bullets && blonde roast (Calli)

Aslee

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The Bianchi group worked out of an old part of town, the sidewalks lined with cobblestone and iron wrought fences. Pinned by progress on all sides, the neighborhood was preserved by militant groups of history buffs, some of them funded by Orland himself. It was well worth the cost, if you asked him-- It kept the surrounding streets quiet and clean, exactly the kind of neighborhood that cops wouldn't come looking for trouble in. Orland always made very, very sure he was the only trouble his town ever saw.

Across the street from Kennedy Park, overlooking the antique playground, was the Bianchi building. Once inside, the historical atmosphere didn't fade. Filled with over-large leather chairs and giant, creaking desks, the only concessions to modernity were the necessities for day to day life: phones and computers, mostly. Orland's private study, however, had banned even that. His single exception was the safe under his desk. (Orland himself had first cracked an antique safe at 17. He wasn't risking it.) Other than that, there wasn't even a book on his shelf that been published after 1950. His lieutenants often joked that even the dust was older than Orland.

However, the familiar fantasy of the old-school gentleman mobster couldn't brighten Orland's mood today. The past few months had been one power struggle after another, which had culminated in one of Orland's best informants, a cop by the name of Cisco Davis, no longer taking his calls. Orland could have forgiven that-- the man had a family after all, and Orland considered himself a reasonable man --but there were whispers that Davis had been seen with a couple of the boys down on 18th Street. That Orland couldn't ignore; They were a gang without a name, none of them powerful or brave enough to pin their face to their movements, but they had become a constant thorn in Orland's side. No amount of bargaining or intimidation had made them respect the boundaries of Bianchi territory, and now that had someone in their ear, feeding them everything known about Orland's operation. Something had to be done.

While it would have been very easy to wipe them out, something in Orland hesitated at what amounted to slaughtering teenagers play-acting at being gangsters. After all the things he had done trying to make a better place for the kids of his city, he couldn't turn his back on them at the first sign of trouble. He had one last message for them, and if they took the hint, all of this could go away.

He would have to kill Cisco Davis.

Not himself, of course. And there was no way Orland could ask his own men to kill him. A gangland hit on a local unranked detective would only draw attention to his dealings within the force. It had to be subtle, and whatever his boys were, subtle wasn't it. Left with very little in the way of options, Orland had to make the decision he hated most.

No, for this one, Orland had to call in Casper.

It wasn't that Orland disliked Casper-- the opposite, in fact. He enjoyed Casper's company when business brought them together, and he had nothing but appreciation for the man's skills. The work Casper had done for Orland was indispensable to creating the empire Orland reigned over today. Which was exactly why Orland hated asking him to do it again Ever job Cass did for the Bianchi Group only made it more and more obvious to anyone who bothered to look the nature of the work he did.

And, God help him, how important he was to Orland.

Orland had decided a long time ago, during one of his endless nights debating his own morality, that the only way to make up for his own evils was to make sure no one else got hurt when his house of cards inevitably came tumbling down. His inner circle, the men who had been by his side since he'd started this game, were just as lost as him, but the younger men and the consultants... Orland could shield them from the worst of it, if it came to that. There would be sacrifices at times, yes, but no cop in the world would go after a goon when the center of the web was offering himself up as a prize. It meant a lot of stupid decisions, and would surely mean his end came far before he was due, but that was a risk Orland was willing to take.

When the ever-sticking door to his office began to groan, protesting being forced into usefulness in its own age, Orland pulled himself up from his slump until he resembled the man in control he was supposed to be. "Mr. Lauri-- Good afternoon. Please come in, make yourself at home. I trust you found no trouble on your way here?"
 

Calli

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The old part of town was just that, the old part of town. The broken cobble of the sidewalks was festered with weeds that old men tried their hardest to not let overgrow. Iron fences no longer had a luster or shine, but rather black chipping paint and dents from years of drunken knees banging into them. If you weren't part of some "historical downtown preservation committee" then there was really no reason to come into the neighborhood unless frequenting one of the many authentic restaurants that lined the streets. The streets may have been newly clean, the cops under the impression that a once-forgotten neighborhood suddenly shaped up, but Casper knew better. Understood the inner workings of what went on behind closed doors. That behind the quick friendly smiles of the men and women he passed on the streets, was just as brittle trust underneath. The people in the area knew how to protect themselves, and when they didn't, well, that's usually the only time Cass took the time to come to the old part of town.

