The skies rumble with a moment of forewarning before opening up to dump thick droplets of water to Earth. It’s like heaven knows the mood down among the mortals. Jensen gazes solemnly out one of the cracked, dirty windows of the downtrodden warehouse. He’s the picture of stoicism, beautifully tailored Armani suit cutting an imposing figure in the shadows of the solitary spotlight that casts a ruddy glow about the room. The only sound in the room is the slow creaking grind of a meat hook spinning in lazy circles directly under the spotlight. A man hangs by his bound hands from the rusted metal, his chin tucked against his chest in unconsciousness. Just the mere tips of his toes touch and drag slightly against the solid concrete.
Jensen draws a fancy cigarette case from his inner breast pocket, the metal glinting in the low light as he draws out a hand rolled cig. A flash of movement and another man appears from the shadows to flick a lighter open just as Jensen draws the stick to his mouth and inhales a few puffs to get it lit. The other man draws back with a snap of the lighter but remains close this time. Jensen smokes for a few minutes, watching the trail of smoke curl and twist in the air before escaping out into the night through the holes in the window panels.
“Wake him up Kane,” Jensen growls, emerald eyes cutting to the right to take in their guest again. The man’s been stripped to his boxers and nothing else, so when Kane douses him with water it has just the right effect. He comes to disoriented, chains rattling as he realizes his arms are bound above his head and groaning from the obvious pain of hanging by his wrists. He’s already shivering in the cold of the night air, gooseflesh breaking out along the pale expanse of his exposed skin. “Mr. Savesi, I hope you didn’t think you’d honestly be able to escape me?” Jensen’s tone is like ice, scathing as it cuts through the man’s confusion. His eyes whip wildly to the side, his body spinning comically on the meat hook and rotating him in delicate spins. The mere sight of Jensen in the shadows causes Savesi to whimper. Jensen snaps his fingers and Kane drops a bag at his boss’ feet with little ceremony. “I sure hope my money’s in here, looks a little small though, right Chris?” He looks to his man, earning a cold smirk and a chuckle.
“Don’t think even five grand could fit in there boss,” Chris growls, knuckles flexing because damn does he love his job. Jensen’s smirk turns downright devilish as he paces further into the light. The overhead spotlight only serves to shadow his features, cutting stark contrast across his roguishly handsome looks. He flicks his hand at Kane and the man goes about ripping apart the contents of the duffle bag. “Let’s see, forged passport, license, two grand in cash, and some shitty clothes…oh look at this,” Kane pulls a thick manila file folder from the now empty bag which gets tossed aside in favor of the more promising contents of the folder. Jensen holds out his hand placidly for the item as his eyes turn sharp. He opens it calmly after Chris hands it to him, glancing through the contents.
“You thought these pictures would protect you? You stupid sonnovabitch,” his Texan drawl gets a little deeper as he hisses at the man. Jensen throws them at the man’s feet, the glossy images spilling from the manila container to scatter across the concrete. The images depict Jensen in various of his shady dealings, regardless, only one or two of the photos would actually be able to pin anything on him, not that his lawyers wouldn’t get him off. He’s Teflon, shit don’t stick. “Where’s my money Savesi?” Jensen’s through with toying around, he wants answers so he can get out of this cold ass meat factory and home to his penthouse apartment.
Savesi starts blubbering something, negligent and unremarkable, all stuff Jensen has heard before. This is like a game, knowing exactly how hard to push to extract the information he wants. Jensen snaps his fingers and Chris stalks forward and squirts a white bottle of fluid all over the pictures scattered around Savesi’s dangling feet. If some of it manages to land on the man’s skin…well, that’s not Jensen’s problem. Jensen makes a show of checking his watch, ten minutes to four am. “I’m not a patient man Savesi, you know this…” the man stalks around his slowly spinning captive, anger rising with each minute that Savesi wastes begging for his life.
“Kane, what do you reckon the temperature is tonight?” Jensen asks arbitrarily, cutting off another simpering minute of Savesi’s spiel.
