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[F4A] [1×1] [romance]
Hello I'm looking for a long term roleplay partner for a romantic roleplay set sometime in the 1930s or 1940's. Just be literate and write at least two paragraphs or more. Mostly SFW and in 3rd person. First idea: Its the mid 1930s and Hollywood glamour is all the rage. I play an actress and you work on the movie lot(you can pick anything, camera man, work in the costume department, writer etc). My character has done a lot to get to where she is including sleeping with others for roles. We meet on set and slowly start falling for one another. Second idea: You're a detective who's currently investigating the homicide of an old oil tycoon. Naturally his young beautiful wife(my character) who happens to be the sole benefactor of his wealth is the main suspect. Third idea: You're a gambler who's been caught cheating in casino. You manage to talk your way into not only getting away with all your fingers but also a job from the casino owner and form an uneasy partnership with him. He introduces you to his new wife (my character), we happen to be ex-lovers. Others ideas are welcomed and encouraged. Pm me
Straight Flush - A Community Created Bonus Mission
Straight Flush - Community Created Bonus Level
Level Name: Straight Flush Location: Bangkok Night Target(s): "The Crime Lord, "The Sheikh" Objectives:
Eliminate Henry Viceroy
Eliminate Sheikh Afzal El-Hashem
Briefing: "Good evening, 47. Your targets are one Henry Viceroy, millionaire British crime lord, and Sheikh Afzal El-Hashem, an Arabian casino tycoon who uses his wealth to fund criminal and terrorist enterprises all over the globe. After the death of Thomas Cross, the hotel was put up for property auction and ended up being sold to El-Hashem, who quickly set to work transforming it into a luxury casino, while still retaining the general look the previous owner had set. Naming it the Golden Lotus, he called in some workers from one of Viceroy's secondary businesses, to whom he was already on good terms with, for a much lower price. However, during the construction, a government inspector and a group of 17 of Viceroy's employees suddenly vanished during a scheduled health and safety check and suspicion was immediately placed upon both men. However, the criminals used their respective wealth and intimidation to blackmail, coerce and kill their way to innocence, destroying any evidence of criminal intent. This did, however, cause a rift between the two men, and ICA sources indicate that their relationship has been getting worse and worse, and the Sheikh's funding less and less. Our client, the Royal Thai Government, has been gathering information on both the men, with the help of the British M16, and has finally collected enough to warrant a contract. They have told us that the casino is to be holding a gala for all, with some of Thailand's social elite; a night of gambling and drinking for the benefit of the El-Hashem, and for the further endorsement of Viceroy. I will leave you to prepare, 47, good hunting." Map Description: The hotel has been converted into a casino, and so has had a few changes. The trees and plants are now much straighter and uniform, the butterflies are gone and the main colour palette contains dark reds, dark greys, whites and greens. At the front door, there is a large rotating poker chip sign that reads, "The Golden Lotus - Casino And Hotel". The restaurant has had all the screens removed, and there are poker, blackjack and slots machines riddled around the room. The food stand now has party food instead of full meals: cocktail sausages, sandwiches, steaks, etc. The kitchen is basically the same, just with more boxes and crates around. The main lobby has basically the same layout, just with a disco ball and slot machines lining the walls. The hotel rooms have been done up in a more modern style, and are occupied by some very rich folk. Upstairs, above the old restaurant, the two Abel de Silva rooms are the restaurant and private smoking libraries respectively. Unavailable Areas:
Jordan Cross' whole side
Morgan's Queen Suite
The tuk-tuk's garden area
Bonchay Sampatoree, Senior Casino Administrator
Mark Donovel, Head Chef
Harvey Barnham, slots engineer
Walter Tulley, senior accountant
Sakchai Thaksin, undercover government official
Janwa Hokchey, VIP oil baron
Steve Olivers, Head Of Security for Viceroy
Casino Security (Sheikh)
Card Dealer (Sheikh)
Casino Doorman (Sheikh)
Opportunities - Sheikh Afzal El-Hasem:
A Drop Of Oil -
"That man is Janwa Hokchey, the millionaire owner of the Thai Oil Corporation, one of the most successful oil companies in the world. Intel suggests he is here for business as well as pleasure, to present the Sheikh a sample of his finest oil, a mutual business agreement for both sides. Money for oil, oil for money, etc. Perhaps we should try and get an ear in on that conversation, maybe more."
By getting Janwa's outfit, 47 can approach the Sheikh, you can take him to the oil and you will be left alone to talk. At some point during this talk, the prompt to "Push Into Vat" will appear and 47 will push him into the oil barrel and lock the lid, drowning him in oil.
Justice Is Served -
"According to this kitchen schedule, El-Hasem is to be enjoying a dinner with his more distinguished guests and Viceroy, and is waiting for the Head Chef to notify him of his dinner's completion. The Sheikh is partial to a special type of stew his mother used to make, and would no doubt be fully interested if it were to be served as quickly as possible. Maybe we can add a bit of flavour to the dish..."
If you acquire any type of chef/waiter outfit, you may poison his stew. But, if you have the Head Chef's disguise, you are able to bring the plate to the Sheikh yourself, and he will be very excited just before he starts spluttering and choking and falls face first into his food.
British Civility -
"It appears that Viceroy is set to meet with the Sheikh in a very private meeting, concerning future benefactor and funding ideas, due to the incident that led to our contracting. Viceroy has, apparently, been harbouring some very negative opinions towards the Sheikh, and is intending to blackmail him into paying more and more money into his endeavours, something I'm sure the Sheikh won't take lightly. According to this, El-Hasem will make his way up to the meeting spot as soon as one of Viceroy's gangsters makes the call, and Viceroy isn't noted for his calm demeanour. I imagine you can find this information useful, 47."
If you get the Head Of Security's outfit, you can make the call to the Sheikh to send him up to the meeting room. This will allow you to take him out privately, without Viceroy being there, or you can tell Viceroy that the Sheikh called and said he's making his way up to the meeting place, whereupon Viceroy will march to the meeting place. The conversation between them shall begin, with Viceroy getting ever angrier as the Sheikh mocks him, until he finally pulls out his switch blade and stabs the Sheikh repeatedly in the gut. There will be no bodyguards in the room, and Viceroy then stamps on the Sheikh's head and walks to the window, pulling out a cigarette and smoking on the balcony. If you don't push him over, he will walk out, motion to his bodyguards, and they will then shoot the Sheikh's bodyguard with silenced pistols, dragging him into the room along with the Sheikh. Viceroy will then just return to his route.
Opportunities - Henry Viceroy:
The Lucky Number -
"Henry Viceroy is noted to be a gambling man, always up for the challenge of chance, and he is particularly partial to the slots machines. However, the slot machines have been acting up, lately, and the engineer called in to help hasn't showed up to work, yet. He has been called for multiple times, but he keeps not appearing, and the certain model has been noted to dispense more coins than needed, so the problem is a high priority. Maybe we should pay the man a visit, 47."
If you take the engineer's outfit, you can "fix", the slot machine, overpowering it so it'll shoot hundreds of coins out at once and be an instant win on the next play. As long as you are in the animation, no NPC will try and play it, so you can stop as soon as you see Viceroy coming. Of course, he will play and win and the coins will shoot up into his face, killing him instantly.
A Cracking Deal -
"Playing cards is noted as one of Viceroy's specialities, and a place at the centre table has been booked by the Senior Casino Administrator, who is to deal in the game. If someone were to win, they'd be escorted back to the money counter for a while why they hand over the money; notably one of the more private parts of the casino floor. Maybe we should get a look on that game, 47."
47 can do one of two things with this opportunity: A) 47 can get the SCA's outfit and work out the table himself, cheating and swaying the cards into Viceroy's favour, eventually having him win and get really excited. You can then walk him to the cash desk, ask the guards for some privacy and, as he is inspecting the money case, press the button on the shutter (if you have already broken it with a screwdriver) which will fall down and snap his neck, leaving him trapped between the desk, or you can just kill him any other way you want. B) Take one of the places at the gambling table, obviously cheat so that Viceroy notices you and follows you to the cash counting desk, shouting at everyone to get out. You can then grab the case and smash him around the face, or just kill him some other way.
Undercover, Under Fire -
"Well, this is interesting. That man is an undercover policeman working for the TPD, and it seems he is here to spy on Viceroy, in the event that he does anything illegal, but ICA sources indicate that Viceroy has already been alerted to his presence by a mole in the police, and intends to out him in front of everybody. Sounds like trouble, we could relieve the poor rookie of his duties."
If you get the undercover officer's outfit, you can approach Viceroy who will laugh and guide you up onto stage. He will then start proclaiming that you are an undercover cop, thank you for you service, and to come up to his room for a drink and a "chat". You can either A) follow him up to the room, whereupon he will sit down and offer you a drink. He gets a phone call, will walk to the window, and the prompt to "Switch Glasses" will come up. After the phone call, Viceroy will invite you to drink, saying cheers (47 will stand and stare at him as they both have a drink), and keel over in agony and die, seizing on the floor. It turns out her poisoned your drink, but you did a bit of the old switcheroo. Or B) rig the disco ball so it falls down when he slams the mic stand down on the stage.
Trump's shady financial ties. Have his failed dealings been a laundering front for stolen State funds?
Yes, a lot of what's in the Steele dossier can't be proven. But, Trump's shady ties can't be disproven, either. They are out in the open for anyone to see. An American Interest article, The Curious World of Donald Trump's Private Russian Finance Connections, investigative journalist and economist, Jim Henry, looks into Trump’s Russo-Soviet business connections by researching published sources, interviewing with former law enforcement staff and other experts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iceland, searching of online corporate registries, examining court records, and analyzing offshore company data from the Panama Papers. Why does this matter? Trump’s various unsavory Russia connections aren’t one-offs. Trump is likely to increase waste, fraud, and abuse by encouraging government contractors and private finance deals with our tax $$ and public infrastructure. If the "capital flight" patterns of his business associates are followed, we (the tax payers) will be bled dry. Some extra thoughts:
It's not so important (to me) if Trump has done anything illegal or not. Rather, he needs to disclose his tax returns and divest from his nebulous networks of companies. We have a right to know if he's financially beholden to foreign powers.
