By: Guest Writer Nick Dominic
My name is Jason Lopez, and I’m pretty fuckin badass. Forget everything you think you know about bounty hunters…and then remember it again, because it’s actually a lot like what you probably already think it is. The events I’m about to describe happened a few Junes ago. I’ve recounted the details to the best of my memory’s ability (which is above average), so this is unbiased. (Maybe a little biased.)
I’d just pulled an all-nighter. I was physically and mentally drained, but if you want to be the best at Duck Hunt, you’ve got to make some sacrifices. Sure, lots of people benefit from professional therapy, but me? I already know my prescription: bottle of Jack Daniel’s and an NES. I was still at the office when I woke up from a cat nap, slumped in my chair behind my desk. At first, I thought it was my dumpster breath that woke me up, until I realized someone was knocking on the door.
Vitals check: heart rate 107 bpm, body temperature 103.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Perfectly normal for me. I’m told my numbers are very above average. I’m not surprised. I’m above average at an above average amount of things. Also, crime doesn’t rest, so neither does my cardiovascular system.
I grumbled, “Who is it?”
The door opened, and in came Fusco, an old friend. He smiled and nodded, closed the door behind him, and walked toward me. He said, “Jason.”
I said, “Fusco.”
We high-fived, then sat down, feeling neighborly.
He said, “You smell like shit.”
I smiled, “You’re welcome.”
He continued, “I never realized your office shares a parking lot with Palacio de los Jugos.”
I nodded. “Most bounty hunter offices do.”
Then he said, “Listen, my firm has another job for you.”
I said, “Oh, yeah? Why didn’t you just text or email me?”
“Because this is more dramatic.”
I nodded in agreement, then reached for a fresh toothpick from my shirt pocket. I tend to grind my teeth when I’m focusing extremely hard (which is always), so I go through a lot of toothpicks. My wife, Yadi, gets them at Costco.
Fusco said, “This might be more than a one-day job, and I won’t lie, it’s sort of…delicate.”
“Go on.” Damn, now I’m gonna have that Taylor Swift song stuck in my head.
“The bounty is Jorge Maza.”
I finally blinked (I can go a really long time without blinking). “As in…”
“Yup; as in Jorge Maza, our good friend Nick’s brother-in-law.”
“Well, what the hell did he do?”
“So that’s the other delicate part; I can’t tell you.”
I huffed. “Is that what your big fancy Firm says?”
“Yes, but believe me, you don’t want to know. You’re just going to have to trust me.”
I looked over at an old picture hanging on the wall beside my desk. Me, Alex, and Nick, back from the summer of ’98. We go way back. As the leader of our friend group, I always felt it was my responsibility to protect and defend us, no matter what (especially Nick, the most deserving). Would taking this job mean betraying his trust? Fuck if I know.
I stood up. “Tell you what. I’m gonna have some breakfast, and then I’ll get back to you.”
He winced. “This is time sensitive.
I smiled grimly. “It always is.”
Unfazed by my rebuff, I decided to compromise, for an old friend’s sake. “OK. I’ll definitely start looking for him, but I’ll decide later whether or not I’m bringing him in.”
Fusco, ever clever, asked, “And how do I know you won’t just tip him off?”
“You won’t,” I answered flatly. Sometimes I’m incredibly surly.
He sighed again. “Fine. Deal.”
We high-fived, then exited the office, he to his car, me to my usual breakfast at Palacio de los Jugos: a large Cuban coffee and two pan con lechones. Just another morning in southwest Miami.
Except it wasn’t.
* * *
One thing you should know about me is I don’t use guns. Just my bullwhip, brass knuckles, and above average sized-brain. I drive an old black ’69 Chevelle. It’s got some bullet holes in its side. People always ask me if I was in a shoot-out. I’ve been shot at, but these holes are actually from a night my brother Mike and I got wasted and decided to test if the doors were bulletproof. They’re not.
