Part 1: Welcome Back to Oakland
I entered the muggy building and lifted my arms above my head in victory. I was so glad to be back! No one noticed me when I walked in though. This was typical. I’m a nobody. I shifted my duffle bag higher on my shoulder and headed to the locker room. I kept my head down and tucked in my hood as I walked and when I got close to the locker room door, it opened in my face. Wham! I arrged and stumbled back, holding my forehead.
“Watch it!” a groggy voice yelled. “Oh shit. Brawly?”
I removed my hood and looked at my attacker. I laughed loudly. “Maurice! This is the ‘in’ door!” I recognized my friend as Maurice Townsend. This old grey haired Asian man was like a father to me. I was very glad to see him.
“When did you get back?” he asked as we hugged.
“Just today. I wanted to come beat the bag. Missed this place.” I said with a smile.
“Well, a lot changed here since you been in Sacramento.”
“Oh, yeah?” I shifted my bag again.
“Absolutely, let me take you around.” he pulled me away from the locker room and into the gym.
Maurice owned Heavy Bag Boxing Ring in Oakland California. He led me around and showed me the new equipment. I saw nothing but my memories unfolding as we moved around the gym. This was the place I came when I was kicked out of my mother’s house in the pouring rain. This place never closed. This was the place that saved me from bullies when I was skinny and scared. This place believed in me. As I got older it was my duty to make this gym proud but unfortunately I didn’t.
I worked hard on my sport and became an amazing boxer, but one night of drunkenness, wild women and brawling gave me my nickname and a dismissal from the gym as a contender. Maurice told me he loved me but that I didn’t know how to act. I was hard headed and he didn’t want me training for competition until I learned how to defend myself outside of a ring without getting physical.
That made me a lost cause. I had a rough life and it was hard to turn back from that even though I knew what great things would come to me if I did. I hooked up with some people from my old neighborhood and started doing “security” for one of the local drug dealers. It was good money, but again, my temper and drunkenness got the better of me. After getting in an altercation with another “guard” and practically beating him to a pulp, there was a bounty put on my head. That was why I had to leave the Town. After 5 years and a total shift in power in the drug community, I felt safe to come home.
Maurice stopped near the punching bag. We watched a fighter hit the bag. He was quick and light on his feet. I was jealous. This guy was tall, tan and handsome and he was wearing my hair style. Some punk white boy. I could probably whoop him. I peeked over at Maurice who was smiling ear to ear. The fighter stopped and smiled at us. He walked over and began to remove his tape. When he got his right hand unwrapped, he shook Maurice’s hand.
“Mr. Townsend, how are you?” the boxer said as he shook Maurice’s hand.
“I’m good. I want to introduce you to Brawly. He’s my good boy from back in the day.”
I didn’t like to think of myself as the back in the day boy, but I went in for the handshake anyway. “How’s it going man?”
“Brawly, this is Tom.” Maurice introduced us. “He’s working with Big Moe. We’re gonna try to get him in a bout pretty soon.”
“That’s great.” I said flatly.
“Yeah. I’m excited to get out and do it.” Tom said with a big smile.
“Yeah!” Maurice said excitedly. “Hey Tom, we’ll see ya around.” He looked at me and put his arm around my shoulder. He walked me back towards the locker rooms. “You know, Brawly, I been thinking about you a lot. It’s like I made you appear after all this time.” He laughed. “When I heard that guy got killed who was looking for you, I hoped you’d be back. I got a new trainer and I want him to work with you.”
“What?” I asked surprised.
“Yeah! His name is Jordan, he’s scrappy, like you, and I think we can get you ready for a bout.”
“Get outta here, Moe!”
“I will not.” He laughed and released me as we reached the locker room door. He stood in front of me.
“I will not let you down again.” I said humbly.
“You’ll do your best. I know that.” He pat my arm and walked away. “Let me see you on a bag today!” he said over his shoulder.
I stood there with my own excitement for a brief moment and then entered the locker room.
I trained hard as I could for 2 weeks. I was sparring with everyone in the gym and beating them down. Maurice was mildly impressed but he kept saying something about technique. I wasn’t sure what he meant. Jordan was on my back too, trying to get me on the heavy bag and the speed bag. He was saying my stamina would fail me in the long run because the tricks I was using wouldn’t work on everyone and they would work me over towards the end of the fight. He was always throwing jump ropes at me and I humored him and did some skips but I just didn’t see the point. I was killing it in the ring! Why did I need to train?
