I was surprised that Toni felt comfortable having me drive. Then again, I was only just starting to feel the stronger effects of Hale as he had me pull into a parking garage in the Doebi District. I had only been in that part of town on a few occasions. The last of which was the poker tournament that ruined my life. The parking garage was lit up with a glow set by hidden neon lights blasting luminance to a cascade of brightness, even visible in daylight. Although, not much sunlight even made it down to the Doebi District. I wanted to ask where we were going but I kept finding my mind wandering off to unrelated thoughts before I could conjure up a coherent statement.
We pulled into a parking space on the fifth floor. It was the first floor we came across where there was no other vehicle parked. Thoughts flooded my head, questioning our need for seclusion. Was this it? Was this where my road ended? As we got out of the car, I felt the first wave of Hale really grab hold. My attention focused on a dim plane of sunlight sneaking between the buildings across the street. My mind froze. I do not really know where my thoughts were residing at that moment. I was not in the past. I was not in the future. I was just in the moment, enjoying the cool, mid-morning breeze as it gently caressed my face. I know that I was somehow in a pleasant place because Tukeo’s latest antagonizing comment did little to affect me.
‘Hey, amigo, you lose your piece of shit mind yet?’ Tukeo laughed as if he had forgotten how childish he was.
‘...what? Did you say something?’ I was not being pompous. I was in too much bliss to care about consequences at that particular moment. I felt strong and untouchable. It was like I was hovering above Toni and his guys. I just wanted to stare at the little spot of sunlight that was gaining strength as the sun rose to its daily apex. Maybe I was enthralled because the Hale was making me feel parallel to my perception of the beacon that laid adjacent to the parking garage.
The drug was definitely an oddity. It’s not like I had never done any substances for recreational purposes before that day, but that was a high I would not soon forget. Every Time I felt as though I was reaching the peak, it continued to rise.
‘Freddy?’ I wasn’t sure if was the Hale or if Toni’s child-like chuckle that actually allowed me to feel at ease with him. ‘You alright, man? I gotta be honest, you’re handling this buzz a lot better than I thought you would. You feelin’ it, yet?’
‘If I were the sun, I’d set the world ablaze.’
‘What the fuck?’ For the first time, I do believe that I saw Toni’s genuine smile. ‘You just might be ready to meet Don.’
‘The question is, Toni, is he ready to meet me?’ I felt a whole new pillar of confidence, the kind that lets you act without forethought. This is why I was initially afraid. I knew who Don was. It is not that he would ever get his hands dirty, but I knew that he could personally rip my heart from my chest in front of the entire world and no one would claim to remember even seeing him there.
When one talks of being connected, this guy is the hub. He is the very center and I was about to meet him and without the slightest amount of angst? That was not a good thing. All I wanted was to lean against the garage’s fifth-floor ledge and lose myself in my thoughts. I wanted to overlook the deepest part of the most notorious criminal escape in all of the FID.
‘Well look, Freddy, if you want to live long enough to see your apartment-’
‘Your piece of shit apar-’
‘Enough!’ Toni turned to around, ‘Tukeo, if you interrupt me one more time, you will soon be talking through a wire. Understand?’
‘Tukeo! Do you understand?’
Tukeo looked at me before making eye contact with Toni. Bashfully, he looked down before he answered. ‘Yes, Toni. I understand.’
I smirked at Tukeo as he was being reprimanded. I knew that Toni was not repositioning him because of his witless remarks only broadcasted to get a rise out of me or the childish promotion of dominance, but it was nice to see it. I knew where Tukeo was coming from. He was likely the last in command and probably the newest of all Toni’s followers. I did not know why he was so eager to champion his elevation over me.
‘As I was saying, you might want to tone it down a bit.’ Toni halfway turned back towards me. ‘Just a little advice.’
‘Why? Have I much say in my fate?’
‘Well, that’s entirely up to you, Freddy.’
Up to me, really? My fate has had little to do with me since I was in debt to Mr. Chikko. Then a relative question took captive of my thoughts: What debt is payed by a dead man?
Toni pulled out his POD and looked at the screen before he barked his next set of orders. ‘Tukeo and Sheon with me. Hamilton, stay put, yeah?’ He waved them on. ‘Feddy, it is time.’
I reluctantly followed.