Saturday 1 August 2020
It was around nine o’clock in the morning when a convoy of about ten vehicles entered one of the main streets of Vormer City, a town of just over 10,000 people located in the state of Roover, one of the mountainous states of the United Nations of America. Leading the way was a black Cadillac Escalade with two people sitting in it. The one behind the wheel was a 24-year-old black man wearing a brown leather jacket with rolled-up sleeves, a white T-shirt, black Jean pants, and a pair of shoes of the same color. He also had brown eyes and a headphone around his neck.
Sitting in the passenger seat was a 16-year-old girl who was slightly shorter than the driver and had about the same skin tone as him except that hers was much lighter. She was wearing a blue jacket, a yellow crop top, a jogging suit of the same color as her jacket, and a pair of white sneakers. She also had the same eye color as the driver and was fiddling with her phone while listening to music through her wireless headphones.
As the convoy passed a sign indicating how far they had to go before leaving one of the main roads they were on, the young man behind the wheel took a quick look at the vehicle’s navigation screen.
“Another thirty kilometers to go before we arrive in front of our new home,” he declared.
Despite him saying that, the young teenager remained completely indifferent and kept her gaze on her phone screen. It was necessary to say that she did not really hear it because of her music. Exasperated because it was already more than one hour and half that the two had not exchanged any word, he let out a heavy sigh before repeating his sentence while putting there a little more of his own.
“Hmmm mm!” she whispered this time.
The young teenager was obviously not paying attention to what she had just been told, or at least was not interested in it, which had the consequence of frustrating her interlocutor a little more.
“So, you want to play it that way, OK. Let’s see how you react to that,” he thought.
While he had a hand on the steering wheel and the other one on his thigh, the young man switched their position before catching his cell phone which was in the pocket of his jacket. He then discreetly dialed his passenger’s phone number.
“I guess you think you’re funny, Preston,” she exclaimed less than two seconds later when her music suddenly stopped.
“Oh my God! She’s talking!” the young man retorted, pretending to be surprised.
“Yes, she’s talking! She’s talking and she’s asking you to stop.”
The young teenager cut the call before starting the music she was listening to and going back on her different social networks. Unfortunately for her, this was without the intervention of Preston who dialed her phone number and called her again.
“Zero, stop being so childish!” she exclaimed, somewhat annoyed by his behavior.
Zero found her reaction so funny that he could not help but laugh.
“You should see your face, Faenys. It’s so funny. It’s so much fun to tease you, I could do that all day. In fact, I should’ve been doing this all along. It would’ve made this trip a lot more fun.”
“It would’ve been fun for you, but not for me. Just drive and leave me alone, will you?”
“I see you’re still upset about the driving thing. You know, just because I’m sometimes strict with you doesn’t mean I’m doing it to annoy you. Sometimes, a big brother has to act that way to protect his family.”
“Yeah, right! I’ll have you know that if you’d let me take the wheel in the first place, we would’ve been home long ago.”
In response to his little sister’s comments, Preston said that what she had just said could be true or false. However, he did say that the reason he had not given her the opportunity to drive was simply because he valued his life and his freedom.
“I can drive,” Faenys pointed out.
“Yes, I’ve seen you behind the wheel, and that’s not driving,” said Zero sarcastically.
The young teenager did not like the way her older brother addressed her. She turned off her music and asked if he had ever driven anything other than his black Cadillac.
“What are you getting at, Faenys?”
“You seem to be implying that I can’t drive. Though, from my point of view, you’re the one who doesn’t know how to drive. Driving isn’t just getting from point A to point B, it’s much more than that. Driving is about exploiting all the capabilities of your car. The feeling you get when you go over 150 mph is simply indescribable. You’re not driving, you’re just moving towards your destination.”
Preston then replied that he was sorry his driving was not to her liking. However, as he had said earlier, he valued his life and his freedom over everything else. He also added that the speech she had just had would drastically change the day the police got hold of her.
“That’s never going to happen. I’m way too fast for them,” she declared confidently.
“Hmm! I’ll have you know that police officers also have fast cars.”
“Yeah, but they’re not as fast as mine. Besides, do you want to know the worst part of this whole story? You also have a racing car, a car that you transport in one of the containers behind. It’s true that it’s from the 2000s, but it’s still a mythical car. Despite that, I’ve never seen you drive it.”
