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THE FUNERAL

As planned, the morning of Sonny Rockford’s funeral Jack left his apartment on his motorcycle and
he rendezvoused with Randy at his house at 10 a.m. for the drive down to Washington State for the
service.  When Jack saw Randy the first thing he noticed was how rough Randy looked.  Randy
was hung over and still smashed from the Sonic Temple party action he’d taken part in the night
before and he was chain-smoking cigarettes like a chimney.

“Late night last night?” Jack asked.

“Yeah, I’m getting too old for these all-night benders, way too old,” Randy lamented.  “It’s a little
crazy for a forty-two-year-old veteran to try to keep up with a bunch of twenty-year-olds.”

Jack laughed.  “After all the years of experience you’ve had you should be able to party like a
trained pro,” he said.

“Funny how it doesn’t quite work that way, ain’t it?” Randy said.  He took a drag off his cigarette. 
“So you ready to go?”

“Sure am,” Jack said.

“Let’s go then,” Randy said.

Randy flicked his cigarette butt into the neighbor’s yard and the two gangsters went to their vehicles
and a minute later they took off from Randy’s place, Randy in his Ferrari and Jack on his Kawasaki
motorbike, and they left Vancouver and shot down Highway 99 for the U.S. border.  At about 10:45
they slipped through the border without incident and they cruised down I-5, arriving at Big Lake
Cemetery near the quaint little Washington State town of Mount Vernon at around 11:30 a.m.  The
cemetery was located in a rural area about ten miles north of Mount Vernon and there were no
houses or other structures in its immediate vicinity.  A two-lane road ran along the front side of the
cemetery and the other sides of the cemetery were completely surrounded by forest.

As they approached the cemetery Randy and Jack saw all the many cars lining either side of the road
that led to the burial ground.  There were cars parked on both sides of the road for as far as you
could see.  The sheer number of vehicles there for Sonny’s funeral indicated that this was no
ordinary funeral service, but instead a tribute to a very important person who was known, liked and
respected by a great many people.

Randy drove the Ferrari past the long line of cars on the road and into the cemetery parking lot and
Jack followed him into the parking lot on his motorcycle.  The parking lot was packed with
expensive luxury cars of every make and model, the prominent make being Mercedes Benz, the
prominent color being black.  The parking lot was full, so Randy drove the Ferrari out of the lot to
find somewhere else to park but Jack was able to find a small space between two cars just big
enough for him to park his Ninja in the parking lot.  Randy found a spot to park the Ferrari a little
ways down the street from the entrance to the cemetery with all of the other many vehicles parked
on the side of the road.

Randy got out of the Ferrari and he walked up the road and into the cemetery entrance where Jack
was waiting for him and the two men made their way towards the site of the funeral service.  The
first thing Jack noted as they walked towards the funeral site was the heavy security that had been
put in place to keep everyone safe at the invitation-only occasion.  The entire perimeter of the
cemetery was completely surrounded by an impenetrable wall of security personnel armed with
automatic machine guns and in order to get into the funeral service you first had to prove your
identity to one of the security guards who would then check to confirm that you were actually on the
guest list.  With every high-ranking member of the Rockford organization in attendance at Sonny’s
funeral, including the chief officer himself, a bomb or an armed attack could wipe out every principal
Rockford executive in an instant and thus destroy the entire Rockford organized crime empire in the
blink of an eye.  As such, the precaution of extreme security measures was deemed absolutely
necessary for this mob event to take place.

But the intense scrutiny of the security personnel wasn’t a problem for Randy and Jack.  All of the
security people recognized Randy on sight and when the two men approached the security line one
of the guards simply nodded at Randy respectfully and allowed the two men to pass into the funeral
site.

As they walked past the line of security personnel and deeper into the cemetery, Randy and Jack
looked around at all the throngs of people who’d come out for Sonny Rockford’s funeral.  The
great mass of people standing in the cemetery was an astounding sight to behold.  The funeral was
packed with hundreds of mourners all dressed in black, most of whom were members of the
Rockford family.

