“Are you entertained?” Maxwell Knight
screamed to the crowd of no less than two thousand people as he stood on top of
the DJs music set half naked. The crowd screamed back shouting and chanting
his name. This was what most of his weekends looked like. While the rest of his
family lived the corporate boring life of signing deals and dinning out in
expensive five-star restaurants with clients; he preferred to live his life to
the fullest and that meant sex drugs alcohol and partying like a Rockstar.
“Tonight is going to be the best night of your lives. Because there’s no such
thing as a Maxwell party” he screamed “DJ turn up the damn music!” He jumped
off and danced his way into the crowd. He greeted everyone along the way as he
made his way into his family mansion. He met his longtime friend Jimmy standing
sullen faced in the doorway. They’d known each other since high school and
they both liked the same things. When Maxwell was the captain of the rugby
first team Jimmy was the vice-captain. When Maxwell was the COO of the company
Jimmy was right there beside him with an undefined role. When Maxwell was
involved in a hit and run Jimmy took the fall for him and spent a year in
jail thanks to Richard Knight’s team of ruthless lawyers. He was now on
probation and was making more money than his father just by being around
Maxwell Knight. It was like a full-time babysitting job for him look out for
Maxwell and the Knights will take care of you. As it turned out tonight was
one of those nights but Jimmy wasn’t sure if he could look out for Maxwell
this time around. They’d messed up they’d messed up big time. This time
around even he couldn’t fix this.
“Jimmy my shimmy!” Maxwell said hugging Jimmy “Where the bitches at Jimmy? Is this the best party we’ve thrown or what?” he shouted over the loud music and flashing lights. Only Maxwell Knight could turn a family home into a club.
“Max we have a problem we need to –”
“Uh uh uh not tonight Jimmy. I don’t want to hear about problems tonight” Max said “Whatever it is I’m sure you can fix it. Move out of the way.”
“Not this time Max. Will you please listen to me?”
“No no Jimmy my man you’re really being a wet blanket right now. Do you want to get laid? Is that what you need? I can organise something for you.”
Jimmy realised he wouldn’t get anywhere by just talking to Maxwell “Come with me.” He grabbed his arm and navigated his way through the mansion filled with strangers. They made their way upstairs to the entertainment room and when they arrived it was empty except for a dead body lying on the floor. “Look” Jimmy said the panic evident in his voice.
“Is that Roman?” Max asked squinting his tired eyes. “He’s blacked out so what? He’ll wake up tomorrow morning. Let’s go and party man” He turned around to walk away but Jimmy grabbed his arm again.
“No he won’t wake up tomorrow Max. He won’t wake up ever again.”
“So? It’s his decision if he doesn’t wake up let the man be. What’s wrong with you Jimmy?”
Jimmy closed his eyes and sighed. This was not what he signed up for. He could deal with the hit-and-runs the endless partying the drug dealers but not this. This was way above his head “Look Max I know you’re high and drunk and so am I. But you need to sober the hell up because he’s dead Maxwell. Roman Nurmagomedov is dead.”
Maxwell looked like he’d just been woken up and was trying to make sense of his surroundings “What? No he’s not dead. He doesn’t look dead. Who killed him? Where’s the blood?” He said as he lazily went to check his pulse “Christ there’s no pulse.”
“He’s gone man I checked his pulse. He overdosed.”
“You have to fix this Jimmy. I don’t want anything to do with this. Make this shit go away” Maxwell said he was quickly sobering up and regaining his consciousness.
“What do you mean you can’t?”
“He’s fucking Russian Max. His sister is Alena Nurmagomedov what do you think she’ll do when she finds out that her brother is dead and that happened at your party? This is not what I signed up for man. You need to call your dad or your sister.”
“And say what to them Jimmy?” Maxwell snapped “Oh hey sis I’m sorry to bother you so late I have a dead Russian drug dealer in my mansion. Can you help me with that?”
“Max you know I’d do anything for you man. But this is way above me. You need to call your dad.”
Maxwell buried his face in his hands. There was no way he was calling his father. He’d be lucky if he didn’t kill him first. Jimmy was right about one thing; this was way above their heads. “Give me your phone.”
Jimmy searched his pockets and produced a burner phone.
