Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Deadly Gamble Chapter Nine The Thirty Million Dollar Answer

Chapter #9
The Thirty Million Dollar Answer

Two weeks had passed since Audrey was arrested for the murders of Mrs. Matthews and Sam.  Pablo was on the run from the authorities and the Di Angelo brothers.  Everything else appeared to be back to normal at least for the moment.  Steele had just finished reading the sports section in the morning paper.  The Phillies were on a winning streak.  Just as he was about to turn the page he heard Sugar Bear yell from the front of the bar.  “Hey Alexander, could you come up here for a minute.”  Sugar Bear was in trouble.  He had just given Steele the distress call signal.  Sugar Bear never called Steele by his first name.  It was a code the two had worked out on the day the club first opened.  Steele didn’t hesitate; he quickly reached down under the seat into the secret compartment inside his bench.  After pulling out his gun he hustled out the back door.  Seconds later he managed to creep up behind a man in the front lobby holding a gun directly at Sugar Bear’s chest.  It took Steele no time at all to recognize the gun toting hood, it was Pablo.  Steele startled him when he spoke from behind him. 

“What can I do for you Pablo?  Thought you’d be in Mexico by now.”  Pablo whirled around to face the barrel of Steele’s Glock.  Sugar Bear wasted no time scurrying behind the bar.  Pablo looked tired and scared, it was clear that he had lost some weight. 
“Oh trust me amigo if I had my way I would have been there a week ago.  Thanks to you I got no job.  Matthews didn’t even pay me what I earned for the last week I worked, ungrateful bastard.”  Pablo scoffed, “So what, I planted a few plants in back of his house.  It’s not like I killed his wife you know.”

Steele raised his gun slightly higher.  He was in no mood to indulge Pablo by participating in his pity party.  “Don’t blame me for your troubles, I wasn’t the one who planted the coca plants and I wasn’t the one who threw you under the bus it was Antonio.”

Pablo sneered at Steele. “Sure Steele blame the old man who’s not here to defend himself.  You think I don’t know that Antonio quit the day after you caught Audrey?  Yeah that’s right he just turned in his resignation and took off without giving any notice.  Why would he turn me in if he was leaving anyway?  Now I need you to help me do the same.  Nick put a contract out on my ass.  He wants to set an example for the rest of his minions.”

Steele nodded slowly.  “Let me guess, you owe him money.  I bet you talked him into giving you an advance on the money you were going to make from the drugs.”  Steele hit a sore spot that angered Pablo. 

“Listen I don’t owe you an explanation.  If I stay in Philly I’m a dead man, it’s as simple as that.  Now open the damn safe, give me the money and I’ll be on my way.  You owe me that much Steele.”

Now it was Steele who was angry.  He pointed the gun directly at Pablo’s forehead and took a step closer to him.  “I don’t owe you shit.  You dug this hole and now the Di Angelo brothers are gonna put you in it.  We live, or in this case die, with the choices we make in life. You made very bad choices and now it’s time to pay the piper.”

Steele thought for a moment.  After realizing that most of his customers pay using credit cards he had a sudden change of heart.  The last thing he wanted was a shootout. 
Steele had just received a hefty paycheck from Mr. Matthews and he also didn’t want Sugar Bear to catch a stray bullet.  He reasoned to himself,
 “I can always replace the money but good friends are hard to come by.”
 “Okay Pablo you got a deal, but put down the gun first you are making my manager nervous.  Pablo lowered his weapon but kept it by his side.  “No tricks Steele, I just need some running money.”

Steele had Sugar Bear open the safe while he held his gun on Pablo.  Sugar Bear was not happy with Steele’s decision to give Pablo the money and he wasn’t shy about expressing how he felt.

“I don’t know about this boss.  When did you get into the business of supporting drug dealers?”  Pablo took exception to Sugar Bear’s comment. 

“I don’t deal drugs amigo; I just grow the plants, what happens after that is not my concern.”

Sugar Bear handed Pablo a small stack of bills.  He could see the disappointment on Pablo’s face as he accepted the paltry bundle of cash. “Is that it?  What the hell are you trying to pull Steele?  Where’s the rest of my money?”

Steele lowered his weapon and shrugged his shoulders.  “I think you’re behind the times amigo.  Most working people pay with plastic these days.  I kept my end of the deal now get the hell out of my club.”

