The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Chains (Part Two)

Karkana Chronicles Seven

February 22, 2013

Brianna is having a conversation Regi the Pixie about his friend, Sydney.

“What did Sydney do to owe $50,000 to anyone?”

Regi shrugs.

“If she pays the $50,000, are they willing to let her go?”

Regi shrugs.

“Its going to take her ages to pay off $50,000 fixing the fights. Could you show us where she is being held, Regi?”

“Sure.”

“Alright. How long does it take you to get where she’s being held?”

“It’s a bit of a flight…”

“Can you direct us if we go by car?”

“Probably.”

“Let’s get a jacket…let’s see if we can scope out the situation.”

She gets a jacket and Joey and they all three head out. Regi is not great at giving driving directions—not wanting to abide by road rules and all. But they eventually get there. They find themselves in Southeast Portland in a nice enough neighborhood with lots of large houses on smaller plots of land. Driving by the house indicated by Regi, Brianna can tell that the house is well-maintained. There’s a light on inside, though the blinds are drawn. There’s a car parked out front.

“How many men are in the house, Regi?” Brianna asks.

“Some,” Regi says.

“Where is Sydney in the house?”

“In the bedroom.”

“In her own bedroom? Does she share it with anyone?”

“No. it’s her own.”

“First or second story?”

“Second.”

“How do you get in?”

“The flue.”

“Do they hurt Sydney, or just hold her?”

“No, I think they’re afraid of her.”

“But yet they hold her against her will,” Brianna muses. “Is this Sydney’s house or the Man’s house?”

“The Man’s house.”

“Can she leave the bedroom? Can she go out into the back yard?”

Regi shrugs. “I don’t know.”

“I’d like to talk to Sydney. Can you ask if she’s willing to talk to me?”

“Sure.”

Brianna let’s Regi out of the car and he flies up toward the house. She and Joey wait in the car about fifteen minutes. Brianna takes a picture of the license plate of the car in the driveway. Regi comes flying back.

“Syd wants to talk. She’ll try to get to the back yard. Brianna tells Joey that she’ll keep her phone on vibrate and to text her if there’s any activity out front that she needs to know about.

Brianna makes her way toward the back stealthily and scales the fence, landing in the backyard. The nearly full moon makes things fairly visible. Also, the fact that Regi’s nimbus of light followed her nearly the whole way didn’t help. Near a patio at the rear of the house, she sees a waifish young woman wrapped in a robe. She approaches.

“You Sydney?”

“I am.”

“Regi tells me you’re the one messing with my fights.”

“I suppose I am.”

“This is all because you owe someone $50,000?”

“Yes, not just someone.”

“You owe who $50,000?

“Various bookies, but it boils down to ‘Big Jim’ Butler.”

“Who’s ‘Big Jim’ Butler?”

“Local businessman. Mob boss.”

“This is all debt you inherited from your father? Where’s your father?”

“Dead.”

“Regi tried to explain, but you’re being kept here, but what is the big game here?

Sydney sighs. “I use my talent to fix the fights so the mob makes money to work down my debt.”

“So ‘Big Jim’ Butler’s aware you’re a sorceress?”

“Yes.”

“Sorry, continue.”

“Once I work my debt, they’ll let me go—supposedly.”

“Is Big Jim known to be a man of his word in such matters? It seems to me that they have a bit of a meal ticket here…”

“That was my thought as well.”

“I take you didn’t like your chances of running,” Brianna says, “getting out of Portland?”

“I do owe the debt,” Sydney says, “and always running, looking over my shoulder—I don’t know…”

“I have to be frank. I don’t know how to help you. I don’t have $50,000. That’s a lot to come out of our rings.”

“I see. Well, Regi thought you could help.”

“I don’t like the idea of people holding you against your will. But I don’t like the idea of people fucking with my fights, either.”

“If I don’t, they may kill me.”

Brianna sighs. “Is there anything else you can do for them?”

“I can’t turn lead into gold, if that’s what you mean.”

