Educational Justice -chp5


Educational Justice

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Maria DeMarco never thought that she would find trouble amongst her many businesses. After all they were the public face of where her money came from. She was after all a retired Prima Ballerina and like most such women she invested her money wisely. But trouble she did find and in the one place she would never have thought to look. One of the schools she loves and sponsors. Can the Black Badge Deputies ferret out the people behind the troubles before Gemini has to deal with Gym Class?

by Snowfall and Jessie Wolf.

Dedicated to the men and women of the US Marshal Service.

Edited by my husband Paul, and AJC Snowfall.

~o~O~o~

This is a work of fiction an any persons in this work are purely fictional.


Chapter 5

Akin Equestrian Girls Schools, 1945;

Kasey stood watch over her sister as worked to complete the hardline patch in the Main Distribution Facility in their dorm. Most of the girls in this school didn't have a clue as to what the MDF was for. Not these two though. That was one of their first lessons under Krystel. The fact that Kristine was running a hardline patch straight to the building's main router to bypass the Switches was her first task.

The second task was working the hardline bypass for them to hack the switches and gain access to any pc in the building. Kasey was starting to get antsy when Kristine slipped out of the MDF. "About damned time sis."

"Hey, I worked as fast as I could. That setup in there is a freaking mess on an epic scale. I swear Kasey, I've never seen anything like it before." Kasey looked down at Kristine and could tell her younger sister was telling the truth. It had to be a real mess if Kristine had that look.

"Okay sis, I let it go. Come on we need to get back to our room. Before the old bat shows up. That squirrel run will only keep her busy for so long. Where DID you get a squirrel in the first place?" Kasey asked.

"Um, I left those peanut butter crackers of yours on the dayroom coffee table. The squirrel just ran inside. It is not my fault that the window was open." The twisted half-smile on Kristine's face let her sister know that she had pulled this stunt before.

"Oh man sis, you have to tell me about the first time you pulled that gag. Come on, let's get back to the room and see if we can track down that leak." The pissed off tone in Kasey's voice let Kristine know just how much she wanted that leak.

Once they had their laptops up and running, it didn't take the girls long to find who had leaked the story to the press. Kristine had seen Kasey mad at times in the past but never to this level. "Tell me something Justi, why are you so pissed off? So what if one of the dorm mothers is the leak. We take the info to Mamas Sam and Annette or email it to Nonnina. We let them take care of it, remember our job is Intel only."

"Ang, that woman was in trusted with the safety of every girl in this building. She gave her word to protect the students of this school. Just keep digging through the computers in this dorm. I'm jumping over to the next dorm. I have a feeling that there is more than one rat in this shithouse. And I'll give you even odds that they're in among the dorm mothers. That is where we need to look the hardest. I wouldn't put it past most of them being blackmailed into compliance." The more Kasey laid out her thoughts to Kristine the more the younger teen understood.

Kristine watched as Kasey went diving hard into the individual personal computers for each dorm mother. It was as if Kasey was hunting down her own personal demons. Kasey had never dove a network like this before. In all their training, she was always the one riding top cover for Kristine, but this time Kasey knew what to look for. Not that it made that much of a difference. None of the systems had true ICE and was taking only seconds to crack open each one. Kasey should, as she had used the internet as a blackmail tool in the past and knew the signs to look for. It didn't take Kasey long to find what she needed.

While Kasey was ripping her way through the dorm mothers' PCs Kristine dug her way through the students. Once she saw what Kasey was looking for Kristine found similar files in the emails of certain students. The students that worked in the main offices. Only two weren't tagged for receipt of blackmail. Chantel Henley and Mary Sue Gilroy were the only two office staff that were not tagged for blackmail. It took her awhile, but she was able to trace most of the blackmail emails back to the office computers during times that they were signed on.

It was all starting to make sense to Kristine now. Any time a student posed a threat to the Lipizzan Girls; some type of blackmail showed up in that student's private email. It was making more and more sense to Kristine. The students that were the target of the blackmail were all from families of real wealth or power, and not just on the local level. These were kids with parents that played on the national and international level. Kristine also found blackmail emails going into the private emails of students over at SRMA. Everything she found pointed to Chantel Henley and Mary Sue Gilroy to being the ones behind the blackmailing’s.

