It was several cities, a half-dozen big table games, two convenience stores, and enough time to gain a tenuous understanding of each other later when it became a problem. J went in, with Mitch watching the lot. The method, he felt, had proven itself. It was always adjusted just a little, but the same premise. He was a rich boy spending daddy's money in a big, fancy poker game. Just like in the movies! He'd lose a few hands, then take everything. If things went south, he'd have wired plastic explosives in his jacket to threaten his way out of the building and Mitch would be waiting with the car ready near the street.
This time, though, after the shouting started and things got audibly ugly inside... J didn't come out of the building. It happened much faster than usual, too. Long before the game should have been over or pockets emptied. Just a few hands in. Two guards tied the young man's hands behind his back and around the chair and pull his coat down to hang off of his tethered hands. The rigged bomb was jerked free of the coat and taken to another room to be 'disarmed'. .... Now things have become complicated.
"Hey...I thought we were just having a fun game here. That wasn't serious. It was for a party later."
The man charged with disarming it laughs from the other room and shouts that the explosive isn't even real. It's just modeling clay. He opens the door to show them, still laughing as he pulls the wires free and the small bit of real gun powder inside the fake plastiq goes off and takes off most of his fingers.
"...A surprise party."
J smiles sheepishly, but they don't seem to find it funny. The man running the game knocks the table aside and stands in front of the boy sneering at that grin. The heavy, metal hand gun is already in the gambling man's fat fist and he knocks J across the jaw with it, bruising him and dropping that smile from his face....if only momentarily.
"You think this is funny, kid? D'you have any idea how deep the shit is yer swimmin in? We were warned about you. You've taken money from friends of ours. Family. We stick up for each other, an' we don't like to see punk thugs like you robbin' our friends."
The blond works his jaw, trying to get it to click back into place and feeling for if any teeth were knocked loose. He finally fixes his eyes back on the fat man --though he's also watching them haul off the bleeding victim of the explosion with some amusement. Maybe it's the latter that makes him smile so big.
"James...Can I call you James?... You...you really need to relax. You're gonna have a heart attack like this, big guy. ... Why don't you go ask my friend for the money back? I'm sure he'll get it for you... To be honest...I'm really not worth much dead."
He's struck again for his smile and this time it busts his lip, but he's hoping to at least have reminded them he's not alone. After all, Mitch has a gun on him. J can't take it in and it's just for 'emergencies'....Well this ought to count.
"Jimmy, do you want me t'go after the other kid?" One of the other players chimes in.
"Yeah. Get 'im in here...and shut this shithead up fer chris'sake."
"You got it." He punched the kid for good measure and pulled a large hunting knife from its ankle sheathe. "I oughta cut yer damn tongue out. We just gotta find out if they want us t'kill ya here or if we need t'drive ya out t'the desert so they can have the pleasure."
"Are you going to leave us for the coyotes and vultures? I'm really very scared."
"Open yer goddamn mouth again an' I'm shovin this blade down yer throat!"