All the DEA agents that came tonight have gone, only Sean is still here with us. We didn’t know why the Zetas had let them go so easily; that was until we saw who showed up from nowhere. ‘El Padrino’ in the flesh and bones.
He told his men to let the DEA agents leave but not before they took all their weapons. Then he told us to join him at the rear of the warehouse because he wanted to show us something.
We are in what it seems to be some kind of a huge warehouse and there are corpses spread all around making the place reek of death and blood.
There’s a small airplane near the main entrance and the six dark green Cherokees Fabio had ready to cross the border are parked at the other side of the airplane, all lined up. It seems that only the Cherokees were loaded with Santos’ coke and that’s the reason why that fucker Fabio didn’t throw me the keys of one of the dark blue SUVs, so that they knew what they were looking for.
My eyes narrow in suspicion as an uncontrolled shudder crosses my body from head to toe. Even though I’m back in my clothes and one of the DEA agents offered me a couple of shots from his hipflask before he left, I’m still shivering uncontrollably. However this last shudder has nothing to do with the cold and more to do with the uncertainty of what is waiting for us.
As we make our way to the rear of the warehouse, I can see at least fifty guys and all of them are packing automatic weapons. Ricardo told me that they belong to the Juarez Cartel’s army, the infamous Zetas. I figure ‘El Padrino’ asked the Juarez Cartel for help in the name of that truce they had for years.
Some of them are standing on guard while others are busy executing some of the fuckers that have been wounded and piling the dead bodies at the rear of a small truck.
Their faces show no emotion, and in fact they seem almost bored. I would say that they look as if what they are doing is just something that has to be done, not even thinking about it, like a routine.
Sean and I follow Ricardo across the warehouse, glancing at them from the corner of our eyes, watching the hair-raising display that is taking place around us until we reach a room at the back.
Ricardo comes to a dead stop right at the doorframe and I feel the sudden tension radiating from his body in waves. Stopping at his side, my eyes widen completely as my stomach clenches painfully, and all of sudden I find myself fighting back my sudden nausea.
Holy fuck! What’s that shit?! I can’t fucking believe what my eyes are seeing. Shit, shit, shit!!
There are two heads on a table, staining the surface of a silver tray.
That alone is enough to make me nauseated but that’s not all. El Padrino, William, two guys dressed in military fashion are sitting at that very same table. There are as well two more fuckers that I guess are two of ‘El Padrino’s’ bodyguards that are sitting behind the drug lord.
I’m already anticipating some shit I don’t even dare to figure out and I guess those two heads is what ‘El Padrino’ wanted to show us.
I look at Ricardo, shivering again as he takes a deep puff of the cigarette he has been smoking, putting it out, stepping on it. The scene in front of us doesn’t seem to affect him in the least, quite the opposite. Big dark guy is as cold as always, his face emotionless.
I swallow hard, forcing the air to pass through my lungs, doing my best to not start puking my guts out as I look at ‘El Padrino’, holding his cold as ice gaze. Fuck! This fucker is much more dangerous than I suspected at the beginning.
The first time I had the chance to meet him I thought that he looked like a weather-beaten peasant. But now that I’m looking at him, sitting at that table with those two damn heads at his hands’ reach, the drug lord’s gaze is sending chills up my spine. How fucking naïve I’ve been.
I glance at Sean who curses under his breath, staring at the two heads. I would say Ricardo’s deal with the DEA went straight to hell because I think one of the heads belonged to Fabio’s dad. I remember Hanna showed me his picture; I don’t know who the other head belonged to.
The DEA agent is pale, all the colour drained from his face in seconds, but he’s standing his ground. I bet after what he did to that fucker who killed his wife, he’s not the same anymore. Damnit! All this dirty shit will end up staining all of us and none of us will be the same anymore.
My eyes wander around as I force myself not to look at those two heads again. Not an easy task though, because they have been presented like the main meal on a buffet, right at the centre of the table.