“I say probably 15 to 20 degrees,” Chris guesses, knowing that winter has yet to shake its hold on their beautiful city. It’s been one hell of a winter in Dallas, Jensen doesn’t remember it ever being this cold, but it fits him just well.
Jensen stalks forward until he’s within Savesi’s sight, following the slow swinging path of the twirling of the meat hook so that Savesi can see the severity that has taken alight in his eyes. “Perfect temperature for a bonfire, right?” Jensen holds his hand out and Chris immediately deposits a pack of matches into his waiting palm. The man flicks the lid open and pulls a match from the pack, quickly sparking it to life. “I always did like the smell of burning wood, somethin’ so nostalgic about it…” Jensen tosses the lit match onto the outermost corner of the scattered photos and watches them instantly catch fire thanks to the accelerant that Chris dumped on them. Savesi’s feet go up just as quickly as the pile, the fire spreading to lick every inch of gas that coats the small area. The man’s screaming, the bloodcurdling sound of it takes root in the rafters and filters around the large, empty warehouse like the wailings of a ghost. Jensen sighs humorously, entirely unfazed by the sight before him. He wrinkles his nose at the smell of burning flesh mixed with accelerant but is otherwise unmoved. “Chris, put him out,” he instructs, watching his right-hand man throw a thick fire blanket over the man’s lower legs and what remains of the photographs. The fire dies easily, suffocated under the thick material. Smoke curls up towards the ceiling, and dances with the shadows thrown across the walls.
Savesi’s openly sobbing, his dangling feet now a mess of melted flesh and open wounds. “Now that you know I’m not here to fuck around Savesi, tell me where the fuck my money is.” Jensen growls the question, the sharp angularity of his features under the singular light source make him look less human and more monster in that instant. It causes Savesi to lapse momentarily into his native tongue to beg forgiveness from god himself for allowing the devil to take residence in his life. “What’s he blabbering Al,” Jensen looks to one of his guards near the door who he knows speaks Italian.
“He thinks you’re the devil sir, he’s begging for forgiveness from god for being tempted to sin,” Al wrinkles his nose, the hulking mass of man dismissing the sad cries of their captive. Savesi had made his own bed and he needed to be prepared to lie in it. Jensen sighs noisily, wanting nothing more than a stiff drink and a warm spot in front of his fireplace.
“Kane?” Jensen jerks a hand at Savesi and the man shoots up to knock his fist across their captive’s jaw. It’s a loud crack in the otherwise silent room, causing an echo that reverberates back on them. Savesi looks rattled, half out of his mind, as he stares down at Jensen like he’s been set before the pit to hell, one scant moment from tipping over. “Where the fuck is my money, I am not asking again…” Jensen pauses succinctly, waiting a mere few seconds before he lights another match and throws it back onto the swirling mixture of left over accelerant on the floor, Chris having removed the fire blanket. Savesi lights back up like a candle and it only takes a few seconds of renewed pain for the man to cry out the location of the money he stole from Jensen. The crime boss nods to Chris who steps off to the side to make a call in regards of gathering more information about where his money has apparently wound up. Al opens the outer door a crack and motions for their clean-up crew to get prepared, this won’t last much longer.
Jensen stands not far from the burning form of Savesi, his whole body having caught light, turning him into a hanging ball of flame. The bright spot of light casts Jensen’s shadow large and imposing on the walls of the warehouse. Savesi’s end isn’t pretty, in his last, horrible moments of life he swears he sees Jensen’s shadow twist and shudder into that of satan himself. Al and Chris stand side by side watching the menacing silhouette of their boss. He’s framed by the sharp orangey-red of the flames, and it’s in moments like these that his men see where Jensen has achieved the nickname ‘Dallas’ Devil’. Chris can almost imagine the horns curving menacingly from his head.
The crime boss flicks the remaining pack of matches into the twisting inferno, and only when the man’s cries stop does he turn from the sight, back towards the same cracked and dusty windows. Chris appears with his personal lighter to spark the cigarette that Jensen brings to his mouth, and once again Jensen spends a small amount of time regarding the way the smoke filters out into the night air.
