Chapter 8

One week later, Vic walked back to the hotel seething. It was another one of those wrestling matches with the police, trying to extract information and convince them to follow his plan. They didn’t want him involved. He wasn’t the police. He didn’t need to endanger himself. Even though Jim had passed the words along and they didn’t disclose any more information to the public to avoid information leaks, that was about it. It didn’t matter that he was the target. It didn’t matter either that he tried to send them on a guilt trip during one of the arguments, trying to set his foot into the door.

“Jim, stop following me!” Vic finally turned around and yelled at his companion—who was walking at a distance.

“You know I can’t do that, Vic,” Jim returned. “Orders are orders.”

Yes, the police had assigned Jim to protect Vic for the time being. Considering how they were still letting whoever it was in the dark to continue the mistake with targeting Vic.

Vic let out a sigh, knowing it was useless so he focused on the scenery ahead instead of wasting his breath. And he knew it was wrong of him to take it out on Jim. The guy was just following orders.

Vic’s frustration finally simmered down when they reached the park ten minutes later. It was obvious Vic was being followed. It wasn’t Jim this time. Jim had left five minutes back, claiming he needed to check out something suspicious. Jim had no idea that was a decoy. Because Vic was the one who’d sprung the false trap. He knew as long as Jim was following him, whoever it was in charge of the next move wouldn’t step forward.

“Don’t even make a sound or you’ll get it,” A deep menacing voice said seconds later as Vic felt something jabbed into his side. “Walk slowly away from here.”

Vic had to admit that person was brave. They were in the center of the park, which placed them right by the fountain. Or was that the person’s advantage?

“Move,” The other person urged, shoving the weapon into Vic’s back another inch as a warning.

Vic did as told. They were farther and farther away from the crowd and out into the opening. But not for long, because the other person shoved Vic into a car shortly after they left the park. There was a second person now. That person was the driver.

“Smart move in sending your bodyguard away,” The person who threatened Vic spoke up after they pulled out into traffic already. His voice was obviously that of mockery. “It created a perfect opportunity for us.”

Vic smirked before the other person had the chance to do so. “Is that so?”

A light chuckle. “You’re in our hands now, aren’t you?”

Vic maintained his composure. “The way I see it, you walked right into my plan.”

It seemed like his kidnapper wasn’t so full of confidence anymore. The man turned around in his place and scanned the area, looking for signs of cops. However, it wasn’t long before he turned his attention back on Vic, adjusting his gun to point directly at Vic’s head.

“Don’t you dare make a move, kid,” The gunman warned. “You’re not going to make it out of here alive if you as much as…”

“Relax,” Vic interrupted the man, smiling. “I’m not going to go anywhere before I’m done with my game.”

The gunman was about to hit Vic, wanting to send another warning. Yet the driver interfered.

“He’s no good dead,” The driver said, his voice surprisingly authoritative.

That had stopped the gunman. He also lowered his gun but only so he could see the road ahead better.

“So, where are we going?” Vic asked casually, making conversation—and scanning the streets to get an idea.

“You’ll know when we get there,” The driver returned.

After that, it was silence in the car. Vic was puzzled that they didn’t cover his eyes. But he didn’t have to wait long since it was only a twenty-minute drive into the countryside. There was an abandoned warehouse at the outskirt of town. Despite the situation, Vic felt quite amused. It was sure cliché that these people decided to use such a place for a meeting. Or that was what Vic thought initially.

“Nice place,” Vic mocked as he stepped out of the car.

A gun was still pointed at his head, but he didn’t care. He knew they wouldn’t kill him yet. If they wanted to get it over with, they already did at the park. They needed something else from him. It was only a matter of time that they disclosed their motives.

“Keep walking,” The gunman snarled, shoving Vic on the back—unnecessarily.

“It’s not I’m going anywhere,” Vic reminded the other person.

Vic’s smile turned off as they entered the warehouse. Because he recognized one of the people standing at the other end of the warehouse as the doors shut and his vision adjusted.

“Dawson Young,” Vic uttered as he made his way toward the opposing party.

The man Vic called out also had an equally shocked expression on his face. He turned to one of the henchmen and slapped him on the head. “You idiots!”

“Boss!” The person receiving the slap called out in alarm and backed up several steps.

“You captured the wrong person!” Dawson bellowed, kicking the table in front of him, causing it to splatter the contents all over the place.

Upon hearing that, every one of the henchmen exchanged looks among themselves. The fear on their faces were beyond visible. Even the fierce gunman who was currently in charge of Vic stopped in his tracks. Vic took another quick glance around the place before turning to Dawson.

Vic turned on his amused expression then. “So, trouble in paradise?”

Dawson’s face had turned tomato red by now. He marched right up to Vic and pointed at his face. “You, shut up!”

“Yeah, sure,” Vic said, his expression still taunting. “Your men made the mistake, but let’s yell at me for coming here because I didn’t want to die.”

As if he was reminded of the reason why he was now looking like a walking tomato, Dawson turned his attention to his henchmen again. “You useless morons.”