One of the guys sitting behind the drug lord is cleaning his nails with a shiv while the other is looking at us from head to toe, sizing us up.
I would say that the guy sitting across from ‘El Padrino is in his fifties and he’s staring at Ricardo; his expression is unreadable. Judging by his uniform this guy is a commandant. His hair is short and black with a few grey hairs, a large scar marring the left side of his face from his forehead to his chin. His left hand is gripping the handle of a walking stick tightly.
The other military guy sitting at his left side is probably covering his blind spot because the commandant’s left eye is completely white.
I notice how Sean is eying this commandant with a wary gaze as if the DEA agent and this fucker had already met before. And I wouldn’t be surprise if that was the case. Taking into consideration the fact that the military of Mexico and the DEA have been involved in an open war for years I bet these two fuckers have seen each other on another occasion.
William is sitting at ‘El Padrino’s’ left side and the spot at the drug lord’s right side is empty. The old lawyer is looking at me as if everything is fine, playing dumbass one more time with a stupid grin gracing his lips. I can’t help it and my jaw clenches tightly in disgust. His fucking act is starting to get on my nerves.
“Well, I would say that we are all here already, aren’t we?” Ricardo says as he grins wickedly, gesturing to the two heads, side by side. “I never thought I would see ‘El Azul’ and Fabio’s dad that close to each other, Miguel.” He adds sarcastically, walking causally and taking a seat at one of the empty chairs surrounding the table.
‘El Azul’. So he was the leader of the Juarez Cartel? Holy shit! That explains why the Zetas are now at ‘El Padrino’s’ beck and call.
Big dark guy’s moves are controlled but his body is radiating danger in spite of the fact that wicked grin is still plastered on his lips. Ricardo’s back is against the closer wall and he pushes the chair back, leaning his body, making himself comfortable.
‘El Padrino’ chuckles softly as he shakes his head a little. I bet the drug lord wasn’t expecting for Ricardo to be affected in the least regarding the two heads on a silver tray. I would say ‘El Padrino’ didn’t beat around the fucking bush while he took out the fuckers that set him up after that mess with ‘Kiki’ Camarena. Fuck!
Sean and I cross glances as we move at once, entering the room. My stomach is still spasming and I’m having a hard time controlling my sickness. Last time I felt this sick was while watching Santos gut alive those five fuckers in Miami, and not even back then did I think I was going to faint.
I’m not made for this shit but it’s not as if I have too many options at this point. I have no other choice but to play cool for now, I guess I always can throw up later when all these fuckers are not around and if I make out of this room alive.
Sean stands at Ricardo’s side, not taking a seat as he stretched his back completely, leaning his frame against the wall. I frown slightly, not knowing exactly where I should be seated when Ricardo gestures for me to fill the empty spot at ‘El Padrino’s’ right side.
I frown deeply but after a second of hesitation I oblige, glancing at the drug lord briefly. ‘El Padrino’ follows my every move, not saying a word until I take a seat at his right side.
I must be going crazy but I swear this fucker seems to be pleased with my reaction. I know he can notice that I’m shivering but I suspect he knows it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ve been inside a tank filled with fucking freezing water. However I wonder if he was expecting for me to start puking my guts as soon as I saw the heads. No such luck, motherfucker.
I’m not made for this shit; that’s for damn sure, but I’m not giving you the satisfaction either. I already saw a few things on my own and I’m not the man I used to be anymore. I figure watching Santos gutting alive five guys in Miami toughened me at least.
In any case, ‘El Padrino’ slowly turns his head to the left side so that he can hear with his less damaged ear as he clears his throat.
“Where’s Ana Maria?” He asks Ricardo directly, looking him right in the eyes. In response, Ricardo glances at his watch.
“Hanna is with the Cuban, probably dancing for that fucker and his guests.” He replies absently as he pulls out a cigarette, lighting it up. “But I bet your monkeys already told you that, Miguel.” Ricardo adds, his smile vanishing as he turns his head to look at the military. “Or am I wrong commandant?”