Behind him his men are putting out the flames, wrapping the body in a tarp and planning on disposing of him so that his body is never found. There’ll be some sort of cover up, enough that if anyone comes looking for the stupid sonnovabitch they’ll be led on a wild goose chase into Mexico.
“Can I take you home now boss?” Chris asks quietly, hands pressed into the pockets of his suit pants casually. He has his own cigarette hanging roguishly out one corner of his mouth as he rolls on the balls of his feet.
Jensen glances at his watch once more, noting the whole affair took him almost an hour. He growls softly, noting that sleep would probably not be in the cards for him tonight, more than half the night wasted as is. “No, take me to the office, there’s more to settle.” Chris nods with little hesitation, grunting softly but acquiescing to a direct order whether he agrees with it or not. He whistles, knowing that Al will have the car ready and waiting outside for them when Jensen finally draws himself away from the bleak night sky. There’s a spot of orange on the horizon, chasing the inky black from the sky and silencing the millions of tiny little stars that lit the night. The rain has stopped but it has cast ever further of a chill across the landscape. Jensen finally moves out into what remains of the night, the chill setting into his bones the minute he’s not ensconced in the factory walls. Inside the beautiful black bmw Jensen feels the cold chased away by radiating heat and he settles into the plush leather for the drive back to his company’s main office. Al and Chris chat quietly in the front seat, something about a game they watched the other day, and it’s just business as usual. Jensen grabs for a crystal tumbler and a decanter of whiskey, choosing to start his mornings with the hair of the dog.
The first rays of the morning sun filter through the windows of their car as it moves through the near empty streets of early morning Dallas. In the light of day Jensen draws the thin veneer of his humanity on for another day in civilization.
“Find out who took those photos and who exactly has my money, now.”
Jared steps into the freezing shower, the sluice of water managing to wash the trails of blood away the longer it beats down on his battered body. Somewhere in his brain he recognizes the pain he’s in, knows on some level that at least three of his fingers are broken and probably as many ribs, but he hasn’t felt anything in quite a while. He shuts the water off after scrubbing some amount of shampoo into his hair and then rinsing brusquely. Standing in front of his mirror above the sink, Jared realizes he looks worse than he thought, left eye close to swelling shut and lip split down the middle. There’s also a nick above his eye that only recently stopped bleeding. Robotically, Jared tends to his wounds, poking and prodding them to ascertain how deep they are, what kind of treatment they need, before haphazardly patching them with a slow, if ugly, efficiency that speaks of experience but not skill. Chomping down on the handle of his toothbrush, Jared sets his broken fingers, taping the two on his left hand together before splinting the third on his right.
He stares at his hands, long fingers, giant palms, marred skin covered in moles, bruises, cuts, scars, and he sees the slight tremor in them before he bounces up from the edge of his tub to turn in for the night…well day. Jared slips on a worn pair of sweats, the comfort familiar and soothing in a primal way. The sun crests the horizon, but Jared is already laid across his modest sized bed, which barely fits his ridiculous height. The man doesn’t notice the sun beginning to stream through his windows, already dead to the world for the next few hours.
Next to the bed, strewn across the floor is a paper bag filled with stacks of cash, a few flecks of blood marring the otherwise blank brown exterior of the bag. There’s at least ten other identical looking bags hidden under the bed beneath the floor boards, a rather substantial amount of money being hidden from prying eyes within Jared’s bedroom.
Jared wakes a few scant hours later to a series of pounding thumps on his apartment door. He briefly considers ignoring it and getting another few hours of sleep but the sound continues on unrelenting. Growling lowly, Jared pushes himself up, ignoring the way his body protests any such movement. His apartment is small, one bedroom, one bathroom and a living room that opens to the small kitchenette. It’s practically bare, only the most minimal in terms of comfort—a couch, coffee table, and old beaten tube tv. Jared’s long stride means only a few quick seconds across the entirety of his apartment to the front door. The peephole had been busted since the first day he moved in, but Jared’s never minded, most people didn’t choose to live in this part of the city for the safety.
