Hollow. Rage. Torn. This is what he felt. Every hour of every day. They were his friends and his curse. Even now as he sat motionless at his desk in the Birmingham city police station, Detective Constable Salvatore Nizam El-Sayed felt all three.
He was a short and stocky man, with mighty bear like arms and thick shoulders that made him seem as if he was constantly hunched over. His forty-five years showed, with bags under his stoic green eyes and faint wrinkles on his broad forehead. He had dark olive skin and a powerful square jaw with a large meaty nose. He shaved his head regularly and had a grizzly black and white beard that stretched down to the top of his chest. He did not care for his appearance, so he donned a bland smart casual outfit to work.
Salvatore was trying to muster up the will to type up his report. On his way to work this morning, there was a group of teens in the park on Colmore Row littering and smoking weed. A common sight in Birmingham. He barely even noticed, until an old man went up to the group of youths to complain and they started hassling him. Salvatore only intervened because he saw one of the teens pull out a small kitchen knife. A flash of his badge proved useless, so he ended up spraining the boy’s wrist when he disarmed him. The rest of the group, including the old man, began threatening him that it was against the law and that they would make sure he got sacked.
The country was full of ungrateful idiots like them.
The rest of his morning was spent taking shit from the Chief Inspector of the station. How pointless, he thought as he began typing. Three years in the intelligence corps, seven years in the security service. For what? Society was still full of human waste, blaming others for their own issues. Did he really serve for them, or was it for the thrill? Ever since that day…the day he failed. No, I left. I couldn’t be what they wanted me to be. He was stuck behind a desk, solving petty crap, and rotting away. Would the alternative have been so bad?
‘’Sal! You bloody idiot. I wanted that report ten minutes ago!’’ Her shrieking voice snapped him back to reality.
He looked up and saw her standing in front of him, ‘’You’re always giving me shit about details, Lauren. Just following orders,’’ said Salvatore to his superior officer.
Lauren was a short and pudgy woman, with a broad and prominent forehead that almost hid her hairline. She had a small nose, fat cheeks that wobbled whenever she talked and a loose second chin that dangled underneath her ever angry face. The rest of her resembled a loose pudding, stretching her smart uniform to its limits.
His words infuriated the shrieking battle axe, ‘’That’s Chief Inspector to you,’’ she spat, ‘’If you were half as smart as you think you are, you would’ve sent me the report by now.’’
And if you were half as fat as you are, you wouldn’t be so angry at everyone. He thought but said, ‘’Details or speed. You can’t have both…Chief Inspector. Can I finish my report now?’’
In a fit of rage, Lauren kicked his desk and bellowed, ‘’Think you’re hard, do you?’’ Her piercing voice grabbed the entire office’s attention, ‘’I don’t know how they did things in your posh security job but here you respect your superiors. Email me that report in the next five minutes or I will suspend you for a month with no pay,’’ and then she left.
Salvatore wasn’t angry. Or annoyed. Or surprised. He had worked here for twelve years and knew Lauren had daily outbursts at everyone, she thought that the whole world had a problem with her and she was always trying to prove herself. He looked around and noticed that his colleagues were still staring, ‘’Show’s over people. Mind your own business,’’ he said and resumed typing his report, pondering on his time in the station.
It was a grim office, with brown brick walls and dark green pillars encasing the workers. A series of large windows allowed dim rays of sunlight to enter, giving everything a brooding appearance. Three long columns of desks were lined across the center of the room, with several filing cabinets to the right of them, while the kitchen and printer room where on the left. Salvatore’s own desk was at the far end of the right-hand column, engulfed by the shadows. A steel staircase led to the second floor, where the senior officer was situated. Salvatore had started the job back in 2005, and he was the only one from the original team that survived. He had seen people come and go, some moving up the ladder and most falling off it. His current colleagues were either bland, shit at their jobs or both.
