Chapter 14:


Max Caliber

After last night I realized that things were taking a toll on me. I either needed to speed up the plan or take a break from it. Otherwise, I might get swallowed whole by that other me. So, since most of my planning had been done. I only needed to sit and wait for the pieces to come back to me.

With my mind set on a little bit of a break and it is the weekend. I decided it was high time Mikey and I spent some time together outside of work. I rang him up and told him to meet me at the pier. It wasn’t long until I greeted him as we both overlooked the water.

It was a beautiful day. The wind was blowing but not annoyingly so. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky and most surprising of all. The crowd at the pier seemed to be relatively small.

“So, must I be the one to ask, or are you going to tell me?” I asked as the two of us settled on the railings. Both of us were enjoying some soft serve ice cream. Mine was vanilla while he was chocolate.

“Tell you what?” he asked, puzzled as he licked the dripping ice cream.

“About Margarette,” I stated, thinking what I was talking about was obvious.

“Why the hell are you so interested in my private life anyways?” he replied. Hoping that would keep me from further pursuing the topic. Sadly, for him. I’m rather persistent.

“Because you never really tell me anything. Now spill,” I answered and gave him a tap on his shoulder as I switched to leaning on my one arm.

“Fine,” he grumbled and took a big bite from the ice cream. I never understood how he could do that without even flinching. “Last night, the two of us went on our first date.”

“What?” I exclaimed. I never believed that the two of them would ever actually hit it off. I expected it more to be casual flirting while everyone else roots for them. Then years later, when they both settled down with someone else. They’ll joke about how the two of them had feelings for each other. Then share in a good laugh.

“Yeah, and it went well. We just had some dinner and took a midnight stroll. Nothing too exciting, but it was better than what I could hope for,” he continued to talk. His eyes seemed happy as he stared at the crashing waves down below.

“That’s great to hear. Then tell me, did you at least get a good night kiss?” I jibed.

“A gentleman never kisses and tells,” he replied with a smug grin and turned to me. “But yes.” It was a strange moment for the two of us. Were we acting more like high school boys or girls? On the one hand, he was bragging to me as a boy would. But on the other hand, I’m asking for all the details.

“You sly dog you. It seems you act a lot quicker than I gave you credit for,” I said. To be honest. I felt slightly sorry for Margarette. She is such a looker and happy person. Yet this grim-looking man is the one she’s interested in. I guess opposites really do attract.

“It wasn’t as if I had it planned or anything. It was just in the moment, she looked so beautiful. I just couldn’t help myself,” he continued, and his cheeks seemed to turn slightly red. I couldn’t help but give out a loud chuckle.

“You sound more smitten by the second there, Mikey. Now when’s the next date?” I asked as I cherished my friend’s happiness and enjoyed seeing a side of him I rarely saw.

“I don’t know. We haven’t made plans yet,” he said as he finished his ice cream. I did the same and pushed myself from the railing.

“Well, don’t wait too long. Don’t want her to start thinking you had a bad evening now, would you,” I teasingly tried to put the idea into his head he needed to act quickly.

“Yeah, your right. I think I’ll ask her first thing tomorrow. But first, I got to get some flowers to surprise her with,” he said to himself more than me. It was fun watching him act like this. As if this was his first time, he felt like this for a woman. Wait a minute. Could it be?

“Excuse me, gentleman,” said a familiar voice. While the two of us were talking, I didn’t even realize Yusuke had snuck upon us.

“Good day, officer,” greeted Mikey. As quickly as Yusuke snuck upon us. Just as quickly did Mikey reset to his usual self.

“Good day,” I greeted. I found myself looking puzzled at him. He seemed worried and a little bit in a hurry.

“I hope you don’t mind me interrupting you two. But would it be possible for me to borrow Reinhard for a bit?” he asked politely of Mikey. Ignoring my greeting and my opinion on the matter.

“Yeah sure. Hey Reinhard, I’ll be over at that bench waiting for you,” Mikey replied coldly and eyed me closely before leaving us two.

“Thank you, Michael. I do really appreciate it,” Yusuke said as he grabbed me by my arm and took me to one side.

“Don’t call him Michael. That’s his father, and those two didn’t have the best relationship,” I informed him as I was dragged away from any curious ears.

