A Dangerous Line Of Trade
The moment McKenzie landed in this small town, on the outskirts of Scotland, he knew he was going to have a good time here. Stonehaven was a harbour located to the east of Scotland, distinguished for being a lovely spot to stay. And now he understood why. This little borough had it all: the lush greenery, the lovely folk, the tranquil tourist spots, and above all, the serenity it held. That was what drew him the most.
But, he was not here to stay; he had only one job to do here, and it had to be a quick goodbye. David, for one moment, wished he was just like everyone else: a happy family, a tedious office job, a stable retirement, and a place like this to spend his last days. But, he was not like everyone else; he shared a dangerous line of trade.
David McKenzie was a rigid man in his early sixties, but his physique was as stocky as a middle-ager. Yet, his features did nothing to conceal his age; the wrinkled skin and the neat hair combed over to the left gave away the gentleman’s love for the ’60s. He always wore a suit; his line of trade persuaded him to do so, and he had no reason not to love it. He perfected his coat as he got out of the cab--work habits.
David had left the resort almost twenty minutes ago; an overnight stay to get him ready for the job. A flawless false ID won him all the way through until then, in this little town, but he could not ignore the possibility of doubt in the dubious of minds: the local souls. So, David had to get it all over soon, before things got out of hand. He raised his head and assured whether he was at the right location, and for someone’s misfortune, he was.
The pawnshop looked nothing more than ordinary. But this day, it meant a lot, lot more for some personages. It homed some treasures that it could never have even dreamed of possessing; some valuables that belonged elsewhere, in safer, more powerful hands. And that was the reason why McKenzie was now in front of this store. He had some possessions to retrieve.
David pushed open the front door and let himself in. The insides of the shop lit by the evening sun, it all was perfectly normal. A stout young man came in from behind the hall; his brown hair all messy, his eyes red and sunken. David could now understand what he was dealing with; it had made things easier for him. The young man observed David top to bottom; he didn’t have many customers in suits. And when he had them, it meant jackpots. So, the ‘junkie’ was undeniably interested in the deal that was about to happen; so was David.
“Well, sir. How can I help you?” the ‘junkie’ asked, his tone almost mocking. He was already awaiting someone, and this stocky, aged man seemed to satisfy the criteria. But he needed to confirm, and sure as hell, they had their silly little passcodes. “Well, I share a dangerous line of trade, kiddo,” David replied casually, resting his arms on the desk; this was a procedure with which he already accustomed. And his years of experience had him report this line even more times than he ever beckoned his mother.
The young man smirked at the comment and retraced his path, back to the hall behind the desk. “Come with me,” he announced as he stepped outside the room, and McKenzie followed. The ‘junkie’ locked the door behind them as McKenzie entered, and strolled over to the opposite side of the hall. The hall was gloomy and was a complete mess; overturned chairs and a heavy wooden table filled the room. But, David couldn’t notice any other cabins inside; his confused eyes followed the young man.
“Name’s Chris,” the young man spoke as he pushed the heavy, wooden table out of its position. A hidden vault, McKenzie was enjoying this endeavour; it was approaching his expectations now. He assisted Chris in moving the table over. The young chap was in no condition to move the furniture all by himself. When the table was out of frame, Chris hunched down on the floor and yanked open a tile, and as David anticipated, he found stairs that led to a bunker. Now, this is getting better.
Chris hopped down the stairs and switched the lights on. But as fit as he was, David still found stairs difficult; his legs had faced grave injuries in the tumultuous past, and the pain grew with him. When he reached the ground, he was impressed by the little cellar; the insides were mostly wooden, illuminated by an ordinary filament bulb. The yellow light almost strained his eyes; old age was affecting him in various ways. The cellar was not very spacious, but it provided enough space for these two to move around.
Chris tossed many items around, grabbed a suitcase, and sprang onto the slab, his eyes inspecting David all over again. “So, how about the payment, old man? You got cash? Cheque? ‘Cause cheques don’t work for this stuff.” David stayed silent for a moment. Then, he pulled something out of his coat pocket and walked towards the young man, “I was thinking about an exchange.” He slipped the thing that he carried across the slab. The ‘junkie’ leapt off abruptly on the shocking sight, his eyes and mouth hanging open.
“That’s, that’s the Medallion of Orkzestar,” he stammered. “Freak, this stuff can get you millions, if--if not billions. And you want to swap this with some silly papers from the 15th century? You are a psychopath.” David smirked at the comment, and replied, “Well, it’s an emotional thing.” His reply was brief, and Chris was beyond amazed by this gentleman. He sauntered over to the other side of the cellar, swaying his head sideways; something seemed wrong about all this; but still, the amount of profit blinded his intuition.