Hassan Shariff was a boy in a man’s body. Tall, handsome and well groomed, he cared more about getting his dick wet than his actual job. A detective in title only, but he made sure to remind everyone of his position. Dave Taylor was on old waste of a man, always staring at the clock and waiting for the day to finish. He did what he had to, and nothing more. To him it was just a job, one he was okay at but did not care about. Hannah Tillson was young and stupid, constantly asking for help with The Abyss Stares Back
everything she did. A detective constable who got the job because her sex organs don’t dangle, and the senior officers want some diversity instead of more talent. The three of them just about made up a brain cell. The rest of Salvatore’s colleagues were not important enough for him to remember their names.
He sighed as he finished the last sentence of his report and finally emailed it to Lauren. She would no doubt find something she didn’t like about it. Salvatore rubbed his forehead in frustration and sat back into his chair. Is this how I am going to spend my final years? Stuck in misery. Is my existence really so void of meaning? He thought. The same thoughts that plagued him every day. Ever since…
‘’Sal! How’s my favourite Italian doing?’’ Hannah’s voice snapped Salvatore back to reality.
‘’What do you want?’’ He responded knowing what the answer will be.
Hannah smiled, her perfect pearly white teeth shinning in the light, ‘’Don’t be like that. You never know, I might start to grow on you if you give me the chance,’’ she said and sat on Salvatore’s desk.
Hannah only ever spoke to him for one reason and no matter how blunt Salvatore was, she would always pester him, ‘’Like a tumor. Do you want me to do your job for you again?’’ He asked bluntly.
Her smile faded, ‘’Just wanted some help on my case. I’m really stuck,’’ she then handed Salvatore the folder, ‘’A woman woke up to find her entire jewelry collection gone. A couple of grand’s worth of gold and silver. There were no signs of forced entry, no prints anywhere. Nothing.’’ Salvatore knew that she would end up crying in the toilets if he didn’t help. That, and he’d die of boredom.
He opened the folder and looked through the pictures of the house and the woman’s bedroom, where she had kept her jewelry, ‘’The guy must have had keys to get in. Either that or the woman didn’t lock her front door. Look at this, the whole house looks untouched. He obviously knew where to look. Did the woman say anything of note when you interviewed her?’’ Asked Salvatore.
‘’Nothing really. Watched Hollyoaks before bed, showered had some weird dream and woke up to find her jewelry gone,’’ she said earning a sigh from Salvatore.
“What did she dream about?’’, he asked.
Hannah shrugged her shoulders, ‘’Something about her brother I think. What does it matter?’’
Salvatore closed the folder and threw it back at Hannah, ‘’In this case, it’s a clue worth following up on,’’ he said as Hannah struggled to catch the folder without spilling its contents, ‘’There is a difference between a dream and being half awake. She may have left her bedroom door open and saw the thief, but just brushed it off as a dream the next day’’
Hannah couldn’t hide her amazement. It made Salvatore cringe, ‘’I never would have thought of that! Thanks, Sal. I owe you a drink,’’ the same line as the last few hundred times.
‘’No. You’re just incapable of understanding I didn’t do it because I wanted to help you and think saying you owe me a drink makes you less rude when you don’t buy me a drink.’’ If there is one thing Salvatore missed from his country, it was the integrity in people. The English cared more about keeping up appearances than keeping their promises and even after 35 years of living here, it still pissed him off.
Hannah just smiled awkwardly, that same retarded grin she gave whenever she felt that she couldn’t speak her mind, ‘’Thanks for the help,” she said and finally left.
The rest of the day was uneventful, the clock eventually struck 16:30 and Salvatore could finally go home. Until the phone on his desk rang. Could this day get any more miserable? ‘’DC El-Sayed’’, he said as he answered.
‘’Hey, Sal. There’s a man down here in main reception who is demanding to see the officer who broke his son’s wrist’’, said the receptionist.
Salvatore sighed in frustration, ‘’Well tell him to take it up with Lauren. I’m finished for the day’’
He was about to hang up but the receptionist continued, ‘’I told him that but he’s not having any of it. I phoned Lauren and she just patched me through to you’’
Salvatore had really had enough for one day, ‘’Then tell him to go fuck himself,’’ and he hung up.
