The sport utitlity vehicle turns onto I-80, headed deep into Reno. He looks up at the sun with his sunglasses and protects his face from the beaming rays. The sun is in a different position now, almost at his back. He’s headed to La Sierra Country Club, owned by La Hoya International. He hates everything that that company and his former boss Rafeal Batista stands for and wants to settle the score in the boardroom, but he would do it the street way.
As the dry afternoon dust collects on his shades, the CD blasts Sade’s song “Cherish the Day.” Some chick must have left it in there but he finds it appropriate nonetheless. The beautiful music fills the air and memories fill his mind. How had it gotten to this point? Why did he choose this road? What would become of him because of certain actions? He pounds the steering wheel close to tears, not with sadness but with anger thinking about what Ceasar is going through. Then he thinks of his foster-father Orlando Ortega and what went wrong with that? Why is my pop a stooge for this Batista? ¶
Something within his control, yet beyond it, had torn his life asunder. Was it the conditions from which he came? Was it the world in which he lived? He wonders now what event had been the
turning point—lives lost, smoking guns or families destroyed?
Then he remebers what Orlando told him not to long ago. He sniffles as he recalls the words:
“You wanna play this game huh? Remember though, if you lose and you know you’re gonna lose and I’m not talking about a game, I’m talking about if you lose everything. Don’t ask why, never ask why.”
Nevertheless, the young man, is on his grizzly, gripping the steering wheel with bitterness, continuing to deduce what’s going, on running the facts over and over again in his mind.
The dude Batista has Chinese, Colombians, Bolivians, Italians, all kind of countries and people on his payroll, he’s washing money for all those people, under the guise of running a legit multi-national. Yet, you take a guy like me, I get dupped into washing money for him, selling dope for him— he’s untouched. The guy’s making billions selling commodities and moonlighting as probably the biggest drug dealer the world has ever known. Yet I’m stuck. But what he’s not
counting on is that I’m gonna kill him.
He turns the CD player off and on comes the radio. Ironically it’s was the CEO of La Hoya brand sugar, — his shell company is the subsidiary of La Hoya Sugar — George Klien. The advertisement blares, explaining that La Hoya is the official sponsor of the NCAA west regionals, which were to be held in Reno later that week.
La Hoya pure cane sugar, how sweet it is.
It ain’t gonna be so sweet when I get through with you assholes, he thinks as he turns the radio off, taking a deep breath. He knows he has to be calm. He can’t show anger or fear.
Everything he’d been through, done and seen in his whole life had led up to this moment and he has to be sharp, devoid of emotion. He has to mask what he was thinking and feeling. This isn’t a meeting to carve up drug territory, it was the annual La Hoya International Board Meeting— his second. He recalls about the last meeting, when he gave an inspirational speech about saving the beleagured sugar exports company. He honestly believes, and to some extend still does think he was for once in his life doing something legitimate. He still wants so bad for that to be the first legal thing he’s successful at but it turned out that by joining the ranks of the business world, he was sucked deeper into the dirtiest of games. He know finds himself, albeit unknowingly and knowingly, thrust onto the center stage of murder.
Why are they after him? Here’s how he’ll tell it to anyone who will listen:
I turned the scheme against Batista and beat him at his own corporate game. Instead of kicking revenue back up stairs—customary in business and organized crime—I recirculated it into the dying company and since, they let me do what I want, I started cutting costs, selling off unused assets, buying new equipment with drug money, going to private financiers, pulling off funding, a ghetto IPO. All this while Batista stands by helplessly.
The truth is, and Joven knows it, if the Spaniard had removed Joven from his position as vice president, shareholders would have called Batista a fool, unwanted attention comes around, inquiries are made w into his clandestine pratices. Then the SEC, then the FBI. Batista. So
yeah, Batista was powerless to stop him.
The valuation of the Santa Maria unit quickly shot up, not because the sugar market was booming, but because the young man had generated phantom revenue from drug money. Now they want the company and the money back without raising a public stink. Only way that happens is if Dominguez is dead.
The young executive, Ronaldo Dominguez—El Joven—had struck it rich with a net worth of $70 million. So they leak it to the feds that I’m a drug dealer, some news, and here I am, he thought. Not bad for a bastard from Harlem.
One question still weighs heavy though. They know his whereabouts, they know he is coming to the meeting to relenquish his share of the sugar company. Yet they didn’t alert the authorities at all. They were going to kill him at the meeting, he thought at first. No they’ll get their stupid share back and then call in the feds who’ll be hiding there.
Joven, at this point is prepared for anything. He tries to reassure himself by telling himself they were all “old farts.”
His father, the CEO of a La Hoya susidiary that sells Cigars, is now a mere shell of the man he used to be and it remained and enigma as to why that was so. George Klien is a Harvard business school brat who and La Hoya board member who, no matter how hard he tried, could never live up to his old man Chuck’s cunning instinct. That’s why Batista is running it and pushing drugs to save the company, no tricky acccounting here, they’ve got real revenue, real profits, but fake business strategy.
So now he would dissolve the partnership once and for all and either die in a blaze of glory like in the movies or get away with more than $20 million for the sale of his shares and hide in Latin America, Europe, Africa anywhere, for the rest of his life in obscurity, that is if he got away, which at this point is next to impossible.