“Boss, we followed all instructions,” One man spoke up at last—though his voice was shaky. “We don’t know how we could…”

Dawson approached the young man who had dared to speak up. “I even gave you pictures!”

“He looked exactly like the picture.” The young man had taken a step back. His voice was softer than before, and his head was bent at an angle. But he was still standing his ground—or whatever he could muster up that was left of his courage.

 Dawson grabbed the young man’s shirt sleeves and got right into his face. “You blind? You obviously are blind. How could he look exactly like in the picture?”

After saying that he shoved the young man away and turned to the other henchmen. “Anyone else wants to defend their idiotic actions?”

Vic was actually sitting down at a chair nearby at the moment, his arms crossed and his amused expression on. If only he had popcorn. Well, a green apple would be better. But popcorn suited the current event. The scene was so cliché that he felt it was too dramatic for his taste. But seeing Dawson so upset made it tenfold amusing. Because this was real life. Because he might not walk out of here alive today. But at least he was right. And he finally knew who the target was supposed to be all along.  

“But, Boss…” The young man who was shoved just seconds before attempted to speak up again. His voice was still as shaky. But he was the only brave soul to speak up.

Dawson turned his flaming eyes back on him. “Do you want me to put a bullet through your thick, pathetic skull?”

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” The young man returned, his head finally shifting upward a bit, making eye contact with Dawson. “Sean showed us the pictures before the assignments. We followed them since the airport and to that silly game. We did everything according to the plan.”

Dawson’s expression finally shifted. It was like his brain finally registered where it all went wrong. He turned to the gunman who was in charge of Vic earlier. “So, Sean, what pictures did you show them?”

The gunman had put his gun away and was standing at one side, acting like a bystander. Yet now he was summoned. So he wasn’t able to dodge anymore. He took two steps up toward their boss and shakily retrieved the pictures from his pockets. Dawson snatched it up with much impatience, scanning it just for show. Yet his eyes snapped back to the pictures. It seemed like the pictures weren’t the reason that he was upset. His eyes darted to the words below the two pictures. Then he turned that menacing expression toward Sean.

“This your handwriting, Sean?” Dawson gritted, pointing the pictures at Sean for emphasis.

“Yes,” Sean replied timidly, backing up a step already.

“You numbskull!” Dawson screamed and tossed the pictures toward Sean at the same time. It didn’t matter if the pictures landed in Sean’s direction or not. He just needed to throw something. And the next thing he grabbed was some container on the table next to him. He tossed that toward Sean as well, hitting Sean smack in the chest. “You mixed up the names.”

“Boss…I…”

Dawson was holding his head in a dramatic manner. Like he was wondering why he had such useless henchmen. Yet he soon turned his attention back on Sean. He moved swiftly toward Sean and grabbed the man by his collar. “You’re doing this on purpose, right, Sean? Are you working for that old scum Liu now? Is that why you wanted me to fail?”

“No, Boss, no…I… I….”

Dawson finally shoved Sean back and retrieved the gun from his belt, pointing it at Sean. Sean was already trembling and stuttering so badly. His fear increased another notch as he saw the gun pointing at his face. Vic was no longer smiling with much amusement. His expression had turned intense, yet he was still watching, not sure how to handle the upcoming situation. Because he knew more than anyone, he couldn’t make a move—even if he wanted to. He didn’t want anyone dead. He wanted them all captured and apprehended. All by the books, as his father always said. He didn’t want to cross a line. Yet he knew Dawson was too fast. He couldn’t stop Dawson if he wanted to. So, was stalling an option? If yes, he had to be really crafty. He almost regretted ditching Jim in the first place.

“One last chance, Sean,” Dawson warned. “Because you’ve been with me for thirty years already.”

Sweat was now visible on Sean’s face. He shakily took another step back and he tried to speak up again. “Boss…I, I…accidentally dropped the folder of information you gave me during the first meeting and the pictures got mixed up. I figured we caught one first and then lure the other in. It would be the same, right?”

Dawson looked at Sean like he thought Sean was the biggest idiot to ever occupy the planet. However, he didn’t pull the trigger. Instead, he withdrew his gun hand and lowered it to his side. “If I accidentally capture your son’s friend and tell you to give me your son in exchange, would you do it?”

“Uh…” Sean stuttered.

“Exactly, Sean! Exactly!”

Dawson used his free hand to brush aside a piece of loose hair on his face. He started pacing. Sean took that as a cue and backed up to act like a bystander again. As Vic silently let out a breath of relief that things didn’t escalate, he noticed something else. It was more like a sound than an actual object. Because the warehouse was now quiet, they were able to hear other noises better. That particular sound Vic heard was an engine from a van. To confirm his suspicion, the door to the warehouse opened again. Another group of henchmen walked in shortly after. They escorted someone else in. And that was when Vic got up, his face showing obvious worry.

“Don’t be rash,” One of the henchmen nearby warned, pointing his gun at Vic.

The other person whom Vic already recognized also looked shocked. “Vic.”

“Move faster,” One of the henchmen escorting him in gave him a shove.

“Uncle Liu,” Vic managed as the others were coming closer to him.