As he left the office and walked down the stairs, Salvatore wondered if he was purposely being surrounded by degenerates, Is 12 years of punishment not enough? At least he had his evening ritual to look forward to. A few hours at the pub and several whiskeys stopped his mind from racing, or at least slowed it down enough for him to sleep afterwards. He got downstairs and saw a man shouting at the receptionist, with his son behind him.
‘’I’m not leaving until I see the man who did this to my son!’’ His voice cracked as he shouted.
He was a tall and slender man, wearing a black vest top, blue jeans and high-top vans. He had stick thin arms but a toned body and a grizzled windblown face with dark blue eyes.
The boy noticed Salvatore, ‘’That’s him, dad.’’ He said meekly, his voice all but a whisper.
The youth was the spitting image of his father, almost as tall but fatter, he was wearing a pair of converse, grey joggers and a black and blue t-shirt. His wrist was in a splint and Salvatore noticed a deep purple colour creeping around the base of his thumb.
Salvatore ignored them, hoping that he could leave before they forced his hand. He was wrong.
‘’Oi, pig. Did you do this to my son?!’’ He shouted and grabbed Salvatore by the arm, stopping him in his tracks.
Salvatore took a deep breath, ‘’Sir, please let go of my arm.’’
‘’Answer me! Did you do this to my son?!’’ He spat and pointed at his son’s hand, the boy stood there motionless.
‘’Yes, I did. He had a knife. Now let go of my arm, or I will have to restrain you, sir,’’ the man didn’t listen.
‘’How can you put your hand on a child?! He’s only 15,’’ he shouted and tightened his grip.
Salvatore noticed the receptionist moving her hand towards the panic button underneath her desk, their eyes met and he shook his head, stopping her from pressing it. If this turd tries anything we’ll need an ambulance, not security, he thought.
‘’Sir, he had a knife. I did what I had to. Your son is lucky I didn’t lock him up for the day. Now, for the last time, let go and I’ll forget this little meltdown of yours,’’ he said with a threatening tone, hoping that the idiot will listen this time.
He did not, ‘’It doesn’t matter! You put your hands on my son, I served this country so that our children wouldn’t have to deal with your kind!’’
Salvatore couldn’t hold his tongue anymore, ‘’Well considering children like your son still exist, you fought for nothing’’
The man wound up a punch but Salvatore was quicker. A swift palm to the nose stunned him and broke the bone. Salvatore grabbed his head, threw him to the ground and put his weigh on the man, ‘’Sir, calm down’’, he said as he twisted his arm behind his back.
The rest was by the book. Lauren came down shouting at everyone and everything. Salvatore saw no need to complicate things further and so they let the man and his son go. An ambulance was offered, but they denied it and the man continued shouting and swearing as he stumbled out of the police station, leaving drops of blood behind him.
This is the community I must serve and protect. Salvatore mused as he left the station.
A short while later, he arrived at The Crossroads. His local pub was small and only saw a handful of customers each day, tonight it seemed that Salvatore would be the only customer. As he walked in, the familiar heavy scent of stale beer, smoke and varnish greeted him. The carpet was a thick red, dotted with a white diamond pattern. The furniture was old but sturdy and the walls were a deep green, with cracks and stains all along them.
‘’Salvatore, how you doin’ mate?’’ The owner greeted him with a firm handshake.
‘’Hey, Steve’’, said Salvatore as he sat at the bar, ‘’Could be worse.’’ Not by much, he thought.
Steve was tall and round man of 50, what little of his jet-black hair remained formed something of a crown around his head. His beady blue eyes and plump red cheeks emitted a friendly aura in what was a dark and unwelcoming pub.
Salvatore ordered his usual bottle of whiskey. The owner and bartender was very relaxed with how he ran things, customers could smoke inside and bring their own food. Salvatore had been a regular here ever since he started working as a detective, the owner had come to trust him enough to even let him lock up whenever Salvatore wanted to stay past closing. His two sons and wife helped with the business, but tonight it was Steve on his own.
Salvatore filled his glass to the top. The alcohol burned sweetly on the way down. Where has my life gone? He though as he refilled his glass. I used to make a difference, my work used to have some meaning. They did so much wrong. But he was a good servant, he didn’t question anything. He got on with his job until…All I had to do was pull the trigger and I could have become so much more. Free of restrictions and red tape.