“Oh well,” he looks back up at the sun. How small I am in the scheme of things, he thinks. His meditation is interrupted by the sound of his cellular phone which he barely heard over the sound of the wind.
“Black, is that you, Black?”
It’s Black Brown one of three hitters, who Joven hopes will help him set it off today. Four men, with nothing left, dumping bullets on the guilty and the innocent. Fuck it.
“What’s up Nardo’ sorry I’m late you know the man, always trying to keep a playa from doin’ his thing.”
“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” groans Joven in a tone that clearly suggested he was annoyed by Brown’s’ tardiness. “Did Ceas, feel you in?”
“Sho’ did and I got some freaky shit for dat ass baby.”
“Yeah but do you know the plan?”
“Yeah, they at the club right now.”
“Shut up stupid, don’t you know…man, wires, maybe they, you know they’re tapping, aw shit. Oh well. Damn it’s so hard to find good help.”
“Man you crazy, let me put you up on what I got.”
If they were tapping, why not let them know what’s about to jump off, maybe it will save him from doing what he really doesn’t want to do but feels he has to.
“You’ll be a’ight ain’t no cops feds nothin’ and I’m callin from one of my gals cribs don’t know body know her but I seen some Colombian lookin cats walking around the joint early this morning. I had to watch from a distant. They constantly trying to keep a brotha down. Can you believe security wouldn’t even let me in the building. Gotta be a black thing, you know what I’m sayin? ”
The old Colombian “security” service is there just like he thought they’d be. More like an Army of hitters. No doubt they would let Joven in.
“Just as I figured, they want me pushin’ up cauliflower,” says Ronaldo, smirking at how corny what he just said is.
“Man you a gas, you a wild boy, look here, the pizza guy got two pepsis to go (Ceasar: two, tech nines) and the big coffee guy got a double expresso with a straw (Chico: sawed off, double barrel shotgun plus machete) and guess what!”
“What man,” Joven asked, beginning to laugh at Brown’s high pitched excited voice.
“Yo nigga, aka yours forever, got a Big Mac sandwich, two all beef patties, special sauce lettuce cheese, brotha. With fries. (Brown: Israeli Mack 11 Semi-auto with reversable clips three hundred rounds each) Fries baby! Frankly I’m a little aroused.”
“And the strawberry shakes? (tear gas) what about that. We have to even it out, they’ll have plenty of food (guns) there at the meeting.”
“Got it. You holdin.’”
“Yeah, I brough some cigar and a Zip lighter (six-round revolver pistol) one for Klien, one and five for Batista. He likes to smoke.”
“You’re straight out of a bad 70s movie man. Look play time is over you’re excited and all that but ya’ll better be on point or else I’m comin’ back from the grave and throw a party for all of you (kill everyone). And uh Brown, about Atlantic City….”
“Don’t even mention it. All is well, Allah is in his holy temple.”
“You need professional help. Bueno suerte.”
“Bone suer what the hell does that mean?”
“All these years you been kickin’ it with latin-cats you don’t know what that means?”
“For some reason I never gave a shit, I sincerely hope you don’t hold that against me my Afro-Hispanic brotha.”
“Oh you done lost it. It means good luck.”
Joven shakes his head smiling and seeing the road sign that led to the exit where the country club is. He exits the interstate, navigates the service road and heads up a steep hill. The club is at the summit of the hill. It’s an exclusive Nevada country club of less than 30 members—most on the board of La Hoya, but also some casino executives and Nevada legislators. The car approaches a large two-sided iron gate which leads into a giant coutyard drive way with a circular parking lot surrouding an elegant three-level fountain.
At that moment, Ronaldo remembered how much he hates this type of enviroment. He’d seen it earlier in the day and was reminded of how he loathes aristocrats even though he is a millionare.
He longs at that moment to be singing folk songs with Campesinos on the island or drinking a brew on 145th st. sittin’ on a stoop watching the kids play in a dirty Harlem waterplug.
Meanwhile his mind switches to the plan. The burly, muderous, thug guards let him right in, with indifferent stares, no irony, no hate, nothing. Professional.
He wants to get in the meeting, dispense with pleasantries, reliquish his interest have them transfer and make sure the money is in his foreign account and then fly on a chartered private get-away plane to Cuba where he would seek political asylum and grease local palms while
he figured out his next move. What a stupid plan, he admits to himself.
But, the likely course of action is that he will everybody except Ortega, his father, hopefully it wouldn’t come to that.
He drummed on the steering wheel, nervous, pulling up to the valet park, in front of the palatial entrance. He hops out, struting, feeling his iron rub against his ankle. They don’t even frisk him.
A limo pulls up, he whirls around.
The limo stops at the valet.
She steps out.
His heart jumps.
Damn, what is she doing here?
Juanita, still delicious, still dreaming of owning her own retail chain no doubt. Still clueless. She’s no idiot but she still doesn’t deserve to be caught in a fire-fight though.
What the hell is she doing here?
Then he figures it out. Insurance policy, human shield, game-leveling pawn, pretty sacrificial lamb. Human shield.
TO BE CONTINUED!