Crash Into You

By: Cara Ellison

One



The VIP lounge was upstairs, set off to the side from the main floor, guarded by a thick-necked bouncer with a shaved head. Loud hip-hop music pulsed through the pleasantly dim interior where gauzy pink and gold curtains swayed with the air of the room while monied twenty-somethings danced and writhed in cigarette smoke diced up by lasers.

From the bar, Seth scanned the lounge, checking out the players. Hot girls in tiny skirts and sky-high heels, showing off shapely legs shook their hips and threw their head backs, flaunting enhanced cleavage busting out of skimpy tank-tops. Model types. Paid girls and party girls, female bait that encouraged big bar tabs. A bottle blond with a killer figure glanced at him over her shoulder. His gaze slid from the generous curve of her ass barely covered in a clingy lurid purple dress up to her face, all wide eyes and glossy pink lips. Damn, it had been a long time since a woman looked at him like that, with open interest and frank sexuality. Aimee certainly didn’t look at him like that anymore – if she ever had. The thought of his live-in girlfriend deflated the semi he’d been sporting.

The girls on the side were just fun. A way to blow off steam. Not that girls like the ones posing and preening in the VIP room would actually give him the time of day. Still, he enjoyed thinking about it while he waited for Carlos.

Seth glanced at his watch. Be there at nine sharp, Carlos said. It was now just past ten with no sign of him. Seth was anxious to leave. He didn’t like Amy being home alone too long.

The door opened and two massive Mexicans breezed inside, both built like refrigerators, wearing dark suits and gold watches. Their presence was so powerful it took a moment for Seth to realize Carlos was standing in front of them. He was smaller, about five eight, a buck fifty. You’d think the leader of one of the cruelest gangs on the eastern seaboard would be a big, hulking guy, but he wasn’t. Without mass, he used other ways to intimidate. His legacy for viciousness was unsurpassed.

Seth sized him up, cop to thug. Carlos had tattoos, hundreds of them, but unlike most of the other members of the Mara Salvatrucha 13 gang, he declined to have them applied to his face. Still, under the collar of his shirt, a black knife tip could be seen crawling up one side his neck. The other side was decorated with the head of a snake, its mouth open as if to sink its fangs into Carlos’s jaw.

“You find the place all right?” Carlos asked.

He hadn’t, in fact. It was located in a part of Tacoma Park he rarely ventured into, even when he had been a patrol officer. Without waiting for an answer Carlos hinked his head, indicating Seth should follow. Seth grabbed his half-empty bottle and followed him to a sitting area. Carlos sat down and sprawled, taking up as much as space as possible with his legs open, his arms along the back of the sofa. His protection stood off the side, not too close; they didn’t want to obscure Carlos’ view of the ladies.

“I got the stuff you wanted,” Carlos said.

Seth had been a cop for a long time. He knew how these things worked. He wasn’t going to start asking detailed questions about how it was done because the guy might be wired. Doubtful, but possible. He just nodded. “Great.”

“The pictures of the commish are in the locker at the bus station. I want my money.” His dead shark eyes left no room for doubt that he was in no way fucking around about that.

“I have it for you,” Seth said. “How about an exchange tomorrow?”

Carlos eyed him coldly. “Six hundred thousand in cash. You got it all?”

“Yes.”

His black eyes narrowed to slits, designed to intimidate. Except it didn’t stop at intimidation with Carlos: the threat was very real. Carlos was not just mean, he was evil. MS 13 members flaunted all the cartoonish icons of evil: devil’s horns and 666, but Carlos, perhaps more than most, had integrated the essence of evil: he enjoyed murder and torture. Babies, kids, women, didn’t matter. He relished every opportunity to flaunt his power.

“Bring it tomorrow at the Wendy’s in Tacoma Park. I’ll give you the key then. You fuck me, I have people who will kill you,” Carlos said. It was an unnecessary threat. Of course he had people who would kill Seth or anyone else who double-crossed him. But Carlos needn’t have worried; Seth had no plans to double-cross him. He smiled calmly.

“What time?”

“Eleven at night.”

He’d have to leave Amy alone again, but it wouldn’t take long. Thirty minutes, tops.

Business concluded for the evening, Carlos sat back and signaled to one of the refrigerators. The larger one walked over to a group of ladies, said a few words, and they looked over, smiling.

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