City of Vice – The Crisis

Chapter ten, A Flower in a Sea of Green

Two days later the whole day seemed little more than a vaguely remembered nightmare, the colours and noises drained and muffled, the details hazy. Tommy was stood on a small patch of land to the east of the docks. Lance had come to the island with him, and was waiting by the boat, his voice drifting out to sea as he made a phone call. Tommy looked down upon the single blue flower almost lost amid the sea of green around him. It bent gently with the breeze. He wondered if that for all his hard work and pain and suffering, his constant fear and violence, he may one day end up a small flower in a sea of green. How Tommy had been led here was running through his mind, and he replayed the phone conversation again in his head.

"Good evening Mr Vercetti, it is Andreas Traxler speaking. I do not wish to sound rude but it would mean much to me if you would allow me the privilege of a one sided conversation, it would make things much easier you see.

"As this is to be the last time you will hear my voice I wish you to know that after I have made this call I will be making my way to the police station and turning myself, and my newly acquired 40,000 worth of stolen firearms, into the judicial system for whatever punishment and safety it can afford me. I hope that they will not be too harsh upon me if I will not tell them of you or of the family, but you understand why I must stay silent. As this is to be the second to last thing I do in the world of freedom I have decided that it should be an entirely good one. Before this my actions have been selfish, all attributable to personal gain, the gaining of power, respect and money. I know now that the correct way to gain these things is to earn them through hard and fair work, not through extortion and violence and fear. People have no respect for the gangster any more, if they ever had any, and it is all too late I learn this. True respect is not born of a fear of violent action, but of a genuine appreciation and awe. People respect those who are truthful when lies would make life easier, those who are noble and stand up when humility and shrinking away would be easier, those who when given a crisis are calm and collected and take the mantle of responsibility without complaint and do what must be done, rather than those who run away and hide their heads in the sand. I realise now and only now that I have never had that respect, and most likely will have to wait for another life time for it. The world is cruel to those who make mistakes, and I have made many. I chose my friends wrong, my actions wrong and my path through life wrong. But this is the peace I make with the world. A strange peace I will grant you, but a peace nonetheless. Some may question how a man makes peace with the world by giving a mere location to a fellow gangster but that is to misinterpret what it is I am doing. I am giving you more than just a location, I am giving you a chance to see the world in a new way. I hope that when you arrive at the place I am to tell you of you will see it as I did. And more than anything Tommy, I hope that when you return from this place you will have made an important decision that will affect your life forever.

"If you travel out of Vice City Port to the East you will see a group of small islands. Upon one of these islands is a large green field, surrounded by wild bushes but devoid of any plants or flowers. Except for one single blue flower that grows in the centre. The flower will become important Tommy, but first I have an important confession to make.

"You remember how earlier today I told you that the man that was taking care of your friend, I believe his name was Tony, was an undertaker of sorts? Well, what I mean by that is that the man has a black suit and a strong stomach. He is no undertaker, of course you probably knew that, but merely a man who provides a service similar to that of an undertaker. He buries people and holds funerals for family members. He buys burial plots and provides headstones with beautiful inscriptions upon them. But you and I both know that people in our world are rarely buried in a burial plot, with their name on a stone above their heads. But our families need not know this. And that is why I gave this man the body of your friend. His family will believe he died whilst driving for his job. They will believe that the police have opened and closed a brief investigation that proves it was a simple, yet tragic, accident. You will know that this is not true, and as such I feel it would be insulting to both you and his memory if I left you to believe that he was buried in the Vice City Cemetery under a headstone that bears his name. And so I come back to the flower. If you are as clever as I believe you to be I should not need to spell it out any further. I give you more than just a flower in a sea of green Mr Vercetti, I give you your friend.

"I felt it would have been unforgivable of me to allow your friend to spend eternal rest with those who gave it to him. As such, the men responsible for his death are elsewhere. As I said in a previous meeting, I may be ruthless but I am not heartless. I sincerely urge you to reconsider your life as it stands, as I did standing where you will find your flower. I have lost all those I love and ever loved through the life I chose for myself. Nobody forced me to become who I became, and it is because of who I became I have lost my friends, my family, my loved ones, and now finally, my freedom. I no longer respect myself, and I hope that nobody respects me, for I am ashamed when I think back to things I have done and tried to justify in the context of my work. It is easy to justify anything we do in our lives, I can justify the way I earn my money much like you can also. I can justify beating a man who owes me money to the brink of death, stealing that which I cannot have and pulling the trigger when the target is in my sights. But just because we can justify something does not make it right. I have killed people, people who wronged me, fought me and even people I did not know. I have committed murder for revenge, to make statements and sometimes even because I was told to do so by the Forellis. I have held more money in my hands than I ever knew what to do with. I have watched people I sell drugs to whither away and die through addiction and overdose, and it is only now that their ghosts, the ghosts of those who's lives I have destroyed or ended haunt me. My life has been one bad decision after another, and not once at any turn has my hand been forced. I have made myself into the creature I despise today. Where I am going there is likely to be no return. I am no spring chicken, and no judge or District Attorney will be lenient on a man who could quite easily bring down two of the most powerful and dangerous crime family organisations in the entire country but for his own safety on the inside keeps his mouth shut.

"For that is why I do this. Not because I feel I owe you any more. I have given you the truth, your friend and a choice, and I leave you with those. If a deal comes available which secures me incarceration out of the reach of the Forelli family and protection akin to completely vanishing from all existence upon my release I will sing like a choir boy. But while no such deal exists you, and the Forellis, are safe from testimony from me. One final decision I make for personal gain. I sincerely hope that you consider everything I have said and if I could ask you to do one more thing other than visit your friend for me tonight, it is call your loved ones and make your peace. Bring them back into your life if you can, because it is only now I realise that there is nothing more important in this entire world than family and friends.

"Thank you Tommy for giving me this second chance. Irony has it that without you I would not be alive, and yet it is you I feared the most. In sparing my life you nearly killed me, and yet in trying to save your own you have saved mine. Finish the job Tommy, and save yourself completely.

"Good bye Tommy Vercetti, take care of yourself and remember, Mercedes loves you a great deal. Show her you want her back and include her in your life again. You will need her if the future has in store for you what I fear it may."

Tommy squeezed his hand as he remembered this last sentence. Mercedes turned to him and smiled, and squeezed back. Together they turned to look back at the docks, now silhouetted against the great red sun set Vice City was famous for and held each other tenderly. So engrossed were the happy couple that on the edge of the field Lance's phone call was going completely unnoticed.

" I'd seriously reconsider who you employ and your timetable of events; we had a few fairly close calls the other day, any one of which would have had you kissing goodbye to your money. I will, goodbye Mr. Forelli."