PHASE 12  


In his private booth Sal sat with his usual thugs sitting at each of the openings. He had his cell phone, and his private line to the club directly in front of him. He was not so patiently waiting for the island police department to call him back saying they found Erin, and shoved her on the private jet back to him. Neither phone rang once in hours with such news.

Sal turned to the man sitting to his left. The man with jet-black hair and eyes to match, who sat quietly with a slight grin on his face looking at Sal. He had four men who accompanied him everywhere but never said a word in front of anyone, yet seemed to know what each other was thinking at all times. They sat at a table in front of Sal’s booth with their backs to the two men, never showing any interest in anything, or anyone in the club. 

Sal watched as Filly took a beautiful woman to a private room : Ya see that? He 
      pointed to the two women walking by. In the next few minutes that sorry excuse
      of a stripping wench is gonna make me hundreds of dolluhs. Multiple that by a 
      lot, and ya got, well, a lot. Now, you’ve been talkin in my ear for days, well two, 
      what’s your name again? 

The man replied coldly: Irad.

Sal: Irad? What kinda name is that anyway? Sounds foreign.

Irad: It’s an old name, and it is just Irad. 

Sal: Ah, one of those terrible family names. Probably from a relative you’d never 
       known of, but ya gotta walk around being called after him. Was a him right? 
       You wasn’t named after no girl was ya? Sal let out a hoarse, loud laugh. I’m 
       gonna call ya Rad. I can remember that.

Irad: No, you will remember my name.

Sal: Lets get this straight. You’re in my club, so I’ll do, or say, whatever I want.

Irad: Under your normal circumstances I understand your authority, but your 
               authority does not apply to me, or my companions. You will remember 
               my name.

Sal: Unbelievable, you speak to me in that manner. I will allow it this one time 
       because I at least agree with you that these circumstances aren’t the slightest 
       bit usual. I don’t know anything about you other that your name, and ya got 
       companions, as I do, for protection. I don’t know where you’re from, or even 
       why you're here. However, I do know when ya walked in here I was compelled 
       to listen to you, for whatever reason, and we could possibly come to some very

       profitable business agreement upon mutual terms. So far I’ve been correct.

       Your idea to have these themes with employees and clientele has perked

       revenue up considerably, and we like things to stay perky around here, if ya

       know what I mean. Sal let out one of his obnoxious, overly

       loud laughs. Interestingly enough, I'm wonderin' why you shared this ingenious

       idea with me instead of doin' it in on your own. Why come to me? We aren't

       friends. The only friend I have is money, she never lies to me. Now, tell me why

       your here cuz I'm gettin' tired of your mysterious ways.

Irad: We are here for Erin, your missing stripper. She will return. She will not be
               the same. She will be more powerful than you can imagine, and 
               unaware of her abilities.

Sal in stunned amazement: What the livin’ daylights are you talking about? What 
         power, and you think you're gonna take her away from me? So you show up 
         for Erin? What power is she going to have? Wait a minute, 
         you mean tuh tell me she’ll strip even better? Do you know what that 
         means? I’ll be the richest man in the world! She’ll literally knock people dead! 
         Some of them pass out as it is. I’m gonna have to put a death clause in for

         everyone to sign. 

Irad: She will return soon. He slid out of the booth, and his companions stood 
               with him: We will return when she does.

Sal: You and your goons know this for a fact? Maybe this tells me you took her. Sal 
       gave a simple nod to three very broad, tall men standing near the booth. The

       men approached without expression, and stood silently by the men 
       in front of Sal. I have no idea what you're talkin' about, 
       reign, power, whatever, I wouldn't spare a dime for that jibberish, but if I find 
       out you had anything to do with her temporary disappearance, you and your 
       men will be excused from this life. FYI, normal policy is I excuse someone from 
       my table, but as we have established you are far from normal, and you have 
       been peculiarly kind, you may leave with my personal escorts. All of ya’s. 
       Just make sure Erin comes back in one piece. You do that, you live.

Irad shot Sal piercing, cold stare with his solid black eyes. He started to take a breath as if to say something, but stopped. Sal was ready to respond to anything he said, but instead felt a stifling shortness of breath. It was as though someone had forced a plastic bag over his head, and he needed to take a desperate life-saving gasp of air. It began in a split second, and ended the same. Sal's breath came back with the feeling his lungs would burst from being forcefully over filled with freezing air. The burning cold in Sal’s chest abruptly stopped as Irad turned and left. Sal took a cautious, slow breath.

