Rating: NC17 for violence, murder, gunplay, adult themes. For safety’s sake, this will apply to ALL chapters. There will be no smut in this fic. There will be references, but references only, to rape, murder, mutilation in places
Copyright © November 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx
I sat in the growing dark of Danno’s empty apartment. I had seen Danno at the morgue, had seen where he died, and still I half expected him to come through the door of his apartment. He would come in with that half laugh he always seemed to be in the middle of and call me a square. ‘Daddy-O.’
I had never met anyone quite like him before. Then again, where would I? I was a Mexican-American kid from a poor neighbourhood, where everyone else came from the same background I did. Peters, the coroner, was the first real white guy I had ever talked to.
There are the other guys at the DEA, but it’s like the suit I put on every morning, like a disguise to fit into something I don’t really understand. I don’t really understand it, and now all I want to do is understand Danno, because he’s gone, and I should have known him. I should have known, but he was like the suit too. Something I put on and took off when I needed to.
My palms pressed hard into my eyes and my breath hitched before it evened out again. It was probably just as well I didn’t have to be at work, I know I couldn’t handle it. Adriana had cried for me when I told her that Danno was dead, a man she had never even met. I called her at a payphone around the corner, when I went to pick up some orange juice. Danno had nothing in his fridge for mix. I didn’t want to risk using Danno’s phone; there was so much I didn’t know. I knew Danno couldn’t be mixed up in this, he just couldn’t. But I really didn’t know anything for sure.
All I had was my gut instinct, and I knew Danno wasn’t involved, he couldn’t be. He might have stumbled into the periphery of something, but what the hell was he involved with? He had been here only around six months, how much could he have gotten mixed up in? I automatically thought to the numbers on the fridge door. Women. Danno knew a lot of women. He met a lot of them, and all those numbers had the same prefix.
It was too quiet all of a sudden. I missed my boys yelling and shouting. Sandro was the noisiest, the kid talked all the time, even in his sleep, and then there was Adriana’s voice. Too quiet.
Danno didn’t have a TV; he had always said that he hated the things. ‘It’ll rot your brain, Daddy-O. Music, now that’s the way to a man’s soul.’ He would dance around, some messed up white guy dance that I used to laugh at him for, but he enjoyed it, you could see it in his face. He got it.
I stumbled a little when I got up off the couch. Normally this is when I’d stop drinking. Fuck, I probably would have stopped an hour ago, but not tonight. Flipping through records beside his stereo, no CD’s for Danno, I didn’t recognize anything. Maybe Elvis, but even I wasn’t that drunk yet. There was a guy on the front with some sort of a horn, I didn’t know what it was, but it was the last album in the case so I chose it.
It wasn’t my kind of music. Some sort of weird jazz, but slow. It made me think of rain for some reason. I didn’t get it, but Danno got it, so I left it to play. With the lights turned low and everything else in his room it fit somehow. I still felt like I was on the outside looking in but I was determined I was going to understand, something, anything, about my partner.
One track blended into another with that scratchy pause, a space of a few seconds while the needle spun in the groove with no music. Another track, and then another. It didn’t grow on me but I left it on anyway, and turned it over when it was done. It helped with the quiet.
It was hard to go back into the bedroom but being half smashed helped. I didn’t clean up so much as ball all the sheets up and throw them all in a garbage bag. Some things I would never be ready for, no matter how much I had to drink. The two boxes from the top of Danno’s closet waited on the bed, where I had left them three days ago. I figured I had drunk enough for that, and took them into the living room with me.
I left the tax receipts and other stuff in there to look at later, that stuff always made me tired. He had three photo albums in the bottom, with gaudy covers. Another drink, another album, and I had made it through the first two. Danno was a cute kid, his mother called him Danny. That same crazy assed grin like he was going to get up to the devil’s own business. I had to put it down at a couple of places, it hurt to watch him grow up, when I knew that he was gone. Miguel, my oldest boy, grinned like that. I had to put my drink down and laugh at the only picture in the whole album where he wore a suit. He didn’t look all that pleased about it either. It was a prom picture, and of course he had two women. One might have just been a family friend but somehow I doubted it. Danno was a ladies man even then.
Women. It was always women. I put all the photo albums back and pushed them across to the other side of the big coffee table. I pulled all of the numbers off the fridge door and set them down on the coffee table. It wouldn’t tell me much, I knew that already, but it was something I had. I didn’t have much. He had to have a phone book around here somewhere and I spent the next few minutes searching his apartment for it.
It was something I already knew but just having the solid fact before me meant something. I didn’t know what for sure. All of the women lived in the vicinity of the South Pacific Lounge, the trailer park behind it. Like Amy.
The South Pacific Lounge. The trailer park. The phone numbers. Amy. Amy’s trailer, where Danno died. I wonder if any of the other dead women had lived in the trailer park. There was no way for me to tell. Amy was still officially a Jane Doe, and there had been only one other woman identified, and that was loosely. She had been found with ID, but Peters had said that she wasn’t a citizen. Her body had already been shipped back across the border to Mexico. There wasn’t anything there, at least not that I could see from where I was.
I was so far outside this I was amazed I could see anything at all. If I wasn’t here, in his apartment, I wouldn’t even know what little I did have. Fuck! My temper flared and I swept my arm out to sweep the booze, the numbers, everything within reach off the coffee table. I didn’t have shit; I couldn’t, because I didn’t know fuck all about my partner. I should have known, and didn’t.
I stormed out onto the balcony and looked out over at the mountains that rose over El Paso in the Mexican distance. The lights dwindled away as America edged up to the Rio Grande and became Mexico. It was quieter out here, and the track that played inside muted and faded into the background. Danno sat out here a lot, probably doing this same thing. My eyes closed at the sting of alcohol and just listened, to everything. When I was quiet the album started to make sense. It made me think of rain, something lush and tropical, wild.
Maybe I was just drunk, but it started to make sense. Not all the way but a start. I could never make this right. Not in my suit that I put on and took off every day. This went deeper; I couldn’t just walk away from this.
I downed the rest of my drink in one shot and left the glass on the balcony railing. I needed it for what I was about to do. I didn’t know where to begin when I got back to the bedroom. I reached in and grabbed the first shirt that came to hand, took my own off and slipped on Danno’s shirt. Dark blue, with fishes of some sort. They looked like fishes; I had no idea what they really were. The pants I had on looked wrong, so I changed those too. I half staggered back out of the room and into the bathroom before I lost my nerve.
I felt a little ridiculous when I saw myself in the mirror. If I hadn’t already seen pictures of a young Danno I would have pulled all that crap off, but I knew I could do this. In the same clothes, Danno and I actually looked alike. A little, if it was dark enough, if I was lucky enough. Dark hair, dark eyes, the same build. My skin was a little darker than Danno’s, but not by much. Danno liked to tan. The loud shirts made up for a lot. Most people would see those first, and maybe they wouldn’t see the rest. I opened the cabinets until I found what I was looking for. It took some work, more work than I thought possible, but my hair ended up messy.
It would have to do. I wasn’t about to back out now, in a few minutes I would be at Amy’s trailer.