Stan Istanboul was a man of unlimited resources. Had it to do with money, or perhaps an army of faceless no-gooders waiting on his no-good directive and violent perspective, he had the capacity and the moral insensitivity to make it real.
He could make things happen before the authorities knew they were happening, or before his unfortunate victims were conscious of their suffering. They would wake up in the middle of the night with a pair of strong hands on their mouth, and a gun pointed at their quivering eyes, and they would meet their maker as they inevitably soiled their pants. There was always a terrible mess to clean up for the police. Most of the murdered probably wished that they had gone to the restroom five minutes prior. Or maybe not. Not even Stan knew what the dead think.
To the numerous men and women in his employ, Stan was as mortifying and distant a God-like figure as he was to the poor victims who crossed his bloody warpath. To them, life was also beautiful because Stan Istanboul was a man of unlimited resources, because his very specter demanded immediate respect and unwavering fear among his friends and enemies alike. Working for him was like having the best reference letter possible for a criminal resume.
The goons who worked for him often moved away to form successful criminal rings in other cities. They always reported to him, though. Always. Distance did not lessen the fear of Stan Istanboul. He sent frequent reminders of loyalty to his erstwhile employees in the form of mutilated Turkish dolls. The only responses he ever got were not very intelligent – fat wads of non-sequential hundred dollar bills, as if these employees thought that money would buy his quiescence. It did, but only because the money was a message to Stan that they were indeed frightened out of their wits.
He regularly did business at a downtown Lebanese eatery, over careful bites of spiced pitas and curry. His massive presence at these sittings were marked by his long fingers tracing the fine lines of his silverware. His rare silences at table were only punctuated by the sound of scraping cutlery. He began every conversation, and took it upon himself to end them too.
Unbelievably, Stan Istanboul’s family always enjoyed dining with him. When his innumerable children and bastards were not following in his footsteps, they found the time to share falafel with Daddy. His wife, especially, was the trophy that underlined the success of his life. He guarded her with more ferocity than a lion would his lioness. She loved him for that, most days. On others, she sobbed silently in the ladies’ room for lost freedom. On those days, she always proceeded to get completely and truly drunk in the restaurant. It never for a second made her feel less lonely until the day she met her husband’s newest recruit, Mark Allsworth.
Mark Allsworth didn’t understand the status quo from the get go. He was from Britain, and just like Hugh Grant, he was inadvertently charming and just as inept when it came to drawing the line between well-spent effort and the loss of dignity. Stan Istanboul’s wife met Mark for the first time in that Lebanese diner, and it seemed like the British gentleman had channeled the spirit of the Early Man and learned to make fire all over again. She could not keep her eyes off him. It was an animal attraction from the start; a volcanic eruption in the pipeline. Stan didn’t notice, he was too busy instructing his cretins to make another violent statement to one of his rivals.
In the hopes that her ubiquitous state of drunkenness would act as a social lubricant – or the unzipper of zippers and the undoer of pants – she poked and prodded at Mark. Casually pestering him with pointed inquiries about his faith, peddling divine perspective and religion with short monosyllabic whispers over the din, she came on to him with a singular determination.
Stan’s cretins noticed, but they had not the courage to even look at the unfolding fiasco. Nervously, they kept their eyes on Stan as his wife began to dig Mark Allsworth’s grave. It is not too hard to imagine what Mark was thinking. “I have faith in nothing. Nothing but the fact that this drink is pretty awesome, and that your tits are pretty hot for a Christian chick,” he thought. He was British, after all. What can be said of Mark is that he did not vocalize this thought, and that is a point in his favor. She was beginning to wear down his defenses, however, encouraging his wit in bawdier directions. His fear of the situation was waning, and that usually was a death sentence for anyone in the company of Stan Istanboul.
Mark’s newfound penchant for political correctness born from his unfamiliarity of America was replaced by a fountain of raging hormones that was only too familiar. He succumbed. Finally answering the question pertaining to his faith, he said, “I believe in the old Gods. The pantheon with dominion of animal things. Like Magnetism. Or, I dunno… True subconscious instinct.”
Stan’s wife wavered, and then tilted her head and smiled, tonguing her martini’s cherry. Unfortunately for Mark, this speech marked the exact moment at which Stan Istanboul decided to turn back to the table and see how his wife was doing. As his wife batted her eyelashes at the Briton, his eyes narrowed, but he decided to keep his silence. One cannot understand his silence in this situation, yet silent he sat. A few tense moments later, he returned his attention to his cretins to dispense further instruction.
The entire table heaved a sigh of relief. Everyone except Mark Allsworth. His time surviving the streets of barmy London had taught him a little bit about people and he understood that this was far from over. It is said that the wife calmed Stan while leaving on his arm, saying that they were just sharing just harmless banter. Whatever it was, everyone left the restaurant alive and in seemingly good spirits.
Words often flew from the mouth of Stan Istanboul into the reciever of his cellphone like endless rain streaming relentlessly into a single-mindedly responsive ear, and no-gooder actions promptly followed their pitter-pattering. He only had to bark a few lines, “Mark Allsworth is a disease. Take care of him now, cretins.” And the cretins would take care of him. That is exactly what was supposed to happen when Stan and his family reached their mansion early that night. Stan was going to protect his wife, just like he was expected to have at the restaurant. Also, being a deeply religious man, Stan had found Mark’s soliloquy that night very disturbing. Mark Allsworth would pay for his charm.
Until Mark Allsworth took care of Stan before Stan’s cretins took care of Mark Allsworth, Stan Istanboul’s life was a wicked, yet happy story. His cretins had waited too long to loose the hammer. They had left something far too important till the morning. Stan Istanboul was soon to learn the price of procrastination, even though it was not his own. His fatal flaw in the end was his trust of those that feared him, the very trust that had made him a giant.
The dawn after, as Stan stepped out to his pride and joy, his ’81 Crown Victoria, a lengthy shadow preceded Mark into Stan’s driveway as Mark filled the great Kingpin’s chest with lead. As Stan spent his last worldly moments on the darkening asphalt, he worded silently with his bloody, foaming mouth, “Smart cretin.” For the first and only time in his life, Stan proved to be the weaker adversary in a fight. Mark claimed later that Stan had pissed himself at the encounter.
Unlimited resources beg black clothing, and it was understood that his family of blood, money and terror would miss him terribly. Even his wife would miss him, as it turned out that Mark Allsworth was not even half the man that Stan was. In thrashing fits of violence and abandon, the criminal empire that Mark had conquered fell like Rome, and the nation was thrown to chaos as the limbs of his will failed to receive their Turkish reminders. It was understood that a no-gooder like Stan Istanboul was on a one way ticket down to Hell, even as he left Hell behind him. I wonder, will Stan Istanboul set up his iron-fisted shop in perdition and amass another army of cretins, waiting for Mark Allsworth to make his final journey? It will be an unfortunate eternity for Mark if Stan took his grudge with him.
Hell would be hell for Mark indeed.