Trump's connections to Russia go back to 1987 source
The US has intervened overseas hundreds of times (which IMO is wrong), but three instances of "karma" have really come back at us: First, overthrowing the elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran in 1953 eventually led to the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Second, our decision to “give the Soviets their own Vietnam” in Afghanistan in 1979, which eventually led 9/11. Third is the 1990s neoliberal intervention in Russia. The IMF/World Bank restructuring, capital controls, capital flight, and general neoliberalism is of one of the most epic failures in our times — one for which the US bears a great deal of responsibility. As the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 1980s, Western powers did not require that Russia acquire a strong middle-class, which is necessary for democratic capitalism, the rule of law, and stable, peaceful relationships with neighbours.
Here's a 1995 CS Monitor article on Russian money laundering. It's really not a stretch of the imagination to see a) Russian mobsters in early/mid 1990s were reported to be using shell companies to launder money into US. By 2000 no one would lend money to Trump, and the money he raised came from sources that look a lot like the patterns the CS Monitor article describes.
The pattern that we're seeing with all this failed real estate development is that Trump licenses his name to the project then the shady financiers collect deposits and abandon the project. Baja condos, Tampa condos, Toronto condos, Daewoo Korean project. Trump Tower Pune allegedly on land acquired illegally (same source as previous), and Trump Tower Istanbul's local partner, Dogan, is tangled in smuggling charges (same source).
I've cut & pasted some key points from Henry's article below, and added other sources as noted:
From 1992 to the Russian debt crisis of August 1998, the West in general — and the U.S. Treasury, USAID, the State Department, the IMF/World Bank, the EBRD, and many leading economists in particular — actively promoted and, indeed, helped to finance one of the most massive transfers of public wealth into private hands that the world has ever seen. During this period more than $1.3 trillion has left Russia. The pattern is similar for other former Soviet Republics. More deets here
At this time Trump had just suffered a string of six successive bankruptcies. So the massive illicit outflows from Russia and oil-rich (former Soviet states) like Kazahkstan and Azerbaijan from the mid-1990s provided precisely the kind of undiscriminating investors that he needed. These outflows arrived at just the right time to fund several of Trump’s post-2000 high-risk real estate and casino ventures — most of which failed.
Donald Trump has also literally spent decades cultivating senior relationships of all kinds with Russia and the FSU. And public and private senior Russian figures of all kinds have likewise spent decades cultivating him, not only as a business partner, but as a “useful idiot.”
Bayrock Group LLC (funding partners for Trump SoHo condo-hotel and Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale)
As of 2007, Bayrock and its partners reportedly had more than $2 billion of Trump-branded deals in the works. But most of these either never materialized or were miserable failures.
Tevfik Arif (Kazakhstan) linked to prostitution, child trafficking. Bayrock started to receive millions of dollars in equity contributions in 2004, supposedly by way of Arif’s brother in Russia, who allegedly “had access to cash accounts at a chromium refinery in Kazakhstan.” Here's loads more info
Tamir Sapir (Georgia) Tevfik Arif's equity partner in Bayrock. Likely the richest ex-Soviet in the U.S. His Sapir Organization, now headed by his son, Alex, already controlled over 7 million square feet in Manhattan in 2005, but lost hundreds of millions of dollars source
Alexander Mashevich (Kazakhstan) part of "the Trio" with Patokh Chodiev and Alijan Ibragimov, Kazakh billionaires linked to money laundering, bribery, racketeering, and the Uzbek mob
Felix SateSatter (Russian) professional criminal, with multiple felony pleas and convictions, extensive connections to organized crime, and CI to FBI and CIA. One notable incident is participation in a $40 million pump & dump securities fraud scheme. Father connected to Semion Mogilevich crime syndicate involved in trafficking nuclear materials, weapons, and more, as well as money laundering. more info
FL Group (Iceland) FL Group had constructed an incredible maze of cross-shareholding, lending, and cross-derivatives relationships making it almost impossible to regulate “control fraud,” where insiders at leading financial institutions went on a self-serving binge, borrowing and lending to finance risky investments of all kinds. Iceland’s largest banks also made a series of extraordinary loans to Russian interests during the run-up to the 2008 crisis. Arif and Sater discovered FL Group as a veritable piggy bank, persuading it to invest $50 million in the Trump SoHo project and agreeing in principle to as much as another $2 billion in financing for other deals.
Seabeco (fmr investor was co-financer of Trump Toronto Tower and Hotel)
Boris J. Birshtein, was a close business associate of Sergei Mikhaylov, the reputed head of Solntsevskaya Bratva, the Russian mob’s largest branch, and the world’s highest-grossing organized crime group as of 2014, according to Fortune. Also connected to Semion Mogilevich and in 1993, the Yeltsin government reportedly accused Birshtein of illegally exporting seven million tons of Russian oil and laundering the proceeds.
Alexander Mashevich and Patokh Chodiev allegedly met by working at Seabeco together
Birshtein's (now reportedly ex-) son-in-law, Alex Shnaider (Russian) has long business ties to Birshtein and Mikhaylov acquired a Ukrainian steel mill as it was privatized and also has ties to FL Group in Iceland.
One of Manafort’s biggest clients was the dubious pro-Russian Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash. By his own admission, Firtash maintains strong ties with a recurrent figure on this scene, the reputed Ukrainian/Russian mob boss Semion Mogilevich. In 2008, Manafort teamed up with a former manager of the Trump Organization to purchase the Drake Hotel in New York for up to $850 million, with Firtash agreeing to invest $112 million, to simply launder part of the huge profits that Firtash had skimmed while brokering dodgy natural gas deals between Russia and Ukraine. Appears in the Panama Papers in companies connected to Semion Mogilevich.
The Russian puppet president that Manafort was paid to get elected in Ukraine, Yanukovych, was sued for funneling $$ into the US for laundering. Ousted from power in 2014 amid allegations of massive embezzlement, Yanukovych fled to Russia. Ukrainian authorities found a ledger showing $12.7m in off-book payments to Manafort by Yanukovych’s party, payments Manafort has strongly denied receiving. source
Trump Tower Tenants
Unlike most New York luxury buildings, the tower has no prying coop board and its residents have included “tax-dodgers, bribers, arms dealers, convicted cocaine traffickers, and corrupt former FIFA officials.”
Russian diamond and real estate tycoon, Lev Leviev, is a close associate of Putin. He recently signed a $295 million deal with Jared Kushner and has been advocating for the lifting of sanctions against Russia. Leviev has come under scrutiny (link) by the United States government and international media for, among other things, both his partnership with a Chinese business group (88 Queensway Group) believed to have funded North Korea an facilitating corruption in Zimbabwe, and his possible role in developing West Bank settlements.
Khrapunov family bought 3 apartments sourceViktor Khrapunov, a former Kazakh energy minister and ex-mayor of the city of Almaty, and his family “conspired to systematically loot hundreds of millions of dollars of public assets . . . and to launder their ill-gotten gains through a complex web of bank accounts and shell companies . . . particularly in the United States”.
Anatoly Golubchik, Russian mobster, went to prison in 2014 for running an illegal gambling ring out of Trump Tower (reportedly the entire 51st floor). He's also in the Panama Papers and linked to Semion Mogilevich
Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov has the distinction of making the Forbes 2008 list of the World’s Ten Most Wanted Criminals, and whose organization the FBI believes to be tied to Mogilevich’s. Went to the infamous 2013 Miss Universe as special VIP
Semion Mogilevich, lifelong criminal with a notable fraud of setting up a fraudulent magnet manufacturing company on the Toronto Stock Exchange and cashing out with $18 million. In 2003, Mogilevich was indicted in Philadelphia on 45 felony counts for this $150 million stock fraud. Brother of the magnet manufacturing company's CEO, David Bogatin, owned five separate condos in Trump Tower that Donald Trump had reportedly sold to him personally. ince the early 1990s, David Bogatin was considered by the FBI to be one of the key members of Semion Mogilevich’s Russian organized crime family in the United States, with a long string of convictions for big-ticket Mogilevich-type offenses like financial fraud and tax dodging.
Vyacheslav Ivankov, another key Mogilevich lieutenant in the United States during the 1990s, also resided for a time at Trump Tower.
Felix Sater had an apartment and offices in the Trump Tower. Pic with Trump
Bank Melli Trump Organization rented Bank Melli several floors of New York office space from 1998 to 2003. The bank remained a tenant of Trump’s for years after the U.S. Treasury Department declared it to be controlled by the Iranian government in 1999. Bank Melli has been accused of helping to obtain materials for Iran’s nuclear program and funneling money to a unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard that has allegedly sponsored terrorist attacks. source. In an interesting twist, Trump is the president of two Azerbaijan entities called OT Marks Baku LLC and DT Marks Baku Manaaina Member Corp. The partner in the deal is controlled by Anar Mammadov, the son of the country’s transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov. US officials believe Ziya Mammadov laundered money for the Iranian military. (source)[http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/23/donald-trump-foreign-business-deals-national-security-498081.html]
Madhukar Tulsi, a prominent real estate executive in India & Trump's local partner. In 2010, Tulsi’s home and the offices of Ireo were raided as part of a sweeping corruption inquiry related to the 2010 Commonwealth Games, because Sudhanshu Mittal was suspected in playing a role in rerouting money earned from Commonwealth Games contracts through tax havens into Ireo’s real estate projects.
Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi, yes that murdering terrorist... Trump made entreaties to Qaddafi and other members of his government, beginning in 2008, in which he sought deals that would bring cash to the Trump Organization from a sovereign wealth fund called the Libyan Investment Authority. The following year, Trump offered to lease his estate in Westchester County, New York, to Qaddafi; he took Qaddafi’s money but, after local protests, forbade him from staying at his property. (Trump kept the cash.) “I made a lot of money with Qaddafi,’’ Trump said recently about the Westchester escapade. “He paid me a fortune.” source
TL;DR Investigative journalist and economist Jim Henry researches Trump's financial ties to private $$ network coming from Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan etc, with heavy ties to Semion Mogilevich mob. Edit: formatting, added more people
(With apologies to Uncle Steve) Jay Everett stared up at the towering Twin Pines Hotel, one of the largest buildings this side of the Las Vegas gambling strip. It was a jutting structure built entirely out of steel beams and black glass. The Hotel was surrounded on all sides by the flashing neon lights of Casino Row, which danced across its glossy surface like the ghostly imprints of colored flames. Apparently this place offered some of the swankiest penthouses in the entire city, but Jay wasn’t here for a room. He’d only come here to gamble. He pushed through the front doors and entered the lobby, a spacious room with potted plants crawling up the walls like ivy. The place was packed with men in tuxedos and women in loose evening dresses. Jay felt smothered in his own suit, and he tried easing up the collar with one finger. It didn’t help much. He still felt like he was being throttled by his tie. Most of the crowd was moving toward the check-in desk, but Jay snuck his way through until he could see the flashing lights of the casino. A large metal beam stretched across the entrance. Beneath it was a sign that proclaimed TWIN PINES CASINO in bold, electric blue letters. A bear and a turtle and various other forest animals gamboled across either side. He managed to slip through the bustle without being too pushy, and then he was in. Light background jazz swept across him as he stepped into a world lit up by colored bulbs and strips of eerie black light. The casino actually wasn’t too crowded this early in the night. He almost had the entire place to himself. He stopped before a large, circular game machine emblazoned with the words GOLD KING. The game itself was nothing more than a large spinning disc divided into colored slices. Most of the sections were given small monetary values, but there was one tiny sliver that had been painted a solid gold. The game itself didn’t get too much activity, but the large statue perched above it could be seen from anywhere in the casino. It was a cartoony sculpture of a king wearing red robes and a golden crown. In his hand he held a royal scepter, which would flash brightly and let off a chorus of clanging bells whenever anyone hit the jackpot. Right now he was silent. His blank eyes stared out at the crowd, his mouth open in a creepy cartoon smile. You have until the Gold King goes off to make $19,000. Otherwise… Jay shivered. He couldn’t get Farrow’s threat out of his head; it echoed in his ears like the growl of a distant animal. Farrow himself was nowhere to be found, but Jay knew he’d stationed his cronies in every corner of this place. Some were probably disguised as security guards, others as bartenders or casino patrons. He couldn’t trust anybody. Any one of these people could be waiting to turn him in to Farrow the moment he backed out of this job. So he did what he was told to do. He took a deep breath, let his eyes sweep over the casino, and strode over to the game that stood out to him the most. He had a lot of money to win and not much time to do it. This was a world ruled by chance, where the simple roll of a die could decide a person’s fate, and any ordinary man would have been sweating in his suit by now. But Jay Everett was no ordinary man. Jay had always known how different he was, even as a kid. It wasn’t that he looked or acted stranger than other people. He was just perceptive. He knew the answers in class before his teacher even finished speaking, although he quickly learned to keep this to himself. He could find things too. When little things went missing around the house, Jay always knew just where to look. He couldn’t explain how. He just did. He also had an uncanny skill with numbers. He’d never used a calculator in his entire life and he couldn’t understand why his classmates were so helpless without it. By the time he’d reached 9th grade, he was already taking the highest level math courses his high school could offer. It wasn’t long before he caught the eye of several prestigious business schools, which practically tripped over themselves getting him to apply. He never had to worry about his future. Jay ended up leaving high school early and heading to Stanford, where he started down the fast track to a career in finance. He was snatched up by Tony Salvatore right after graduation. Salvatore was a business tycoon who’d left his footprint in every major city across the country, and he was eager to take Jay on board as his new head of finance. “I’ve been waiting for a kid like you,” he’d said, clapping Jay on the shoulder. “Someone who knows how to crunch the numbers and keep his mouth shut.” It was true that Jay hardly ever talked; it was a habit from his youth that he hadn’t yet outgrown. He just didn’t trust himself to speak. He knew things about Salvatore, things he couldn’t possibly know – like how he came in late on Mondays because he’d spent the night before drinking and hitting his wife, or how he’d gotten bite marks under his collar from a violent fling with his receptionist. Tony would walk into the room and the knowledge would hit Jay in the face like a foul stench. He valued his job, so he kept quiet. He discovered Salvatore’s biggest scandal completely by accident. Jay had stayed late at the office that night to finish up one of his revenue forms, which kept coming up $100 short. It was baffling to him. He’d never had an issue with numbers before, not even a minor issue like this, and he didn’t understand why he kept finding the same inconsistency. So he pulled up some other forms to see if he could trace the cause of the missing hundred. It would have been a cold trail for anyone else, but Jay was good at finding things, and he managed to dig up an encrypted file with a bunch of forms that had never made it into the system. He set up a program to decode the files and discovered that they were all bank deposits – deposits of exactly $100. The missing money was being funneled into an account under the name “Enrico Balazar.” At first Jay didn’t know what to do with the info he’d dug up. This was fraud, fraud of the highest degree, and Salvatore had to be turned in. Jay had no desire to defend the crooked son of a bitch. But he wasn’t stupid – he knew Salvatore had connections in low places, and if Jay made this information public, he’d have a target on his head. He sat in the dark for a while and cycled through his options. When Salvatore showed up for work the next day, Jay intercepted him right outside his office. “Sorry to bother you, sir,” he said. “I was just about to send the tax forms to our Boston division when my computer crashed. Is there any way you could send them out for me?” The bit about the computer was true; he’d just neglected to mention that he’d crashed it himself. Salvatore stared at the papers in Jay’s hand with bleary, reddened eyes. He just had a shot of whiskey in his car. As usual, the thought hit Jay completely out of the blue. Salvatore eventually reached out and took the papers, crumpling them a bit in his fist. “Hold on a sec,” he grunted. He took the papers into his office and set them on the desk, then leaned over to type his password on the computer. Jay’s eyes followed him carefully. Then Salvatore placed the forms in his scanner and began the uploading process. Jay stayed late again, waiting until the last of the workers had left the office before typing a quick command on his keyboard. There was a brief popping sound. The power in his part of the building flickered for a moment, and Jay knew the cameras were disabled. He had a good hour or so before they came back on again. He’d kept a pair of gloves in his briefcase all day, and he slipped them on now as he headed to Salvatore’s office. The tycoon’s personal computer sat in the corner, its screen flashing with an insistent message: PASSWORD? Jay leaned forward and typed it in, his fingers copying the same pattern Salvatore had used this morning. A quiet beep, a loading bar, and he was in. He got to work immediately. When Jay arrived at work the next day, a police car was parked outside the building, lights flashing and everything. He arrived just in time to watch the cops shoving a handcuffed Salvatore into the backseat. Jay made sure to keep his face hidden, just in case, but Salvatore had his eyes turned to the ground. “What happened?” Jay asked one of his coworkers. “You’ll never believe it, man. Some kind of virus got into Salvatore’s computer and made all of his private files go public. It turns he was channeling a big chunk of his clients’ cash to this mob boss in New York. Balthazar or something.” “No kidding,” Jay replied. He watched as the car carrying Tony Salvatore turned the corner and disappeared down 5th Avenue. It was then that he noticed a figure who was standing at the edge of the crowd, his face hidden by the brim of a dark baseball cap. Everyone else was staring down the street, but this man was facing Jay instead. He had his hands tucked into the pockets of a black leather jacket and a thin layer of dark stubble on his face. As soon as Jay noticed him, he lifted a hand from his pocket and gestured for Jay to come over. Jay was hesitant, but it was broad daylight and he was surrounded on all sides by people. It was safe. He circled around the crowd and approached the dark stranger. “Do I know you?” he asked. The man didn’t answer right away. Instead, he reached out and slapped something small and square into the palm of Jay’s hand. Then Jay finally got a glimpse of his eyes beneath the cap. They were shrewd and calculating, a glassy blue that made Jay think of the surface of a frozen pond. “I saw,” he said. “And if you’re interested, I could use your kind of expertise.” Jay glanced at the object in his hand. It was a business card, nothing but a name and a set of digits. He frowned. “I’m sorry, I don’t –” But when he looked up, the man had already disappeared. That was the first time Jay met Rick Farrow. Jay sipped from his wine glass and watched as people tried their luck on the Twin Pines slot machines. In theory, the outcome of these games was completely random. But Jay knew that most of these machines cycled through a random number sequence, and unless it had been rigged to prevent this issue, one could theoretically spot a pattern. The casino owners needed to make sure that some people walked away winners, after all. Not everyone. Just enough to keep people playing. There was a pattern, but it was so subtle that the average person would never have noticed it. 19 pulls got you three cherries and a decent amount of cash. 95 pulls got you a row of three gold coins. And after 171 pulls of the lever, three 7s would plunk into place, bells would go off, and the ring of bulbs around the game would burst into life. Jay watched the colored lights dance across the face of each excited winner. So he sat at the bar, ordered another wine, and waited. He made a mental check mark every time someone new stepped up to play the game. And when the 170th person walked away, he set down his glass, strode over to the machine, and played. The wheels whirled for a good few seconds before settling on the jackpot. The lights flashed, the bells rang, and a flood of coins spilled out of the machine. He collected his winnings without a smile. Now that Tony Salvatore had been removed from his position as CEO, his offices in New York got shuttered. Jay suddenly found himself jobless and in desperate need of cash, as Salvatore had been paying for him to live in a nice apartment on the east side of town. Despite his impressive work history, he seemed to carry with him a kind