Mike is also a bounty hunter. We used to be partners, but when I refused to use guns, we parted ways. He’s not a bad guy—he uses guns, but he always shoots people in the legs or arms, and never their dicks. I just don’t want to use guns ever again, and I haven’t, not since the accident…
Anyway, after a half hour drive and some phone calls, I parked outside Jorge and Van Maza’s apartment building when I saw none other than my brother, Mike, standing at the ground entrance. I parked and strode over, the sun casting a pretty cool shadow that looked like Megazord from Power Rangers (the original, not that watered-down post-Tommy shit).
Gruffly, he said, “I see you’re still wearing short shorts. I’m getting some strong Reno 911 vibes, Lt. Dangle.”
He was remarking rudely upon my athletic tactical battle shorts, which don’t quite reach mid-thigh, which is all the better for speed, flexibility, agility, aerodynamics, and body heat regulation. I shot back, “If you had these legs, you’d wear short shorts, too, buddy.”
He said, “What are you doing here?”
“Really? You don’t suppose…”
He read my mind, and asked, “Who hired you? Fusco?”
“Why both of us?”
I shrugged, then motioned toward the building’s entrance. “Let’s find out. Right after I drop a deuce in the lobby bathroom.”
* * *
Too late. It’s too late. I shouldn’t have fired my gun. It’s so heavy in my hand. Struggle. I can’t stand. Can’t breathe. The victim’s eyes, looking into mine…anguish!
Suddenly I woke up. I was sitting on the can of the apartment building’s lobby’s men’s room, shorts at my ankles, river of drool down my stubbly chin. One thing you should know about me is that I have a condition. It’s a version of narcolepsy that occurs in medias res defecation, often accompanied by night terrors. Nurses call them “shitmares.” I’ve had sporadic episodes of shitmares for years.
Vitals check: heart rate118 bpm, body temp 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Dale.
Mike and I took the elevator. We were quiet at first. We hadn’t spoken much since the accident. Mustering up some moxie to ease the tension, I said, “You gonna see the new Batman?”
He shrugged. “Obviously.”
I felt an opening, so I started, “So I heard that—”
But he snapped “—No, Jay, no spoilers! You’re so bad with spoilers!”
Frankly, I was shocked. Those were some fuckin fighting words, friends. Before I could argue, the elevator doors opened, and we strode over to the Maza’s apartment door. I knocked, and Nick’s sister Vanessa answered. She looked great (as always), and said, “Oh, hi, Jay!”
“Hey, Van. This is my brother, Mike. May we come in?”
We went in and sat on the couch. Soon we all had little cups of tea, but only Mike and Van drank any. Tea gives me anxiety like a motherfucker. Mike knew to let me take the lead, since I know the family better. Figuring I should tread a little lightly, I started with, “Where the fuck is your husband, Jorge?”
She replied, “Work. Why?”
“Well, I’ve already checked with his work, and apparently he hasn’t been there all week.” I discreetly glanced at Mike, who I could tell hadn’t gathered that intel yet. LOL.
Van said, “Ooh, that’s strange. Wait, this isn’t a social visit, is it?”
And then it happened. Her son, Max, walked in. He was about four or five years old, wearing nothing but briefs and a Rick and Morty t-shirt. His big curly hair was combed to the side, making him look a bit like Cuban Frederick Douglass. He had deep red stains around his mouth, down his chin, neck, and chest. He looked right at me. It was only for a moment, but I still get chills just thinking about it. He had shark’s eyes. Lifeless black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. Then he said, “Mama, I’m hungry.”
I hadn’t noticed before how shiny Van’s forehead was. She was sweating, like she’d been exercising, except she couldn’t have been, since she was dressed in a Frida Kalo-stye muumuu. I peered more closely, and saw light bags under her eyes, and her hands were trembling, and covered with deep red stains. She saw me seeing, then quickly crossed her arms. She said, “Hi, Max! My cute little man! Mommy’s talking to some friends now, but soon I’ll have second lunch ready, so don’t worry. Just stay…calm for mommy. OK?”