Friday, two weeks after I arrived, Tom brought in a group of guys. A real mixed crowd actually. I have to commend him for keeping his gang diverse. I was in the ring, bruising some punk. I tried to ignore them cause they were loud and obnoxious, but this one guy approached the ring. Jordan stopped the round and I went to my corner. The man slid over to my corner and introduced himself.
“Hey, I’m Omar. Nice punches out there man.”
“Thanks.” I said as I wiped the sweat from my face.
“Listen, Tom tells me you’re not working right now.”
I twisted my face and looked at the man more directly. He was black with a scruffy beard and low cut hair. His piercing eyes contacted mine and I looked away quickly. There was something I didn’t like about the way he stared. I wouldn’t say I was scared, but I was certainly uncomfortable. It’s kind of like that hair standing up on the back of your neck feeling. “That’s neither of your business.” I replied.
“Hey man, I’m just trying to look out. I got some work.”
“I don’t body guard or sell drugs.”
“I’m not in those businesses.” He stood, his nostrils flared, “Don’t judge me by my color.”
I looked at him. “Don’t judge me by what your dude said.”
“I’m not judging you. In my line of work, everyone is an asset as long as they have a few things in common.”
“Naw,” I cut him off, “I’m not smart.” I said with a huff.
Omar laughed, “Come on dude.”
“Really, I’m not.”
“Look,” Omar pulled out a business card. “Do me a favor and just come down to my office and speak to me in private. I’ll let you know exactly why you would be an asset. I’ll pay you for your time.”
I needed the money that was for sure. For two weeks I had been begging for food and sleeping at friends’ houses. I took the card. The front had big bold letters that spelled “CHASE”. The back had an address and phone number under the name Omar Whodan. I looked up from the card and he was gone.
I walked up to the building marked 1001. Other than those four numbers the building was plain and falling apart. It was on Hegenberger near the Coliseum. I had seen this place before but I had never been inside. Had no reason to until now. The door was cracked so I let myself in. I walked through the dark hallway and past a curtain to find a night club.
“Whatchu need white boy?” someone shouted from upstairs.
I looked up and leaning over the balcony was a big fat black guy. I yelled back. “I’m here to meet Omar.”
“Hold it right there.” The fat man left the balcony. I followed his directions and stayed put. When he returned he spoke loudly again, “Omar said come upstairs.” He pointed to a staircase.
I headed up the stairs and was stopped at the landing by another man. He pat me down and pointed me towards another hallway when he saw I was clean. I took that hallway down and stopped at the only available door. The door was bright red with a black plaque etched with white letters. The plaque read “CHASE inc”. I wasn’t sure what the hell that meant but I entered the room anyway.
Omar sat at a mahogany desk and a beautiful woman sat on him. He kissed her hand and helped her up. He instructed her to give us some time, then gestured to me and pointed at a seat in front of his desk.
“Thank you for coming Brawly.”
“You into hoes or something?” I said as I watched the half naked woman leave the room.
“In what way?” Omar laughed. “There are a lot of ways to be involved with hoes.”
I sat in front of him in the chair. “I don’t wanna get pimped.”
Omar laughed, “Why do you think I’m just some scum bag? Pimp, drug dealer. Can’t I do something more sophisticated?”
“Tell me, what is it that you do?” I said, hoping he would get to the point.
“I run the Chase.” He said pointing to the plaque on the wall behind him.
“Which is?” I asked with my eyebrows lifted.
“A hitman service.”
I stopped short of a smart response and waited for more information.
“Established in 1995, I have been responsible for over 200 successful hits. Our success rate is 100% because if we miss the first time, we go back, for free, until we get our man. We have a 0% arrest record, but I can’t say the same for our death record. We have lost some Chase Agents since opening, but that’s part of the job. We have things set up for that.” He took a pause. “Basically, we operate a smooth business where we help deal with people’s problems. We’re like problem solvers.”
“So how can I be an asset for you?”
“Well, you have amazing fighting skills. I think you could be a Chase Agent.”
