El Zopilote Mojado
Anything resembling Justice along the border between Texas and Mexico can be hard to find if you are not using anyone in Law enforcement. It takes a different sort of person to figure the route or manner to the quickest source of Justice, in either Mexco or the Estados Unidos.The goal? To address a wrong and thereby return to balance something unbalanced. The line to cross over into the United States was really long that morning the two went looking for Justicia. Justicia was not an easy one to catch and would require an extra pair of hands and eyes. It was bright in El Paso but not too hot and people were in a good mood so it was hard to tell the two were together. He, an older man, well dressed, clean shaven and her quite a bit younger, cropped brown hair and leather jacket. But if you were really watching, she would occasionally tap him and ask for something from the vending machine and he would fish some change out of his gaberdine slacks, plop some coins in her hand and keep their place in line as she would get a coke or some chips. It was not long before they were walking through the metal detector, past security, to the Customs counter who of course had no idea the two were actually deadly assassins, agents of the Mexican government. The older man presented the two 72-hour Visitor visa forms and presented their passports to verify their identities. They were at work.
“Hello..uh Mr. Simon Cabron and Miss Nina Diamonte... is this visit to the United States business or pleasure?”
“Yes...well we are attending a funeral...” the man explained, “My nephew passed away in an accident...So I would say business, Officer” The Girl rolled her eyes but said nothing.
“I am sorry to hear of your loss, sir.” The officer replied, “ please have a safe trip, okay?”
“Thank you,” he replied, “your professionalism is appreciated.” He moved away and the girl glanced at the officer. He smiled and she smiled, waved at him.
“?Quales son las nombres en esos papeles, eh?”
“Son solo nombres....”
“ Lourdes, esto no es un juego.”
“Que no le avisaron que conmigo se trata de cosa seria?”
“No, 'they' didn't tell me anything as usual...They said 'make documents and papers for you and this hombre...go to el norte and get Justicia'...I did it and here we are...let's get high and have something to eat, okay? We are here now..”
“Cmon,we have not eaten since last night...”
“We need to get to work first...then we can eat and relax...you the know the routine...” She sucked her teeth in dissent.
“Rigo was better than you,” She said, “ he knew how to enjoy things...”
“Rigo?” He asked, “ Rigo, big guy...liked to party? That dude?”
“Yeah, you know him?” She asked, as if she did not know.
“Know him?” He sneered, “ I was his fucking boss but he fucks up...now I gotta do his job...with you”
“Yeah but Rigo was nicer...”
“Ask him where it got him, ok?” He reasoned, “ Good ol' Rigo. Always ready to party...I haven't seen him in quite sometime...you know where he is so I can ask him how to be nicer?”
“I don't have a phone...”
“Here, use my phone,” he replied fishing his phone from his jacket, “You call him... I will ask Rigo how I can make you feel better about me, okie doakie? ”
“ I can't”
“Why is that, pumpkin?”
“He is dead,” She answered and really missed the guy. Yeah, maybe she should have hooked up with him that one time but it just would have made shit weird; sex always makes things weird she felt. Still, she missed the big lug.
“You godamn right he is dead,” the man replied in english, “and that is where partying will get you in this business. This life aint no fuckin Party, Princess...This Life seems to be a good time but it aint nothing nice...”
She frowned at the thought of her old comrade dead but she was here to work so she sighed and took the older man's hand. He nodded and they walked along the sidewalk towards a bus stop.
Like any border crossing the area is bustling with people coming and going, getting a last-minute something to take back home to one side of the border or the other. They were walking past the hustle and noise of downtown El Paso, past a discount store that pleaded with everyone through a scratchy over head speaker to come right on in...offering to sell everything and anything in the store for just one dollar, all in flawless spanish. They were in Texas and Las Cruces was in the New Mexico, the next state over. Neither of them could drive but pre-determined drop points along the way would make the trip uneventful and both were familiar with the process. First thing, get on the bus and look for the 'Vulture', a nickname given to those not quite in the trade but eager to live off whatever scraps they could parlay from assisting serious agents much more virulent than themselves. They get on the city bus and the vulture would come around. No need to know faces or names, this was an old way of doing things and it worked. They waited at the bus stop near a Kentucky Fried Chicken. It smelled good but she hated the doughy taste of their fare. Still, it made her stomach grumble.
“Why don't we just call for a ride?” She asked.