Jesus, she sounded like she was telling herself to stay calm. And her smile. It was fake as hell. I’ve been living in Dade County way too long not to know a fake-ass smile when I see one. Little Max didn’t react right away, but after a minute that dragged for days, he went back to his room. Van said, “Welp, it’s certainly strange about Jorge, but it’s probably just miscommunication. I promise I’ll talk to him and get back to you like, super soon.” Clearly, she wanted us to leave, but the question was, why? What exactly did Fusco get me into this time? I could see Mike wanted to stay and ask more questions, but we weren’t going to get any more out of her, so I said, “Alrighty then. Thank you for your time.”
She walked us to the door, and attempting to sound more casual, she asked, “You know, I couldn’t help but notice that neither of you took off your Aviator sunglasses when you came inside.”
I explained, “Bounty hunters never remove their Aviators. Ever.”
Mike added, “This is the way.”
I nodded. “This is the way.”
Van smiled and said, “Thanks for stopping by.” Then she slammed the door, and through her door we heard her muffled shout: “Fuck! We are so fucked!”
Mike and I looked at each other. I said, “You notice what I noticed?”
He nodded, and said, “Oh yeah…doesn’t Max look exactly like her? Oh my gosh.”
I nodded. “I agree. It’s uncanny. Still, we should find out where Jorge is.”
“Oh, I agree with that.”
So, we got the hell out of Dodge, and decided to come back a little later to stakeout the place. First, we decided to stop by Mike’s office, which shares parking with the Palacio de los Jugos on Coral Way. His office was even more Spartan than mine, besides the bevy of firearms. I asked, “What happened to your secretary?”
He said, “I had to fire him.”
“Because he quit.”
I called Fusco and put him on speaker phone. He picked up and said, “Whoa, find him already? That was fast!”
I said, “No, not yet, but I did find my goddamn brother. What the fuck, Fusco? You know I work alone, ever since the accident!”
He countered, “Hey, don’t shoot! Mea culpa, OK? The firm has me under a lot of pressure. This isn’t a one-person job, and I need the best.”
Flattery. Works every time. I said, “Well, fine, but you’re starting to give me some bad Dylan from Predator vibes, dude.”
Fusco asked, “You mean the guy Jesse Ventura played?”
Mike butted in, “What? No! Carl Weathers played Dylan. Jesse Ventura played Blain.”
I added, “Jesus Christ, Fusco!” for good measure.
He apologized profusely, saying he just didn’t want local cops to bungle things in his jungle.
I paused to let him sweat a bit, then closed with, “And no more surprises. You’re on my caca list, bro.” And I hung up.
No more surprises. Ha. If only that were the case.
I walked out to the Palacio and ordered us two coladas and four fritas to go. When it came, I met him at my car, where he was waiting in a black trench coat and his heavy-duty Kevlar. I said, “I’m getting some serious Blade-Punisher vibes, bro.”
He growled, “Better to have it and not need it—”
I finished, “—than to need it and not have it.”
We climbed in and I drove us back toward the Maza’s building. He said, “You see all the red on that kid?”
I said, “Probably ketchup. They go through gallons. But then again…”
“Well, did you notice how Van said ‘second lunch?’”
“It was only 10:30am when she said that, but second lunch isn’t ‘til 2:30pm.”
“Damn, you’re right. And she also seemed so…terrified, for some reason.”
I reflected. “Yes, that’s true, too.” I can be pretty intimidating sometimes. I shook my head and said, “Man, Columbus guys are shady as fuck.”
Mike nodded, and said, “We should track his phone.”
I agreed. However, neither of us knows how to do that, so we settled for the original stakeout plan. This time, instead of parking out front, we found a more discreet spot cattycorner from their parking garage. We parked and ate our takeout. I put on some Interpol, but he rolled his eyes, so we settled on Smashing Pumpkins. As we finished, keeping our eyes open for Jorge, he asked, “What’s with the toothpicks? You’ve gone through like a hundred. Weird new habit.”
