Brand remained standing, his eyes staring into the darkness. The flickering told of the casinos emergency lighting being brought on line.
By the time he climbed the stairs down to the main floor of the casino, the lighting had been restored. Stepping into the main gaming room, his eyes were drawn to the seas of bikers and police. The room was trashed. Slot machines smashed and ripped from their stands, gaming tables overturned. The litter in the room spread around the standing bodies.
Several of the casino’s security either sprawled on the floor or standing in a group watched over by bikers wearing a variety of colours and patches, none bearing the Warriors colours.
The whine of the fire alarms still echoed throughout the building warning the buildings occupants of a fire that had yet to happen. Brand wove his way through the carnage toward the entrance doors, his movements lost amongst the surging throngs of police and warring bikers.
Before walking outside, he caught sight of Little Abe standing among a group of bikers bracing a squad of cops. Abe looked in his direction and nodded. Brand walked unchallenged past the entrance doors. He removed the hat he had been wearing and tossed it to the ground on his way to Cartwright’s truck. The one he parked at the edge of the lot hours earlier.
At the bottom of the steps he picked up company. Detective O’Brien fell into stride with him. The two walked without a word, the chaos of the casino falling behind.
“Care to tell me what happened back there?” The detective spoke.
“I guess the house doesn’t always win.” Brand commented and stopped mid step, looking the detective in the face. “You should be able to uncover more than enough evidence against the Cartel on the fifth floor. I left the doors open.” He added and continued walking. The detective watched him walk away then spun and returned to the mayhem of the casino.
The cars and trucks that had filled the parking lot earlier were replaced by a crush of motorbikes and police vehicles, the flash of blue and red strobes from the cars adding a surreal layer of light to the surrounding lot.
Pulling his cigarettes from his pocket Brand selected one from the pack, stuck it in his mouth and lit it. Turning to face the casino and the scurry of activity, he said a silent prayer that he had seen the last of the turf war in the city.
Entering the hospital proved a lot easier than his entry into the casino. Careful to avoid detection from the nurses on staff, he found his way to the hospital room Roy occupied. Light and sound from the small overhead TV in Roy’s room greeted him as he brushed aside the privacy curtain separating the room from the hallway.
Roy looked up as he entered the room.
“Quite the late night viewing.” His foster brother said as Brand pulled a chair close to the bed and sat down.
“Yeah. The whole world is going crazy, apparently.” Brand replied to his brother’s comment. “How you doing?” He asked Roy.
“I’ve been better,” Roy touched the dressing on his wounds. “But I’ll live. Tell me what the news channels can’t?” Roy urged.
Brand flossed over the events leading up to the night’s visit at the casino. How he pieced together the identity of the boss for the Moreno Cartel and the deception against them by Jerry’s daughter.
The two chatted in between watching breaking news stories. The city’s news stations running non-stop coverage of the outbreak of the gang war menacing the city. The stations switching between live broadcasts from a spate of nightclubs where fights had broken out among rival bike gangs. With every report, the Warrior motorcycle gang appeared to be on the short side of the battles.
The coverage at the Millennium Casino garnered most of the brothers’ attention as the reporter’s interviews of the police and witnesses slowly told a story of the shootings and violence that had transpired earlier that evening.
“Exactly what were you thinking walking in there alone?” Roy asked about Brands venture into the den of the enemy.
“I wasn’t alone, per say.” Brand confessed. “Do you remember Brent Gallows? He was one of the guys in my unit when I served with CSIS. We’ve stayed in contact since I retired.
Brent’s done pretty well for himself. He owns a private security firm. Does contract work for the government now a days. I contacted Brent before I left the Quonset tonight. He employs some of very talented computer techs.”
Brand strayed from his story. “A few years back I met a woman while working with Brent. Her name is Sarah. I’ve been seeing her since. She’s moved to town.” Brand’s mind drifted at the thought of seeing Sarah again. “When you’re on your feet, we will have to get together so the two of you can meet.”
Brand focused his mind back on the topic. “I told him of my plan and asked him to hack the Casino’s security. Nothing complicated. On my signal, he had his people shut down the power in the building and provide some appropriate music.” Brand smiled. “If you call fire alarms music. The distraction provided me with an opportunity to disrupt the Cartel’s plans.
When I left the Quonset, I slipped Little Abe a note explaining what I had planned and when it was to happen. I asked him to bring the boys to the party.” Brand looked at his brother and winked. “What could have possibly gone wrong?”