“Noted, now tell me about what you did last night?” he asked in a serious tone. In fact, his eyes burned with rage. He must have put together the bullet holes. The three of them had come from my unique gun. But could I really confirm his suspicion? Wouldn’t that put me at risk of being arrested before I could implement my plan?

“What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to play dumb.

“Reinhard. I know the holes that cannon of yours punches. You left more than enough evidence behind at that warehouse. Now talk,” he shot down my act. But I would falter to his bullying technique.

“I can’t tell you, that’s private. Very private,” I replied. Setting up my next move.

“I don’t care if you have to tell me about your bowel movements. Give me every excruciating detail,” he said just short of shouting. Clearly, his temper was being tested.

“The wife and I had an intimate night together for the first time in a long while,” I said plainly with a stone face. His face immediately went red but still remained cold.

“Is that all you did?” he asked.

“Yes, I had a chat with Yohan about finding out about where their main base of operations is. Then I went back home,” I replied. Giving him my best innocent look I could muster.

“You swear to me that this is the truth,” he warned.

“I swear,” I said without hesitation.

“Swear on Mikey and your wife,” he asked again. Probably thinking I would confess with the stake risen. But to me, I lied already. No point in stopping now.

“I swear,” I repeated myself as seriously as I could.

“Goddammit then,” he cursed and brought down his hand to the railing. “Then there seem to be another one of those guns on the loose out there.”

“What happened?” I asked. Pretending to be shocked by the news.

“Some animal butchered a young couple and another man last night. We think it might be something to do with the Red Ash trade. Because the only car at the scene had an entire trunk filled with the stuff,” he explained and rubbed his temples.

“That’s not good. Think one of the other gangs are ramping up their efforts of getting their hands on it?” I asked, playing along.

“No, I don’t think so. Because why would they leave the product behind and steal the young couple’s car,” he continued. Clearly trying to make sense of the situation.

“They took their car?” I asked.

“Yes, strange, I know. Because that means the person came with the couple, which I doubt. Or they came with the man,” he continued exposing his complete analysis to me. It was strange that he trusted me so much.

“Which means it was most likely a deal of some sorts gone wrong with the man,” I suggested. Trying to keep him from making other conclusions.

“Yes, or it could have been someone that he knew. But either way. It doesn’t help much because he had no wallet on him. Half his face is missing as well, and the car turned out to have fake number plates,” he complained and pulled against the railings.

“So, no way of knowing who he is?” I asked. Hoping to hide the hopefulness I felt.

“No, we took fingerprints and are going to follow up on that. Also, combing through his possessions to find any other clues. It might take some time, but we’ll find out in no time,” he explained and sighed deeply.

“That’s good news at least,” I responded.

“Yeah,” he said and shook his head. “Anyways, that was all I had to clear up with you. So, I’ll see you Monday night for a further debriefing on what you have learned. Don’t want to keep your friend waiting any longer,” he said as he pointed over his shoulder. Mikey was very clearly displeased.

“Thanks. Hope the rest of the day gets better,” I offered as I left him behind.

The rest of the day Mikey and I spent at the pier was slightly marred by the sudden appearance of Yusuke. Even though I didn’t mean for it to sour my mood, it very clearly did. I was also busy in mind, running through scenarios and how to proceed. But before I knew it, the sun had begun its descent. Mikey had grown tired, and we said our goodbyes. It was a fun day acting like two school friends out on a field trip.

On my way home, I decided to stop at the café and step up my plans with Yusuke pursuing hard the identity of George. It won’t take him long to get more conclusive proof that it was me. A second barrage from him might yield nothing, but how long can I keep shifting the blame away from me. The sooner I enact my plan, the better.

As I stopped in the parking lot across from the café. I had to take a brief moment to center myself. I would have no choice in the matter. I will have to embrace that dark side of me for a bit longer. Give up more ground on me to finish this war in time. But now, I needed to be extra careful not to be consumed by that warmongering beast. The me who loves to kill. The me who doesn’t care about what means he does it. If my enemies lose, I’ll do whatever it takes.

I patted my coat pocket and felt the heavy piece of steel. It had grown attached to me, somehow. I never leave the house without it. But I needed to talk to Smolinski about two things. Getting me more ammunition for this devil at my side. The scheduling of a meeting with the Kirishima Clan. 

Real Aire