“I quit smoking.”
“But you never started.”
“Exactly. It’s called resolve.”
I could see him roll his eyes again behind his Aviators. Swallowing some of my pride (which is prodigious), I offered an olive branch. “Hey, bro, I just want to say that it feels pretty cool to work with you again, and stuff.”
He looked away, nodded, then said, “You didn’t have to leave, you know.”
Wow. I said, “Um, I didn’t leave. You left. After the accident. Remember?”
He lost his shit then. “Would you stop calling it that? Unless you count saving my life as an accident!
I screamed, “I’m never firing a gun again!”
He grabbed me by the shoulder, but I noticed his frustration had subsided into fraternal warmth. He softly said, “Then don’t, bro. Then don’t. Just have my back. That’s all.”
I looked him in the eyes. My toothpick broke again, but this time instead of spitting it out, I swallowed it. I swallowed it with my pain, with my pride, and it hurt like hell. Especially the toothpick. Holy shit. What a bad idea. In any case, I told him, “I’ve always had your back—just like you’ve had mine.”
Vitals check: heart rate 141 bpm, body temp 148 degrees Fahrenheit. Typical stats during emotional vulnerability.
Just then, Jorge finally pulled up to his apartment building, driving some crunchy electric car. He wasn’t alone. I whispered, “Yo, DJ…”
Mike rasped back: “…let’s pump this party.”
We sprung from the Chevelle and sprinted in a Loose Deuce formation up the perp’s blind side, surreptitiously vaulted the parking garage fence (Mike and I are pretty agile, though I stuck my landing slightly better), and we took the stairs while he was going up in the elevator. Once on his floor, we crept down the hall perpendicular to his, and waited around the corner, listening closely. Soon there were muffled voices—Jorge whispering fiercely—but no discernible words. Once he’d entered and shut his door, we approached quietly, and I unclasped my lockpick kit from my tactical belt (very much like Batman’s, but a mellower yellow for stealth). I completed my task at remarkable speed, then opened the door very s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y, and we heard Jorge shouting exasperatedly from around an interior corner several feet away, close to where we’d had tea earlier.
“—can’t we at least situate this mess over the tarp before he just goes at it? My slacks are ruined, and—oh, God! The carpet!
Van shrieked, “I’ve been trapped here for days with this little hellion, so honestly, I don’t give a fuck if you get blood on your lame pants!”
I turned to Mike and whispered, “You hear that?”
He nodded. “Yeah. They’re funny when they fight. Super cute.”
Ugh. “No. I mean her reference to ‘blood.’”
Then, just as there was a pause from the shouting couple, we began to perceive the grossest, most boner-crushing sound we’d ever heard. (Sometimes I still hear it at night.) What we heard was the sound of…chewing.
It was time. I walked out to engage the couple, starting with the bounty, Jorge, to get some answers, but before I could say anything, I saw little Max, my good friend Nick’s nephew, eating ribbons of flesh from the arm of an adolescent female that was literally just laid out on the floor, at Van and Jorge’s feet. The victim had a needle jutting from her neck (a powerful sedative, no doubt). The couple’s eyes found mine in a flash of silent horror, and Max didn’t react at all. He simply continued masticating the inner-forearm of a human being that he held by the wrist and elbow, like a goddamn corn on the cobb. After a few seconds of digesting—ew, I mean, processing this information—I made the horrible connection: “…’second lunch,’ I presume?”
Jorge stammered, “Uh, I can explain.”
Van just said, “Fuck!”
Mike took a picture with his phone. Then Jorge dove to his side toward the coffee table, upon which lay a gun I hadn’t noticed. I yelled, “No guns!” and in one well-practiced fluid motion, unfastened my black leather bullwhip, and let it whip out around his wrist, gave it a firm backwards jerk forcing the gun out of his hand, and Mike dove, caught it, looked at it, and put it in his pocket. Finders keepers, I guess.