He aggressively throws the door open, unsurprised to see the short spitfire from down the hall, Mrs. Banka. Jared had often wondered how the woman survived in such a neighborhood, leveling out at barely five feet tall and probably only one hundred pounds soaking wet. Might have something to do with the ridiculous colt she carried in her oversized handbag…a fact she was never afraid of reminding the troubled youth of their street when they hassled her. Her cokebottle glasses are large enough to resemble bug eyes on her face and complete the whole look along with her multiple colored shawls and layered necklaces. As much as he’s tried Jared has been unable to shake her since the day she found him unconscious in the hallway over half a year ago. She’d correctly guessed Jared had a careless streak a mile wide and seemed to be hell-bent on crashing and burning as terribly as possible. Jared supposes he’s only survived this long since because Mrs. Banka would probably revive him from the dead just to kill him again for being so careless.
“Mrs. Banka?” Jared barks out, his voice cold as he gazes down on her. She tuts at him summarily and pushes her way into his apartment, immediately heading for the kitchen. It’s their usual routine and Jared’s learned after this long that getting her to leave means allowing her to feed him three helpings of some polish dish and slap some herbal salve across his injuries while she gives him ‘the speech’ for what feels like the millionth time.
She putters around the kitchen, occasionally wagging the wooden spoon towards something that she needs Jared’s considerable height to reach. Mrs. Banka alternates fluidly between English and polish, a fact that Jared has learned means she’s using his inability to understand anything besides English to either tease him or curse. “Honestly Jay kochanie, I think you look even worse than last week if that’s possible…” she stops to appraise him lightly, cokebottle glasses sliding down her nose slowly before she pushes them up with one delicate index finger. She huffs indignantly, spinning back to her concoction on the stove and muttering a string of polish so fast that Jared knows he must look worse than he did only a few short hours ago, “idiotyczne dziecko, zbyt chude dla własnego dobra, zjada to wszystko, głupku.” (1) He lazes against the counter, no dining table to be seen in the apartment and waits for her to scoop some of the mixture into a bowl for him. She hands him one of his chipped bowls with a healthy serving of reddish brown soup that he takes a cautious whiff of.
“Wha’ dis it?” He mumbles, split lip stinging as it stretches to accommodate his speaking.
“Czernina, eat up, you’re a lanky skurwiel,” Mrs. Banka putters around the kitchen cleaning before circling back right at the exact moment that Jared needs another serving. She deftly grabs the bowl from Jared’s hands and deposits another three ladles full of soup into his bowl before handing it back to him. However, with the entirety of his small kitchen cleaned and the only thing remaining being the still hot soup pot on the stove, Mrs. Banka’s attention is transposed back to Jared himself. Like lightning she’s at his side, poking and prodding his red and blue chest until he physically flinches away. “You’ve broken a few ribs Jared, honestly,” she pulls a tub of salve from somewhere in all her layers of shawls and spends the entirety of his second bowl of soup smearing him in something that smells suspiciously like lavender and beeswax. When she’s finished she fills his bowl one more time before sticking the remainder in the fridge for Jared to eat another time. “You let that heal before you do anything else stupid!” She wags her index finger at him, too small to do much in terms of warning Jared off something, but he understands that she feels compelled to say it.
He rolls his eyes when her back is turned but she must sense it because next thing he knows his arm stings smartly from the whack of a wooden spoon. “Nie rób mi chłopaka,” she warns, the words lost in the translation but Jared understands the sentiment regardless. By the end of his third bowl he feels warm, belly full and healing balm somehow leeching the pain from his skin. Mrs. Banka pinches the exposed skin of his hip as she passes, warning him not to push it too much before she lets herself out of his apartment.
Jared stands in the empty kitchen for a few minutes, staring into the meager remains of soup before he tosses the bowl in the sink and retreats back to his bedroom. His cheap prepaid phone chimes on his bedside table, drawing his attention from where he’s trying to block out the sun with his pillow.
It’s a text from Jim: next fight’s in three days kid, you in?
From Jared: yah, get me in.
From Jim: see you then son.
