Silgan lived on the thirteenth floor of a twelve-floor apartment owned by an old business associate, Gerald Minum. His was one of two rooms located above the twelfth floor. The other, and much larger, belonging to Minum’s younger brother, Herald, who had been in and out of prison for the past thirty years. Silgan had moved in two years ago, after a police raid on his much larger, more comfortable arrangement.
The reason Silgan wasn’t in prison already, was due to the excellent plugs his current proprietor had in both the DEA and Homicide groups one through eight–known to lend the DEA some extra firepower now and again. Silgan had known a week prior to the raid, and was able to clear out incriminating and illegal materials long before they’d arrived. Unfortunately, he’d had to burn that apartment afterwards, as to better justify moving on the official records.
The elevator ding brought Silgan out of his reverie. Stepping into the cramped excuse of a pulley, he quickly pressed the lobby icon. It was an old, non-public elevator that rested on the thirteenth floor. It’s inspection certificate was dated 2011, and had expired in 2024, a year and two months ago.
A small male child’s voice rang clearly “Well it is your private elevator.” Silgan recognized the voice, but couldn’t quite place it.
He thought in response, “I suppose I can’t complain then.”
“We really can’t, can we?” The voice chuckled in response.
Smiling, Silgan responded aloud “Fair enough, we can’t. But if you try to tell me that this thing can actually support 3,000 pounds.”
Silgan did recognize the voice now. He hadn’t heard it in months and voice recognition fades far faster than facial and motor. No, he wouldn’t blame himself for forgetting. Glancing up, the elevator read fourth floor. Silgan steeled himself by visualizing the next few moments. He would exit the elevator–floor 3–say good morning to the clerk–floor 2–he’d walk outside–floor 1–but not too quickly or slowly–ding.
The lobby was bright, not overwhelmingly so, but it was also 4:45 in the morning. Artificial light had this way of sapping his energy, the opposite effect natural light seemed to secure. The worst part was the glaring and pure white light. No soothing blue or yellow lights for you, no, not this early. Passing the clerk–who’s demeanor indicated a similar disposition towards the fluorescent nightmare–Silgan cheerfully asked “How are you, Ms. Caldwell?”.
“Don’t tell me you’re up this early by choice Mr. Sheffield?” the young women replied. Her voice rye, as a small, suggestive, smile crossed her lips.
“Oh, you know I’m not Ms. Caldwell, but duty calls! The ER patients won’t stitch themselves back together.” Silgan quipped in response.
Raising her eyebrows, she responded “No rest for the heroes either, eh?”
“You know there isn’t.” Silgan, smiling to himself, called over his shoulder as the automatic glass doors swung open. The cold morning air stung his face, as he walked out the door.
He was early, but the Sedan was already pulled up on the curb. It really was a nice car, it had official plates too. This way the tinted windows wouldn’t draw suspicion. The driver got out, swung around the front of the Sedan and opened the door, nodding at Silgan. Silgan nodded back at the old driver as he stepped into the back seat. The driver was always the same, but Silgan had never spoken a word to him. He had a tired face, a permanent grimace with frown lines and an average number of suspicious sunspots for a man in his early seventies.
The sedan was spacious, with more room in the back than the front by design. The seats were a blood red leather with a black pearlescent finish. It contrasted beautifully with the doors interior red-olive wooden paneling. The side windows tints were two-way, any lighter and certain equipment could be used to see through the tint. A divider separated the back seats from the chauffeur. Silgan’s employers were thorough, if not paranoid. Silgan nestled his briefcase safely in the middle seat as the door closed, before fastening his seat belt. Without looking at the man to his left, in his coldest and most distant manner, Silgan asked “Who’s the mark.”
The man, sighed deeply, not in exasperation, but with the weight of something looming over his head. It was as if he knew Silgan wasn’t going to like his response. He turned slowly towards Silgan, removing his dark sunglasses to expose sharp blue eyes with a slight cataract fade. After a moment, Silgan turned towards the man, Alex Parker, his face looked different. It was heavier, which was saying something, considering his chain smoking habit and the fact his necks skin obscured his jawline. He sported a worn, sea-green, tweed suit coat with a black turtle neck sweater and midnight purple colored pants. Alex always was the old-school type.
Annoyed, Silgan pressed “Well?”
Alex replied “Remember Donovan Sullie’s Toronto operation that went to shit?”
Intrigued, Silgan replied “Of course I do, it took us three straight days to crack Sullie’s man. Did they finally manage to pin him down?”