Upon seeing the old man, Dawson’s moods seemed to improve tenfold. “Finally, you idiots managed to do something right.” He advanced toward the man who was brought in, the one who Vic had called “Uncle Liu” seconds ago. “Stinky Old Liu, you had no clue, right?” His taunting expression cranked up even more. “I remember how you used to gamble. How about we make a gamble?”

“What do you want?” Old Liu returned. Although he seemed shocked at first upon seeing Dawson and Vic there, but he seemed to regain his composure already. He didn’t seem to care that a gun was still pointing at him.

Dawson didn’t answer Old Liu but turned to Sean at that time. “Sean, you’re in luck. You’re back in the game.”

Although it was obvious that Dawson’s moods had improved but Sean took a step forward with much timidity as he waited for Dawson’s instructions.

“Call up his son and tell his son to get the deeds and contracts ready. Make sure he knows that his father is in our hands.”

Sean nodded and muttered some words indicating that he understood. Then he took a quick glimpse at Vic. “What about him, Boss?”

Dawson took one look at Vic before turning back to Sean. “Kill him.”

“What a terrible idea,” Vic interfered.

“Of course, you don’t want to die, kid,” Dawson said. “But you can call yourself extremely unlucky.” He took another look at Sean. “Maybe it was good that you messed up and brought him here. Having Old Liu’s brat out there collecting the documents would be better and would draw less suspicions from the cops.”

“But killing me would be unnecessary,” Vic interrupted again. “You want to take some documents or whatever, just do it. But if they discover my body, they will keep investigating.”

“Don’t worry about me, kid.” Dawson didn’t look like he was touched by Vic’s concern. He had on his cold, passive look. “I’ll have my men dispose of your body in a cautious manner so we wouldn’t get caught.”

As Sean advanced on Vic, Vic raised his hands up in defense and backed into the table behind him.

“Hey, wait,” Vic protested. “Dawson, do you seriously think with Sean’s capabilities, he could make it nice and clean? I’m CSI and I’m telling you how careless Dawson and his whole crew have been. Do you want to take that gamble?”

Dawson looked like he was thinking it over. “You have a point, kid.”

Sean had on a panicked expression. “Boss, don’t listen to him. He’s just stalling.”

“Maybe you should consider not using this warehouse to set up the meeting with Jensen,” Vic suggested, changing the subject on purpose. “You know how cliché it is with operating out of an abandoned warehouse? Besides, with Sean’s carelessness, don’t you think people wouldn’t know something’s going on by now? Not to mention it’s daytime too. We have to get out of here and scout a new location before nightfall.”

“Boss, don’t listen to him,” Sean spoke up again, trying to dissuade his boss.

Dawson had one hand up then. “Both of you, shut up.”

Both Vic and Sean exchanged a look before turning back to Dawson. Yet they cooperated.

*****

Meanwhile, Jensen received a call from someone and rushed out of his hotel room. He was supposed to meet Kimmy for dinner yet got the call. As he rushed out, he almost crashed into Cyndi and Kimmy.

“You already heard?” Kimmy asked, seeing his panicked state. “We were going to tell you.”

Jensen had on his confused look. “You knew?”

Both Cyndi and Kimmy nodded at the same time.

“How?”

“Office Lin said Vic pulled a fast one on him and disappeared shortly after that,” Cyndi explained. “He looked everywhere before calling it in. We bumped into him when he came back here to check.”

Jensen’s expression changed from relief to worried within seconds. “You meant Vic disappeared as well?”

Cyndi wrinkled her face. “What do you mean ‘as well’? Someone else disappeared too?”

Jensen took a quick glance down the hall before responding. “Yeah, I need to go. I’ll probably see Jim in a bit too.”

Both girls looked puzzled and tagged along with Jensen.

“What’s going on here?” Cyndi asked. “Do you know where Vic is?”

Jensen turned to Cyndi to see her guarded expression. “If you’re thinking that Vic’s pulling a trick on us, it’s not that. Someone else disappeared and I have to help with information.”

“Who? One of the other guests?” Kimmy asked.

Jensen increased his pace as both girls continued to tag him on both sides. “I’ll tell you later.”

Before he could shake them off though, a hotel staff walked up to him. It was like that person knew exactly who to look for. Like they had a meeting of some sort arranged ahead of time already.

“Young Master, we have to hurry,” That person blurted out before Jensen could speak up. “We only have one hour left.”

“Young Master?” Cyndi and Kimmy exclaimed at the same time.

Jensen wrinkled his face, like he was trying to come up with some reasonable explanation. The other guy looked apologetic enough, yet Jensen shook his head.

“It’s not your fault,” Jensen said, assuring the other party. “We have an urgent matter to take care of.”

The other guy nodded and followed as Jensen started walking again.

“I’m sorry, but I really need to go,” Jensen said as he stopped briefly to look at both Cyndi and Kimmy. “My dad is the one who disappeared, and I have a feeling he’s with Vic. I need to tell the police the new information.”

Both girls gasped but didn’t have time to ask more since Jensen had already turned to leave. The other guy had to increase his pace to catch up with Jensen.

© Monday, January 6th, 2015

Posted: Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

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