Jared stares at the response for a few seconds, eyes tripping over the last word a few times before he snaps his phone shut and throws it back on the side table. He doesn’t need to do anything else today. The large man pulls the pillow back over his head and blocks out the sun streaming through the curtainless windows.
- “idiotic child, too skinny for his own good, he's going to eat all of this, dumbass”
- Kochanie = sweetheart
- Czernina = duck blood soup (honestly looks pretty good)
- Skurwiel = fucker
- Nie rób mi chłopaka = don’t sass me boy
There’s a knock on the door that is a short alert before Chris barges into the office. If it were anyone else Jensen might have been peeved but Chris is one of his oldest friends and always seems to know when to show the right amount of decorum for his boss. “What is it Chris?” Jensen greets shortly, eyes never leaving the paperwork that he’s scanning before him. Despite the multitude of illegal organizations that Jensen happens to have his hand in, there is a legitimate business on the surface that he spends a good amount of his time running.
“First, Savesi’s been sent on his trip,” code for Savesi’s body has been taken care of, Chris has always been rather mindful of prying ears and tends to enjoy talking in code to Jensen, even when they were both sure no one could over hear them. Jensen looks up when his friend pauses, it’s odd for Chris to be so formal when it’s just the two of them. “Second, the men followed the lead that Savesi gave us about the money being in this underground fight club. Seems he paid quite a bit to be a ‘partner’ in this league. Rumor is there’s this up-in-comer named Pellegrino who’s been funding these fights and he’s been gaining quite the name for himself. Savesi apparently put a pretty large down payment to be one of the spectators. This thing is pretty hush hush, big league thing y’know. All richy-riches. Anyway, the money’s tied up in this fight club unfortunately.” Jensen’s heard the name somewhere before, whispers of it reaching him through various outlets around his city. Because it is, his city after all. He hadn’t realized that the fight club had gained so much popularity in such a small amount of time however. Jensen knew there were multiple little fighting rings around the city, but he has always had overarching say in the whole business, a percentage of the money coming back to him as repayment for allowing it to happen.
“Did you keep Savesi’s effects?” Jensen finally replies, pushing the paperwork for his legitimate business to the side.
Chris nods quickly and makes a quick call to one of their subordinates for the items to be brought up. While they wait Chris moves over to the wet bar to pour himself a drink. Regardless of it being only one in the afternoon. “Have you heard anything on the photos?” Jensen decides to ask instead. He watches his second take a seat on the plush couch across from his desk.
“That matter is a little harder, for all we’ve searched we can’t seem to find out how Savesi got his hands on them. There’s no email records or texts, which means they had to be delivered but then they obviously weren’t sent through the post office. The boys are rolling through the security footage on Savesi’s block. There’s a view of the mailbox and front entrance that should show us who dropped off the manila folder. But that’s going to take a bit because we have no frame of reference for when it was dropped off. Whoever it is seems to know your dealings rather intimately though boss, some of those snaps were from deals that you only told a choice few about…” the look in Chris’ eyes is murderous as he allows the hanging sentence to speak for itself. Jensen nods mutely, coming to the same conclusion that there is likely a mole in the office. That was to be expected unfortunately. One doesn’t get to amass as much power as Jensen and not gain a few enemies in the process. He’s only thankful this a rather rare occurrence. The more pressing question is who are they working for?
Jensen’s about to say something more but there’s a polite knock on the door, “enter!” A timid looking punk opens the door slowly, peeking his head in before scampering in to place the large Ziploc bag in front of Jensen on his desk. The kid practically runs out but takes care to softly close the office door as he escapes. Chris looks bemused at the boy’s actions, always pretty impressed with how much Jensen’s aura seems to affect people. He turns his gaze back to his boss who’s dumping the items out on the desk. There’s a battered leather wallet, a half-crushed pack of cigarettes, a ring of keys, and a small wad of twenties.
