Empire of the Ring

Chapter 37
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Chapter 37: Mafias of Sumqayit (2)

The café was not so busy in the afternoon hours and only a few tables were filled with some men. They looked like mafias disguised as guests. Full of cigarette smoke, the room was not ventilated well, so Youngho stayed near the open entrance door for a while. Even though the bartender yelled at Youngho to close the door to prevent heat from escaping, Youngho waited a little while to ventilate the room before the door. Then he held the business card and yelled out the name on it, “Rodion?” A man who was sitting at the inner side of the café raised his hand, inviting Youngho to his table.

The bartender growled at Youngho passing by as if he wanted to threaten him. As Youngho passed by him, in the blink of an eye Jongil took him by his collar. The bartender was now wriggling to get out of Jongil’s strong grip. When Jongil finally let go of him, he fell backward and the liquor shelves behind him broke with a crashing noise. Thinking it would cost him a lot, Youngho swore inwardly that he would make Jongil pay for the damage. However, because of Jongil, Youngho was not tense anymore. Because of Jongil’s actions, Youngho could make a dramatic entrance. When two of them came in and made noise, the guys near Rodion’s table looked disturbed.

Youngho sat down opposite to Rodion, acting as if nothing happened. The guy stared at Youngho and Jongil, who sat down when he did not even ask for permission to sit down. The onlookers were stirred by Youngho and Jongil’s behavior, since normal people would get scared as soon as they step foot into the café, but Youngho and Jongil did not seem to be nervous at all.

“I am the CEO of Chunho Merchant clothing store. You said you wanted to be a business partner?”

As Youngho spoke in Azerbaijani, the guy seemed to be surprised.

“You can speak in Azerbaijani?”

“I’m not very fluent in Azerbaijani. I’m more comfortable speaking in English, Rodion.”

Youngho called him by his first name to look tough—he did not want to respect him by calling him a mister.

“We can speak in English.”

Rodion, who looked like he was in 40s, talked to Youngho with discomfort on his face. His pride was hurt by Youngho’s actions.

Rodion was a big guy with a big belly raised like a mountain. Youngho nicknamed him as ‘the big belly’ in his mind. He was a mid-ranked person in the mafia organization.

Youngho spoke without hesitation, “My store in Sumqayit is already doing so well. What part do you want to play as a business partner? If it is beneficial to me, I’m willing to listen, Rodion.”

Since Youngho and Jongil’s actions were so bold, Rodion could not act mindlessly. Rodion answered him with a frown on his face, “We’re in the oil industry, and the business is bad these days. We wanted to do a clothing business, but we missed the chance because you guys started first. That’s why we want to be business partners with you.”

His English was not fluent, but Youngho could understand what he meant. Even though he said he wanted to be a business partner, he was almost threatening Youngho. He was saying that Youngho snatched the business opportunity that they had been planning on getting all along. It was ridiculous, but Youngho went on.

“So, how do you be a part of our business?”

“....”

He did not say anything when Youngho boldly spoke without a hint of looking scared.

“The clothing store in Sumqayit is not only mine. I have business partners who are government officials and I need to discuss with them too.”

The big belly jerked at the mention of ‘officials.’ The mafias planned on taking over the business by threatening Youngho, but he had not expected that officials were involved in the business.

Mafias did not get involved with officials usually but only dealt with common people who had no power.

“Stop trying to lie. Have you thought about the consequences?”

“You know, I have no reason to lie; and even if I do, I don’t have a reason to get scared of you.”

“....”

He did not speak for a while, seeming as if he had no words to fight back.

“You don’t know who we are?”

Now that he was threatening Youngho, he changed his attitude. In the beginning, he disguised himself as part of the oil industry, but now he was intimidating Youngho with his position. Youngho already knew that he was a part of the mafia, but he did not say anything.

“You introduced yourself as an oil manufacturer company, and now you want me to find out who you are? Are you threatening me?”

“We own the night in Sumqayit. Don’t you think cooperating with us will be good for you too?”

Youngho smirked at him.

“I don’t do business at night. I just run a clothing business. Can you explain why I have to fear the night?”

“You have no idea.”

Youngho raised his voice at Rodion’s last words, wishing that his words could be delivered to the higher order in the mafia group.