“Alright, it’s all in the suitcase. Farewell, sir, may we never see each other again,” Chris stepped back, saluting David with a confused look on his face. Child’s already dreaming, David grinned.
He leveraged the suitcase from the desk and turned about to face Chris. The next thing he did, however, drove Chris bothered; David again pocketed the Medallion. Now, he was preparing to leave with both the Medallion and the suitcase. “What are you doing, man? You can’t do that. Put the rich stuff down.” David didn’t bother; he just continued on his way to the stairs. Chris could not hold it in anymore; he grabbed his pistol and pointed it at David, “You are not going anywhere, sir.”
The next few seconds were too quick to perceive; the moment the bullet left Chris’ pistol, McKenzie made a swift turn, impossible for his age, grabbed his gun from behind, pulled the trigger and Chris was down on the ground. “Ah, shit! Shit! What’s the problem with you, dude?” Chris muttered loudly; deep in pain, he clenched his teeth together at the sight of a gap between his elbow and palm, his flesh hanging limp, blood now flowing in all directions. But, David did not stop; he came closer to Chris and pointed the gun at his temple, his face stagnant of expression.
“Woah, Woah, cool down, man. Just leave. Take whatever you want. Please don’t kill me. I am sorry. Sorry. Jesus! You are a freak. Give me, give me a chance, man. I won’t do anything. Just go, please.” David didn’t flinch; he kept the gun pointed at Chris’ temple. “I don’t believe in second chances, kiddo, ’cause I never got one.” Another gunshot reverberated inside the cellar. David climbed back up and arranged the hall all over again, the table back in its position. A hidden vault; it’s always interesting.
This is a challenge I have been wanting to do for long. Now that I have done it, I am confused whether it actually fits or not. Still, thanks a lot, @MariAntoinette, for giving me something really good to work on, I really enjoyed creating these characters and this plot. Thank you so much! And guys, I hope you like this! There might be a contradiction with the so-called protagonist’s ethics and morality. But still, I hope you enjoy this.
McKenzie: Finding Purpose
The Parked Cabbie was not the most popular restaurant on the streets of Santa Fe. But they did embrace an average crowd each day. Painted chocolate brown and shaped like an old cab, the restaurant was indeed a fascinating marvel for children. But not for the old gentlemen, especially not for someone who leads a secretive life like McKenzie. He would never have chosen this spot for himself, but the naughty games of time left him with no other choice. And this time, the playful game was designed by none other than someone of his bloodline, to be more precise, his devilish elder brother.
Edward McKenzie was the eldest of the two charming children the McKenzies were blessed to have. They were proud parents, raising the two boys in their best ways feasible: gaining them the best education they could afford, feeding the kids with everything desired. They were truly remarkable in their parenthood. But the untimely demise of their father and the trauma it delivered to their mother- the two excellent children lost their ways in their respective routes. Edward climbed off the grave circumstances by immersing himself in obtaining one of the most financially secure jobs, while David chose quite the contrary. The path he picked was indeed economically safe, but analysing the other factors, it was not the safest career.
David’s thoughts were scattered away with a piercing nudge on his shoulders, which made him utter a small scream in anguish. He did not have to look back to identify who it was; he had undergone the same enough and more during his miserable childhood. Edward took the opposite couch and sat back as if he owned this place; he was always like that. Every time, every spot, he behaved as if he was the show-maker, the all-in-one, the quirky little showoff, who, surprisingly, everyone loved. David could not stand him when he was just sixteen, nor could he stand him now being in his sixties.
“Brother-mine,” Edward called him, taunting evident in his voice. “You look old.” David despised every single second of his life since he received the unwelcome call, and now, the amount of resentment was rising steadily upon each word uttered by his dear brother. He never wanted to react, but he had no other alternative to stop this chattering machine. “I am running sixty-three. I am supposed to look old.”
Edward smirked at the comment. He was enjoying, savouring every single moment. It had been so long since they both came together, and there never came across a single person in Edward’s life who he loved to tease as much as his little brother. It did not matter that they were both seniors now, and the days of their youth long behind them; Edward just loved to do so. “Are those wrinkles?” He began reaching closer and examining David’s face. The annoyance explicit in his face only encouraged Edward to do more and more.