“There was a phone too but Al took that to his tech buddies to get all the information off it before he got rid of it so the signal didn’t trace back to us.” Jensen nods at Chris’ explanation and picks up the worn wallet. He opens it succinctly and dumps it on the desk top. Quite a few cards come slithering out, some spare change, and a few ripped sheets of paper. He looks over the small slips of paper, the words not really meaning anything to him but he sets them aside for later. The mob boss fingers through the multitude of cards, tossing the credit cards and driver’s license to the side with little thought. Near the end of the stack a matte black card sticks out like a sore thumb. Engraved in gold across its front is Savesi’s name and an ID number. When Jensen flips it over there’s a familiar looking symbol on the back. It depicts a double headed snake and in the middle is a circle surrounded by flowers and within the circle is a double cross that ends in an infinity like symbol. Within the stark black of the double cross is a negative upside-down cross created by not filling in the card with any ink whatsoever.
“What’s this?” Jensen motions his friend over to look at the card. No other script can be found on the card, but it feels heavy and important. Certainly not something Savesi would generally have in his possession.
“Wait, that symbol looks familiar.” Chris pulls out his phone and scrolls through his email until he can pull up a blurry picture of an older looking man shaking hands with some corrupt politician. On the pale expanse of his wrist that is exposed with the motion of his outstretched arm Jensen can see the stark black outline of the snakes and weird cross. “That’s Pellegrino,” Chris growls, “this must be the membership card for his fight club.”
Jensen grins devilishly, turning the card over and over in his hands, “I’m sure Mr. Savesi wouldn’t mind us using his generous patronage.” The corner of Chris’ mouth turns up a bit, “find out when the next fight is Chris, and where.” Chris bolts up to fulfill the request, sure there must be some sort of communication on Savesi’s phone or laptop. Almost as an afterthought Jensen speaks up again, “and reach out to Pellegrino…tell him I want to sponsor a fighter.” Jensen watches his friend’s brow tick up in surprise, over the years he had allowed a number of fight clubs to take place but he had never sponsored a fighter before. Chris can see the gears turning in his boss’ head though, so he simply nods and leaves the man in peace.
Jensen grabs for his phone, searching briefly through the contacts before hitting call. He waits a few moments before an out of breath voice answers on the other end of the line. “Ackles?”
“Hodge, I want you to fight for me,” Jensen had met the man through Christian quite a few years back and knew that Aldis tried to stay as far out of the crime life as possible. He trains in professional boxing and MMA, making him one of the deadliest fighters in the area. Based on the time of day, the man was probably at the gym preparing for an upcoming match.
“Ackles, you know I don’t want to get into that sort of stuff.” Aldis sounds reluctant on the other end, a blustery sigh greeting him.
“I’m not asking you to join the family Hodge, I just want you to fight under my patronage and you can keep 60% of the profits,” Jensen would normally never offer such a lucrative deal but he knows that in no time Aldis will be earning enough that even only a 40% cut will be a pretty penny. Besides, the main reasoning is getting a foot through the door with Pellegrino.
“Jesus what sort of fights are you trying to enter me in that I can take a 60% cut?” Aldis sounds mildly intrigued thankfully, causing the tension in Jensen’s shoulders to dissipate.
“It’s a fight club, I’m assuming there are some rules, but it’s going to probably be less regulated than your MMA cage matches, with the same amount of danger if not more.” There’s silence on the other side, contemplation, but Jensen isn’t truly worried. Aldis would be his first choice but if he must, there are others that would do alright in his stead. Regardless, it’s to get close to Pellegrino. Jensen would like to do well in the league, but it’s of little consequence.
He hears Hodge sigh noisily before the background noise softens a bit and Jensen can tell he’s retreated for some privacy. “I’m assuming there is some sort of other end game here,” Hodge grumbles but Jensen can tell he’s already talked him into it, “but you’ve never steered me wrong before, so why not. The wife wants a new kitchen anyway.”
Jensen feels himself smirk, leaning back in his chair as he listens to Hodge’s update about his small burgeoning family. After a bit of catching up Jensen happily remarks, “Chris will contact you with further details.” There’s not really any goodbyes, there never are with them. Goodbyes in the crime world are like death tokens, omens. Jensen hangs up after a moment, knowing he’ll see the man sooner rather than later.