Mystery and Crime Fiction posted June 3, 2018 Chapters: -1- 2... 

This work has reached the exceptional level
Private Detective Cleve Hawkins is back.

A chapter in the book Shadows of Sin

The Meet

by Mastery

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

Gerald Albers crawled out of his Mercedes Maybach and checked both ways before he sprinted across Clark Street and jumped into the front passenger seat of a shiny black Escalade.

He was meticulously dressed in a blue suit and starched white shirt. His face looked honest, but it appeared to be pinched by stress and worry. His rough complexion gleamed red with sweat and a fresh shave.

It was early and the September air had turned brisk. The rain had stopped, but was sweeping down from the north on a blustery wind. The leaves had started to turn red and gold, and appeared like Technicolor on the dull, wet Chicago Street. It was seven a.m. and the morning was starting to throb.

Once inside the Escalade, Albers pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit up. He didn't blink or nod as he glared at the driver, but removed a stray bit of tobacco from his tongue and cleared his throat. His mouth opened and closed like a marionette. "I'm Gerry Albers. You've got a package for me?"

"Maybe," said the man.

Albers' eyes widened. "Maybe? What in the hell does that mean?"

The big, sweaty, red-faced man shrugged. "Maybe means just that . . . maybe. It all depends on you, partner. You got something for me?" His flesh oozed grease and his suit smelled like a locker room. He had the build of a weight-lifter with a concave-shaped face.

Albers studied his face for a beat. "What do you mean?"

The other man smirked. "Come on, that's easy enough . . . you either brought the money, or you didn't."

Albers eyed him warily as he nodded and fished a brown envelope from inside his suit coat. "I've got fifty thousand here," he said. But when the other man reached for it, Albers drew back. "I have to see the pictures first. Sorry. I have to be certain they're legitimate before I give up anything."

The man sighed and stared at the passing traffic, then he looked at Albers and squinted. "Are you serious? That wasn't the deal. You only brought fifty grand?" He grabbed the money and flipped through it. "Shit! You're in no position to demand anything, Senator. We told you the deal was two-hundred-thousand. We both know that."

He glared at Albers with eyes that looked like lumps of lead, and his New York accent grated like a man whose voice box had been injected with Novocain. "But, go ahead and look at the damned pictures." He pointed. "They're right there in the glove box."

He watched as Albers retrieved the manila envelope and quickly tore it open with feverish hands, then slowly sorted through a small stack of pictures and gasped. "How . . . I mean who took these? How . . . how could they? This is terrible. I don't understand."

"You know I can't tell you that . . . and I wouldn't if I could." He cleared his throat, rolled down his window, and spat, then looked at Albers. "I sort of like seeing big shots like you squirm. It's like seeing you standing in the middle of the street bare-ass- naked with nowhere to hide your junk."

Albers glared at the man. "I could have gone all day without hearing that bullshit." His head jerked from side to side in disgust as he continued to go through the pictures. He was both pensive and appalled. "This is terrible. I . . . I don't understand. Why me?"

The man shrugged. "Who knows? Probably for the money, don't you think? Pay up and you won't have to sweat it, Ace."

"But, I don't have all of the money. Two-hundred-thousand may not mean much to you people, but it's a small fortune to most people -- myself included." He shook his head. "I don't know what to do here." He slumped back in the seat. "Why can't you just keep that fifty-thousand for now and give me the pictures?"

"Don't be stupid, Senator." The man's expression became flat as he pulled a cigar from above his visor. He bit the tip, lit up and plugged it into the corner of his mouth. "You'll get that naughty picture collection when you come up with the rest of the money, not before."

He exhaled a plume of smoke and glanced at Albers. "The boss is gonna be real disappointed; he don't like waiting for his money." He glared. "I guarantee you wouldn't be missed if you should just disappear, you know." He snapped his fingers. "Overnight, your seat in the senate would be swiped by some Democratic hard-charger . . . probably a card-carrying member of the NRA. And that horny wife of yours would be wearing him out every night in the sack."

"Shut up!" said Albers. "You don't know anything about my wife." He maintained silence as he continued to paw through the pictures.

"You know we could just feed those pictures to The Enquirer or one of them other rags." The man chuckled and leaned over, just inches away from the Albers' right ear and lowered his voice. "I'm betting your constituents would love those photos. Imagine your people seeing their squeaky-clean senator, his wife, and that other broad, all in one bed, doing the nasty in unbelievable positions. Ha! Picture them plastered all over the front pages-- right there at the check-out lanes of your friendly Walmart."

Albers snapped his head to the left. "You fucker," he spat out, his voice a feral, animal sound low in his throat as anger burned away his control. His bony frame became painfully erect, his gray eyes and thin mouth fierce and disapproving. "You wouldn't dare."