The young man took a quick look at the vehicles that were following them through his rearview mirror. He then explained to her that the car she had just mentioned was not his, but an asset, a souvenir of a person who was no longer with them. Therefore, he did not drive it and probably never would. However, he kept it preciously in order to remember a time that is gone forever.
“Hmm! If you say so. Anyway, I still think we would’ve gotten there a lot faster if you’d let me drive,” she continued.
“Maybe or maybe not. In any case, it’s already too late to know.”
With nothing more to say to each other, Faenys went back to listening to her music while her older brother concentrated on his driving. They still had more than 20 kilometers to go before reaching their destination. He also took the opportunity to put on some music of his own, lowering the sound slightly so as not to disturb his passenger.
About thirty minutes later, the convoy stopped in front of the gate of a huge mansion. Zero pulled his Cadillac Escalade up to the box in front of the entrance, rolled down his window, and opened it. Inside was a keypad where he entered a ten-digit code. A small “beep” was then heard, and the gate began to open. Seeing the enormity of their new home, Faenys could not help but be amazed and curious at the same time. She asked him where he had gotten the money to buy the house.
“I didn’t buy this house, I had it built,” he replied as he drove his car inside.
His older brother’s answer surprised her even more. If he had indeed built this mansion, it simply meant that the amount of money he had spent was astronomical.
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” she added.
“There are lots of things you don’t know about me. But who knows? Maybe one day you’ll find out some of the secrets I’m hiding.”
This still did not answer the young teenager’s question who had every reason to be surprised and curious. The house which she and her older brother would now live in was simply huge. The lot was so large that she figured they would both be able to park over two hundred cars in their home that there would still be some space.
Their house was extremely spacious, which once again made her wonder where the money came from to build such a place. Was her brother secretly a mafia godfather? If not, how did he get so much money?
As they got closer to the main entrance, the young teenager’s impatience grew. She wanted to see the inside of the place where they would now reside. So, as the car came to a stop, Faenys hurriedly got out and headed to the front door. Preston smiled slightly as he saw her do this, which made him realize once again how young she was and therefore how easily impressionable she could be.
“How will you open the door without the key?” he asked her.
When she heard his question, Faenys stopped suddenly. She had forgotten this slight detail in her excitement and felt a little silly. A few moments later, her older brother opened the glove compartment and took out two identical keys. He tossed one of them to his little sister, who caught it in midair. The teenager turned around, walked back to the front door, and entered the house shortly thereafter.
The interior was even more beautiful and spacious than what she had imagined. The entrance led to a huge living room of several square feet with a bay window behind which was a small terrace and a pool. As Faenys approached it, she noticed that they also had a magnificent scenery of the city. She was truly amazed by this place and was also looking forward to seeing the rest of their home.
Without wasting a single second, the teenager moved on to the next room, the kitchen. It had a large work surface in its center. Faenys opened the gigantic fridge next to her, but soon realized that it was empty, which was quite normal since they were just moving in. She closed it and inspected the rest of the kitchen before moving on to another room.
Faenys went through the entire first floor in a flash but noticed something odd about one of its rooms. When she arrived at their laundry room, she noticed that it was a bit strange in size. Zero’s little sister had the impression that someone had made it much larger than it should be on purpose. There were only two machines in there, which was not much for such a large room. She blamed it on an error on the part of the architect who had created the plans for their home.
Faenys finally arrived on the second floor, which consisted of only three main rooms. The first one was her older brother’s room. It was very easy for her to tell because his name was engraved on the door. By curiosity, the young teenager tried to open the door, but did not succeed, the latter being locked. The young lady then moved on to the next room, which was a workstation. Many shelves filled with books were present there.
Zero’s little sister looked through the books and saw that most of them dealt with scientific subjects such as robotics, medicine, and metallurgy. As for the rest of them, they were mostly about guns and knives. Faenys found this somewhat strange, especially the books about weapons. It was hard for her to imagine that her older brother would like that kind of thing. However, taking that into consideration along with the amount of money he had spent to build their home, the idea of a mafia boss resurfaced in the young teenager’s mind.
“Nah, that’s impossible! There has to be something else,” she exclaimed after imagining her older brother dressed as a mobster.