“Because they will find out.” He replied.
“You know who.”
“ The gringos?”
“Yes the fuckin americans,” He said through his teeth, “can we not talk about this till we are in Nuevo? They can hear everything here in Texas, girl...they said you had done this before...we are here to fix something broken...It may be close...Keep your eyes open”
“Hey I was just asking,” She said, “ I am just bored with this already...we have been locked up in that scorpion riddled room in fucking Palomas for three days with no fucking weed no beer no fun...no nothing but TV.”
“There was beer...”
“ Like for fucking days...then another two nights eating Sanborn's take out in another shit-hole in Juarez...
“The place was pretty nice, c'mon...”
“...again no laughs. Okay, enough already...this Zopilote can fuck himself...” She suddenly caught herself as she looked around at all the signs in English. She liked English even if she could not read it. The signs looked different...clean. All the sidewalks were not crumbling and so many un-dented cars. The streets all had curbs and there wasn't some fucker asking for money every three steps she took. She appreciated the differences between Juarez and everywhere not Juarez. She had done numerous jobs in 'LasVegasNevada' and 'AmarilloTexas' so she liked going out dancing with others her age whenever she got the chance. Walking in the heat with this fucking viejo after 'smelling his farts' for most of the last week was about enough to make her walk away and go to school or just try something else. Maybe nursing or dental assistant. How much do those broads make? Killing people was not as fun as it used to be she reflected. Not even close to the good times she saw her mom and her aunties having back in the day...but they, like those good times, are all gone. The city bus pulled up and the older man paid the box as they entered the bus.
“Excuse me, the older man asked the bus driver, “does this bus connect to the bus that goes to Las Cruces?”
“Yeah, we transfer at the WalMart...They should be there in about 20 minutes and I will have you there in 10.”
“Excellent.” The two rode quietly on the bus, looking carefully at the people that came on the bus as their contact and supply man should be getting on in any second. They rode for quite a while. He did not arrive.
His name was Salvador but everyone called him 'Choco' because for a mexican he was dark. Real Chocolate Dark. He got mistaken for Hindi all the time but since he was too stupid to notice, it was a slight he never felt. He once had a friend named Adam that tried to hip him to all this but he never listened. Adam was dead now and his advice died with him as Choco was happy just being an ignorant go between, a flunky looking for easy money. But today was not his day. The day before, having received both money and the support he was to deliver to two 'friends' on the bus, Choco made a common mistake among fools; he started partying. He bought some coke and a bath tub full of beer. He called a buddy of his nicknamed 'Huesos' who in turn showed up to his place with two 'working' girls for an afternoon of carousing. They all pretended to be boyfriends/girlfriends and the afternoon turned into evening which now had turned into dawn. They lie about the place in varying stages of dress and slumber. Suddenly, Choco's head popped off the pillow, the room dense with the smell of cigarettes and sweat, the party long over and a bright El Paso morning shinning a cruel glow on his oversight. Choco looked at his phone. Nine missed calls. He was late. He leapt out of bed and scrambled to get into his clothes and boots. He tore out of the room forgetting the duffle bag which now was his only way of not getting killed for oversleeping.
Choco smoked a cigarette then he saw the bus ambling down the road. He paid the bus driver and looked about the bus. He was looking for two people who would be looking for him. It was mostly empty till he saw the two rather stoic looking pair staring at him. A young chick and some viejo. He wiped his nose and sat opposite the pair the bus having only two other patrons riding at the time. He could not have been more obvious and the older man thought the Bus driver glanced at them in the rear view mirror. The old man knew that even a glance can be a memory which later can be used to recall then re-tell to Law enforcement who then can trace movement, forever spoiling what was once tried and true. This idiot was their target not their ally.
“Hey, are you the two from Juarez?” the Thug asked. The two looked at each other. She looked back to the two other passengers, each appearing lost on their own battlefields, gazing head down into their Smartphones. She smiled and pulled the bell to indicate they wanted off at the next stop. They both looked at the Thug.
“Please, get off the Bus at the next stop,” She said, “ if you do anything else, bad things will happen to your face, you understand?” He started to speak but she quickly held a finger up to her lips. She gestured to the door. The bus gently lurched and hissed to a stop and the thug and both passengers departed in front of a strip mall. The bus rumbled away leaving the three facing each other. They spoke to each other in Spanish.
