Season 4: New Laredo: Episode 1: With Friends Like These
Season 4: New Laredo: Episode 1: With Friends Like These
A sequel to Narcos complete with Voiceovers and Scene Cuts. Consider the warnings and ratings to be equal to the series and proceed with caution.
This is NOT connected to "Paperwork" or "Not Qualified For This".
word count: 6300
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Episode 1: With Friends Like These
Voiceover, Javier Peña:
People everywhere like it when life is easy, predictable, and there’s plenty on the table. In fact, good or bad, most people agree that making a life of relative ease and convenience for their families is a high priority. You would not believe how many people serving time in max security prisons cite family as the key reason they are in there: someone was in need, legal jobs were tight, kids were hungry. Family motivates people. Even Pablo Escobar had been a family man. I knew more than one Narco who would talk about themselves the same way-- as men who wanted to make sure their kids had neatly pressed Sunday shirts, warm blankets, and good schools.
The drug war and other wars, like the Gulf War, tended to have an impact on the American economy. Border towns were powder kegs when times were good--and when times got tough things got tougher faster in places that were seen as easy transitions between worlds. When I was raised in Laredo, Texas there was a sister city in Mexico-- Nuevo Laredo. New Laredo Mexico and Laredo Texas were locked in a staring contest across the Rio Grande. Back in the day there were lots of smaller footbridges and swallows that were so easily passed by ...anyone really. My mother and my grandmother used to go shopping for goat in New Laredo-- apparently American butchers don’t stock it like they should and are stingy about giving you the drained blood in a Tupperware for use in making sauces. This sounds disgusting but I could eat that meal five days a week-- slow braised goat in thick sauce with vegetables and rice. To this day nobody makes it like my grandmother did.
After I was...demoralized by the Colombian government's involvement with the Cali cartel I resigned from the DEA. I was immediately courted for return by several parties but…
I went home.
My mother got sick within the year and I was happy to be free of the collar of the DEA because they would never have let me stay with her while she went through chemo and, eventually, when she passed.
It was a hard time on my father’s ranch. He was lost without my mom and I was feeling like I didn’t have anywhere to go, anything to do, to be useful anymore. So I helped him fix his fences, I lived off my savings for a while. Eventually I moved back in with him fully and I felt at home in Texas again-- I went back into something in law enforcement: I was a prison guard at the nearby maximum security Federal Penitentiary. After years of watching narcos make themselves comfortable in jail, getting prostitutes and drugs and all-day football parties, it was somewhat cathartic to just watch people rot behind bars, bored, trapped.
It felt like someone was getting punished at least.
An alarm clock was one of the more terrible constants of life.
Even if he set it every night Javier Peña felt compelled to check the time against his watch as soon as he woke up.
And even though they were both saying the same thing he groaned like he’d been tricked.
He ran a hand over his face and rolled out of bed.
He trudged to the bathroom, the same baby blue and yellow affair that had been there since he was a boy. He noted the chips in the tiles and the grout, a couple of cracks in the veneer of the tub.
I should fix it.
But he didn’t want to touch it at the same time. There was something to fixing it-- he would be patching up and re-finishing the memories of running his fingers through those cracks while he played submarines in the bath and his mother laughed at his silliness.
She was gone. Somehow she was still here in his hideous bathroom.
If he fixed the bathroom something would happen, the little Dutch boy would be taking his finger out of the dam and more would flood out than Javier was prepared to deal with on a normal Thursday.
He avoided looking at the fresh couple of grays in his temple, tried to brush out the ones in his mustache, gave up. Put on his uniform.
Mosied to the kitchen where his father’s ancient coffee pot stared at him. He filled the grounds, filled the water, set out two mugs, just in time to hear his dad’s loud groans and creaky body and mild curses in Spanish. He had toast buttered and half eaten by the time the old man came into the kitchen and clucked his tongue, “A man can’t live on bread. You need real food.”
