The Dresden Files: Portland

Side Job: Glass Jaw (Part One)

Karkana Chronicles One

November 1, 2012 (Evening)

It’s a rainy evening in Portland as Brianna Karkana and Joey Aragon arrive at Shakey’s Bar looking for Mel Landry. They’ve arrived in town looking for information on the local underground fighting syndicate and were given Mel’s name as a potential contact. He’s supposed to be a frequent patron here. Bri asks the bartender, a middle-aged man who looks like he’s been around the block a few times, about Mel and is directed to the end of the bar. There is a balding man in a mustache knocking back a boilermaker.

Brianna approaches the man while Joey lurks in the background. “You Mel Landry?”

“Who’s asking?”

“Brianna Karkana.”

Mel cocks an eyebrow like he recognizes the name and says “Let’s get a table.”

The three meet at a table in the back of the room. Mel kisses Brianna’s hand and shakes Joey’s as introductions are made. Small talk soon gives way to business. Purses for Mel’s fights range from $100-$1000. He gets a share of the door while managers get a share of purse, whatever they work out with their fighter. Speculators place bets on the fights at various odds to make more money. Brianna comments that the purses seem low, but Mel counters that times are tough these days in Portland. Brianna says that she can’t commit her man to anything until she sees the venue and Mel says that’s fine, as he won’t let the boy fight until he sees his moves. He suggests that they meet at Sibley’s Gym the following evening so that Mel can see Joey spar and then they go out to the fight venue. Brianna agrees. The three say their goodbyes and Brianna and Joey head out.

Instead of heading back to their rooms, they decide to head to a rave club to allow Brianna to feed first. They select a place called The Zoo. Once inside, Joey sidles up to the bar while Brianna goes out to the crowded dance floor. She lightly touches one of the dancers and incites his anger, causing him to get into a fight with another dancer. She draws in ambient rage of the situation, feeding.

Bouncers begin to converge on the scene, so Brianna begins to try and slink away unnoticed, but a woman touches her on the shoulder.

“What did you do, bitch?”

“What? Nothing.”

The woman is angry, which feeds Brianna further, but all the vampire wants to do is leave. “Nuh uh. He was fine until you came along. You must have said something to him. What did you say to him?”

“Nothing. Leave me alone.”

As Brianna tries to extricate herself from the situation, the bouncers are breaking up the fight behind her and the woman. The woman tries to grab. “I’m talking to you!” Brianna easily dodges her and starts to walk away.

“That’s right, you better walk away, bitch.”

Then Brianna stops walking and turns around, angry. “What did you say to me?”

Something of Brianna’s anger must shake the woman because all she says is, “Nothing.”

Brianna walks up to her and says, quietly but clearly. “Do we need to take this outside?”

The woman is clearly shaken at this point. “No. We’re good.”

At this point, Brianna is practically in the woman’s face. “Good. No go see to your man.”

The woman turns and joins her boyfriend as he’s being escorted out of the nightclub. Satisfied, Brianna goes and collects Joey and heads out.

After grabbing a bite to eat for Joey, the two head back to their rooms for the night.

November 2, 2012

Brianna spends most of the day hitting the streets, making discreet inquiries and contacts, attempting to discover what House controlled White Court interests in Portland. Her whole day was consumed with the work and all she got was that House Raith controlled much of the city’s adult entertainment industry but no solid contacts. She also checked out the exterior of Sibley’s Gym, finding it to be a working class establishment in Southeast Portland near a lot of warehouses.

At 9pm, she and Joey head into Sibley’s. It every bit as blue collar as the exterior indicated. They spot Mel speaking with a middle-aged African-American man who they are introduced to as " Sib ". Sib is the owner of the gym. After introductions are made, Mel says that Joey here is prospect and they’d like to see him spar. So Sib calls over Pete, asking him to get ready. Pete, an athletic Asian man, says he’d be happy to. So Joey goes and starts stretching and getting ready himself.

Soon, the two men are in the ring and Sib rings the bell. It’s apparent from the start that Pete is pretty outmatched by Joey. Joey starts toying with Joey, but then Joey takes Pete out with a quick one-two combination. Pete hits the mat hard. And starts twitching. And then is still. Too still. Sib rushes out into the ring. Joey starts pacing nervously. Brianna starts yelling “What’s going on?” Sib looks to the ceiling and says “Not another one. Not again.” He starts doing CPR on Pete. “What’s going on?” Brianna asks again.

Mel looks at Brianna. “Get your boy and get out of here!”

“What the hell?” Brianna is mad. “Did you know your man wasn’t ready for the ring?”

“Nevermind that! Get out of here! Get him out of here! Now!”

Brianna can’t tell if Mel is mad at her or at the situation, but sees the need to move and so she grabs Joey and starts heading out. She also notices that no one is pulling out their phones to call the cops or an ambulance at this point. The two head out to the car.

“Did you notice anything weird about Pete when you were fighting him?” she asks Joey as they drive away.

“Only that he couldn’t fight worth a damn. But no, nothing like that. I didn’t even hit him that hard.”

The two head back to their rooms, pondering the strange events of the night.

November 3, 2012

During the day, Brianna once again tries to get a contact with House Raith She does get information that if she wants to contact House Raith, Nirvana is the place to go.