“What happened?” the older man asked, looking at his watch the guy was over an hour late. Choco was trying not to sweat and tried not to stammer but was not very successful at either. It was bright out that morning and starting to get warmer.
“I got it wrong,” He explained, “I got on the wrong bus and everything was fucked up but now everything is oakie doakie, alright?”
“Oakie Doakie?” She asked him. He flashed her a dirty look and nodded to the man.
“Like I was saying,” Choco said, “I have found you and we can move forward, yes?”
“Where are the things?” The older man asked. Choco suddenly realised his mistake.
“Oh, yes,” he said trying not to sound nervous,“ yeah uh...well, we will need to go back to my room as in my hurry I forgot it.”
“In your hurry,” the older man repeated, “You forgot it? You did not lose it, did you?”
“No, No No but yes...Yes but the room is not far away...everything is there...it will just take a sec...”
“Okay, she will go with you...I will wait over there...see that bar?”
“What is the name of the Place?”
“He is trying to see if you can read,” she explained.
“Hey, no one is talking to you,” he retorted, “ you aint the boss of me, you understand?”
“Well, what does the sign say?” the Older Man asked.
“ It says 'El Nido.'” Choco replied.
“Good, you can read...I will be in there, Okay?”
“Sure! No Problem, we will be right back...” The older guy looked at the girl and gave her the look, who nodded in return and the two began walking down the road. He retreated to the cool darkness of the bar. When the old guy got there he noticed two things about the place he loved; It was quiet and nearly empty. The only two other guys were there laughing and having some drinks. This should not take long, he figured. He went over to the jukebox and played a Dire Straits song.
He looked to the bartender then nodded to a booth nearby. He sat down and the bartender put a napkin down and the older man asked for a Modelo and a shot of tequila, the good stuff if they had it. The place had the faint smell of Murphy's oil soap and old booze. It was as familiar to him as the scent of beans. It was very pleasant in the bar, a coolness framed his face and he closed his eyes as he sipped the first drink of his beer. He thought for a moment that all was well with the world and he understood what had happened to Rigo. He swallowed deeply and knew she would likely figure it out and kill the guy after she got her hands on their bag.
The day began to get very hot as the two walked along the road.
“Hey, what is your name?”
“Me?” She asked. It was getting uncomfy out now even by El Paso standards and she put her hand above her eyes.
“Yeah you,” he said, “what do I call you? Is this your first time working for the Cartel?”
“You don't call me anything. Did you say Cartel?”
“Really? How am I supposed to talk to you? Yeah, Cartel.”
“We are not supposed to talk to each other...have you done this before, hombre?”
“Done what? Give some bag to two people from Ciudad? Mija, I have done way more than this shit here way more for the Cartel than you could know.” She looked at him; pants looked slept in, shirt food stained and wrinkled. His breath smelled like a hookers ass so his look did not exactly say 'Cartel' but it did scream zopilote. He looked like he could barely spell 'Cartel' but she would humor him. She figured it was the least she could do as this guy was already gone but did not have a clue.
“A couple of things real quick, okay? First, I am not your fucking mija so don't get it twisted...Second, there is no cartel so quit saying that...you sound like a fucking clown, okay?”
“There is a cartel.”
“No there is not or they would not be killing each other like flies. Cartel means there are leaders. All of the mess in Mexico is due to lack of leadership...These are just a bunch of guys who know other guys. They get mad. They kill each other. Mexican men have been doing it to each other for centuries...”
“What about Chapo?”
“What about him?”
“He was in the Cartel. Now he is in Prison because he was in the Cartel.”
“He is in Prison because he made a mistake. Prisons are filled with mistakes. Mistakes are what always mess up a criminal ventures. Like you, today. You made several mistakes and everything that was supposed to happen is now lost...instead of getting Justicia, here I am walking down the road sweating my tits off explaining to you the world. I am in danger of going to prison now...because of you. Where is this fucking joint?”
“It is just over here,” he explained, “not far. No worries. You are acting kind of pissed, what is wrong? Where is the other guy, the dude with the eyebrows?” She looked at him directly and stopped. Rigo. This is the dickhead that got Rigo killed. She sighed and realized where Justicia was to be found. She smiled to herself.
“Hey Homeboy, what is the address...is it 918?”
“Uh...yeah,” He was curious, “ 918 Demaree...why?”
“How many people know you live here?”
“Only three people. My girlfriend and a couple of homies...why?”