El Padrino narrows his eyes as the commandant’s face hardens in seconds, going on guard.
“I told you to stay out of this, Montenegro.” The military man whispers menacingly as he looks at me briefly, looking back at big dark guy. “Why didn’t you listen to my advice, huh?”
In response, Ricardo shrugs his shoulders. “I’m not good at listening to shit from an old fucker.” He replies, causing the commandant to tighten his jaw as his gaze burned with restrained rage. “Not that I give a damn about your fucking advice either.” Big dark guy adds, chuckling coldly. “By the way, commandant…how is your leg?” he asks in a mocking tone of voice.
“I won’t let you disrespect me, carajo!” The commandant snaps, hissing as he slams his fist on the table. ‘El Padrino’ shot a cold gaze to Ricardo as big dark guy winks to the enraged military man.
“Would you care to explain to me why you are here?” ‘El Padrino’ asks emotionless, staring at big dark guy, ignoring the commandants’ outburst.
“I want to make a deal, Miguel.” Ricardo replies, cracking his neck bones. “Before the shit hits the fan.” He says, emotionless, not a trace of concern in his voice or his face.
“The shit already hit the fan, Montenegro.” The commandant seethes, tightening his grip on the handle of his walking stick.
‘El Padrino’ leans back on his seat, glancing at the commandant. “Ricardo, you better than anyone else know that I don’t like people coming to my house, messing around. Not even if they are my own blood.” ‘El Padrino’ replies, sighing hard. “I know what you want, my old friend, but I can’t please you because that would mean the end of the truce between the Cartels.”
Sean knit a brow as Ricardo laughed coldly, shaking his head putting the commandant on guard, shooting big dark guy a murderous gaze that Ricardo chooses to ignore, keeping his attention focused on the drug lord.
“Listen, Miguel, we both know that the truce between the Tijuana Cartel and the Juarez Cartel was gone to hell the second you decapitated ‘El Azul’.” He replies, all trace of laughter gone. “But what I don’t know is why you’re setting up your own blood.” Ricardo hisses, leaning forward, tension radiating from his frame.
In response, the drug lord’s eyes hardened completely in a second flat, showing for the first time an emotion I recognize too damn well. Betrayal.
“You shouldn’t have brought Ana Maria to Mexico, Ricardo.” ‘El Padrino’ says evenly as if he’s thinking the same thing. Ricardo hardens his expression, his eyes flashing a murderous gaze.
“Magdalena is claiming justice from her grave and Hanna wants justice, Miguel.” He whispers coldly.
“Magdalena is dead. She can’t claim anything at all.” The drug lord says, emotionless. “Ana Maria wants revenge, Ricardo, and that’s bad for business.” He adds, his hands closing in fists and his voice hardening.
Ricardo chuckles, shaking his head in disbelief. “And killing those two fuckers is not bad for business?” He asks sarcastically, gesturing to the two heads. In response, ‘El Padrino’ leans forward, facing big dark guy.
“That’s a business decision, Ricardo.” The drug lord replies as a small grin spreads on his lips. “And so is this.” He adds and with that he turns his head, nodding curtly to one of the guys sitting at his back.
In one second, the guy gets to his feet, leaving the room and after a moment he returns with two more fuckers that are dragging Fabio between them. What the hell…?
They had already beat the shit out of the Mexican, but he’s still conscious. So as soon as Fabio recognizes the head of his father, he starts struggling, cursing loudly, yelling and crying all at the same time.
I wouldn’t say that I feel pity for the Mexican but I don’t want to even figure out how I would feel if I had to see my dad’s head on a silver tray.
The two guys that brought him here force him to take a seat on the one free chair as they grab his head. Fabio keeps struggling with the little strength left he has, but the two fuckers are doing a hell of a job, restraining him.