Faenys left the mini library and went to the third and final room, which was her bedroom. This room was very large and already had a bed to sleep on and a desk to work at. The young teenager sat a few moments on her mattress before lying down. She found it extremely comfortable, not being too hard nor too soft. However, when she straightened up, her eyes were attracted by a very singular thing. It was a portrait hanging on one of the walls, that of a young black woman from the last century being dressed in a red dress and holding in her hands a bouquet of white flowers.
“What the hell? What were they thinking putting something like that in here?” she asked herself as she walked towards the portrait.
Faenys put both hands on the picture and tried to take it down. Unfortunately, the painting refused to move an inch.
“What the fuck? Did they screw it to the wall or what?” she said as she pulled with all her might.
The young teenager tried once again to unhook what she considered the height of bad taste, but without success. She finally gave up, but she had not said her last word.
Faenys continued her tour and went to see what was in the next room. When she opened the door, she found a fully equipped bathroom. She could not believe her eyes. It was so beautiful, which made her wonder again where her older brother had gotten the money to build such a house.
A few moments later, while she was still marveling at the splendor of her new bathroom, Faenys noticed that it had the same problem as the laundry room, namely that the space was far too big for everything inside. After much thought, she also realized that this room was located right on top of the laundry room. The young teenager thought to herself that the architect responsible for the construction of this house had been more than incompetent to make such a grotesque mistake.
Faenys left the room and immediately returned to her older brother. When she got to the first floor, she saw the movers that Zero had hired earlier carrying various furniture and other items into the house. She apologized for the inconvenience she had caused by getting in their way and left to find the young man she had been looking for.
“Preston! There are several things wrong with this house,” she exclaimed.
Zero, who was supervising the transportation of their belongings by telling the movers which room each item was going to, was a little surprised when he heard what his little sister had just said.
“What do you mean there are several things wrong with the house? What do you mean by that?”
“First, both the laundry room and my bathroom are way too big, but that’s not the problem. The point is that your architect or one of your workers put a painting in my room and I can’t get it off the wall. It’s kind of attached to it.”
“A painting? What exactly are you talking about?”
“I’m talking about the fucking painting in my room that I can’t take down! Are you deaf or what?” she said, raising her voice.
The way Faenys had just spoken surprised some of the movers who temporally stopped to see what was going on. Preston, for his part, did not appreciate her tone and showed it on his face. When the teenager realized she was slightly out of line, she apologized to her older brother.
“No, I’m not deaf. I might have some earwax in my ears, but it’s nothing to worry about. I can hear perfectly well,” he replied, checking with his finger to make sure there was nothing in his ear.
Zero’s little joke broke the silence that had settled, but it also made his little sister a little angrier.
“You’re fucking kidding me, right?” she asked, frustrated.
“You’ve got it all figured out.”
“Preston Zero, I’m going to kill you,” said a young teenager who was really starting to lose her patience.
“No, Faenys Kririah, you can’t. With all those witnesses around us, your crime wouldn’t go unnoticed. You will be convicted of premeditated murder and spend the rest of your life in prison. I can already see the headlines from here, “She kills her older brother because of a painting hanging in her room.””
The young man laughed, knowing that his little sister really wanted to hurt him. It took him a full minute before he stopped. She really wanted to strangle him, but as he had just insinuated, that would immediately put her behind bars.
“Well, enough joking around. Show me your famous painting.”
Faenys who was now a bit calmer led her older brother to her room. There, he saw with his own eyes that there was indeed a picture on the wall. Like his little sister before him, he put his hands on it and pulled with all his might. Unfortunately, the result was the same, the painting refused to move.
“Well, well, well! Looks like you’re going to have to deal with this thing for a while,” Zero said.
“Damn it! Isn’t there some way to, I don’t know, break the wall or something?”
“Break the wall? Do you know how much it cost me to build this house?”
“No, I don’t. But a few thousand dollars more wouldn’t make any difference, would it?”
Preston could not believe his ears, especially since he could tell from her expression that she was very serious about this. However, there was no way he was going to do something like that.
“I’m afraid that’s not possible,” he retorted.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“No, I’m not. I don’t intend to spend my money on such trivialities. I can understand why you’re angry. Someone put a picture in your room, and you don’t like it, I get it. I would probably be angry too if I were in your shoes. However, I’m not going to spend my money to fix it. So, you’ll have to deal with it from now on.”