“Me? Kill people!?”
“I don’t know man.”
“The money is amazing! You’ll get 40% of every Chase you complete.”
“Why do you call it that?” I changed the subject to feed my curiosity. “A chase?”
“When a person knows you’re going to kill them, what do they do? Run.” He didn’t wait for me to answer. “That’s why I call it the Chase. Chase em, catch em, kill em.”
“But shouldn’t they be caught off guard.”
“That would be nice.” Omar said with a smile.
I sat looking dumbly at him.
“Let’s see.” He went to a file cabinet and pulled a file out quickly. He sat back down and opened the file. “Here we go. Last week we completed a Chase. The lady was able to put in 10,000 dollars and I put my own 10,000 dollars on it, because I really wanted this guy done.”
“Why did she want him dead?”
“Abusive husband. Terrorizing the house. She wanted to collect the insurance so she couldn’t do it herself. I came by the house personally to see what was going on and this guy had no shame in slapping this lady right in front of me. I promptly took her out of there and ordered the Chase.”
“Wow.” I said. The story took my breath away. I had always wanted to bring justice to the less fortunate.
“But we don’t always just save folks.” Omar said, killing my initial buzz.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, sometimes we get these cases, but other times we get drug beefs, baby daddy drama and all that.”
“So you’ll kill anyone?”
“If the price is right.”
“Wow.” I said again. I didn’t know what to think about all this.
“So, how about this? Let me give you an easy Chase. I got all the info you need to find this guy. Go in with your bare hands and get things done. I’ll pay you 75 percent of his Chase.”
“75 percent? How much is that?” I asked stupidly. I didn’t really think I could do it, but I was curious. Curiosity killed the cat.
“Let’s see.” He grabbed his calculator and then went to the file cabinet again. He grabbed a file and returned to his desk. “This is for Ty Menzel. His Chase is 50,000 dollars, so 75 percent of that is,” he paused and hit the calculator. “37,500 dollars?” he looked at me.
“That’s good money.”
“I know right, and we already have the money for this Chase so I can pay you as soon as you’re done.”
“When I’m done? No, I’ll need half now.”
Omar laughed hard, “If I had a nickel for every time I heard that.” He wiped his eyes and then became serious. “No, I can’t do that. I’ve had Chase Agents run off on me numerous times. I can’t afford that. I assure you though. I wouldn’t be where I am if I stiffed the killers that I hired.”
“You think I could kill you?” I said with a smirk.
“Anybody could kill anybody. That’s why I want you. I think you could be a great killer. What do you say?”
I sat and thought for a full two minutes before I reached over and shook his hand. My fate was sealed.
Omar made me sign an insane amount of paperwork. I read every single thing he handed me and I thought that he was pretty fair. There was a bunch of stuff about payment, insurances, and guarantees. There was even a chance for me to list a beneficiary. In case I was killed or arrested on the job I could have them paid 50,000 dollars. Unfortunately I didn’t have anyone to list. He told me I could add someone later. When I was done, he gave me the file.
“Study that. You should be able to finish this tonight because the Chase is always available. He practically lives at Apt C.”
“I know exactly where that is.” I smiled.
After a few more details Omar sent me out with the file. Still in a fog, slightly confused about what just happened and completely unprepared, I caught a bus down International Boulevard. All I kept thinking about was that money. 37,500 dollars to kill someone. I wasn’t sure I could but I was on my way. No turning back.
Before I knew it I was at 90th avenue, getting off the bus. I tucked the folder under my arm and crossed the busy street. Apt C was a small bar. It was about six p.m. when I stepped in the door and the place was relatively empty for a Friday night. I looked around and there were about eight people in there, not including the bartender. I quickly looked in the file and found the picture attached. Then I scanned the bar and found my Chase. He was in a corner booth alone with two shots and a mixed drink.
He tossed back the first shot and slammed the glass down. I wasn’t sure what to do so I went to the bar and sat down. The bartender quickly approached and I ordered a scotch and soda. When he returned with the drink I grabbed it, took a sip and left my seat. I approached the Chase in his booth. Ty was Hispanic, short, fat and bald. I sized him up quickly and when I got close I started to speak.
“Ty?” I looked at him with a confused look. Like I thought I recognized him.