Sean tenses visibly, glancing at Ricardo. In response, big dark guy shakes his head ‘no’, a silent warning sparkling on his dark eyes. I feel my soft hair rising all at once as the fucker pulls a shiv from his pocket.
I grit my teeth, closing my hands in fists as I fight the urge to close my eyes. I don’t think I can take much more at this point, and I’m not sure if I’ll pass out if this fucker decapitates Fabio right here and now. Fuck, fuck, fuck!
‘El Padrino’ looks at me and once he makes sure I’m not gonna shut my eyes, he nods curtly.
In a flash, the fucker cuts Fabio’s neck from ear to ear and grunting he pulls out the Mexican’s tongue through the bleeding cut. Holy fuck!!
My vision blurs for a second and I blink fast, trying to clear it. For fuck’s sake!! This is the last straw. I don’t even dare to swallow; afraid I’ll puke up the very first meal my mom ever fed me. Damnit!
Ricardo is staring emotionless, watching with cold eyes how that fucker is giving a Colombian necktie to Fabio. Fuck! I saw that shit in a movie once but I swear to God that was nothing compared to this.
Sean is paler but the fucker is still standing, not even his breath changed. I wonder if when all this shit is done once and for all if I would turn that cold and not even watching something like this will affect me anymore, just like the DEA agent.
Then I glance at Ricardo from the corner of my eyes and sure as hell big dark guy doesn’t seem affected in the least after what he saw. I wonder if he himself made some of those Colombian neckties on some motherfuckers over the past. Damn! I think I’m gonna faint.
Ricardo looks at me, a silent question written on his face. I know he’s asking me if I’m okay. Well, hell, I’m not fucking okay and I bet he already knows that, but it’s not as if I’m feeling any sicker than I was feeling already. So, I manage to nod ‘yes’ even though I’m not sure where my strength came from.
I glance at William who has been in complete silence all this time; his gaze fixed on a spot only he can see. His face doesn’t give away what he’s thinking at this very moment, and that fact is not unnerving me anymore but making my guts twist painfully.
I can’t help it and I wonder why William didn’t even blink an eye in spite of the shit that took place. I already knew he has always been ‘El Padrino’s’ lawyer and sure as hell he has seen shit like this before, but still, my guts are telling me there’s something wrong with this picture. There’s something damn wrong, and one more time I’m not getting it…yet.
When the fucker is done with Fabio, he turns around, looking at ‘El Padrino’. His hands are drenched in blood and while he cleans his shiv on Fabio’s shirt, the fucker asks where Fabio should be left.
With a coldness that sends shivers up my spine, the drug lord tells the fucker to leave Fabio where the Zetas that are still loyal to the Mexican can find him, so everyone knows Fabio died because he was a worthless rat that didn’t deserve to be the leader of the Juarez Cartel. And at the same time everybody will know what happens to those who fuck with ‘El Padrino’.
The fucker nods ‘yes’ firmly and with the help of the other guy, they both grab Fabio and drag him out of the room, leaving a trail of blood behind them. With that done, ‘El Padrino’ turns his attention again to Ricardo, narrowing his eyes.
“Here’s the new deal, Ricardo.” The drug lord says, staring at big dark guy’s eyes. “Reynaldo Casamajor and Santos Martelli are now under my direct protection.” He says getting to his feet, never letting his cold gaze off Ricardo’s. “They will not be touched and that’s final.”
“What if we don’t like that new deal, Miguel?” Big dark guy asks, leaning back on his chair, tilting his head to one side.
“Then, you will be crossing me, Ricardo, and that will mean the end of our old friendship.” The drug lord answers. “You and your family will be left to your own fate.” Then ‘El Padrino’ turns his gaze to me. “Get Ana Maria out of this mess before it’s too late, Dom.” He adds as his cold eyes pierce my soul.
Before I register my own thoughts I find myself replying.
“It’s Hanna, sir.”