Sonny’s immediate family -- his wife, his children and his stepchildren -- were all in attendance for
the funeral and Sonny’s two ex-wives and the children and stepchildren from those marriages were
there as well.  One of Sonny’s mistresses, a voluptuous brunette vixen, had shown up for the funeral
also.

And in addition to family members from Sonny’s three marriages, there were Rockford family
members of every other sort of lineage you could possibly think of at the funeral as well.  Nicholas
and Sonny’s elderly parents were of course there and there were also Rockford brothers, sisters,
uncles, aunts, great-uncles, great-aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents
and grandchildren in attendance too and most of them had brought their immediate family members
to attend the funeral with them.  Basically, every currently-living relative of Sonny and Nicholas
Rockford was expected to show up for the funeral and the vast majority of them did show up, and
Sonny and Nicholas had a lot of relatives.  Thus there were a hell of a lot of people at the service.

Additionally, there were many people not related to the Rockford family in attendance at the funeral
as well.  These non-family individuals included friends of Sonny and Nicholas, Rockford
organization employees, and people who did arm’s-length business with Sonny, with his brother
Nicholas and with the Rockford organization generally.  And most of these individuals were
accompanied by their spouses and children.  There was no doubt about it, Sonny Rockford was a
mafia big shot and this was a mafia big shot funeral service on a grand scale.

Looking through the crowd of mingling mourners Randy spotted the big mafia boss himself,
Nicholas Rockford.  Rockford was standing near Sonny’s open grave beside which lay the ornate
diamond-studded gold-plated casket that held Sonny’s corpse.  As he stood next to Sonny’s grave,
Rockford was engaged in a conversation with two of his executives, Dave and Gary.

Randy and Jack walked up the grassy hill of the cemetery into the dense, concentrated crowd and
they joined a small group of seven Rockford associates which included Vin, Colin and Ben.  The
idling mob men were all smoking cigarettes and talking amongst themselves in hushed tones with
somber looks on their faces while they waited for the funeral service to begin.  Randy and Jack
nodded hello to all the members of the group without intending to interrupt their discussion.  But
when Vin saw that Randy and Jack had arrived he had an urgent question for both of them.

“Either of you two guys seen Mark?” Vin asked the two men curiously.

“Mark?” Randy said.  He shook his head.  “No.  Last time I saw him was at the Bank of the
Cayman Islands building in Vancouver.”

“Nobody’s seen him for a couple of days,” Vin said.

“Pretty suspicious, pretty fucking suspicious,” Colin said.  “Sonny gets wasted and now Mark’s
gone as well.”

“Doesn’t look good,” Ben said.  “This is the kind of shit that happens when a war’s about to break
out.”

“A war is what we need,” Vin said toughly.  “We go to war, we waste all our enemies and then we
reign supreme.”

“Ah, don’t worry,” Jack blurted out, a little too enthusiastically.  “Mark’ll show up.  He’s probably
down in Cancun right now having the time of his life and doesn’t know anything about what
happened to Sonny.”

Randy jumped.  The head boss man Nicholas Rockford himself had suddenly appeared right next to
him out of the blue.  Rockford’s arrival was almost supernatural.  It was as though he’d materialized
like a forbidding apparition from out of nowhere.  Without warning he was just there.  Rockford’s
unexpected appearance startled Randy, it scared the shit out of him.  He almost had a heart attack
when he saw that Nicholas Rockford was standing right there beside him.

“Randy, I’m so glad you could make it today,” Rockford said to him.

“Nick, how are you?” Randy said, his tone obsequious and humble.  It made him feel uneasy that
Rockford was addressing only him and none of the others.  “Of course I’m here,” he said.  “I’m so
sorry to hear about the great loss to your family.”

Rockford nodded.  “Yes, thank you,” he replied.  “It is a great loss indeed.  When I find the fucker
who pulled the trigger on my brother I’m going to have Matt and Donnie go to work on him with a
chainsaw and a live electrical wire.  Nobody takes my mother and father’s son away from them
while they’re still alive.  Nobody.”

“Bruce was saying you think it might have been an inside hit,” Randy said.

“Any reason why it couldn’t have been?” Rockford queried Randy.