Then Van said, “Jorge, this has to stop now.”
Jorge said, “What do you want me to do?”
She said, “Tell them. Tell them everything.
He said, “You know I can’t do that.”
I put on my brass knuckles and said, “Oh, I think you can, buttercup.”
He eyed my brass knuckles, then tried to look me in the eyes, but only other bounty hunters can see through Aviators. Calmly, I reasoned, “Hey, man, you deal with us, or with local cops. You choose.”
He let out a deep sigh and nodded. Sometimes you just have to level with people. Leveling with people can be tricky, because, in general, I’m at an above average level, but it’s still worth trying in the long run, which happens to be something else I’m above average at (long runs).
Mike and I couldn’t believe our friggin ears. Oh, boy, did he sing. He sang like Alex doing karaoke at 7 Seas. And like 7 Seas, what we heard was both shockingly gross, and infinitely intriguing. Once he was finally done spilling his viscera, I cold-clocked him with my knucks. Van protested, but I explained, “Just to ensure the bounty doesn’t fly the coop. I really should be bringing him in, but I never signed a contract, and if all the crazy shit that he just said is actually true, then I’m doing him a favor getting him out of all this. So, yeah, we got bigger problems than a mild concussion.”
Van agreed sullenly, then said, “I’m so sorry about all of this. I thought marrying a guy in a cult would be fun and good for work. I mean, I work at a museum, you know? But, oh, boy, this is out of hand.” Then she looked down at Max, who was making a big fuss on her lap, reaching eagerly for his former lunch. The girl, still bloodied and unconscious, was being looked over by Mike, who’d applied a tourniquet and some bandages. He said, “I called an ambulance. She’s gonna make it.”
Van breathed a sigh of relief, but then focused again on Max, and said, “What am I gonna do with this?”
I put my hand on her shoulder, searching for the right words (which can take quite a while, as I have an above average vocabulary to browse). Mike whispered in my ear, “Dude, let’s get the fuck out of here.” So, I gently squeezed her shoulder and said, “Van…I have no fucking idea.” Then I high-fived her and left.
We stopped by the Palacio de los Jugo on Bird Road for two Cuban coffees and a croqueta preparada each. You have to keep meals light before a possible shit show.
Vitals check: heart rate 198 bpm, body temp 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Just some pre-shit show jitters.
We parked by the basketball court on Galloway and SW 32 Street. The sun hung lazily in the June sky as we slipped swift and silent through St. Brendan Catholic Church, then into the parking lot of Christopher Columbus High School, aka “Fuck Town.” I followed my Wolverine-like sense of smell to the outer wall of the school cafeteria. We found a discreet door between some tall tacky bushes. Just as I was about to commence picking the lock, a large nondescript van approached, so we dove nimbly behind the bushes. The van took a nearby spot, and we listened as the doors opened with the scuffled sounds of muffled struggle. Right as the last person entered the building, I expertly tossed out my bullwhip, which latched onto the door handle just before it could close all the way. I turned to Mike, posed, and he took a picture with his phone. Then we entered the building. I guess in some ways, part of me never left.
We slithered thither through the bowels of the Columbus cafeteria kitchen, following the mobile ruckus from a safe, stealthy distance. They stopped, so we stopped. A large door opened with a rubbery sucking sound, abrupt movement, then it shut with a flat ‘thut.’ Then footsteps returned in our direction. We quickly, quietly climbed into metallic cabinets, concealed as some men stalked by. Once it quieted down, we re-emerged, tip-toed toward the big door, and realized it was a gigantic meat locker. I turned a latch, opened it slowly, and inside were at least thirty adolescent boys and girls, shivering and bug-eyed. My toothpick snapped. Jorge hadn’t lied after all. They were huddled for warmth, all wearing dingy Belen summer camp uniforms. I motioned for them to remain quiet and begin exiting. In fluent American Sign Language, I signed: “Hello. I am here to rescue you. How long have you been here?”
