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

“So what is your master plan then?” Reece asks as he comes out the spare bathroom.

There’s a towel wrapped around his waist and he’s drying his hair with another one. He smells clean and looks better than he did a while ago. After Judd had declared his decision Emmet had started sulking, not talking to Judd or Reece and looking away every time they tried to look at him. Judd had given up trying to bring him around and encouraged Reece to take a bath. Reece’s hungover state had been stinking up the apartment as more and more of the booze worked its way out of his pores. Judd had contented himself playing on his xBox and eventually Emmet had joined in. Now the two men are in a neck and neck race on Grand Theft Auto, each trying to knock the other out and win the race. They barely look up as Reece walks out after his bath. He collapses on the sofa with a sigh, having nabbed a pair of Judd’s sweat pants and a loose t-shirt.

The game goes on for ages and eventually Reece gets tired of watching and listening to the two friends swear at each other. He reaches over and presses the pause button on Judd’s control. Judd looks at him, about ready to fly off the handle. Reece holds up his hands and starts talking.

“First of all, thanks for the bath,” he says quickly, “I feel like an actual person now and it’s great. Secondly, thanks for the clothes, I don’t think I’ve ever worn anything so comfy. And thirdly… if we’re going ahead with this whole teaching Obo a lesson thing I want to know the plan before we do anything or put any of the wheels in gear,”

Judd looks at Reece for a moment.

“XBox off,” he commands at last.

Emmet gives a squawk of unhappiness but Judd ignores him. He stands and walks over to the window, looking out over the entire city which was starting to light up as the sun set. Then he turns and takes a seat on the large armchair that sits in front of the window. He leans forwards, elbows on his knees and looks at his two right hand men.

“I’m gonna call Obo,” Judd says eventually. “I’ll tell him that I want us to meet up and actually talk about Charlie’s disappearance. He wants me to let him do more with holding over Charlie’s part of Farlow so I’ll use that to draw him out. And he’d get suspicious if I didn’t want to meet face to face. It was me who wanted the truce to be arranged in person. He’ll probably know that I want in with Mr Big too, and he’ll know that I know that he’s been spreading lies to the big man.”

“That’s a lot of people knowing a lot of different things,” Reece says slowly. “I’m confused,”

“Shut up you idiot,” Emmet snaps, feigning that he is going to hit Reece around the head. Reece falls for it and wraps his arms around his head. “Carry on Judd. You’re gonna make him come alone right?”

“He’d smell something was up if I didn’t,” Judd says with a smirk. “I’m just gonna do what he’d expect me to do. I’ll get him to come alone. We won’t be meeting in any building or anything, that’s too hard to keep safe. I’m going get him to meet me at the underpass near Sumners.”

“What if he doesn’t want to meet us on our turf,” Emmet asks quickly, interrupting Judd. “I mean, the guy’s an idiot but he’s not that stupid,”

Judd fights down the urge to smack Emmet around the head for interrupting. It’s a fair question and one that he’s given a lot of thought to.

“If he wants to meet on his patch we’ll meet at Bush Fair underpass,” he says. Emmet and Reece both nod, “It’s the furtherest point from the precinct where most of his cronies hang out and it’s right on the edge of his territory. There are some bushes nearby that you two can hide in.”

“What if he brings guys of his own?” Reece asks, biting a nail.

“He’s too cocky to do that,” Judd says with a smirk, “He’ll probably think that he can take on me and anyone else I bring along. He thinks he’s really hard and a great fighter. But he isn’t and I know it. I’ve seen the guy fight, he can’t punch for shit. So I’ll meet him and you two can hang back and listen in. Then I’ll confront him. I’ll ask him about the lies he’s been telling and whether he’s trying to fuck me over or not. He’ll probably deny it the little shit. That’s when I’m going to say ‘we need to talk’ and you two need to both appear on either side of him.”

“What then?” Reece asks hesitantly, as though he doesn’t want to know the answer. “We’re going to beat the crap out of him?”

“No,” Judd says sharply, shaking his head hard, “That’s when I lay down the law. I tell him what’s what and what he’s going to do. He’s going to retract what he said about our stuff to Mr Big and anyone else he’s been talking shit to. And then I’m going to tell him to back off Charlie’s patch and let us keep babysitting it until Charlie gets back.”

“And if he doesn’t agree?” Reece asks.

“That’s when we rough him up a bit,” Emmet says, bloodthirstily. “We give him a bit of what it’s worth so he knows not to fuck with us again,”

“That’s when we show him we mean business,” Judd corrects. “We give him a few punches sure but nothing too serious or damaging. Then we’ll show him the knives and tell him that’s what he’ll have to deal with next time.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Emmet says eventually, clearly a little impressed. “Got a nice bit of violence that shows we’re not soft but nothing that could get us beaten up for. Good compromise Judd. Right Reece?”

“I suppose,” Reece says reluctantly. He sighs, “It’s better than anything else we came up with I suppose.”