“No that isn’t what I meant. I mean it’s a big town. There may be another way they can use your talents than fixing fights. Without drawing attention to themselves. Well, it’s not like I can talk to Big Jim Butler on your behalf. I’m sure he wouldn’t be pleased that we’ve been talking. Would that cause more trouble for you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I hesitate to do to many things blindly because it’s your life that’s going to be on the line for it. I’m willing to do what I can, I’m just not sure what that is. When was the next fight you were supposed to be fixing?”

Sydney quirks an eyebrow. “It was supposed to be Saturday.”

Brianna frowns. “One thing that will have us not working together is if you touch my man.”

“I’m already in trouble for Saturday’s fight. For not getting the fix in.”

“Do you pick the fights for the fix or do they?”

“They pick the fights. I don’t have much more time here.”

“Is Regi a good way to get messages to you?”

“Yes.”

“Very good. I’ll see what I can do.”

Brianna turns around and scales the fence, heading back to the car.

“Well that just got interesting, Joey,” she says when she gets back to the car. She explains the situation to Joey as they head back to the house. “I don’t know about fighting with a mob boss.”

Joey asks, “So what’s the plan?”

“I got enough crap going down with Gould and now this sorceress thing.”

“You know,” Joey says, “The syndicate is run by mob elements.”

Brianna nods. “I don’t know if that helps or hurts us.”

The two discuss the pros and cons of going to Butler himself, finally coming to the conclusion that they Brianna wants to go to the man himself and discuss the situation.

February 23, 2013

After working out at Sibley’s Gym, Brianna and Joey head over to the house where Sydney is being held. They are watching for Regi. Sure enough, the pixie shows up and flies over to the car and greets them.

“Hiya lady. If you’re not careful, you’re going to be seen.”

“I just wanted to let Sydney know that I’m going to talk to Big Jim Butler and I wanted her agreement before moving forward. That’s all I got and I’m willing to do it.”

The pixie salutes and flies off. Ten minutes later, he returns and says that Sydney says “Go ahead.” They also arrange to meet Regi at the rear of the house in future.

Brianna and Joey drive by Gould’s headquarters to see if they see Rupert’s car. They do not. They keep driving.

Tonight’s fight night. When Brianna and Joey arrive at the venue, Brianna checks the parking lot for the car that she’s been seeing parked in front of the house where Sydney’s being held. She does see the car, but she doesn’t see its owner.

Joey has his fight and does quite well, winning handily. There are no bizarre mishaps to hamper his win.

After the fight, Brianna heads out to the parking lot to see if she can catch the driver of the car. She sees a man getting into the car. She approaches him saying, “Excuse me!”

The man turns, surly, and says “What?” The man is thick-necked and dressed in a nice suit without a tie.

“I was hoping you could get a message to someone for me. I would to speak to Mr. Butler.”

“I do a lot of things for Mr. Butler, but message boy ain’t one of them. Excuse me.” The man turns back to his car.

Brianna gets angry. “I’d like to talk to him about Sydney and someone using magic to fix the fucking fights!”

The man turns and puts up his hands, placating. “Look lady, you need to back off!”

“I need to meet with Mr. Butler at his earliest convenience. He’s probably a busy man.”

“I’ll pass the message along. How’s he to get ahold of you?”

“I manage fights here. I’m sure you saw me.”

“That’s right. You manage Joey Aragon.”

“I do.”

He gets in his car and drives away.

Brianna goes back into the venue and watches more fights. Joey has a date tonight, so Brianna goes home alone, works out, and goes to bed.

February 24, 2013

Brianna starts her day with exercise and then she and Joey drive out by Gould’s warehouse again to see if they see Rupert’s car. Again, no dice. She heads back home and tries another internet search for him and has no luck. She takes the cash out of the lycanthrope’s wallet under her mattress and then puts the wallet and pocketknife in a plastic bag and takes it out to a random dumpster and disposes of it. She and Joey have breakfast with the cash.

That night, Brianna wears red and they go out to watch the fights. As their watching, Brianna is approached by a man in a suit. “You requested a meeting?” He flicks a business card in his fingers. It’s for Butler Industries. “Come with me, please.” The man in the suit leads her outside and to a waiting limousine. He opens the door for her and she gets inside.

