Thursday, March 31, 2011

The City Den

The armed guards slid apart the barbed-wire-fenced gates and admitted the tall lean man and his blonde companion. Large jeep trucks were parked on the cement and hungry dogs walked around with their noses to the ground. Inside, men brought them to the drug lord.

Men with guns lounged on couches smoking hashish and opium. Women strewn on the arms of couches and chairs like forgotten jackets were passed smoking pipes. Jesus, the man in charge, stood with his back to Eduardo Sanchile at a white marble counter. The man's wavy black hair was slicked back tight against his scalp. He turned to face his client. His blood-shot eyes opened wide and his face tensed.

“Who is this?” Jesus asked seeing Kaite. “Do not think you are above the rules, Sanchile, just since we have known each other since childhood.”

“Never mind,” Sanchile said, “she is with me. I trust her.” Jesus lunged for Sanchile and pushed him against the mildew-yellow wall. He held his hunting knife up to his bare neck.

“No visitors, cholo,” he growled. “That's the law here and I'm the law.” The long knife pressed into Sanchile's neck turning the skin around it pink from its pressure. Sanchile stood still. Kate's arms were held behind her by a different large man. Jesus lowered his knife and thrust it towards the woman with a snarl. He took her from the man and grabbed her around the chin. She squirmed but didn't scream.

Sanchile moved to rescue Katie and then every man in the place despite smoking crack or drinking booze lifted the muzzles of their guns up in his direction.

“Don't think you can get out of this,” Jesus said. “You will either let me take her to bed or die.” Sanchile stood with his feet wider than hip-width apart and his arms bent at the elbows. He was only armed with a pistol which would not last one minute against the army of AK47s and automatic handguns. The drug lord stared Sanchile down and bared his gold-plated teeth.

“Remember our struggle Jesus,” Sanchile said. “We were both little boys with nothing and as a team we helped each other survive. I would distract the American tourists and you'd take their money and run. We'd use that money to eat together. That makes us brothers and brothers watch brothers' backs.”

Jesus's bulging eyes widened even more, and he grinned to his ears. “Put down the guns, cholos,” he said. “This is my little brother, si? We're just playing, right Eddy? Like old times. Here's your whore,” and Jesus shoved Katie back to Sanchile. She fell onto her knees and the room erupted in laughter.

“Brother,” Sanchile said offering Katie a hand, “I thought you knew how to treat a woman.”

Jesus laughed, turned back to the table, and said “Let's talk business.”

The shipment was in white-bagged kilos. Jesus wanted Sanchile to distribute the cargo to more than a dozen distributors around the city in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

“Do you think you can handle such a big boy task, little brother?” Jesus asked Sanchile.

“I've never let you down,” he responded. “Get me some bags to carry the goods in. I'll need a new hotel room, $500 cash and a gun.”

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