When I got to work that night, everyone was already there and I took my usual seat next to Jeremy. The whole group was unusually quiet, which I took to be a bad sign. Cai was the only one to even acknowledge me when I came in, and even then it wasn’t his usual over the top greeting. Instead he mumbled, “James said he had something to tell all of us. From experience, I can assure you that whatever he has to say isn’t good. He said he’d tell us after he gets back from a meeting at the main warehouse.” Great. More bad news.
It seemed to take forever for James to come back, and when he did, he went to his desk and shuffled papers around for a little bit. It was almost as if he was afraid to give us the news. When he finally came over to our table, he looked at the floor. James wasn’t himself, his usual pride was gone. He cleared his throat and didn’t look at any of us as he said, “They’re giving us Zarry.”
There were a few muffled gasps. I didn’t react because I was too confused. I didn’t even feel shocked until Cai stood up and yelled at James:
“What are you thinking? We can’t have him here. We have...females! You need to go back, you need to tell them. How are you going to control him? He’s a mon-”
“-I know what he is and what he does. If you think that I gave into this without a fight then you’re wrong. Unfortunately, they have the same feelings about him as we do. They’re tired of having to keep him on such a tight leash and so they’re handing him off to us. When they originally hired him, they didn’t expect him to be so much trouble, but they can’t just fire him. There’s the contract to consider, and no one is willing to do him in. No hitman has enough balls to take the job. If that hitman were to fail, Zarry would have his retributions and all Hell would break loose.”
Spenser looked like he had a few things to say to that final comment, but had the sense to hold them in. Cai, on the other hand, was angry beyond measure. He had completely lost his self control and was not ashamed to speak his mind.
“It’s not me or Spenser that I’m worried about; it’s Arlais, Jeremy, and Amelia. Zarry will make life a living hell for them, and there are so few of us. Me, Spenser, or you can’t be here all the time to make sure he doesn’t hurt them. If there were more of us here, things might be different, but as it is, there aren’t usually more than two of us here at a time. I just don’t feel comfortable with leaving any of them with him.”
Arlais broke her usual silence to throw in her view on things. “Despite popular belief, I can take care of myself,” at this she threw a glance at Cai, “and anyone who can’t shouldn’t have gotten in the business. Whatever he does to me can’t be worse than what I’ve already gotten.”
“Despite your concerns, Cai, I feel there is little we can do to change things. Besides, Arlais has a point: Every one of you knew what you were getting into when you signed the contract. Personally, I’m not all that worried about Jeremy. Zarry wouldn’t dare to lay a finger on my cousin, and if Amelia sticks by him, as it seems she does already, she should be fine as well. I don’t want to hear any more about this, Andres’ decision is final. I also don’t want any hitmen suddenly deciding to try their luck against Zarry. None of you are allowed to lay a finger on him, even if he did something first. There will be no retribution. I’m saying this now, because I know how protective some of you can get. If I hear about anything, anything at all, you’ll answer to me. He’s coming tomorow night. Get used to it.”
At the end of James’ speech, Cai stood up and looked James in the eyes. An unspoken challenge went between them, and Cai said, “Fine. But I’m not having Amelia pushed into this with no idea as to what’s going on. We’ll be back later. Come on Em, we’re taking a walk.”
Cai had never been this forceful with me. He was usually gently reproving, but whoever James had been talking about must have really made him mad. When we left the warehouse, he walked quickly with his head down. He didn’t say anything. We walked for about ten minutes. By this time, I was getting pissed off. Why didn’t he say anything? I was done. I was tired of being pushed around and considered weak. I was tired of having to wait for someone else to pull their shit together just so I could get some answers. I jumped in front of Cai and made him stop walking. I grabbed the collar of his shirt and dragged him down to my level.
“You said you had something to say to me, well you’d better say it. I’m in no mood to be wandering about the city at night, with no good purpose, just so I can hear a bit of gossip. Right now, I have no idea what’s going on. I will not sit in the dark and wait for someone to stick a knife in my ribs. Not this time.”
The look in his eyes was well worth seeing. It wasn’t fear, but it had a similar name: Respect. For the first time, I wasn’t the baby. I was the dominant one. I was in control. Cai stuttered about his words, before managing to say, “You remember Flagg, right?”
“Remember his fingers, his eye, and all those scars?”
“They’re kinda hard to forget.”
“Zarry did that.”
“That’s great, but you didn’t answer my question.”
“I’m getting there. Can you let me go? This is hurting my back.”
I released my hold on his collar and he continued:
“Zarry tortures people for information, he’s very good at what he does. He has a special technique on women. I think you already got it, but in case you didn’t, it’s rape. Zarry was always trouble. If a woman wouldn’t willingly go to bed with him, he’d have her anyway. People didn’t used to fear him as much as they do now. They thought back then that they’d be protected by the unspoken law that you don’t harm someone in your sector. Despite this, very few had the guts to stand up to him. Flagg was one of them that did. Needless to say, Zarry made sure that he wouldn’t be able to cause him any trouble. Everyone thought that the administration would have someone kill Zarry for mutilating Flagg so bad. They didn’t. They were too scared. Zarry is above the law and impossible to control. That’s why they’re giving him to us. They want to limit the damage he does. If you think that it’ll be any different here, you’re wrong. Even Spenser fears him, and James is just like the others. We don’t stand a chance.”
“Cai, I think I’m gonna be sick.”
My breath came in short gasps as I leaned against the wall. I vomited and sank to the ground. My body kept heaving, even after there was nothing left in me to throw up. When I was sure I could be coherent again, I said to Cai, “How could one human being do that to another? I’m scared. I really am. You were right, I am weak.”
“No you’re not. I saw you a few minutes ago. You enjoy power, you just don’t know how to use it. You could run that warehouse, and no one would question it if you showed all of them what you just showed me. You don’t have to do that for now, but there’s going to be a time when you have no choice.”
Cai had said all that he wanted to say, and so he just turned back and headed for the warehouse.