Truths & Chains – Chapter Four


Vito had hit the gym at home almost immediately after Tito dropped him off. Now, he sat down on the padded seat of the bench press and grabbed the roll of wrap cloth from the floor. Crazy how it never ended up anywhere near its actual place in the gym. The floor in plain sight was actually probably one of the least pain-in-the-ass places he’d ever tossed it after a boxing session.

He stared at the wrap for a moment before setting it beside him. He pulled his cell phone from the pocket of his gym shorts and unlocked the screen. After selecting Bo Austen-Taylor’s name from his contact list, he called the man and pressed his phone to his ear.

“What’d you do?” Bo asked after the third ring.

“Rude. Maybe I just wanted to chat.”


Vito rolled his eyes. “I didn’t do anything. Yet. But if I don’t get a job to get my head screwed back on straight, I just might.”

“Yes, things have been… quiet for a while now, haven’t they?”

“Yeah, and the occasional fights in the ring aren’t enough for me. I need something to do before I lose my damn mind.”

“Most of what I have available are bodyguarding jobs. You likely wouldn’t be killing or torturing anybody.” He flipped through a few papers. “What do you know about the Hernandez family?”

“That they’re dog fighters. Don’t know much outside of that.”

“Well, do you want to save some dogs? I still need to get a few blueprints and finalized dates before I set anything into motion, but I do have every intention of shutting down their ring in Kansas, permanently.”

“I do like the sound of ‘permanently’.”

“I assumed you would. I’ll try to get things lined up for the bust as soon as I can. I’ll talk to you and Tito as soon as I have everything laid out and put together.” A pause. “Do Carmine and Venetia know you’re desperately in search of a job?”

“No. With the kid on the way, I try not to bother them with my… I don’t know. Urges. Whatever the fuck you wanna call ‘em.”

“Of course,” Bo said, his voice soft. Vito never quite knew if he liked that understanding tone or absolutely loathed it. “For what it’s worth, I appreciate you calling to see if I had something for you rather than you going out there and doing something stupid. I can only sweep so many messes under the rug before the rug has no more room beneath it, you know?”

“I know. Tryin’ not to kill you too young, Chief.”

Bo snorted. “It’s appreciated.” A pause. “I’ll be in touch soon. In the meantime, just keep control of yourself, all right? I’ll try to get everything together as soon as possible.”

“I’ll do my best. Thanks, Chief.” Vito ended the call and set his phone down on the bench. Though he would’ve been much better off having a job fall at his feet now, having one lined up was better than nothing. For now, while he waited to hear back from Bo, he had a back he could kick the shit out of. That was something.


A flip through his dad’s contact book had allowed Elias and JJ to pick out ‘Hank Sawyer Prez’ as the man they needed to talk to, but Elias had decided to wait until Saturday morning to pay him a visit. He’d taken an Uber most of the way there, walking the last two blocks to calm his nerves and figure out what he was going to say. He had no idea if his dad had been important enough to Hank for the guy to even remember him. He didn’t know if Hank would remember his dad, Michael, had a son, if he would know that son had survived the crash.

He knew nothing about Hank Sawyer, nothing more than his name, number, and address. Or at the very least, his address from when his dad had been alive.

Elias stopped on the sidewalk in front of the house. He checked the numbers on the front door against the numbers he’d written down on his palm. “We’ve got ourselves a match, Gordo,” Elias said quietly.

The large garage door was open all the way, so that’s where Elias headed first, his fingers tightening around Gordo’s handle. A white man stood behind the front end of a dark blue truck, bent over and ducked down under the hood. “Umm… excuse me? Are you Hank Sawyer?”

The man leaned around the truck for a look at him. “Well, I’ll be damned. Elias Payne, as I live and breathe.” He closed the hood of the truck and walked around it, wiping his hands on a rag. “Christ, kid, I haven’t seen you since you were, like, knee-high. What can I do for you?”

“You recognize me? After… all this time?”