He refilled his glass again, and as Salvatore’s mind continued to wonder he heard footsteps behind him. A look over his shoulder revealed a man walking towards him. A mixture of shock and disbelief surged through his body. Why now? Why here? He thought, as a ghost from his past sat next to him.
‘’Don’t look so happy to see me, Sally,’’ he said and proceeded to light a cigarette.
Peter Sandwell. He had aged since they last met 12 years ago. He wore a black suit with a blood red shirt and a dark tie. His pale skin and slender build gave him a phantom like appearance. But most intimidating were his eyes, a blue so faint they were almost white. His smile was as wide as ever, but was empty and cold, just like his heart.
Salvatore knew that they were watching him daily, but he was not expecting this, ‘’Why are you here?’’
‘’Grim as always,’’ he took a drag from his cigarette, ‘’I’ve moved up in the world, Sally. Mostly behind a desk unfortunately, but I still get my fun,’’ Salvatore’s stomach twisted in a knot, knowing all too well what this man’s sick idea of fun was.
‘You mean your sadism,’’ said Salvatore, remembering his assignments with Sandwell.
‘’I just try to make things more fun at the workplace, everyone suddenly got serious after the yanks lost their shiny buildings,’’ he mused and blew out a cloud of smoke, ‘’You still smoke? Or are you strictly an alcoholic now?’’ He then offered a cigarette to Salvatore.
It was never simple with him. This was a creature that enjoyed playing with his prey before devouring it, ‘’If you’re just here to take the piss, Sandwell, I’ll leave.’’ The detective stood up, taking his bottle with him, and made for the exit.
‘’Oh, lighten up will you, Sally!’’ He said, stopping the detective in his tracks, ‘’Truth is, the security service hasn’t been the same without you. If you just killed those two boys way back when, you could have been given the highest rank an agent can get…and the most power,’’ he smiled devilishly and blew smoke out from his nose.
Salvatore shuddered at the memory, ‘’They were children!’’ His voice was louder than he intended, the whiskey had stirred up old emotions in him.
‘’They were rapists and old enough to know right from wrong,’’ Sandwell walked up towards the detective, towering a whole head above him, ‘’We must be animals beyond morality’’
Salvatore replayed the memories of that assignment in his head daily, they asked him to be a monster, ‘’I couldn’t become that.’’
Sandwell took another drag from his cigarette, ‘’But you wanted to’’
The detective didn’t say anything. How could he deny the truth? Sandwell just smiled, his ghostly eyes glistening in the light, ‘’If you want back in, you must show us that you have the stomach for what we do’’
He is giving, but what does he want to take? The detective thought to himself as he sized up Sandwell.
The man walked past Salvatore and stood at the exit, ‘’Britain’s biggest cocaine dealer is a bit too big for our liking, that and he’s smart. We prefer our drug lords to be stupid and predictable,’’ he then flicked the cigarette butt to the floor, ‘’Start with Dawn Green and Sam McAndrew. I’ll be in touch, Sally.’’ And then he disappeared into the night.
Salvatore stood there motionless, not knowing what to do or what to think. He was being offered his life back, he was being offered purpose and meaning…But at what cost? The alcohol was making it hard to think, and yet he found himself willing to act.
The next day Salvatore wasted no time in getting to work. He started with some digging at his office. The detective knew that in recent years there was a major increase in the amount of cocaine that was coming into the country, but nobody seemed to know how this was happening. The few files that they had on the matter were dead ends.
He pulled out Sam McAndrew’s file, thankfully the former gang leader was still locked up in their station. The fall of their group had made for a big story in the Birmingham papers. So, you got your hands on the purest and most expensive, but how? Salvatore pondered and then left the office to go and ask McAndrew directly.
A while later and Salvatore arrived at the custody suite, a long white corridor with ten prison cells, each one guarded by large hulking metal doors. Most were filled with petty thieves or violent idiots, but one among them was the detective’s chance to get his life back. The sergeant owed Salvatore a favour, so he switched off the camera systems and left for a lunch break.
