Monday, October 29, 2018
Vengeance is Mine Part 5 by Dellani Oakes
“Where are you going? I haven't given you permission to leave.”
“You want a job done, I shall do it. But mark me well, I shall not forget, Camille.” My dead, unblinking eyes met hers. “Forever is a long time, my lass.”
Before she could say a word to stop me, I left. I had no notion of how she could control me, or the extent of her power over me. If I did what she wanted, why did it matter? I took the steps to the road two at a time and struck out for the headquarters of the Bartolli Brothers. I lied about that. Some criminals do have a place to meet. In their case, it wasn't so secret. They had a warehouse on the docks, much as I had, where they stored their opium. Mine also housed my antiques, for I had a legitimate business in that. It was nowhere near as lucrative as the other. I wondered what had happened to all my lovely things and suspected my mother had probably sold them for a pittance of their worth.
The Bartolli Brothers' warehouse was on the other end of the docks from mine. From Camille's flat, it was closer by nearly three miles. I knew the way well, for at one time, Luigi and Marco had been my friends. That was years ago, before they grew greedy and challenged me for my territory. Many a night, we had shared a cognac and a Cuban cigar, laughing happily. If I had yet a heart, remembering would pull at the strings. As it was, a dull ache filled my chest. Was it regret?
There was an unusual amount of activity at their warehouse and I presumed that they were expecting a shipment. Underlings scurried about, taking positions around the yard. I found a spot to observe, waiting to see the Brothers. Though, if they operated as I did, this was done through intermediaries. I never showed myself, preferring the anonymity of my social status. A gentleman does not sully his own hands. The Brothers felt much the same way, though if it were important enough, a negotiation, as it were, they would appear. I could only hope and wait. Watching from afar, I saw a boat appear. It was a small skiff, rowed in by two men. It sat heavily in the water and they strained to dig in their oars.
Silently, the little craft docked. Men walked forward to help unload. The crates were marked with the Chinese symbol for tea. My opium arrived much the same way, smuggled in with tea packets surround it, so that nosy inspectors would not find it. My wiliest manufacturer had devised a way to fashion the powder into jars. Once the product arrived, the jars were smashed, beaten to their components and sold.
I sensed movement to my right, within the shadows. My heightened senses observed men waiting in the deep darkness. Uniformed police were here, to stop the shipment and arrest the Bartollis. If I could have smiled, I would have. In the confusion, would another man be noticed? Might I rush in to the fray and kill the Brothers? Or would Camille be satisfied with their arrest?
Somehow, I doubted that she would. Admittedly, I wouldn't be either. I wanted to rip them limb from limb, but such might be noticed. Instead, I moved silent as death, a term I use with all the irony imaginable, to take a position behind the warehouse. I knew there was a secret portal hidden behind a pile of crates. I knew, because I had used it on more than one occasion. It was well oiled and rarely locked, so that the Brothers and their men could come and go silently and in secret.
Were I able to breathe a sigh of relief, I would have. I went through the motions of exhaling, but my breath was conspicuously absent. One thing I have retained in death, the sense of smell. If anything, it is more heightened than in life. Or perhaps, as it is one of only three left to me, I notice it more. I smelt cigars, fine wine and cheap women. The latter are characterized by too much perfume, and not enough soap. I also caught the scent of Marco's aftershave, an appalling concoction of lime and mint.
I crept closer, watching and waiting. The crates were on their way inside. Marco stood nearby, watching the off loading. I did not see his brother. Either this wasn't important enough for the older sibling to be here, or Marco was pulling a fast one. I strongly suspected the latter.
“Put them over there,” he commanded. “Carefully! We cannot have them coming open! Hurry!”
The men from the boat were not to be seen. I presumed they were unloading onto the dock. These men were all Bartolli's. No, dammit, some of them were mine! They certainly jumped ship quickly. I'd been dead a span of weeks, and they were already working for the men who killed me. So much for loyalty.
“What was that?” Marco held up a hand, commanding silence. “Lights!” He whispered harshly.
Someone doused the lights and we all stood in darkness for several moments, unmoving. Now was my chance. Since the dark did not disturb me, I crept up behind Marco. I knew the odious man carried a knife on his belt. Slipping it silently from the sheath, I closed my cold fingers about his throat.
“Guess who,” I hissed as I slit his throat.
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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