I thought leaving was going to be easy. I thought disappearing, vanishing into the night sky, becoming nothing more than dust in the wind was supposed to be easy. Turns out that I was wrong. Everything that is supposed to be easy, it just that. It’s supposed to be. Being easy is nothing more than a concept, something to tease your heart and your brain. It’s a concept to fill you with false hope, so when the disappointment of your harsh reality sets in, your soul is crushed, so your spirit is hardened. It toughens you up for the next wave of bullshit that life is going to throw your way.
Well, it is supposed to. I hate the word. Supposed. It is nothing more than a cock tease, just to lead you on like a girl playing with your heart strings, telling you that she loves you, that you’re the one. She tells you that you’re the best thing that has ever happened to you. You get filled with excitement. You’re telling yourself that you’re going to settle down. That you’re going to marry this girl. That you are going to get your happy ever after. And then the next thing you know is that she is telling you that she isn’t ready to be in a relationship. That she needs to work on herself.
It was supposed to work out. It was supposed to be the last relationship you were ever going to be in. The first and last true love you were ever going to need. It was supposed to. I would like to piss all over that concept then soak it in kerosene before lighting it up and watching it burn. I would then piss on the ashy remains. But I don’t know if I will ever get that chance. I was going to fake my death, but the way things seem to be going, it appears that I may be on my way to meet my maker. I have some sort of mask covering my face, so I have no idea where the hell I’m going. I just remember doing what I was told to do. I was in the spot I was told to be in at the time I was told to be there. A car pulled up. I got into the backseat, not looking back at the world I was leaving, the world I wasn’t going to say goodbye to and the driver pulled off into the night.
I thought everything was going well. I admit it was a little more than fucking awkward with the driver, being a guy I had never met or seen before in my life, just sitting in the driver’s seat, hands on the wheel, staring at the road ahead, never saying a word. He didn’t even glance in the mirror to look at me. It was a little creepy, but I remember telling myself that it would be fine, that I was just going to sit here and he was going to sit there. I remember telling myself that it would all be over before I knew it. And once again, given my current situation, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It had been a long night and my mind was racing, so I couldn’t sleep even though I knew that I wanted to. I sat there, twiddling my thumbs, staring down at my feet when they weren’t lost in the darkness cloaking the floorboards of the car. I did nothing but think for what seemed like weeks despite being only an hour. I remember thinking of my family. My mother, my brother, and my sister. I remember thinking about my grandmother. I even thought about my friend Daniel. I had signed over my family’s company over to him as I knew deep down that I would never do a damn thing with it. That is just me when it comes to things that I’m not interested in. I have never been interested in owning a company or even working for some business. But my father willed it to me because he was an asshole like that, may he rest in peace by the way.
But I was thinking and thinking, to where I began to stress so I remember telling myself that I needed to try and sleep for a little bit. So I did. And by that, I mean that I tried to sleep, but sleep wasn’t going to happen. The way it seems to be right now, with the mask over my face, I will be taking the big sleep, never waking up from the long dirt nap as I’ve heard it called. But no sooner than I dosed off, I heard the sound of screeching tires and the sound of heavy footsteps. I opened my eyes just in time to see the driver getting out of the car and opening up the door next to me. When door opened, he got out of the way as a few masked men grabbed and started dragging me out of the car. I tried to fight but there were five of them and one of me. I know that I am no James Bond or Jason Bourne so I knew that there was no fucking sense in trying to fight for an extended period of time. I still had the window knocked out of me by one of the masked men as he drove his fist into my stomach.
I remember closing my eyes and gasping for air a few times. With each gasp, I would blink and with each blink, I would see the van I am probably in currently, and each time I’d see it, I noticed that I was getting closer and closer. After a few gasps and a few blinks, I found myself in the van. I didn’t see much of anything as the mask that I’m wearing, the mask that smells like an armpit, blocked out my vision, but not my sense of smell unfortunately.
“Do you know why you’re here?”
The mask still covering my face as I am now sitting in some really uncomfortable chair. The space I’m in is musty and cold. Something tells me that I’m inside some abandoned warehouse, because it is the cliché thing to do in these cases. I tell myself that I am more than likely in some secluded area where I am going to be tortured and shot, before having my corpse burned. I smirk underneath my mask, telling myself that is and always has been the way I wanted to go, the way I wanted to leave this world.
“I haven’t the slightest clue chief, but I’m sure you can tell me,” I say, my words sort of muffled by the mask, as it presses against my lips each time I speak. I finish talking, and I let out a sigh, because the way I see it, if I am going to be killed, I would much rather just go ahead and get it over with. I know Hell is waiting to open up the gates and the Devil himself has picked out a special place for me in his flock. I don’t want to show up late to my own party. That just isn’t my style, “How about you do me a favor and take this damn rag off of my face, so I can face my killers before you know…getting killed. I think you should at least do that before you off me. I am sure it’s even in the killer’s code handbook or some shit. Page seven or eight, I think.”