The detective made his way towards McAndrew’s cell, wondering just how difficult the prisoner will be. He unlocked the giant door and entered the cell, ‘’McAndrew. I’m DC El-Sayed, I’ve got some questions for you,’’ he said with his typical bluntness.
McAndrew towered above the detective, he had broad shoulders, a thick beard and long chestnut hair. He eyes were a soft blue but his face was chiselled by the streets. The man’s navy-blue shirt and black trousers reeked of sweat, he had been down here longer than he should have.
‘’Mate, I’ve been here for weeks. I’m sick to death of you fed. Unless you’re here to tell me when I’m going to court, you can fuck off,’’ he said and turned away from the detective.
Salvatore had no time or patience to spare, but he had to be smart, ‘’Listen. I admit, they should have processed you ages ago. But if you tell me what I need to know, I can pull some strings and get you out of here tomorrow if you like.’’
McAndrew turned around reluctantly, ‘’You promise?’’
That got his attention, thought Salvatore, ‘’I promise. You may be a prisoner, but you still have rights’’
A brief silence filled the air, as McAndrew contemplated on his decision. He extended his hand, ‘’Alright. I just want to get out of here, you know? Fair enough I still need to go to court, but I just want to see my family and friends’’
Salvatore shook his hand, ‘’I understand. You have my word, you’ll be processed tomorrow’’, he lied.
‘’What do you want?’’
‘’Information,’’ said the detective, ‘’The cocaine you were selling was the good stuff. I want to know who sold it to you’’
McAndrew started pacing up and down his cell, ‘’They’ll kill me if I give any names. It’s all smoke and mirrors anyway, I got it from a dealer who got it from some big-time players,’’
The detective knew that there was more he was not telling him, ‘’So they’re smart. That doesn’t help me.’’
McAndrew became visibly nervous, ‘’Maybe one of my guys did a few jobs for one of their guys, the big ones I mean. Look man, all I know is Wales, Longboat Movings and Norwegians.’’
Satisfied, Salvatore decided not to press him further. Without saying anything, he turned to leave.
‘’Remember. I get processed tomorrow!’’ McAndrew shouted but did not receive a reply.
Salvatore walked out of the station and was greeted by typical grim English weather, ominous clouds filled the sky and blotted out the sun. A steady wind rammed through the air, dragging along a sharp chill. The detective noticed the man following him despite the thick congestion of people.
He stopped on the corner, ‘’You don’t have to hold my hand, Sandwell.’’
The pale and slender man walked up to him with a wide smile, ‘’I’d hold a lot more if you let me, Sally. Sure you don’t want a fag? You look like you need it’’ He asked with a chuckle and sparked a cigarette for himself.
‘’Wales, Longboat Movings and Norwegians’’, replied Salvatore, ignoring the temptation of a cigarette.
‘’Sounds like a kinky weekend,’’ mused Sandwell.
Salvatore rolled his eyes, ‘’No, you idiot. That’s what I got from McAndrew. See what comes up in the databases. Where can I find Dawn Green?’’
He blew a long cloud of smoke into the air, ‘’She’s become a bit of a recluse recently. Lives in Halesowen. Here’s the address,’’ Sandwell then handed a scrunched-up piece of paper to the detective, ‘’I know about Longboat Movings. Small Home moving company based in Wales, they have been growing quite a lot.’’
Why do you know that? The detective wondered but replied, ‘’You can wait for me outside her place, no need to creep around the streets,’’ said the detective and left before Sandwell could reply. No matter what happens, I can’t become like him.
As the sun set and darkness engulfed the sky, Salvatore arrived at Green’s flat. How is she of all people messed up in this? The detective wondered as he remembered Green’s story in the papers, the former reporter was viciously attacked on her way home one night and was labelled as unstable by the press. A short walk up the stairs and he arrived at her door.
The detective knocked and the door partially opened, to his surprise it was an unknown man that answered, ‘’Who are you?” The tall and broad-shouldered man asked.
Salvatore flashed his badge, ‘’DC El-Sayed. Sorry to bother you so late, but I need to speak to Dawn Green. Is she in?’’