“You can’t be serious, can you?” she asked as her older brother headed for the exit.
“Yes, I can! Watch me.”
“Preston! Preston! You idiot!”
Frustrated, Faenys stayed in her room alone, giving one last disgusted look at the portrait she now had to deal with. She could not believe that her idiot brother had refused her request. However, she could not help it, it was his money.
“If only mom and dad were still around. Maybe they could convince him.”
It took almost two hours for everyone to get all the stuff inside the house. All that remained was to deal with the last five containers that were still on the transport trucks. Inside them were Faenys’s car and other important belongings, including the famous mythical vehicle she had mentioned during their trip.
The young teenager, who had finished sulking in her corner, came to her big brother and asked him how they were going to get the remaining containers down.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ve already taken care of it. They should be here any minute,” Zero said after checking the time on your cell phone.
“Who are you…?” she tried to say.
Before Kririah could finish her sentence, horns began honking outside their mansion.
“Right on time!” exclaimed the young man.
Zero headed inside the house and stopped a little past the front door. He then opened a box that was embedded in the wall and was about the same color as it. This explained in part why Faenys did not notice it during her many trips in and out of the house.
The young man opened the box to reveal a kind of control panel with a small screen through which he could clearly distinguish the individuals standing in front of his gate. After confirming that they were indeed the people he was waiting for, Zero pressed the button marked “open”, which caused their portal to open.
The new arrivals were ten in number. They came with three vehicles, one of which was used to transport a mobile crane. They parked their cars near the Cadillac before getting out. One of them came to meet Faenys, who had stayed behind after her brother left. The man, who was dressed in light blue pants, an orange-yellow vest over his plaid shirt, and very large brown construction shoes, assumed that the person he was walking toward was Preston Zero.
“Preston Zero, I presume?” he said, holding out his hand.
“Hmm mm! wrong pick. I’m his little sister, Faenys Kririah. Preston, that’s the idiot over there,” she replied, pointing at her older brother.
“Oh, my apologies.”
“Anyway,” she said.
The man apologized again for his mistake and this time went to meet his client.
“Mr. Berwick, it is a pleasure to meet with you,” said the young man, shaking his hand.
“No, the pleasure is mine. You are the one who called on my company for the transport of your goods. And for that I am very grateful. I see that my men have already finished packing some of your things in your house.”
“Yes, they were very helpful to my sister and me. Thanks to them, we were able to finish much faster than expected,” said Preston, smiling.
“I am very pleased to hear it. Now, we just have to deal with these containers, I assume.”
“That is right, indeed.”
“Leave it to us. We have brought along the necessary tools for this kind of work.”
After finishing their little exchange of courtesies, Mr. Berwick signaled to his men to unload the crane and get to work. Less than twenty minutes later, after everything had been set up, the operation could finally begin. The foreman took the opportunity to give Preston a hard hat to prevent any incidents. Faenys’s older brother then looked at him with an amused look on his face. He figured that if a container fell on them, there was no way that a simple hard hat would protect them from it. Nevertheless, he placed it on his head.
The machine slowly began to lift the first container and gently placed it on the ground. After three minutes, it moved on to a second container, and then a third. It took less than forty minutes for all the steel boxes to be unloaded from the trucks. Zero thanked everyone for their hard work and offered them tips, which they all gladly accepted.
Now it was time to say goodbye. The workers, along with their boss, wished the duo a good afternoon, got back into their vehicles, and drove off. Faenys, who had been watching them while sitting on the stairs before the front door, finally got up and went to meet her brother.
“This is the first time I’ve seen you talk like this. It’s so unlike you,” she said.
“There are so many things you don’t know about me.”
“Another one of your many secrets, right?”
“Yes, it is. You’ll find them all out in time, or not.”
“You can start by telling me where you got the money to pay for everything.”
“One thing at a time. For now, we still have work to do.”
“Work? Are you talking about the luggage in the trunk or something else?”
“Something else. The luggage can wait. The most important thing right now is to fill our fridge and our stomachs.”
“Now you’re talking a language I understand. I’m in,” said an excited teenager.
After locking the front door of their home, the big brother and his little sister climbed back into the Cadillac Escalade and headed to downtown.
To be continued!!!