Rick thrust his way thru traffic like he was driving a weapon. He’d been antsy all night, and even getting Alice to blow him hadn’t calmed him down. The highway was all bollixed up and he’d been forced to call and reschedule his meeting with the bank. Now there was a hole a couple of hours long in his schedule. He found himself thinking about Allen’s failure to kill Mom, and going thru all the ways he could do it himself. At the moment he was leaning toward cutting her brake line. He’d rejected reprogramming her onboard computer. This was the backup plan.
He got off the interstate at the next exit and worked his way thru the surface streets. Those international businessmen he’d met with last night were real jokers. The accents hadn’t fooled him at all. But there was money behind them, and that’s all he cared about at this point. His less reputable business partners had hinted that there were much bigger things going down at the club than would be healthy for him to know about. And that meant money. If he could just siphon some of it off as it flowed past, he’d be good to go. He could taste it. If the bank turned him down, these assholes would be his last chance. But hey, if the bank turned him down, fuck the bank. There were bigger fish to fry.
Speaking of money. Rick pulled into the parking lot of one of his apartment buildings. He collected a hundred bucks and a sob story from 6A, a probably worthless check (fraud charge as well as eviction) from 13B, and twelve hundred from 12C. Allen was there in bed, and after sleeping thru getting his pocket picked, Rick thought he responded nicely to a good prodding with his boot. Allen jumped out of bed and started swinging, then stopped when he realized it was his landlord.
“You look like you’re surprised to see me,” Rick observed.
“What are you doing here, man?” Allen whined, sitting on the edge of the bed and nursing his hangover. “You’re not supposed to come in my house like that.”
“Seeing as you’re two months behind on the rent, I thought I’d pay you a visit and request that you pay me now.” Rick towered over Allen, who could only look up as far as his crotch. Allen kept his head down. “Look at me,” Rick insisted. People had to show respect. Allen twisted his head sideways and grimaced a squint. “And there’s that little matter of the money you owe me for getting you out of jail.”
Allen searched his pockets and started to explain – he was being robbed. Not just once, but over and over. Rick kicked him in the shins. And beaten. He was afraid for his life. He cried as he swore to get the money somehow and pay rent on time every month from now on. Even tho, compared to what he owed his dealer, two months’ rent and a little bail money was piss in a rainstorm. He didn’t tell Rick that part. Nor did he mention the Russian Mafia, following that well-known criminal rule, STFU.
Rick turned a deep red shade and rubbed his palms together slowly. “Keep in mind that the moment you’re two and a half months late, I get the sheriff over here to evict you onto the street.” He waved at the piles of stolen goods. “They’ll be interested to see your various possessions. That means you have two weeks to come current on the rent. Understand?”
Allen nodded miserably. “But I’ll let you work off the bail money you owe me,” Rick continued. “Plus interest.” Allen rolled his eyes. That blowjob. Groaning, he waved Rick over. Rick stood there, staring at him. “Get on up,” he said finally, “I said you can start now.”
Allen shambled out to Rick’s car and sank into the seat, trying to avoid the light. He promised himself that he wouldn’t be caught there again.
“What’re we doing?” he finally asked, as Rick pulled into Home Depot.
“You’re repainting the railings at Sea Pines.”
* * *