“I’m fine Pop.” He sucked down the rest of his coffee and kissed his father’s head, “Don’t do anything crazy today.”
Chucho grumbled something indiscenerable as Javier went out to his truck and headed off.
The Federal Penitentiary was in Huntsville and while it wasn’t Javier’s favorite commute to make they had worked it where he could transfer his pension and the pay was fine and they had hired him right away because they were always looking for staff, especially staff with his kind of experience. He didn’t shake easily, nor was he impressed by criminals. He didn't feel the need to partake in a dick measuring contest with the prisoners.
The Warden wasn’t his favorite person but hell, the checks cleared.
There were benefits to it: the schedule was predictable. After years of the constant all the time work in Colombia it was a bit of a revelation to have a schedule again. He was able to plan things. Have a life. Sort of. The overtime was fantastic and he could leave when the shift ended and not get tacked on for another two days and he frequently took it.
His father had made a litany of jokes about it.
“Does my breath smell? You can’t be around me?”
“Trying to save up and buy the farm, Javi? You don’t need to worry. I’m not as young as I once was.”
But Javi just...he didn’t know how to be so….slow. Farm life was slow life and heavy lifting and the sun on your back and Javier wasn’t shy of hard work but he was more interested in the little puzzles of detective work, of going from place to place, talking to people, and the intensity of the raids. There was an adrenaline rush he was missing out on.
And didn’t miss.
There was a stress to that job that he didn’t relish and yet...a quietness here that he tried to avoid.
Quiet made for thinking time. He preferred when there was so much input in his brain that he couldn’t quite….stop. He couldn’t stop until he was half-fucked out and forgot his own name and then he was able to just take a breath without thinking for a second and feel empty. Of course in Colombia the quiet never lasted. You didn’t get to sit there for long before you remembered that didn’t this girl say she was friends with that guy’s wife and that guy, that one, the one wasn’t he fucking that--
Here the noise was chickens and poorly poured asphalt on the highway.
He liked it.
He liked it...well enough.
There was something to working at the penitentiary that was unique to it as a place of employment.
Day and stay rhymed, mostly, he suspected, because the hopeful ear of some of the inmates would bend one word into the other. Some guards would slant their words or mumbled them on purpose to try the spirits of someone they hated.
Javier had never enjoyed playing with his food, so he didn’t partake.
Today was prepping for a particularly popular case: camera crews had been lined up outside and when people saw him pull up in a uniform he had been forced to politely wave them off with a practiced "No comment". He'd gotten pegged in the shoulder by a poorly aimed Baby Ruth.
The Candyman was dying today.
The Pen had its share of hard-core cases but Candyman, whose legend haunted Halloween and spawned bad screenplays, was the one who made the footnotes of big textbooks. Javier had been given it as a case study in college and while he felt "starstruck" was the wrong term there was something...scintillating and awful about the first time he'd seen the man up close. The guy was just a sad sack who had given Javier a little wave of hello and asked if he could get a copy of today’s newspaper. Chilling. Fed his kid cyanide sugar. Wanted to read Garfield and check the score on the Bears game.
But today there would be enough gawking, Javi hoped he wasn't put on that rotation.
There was no telling though, you got to know your shift ahead of time but not what you had to do during it.
“Hey Big Shot, you didn’t give the press anything right?” His direct supervisor, Marty, joked as he came in.
“Your wife’s private phone number, that was fine right?” Javier winked and punched his timecard.
Marty snorted and looked out the window at the press cars, “Vultures. Pack of goddamn carrion crows.”
Javier joined him and looked down, “People lose interest quick enough. They’ll be gone five minutes after it happens.”
Marty scratched the balding bit of his scalp, "Listen we aren't used to this kinda excitement here...but I figured you weren't into it so I put you on Pepe duty."
Javier breathed a sigh of relief, "Thanks--"
"But that's only after you let Reynolds take a long lunch, his kid's sick at school and I need someone to just hold his spot until he gets back."
