Here's a little preview of the story which is up at Plan B:
I was sitting at a bar, drinking another Black Label, when the man came up to me. I should have known he was bad news, a fellow like that with his nice suit, in a low-rent bar like the one I was in that day. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it was that I was still basically a kid, only twenty years old, but I didn’t twig to it.And, for the heck of it, a little preview of "Levels of Trust."
“I hear you’re looking for work, Lawrence,” he said, lowering himself gently onto the stool next to mine.
I took another swallow, cool-like, before answering. “If the pay’s right, sure.”
The suit nodded and pulled an envelope from his pocket. “I’ve got a problem, see. Girl trouble.”
He grinned at me like we understood each other. I would have just as soon punched that smarmy grin off his face, but I needed money and there wasn’t no use biting the hand. I grinned back at him.
"There's some stuff you should know before you go in there," Ian said, meeting me at the nondescript front door of the complex. I came inside, leaving the heat, stench and noise of the slum streets behind. My eyes were slow to adjust from the noontime sun to the comparative dark indoors.
"Hit me," I told him.
Ian had arranged things so he'd be the one letting me into the complex. I was on unfriendly ground, and any intelligence I could get would raise my odds of success.
"One, no weapons. If you're packing, turn it over to the guy at the door. They'll still pat you down, but this is gonna go a lot easier for you if they don't find anything when they do. Get me?" I nodded.
"Two." He pressed a button and waited briefly until he heard the click of a latch opening. We passed through a door. "Inside, the man you meet will appear to be in charge. But he won't be the person deciding what happens next."
"So who will be?"
Ian's mouth twitched. "I shouldn't answer that."
"You shouldn't be telling me what you've told me already, should you?"
"Just remember, everyone's got to answer to someone. Three, and this is most important, whatever answer you're given will be final. There's no appeal, no debate." He stopped me, put a hand on my arm. "You hear me?"
"No, Lawrence. Not 'fine.' I'm serious, do not try to get cute. You'll get a yes or a no. You say thank you. You leave." He caught my eye and repeated "You hear me?"
Me and Ian, we go back. Having bumped into him a few months ago, not long after I arrived in Johannesburg, had seemed like just a happy accident. With recent developments, that chance encounter might be a lifesaver. I'd saved Ian's ass a couple of times years back, now I was cashing in all that goodwill. So I didn't deck him for grabbing me.
But I still yanked my arm away hard.