Luckily for Casper, his trips into the area were entirely work-related. While he didn't live in a neighborhood that could be considered any better than where the Bianchi building was located, at the very least it was a neighborhood where he was nothing more than an innocuous dayworker who got paid too little and frustrated too easily. His apartment was cheap, small, and as good a place as any to crash at the end of the day. Really, he spent most of his days toiling away over coffee machines and answering idiotic questions from people that while apparently were coffee addicts, could never properly tell him their order. It was a dull life, a mundane one at that, but Casper's life regardless.

Or at least it was one facet of his life. Annoying people asking for coffee didn't need to know about the knife that was always tucked slightly into his boots, baggy pants hiding the strap that kept it secure to his leg. His coworkers didn't need to know why he had a regular phone and a burner phone on him, even though he figured they assumed he sold drugs of some sort. Nor did the people in the apartments next to his need to know that there were more than the legal number of guns someone was allowed to own strewn across his coffee table alone. What he did in his off time was no one's business but his own, after all.

Well, perhaps it was also the business of people who hired him in his off time. He opened the door to the Bianchi building, the cobble outside giving way to well-maintained hardwood. A few eyes lifted in his direction as he entered, and Cass rose a hand in greeting. A couple of older gentlemen nodded in his direction before returning to a hand of cards. Casper ran a hand through his hair, detangling it slightly from the wind outside, while his other kept a steady hold on the drink tray he'd been carrying. It had been easiest to come directly after his shift at the coffee shop, and there was no reason to not bring Orland his usual order if he was coming to see him, anyway.

Ah, Orland.

How long had the two of them known each other, now? Long enough that Cass rarely took a job from someone else anymore. Orland kept his pockets lined, always paying too much, and expecting proper turnouts. Not because he was entitled to a good outcome, but because that was merely Casper's reputation. It was an odd relationship the two of them had, one that Casper could never figure out if he disliked or not. He probably should, given the nature of his work and how clear it was that Orland knew him past the façade of Friendly. But it'd always been nice, in a way, for Orland to know exactly what he did and still ask for Casper by name repeatedly. Perhaps because Casper knew what he did, what Orland was capable of. Birds of a feather typically flock together, after all.

The door to Orland's office was further back in the building, so Casper strode through the entry area, past all the gentleman mobster décor with only the smallest roll of his eyes. He offered a singular sharp knock before opening the door, the groan of the door familiar as it creaked in protest. Drinks still in hand, he entered the office and closed the door, the same creak accompanying being closed as it had been opened. Orland Bianchi sat behind his massive wooden desk, just as presentable as he always seemed to be.

"Get your door replaced, Bianchi," Casper said, forgoing the pleasantries he knew he was supposed to respond to. Taking Orland's instruction to make himself at home to heart, Cass sunk down in the red leather chair in front of the desk. The leather squeaked nearly as loudly as the door had, but it was too comfortable to complain about. "The walk over was nice," he admitted, leaning forward to sit Orland's drink in front of him. "Although your drink may have gone a little lukewarm in the process. Sorry 'bout that." He leaned back in the chair, taking a sip of his own relatively lukewarm drink as he did so. He took a moment to enjoy his drink, eyes flickering across Orland's office to both make sure no one else was around, and if he could see if Orland had added anything new to the room. "What's up?" he asked, a singular blonde brow arching in question.
 

Aslee

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For some reason, it was always harder to give these assignments in person. It would have been easier to send a text-- a name, an address, and an amount. That was simple, something that Orland could forget about until the benefits came rolling in. Which was exactly why he didn't do it. He figured if he was going to have someone killed, he might as well have the decency to give the order with his own mouth. Every life took its due out of him, like pieces of his soul were part of the asking price, but the ones with Casper were the worst. Orland honestly didn't know why; It could have been any number of things, from the illusion of innocence in those clear eyes and darling curls, to the fact that Casper was the only hitman Orland had ever seen out and about in the world untouched by violence. Whatever it was, it made it incredibly hard to look him in the eyes and tell him to kill.