of stigma for being even somewhat associated with the Salvatore name. So, with no other options, Jay contacted Rick Farrow. The mysterious man arranged to meet with him at once. He conducted Jay’s interview in a rented office space not too far from the old Salvatore building. Farrow asked most of the questions, and he nodded along pleasantly as Jay talked about his passion for numbers and his experiences studying at Stanford. Farrow was a curious character. He never seemed to take off his black leather jacket, which looked slightly too big for his slender frame. His cheeks were sharp and bony and his facial hair was carefully trimmed. It was a fairly imposing look, but when he smiled it completely transformed his character. He was a charismatic individual. One way or another, he seemed capable of winning anybody over. Farrow was impressed by Jay’s experiences, especially by the way he had so cleverly exposed Salvatore, although he refused to tell Jay how he’d seen that particular bit of espionage. In any case, Farrow thought Jay’s skills were perfect for the job, and he told Jay he would take him on immediately. Housing would be provided in one of the apartment complexes near their base of operations. Payment was substantial and would come in on a monthly basis. Jay hardly heard any of this; he was just excited to be welcomed into such a secretive underworld. The weeks passed by quickly as Jay got initiated into his new life. Farrow explained to him that Salvatore had just been the tip of a very large and very dangerous iceberg. CEOs all over the state were funneling illicit cash to various crime bosses in the city, and Farrow had made it his goal to cut off the head of the snake. Multiple snakes, in this case. That was where Jay and the rest of the tech specialists came in. They had an eye for the little details that could bring a corrupt CEO down from the inside. To accomplish this, Farrow and several of his associates went around the city and placed cameras in strategic locations. Sometimes they even hacked into company networks so the tech-heads back at the base could break through any encrypted files. It was tireless work, but Jay loved it. He had never felt more in his element. It gave him a thrill to think that he was doing something with his life, that he was using his knowledge to make the world a slightly better place. Most of the time they operated out of an abandoned warehouse in one of the emptier sections of the city. Farrow had the whole place rigged up with state of the art security systems and a few dozen computers. Jay and the other tech-heads spent most of the time cracking codes and analyzing the footage from Farrow’s secret cameras. If they found any incriminating evidence, they were to report it right away. Then Farrow would take some of his cronies and disappear into the city for a few days. In very rare cases, Farrow would ask one of the tech-heads to come with him on an assignment. This only ever happened if the job required hacking skills that Farrow himself didn’t possess. Jay was fairly new to the whole game, so Farrow usually passed him up for one of the more experienced techies. He didn’t mind; in fact, he was nervous about returning the field. The Salvatore affair seemed like it had happened ages ago. He wasn’t quite sure he was ready to sneak around in gloves and a ski-mask again. Jay was busy scanning footage one evening when he heard the slam of a door and the sound of muffled shouting from below. He frowned and took off his headphones. It was definitely Farrow shouting – Jay would have recognized that gravelly voice anywhere. He just couldn’t make out any of the words. Placing the headphones gingerly on the monitor, he got out of his seat and tiptoed over to the door. The main operations room was on the second floor, so Jay peered over the railing on the catwalk to see what was happening below. Farrow and a few of his masked associates were gathered around one of the other tech-heads. Jay thought it looked like Bruno, the guy who worked with him on Tuesdays. He had his back against a drainage pipe and was holding his hands up helplessly. “You took off your fucking mask! Do you know how serious this is?” Farrow was yelling. Even from this high up, Jay could see the angry crease in his eyebrows. “They’ve got your face now. It’ll be all over their security cameras. Your stupid slip-up could have put our entire operation at risk!” “I-I-I’m sorry,” Bruno stammered. “It won’t happen again, I promise!” “You’re damn right it won’t,” Farrow growled. Then he drew a gun from inside his jacket and shot Bruno in the head. Jay clapped a hand to his mouth to stifle a scream. Half of the techie’s face was missing, bits of his skin and brain tissue spraying out onto the warehouse floor. His blood splattered across the drainage pipe and trickled to the ground. Jay could hear the steady drip all the way from the catwalk. He ducked back inside the operations room before Farrow could look up and see him there. His heart was pounding out an erratic beat on his ribcage. As quickly as he could, he slid into his seat and stuck the headphones back over his ears. He hummed a senseless little tune under his breath, trying to make himself look as carefree and oblivious as possible. If Farrow knew what he had just seen… he held back a shudder. Farrow appeared in the doorway a few minutes later, the specks of blood completely wiped from his face. He’d changed into a cleaner jacket too. As Farrow walked past the row of flashing computer screens, Jay tried to calm his racing pulse. “Any good news?” Farrow asked. He placed a hand on Jay’s shoulder, peering down at the monitor. They shoved his body in the wood chipper. The knowledge hit him like a jolt of lightning, clear and strong. It took every ounce of his willpower to force a smile. “Nothing so far,” he said. “It’s pretty quiet tonight.” He was amazed he could keep his voice from trembling. Farrow stared at the screen for a few painfully long moments, then coughed. “Keep up the good work,” he said. He let go of Jay’s shoulder and drifted toward the exit. The masked associates followed him like obedient dogs. When Jay was finally sure he could breathe easy again, he wiped a line of sweat from his brow. He was badly shaken, and not just because he’d seen his coworker shot in cold blood. He was questioning himself now, questioning the whole purpose of this assignment. If Farrow could do something so cruel and violent in the walls of his own compound, what was he doing out in the real world? After making sure the coast was clear, Jay opened up a web browser and began searching for names. He’d been so busy working this job that he’d never bothered to check the papers, to see what was really going on outside the compound. All the news about the crooks they’d toppled had come through Farrow himself. But the search results Jay found online painted a very different story. Farrow had said that the elderly Mitch Cullum had been arrested for siphoning funds to a New York crime syndicate, but Jay managed to dig up the old man’s obituary. Cause of death: gunshot wound. Nancy Deepneau, a leading member of a dental corporation in New York City, had gone missing three months ago. And David Tassenbaum, a prominent figure in the computer business, had been mugged to death in an alley, his body so beaten it had been almost impossible to identify. Jay found a dozen more examples of the “corrupt CEOs” Farrow had supposedly brought to justice. The only thing they had in common was that they’d all been very rich, and there had been discrepancies in their corporate funding following each death or disappearance. The police were unable to track down any leads. His fingers trembling, Jay shut down the browser. For a moment he could only stare at the screen in front of him. What the hell could he do? It wasn’t like he could play dumb forever. He was an expert at staying strategically silent, but a secret this huge would find its way out eventually. His body language would betray him first. The moment he started fidgeting too much, Farrow would know the truth. So he did the only thing he could think of. He disappeared. Erasing yourself from existence is next to impossible. You would have to delete every record of your birth, your social security, your education, your medical insurance, your credit card accounts – any and all places where your name could be found in writing. But Jay was persistent, and he knew things. He accessed every database he possibly could and systematically wiped himself off the map. There were some records he knew he could never touch, but if they were out of his reach, the chances of Farrow finding them were slim to none. He was an invisible man now. Once he was done, he put down the headphones, shut off the monitor, and strode out the front door of the warehouse. It was only a matter of time until Farrow noticed his absence, but he planned to put a few thousand miles between them before that happened. He was free. He’d been shaken to his core, but he was free, and that was all that mattered. He’d have plenty of time later to think about the horrors he’d seen. And who knows? Maybe this was it. Maybe this whole affair was behind him, and one day it would just become a ghastly dream, a nightmare from someone else’s reality. But deep down, he knew it wouldn’t be that easy. “Red 38,” Jay stated. He handed his chips to the croupier, who stacked them on the side of the table with the bets from the other players. Then he gave the roulette wheel a spin. Jay watched as the colors bled together, streaking in an ugly smear of crimson gray. After a few seconds, the croupier tossed the ball down the spinning track. It bounced and rolled every which way before coming to rest in one of the 38 slots. Red 38 exactly. “Damn, you’re on a roll,” the croupier said. He handed Jay his original chips plus the payout. “Sure you want to keep going? This luck of yours can’t last forever.” “I’m sure,” Jay answered. He took a deep breath, waiting for the answer to wash over him like it always did. Then he placed his chips back down on the table and stated, “Black 13. Last bet.” The croupier shrugged and took the chips. They went through the same routine. The roulette wheel spun in its blurry circle, and the ball bounced around for a while before plunking into its final slot. Black 13. Jay ignored the astonished remarks of the croupier and accepted his winnings silently. He couldn’t stay at this table forever, so he turned away from the Rose Bowl Roulette and cast his eyes across the casino. The night was lengthening and the room was filling up with players, most of them clutching thin glasses of cognac and laughing with their friends. He searched for any sign of Farrow’s men, but it was useless – he’d never find them in this crowd. He didn’t want to look, but he couldn’t help glancing at the Gold King’s looming statue. It was still dark and silent. Now that the place was getting busy, though, the chances of someone winning the jackpot had risen significantly. Time was running out. Jay hated using what he knew to win games. It was one thing to find the pattern of outcomes for a slot machine; anyone with half a brain and enough time on their hands could do the same. But what he could do was cheating. No one could ever catch him at it, which somehow made it worse. He’d decided a long time ago that he’d never do exactly what he was doing now. But he didn’t have a choice. He was over halfway to his goal, closer to three-fourths, really, and he couldn’t afford to waste time now. If he had to cheat, then so be it. Too much was at stake tonight. The years following Jay’s escape passed in a dreamlike sort of blur. He moved out west, hopping briefly from town to town and spending his nights in cheap hotel rooms. He had to pay in cash, of course, since his credit card account had recently ceased to exist. Luckily he had plenty to go around. He had a natural talent for hustling, and he won most of his money by playing pool games or dealing hands of poker in the back of shady bars. He never stayed with the same car for too long. He always knew when some idiot driver had left their keys in the ignition, and he took every opportunity to hop in a new vehicle and continue the journey west. He felt a little guilty about hijacking so many rides, but it never bothered him for long. He was far more afraid of Farrow catching up to him. Occasionally he would seek out some underground sources who had a reputation for forging