“Why did you bring me here?” David revealed his eagerness to get done with the meeting. Edward, though his expressions transformed for a moment, answered his inquiry with a consistent charisma. “Well, Mother needs her younger son home for Christmas. Needs her younger son!” Edward shrugged his shoulders- he appeared unpleasant over his mother’s still-tenacious fondness towards David. It had been nearly five years since David ever came home, and that surprising visit was so abrupt and was not at all out of love for his family, but only for collecting some old junk.
David reflected for a moment and gazed out of the window. “You know I can’t do that, right?” The elder one just gasped at his reply and looked straight into his eyes. “Who? Me? Oh no, I don’t.” His distress was evident from his tone. “Davie, look at me. She has been through a lot. And let me be totally honest with you, I don’t think she will be home next Christmas.” David attempted to interrupt his brother’s words, but he could not obtain a valid argument. “No, let me finish. You have to come home. You are coming home. I know you have your petty reasons, but you very well know that I am way beyond whatever you call your dangerous line of trade. You are coming home. Do you understand?”
David knew very well that his brother was not asking him a question and that his opinions did not matter. He quietly lowered his head and nodded, seeking excuses in every corner of his mind. Suddenly, David was taken aback by a loud noise of shattering glass. His hands sought for his gun in reflex, but he stopped dead when he saw his brother. Edward was still in shock, his palms clutched against his chest to prevent the blood flow, he grappled for breath, his silver hair strayed across his forehead. The gunshot was abrupt, and David could not deduce who could have fired it. His senses were deteriorating, his brother was, he did not want to think about it.
“Eddie, Eddie, look at me. You are okay. You are fine.” David sat beside his elder brother, trying to convince him of something they both knew was wrong. Edward laughed at his younger brother despite the severe pain he was going through. “Seriously?” He gave out a small chuckle, “You are still a horrible liar, Davie.” David’s eyes were still seeking the person who did this to him. Whoever it was, David had no intentions of granting them leave. But his thoughts were again interrupted by his whimsical brother. “You are not going to look after me even now?” Edward began coughing blood and losing his functions; he collapsed on his younger one’s thighs. “I should have chosen my last words earlier. What do I do now?” He laughed and gazed straight into David’s eyes.
“Shut up, alright. Just stop talking. We will arrange an ambulance. We will take you to the hospital. You are not going anywhere. You are not leaving me now.” David tasted his tears against his face after a long time. “Are you crying? I thought you were beyond all that, brother-mine.” Edward resumed teasing his little brother though he realised his last minutes were not so far. After a moment of silence, he spoke again. “Go home for Christmas, Davie. Quit all this action. You are old.” Edward pushed aside in agony, his teeth clenched and his legs stretched. “Just tell her, I am on a date.” David could not restrain himself from giving out a peal of laughter, though his heart was crumbling inside of him. So many things left to say, so many.
But Edward no longer listened-his eyes came to a still focused to some point faraway, his fists no longer clenched, he was gone. David could not flinch. He merely sat there, staring into his vacant eyes. He had seen enough and more deaths before, but this felt different.
David had only one purpose anymore. He had taken many lives before-strangers, innocent ones, businessmen, drug dealers, but not this time. This time, David had a better reason. He had to avenge his brother. He had to avenge his family. He had to misremember his regrets by removing every element that reminded him of them. And then, he had to go home for Christmas.
Oh, my God! It feels so good! This story was the last post I was working on when I left this place. And after a long, long time, I finally finished it. But I am pretty sure the challenge is way beyond over XD Anyway, here we go. And, special thanks to @MariAntoinette, who inspired me to create this wonderful character. Thank you so much!!!! And as always, thanks to each one of you, who is the very reason I am writing at all. Lots of love <3
McKenzie: A Revenge Tale (Part I)
The village of Pogorevolo was never one to boast about its pride and cultural heritage. Located 340 miles away from the capital city of Moscow, the neglected land in the middle of nowhere had a single piece of infrastructure left untouched- A country home, built sometime near the beginning of the twentieth century. It was a house abandoned by the family after their husband’s demise- the place never accommodated another sign of human life. Later, in the 1970s, an artist bought the house purely out of love for art, or so everyone thought. Nobody ever knew his name; Nobody ever knew how he looked; Nobody even knew if it was him or her; people just assumed. And in a rugged, neglected, little village down in the middle of nowhere, it never mattered.
The young guard, well-built and in his twenties, paced across the grim hallway of the godforsaken building. He had urgent news to pass- one that no one craved to hear. After all, no one ever yearns to uncover the five orange pips in their letterbox. They would rather be pleased to hear from an old friend or a family member, who they never knew existed. But today was not one among those days where a certain someone could sip their hot coffee, watching the rain pattering against the windows so strong as if the droplets desired to come indoors. Neither were the past few weeks.
