28 – Kindhearted Thugs
Juan Fuego del Rey recruits two more scroungers at the Oaxaca landfill to work for him as Los Zetas thugs. The two new recruits —Manuel, and Bernardo — meet with Ferdie and with Juan before Juan returns to Mexico City.
Juan tells his new thugs to go to every shop either on the last day of the month or the first day of the next month to collect the protection monies. He hands Ferdie a list with the names of the establishments and the amounts due. He instructs the three, “If the owner refuses to pay, you have permission from Boss to first — threaten to break a limb, second — break a limb, third — kidnap a child or other loved one, fourth — kill a child or other loved one. Remember the sequence; do not deviate.”
“Kill a child?” asks Ferdie.
“You have a problem with that?”
Ferdie looks at Manuel and Bernardo and then at the floor. “Maybe,” he says.
“Well,” says Juan — Shit, shit. So much fuckin’ trouble to find this goddamn thug in the first place — “you can ask Manuel or Bernardo to do that if it is necessary.” Here he points at the two other men and asks, “Do either of you have a problem with killing a child?”
Manuel crosses himself. Bernardo shakes his head.
“What the fuck do you mean?” asks Juan, first with a look at Manuel, then at Bernardo.
Manuel says, “I have a problem with killing a child, yes, Señor Juan.”
Bernardo nods his head.
“You, too?” asks Juan. “What the fuck; what kind of criminals are you?”
Ferdie volunteers, “We are not criminals, señor.”
“You are now,” says Juan, wanting to shout at the three idiots in front of him. “What do you think Boss is paying you to do?”
Manuel says, his voice squeezed, “Collect money?”
“It’s not that simple,” says Juan. “Oh holy god!”
“I don’t think we understand, Señor Juan,” offers Ferdie.
“Now that’s an understatement,” says Juan. Boss will kill me himself if these three — oh fuck, what am I going to do? “Look,” he tries again. “I want you to go to these shops and ask for the monies due. Understand?”
“Yes,” says Ferdie, “we understand that we are to collect monies.”
“But, it’s not like collecting money for services rendered —.”
“Excuse me,” says Manuel, “I don’t know what you mean.”
“It’s extortion,” says Juan. Why the fuck do I keep using big words with these dopes?
“Extortion,” says Bernardo. “I understand extortion.” He turns to Manuel and Ferdie and speaks at a clip, “That’s like when we work all day in the sun gathering valuable junk from the landfill and then when we deliver the goods they tell us that’s not really what they are looking for and they pay us shit.”
“Oh,” says Ferdie.
“Oh,” says Manuel.
Bernardo smiles at Juan Fuego del Rey, then frowns. He whispers, “You want us to do that to the people — to our neighbors — in Oaxaca?”
Juan frowns back at Bernardo, then at Manuel and finally at Ferdie. He says, “Apparently not.”
With deftness, Juan removes his gun from the holster on his left hip, aims, fires three shots — the first one hits Ferdie in the chest, the second hits Bernardo in the face, and the third clips Manuel in the shoulder. Manuel screams, falls back, hits his head on the floorboard. Juan moves forward, aims again, fires. The cartridge hits Manuel in the back as he crawls along the wall in a vain attempt to escape.
An hour later, Juan rides the same colorful bus back to Mexico City. He tries to sleep but is haunted by the fact that he has recruited not even one man — or hell, woman — to act as a Los Zetas thug in Oaxaca de Juarez. As he watches night fall, he thinks: Shit. Shit. Fuckin’ shit.
2014 Copyright by Carley Eason Evans