Javier's jaw set and he grimaced, nodding without commentary which Marty knew meant disapproval.
Reynolds had D block. It meant if he didn't get back soon Javier was guarding The Candyman until he was trotted out for the chair.
But it didn’t do to grumble.
Life didn’t ask your permission before she bent you over and if this was relatively quick then he couldn’t really ask for much else.
“Also you got Nelson.”
Javier’s face fell into a mask of annoyance that he was not able to hold in and he said, “I’m quitting.”
“He’s just a kid.”
“He doesn’t shut up.”
Marty shrugged, “I’ll owe you a beer.”
“You’ll owe me more than one beer.” Javier snorted.
Nobody liked working with Nelson.
The kid never shut his mouth and it was going to net him a fist to the face and whether or not that came from an inmate or a coworker was really unclear.
Javier braced himself and started walking towards D Block.
Nelson was excitable. This was his first gig out of high school and he only got it because the Warden was his uncle and it was not going to end the way the kid thought in his mind.
The kid had been young and interested when the prison riot happened a decade earlier and thought that every day at a prison must be so exciting. It wasn’t. But the kid’s excitement never waned.
“Hey Mr. Peña!” Nelson waved happily.
The kid was bouncing on his heels like a puppy, “Did you hear what today is? For ol’ Ronnie boy?”
The kid mimed being hung, complete with closed eyes and a popped out tongue and a squelch noise and Javier nodded, “Yeah I saw the news vans. They give a time?”
“He’s due at 5 pm. My shift ends at 2. I was going to see if Reynolds wanted to trade off. Think he’ll trade off? I know his kid’s sick, might appreciate it. I wanna be here.”
“Why would you wanna be here?”
The kid looked scandalized, “I mean-- I wanna see the fucker go down, you know?”
He made a buzzing sound and pretended he was getting shocked, “Zzzzap! That’s what you get! I mean...It’s like true evil, do you ever think that? I think that. True evil. Fucker poisons a Pixie Stix and gives it to his own kid. For money. Soulless. Just. I mean, people are so don’t kill but like fuck it why are we letting him live? You know? I mean, it’s just a waste of time and resources and--”
“--to keep this dirtbag aliv---what’s that?”
Javier sighed, he shouldn’t take the bait. It was only the start of the shift, “I mean, I thought you loved this job?”
“Why wouldn’t you want to keep people in prison then?”
The kid looked mildly confused, “I mean, only for a little while. Then we should kill them. I mean he’s been here for….like. Too long.”
The kid was….enthusiastic. Too enthusiastic. Javier wondered how he’d hold up when Reynolds took the trade and this twenty year old boy who thought he was tough shit had to watch a grown man shit himself in the electric chair while his brain cooked.
Javier knew death was not glamorous when you were on top of it.
Everyone wanted to say they’d beat the shit out of drug dealer.
Then you’re face to face with one and he’s just a punk kid and your friend is next to you prepping a set of brass knuckles to take a swing at his jaw and the blood gets everywhere and you taste it in your coffee for three fucking days.
Everyone’s big until the shit’s in front of them.
The kid was listening to the news on the radio and turned up a story “--ro and Juan Jose ‘JJ’ Aranda wanted in connection with a body discovered --”
“Like these guys! Just should be all--” The kid cocked his fingers like guns and pretended he was an executioner, “Booooom! Bam!”
Javier wanted to slap the kid.
Time would, that was a sure thing. Kid hadn’t seen shit, didn’t know shit about shit, and didn’t realize he didn't know shit about shit.
Javier glanced at his watch.
He’d been here less than five minutes.
Marty owes me a fucking beer.
Marty and Javi happened to exit the bathroom together after Javier had booked it away from Nelson and now they were on a smoke break in the yard. Marty let Javier smoke half his cigarette in silence, recovering from Nelson’s noise and chatter.
Then when Javi seemed calmer Marty blew a smoke ring.