"Thank you," Orland said, simply, as his fingers curled around the coffee cup. He took a long sip, grateful for the convenient excuse for a moment to collect himself. Warmth and sweetness bloomed on his tongue. Cass was one of the few who knew his actual tastes when it came to coffee. Being a Bianchi, no matter how honorary the name was, came with a certain set of assumptions, and a taste for unsweetened espresso was one of them. Orland could choke it down with the best of them, but it would never delight him as much as what Cass could do with a blonde roast. Putting the cup down, Orland managed a smile for the first time all day. "Perfect as ever, of course. I don't know how you do it; I've certainly never managed."

With polite conversation failing him as a stalling tactic, Orland nodded and set his shoulders. "Right. Down to business, then. I have a job for you, but genuinely, Mr. Lauri, I wouldn't be surprised if you chose not to take it." Orland was almost hoping he wouldn't. "Your target is Cisco Davis. He used to be on my payroll, and I'd like you to make sure he doesn't end up back on it." From his desk drawer, Orland took a picture of Davis in full uniform and slid it across to Casper. "As you can see, the first wrinkle is Davis' choice of employment. I'm sure I don't have to warn you about how fanatical the boys in blue can be about cop killers. I'm prepared to pay you double your usual fee for the risk alone, but I'm afraid it gets worse."

Orland leaned forward, elbows on his desk, face grim. He needed Casper to understand just how dire this could be for him before he agreed to anything. "I'm going to be very frank with you. Davis isn't an idiot. He knows who I am, and he knows what I'm capable of, so I'm sure he'll be on high alert. The good news is, I;ve been very careful about who knows what it is you do for us. Outside of my inner circle, you don't exist-- And they don't know who, if I can help it. So while he'll be waiting, he won't be ready for you, specifically. Still..." Orland met Casper's eyes. "I want to be very clear, Mr. Lauri. If you take this job, it could very well be the last."
 

Calli

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The Bianchi leader had always been odd to Casper. He understood the sentiment of the Italian mobsters, the Irish gangsters, hell, even Joe Whoever-the-Fuck from next door wanted control. People wanted to be in charge, to be above the law, and for anything they deemed done in good faith to be pardoned. Casper understood the sentiment well, understood that he'd never felt the need to turn himself in, no matter how many deaths he had under his belt because it was all done with the intention of making the world a better place. Yeah, he got paid for it, but it wasn't like he was hired to kill babies and pregnant women. No, the guys he was asked to kill were just as scummy as the last, all of them running around with blood soaking their hands and too much money in their pockets.

Cass was no different.

Which was why Orland was so odd.

It was as if it personally pained him to continuously need to resort to hiring Casper. Not in a way that would make it as though he was weak-hearted, but as if it was a last resort. Perhaps Casper had a warped view of things when killing someone wasn't necessarily his last option. He'd long been desensitized to the thought that lives were important, that everyone was special and unique. They were all going to die, some by the hands of others and some by less gruesome means. A sadist would take pleasure in being a hitman, but to Casper, he was merely a realist. The world was shit, and there was hardly much he could do as an individual to change that. It didn't matter if he didn't eat red meat on Sundays, walked to the coffee shop in the morning, and showered two minutes less than he wanted at night, the world was still going to shit.

But, if he could take out a few people that continued to make the world shit, he had to be doing at least something right.

Cass rolled his eyes at Orland's compliment, "All you do is put the blonde roast in to brew. Your order is by far one of the simplest I get." Even his own cup was more complicated, with two extra shots of espresso and a pump of caramel to combat the bitterness. He liked coffee just fine, but to drink it without a sweetener was near impossible.

Once Orland moved on to business matters, Casper sat a little straighter in his chair. He may be familiar with Mr. Bianchi, but he was still a professional. Leaning forward he placed his drink on the desk, fingers grabbing the photo Orland had pulled out in the wake. Immediately, light eyes began to scan the photo, detailing as much as he could as quickly as he could. As Orland pointed out, the immediate problem was that Cisco Davis was a cop, as evident by the uniform he was donning. Immediately, he flipped the photo over, noting that Cisco's name and address had already been written down for him. Good. Tailing people took so much time, he much preferred when he was given as much information from the beginning as possible.