“It’d be hard not to. You look a hell of a lot like your daddy when he was around your age.” Hank’s gaze shifted to the ceiling for a moment before his eyes came back to Elias’s face. “I”m sorry about what happened to you both. Even sorrier that you lost your dad.”

“Thank you.” Elias scratched the back of his neck with his free hand. “That’s, uh… Well, that’s sort of what I’m here about. My dad, I mean. You run the club my dad belonged to, right?”

“Ran.” Hank tossed the rag onto the floor by his toolbox. “I… retired, I guess. Left a couple years after your dad died.”


Hank’s face scrunched up before he offered a shrug. “Flying colors just didn’t feel right anymore.” He bent over to grab a wrench from the floor and pointed it at Elias as he straightened himself back out. “Your dad. Di you know he was my VP?”

“The… the vice president of the club?”

“That’s right.”

“No. No, I, uh, I didn’t know that.”

Hank nodded. “Well, he was. Best damn VP I ever met. After he passed, I struggled like hell to replace him, and searching for a replacement felt so… horribly wrong. Not a damn thing about it seemed right. So finally, after trying to tough it out through the grief, I stopped. I step down, let them all vote in their own VP after they voted in their new President. Haven’t been involved since.”

“It’s just… a group of bikers though, right?”

Hank glanced up at him before nodding. “ ‘Course. But you still need a president. Still need a VP.” He cleared his throat, fiddling with the wrench in his hands. “So what’re you here about, Elias? You said it was about your dad. Everything okay?”

“The car crash. They all call it an accident, but I don’t think it was.”


“Really.” Elias licked his lips. This part never went well, and he didn’t expect it to be any different with Hank. But he had to hope for something. “There are just… things about it that have never added up. Things that never made sense. Things that people always brush off a little too quickly when I bring them up.”

“Ah. Like the motorcycle before the crash.”

“Yes,” Elias whispered. “Yes, like the motorcycle. H-how do you know about that?”

“Two ways. One, I guess saying I ain’t seen you since you were knee-high was a bit of an exaggeration. I saw you once when you were in the hospital, before your stepmother said me being there would stress you out. You told me about the motorcycle you saw before the crash, about the noise you heard before your dad lost control of the car.” Hank leaned his hip against his worktable, arms crossed over his chest. “I’ve seen a police report or two. They chalked that up to you being drugged up on pain meds and being in and out of consciousness, but the fact you still remember it all these years later seems to me like a damn good indicator that it because of either option.”

Elias had to laugh so he wouldn’t cry. His story about the crash had never changed over the years, and aside from JJ, no one had ever blatantly told him he wasn’t crazy. No one had ever said they believed him. “Mister Sawyer, you have no idea how badly I needed to hear that.”

“I can… about imagine. I’m sure your stepmother and her husband were never too… empathetic about what happened or what you saw or heard.”

“What makes you think that?”

“I have met the woman, Elias. She never exactly made the time to be nice to anyone around her that wasn’t donating to your dad’s charity, you included.”

Elias wasn’t really sure what cards to play in response to that. He usually went with, ‘it’s not that bad,’ or even a quick, ‘she’s just doing what’s best for the company’. But Hank wasn’t the kid of a rich donor or someone he’d been set up with. He wasn’t a friend of his mother’s. He was a friend of his dad’s.

Still, his dad had loved the woman, and defending her had been his burden since his dad died. “It’s not that bad. She’s just a little rough around the edges to onlookers and outsiders.” Elias cleared his throat, shifted his weight between his feet. “You said you’ve seen a police report or two. How? When?”

“Around the time your dad died, I was still friends with a couple of the cops on the force. I got the inside scoop on a lot of details until they declared it an accident and shut everything down, boxed it all up.”

“Would you tell me about them? About what they looked into? What the reports said?”

“I can do you one better. I can show ‘em to you.” Hank pushed himself away from his worktable. “Come on inside. I’ve got quite the collection for ya.”

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4 thoughts on “Truths & Chains – Chapter Four

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