CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32EPILOGUE

It is only twenty minutes later when Judd gets back to his flat. It’s just another five before a knock at the door shows Emmet and Reece. Reece staggers in, barely mumbling his hellos to Judd, and collapses face down on the sofa. Emmet stops to shake his friend and boss’s hands. The two roll their eyes at Reece’s antics, this isn’t unusual behaviour for him.

“Do you have any gear?” Reece mumbles, “I just need something to take the edge off,”

“You know I don’t keep that stuff here,” Judd snaps, “They already look at me like I’m dodgy as it is. I don’t want a ton of coke in my place to make them more suspicious.”

Reece moans pitifully and rolls on to his side. Emmet clucks his tongue at his friend and ruffles his hair.

“I’ll make you some coffee lightweight,” he says quietly, “Just try to pull yourself together until we’re done.”

“Tea!” Reece shouts after Emmet before he winces at the loud noise, “I’m never drinking again.”

Judd rolls his eyes and makes himself comfortable. Emmet soon re-joins them and Reece grabs happily for the hot sweet tea that he’s made.

“So what’s going on?” Emmet asks. Reece is watching and listening too.

“I got a call last night,” Judd says, “Anonymous, came up unknown caller on my ID and I didn’t recognise the voice. They said that Obo’s trying to fuck with us and is planning to take over the town centre operations.”

“But that’s Charlie’s territory,” Emmet cries, “He can’t do that can he?”

“He can with Charlie gone,” Judd says shrugging, “We have to face facts that Charlie might be permanently gone but until we know what’s happening for sure the town centre operations are fair game in Obo’s eyes. He never wanted the truce after all. This is just the chance he’s been waiting for. Once he’s got the town centre operations then he can take us on. That’s what he’s actually planning I reckon, he seems to be putting everything in to play already,”

“What?!” Emmet cries. Reece whimpers, “He can’t do that can he? It’ll take months, maybe years to get everyone Charlie was involved with for his operations to trust him and then it’ll take just as long to get the two areas balanced out.”

“That’s the problem,” Judd says with a sigh. “I waited too long to get in touch with Mr Big and now Obo’s got him on side. He’s been spreading rumours that our stuff is pure shit and Mr Big has believed him. Now Mr Big won’t do business with us until we give him a proper sample of our coke. Hell he won’t even deal with us to discuss a deal.”

“That’s not good,” Emmet says simply, “Dude, why’d you wait so long to let Mr Big know?”

“I was a bit more concerned about making sure Right Stuff had enough gear,” Judd snaps. “Now Obo is with Mr Big. He’s got the businesses, legit and otherwise on side and probably a few of Charlie’s guys working for him. But we’ve got Right Stuff and with Right Stuff that means we’ve got Charlie’s really loyal guys and any of the other businesses Charlie usually deals with as long as Right Stuff backs us up. And we’ve got Right Stuff because he trusts us and doesn’t trust Obo. As long as Right Stuff makes that clear we should be golden.”

“So what’s the plan,” Reece asks weakly, “I mean, we can’t exactly sit here with our thumbs in our arses and wait for Charlie to pop up again. We don’t know what’s happened to him, if he’s coming back or anything. Hell, for all we know he could be dead or worse, he could have gotten nicked and be rotting in prison as we speak.”

“Or he could have turned grass,” Emmet points out, “I mean, it’s not a nice thought but if he’s narced on us then we’re fucked. And he’d know it. Maybe the fuzz put him into witness protection or something, like they do in the films. Maybe he’s off somewhere else with a whole new identity or something,”

“Those are films shit head,” Reece snaps, “They’re not real. There’s no such And anyway why would Charlie want to turn on us? He has most of Farlow under his control anyway.”

Judd listens to his two men arguing for a few more moments before he calls for quiet. Reece instantly falls silent, snapping his mouth shut and turning a little green. Emmet tries to keep arguing for a moment before Judd looks at him sternly and he finally falls silent too.

“The simple fact is…” Judd says slowly. He’s hesitant to actually say it, “The fact is that we need to take Obo out and get in with Mr Big. Preferably sooner rather than later.”

“We need to go to war with the fucker,” Emmet shouts. He startles Reece who spills a little of his tea on his shirt. Emmet doesn’t notice and continues, “We need to go to war with Obo. If we don’t he’ll wipe us out, destroy us. We need to get him before he gets us,”

“You don’t know he’ll be coming after us,” Reece points out, “For all we know once he gets control of the town centre he’ll be happy. He might even leave Charlie’s dealers to us to look after and just stick with the other businesses.”