Sal: That was especially unusual. Think I’ll go into the resuscitation      
       room ‘till I catch my breath.

Irad turned to Sal: We will return when she does.

Sal: Yeah right. Sal began to walk slowly to the resuscitation room. By the way, do 
       they have as peculiar names as you, or do they not have names at all?

Irad: Their names are irrelevant to you.

Sal: Frankly, all that matters to me now is getting into that room. 

Sal gave a pathetic wave and shuffled into the resuscitation room where the doctor on duty put him in a luxurious recliner, and gave him an oxygen tube. As he reclined he noticed Filly walking by with the beautiful woman she had taken into one of the private rooms. He thought something was familiar with the woman, but he couldn’t put his stubby, short finger on it. He muttered under his shallow breaths, ‘Must just be my current condition makin’ me think I recognize her.’

Comodo walked by the resuscitation room, and watched Sal getting in the recliner. Odd, he thought, he had never known Sal to openly show weakness. He quietly slid out of the BLU VELVET and into a taxi back to the coffee shop where he parked his car. He decided to take a walk instead of going home. He sauntered down the sidewalk of the sophisticated downtown shops. It was quite early in the morning, right before the bakeries were open, and he could smell the fragrant breads about to be pulled out of the ovens. He was reviewing his night as a woman at the BLU VELVET.

He thought about the unknown men around Sal, and possibly what role they were playing at the club. The theme rooms could not have been Sal’s idea, so possibly they were a consulting, a very serious looking, consulting team. It is a genius idea, and one that came just in time for Sal. The BLU VELVET was quickly dying without Erin, and this idea was fresh and the people loved it. They were all still talking about, and waiting for, Erin to come back, but their short attention spans were satisfied for the time being.

Comodo knew he could continue to disguise himself as this woman for a while, but a too familiar face would begin to draw attention. Eventually he would have to come up with an alternative plan. He eliminated the possibility of Jin, he would prove to be a quick liability. His disguise would last a while and he could change it, but that might raise suspicions. Anyone asking questions consistently about Sal would be violently questioned by his thugs. It was a plan he would constantly have to evolve to stay ahead of whomever was acting as the brain of Sal’s new ventures.

Comodo walked another block and could still faintly smell the baking bread. The sweet smell of the bread would soon be over-run by the exhaust of the diesel delivery trucks, taxis, and the general odor of the city. He could see the glimmer of dawn in the sky, and decided to go back to his car. As he turned a teenage boy in ragged, dirty jeans, an equally filthy t-shirt, and greasy hair approached him. Comodo did not miss the stride of his high heels clicking, and crackling on the sidewalk. He walked confidently toward the grimy boy, and stood in front of him waiting for him to move aside.

Comodo: Well?

Grungy boy: Spare some change lady?

Comodo: What?

Grungy boy: You know change? I’m hungry. Come on lady, just some change.

Comodo: Oh young man you won’t ever be hungry ever again.

The dirty young man looked at him with a blank expression. Comodo lifted his arm and a shiny, very thin, extremely sharp, long glass needle shot out of his sleeve, through the young man’s eye, exiting the back of his skull and shattered against the brick building directly behind him. The young man stood for a split second, slowly crumbled to the damp, hard concrete, and died as expressionless as he was in life.

Comodo: There now, you’ll never be hungry again.

Comodo stepped delicately over the dead body, heels clicking confidently, and continued to his car picking up his train of thought exactly where he left off. He knew discretion was to be of the utmost importance. How to gain information without suspicion? If I could be a different person each time, asking just a couple of questions, there wouldn’t really be much of a connection. But what to do in between? I can’t possibly keep up that many disguises, and I can’t consistently use the same people. They’ll want payment, they'll always want something. He turned around and looked at the dead body in a twisted heap, and realized he had an entire city of disposable victims. He walked confidently toward his car and thought of the people who would do anything for, what was that, change? People he could turn into spies. People no one would miss after he got what he needed from them. He would clean them up, feed them, and let them believe life actually held something good in their futures. Honestly, he thought, I’m doing everyone a favor I’m cleaning up the city, ending their miserable, insignificant little lives, and I’m getting all the information I want with beautiful discretion.

Comodo smiled at the fragrant smell of the finished breads. He knew he would get away with it, he always had. He just did. As he sat in the driver seat he did not give the body another glance. He knew the others would be just as simple, just as discarded, and he would get exactly what he deserved.

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