Judd looks at the two guys that are his right hand men. He trusts them completely and utterly. He knows that they’ll always have his back and he’s happy that they’re on side. He knows that neither is really that happy with what Judd has come up with but he also knows that there’s no other way to meet both of their ideas in a way that won’t go horribly wrong. He smiles at the guys and reaches for his mobile.

“Obo,” Judd says when the other end is answered, “We need to talk, face to face.”

“About what Judith?” Obo says with a sneer in his voice, “Wanna accuse me of fucking your mum now?”

“We need to talk about Charlie,” Judd says. He’s breathing slowly, fighting against the urge to start screaming after Obo has called him a girl and insulted his mother.

“We’ve already talked about Charlie,” Obo says. “That’s what all of those phone calls were about last night or did I miss something? Has he suddenly reappeared and wants to thank us with chocolate and roses?”

“We need to talk about what we’re doing about his patch,” Judd says, ploughing on and determined to ignore everything else that Obo says that isn’t relevant to his plan, “And we need to do it face to face. The underpass at Sumners, 7pm?”

“No way am I going on your pussy boy territory,” Obo says, “I’ll probably catch something. We do it on my patch,”

“Fine,” Judd snaps, “Bush Fair underpass work for you. It’s close to my patch but still on yours,”

“Yeah whatever,” Obo says. He sucks through his teeth. “You better come alone Judith, I don’t wanna see none of those pussy white boys of yours,”

“As long as you come on your own,” Judd says, “And I don’t want to see any of your gang hiding out in the trees and bushes either,”

“Bush Fair Underpass, 7 o clock,” Obo says, “Now fuck off and leave me alone, I’m busy.”

The phone clicks silent and Judd is left with a bleeping tone. He looks at his phone for a moment before tossing it on the sofa, beside Reece.

“Well that’s sorted then,” Judd says with a sigh. “Be here tomorrow well before seven so we can head there and you can find a decent place to hide. And wear dark clothes, not those bright Hawaiian shirts you love so much Emmet,”

“Aww come on,” Emmet says with a whine, “Those shirts are cool.”

“They’re ugly and they hurt my eyes,” Judd says, “Why can’t you buy some decent clothes, you’ve got the money?”

“I like my shirts,” Emmet says, pouting again.

“Whatever,” Judd says before the discussion has a chance to devolve into a ridiculous argument, “You guys just go and do something else. Preferably somewhere else. I’ve got class later and I need to finish the reading.”

The two boys laugh at Judd.

“You’ve always got your nose in a book mate,” Reece says, “If I didn’t know you I’d think you were a right geek,”

“I just want to do well on my course,” Judd says, “I’ve got to do well so I can help my dad.”

“We know mate, we know,” Emmet says soothingly. “And we respect you for it. It’s just funny hearing a drug lord talking about having to go to class. It’s like hearing a blonde say she’s got to go and work on some science shit or something. Just seems wrong,”

“So what are you two doing with your night?” Judd asks, accepting what Emmet has said,

“We’re going out again,” Emmet says, “We scored some tickets to tonight’s Sound Clash last night. Turns out one of the bouncers is a regular customer of Charlie’s and Right Stuff introduced us. Then we met the boss man and he gave us the tickets because we’re your guys.”

“Don’t get too drunk,” Judd warns, “I want you both able to move tomorrow. And yes I am looking at you Reece,”

“Hey don’t worry about me,” Reece says with a wide grin. “I’m hoping to get an early night tonight if you know what I mean,”

He nudges Judd with his elbow and winks. Judd rolls his eyes.

“I know what you mean,” he says dryly, “Even if I wish that I didn’t.”

“We’re both on the pull mate,” Emmet says, “Might even see if we can score a three way or something. Maybe even an orgy! Some of those coke bitches are horny as hell and will do anything if you offer them enough coke.”

“Just don’t go dipping into the business supply,” Judd says sternly, “Use your own stuff. I don’t want to have to teach you a lesson too,”

“Relax mate,” Emmet says, slinging an arm around Judd’s shoulders. “We know the rules and there’s no way we’re going to break them. We respect you too much for that.”

“Maybe you need to go out on the pull,” Reece says, “You’re wound so tight I’m surprised your head’s not popped off or something. When was the last time you got laid anyway?”

Judd glares at Reece.

“Come with us mate,” Emmet coaxes, “It’ll be fun and you can unwind. Hell you can meet us out once you’re done with class. Going on the pull is way more fun than studying. You don’t have to drink or anything, just hang out, watch the girls, maybe pull one or something?”

“No I’ll be fine,” Judd says with a shake of the head, “You two go and have fun, just don’t get too wasted.”

Reece and Emmet let themselves out, Judd waves at them from his seat on the armchair. Once the door has clicked shut behind them he throws his head back and sighs. It’s days like this that make him wonder why he’s still in the drug game. There’s always so much going on, so many things pulling him in different directions and he feels like there’s almost never any time for him to do what he wants to do. Now though he’s alone and he can finally hit the books.

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