At my words ‘El Padrino’ tenses as his eyes narrow causing the commandant stands to his feet, tensing as well. I clear my throat as I elaborate.
“Ana Maria doesn’t exist anymore; she died the day her sister Magdalena died.” I feel my heart racing inside of my chest as I swallow hard, and slowly I get to my feet, facing him. “Hanna knows how to take care of herself and I will protect her from anything and anyone, including yourself, sir.” My voice sounds firm, no trace of doubt or hesitation.
In response ‘El Padrino’s’ lips spread in a small grin as he stares at my eyes, probably judging if I’m fucking around. I’m not. And I bet he knows it too because after a long moment, staring at me in complete silence, he gestures for the commandant and William to follow him and they leave the room, not even replying at all to anything I had said.
“That took balls, man.” Ricardo says as he taps my shoulder. “You’re a crazy motherfucker, Dom.” He adds, chuckling at his words.
I look at him, feeling my legs going weak all of sudden and I slump on the chair, letting out the air I didn’t know I was holding.
Sean frowns deeply, shaking his head as if he’s clearing his thoughts. “Jesus fucking Christ,” the DEA agent mutters under his breath as he takes a seat at Ricardo’s side. “That fucker means business, Richie.” He adds as he looks at him.
Ricardo pulls out a cigarette, throwing the pack to Sean as he lights his own, taking a deep puff. Then he leans back in his seat, closing his eyes, scratching his chin.
“What are you gonna do now, bro?” Sean asks as he lights his cigarette.
I know big dark guy is plotting again and I bet Sean knows it too. Damn! That’s a hell of a question. What the fuck are we going to do now? Shit!
“There’s something wrong here.” Ricardo says all of sudden, his eyes snapping open.
“Yeah, two heads on a damn plate, man.” Sean replies disgusted, taking a deep puff of his cigarette causing Ricardo chuckles at the DEA agent’s words.
“We’re still breathing and I wonder why.” He says as he gets to his feet, not giving too much relevance at the fact that ‘El Padrino’ and his fuckers left, leaving behind the two fucking heads.
I swallow hard, clearing my throat. “Are you complaining, man?” I ask, remembering to breathe through my mouth and not through my nose. “Because I don’t think ‘El Padrino’ is gonna let us go that easily, Ricardo.”
“That old fucker is playing a game and he’s using us, Dom.” Ricardo replies absently. “But I suspect he’s using those two fuckers Reynaldo and Santos too. However, I wonder what his real goal is.”
“What are you talking about, man?” I ask, getting more pissed off by the second.
“El Padrino’ knows that we can both protect Hanna better than his own men and that’s the reason why we are still alive and kicking.” He answers, narrowing his eyes. “But he needs them for something and I suspect it’s not business, or at least not that kind of business.”
“He’s a motherfucker without conscience or principles, Ricardo. Who’s fooling himself now, man? That old fucker doesn’t give a shit about anything else apart from his fucking business or himself.” I retorts, sighing hard. “An honorable man, my ass!” I hiss in disgust, almost panting hard.
“You’re right, Dom. He doesn’t give shit about anything else apart from money, but not this time. This time it’s different. I’ve got a feeling, and we only have to figure out what he’s playing at.” Ricardo replies as he blows the smoke of his cigarette.
Sean clears his throat, sighing hard. “Okay, guys, let’s think about what we do know instead of assuming shit.” He says firmly. “What do you really know about those two fuckers, huh?” Sean asks, looking at us, making Ricardo and I look at each other, thinking about his question.
My mind is racing again, recalling all the Intel we had about Reynaldo and Santos, and all the things we have been finding out along the way.
I can’t explain myself but all of sudden I’ve got the strong suspicion that all this shit has been a trap since the beginning. A trap that started before that fucking truck, and even before I met Hanna. I’m not sure why but I had always known that Reynaldo was plotting something and suddenly that suspicion grew stronger.