“Is there anyway we could have them come over to the house? You know, to party?”
“They are already there,” he smiled, “we were partying last night...it got late and we crashed out...I know I ain't supposed to have people over but it's cool though....they are cool people.”
“Cool?” she sighed again and was wondering why this guy would party at a Safe House (designation by 918 address) likely full of cash and drugs for an international Criminal concern? There was undoubtedly hundreds of thousands in cash hidden inside and probably enough drugs stashed away to make an ambitious street thug close to a million dollars more. But this wise ass was partying up, risking assets and people without a care in the world. She tried not to make eye contact with the guy. It would bother her later when she dealt with him and she began to think of ways to get rid of all of them, buddies too. It was gonna be a mess. She would have to call a cleaner afterwards.
“Hey you wanna do some coke? I got some if you want a little bump before you leave” he asked.
“Sure,” she said, “ sounds cool...” They approached a single level home, dusty with a weed choked lawn and three cars parked unevenly across the front yard. No one was outside, looking around she made sure no one saw her enter the place with Choco. She winced at the smell but knew it well, looked and counted one other guy and two girls, total.
“Is this all of them?” She asked. He nodded and she stepped around the mess and people and went into the kitchen. He followed and grabbed a bag out from beneath the sink and handed it to her. She sat at the kitchen table and began to remove things from the bag. Several pieces of metal, pieces of something bigger Choco figured. She began to assemble the collection of parts. She looked at him and smiled, thinking this guy has no fucking idea I am here to kill him. He smiled back confirming her suspscions.
“They used to give us everything and we would just make the 'salto and come here to do work.”
“The border Crossing. But ever since those fucking stupid middle east guys put terrorism to the Estados Unidos, they check everything now and they look everywhere. This ruins operations. Have you ever heard of the saying 'A long journey always begins with a first step...you ever hear that saying?”
“Is it in the Bible?”
“I have no idea...look, you cannot get stopped at the beginning of a job as it ruins everything else. Now, instead of a machine gun, they send parts because the Zopilote Mojados...fuckers like you... started stealing the guns or substituting them with other armas...you know just messing around with things that can never be messed around with...”
“You know, kinda sounds like you are calling me a wet-back Vulture...”
“Have you heard the saying 'If the shoe fits...?'”
“I did not mess with your stuff, man...Oh yeah and hey, I did not get Rigo in trouble because of last time, did I?”
“Nobody said anything about that,” She stopped assembling the weapon and figured it was best to explain.
“Now, the zopilote cannot find their asses with both hands so assembling an assault rifle was a little beyond their abilities. Can you assemble this?” She asked holding up the all but fully constructed assault weapon.
“No. Whoa was that in that bag?”
“Right, so as they became unreliable, these vultures, well, they started stealing payouts...”
“Those vatos took the money not me!”
“Oh wow...like I was saying...there were you know some that even stole a few shipments all together...drugs or guns already paid for”
“I didn't take anything, I swear...”
“ Of course not, but like I was saying... this not being faithful to the game was damaging to other operations and had to be stopped...usually by a gross act of violence...”
“Sounds shitty but that aint me...I didn't steal anything and I ain't no fucking wet-back Zopilote...what the fuck is that anyways?”
“Use your Google, Dude. Besides, this lifestyle is not for everybody. All the free drugs and easy money can make people forget how serious this work really is... the guys who were go 'betweeners', godamn vultures...the zopilotes as I call them, just became too plentiful and started acting like fucking gangsters and not businessmen...they abused the trust and they used to protect the deal from any law enforcement, not draw the attention of law enforcement...they changed...Gold chains and acting like fucking niggers...everything got fucked up.”
“If you are talking about that thing last time, Like I was saying...I had nothing to do with that...we were just a little late...”
“Little late?” She asked and thought about her friend Rigo who was killed because there was a slip up and then nodded as if answering the question herself, “anyway, this probably should do it.” With a slight grunt she pulled a lever back on the weapon and put in a clip and chambered a round. He watched with muted fascination as the bullet tumbled through the air and she caught before it hit the ground. She put the bullet back into the gun. Again he watched her smile a slight smile as she quickly screwed on a Silencer on the end of the rifle and a bullet catch on the side of the weapon. She held it up for him to see.
“Wanna see something fucking scary?” She asked.
“I don't scare easy,” he smiled. One of the hookers appeared in the doorway, rubbing her eyes.