The young man, after a momentary pause for reflection, shouldered open the wooden doors. The fire blazed steadily in the hearth, its eventual crackling giving away its existence. The man, who they were all sworn to protect, remained motionless, staring away into the distant grey woods. General Samuel Stern was one of the most high-ranking officials in the Scotland Army. His excellent records and ground-breaking achievements often bestowed him as the definition of a perfect soldier- one willing to lay down his life for the country. But little did anyone know that General Stern also commanded the Brotherhood of Tradesmen, the looming threat that the government could never cleanse out of their radars. All until the end of October.
Secret societies and fraternities that prevailed throughout history did so because of their one, most powerful equipment in their inventory- their secrecy. The principle was so simple- As long as no one ever knew of their existence, they could never be shoved away into extinction. And the Brotherhood of Tradesmen survived, over the many decades that transformed the world in ways no one ever imagined, due to the very reason. They were invisible, and yet, they were everywhere. They were Gods. So when a gentleman labelled Edward McKenzie began unearthing their wrongdoings, one by one, slowly threatening to bring them to light, they had no other choice but to pluck him away from the game of life. Survival at all costs. But this minor death lost them a bit too much than they expected.
Even before the young man could address the reason behind him gasping for air, General Stern offered him a question, eliminating the need for a mundane introduction, “Is it David?” The guard, though initially surprised, gradually realised that it was not that difficult a riddle to be solved. And a simple nod was enough for the high-ranked, stained officer to confirm his obvious suspicion. He rose from the antique chair, ready to face the young man, who was trying to procure the rest of the speech that he had to convey, “Sir, we need to transfer you to someplace safe.”
The General smirked at the comment, “Safe? And where must be that,” He reached for the ID of the young guard, squinting his eyes to conceal his definite requirement of glasses, “Jeffrey?” But before the guard could explain their elaborate plan of escape, Stern had proceeded to the other end of the room, uninterested. He faced the bookshelves accommodating the numerous titles, ones he was familiar with in his past. Though Jeffrey’s words echoed within the aesthetic chamber, none of them succeeded to disrupt Stern in the least.
“Have you met him? David.” General Stern interrupted Jeffrey from further elaborating his excellent escaping endeavour. Already discouraged, the young man felt even more inferior to realise that Stern had no reluctance to let him realise that his words were worthless. “Yes, sir. Once.” His reply was quick and sharp- the precise mode of communication between a senior official and an inexperienced soldier. Stern discerned the uneasiness he had given the young man by not listening to a single syllable that he spoke- words not being valued or heard. It is always hurtful, whether it be an unstable relationship or an immature teenager, not that he cared about it.
“And you still believe that you can prevent him? Apprehend him?” The General’s words laced with scorn and a concealed sadness over an eventual fate were beyond anything that the young man could find a response. Jeffrey lowered his head in silence- he could pitch an entire spreadsheet of reasons and possibilities, but he knew, inside his heart, that no words or speeches could bring this man down from his enormous egocentric mind.
“David.” Stern sneered, “He is like the wind, a gush of air. You can feel him coming, but once you reach out your hands and hold him,” The General demonstrated the same as vigorous as he could, with a closed fist above the young guard’s shoulder, “He will be gone.” Stern freed his clenched fist in front of the young man, blowing off the little air that he captured in his attack. “Disappearing into thin air. Now, if you want,” Stern sought his faint memories for the name he just learned, “Jeffrey. Don’t wait till the eleventh hour. Get out of here as soon,” His words came to a sudden halt with a tiny object clattering on the floor amidst the two.
This was supposed to be one big story. But um, I was trying something new, you know- including more descriptions, more imagery, a slower pace and some other little things ^-^ And it turned out too big. To be honest, I still haven’t finished it. So, I thought that it might be a better idea to divide the piece in two. Hopefully, it ends in two (: And um, the next part will be a bit darker than all of my posts. I hope it turns out okay... So, I hope you guys like this one ^-^ His stories are coming to an end soon. So... I shouldn’t have said that XD Anyway, as always, thanks a lot for the support, guys. I would never have done any of this if it wasn’t for you all. Lots of love, CS. <3
McKenzie: Home for Christmas (Part I)
14th August, 2012
"Chrissy, are you sure you'll be alright?" Christine kept searching for a reconciliation in her brother's eyes, but he was reluctant to give in. His eyes wandered from her leather boots to the cracks in the pavement to the fallen dried leaves, but never towards his sister. Her hands remained mid-air, hesitant yet yearning to comfort her younger brother. But before she could, he walked away in a swift turn, never once looking back. She could still remember how he turned around a million times to bid his countless cute farewells on his way to school, but he had gone so far from that little boy.