A little after nine thirty pm both girls sat back.

"Well sis, what have you got?" Kristine asked Kasey.

Kasey informed her. "Of the twelve dorm mothers, we have four that are rotten. Well I shouldn't say four. Three of them are being blackmailed by someone in the main office. The kick in the ass; all four are the senior dorm mothers. The three that are being blackmailed have had direct threats towards their own children. The one that isn’t being blackmailed has been receiving monthly payments of six grand. The problem is the money comes in on day one and by day two, it's gone to someplace called Four Seasons LTCC. It's a long term care center for the mentally ill, handicapped, and terminally ill. That was as far as I could get, without breaking into the server for that place. However, I do have a theory on what is going on with that dorm mother. Even odds; she has a family member in that place. Those places aren't cheap, so I figure she ran out of cash and the health insurance has run out long ago. She started looking the other way when that six grand started to show up in her bank account. So what did you find?"

Kristine took a moment then said. "Okay this is what I got so far, it is the only thing like you have that makes any sense. We got two of the student office workers who are using their position to send out blackmail to both this school and SRMA. However; they are mainly targeting the students that pose any kind of threat to the Lipizzan Girls or the other Dressage teams. It is the same bullshit over at SRMA, only they're going after the kids that threaten the Drill and Rifle Team as well. What I can't figure out is how this is going to influence their parents, it doesn't make sense to me Justi."

Kasey sighed and looked her sister in the eye. "Ang I know that you didn't have a fun time before Mama Sam and Papa came into your life. I also know that you were kind of on the outside in your school. So I'll do my best to explain it all for you. Remember how there was always a small group of alpha bitches and bastards running around in your old school? Well these fuck-sticks have taken things to a new level. One of the big things to these types of families; is image. They keep their dirty, nasty, little secrets tucked down deep in the back of every closet in the house. They shove them so far back, that they grow mushrooms. When the next generation comes a long; they get told the secrets and where they're hidden. When they mess up, they know where to hide their own nasty little secrets. The problem is one of these little cunts has started to figure out where those families are hiding their secrets, thanks to the daughters. Now by threatening to expose all those nasty secrets, the families do whatever they are told. Just to keep their secrets. Do you understand where I am going with this now?"

It took Kristine more than a few minutes to put everything that Kasey told her together. Once she did though, she understood what was at stake for those girls and their families. It was easier for them to just do what the Gilroy and Henley families wanted. For the girls and boys at the two schools, it was just easier to let the status quo stand and not rock the boat. By backing off from the Dressage, Drill, and Rifle teams; not trying to move up into the so called alpha ranks, they left the Gilroy and Henley girls and boys in power over the schools' students.

Kristine asked. "So sis, what are we going to do now?"

"Type up a report with our findings, suspicions, and theories then send it off to the Madam. Also send one to Command as they may be better able to advise the Primary team. As for us, we go with our original plan in the morning. We make sure that these Lipizzan bitches see us walking into the stables. We make a big show of wanting to learn to ride, just like we talked about. I know for you that won't be too hard, but please try to keep the excitement down just a little?" Kasey asked.

"But Sis. There's HORSES and WE get to ride them!" Kristine whined.

Kasey shook her head and laughed. "GOD! You're such a girl at times."

The two teens laughed and set about getting ready for bed.

Across town at the Highlander Golf Corse: Akin, SC. 1830;

Grayson and Patricia Gilroy, along with Malcolm and Grace Henley, sat at the reserved table at the back of the main dining room. Their conversation was centered on the text messages they had all received earlier in the day from their children. The biggest surprise had come from one of their paid informants. The granddaughters of a Spanish attaché were now attending AEGS. While the two women were more upset over the arrival of the Spanish girls, the husbands didn't like the idea of unknown substitute teachers showing up, especially ones that didn't belong to them.

"Damn it Gray; I thought we had a handle on these subs! Where the hell did those two grunts come from anyway?" Malcolm swore.

"Malcom, for the last damned time; I don't know. I have my people working on that as we speak. What I want to know is; who the hell this bitch was that showed the other day. She just waltzed into that whore's office like she owns the place or something. Now today, I hear she is holding some kind of party over at SCT. I don't know who this woman is, but she has a lot of pull that is out of our control Malcolm. Patricia, has either of those worthless children of ours been able to get us any useful information on this mystery woman?"

