presence of the Kappa Elders in Coldford.  

Olivia and I were discussing current affairs in the city and her support of Harbour House in her capacity as a social worker. She had been to Faulds Park to visit Reggie so I was keen to hear what she had found. 

“Reggie still maintains he remembers as far as getting to Coldridge but it’s blank until he met up with Tabitha,” she said. 

“Do you think he’s lying? Covering for someone?”  

Olivia shook her head. “I don’t think so. He asked for his mother when he got back. It had to be explained to him all over again. His grief was real. The doctors working with him say that it’s like some loose wiring that will repair over time. They wanted him to look at the video and see if he could remember anything but I didn’t think that was wise. He’s not ready for that. The one who actually committed the rape died in prison the day after Simon and Marcus left the prayer room.” 

“How did he die?”  

“He was hung in his cell. I don’t think it was Marcus or Simon. I fear if they had gained access to him, they would have done much worse. It was most likely one of the Kappa So brothers covering their tracks.”  

“What about Tabitha?” I asked.  

Olivia said, “I tried to explain to her that the death penalty is still very real but she’s settled back at the club for now and is teaching David Finn about running the Knock Knock.”  

“Dear God,” I gasped.  

Olivia laughed. “She truly does want what is best for the people in the Shanties. With Tawny around she’s trying so hard…”  

“Mum, look!”  

Milo came dashing in, having just arrived home from school. When he realised his mother had company he stopped.  

“Sorry,” he said. “Hi, Mr Crusow.”  

I smiled at him. The boyish innocence was a breath of fresh air.  

“How are you, Milo?” I asked.  

“I’m good,” he said genuinely. He had been spending more time with his dad and it seemed to be going well. Reynolds – who had been working closely with Dennis recently – seemed to think the boy was doing him good.  

“I just saw this through the letter box,” he passed his mum the flier.  

STOKER CIRCUS PRESENTS FUN TIME AT THE ZOO. 

  • Sponsored by Owen Inc. 

”Can we go?” Milo asked.  

If this was going to be The Cappy’s return to Coldford it was going to be a circus indeed. So, I took up the invitation and arranged to tag along. 



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