documents. He needed a new identity, which meant a new birth certificate and social security card and everything. He eventually settled on the name Jay Everett – “Jay” after the first letter of his old name, and “Everett” after a small saloon he’d passed through in Denver. He didn’t get all his documents forged in one location. He staggered them, picking up a new one every few stops to try and throw Farrow off his trail. By the time he reached Nevada, he figured he’d placed enough distance between himself and Farrow to finally settle down. He got a low-level office job and rented out a tiny apartment at the edge of Boulder City. As the years passed and his stint with Farrow faded from his memory, he finally began to live a normal life again. He fell in love. He married a beautiful girl named Marcia Thorne who knew nothing about his past, and they had a son together. Trace Everett. He grew up like any ordinary boy, kicking soccer balls around the yard and playing hide-and-seek with the other kids in the neighborhood. When he turned seven they even bought him a small black-and-white dachshund that he affectionately dubbed “Billy.” From that point on the boy and the dog were inseparable; they often went on walks together before his parents called them in for dinner. Jay was happy. He’d gotten away from his past; he’d moved on from a life he thought would haunt him forever. He made love to his beautiful wife and watched cartoons with Trace on Saturdays. It was a perfect routine, and he never wanted it to end. Then one night, ten years after Jay had made his escape from Farrow’s compound, a power surge went through their entire house. The Everetts had been enjoying their Sunday dinner when it happened. The bulb above the kitchen table gave a loud sputter before dying out completely. Billy gave a loud bark and began running in circles around the table. “Calm down boy, it’s just a blackout,” Trace said. He got out of his chair and restrained the dog before he could knock into any of the table legs. “That’s funny,” Marcy said, peering out the window. “The neighbors’ houses still have power.” Jay joined her by the window, frowning. “Hmm. Must be something wrong with our circuit breaker,” he said. “You two go look for some flashlights. I’ll see if I can fix the problem.” The three of them wandered off, stumbling their way through the dark. Jay found the door to the basement and began climbing downward, clinging carefully to the railing. He knew the breaker was located at the bottom of the steps, right next to the garage. He reached the end of the stairs and fumbled in the gloom for the circuit box. To his surprise, the door to the box was already wide open. As Jay’s eyes adjusted somewhat to the darkness, he saw that every single wire in the box had been snipped cleanly in half. Shit, he thought, oh shit, I should have known. But it was too late now. He felt the muzzle of a gun dig into his shoulder blades. “I’ve been looking a long time for you,” Farrow said. His voice floated through the darkness in a soft, amused sort of growl. “You’re the one that got away. Isn’t that cute? You wouldn’t believe how many goddamn hoops I had to jump through just to track you down. But now I’ve got you.” “It’s been ten years,” Jay hissed. “Ten fucking years. What could you possibly want?” Farrow made a disapproving sound with his tongue. “We’ll get to that in a moment,” he said. “First, we have some introductions to make.” Right on cue, Billy began barking furiously in the kitchen. Jay could hear Trace’s high-pitched voice trying to shout over him. “No, no, what are you doing, stop, he’s just a dog HE’S JUST A DOG STOP IT –” Then a gunshot, a muffled whimper, and a shriek that could only have been Marcy. “Jay!” she screamed. “Oh god, oh god, there’s men in the house, they’ve got guns! They shot Billy!” “Time for our big entrance,” Farrow laughed. He shoved Jay in the back with his pistol, forcing him up the basement steps. Jay plodded forward, hardly able to feel his feet. This must be a nightmare, he thought. I’m going to wake up any second now. But he knew that wasn’t true, the same way he knew so many other impossible things. When Farrow pushed him into the kitchen, four dark shapes were waiting for him there. Two of them were Trace and Marcy, their hands behind their heads, their entire upper bodies trembling. The other two were some of Farrow’s masked associates. Each one held a pistol to the head of the prisoner beside them. Marcy let out a sob when she saw Jay climbing up the steps. “Oh god, Jay, not you too?” “Quiet,” one of the masked figures ordered. His voice sounded strangely distorted, like he was speaking through a filter. Marcy drew in a shuddery breath but stayed quiet. “So, the gang’s all here!” Farrow exclaimed. “Wonderful.” He performed an exaggerated bow, his gun still nestled in the small of Jay’s back. “I’m Rick Farrow, a man of many trades. Right now I’m a man with a gun. Funny how that gives you so much power, doesn’t it?” Jay said nothing. In his mind’s eye he could see the gun Farrow was holding, a thin barreled pistol that looked like something out of a Western. A Colt Paterson revolver, his brain spat out uselessly. As if it mattered. It would put a large hole in his chest no matter what type of gun it was. “It appears you folks have already met my men,” Farrow went on. “They’re pretty low on the corporate ladder, but they do what they’re told, and what more could a man ask for?” He lifted the gun from Jay’s back to do a mock sort of clap with both hands. Jay wasn’t fooled; he didn’t move an inch. He was still Farrow’s prisoner, even if he was no longer at gunpoint. “What do you want with us?” Marcy asked. Her face was damp with tears, but she’d managed to steady her breathing. Trace leaned against his mother’s legs with a scrunched up expression of anger in his eyes. He was trying so hard not to cry. Jay did his best to look away from the furry mass on the floor that used to be Trace’s beloved dog. “What do I want?” Farrow said. “Ah, therein lies the question.” He turned his attention back to Jay, his eyes still bright and glassy blue in the darkness. “So, you go by ‘Jay’ now, do you?” He said it again, slowly this time, as if to savor its taste. “Jay. I like it. Nice and low-key. It suits you well.” He gave Jay a casual tap on the shoulder with his pistol. A toothless smile appeared on his face when he saw Jay wince. “You were good, Jay,” Farrow said quietly. “You were one of my best, actually. When you took off like that, I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find you. But I kept trying. The other tech-heads made stupid mistakes, botched their missions; they were disposable. But you. You were the grand prize, the golden fleece. I needed you back. You did stuff with numbers that could make a fella’s heart sing.” Here Farrow paused. His glassy eyes were staring more intently at Jay this time, a careful sort of scrutiny that made his skin grow cold. “But it’s not just numbers, is it? You see things. Patterns, clues, tiny details other people would miss. That’s what makes you so special. That’s why I need you.” “Just tell me,” Jay spat through clenched teeth. “Tell me what you want to do. I’ll do anything.” This time the smile that creased Farrow’s bony cheeks was wide and toothy. “Now that’s more like it,” he said. “Have I got a job for you, big boy. This one’ll be right up your alley.” Jay said nothing, waiting for Farrow to break the silence first. “Here’s the thing,” Farrow said at last. “There’s a man out in Las Vegas by the name of Jonas Carver. He runs a big casino in the heart of the city called Twin Pines. My men and I have been eyeing the place for years and we’re just about ready to strike him where it hurts.” He pointed an enthusiastic finger at Jay. “What I want you to do is take a hefty chunk out of this man’s wallet. Let’s say… $19,000. Enough to make him question the security in his casino. Afterwards, when he’s checking for cracks, we’ll sneak in and do our part.” “Are you going to kill him?” Jay said. His voice came out hoarse and weak. Farrow grinned. “Don’t worry about Mr. Jonas Carver. He’ll be in good hands. You just focus on playing the right games and making the most moolah.” Jay’s neck felt stiff as a board, but he nodded. “I’ll do it,” he insisted. “Just let them go.” “Ah,” Farrow said. “We’ve reached that little snag.” He began pacing the kitchen floor in front of Jay, swinging his revolver like a baseball bat. “See, the thing is, I can’t do that. I need a little insurance here. If I let them go, what’s stopping you from running off to the West Indies for another ten years or so?” “I won’t,” Jay managed to choke out. “Listen to me, goddammit. I won’t run. Just let them go.” Farrow pretended to think about it for a second. “Nah,” he decided. “Tell you what. Let’s play a game instead. Inside the Twin Pines Casino, there’s a wheel-of-fortune type game called Gold King. You can’t miss it. It’s got this ugly fucking statue of a cartoon king on top. Every night, without fail, someone wins the jackpot and bells go off and that statue waves its flashing staff at everyone. But only once. For the rest of the night it’s just a statue.” When Farrow turned to Jay again, his eyes were icy. “Tomorrow night,” he said. “You have until the Gold King goes off to make $19,000. Otherwise your family gets it.” He made a careless gesture at them with his pistol. “One shot each, right in the head. Boom. Boom. And you have to watch.” “I’ll do it,” Jay repeated. “I’ll play your goddamn game the way you want. But unless I fail, you’d better not lay a finger on them.” Farrow was examining something under one of his fingernails. “Done,” he stated. He waved his hand absently toward the door. “Take them away, men. You know where to go.” The two masked men dragged Marcy and Trace out the back door, both of them crying out and struggling to get free. “Be quiet,” the first masked figure said in his distorted voice. “If you don’t shut up, we’ll make you shut up.” Both of them immediately quieted down, but they couldn’t hide the expressions of pure fear that were plastered across their faces. Jay felt blood pumping furiously through his veins as he watched his family getting dragged away. Farrow lifted his hand and gave them a pleasant wave as they disappeared out the back door. In the side window of the kitchen, Jay managed to catch a glimpse of Marcy’s face for what he hoped wasn’t the last time ever. He blew her a kiss with trembling lips, but the masked men shoved her and Trace into a waiting van before she could see it. Then the two of them were gone. Jay was in the middle of a poker game when the Gold King bells went off. He’d managed to keep his cool throughout the entire night, but the blood drained from his face when he heard the loud clanging noise echoing through the casino. He turned to see the cartoon statue gamboling in place, flashing its toothy smile at the surrounding players. The scepter in its hand was dancing with flecks of neon light. No, he thought in disbelief. No, not yet! I was almost there! He’d been so close to the $19,000 mark that this poker game would probably have pushed him over the edge. The Gold King had gone off just as he was about to play his final hand. Now he watched the statue spin in lazy circles, its hideous bells still ringing in his eardrums. “Hey,” a voice said suddenly. It was the dealer, trying to get Jay’s attention. “Hey buddy, this is the last hand. Are you calling or folding?” Jay looked at him in surprise, then down at the cards in his shaky fingers. He hadn’t even bothered to look at them yet. What was even stranger, his usual powers of perception were failing him. He knew what all the other hands looked like, he knew who was bluffing through their teeth and who posed a legitimate threat, but he didn’t even know what cards he was holding. He wondered how long it would take for Farrow’s men to cut through the crowd and take him away. He figured he had about thirty seconds, a minute at most. Was it possible? Could he make enough off this hand to complete Farrow’s sick challenge? The Gold King hadn’t finished its death knoll yet when the final hand was dealt. It was a technicality, but he was banking on it. It might just save Marcy and Trace’s lives. Now it was up to these last five cards to decide if they saw the light of another day. He offered a quick prayer to a God he never believed in. Then he turned the cards over and stared down at the hand he’d been dealt.