“Bull shit!” Emmet shouts “He’s never liked the truce we had. He never liked that Charlie had 60% of all of Farlow’s business and he liked the fact that we got 20% even less. He wanted it all and he’s just been biding his time since we made the agreement before he could take over and run everything. He was waiting for his chance and now he’s got it.”

“But we got the truce to stop this sort of thing happening,” Reece says, “None of us wanted war and if we hadn’t put the truce in place that’s what we would have ended up with. If we go to war now then we lose everything that we worked to get done in the first place. I don’t think Obo would want a massive gang war. People would end up dead or locked up or in hospital, his people as well as ours.”

“So what do you want to do?” Emmet asks harshly, “Sit around and talk about our feelings like a bunch of girls? I don’t wanna do that and Obo definitely won’t.”

“I’m just saying that we don’t need to fight,” Reece says calmly, “A gang war isn’t going to help anyone and we’re all going to end up worse off than we were before. If we have a war we’re going to be even more paranoid than we already are. We won’t know who to trust and we probably won’t even trust each other. I like you guys, you’re my mates, I don’t wanna think you’re about to stab me in the back. I’m sure if we think about it then we can find another way to sort all of this out, without any bloodshed.”

“Bollocks!” Emmet cries out, “The only way we’re gonna be able to show Obo that he doesn’t scare us is by beating the crap out of him. He needs to know we mean business and he can’t get in the way of that. We gotta fight. If we don’t we’re just gonna look like a bunch of weak arsed pansies or something. You’re just saying all this crap about finding another way because you’re too hungover to care.”

The two continue to argue and Judd listens to them. They’re both making good points about their different stands and Judd is finding it hard to decide who is right. Every time Emmet speaks Judd starts to think that an all out battle is the only way to win control back. But then every time Reece makes another suggestion that doesn’t involve fighting Judd starts to think that it’s a good idea as well. It’s hard to choose and Judd tries to listen, thinking the entire time of ways that he can find a middle ground that makes them both happy and makes him happy as well.

“Enough,” Judd says when a brainwave finally hits him. The other two shut up instantly. “I think I know what we’ve got to do.”

They look at him.

“We need to teach Obo a lesson,” Judd says with a shrug, “I think we can all agree on that.”

Reece opens his mouth to argue but Judd holds up a hand and the other man closes his mouth and sits back to listen. Judd has taught them well.

“We teach him a lesson like I taught Dev yesterday,” Judd continues, “We slap him around a bit and give him a good talking to. If we rough him up and tell him to shut the fuck up talking shit about us we should be able to get him to back off. And then we’ll tell him to back off from Mr Big and wait until Charlie gets back so that we can sort this all out between us. We take our knives but there’s no actual stabbing happening.” Here Judd looks at Emmet as though he is able to read what he’s thinking, “We just rough them up and use the knives to scare him and his boys. That way we can send a firm message to Obo to stop playing around and get him to let us carry things on for Charlie until he comes back from wherever he’s fucked off to.”

They sit in silence for a while, Reece and Emmet are processing what Judd has just said. Finally Emmet shakes his head.

“You’re being a pussy mate,” he says eventually. “Give him a good talking to? Rough him up? You’ve gone soft. There’s no way that’ll work on Obo. It might work on immature little shits like Dev and the other boys but Obo’s one of us. He’s hard and tough and he knows how to look after himself. For fuck’s sake he’s been in the business since he was thirteen. Some blades and a bit of punching aren’t going to scare him.”

“Well I think you’re being too hard Judd,” Reece says, “You do anything like that, anything to hurt Obo and he’s going to turn around and retaliate just as hard, if not harder. He’ll want to avenge anything we do to him and it’s gonna be me or Emmet that bear the brunt of it. No way would he come after you.”

“You’re a pussy too Reece,” Emmet says with a sneer, “We could get hurt and you’re all scared.”

“I’m not scared,” Reece snaps, “I just think it’s a bad idea. I don’t want to get hurt but I don’t want anyone else to get hurt either. Which is what’ll happen if we try to ‘teach Obo a lesson’ like Judd’s talking about.”

Reece and Emmet start to ramp up to argue again but Judd quickly shuts them down.

“We’re doing this,” he says sharply, “This is the plan and this is what we’re doing. We’re not letting Obo get away with fucking us over but I don’t want to start an all out war. Teaching him a lesson is the only way we’re going to be able to get Obo to back off and not suffer too much.”

Reece looks away, clearly not happy with the decision Judd has made. Emmet glares at Judd, arms crossed over his chest.

“Oh stop pouting you big prick,” Judd says. “You look like a girl.”

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