"Oh, we'll arrange it alright. Make no mistake. People who have underestimated my boss before have found out the hard way. I don't think you want to take the hard way here, little man." He paused and blew another puff of smoke. "But, then, we wouldn't do anything at all as long as you play ball. You wouldn't want to explain those photos at one of your black-tie dinner parties, would you?"

Albers slowly shook his head from side to side. "Damn you!" He cracked his window and flipped his cigarette butt out, then raised his hands. "Okay. Okay, I get it." He glared at the man. "Bullshit. Stop right there! I can't do it and I won't let you bully me with your uncouth gangster tactics. Tell your boss, whoever he is, that I said no way. I'm out of here."

He started to pocket the envelope with the pictures, but the other man grabbed his wrist and twisted. "No, you don't, pal. We get the rest of the money or no pictures."

"But, you're asking the impossible," Albers groaned. He wrenched free and carelessly tossed the envelope at the man. It bounced off the steering wheel and landed in his lap. He said, "You can't get away with this. I won't put up with anymore threats. I simply won't allow it."

The man turned his head with the stiffness of a ventriloquist's dummy and let his eyes focus on Albers' flushed face. "You won't what? You won't allow it? Ha! Just who in the fuck do you think you're dealing with here, Ace--some friggin' amateurs?"

Like a magician, he suddenly produced a .38 revolver from somewhere inside his suit coat and jabbed it into Albers ribs. He leaned to within inches of his face. "Maybe you should have your doctor check the connection between your ears and your brain. You're not hearing me. You have to get your head tuned in to the right station, hot shot. Get your shit together and come up with the rest of the money . . . pronto."

"I just don't know how," Albers moaned.

"Bullshit, Senator. We know your wife has got more money than God, so knock off that 'poor me' bullshit so we can put this deal to bed once and for all."

Albers was shaking. "Okay. Alright, but, I need to know you're not going to ask for more money after that." He buried his face in his hands. At the same time he stared down at the gun. "Please, just put that thing away. Guns make me nervous."

"Sure thing, my man." He casually slipped the gun back inside his coat. "But, the boss is not going to wait ten or twenty days for his money. I'm guessing he'll do five days-- no more. Five days means this Saturday morning we meet to finish our business. You got that?"

Albers' voice quavered. "No, I'll need more time. For one thing, I simply can't let my wife know any of this." He lowered his head and muttered, "It would kill her." He glanced sideways at his tormentor. "You tell that to your boss. Tell him I'll get his fuckin' money as fast as I can, but leave my wife alone." He paused and looked at the envelope. "How do I know this is all of the pictures? Where's the negatives? I want the originals. Are they on a flash drive or a hard drive? I need the original source, whatever that may be." He studied the other man's face. "I'll need everything--you understand?"

The big man sighed and shifted in his seat. He looked confused for a beat, but then grinned and cocked his head like a dog hearing a high-pitched sound. His grin tightened and soured as he leaned forward and rubbed his temples. "Of course, Ace. I'll pass that along."

Sitting back, he said, "I should warn you, the boss doesn't like any changes or demands. It gives him the jitters. And when he gets jumpy, he takes it out on me. I still don't know how to handle it when his temper runs amok like that. Know what I mean?"

Albers' eyes widened. He looked as though someone had just stepped on his foot. Silence permeated the air inside the car for the moment that followed.

"You just go to the bank, right? That's it?" He searched Albers' eyes. "Don't tell me you're one of those pansy-asses that lets his wife handle the money and can't withdraw anything without her okay?"

"No, no. It's not like that, but the bank might want to hold the disbursement of that much money for twenty-four hours after the request or something. Hell, I don't know." He pounded a fist into his other hand. "Dammit! And, I have to cover the withdrawal somehow. My wife's no dummy. She'll eventually have questions."

Albers paused for what seemed like an eternity. "I have to go. She will wonder where I am after so long. It's not like me to be gone so long just for a few groceries." He opened the door and started to get out.

"You got five days to get the rest, my friend. You'll be getting a call telling you where and when this will go down next Friday night. We won't be meeting here again. Be sure to be ready this time. No more games."

"Right," Albers said as he crawled out of the SUV and reached for his pack of cigarettes. "I'll wait for your call."

Before the man drove off he grinned and said, "Don't worry, Senator. You won't have a problem with wifey being pissed. She'll be fine. Just keep giving her the old baloney pony."

Book of the Month contest entry


I appreciate all of Cleve's Fanstory fans who have been anxiously anticipating this new book in the series. My life was hampered with health issues all summer last year and I wrote very little.

A special thank you to fellow FanStory member, Dean Kuch who provided the art work.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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