"No Gray they haven't and don't go placing all the blame on the girls. Those boys haven't done a great deal to help out our situation! Their inability to gain access to the files on those two military substitutes, is appalling. Just how hard can it be to either bribe or blackmail an ignorant Enlisted soldier for Pete's sake? Why haven't they gotten that damned Gunnery Sergeant in their pockets yet? Tell me THAT!" Patricia demanded.

Grace tried to settle her. "Please relax Patricia. I am sure that one of the girls will be in touch shortly. After all, that woman only visited the girls' school, not the boys' academy. Now if she had gone to both, THEN we would need to worry."

"What on Earth are you talking about Grace? We have an outside player trying to move in on our OPERATIONS. We've yet to figure out what happened with that damned DeMarco woman mess back in oh-eight. Everything was set for our takeover then and she just steps in and bails them out. What I want to know is; how does a damned dancer come up with that type of funding? I mean, don't they lose all their financial backing when they retire? Maria DeMarco should have been poor as a church mouse by the time she stepped in to save those two schools." Patricia stated.

Malcolm cut in. "That is a good question dear, and one that I was able to find the answer for. It seems that during her time on the stage, Maria DeMarco invested three out of four dollars that she earned; in the stock market. The woman was uncommonly lucky, amassing a small fortune that she then parlayed into several independent business. In short Patricia; the woman is smart, talented, and beautiful. Everything needed to be successful in the modern business world. My question is not how she came to have that type of capital, but why she would even invest in schools such as these?" the two women and Malcolm all looked at Gray.

"Alright Malcolm; I think I know what you're getting at. The answer to that is simple. Power pure and simple, just the same as us. It is this unknown woman that has me confused. She just shows up, out of nowhere, just as we're getting back into position to get rid of those pain in the ass Boatwright’s. The girls have those filthy damned tranny slut slaves scared out of their minds, and the boys have been able undermine the authority of their student council. Do any of your contacts know where she has setup shop or is that also in the ether?"

"Outside of the fact that this woman has setup shop over at the SCT, we know nothing about the woman." Malcolm had no sooner finished answering Gray than Patricia gasped. "What is it dear?"

"MY GOD! HOW can we be so stupid? That mystery woman is Maria DeMarco." Patricia stated the now obvious.

"Are you sure about that Tricia? I mean, the gossip rags have her in D.C. as the kept woman of some big time Congressman or Senator." Grace pointed out to them all. She, more than the others, would be up on the gossip of the theatrical and performing arts community.

"She's right Grace. It all makes sense now. I remember when that woman first showed up. She came here to check up on that trucking company she purchased; Southern Coastal Transit. DeMarco used the SCT offices during her negotiations with the Boatwright’s back in oh-eight. That has to be who just waltzed into Scarlet's office today." Malcolm was quick to take up the argument on behalf of Patricia Gilroy.

"BY GOD! You're right! It has to be that Demarco bitch! How could we have not seen it?! The question now is what are we going to do about her? We just can't let her walk in here and upset our plans, again!" Patricia was almost in a tizzy.

"Relax Tricia. That woman may have caught us of guard the last time. It won't happen this time. We have the advantage no matter what happens. This is OUR county. We control everything for more than seventy five square miles, both politically and economically. This time it is SHE that will dance to OUR tune. Just like the pretty little ballerina she is. If she won't, then I am sure that one of our 'friends' will be more than willing to handle the problem for us." Gray had a sickly sweet smile on his face.

"No Gray, we handle this NOW. That woman will not play by the rules of acceptable society. She has already proven that with the last time she interfered. No, she must be removed, indefinitely. Malcolm who do we have that is in the area? Someone we can use on short notice?" Grace Henley really wanted Maria DeMarco dead and dead now. Maria DeMarco had embarrassed Grace and Patricia in their last bid to take over AEGS. This time that woman would not live to see the end of the week if Grace had her way. Which she normally did.

"If memory serves me correctly, we have two that we can get from the local talent for the matter. I believe that Billy and Kelly Hartwell will serve our purposes just fine. The best part is they will come at a bargain price as they're trying to up their rep." Malcolm cracked.

