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       Dutch III: International Gangster, p.1

           Teri Woods
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Dutch III: International Gangster


  International Gangster



  Begin Reading

  Table of Contents

  A Preview of Alibi II

  Reading Group Guide

  Copyright Page


  Begin Again

  One Month Ago

  Craze sat in the parking lot of the Essex County Courthouse. He sparked a blunt and cracked his window. There’s so much riding on this, he thought to himself anxiously. He had been nervous ever since Dutch’s trial began. All his planning and all his preparation was about to pay off. Either Dutch would escape or he was already a dead man trying. Either way, there was no turning back.

  Craze puffed the blunt, thinking of Qwan and his testimony. He hadn’t seen him in years. A preacher. Ain’t that nothing? This nigga went from gangster to God. It had only been a minute, but time erased no pages from Craze’s book. With Dutch on trial for what the media had dubbed “the Month of Murder,” and Roc and Angel locked up, Craze was now the commander in charge. He had become the ears and eyes that Dutch didn’t have, being locked up and behind bars. No one has a clue how this shit is about to go down. He had spent the past month devising the most brilliant of getaway capers. It’ll go down in the history books as one of the all-time greatest escapes ever. The question of how to save Dutch from going to prison for the rest of his life had consumed him. One thing was for sure, Craze would rather bust Dutch out of a courthouse than bust him out of a maximum-security prison, and that was exactly what he planned to do.

  Behind the rap music of Nas, Foxy, and AZ playing in the background, Craze heard his phone ringing. He picked it up to see who was calling, but the phone’s tiny monitor read “private number.” He decided to pass, but before he could set the phone down, it rang again. And again he ignored the call. But the private number wouldn’t go away. His phone rang a fifth and sixth time. What if it’s Dutch calling? That wasn’t how they communicated, and Craze knew that. Dutch never liked phones.

  “Them phones are trouble. Whatever you do, don’t call me, understand?”

  If Dutch hadn’t said it once, he had said it a thousand times. The phone had rung for the ninth time when Craze decided to see who was calling.

  “Yeah,” he answered, calm and cool, as if the phone hadn’t been ringing nonstop for the last five minutes straight.

  “Mr. Shaw, I presume?” The voice was new to him, distant but familiar, carrying a thick French accent.

  “That depends on who wants to know,” Craze answered, looking around the parking lot for anything or anyone who seemed suspicious.

  “Yes… I see… Mr. Shaw it is. I have a proposition for you.”

  “Well, ah, before you start proposing, you think you might want to identify yourself?”

  “If you want to keep Dutch from spending the rest of his life behind bars, meet me at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City. Come to the penthouse suite, midnight tonight, and Mr. Craze… come alone.”

  “Who’s this?” Craze quickly questioned before the line went dead.

  He put the phone down and looked around the parking lot. It was quiet and still. He started the engine to the Porsche and put the car in drive.

  If you want to keep Dutch from spending the rest of his life behind bars, meet me at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, the voice rang over and over in his head, the accent escaping him each time. The call traveled with him as his Porsche glided down the streets of Newark. He looked at the time. It was ten-forty-five. If he was going to take the caller’s meeting at midnight, he didn’t have much time.

  He picked up his phone.

  “Meet me on the corner of Clinton Avenue and Bergen. I need backup,” Craze ordered before hanging up the phone.

  With several Charlies in place, he entered the St. Regis Hotel on Fifty-fifth Street, off Fifth Avenue. He walked past a Charlie in the lobby as if she was a stranger, went straight to the elevators, and pressed P for the penthouse suite. He had two Charlies accompanying him, side by side, guns loaded. Craze got off the elevator leery and looking for any signs of trouble. He walked down the hallway to two double cherry-stained oak doors marked “Penthouse” in gold lettering. He knocked at the door.

  “Let’s get this party started,” he said to the Charlies as he breathed a deep sigh at the unknown behind the double doors.

  A few moments later, a short, dark-skinned man opened the door.