“No, I guess there isn’t,” Randy answered.  “I was a little surprised when he questioned me and
Jack about it though.”

“I’m sorry about that,” Rockford said.  “There’s no reason to believe the two of you took any part
in Sonny’s death.  You were both with me that night.  That was just Bruce carrying out an order I
gave with too much zeal.  Way too much zeal.  He never should have questioned the two of you.”

“It was no big deal,” Randy replied casually.  “You still think someone from the organization
might’ve had something to do with it?”

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Rockford said.  Rockford paused for a moment.  “Randy,
there’s something I need to speak to you about.”

Rockford touched Randy’s arm indicating that he wanted to talk to Randy confidentially.  The two
men then tactfully broke away from the group of mobsters so they could speak discreetly.  As they
walked along the grass a sickening chill ran through Randy’s body as he waited for Rockford to
speak.  He was certain Rockford was going to query him about the $8.5 million him and Jack had
removed from the trunk of the Daytona the day before yesterday.  However, Rockford didn’t
mention the stolen money to Randy at all.

“What’s up, Nick?” Randy asked his boss.  Rockford stopped walking and Randy stopped as well.

“When the service has concluded I’d like you to come over to my house for a meeting,” Rockford
said to Randy.

“Uh, sure, Nick,” Randy replied.  He swallowed nervously.  “What is it you want to talk to me
about?”

“I have another job for you,” Rockford said.  “We can discuss the details of the job at my house. 
Is one o’clock good for you?”

“Uh yeah,” Randy said, “one o’clock’s great.”

“Splendid,” Rockford said.

“Do you want Jack to come to the meeting too?” Randy asked.

“Your partner?” Rockford said.  “No, I’d like to discuss this job with you privately.”

“Okay,” Randy said with a nod.  “One o’clock it is.”

“Excellent,” Rockford said.  “I’ll see you then.”

Without saying another word Rockford left Randy standing there all alone and he walked over to
another group of mourners in the crowd to say hello to them before the funeral service commenced. 
Randy walked back to the group of schmoozing mobsters he’d been with and he positioned himself
next to Jack and he lit up a cigarette.

While Randy stood there he thought about Rockford’s demand that he meet with him at his house
to discuss another job that afternoon.  Randy sucked a drag off his smoke.  No way, he said to
himself.  My mind’s made up.  That’s it for me.  Agitated and starting to feel a little paranoid, Randy
exhaled and he looked at the people around him.  None of the people looked to him like friends and
the ominous expressions on their faces just made him feel even more paranoid.  This gig is finished,
he reminded himself.  I’m done here.  He’d already completed the last job he was ever going to
undertake for Nicholas Rockford, that job being the delivery of the British Columbia attorney
general to him, and there would be no more assignments for Randy Shannon with the Rockford
organization.

Randy’s decision was final.  He had absolutely no intention of complying with Nicholas Rockford’s
order that he take on another assignment.  He would not be going to Rockford’s mansion at one
o’clock that afternoon to take instructions from him for another job.  Instead, as soon as the funeral
service ended Randy would disappear from Big Lake Cemetery, he would disappear from
Washington State, and then he would disappear from Vancouver and be gone forever.  It was time
for Randy Shannon to cut out for good.

Randy and Jack stood there quietly smoking their cigarettes with the other mobsters until people
began moving towards the many seats that had been set up in the seating area for the service.  The
day was perfect for an outdoor funeral service.  The sun was shining brightly, there wasn’t a cloud
anywhere to be seen in the clear blue sky and the temperature was a comfortably hot 25 degrees
Celsius.

Instead of taking seats for the service Randy and Jack positioned themselves where they felt most
comfortable, standing behind the back row of seats where they were able to keep a watchful eye on
all the people and the surrounding area.  Jack watched Nicholas Rockford walk to the front of the
seating area in front of the stage and sit down in the front row next to his wife, his adult children and
Sonny’s immediate family.