Waiting inside is a older man, balding, but with an intense gaze and a tailored suit. Big Jim Butler.

" You made quite an impression on my man Louis, " Butler says.

“I wanted Louis to take me seriously, " Brianna says.

“Thus this meeting.”

“Which I appreciate.”

“So what is it you wish to discuss?”

“As I intimated to Louis, I was distressed to discover that some of our fights were being tilted in particular directions. This is my place of business. My man is doing well, working his way up the ranks, I feel very proprietary about the men,” Brianna favors Butler with a predatory smile. “I love a good fight. But love it to be a good fight. So. It came to my attention that this Sydney owes you quite a bit of money.”

“She does,” Butler nods.

“And this business is a way she can chip away at that large debt she owes you.”

“That’s the idea.”

“Thus I wanted to arrange this meeting to see what other options Sydney has other than fixing our fights. Its distressing that this young woman is trapped in this situation.”

Butler says, “Coming to me takes a lot of guts. I like that. But a debt is a debt. I can’t let it be said that I don’t collect.”

“I understand. Are there options we can explore?”

“I’m listening.”

“It depends on you Mr. Butler. What will you accept for a debt of that magnitude?”

“You don’t have a proposal?”

“No. I’m new enough to Portland, I’m unfamiliar with you and what you would accept. I don’t know what currency you value. I don’t have $50,000 to pay Sydney’s debt.”

Butler steeples his fingers in thought. “But you want me to aim her away from the fights.”

“Yes. She has asked me for help and I am willing to give it where I can.”

Butler raises an eyebrow. “She asked you for help?”

Brianna just blinks.

“And here I thought this was about business.”

Brianna says, “It’s a little of both. Do business transactions matter more than people acting out of the goodness of their heart?”

Butler stares at her coldly.

Brianna shrugs.

Butler asks, "Do you have a proposal as to where I should better utilize Sydney?

Brianna lists other places in Portland where betting goes on, with higher stakes.

Butler says, “I’m prepared to redirect Sydney’s attentions.”

“That would be nice. I’d appreciate it.”

“And in return, you’ll leave it alone.”

“I won’t interfere, no. If you can think of some sort of business transaction that would offset the debt she has—information, someone you’re wanting intimidated, will you let me know?”

“Very well.”

“May I contact you if I have a future business proposal?

“If you have an actual proposal, yes. You may make an appointment.”

“I will see what I can come up with. I appreciate you meeting with me.”

The two shake hands. The driver opens the door and Brianna gets out of the limo.

Brianna heads back into the fights and finds Joey.

“Where you been?” he asks.

“Just talked to the man himself,” Brianna says.

The two head to the car and Brianna catches Joey up on her conversation with Butler.

Joey says, “That helps the fights, but doesn’t help Sydney very much.”

“Well, I can come to him with a business proposal.”

The two discuss their situation for a while and then Brianna says “Let’s go tell Regi.”

They go to the home where Sydney is being held and park behind the house, where they had arranged to meet with the pixie.

Soon, a nimbus of light comes flying up to the window. “Hiya lady.”

“Mixed success with Mr. Butler. He’s agreed to focus Sydney somewhere other than the fights, and is willing to hear a business proposal regarding her debt from me but no gains tonight.”

Regi salutes and starts to fly off…but Brianna continues…

“I don’t know how well Sydney knows Mr. Butler. What kind of information he’ll take in trade for $50,000. She can think on it.”

Regi puts his hands on his hips. “These are long messages, lady…”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.” She condenses the message down to a bite sized chunk for Regi and sends him on his way. Then she and Joey head back to the apartment.

February 25, 2013

The two workout at Sibley’s Gym and then go out and hit the streets, gathering information about the crime scene in Portland.

Essentially, Big Jim Butler’s organization is the top dog in Portland’s organized crime scene. There are also the tongs in Chinatown and some smaller outfits, primarily some Greek families. But Big Jim consolidated a lot of the action in Portland into his outfit.

TO BE CONTINUED

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