It’s hard to worry, from way here up on the roof. Which is a good thing, because Mr. Gold doesn’t like to worry. He could have replaced his personal staff years ago, brought in the cyborgs, but that’s just not Mr Gold’s style. What good is yelling at something that lacks the capacity for humiliation? What good is directing hate at something that lacks the good sense to hate itself afterwards? No, Mr. Gold prefers to employ flesh and blood. Mr. Gold is a humanitarian.
He calls this place The Garden of Allah. Ari likes the connotation of Old Hollywood glamor. And the “Allah” thing makes him laugh, too. Mr. Gold doesn’t have any problem with Muslims, in principle- as long as they stay outside the wall. Ari’s kingdom is bordered by the 2 freeway to the east, Western avenue and the remains of the 101 on the western side, and Griffith Park on the North. Standing on the twenty-foot high, twelve foot thick battlement, a guard can look over the sight of his assault rifle (Israeli-made) and see smoke rising from the hillsides and reclaimed fairways of the huge park. It’s best not to ask too many questions about what goes on in the park.
But inside Ari’s Green Zone, all is peaceful and efficient. A frontal assault by any enemy is unthinkable. Uniformed, smiling Vincent Chases serve as security guards, valets, street entertainers, and for the right discreetly-arranged price, private concubine to the needy of either sex. It would be a stretch to call it Paradise, but you can get whatever you need in Ari’s little kingdom, if you want it bad enough.
“This kid doesn’t look happy,” thought Ari to himself, as he looked at one of his sub-commanders standing in front of him like he had a particularly pointy stick up his butt.
“Here’s your drink, Mr. Gold, sir.”
Ari took the frozen concoction off the tray. It was good for the kids: He had started in the mailroom and he had clawed his way up, because he wanted it. So just because this kid had killed a few people for him and gotten a few medals pinned on him, that didn’t mean he was too good to serve drinks all of a sudden.
Ari looked through the sparkles of light forming on the rim of the glass, refracting off the big grains of Dead Sea salt. The kid was still here.
“Well, sir… Mr. Gold…” The kid looked like he was going to piss himself.
“Spit it out!”
Ari hurled the glass over the kid’s head, and it shattered somewhere off in one of the grottoes. Jesus, was the kid crying? The glass hadn’t even come close- he’d purposely sailed it at least two feet over his head.
“Yes sir, Mr. Gold. There was another attack. They came up through the pipes.”
Ari was awake now. He sat up straight, and took off his sunglasses. “What did they get?”
“A couple of hard drives. We think it was some of the Source.”
Ari was actually starting to like this kid. He had straightened up there at the end, and answered like a man. Someone handed him a rag and he oiled his pistol, lovingly. The spent cartridge was still smoking on the ground next to his wicker Chaise lounge, liberated from poolside at the Peninsula.
In the background, two servants were carrying away the kid’s body, and three more were bleaching the bloodstain back into nothing. But all that was out of focus. Who could possibly know where to find that code, or understand its full significance? This wasn’t just some random Griffith Park tribal Mad Max bullshit. They were Beyond Thunderdome here. Ari was going to find out exactly who was fucking with him, and then he was going to deal with it, just like back in the mailroom, just like he always had. Two men enter, one man leaves.
Ari dug for his phone, which had worked its way down into the cushions of the chair when he’d gone for his gun. He was going to need another drink.