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I was shot, I knew because I had left a trail of blood for miles. The world around me seems darker. Like someone had put some heavily shaded sunglasses over my eyes. I continue to stumble through the thick forest, pausing once or twice to catch my breath, and let another half a cup of my life to leak from my bullet wound. My senses were in over drive, the canopy of trees were much crisper, sharper. The sounds of breaking branches under my feet were like explosions in my ears. The smell was strangely of fresh grass and burnt paper.
I had come upon a meadow…or was it a field, a desert? No…why is the ground burnt? The sky is grey, it didn’t matter. I was losing blood, I need to rest. A blackened tree near the middle of the expanse looked like a good place to rest…
* * *
“Now remember what I told you.”
“Keep my mouth shut and let you talk.”
“Good man,” his voice became professional, he was wearing a brown suit with a red tie. This was a big deal; this could either make us rich, or dead. And it all depended on what I had in the briefcase. It’s nerve wracking to handle millions in your hand, because everyone wants their ‘share’.
I never learned his real name, I only knew him as Mr. 1, and I was Mr. 2. We were going to meet with Mr. 3 and Mr. 4. Why were we only called by numbers? For security, so one doesn’t rat out on the other, or the rest. The less info the police had on us, the better.
“Slow down! You want this deal to be over before we even get there?” I half yelled at him. Mr. 1 was driving a little erratically; going faster than I felt was safe and unsuspicious. We looked like two bank robbers, fresh off a heist. With the amount of money that was sitting on my lap, we practically were bank robbers.
“Oh shut up,” Mr. 1 growled back at me, “I’m nervous! I know you are too!” He did have a point. I drifted off into thought.
“We’re here,” he said, interrupting my train of thought. Suddenly the briefcase sitting on my lap increased in weight tenfold. This business suit became the most suffocating thing since suicide rope.
“Holy crap man, you ok?” Mr. 1 asked. I answered with silence trying to calm down, I got my breathing under control, but my stomach was fighting me the entire way.
The car slowed to a stop.
“We’re here, game face on,” Mr. 1 said pulling me out of my nauseating daze. I lifted myself and the briefcase out of the car. This is it, do or die time…
* * *
The forest is a flash, my legs are numb. The only way I could tell that I was moving was by the blurry trees that flew by me. I was starting to get tunnel vision, everything on the edge’s of my vision starting to blur and get noticeably darker.
I can barely feel the blood soaked clothes sticking to my body. All of my clothes had become a dark shade of red. My breathing was quickened, it sounded like a tornado in my ears Each and every single crunch of leaves or branches sound like crashing cars together.
My brain was in full on panic mode. I was trying to figure out what had happened, but I couldn’t formulate a thought long enough to get a grip on anything. I tripped, stumbled forward, luckily I managed to catch myself before I fell and did more damage to myself.
I winced as few gushes of blood seeped out of my wound. I must have pulled on it when I tripped. I leaned against the tree supported me when I tripped. I sucked in a few more mouthfuls of air and continued hobbling through the woods.
The air rushing past my head sounded like a wind tunnel. The large trees whooshing by like racecars going 200 miles per hour.
Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh.
As I continue hobbling through the woods my heart beat became louder and louder in my ears, creating a background beat for my body. My legs moved on their own, had a mind of their own, they started to move in time to my heartbeat.
Thump- Thump, Thump-Thump.
I had lost track of where I was going a long time ago, I’m just running to stay alive now, my life depended on it.
* * *
“Mr. Zazzetti, please sit down,” said a man in an overly expensive suit, who was sitting in an overly expensive chair that was behind a desk that was hand crafted from some tree halfway around the world. He addressed himself only as Mr. X.
“Mr. X, long time to no see! How’s the operation?” Mr. Zazzetti asked, taking the chair in front of the desk.
“Now, now, you know I can’t talk about that. What brings you here?” Mr. X said, sharing a good laugh with Mr. Zazzetti.
Mr. X was always tight lipped when it came to his business. He did it for the security and safety of his customers and employee’s. After all, he was a drug entrepreneur, and a good one at that, and he wanted it to stay that way.
“Ah, yes. Straight to the point, that is one of the reasons why I like working with you,” Mr. Zazzetti confessed, “ I would like to obtain some of your wares.”
“How much?” Mr. X asked immediately.