"Are you sure they are up to the job Malcolm? We don't need this job botched for some grease monkey's ego." Grace didn't have a lot of faith in the local talent pool. In her eyes, the local thugs were only good for muscle jobs and that is all.

"Trust me Grace, the twins will be just fine. After all; they’re not going after a Mafia Don, or Cartel Boss with dozens of bodyguards. Maria DeMarco is a retired ballerina, nothing more. By this time two days from now, the esteemed Prima Maria 'the Dove' DeMarco shall have an unfortunate accident resulting in her untimely and very messy demise." The four family heads all started to laugh at Malcolm's very off-colored joke.

Hartwell Garage and Tow service:

Later that night across town at the Hartwell Garage and Tow service a non-descript four door sedan pulled to a stop around back. The man who exited the driver's side could have been just about anyone in his average looks and dress. The man knocked twice on the back door then waited. When the door was finally answered he just walked in as if he owned the place.

The fact that the two owners knew the man was beside the point. They both knew that the man was there for their side business.

"What's the bunny old man?" Billy asked point blank.

He replied. "Accident with fatalities. No survivors, no witnesses. Twenty five grand when the job is done."

"Who is the organ donor?" Kelly wanted to know.

"One, Maria DeMarco. The CEO of SCT. That going to be a problem?" He asked.

"Naw, no problem old man. Who's paying the tab?" Again, it was Kelly, wanting to know the details.

The man said flatly. "Both families are paying the contract. Again, is that going to be a problem?"

"If they are both paying, then the price is five hundred thou. Before you go trying to undercut us, the reason is simple. If both families want this bitch dead that means more risk for us. Too many people to roll if things go sideways. So like I said; five hundred grand or you go with outside talent. We may be just local hitters, but we're not dumb."

He nodded. "Fine. Five hundred thousand, but the job is done by COB tomorrow."

"No can do. Not with those restrictions. Two days to get it done." Kelly countered quickly.

"Fine. Two days, no more, Hartwell. After that, we go outside. Understand?" With that the man turned and walked back out to his car and drove off.

Billy Hartwell looked over at his twin brother and smiled. "Damn bro! This will finally put us on the map. Five hundred grand for arranging an accident for some old bitch. Dude, that is pro-level pay. The Gilroy’s or Henley’s must really want this woman out of the way."

"Shut up stupid!" Kelly snapped. Unlike his brother Kelly understood that there was more at stake here than just another job. "If we don't do this right, we'll be the ones with the contact on their head. I don't know what is going on here, but we need to make sure we do it right."

"Bro what's up your ass all of a sudden? We got this, no problem. Besides, those rich cocksuckers ani’t got the guts to try us. We know where WAY too many of the bodies are buried for them to burn us. They'll have to just deal and pay us our money either way." Once again Billy was showing why Kelly was the brains of their operation.

They may be twins, but their similarity stopped at their birth. Where Billy stood over six feet tall and weighed in at over two fifty; Kelly barely stood five foot eight inches tall and weighed one seventy. Their mother once said that Billy got the muscle and Kelly got the brains. This was very true when it came to the Hartwell brothers.

"THAT is why we need to do this right you fuck-stick. We screw up and the Gilroy’s or Henley’s will not be the only ones taking out a contract on our asses. They'll do it just make sure we don't talk to SLED. No, it will be the REAL Organization putting the contract out on our asses. I'm talking OLD WORLD MOB you stupid shit! Don't you get it?! The Henley’s and the Gilroy’s want Maria 'the Dove' DeMarco taken out! Not some retired ballerina. Now take your ass over to STC and find out where she's staying."

"Sure bro, sure. No end to get your panties in a twist. The goon get you a picture of our bunny? I don't want to spend all night following the wrong target all over the county." Billy said.

Kelly opened the folder that the Henley’s had provided. Inside was a picture of a woman in her mid-forties to early-fifties. Very pretty, with black hair and the olive skin of someone of Italian descent. Pulling the photo out Kelly handed it over to Billy. "Don't screw up bro. We only get this one chance. We fail and we're done. Got it?"

