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Breaking the Rules
Stray debris hurled and pitched from under the sleek, fiery Porsche blazing across the asphalt. Ruby’s eyes burned with an intensity comparable to an inferno, her fingertips barely stroking the vinyl wheel of the speeding car, weaving effortlessly in and out of the heavy traffic that tangled with itself on the pavement. Super Massive Black Hole by Muse blared from the stereo, splitting through the angry sounds of the bewildered and unhappy drivers she left behind. Her blood pumped to the rapid beat of the music and the swerve of the car as it responded to her lightest touch.
Cutting off cars to get to the exit awarded her with more shouts of rage and several middle fingers. It made her smirk as she drank in all the wrath, her eyes glittering behind her designer shades. She had no time for the deathly slow patterns of these lesser people. The cop who started chasing her, no doubt for her excessive speed, pulled off pursuit after only ten miles. Stupid, slow idiot, she thought. The near encounter with the law only heightened her want for danger. I think next time, I’ll take the bike. She swerved to make the light as it turned from yellow to red. Smirking, she pulled into a parking lot and searched until she found the parking space in the front. Ruby opened the door and slid out gracefully with such speed. She didn’t bother to lock the car, either. No one would dare steal it, she thought. This was her turf and if anyone dared to overstep their place, she would shred them to ribbons.
Ruby sauntered across the sidewalk, looking as if she owned the world. Which she did, in a manner of speaking. Her destination was a tattoo shop that her followers hung out at to relax and recuperate when they weren’t delivering her messages and beatings to rival lords and insubordinates, respectively and sometimes not. Ruby hardly ever got her own perfectly manicured hands dirty, although many deaths were on them. This visit was not one of instruction or rewards; it was one of punishment to a traitor.
The new delivery boy, Marcus, had been hired after much pleading and begging to join the most powerful mob in Los Angeles. The sniveling kid had been treated bad in Jericho’s gang; Jeri’s own nephew was taking beatings from the Boss himself. Poor kid had to go deserter just to stay alive. Or so it seemed. A month and a half ago, Ruby’s second-in-command, Blaze, discovered that Marcus was going AWOL every few days. A stakeout, a couple of discrete pursuits, and a word with the Boss landed Marcus in front of Ruby today. He had no idea that he had been discovered and if he did, he was too stupid to run. Poor idiot.
Before she opened the door to the shop, she straightened her black leather jacket and pulled off her sunglasses. Driving the door open, she crossed the reception area to the back. Followers stared at her as she advanced through the room, some having never seen her before. Ruby’s heels made a staccato click on the sterile tile and the beaded curtain pinged against itself as she shoved it aside. A heavyset man sketching a tattoo outline of a butterfly on a pretty blonde’s lower back looked up in surprise.
“Is there anything wro—,” he tried asking.
“Get out, Mike. And take that floozy with you.”
The blonde was seething at being called a floozy, but then again, she was one. Mike grasped her arm before she could protest the incompletion of her tattoo or say something to Ruby that might get her shot. He was a smart man and a gifted artist; the only man she trusted with her ink, but some of the trash he let walk through the door put her in a bad mood. No one messed with Ruby and if they did, they didn’t live long enough to brag about it.
“Where’s the snot rag?”
“Right through here, Ruby,” rumbled Blaze.
She ripped back the curtain to the rear storage room to find Marcus duct taped to a chair in the middle of a pool of light cast from the single bulb swaying overhead. Tattoo supplies crowded the edges of the small space, but Ruby didn’t care. She had her little mouse cornered.
“So, Mucus,” She murmured softly. “I—”
“Actually, its Marcus, so if you don’t mind getting it straight, there, sis.”
Blaze snickered. “Do you have any idea who this is?”
“Some snotty princess that can’t get my name right?”
“Try your Boss, numbskull,” Ruby hummed, glaring at her prey.
“Oh, Miss, I’m so sorry! I didn’t recognize you, and—”
Blaze threw a right hook in Marcus’s face before he said something else that might make the Chief angrier. Marcus sputtered blood all over the front of his knock off designer shirt and cheap slacks. Ruby grinned and brought herself to Marcus’s eye level. She spoke very softly and articulately, a talent that could capture an audience. Marcus was hypnotized by the cadence of her voice and the depth of her eyes. Like staring into puddles of liquid amber that sucked you in forever.
“Did you try to sell my secrets to your Uncle Jeri?”
“I don’t tolerate liars in my pack, and you, Marcus, are a liar.”
“No Boss, see, I gotta check up on my family sometimes. I wasn’t talking to Jeri at all. He’s not my family anymore, see? It was all a misunderstanding! Please, don’t kill me!” He started to panic, his voice becoming more and more shrill.
“Oh, but I know you’ve been lying.” Ruby’s eyes glimmered. “Blaze here is very loyal to me and is why I’m not dead. Slipshod idiots like you think they’re the next Bond and can knock me off the food chain. You’re going to die, Marcus.”
By this time, Marcus was a mess, his face splattered with red and streaked by the tears. He was moaning and sobbing, trying to free himself from the duct tape restraints. Ruby smiled again and whispered to Blaze. He nodded and cut Marcus’s bonds. Marcus had a mixture of anxiety and relief on his face. Ruby bent down to Marcus’s ear.
“I’d run if I were you,” she whispered. “And I’d hurry, too. I might change my mind. Tell your Uncle Jericho I said hi.”
Marcus nodded twice and bolted for the door. He could feel the sweet, free air just beyond that curtain, calling his name, beckoning to him. He took three steps and…
Almost made it.
Blaze caught him between the shoulder blades with a razor sharp blade the size of a child’s finger. His dart landed right in the spinal cord, severing the nervous system. Marcus was heaped on the floor in a matter of seconds, nothing more than a lifeless meat sack.
Ruby watched as the body landed, crumpled on the tile. There was no pity in her eyes, only the grim look of reality. She relished her status as Top Dog, but one slip could bring her crashing down to the bottom. Or even worse: death. Ruby would have to watch her back and those who served her.
“See to it that you get this mess cleaned up. No evidence.”
Those were the rules. If the cops found out, there were plenty of dirty ones willing to take bribes, but if Jericho found out, there would be a war.