  “Come in,” he said, allowing them all to enter the room. Standing vigil across the floor were eight straight-backed members of a security detail in black suits. They looked as if killing was just as natural to them as brushing their teeth.

  “Mr. Shaw, I see you aren’t too good on following directions,” said a tall, thin African man wearing a dashiki. “I do believe I asked you to come alone.” The man extended his hand to Craze, who looked at it, then calmly took the man’s hand in his.

  “I’m still waiting on the introduction,” said Craze, bending his head slightly and looking the African point-blank in the eye.

  “My name is Joseph Odouwo,” he said, smiling as he watched Craze’s reaction turn to complete uncertainty. The Charlies standing next to him became nervous as well. Craze knew exactly who he was now in the presence of. Joseph Odouwo was Kazami’s uncle, his very rich and very powerful uncle. Craze quickly reached for his gun and pointed it at Odouwo’s head as Odouwo’s henchmen pulled their weapons out and pointed them at Craze and the Charlies. The Charlies standing on either side of Craze also had their weapons drawn and were pointing them in the direction of Odouwo’s henchmen, who were spread about the room.

  “Oh, dear, I was afraid this would happen,” said Odouwo, shaking his head.

  “Mettez vos pistolets vers le bas. Mettez-les loin,” he ordered his men in their native tongue.

  “See, Mr. Shaw,” said Odouwo, lifting his hands and waving to his men around the room. He wanted Craze to feel comfortable, wanted to offer a sign of peace. He carefully watched the floor as his men withdrew their weapons.

  “What did you ask me to come here for, Mr. Odouwo?” Craze said, lowering his weapon and looking around the room, making sure there were no more guns pointed at his head.

  “Svp, laissez-nous, leave us,” said Odouwo to his loyal and trusting henchman Zemi. The other members of his security team began exiting the room. Craze watched them leave one by one.

  “May we speak alone, Mr. Shaw? I promise you, I mean you no harm here,” Odouwo said as he took a few steps back before seating himself on the sofa.

  Craze looked at the two Charlies and nodded. “It’s okay.”

  “We’ll be right outside the door,” the Charlies agreed as they left the room.

  “Okay, so you got me to yourself. What’s this all about?” asked Craze, wanting to get to the bottom line.

  “Please, have a seat. May I get you a refreshing beverage? Coke, Sprite—or would you care for a spirit?” Odouwo asked politely, smiling and intertwining his fingers as he spoke.

  Craze was becoming impatient. Odouwo sensed it and poured the can of Coke he was holding in his hand into a small glass of ice before taking a sip.

  “I am Kazami’s uncle,” he stated matter-of-factly. “If I’m not mistaken, it was Dutch and you and his other faithful and loyal cohorts who killed my nephew. Am I correct?” Mr. Odouwo politely asked.

  “Mr. Odouwo… you must understand . . .”

  Before he could say another word, Odouwo cut him off. “I understand completely. No one could get at this man!” he said with excitement, now standing above Craze. “How you did it is beyond me. I want you to know that at first, I was upset, but after the death of
Kazami our family learned of certain matters . . .”

  Joseph Odouwo thought carefully as he spoke and calmed himself as he sat back down next to Craze. The personal business of his family was best left personal. “Let’s just say Kazami was planning the assassination of his father, my brother, and had that happened, I would be left powerless. I would have nothing. It was his plan. Dutch and his cohorts became my biggest allies when they killed him. Little did I know, but because of you, I am in the position that I am in, and my family is very grateful, very grateful indeed,” he said, holding up his glass as if cheering Craze for a job well done.

  “So, you owe me, Odouwo. It sounds like I helped save your life.”

  “Yes, my friend, very much so,” he joked. “I must say, though,” he quickly added, “Mr. James is a man that will go to any lengths to get what he wants or, in this case, to get who he wanted. By far, my nephew was no easy target. You could ask the Italian mob that. They failed many times. But that Dutch… he was successful,” Odouwo said with a baleful grin on his face before taking another sip at his drink.

