RENO, NEVADA 1996
The Nevada sun is rising high into the morning air now, three gangsters all stare silently, mental chess.
Each one has a different beef, with one another, with the world, with themselves. Ceasar felt a chill come over his body, he has the Jones, for either death or for some of that choice “Horse,” either through needle or nose. Most of all, he’s addicted now to the thought of bloody revenge.
Chico, still sitting on the curb is stone faced with the look of murder on his mug. He’s a heartless brutal warrior who thrived on the sight of blood and guts, puss and stool, nearly orgasmic at the things he could make the human body do with a knife, gun, bat or his bare hands. Ain’t nothing in the world, not money, street fame, women or fast cars, better than killing for that dude.
Ronaldo Dominguz, who goes by Joven now, knows that, knew Chico to be that way since he first met Chico at age 9.
Suddenly Chico springs up impatiently and runs over to Joven and Ceasar.
“Man fuck this, I’m ready to bang,” he yells with his 6″1, 215-pound frame heaving and throbbing with anxiety.
“Calm your big Venezuelan ass down,” Ceasar said waving him off.
Chico starts toward him in anger and is stopped in his tracks by Joven, who can see the evil in his eye and in the reflection of Chico’s eyes, see his own evil.
“Alright, forget Black Brown for now, I’m about to go for a drive to this place and scope it out, come back and go the fuck back to sleep.” Joven says in his usual calm, butterscotch tone. “Ya’ll know the plan for this afternoon, fill that dude in when he gets here. I’m not going to see you cats again until then, so remember the signal, show no mercy and I’m serious because they won’t show any.”
Joven turns to Ceasar looking at him solemnly and placing a hand on his comrade’s shoulder.
Chico darted off swinging at the air and full of adrenalin.
“Man I don’t like that dude, in fact I hate him” fumes Ceasar in a silent rage. “I known that cat since I was like thirteen even though I knew he was foul, I rolled with him anyway but I never liked that dude man and yo!, I know he had something to do with…..”
“Not here man,” Joven whispers back attempting to calm his boy down with a steady hand that seems to be lecturing. “I know, I know. Believe me hermano. Look he’s wild, he’s no good, he’s out for himself, he’s fucking crazy, you and I both know that. You can expect that from him. Look the truth is I need him, understand me. I need him.”
” You don’t really need him…. but after this look…He’s dead Joven, you hear me. I ain’t got nothin’ to lose now man, word up.”
“Speak up punk,” Chico yells from the background.
Ceasar’s body quivers with rage. “I ain’t biting my toungue motherfucker! I should dust your ass off right here in front of all these people, you fuckin’ coward!”
“Listen, stay focused,” Joven softly remarks to Ceasar pushing him back, “If we don’t pull this off none of us survives—Listen man, I……”
Joven embraces Ceasar but is quickly pushed off.
“Get off me man we ain’t that damn close you goin’ RuPaul on me,” Ceasar said calming down and smiling. His smile fades when he realizes that Joven, who has never ever looked like he’s looking now, was hardly joking.
Joven says softly, pulling Ceasar close, “The beef’s been on for a long time man. We’re livin’ on the run dog. And I’m startin’ to piece together what this all means. I need Chico around to study what he’s going to do, if he’s with them.”
Chico stood staring with blind hate at Ceasar.
“That bitch, Joven I think he knows I’m..we’re piecing stuff together,” Ceasar whispers staring back hard at Chico.
Joven wants to break the stalemate.
“You see,” he said running over and grabbing Chico around the shoulder. “Chico’s very serious, now gentlemen this has to go right or that’s my….well that’s all of our asses.”
Ceasar’s eyes stay on Chico and then shift to his other cohort. Ceasar sees the eyes of a young man troubled and in trouble. He sees a black Spanish kid who maybe needs to be attending a university with all the smarts he has. He sees in his friends eyes a depressing fear that pierces his own heart. At that moment he knows that this is do or die and that this would be the last day the three of them would be together as they were, the team is disbanded, the glorious days gone, the game over.
Ceasar feels his own clock ticking away. He don’t want to live at all no more. He’d seen his new wife murdered, his new baby burned to death and knew in his heart it was Chico’s doing. With his eyes he silently told Joven, “Man I love you too.”
Joven acknowledges without speaking while watching his friend’s eyes water.
“I know the plan, I’m outta here.” Ceasar says walking away.
Now the young man’s attention was back to the horizon, which was now a bluish yellow. Ronaldo knows that Ceez is going back to his room to find every last centigram of Heroin that’s left and try to numb the pain. He knows Ceez has the hurt, fury and desparation of a suicide bomber. Joven’s hurt for all those reasons and even more hurt because he’s using Ceasar to cancel out Chico and might have to shoot his best friend or have Black Brown clip Ceasar, put him out of his memory and misery. Ceasar used to be a charming thug, fastest gun in the east. He’s a murderous junky with nothing left now, his quick thinking and shooting skills diminished, his mind in dimentia, the type of dude that would testify in court and then hang himself, the type of dude that would stick a sharpened spoon in your neck for the next fix. He had to go either way.