Billy rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I got it. Play things nice and easy until time to fulfill the contract. No sweat, I got this. Go home and take care of ma, I'll see you later back at her house."

Kelly just stood there and watched as his brother took one of the 'salvaged' cars. The car was reported as being destroyed five months ago. If the car was lost, or found, it would come up as destroyed by the Lexington Sheriff's Department when the V.I.N. number was ran. The smile that Kelly showed on his face was not one of pride but that of a psychopathic killer.

Between the two men, Kelly was the truly dangerous one. Where Billy killed for money, Kelly killed for the rush. He killed to feel something. Kelly was a true serial killer in very sense of the word. As a child he showed all the signs of a burgeoning psychopath. He played with fire, wet the bed, and abused small animals sometimes killing them. When he was seventeen Kelly killed his first human, a drug dealer in Charleston. Now, he worked on the side as an assassin for hire to get his 'fix'. If not for the guiding hand of his mother, Kelly Hartwell would have been sent to Death Row years ago.

Outside of Southern Coastal Transit:

Maria smiled as the last of her guests left the building by the front door. It had been a good night, despite what her granddaughters had found at AEGS. Even then she was proud of what they had done on such short notice. The fact that they had uncovered the fact that four of the twelve dorm mothers were corrupt did not sit well with Maria. The three that were being blackmailed was one thing, but the one that was taking the bribe money upset her the most.

Maria had long ago put into place policies to prevent this type of coercion. She needed more Intel as to why the woman needed that much money to take care of a family member. It didn't make sense to her. They took care of family. That was the DeMarco family code and she was not about to break that no matter what else happens.

After locking up, she and Anna headed for the safe house that Maria had setup for them. As they drove Anna was the first to spot the tail. "We have company Maria."

Maria checked the mirrors casually. "Where?"

"The blue two door coupe, three back on the right. They picked us up just after we left the terminal." Anna stated.

Maria sighed. "Oh dear. That was fast. I expected our friends, the Gilroy’s and Henley’s, to sic someone on us. Only not this soon. The question is; did we tip them off or were they already coming after me."

"Take the next right and then left at the stop sign. There's a parking garage two blocks up from there. We can have a little chat with the Admirer who is following us." The malice in Anna's voice left no doubt that she wanted to snap the head off of the driver.

"No my dear Anna. We will lead them to our safe house and let the children have fun. Contact Samantha and let her know what is going on." Maria smiled back.

Even Anna had to admit that Maria had the better idea. Taking out her operations' cell phone Anna dialed Sam's number. Sam answered after the second ring. "Sam here Miss Anna. Is there a problem?"

"Samantha, your mother and I seem to have acquired fleas. Do be a dear and swing by the house with some bug spray." Anna quipped.

Sam giggled. "Of course Miss Anna. Do we need the heavy industrial, or just your everyday bug bomb?"

Anna looked in the review mirror before answering. "Bug bomb should do the trick young lady. Nothing more than one of your local pests that tend to annoy on a spring day. An off name brand should do the trick Samantha."

"We'll be the waiting for you as you pull in Miss Anna." Sam said.

The line went dead as Samantha hung up on Anna. "There we go Maria, all arranged, nice and neat. I do hope the girls don't hurt the boy too much."

"Oh I doubt they will Anna. In fact, I expect them to put the fear of God the Almighty in the boy. Personally, I do hope that they allow the boys to have their fun this time." Maria started to chuckle at the thought of those two very hard men acting like a pair of Mafia Enforcers.

As Anna thought along those same lines, she had to fight to keep from laughing out loud. Even she could see the very lopsided conversation that would take place. Anna had said on more than one occasion that Bobby and Hunter would have made a very interesting and frightening pair of Enforcers. Two Enforcers not to be crossed.

As they made the turn onto the street where Maria had her safe house she passed a black F-350 pickup. As they pulled into the driveway to the safe house the blue two door coupe made the turn. Both women ignored it as it drove past the safe house and kept on going. Maria and Anna headed inside the house just as the pickup pulled out and drove by. Anna started to giggle as Maria opened the door.

Maria arched an eyebrow. "Tell me Anna, what was so funny just now?"

