Her laugh was like a lightning bolt through his body.
“This close?” she asked, gesturing to their current cuddling position. “That might make getting the job done a little difficult.”
“Maybe, but it’ll certainly be more fun.”
All the watching he’d been doing had finally paid off but it brought him no joy. He’d found what Carmen had asked him to and it only turned his stomach. There was a guard. A man he’d spotted that could be turned. It was obvious in the way he interacted with the children. How he went out of this way to bring whatever small comforts he could to their mothers. In the dark hell all around them, this particular man subtly tried to offer bright spots.
In his mind, those small kindnesses shouldn’t matter. Being the nicest one among the monsters wasn’t enough to earn you a free pass for all your wrongdoing. For all the times the man stayed silent. But that’s why Mick wasn’t in charge. He’d never be diplomatic enough to make decisions that would pay off in the long run if it meant giving something to the scum in return.
Mick watched from the shadows as Harry Wallen Charinski, one of the guards employed by Angels of a New Day, parked his car outside the diner. Over the past few days, he had carefully observed Harry, trying to gauge the man's character, searching for any signs of weakness or vulnerability that could be exploited. It was a dangerous game he was about to play. It could end in blowing his cover completely.
As Mick entered the diner, the familiar aroma of sizzling bacon and freshly brewed coffee enveloped him. The place was nearly empty, except for a few folks who sat with the posture of regulars, scattered at the counter and in various booths. It was the perfect setting for what he had in mind.
Taking a seat at the far end of the diner, Mick was careful to choose a booth that offered a clear view of the entrance. He had to time this encounter just right. He couldn't afford to raise any suspicions. With his back to the wall, he ordered a cup of coffee and waited.
It didn't take long. Harry entered the diner, his shoulders slumped, and his weary eyes scanning the room for an empty spot to sit. He seemed like a man burdened by a heavy secret, and that was a good sign. At least it bothered him to be a bastard.
As Harry approached an unoccupied booth, Mick seized the opportunity. He rose from his seat, his footsteps quiet on the worn linoleum floor. With calculated precision, he slipped into the booth across from Harry just as the guard was about to sit down. Apparently, his skills for watching his surroundings were not all that impressive for someone in his line of work.
"Easy, Harry," Mick said softly, his voice a soothing balm to the guard's frayed nerves.
“Who are you?” Harry leaned back, his face tight and unimpressed.
The diner buzzed with the low hum of banter, masking their conversation from prying ears. Harry's eyes darted around, but he realized there was no escape from this encounter.
Mick leaned in closer, his grave tone intended to make a point. He had to make Harry understand the urgency of their meeting without arousing too much suspicion from the other patrons.
"I've been watching you," Mick began, his voice low and steady. “You have an interesting job. Fascinating really. But you’re not that good at it.”
Harry's brow furrowed, and he leaned in closer. "What do you know about my job?”
"I know who you work for, Harry. I know what they're involved in, and I know it's eating you up inside. You don’t smile when you have to do the dirty work like the other guys do."
Harry's gaze darted around, his paranoia evident. He leaned in even closer, his voice barely above a whisper. "You need to be careful talking like that. You have no idea who you’re dealing with.”
"I unfortunately know exactly who I’m dealing with and I’m going to make sure when I’m done no one will have anything to say about them for years to come. You can make sure that happens.”
"What do you want from me?" Harry asked, his voice shaky. “I’m no one. You’ve got the wrong guy. I can’t help you.”
Mick leaned back slightly, giving Harry a moment to process. "You know the secrets. You know how things work. I need you to go on the record, to testify about everything you've seen and done while working for them. It’s time to bring them down, so you can either help clear the path or get bulldozed by me."
Harry swallowed hard. "I don’t like this any more than you do. But you have no idea what these people are capable of. I’m not getting involved with this. I can’t.”
Mick had anticipated push back. It was a risk for Harry to turn on his employer. One he didn’t seem willing to take.
"I didn’t expect you’d do this out of the goodness of your heart. You’d need a push. Consider this a shove in the right direction.” Mick slid a large envelope across the table. "Inside you'll find plenty of incriminating evidence against you. Help us and that goes away."
Harry's eyes widened, then narrowed quickly with anger. “I don’t need you to do shit for me.”
“The thing is, you do.” Mick shrugged coolly. “This whole thing will topple. This is your one shot not to get crushed in the ruble.”
"I’m not worried about saving my own ass,” Harry began, his voice angry.
"I’m not a fan of this plan either, but if you cooperate, if you help us bring these people to justice, we'll ensure you’re cleared. We'll relocate you somewhere safe, where they can't touch you. But I think you know you’re on the wrong side of this."