In this excerpt, Bensin, who has been searching for a job, receives an offer from a gang member.
“Bensin, you’ve got some great martial arts skills. I assume you’ve looked into working at a gym?”
Bensin froze, his second forkful halfway to his mouth. Another gang member?
Garrett chuckled at his expression. “Yeah, I saw you tangle with those Silverheads last week. Wasn’t sure I’d ever have the chance to congratulate you, but then I recognized you in here a few minutes ago. Well done. Most people don’t get away from them unscathed, especially when they’re outnumbered that badly.”
“Thanks.” Bensin took another bite. What is up with gang members finding me? “But yeah, the gyms around here were the first place I looked, and nobody’s hiring.”
“Pity. If you wanted a less traditional way of putting your skills to work, though, I’ve got connections.” The man grinned.
“I’m not interested in joining a gang.”
“We don’t really think of ourselves as a gang in the usual sense of the word. More like a group of friends out to right wrongs and stop the bad guys.”
“The bad guys? You mean the Silverheads?”
“And you Corner Creepers are so much better than them?” Bensin challenged. “You don’t steal or kill or anything, huh?”
Garrett glanced around and lowered his voice. “Kill, no. Well, not on purpose, anyway. I will admit there have been a few accidents over the years, but they’ve all involved Silverheads during street battles, never civilians. And they’ve taken out more than their share of our people. They’re not as careful as we try to be.”
“Really?” That’s probably exactly what they would say. “So how do you make your money?”
“I have a legitimate job, actually. A lot of us do. And most of what we bring in on the side goes to finance our little operations, not line our pockets or fill our hair with shiny metal.” His voice dripped with scorn.
“Yeah, well, I’m not interested in bringing in money on the side through illegal means.” Bensin twisted up another forkful of pasta. “I’ll find a real job or nothing.”
“Do you have any idea of the kinds of things the Silverheads are involved in?”
“Yeah, they told me. Don’t worry, I’m not going to join them either.”
“Ah, so they tried to recruit you too? Figures.” Garrett chuckled. “Anyway, we don’t do anything like that. The only things we quote-unquote steal are from the Silverheads themselves. Their stupid hair decorations; their ill-gotten gains. That’s it. And as I said, almost all the money we get from them goes toward helping to thwart their illegal and unethical activities. You wouldn’t have to keep any profit if your conscience bothers you about it. But we could sure use your fighting skills on our side.”
“I told you, I’m not interested.” Bensin set his fork down. “If that’s what buying me lunch was all about, then I’m sorry, but you’ve wasted your money.” He pushed the rest of his meal away. “I guess I’m not as hungry as I thought.”