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Authors: Mark M. DeRobertis

Tags: #murder, #japan, #drugs, #martial arts, #immortality

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BOOK: Killer of Killers
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But Trent hesitated. He wasn’t sure any of
this was true. Everything he heard could be nothing but lies.
Nevertheless, he firmed his mouth and was sure to speak with an
even voice. “Ideally,” he agreed. “But I don’t see you as an
idealist. I see you selling this stuff to the people who can pay
the most. Not to the average citizen. And I’m betting that I’m
right.”

“Indeed, you
are
right,” Soriah
jeered, “about my partner, Mr. Manoukian.
He
is the one who
is in it for the profit. And I...
I
...” His voice grew
stronger as he pointed to his own chest. “I
am
the
idealist!”

“You’re an idealist like my dog’s an
idealist,” Trent retorted. He actually never had a dog, but he
thought it was an apt comparison. “You’re a benevolent
industrialist who wants the world to be a better place? People like
you want the world to be a better place, all right, but only for
people like you. Making the world a better place for everyone...
That takes people like me.”

Once more, Soriah wasn’t quick to reply.
Instead, he clasped his hands together and lowered his head as if
considering the conversation in its entirety. Several seconds
passed before he raised his head again, but when he did, his
expression wasn’t pleasant. “Trent, you have proven to be nothing
more than a rogue vigilante,” he said. “You’re someone who has seen
our justice system go astray, and you have concluded you can do
something about it. Yet your petty philosophies are
nothing...
nothing
, I tell you, compared to what we have
here. And I would suggest you heed me on this, because there is one
thing of which I can assure you. I can’t let you
interfere
with it.”

“Mr. Soriah, I have no intention of
interfering with you or your program. But just so you know, there’s
something of which I can assure
you
, also.”

“Oh? Do tell.”

“If I ever find myself in a position to make
a difference, I will see to it that
justice
prevails.”

Soriah grimaced. “And exactly what
is
justice, Trent, if you don’t mind my asking?” His voice was calm,
but he spoke with a sneer.

Trent glared deep into the cold, gray eyes of
his host. “Justice is rendering each killer that which is his
due.”

“Of course,” Soriah conceded. “But your brand
of justice will catch up to you. You know that. I don’t advise you
to cross that road alone, Mr. Trent. I could be a very powerful
advocate. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this opportunity?”

“Because I go where I
want
to go, I do
what I
want
to do, and I am beholden to
no
one.”
Trent rose to leave, but stopped and peered one last time at
Soriah’s frigid face. “And that’s the way I like it.”

* * * *

For several minutes, Abraham sat unmoving and
alone, contemplating the undesired outcome of his brief encounter
with Trent Smith. Then he leaned forward and manipulated his
desktop controls. Moments later, a digital recorder replayed his
departed visitor’s voice. “I go where I
want
to go, I do
what I
want
to do, and I am beholden to
no
one.”

Abraham smiled upon hearing it, and then he
spoke with the playback when the last words sounded. “And that’s
the way I like it.”

An exceedingly tall black man entered the
room. It was Charles, and he sat down in the single seat before the
grand desk. Abraham perked up with anticipation. “Yes, Charles.
Tell me about Trent Smith.”

“It’s what we figured, Abe,” Charles began.
“Trent Smith isn’t his real name, but he’s not ex-special forces
like we thought. This guy spent over twenty years in Japan at the
Shoji Tokyo Dojo. It’s the
Harvard
of martial arts
academies. A martial arts
graduate school
, if you will, and
they’re known to be awfully picky about who they accept. You have
to be a top black belt—with references—just to be considered. And
Trent Smith? He held the rank of a tenth degree master sensei.”

“I see,” Abraham replied, hand on chin. “A
tenth degree master sensei. That sounds impressive. But a master of
what, exactly?”

“Ju Jitsu. No, make that
Budo
Ju
Jitsu. It’s more militaristic and extreme. He’s classified as an
expert with a variety of weapons, but his preference—and his
specialty—is empty hands.”

“This is all very interesting,” Abraham said
as he leaned back again into his chair. “Tell me more about Trent
Smith.”

“This Trent Smith, when it comes to martial
arts, I’d say he’s the best right now. Over the last ten years he’s
been the undefeated champion in Japan’s underground circuit. It’s a
no holds barred competition and very brutal, but still it was only
a sport. Now, he’s here, and he’s deadly serious, as we’ve
seen.”