One approached me, a frantic blonde bundle of nerves. She stammered, “S-some of us, d-days. Others, j-just hours. All of us were k-kidnapped near Belen’s campus. Every f-few hours the d-door opens, and either new p-people come, or one of us l-leaves, and we n-never s-see them again…” Poor thing was weeping freely. I’ve never cried, but I can tell it sucks.
I told her, “Hang tough, kiddo. The good guys are gonna get you outta here. Right, Mike?”
I turned to Mike, who was taking video with his phone. I rasped, “Jesus, Mike, will you put that thing away?! We’re not out of this yet!”
He complied, saying, “Fine, but this is good for social media, and social media’s good for business, bro.”
I hate it when he’s right. Reading my mind, he added, “You look pretty cool in the video.
‘Pretty cool’? Bullshit. I looked awesome.
Anyway, we fled the kitchen via the same route from whence we came, and once we encountered the parking lot again, everyone broke into an all-out sprint. The escapees were very wobbly, but they didn’t need much encouragement to hustle. Unfortunately, the main gate was still closed and too high for climbing, so we decided to stick to our original course through St. Brendan Church, entering through the flank facing the parking lot, hoping to get out the main front door on 32nd street. But as we made it into the dimly lit, incense-smelling church, the chapel door on the opposite side of the altar banged open, and out rushed at least a dozen douchie-looking dudes, first heading us off from the main door, then pressing us back onto the goddamn altar, enclosing us in a menacing semi-circle. The same girl who spoke up earlier clung to my arm (probably noticing my girthy ‘ceps), and screamed, “Who the hell are these people? What the hell do they want?!”
I cleared my throat, and spoke so as to be heard by all the escapees, who, I now felt, were under my brawny wing (it’s a dad thing). I said, “Good afternoon. My name is Jason Lopez, and I was born to hunt. This morning, I thought I’d be hunting my friend’s brother-in-law, but, oh, boy, when it rains in Miami, it certainly pours.” I paused briefly for effect, being sure to keep my audience engaged with my stage presence. “During my investigation, I learned that—”
“We learned,” Mike corrected needlessly. But for the sake of cadence (and saying ‘yes’ in improv class), I continued “—we learned that there is a dangerous, active cult comprised of Columbus alumni who systematically abduct kids from Belen Summer Camp—campers and counselors alike—and cannibalize them! There are so many friggin kids at that camp that barely anybody even notices the missing kids, and these sick Columbus fucks (and some of their own kids) are practically addicted to eating you campers and counsellors while you’re still alive and fresh! Your youth and sugar-packed diets make you a niche delicacy.” I turned to the small mob menacing us in their blood-spattered polos, and said, “Right?”
I said, “You see? Told you so. It is thus up to us to fight our way out of this shit hole. Are you with me?”
Ugh, this fuckin generation.
Then I clasped hands with Mike, who’d never left my side. We flexed for a few seconds, comparing biceps, and I said, “How was that?”
He said, “Perfect. Looked great in the video, too.”
I smirked and said, “I know.” Then I boomed at the top of my voice: “FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKIN COMMUNIST CANNIBALS FROM COLUMBUS!!!” I turned up the volume on my phone and played, “Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder. Then Mike and I flipped off the altar (Mike did a front flip, I did a back flip), and we rained pain down from above…
First, I kicked a guy in the balls, then added some brass knuckles to his jaw, and said, “Sleep tight, Princess.” Then I whacked a dude behind me in the eye with the handle of my bullwhip, and told him, “Looks like you could use a little shut-eye.” Then I cracked the whip out and around the calf of a guy trying to grab Mike from behind, causing him to trip and face-plant at Mike’s feet. Mike was too busy to thank me, as he was sporting Texas handcuffs: twin .50 caliber Desert Eagles. He shot one dude in both knees simultaneously, then another dude in both his ankles simultaneously. Show off. I checked on the kids. Most of them were still sitting on the altar on their goddamn phones. This fuckin generation. They better at least like me on social media. Then shit went from weirder to weirdest.