There were two secondary problems that Cas could see, one of which was detailed by Orland himself. Someone on high alert, aware of who may send a hit after them, was never fun to deal with. The second was that killing a cop in any capacity was trouble. Guys got busted for less demanding jobs all the time if killing a cop just meant double the reward. Which was true, but only if you could get away with it. Casper had refrained from taking any jobs that dealt with a cop in any form, not wanting the forensics team to finally sniff him out. When you killed nobodies and low lives no one really batted an eye but killing one of their own? The whole force came out to play.

"This is a tall order, Bianchi," he said, flipping the photo back over. "Looks like a nice guy. The type to already have a wife and kids?" Casper had spotted the wedding band on Cisco's finger. "Doesn't seem like the type you usually send me after." Cass dropped the photo onto the desk, meeting Orland's eye. He had always known that Orland tried his best to not let people know why he came to the Bianchi building so often. Perhaps people saw him as a coffee delivery man, but he doubted every delivery guy got to just waltz into the boss's office as Casper did. It was good to hear that at least Cisco didn't know that it was Friendly who was after him, meaning he didn't have to change up his normal tactics too much. There were a couple of other guys he knew that did this sort of work, and each of them had their own tells, intentional or not.

"Look, this isn't the type of job I normally take," Cass admitted. "Double pay or not, this is a big risk going after a cop." Meeting Orland's gaze was a mistake, and he sighed heavily and shook his head. "A last job? What, you've grown tired of using me already?" He wasn't offended, it was only natural that people stop using a singular hitman. It was natural for a hitman to stop accepting jobs from the same person, especially one that he knew outside the life of crime. "Who am I to refuse? Tell me what you can and when you need the hit done by."
 

Aslee

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There weren't many in this world that Orland trusted, and even fewer he liked. Casper had made it onto those lists, somehow, during their first jobs together. Orland wasn't an idiot, of course; He knew better than to trust any hitman off the street, but Casper had always been brutally honest with him, even when he probably shouldn't have. To put a finer point on it, there was no advantage to Casper ever selling Orland out, especially when Orland knew so many of his 'secrets'. There was nothing stopping Orland from telling Casper everything. In fact, he even wanted to-- It would certainly help their chances of success if Casper knew all the variables. On a more personal level, Orland needed a second pair of eyes on this 18th Street situation, and Cass's quick, pointed thinking would have been a blessing to him a dozen times in the past month.

Still, he hesitated.

As much as it would have helped Orland to divulge everything, it would have hurt Cass to hear it. Not in the moment, of course, but in the long run. Theirs' was a business where knowing too much could kill you, and while Orland didn't foresee himself coming for Casper anytime soon, he wasn't the only Bianchi. Yes, he was in charge, and most disobedience had been crush out, but should he ever be unseated, those who had helped bring him to power would be the next to die. That was only the consequences from Orland's own people-- What the rest of the world could do to a Bianchi confidant left vulnerable, he shuddered to think. There was only so much he could say here without endangering Casper even more.

"A nice guy, yes," Orland repeated, a sardonic smirk lifting the corners of his lips. "In much the same way I myself am a nice man. Unfortunately, 'nice' does not always mean 'good', my friend." Orland sighed. Most of what Davis had done had been on his own orders, yes, but Orland had always had a distaste for dirty cops. While they were necessary, their lack of loyalty disturbed him. "Davis has been selling secrets to me for years, now. Some of them got friends of his, friends that had held his babies in their arms, killed. This... personality flaw of his was useful to me, for a time, so I let his existence slide. However, he has outlived that usefulness. I wish I could give you more detail than that, I do. Unfortunately, things are still in motion."

"I do regret the children. Please understand, I take no pleasure in taking this man away from his family. Under the circumstances, though, I am prepared to say that, in my experience, the mistaken memory of a good father is sometimes kinder than the reality of a flawed one. While I'm sure that the police department will more than compensate his widow, I can promise you that his children will be cared for, if that's what you're worried about. Anonymously, of course, but I won't have children starved over a petty land squabble." Ah. Was that too much?

It didn't matter, apparently. Cass was still taking the job. Something almost like shock filtered through Orland's veins, adrenaline making the tips of his fingers cold. It was ridiculous to feel this way, he knew that; He had called Casper hoping for this exact thing. Even as he processed it, however, Orland could already feel himself planning for the eventuality of Casper's failure. It wasn't that he didn't trust Casper to do his job correctly-- Of course he did. Cass hadn't failed him yet, not even by Orland's exacting standards. There was no reason for Orland to act like this at all, really. There never had been. It was just what he did, plans and lists and mental flowcharts, obsessively planning for a thousand disasters that would never come. While most Bianchi heads had ruled with confidence and intimidation, Orland had made it to the top because he was almost never surprised.