“You do not belong here, man.”
Marty was a good guy. He was Javier’s immediate supervisor on the block, the one who did scheduling and usually ran interference with the Warden. The Warden was a douchebag and a racist to boot, having snorted at Javier’s resume with a dig about already being overrun with Mexicans, even highly qualified ones. Marty had done the legwork to get Javier in the building, get his pension protected, make him stick around. Marty knew that Javier had sea-legs and didn’t want to lose him.
Marty offered Javier another cigarette as Javi’s ran low and asked how Chucho was. Javier appreciated the little bit of humanity. While in Colombia he had learned not to talk about his family at work-- hell, you weren’t allowed to transfer to Colombia if you had kids, if you tried to bring your wife they vetted the hell out of them. It had always struck Javier that Connie never got enough credit-- someone looked at her and said she had enough backbone not to sell out the American government when things got rough. And it was a when not an if.
Here he was able to breathe a little easier.
“Pop’s good. Complains a blue streak about his back, his knees, but he still gets out there.”
“Gotta hire him a hand.”
“Oh we got one. Neighbor pops in.”
Marty nodded, “Good neighbors are worth their weight, ain’t it true?”
Javier blew the smoke out over the balcony.
It was true.
He wondered if his neighbors would say the same about him.
He hoped so.
Around here neighborhoods were like bloodlines, they ran deep and wound themselves around you.
People had long memories.
Marty chewed his lip before saying, “I need you on Pepe Prep.”
Javier pretended for a moment he hadn’t heard it and didn’t let it ruin the end of his cigarette.
Voiceover, Javier Peña: Forty years before this day, in Mexico, other bonds of brotherhood and blood were forming. Two young men who had grown up together and both had learned the same truths about the world: there was no justice but what you grabbed with your own two hands. It would be in how they each applied those lessons where we would later find a lot of value.
On a dirt street two boys were playing soccer.
The game was intense in its frivolity. They didn’t remember if they were playing against one another or just playing together. There was well-meaning pushing and elbowing. A few good-natured insults.
One kid tripped over a rock and fell and the other immediately helped him up.
They were having a tremendous time.
Then someone started running.
Not them, someone else.
Running, up the street.
Looking behind him as he ran. Eyes wide with panic. Looking for big obstructions not kids.
Nobody was really looking for a kid.
A noise echoed behind him.
The boys didn’t even pause their game for the trilling popping sounds. They’d heard them before.
But the man in the ugly red suit with wide lapels and filthy shoes barreled through the two of them and fell to the ground, a gun falling out of his pants.
The boys looked to the gun and up at the man in panic. He had fallen over one boy and was now trying to get up but the fall seemingly took his ankle out from under him.
He was cursing at the boys and reaching for the gun but a shout came from down the street.
Stop! Don’t help him!
The boys were frozen.
The man panicked and pulled one in front of him.
Then there were more men in suits. Men with guns.
The man was begging, begging to be spared, begging….and reaching for the gun.
The other boy pulled the gun away, holding it up in unsteady hands, asking that they let his friend go.
Shots were fired.
A kid was crying.
The little boy was holding his cheek where a bullet had grazed him on its path to an older man’s eye.
The adults saw that their business was done and the kids weren’t dead so they felt that was enough.
And one boy hugged his friend close with the same hand clutching a gun too large and unwieldy for them.
Voiceover, Javier Peña: Meanwhile, when the prodigal son comes home sometimes they find things there they had forgotten about. I was reminded of being a kid again when the most difficult part of my life was chucking watermelons. I did that job for years, I had arms like Pop-Eye before I went to Texas A&M -- it was a time where I had been a whole lot of body with a restless mind. There was peace in labor but there was also a lot of silence, sort of made you confront what was on your mind. DEA work was a lot noisier. When I left the DEA I expected to relish the quiet. Overwhelmingly, when I returned I just shoved everything in the closet and been quiet, peaceful. Forced myself to be quiet.
