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

The car is black in the orange light. It has tinted windows and Right Stuff can only just make out the shape of a person at the wheel. He walks around to the driver’s side and leans against the roof of the car with one arm. The window slides down with a gentle whirring sound. He leans in closer. The inside of the car is dark. Someone shifts around quietly.

“Is everything going to plan?” the person inside asks Right Stuff.

“Sure is,” Right Stuff says confidently. “They bought every word and did exactly what you said they would.”

“So they suspect nothing?” the driver asks, “They don’t think that there’s something else going on.”

“I think Judd may be wondering what’s going on a little,” Right Stuff reluctantly admits, “He was worried it was a set up when I suggested meeting up,”

“Well he’s a smart boy,” the driver says, “Too smart for his game. I’d be disappointed if he didn’t think something was going on,”

“Yeah…” Right Stuff says slowly, “So what do I do now?”

“Exactly what you said that you were going to do,” the driver commands, “Do what you would normally do and go to Judd when you need more stock.”

“What about Phase 2?” Right Stuff asks, more urgently now, “When does Phase 2 start?”

“Soon,” the driver snaps, “It starts when everything is in place. Just keep doing what you’re doing. I’ll be in touch.”

Right Stuff steps back from the car and watches as it slowly turns around and drives away. He rubs his head and climbs back into his own car. He wonders for a moment what it is that he’s got himself into. And whether anything would be the same by the end. He hopes that things don’t change too much, he doesn’t like change.

Reece and Emmet are still squabbling in the back as Judd drives along, through the city. He’s driving over the overpass and he glances out of the window. Suddenly his mouth tightens and his eyes narrow. He speeds up a little bit until he reaches the end of the overpass and then he pulls over into the bus stop that was waiting there. He unbuckles his belt with a loud snap and shoves his door open. Emmet and Reece lean forward and call after him.

“Oi boss man,” Reece shouts, “Where’re you goin’?”

“Mate what’s wrong?” Emmet shouts as well. “Where are you going? What’s wrong?”

Judd ignores them. He just storms on to the cycle path and walks along it. He reaches the edge of the estate and stands there. He watches a guy in a hat handing something to some lads who can’t be much older than 17. His eyes narrow even more. The guy turns around, slipping something in to his pocket and a wide grin is on his face. He saunters along, heading towards Judd and the bike path.

“Oi Div!” Judd shouts when the guy gets closer.

The guy’s eyes widen and his smile disappears as his mouth drops open. The guy walks slowly forward until he steps on to the bike path. Judd strides over to him, towering above the young man and grabs him by the back of the shirt.

“What’s the golden rule?!” he demands to know. The guy stammers for a moment. Judd growls and shakes him, hard, “What’s the number one rule I tell you never to break?”

“I… I… Judd mate, listen,” the guy stammers.

Judd growls and throws the man to the floor.

“No you listen!” Judd snarls, “You never leave the cycle paths. And you definitely never go in to the estates! Those are the rules! And you’ve just broken them,”

“It was only the once,” the man pleads. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to step onto the estate for a few minutes, better than losing money right?! I got you the money!”

“I don’t give a shit about the money,” Judd yells, “You don’t go into the estate when you’re carrying. You stay on the bike path! Is that so hard to understand?”

“No,” the guy says, sitting up. He looks at the ground and shakes his head, “No it’s not. I’m sorry.”

“You will be,” Judd says.

He crosses his arms over his chest and looks down at the guy on the ground. He is furious but he understands the guy’s thinking. He’s new to the game, doesn’t really understand why the rules are there and he definitely hasn’t seen why the rules were put in place. Before the rules things were dangerous and sometimes deadly. Now it’s safer for everyone.

“Hey Dev!” someone shouts from the estate.

The guy on the ground looks over. Someone is stood by the door to one of the tower blocks and waves a hand.

“Thanks for the door to door!” the person on the estate shouts, “It’s dead useful mate, well worth the extra money. Same time next week?”

“We’ll see,” the guy, Dev, shouts back even though he’s still sitting on the ground.

