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Sample - The Pilgrim Seed

 

Chapter One

 

The driver of the ragtop BMW was a young black man.  His name was Joseph Washington - Joe. Joe was young, aged twenty-five. The BMW was old, relatively old, in the life span of cars. The rust bubbles that showed were a result of where the car had originated from – somewhere north of the Mason Dixon line; somewhere where rainy days outnumbered sunny days, and the sheet steel of the car’s body suffered moisture attack. But, it was a BMW, and for someone on the up and up, like Joe, it was a start, with a little kudos even.

Joe could not foresee it, but, the meeting that he was driving to today, would be a pivotal point in his life. The meeting would not go as he planned. The meeting would be over with quickly, and Joe would leave the meeting with aches, pain, and bruises that he could not show to the outside world.

Joe drove with the rag-top up. He drove blinkered, on instinct and reflexes. He saw clear road ahead, and floored the gas pedal. Where the clear road was congested, he swerved, dodged, skidded, through and around, any obstruction

Joe repeatedly flicked the stick on the steering column. Most drivers moved over, away from the flashing headlights coming up fast behind them. Those that gave him the finger were eased to one side as he forced his way through the narrowest of gaps. Joe was scared shitless and jumping like a flea on speed.

Five near collisions later and fifty-minutes after leaving home, Joe slowed to a crawl in a run down area just west of Houston, near Katy, Texas. Satisfied that he’d found the correct address, Joe pulled up outside the Sorrento Pizzeria Restaurant. A room above the restaurant was the office of the F.L.S. - the Friendly Loan Society, or, as it was known to its customers, Fucking Loan Sharks. He exited his air - conditioned car, slung his jacket onto the back seat, and finally got the driver’s door shut after two slams. He used his remote to lock the vehicle as he walked away.

The red and green colour scheme of the restaurant frontage was the brightest spot on a grubby, grey street. The old folk, and teenagers, taking in the mid-morning sun, littered the steps that tumbled down from dirty brown tenements. On a corner to Joe’s left, the friendly local drug dealer handed out his merchandise in full view of whoever cared to watch - but nobody cared.

Joe scanned a menu Scotch-taped to the inside of the large floor-to-ceiling plate glass window that spanned the front of the premises. His eyes glazed over for a second, and only a second, before he shook himself out of his reverie. He moved to his left, toward a pair of glazed aluminium entrance doors that led into the restaurant. Joe took a deep breath, pushed on the left-hand door, and then paused. He stood in thought for a moment, on the threshold, making his decision. The decision made, he stepped into the building. He was there, in the lion’s den, where his worrying would end one way or another.

Joe entered the empty restaurant, and nodded to the man behind the token bar counter. The man returned the nod, and then pointed to a table at the back of the room, in a corner.

“Don’t take the corner seat, that’s Peter’s,” he said.

Joe did not acknowledge the command, but did take the seat that would put him directly opposite Peter.

Sixty-seconds later, Joe tensed at the squeaking sound of a door opening, then closing, behind him. Peter - Two Metre Peter - entered the room.

Peter Andretti was indeed two metres tall. He was also broad shouldered, with thick, brushed back, dark hair, and a tanned complexion. Peter was second generation Italian American. The ‘two-metre’ nickname came from his father. A father who still worked in Kilo’s and litres.

Peter made toward Joe, licking his top lip as he slithered around the tables, moving slowly, gracefully, always looking straight ahead. He approached Joe from behind. Joe turned. Peter looked at Joe out of the corner of his eye as he passed. Joe’s lips twitched as his smile split his face.

He coughed, and then said, “Peter. You good?”

Joe held out his hand. Peter ignored the hand, and took his seat against the wall. He looked around, and acknowledged the barman with a barely perceptible nod. He turned to Joe, grimaced, shrugged, and said, “Okay, so whaddya say, my black friend? You got the necessary?”

Joe tried to suppress the sound of his gulping. His Adam’s apple danced and his tongue pushed against the inside of his teeth as he held the smile.

“That’s why I’ve come to see you, Peter. You know, instead of paying your man, I …wanted to tell you, see you, personally.”

Peter held up both his enormous hands. Joe pulled back from the table, eyes wide and staring. The distance between him and Peter had now doubled.

Peter rested his arms on the table, leaned toward Joe, and said, “I do not think I want to hear what you have to say, my educated friend.”

A tick started at the corner of Joe’s mouth. He stared. Peter nodded slowly.

“Tell me in one sentence, Joseph.”

Joe looked down. He spoke to his knees, as he rubbed his thighs. “I ain’t got the money, Peter.”

Peter grimaced, nodding. He studied Joe for a moment. “And?”

“That’s it, Peter. I…”

Peter’s raised his fist and brought it crashing down - in a split second. The cutlery on the table danced. Joe flinched. Now he knew. For a big man, Peter was fast.

“No, you fucking pussy, that is not it!”

Peter stood, glaring down at Joe. He was tight lipped, breathing long and deep through his nose. He thought for a moment, then said, “You have one week to catch up - and add a hundred-bucks for my…” he shrugged, and grimaced, “…inconvenience.”

Joe shrugged back, and then held his hands out at his sides in a ‘what can I do’ manner.

“I can’t do it, Peter,” he said. “I ain’t…”

Again Joe did not see the initial movement of the fist. He did feel the resultant impact of a blow that travelled less than twelve inches to a point directly below his heart. Suddenly, Peter was at Joe’s side. He pulled Joe out of his seat, by grabbing the back of his shirt collar with his right hand. The left-hand punch to Joe’s kidney area  sent pain searing through his body, from his testicles, to his armpits, then finished with a tingle on the outside of his forearms. Peter let Joe drop, then kicked him at the base of his spine, and anywhere else that was accessible. Joe’s only response was a strangulated groan as each blow landed. He rolled over on to his stomach.

Peter looked down on Joe, watching him writhing.

 

 

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