The man carefully inspected Salvatore’s identification, ‘’I’m Daniel, her brother. We’ve already spoken to the police, we have nothing more to say,’’ He tried to close the door but Salvatore blocked it with his foot.
‘’Sir, I’m afraid I must insist. It is important that I speak to her, please,’’ One way or another, I’m getting the information I need. The detective thought.
Daniel was about to reply, but a feeble and hoarse voice drew his attention away from Salvatore, ‘’Who is it, Daniel?’’
‘’No one, Dawn. Don’t worry,’’ he replied.
Salvatore peeked in and saw a small husk of a woman standing in the middle of the living room, her honey coloured eyes were wet from tears and her hair dangled in a loose mess. I need to get her attention first, ‘’Miss Green, please. I’m here to help. I know about the cartel you were looking into!’’
Dawn’s eyes lit up with hope, ‘’Let him in,’’ the two siblings argued briefly but in the end, Salvatore was let in. Now to get her to talk, the detective plotted.
‘’I tried to tell them. But he told me that they wouldn’t believe me. They didn’t, b-but I have proof. I…’’ The woman scrambled around the living room, ‘’In these boxes. Images, numbers, dates. All dots. No lines to connect them,’’ she rummaged through several boxes, stacking together what Salvatore hoped was evidence.
She’s broken. The detective thought. He looked at Daniel and saw the pain on his face as he watched his sister struggled in what he thought was a paranoid hysteria. Salvatore’s attention was pulled back to Dawn as she placed a stack of folders in his arms.
‘’Marcus Lanarksen. I tried to tell the police but they thought I was crazy…’’ she said as she visibly struggled to hold back more tears, Salvatore only just noticed part of a fresh scar just behind her jaw and underneath her ear.
Dawn’s mouth trembled, ‘’He’s a monster. Him and his whole family. They…they killed Matthew. Please, sir. Please bring them to justice. This has to be enough’’
Salvatore quickly skimmed through some of the paperwork she gave him. There was nothing concrete, but enough to warrant an investigation into Lanarksen. This is all too easy, he thought but replied, ‘’It will be a big help, Miss Green. Thank you. I’ll be on my way,’’ he turned to leave but Dawn stopped him by placing her hands on his shoulders. He was taken back by the softness in her touch, it was warm and yet full of fear.
‘’Sorry. I just…I-d-do you think maybe I can fix my life after this? If I give a statement to the press after you arrest him and t-that, I don’t know…’’
The detective tried to make himself care, but he felt all but nothing for her, ‘’All I can say is that I will do my best to bring him in, Miss Green,’’ What he cared about was tearing this organization apart, but not for justice or for retribution. Salvatore then left, leaving Daniel trying to calm a now frantic Dawn.
The detective was greeted by the cold night air and Sandwell, who was leaning against a broken lamppost. His blood red shirt and ghostly eyes seemed to glow in the dark, ‘’She’s a cute one isn’t she, Sally. If you like that a sort of thing I guess’’
‘’How are you not freezing?’’ asked the detective. Sandwell was wearing nothing but a suit, while Salvatore felt like an icicle even under the several layers he was wearing.
‘’I don’t feel anything,’’ he replied and lit up another cigarette, ‘’Care to share?’’ He asked in reference to the large stack of papers Salvatore was carrying.
‘’Marcus Lanarksen. She didn’t have a lot, but its enough’’ said the detective as he gave everything to Sandwell, ‘’What did you find?’’
‘’Lanarksen huh? He owns a mental health charity called Peaceful Minds, even has a submarine that he uses to arrange special trips for parents with retarded kids,’’ he said with the cigarette still in his mouth, taking a drag and puffing out smoke every so often, ‘’I did some digging, it’s been spotted in Peru, Columbia and a few small islands along the Caribbean. Way past its scheduled route,’’ Sandwell smiled deviously at the end.
He already knows, ‘’I didn’t really need to go to McAndrew and Green…did I?’’ He asked bluntly.
Sandwell blew out smoke through his nose, ‘’No, but come on, Sally. I can’t do everything’’
The detective was being tested, that much he knew. But the test clearly wasn’t for his skills or determination, ‘’What next?’’ Salvatore asked.