  “Mr. Odouwo, I’m glad that we were of great assistance to you and your family. However, my man is facing life in prison,” said Craze, really wanting to get down to the gist of why Odouwo had summoned him.

  “I know this, and I also know that over the years, Dutch has inherited many enemies. Once he goes to jail, it is a guarantee that he will be dead within twenty-four hours. The Italian Mafia will see to that. I’m the only person that can help Mr. James. I want to offer him a chance at life. All I ask is for a favor in return,” said Odouwo.

  Craze sat back, curious as to how Odouwo could help Dutch, when it was he who had already devised the perfect plan.

  “Who says we need your help?” Craze asked.

  “Even if he escapes from prison, which is highly possible, what would he do? Where would he go?” asked Odouwo.

  That was the one thing Craze hadn’t figured out yet. But he was working on it.

  “Mr. Shaw, I can see that you doubt my influence, but I assure you my affiliations are with the most powerful political figures in the world. I have connections in every corner of the globe, and if I don’t, trust me when I say, someone next to me does. I can get Mr. James out of the country, so he could start over. Do you know anyone else who can do that?” Odouwo asked with a hint of sarcasm, raising his brow.

  Craze already knew that Dutch would never be able to live in the States once they busted him out. He would become America’s Most Wanted. Getting Dutch out of the country had been the only obstacle in Craze’s plan. Everything else was concrete. Craze had everything mapped out, even the getaway car they would use. But he didn’t know where to take Dutch or what to do with Dutch once he freed him. They would be in a chase, a manhunt of sorts, and there could be no mishaps and no mixups. It sounded good, real good, what Odouwo was saying, but the question was, at what cost?

  “You got my attention. What do you want Dutch to do?”

  “I need Mr. James to do something very simple for me. I need someone killed,” Odouwo said, as if it were as simple as picking up a loaf of bread from the grocery store.

  “I think you already know that’s what we do,” said Craze, waiting for the punch line.

  “Yes, so true.” Odouwo smiled, loving the sense of confidence, the swagger, and the unrehearsed conversation. “Have you ever heard of Taji Tita?” asked Odouwo in his broad accent.

  “No, who is he?”

  “He is the president of my country, Nigeria.”

  Craze was baffled, I know he don’t think we killing the president of Nigeria. Is he crazy? “Let me get this straight. You want Dutch to assassinate the president of Nigeria? Yo, you are bugging,” joked Craze, now laughing at Odouwo as if the man was out of his mind. “Ain’t nobody trying to kill no presidents. Man, oh, man!” said Craze, realizing what he had gotten himself into. He looked at Odouwo. The man’s face was as straight as a wooden board.

  “This is a very grave matter and it can and it must be done,” said Odouwo in all seriousness.

  “Why? Why must it be done?”

  Joseph Odouwo stood up and walked over to the minibar. He poured himself another glass of soda and turned and faced Craze. “The president won’t grant any of our citizens authorization to lease diamond fields in Sierra Leone. This has caused quite a bit of turmoil within our government. My uncle Yusef Odouwo is highly favored to be Nigeria’s next president—that is, if something were to happen to Tita,” Odouwo affirmed.

  “So why Dutch? Out of all the people in the world, why him?” Craze questioned.

  “Like I stated earlier, I am very impressed by how close Mr. James was able to get to Kazami. How ruthless he was in his attempt to gain power. I can appreciate him. But make no mistake, there are others that will do what needs to be done, especially for what I’m offering.”

  “And just exactly what are you offering?” asked Craze.

  Odouwo reached into the inner pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a small black velvet satchel. Carefully, he opened the pouch’s drawstring tie and shook the contents into his hand. He showed Craze the biggest and brightest diamonds Craze had ever seen. Odouwo took Craze’s hand and placed the diamonds in his palm. They sparkled and danced in the light. The diamonds gleamed “Say yes” at him, and he was in a daze as he turned them in his palm.

