The poster of the missing person’s photograph had been hung on all the major street signs and connivance store windows that Jake could see. Someone had even taken the time to post them on the sides of the large oak trees that lined Fulton road, the street that led to his small cul-de-sac. He didn’t bother to examine the pictures up close until the sheer number of them began to overwhelm his interest. He walked up to one that was double-stapled to a tree directly in front of him. It didn’t take long for him to recognize the face. He called Liam immediately.
“Are you seeing this?” He said after Liam answered.
“The posters? You know what happened right? Fuckin’ Katelyn Campbell and her whole team got fucked up over the weekend.” Liam replied quickly.
“Where are you now?”
“At the crib. Pull up.”
Jake turned back to his own cul-de-sac and walked up to Liam’s identical three-story, colonial suburban home. He had lived next to Liam his entire life, and the two were considered mirrors of one another. Aside from the fact that Jake was of mixed race and Liam was a second generation Irish blonde, most people paired them together as practically the same person.
Liam was already standing inside his open garage when Jake entered the cul-de-sac. As Jake walked up the driveway, Liam extended to him what was left of a joint.
“You were already out?” he asked, expecting Jake to have come from his own home.
“Just hitting the convenience store. Then I saw all the posters.” Jake ducked slightly to get past the half-open garage door as he walked up to Liam and took the joint out of his hand.
“It happened a few nights ago,” Liam responded, watching Jake take a drag of the well-rolled marijuana cigarette. “Some of the boys in the Bluffs ended up in ER. Anyone who was with Katelyn pretty much got their ass beat.”
“What about her?”
“Whoever it was, took her with them. All I heard is that this team drives an old school mustang, all black.”
“Spooky,” Jake commented, passing the joint to Liam. “Sounds like a Han-job.”
Liam laughed, “That’s what I thought, so I assumed you wanted to call him up, get the word.”
“I’ll let him call us. If he’s got something to tell us, we’ll know.” Jake replied.
Liam nodded and took a large puff of the joint. He motioned for Jake to follow him back inside his home.
In a cobwebbed corner of Liam’s unfinished basement, a beat-up suitcase had zipped within it roughly twenty-thousand dollars worth of marijuana. The two partners had satellite locations for the rest of their merchandise, but the best and most potent strains they received were always put away in Liam’s basement. Their under-dealers got bi-weekly payouts for their movement of product, and from Jake’s last tally they had seven street dealers receiving product from them. With the help of Katelyn Campbell’s enforcers and street dealers, they collectively ran all narcotics sales East of Fulton Street, the major dividing line between their town’s East and West enclaves. Within the East, Jake, Liam, and his associates were referred to by both their customers and the police they regularly paid off as “Turner’s people,” after Jake’s last name. It wasn’t until the past winter when their hegemony in the East was truly established. Until then, the chaotic mess of gangs and double-crossed deals led claim to many young lives in their town of Huntington. Once Campbell was able to bring the gangs under her control using monetary means, Jake and his small outfit struck an armistice that had lasted through much of the year.
“Whoever took her is looking to fuck this whole thing up,” Liam warned.
“Who would move in on our shit like that?”
“I wouldn’t put it past Han. But it doesn’t seem like his style.” Liam answered.
“What did you hear?”
“These people, whoever they were, came in a group of three. Masked up, tooled up, and were talking in some foreign ass language. Like they had accents or some shit. That’s what De’Andre told me.”
“No man, something real foreign. They came in her house in the middle of the night and held everyone up at gunpoint. They took her dead mom’s jewelry bro, beat the dad half to death.”
Jake began to pace back and forth, thinking. “If Campbell’s shooters are gone, who can we loan?”
“Pretty much no one. I already called Mikey Stilts, he’s laying low. No one wants to help Kate out anyways; she was always sort of a cunt.”
“Yeah,” Jake took a moment to think to himself. There was the likelihood that he could be attacked. As of that moment, he was totally stripped of any auxiliary support and would have to fend off any offenses with his core team. He was too weak to fight. “We need to lay low. Call everyone in; tell them to get off the street.”
“What about the stashes?”
“Leave them where they are. If we move it now, we’re more likely to get popped in the changeover.” Jake said.
“Roger that,” Liam agreed. “You still think it’s a good idea to go silent with Han?”
“No, no, you were right, let’s give him a call. Might as well sort it out.” Jake quickly unlocked his smartphone and searched for the name of his rival, the leader of the West End, Andrew Han.
The cobblestone driveway of Andrew Han’s home was littered with skid-marks. The comings-and-goings of his various clients and employees carved a physical imprint on his otherwise impressive estate. From his office window, he could see the entire cul-de-sac before him, and clearly spot any on-coming visitors from a significant distance away. Andrew Han’s home was in the quietest, most heavily-forested, and rather exclusive enclave of Huntington. The area itself was known as the West End. The discrete nature of the community was one that gave Andrew a unique advantage in his operations. He was able to have regular meetings with all of his various under-bosses, as well as move product and conduct distribution without drawing attention from his equally private neighbors, the closest of which was several hundred yards away, separated by thick forest. The West End was the natural capital of Huntington, the area which dictated the movements of all other sub-provinces, including partially, the more cosmopolitan East End. If the West End served as the Capital of the State of Huntington, then Andrew Han was the de-facto commander-in-chief, the president of all things unspoken and highly illegal. At just 20 years of age, Han was the fairest and most respectable of all the other drug kingpins before him. For this, Huntington was blessed with an era of peace and prosperity under his few years of rule.
He could hear his associate, Clay Barnes, walking up his staircase and approaching his office door. There was a singular knock.
“Yeah,” Han turned around from the window he was facing to see Clay open the door with a cell phone in his hand.
“You’ve got words from Turner. He wants to talk about Campbell.” Barnes said he approached Han’s desk.
Han took the phone from his hand and un-muted the call. “Jake, what’s down?”
“What’s down Han? How does 8:30 at the bridge sound for a meetup?”
Han checked his Rolex, “Sure, works for me.”
“I’ll be with Liam. That’s all.”
“Sure, works fine. I’ll just come by with Clay.” He said, looking up to Clay, who was staring back at him, smirking slightly.
Editor’s Note: If you enjoy Adam’s writing, be sure to check out his previously featured works with Big Easy Magazine here! Also, be sure to read some of our other short fiction. This includes works from Nolan Storey, Margaret Marley, Camille Goering and Fritz Westenberger!