Sandwell smiled, ‘’We’ve got a target. We’ve got evidence,’’ he took a long drag from his cigarette, ‘’Time to go in for the kill’’
A few days later Salvatore was waiting in the main reception of Peaceful Minds, he had an appointment with Marcus Lanarksen. Sandwell had arranged everything; the plan was to get a confession from Lanarksen and then arrest him if possible, while Sandwell would handle his family. The man always did have a taste for the theatrical, Salvatore mused and fumbled with the microphone he had attached underneath his clothes. The office was spacious and yet humble, shining with its green and red decorum. The receptionist had even offered him a cup of tea, but Salvatore denied.
His mind was racing. I can’t become like Sandwell, but will I have a choice?
His musings were stopped by a tall and handsome man entering the main reception, ‘’Mr El-Sayed?’’
Salvatore stood up and shook his hand, ‘’Yes. Are you Mr Lanarksen?’’ Despite being nothing but a target, the detective found himself enthralled by his blue and brown eyes.
The man’s grip was strong, ‘’Please, Marcus will do. Sorry about the wait. Follow me if you would’’
They walked through the large and busy office, Salvatore was surprised and somewhat impressed that Marcus actually managed to maintain such a complex and intricate façade. Everyone was working and smiling, all under this creature’s spell. How many of them are in on it? The detective wondered as he and his target finally reached their private room.
He walked in and was followed by Marcus, the room itself was small but welcoming. The walls were a gentle blue and the carpet a bright grey colour. The windows let in a faint light but they could not muffle the sound of the rain hammering against the building. Salvatore sat on one of the two chairs that were in the room, ‘’I would have thought the manager would be too busy to see clients?’’
Marcus sat on the chair opposite him, ‘’I like to see clients every now and again, the bureaucracy usually makes it difficult but the people are why I started this business in the first place,’’ He smiled warmly.
Slavatore felt a rage bubble inside him, this man was true scum if he genuinely believed that he did what he did for the people, ‘’Well, I appreciate you seeing me’’
‘’My pleasure. How can I help you?’’ Marcus asked and placed Salvatore’s fake file on the table between them.
‘’I have had a lot of problems in my life, Marcus. I’ve seen a lot of bad things. Done some even worse things. I am at a point where I have a choice,’’ May as well play a long and try to enjoy it, the detective thought.
‘’It sounds like you are feeling conflicted about something?’’
Salvatore shook his head in disagreement, ‘’Not conflicted, no. I know what to do and how to do it, I think I just need a bit of a push’’
‘’A push to do what?’’ Asked Marcus.
This should be good, ‘’To arrest you and dismantle your cartel’’
Marcus’ warm smile disappeared, ‘’Excuse me?’’
‘’You’ve had a nice run, Marcus. The Ministry of Defence is even impressed. In another world, perhaps we could have even worked together. But it’s all over now’’
The blonde Norwegian started laughing, ‘’I had no idea you government types did things so dramatically,’’ He leaned back in his chair, Salvatore could almost smell the arrogance, ‘’So what? Am I supposed to beg for mercy? Tell you it wasn’t me and play dumb? Yes, I am a drug dealer and I use my submarine to smuggle tons of Autenticó into the country.’’
Salvatore couldn’t believe this man’s arrogance, it infuriated him, ‘’So not only do you sell poison to people, but you enjoy what you do?’’
‘’Of course,’’ He said nonchalantly, ‘’Why shouldn’t I enjoy my work? I am good at it, probably one of the best. But while I may sell poison, I don’t force anyone to buy it’’
The detective wanted to throttle Marcus to death, but he had to keep his composure, ‘’You’re calm considering your situation’’
Marcus smiled and waved his hand dismissively, ‘’Please. You’ll throw me in prison but my operation will still run. My men are loyal, I have known them for years. That and my family will support me’’
Salvatore couldn’t resist, ‘’I can assure you that you will not spend a second behind bars, Marcus’’
His smile faded slightly, ‘’That supposed to scare me? I know how you guys work’’
‘’That’s your problem, Marcus. You overestimate yourself. Want to know how we found you? You have shares in your drug mule’s home movings company,’’ Sandwell had made sure to arm Salvatore with all the dirt they found in Dawn’s files, ‘’You didn’t bother to hide because you were convinced no one would look that far,’’ Salvatore said and enjoyed watching Marcus begin to buckle.