And then, as the words exit my mouth, the mask is pulled off of my face. I take a few moments, blinking and gasping for air, as the light is bright above me and I had been sniffing armpit for only God knows how long. Once I catch my breath, and my vision adjusts to my surroundings, I look around and tell myself that the rest of me needs to get adjusted. I see men in tactical gear, shaved heads with beards and face paint staring at me. I tell myself that this is the end, my only friend, the end. I have no doubt in my mind that I am going to get gang raped and butchered eventually. I am not sure what the order of that will be, looking at these neo-Nazi looking motherfuckers, but I am sure they will have a blast of a good time either way. And then someone steps out from behind me. As soon as I see the face, the concept of death and forced anal disappears from my mind. I know the face behind the voice, “Agent Briggs…”
Briggs is the man that sent my father and I into hiding five years ago. Just to give a little history lesson really quick for those of you just now tuning in, my father was a major drug runner for the better part of his adult life. I was never really sure of his escapades as he was always gone, leaving me to be the man of the house, helping my mother raise my siblings. I got involved with my friend…well former friend, Sanders and selling drugs, because I happened to knock out his top guy so to speak. I went to college, sold there, hated my life, and got messed up before getting chased by the cops. I got kicked out of school, started working for Sanders’ boss, Big Will only to find out that my father was Big Will’s boss. Eventually it came to light that my dad was working with the FBI, ATF, DEA, and pretty much every single law enforcement agency you can think of in order to make up for all of the wrong he had done in his lifetime. Basically, he was trying to cover his ass, long story short. And the fact that I was working with my dad, I was given two options. I could stick around and end up putting the lives of my family as well as this girl I was falling for, in danger or I could leave with my father and go into hiding. Me being me chose to go into hiding for a few years until it was safe to do so. Once hide and seek was over, I spent the last two years trying to live a nice, quiet, normal life, but seeing where I am at right now, a nice, quiet, normal life isn’t in the cards for me. My stated he wanted the same thing, but he died a year ago. No one knows how. We all just know he is dead. I was spending a lot of my time after that looking over my shoulder, which is why I was going to disappear again. I was going to fake my death, but that doesn’t appear to be in the cards for me either.
“How are you?” Briggs asks, a smirk on his face. He has aged a bit since I last saw him in 2010. His has a lot less hair and a bit more gray in his beard. I tell myself that it can’t be the job, because from what I’ve heard through the grapevine, Briggs got a cozy desk job, where he got to bark orders and send people out into the shit without getting his hands dirty. At least that’s what I’ve heard.
“I don’t know to be honest. I could be soaking up some sun somewhere, but then again I have no idea where I was headed. I just know that I was going to get away from the rest of the world. I thought I was going to get away from my past too but seeing how you and I are looking at one another, I’d say it’s a safe bet to say that my past has come back to haunt me,” I immediately start questioning myself, wondering why I said yes to Sanders all those years ago. I remind myself that if I had not tried to play hero, if I had just kept to myself then I probably wouldn’t be where I am now.
But here I am.
“Yeah well when you surround yourself with the people you’ve surrounded yourself, or if you’re related to a man like your father then you can’ outrun or hide from your past,” Briggs states as he rolls up the sleeves of his white button-up shirt, “We’ve been watching you son, ever since you came out of hiding. When you thought you were safe, we were watching. You have become quite a valuable asset to any law enforcement agency out there.”
I lower my head and shake it, “An asset? That’s funny. So why am I here?”
“Why do you think you’re here?”
I lift my head up and lock eyes with Briggs, “Well let’s go over the facts really quick. First, you basically kidnap me. You bring me out to the middle of who the hell knows and now you’re telling me that you’ve been watching me for nearly three years because I’m considered an asset. I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I didn’t fall of that cabbage truck yesterday, Briggs,” I can feel the frustration stirring up inside of me. As the words escape my mouth, I feel myself trying to bite them back, “Seems to me that you need my help. Would I be wrong in that assumption?”
Briggs, who has been pacing back and forth in front of me while I’ve been talking, suddenly stops. His smirk returns and I wish I could knock it off of his face. But I can’t. All I can do is sit here and listen as he responds, “You’re a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for, kid. But yes, we do need your help. We were going to just show up at your house, but when we heard you were planning to fake your death…after tapping your phones awhile back of course…we decided it was time to intervene. Didn’t want you thinking that your life had no purpose.”
I smirk and slowly nod my head, “Is that so? Well I greatly appreciate it, Briggs. I mean that. Honestly. It’s good knowing that there is someone out there that actually cares. But I have to ask…what purpose does my life have now that you’re back in it?”