Little did she know that a ruthless mercenary would target him later that day, and she would only find his rotten corpse a few weeks later.
26th December, 2013
"Mom, you can't stay here all day." David McKenzie stood in the doorway of his childhood home, apron around his shoulders, wet from all the dishes he had washed and put away. Dementia had taken its due course with her, often leaving her stranded in the middle of the hallway, or in the creepy vacancy of the store room. He gently placed his hands beside her shoulders, leading her inside from the windy porch before she caught another bad fever.
Life was peaceful. It was not something David was particularly used to. And if someone had told him a year before that his life would be serene and mundane and boring someday, he would have had a hard time believing them. He didn't even believe Edward when he said so. But there he was, cooking and cleaning and maintaining his childhood home beside his mother. The only red that splattered on his hands anymore was not that of blood, but of the stingy manure that he used in the backyard. It made him realize that it was perhaps always possible. That perhaps if he did what he finally did many years ago, life would have turned out a lot more different. Perhaps Edward would still have been--
David relaxed his stocky frame in his mother's old armchair, which he had replaced from the porch to his study. Edward and he used to fight over those chairs when they were younger. The father's armchair being the taller one, and the mother's being the shorter. Edward always won, except for a few times when they both resorted to violence, and David came out on top. But the joy was forever destined to be short-lived, as their mom would soon inquire how the fight broke out, ultimately leaving him in their mother's chair, and Edward smirking in their father's. David tilted his head, only to see the tall armchair lie by his side, vacant.
"David," His mother's faltering voice barely creeped out of her bedroom, making its way into his study. He had missed her calling his name. But then again, it was hard on her to expect to have remembered someone who she sparingly saw in the last couple of decades. Regrets. With an elongated stretch, carefully cracking all his bones and muscles in place, David slowly started on his trudge to his mother.
Gunshot. The glass cupboard which sheltered and curated their family memories lost her first line of defense, although it missed David by a feet. Amateur, David thought to himself as he ducked and rolled over to the ill-stacked space behind the couch. With no weapons to protect himself and caught in the haze of an unpreparedness for a shootout, David struggled to pull himself together. Mom. He had to be fast.
The gunshot must have been from the open windows of the dining, from the windows behind the couch. From the outside. Amateur. But what concerned David was something else. No one except David, Edward and Stern knew about his childhood home, and two of them were not alive. One killed the other, and he killed the one. His heart was no longer throbbing, having recognized the poor aim of the intruder, but his mind was at unease, not knowing how someone could have tracked him here in all these years. He had to know.
No more gunshots. Solo. Inexperienced. Probably someone who practiced in rifles. Reload time. David captured a terracotta vase from the unorganized mess of things he had stuffed behind the couch. Tossing it to the right end of the room, he quickly moved from behind the couch to the wall adjacent to the window through the right. Another gunshot. It missed the vase, instead ripping a hole in the nearby cushioned chair. David could then see the end of the rifle protruding inches away from where he was through the window, and in a swift move, he flipped the weapon over into the room, but the heavy force on the act was much superior to the grip of the holder, launching the rifle to the middle of the room, too far from both of them. Weak.
David pushed the windows close with all his might, shattering its glass casing everywhere in an attempt to surprise the unwelcome guest. Calculating how much time it would give him enough time to pounce upon the intruder, he slipped to the space right below the windows, and by balancing himself over the wooden borders, he toppled himself outside. Gaining balance as fast as he could, David stood before his guest, only to notice a twenty-something girl with a bleeding cut on her face from the shattered window, yet to recover from the ground. But in her eyes spewed a rage, a fire, that David knew would be hard to put down.
With a scream of anguish, the girl hoisted herself and sped at him, uncovering a knife from her fully-armed vest. David locked her arms in an instant against the window, giving her another deeper cut near the wrist. The knife fell off her palms with the sharp pain, but her clenched jaws were almost trembling with anger, which made David take a step back, "How do you know where I live?"
Struggling to set herself free from the windows, her nails giving a sharp cut to David's chin, she declined to answer his question. Realizing that his attempts would take him nowhere, David pulled the girl against the bars of the window in a whim, nearly knocking her out for the moment.