The guy on the estate goes back inside and the door shuts with the heavy clang of metal. Judd barely pays attention. He’s breathing hard and he can hear his heart pounding in his ears. A veil of red is falling over his eyes.

“We don’t do door to door.” He says quietly, his voice dangerously low and rough with anger. “We have never done door to door. We’ve banned door to door service.”

Dev stammers and looks up at Judd. Dev’s mouth hangs open and his eyes are wide and filled with fear. Somewhere behind Judd he hears the sound of one of his car doors opening and slamming closed. There is the sound of racing footsteps, coming towards them.

“What the fuck are you thinking?!” Judd yells.

He steps towards Dev. Door to door is banned for a reason, it is too risky for his guys. If someone wants drugs they have to meet the dealer part way, take some of the risk on themselves. Dealers never go into someone else’s house, no matter how much extra money is offered, it is too dangerous. Sometimes if there are two or three people with the dealer it can be accepted but it has to be cleared with Judd first. But he usually says no and for good reason. Anyone can grab the dealer and take the entire stash and all the money they’ve made. Dealers had been hurt, even killed by junkies doing just that. Judd has that rule in place to protect his people and this idiot has gone and ignored it. Judd raises his hand, getting ready to smack the moron around the face.

Suddenly another hand grabs his wrist and he hears Reece murmuring in his ear.

“Cool it man,” Reece whispers, “Calm down.”

Judd fights against Reece’s grip but he’s too strong. Judd is stuck in place, Reece plastered over his back, holding his raised arm in place.

“This tool broke the rules,” Judd snarls, “He needs to be punished.”

“He’s going to be punished,” Reece reassures his friend and boss. “Just cool it for now man,”

Judd lowers his hand eventually, Reece moves with him. Judd glances over his shoulder and sees Emmet’s face in the Porsche window, watching them all with a big grin on his face. That boy loves violence a little too much, Judd thinks to himself. He looks back at Dev and his blood boils again. He tenses up and Reece feels it. The other man puts a reassuring hand on Judd’s arm.

“Come on,” Reece says, “He’s not cost us any money, in fact he’s got us more. But he doesn’t work for us anymore so just leave him alone.”

“What?!” Dev cries “I’m a good dealer, I’m one of your guys! You can’t just dump me like that,”

“You knew the rules,” Reece says, looking at Judd as he speaks, “You knew what would happen if you broke the Golden Rule and you did it anyway. You’re out.”

“But I got you more money,” Dev cries.

“You could have gotten killed,” Judd snarls.

He grabs Dev’s shirt collar in his hand and drags the boy to his feet. He starts rummaging through Dev’s coat and finds the money and bags of drugs that he was carrying.

“Those rules are there for a reason,” Reece says quietly, “But you chose to ignore them. We can’t have someone in the gang or working for us that can’t follow the rules even if they don’t understand why they’re there.”

“They’re just a bunch of stupid rules,” Dev spits out, “What’s the point of being drug dealers if we have rules?”

“Those rules are there to keep you safe you little snot,” Judd snarls, dragging the boy’s face to his, “I keep you safe, I keep you supplied, I keep you with money to buy your stupid girlfriend presents with. All I ask is that you follow a few rules and you throw it all back in my face.”

“Judd!” Reece cries, dragging Judd away from Dev, “We’ve got enough going on at the minute. We don’t need more trouble. Just leave it. Let him face the consequences on his own,”

Judd tries to argue, to go after the ungrateful little shit who’s now glaring at them with anger. But Reece is dragging him back to the car and shoving him in to the driver’s seat. His hands are shaking as he does up his belt.

“Fucking moron,” Emmet says from the back, shaking his head, “He had a great gig going here and he’s gone and thrown it all away.”

“He’s lucky to be in one piece,” Judd snarls as he pulls back out in to the traffic, “You should have let me hit him Reece,”

“He’s not worth it,” Reece says, “You’ve got enough to worry about without throwing in Dev’s older brother trying to take a crack because you bruised his precious baby boy. Reggie’ll understand this, why you’ve let him go.”