He looked at me through slits.
“It’s me man, David! We went to high school together!”
“You went to Tech?”
“Class of 2003?”
“Yeah!” I lied through my teeth. I was a Titan. “Man, can I join you?”
I sat down and put the folder on the table. Quickly Ty lifted his shot but just as quickly stopped short. He looked down at the black file folder and then back to me. I smiled, obliviously. Before I could say another word, Jack Daniels splashed into my face, followed by a shot glass. I jumped up, barely able to see, and began to follow Ty who had run towards the door. I blinked hard, clearing my eyes as I slammed out of the door.
The Chase was high tailing it across International Boulevard. I got in gear and dashed across the two lane highway. He was moving slow with his pants below his hips, no belt. Cars screeched to a halt as we zig zagged through traffic. He crossed the divider and I followed, diving onto him. We rolled around briefly before I got the better of him. I mounted him, sitting on his chest, and quickly began to punch him. Traffic was stalled and bystanders formed crowds on the street. As I assaulted Ty the crowd had a mix of emotions. Some people screamed for me to stop, others asked for me to whoop his ass. At this point I was in a daze. The Jack was still burning my eyes and this was for that. It was also for the money.
After a few blurred minutes Ty became unable to defend himself. His head was turning into ground meat as I literally beat him to death. I grabbed his ears and slammed his head to the ground one final time.
The crowd’s screams pieced my fog and I looked up. I looked back to Ty. He had no face and he was not breathing. I wasn’t sure if I had suffocated him by sitting on his chest or if I had killed him with my blows. Either way, I completed my job. The Chase was over.
I quickly jumped up and ran away from the crowd. Some tired to pursue me but I was gone. Before I realized it I was 30 blocks away. I stopped to breath. Looking myself over, I was covered in blood. I had to get out of those cloths. Unfortunately I had no where I could go to get changed without being seen, and honestly, I didn’t really have any place to go at all. I reached in my pocket and grabbed Omar’s card. I quickly went for my cell phone and called him.
“Omar, I did it.” I said breathlessly.
“But I’m covered in blood, I got nowhere to go and the spot is hot.” I looked around suspiciously and eased down the street more.
“Hot? People seen you?!”
“Brawly.” He sighed. “You did say you weren’t smart.”
I couldn’t be mad at him for saying that…
“Where are you?” he asked with a sigh.
“I’m in the 60’s. 61st, off International.”
“Lay low. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
I hid between two buildings for almost 25 minutes before Omar showed up. I quickly got in his car and he whisked me off to the Executive Inn and Suites directly off the 880. He went in and got me a room. When he returned he drove me around to the building my suite was in and looked at me, disappointed.
“Look, you gotta do better than that if you want to keep this up. It is not my responsibility to deal with you if you go to jail.”
“I read the form.”
He lifted an eyebrow at my remark. “Anyway. Here’s your money, minus the price of this room.” he gave me a brown paper bag full of hundred dollar bills. “I paid for a week in the room for you.” He reached in the back seat and pulled out a plastic bag. “I don’t know if this shit will fit you but this is the best I could do with such short notice.” He unlocked the doors. “Good luck and call me when you’re ready to work again.”
I took that as a sign not to press my luck. I hopped out and made it to my room quickly and without any issues.
I didn’t have a chance to hit the gym that night so I resorted to “home” workouts. After a shower and changing into the loaner clothes I started with pushups. I couldn’t believe I had killed a man. It felt easy, but I was bothered by just how easy it had been to kill someone else after never having done it before. After doing 100 pushups I went back to the bag of money and counted it again. I laughed and smiled at the money like it was an old friend. I had a homie who was selling a nice ass car. I was gonna go get it tomorrow. I got back on the floor for some sit ups. While I did that I counted each of those 100 dollar bills again, in my mind…
I just couldn’t stop thinking about that money and the next thing I might have to do for Omar. I was taken in by the green. I made a firm decision at that moment that I would continue my work with Omar. I would hone my skills as a Chase Agent and finally make someone proud. Anyone being proud of me would be an accomplishment.
Regular work ain’t for me. In order for me to make it in this world, I have to use my assets and unfortunately for others, that’s my brawn, not my brain.
© Tiffany Christina Lewis 2014