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The proposition, p.33
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       The Proposition, p.33

           Jessica Schlafer
 
Chapter 32

  We walked right into the club, bypassing the long line of waiting customers. Once inside, we walked straight to the VIP section.

  “Good evening, Paulie! Nick!” Merritt said, standing as we walked in. “And sweet, sweet Abigail. What a pleasant surprise,” he kissed my hand.

  So gross!

  I nodded and smiled, ungraciously pulling my hand away.

  “Please sit,” Merritt said, returning to his seat and motioning for us to sit. “Can I offer you some champagne?”

  “No, thank you,” Paul said. “We’re here to talk business.”

  “Of course.”

  I looked around and saw that there were 12 other men in the room. It looked like we were evenly matched, six to each side.

  “Now, let’s get down to it,” Paul said. One of the men handed him a briefcase. “I’m going to make you an offer, it’s a fair offer, and you’re going to take it and leave Portland and never come back.”

  “Excuse me? Paulie, surely you’ve mispoken.”

  “No, I haven’t. In this briefcase I have exactly one million dollars. You’re going to take that and leave all of your businesses and leave Portland, by tonight.”

  “What is going to happen if I refuse?”

  “That is where my friend, Nick, comes into play. Nick, please enlighten the man.”

  “Merritt,” Nick was cold when he spoke. “We’re going to kill you. We’re going to kill all of your family and make you watch. Remember when you blew up that warehouse? My fiancée was inside and now she’s gone. You’re going to pay for that and for hurting Abby and for taking our business.”

  “You must be insane,” Merritt said.

  “Oh, no,” Nick continued. “Take a look downstairs.”

 

  Merritt stood to look over the rail to an empty club. The music was still playing but the only people inside were Paul’s employees.

  Merritt sat back in his seat, looking ashen. The music in the club stopped suddenly.

  “You made a big mistake coming into MY city,” Paul said, voice rising. “You’re very lucky that I’m reasonable, otherwise you’d already have a bullet in your head. But I was reminded that you have an ex-wife and children and that I should take pity on you.”

  “Where is my family?” Merritt asked.

  “They’re in a safe place,” Paul said. “You want to see them again, don’t you?”

  “Paulie, you know I want to see my family again.”

  “Especially the baby, what’s his name?”

  “Christopher.”

  “That’s right, Christopher. He’s a handsome boy, only two years old, right?”

  “If you lay one finger on my son,” Merritt was standing.

  “MERRITT, SIT DOWN,” he did as he was told and Paul continued. “Your men here have defected, Merritt. They helped me do this. Well, with the exception of three.”

  The orderly, the first car driver, and the second car driver? I thought.

  “It’s your decision, Merritt,” Nick said.

  “I’ll leave,” Merritt said, looking defeated.

  “See how easy that was?” Paul said, triumphant. “There’s just a few things we need to take care of before we leave.”

  One of Paul’s men pulled out a gun and shot three times, hitting Marquis. I watched the man who drove me home on my first visit to this club, fall to the floor, dead.

  Merritt was shaking, his voice was high pitched, “What do I have to do?”

  “Sign these papers,” Paul pulled a lengthy contract out of the briefcase. “That transfers ownership of the club over to me for one dollar. That way, you don’t even have to pay taxes. You can just take the million and disappear.”

  “What about my family?”

  “We’ll take you to your home, you can pack what you need to survive, and then, we’ll take you to them. You have exactly four hours to finish packing your things.”

  “Where do I go?”

  “I really don’t care, Merritt. I would suggest the East Coast. You know my business goes down the West Coast and into the mid-West. You may not want to be spotted by one of my men.”

  Merritt hurriedly signed all the papers.

  “I will have my lawyer complete everything tomorrow, Merritt. Officially, you are no longer a resident of Portland. Your four hours starts right now.”

  Merritt stood on shaky legs and was led from the room by two men.

  “One more thing, Merritt.” Everyone stopped and looked at Paul. “My name is Paul, not ‘Paulie.’ You call me ‘Paulie’ one more fucking time, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes.”

  Merritt looked at the ground and followed the men from the room.

  Paul stood up, "All right everyone, you all know what you're supposed to do. Nick, you take Abby home. I'll be calling you in just a while."

  Nick nodded and took my arm to lead me out of the room. I was in a state of shock. I couldn't react to anything. I had tunnel vision. By the time I realized what was happening, I was already in an SUV with a bodyguard driving and Nick sitting beside me, holding my hand. He was looking at me with a concerned look on his face, but I didn't have the strength to speak. I was horrified by what happened in that VIP room. I had never seen anyone die in front of my eyes.

 
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