Copyright JJM 2004
Where you're supposed to be is a bar down on SoFlo called Wong's. It used to be a grocery store back in the forties, now its the hippest night spot this side of the tracks. The music is thumpin', lots of hip hop and rap rock, and that girl who used to be on that show on TGIF is in the corner making out with some tough twice her age and five times her size. Youre lookin for Donny, or Raquel, whichever you run across first, although realistically, it's rare to find one without the other.
Aging hipsters mingle with the nouveau riche and beautiful people, offering a wealth of riches for just one smile, just one kiss, just one taste. Girls far too young to be here flirt with dangerous people, and you know that any moment now they will catch their paws in the bear trap.
You see the rookie point guard for the Spurs surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women, but you can't help but notice he keeps checking out a young Mexican boy named Rocco, barely out of High School and still wet behind the ears. A waitress, blonde, with eyes that tell you she is about 20 miles south of where she is supposed to be, asks you if you want anything to drink.
"Vodka. Monopolowa. Straight."
She grimaces at your taste in cheap vodka and wanders off. You wonder how the hell she'll ever find you in this cacophony. The lights make you dizzy, but you continue to scope the place out. In the far corner stand two men. The taller one is lanky, cheeks sunken in slightly, with deep blue eyes older than Moses. His light brown hair is barely kempt and you see that he's reading a comic book. He's slender, handsome, and he's speaking to the other one.
The other one looks Mediterranean, wearing an expensive suit and eyes like coal. You recognize him as being a Karam, the Lebanese mafia. He looks bored and is absentmindedly shuffling a deck of cards with one hand. You get a chill down your spine and the impression that they are looking for the same people that you are.
Where you're supposed to be it's dark and cold and lit up and loud and slightly scary. You're high, desperate, you're shaking, and you've got fifty two large in your pocket.
* * * * * * *
You go up to a man called El Cuchillo, The Knife, but you know him from high school as Chooch. He's a hard looking man, moreno, thick, and very dangerous. He was on the team back in '82 that took the Voks to the state finals. They called him The Knife back then because he would cut through the lane for the layup; he could beat any 7 footer any time, any day. Now, they call him the knife because of his trademark bowie; one hundred years old and twice as many kills.
"Chooch," you nod salutations, "Long time no see."
"Ay, mocoso! What are you doing here? How's your brother Ray?"
You clench your jaw, "You should know, you put him in the hospital." Ray and Chooch were teammates on the '82 team. They had a falling out, some weeks back.
"Ah, that dickweed is a big boy. He'll heal."
Awkward silence on your part.
"I'm looking for Donny and Raquel."
He sucks on his Camel Red, looking down at the lit match intensely, "What would you want to see them for?"
In the corner of your eye you notice the two men in the corner on the move. As you turn, you realize that you've broken character and wince.
"Little boys shouldn't play with grown-ups, mocoso. You're already in with them for 30 gees."
You recover quickly, taking the envelope of hundred dollar bills out and tossing them his way.
"Theres that and more in there," sweat trickles from your temples, "I want more."
Chooch whistles, "Lot of money in there, mijo. Where'd you get the lana?"
"Hey, why don't you mind your business and go ahead and let me mind mine. I'm here to do business. We're square now, and I got more than enough to impress. So why don't you get up and walk your pachuco ass and get 'em?"
Chooch's face turns to cold steel and you have just enough time to back up as you hear the Bowie slice through the air and pin your tie to the table. He grabs you by the ear and pulls you close.
"Listen, mijito, The only reason i don't kill you now is because you're like a little brother to me and I feel responsible that there's bad blood because of your brother. But if you ever," he tugs on your ear rather harshly as emphasis"talk like that to me again, I will slit your pinche throat. Understood?"
* * * * * * *
"Is that anyway to treat our guest?" A voice like honeyed gravel.
Chooch looks up and sheathes his knife.
You look up and see arguably the most beautiful woman in the Alamo City. Famed for her beauty, her sex appeal, and her charm, she's a mix of Brody Armstrong and Audrey Hepburn. She's wearing a black evening gown, likely a Gucci, with combat boots and ripped fishnets. Her hair is tousled, with half her scalp shorn clean and the other dyed midnight blue. She smokes a Macanudo, at looks at you with eyes like a hawk. And although technically she's not your type, you can't help but swallow hard.
"Hello, Thomas," only she would call you Thomas, "What have you got for me?"
Chooch hands her the envelope and you realize all too late you're in way over your head.
"My, my. Is this for me?" Her stoic look suddenly melts and she looks like a child, "Thank you, baby." She kisses your cheek, leaving a smudge of lipstick.
"This is a lot of money. But luckily, it just covers your debt... Plus interest."
"Actually, I was thinking I could maybe use the other 20 K to buy some more."
She laughed, "Thomas, you can't possibly snort that much shit."
You grow defensive, "That's not what I'm planning to do."
She looks at Chooch and the entourage. She smiles.
"And just what were you planning to do?"
"You didn't think I would let a little snot-nosed shit like you try and get into business for yourself, did you?"
"Oh Thomas, my little Thomas. You would break the first rule. And what's the first rule?"
"Don't get high on your own supply," Chooch chimes in.
"So what's your excuse?" At this point you realize you've signed your own death warrant.
Her lips curl, she looks at you directly, jaw tightened and in the blue light of the club her glamour somehow fades away. You see her sunken in cheeks, the deep circles under her eyes, track marks between her fingers. Blood trickles from her nose, either a result of an absurd amount of cocaine use or a lover's quarrel with the Great Donny Moss.
She is Raquel O'Reilly, half Mexican, half Irish, 100% dangerous Drug lord of SoFlo.
And your little mouth has spoken one too many words, one too many times.