Sharkie had been right, “only two hots and a cot or a pine box for all of us in this game, eventually”.
Ronaldo turns to Chico, he’s going to mind-fuck him now.
“You spoke english for a change hermano,” Joven says striking up the conversation. “I’m surprised. Hey man, look I knew you since I was knee-high to an ant. I used to run the raw for you all over I was the young brains, you was the muscle, Ceasar was the enforcer.”
Chico’s eyes dart away he looks up and then down. Joven continues the bombardment, tapping Chico playfully on the chest for emphasis.
“We were moving that shit nigga! Wall Street, Uptown, L.E.S, Mott Haven in the Bronx, we was gettin’ money nigga! Remember? You put me on and we were set. We was rolling. Remember Vazquez, that gruesome shit, you pulled off. I admit that grossed me out but I see now that it had to be done. Man looking back on that old street stuff seems like child’s play little league stuff.”
Chico frowns and looks away again. Joven knows he’s tugging at Chico’s missing heart a little bit and certainly getting in his head.
” Remember bro, you was talking about the vien in the nigga’s neck when you sliced that shit and how it was some special doctor’s shit. I was cracking up when I thought the other day about how you bodied that dude. You was eatin’ chips and drinking beer with your foot on the man’s back. This man’s lying on the floor bleeding like a mothaf…….you was watching wrestling with your foot on his back Wild shit.”
Finally Chico begins to laugh for reasons Joven knew. Talk about Chico’s handy work and he always smiles. Joven is serious again as he sighs.
“Laughter is good medicine and you’re a sick cat. But let me tell you something man, In my short time on this earth, I’ve learned that you can’t trust women, you can’t trust the government, business partners none of that all you got is your homies, you know down for whatever.”
A brand new convertable Land Rover pulls up and a valet jumps out and hands Joven the keys. It was seemless as if he had planned it, perfect timing, he’s getting out of there before Chico can even respond. With the car running and driveway full of people, Joven is emboldened.
He steps within inches of Chico’s face like he fears nothing.
“Hey man look, I know what you did.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I knew you were out there in DR, in Puerto Rico, I didn’t say anything ‘cuz that’s the game, that’s the business, that’s our life, but…man what you did was fucked up.”
“What are you accusing me of……Don’t accuse me of …what are you saying you little punk ass, black ass faggot, I made you, I saved your life, you would’nt be shit if it wasn’t for me!”
Joven’s suspicions are confirmed. Chico would never deny a murder, and he’s never seen Chico this irritated. No Chico he brags about the killing and shit, it gets him off. Chico also false started. Joven didn’t accuse him yet here he is immediately defensive standing as if he were accused. Joven has no doubt now that Chico is the trigger man on the homeboy Enriquillo’s murder, one of the front men for what was all over the television right now and a killer of wives and babies — of his own people. Yeap. He looks in the dude’s eyes, not scared anymore, not flinching like he used to be, he’s looking at Satan’s portal. He has no doubt that Chico is the arsonist behind the fire at Caesar’s ranch that killed Maricela and the baby. Damn.
“We don’t have to discuss it,” Joven says backing away toward the car. “Put it this way my man, You can walk or you can stick with us. You know what you did. But it’s done. You’ve got a chance to make up for it today.”
Joven can’t believe he just said that, how would that dude ever make up for that? He shakes his head, smirks and turns the keys as the protege and the teacher stare each other down for almost a minute. Chico walks toward the car, Joven reaches for the gun at his ankle subtly and then starts to speak again so that Chico doesn’t notice he’s going for his piece.
“Somone, let’s be real, it was my father papa Ortega, who told me once that life was a war, now I know what that means. I look at you my friend and I know what that means, I’ll see you around.”
Joven, puts on sunglasses, buckles his seatbelt and drives off. The hot wind hits his face and a bitter-sweet nausea hits his stomach, butterflies with wings made of heavy, cancerous tumors. It’s only a matter of time before his picture is on every television set and law enforcment fax machine in the country. He’s been taking chances since this morning, standing out there in the driveway hoping cops would pull up so he could go out like Clyde Barrow. Now he’s headed to a corporae board meeting with a gun, how absurd is that? Sure he’s headed to the country club now, he’s headed to his destiny, he’s headed to jail or the grave and he knows it.
He smiles, it feels great to be a motherfucking gangster and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’re not just trying anymore, you are indeed a gangster.
TO BE CONTINUED!