“You should have smacked him,” Emmet said, “You should have smacked him right around the head as soon as the little shit got close enough. Who does he think he is going onto the estate when he’s carrying our stock? The kid could have gotten us all in trouble pulling shit like that,”

“Whatever,” Judd grumbles.

His anger is fading just as quickly as it flared up. He knows that Reece is right, Reggie would have come after them all if Judd had laid a finger on Dev. But still not punishing Dev sat wrong with Judd, especially after the thoughts he had had and made public during class. Judd needed justice, he wanted justice and firing Dev, cutting him out of the gang just didn’t feel like it was enough to him. He could only hope that Reggie would beat Dev up for what he did. The other man knows about the rules that Judd had, knows why they were there and why they have to be followed. Reggie respects the rules and the way Judd runs his business, even if Reggie isn’t involved. He will probably lay in to Dev himself. That realisation helps Judd settle himself a little more. Still he isn’t happy and he realises as he listens to Emmet and Reece arguing some more in the back that he doesn’t want to bring them back to his flat. He’s too on edge, too wound up. He needs to relax and he can’t do that with the two guys around.

“Where do you want a lift to?” Judd asks, “I’m going home alone so if you want dropping off somewhere you had better say now.”

“I thought you were coming out with us mate,” Reece cries, “I thought we was going to go back to yours, do a few lines, have a few beers and then head out.”

“Not anymore,” Judd says, shaking his head, “I’ve lost the mood for it. I’m too angry and if I go out I’ll just end up hitting someone.”

“You never come out with us Judd,” Emmet says, leaning against the back of Judd’s seat. “Come on, just this once.”

“Nope,” Judd says, shaking his head again, “I just want to go home and relax.”

“But it’s the Pump Audio Sound Clash tonight in town!” Reece cries, “All the top names are going to be there. You really wanted to go earlier. It’s going to be the biggest night in Farlow music history! We have tickets! You get to see Jumping Jack Frost, Harry Shota, everyone.”

“I’m just not in the mood,” Judd says with a sigh, “You guys go and have a good time. I’ve got things that I need to sort out ready for tomorrow. This crap with Dev and the thing with Charlie has made things harder than I thought they were going to be. I need to fix any problems we might have before they appear.”

“Fine,” Reece says with a sigh, “Boss man, you need to relax sometime. You can’t keep pushing yourself this hard, you’ll burn out. Do you even go out any where? Ever?”

“Leave him alone,” Emmet says, “Just drop us off in the town centre. We’ll go without you.”

Judd nods and starts making his way through the streets, doubling back on himself to get to the town centre and the best place to drop his boys off. The traffic is getting lighter now and there are barely any people out on the streets. It’s cold and the wind is practically howling. It’s early too so Judd isn’t too surprised that there aren’t many people out partying. The streets will get busier later on, he knows this, even if it starts snowing there’ll still be people wandering around, the girls in next to nothing and the boys trying to show how hard they are by wandering around in short sleeved shirts. Suddenly the thought of staying inside isn’t as bad to Judd, even if he has a lot of work to do. It’s warm inside and comfortable and best of all he won’t go to bed with his ears ringing.

He pulls in to the parking space for drop offs and turns to watch Reece and Emmet do a line of coke each. Emmet wipes at his nose as he looks at Judd.

“Are you sure you won’t join us?” he asks as Reece snorts his line.

“Not tonight guys,” Judd says quietly, he’s much calmer now. “Enjoy yourselves and stay safe,”

The two men climb out of the car. Judd prepares to pull out but someone taps on his window. It’s Reece. He rolls down his window and Reece leans on the frame. A cold wind blows into the car’s interior, making Judd shiver.

“If you change your mind you know where we are boss man,” Reece says, handing him a flier for the Sound Clash, “Just show them this at the door and you’ll get right in. Don’t bother with the queue or anything, just go right up to the bouncers. They’re some of our regulars,”

Judd takes the flier from Reece and looks at it. Reece steps back with a wide grin and a jaunty wave. He pats the top of the Porsche and walks away, side by side with Emmet. Judd smiles and shakes his head.

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