Maxwell paced up and down thinking about who to call “Is Bin Laden still in jail?”
“Last time I checked yeah. He was involved in a big sting operation a few months ago. He’s not getting out anytime soon.”
“Damn it who else can handle this?” Finally he thought about the one person who would be able to get him out of this mess. He tried to steady his shaking fingers and dial a cell number on the phone struggling to remember it. It’s been years since he needed it but he still remembered it quite well. He felt relieved when he heard the phone ring he waited impatiently for what seemed an eternity. The phone rang until it went to voicemail “Pick up the phone damn it!” he tried again still it went to voicemail. He tried for the third time and the fourth.
“Maybe they’re asleep” Jimmy said.
“This guy never sleeps” Max said then redialed the number this time it rang twice and it was picked up but there was no answer on the other end “Thank God you picked up man. Patrick I need your help. I fucked up and I need your help.”
“Patrick? Patrick are you there?” Maxwell asked in panic.
“Where are you?” Patrick asked.
“I’m at dad’s holiday home at Red Creek” Max said then he heard the beep that signaled the call had been ended.
The next morning Katherine tried to navigate her way through the relatively busy traffic of the weekend. She was in a meeting with Benjamin when she’d received the call about Maxwell “I’m really sorry for dragging you all the way to Red Creek you really didn’t have to come.”
“Well it sounded serious and I figured that you might need my support” Thomas said as he sat in the passenger seat browsing the news on Kathrine’s tablet.
“It just feels like ever since I met you all I’ve been doing is asking you for this and that. It’s getting a bit embarrassing. You must think I’m desperate.”
“I think you’re beautiful smart ambitious and focused. I think any man would be a fool to let you out of his sight.”
“Try telling that to my husband” She said as she turned right to a gravel road flanked by a dense population of trees “There’s actually something that I’ve been meaning to run past you. I’m sure it’s nothing but I just want some clarity.”
Thomas looked up at her “What’s that?”
“My team for the charity that I hosted a few weeks back tells me there are some payments that haven’t reflected yet and yours is one of them. Is there an issue I should know about?”
He was hoping they wouldn’t be having this conversation until the money for the ransom arrived. Truth is the only money he had left wouldn’t even last him a month. He needed something fats and he was counting on that ransom “Oh that. It completely slipped my mind to be honest. Between the hiking that I did with my friends and organising a team to find Miracle. I haven’t really had time.”
“Don’t you have someone who handles these types of things for you?”
“Yes I do but she’s on maternity leave. Business has been a bit slow so I decided against finding a replacement for her” Thomas said hoping that there wasn’t another question coming his way. Questions meant that he had to make things up on the spot things that he wasn’t planning on making up. These were the most dangerous lies as they were the easiest to forget.
“Okay so when do you think you can make it happen? I don’t mean to rush you but I did give the different charities my word that they’d have the money by tomorrow.”
“Hmm tomorrow is a bit tight for me” he said “Now I’m embarrassed because I’m sitting here acting like I didn’t know this.” He was looking for an angle to ask Katherine to pay the money without asking her directly “I’ve just been focusing all of my energy of finding Miracle. I’ve barely had time for anything else.”
“That’s understandable you’re doing us a favour. Here’s what I’ll do I can pay the money for you and –”
Yes that was the answer he was looking for “Katherine no I can’t allow you to do that. What type of man does that make me?”
“Listen it’s fine it’s not that much. You’ve already done so much asking for anything in return. This is the least that I can do for you please. You can pay me back if it’ll make your ego feel better” Katherine joked.
“Fine if you put it that way. But just so you know I don’t like this one bit and I’ll pay you back” Thomas said gritting his teeth. That was a close call things could’ve easily gone south if he didn’t think on his feet. “So what’s the story with Maxwell?”