  “What I am offering is not only the chance to save Mr. James’s life, but a stake in my diamond trade. The stones in your hand cost merely pennies, but are worth millions of dollars. I play no games here today, Mr. Shaw. What I offer is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. If I were you, I would choose carefully.” Odouwo beckoned as Craze sat quietly, still staring at the diamonds he held in the palm of his hand. Odouwo began to speak again. “You will leave the streets of Newark behind you?” Odouwo asked.

  Craze thought of Roc and Angel; leaving them behind to rot in prison just didn’t feel right.

  “We got our people fighting to get out of—”

  “That can be arranged,” Odouwo interrupted, already knowing who he was speaking of. “It will take some time, but it can be done.”

  Craze looked at Odouwo and realized he was the real deal.

  “So, Mr. Shaw, do we have a deal?” asked Odouwo, extending his hand across the table, hoping that Craze would do the right thing and accept the conditions of his offer.

  Craze looked at the diamonds he was still holding in his hand, and what they had done all their lives in the streets of Newark just didn’t equal that. He saw the potential to make more money than they had ever seen.

  “You said a stake in your diamond trade?”

  “A fifty-fifty stake in my diamond trade,” Odouwo announced.

  He looked back down at the palm of his hand and he thought of Dutch. Dutch wouldn’t refuse. Craze shook Odouwo’s hand and the deal was sealed.

  “Now, let us get down to business and figure out a master plan.” Odouwo smiled.


  Before leaving the hotel, Mr. Odouwo gave Craze one of the diamonds, encouraging Craze to think that not only could he be trusted, but he was putting an offer on the table that was more than worth its weight in gold. Craze, of course, wanted to see what it was really worth, so the very next morning, he tunneled through the Lincoln and took the stone to Jacob the Jeweler. The stone was appraised and was valued at over a million dollars.

  “Nice.” The infamous jeweler smiled as he placed the precious stone in a petite red velvet pouch and handed it back to Craze. “Very nice indeed.”

  It was then that Craze was convinced that Odouwo could be trusted. Who would just hand me this diamond if it wasn’t worth all this? It was then that he also began to believe that Odouwo was a man of his word. Together they would formulate a plan to make sure that Dutch escaped, a free man. Craze had already masterminded the perfect plot. Besides, how hard could taking over a courthouse actually be?

  Alex Kelly was a maintenance and janitorial aide
at the Essex County Courthouse. Alex was a middle height Irishman with orangish-red hair. He was knocking back shots at his favorite Irish pub, Skipper’s, as he did every night after work, when Craze took a seat at the bar beside him.

  The bartender, Joe, walked over to Craze as he sat down.

  “What can I get for ya?” the husky Irishman asked.

  “Give me a double shot of Belvedere, no ice.”

  While the bartender made his drink, Craze glanced over at Alex, who was heavily into what was on the tube, trying to figure out how to make small talk. He looked at the hard-working laborer, his eyes traveling up and down. He looks like he needs a few more drinks. Craze grinned, knowing he was about to present Alex with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Just looking at the man’s calloused hands, his tattered and worn shoes, and the holes in the knees of his pants, he knew Alex would jump at his offer. After the bartender came back with his drink, Craze turned to Alex.

  “Damn, partna. I don’t know how you can drink that brown stuff. More power to you though,” Craze said, trying to break the ice, then tossed back his double.

  “Believe it or not, I’ve been drinkin’ this brown shit since I was fourteen. It ain’t never been much to me,” Alex explained.

  “Naw, man, I can’t do it. I drank that shit one time and was sick as hell. Somebody would have to pay me a million dollars to touch that lethal shit again.”

  “Damn, I would hate to see what you would do for ten,” Alex said, smiling while shaking his head.

  “So, tell me, my man. What would you be willing to do for a cool million?” Craze queried.

  “Shiittt… for a million dollars I’d do damn near anything,” Alex said, laughing while raising his glass. “That’s why I play the lottery every day,” he said, patting his pocket where his lottery tickets were safe and sound.

  “Oh, do you now, Alex?” asked Craze, throwing the man’s name out there to see if he was paying attention.

  “Wait a minute. How the hell you know my name?” Alex asked, almost choking.

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