Toffee Nose, Bluenose, Fuck Knows – Settlers of Catalan VI

“WAKE UP!”

A gutteral sound rattled the bones of Marcus’ skull. Swiftly followed by smothering, choking wetness as a bucket of water was sloshed over him. Marcus shook his head to clear his face of water, then realised his hand was chained up as he tried to wipe away the rest. He looked around. He appeared to be on a ship, in the hold nonetheless. He saw two armed goons stood by the door, one carrying a dripping bucket. Both had slung MP-10’s across their bodies, so they had to be serious, thought Marcus.

Suddenly, the door burst open and in strutted a figure in furs and a suit that seemed to illuminate the gloom. He came to a stop and pointed his cane at Marcus “So, it seems that you have finally found an opportunity to pay back your debt! Well done you!” the figure smirked. That voice! It could only be… “Yes, it is your God, the Zlatan” Zlatan proclaimed “You are in Bruges. Your job is to deliver this suitcase to some friends of mine. What could be simpler?”

Marcus strained at his restraints. He yelled and cursed at Zlatan. “Calm down, my friend. The Zlatan is generous to his friends. You will be given the chance to clean up at one of the best hotels in the city! Then you will complete your job and service your debt!” Marcus grumbled. Asked Zlatan to release him. “Of course! As long as you agree to this. If not?…. This boat’s next location is Africa and my friends Mumbu and Nelson could always do with a new worker…” Marcus sighed. It had to be done, didn’t it..

The next day

Marcus felt himself sweating. It was a cold day in Bruges, but he felt the perspiration trickle down his temple. True to his word, Zlatan had taken him to the hotel where Marcus had showered, bathed, then showered again before ordering room service and passing out. Now he was waiting on a street corner, just outside the Markt, for whatever would happen with a briefcase chained to his wrist. A black sedan drew up, tinted windows and everything. A door opened. “Get in” said a voice from inside.

Marcus complied and got into the vehicle which pulled away from the kerb. The man-mountain in the passenger seat turned to him with a gun in his hand. Great, though Marcus. He was getting really tired of guns. After a while, the car pulled into an industrial estate and into a warehouse. The car stopped and Marcus was bundled out of the car.

He stood in this mainly empty warehouse, with three goons stood around him. This was not what he’d envisioned when he got into management. Waiting for some gangster to take these diamonds off him. Diamonds, Marcus considered, don’t they come from Antwerp?

A shaft of light came from the rear of the warehouse as a door opened. Three men walked slowly towards him. Marcus seemed hypnotised. A rabbit in the inexorable gaze of the snake… The gentlemen stopped in front of him. One took a step forward. “Ahh, our emissary from Sweden” A chuckle escaped his lips “Do you have the merchandise?” Marcus held out his hand with the briefcase. “Thank you” The gentleman gestured to his lackey, who stepped forward and unclipped the briefcase from Marcus’ wrist. Fighting the urge to rub his wrist, Marcus put his hands in his pockets and waited.

The flunky opened the case and looked inside, nodded to the gentleman and closed it. “Thank you once more” breathed the gentleman. In the next breath, he withdrew a pistol and pointed it at Marcus. “This clears Zlatan’s debt. You are not part of this” Marcus shook. Betrayed. His life was going to end here, in a shitty warehouse in Belgium. “Before you go however, tell me, what are you most proud of?” Marcus went blank. There was silence. Marcus closed his eyes. The end was here.

One of the goons coughed and said in accented English “Boss, before you kill him, may I have a word?” The gentleman lowered the gun and nodded. “Thank you, signor, for bringing the title back to our beloved Milano. You have set the foundations for a long time and I am so grateful. Grazie” He resumed his stoic demeanour. The gentleman looked at Marcus strangely.

“Marco? Marco Wedau?” asked the gentleman. Marcus nodded numbly. “Mio Dio!! To think I almost killed you! The man who ended Milan’s trophy drought! I was born in the shadow of the San Siro and red & black runs through my veins! Bless you! Bless you!” The gentleman seemed near tears “Forgive me for trying to kill you! It was just business”. Marcus, again, could do nothing but nod. The gentleman put his arm round his shoulder. “I have a favour to ask, Don Marco. I have two nephews. Belgian boys. Good boys. Do you think you could take them to Milan?” Marcus explained that he was no longer in charge of Milan, but would take them to his current club. “Bella, bella, bella!” The gentleman kisses both of Marcus’ cheeks and gestured to a lackey. Marcus was then bundled back into the limo and then dumped outside another posh hotel. Untangling himself, he staggered into the hotel and asked for a phone. “Monsieur Wedau?” Marcus replied in the positive. “Monsieur, your suite is all ready. The tailor will be up in 2 hours to fit you for your new clothes and the barber has been alerted too. You will find champagne and strawberries in your suite. Laurent here will guide you” Marcus, no longer understanding what was happening, allowed himself to be led up to the room..

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