Katherine shook her hand in disappointment “Those spoilt brats behind high walls that you were telling my dad about? He’s the leader of them. There is nothing that Maxwell’s heart desired that dad didn’t get him. The cars “Those spoilt brats behind high walls that you were telling my dad about? He’s the leader of them. There is nothing that Maxwell’s heart desired that dad didn’t get him. The cars the holiday trips the houses he was always the first one to get them and Miracle and myself had to work twice as hard just because we weren’t boys. I can’t blame dad though he’s just a product of his generation and upbringing. He was raised and taught that a man’s legacy could only be kept alive by his son’s. Do you know that Maxwell almost ran to the company twice before dad demanded that I come back and run it? I was in Europe turning every company I could touch into gold so that I could impress him and he turned to me as a last resort because his drunkard son had disappointed him too many times. If Maxwell got his act together and cleaned himself up I’d be fired or demoted the next day and he would be in the CEO position”
Rich people problems why are their families always so messed up? Thomas thought to himself “You’re smart Kat I’m sure the shareholders and investors can see that. Wouldn’t they back you?”
“Someone would have to call a vote of no confidence against him in order for that to happen. None of those suits would have the spine let alone the balls to vote against my dad. This is my dad’s world Benjamin what he says goes. Except when it comes to Max” she said as they reached the gateway of a large Victorian-style mansion. She nodded to the guard at the gate and drove in. The mansion screamed elegance opulence and years of history. Judging by its structure it must’ve at least been built in the 19th century. There were no less than ten people on the ground mowing the lawn and picking up the rubbish that was all over the place. Beer bottles champagne bottles red cups confetti and all sorts of other party accessories.
As they got closer to the mansion Thomas noticed a construction truck pulling a red Lamborghini out of the swimming pool. There were rich people and then there were the Knights. “How the hell did a Lamborghini end up in the swimming pool?” Thomas asked baffled by the ridiculousness of the sight.
“That’s nothing last time we had to pull a helicopter from the townships.”
“A helicopter? In the township?” Thomas laughed in disbelief.
“Yep that’s my little brother for you. They ran out of cocaine and he ordered the helicopter pilot to fly him to his dealer some shady guy named Bin Laden. Imagine flying to the township to buy cocaine in a company helicopter. That was the closest dad came to almost killing him. He always messes up because he knows someone will be here to clean up after him to protect the family name from being embarrassed in the press. Unfortunately that someone is always me. I wonder what he’s done this time around.” She hadn’t even finished unbuckling her seatbelt and there was already a servant opening the door for her. “Thank you where’s Max?”
“He’s inside ma’am” the servant said.
“Is he high?”
He felt uncomfortable answering that question.
“It’s okay you can tell me” Kathrine reassured him.
“He’s not as sober as the average person.”
Kathrine nodded at him and head into the house with Thomas.
Thomas looked around the mansion as soon as they entered it taking in the surroundings. He always wanted to own a mansion but back when he could buy everything he wanted his lawyers advised him that it would draw too much attention. Now that he didn’t have the police on his back he could see himself living like the Knights did. He’d always thought limousines were the ultimate status symbol of wealth but meeting the Knights had opened his eyes to a whole new world. A word of drowning Lamborghini’s and going to the townships in helicopters that was the wealth he now had his eyes on and the Knights would give it to him. “You have a beautiful home.”
“Thank you I wish I could say we had beautiful memories in it.”
“Hello hello everybody. Look who it is my perfect sister has come to save the day once again” Maxwell said as made his way down the stairs wearing nothing but boxers and a silk gown. He was with Jimmy who looked at Miracle and shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry to disappoint you Sis but your help is not needed.” He turned to Thomas “And who’s this clown with a funny face? Is he one of your charity projects?”
Thomas clenched his fist praying that the boy give him an excuse to knock him out.
“What happened?” Kathrine said “Jimmy what happened?”
“Don’t be a snitch Jimmy. Snitches get stitches” Maxwell said. He poured himself a glass of whisky and lay on the couch.
Jimmy looked at Kathrine and said “You might want to hear this one in private.”
“No it’s okay Benjamin is a family friend.”
Jimmy hesitated and scratched his head “Uhm there’s kind of like a Russian that sort of stopped breathing last night…”
“What? People don’t just stop breathing Jimmy. What the hell happened?”
“Yeah Kat he kind of took too much Snow White than his nose could handle” Jimmy said “And now he’s probably getting buried somewhere.”
“Buried? What are you talking about?” Kathrine asked her flawless face had turned strawberry-red.
Jimmy scratched his head again “Max called uhm what’s his name again? Miracle’s husband and he took the body out in a rug and told us to wait for him here. I called you so that you could know he’s here.”