Anna chuckled. "Oh, it seems that your son-in-law and his partner are going to be the ones to play this night. Why do I have a feeling that things are going to get very hot for some poor soul out there?"

"They do have a flair for using unorthodox methods. Usually when they are trying to get their point across to someone obstinate." Maria remarked.

The two women truly laughed at Maria's description of Bobby and Hunter's normal operational mode. If there were ever two former military men that believe in the old adage of no problem that C-4 can't handle, it was those two maniacs. The fact that Hunter and Bobby both had stockpiled the team trucks with a few pounds of the high explosive only proved the point.

Hartwell Garage and Tow service:

Billy Hartwell smiled at the success of his mission to find out where their bunny was holed up. It was perfect. No one saw him trail the old woman to the house she and that other old bat were using while here in Akin. He even knew the area the house was in. They didn't have to arrange for a car accident, all he needed to do was grab a few things from the garage and head back out. It would be prefect. All he needed was his wrenches, a road flare and the old alarm clock. Billy had been learning how to make bombs and other fun stuff in his spare time.

Sure he was nowhere near as smart as Kelly, but he wasn't just hired muscle either. Billy knew that if he pulled this job off, without his brother, then he would be the new head of their organization. He could finally prove to his mother that they needed to get rid of his sick-fuck of a brother. With Kelly out of the way, they could start making some real money. All he had to do is arrange for the house that DeMarco was holed up in to burn to the ground, with them in it.

Parking the salvaged car around back, he headed inside. He never saw the two men walking across the lot before they were next to him. "Sorry gentlemen, but we're closed for the night."

"Not here for the garage or tow service butthead." The bigger of the two said. "Now step inside, we need to have us a talk."

"Look buddy! I don't know where you're from, but down here, when someone says they're closed. They fucking mean, THEY'RE CLOSED! Now FUCK." The barrel of the pistol in Billy's mouth stopped him from saying more.

"We said 'open the fucking door and step inside'. Don't make us repeat ourselves again numb-nuts." Growled the man with the gun.

Billy knew when to go with the flow and when to buck the ride. This was one of those times he just needed to go with the flow. Once the three of them were inside, one of the men went over to the lights and turned on the work bay lights only. The one with the gun pushed Billy into the first bay area. Billy kept his hands away from his sides so the guy with the gun didn't blow his head off by accident. After all, all they said was they wanted to talk. From the way they were acting, he knew what they wanted to talk about and it wasn't the weather.

His thoughts were confirmed when tall dark and silent asked the first question. "Who hired you?" When Billy didn't answer TDS punched him in the gut. "Look dumb-fuck. We ask you questions, you answer. Got it?" Billy nodded his head yes. "Okay now, who hired you?"

"Hired me for what? I can't answer when I don't know what the answer is." Billy thought he would be able to talk his way around the questions by playing dumb. He was wrong.

"Let me explain this for you in simple words shithead. You were hired to follow Madam Maria DeMarco. Don't deny it shithead, we clocked your sorry ass when you followed her from SCT. Now one more time. Who hired you?" Gun boy snarled. Only this time, he asked with the hammer cocked.

"You know something Tony, I think the hillbilly here needs some motivation." TDS was flipping a hammer in his hand.

"I do believe you're right Jocko. Why don't you give him a little?" The one called Tony grabbed Billy's hand and placed on the toolbox lid.

"I get fifteen knocks to make you talk. I figure that gives you fifteen chances with this hand to tell us what we want to know. Now let's see if I can get you to see things OUR way." Tony smashed and broke the first knuckle of the pinky finger. Billy screamed at the top of his lungs at the pain and then passed out.

"Shit!" Hunter looked at Bobby and scowled. "Damn it Bobby; we need him to talk, not pass out! Why did you hit him so hard?"

"Um, I didn't. Well, no harder than if I was working at the forge." When Hunter heard this he had to stop himself from face palming. The one thing you don't do, is ask someone who forges their own knives to swing a hammer. They will most likely break more bones than motivate someone. "Look, I got an idea. Grab that office chair over there."

Ten minutes later Bobby was throwing a bucket of water in Billy's face. "Huh? Wha? Where am I?"

"In deep shit Billy boy. Now, are you going to answer our questions or does my partner here get to break another of your fingers?" Hunter asked.