‘’As for you family,’’ the detective continued, ‘’My friends are taking care of them as we speak,’’ the information Dawn gave him also contained the Lanarksens’ address.
Marcus’ eyes suddenly filled with rage, ‘’How dare you?’’
Salvatore smiled, ‘’I only gave them your address, they decided to go and meet your wife and children’’
In a fit of anger, Marcus shot up and threw the table towards Salvatore. The force sent the detective and the chair tumbling backwards. He got up and saw that Marcus had gone. The end was now near.
Sandwell had been waiting for Salvatore outside. The detective wanted to pursue Marcus straight away but Sandwell made them wait half an hour. He’s having his men prepare, Salvatore thought as a piercing cold hit him.
They eventually made their way for the Lanarksen household. Neither uttered a word throughout the journey, only Sandwell’s smoking interrupted the dead silence. The night sky was still and lifeless, not a single cloud was present and the trees were being battered by a fierce wind. Eventually they arrived, Salvatore was not at all surprised at the size of Marcus’ home. As the two men got out, Salvatore noticed it had gotten colder. The detective still shuddered even under his overcoat but Sandwell, who was only wearing a suit, seemed completely unfazed.
Two armed men were guarding the main entrance, the mansion was eerily quiet. As they walked in, Salvatore was shocked to see Marcus, his wife and their two children tied up and gagged at the bottom of the stairs.
An icy wind blew in, ‘’You must have known that it would end this way, Sally,’’ said Sandwell and then blew out a cloud of smoke.
‘’You knew about him all along,’’ Salvatore only just noticed the bruises and dried blood on each of their faces, ‘’But why do we have to kill all of them?’’ Marcus tried to protest, but his words were muffled by the gag.
‘’We can’t risk them looking for revenge. That and I hate loose ends,’’ Sandwell replied, the faint moonlight illuminating his blood red shirt.
If I want my life back, I need to sell my soul, ‘’Is this evil necessary?’’ Salvatore asked, in the faint hope that somehow, he wouldn’t have to do it.
Sandwell seemed disgusted at the question, ‘’If it wasn’t for men like us, the world will be an even bigger pile of shit. Come one, Sally. Aren’t you tired of carrying around that conscience of yours?’’
The detective stared into Marcus’ eyes, they were no longer full of rage or arrogance. They were full of desperation and tears. He may be a killer, but he loves his family. And yet, there was no other way, ‘’Give me your gun then’’
Sandwell chuckled, he signalled his men to leave and held out his still burning cigarette, ‘’You know we can’t leave evidence’’
The detective suddenly noticed the smell of petrol, he took one more look at their faces. He would likely remember them for the rest of his life, but oddly he felt very little.
He took the cigarette from Sandwell and threw it on the floor just in front of the family. The house was quickly engulfed but the two men left to watch from a safer distance. They walked to the end of the driveway and leaned against Marcus’ car, watching the flames intensify.
‘’Welcome back to the security service, Sally,’’ Sandwell commented and lit another cigarette, ‘’Want a smoke?’’
Salvatore couldn’t resist, he lit the thing from Sandwell’s already burning cigarette, ‘’Think we can pin the blame for this on Dawn Green?’’ The detective asked
Sandwell smiled, ‘’Took the words right out of my mouth.’’
The two men stood in silence for a moment, basking in the warm sensation and watching as the flames grew and grew, slowly eating away at the house and its occupants.
‘’Don’t I have to do an interview or something?’’ Salvatore asked and blew out a cloud of smoke from his nose.
‘’This was your interview,’’ Sandwell replied, his lifeless eyes dancing in the flames
Salvatore said nothing and tried to enjoy the moment. He finally had his life back. He finally got meaning and purpose back. And as he stared into the fiery abyss, he could feel that it was staring back at him.
By Sebastian Zuhury