Despite the shade and air-con, Sam felt uncomfortably warm in the office. There were two sets of lights – one on him, in his uncomfortable, hard wood chair. The other, bathing Jefe – the most dangerous man in The Tow – in a soft glow, picking up the detail of the sumptuous recliner he say in.

Jefe was an enigma. He was, for all intents and purposes, Mr Big – violent, rich, powerful – owning enough henchmen, and city blocks – to stay that way. If you wanted to trade anything above nickel and dime stuff, you went through Jefe. If someone had to disappear, it was though one of Jefe’s assassination bureaus.

Sure there were other Crime Lords – and war between them was one of the major sources of death in The Tow – but Jefe had lasted a long, long time.

But he was still down here. Why hadn’t he ascended? That was the enigma that was Jefe.

Sam had presented his plan, running the mantra in the back of his mind to keep the panic at bay – “It’s the only way. It’s the only way.” – and now he sat, suited, shades in his top pocket, trying to convey the utter calm of the man he was meant to be. He had no idea how long ago he finished speaking but Jefe had said nothing.

Sam was begining to wonder if he was mute.

“So.” Sam jumped at the sound of Jefe’s voice. “You want me lend you -”

Now or never, Sammy-Boy. “Invest,” he interrupted.

Jefe raised an eye brow. “Invest?” He spat the word out like it was a piece of shit someone had fed him instead of his beloved raw heart of the poor. Still beating. “Why on earth would I do that?”

This was it. The only way. Keeping the basics. Changing the tactics.

Sam coughed. “Jefe, with all due respect, you could lend me money – but I’d only pay it back. I’m here, sitting opposite the most powerful man in The Tow. And we both know why.” He grabbed a breath, but didn’t give enough time to lose control of the conversation. “I’m here because of what you heard about me. Out of town criminal looking for a deal. Lots of money to throw around. The silent master behing the thrown.” Sam paused and picked some fluff from his trouser leg. “Jefe, I borrowed the suit I’m wearing about 2 hours ago. And all those stories you heard about me? I planted them at the start of last week and had my boys, also in suits for the first time, ensure they were spread. If you invested, you’d have a stake in this forever.”

Sam sat back in his chair, hoping Jefe couldn’t see he was sweating now.

There was an eternity of silence.

“That’s a nice suit you borrowed.” Sam couldn’t judge the tone of Jefe’s voice.

“It should be. We used your tailor; told him what we planned. He said if it failed he’d bury me in the suit as a gift.”

“My tailor said that?”

Sam nodded.

“He’s never given me so much as a button as a freebie.”

More silence. Then a chuckle.

The crime boss picked up a phone. “Doris? Ah, Doris, do I have anything on later today? Cancel it. Tell everyone I’m going to be busy.”

“My tailor.” Jefe laughed. It was a sound entirely without warmth. “You, my son. You have balls. I’ll give you that. OK, Sam. Let’s talk terms.”

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