I looked at the man with unwilling disdain, he was hardly the most approachable character. In the background I could see staff miserably toiling, the sun was hot, and the men looked dirty and overworked. 'So...' Fortyn Kildare insisted, 'Like I said. All the information about the murder was provided at the time. What exactly are you hoping to dig up now??' ‘Well there’s nothing TO dig up’ I smiled, ‘The body was dumped in plain sight. I don’t really need any information about the death Mr Kildare. Have you had anyone suspicious working on your staff in the past two years?’ ‘As I told the bloody cops—’ Fortyn cursed; ‘Every cunt that works here is suspect. We’re working twelve hour days here Mr investigator. Don’t suspect you know what this kind of work is like, but this isn’t exactly the best job out there. We attract all kinds here.’ I had to squint temporarily from the glare of the sun bouncing off a metal girder. ‘Don’t you have some kind of a union Mr Kildare?’. Fortyn glared menacingly, then leant over to speak more softly; ‘Too right we do. Matter of fact, there’s been a lot of action lately. Just like the old days you know. Well, they’re trying to pull a shifty on the working class again.’ ‘Oh yeah, really?’ I prompted. ‘Damn straight it is…Ever since Howard’s work choices, these new contractual cheats, you can sign a form that agrees to just about anything. They’ve got fake companies set up to take care of the unions, and we’re all working twelve hours. If you complain they’ll send you off site, or sack you. My great, great grandfather was there at the rallies— back in 1856 —when the Stonemasons won the eight hour day you know. They think they can pull the wool over our eyes, but we’re regrouping. Just like the old days, down at the docks. In the casino’s. The Unions are coming back. You better fuckin’ believe it—— What’s wrong with that eh?’ I could see that Fortyn Kildare was not going to be particularly helpful, and his tangent interests showed pretty clearly that he knew absolutely nothing about the murder. I didn’t want to waste my ten minutes, before Pex escorted from the premises, but I asked Kildare one last question for good measure, ‘Have you ever heard about Slaughter Theatre— Mr Kildare?’ The ocker man almost spat the words ‘NO!’ at me, and I quickly consoled the impatient mullet donning gruff that I wasn’t going to take up any more of his time; ‘Thanks for your help’. I walked slowly in a maudlin fashion back towards the front fences, as other tradies had begun hollering and leering at me….trudging over dirt and loose stones. I couldn’t think of much else to look at, the exhausted workers around me didn’t seem worth bothering. My own inner monologue was echoing the sentiment expressed by Drendyl Pex— that this pursuit was little more than a wild donkey chase. A mad conspiracy theory. Nonetheless, what Pex had said about the two crimes displaying traits of a potential serial killer had got me thinking, and I realised I needed to get home and do some more research on the press surrounding the Alice Goddard murder. As I was walking out the gate, I noticed the receptionist, (who was apparently not a receptionist) smoking a cigarette out on the street, and my sleuth’s intuition told me it was worth staying for one last round of questioning. I approached her calmly. ‘Let me guess, Vogue menthol thins.’ The woman turned, breathing out smoke and pouting, the thin white cigarette in her hand fell down to her side; ‘How did you guess?’ She asked. ‘Ex smokers hunch.’ I replied, ‘I have a sixth sense when it comes to horoscopes and cigarette brands. It comes with constant investigation. You get to know people’s types.’ ‘Is that right?’ The woman responded amused but cynical, ‘What star sign am I then?’ ‘Judging from what i’ve seen of you’ I said thoughtfully, ‘I’d say Gemini, there’s more to you than there seems.’ The woman raised her eyebrow, partially impressed; “May twenty. Just off the mark Mr Dronefire. But you were close. My mother always told me I was a cusp Taurus.’ ‘Ms Weabley isn’t it?’ I checked. ‘Lisa’ she replied, holding out her hand in an informal re-greeting. ‘Mr Pex tells me you work in occupational health and safety here. So you must have a pretty good handle on what’s occurred on and off this site.’ ‘Listen Mr Dronefire, you really ought to speak to Mr Pex in regards to—‘ ’Mr Pex told me I could speak to you, I assure you, this place is not under investigation. Actually I was just wondering if you’d ever seen a film crew working on the site. Maybe a stupid question.’ ‘Huh?’, Lisa changed her tone drastically, ’Now…. why would you ask that?’ ‘I’m trying to track down someone who may have shot a video here.’ I continued, ‘You have had a film crew here then?’ ‘Yes. I mean…’ Ms Weabley stuttered and thought for a moment, she had a strangely compelling face, especially when deep in thought, mousey blond hair falling over her creased forehead… ‘We do promotional marketing. Social media videos.. and….’ ‘—Would you have had any film crew in the yards any time near July last year?’ I asked. ‘Yes.’ Lisa replied anxiously, ‘We were particularly active mid last year, then it slowed down, didn’t film anything September till Christmas.’ ‘Do you have a regularly production crew you work with?’ ‘Not right now….No…but…’ Lisa contemplated it, ‘We did have a specific crew back then. Sure. Hey… I can send you the production call sheet with the contacts of everyone who worked on those jobs, will that help?’ ‘Brilliant, yes. Thank you Ms Weabley.’ We exchanged contact details and I returned to my car, shortly I was back in the air conditioning of my Valiant Charger, on the road for an afternoon drink in Fitzroy. I had a taste for that rum Mr Pex had given me, and managed to track one down at the old rum house, Gunnery white spiced. Seven rums later and the investigation had pleasantly left my mind. Dreams of falling men in suits, alien flowers and twisting vines tangled in a web. Monday morning and my paranoia was back in full force, when the email from Lisa Weabley showed up in my inbox. The call sheet Ms Weabley sent was amateurish and brief, but it did give me a list of people to call. I spent that morning dialling numbers. There was no director listed, which I found marginally strange. The cameraman, Mark Virafi must have changed his number in the past year, because the number listed on the call sheet had a disconnected Telstra message, or it was bad data entry. Next on the list was an editor, by the name of Lumborg Hames. I didn’t get through the first or second time I called. Left a bunch of voice mail messages and texts, and finally got a call back around lunch time. He was a very softly spoken guy, definitely your introverted, creative type. I told him a simple version of my background to the case, and he agreed to meet up for a chat in a Richmond cafe. He lived on Gwynne St in Cremorne, down towards the water. From my understanding it was only a short distance from Stephenson Street where notorious criminal Dennis Allen once lived. I met with Lumborg Hames on Tuesday. I was sitting in the Red Dog cafe, and i’d grown starving before Mr Hames arrived, so I ordered a big breakfast. When Lumborg arrived I was hoeing into a bacon and hash brown sandwich covered in baked beans. Mr Hames stood awkwardly around for a while, looking back and forth nervously until I noticed him and called out; ‘Mr Hames?’. He was a big guy, very wide in girth, having what some might describe as a ‘neck beard’, a fluffy coating over numerous chins, and his beady-but-kind eyes looked out of round glasses. He was wearing the sort of cheesy comedy T-shirt you might have found at Granny May’s in the nineties, text said something dumb like ‘Whatever you want. The answer is NO’. Lumborg nervously sat in front of me, and I apologised for ordering before he arrived, but he told me in his wafting soft voice that he had already eaten. When the waitress came over he ordered a coffee, and I followed his lead. ‘Thanks for coming Mr Hames, I do appreciate you giving me your time. I know you're probably a busy editor.’ ‘Not really’ Lumborg confessed, almost too candidly, ‘I work freelance, between jobs at the moment, so…..i’ve got time.’ There was an awkward silence, where I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feign empathy, or just pretend like his job insecurity was normal. Luckily Lumborg quickly broke the silence; ‘Sooo…. You want to know about when I was working at the Three Vertice construction company I guess?’ ’Sort of…’ I replied, not even a hundred percent sure what I was doing myself here yet; ‘But first… humour me… Have you ever heard of something called ‘Slaughter Theatre’ Mr Hames?’ The robust and timid man, suddenly perked up in his seat, his large belly almost jiggling somewhat, ‘Ha… well I didn’t think this chat would get so interesting so quickly. Sure, I know about the trilogy. I work in production, it’s like workers lore.’ ‘You think it’s real?’ I asked directly, feeling my way into Mr Hames psychological profile. ‘Pssssh…No.’ Hames said, ‘If only. No……i’ve never seen any of the alleged footage if that’s what you’re asking. Although i’ve heard plenty of rumours,…worked with people who claim to have seen it…worked on it….’ ‘Interesting. When you were working at Three Vertice construction company did anyone mention Slaughter Theatre?’ I continued... ‘Huh?’ Hames looked at me curiously, ‘Funny you should ask that. Well…first up.. I should tell you, I never actually went to Three Vertice Construction yards.' 'What?' 'I was working on editing some test filming they were doing, that much is true. But everything I did was based out of Hapless Creative Studios in Brunswick. That’s the production company who outsourced freelance editors for the Three Vertice job. I mean, I saw a lot of the construction yards, I watched the same footage about a million times over, you know. But physically I never set foot there.’ ‘Right,’ I said, not having considered this, ‘But you were in contact with other production staff? You must have dealt with Mark Virafi, the cameraman, at least…. i’m guessing?’ ‘Oh sure. Mark came in all the time, to give me the SD cards with the footage on them… you know…’ ‘It’s funny’, I said, ‘I couldn’t get through to him, Mark, I mean…do you know if he’s changed his number?’ ‘I haven’t spoken to Mark in over a year, actually….I ….heard something ….happened to him….. earlier in the year. A car accident or something.’ I tried to trace my line of reasoning for being here, had to keep drilling if I was going to hit oil; ‘What about Drendyl Pex, did you ever meet him?’ ‘The Director?’ Lumborg asked? ‘No…' I replied skeptically, 'The owner….. of Three Vertice Construction.’ ‘Oh…. right…’ Lumborg gave a strange look, ‘To be honest, the moment you asked me about Slaughter Theatre my mind went somewhere else. See the truth is, I…… I did have massive conversations about Slaughter Theatre whilst I was working on the construction videos. You…probably… should speak to my friend Ted Stevens… my understanding… he’s worked for …Mr…Pex quite a bit in the past— in fact that’s how I got the job at TVC in the first place. Ted lives in Richmond not far from here, I can take you round to his place, i’ve been meaning to visit him for a while—to see if he’s got any work going—‘ ‘That would be great.. Do you think you could call him now?’ ‘Sure…. um…’ Lumborg was strangely and increasingly hesitant, pulling out his old school mobile phone, then pausing and lowering it again; ‘…you’re not squeamish or anything are you?’ ‘How do you mean?’ I asked. ‘Well— it’s just. Ted, and his partner, the company they run….. well it’s kind of a porn company. There’s a good chance they’ll be filming and…. well I just wouldn’t want you to feel weird about—‘ ’That’s fine— I have no problem with that…‘ That afternoon turned out to bear strange fruits indeed. I drove, whilst Lumborg directed me to the house, (and home office studio) of Ted Stevens and Dorothy Lench, an odd and highly eccentric Melbourne couple I was about to learn way more about than I ever bargained for. They lived on a fairly well to do street of Richmond, with nice terrace houses lining the leafy streets. As we left the vehicle Lumborg told me that he had called Ted, and they were expecting me, but he suddenly grew strangely timid, and it took a moment to draw it out of him, he was anxious about being on a pornography set, and wanted to know if it was ok if he left me to it. Of course, I consented him to depart, and shortly I was knocking on the strange ornate door, with the delicately carved metal knocker shaped like the logo for the 1992 ‘Bram Stoker Dracula’ film. I heard shuffling footsteps slowly coming to the door, and finally the mahogany opened to reveal a strange man, with a quiff of black hair with a grey streak, a pink nightgown, slightly open to reveal a hairy chest…. and bunny slippers; ‘Oh helloooo…. you must be Mr Dronefire? I’ve just been speaking to Lumborg…’ the man observed. ’Ted Stevens?’ I asked confounded, not expecting a man of this…. calibre to answer the door. ‘Marvelous…. an actual private investigator… what a fantastic character study..’ Ted said… ‘We have P.I’s in our productions all the time, but i’ve never met a real one… Dorothy? Dorothy?? You have to come and meet our real life— Private Dick…’ A feminine voice called out from a room far down the long hallway, and shortly thereafter a bright, and sprightly figure hopped and scampered down the hallway, she was wearing a costume straight out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, puffy red skirt and fishnet stockings. Dorothy Lench had far less enthusiasm in her face however, she pouted mysteriously, but her eyes scrunched up in a kind of scowl. ‘Whadda we need a P.I for? We’re shooting a bleedin’ outback scene, it’s a bloody desert fuck…not a noir….’ ‘Im terribly sorry..’ I interjected, ‘I hope i’m not interrupting your work. I’m doing some inquiries into an urban legend surrounding a series of videos——’ ’Oooh fuck me…’ Dorothy burst out laughing, ‘He is a real Private Dick isn’t he. Mandy, what’d’you think of our new Dick?’ A voluptuous blonde, naked from the waist up, with thick, heavenly hair bobbing around her shoulders was now walking up the hallway. I felt my eyes drop nervously to the floor, enchanted by the bare woman’s beauty, as she came closer, her features grew more and more recognisable. Ted meanwhile had draped a long, fluffy scarf around me like he was decorating a christmas tree, his large grin showed an innate mischieviousness, and the freckles on his face added to this impishness; ‘Forgive us, we get terribly excited when we have guests on set. Production can be very stressful, you understand, we work hard, we play hard. Now Mandy, I think you are making our friend here VERY hard.’ I blushed, unable to contain my secret awareness silent; ‘Forgive me. uh….madam… But you’re Mandy, from the “Mandy is randy Down Under” series, aren’t you?’ I blushed. ‘Mandy Thumbridge.’ The buxom blonde stated proudly, ‘You’re a fan of my work?’ ‘I’m aware of the—’ I confessed. ‘Oh come now—‘ Ted scolded, leaping about the room like a mad pixie, ‘Be honest young man, it’s ok to admit to watching pornography. Besides this woman is an artist. You needn’t be ashamed to confess that you like art. Need you now?’ ‘She’s a wonderful actress’ I allowed. ’She’s a goddess` Ted elaborated, ‘All we school boys can do is worship, at the altar of Venus…’ as Ted Spoke, Dorothy Lench had returned to the room carrying an actual carving of the Greek Goddess, placing it in the centre of the hallway, the two mad producers then proceeded to dance around the statue in their grotesque costumes. Mandy Thumbridge, the porn star, meanwhile crossed her arms over her bare chest and turned a mocking expression and lippy pout. She was pure eroticism, I found I had to avert my gaze continually. Ted was evidently quite high, and had become totally distracted, both from his work, and from my investigation, and he was now completely absorbed in his strange ritualistic dance around the statue of Venus. As he chanted, and mimicked cliche native American gestures, he murmured strange turns of phrase, which sounded as though they had come out of an abandoned script for some demented horror production; ‘Gods, pixies and elves, dancers on the periphery of our imagination, we are married to the Goddess of lust, bring us our givings, before ol’ Cronus, god of time cuts our days short, and ends this marvellous Saturnalia, ho….hum… ho…hum…. Shiva the destroyer, grant us this day of sin….’ ‘Excuse me—‘ I interrupted, quite fed up with the parlour games, ‘I certainly don’t want to rain on your parade, but i’m afraid the reason for my visit is a rather sombre one. I’m investigating two murders which occurred in the last two years.’ Ted and Dorothy stopped their joyous dance, and came to a standstill, as Mandy scrambled to put on a bra. ‘Well… that’s a bit of a buzzkill, isn’t it?’ Ted scoffed. ‘Mr Stevens’ I asked impatiently, ‘Are you aware of rumours surrounding a snuff video known as ‘Slaughter Theatre’ or the Slaughter Theatre trilogy. A cold expression suddenly took over everyone’s faces, Ted grimaced and Dorothy began to lurk in the background. ‘Well…. of course we have…. Mandy learned about death that way, didn’t you babe?’ Ted commented rather coldly and cruelly. The beautiful Miss Thumbridge suddenly burst into tears, and covered her face with her hands, retreating to one of the other rooms. I could gather the momentum to do little else than stare spellbound. ‘I’m afraid that’s a rather sore subject matter Mr Dick’ said Ted, as he and Dorothy fell into a faux traumatic hug with one another. I indicated with a gesture that I was going to follow Miss Thumbridge and ask her some questions; ‘Do you mind if I—‘ Dorothy and Ted both waved their hands as if to tie their hands from it, ‘Go ahead’ Ted said anxiously. As I walked down the hallway I could see a large production set in the far room, filled with cardboard cutouts of cactuses and other cliche desert backgrounds. I could hear sobbing emanating from one of the side rooms, and moved to open the door. The room I entered was also decked out as a kind of film set; a science fiction style scene of alien geography of a foreign planet, with a lush queen sized bed out of place in the middle of the mars-like terrain. The walls and roof were black, with recognisable stars and planets in the background. Mandy was sitting on the expensive pink bed and weeping profoundly. I was relieved to see that she had covered up. I sat next to her on the bed; ‘Miss Thumbridge’ I said gently, ‘I’m very sorry that you obviously have something deeply sad which has affected you. But I must push you, as two young women have been murdered, and anything you know about this snuff trilogy may help get to the bottom of the crimes.’ Mandy looked up through large, manga eyes, her face flushed and covered in tears; ‘Of course I want to help’ she sobbed. ‘You obviously have some kind of story about this.. you worked on—‘ ‘— I don’t know if it was a body… you see all kinds of things on set. You don’t always ask questions. Especially when you’re a naughty picture actress. Sometimes it’s just nice to have a real part, where you don’t have to take your top off and perform oral sex, y’know?’ ‘What pictures are you talking about Mandy?’ I asked, ‘You feel like you saw something unusual on one of the sets you worked on?’ ‘I don’t really feel comfortable talking about it’ Mandy looked down coyly. ‘Just give me something to work on Mandy, anything? The name of the people who filmed you. Something…’ I begged. ’It was…. i’m sorry… i’m sorry… I can’t… Talk to Ted and Dorothy… they know as much as me…. please….’ Mandy burst into tears again, and I rubbed her back consolingly, then quietly, I departed the bizarre outer-space set. Ted and Dorothy were now sitting on couches in the main foyer, their body language had become closed and they were no longer happy or enthusiastic looking. I walked into the centre of the foyer, trying to appear vulnerable. ‘Mandy is very upset, but she seems to think that the two of you might be in a better position to tell me about whatever compromising scenario she was placed in on one of the sets.’ Ted looked at Dorothy with appreciable mental strain, both were not liking the angle of questioning, so I tried to take an alternate route to the destination, interrupting their thoughts; ‘You two are married, or in an open relationship? I don’t mean to pry….’ The question worked perfectly, exactly as I had hoped. The two clearly thrived on sexual controversy, and loved nothing more than to gloat their eccentricities to a conservative audience; ‘Typical assumption you’d expect from a CIS white male, unfortunately Ted and I don’t fit so neatly into your census form boxes.’ ‘My partner Dorothy identifies as gender fluid, bisexual,’ Ted said proudly and pretentiously; ‘And as for myself, I mostly prefer the description of Pan——sexual, if one must have a sexual tag-line at all. I’d suggest that your prejudiced question itself was an act of violence… but no doubt you’d brand me a social justice warrior, and jump online with your white supremacist friends, or bring your thug cronies around to lynch us, or brand us satanic pornographers and call the police.’ ‘Mr Stevens, I meant no offence.’ I said, ‘I only ask, because i’m interested in Mandy. Do you often participate in the sexual acts in your films yourselves? Is Mandy frequently called to engage with unknown actors or actresses.’ ‘Everything we do at our studio is extremely safe…’ Ted snapped, my plan was working, ‘We have never compromised our actors or actresses, or made them do anything that wasn’t stated clearly in their contracts when they agreed to work… as for other studios, Pex and his crew… I have no responsibility for what happens.’ ‘I’m sorry…’ I asked, ‘Drendyl Pex?’ ‘Sure.’ Ted said without thinking, ‘You didn’t know he was a director? Surely you must have realised that Three Vertice Construction was a front for other business ventures.’ ‘Drendyl Pex works in the porn industry?’ I asked. ‘Drendyl Pex runs the porn industry…’ Ted affirmed with vitriol. ‘And Mandy, she’s worked for Drendyl…’ ‘Listen….’ Ted said standing up, ‘I’m very happy to help a friend of Lumborg Hames, but I don’t think i’m going to be able to help much more with your line of questioning.’ Slowly, but surely, Ted escorted me to the front door, as Dorothy ignored me, and sobbing still reverberated through walls —from the other room. I left the Stevens house feeling even more highly strung and on edge. ——————————————————————————————————————————————— The next few months were an all consuming blur, fully strung up on the case, I investigated every avenue of intrigue I could. I spoke to countless people in the creative industry who were inadvertently linked to Drendyl Pex. There were many rumours and bizarre stories about the eccentric secret head of the vice industry in Australia. Legends had Drendyl Pex known to wear velvet capes, and strange masks during his directorial stints, orgies and wild parties. I spoke to someone who had worked on scripts for Drendyl Pex’s production company, the bizarre horror stories had grotesqueries straight out of the Grand Guignol. Every mention of the plots created by Pex’s crew, never failed to embellish the perversity, utter distastefulness and horrendously realistic gore depicted in the films. Nonetheless, I grew tired of all the hapless hearsay. So many accounts presented the facts of the trilogy, as something that could and had been found, countless times, in second hand stores or on the shelves of private VHS collectors. So I began to spend my weekends trawling through garage sales all over Melbourne, I called private collectors, searching through their immense VHS and DVD collections. I met the owners of ex-video store rentals, went to reverse garbage yards and pawn shops, but never once came across the mysterious VHS tape emblazoned with red letters. I knew I was getting close to the truth, but something about the things I was learning made me abysmally afraid. Another strange occurrence happened when I showed up at a media industry party. I had attended the event only because I knew certain people who were connected to Pex’s alleged productions were going to be there. Ted Stevens brother was there, Gerald, a producer, also a number of actors who had worked in the same pornography films as Mandy Thumbridge. It was a costume party, rave, in a secret nightclub decked out in the third floor of the heritage-listed, historic, Royal Exhibition building. As I walked through highly intoxicated and drug addled crowds at the rave I was awestruck by the bizarre costumes and ornate antique decorations adorning the hall. I passed a couple dressed as Azaria Chamberlain and a full-sized man-dingo costume, then came a group of Australian Prime ministers, their intricate plastic masks were quite impressive; Bob Hawke, Robert Menzies, Gough Whitlam. Electronic music played as I walked through the crowds, trying to observe whilst still blending in, a