Brand gazed down at his injured brother. His eyes took in the bandages covering Roy’s chest. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Susan fooled me. Played me for a fool. Because of our friendship, she planted herself in our lives and relayed our plans and positions back to the Cartel. I should have caught on sooner. You damn near lost your life because of her deception.” He shook his head blaming his unbiased trust of Jerry’s daughter for Roy’s injuries.
News cameras at the casino kept a live feed going as they followed officers escorting a number of leather clad bikers to waiting vehicles for a drive to the downtown police headquarters.
Cutting to another camera, one of the city’s police Captain’s were explaining to the reporters about the casino being used as the headquarters of a Colombian Cartel and how the building was being combed for evidence as they spoke. Evidence they would be sharing with federal prosecutors bringing an end to the Cartel’s reign of drugs and violence that had followed them to the city.
After the Captain gave his statement he introduced Detective Darcy O’Brien of the RCMP drug and gang division. O’Brien was introduced as the man who had been working hand in hand with the Calgary City Police Service in an effort to halt the Cartel’s expansion into the city.
The detective started his interview by telling the reporter the head of the Cartel was dead. His death caused by a fall from the fifth floor of the casino. From there Detective O’Brien launched into a brief summary of the evenings events.
“Son of a bitch.” Brand growled under his breath at the detective’s statement about the Cartels boss, then Brand remembered the phone he had left at the Quonset.
“I guess the detective will have a nice surprise waiting for him once I give him the phone.” Brand told Roy of the phone Dave gave to Yen Lee.
“Once their faces are made public you know that Jerry and Susan will have no where to run.” Roy pointed out. “Even if they manage to slip out of the country, where can they turn? His Cartel is shattered. I don’t think he’ll be able to return to Colombia and rebuild. Not with his identity made public.”
The two spent the next couple hours talking and commenting on the breaking news stories.
“It was good to see you again.” Roy declared. “I know you’ve never approved of my choice of work,” Roy admitted. “Things aren’t always what they seem. In a way I do a service for the city. Sure we run illegal joints and dabble in the drug trade but we’re not all that bad.
I’ve got a loose understanding with the city cops. They restrict their pursuit of the Wolves and in exchange, we monitor the underside of the city. We have strict rules. I make certain my boys or anyone else preys on innocent people. We keep the seedy underbelly away from the law abiding public. The Cartel began to change that.” Roy watched Brand’s face as he struggled to ease his brother’s moral dilemma concerning Roy’s outlaw life.
“I know it doesn’t change your opinion,” Roy shrugged. “It was very good to see you.”
Brand stood and put a hand on Roy’s shoulder. “Things change, people change,” he said. “When Sara gets back to town, I’ll give you a call. The two of you will get along fine.”
In the wee hours of the morning Brand bid his brother farewell, the days and weeks leading up to this reunion catching up to him. He left the room. A week of adrenaline highs and lows settled on his shoulders. His mind and body tired beyond belief.
“…Yeah me too.” He answered softly. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning at the airport.” He disconnected the call and climbed out of the truck. Standing on the street, he faced his house.
In the stark glow of the streetlights, the house stood abandoned. Grounding out his cigarette, he crossed the sidewalk and unlocked the door, hesitating in the doorway. With his hand he flicked the hall lights and sauntered down the short hallway to the open kitchen, dinning room area.
With the rest of the lights turned on, he stood and surveyed the mess left from the shootings of a couple of weeks before. The police crime scene tape had been removed and the police had their cleaning contractors in to remove the blood and aftermath of the gunfight. The rest of the mess was left for him to deal with.
Grabbing a glass out of the cupboard, the rye from the freezer, and the Pepsi from the fridge, he poured a drink then ambled around the counter and stood by the table staring down at the very spot he had sat that rainy Friday night before this had all started.
Feathers, thread and other tying materials the three had been using lay scattered across the table, all mixed together. His vice still had the beginnings of the fly he had been working on that night. Sitting down in front of the vice, he used his arm to brush some of the clutter off the table and out of his way.
Taking a long swallow from his drink, he sorted through the pile of material lumped together on the table searching for a thin plastic bag containing peacock herl. Gathering a few strands in his left hand, he grasped the threaded bobbin in his right hand and continued to tie the fragile feathers on the hook, forming the body of the fly.