The furniture was clean and smelled of new. From the desk where he would meet with all his underlings to the chairs that were around and under it to the paint on the wall and to the closet behind his back, and the coat hanger to the entrance’s left.
He would never get tired of that clean ‘new’ smell, not after all the time he had spent on the bile-infested streets and gutters of the poor-stricken districts, not to mention the succeeding years he had spent in jail.
It had been around twenty years since he had left jail, and never again had he stepped foot inside one again. What he had learned from Don Emiliano while inside, he had put to good and fortuitous use.
Now, Lazaros Infeperio was a Don himself, and his family was one of the most powerful, vying for direct control over the Mafias. He wanted to be boss of all bosses, the Don controlling every family.
He placed the letter the meeting that day would be about on his part of the desk, and walked to meet his Capos at the door as they arrived. His adviser was the first.
“Lazaros,” they kissed cheeks, “is this meeting good or no?”
“Good,” Lazaros said with a firm nod, “very good, Protos. There’s the coat hanger as usual, you can take your seat at my right of course. I will receive the rest of the family.”
“Very good, thank you.”
He met all ten of them as they arrived, his moustache, as usual, was already showing. He shaved it every morning but it was quick to return. Ironically, his thick short brown hair was balding, his forehead and a bit of the top already hairless. He had a small scar next to his right eye, from tip of the eye brow to top of the cheek, but other than that, it was only his powering stance that got him any respect. Apart, of course, from his actual power.
His suit usually sported a red vest under his coat, with a wine-colored tie. His coat was always very dark, along with his pants.
He gave warm and polite greetings to each of his underbosses, then directing them to their respective seats. After everyone had arrived, he went to take a seat himself.
“Come on, now, I’m dyin’ to hear why you called us ‘ere.”
“Good news, my friends, very good news,” he sat and held up the letter with a hint of pride and a full blown scheming smirk. “In this letter is the very thing that will finally give us the edge we need.”
He handed it to Protos and then leaned back to hear him read.
“Hm, ok, I will read it then,” he opened it.
“The deaths will toll, and screams will run. Misery will mold a shadow around the su–” he interrupted himself with a knowledgeable look, “is this?”
“An’ when the time comes, the darkness shall source the save. Hope will be pitched from the Shadow Conclave.”
Murmurs rose from his underbosses at the “Shadow Conclave”, and with good reason.
“The Shadow Conclave, so formed to make such prophecy reality, has noticed your remarkable achievements in the fields of thieving and other such activities. Don Lazaros Infeperio, you are hereby officially invited to participate in the next Shadow Conclave as the ninth bearer of the title “The Don”, and compete against those of your level for the privilege to be chosen amongst the shadows until such a time as another Shadow Conclave takes place.”
He paused. “Then it explains what that means.”
“Total and complete protection by all the assets they have access to,” The Don pointed out in excitement. “The next best thing short of immortality, and I’ll have it for the best part o’ five years.”
“But boss,” one of the underlings mentioned, “how did this happen? I thought only thieves were called to this thing.”
“Well, all true businessmen are thieves at their core, see? I might even say we’re the best.” He tapped his head with his index finger, “we out-smart and out-maneuver others. Besides, it’s apparently not that uncommon, — I’m gonna be the ninth with the title.”
“Nobody doubts ya, boss, everybody knows ya never come outta a deal on the losin’ side. But how’ll you do in the Shadow Conclave?” Another asked, “I watched the last one, there are no deals to be made, it’s pure…ya know, ground work.”
“I can do ground work,” he crossed his arms and looked at them seriously, the friendly, buddy-buddy demeanor immediately being sucked out of the room “this’s important, boys. That organization’s an alliance between the great powers in the underworld. We’re a part ovit ourselves. With their protection, we can get more aggressive, we can finally put our family on the very top. All others will bend to Infeperio.”
Some smiled in agreement and the rest held their reservations quiet in respect and knowledge of their place.
“I will leave to win this Conclave. Florin will keep things running in my place, got it?”
“You can count on me, boss.”
“Sure,” “you got it,” “no doubt,” “a good decision.”
“Ok then, that’s the meetin’!” He slapped the desk, “who’s up fer a good night out of dinin’ and drinkin’?! This’s an opportunity worthy of celebrating!”
They roared in laughter and appreciation, getting up to put on their coats so they could leave, talking heartily and joyously.
Don appreciated his lieutenants, they were family after all, but he appreciated even more how much of an opportunity it really was.
One that he would fully take advantage of, as he was taught to do, and had never failed to do in all the time since he had last left prison.
One that he believed was well earned.
The good mood was gone just as swiftly as the car, sent from the Shadow Conclave to pick him up, was opened to him.
Every single experienced bone in his body was telling Lazaros it was a set up. He looked at the limo, and then back at his supposed bodyguard, one of the envoys from Shadow Conclave.
“The windows are tinted,” he pointed out.
“Yes they are, now if you please.”
Lazaros put a cigar in his mouth and lit it. The man demonstrated a bit of impatience, he walked off to hurry him along, but Lazaros interrupted that.