The whole church rumbled, and the whole altar mechanically slid to the side, and from beneath emerged an enormous snake, at least as big as the one from Anaconda. For the record, Jorge had not mentioned a colossal fuckin snake. Then it opened its jaws about three blocks wide, and hissed, “Enough! I will end these interlopers’ incursion mysssself! I, the firssst Communissst Cannibal from Chrissstopher Columbussss! I was once a man, but I adapted this sssuperior form after decades of feasssting on Miami kids!”
“Nope, I’m out,” I said. “Nope. No snakes. Says so in my contract. Literally article one, clause one: ‘No fuckin snakes.’ Good luck, Mike. See you at Noche Buena.” I jogged toward the door, the kids following close behind.
Mike said, “Dude! We can’t just let this thing live. We have to kill it! Aren’t you gonna have a flashback of the accident just in time to realize that you’ve had nothing to feel ashamed of, so you can accept your actions and move forward into redemption’s fruition? You foreshadowed it super hard.”
I shook my head. “Nope.”
Mike shrugged. “Fuck it. I brought C4 explosives.”
He tossed some explosive (and expensive) lumps of clay from his pockets up into the church rafters, sprinting toward us as we waited on the outside front steps, the cartoonishly gigantic snake in hot pursuit. At the last possible moment, he fired up at the C4, detonating it, and the entire church blew the fuck up in a spectacular blast, sending all of us flying through the air and landing all over 32nd street. Cars screeched and honked, elder chonga drivers shouting in Angry Spanglish (band name?), i.e., Shit Show Central.
I looked around, saw the kids covered in dust, hugging, crying, taking selfies, and suddenly things went silent, the rubble resting like it’d always been there, everything strangely calm…except I didn’t see Mike anywhere. I thought, shitballs, where the hell is he? I searched the debris and detritus, until I found his black Converse…by themselves. Oh man, did I cry. I cried way, way more than the average amount. But then out of the new night’s dark light, he emerged, very dusty, battered, and barefoot. He smiled and said, “The blast literally blew my socks off.” I laughed hard, and hugged him harder. I even gave him a kiss on the cheek, but then he looked at me and said, “Never do that again.” Fair enough.
Cop cars and ambulances had the place looking like a patriotic disco in no time. Fusco showed up with some generic Firm-looking guys. He smiled, shaking his head, and said, “This sure looks like a whole lotta paperwork.”
I chuckled and said, “I have a firm policy on paperwork—Yadi does it.”
Then Fusco asked, “Leave anything for us?”
I paused, gazed pensively around, and finally answered: “Just bodies.”
* * *
Yeah, that was a few Junes ago, and since then, my online presence has multiplied by an above average amount. One thing you should know about me is I don’t do this for the press, but I don’t mind a pat on the back either. The Miami Herald called that day The Battle of St. Brendan. It also turns out that the cannibal cult of Columbus actually was communist (Jorge hadn’t told me that part, it was honestly just a wild guess). Speaking of which, Jorge was off the hook for cooperating as an informant, little Max was weaned off of eating live private school kids, and Van still looks great. All those Belen campers and counselors have recovered, and those that were lost were soon forgotten. Some of my Columbus friends lost friends and family that day, but Laub assured me that the guys in the cult were “just the assholes” anyway.
At this moment, I’m in my office. Steam is rising from two pan con bistecs I picked up from my Palacio de los Jugos on Sunset. I’m listening to “You’re the Best Around” by Joe Esposito. I’ve got a large colada in one hand, and a plastic Duck Hunt gun in the other.
Life is pretty fuckin badass.
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