Angela couldn’t be trusted. But I also knew dying in my very own personal Mexican shithole was the next option. I was hoping she’d kill me.
The first time I met Angela was outside Hermosillo. She had been a coyote who worked for a big gun named Javier Cortez smuggleing guns from south of the border. They had cashed in enough to buy a small country, and were now looking to get into the drug game. That’s where I came in.
I had been undercover for almost two years by that time. I had moved up the ranks from peddler, to pusher, to wholesaler. I was now at the top of the game in northwestern Mexico. They called me Israel.
I didn’t know who Israel was, but the Mexicans did. Long blonde natty dreads had never been my style. I had lost all my football weight, tanned myself mocha, and had forgotten how to bathe or shave. I was an alien but I found a way to fit in. And they called me Israel.
Javier had sent me a message a few weeks before to let me know he was in the market. So, we arranged a meeting off Route 15 near Hermosillo.
They met me on the side of dirt road in a sand coated van. They drove a rust speckled jalopy with a canvas covered bed.
The sun was high and hot when Javier stepped out of the truck. He was a short and tan bull. The long black tattoo wings on his arms sprawled from his thick shoulders in a black tank top. His dark cargo pants and black combat boots reeked of military. He had and anvil’s face, a nose that could bend a tire iron and a wind burnt forehead that could smash a concrete wall. His grip when we shook hands was delicate and precise. He sniffed me.
“You are alone? Yes?”
Two gorillas in fatigues holding assault rifles jumped from the back of the truck as he spoke.
“Yeah,” I said, “Just as we agreed.”
“Then you are a fool who fails expectations.”
I said nothing. My heart pumped beads of sweat down my spine as the two body guards stroked their rifles.
“Relax, my friend,” he said, throwing his arm around my shoulder. He squeezed my neck with gargantuan strength and hollow courtesy. “I make it a rule to never trust men who tell the truth. At least with liars, you always know what you’re getting. Now, where are the goods?”
I shrugged his grip off, reached into my pocket and tossed him a baggy.
He laughed. “So, guessing the van’s empty?”
I said nothing.
He laughed, “Ah, there’s the man I’ve heard so much about.” He pressed my cheeks with his hands. I pulled back. “Israel, we don’t have to be so bitter.”
“The shit is legit,” I said. “That’s all you need to know.”
“Oh, I’m sure it is my friend, but that’s not for me to say.” He whistled to the truck.
From the truck slithered a small woman with jet black hair, cool green eyes, and bleeding lips. She matched Javier’s cargo outfit. They were the image of revolution. The gorilla men parted before her without a word. She lifted her hand while walking and Javier tossed the baggy. She took it back to the truck.
“You’ve got a woman to do your chores?” I asked.
He laughed earnestly. “You better not let her hear that my friend, or you’ll wake up with your lips sewn shut and your balls in your mouth. Angela is no girl, and she don’t take shit from anyone. I’ll be your friend Israel. But Angela– Angela will kill you. I promise.”
The truck’s horn sounded twice. Javier’s face went grim. He focused in on my eyes with a deadly air. Then he laughed.
“We’re all good my friend. I never doubted you for a moment. Why don’t you smile a bit? This is a good day.”
I glanced over the two guards who were still scanning me for movement. Javier caught my eyes.
“Oh, these two,” he laughed, snapped his fingers, and they walked over to him. He stood a full foot and a half shorter than them. “These boys don’t speak a word of English, do you boys?”
They didn’t flinch.
“She calls them her pets.”
“She’s never without them. They’re brothers these two. She figured that way she’d only have to hold one family.”
My brows crooked, so he continued, expecting I needed more.
“Angela keeps their mother and father under guard. If anything were to happen to her, their families would end very quickly. Their lives are tied to hers.”
“So that’s business around here?”
His face sank, “You had best be very careful what comes out of that mouth.” His words slid out like a steel knife from a sheath. Then he turned to his hulks and screamed, “Muertos. Abrir sus bocas.”
The two men opened their mouths to reveal scabby stumps where their tongues used to be. My stomach churned.
“Now listen to me close Israel. We can do business and everyone can be very-very happy. Or we can cause problems and see where that gets us. Stick your nose in our business and I’ll fucking cut it off. Do you understand?”
My legs were weak and my breath was short. My mouth was sawdust. Words fizzled and died. But I couldn’t go back, I couldn’t be anyone except Israel. So I puffed out my chest, took off my sun glasses, and said, “If you want to make it war, threaten me again. She told you my shit’s good, so let that be it. But if we’re going to do business, keep your circus freaks away from me.”
He stewed for a minute dripping sweat. Then he erupted a hearty laugh, turned to his goons and the truck, “I love this guy.” He turned back towards me. “You’ll do OK kid. We’ll be in touch.”