How could he be, when he had already found every worst case scenario?

As his mind whirled with scenes of disaster, another smaller, more personal part of Orland's brain was still reeling. Why had Casper even said yes? Orland had all but asked him not to. There was no reason to say yes, despite the insurmountable difficulties that Orland hadn't bothered to sugar coat. The money may have been enough for a more desperate man, but certainly not Casper-- If a hitman could have anything approaching job security, the way Orland kept returning to Casper's services meant that the double fee wasn't exactly a deal maker. Why risk your life for it when you could simply do two much less dangerous jobs? It's because it's you, some deluded part of Orland's brain whispered to him. He trusts you not to let that happen to him.

And it was a stupid thought. Orland knew that even as he thought it. He'd certainly done nothing to deserve that level of trust from Casper. Stupid as it was, however, it was almost addicting-- Even though Orland was sure he didn't have it, he suddenly wanted it. Orland didn't want for much anymore, but this, he wanted very badly indeed. Wanted to be the kind of man Casper could trust, the kind of person who could protect the people he cared for from certain death. Now he was teetering on the edge of stupid, threatening to fall over into irrational, but the slide was so delicious. What would it be like, to be trusted like that? To hold someone in your hand like a weapon, like a treasure?

There was nothing he could do to keep Casper from getting hurt. Nothing he could do to stop the police from finding Casper, should the wrong evidence get into the right hands. But he could gentle those blows. There were men he could feed to the cruel grinder of the justice system, instead, bigger fish to fry. They wouldn't want a mere consultant if they had someone important, someone with a name behind them, someone who would sound impressive on the news--

The thought crystalized.

If Casper was caught, Orland would simply have to give them himself.

"It's not that I don't want you to continue working for me," Orland said. His voice shook slightly on the edges, excitement from his own dizzying thoughts leaking through. He'd never been able to excise the emotions from his voice completely. He was still a shitty liar, no matter how hard he'd fought to hide that fact. And Orland was very, very excited. There was no better high than a plan coming together. "Please, don't think that. It's merely that even if you finish this job unscathed, it would be unwise for me to contract you again with so much attention on you. For both our benefits. If another one of my enemies ends up dead with the same modus operandi, well... It wouldn't take a detective to put two and two together, would it?"

The reality of Casper's situation dulled the thrill of Orland's own machinations a bit. He sighed, settling back in his chair. "I know I am not in a position to advise you on which jobs you take with other people, and I don't want to overstep. I do believe, however, that it would behoove you to... lie low, for a bit, after this. They will be looking for you, and it's not unlikely that they might tie this to your previous jobs. Not just for me, but your entire career, Mr. Lauri. If it's--" Orland cringed. Most of his job was talking money, but as a child who'd grown up with almost none of it, it was still an awkward experience for him. "If it's the financial aspect, I could find work for you elsewhere in the organization. Apart from the rank and file, of course. Nothing that would compromise your identity."

He shook his head, trying to clear it and focus on the mission at hand. "As for this job, well... I leave it to your better judgement. There's isn't much of a timeframe, I'm afraid. If I've planned this right, whatever he manages to get done between now and his demise will be of no matter at all very shortly. There's only one necessity, and it is a bit of a doozy, I'm afraid."

"You see, Davis has been spending an awful lot of time on 18th Street, lately. I'd like him to die there, please."
 

Calli

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Being a hitman wasn't exactly every little boy's dream job of choice. Unfortunately, some jobs fit people without them needing to specifically search for them. Casper wasn't born into some elaborate family of killers; this wasn't Mr. and Mrs. Smith. His old man drifted in and out of employment as often as he did bars. His mom, bless her, hadn't the skills or the mentality to do more than at-home labors. Casper had dreamed of all the typical jobs, of going up into space or doctoring sick animals back to health. None of that trumped his need to fight fires, to watch ecstatically as red fire trucks zoomed by more often than they probably should have in the neighborhood he grew up in.

But the dreams of a child hardly mean much in the reality of the world. Bigger dreams had been crushed for people more important than he. Casper was fine with the lot he had been dealt in life.