“So what drives him?” Abraham asked. “What is
his motivation? Has he suffered a devastating loss? A murdered
father or brother, perhaps? A wife or child lost to crime?”

“No,” Charles answered. “There’s no record of
any tragedy affecting him his entire life. I don’t know why he’s
doing this.”

“I do,” Abraham said. “He loves the thrill of
it. He’s found a reason to kill, and he’s justified it in his mind.
You see, my friend, he is the righteous one. Nothing will ever
change this perception he has of himself.”

“You’re probably right,” Charles
concurred.

Abraham couldn’t suppress a grin. “I could
use a man like that.”

“He’s a free spirit,” Charles warned. “A wild
card.”

Abraham considered the opinion. “We can never
be sure,” he said. “This man presents a possible clog in our
machine. We’ll have to find a way to neutralize him.”

“Neutralize him?”

“Like on the hardwood, Charles. How many
times have we learned that lesson? See to it, won’t you? In the
meantime, keep an eye on him.”

Charles nodded. “Okay.”

With that, Abraham eyed again his desktop
controls and played back another of Trent’s quotes. “I will see to
it that justice prevails.”

Like a broken record, Abraham replayed the
last two words over and over. “...justice prevails...justice
prevails...justice prevails.”

Noticing the long expression on Charles’
face, Abraham commented, “You look worried. Is there any word on
our West Coast leak? I’d feel much better, knowing it was under
control.”

“Not yet, but I expect a report any
time.”

“Good,” Abraham said. “I should think it’s
even more important now than ever. And the one here in New
York?”

“It’s what we talked about. I’m sure of it
now.”

Abraham nodded. “Very well, Charles. I
suppose it will be necessary to advise the good doctor. Let’s make
that a priority on our next visit to Bemidji, shall we?”

After a deep breath, Abraham returned his
attention to the recorder at his fingertips. Once more he played
back the words of Trent Smith. “Justice is rendering each killer
that which is his due.”

* * * *

Charles watched his aging mentor with
increased discomfort. He knew Abraham was right. The sudden
appearance of Trent Smith posed a possible threat to their plans.
He set his mind to work on just how he might ‘neutralize’ him. But
his concern was not for Trent Smith. It was for the man he knew
most of his life. The man who was like a father to him.

 

Chapter Six

Don’t You Want to Live
Forever?

 

It was a gangbanger’s
fiesta, or so he perceived it, but Amman Bey was not one of the
celebrants. He was there on business, and he had just provided a
sample of the product he wanted to sell. He minded his patience as
Rico Rodriguez, the gang’s scrawny leader, waved the syringe over
his head.

Rico was slight in stature but heavily armed
with handguns and knives stuck into his belt. Long black hair,
parted on the side, fell tangled about his cheeks and over the
cushions of the couch where he sat. “Oooohhhhweeeee,” he cried
after pushing the needle into his bicep. Enthusiastic cronies
shouted in glee as he pulled it free of his arm.

But Amman wasn’t shouting, and his patience
was spent. Garbed in his black suit and tie, he wanted to spend as
little time as possible in the company of the loud and ragged
collection of rabble that followed the man whose money he sought.
While the gathered delinquents held beer cans and cigarettes, he
held a black leather bag. “So vaht do you think?”

“Yeah, dass da sheet,” Rico claimed in a
gruff Spanish accent. He looked to the arm that received the shot
amidst multiple tattoos. A pinhead of scarlet oozed from the
puncture. “What do you call dees, anyway?”

“Like you sade, izz the shit,” Amman answered
with an accent of his own.

“Ha! Da sheet, ay? Well, pop unodder
wun.”

“I told you only vunce a day,” Amman replied
in a tone decisive yet cautious. Though much larger than the youths
crowded about, he knew he would have no better chance against this
ruffian horde than an alley cat swarmed by ravenous rats.

“I don’ mean for me,” Rico clarified. He
turned his head to a hefty man nearby. “Alfredo, check diz
out.”

The scowling brute swaggered forward. With
the exception of Amman, he was the heaviest man in the room. He
asked, “You sure dees sheet is cool?” His accent was even thicker
than Rico’s and just as gruff.