When the service began five minutes later a number of people prominent in Sonny Rockford’s life
took the stage and stood behind the podium and gave heartfelt eulogies in honor of Nicholas
Rockford’s younger brother.  Sonny’s wife Helen was the first to speak to the crowd.  Then one of
Sonny’s sons got up before everyone and gave a poignant eulogy in praise of his beloved dad, as
did Sonny and Nicholas’ own father James Rockford.  Finally, after everyone else had paid their
respects to Sonny Rockford, Nicholas Rockford himself rose from his seat and he stood before the
large audience and said some touching words about what his dear brother had meant to him and to
so many others.

“Sonny Rockford will be greatly missed,” Nicholas Rockford said to the crowd of mourners and
well-wishers.  “And his absence will be felt not just by those of us who were close to him but it will
also be felt by a great many others as well.  Why will Sonny’s absence be felt by so many people
regardless of how close they were to him?  The reason is because nobody was able to generate
wealth and prosperity for the Rockford organization like Sonny Rockford was able to.  Making
money was a mission for Sonny, it was an obsession, it was a task that he took as seriously as he
did his devotion to his wife and his children.  Sure, everyone in the Rockford family knows how to
bring in the dough, my old man Jimmy being the most shining example of all of that crucial skill -- ”

Rockford looked down into the massive assembly of seated guests before him and he gestured
respectfully at his elderly father who was sitting in the front row of seats.

“But Sonny was special in that regard,” Rockford said.  “Very special.  Sonny had a God-given
natural talent for creating wealth, something that can never be replaced by anyone, not by me, not by
someone we hire from outside the organization, not by anybody.  And what Sonny gave up on a
personal level for the Rockford organization will never be forgotten either.  Nobody knew sacrifice
like my brother Sonny.  My kid brother Sonny was so completely dedicated to the Rockford
organization that he ended up sacrificing everything in his world for that commitment.  Everything. 
He sacrificed his family by being away from home all the time, he sacrificed his personal freedom
through his undivided and loyal duty to the organization.  And, ultimately, in the end, Sonny even
ended up sacrificing his own life for the good of the Rockford organization.  Yes, Sonny Rockford
will be missed.”

When Nicholas Rockford eventually finished his speech the expensive white casket holding Sonny’s
body was lowered into his grave and Dave and Gary poured a few symbolic shovelfuls of soil into
the grave and the funeral concluded.  There was some tearful hugging and mingling among the many
relatives, friends and associates of Sonny and Nicholas Rockford and then the crowd started to
disperse from the cemetery.  People began leaving the graveyard, some walking slowly, some
quickly, all heading towards parked vehicles that would take them away from Big Lake Cemetery.

Randy walked with Jack to the parking lot and when they got to Jack’s Ninja they stood there
together for a moment to say a final farewell to each other.

“What did Rock want?” Jack asked somberly.  He unlocked his helmet from his motorcycle and he
held it in his hands and looked at Randy.

“He wants me to go to his mansion to talk about another job,” Randy said.

“You gonna go?” Jack asked.

“No I’m not,” Randy said.  “I’m leaving like I said, I’m through.”

“So this is it?” Jack asked.

“This is it,” Randy said.  “You’re on your own now.”

“So it’s goodbye?” Jack asked.

“Yes it is,” Randy said.

“I guess I’ll see ya later then, boss,” Jack said.

“You bet,” Randy said.

Randy and Jack both extended their hands and they shook them.

“Take it easy, bro,” Randy said conclusively.

Randy nodded goodbye and he walked away and Jack slipped the motorcycle helmet on his head
and he got on his motorbike and he prepared to leave.

Randy left the parking lot and he walked up the road to where his Ferrari was parked.  When he got
to the Ferrari he unlocked the driver door and he sat down in the front seat of the car and he started
it up.  The road he’d parked on was completely clogged up with traffic from all of the many vehicles
departing from the funeral service.  While he waited impatiently for a break in the traffic, Randy
watched Jack ride out of the cemetery parking lot on his green Ninja ZX-14 motorcycle and soar up
the road away from Randy and then eventually vanish from sight around a corner a mile or so away.

