Excerpt from dystoP(R)ia
Colonel Salvador Pagan slammed his fist on the table. "¡Cabrón! We had everything set up clean and clear and you had to go and fuck it up!"
Across the table, Miguel Soto flinched. He outmassed Salvador by at least four inches and 40 pounds, but the colonel's fury was deeply terrifying. He opened his mouth and got nowhere.
"Shut up! Shut the fuck up!" screamed Salvador, spit flying onto the polished table. And Miguel. Who didn't even try to wipe it off. "Do you know what this is going to cost me?! Do you?!" he screamed again.
Might cost me 20-30 years, thought Miguel. But he didn't say it.
"¡Puñeta! My whole career! My whole life! Your sister's life!" Miguel flinched again. If Yamilet were here, he'd truly fear for his life.
Salvador pushed away from table and walked back and forth across the marble tiles of the ample dining room. Miguel watched him go back and forth, pondering the mistakes that led him to be here.
Salvador had used his years as a cop to build a network of contacts from the deepest gutter all the way to La Fortaleza. He had glommed onto a dark horse candidate long before anyone had considered the little prick worthy of running for governor and with Salvador's help, the putz had actually won his race for the governor's mansion. Salvador had wasted no time in setting up his long-imagined scheme, an intricate web of drugs and prostitution that gave him access to politicians and bichotes in equal measure. He often joked that the only difference between the two is that the fucking drug dealers had better taste in clothing and women.
Miguel was the front man, the gofer, the messenger who handled every "clean" transaction that touched a dirty one. A senator wanted a three-way hooker for a private party? He'd call Miguel who'd call someone else. A little blow for the party? Miguel again, with another call. Drug shipment coming in on a RORO container? Miguel set up the deal with the Ports Authority through his contact in the Justice Department. And when he needed a case to disappear, Miguel called his contact in Hacienda, the local Treasury Department.
All of them were connected by Salvador's web, built piece by piece over 30 years. He made colonel without ever making an arrest on his own, a desk cop who fired his weapon only on the range and paid for a passing mark with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Miguel felt the rage surge again, but it died in the face of his reality.
Salvador stopped pacing. "What did Antonio say?" Justice Secretary Antonio Rivera, a man Salvador had nothing on.
Miguel shrugged. "He wouldn't take my calls."
Salvador nodded. "Did Glenda find anything on him?"
"She says his taxes are clean all the way back to his first job. Nothing there."
Salvador cursed. "Who did that shithead assign to this case? Don't tell me it was his whore."
Miguel winced. Salvador meant Antonio's niece, Special Independent Prosecutor Anelisa Cordero. "Yes. Her."
A chair flew across the room. "Fuck! She's got El Capitolio eating out of her hand! And you know how scared el pinguito is of those fuckfaces." "El pinguito," the little prick, was Salvador's pet name for the governor. Miguel could barely shrug.
Retrieving the chair, Salvador sat down heavily. "You're fucked. You know that? You're truly fucked."
Miguel wanted to shut up, but he blurted it out anyway. "So are you." He braced for the attack.
A slow nod. "And so am I." Salvador looked off into the distance, his mouth working like it has holding back vomit.
Hating himself for even thinking it, Miguel said "I--I could keep quiet about all of it and just--just take the hit--by myself..." He loathed the pleading tone in his voice. Please, please let me fuck myself so you can keep your goodies...
Like a gracious king who'd been offered a small gift by a peasant, Salvador waved it off. "No. Yamilet wouldn't go for that. She wastes her time with you, but you're her blood." Salvador drummed on the table, then lurched forward. "Has the cunt talked to that cocksucker Marrero yet?"
Miguel blinked quickly several times. "Maybe. I was arrested four days ago, so I guess they had time."
"No guesses! Have they talked or not?" Miguel shook his head and Salvador whipped out his cell phone. His steel-gray hair clipped for $80 a pop was mussed up, his narrow shoulders and creased face mottled from anger. "Hello? Emilio? Check Cordero's case file and see if she's talked to Captain Luis Marrero." Pause. "I know that! How much you want?" He listened, his face darkening. "Fine! Fine! Just get me an answer." Another pause. "Yes! Right now! I'll hold."
Covering the mike, Salvador whispered "Some friends are only with you for the fucking money. Pendejo."
Miguel thought the insult may have included him as well. Salvador spoke on the phone. "No? Are you sure? No deposition?" Pause. "Yeah, I know about the case report. I got a copy. Saved myself a few thousand there, huh?" said Salvador nastily. "Yeah, I got your payment. Tonight." He looked at his watch: 10:26 p.m. Back on the phone. "Okay. You're covered. One more thing. You always work this late?"
Rapid-fire speech crackled back, almost loud enough for Miguel to understand. Slowly, the color drained from Salvador's face. For the first time in four days, Miguel cheered up. "Uh-huh. Bye," said Salvador as he clicked the phone off, then stared at the table.
Miguel waited as long as he dared. "What?"
Without raising his head, Salvador said "Emilio was called in to help the F.B.I. They took an interest in your case." Miguel felt a cold slash through his gut. It made him nauseous.
"Fuck," said Salvador, "this is going to cost me money."