“It has been a trap, Ricardo.” I say, locking eyes with him, feeling my blood boiling inside my veins all of sudden. “Someone set a trap for us and we all fell not even realizing who was fucking with us.” In response, Ricardo growls deeply, cursing under his breath. “Reynaldo has been a puppet at the beck and call of the CIA for years, but he’s tired of that shit and he wants out.” I say, looking at Ricardo.
“So he looks for a bigger fucker than the CIA that could help him on his task, offering him protection from the three letters.” Ricardo adds as he starts pacing. “But he doesn’t want to leave his old business ‘cause everybody knows high tech weapons are much more profitable than drugs, and he’s a greedy bitch that wants much more.” Ricardo explains as he keeps pacing back and forth, smoking.
Sean frowns deeply, thinking about Ricardo’s words and after a moment he plunges. “There’s no bigger fucker than the CIA, Richie, with the exception of the Mob, maybe, and I have serious doubts about that one.” He says.
“Exactly. But who has been there the longest?” Ricardo says as he turns around, looking at me. “Who knows Reynaldo Casamajor better?”
“Hanna.” I reply without hesitation.
“That’s right, sir.” He says, that devilish smile tugging the corner of his lips. “Reynaldo kept her close for a reason, treating her differently for a reason.” Ricardo pauses as my eyes narrow in suspicion. What the…?
“Well, that makes sense to me, man.” Sean says, scratching his scalp, and then he elaborates. “Forcing a marriage with Hanna would give him direct access to ‘El Padrino’s’ network, claiming not only the old fucker’s place but the whole deal. He would have control over the two Cartels, reinforcing his position against the CIA and becoming almost untouchable.”
Ricardo nods ‘yes’. “Reynaldo has always known since the beginning who Hanna was.” He says, looking at me. “He has been the one playing with all of us since the beginning, letting us get our way because that’s exactly what he needed us for.”
I can’t help it and a deep growl escapes my lips just thinking about Reynaldo’s plans concerning Hanna.
“What about Santos?” I ask, frowning deeply. “What’s that sick bastard role in all this shit, man?”
Ricardo narrows his eyes and Sean is the one answering my question. “The Italian is the key to keep the Zetas from causing trouble.”
“How?” I reply.
“Contrary to the popular belief, the Zetas are not loyal fuckers to the Cartels, but to the cash they get from them. They are mostly ex- military; mercs that were once working for the CIA.” The DEA agent says. “Santos can open new distribution channels, bringing fresh money from his contacts in Europe, maybe even a deal with the Russian drug traffickers.”
A heavy sigh left my lips as I thought deeply about what Sean is saying. We’ve been damn puppets in Reynaldo’s hands since the beginning, getting rid of those that were in his way to the big prize, not even realizing that we’ve been dancing in the fucking rhythm he wanted us.
“You brought Santos to Reynaldo.” I hiss through clenched teeth, unable to stop my sudden anger.
“I brought the Italian, that’s true, but I didn’t make the offer.” Ricardo replies as his jaw tightens. “Those two fuckers have been together in this shit, but I’ve got the feeling they are not alone. Someone else has been helping them from the shadows or they wouldn’t have made it this long in one piece.” He pauses as he narrows his eyes in suspicion, his hands closing in fists. Then he turns his head, looking at the DEA agent. “Are you in, Sean?” He asks him, his eyes sparkling.
“You’re a crazy motherfucker, Richie.” Sean replies, putting out his cigarette. “Count me in, bro.” He adds, smirking. “What do you want me to do?” Ricardo chuckles, patting Sean’s shoulder.
“I need you to do me a favor.” He replies as his lips spread in that devilish smile one more time. “Find who the leader of the Zetas is.”
Sean nods firmly. “Consider it done, but what are you gonna do in the mean time?” He asks as he heads towards the door.
Ricardo’s devilish grin widens completely as he looks at me. “We gotta go to a birthday party and if my suspicions are right I would say they are not expecting for us to show up.” He replies, laughing coldly.