Besides, being a hitman was something that fit him. He understood the mechanics, the freedom to do and take as he pleased. Bad people needed other bad people killed; it was simple. Hell, most of the time there was no need to even know who was hiring him. A target and a drop-off of a duffle bag of cash were all that were needed. If the barrel of his gun smoked, blood soaking underneath his nails, that was all part of the job. He'd seen more than his fair share of death; it was near meaningless at this point.

Even so, Casper had never been one that didn't have his own zest for life. If he didn't want to live, there had been plenty of opportunities in the past to let his meager form of control go. Rough fights and lonely nights were more than enough reason to give in to the release he gave to others. Yet, he hardly thought about it. Regardless of a near-pointless façade of a job at a coffee shop, a handful of friends he hardly made the time to see, and an asshole of a father he still sent money to every month, there was little tying Casper to the world. Being sent to prison also wasn't on his bucket list and had always taken proper care not to get caught. Sure, there were always risks, but with proper time and consideration, nothing had ever gone poorly.

Then why was already so willing to take a job that left little time to prepare, and more risks than he could count on a single hand?

Really, he knew it was because Orland was asking this of him. When they had first met it had been over coffee, only in a much different manner than the one they currently found themselves in. Casper had no idea that Orland was the Bianchi head, and Orland had no idea that Casper was the hitman Friendly. It had simply been a chance encounter, one that left Casper smiling cheekily at a man who had come in asking for a blonde roast.

A lot had happened since then, and Casper knew it was foolish to care about someone that could be considered as bad as the countless other Casper had been hired to kill. His own safety was on the line trying to go after a cop. It was hardly at the forefront of his mind though, nothing more than a passing thought.

He'd take any job Orland asked of him. Would hardly think twice about it other than to prod at Orland enough to get the other man to talk as much as he was now.

Perhaps he had nothing else to offer Orland. Nothing more than the promise that whatever that was asked of him, regardless of the cost, Casper would happily give it.

Reckless, really, to put all his loyalties into a man that countless others were willing to do the same. Casper had never viewed Orland as a dictator, but should he need to be used as a pawn for the betterment of Orland's own safety, he would take on his role with pride.

"Calm down, Bianchi," Casper said, taking another drink of his coffee. Orland was always so passionate about everything he said, it was easy to make out the slight shift in his voice as he tried to explain. Casper felt himself to be a rather bland, if not overly rude speaker. He much preferred Orland's constant rushed explanations and factual intentions. "I was just pulling your leg. I know how to lay low for a little bit. Haven't been caught on the job yet, yeah?" There was no reason for Orland to worry about this job, honestly. Casper, while aware that it would be difficult, wasn't worried about getting it done. Cisco Davis would be dead within the week if he could help it, the month if he couldn't.

Orland's offer to land Casper a position within the Bianchi organization was nice but unnecessary. Casper shook his head before the other man even finished. "Wouldn't be a good idea to start hanging around your boys a bunch if we don't want anyone piecing anythin' together. Means well, but don't need it." He held his half-empty cup up in hand, "I got this gig to keep up with, anyway. You'd be sad if you came by the shop and your favorite barista wasn't there to take your order. Besides, I'm good on money. I got plenty saved up, anyway." Casper may live in a shoddy little apartment, but that didn't mean he didn't have enough cash stowed away to live off for a few months if he needed.

The next part of Orland's request, however, had Cass's brows furrowing and mouth tugging down into a frown.

"Eighteenth street?" His fingers tightened slightly around his cup. "Didn't know the boys over there had the brains to rope in a cop to help them in whatever they get up to." Cass knew a little too well what some of those boys got up to. "A hit on Eighteenth…?" he mumbled again, voice drifting off. It threw a wrench in his plans, but that didn't mean the job was suddenly undoable. "I got a couple of old friends who live over there. Shouldn't be too hard to ask around and figure out where Davis likes to hang out. I'll get it done." He nodded, almost to himself, before looking back towards Orland. "You wanna shake on it? Put anything into some fancy official writing?" He smiled, trying not to let Orland see the tension he was suddenly feeling.

While Casper hadn't grown up on Eighteenth directly, it was close enough that he had no doubts that whatever boys Cisco Davis was talking to lately, Casper knew at least a few of them from when he was a kid.