There is No Exit

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Tony Devino. Tommy “The Rash” Talbot. Ray Gonzales. One by one the messages were coming in. Help. Need Help. Guy looking for you. Huge bastard out to get you. Need rash ointment oops sorry theres no backspace. Nobody had close to twenty contacts in Jet City that were part of his network. They didn’t know about each other and that compartmentalization was for their safety as much as his. Not all of them were low lives or criminal adjacent, but the ones who were were getting hit up by someone. Someone looking for him. It couldn’t have been a coincidence that this was going on just after he’d made a huge breakthrough in the Order investigation.

He was correlating the locations the messages were sent from on a giant map when the ticker tape spat out this one:

Weird guy asking for you. Giant. Knows my name.

That one came from an underground hangout called The Rich Club. It was supposed to be ironic. It was known locally as the No Exit because of the neon sign hanging out front by the same name. The owner was named Sal. He wasn’t the contact. It was bar fixture Adam Tao. If Adam was compromised, then it meant this guy had become a serious threat.

It could mean a trap, but Nobody couldn’t afford to leave it alone. Not if Adam needed him. The Rich Club was literally underground, so surveillance was out of the question. He would be going in blind. Whoever this guy was had thought this through; a departure from the types Nobody usually dealt with. He was going to have to try a different tack.

No Exit was dead quiet. Not for lack of clientele, but no one was in the mood to say anything. The Spiders were taking over and everyone knew that sooner or later, their street would be under new management.

Evan Singh sat in a booth off to the side of the club. It had been a long day and the chance to relax for a moment was something he’d been looking forward to. The club was twenty years old but pretended it was almost a hundred to draw in the hipster crowd. One of Nobody’s contacts, Mr. Bell, saw Evan when he walked in. He relocated to Evan’s booth and ordered a drink.

“How’d you get in here?” Bell asked.

“Same way you did,” Evan replied.

“Well, I’m not a minor,” said Bell.

“You sound confident about that,” said Evan.

“We need to talk about this Spider business,” said Bell.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” said Evan.

“That’s just because you haven’t heard the latest. Yesterday, a client came in and told me that a big shootout went down in Stillwater. I asked around and apparently a big meeting between the heads of the local gangs and crime families was going down. It was a who’s who of the Jet City criminal underworld.”

“Uh huh.”

“Then a Spider shot some kid in the head, I think the nephew of one of the Santos Brothers. It was a messy hit but man it got everyone super pissed. There’s talk of some sort of alliance or something to kick the Spiders out of town.”

Evan pretended he didn’t know all of that already.

“Why would a Spider go and sign their death warrant like that?” Evan asked.

“I dunno. It doesn’t make a damn lick of sense. If they were trying to behead the local underworld, they didn’t send enough guys or guns for the job and Lord knows they got plenty of both,” said Bell.

“Makes you wonder who benefits,” said Evan.

“You’re not gonna get all conspiracy on me are you?”

“Conspiracy doesn’t mean untrue, it just means two or more people planning in secret and that happens all the time,” said Evan.

“Well, even so, I think the Spiders are the type for theatrics. All we’ve seen from them so far are over the top displays. Curb stompings on YouTube and the like. It almost reminds me of the zany villains of yesteryear. Way more violent sure, but still all about shock and novelty.”

“Yeah,” said Evan. His eyes scanned the room.

“Are you even listening to me?” Bell huffed.

“Kind of. I’m actually keeping an eye out for someone,” said Evan.

“Who?”

“You’ll see.”

“Where the hell’s that drink I ordered?” Bell wondered. A waitress walked up just then with Bell’s order. “Ah, finally.” Evan saw her shaking hands and distant eyes as she placed the vodka martini on the table.

“Busy night?” he asked her. She didn’t say anything. When she’d gone, Evan pulled Bell close to him. “You need to leave right now.”

“Hey, I just got my drink,” said Bell before Evan’s grip tightened.

“Now.”

Bell saw the look in Evan’s eyes.

“Oh shit.”

“Slow. Calm. You forgot something in your car and you’re going to go get it.”

“Kid, what about you?” asked Bell.

“I’ll wait a minute and be right behind you.”

“Should we call him? You know. Him?” asked Bell.

“I have a feeling he’ll show up,” said Evan. Bell looked over his shoulder nervously. He took a sip of his drink and feigned going through his pockets.

“I got a… thing. In my car. Yeah. Yeah.” In the most obvious and strained way possible, Bell stood and walked toward the exit.

“That’s far enough, buddy,” said a voice from behind the bar. Bell froze. Then he heard a shotgun pump and peed a little. “Or should I call you Mr. Nobody?”

“Whoa, hey I ain’t… oh shit.” Bell peed a little more when he saw the hulking man pointing a shotgun at him, leaning across the bar.

“Hands up. Come on. Let’s not get cutesy here.”

“Who… who who… the fuck are you?” Bell stammered.

“Do you really care? I’m the guy who’s going to mash you to pulp and feed you to some orcas out by the San Juans. I heard it’s beautiful this time of year.”

“You got the wrong guy,” said Bell.

“I hope not. I hurt people when I get pissed,” said the giant with a shotgun. It was hard to tell through the executioner’s hood, but Bell thought he could see the man grinning. “Hey, where’s your friend? Is he… is he hiding under the table? Oh that’s funny. Hey little guy, come out from under there.”

Bell’s eyes shot to Evan’s booth. He was gone. He sighed with relief. At least he’d gotten out.

“Don’t make me come over there. I don’t like making people do things. They break when I do that. You, buddy. Nobody dude. Go get your friend.”

That’s when Bell realized he was going to die. Just before a smoke bomb went off in the club and the giant man had his shotgun ripped from his hands by a grappling hook.

“You came looking for trouble. Instead, it found you,” said Nobody.

The giant felt his blood freeze when he looked into Nobody’s eyes. Then he laughed because he felt alive again.

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