Punching a 9mm hole between Quintana’s eyes had left an exit wound the size of a pomelo sangre, but Antonio Castillo wasn’t worried about the mess. It wasn’t his house, and he’d already gotten what he came for.
Castillo hit the gas, and tore down the narrow tunnel blindly, no light at the other end. Twelve feet under the ground, the one way, one lane, narrow highway was a straight shot to the US border. Nogales to Nogales, it was a ten mile trek out of Mexico.
His co-conspirators: he’d sold them out, but they’d cost him nothing. He’d recruited them with the promise of a piece of the action. After they took out Quintana’s protection, he took them out; saving the last dance between himself and Quintana. The air was cool, his mind sharp, as the Range Rover’s tires glided smoothly over tightly packed dirt. Castillo reflected on their last conversation.
“Take it all. There’s 50 Kilos”, Quintana had said.
“I don’t want the coke. I’m here for the cash. What’s the combo to the safe?”
Quintana with a look that was a tell, “Its Sonora business. I’m just the custodian. They don’t give me the combo.”
That’s when Castillo put the 9mm someplace sacred, on Quintana’s virgin daughter, Marisol.
Quintana gave up the digits quick and the wall safe swung open. “Take what you want. Just leave us in peace.”
But for Castillo, that wasn’t good enough. He’d watched men like Quintana, who had it all, toss pesos at squalid-slum dwelling urchins, on the streets of Nogales as they strode by in alligator loafers. Castillo decided to fuck Quintana’s daughter in the mouth with a hollow point round, just before he turned the barrel on Quintana, pressing it between his eyes.
Quintana had more than cash to offer Castillo. He had connections. Specifically, his cousin Julio Salamanca the Third. The chief proprietor of a film distribution company, out of The Neon City. Legit, if you wanted to call it that. Everything from solo masturbation to gangbang flicks. But a solid front for the real business, nonetheless. Ruthless, yet clinically precise; he had no rivals. Castillo would introduce himself at the funeral as a close former associate of Quintana’s. Then he’d buy his way into the action.
Castillo downshifted quickly, then pressed down hard on the brake, before he hit the wall. He killed the engine, then tossed the 9mm into the back seat. He stepped out of the Range Rover, leaving the headlights on. He could see the ladder that lead to the surface; beyond the manhole cover that opened up inside an abandoned warehouse in Nogales, AZ. He peeled the disposable vinyl gloves.
The authorities wouldn’t find shit. And the police back in Mexico were a joke. The cartel would do their own investigation, but since his two co-conspirators were former Zetas, the hit would only spawn retribution in the ongoing war between the Cartels.
He checked the designer calfskin mission bag: one-fifty in 75 hundred American 20 dollar bills. One-forty, really. It had cost him 10 Gs for a legit, dummy passport. He ran his fingers through his scruffy beard, glancing at the passport photo: he had a nice clean shave, and his cheek bones looked good. It was him alright, but with a different name.
Three weeks later, he was back in Nogales, on the Mexico side of the border. Clean shaven, and in the finest threads Quintana’s money could buy. He approached Salamanca at the funeral. Although he came from the slums, Castillo’s English was impeccably American. The son of a local woman and a gringo, he’d mastered English before age 11, when his father left his mother, who took her bastard son back to the city of her birth.
“I was an investment consultant for your cousin, Mr. Salamanca. And I sincerely hope to continue a symbiotic business relationship with your family. I understand you own a profitable film distribution company, Verde Oro Productions.”
Salamanca looked him over. Piss colored scleras swilling around irises black as surveillance camera lenses. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”
“Max. Max Castle. I’m interested in investing in your company.”