“I need to stay with somebody tonight,” Khailani declared once Annice answered the door. Annice was the leader of the Kamau Vigilante Group, aka the KVG, and designated getaway driver. She was built like a fighter and had enough scars to describe her battles.
No stranger to prison life, she had since shaped up and settled down with a wife and three kids. Annice worked smarter to keep drugs from falling into the wrong hands and to help struggling women in the neighborhood. She strived to do the dirty work and keep their hands as clean as possible.
“What’s with da rabbit?” asked Talia, picking at the last few strands of hair on her head. Talia had been gunrunning ever since she knew Annice and kept the best of the crop for KVG. Rumor had it that a big shot gang employed her, but it was easily dismissed. Who’d keep a thief alive?
Lately her mind’s been elsewhere, and her usual sloppy attire had been splattered with yellow paint. Dean suspected she’s been messing in his studio in the backroom, but he found no evidence.
“L-last chance? This is your last chance?” Annice sounded out, locking the door behind her.
“It’s the damn White Rabbit. He got into my fucking car and left this shit in there,” Khailani spouted, dropping into an open chair.
“A wee bit of a stretch, dontcha think?” Talia uttered.
Khailani glared at her. “Why the hell would I keep a livin’ creature in a sunbaked car for over three fucking hours? I don’t feel safe for a minute if they can break into my car. I can’t be sniping drug runners if I’m worried about being sniped myself,” she hissed.
“Why don’t we postpone the raid?” Dean piped up. Out of everyone in the group, he was the scariest. As unofficial co-leader of the KVG, he took care of purifying the drugs KVG pilfered for themselves and selling them to a more affluent market.
His charisma was off the charts, and he knew where to or not to be. Supposedly he retired from the police force on an ugly note, but he was so well-loved that his former co-workers treated him like he never left. Furthermore, he made friends with a damn dragon and who knows how many more monsters in Renagasor.
“Postpone the raid? Hah!” Talia rolled her eyes. “She’s gettin’ death threats we dun know are real!”
Dean shook his head. w“Talia, any notes from the White Rabbit can’t be taken lightly. We’ve heard the stories of this guy’s feats. When I took Khailani to get her gun, the shop keep was at a loss for words about Mr. Rabbit, and he’s hard to intrigue.”
Khailani knew a truth hid among crumbs of lies, but she shared a thankful glance in Dean’s direction. Annice pressed her lips together.
As the ringleader of the operation, she was hesitant to postpone it. During their meeting she considered it but was quickly convinced to continue the mission by several KVG members, including Talia. She glanced out towards the parking lot. “Is that him?”
They all rushed to the window.
“Looks like he’sa wearin’ a white…rabbit mask,” said Talia.
“What are you doing?” Annice disarmed Khailani and Dean restrained her. “We already have the cops snooping around the block. We can’t give them another reason to come out here.”
Annice watched White Rabbit scrawl a lop-sided skull in bright pink spray paint on the pavement.
“I’ll get a tail on ‘im,” said the balding woman, pulling out her phone and texting an associate.
“Let go of me.” Khailani freed herself from Dean’s arms and scurried to the water tank. She scowled at it as if it did her dirty and poured herself a lukewarm drink. Initially taking small sips, she threw her head back and drank the rest.
With a heavy sigh and heart rate steadily slowing down, she filled her cup half way.
“Why did you stop me, Dean?” Khailani asked, sensing him approaching her.
“Because that may not be White Rabbit. You remember Chief Commissioner Alexis? They say the murderer wore a rabbit mask.” She held the cup to her lips and spared a glance towards him. “After his death, everyone who hated him started buying masks en masse. For all you know, a random person wore a mask and was ordered to taunt you.”
She slurped the water. It was impolite, but the noise calmed her. Dean softly smiled.
Khailani narrowed her eyes and responded, “I’m not convinced. What if—”
“You kill him and another pops up?” Dean challenged. “What are you going to do then, Khailani?”
“There’s a higher chance it ain’t him. Could be a rival gang or our target drug group tryna scare us off,” Talia said from the other side of the meeting room.
“All the more reason to shoot him!” Khailani growled, crumpling the paper cup.
Annice raised a hand. “Hold off the trigger-happy feelings. It’s like what Dean says: you kill one, another will pop up. We don’t know how deep the network goes. What if they’re a person wanting a fix and is simply the errand boy.”
“Didn’t think you’d take my side three times today, Kamau. Should I watch my step when I head home?” Dean chuckled.
Annice rolled her eyes. “I’m more worried about you falling into a bush and getting more twigs in your hair.
“Let balding take care of the guy in the parking lot. We still have loose ends to resolve.” Annice smiled at Khailani gradually calming down. Maybe watching Dean fervently comb out the twigs and leaves from his black fro lifted her spirits.
“Afterwards, why don’t you spend the night with me?” she offered, glancing toward the cage on the floor. “We’ll take the rabbit to a shelter…unless you want to keep it.”
“Hell no. They say a rabbit’s foot is lucky, but I want nothing to do with it.”
Annice smiled. “Fine by me.”
© 2021: Operation: UGAWTS || The Cat in Rabbit's Fur || Short Story ||