Chapter 12:


Max Caliber

It was as if fate was listening in on my thoughts. Being bent to my will. Because just as I wished, Yohan’s car just pulled out of my driveway. Fearful that he would be off before I caught his attention. I honked my horn and waved like a mad man. In response, he looked out of his car with a perplexed look on his face before finally recognizing me.

He simply crept up on the sidewalk as I pulled in and dashed over to his passenger door. I ripped it open, and for some reason, he seemed to be gripped with fear. His hand immediately gripped the pistol in his seat next to him.

“Yohan, listen, we need to talk,” was all I said as I got into the car. I slammed his door hard and banged the side of his door while pointing at the road ahead of us. As if he was possessed by different times, he immediately took off.

“What’s gotten into you?” he asked and gave in between glances as he kept his concentration on the road.

“I’ve got big news. Real big news, but I want some kind of favor. Either from you or maybe that boss of yours. Speaking of which, what’s his name even?” I asked as I energetically shifted in my seat. It was strange. I had forgotten what this feeling felt like. The extra time I spent deployed was doing paperwork and attending meetings. Never executing plans or chasing after the enemy as I was doing now.

“Roland?” he replied before he cringed. Knowing he wasn’t supposed to share that information with me. “Forget that. Reinhard, what the hell do you know that’s this important?”

“I know three things of interest. Collectively they make for quite the information score. But first, promise me a favor,” I reiterated myself. My mind was racing faster than the car. So, Roland is the guy in charge of Yohan and most likely the other two. Need to remember that.

“Why do I owe you a favor. Don’t you already work for us?” he asked.

“Yeah, I do. Sort of. I’m only doing this until I can get the money, I need then I’m bailing,” I explained to him. He seemed to be instead taken by surprise.

“What do you mean? I already told the boss that you joined. He wants to meet you really bad and everything,” he informed me in a panic.

“Well, I want to meet this Roland as well. So, if possible, let’s go right now,” I urged him on. Also, reminding him, I heard him slip his name.

“That’s not how it works. The boss- “he began before I raised a finger.

“You mean Roland,” I corrected him, much to his own frustration. He gritted his teeth.

“Roland only meets the new recruits through a proxy. Besides, I don’t know where to find him this time of day,” he explained and ran his hand through his hair. This was the first time I realized he must have recently taken a shower.

“Well, that’s a shame. But promise me the favor, and you’ll be able to make Roland happy,” I steered the conversation back on track.

“Fine, I promise. Now tell me what this information is that’s got you this damn excited,” he said. This time I was aware of the smile creeping up on my face.

“You know that the Kirishima Clan is going to retaliate for that other night, right?” I asked. Hoping this would be an added piece of information.

“Yeah, but I wouldn’t take it more than a threat,” he dismissed it.

“Even though we blew away an entire division’s worth of goons?” I asked, slightly disappointed by the news.

“Yeah, apparently they acted behind their bosses back. This means they are really debating if they have any right to claim vengeance for a bunch of traitors,” he explained and swerved violently to miss a pothole.

“Woah there,” I exclaimed as I steadied myself. “Then what you are telling me you knew that they were going behind their backs?” I asked. Trying to get as much of the puzzle together as I could.

“Yeah. That’s how I got that deal done. I knew they couldn’t resist the deal, and we needed weapons to arm our guys,” he explained. “But forget that. Are you going to tell me the damn information or not?”

“Oh, that’s right. Well, get this,” I began and turned halfway sideways in my seat. Feeling the wind blow down my neck and drying my teeth. “They are buying guns at an alarming rate from an unknown supplier. The word is they know where one of the main hangouts of the West Cartel is,” I lied to get his attention.

“What? How do you know this?” he cried out in surprise. Entirely taking his eyes off the road.

“I got it from an inside man on their side. Real trustworthy guy. But want to hear the two other pieces of juicy information,” I replied. Forcing him to drop his questioning and to pursue the information.

“Alright, what is it?” he asked. Almost as if he doesn’t want to hear more from me.

“That police officer from the other night is hot on your tail. Apparently, thanks to our little skirmish the other night. The two of us are high up on the most wanted list,” I said. He visibly paled and slacked off the car to crawl.

“What did you just say?” he stammered. While he was in a panic. Something interesting caught my eye. It was George sitting on the bonnet of his car. Enjoying some greasy food.

“Pull over here. Or else you are going to cause an accident,” I instructed, pointing to a parking spot on the street. A few parking spaces behind George’s car. This was perfect. Lady luck knew precisely what to give me.

“How do you know this. How come he’s only hot on my tail?” he asked, still pale.