“You see,” his voice came out abruptly, startling the man, “this don’t sit right with me. Looks like I’m getting whacked.”
“I’ve already showed you the seal, what more do you require?”
“A normal ride.”
“Sir, with all due respect, but we’re supposed to take the appropriate precautions. Your trip there will take about three days, how are you supposed to get through it if you can’t even get off your street?”
Lazaros looked down at the man, who was younger than him albeit not the least bit young. He still shivered and averted his eyes, incapable of handling Lazaros’s gaze.
“I didn’t mean–”
“Watch your tone before I watch it for you, kid” Lazaros said, looking back at the dark inside of the car. “I’m getting’ my gun.” He spat out the cigarette and forced them to wait for him.
Of course, he had had the gun all along, but he needed a few extra minutes to think about the situation. By the time he returned, he was convinced the chaperones were legitimate.
“Alright, let’s get goin’, sounds like this’s gonna be one annoying trip.”
“Can’t imagine what’d come close,” the guy said, closing the door behind Lazaros.
Lazaros fell asleep on the trip, and woke up to board some kind of aircraft. It was only when he woke from falling asleep on the aircraft that he started to suspect he was being put to sleep. Nevertheless, he was then supposed to board an underwater vessel of some kind, something he had never even seen before.
“Don’t you guys think you’re exaggeratin’ a bit?”
“Not at all, Don,” a voice surged from his side, from someone different than his first driver.
“Who the hell’re you?”
“The sub’s captain. Now if you would, please.”
He grumbled, “so someone decided flying wasn’t dangerous enough, huh?”
He boarded the elliptic mechanized vessel that had too many mirrors for comfort, and was directed to his room.
Once there, he was quick to hold his breath, putting a napkin he was carrying in his pocket over his mouth to give a quick breath every couple of minutes. After thirty, he left the room.
I know when I’m bein’ set-up, he thought to himself while getting out his gun, even if it was empty, all this goin’ around is overkill on anyone in the world…unless it’s the Shadow Conclave you want to shake off…
He stepped out and saw a sailor walking by. Lazaros still had his wallet and it was as full as when he left the house, he could feel its consistency, so he smiled and called to the sailor.
He pointed the gun, interrupting his running start, “now now, hold still. C’mere, kid.”
He wasn’t a kid. In fact, if Lazaros had to guess, he was around twenty five years old, but calling him kid eased him into the belief The Don didn’t want to kill him.
“Now, I’ve got an offer to make you, and you’d well not to refuse it, see? What’s your name, boy?”
“Alright Alfred, listen up,” he took two large bills from his wallet and placed them in his hand, he had grabbed them before he could realize what he was doing. “I want you to stay in front of my door, and if anybody asks, you were asked to make sure I didn’t leave. Are you a complainer?”
“Yes!” He acted impatient so that the boy would feel in danger, “yes, do you complain about your job?!”
“Uh, I dun–”
“Jeez, kid, ‘re you brain dead? Can ya do this for me or not?” He spoke even more impatiently, his pistol hand twitching ever so slightly, but not enough to go unnoticed.
“Ye-yes! You can count on me.”
“I better, kid. If you’re a complainer, complain about it, ‘cause I’m fast asleep, got it?”
“I…I got it. Uhh, until when?”
He threatened a slap, making Alfred wince.
“When?! ’Till I say otherwise, dammit! You leave, or you tell ‘em, or you fail me anyway and I promise I’ll do everything in my power to make you suffer the consequences. Goddit?”
“Oh my…yeah, ok.”
“Good,” he slapped him in the face twice, patronizingly gently, “don’t make me regret putting my trust in your good skills now, Alfred.”
He nodded nervously and Lazaros left with a smile. Once he was outside of view, he took off his right shoe, opened a little compartment and took out the bullets that were hidden in it. He then loaded them into his pistol.
What kinda novice do they take me for to think I wouldn’t notice my gun was empty…
They had apparently unloaded the gun while he was sleeping, but he of course noticed it, and was now feeling very insulted he had been expected not to.
He went across the corridors, looking for some kind of information. He wasn’t one for stealth or anything so he just walked like he owned the place, that usually worked.
The one man that suspected him was thoroughly and easily intimidated into going back to his room and hiding under his bed, lest his family suffer the wrath of Lazaros. Lying, of course, Lazaros had no idea who the man’s family was, but anyone working on an underwater vehicle was bound to not be doing it for himself. A supposition that turned out to be solid, as Lazaros’ suppositions frequently did.
“Mr. Infeperio,” a voice came from around the hall. Lazaros looked around him but saw nothing, though to be fair, the voice carried an echo. “I commend you on your keen senses. To think we were one trip away from having you all to ourselves.”
Lazaros looked closer and noticed a speaker of some kind attached to the ceiling wall. That was where the sound was coming from.
“You have indeed walked into an ambush, and unless you wish to die, you will cease this running around and surrender yourself immediately. You have nowhere to go anyways.”
“Running?” Lazaros smirked and turned away to continue looking for wherever the pilot of that thing was, “he thinks I’m runnin’.” He shook his head, laughing mildly.