“Two men were taken into custody today in connection to the street gang ‘The Byron Street Lords’. It’s believed that the men, identical twins, are the notorious Richie and Reuben Ito, the suspected leaders of ‘The Lords’. More news as it develops, this is Katy Terrance, Local 7 News.”
Richie, the taller one, slammed his fists against the bars. Reuben, the fatter one, was sitting on the cot.
“Calm down, let’s just think, what do they have on us?”
“We don’t know that.”
“I never trusted him, he always wanted us to go to war with the Southern Cross.”
“Well yeah, the Cross are basically the Klan, and they sell meth to kids.”
“But not to our kids!”
“Forget the Cross, why do you think LaVonne turned us in?”
“Nobody calls him that when you’re not in the room.”
Richie acted like he didn’t hear that.
“He’s shady, whenever… he’s hella spooky whenever we do a job, and he’s been caught ten times and never been to jail.”
“Because Frank gets him out of it, it’s not like they just let him go, he was almost convicted last time.”
“That’s just what he wants you to think man… Frank!”
“Oh shit! Frank.”
The guard accompanying Frank let the boys out of their cell and led them down the hall into an interrogation room.
“I won’t sugarcoat it lads, you’re boned.”
The twins sat in shocked silence.
“The police tapped your burner phones, hacked the encryption, and broke your secret codes.”
“Wait, wait they can do that?”
“Yeah, the new police chief approved it in secret.”
“What that’s legal?”
“Yeah, the city aldermen gave him that power last year.”
“We’re going to go for a plea deal. The evidence is enough to get you two, Charles, and Mikey, but everybody below that wasn’t covered by the wiretap.”
“What about Vincent, Sammy, and Lavonne?” Reuben asked.
“Vincent shot himself when they got you two, Sammy has a chance, and Lavonne’s paranoia saved him.”
“Of-fucking-course he’s fine.” Richie muttered.
“Anyway with a plea deal, I think I can get you 5 years.”
“5 years with a drunk and a snitch running the show? Ain’t gonna be nothing left when we get out.”
Reuben stayed silent.
The next day Samuel ‘Sammy’ Thompson came to visit.
“I thought you were in jail like us, Sammy.” Reuben asserted.
“Frank found a loophole in the wiretap order, they didn’t have enough evidence to do mine. It won’t work for you guys though.”
Richie and Reuben were upset but not surprised. Reuben broke the silence.
“How are things holding up out there?”
“Lavonne is acting like the frickin’ king. He’s ordering everyone around. He’s already suggesting some weird stuff to me. He thinks we should muscle in on South Tower.”
“That’s Cross territory, he can’t do that! They aren’t above coming after our families, or the rec centers neither.”
“I’ll look out for him, boss, but he’s starting to convince people.”
They chatted about the state of things for a few minutes. Nothing too serious until…
“Sammy, they’ve really got us.” Richie said.
Richie looked sad instead of his usual angry. He trusted Sammy, only he and Reuben had seen Richie like this before. Most of the time he put on a tough face, but deep down he was scared.
The twins had a tough life. When they were young, they had some promise in polite society, their parents were moderately wealthy, which in Shaw’s Hill at the time made them obscenely wealthy. Richie was an athlete, Reuben spent his time at the library reading the oldest books he could find. When their parents died, they evaded child services. Richie took care of Reuben until he collapsed from exhaustion, then Reuben would take care of Richie. Reuben’s level-headed-ness and Richie’s fear-inspiring gaze took them far. It became their ‘brand’, for lack of a better term.
“Don’t think I’m crazy Rich, but my cousin, you know my cousin, Tony, we was out for drinks last night and he was tellin’ me about his research.”
This snapped Reuben out of his reminiscence. Anthony was a grad student, he worked on something really obscure and useless. Reuben didn’t remember what exactly. Richie knew, but only because it was something weird and old-world. Something that when you spend enough time studying it you start to talk differently.
“Anyway Tony, he found this book, called the “Cherno Neehgas” or something like that. Anyway he said something about like ‘if only the spells in that book were real, I could help.’”
Right, Tony studied occult practices or something like that. Demonology.
“He put up a fight, like ‘It’s not real Sammy, you’re being ridiculous’ but I was like ‘What’s that worst that could happen?’”
Suddenly, Reuben got an idea. Shaw’s Hill looks like any other modern city nowadays, but it used to be a dark and scary place. Sure all the bankers and engineers and scientists that live here now wouldn’t buy this demon summoning nonsense, but there are plenty of people left in the city that would, like Sammy, for instance. There are still corner stores selling wolfs-bane and ginseng. Hell, Shaw’s Hill still has more tarot readers than school-teachers. Maybe, just maybe, the twins could threaten the judge and jury to let them go by staging a demon summoning. Reuben smiled wide.
Richie recognized that smile. Reuben only smiled like that when he was being brilliant. Reuben smiled like that when he suggested starting up the ‘Lords’. Reuben smiled like that when they opened the rec centers in north city to get support from the poor, black communities. That smile had never failed them.