Alex smiled slightly. “Not quite. Nearly. Caleb managed to track him to a small house in upstate New York, in the boonies between Watertown and Ogdensburg. We done caught him by surprise but, you know him, he had a small army stationed around the 300-acre perimeter. He got out but we got his…” Hesitating for a moment, Alex continued “…we got his daughter.”
Taken aback, Silgan responded “You’re kidding, right? How old is she.”
“She’s young, later teens, Sheffield.” Said Alex in a defeated tone, averting his gaze.
Silgan sighed, leaning back against the seat as the Sedan started to move. He thought back to earlier this morning as he’d packed “Part 2”. He’d brought the inhibitor, right? Christ, he was so distracted with the blood that he couldn’t remember. A flare of anger ignited his stomach. Feeling sick he asked “Alex, I thought I told the boss no more kids. Not after last time.”
In an apologetic tone, Alex responded “I know, I told the boss that. The boss say if they old enough to traffic, he don’t see a problem.”
Silgan felt his hands start to shake and tasted stomach acid. He wanted to tell Alex to pull over, but he knew it was too late. He’d been paid, tardiness was as good as treason in this line of work. Silgan undid his belt and leaned his head against the front seat. Mournfully, he asked Alex “You got a drink?”
Without a word, Alex pulled a small metal canteen out of his suit jacket and handed it to Silgan. Sitting back up Silgan turned the canteen and opened it. The front of the metal surfaced was engraved AP in black, matte, acrylic. He drank about half the canister in a gulp, stopping to cough as the burning overwhelmed his sinus. Looking back to Alex, embarrassed, Silgan muttered a quick thanks. Alex gave an understanding nod, accepting the canteen.
“Look, Sheffield, I don’t like it either. But we can’t hold back, you know that. And I’m gonna need you in your right mind today too, that way we get this done as quick as we can. I don’t wanna see you popping pills man.” Alex said as the Sedan made a right.
Silgan responded guiltily, “Yeah, well I might need something to keep me from being sick,”
Smiling Alex noted “Yeah? They handing out oxy for upset tummies now?”
“They aren’t handing out anything anymore. Turns out too many self-prescriptions starts to look a little fucked in the ledgers. I’ve had to pay a nurse to steal from commissary, via proxy of course.” Silgan mused, somewhat reluctantly.
“I hope you’re kidding man, if the boss finds out you’re under any suspicion you know what happens, to both of us.” Alex laughed, warily.
As of last week, Dr. Sheffield was under board review for a number of reasons. Primarily a host of self-prescriptions that generally contradicted each other or contained excessive overlap in function. Having been a tenured tech-ER lecturer with several, successful, fellows had of course bought him some time. But the eight dead patients within the past three and a half months who’d be deemed survivable cases hadn’t helped. Silgan never did like that damned pathologist, and was convinced she had it out for him. He’d be fine though, one member of the board was in the direct employ of Alex and Silgan’s mutual benefactor. Furthermore, he’d personally mentored–slept with–a separate board member who was quite terrible at medicine and had a vested interest in keeping Silgan around. Finally, he’d anonymously blackmailed two of the five board members leveraging their respective and large families. As long as one of two kept quiet, he’d easily obtain the desired three to two ratio that spelt freedom, and more self-prescription. For now, though, he’d need to utilize creative methods of procuring a good, wholesome mood.
Annoyed Alex barked “You’re kidding, right man?”
“Of course I am. Everything is under control, Parker.” Silgan half-smiled in response.
Silgan wouldn’t be caught dead admitting it, but he was glad to have Alex around. Alex generally favored mechanical means of extraction. Crude, yes. Ineffective, definitely. But the old good guy, bad guy dichotomy was effective. Alex would generally open, peeling nails or something like that. If it didn’t work, Silgan would get going, and once he got going, the mark would proclaim love for Alex, pleading to bring him back. Alex was also the closest thing to a real friend Silgan had anymore. He knew more about Silgan than anyone else could, and accepted him for it.
The front seat’s divider caught both men off guard as it descended. The driver chimed in his heavy German accent, “Almost there boys.”
Besides the obvious optical advantage the two way tinted windows presented; the boss, in general, operated on a need to know basis. Silgan rarely if ever knew where they were headed before they got there. Silgan liked it that way, it helped him psychologically distance himself from the act. As the car pulled to a stop Alex said “All Right, I guess it’s game time.”
Next Chapter: https://bluebeard-art.com/chapter-three/