"Look, you guys got it all wrong. There is nothing personal about this guys. It's only business, see. The Henley’s and Gilroy’s offered five hundred grand for someone to get rid of the old lady, see? Whenever they need something handled quickly they come to me and my brother, see? Like I said, it's nothing personal, purely business." Billy figured if he told these two goons about the contract that they would want in on the job. After all whoever took out that old bitch DeMarco everybody will be looking at them to handle bigger and better contracts.

"Who's your partner?" Hunter asked quietly.

Billy answered fast. "Shit man. Everybody knows that. You must be from out of town if you don't know that. It's my brother."

"Where is he now?" Bobby asked.

"He's home, taking care of our mom, man." No sooner had the words left his mouth, Billy regretted it.

"So your mother knows that you and your brother are a pair of sick-fuck bottom-feeding low-lives that think they can be big-time hired guns. Okay pal, let me explain what is going to happen here. First you, or your brother, is going to tell these local shitheads that Madam DeMarco is off limits. After that, you close down this place and drop off the face of the earth. And lastly, if we ever hear of you two taking another contract; we will end you. You got that dipshit?" Hunter growled.

When Billy didn't answer right away, Hunter looked over at Bobby. "Yo partner, this dumbass is not getting it." Reaching behind him Hunter pulled out a high density flashbang grenade. Shoving it under Billy's crotch so that the handle was free Hunter ran a string from the pin over the car left and down to Billy's good hand. Tying the string around his index finger Hunter took the duct tape and taped his hand into a fist.

Bobby found a bucket and filled it with about a half-gallon of water then walked over to Billy. Freeing the arm of the hand with the string tied to it Bobby slipped the bucket over the hand.

"You look like you work out a lot Billy boy. Personally, I have always been a big fan of iso-metrics. You see, this is how it works. In your right hand, is about three pounds of water. Under your balls, is a half stick of T-N-T set with a hair trigger. Now all you have to do; is hold that bucket of water until your brother comes in in the morning to release you. However, if you can't do that, you blow your balls off and set the garage on fire. You see, when we leave; we're going to turn the gas on for the welder. You and your brother did something really stupid, redneck. You accepted a contract on the Dove. A woman who has been out of the game for years now, retired. Only she ain't exactly retired. That woman has more 'favors' owed her than your two piss-ant rich asshole families could ever hope to gain by half. Now, instead of collecting that Five hundred k, you and your brother are going to be lucky to see the end of the week." Looking over at Hunter Bobby smiled. "About ready to get back to the girls partner? Or do you need more time?"

"Nah, I'm good bro. The moment that flashbang goes, this whole joint goes with it. What with all the gas cans, NOS tanks, and acetylene and oxygen tanks; this place will go up like a Roman candle. If not more like a mortar shell on the fourth of July. Come on let's go. I really don't feel like being around here when the place goes nova."

"HEY! You can leave me like this! GET BACK HERE! I told you everything you wanted to KNOW!" Billy screamed as Bobby and Hunter walked out of the garage. "WAIT! DON'T GO!"

Outside Bobby and Hunter climbed into their truck and headed for their safe house. They knew that Billy Hartwell was not long for this world. Not that they cared. Hartwell had made the mistake of targeting the Madam. If they didn't put the poor dumb bastard down now, Sam or Annette would.

Hunter asked. "How long do you think Billy boy will be able to hold that half-gallon Bobby? What, ten, maybe fifteen minutes?"

"Nope. Not even that long. Eight minutes at most and boom." Was Bobby's answer.

Hunter looked over. "Okay, what did you do bro?"

"Well, I told him it was a half-gallon of water. That was true, but the fifteen impact sockets in the bottom of the bucket add about four pounds of weight. Unseen weight, but still additional weight all the same. It's really good for isometric exercises." Bobby said with a cruel smile.

Both deputies started to laugh at that inside joke. They had both been on the receiving end of rifle drills when they were trainees in basic. More than once, they had a Drill Sergeant who had them holding their weapon at arm's length for screwing the pooch, or as their Drills were fond of saying, isometric training.

They had only made it half a mile down the road when the garage blew sky high. The blast was bigger than any they had expected and pulled over. They looked at each other and then climbed out of the truck. They turned and looked back at where the garage should be, but all they saw was a growing mushroom cloud of fire.

