I was in the front yard playing with my kids when JJ showed up. I normally didn't let anyone talk business to me when I was visiting my kids but JJ seemed real nervous.
JJ: "Did you hear?"
Trashman: "Hear what?"
JJ: "The Thugs got arrested last week."
Trashman: "So. They'll never get bail."
JJ: "They already paid it."
Trashman: "How the hell did that happen. There's no bail on a murder charge."
JJ: "Their bail was a million each. They paid it no problem."
Trashman: "OK. That's no fucking surprise."
JJ: "One other thing."
JJ: "JB told them you went to the cops."
Trashman: "Let me get my kids inside."
I went and got Jen to take the kids inside. It was time to go because we were due to start arguing again. I didn't want the kids to see or hear anymore than they had to. JJ and I got into his car and went for a little ride.
Trashman: "Did you hear anything else?"
JJ: "Yeah. The Thugs want you dead."
Trashman: "OK. Here's what we do. Find The Machine and tell him to hang around close to Jen and the boys, if he sees anyone new in the neighborhood he needs to get in touch with either me or you. Make sure he understands, nothing and I mean nothing happens to them. This is my problem not theirs."
JJ: "Not a problem. What do you want me to do?"
Trashman: "You need to be available to me 24/7. At the same time you need to find out how much they know about me. If it comes down to it, I can take Thug 1, but I need you to keep Thug 2 off of me. He's dangerous."
JJ: "I can take care of both of them."
Trashman: "I know, but Thug 2 is a handful. I would rather you didn't try them both at the same time."
JJ: "You know Dad, you never let me have any fun."
Trashman: "This ain't fun time JJ. These idiots want me dead and we have to make sure Jen and the boys are safe."
JJ: "I'm sorry. I'm just trying to be funny."
Trashman: "It's cool. I know what your doing. Go get The Machine, I'm going to get the super to let him use the apartment across from Jen, so he can keep an eye on her."
JJ: "Will the douche bag do that for you? All he ever does is give me a hard time."
Trashman: "Well you trashed your apartment, and you cause problems, and he gets his coke from me."
JJ (laughing): "Sometimes it pays to know people."
I had JJ drop me off at the super's office. I watched him drive off towards The Machine's house. JJ was as loyal a friend as I have ever had. He would do anything I needed him to and never expect anything in return. Thug 2 was dangerous but JJ was far more dangerous. Thug 2 did things for his benefit only. JJ did it out of love. His Dad had moved him into the apartment when he was 16 and only came back to pay the rent or drop of groceries. For the next two years I was the closest thing he had to a father. He was completely out of control and well on his way to jail. I turned him around (sort of) and got him to use his brains. He is a smart kid, he just never learned to stop and think before he acted. That's all different now. He was well trained in some kind of martial arts. I'm not sure which one, but it's one of those maim and destroy kinds. His teacher told me JJ was a natural born killer. He learned in two days what it took most people six months to learn. I wasn't worried about me.
We got The Machine set up in the apartment across from Jen. He had his instructions, and I didn't worry for one second that he wouldn't follow them. Like JJ he didn't have a father and I had kept my eye on him as he was growing up. When it came to me he suffered from severe hero worship. He knew what I did for a living and he wanted to be a part of it so bad he could taste it. I kept him out of it basically because he just didn't have what it took to make good decisions. If things got a little hairy he wouldn't think his way out, he would use his strength. He didn't have the brains and skill that JJ had. There was a reason we called him The Machine. He was Six feet Four inches and 325 pounds of raw, unstoppable power, that was incapable of thinking. Since I had The Machine watching Jen and the boys, I didn't have to worry about them either.