“Whatcha guys doin?” she asked, rubbing her face.
“There is the love of my life! Good morning Sunshine!” he exclaimed.
“Good-Bye Sunshine.” said the Young girl, who pointed the gun at Sunshine and put a bullet straight through Sunshine's heart. The hooker staggered back as if gotten shoved, gasping, a small dot of blood blooming into a huge stain that she looked down upon with facination or perhaps it was disbelief. She ripped her shirt open to expose a gaping hole between her tits, weeping blood at a rapid rate. She looked up at the two of them, straining like she was going to say something, blood gushed from her nose, she then pitched forward suddenly, collapsing on the rug. The young girl looked at Choco and slowly shook her head.
“My name is Lourdes...Lourdes Guzman...my name...you wanted to know my name...remember? Now, was that scary or what?”
He stood there mouth agape in shock. Did that just happen?
“ The old guy is Roberto Rubalcava, that is his real name...say Choco, You ever get the feeling you are in over your head?” She asked. He watched aghast as she slowly pointed the gun at him.
“What the Fuck! No wait a minute wait a minute” Choco screamed.
“Oye, what is it...do you think screaming is going to help? You want to talk about it? Think about this, Zopilote... see, when you hire a real baddass hitman, you never tell them who the target it is, if he gets caught before he can do the hit, he might break if apprehended...that can never happen...So you let the target be revealed...I get it now...You are why I am here...”
He tried to run but she caught him between the 3rd and 4th rib with a round that just missed his cowardly heart. He gasped and went down in a sobbing heap. Lourdes quickly walked up to and executed the others as they began to stir in the apartment by way of bullet to their drowsey skulls. She was efficiant and they died instantly. She walked back to Choco clutching and writhing on the floor.
“Now, I know I will not be going to heaven but I have known this for a long time...and I am not sure about your friends,” She whispered to him gasping on the floor, “but when you get to hell, you tell the devil I am unafraid, oakie doakie?” He looked as if was going to say something but she shot him in the mouth; those last-minute curses can be creepy she had often found. She looked about the place till she found a phone. It was time for chores. She did not do chores. Not like this. She called a place called 'Sparkle Plenty Cleaners.' It was the closest one. The real Lourdes ran it.
“Sparkle Plenty, may I please have a referal code or service code number?”
“Service code Two three Zero dash nine one eight”
“Is service to the loction you are calling from?”
“One moment...confirming location...Excellent. We have location. Type of service requested?”
“Full Shampoo and trash removal...four bags”
“Will this be on the account or on-site adjustment?”
“The Account, B two-fifty six, Sixty-four and double standard gratuity, please”
“Thank You. That is very generous, as always the service will be there in exactly 60 minutes. Be advised we will not proceed if you remain on-site.”
“We wish you continued success in your dealings and we look forward to your next call, thank you once again and have a Sparkling clean day.”
“Thank You.” She hung up the phone and tossed it with the assault weapon on the sofa. She looked for something to drink in the fridge. It was not as long a walk as she thought and soon she stood blinking in the bar her eyes adjusting to the dimness of the room. She saw the older guy and walked over. She knew he was here playing that 80's stuff...
She slid over to his seat and gave the bag to the older man. He looked in the bag. Inside were two iPhones, an address book and several rolls of hundred dollar bills bound by rubber bands. There was a low quality polaroid picture inside. It was a photo of Choco. Odd maybe but this was not unheard of in the dealings with men and violence. She slid back over.
“ It was the Vulture,” She said, “and now we should be headed back.”
“No kidding, huh?” He lit the photo on fire and set it in the ash tray. They watched it burn and crinkle into ash.
“Not even a trip to Nuevo...I guess they wanted us to get Justicia from this guy right here...”
“Perhaps...I will check it out once we get home...Did you call the Janitor?”
“You did well...Here...” He tossed her a roll of cash.
“Get back to the Jalapeno before sunrise, okay crazy girl?”
“Gracias...” She figured it was over ten grand. It made her smile.
“Get a cab...go eat...go to a club or do drogas whatever the fuck you wish, just get back home before sunrise, ok?”
“You be safe Hombre...”
“You did real good.”
“Thanks, sir.” A familiar Mariachi song came on, she had heard it before but could not remember where. They listened to it as they sat in the almost empty, almost darkness while he finished his beer and she bit her lip thinking about what she would wear to the club that night.