Raif threw the bin high and slow so it hung in the air allowing Sal to effortlessly grab it and dump it in the truck in one smooth motion, then with a light spin it was sent back down to him.
Raif was tired, an early morning shift on the trucks after standing all night outside the club was draining. But what could he do after he busted up his hand in his last fight he had to work two jobs to make ends meet, if not for himself but for Daisy and the kids. Work was work and honest work was hard to come by.
The truck came to an intersection of alleys and stopped allowing Raif time to run up the ally and grab the bins from the various businesses and throw them up to Sal. Raif was glad of the fight fitness on these longer runs; he sometimes liked to dream that he was keeping in shape for a return to the ring. Nothing like the smell of rotting Chinese food to bring you out of a daydream, Sal laughed at him with that booming guffaw of his while Raif brushed off the rotting noodles and returned up the alley for the last of the bins.
It was a sunny day and damn hot like it had been for weeks but the ally seemed almost cold as he made the final trip. It was an odd feeling, one he couldn’t place his finger on that made him slow his loping run to a walk. He placed the empty bins down and very slowly made his way to the last of them.
The bins were full of odds and sods and a lot of paper they sat at the top for the stairs leading down into Tony’s Pawn brokers. Skinny Tony’s if it was said in full, Fat Tony’s was across town but he needed a way to differentiate his business, which didn’t really work when he wasn’t skinny but hell he was still smaller than fat tony.
Raif moved his tongue around in his rather dry mouth and wondered why he was thinking a thousand miles an hour.
His walk had slowed enough to warrant an abusive hurry up form Sal atop the truck, Raif wordlessly waved him off with one hand as his other clutched the silver crucifix Daisy had got him on their wedding day.
Sliding the bins to one side at the top of the stairs the smell of burnt meat hit him hard he turned his head to one side to gather a breath and hold his breakfast down.
On the stairs were withered husks that once must have been human fused in a desperate scramble as they appeared to have fought each other in a vain attempt to escape the flames.
The iron hand rail hung in melted lumps and the stairs were cracked with the heat while the pawn broker shop itself below was little but twisted goods and charcoal.
But the thing that had Raif raise his crucifix to his lips and utter a prayer was the building’s wall, above the stairs marked over and over again by hand prints of ash, dozens and dozens of them like children playing with paint.
Keegan stalked up and down the old stained wooden floor, his bare feet barely making a noise as he paced. The cold air wafting through the windows didn’t seem to bother him as he passed by them again and again watching the end of the ally each time like something had changed. Jeremy sat on a heavy bag and leant up against the wall smoking one of those expensive cigars he liked so much.
“What!” Keegan exploded.
Jeremy just exhaled a puff of spicy smoke and shrugged.
“Just quit watching me.” Keegan added as he returned to his pacing.
“To be fair me boyo there ain’t much else to do, she will be here when she gets here or she won’t and you will look like a chump.” Jeremy shot back stressing the word chump.
The throaty animal growl that issued from Keegan as he turned on his friend startled Pidgeon’s on the neighbouring roof but barely raised Jeremy’s eyebrow.
“Now that’s a fine impression you will be making….”Jeremy started before Keegan cut him off with a wave of his hand.
“Two of them are entering the park as bold as brass, like we would be any less vigilant now” Keegan snarled as he headed for the stairs down.
Jeremy gently put his cigar on the low wall he had been leaning against. “You stay just there me lovely and I will be back for before you can get cold.”
And then with a sigh Jeremey took off his jacket and removed his shirt collar as he padded down the stairs after his friend.
Gideon Cross snapped shut his leather briefcase catching his finger in the clasp shaking his hand about he picked up the case and headed out of his office to the lifts.
The lifts were out of service, of course, because he had limited time to make his way to the lawyer’s office. What kind of person reads a will out at this time of night? Ah the eccentricities of the extremely wealthy.
Gideon was just hoping there might be some kind of allowance for the work he had done renovating and altering the late Widow Herzog’s townhouse. The money wasn’t the issue but without being paid the feeling of incompleteness annoyed him.
Gideon let out a growl at the sign on the subway announcing its closure due to flooding and quickly hailed a cab to make his way the couple of blocks uptown to the lawyers.
An itchy feeling in Gideon’s back just wouldn’t go away and it only grew stronger as he made his way through the revolving door into the empty foyer of the lawyers building.
“Son of a B….” Gideon exclaimed kicking over the ‘out of order’ sign on the lifts before turning to the stairs and making his way up thirteen flights.
The stairs were dark and cold, the silence only broken by the sound of him puffing as he climbed higher. Cold sweat trickled down his back and a growing unease had him looking over his shoulder into the dark stairwell below.
Relief gripped him as he made his way out of the stairs into the lawyers office pushing his way passed the glass doors with the florid gold hand painted names of Henkel and Weinstein.
However said relief disappeared when he noticed the office appeared empty and the lights were turned down, with only a quiet sobbing to be heard.
Gideon frantically looked about for a weapon his eyes falling on a blue and white vase with dried flowers in it dumping the flowers he tentatively crept towards the sobbing, aware that his weapon felt comically inadequate.
With a flourish of his weapon he burst in upon the sobbing, confronting a young blonde secretary head down her face buried in her handkerchief at her desk.
Feeling a bit of a fool he quickly popped the vase on a desk behind him before clearing his throat to attract the young ladies attention.
“I’m sorry…it’s just so horrible a heart attack, sniff….he was so young poor… Mr Henkel….”
Crap, crap, crap was Gideon’s first thought the death of the late Widow Herzog’s lawyer made it even less likely he was going to see his money. But the distraught lady brought out his protective streak.
Soothing sounds and an embrace seemed to have the desired effect, the racking sobs stopped and she looked up at Gideon with tear stained eyes, her body a just a little too close.
“Mr Henkel was a very kind man…sniff….he always said he would leave his wife……”she said her voice seeming to soften as the embrace went on.
Gideon swallowed perhaps his luck was changing.
“Mr Henkel!” A gruff voice barked.
Gideon whirled about not quick enough to disentangle himself from the secretary but quick enough to knock over the vase he had placed on the desk beside him.
“Mr Henkel, Mr Luciano would like a word with you.” The giant slab of a man blocking the office doorway flatly said.
“I’m afraid you’re mistaken I’m not Henkel”, Gideon weakly replied.
The imposing shadow looked at the writing on the door, looked over Gideon’s suit, and then at the secretary in his grasp.
“Right, not the big shot lawyer you just wandered in and made yourself right at home. I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with me Mr Henkel, Mr Luciano doesn’t like to be kept waiting.
“But you’ve made……
Was all Gideon managed to protest before a meaty paw with the apparent size and speed of a Buick sent him crashing to the floor.
“…I’m an architect…” Gideon weakly mentioned as he was dragged out over the shards of the vase he had broken his last thoughts before his head struck the door jamb on the way out and he lost consciousness were, dam that secretary has nice legs.