“Patrick? Of all the people you could call you let him call Patrick Diale? Max is a junkie because of Patrick. Miracle is missing because of Patrick. My husband was introduced to strippers and prostitutes by Patrick. Patrick doesn’t fix things he makes them worse Jimmy. Do you know what dad will do if he finds out that he’s here?”
“I don’t know why you’re shouting at me because I called you. I let you know that this is happening.”
“I’m sorry Jimmy. It’s a lot to take in.”
“This Russian what’s his name?” Thomas asked trying to ignore the fact that he just heard Patrick Diale’s name mentioned in the same room that he was in. He wanted to leave immediately but couldn’t do so without raising suspicion.
“That’s none of your business charity case” Maxwell said poking Thomas on the chest.
“Jimmy what’s the Russian’s name?” Kathrine asked.
“Roman Nurmagomedov” Patrick said “Or at least that was his name before he went to hell. His sister runs his family’s African gun smuggling branch. They call her koroleva smerti I’ll let you google for yourself what that means. Hey Kathrine long time no see.” Patrick’s white shirt was brown and yellow with soil and sweat stains.
“It was not long enough what the hell are you doing here? Haven’t you done enough damage to this family?” Kathrine shot back at her brother-in-law
“Damage? Me? Oh Kathrine you hurt my feelings sometimes. All I’ve done for this family is cover up a few murders for both your father and your brother hence I was the first person dick face over there called when he saw a dead body in his father’s castle. But hey anyone can do that right?” Patrick said wiping the sweat off his forehead “Then I fell in love with your sister. You’re just mad because you married a boring lawyer with yellow teeth and I didn’t have an affair with you.” He turned to Jimmy “Hey fat guy can you get me some whisky? I haven’t dug a grave in a while it’s not child’s play.”
“Don’t do that Jimmy” Kathrine instructed “What do you want from this family Patrick? Or should I say Don? That is your real name right? The one you hid from us for years” Katherine said.
“I want you to give me a chance to find my ex-wife” Patrick said.
“We’re doing just fine without your help.”
“Max would disagree with you on that one. Who’s the statue?” He tried to get a look at Thomas but Thomas had his back turned to him avoiding eye contact “Oh Kathrine why do you always have to be serious and dramatic? I bet you a million Rands your husband is cheating on you because of that. You only smile at skinny dogs and poor kids. When will –” He was brought to a halt by a hot slap coming from Kathrine.
“How dare you? You have no shame Patrick Diale” she said “Benjamin can we please get out of here now?”
Thomas hesitated to turn around in fear that Patrick might recognise him. The surgeon might have done a good job but he learnt the hard way not to underestimate Patrick Diale. If he was recognised now the identity he’d worked so hard to build would be destroyed and he’d be back to square one. But there was also nothing he could do to avoid Patrick without raising suspicion.
“Is he a mannequin?” Patrick asked “Or is he deaf? You have a deaf boyfriend now? I’ve always thought disabled was your type.”
“Oh shut up Patrick” Kathrine said burning to leave the room “Benjamin come on let’s go.”
Thomas turned around quickly doing his best to keep his head down as he brushed past Patrick “Sure.”
“Hey hold on do I know you?” Patrick asked still trying to get a glimpse of Thomas’ face.
“No you don’t know him and he doesn’t want to know you” Kathrine said as they burst out of the house.
Patrick turned to Jimmy and asked “Do you know who that is?”
“Probably some prick after Kathrine’s money.”
Patrick searched his mind for answers “I’ve smelt that perfume somewhere. I’ve seen that walk somewhere. It’s just the face that I don’t recognise I couldn’t see it clearly it was like he was almost hiding from me. He looks very familiar though.”
“That feeling of meeting someone you don’t remember I get that too sometimes” Jimmy said.
“No offence Jimmy but my brain is way sharper than yours which means my memory is better than yours. Miracle is missing and Kathrine has a strange guy around him who doesn’t want his face to be seen. I’d say that’s a coincidence except there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”
“So what are you going to do about it?”
“I’m too sober to think straight but I’m not going anywhere I’ll meet him again and when I do he won’t get away so easily” Patrick said as he tried to remember the face of the man in the passenger of Katherine’s car. He was certain he looked familiar and sooner or later he was certain he’d find out who he was.