O.G. Knight: Between The Sacred and The Profane (Chapter Two)
Presenting original in-universe fiction from Damion Gonzales' T.A.S.K. and written by Thaddeus Howze. This series focuses on the magically empowered street vigilante O.G. Knight.
Five years later ...
The courtroom had a smell I couldn't quite place. The stink of suffering, of resignation and of the fear exuded from people too tired to care anymore. People who wound up here were usually on an express elevator to hell.
And then there were people like me, who would use the very same room to do the unthinkable. To escape Hell. We would send someone else there in our place. Sure, it violated our code but I was past caring about what other criminals thought of me. I just wanted my life back.
This bastard deserved every second of his time, he earned it. I would never be able to describe to the good people of this court exactly what kind of monster he was. Because I wasn't exactly sure myself.
What I did know was he would be perfectly content to murder every person in this room, if he thought it was necessary. And he wouldn't lose a second of sleep. Not one. If he thought it would be more satisfying he would do it himself.
I didn't know how dangerous he was when I agreed to work with him. I only wanted to protect my family. My little girl would be five years old before he decided I knew too much. I knew they were coming. I could feel it. The night I decided to go to the police was the same night he revealed exactly what he was.
It was also the same night I discovered what I was made of. Or so I thought ...
"Just tell us what happened, Mr. Gaultis." My defense attorney was a severe woman, her face tighter than a snare drum, she mechanically paced toward me, pretending to ooze sympathy for my predicament. Despite the fact she was supposedly on my side, most of the time when we talked, I had the impression she would rather be someplace far away. I wondered if he had already gotten to her.
"I went to work mad as hell nearly every morning for the first year. It wasn't like he treated me badly. My job was to identify the players in the trade and assess them in terms of how easy it would be to move them out. We were going to offer superior product at the same price. His goal was to take over Miami without firing a shot."
"I didn't move anything. I was strictly a familiar face, talking to the Cubanos and other groups who weren't going to roll over when this stranger came to town. We would stage meetings. Sometimes they agreed to play ball. Sometimes they didn't. When they didn't, we never heard from them again. There was a bit of squabbling over turf but we would take control because our group never seemed to have a problem getting more manpower."
"Did you know any of these men?"
"Nope. That was the strange part. I never met any of them. Ever. They came in from out of town, they were quiet, didn't say much. I did see a gang raid on a section of town they held and whenever someone drove by, they never hit anyone. Ever. Or that's what I thought at first."
"Objection. Speculation" The prosecutor was one of his. I could see it in his eyes. They were cold and dead. If he was ever alive, he wasn't now. But his legal skills seemed unaffected. His suit was a crisp affair. Not off the rack. His motions economical, he had been trained to fight somewhere.
"Are you going somewhere with this line of questioning, counselor?" The judge was in his pocket too. Don't ask how I knew. I could just feel it. But he was better at appearing impartial I guess.
"Your honor, I am trying to establish my client's awareness of the day to day operations of his former employer's business. It's his testimony which ties all of the loose ends together."
"Get on with it," was his terse reply.
"What made you think something else was happening?"
"The hitters disappeared. Even when I knew who they were, in a few days they were gone. No bodies. No crime scenes. No hits. No messages. They just disappeared. And then two or three new guys showed up. He was as good as his word, I never saw any of them use a gun except as a last resort. That was the scary part."
"All of these new faces were very good with firearms. No gangster posing. No turning guns sideways like they were in some movie. No cheap Mac-10s, none of that Scarface kind of stuff. They were coldly professional using near military-quality weapons. By the end of the first year, half of Miami was his. And then he stopped expanding."
"Do you know why they stopped?"
"No, but he made it clear this was what he wanted and we were to push the product and wait. There seemed to be some inner group struggle I wasn't in on. Some of his people he had turned to his side didn't like his program and wanted him to move faster. They figured we had numerical superiority and could take out the hold outs using brute force."
"When did this change?"
"On New Year's Eve. He claimed we were going to get together, make peace and divide up the city to our mutual benefit. Most of the other bosses didn't plan on showing up. He incentivized them."
Attorney Rainey held out a folder to me and I looked inside. I already knew what it was. Bodies. Throats cut. Little girls and boys. Kids. Wives. Girlfriends. Mothers. They were scattered around the conference tables like empty beer cans.
"Let the record show this is the New Year's Eve massacre which took place three years ago in a district warehouse on the South side. Fifty-five bodies were pulled from this warehouse. Do you see the man responsible for this event in this room, Mr. Gaultis?"
"Yes. He's right there. Lucien Marks had these people murdered."
"What about the crime-bosses whose families he threatened? Did they join him?"
I had to get the pictures out of my hands, so I thrust them back at Rainey. She took them slowly meeting my gaze, her disdain for me evident.
"No. He killed every single one of the holdouts. After he killed their family members. One at a time. It took hours."
"What did you do to stop it?" Her gaze held me in its grip.
"Nothing. There wasn't anything I could do."
She took the folder from me. She knew the truth just like I did. No matter what I said, nearly one hundred people died in this incident alone because I was involved with him. My plea deal didn't absolve me of my guilt. Rainey wanted nothing to do with me. I can't say I blame her.
Tomorrow would be worse. This was just the opening act. I didn't expect to make it out of prison to finish testifying, we ran out of time today. I hoped it was going to be enough. If they were coming for me. It was going to be tonight.
Marks smiled at me. That smile he made when he was about to kill something. The bailiff took my chains and escorted me out of the courtroom back to the van.
I kept thinking I could run for it right now. This might be my last chance. All thought of escape drained out of me as they opened the van. In the back were Elizabeth and Nia cuffed and gagged with duct tape.
They threw me in the back with my family and drove off. I never saw the courtroom again.