Survival: Friends and Enemies
People started filing into the designated ‘meeting space’ for the neighborhood I am currently visiting. It was nothing more than a patch of flat ground with a large salvaged piece of wall on rickety beams protecting us from the weather.
I stood at the front of the meeting place, watching all the people trickling in.
Everyone will be given a background check before they enter by the only person I know I can trust until the end—someone I consider a friend, Leila Espion, formerly a police officer.
Finally, everyone is here. Leila enters the meeting place and gives me the signal to proceed. I do so immediately, while she walks behind me.
“You all know why we are here,” I announce loudly to bring everyone’s attention to me.
“Lionel Banks is bent on destroying what’s left of the world—but we will not let him!”
The crowd does not roar as the long destroyed movies of the past.
The people around me look grim and terrified. Some are too scared to fight, some are too scared not to.
“But how?” a frightened young woman asks. “What on earth can we do? We have no supplies and are packed into houses like sardines!”
People began to voice their agreement, and I winced. It is just like the last neighborhood! I can only hope that a fair amount of the people here would agree to join in the fight.
“We may not have much,” I agree, before grabbing two items out of my pockets—one knife and one gun. Two of the few I had managed to come across.
“But I do have a few of these. We are also resourceful enough to make use of whatever we have!”
A few people nod. That is all I can hope for.
“You came here because you know Banks is a threat,” I remind everyone. “A threat that must be faced. If you are not going to face him, go home. If you do want to fight, stay here, and we shall fight.”
Some people do leave. I hold back a wince.
“Well, what do we do?” a young man asks me.
“The first thing we need to do is defend our borders, ourselves, and our resources,” I explain. “We may not have many trees, or any concrete, but we have rubble. We must make walls, and we must guard them. You can make weapons and give them to anyone who needs them. I will meet with you later to discuss offense. I’m leaving one of my… people here to supervise.”
One of my ‘people,’ as I called him, steps up next to me. I give him a curt nod and step back while he gives his own ‘speech.’
I survey the crowd and try to make a plan. I look for people to make weapons, to lead, and to fight. Finally, it is my turn to talk again.
“Any volunteers to start guarding?” I ask. Five people step up, and I point out three of them. “You three, head out there now. Stay in eye—and earshot of each other. Seem as inconspicuous as possible. Everyone else, try and get started on the wall. I’ll be here for the next day or two.”
I’m surprised they listen to me so well. They don’t even know me!
Suddenly, Leila whispers something in my ear. “Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer, Bryan. That’s a quote from one of those movies; the Godfather, I believe.
This is some very crucial advice.”
I suddenly feel more nervous and confused than before.
Lionel Banks is no fool. He never got to where he did by being one and he wasn’t about to start now.
A rather imposing figure at six-foot even and 250, all muscle, deep set black eyes and smooth complexion that once upon a time had that boyish look the women loved so much, but not so much now being 51, But Banks new business and how to make money and he was both shrewd and ruthless. Who else but him could pay professional medical doctors the money he did to keep from entering the military? As far as he was concerned they could die for him, but he wasn’t about to die for them. His greatest asset, his knowledge of martial arts. Ninth degree black belt in both Karate and Ju-Jitsu. He could kill a man with one blow.
He stared down at the goon before him.
“What information did my spy send?” I ask, and the goon shivers at my word. I hold back my laugh at his weakness, but my eyes must shine with glee.
“She … she said that someone named Bryan Kirkland is organizing defense,” the goon whispers. “Kirkland worked for the marines, you see, so people think he might be a good leader.”
Fools, my head screams.
The goon fidgets. I am caught between amusement and anger.
“Well?” I demand. “What are his plans?”
“Well, Mister Banks,” the goon responds, “He’s just setting up defense. You know, a couple of guards, some walls—nothing big at all. Oh, and he has a few weapons.”
“WHAT?” I bellow, momentarily snapping. I try to calm myself immediately. “Leave. These people are no threat, but these weapons are. We’ll… need to eliminate the person who found them.”
“Of course, Mister Banks,” the goon agrees. “Your spy has done well impersonating Kirkland’s friend. The cop, I think.”
I smirk. At least I have one competent worker, and Emery will be a wonderful mole.
I start to walk to where the girl is locked away, but change my mind.
“Gardez vos amis proches et vos ennemis plus proches encore,” I whisper, once my goon leaves. “Keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer.”
As things were being done, one person in the background smirked at Leila. Monique had had a serious disdain over Leila for years and honestly, she had hoped her half-sister hadn’t survived, but she did. Over the early years before things happened, it always appeared that Leila always seemed to be the favored one to get anything done. Leila-this, Leila-that. It was infuriating. Monique couldn’t help thinking of a way to pay Leila back for keeping her in the background all these years.
Payback is going to feel so good, and when she had the chance, Monique would pay her back in spades.