As he waited to leave, Randy thought about Rockford’s unexpected instruction again.  Randy had
to fight against his natural disposition which was to do exactly what his boss, the supremely
powerful Nicholas Rockford, had told him to do and go over to his home for a meeting.  Randy had
never made a premeditated decision to disobey Nicholas Rockford before.  It was always the other
way round.  Since the day he was first recruited into the Rockford organization two decades
previously, Randy had always done everything he possibly could to see that Rockford’s orders
were carried out to the utmost of his ability, to the greatest extent that he was possibly able to carry
them out.  Nonetheless, the crucial choice had been made, Randy’s twenty-year tenure with the
Rockford organization was now officially over.  Randy had fulfilled his final obligation to Nicholas
Rockford, that obligation being to attend Sonny’s funeral, and effective immediately he was now
permanently retired from the Rockford organization and that was that.

A hole opened up in the traffic and Randy hit the gas pedal hard and he darted out onto the road. 
As he did, the punchy rhythm guitar opening of AC/DC’s “What Do You Do For Money Honey”
came on the car radio.  Randy gunned the accelerator and he shot down the road like a NASCAR
driver and he illegally passed three vehicles in a row without even thinking twice about it.  A few
minutes later Randy came to the entrance ramp to the Interstate 5 Highway and he zoomed up the
ramp and two seconds after that he was soaring northbound down I-5 heading back to Vancouver.

Randy sighed.  It was a great relief to be putting distance between himself and Nicholas Rockford. 
Randy was deep in Rockford country and his instinct told him to get the hell out of the area as
quickly as possible.

It was just after Randy had driven down the I-5 Highway past the town of Mount Vernon that he
saw the roadblock up ahead.

About half a mile ahead of him the highway was completely obstructed by this solid, impenetrable,
eight-foot-high wall of big black sport utility vehicles.  Four big black SUVs were parked side by
side on the blacktop and directly behind them was another row of four big black SUVs as well. 
This impregnable, two-vehicle-deep wall of SUVs made it totally impossible for Randy to keep
driving down the highway and continue his journey north to British Columbia.

“Shit,” Randy muttered to himself anxiously.

Randy could see that the big black SUVs stopped on the highway weren’t cop cars, that they were
clearly men sent by Nicholas Rockford to apprehend him and take him into custody.

Fuck, Randy said to himself.  This does not look good, this does not look good at all.  The
gangster’s heart started pounding in his chest like a sledgehammer and he wasn’t sure what he
should do.

Randy was getting closer and closer to the intimidating wall of SUVs blocking the road ahead of him
every second so he immediately hit the brakes and slowed the Ferrari right down so he wouldn’t go
crashing into it.  Then he took a look in his rear view mirror.

“God dammit!” Randy yelled.  “You gotta be fucking kidding me!”

Four more big black Rockford SUVs were trailing him from the rear and they were coming up
behind him fast.  Randy saw that two of the black SUVs on his tail were moving into position on
either side of him while the other two were approaching his bumper to tailgate him.  Randy also saw
that, apart from the four Rockford SUVs behind him and the wall of eight Rockford SUVs up ahead
of him, there were no other vehicles on the road.  It was just Randy and a convoy of a dozen
Rockford tanks on the Interstate 5 Highway.  There wasn’t another vehicle to be seen anywhere.

Randy frantically looked around for an escape route.  There wasn’t one.  On the left side of him was
an insurmountable five-foot-high concrete barrier that divided the six-lane highway in two and on the
right side of him was a ravine as deep as a canyon that would swallow him whole and mangle him
and the car if he drove into it.  Rockford’s men had picked the perfect location on the highway to
set up a roadblock to apprehend him.  It was true, these guys knew what they were doing.  Nobody,
not even the FBI, knew how to do a roadblock takedown like the Rockford organization knew how
to do one.

Randy knew he was caught.  And he knew that trying to flee would just make matters worse for him. 
Considerably worse.  He knew that he had no other choice but to surrender to Rockford’s men
immediately or face the very real risk of getting shot and killed.  Randy continued to decelerate the
speed of the Ferrari as he approached the SUV roadblock up ahead of him and when he finally
came to a stop at the roadblock he was completely caged in by black Rockford vehicles.
23 / 27
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