“Well to be honest, it’s probably better if I just show you,” The words leave Briggs’ mouth and the next thing I know my world goes dark again. Nothing but darkness and the smell of armpit entrap me. My life must have purpose.
“Sanders? You want to go after Sanders? You’ve gotta be kidding me with this shit, man….”
The mask has been off for a bit. We drove for an hour. I heard a lot of mumbling and grumbling along the way, but I couldn’t see anything. I remember getting dragged out of the van and the sound of heavy footsteps. I heard the sound of a door or seven opening. There were bright lights everywhere as well. I heard another door open then Briggs talked to someone before my ass met the cushion of this extra comfy chair that I am sitting in. The mask was removed and a file was dropped in my lap.
Briggs leans over the table in this super high-tech room we are in. There are gigantic floor to wall screens with billions of names and faces popping up for a split second before moving onto the next name, the next face. I see a few other people, male and female, sitting at computers, their fingers going through the ringer. Briggs looks at me and speaks, “I’m not shitting you. Your old buddy, Sanders is a key player these days. It seems ever since your father and Big Will were taken out of the picture, Sanders was able to work his way up.”
I shake my head, “There is no way. He’s always been a low level guy. He’s been beneath the middle man for as long as I’ve known him to sell drugs.”
“Yeah that is what we thought as well. Sanders is a mover and shaker so to speak. He has moved up and he’s moved up quick while you’ve been trying to find a way to move out.”
“I don’t see how any of this concerns me, Briggs. I barely smoke pot anymore. I haven’t spoken to Sanders in five years. I am surprised he’s not behind bars in the first place, especially with the evidence my father provided for you guys.”
Briggs runs his hands over his face, and releases a sigh, “Well kid, your dad did give us a lot of people, a lot of names, a lot of faces. But he did not give up Sanders. I wish the son of a bitch did, because Sanders may have played dumb, but that is all it was. He was playing. He played you. He played your dad. He played just about anyone he had contact with during that time period. He is smart and he is also ruthless.”
I notice Sanders’ mugshot as it pops up on the screen outside of the room. I can tell, just by looking at the photo; that the guy I once knew, the guy with the exquisite weed had changed. I can just tell that he isn’t Sanders. I then look away, wondering what happened to him, as I speak, “What do you mean ruthless?”
Briggs walks towards me, his red and white tie that reminds me of red velvet cake for some reason, flaps in the wind. Once he gets to me, he grabs the file I have been looking at and begins to flip through it, before stopping. He nods his head and places the file back down on the table and points at what appears to be photos. I turn and lean over in my chair, my eyes beginning to fixate on the photos as well as the contents.
I see faces from my past, people that I at time considered as friends. People I had gone to high school with. People I spent the night with and had dinner with. People I went fucking bowling with. The faces in these photos are covered in blood. The only reason I know who they are is due to the fact that the names are on the photographs as well. I take a few deep breaths, as the contents of the photos overwhelm me, before I look up at Briggs, “Did he…Did Sanders do this?”
Briggs shrugs his shoulders, “Yes and no.”
“What the hell do you mean yes and no? It is either yes or no. Either Sanders fucking did this or he didn’t.”
Briggs looks at the pictures himself, releasing a sigh as his hands glide over them, “Sanders didn’t physically take the lives of these men and women. No, Sanders has people working for him who will take a bat to anyone’s head if he asks them to. These guys are the very definition of loyal. So what I’m saying is that Sanders is like Charles Manson in this situation and those who work for him worship the very ground he walks on and will do anything for him.”
I take another look at the photos before turning away. I get out of my chair and I walk across the room, keeping my eyes locked on the gigantic picture of Sanders as it rests on the screen. I keep walking towards, never taking my eyes of it, never taking my eyes away from his, as if we are staring at one another, peering into the other person’s soul. I tell myself that if I meet him and stare into his souls, I will no longer see the life that was once resonating in them. I tell myself that I will more than likely see nothing but black, especially if Sanders has become the kind of person Briggs has said he has. After a few moments, I finally break away and look at Briggs, “What do you need me to do?”
Briggs walks towards me again, his hands in his pockets, his eyes zoned in on Sanders as well, “I need you to get in with Sanders. I need you to gather as much information as you can in order for us to build the strongest case possible. I need you to get close with Sanders and see what makes him tick. I need him to trust you with everything and then when the time is right, we use that against him and take him down.”
I take a few steps towards Briggs before responding, “You said that when the time is right you’ll take him down. When will the time be right? I am just curious. I want to know how long I will be in with Sanders.”
We lock eyes and his response sends a shiver or six down my spine, “As long as it takes…as long as it takes…”
Fuck my life.