“What about you? Do you know who I am? You have no idea which officials of Baku I am working with. I can shut down this clothing store any time I want, but I can make you stop doing businesses in here for good.”

“....”

“I would have agreed if you asked to get paid in exchange for guarding the store at nights, but you are just a gangster who is threatening me to share my business. Are you out of your mind?”

“....”

The big belly fell quiet and sighed to himself. He was being threatened by Youngho instead of him threatening Youngho. He looked as if he was in a shock that an unexpected thing happened to him, a mafia.

***

Ignoring the big belly in front of him, Youngho called the director right away and told him in a loud voice that someone from the mafia was threatening him.

The big belly’s face changed weirdly after hearing Youngho’s phone call.

“Hey, Rodion. Who’s your boss who directed this to you? I’d like to let him know that if he wants to be an enemy, he will be an enemy of the government too. Call him now. Tell him I’d like to see him.”

“Uh, oh....”

He realized that things were not going according to plan. Youngho’s indifferent mention of mafias and his calm attitude were overwhelming him.

Jongil, who was sitting next to Youngho and listening to their conversation, took out his Beretta pistol and disassembled it with narrowed eyes.

He disassembled and assembled the gun in a flash, naturally putting it back in his front pocket and shrugging to himself as if it was nothing for him. This was only possible for a trained person who used it countless times. He was bold enough to ignore all other people in the café, took out the gun, and showed off his skill. Even mafias would not do that in the daylight.

His actions held a deep message: that he was in a position to legally have guns in the daylight and he was someone to watch out for. The big belly with a chubby face rolled his eyes. His pupils were almost buried under his fat that they were almost too hard to see. Leaving the café, Youngho warned him that they would not be able to do business again in Sumqayit if they bothered him again

Stepping out of the café, Youngho slapped Jongil’s back, making a loud sound.

“Man, that hurts! I already know what I did. You don’t have to beat me up.”

“Why did you take out the gun and put on a show? They’d think we are Asian mafias.”

Even after Youngho’s scolding, Jongil sounded proud of himself.

“I was patient enough. I waited, waited, and waited and held myself. If they’d made more moves, you’d find them deep under the Caspian Sea with their ankles chained to an iron ingot.”

Jongil was a guy who would actually do as he said. Although he looked like a normal person, if someone was caught in his radar, that person would face death or at least be deformed.

“Watch your mouth. You are so dead if you say that in front of the siblings.”

“I’m not crazy. I won’t say that.... Okay.”

Feeling Youngho’s deadly gaze, he stopped speaking. Youngho thought it was a good timing to warn him since Zeynep started to act like Jongil and repeated his words lately.

When Youngho went back to the store, Karajan, who was waiting for him impatiently, greeted him.

“Boss, were they mafias for real?”

Karajan, who had been nervous all along, looked surprised when Youngho and Jongil stepped inside joking.

“They were just petty racketeers. Mr. Park saved me today. We took care of some of them and made sure that they’d not come back again.”

At Youngho’s words, Karajan looked at Jongil differently.

“Oh my! Mr. Park must be skillful.”

“Wait, Karajan, you haven’t realized that yet? Mr. Park can subdue three to four guys easily. He used to work as a team leader of a famous bodyguard company in Korea.”

Karajan smiled at Jongil as never before.

“Wow, I’ve never heard that before.”

“Man, you need to start bragging about yourself. Girls in Baku like strong men.”

When Youngho flattered him suddenly, Jongil did not know what to say. Instead, he stared at Youngho for not telling him ahead so he could prepare what to say to Karajan. Embarrassed, Jongil did not know what to do in front of Karajan who was looking at Jongil gently as if she was impressed.

Karajan had only known Jongil as a worker in Istanbul who looked after the clearance process for Chunho Merchant, but now, after hearing that he was strong enough to take over some mafias, he looked different. However, if she knew that Jongil was a drill instructor of the Armenian militia, Karajan would never converse with him.

Youngho could evade the mafias’ threat today, but mafias would not let go of their prey so easily. They would find a way to take over his business in any way, which made Youngho worried. He felt uncomfortable putting them in a belligerent position against him.

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