Steele followed Pablo as he stormed out the door.  He watched Pablo walk towards an old, blue, beat up Chrysler.  Out of the corner of his eye Steele could see a slow moving car through the large side view mirror of a parked delivery truck.  Nick D’Angelo’s gray Camaro was back.  As it turned the corner Steele noticed two silver guns pointing out of the car on the passenger side and from the back seat.  Steele calls to warn Pablo was drowned out by a hail of bullets all headed in Pablo’s direction.  Not wanting to take chances Steele hit the ground just outside the club’s front door.  Pablo groaned and lurched forward as the sounds of gunfire and broken car windows filled the air. Seconds later Pablo laid stretched out on the side walk covered in blood and shards of glass.  Steele held his weapon close to his chest.  He watched as the car speed off before he crouched close to the ground and cautiously made his way over to Pablo’s lifeless body.  With his head down Sugar Bear carefully made his way a few steps behind.

“Steele you want me to call an ambulance?  Steele shook his head slowly as he looked down at the bullet riddle copse.  “No, go back inside; in case they decide to come back.  The only person who can help him now is an undertaker.”

In mere minutes what had been a quiet uneventful morning had turned into a media circus.  Police cars, camera crews, ambulances and newspaper photographers lined Stenton Avenue.  Throngs of curiosity seekers stood behind yellow crime scene tape with their cell phone cameras at the ready hoping to catch a glimpse of the gruesome corpse now covered by a black tarp. 

Steele was ambivalent about Pablo’s death.  He may not have sold the drugs directly but without the Pablo’s of the world there would be far less cocaine on the streets of Philadelphia.  After giving a statement to the police Steele wanted to just get away from the activity outside his club.

“Hey Sugar Bear, if you need me I’ll be on the rooftop.”  Steele sat quietly on the roof reflecting on recent events.  Not long after he went up stairs Sugar Bear came up with a brown box from UPS. 

“Here you go boss.  This looks important so I brought it right up.”  He looked down on the floor where the black stains use to be.  Sugar bear smiled, “see boss, remember I used newspaper when the paint was wet so I wouldn’t leave footprints.  Well I told you that the rain would wash the ink from the paper away.”  At that instant Steele had a moment of clarity.  For weeks he was baffled by why the mats from the pool house and shed were tossed to the side of the building then returned to their original places days later.  The person who stole the lottery ticket must have used the mats placing one in front of the other to avoid leaving prints as they made their way to the shed window.  Steele smiled, stood up and patted Sugar Bear on the back.  “Thanks Sugar Bear.”  Of course Sugar Bear had no idea why Steele was so happy about receiving a package.  Maybe one day Steele would tell him the whole story. 

After Sugar Bear headed back down stairs, Steele examined the box.  It was from Japan.  He cautiously removed the wrapping and was amused at what he saw inside.  Packed in dry ice was 5 pounds of Kobe beef. On top of the rare beef was a tan envelope wrapped in plastic.  Inside the envelope were a few photos and a letter. 

Steele recognized the backdrop in each photo. Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, the Devils Tower in Wyoming, the Golden Gate Bridge in California and the Great Wall of China.  The photos were nice but what made Steele laugh out loud was the man in the photos.  Weeks after Steele had solved the double murders the final pieces of the mystery puzzle had finally fell into place.  In the forefront of each photo was Antonio.  He smiled, mugged and posed in each of the stops on his world tour.   The letter read,

“Greetings Mr. Steele,
A wise man once told me to live my dreams.  Thank you for encouraging me to do so.  Sorry about the deception.  I had to put you on the spot on the night Audrey was caught because I wanted to get rid of the last bad element before I left.  Good people still work there, they deserve better than slime like Pablo.

Enclosed is a peace offering. I hope you enjoy it.  In case you haven’t figured it out already it was me who turned off the camera and moved the door mats.  There was no way my fat ass would have been able to climb to the roof and down the ladder like Audrey did. 

I wish you continued success.  Tell Tara I said hello.  Well for me it’s off to the Forbidden City today.  I’ll be in touch. 

All the best

Steele was happy with the way things had turned out but one thing still bothered him.  His friend Sugar Bear would soon be married and probably start a family.  He needed to learn how to protect himself.  Steele decided that tomorrow he would take his friend to the gun shop then to the range to learn how to use a firearm.  If Steele’s instincts were correct Sugar Bear would need to be prepared to protect himself even if it meant taking a life. 

Hours later when all the excitement was over Steele walked downstairs and looked at the blood stained sideway.  Nick D’Angelo had sent a message.  This was the second case where Steele had a run in with one of the D’Angelo brothers and he had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last.  Steele wondered when the time comes whose blood would be on the side walk the Angelo brothers or his. 

The End

Beginning October 10th a brand new Alexander Steele Mystery begins. 

Until then please checkout Alexander Steele and the Legacy of Death.

Alexander Steele attempts to solve a 20 year old cold case.  Things heat up when Steele begins asking questions.  People familiar with the case are turning up dead.  Could Steele be the next target?


  1. Excellent Larry every chapter was worth the weekly wait. 5 star rating for your short story. Well written and worth reading.