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 © December 2006 xxxevilgrinxxx
I woke up on his couch the next morning, stiff, cramped and terribly hung over. No one had kicked down Danno’s door to kill me in the night. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not.
Amy’s tin rested on the table in front of me; I suppose that I had brought that in with me too, although I don’t remember doing it. I hadn’t gotten that drunk since I was a teenager, it makes me do stupid things. I had fallen asleep in Danno’s clothes and as I looked down, I wondered if I had done something else stupid.
I reached out slowly to pick up the tin with what little was left of Anna Maria, and swore to never call her Amy again. She was some woman’s little Anna Maria; she was Amy only once she got here, a fake name. Feeling maudlin I walked back into Danno’s bedroom and rummaged in my suit pocket to find the papers I had left there. They went into the tin with her things. It still seemed like nothing at all, a few scraps. It was wrong.
I took the gun with me when I had a shower, leaving it within reach on the back of the toilet, and wondered how long I would have to do that. As long as I was Danno, as long as I was here. I shut the hot water off and froze in the cold downpour, and thought again of Danno, doing this same thing.
The cold water helped, a little. Coffee would be better but Danno never had coffee here, I had always brought him coffee when I came to pick him up in the morning. There was nothing to eat either. Adriana would have made me coffee; she got up early, at around four or so. It was one of the only times the house was completely quiet. She’d make me coffee and something to eat, all without a word. Even she could be quiet then. Danno had none of those things; and he never would.
I changed into another one of Danno’s shirts. It felt strange to do it sober, and I thought more about what I was doing. I wasn’t brave enough to go for the really bright shirts. Yet. A dark blue shirt with a lighter blue hibiscus pattern, chinos. I didn’t bother brushing my hair; it made it easier to leave it messy. I didn’t bother shaving. I felt comfortable in his clothes, and that made me a little sad. I had spent a lot of time busting his balls about the way he dressed.
I went back out into the living room and sifted through his albums again. I still didn’t know what any of it was, but I picked something and put it on, before I went out onto the balcony. The rain outside seeped into me and left me cold.
I had shaken things up at the South Pacific last night which was the intention. I had to anger these people out into the open, to make them do something impulsively. Two men had spotted me last night. I had no idea whether they spotted Danno, or just some guy that looked like Danno, but one of them had followed me out. The more I thought about it, the more I thought that Carl had said nothing at all. Those two could have caught me easily, but they hadn’t, because they hadn’t been told to come out after me. Carl had me curious.
Then there was Rodriguez, and the question of whether Rodriguez the trailer manager was the same Rodriguez on Anna Maria’s slip of paper.
I would need help for both; I couldn’t just go to the office, pick up a phone, and start calling people. Then again this wasn’t exactly a new situation for me. I had done this before. Maybe not exactly this, but I had operated far outside of official sanction. Every time I had spoken with Peters I had done exactly that.
I gathered up all traces I had left in Danno’s apartment, in case I couldn’t come back again, and locked them in the trunk of my car. I needed coffee, and I needed to find Hernandez, one of my most reliable informants. Fortunately both could be found in the same place, a roadside diner on the outskirts of the ‘rich’ side of El Paso.
Hernandez slung eggs and hash, and had done so for a few years. No one could make a breakfast like him. He was supposed to be clean. Then again, I was supposed to be on vacation. I wasn’t supposed to be dressed up like my partner either.
Hernandez had been a gang member since he was eleven or so, and I had no doubt that all of those ties hadn’t been severed. His son had been stuck by a dirty needle when he had been playing in the schoolyard, and it had affected him deeply. His boy had died of AIDS. He came to me directly; I don’t know if I could even really call him an informant, I never paid him a dime and he wouldn’t accept it anyway.
Hernandez eyed me as carefully as Holloway had the night before. Of course I had come here several times with Danno, both for breakfast and for information. He had breakfast out for me before I had managed to reach the counter at the front. “You look like shit. Out back.”
Hernandez didn’t wait to see if I would turn and follow him. He just pulled off his stained apron, pointed at young guy to take his place at the grill, and walked through the swinging doors to the alley behind. A heavyset waitress came back with two steaming cups of coffee and set them down on the makeshift table out back. Hernandez waited until I had eaten a huge forkful of hash browns before he spoke. “Out with it Ramon.”
I had held back with Douglas, and I had been quiet with Holloway. That wasn’t an option with Hernandez; it wasn’t how this worked. Hernandez had connections into everything; he made calls and things happened, but there was no holding things back from him. He sat silent and alert while I spelled out clearly what I had. Now he knew exactly what I knew.
“I need to know about this Carl, and I need to know about Rodriguez. Carl stayed quiet when he sure as hell knew I wasn’t Danno, and Rodriguez’ name came up one time too many. I don’t have access.” I had asked Hernandez for a lot of things over the years, but nothing that mattered as much to me as this. I needed this.
Hernandez got up and spoke quietly to a young man dressed like a gangbanger that had waited just inside the door of the diner. The kid vanished and Hernandez returned to sit across for me. I had left my plate at the side, unable to finish after telling him about the women.
“Finish it, you still look like shit.” There was no room for argument, and I did feel like shit, but breakfast and coffee made everything a little clearer. Hernandez was quiet as he waited for his man to return. How he got his information I didn’t know, that was another part of the deal. No questions. “I’m sorry about Danno; he was a crazy little bastard.” Hernandez wasn’t a man that said much, but he meant it when he said it. I nodded; there wasn’t an awful lot I could say. It was still too raw for me.
I sat in my car afterwards, to think about what Hernandez’ man had told me. There wasn’t a hell of a lot on Rodriguez. Some dodgy tax records from the trailer park itself; he was paying the rent for a lot of people, and hiding it, but not well. He also owned the South Pacific, at least on paper. I doubted that he really ran things. Jesus Rodriguez. Might as well have been John Smith. Clearly an alias. It didn’t matter. Rodriguez would be the victim of a break in shortly, that much I knew, and then I would know more. When Hernandez got involved it was for keeps.
Carl was Juan Carlos, and he had a rap sheet a mile long, for various drug offenses, which I naturally found interesting. A few stints in prison. Given the nations new laws, one more stint would put him away for life. The lawyer that got him off the latest meth lab charge just happened to be the same man listed as the trailer park’s lawyer. The man was bought and paid for, but not all the way apparently.
I wasn’t surprised to see Holloway leaning up against the back door of the morgue, like he had been waiting for me. Peters had another body, cut up and mutilated like the women had been but this time the victim was male. I had been drunk last night, but I recognized one of the thugs that had eyed me in the South Pacific the night before.