Around 5pm, they head over Shakey’s and find Mel. He seems to have calmed down considerably and even comments that he expected them to find him. He talks about there’s talk of a “curse” on the local syndicate that’s been going on for about the past eight weeks, ever since the unexpected death of the fight known as Max “The Scorpion” Polanski. He died in the ring of an apparent aneurysm. Since then, two other fighters have died in the ring and two more have died of apparent strokes outside the ring. And now Pete Noritaki. No one knows of any connection other than the fact that they are all syndicate fighters—they are all from different clubs and trainers. Of course, no one can report anything to the police about it.

Brianna states that she doesn’t believe in curses. She wants to know if Joey passed the audition, despite Pete’s death.

“Yeah. Yeah, I reckon so.”

She still wants to see the venue. They arrange to meet at the address at 10 pm. The two take their leave of Mel and head out.

In the car, Brianna observes to Joey that something weird is going on. Joey just worries that if fights here, he doesn’t want to be jacked with.

“You up to poking around?” she asks.

“You’re the boss,” he says.

Brianna takes them to Sibley’s Gym. Once there they head to Sib’s office where he’s working on paperwork. He looks up and directs them to come in and shut the door.

“For what it’s worth, I don’t blame your boy for what happened.”

Joey and Brianna nod solemnly and sit.

Brianna asks Sib about the “curse”. He confirms much of what Mel said. She asks if any of the fighters were from Sibley’s Gym. Max, “The Scorpion” was. He also gives Brianna the names of the clubs where the other fighters fought from. She reiterates that she’s looking into this because she doesn’t want to put her man in danger so she’s not committing him to fighting yet. She and Joey also sign up for gym memberships. Then the take their leave, thank Sib for his time.

At 10pm, the two pull up to the address that Mel had given them. It is a warehouse not too far from Sibley’s Gym. Walking up the door, they meet Mel and another man. He’s obviously muscle, probably a former fighter. He’s introduced as Rick. Mel makes a point of introducing Brianna and Joey to him as potential new staff to be let in. He then leads the way into the warehouse.

Inside is a large boxing ring where a fight is in progress. Stands have been erected around it with lots of spectators. Stalls for betting line one wall. Brianna immediately begins feeding on the residual rage coming from the losing bettors and the fighters. Mel begins showing them around, pointing out the high points of the operation. To both Brianna and Joey, it seems legit. It’s a good operation. Mel finally leads them to a back room where he asks them. “So, what do you think?”

“How much time can we have to think about this?”

“How about a week?”

“Alright, good.”

Mel and Brianna exchange information and agree to have a decision within the next week.

After checking out the venue, Brianna and Joey head up to North Portland to Nirvana. The front of the club is a fa├žade that looks much like the Taj Mahal. There is long line of people waiting to get into the club. Impatient, Brianna slips a few bills into the hands of the host at the head of the line. She gets ushered into the club ahead of Joey.

Inside, she sees several crowded dance floors with house dancers, both men and women, in various states of undress undulating to the music, performance stages with exotic dancers performing for entertainment, private booths and chambers for rent, a restaurant and bar, and plenty of lustful party goers. She wanders about, trying to see if she can find an actual member of the White Court, hoping to find a contact with which to find a scion of House Raith so that she can pay proper respects and then be done. In her wanderings, she finds herself accosted by one of the house dancers, an attractive South Asian man in nothing but glitter and a banana hammock. He lightly touches her cheek. Nonplussed, Brianna says “Can I help you?” Banana Hammock then rears back, seemingly confused. “Karkana?” he hisses, confused. “Come with me,” he says and leads her away from the dance floor.

As she follows the dancer, Brianna texts Joey: CONTACT MADE, INTRODUCTION TO BE MADE SOON. Banana Hammock takes her upstairs to an hall overlooking all of the dance floors. In front of an office door are two musclebound guards. They are dressed in suits, but obviously have handguns beneath their suit jackets. Banana Hammock tells them “I need to see Nerise.” One of the guards knocks on the door. A slight man opens the door, takes in the scene, and motions for Brianna to come forward. Banana Hammock starts to step forward as well, but the man motions for him to stop and the slight man then shoos him away. Banana Hammock then pads his way down the hall. Brianna continues into the office and the slight man shuts the door behind her.

The office is elegant and modern. Behind the desk sits a beautiful Indian woman in her early thirties. “Thank you, Clive,” she says. She motions for Brianna to sit in the chair at the desk. Brianna sits.

“I am Nerise Patel. I handle House Raith’s operations in the Portland area.”

“I’m Brianna Karkana.”

Nerise nods. “I appreciate you taking the courtesy of introducing yourself. What brings you to Portland?”

“Potential business.”

“May I ask what business ventures you participate in?”

“Nothing that will interfere with your territories. Our interests differ quite a bit.”

Nerise raises an eyebrow. “See that they do. Do you anticipate staying in Portland long?”

“I’ll be ready to know that later this week.”

“I see.” Nerise returns her attention to something on her desk. “Have a good evening Ms. Karkana.”

Clive opens the door to the office. Brianna exits the office and makes her way down to the club. She finds that Joey eventually made it inside and is at one of the stages, enjoying the show with a scantily-clad woman on his hip.

“Did you get what you needed?” he asks her.

Brianna nods.

Joey sighs. “All right” He slaps the girl on the ass. “Guess its time to go.” He gets up and the two make their way out of the club.

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