“Hey, I’m yur Numero Uno,” the jovial leader
reminded him. “You truss me, right? Vaminos.”

“Si, I truss you,” Alfredo said, “but how do
we know we can truss dees Gringo?”

Rico glared at Alfredo. “Because I
said
we can truss him, dat’s how.” He moved his glare to
Amman. “Go ahead, spleet dat bag.”

Amman took another syringe from the black
leather bag but awaited Alfredo’s consent before putting the point
to his arm.

The rangy gang boss again eyed his leery
compadre. “Wassa mattah? Don’ you wanna leev forever?”

Alfredo nodded, after which Amman plunged the
needle into his deltoid. “Oh, yeah,” he gushed. “Dees dah sheet.”
His eyes rolled back, and his round, unshaved face blushed to deep
red.

Rico slapped Alfredo’s back. “Yeah, eez good,
ay?”

Observing their faces, Amman grinned. Rico
was a man convinced what he heard was no lie. A drug to make him a
god was now in his possession, and Amman doubted the gang leader
was willing to share it with anyone else.

Viewing the minions huddled around him,
Rico’s face turned grim. “What are you fools looking at? You want
some of dees, you got to earn it. Vallanse!”

The group dispersed, seemingly content with
the contraband already in their possession. They diverted their
attention to the raven-haired beauties awaiting them in the
expanded room.

Rico asked Alfredo, “You got deh cash?”

Alfredo reached into his pocket and pulled
out an envelope. He handed it to Rico who then scrutinized Amman.
“You ain’t no Gringo,” he said with certainty. “And with a scar
like that? Where you from, anyway?”

Amman instinctively put his hand on the scar
that spanned his left cheek. “I’m from Turkey,” he replied.

“Yeah, and dees is deh gravy,” Rico joked. He
turned his head to view Alfredo’s approval, and again to Amman, he
added, “You put it on your delivery list, Turkey Bro. Leave it to
you to find sum-tin else to sell me.”

“Remember, vunce a day,” Amman warned.

“Yeah, yeah, wonce a day, just like my
vitamins.”

Rico handed him the envelope.

Amman reached into his coat, produced a
glossy black stiletto, and sprang the shiny blade. He slipped the
cutting edge across the folded paper and pulled out a clump of
thousand dollar bills. “Beddy nice,” he grunted in a low voice.
“I’ll be back next month.”

“Don’ forget to bring dis new sheet with the
reg’lar stuff,” Rico said. “I’m countin’ on you, homes.”

“I never forget, Rico.”

Amman shoved the bills inside his coat and
turned to see his way through the pack of revelers. Once outside,
he thrust an open hand to the teenage lookout who filled it with
his .45 caliber. Amman pocketed the weapon and strutted toward a
parked limousine. After entering the vehicle, he said, “Let’s go,”
to his cousin Malik in the driver’s seat. The words were Turkish,
but the order wasn’t obeyed. He asked, “What’s wrong?”

Malik turned around, exposing a reddened face
and furious eyes. “You are an idiot,” he jeered, also in the
Turkish tongue.

“What are you talking about?”

“That,” Malik said, redirecting his stare
through the rear window. Another limo was pulling up behind
them.

Amman paled as two more of his cousins, Ali
and Jamir, also garbed in black suits, opened simultaneously the
opposite doors and sat astride him. Their girth exceeded his, and
both glared eyes unsympathetic and cruel.

The words remained Turkish, as Ali, to
Amman’s right, sneered, “Amman, Amman, you fool. What are you
trying to do? Doesn’t our uncle pay you enough?” He produced a
sheathed stiletto of his own, which spurted a blade against Amman’s
trembling face. “What do you suppose, Amman? Must I find it
necessary to cut this side, too?”

Jamir, to Amman’s left, also sprang a blade.
“You disappoint all of us, and you make us ashamed.” He put his
knife to Amman’s neck. “Maybe we slit your throat this time, you
think?”

His jaw straddled by razor-edged steel, Amman
lamented, “It’s true. I have made a terrible mistake.”

“Yes, you have,” Ali agreed. “And how do you
propose to correct this terrible mistake?”

* * * *

Spanish tunes filled the rustic streets as
Amman approached the sentry who stood at Rico’s door. He climbed
the steps and said, “I need to see Rico again.” Once more he turned
over his handgun.

BOOK: Killer of Killers
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