"Um, Hunter; you did check to make sure that the only thing in that place was stuff that took far more than a flash bang to set it off. Didn't you?" Bobby asked.

"Well, to tell the truth. No, I didn't." Hunter then looked over at Bobby then back at where the garage should be. "You don't think those dumbasses were making meth in that joint do you?" The next explosion rocked the truck and the night around them. "There went the NOS and oxygen tanks."

The night was rocked again by a third then fourth explosion in rapid succession. "Oh man that doesn't look good. I have a feeling that whatever they were doing back there it wasn't legal or healthy. Come on, let's get the hell out of here before the LEOs show up and start asking questions." Bobby got back in on the driver's side.

Hunter seeing his partner do this, he followed suit. Even as they rounded the corner at the next traffic light the firetruck sirens could be heard in the distance along with police sirens sounding in counterpoint. What the two deputies didn't know, or have any real way of knowing, was the Hartwell garage was one of the biggest underground methamphetamine labs in the state of South Carolina. They produced more than five hundred pounds of meth per week. That one flashbang grenade set off a chain reaction that caused the lab to explode in a spectacular fashion.

It would take the coroner more than seven weeks to figure out what had killed William 'Billy' Hartwell. Even then, the conclusion was wrong. Death by extreme blast injury and burns to ninety eight percent of the body. The fact that Billy's testes weren't found in the fire or blast area plus the way he was found in a fetal position all lead to his conclusion.

By the time the fire was under control and finally put out, Billy's body had burned past the point of recognition. The coroner couldn't even use his teeth for identification. They had been so charred they started to crack and crumble at the slightest touch. The skin of Billy's fingers had burned away. If it had not been for the melted silver cross and chain around his neck Eileen Hartwell would have never been able to identify her son.

Bobby pulled into the first Kangaroo gas station he saw, stopping at the first diesel pump he came to. As Bobby was filling up the tanks, Hunter headed inside to get a six pack of beer. While Bobby was filling the fuel tanks, a Security Guard walked up to him.

"Evening sir. That's a nice truck you got. What model it that? If you mind me asking, sir?"

Bobby patted the side. "It's an F-350 King Ranch Special, young man. Say, can you tell me what all the commotion is going on over there?"

"Oh, that is the Hartwell garage. To be honest sir, I'm not surprised it's going up like it is. Those two losers have been running meth for the past few years now. I wouldn't put it past them to have had a lab explosion. Not that it hasn't been coming. Personally I'm kind of glad it happened." The Security Guard admitted.

That puzzled Bobby. "Oh? Why's that?"

"The local pork have been trying to bust those two shit-sticks for more than five years now. With them gone like this, we might get a break in the drugs and other crime around here." The guard confided.

"Yeah? Care to tell me why the LEOs haven't been able to take those guys down young man?" Bobby was looking the Security Guard in the eyes.

"They've had the protection of the Henley’s and Gilroy’s. That's why. They get protection by the Gilroy and Henley families from the DA and in return, they cut the two families in on the drug sales. Oh both families claim to be these upright pillars of the community, but their nothing more than a bunch of thugs using the illusion of propriety. Trust me sir, there is nothing upright or proper about those people. The fact that they 'employ' the Hartwell’s is just one example. To tell you the truth sir; no one around these parts is going to shed one crocodile tear over those two."

"Hey Hunter, it looks like I owe you that ten spot." Bobby called out as his partner in crime for the night returned with the beer.

Hunter set the beer in the truck. "Oh? Why’s that?"

"This Security Guard just confirmed what that explosion was and you were right. It was a meth lab that went up." Bobby said with a smile.

"Well shit! And here I was hoping you were right for a change, man. Damn! That shit is getting out of hand." Hunter sighed.

"Well, at least all those meth lab explosions have one benefit." Bobby said with a straight face.

Hunter asked. "What's that old buddy?"

Bobby shrugged. "Their keeping a massive infestation under control."

"What infestation is that sir?" asked the Security Guard.

"The dreaded double-mobile-wide six-wheeled eighty-foot all terrain roach and rat motel." Bobby said with a smirk.

----- to be continued ----



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