Sammy gave the twins a copy of the spell. “The cops are new-city” he thought, “they’ll just think it’s gibberish”. Sammy also leaked to the press the twins’ plan. It seemed like it was working. The news media dismissed it as a desperate plea, the last convulsions of a dying empire. Lavonne still seemed confident. He had started having his posse put up anti-Southern-Cross graffiti in South Tower. In response the Cross had been driving their motorcycles around more aggressively. They started harassing more and more black, Asian, and Jewish families in South Tower, which in-and-of-itself had become more and more diverse since the city’s resurgence.
To a certain extent the Cross was on it’s way out of many cities in the country. It’s possible that this is why Lavonne chose to pick a fight with a national biker gang, so that he could take credit for the natural forces of time. That being said, “Southern Cross” was never uttered on the local news. When The Park is home to the largest pagan festival in the Western Hemisphere, no news. When there’s a massive shortage of Ragweed, causing a panic in the old neighborhoods, no news. But when the twins were arrested, the news jumped on it.
The news’ reaction to Reuben’s tactic was expected. But it wasn’t why the news was involved. You see all of the ‘old-city’ still watched the news, even though the news was decidedly ‘new-city’. That tiny mention, that dismissal, was all that Sammy needed to get the city riled up. If the twins started doing the ritual on the courtroom floor, an ‘old-city’ judge and jury would be scared into oblivion.
The day of the trial came. The government doesn’t listen to superstition, so the city never dropped charges. Sammy told the Twins in the hall before the trial:
“The city is freaking out, they think fire’ll rain from the sky if they charge you. You’re golden.”
They walked into the courtroom with confidence. Frank had made sure the jury was mostly older folks who had lived in the city their whole lives. He pulled some strings to get Judge Emhercz, who had been a judge in their district for 40 years, and had a habit of under-sentencing spiritualists who were charged with racketeering.
“My clients would like to give their own opening statements your honor.”
Richie and Reuben produced some wax rods and walked toward the center of the room. They began to draw a pentacle on the floor. The spell didn’t call for it, they were just being flashy. Emhercz didn’t interrupt. The twins stood across from each other and spoke aloud:
“Aleph Waskir, Veles Kniga, Czerno Brokhim, elhim ito ehr”
The foreman of the jury stood up, clearly in some state of fear and asked the judge for permission to deliberate early. The prosecutor was stunned, he had no idea what was happening. Emhercz allowed it. The prosecutor leaned over and asked Frank:
“The hell was that?”
“That’s what a good lawyer can do, jackass.” Frank put his feet up and his hands behind his head.
Just then Richie feinted.
“Hello Richard. How are you today?” A mysterious voice came to him.
“What the hell?”
“You summoned me.”
Richie didn’t have a response.
“I haven’t been summoned in a thousand years, Richard. I was enjoying my sleep. I took a look around, and I’ve decided you should sleep too.”
“Richie, Richie! RICHIE!”
Reuben managed to revive him.
The jury returned. They looked angry. Frank still had his feet up.
“The jury has decided to consider Richie and Reuben Ito guilty on all counts.”
“Yeah fucking hang ’em both!”
“LET THEIR BLOOD RUN IN THE STREETS!”
The jury started chanting, “BLOOD FOR THE NIGHT GOD!”
“ORDER!” Emhercz yelled above the suddenly angry jury.
“The maximum sentence for racketeering is 20 years.” Emhercz lost his balance for a moment. “But fuck these two. Fuck everything they are and they’ve built. In the name of King Waskir, the ancient knower, the black sun I sentence you to death.”
The crowd started to join in. They celebrated this death sentence.
“Y’know, fuck it, bailiff? You have a belt right? I have mine right here!”
“Sixteen dead after the trial of Richie and Reuben Ito descended into madness today. According to the court stenographer, the jury found them guilty, the judge issued an illegal death sentence, and then asked the bailiff to hang the brothers right in the courtroom.”
Footage was rolling under the report, which showed the twins being dragged to the bench by the bailiff and some members of the jury. The footage cut just as the bailiff placed the belt around Reuben’s neck.
“After the lynching, the judge held a mock trial for Frank Dinafrio, the twins’ lawyer. Dinafrio was sentenced to death, and the bailiff lined him up against the wall of the courtroom and shot him in the head, killing him. The bailiff then blocked the doors to the courtroom, while Judge Emhercz executed each member of the jury, then the bailiff, finally turning the gun on himself. The others present in the court have no memory of the event, and the stenographer was ‘too scared to interrupt.’ Police are investigating the cause of the event, but no leads have been found. More as this story develops, I’m Katy Terrance, Local 7 News.”
Lavonne and Sammy enjoyed a bottle of scotch they had raided from Richie and Reuben’s office.
“We should give something to your cousin, as a way of saying ‘thank you.’”