He wasn’t gone on the spot.
The cellar was as dark as the night’s sky, and Hebert Wilcox thought he was in hell because his body hurt everywhere. He was hurt but not bleeding. He couldn’t be dead, could he? Overwhelming fatigue took over, and just as he was about to pass out, a flashlight pierced through the darkness and focused on his face.
‘Wakey, wakey!’ he heard.
‘Madam Brenda, why am I here?’ he asked, squinting his eyes to see her face.
‘Now that’s a stupid question!’ she replied, taking a seat on one of the crates.
‘Did you think I was going to let you die when you owed me a large sum of money?’
A sharp pain emerging from his stomach region caused him to shift uncomfortably.
‘Rubber bullets. Hurt like hell,’ she said, making circles on his face with the flashlight.
‘You should have killed me when you had the chance,’ he said sheepishly.
‘Well, I’m not out of chances, am I?’ she pointed out. ‘The judge will pay what you owe me, or I will take one of those chances.’
Hebert laughed. ‘Tim will never pay. He will make sure not to leave you alive either.’
She smoothed her dress.
‘Well, we will see about that,’ she said confidently, dialing the judge on her cell.
‘Hello,’ said a voice at the other end.
‘Is this the Honorable Judge Timothy Wilcox? ‘
‘Who’s asking?’ the voice replied, irritated. It was in the middle of the night, after all.
‘I have your weasel of a brother in my clutches. He owes me a million dollars. When you pay, I’ll let him go.’
‘I am not paying any more ransoms for that asshole!’ the judge snapped.
Brenda closed the mouthpiece and turned to Hebert. ‘Why are you such an asshole to everybody, Heb?’
Heb snorted. His brother probably told her to go to hell.
‘Well, if you don’t send the money, I will send him to you piece by piece. How about that?’ She informed the judge.
He was quiet for a few seconds.
‘Fine. I will wire the money, but you better watch your back from now on,’ the judge warned.
‘Ha ha ha,’ Brenda laughed. ‘You don’t scare me, judge. Part of the perks of owning a brothel in the heart of the city is amassing powerful connections, and they will bury you.’
He cut the call.
‘What the …? He didn’t even ask for the account details. The bugger!’ She cursed.
‘He has them,’ informed Hebert, looking dejected.
She shook at her head and rose. ‘Oh Heb, you had promise. Now you are a waste. Just look at you. What dragged you down to the gutter like this?’
Christopher Wallace, he thought angrily.
‘You used Christopher to get to me,’ he accused. ‘That man has tons of money. You could have just asked him for it and saved yourself all this trouble.’
She gasped. ‘Is that the same Christopher you and your woman tried to swindle? It looks like the tables turned bad on you. He must love her so much to have gone through all this trouble. You lost Heb. Deal with it!’
‘I haven’t lost!’ he retorted. I will get back at them. All of them!
She received an alert.
‘Looks like brother dearest has a soft spot for you. You’ve paid your debts. Now get out of my cellar before you infect my wine!’
Heb rubbed his wrists once they were set free and started to ask, ‘I need cash to get by, Brenda. If you could just..’
He was out on the streets in an instant.
‘You’ll pay for this, Sarah,’ he swore, under icy breath. It was almost dawn, and he thought of going back home but squashed the idea when he concluded that the neighbors would inform Sarah he was still alive before he had the chance to reach the front door. He had only one place to go, and his brother wasn’t going to like it.
The loud knocks on the door sent Judge Wilcox’s wife into a frenzy. ‘Tim, please check who it is,’ she said fearfully. Hebert! Judge Wilcox sneered as he checked the security cameras. ‘What do you want, Heb?’ he asked through the intercom device.
‘Let me in,’ Heb said, through chattering teeth. ‘It’s as cold as hell out here!’
You should be in hell! Judge Wilcox thought as he opened the door. ‘Take your shoes off. Clara doesn’t like anyone messing up her carpets.’
Hebert could hear the irritation in his elder brother’s voice. ‘Look, I know you are pissed that I’m here and that you bailed me out again, but don’t worry. I have a plan that will get you all that money back and then some.’
He followed Judge Wilcox to the guest room.
‘I am not interested in your plans,’ he said bluntly. ‘I hope you won’t be here for long.’
‘Just for a few,’ Hebert replied, warming himself up by the heater. ‘I need to get back at that rich boy that got me in the slammer and took the girls.’
Judge Wilcox’s eyes widened. ‘Christopher Wallace? He came for the girls?’
‘Apparently, the brat is his! She hid a gold mine under my roof for eight years. She will pay with her life, I assure you!’
The judge stepped back. ‘Don’t mess with Christopher Wallace. He has powerful friends in the force.’
Heb snorted. ‘Not in New York. The boys are loyal to us.’
Timothy shook his head as he threw more wood in the fireplace.
‘Leave him alone.’
‘No, I won’t! I refuse to live in a world where Christopher Wallace has everything, and I have nothing!’
Timothy took Hebert by the shirt, ‘Do you know the deal I made with his lawyers when you kept sending those stupid letters? I paid a hefty sum to keep my name and involvement out of their mouths! Christopher Wallace doesn’t have a price, and he does not scare easily. He knows who we are now. If you mess this up, we both go down!’
Hebert pushed him away. So that was why Tim went crazy when he found out about the letters.
‘I’m not done with Christopher Wallace, Tim. Not by a long shot!’
‘Fine, do what you want! I’m out!’ the judge warned before storming out of the room.
‘Weak old man!’ Heb cursed aloud.
Timothy was stupid if he thought he would let this go, but Hebert had to admit that he was right. Christopher knew everything, and successful con needed discretion and leverage.
Discretion, Hebert thought.
They thought he was dead.
All he needed was leverage.