“Simple. Apparently, someone made your face during the fight in the parking lot. Luckily mine wasn’t. As for how I know this. Easy. Yusuke himself came to question me at work about it. Hoping to find out more information about you,” I lied once more.

“What did you say to that foreign pig?” he shouted in a rage. I could see in Yohan’s eye he was losing his usually diplomatic demeanor.

“I didn’t let slip a single thing of note. But listen to my last piece of information before you get too cross,” I reassured him and placed my hand on his shoulder. Like a puppet, he followed my commands perfectly. Yohan was always an easy one to keep on a leash.

“You’re right. Let’s hear everything before we react,” he said. Almost as if it was a mantra to calm himself down. He slid low in his seat.

“Either Albert or George is working with Yusuke as an informant,” I lied in my final piece. Yohan shot up out of his and bumped his head to the ceiling of his car.

“What!” he shouted again.

“Keep your voice down. Do you want to attract more attention to yourself?” I scolded. He took my words rather well. Instead, he started choking the steering wheel with all his might.

“How do you know this?” he growled through shut teeth.

“I saw his meeting up a few times with Yusuke in the parking lot across from the café,” I explained. His veins seemed to be ready to burst as they pulsated.

“I’ll kill them both and the pig,” he threatened with murder in his eyes.

“Calm down. This is why I came to talk to you. I’ve got a plan. But I need a favor from you,” I explained. He took a few moments to silently curse to himself before he finally gave me his attention.

“Talk,” was all he could choke out through all the rage.

“We can use all of these things to our advantage. Tie up all these loose ends in one neat bow,” I said, drawing him in closer. But instead of another reply urging me on. He simply glared at me. “Very well. I’m going to find out which one of the two is the informant. Then silence him, taking his place with Yusuke. I’ll feed him false information and get him off our tail,” I explained.

“What about Kirishima Clan?” he asked.

“That’s where the favor comes into play. I’m going to need some information and cooperation from your side to make it work. But if I get those things, they’ll disappear,” I said. Reminding him of how crucial this favor is in succeeding.

“I’ll get whatever is within my reach,” he reassured me.

“I’ll use my insider information to find out where they are going to strike and when. All I need from you is to tell me where the lab for cooking Red Ash is. Because if they are going after the other one, you guys simply arm yourself up to the teeth. Then with my help, we’ll tear them to shreds,” I finished my plan. I knew it was a flawed plan, but I hoped his current mood would make him not think for a second. Because with George right there, I needed to act quickly to force the plan through.

“I’ll get you everything you need. You find out which of those two are the snakes. Then make sure to paint the walls red with their entrails,” he agreed.

“Perfect,” I replied and got out of the car. “Don’t worry about me, Yohan. I’ll make my own way back home. You get that information for me.”

“I can trust you, right?” he asked right before I closed the door. I leaned my head through the door and looked him dead in the eye.

“With your life Yohan,” I lied one final time to him before closing the door. He sat inside for a short while as I made my way down the street. Then with screeching tires, he spun away.

It was all coming together. All the pieces were falling into place. With this, I can use Yohan to find out the whereabouts of the laboratory. Then feeding that to Yusuke, he’ll be able to raid that place and end the Red Ash supply. Yohan providing the information will make his chance of getting pardoned all the more considerable. Smolinski will continue to fuel the possibility of a gang war. Albert will find the other base of operation for me, giving me the final bargaining piece with Kirishima. Then I’ll send Kirishima to strike in exchange. I’ll help them by offering them the Devil of the West. In the heat of the fight, I’ll get Yohan and Albert out. So, the final piece I needed was to get Mikey to help me that night. Which would be easy. Then lastly, get George on my side and play the villain I need him to be. I’ll pretend I dealt with him while he lays low with Yusuke, thus making him uninvolved. He’ll then be pardoned as well.

I chuckled as I approached George at how my plan was falling into place so effortlessly. George, however, was so enamored by his final greasy scraps. That he didn’t even hear me approach from behind him.

“Georgie, old buddy, old pal,” I exclaimed as I gave him a good slap on his back. He jolted from the scare. Dropping his Styrofoam container to the floor.

“Goddammit, Reinhard. What the hell, man,” he cried as he spun around.

“Relax. You were nearly done anyway,” I defended myself with hands raised. “Listen, would you mind dropping me off at home after me, and you have a bit of a chat?”

“Actually. I need to talk to you as well. So, this is perfect timing,” he said, all serious and glaring at me. It sent a chill down my spine, but I played along.

“Yeah, sure, but don’t look so serious,” I said.

“Get in,” he ordered.

Real Aire