“Just like we rehearsed. You do anything stupid, I won’t hesitate to kill you. Comprende?”
The Mexican swallowed and nodded his head. His face was a bloody mess after my interrogation. He took the single step up to the porch and knocked on the door. A muscle-bound Mexican in a wife-beater answered the door.
I rushed from the bushes. I used the first Mexican as a battering ram to knock Guillermo down. I slammed the door behind me, turning the gun on the two thieves.
“Is your girlfriend home?”
The tight veins throbbed in Guillermo’s neck. The sloppy ink of prison tattoos stained his shoulders.
Silence was my answer.
The wood floor of the foyer shined with a hard polish. Rugs at the entrance and foot of the steps were Latin in color and pattern. The afternoon sun streamed through the accent windows behind me.
“Is – “
“No, she’s at work,” the first Mexican answered.
Guillermo stared at him. He obviously thought he was a tough guy. It was prison tough. All bravado and no brains.
There’s no reasoning with a man like that.
I wiped down the gun and turned my attention to the first Mexican. “In some ancient societies, thieves were punished by having their hands chopped off.”
His eyes, still glued to his friend’s corpse, went wide with horror.
“If you do exactly what I tell you to do, you can keep your hands.”
The Mexican did what I told him to do. He took the money to the cops and told them the story. He and Guillermo argued about splitting up their take. Guillermo attacked him, but he pulled out his gun and shot Guillermo. He was so tortured by his guilt he decided to turn himself in.
The cops didn’t completely buy the story, but took it anyway. It got them a clearance on a murder and a robbery without having to do any real work.
That night, while lying next to Rita in our shabby motel room, I dreamed of Giovanni Pezzino again.
This time he smiled at me.
This time I didn’t shoot him.