group of drunken louts had noticed me and were laughing and pointing, their costumes; a biker, a soldier, an indigenous warrior and a doctor —resembled a kind of Village People ensemble, all the while strobe lights provided a sinister ambience. One of the girls the village people men were with was wearing a Madonna style cone shaped bra, and was drawing a lot of hollering, wolf whistling and attention towards her. Meanwhile, a g-string donning Hitler was sitting on the bar, bearing fishnet stocking clad legs and talking to a group dressed as the Bali Bombers, and behind them there seemed to be the entrance to a much seedier part of the club. I had seen Gerald Stevens earlier, along with other producers and creatives, but many of them had disappeared, and I began to think that perhaps Pex’s creatives were lurking somewhere out in the back of the club. I wasn’t sure if I would be permitted to enter, sure enough, as I tried to make my way, a solid looking gentleman dressed all in black blocked my way. ’Sorry sir, it’s invite only in our VIP section’. I tried the only argument that sprung to mind ‘I work for Drendyl Pex’ I said as confidently as I could. This actually seemed to work. The man barely questioned it at all, stepping aside and allowing me to pass through without identification. What I found beyond the gates was more extreme and otherworldly than I had foreseen. The guests were similarly clad in outrageous costume, but there was much less casual reverie, and a lot more bizarre ritual in the back rooms. A woman dressed as an S&M fetishist whipped a cut-covered man dressed as Jesus on the cross. A group of Australian convicts with their legs bound in iron chains were similarly whipped by naked porn stars. Beyond the arches of the room, more pornography was being filmed on old style cameras. There were elaborate glass cubes attached to the ceiling, acting as erotic dance stages, where strippers holding multiple machine guns entertained jeering men beneath. My mind focussed in on a particular corner of the room, which was decked out like a gothic castle, sitting on red leather chairs, a group of men dressed as army officers were harassing a young and innocent looking school girl, who didn’t seem a natural fit to the scenes of debauchery around her. I approached the soldiers cautiously, eaves-dropping on their conversation with the innocent looking girl. At first the conversation seemed typical enough, the soldiers egging the girl on, trying to persuade her into participate in something, perhaps some kind of illicit act. ‘Come on, please.’ They taunted and begged. But then a more sinister undertone came across in the conversation, that the nature of what the men wanted the girl to participate in became all the more menacing. Wether or not the suggested role play was linked to anything I had learned or not, suggestions that the girl be the soldiers ‘sacrifice’ to the god of dark matter, was more than I could take. I shortly intervened, grabbing the girl by the arm and escorting her out of the strange party. She was annoyed at first, almost struggling, but later she seemed relieved I had given her the means to escape the uncomfortable scenario. Her name was Wendy Soames. I felt astoundingly like an overbearing father figure, but as I probed the girl about what the men had wanted her to do, and she explained that they were trying to get her to film herself being naked and being sacrificed in some sort of mock snuff film, I felt relieved I had acted as I did. I helped the girl to a cab, and solemnly contemplated things. Back at home that night, I found even more to dwell upon. I had been re-examining the files given to me by my private client. It was part of an old case I had been working on, the client who had wanted me to look into the murder in St Kilda was the same client who had wanted me to investigate a corrupt police officer by the name of Kenny Lothar. They were paying big money. What I was looking at now, was evidence that suggested a link between Kenny Lothar and Officer Barrington, my police contact, given that Barrington had supplied me with the details about Drendyl Pex, this was all starting to induce my paranoia. Could Barrington be linked to the exact police corruption he was adamantly preaching about? I had also found evidence that Pex was only a small time player in something much bigger, that he was on the payroll of very high income corporate players in Australia and abroad, big American media and gambling personalities, tycoons worth more than the Packers. I had the most dreadful sense of peripeteia. Rushing out that night, I had to learn the truth, had to find more information about Drendyl Pex, and his seedy company. I knew I had to drive out to the construction site in Footscray that night. Which is precisely what I did. The lines on the highway flew by in ominous and precise beats. A pyramid of tarmac stretched out endlessly before me. Finally I arrived at Three Vertice construction. Scaling the fence, I entered the empty yards, resolving to break into any of Pex’s various office spaces and search for some convincing evidence that rumours about Pex were true. The yards were dark, and shadows played tricks on my mind. In a stark moment I was sure I had seen a masked and cloaked figure swish by in the darkness towards a precarious tower overlooking the tallest hills of the yard. I broke into the trailer I had been in with Pex previously, rifling through drawers and sacking cupboards, but I found little of interest. Wherever Pex kept his paperwork, it wasn’t here. Finding nothing, the strange tower on the hill returned to my memory, and possessed or infantile I walked zombie like back down the muddy slopes towards the silhouetted tower against the near full moon. Quickly and anxiously my hands found the steel rungs of the ladder, and the clinking metal echoed as I climbed. I tried hard not to look down at the long drop, into the oddly placed vat of wet cement beneath me. Continuing up the rungs of the tower, until I was nearly at the top. Finally I met my destiny, climbing into the dark space at the top of the tower. I could see nothing in the darkness. Hear nothing, but my heart palpitating in my chest, and my heavy breath rasping wildly. I felt the pain, before I heard the sound. It all happened so quickly, my thoughts only registered three facts; my fingers covered in blood as I reached at the holes in my chest. The darkness, no face, nothing visible — except the silver ---of a police issued handgun, shining in the darkness. I was already unconscious by the time my plummeting body hit the wet cement beneath. Sinking into oblivion. Read more of the exploits of Pharlap Dronefire P.I here; https://www.reddit.com/libraryofshadows/comments/7izl7a/the_melbourne_ritual/
The most famous Jew of all time spent his entire life warning everyone to watch out for the kind of people that would call themselves by His name 2,000 years later. He told stories of good Samaritans in an effort to get us to see the good in foreign people with different beliefs. He encouraged the rich to give all their money to the poor. He made prostitutes feel welcome, invited dwarves to his home for dinner, healed the sick, and asserted the values of humility, compassion, and kindness. He condemned adultery, tax evasion, and lying. His father commanded us not to make graven images. Now "his followers" are not His followers at all. 81% of Evangelical Christians in The United States have built an alter at feet of an Anti-Christ figure. The exact opposite of my Jesus Christ. They worship a man who literally builds golden towering idols to himself. We know he has cheated on all 3 of his wives. We know he bragged about abusing the tax code in a televised debate. We can't even count the lies he spews on a daily basis. He doesn't associate with "losers," he makes fun of fat women on Twitter. He doesn't heal the sick, he does crass impressions of the handicapped. He doesn't use his money for good, he rips off contractors he agreed to pay. This guy is so comically full of himself he used his "charity" to purchase a $10,000 portrait of himself, and bragged that his tower would be the tallest in New York when the World Trade Center came down. This isn't a man who practices humility, compassion, or kindness. But he's not the problem. American Evangelical Christians from Kansas, Ohio, etc. know there are money grubbing real estate tycoons in NYC. They know about casino owners in Atlantic City. They know that tacky resorts and golf courses exist and are operated by billionaire scumbags. They never thought these guys were on their side until 2016. They never believed a Donald Trump type was anywhere near a representation of their principles. It's hard to trust a man who cheated on three wives. It's hard to imagine a perverted bikini contest and gambling purveyor belongs in the White House. But somehow they were duped, conned, bamboozled into thinking this morally bankrupt, crass, walking spray tan was the man to stand up for them and their values because he wore a bright red had with a four word slogan they liked. That's the problem in this country. Not that rich con men exist, but that people are dumb enough to put them in charge. I am deeply embarrassed on behalf of the people I expected to see through this haze. I never thought any of us would rally behind such a blatant un-Christ-like self righteous schmuck. Those who still support Donald Trump have a false sense of integrity the rest of us grossly overestimated. We thought you were good at at least recognizing goodness. You're terrible at it. Your Great Leader will tell you up is down and left is right, the media will correct him, and you'll call the truth a lie. It's over for you now. Stop calling yourselves Christians. You're Trumpians now. When John was exiled to an island and warned in Revelation that one day a rich and powerful man with Anti-Christ values would trick people into believing he is worthy of worship above all, he was talking about this moment, right now. You're a coal minor in Pennsylvania or a nurse in Oklahoma. You've been tricked by a real estate mogul from New York, and it's painfully obvious to the rest of us. It hurts to watch you hurt yourself and everyone else in an effort to put our country on a path in the opposite direction of Jesus' teaching, then claim His name as motivation. If you're part of the mere 16% of Evangelicals who did not vote for Trump, please continue to use the Lord's name in prayer. The rest of you keep Christ out of your mouths and bow to the Golden Calf on Wall Street. Don't actually expect to get in the Penthouse of the tower to heaven though, you probably don't look good enough in a bikini.
Moving out of state and on to new things, so I’m looking to sell my Dreamcast Collection. I would rather not have to deal with eBay so I’m going to try this first. I would rather sell in bundles then to sell individually. The more you buy the higher priority you are for me to talk to first. I leave in 1 week or I have to take it with me. ((Do not misinterpret this as me needing to sell this fast, I’m just being honest on how long before eBay happens)) Please do not waste my time with unrealistic offers. If you’re interested in these items then you know there cost. My prices are based off of recent eBay sold/completed items depending on how much you purchase we can work out a deal for 10%-25%. **EXAMPLE ( if you purchase 1 game expect a discount of 10%-15%. If you purchase multiple games you can expect a larger discount** For Specialty items please make me a realistic offer. Do not ask me what I want for the item before you make me a realistic offer. If you can’t show that you’re a serious buyer I won’t be a serious seller. Im willing to do trades for a PS4 console (Like new), Note 3(Like new), Motorcycle, Moped, or a vehicle. *For purchase or trade we will meet off of Friars Road in front of IKEA and Costco** All games are complete tested and come with protective plastic covers.
102 Dalmations Puppies to the Rescue
4 Wheel Thunder
Alien Font Online
Alone in the Dark: the New Nightmare
Atari Anniversary Edition
Bang! Gunship Elite
Bleemcast (Gran Turismo 2)
Bleemcast (Metal Gear Solid)
Bleemcast (Tekken 3)
Buggy Heat (PAL)
Capcom vs. SNk
Ceasars Palace 2000
Charge 'N Blast
Cheats 'N Codes Volume 1
Conflict Zone: Modern War Strategy
Crazy Taxi (Pre-Production USA Silver Copy)
Crazy Taxi (Sega All Stars Version)
Dave Mirra Freestyle Bmx (Beta GD-R)
Dave Mirra Freestyle Bmx (NFR Pre-Production Copy)
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