“How does Three Hundred and Forty Million sound to you?”
“Sounds like four hundred and forty pounds to me.”
“So we have a deal?”
“Let me get someone on the phone here,” Mr.X said while reaching for his personal phone. He was wealthy enough to have a un-hackable hard line, that would directly connect to one of his employees, ready to take orders.
“Yeah, prepare a shipment. Yes, Venezuelan, yes, no, yes ,yes. Four Hundred and forty. Alright,” Mr. X discussed with someone on the other end, he looked over to Mr. Zazzetti.
“How soon?” Mr. X asked curtly.
“Can I have it by the end of the month?” Zazzetti pondered out loud.
“End of the month,” Mr. X switched back to speaking into the phone. After a few seconds, he hung up.
“Alright, the end of the month it is,” Mr. X said to Mr. Zazzetti, extending his hand. Mr. Zazzetti shook Mr. X’s hand. The deal was made.
Over the course of the next 4 weeks, the ‘product’ was cut, tested, measured and packaged in 1 kilogram blocks in a foreign country. Roughly a week was left when it had arrived within the country.
From there, all of the goods were transferred through 3 or 4 different hands before finally coming to a stop in the dealer’s hands. The bag was sealed with locks and a ‘open’ identifiable tab to tell if anyone had opened it. The two men that were delivering the goods were known as Mr. 3 and Mr. 4. They had only met once prior to the day of the deal. They were just as nervous as Mr. 1 and Mr. 2. So many things could go wrong.
* * *
The car slowed to a stop.
“We’re here, game face on,” Mr. 1 said pulling me out of my nauseating daze. I lifted myself and the briefcase out of the car. This is it, do or die time. I took a deep breath to calm my nerves; a big rush of grass scent filled my nose. The deal spot was chosen to be isolated near . some woods.
The other two men were standing about 10 yards away, in front of a black nondescript car, one was holding a large black duffel bag and the other appeared to be harmless, but we both knew that there was some sort of weapon under his suit jacket. I knew for a fact that Mr. 1 had a pistol under his jacket. He had told me prior to the trip over here. Saying it was for emergencies.
We approached the other party. You could cut the tension with a butter knife. We kept our distance, and they reciprocated. It reminded me of a wild west showdown, it was deathly quiet. Finally someone spoke,
“You have the stuff?” it was Mr. 1, making me nearly jump out of my skin.
“I don’t know, maybe. You got the means?” Mr. 3 spoke, he was the ‘unarmed’ one.
“I do, Mr. 2?” Mr. 1 gestured to me. This was my cue; I unlatched the briefcase after balancing it so the money wouldn’t fall out. I noticed that both Mr. 3 and Mr. 4 had leaned in to see more of the money. I could see the greed in their eyes. Neither of them had seen this much money before.
I don’t know what Mr. 3 was thinking, but it had to have been something along the lines of: they are only 2 guys! We could totally take them! He drew his weapon, a pistol.
Mr. 1 drew his not long after.
“Give us the money!” Mr. 3 said, greedily.
“Give us the goods!” Mr. 1 shot back angrily.
I flinched, I heard a loud bang. Gunshot, my brain told me. The next thing I knew was on the ground. Where is the briefcase? Suddenly the lower half of my body went numb. Mr. 1 had leaned over me, yelling.
Despite not being able to feel my lower half, I got to my feet in a flash, and I had entered the woods faster than my brain could register.
Run. OK, I can do that. That was all I had to focus on, running. I glanced down, I was covered in blood. That was when it hit me: that was MY blood! I had been shot! I ran faster. Run, just run.
* * *
This blackened tree near the middle of the expanse looked like a good place to rest. I can feel the life ebbing out of me. My breathing is slowing, along with my heartbeat. I heard a voice, singing in my head. It was a woman’s voice, with a sad tone.
A Lark, caught in a hunter’s net
Sang sweeter then than ever,
As if the falling melody
Might wing and net dissever.
My eyes are to heavy to keep open, I closed them one at a time, focusing on my breathing, and the voice.
At dusk the hunter took his prey,
The lark his freedom never.
All birds and men are sure to die
But songs may live forever.
The song ended, I felt scalding hot tears roll down my cheeks. The Freemason Melancholy. So sweet, so sad. My heart thumped once.