Rolling Circle Press

Mill Valley, California

The Lincoln

He looked up from the phone, taking in the taco truck across the street, the knot of day laborers hanging around to pick up a job, the dope deal going down on the corner, the payday loan place with its flashing yellow sign “Envios de dinero.” Envios was a place Loco used for his transactions, and considering this Castor’s mood darkened further. He terminated the conversation, snapped the phone shut and turned his attention back to the kid who called himself Bullet, a scrawny little specimen who wore his hair in cornrows.

“You too old. You should have come around when you were twelve, fourteen. Where you been?”

“My mom wanted me to finish school.”

“You finish?”

“No.”

“What you do then.”

“In a paint store. McDonald’s.”

“You want to run with the best you got to prove yourself.”

“Do what?”

“I don’t care, do what you have to do. Just bring the money. Show you deserve to belong.”

“But where do I go, Castor?”

Castor scowled and shoved him and gestured at the payday loan place. “Go there! Or go someplace else! Pinche pendejo!” He shoved him again. He remembered something. “But not in our turf. In the other guys’. Not the citizens that we protect. You got that?”

The phone rang again. Now WTF. He answered. La Crazy. Her and the two new girls.

“We ready, Castor.”

That’s why he had the Lincoln today. Smoked windows, twenty-two-inch rims, long and black as a coffin. In a car like that you do what you want.

“The movie OK?”

“It’s OK. Funny.”

Her voice sultry and sexy gave him a little tingle but he suppressed it. He was as professional as anyone in the organization. More than.

“The girls OK, Crazy?”

“Girls are good.”

“OK. I’m on my way.”

He slid the phone back in its holder and turned toward the Lincoln. People get to ride in that car, it’s a privilege. They have to be good enough to be invited. Why Bullet was impressed, too. But it was the whole package. Castor, the man of affairs, the executive officer of the operation. The boss’s right-hand man, the discipline of the unit….