I should have known something would rattle that.
For the rest of his shift he was on Pepe Prep.
He fucking hated Pepe Prep.
But it was part of the job.
Pepe Martin had been the mayor of Laredo for...fuck. Literally Javier’s entire memory. Nobody ever ran against him. He did a great job? Stellar. He did a shit job? Who was fucking coming to fix it? Nobody. So Pepe kept his position through thick and thin. He was not always the straightest shooter and he did, in fact, get convicted of mail fraud several years ago but after an extended dialogue with the judge it was decided that he would serve his sentence in increments. Pepe came to jail every Friday through Sunday, coming in Friday after the business day ended and going home on Sunday before 6pm. His hours were logged. He had his own cell and was allowed books, materials for doing his job like a calendar and pens, and even convinced someone to give him a goddamn television. A little one. But still.
It was Club Pepe but Pepe and the Warden were old buddies and the Warden thought it was a fucking laugh that Pepe had to keep coming here on the weekends. The cell had to be ordered and put together and Javier hated the feel of being the maid and also like this was...cheating.
Sure the bastard got to rot here for 3 days a week and missed his grandkid’s soccer games but Javier often struggled with the inherent difference between this and La Cathedral.
Pablo had hated being away from his family, but he was plenty occupied. Pepe was little different.
However between that and Nelson Javier was nearly done with work.
As he left the shouting from the gathered crowd was so intense that it didn’t have discernible words and Javier was pelted with Skittles and Kit Kats. He did take one bag of Skittles with him. If it was poisoned the irony alone would have been lethal.
He drove home with the bitter taste from the Mayor’s weekend prep.
Pepe’s special treatment annoyed him.
It was small change, right?
These were small infractions in small towns and he was paying his due.
Why have it catered to him?
Because that’s just the way it is.
Javier often wondered if somewhere Bill Stechner was laughing at him all the time. He’d been accused of being criminally idealistic and maybe...maybe that was more accurate than he wanted to admit. Maybe he came home chasing simple ideas about right and wrong that just didn’t exist anywhere now that he was grown enough to see that.
He licked his lips as he pulled up the long drive of the farm to see a lovely form on its knees, tearing at the ground, a wide-brimmed hat blocking off a face but he already knew who it was.
He closed the door and she turned, smiling, “You bring me a beer?”
“Bring you a beer? Where’s mine?”
“I’ve been doing the manual labor, I get priority.” She wiped a line of sweat off of her face, changing gears, “How was it?”
He shrugged, he didn’t want to talk about the Candyman anymore.
She had read the papers and guessed at what he was avoiding but it was also prep time for Pepe and she knew him well enough not to pry.
Margie stood and wiped off the knees of her overalls, then slapped her gloves together.
This was not her farm and purely because she was a lefty she would have angled and organized the rows differently but this was not nearly Papi Peña's first rodeo and he had a good eye for his produce.
He had long lines of string beans, cauliflowers, a row of watermelons, lime and orange trees next to a peach that refused to fully ripen for him. He had roses and marigolds and sweet potatoes. He had corn, carrots. He grew brussel sprouts that could cause blunt force trauma.
Most of them took and took well. He had them in different proportions. He kept his tomatoes tied and shaded. He kept his pumpkins in the sun. He knew.
He just had trouble being everywhere at once.
He had a couple cows, he had old fencing, he kept a handful of fishing lines in the Rio and he now had nobody to help because his wife was gone and Javier had never proved a farmer and his brother, Jorgi, lived in Houston as some manner of lawyer. Javier had done farming as a kid and moved on from it quick, now farming was like how Javi spoke Spanish with a Texas accent. Chucho shouldn't have been surprised that Javier didn't know the cycles for the plants anymore but he still somehow was surprised and even, in small moments of frustration, disappointed.
Margie had been a minor revelation.
First she appeared after her father’s funeral to return a Tupperware and had it filled with a lovely dinner as a thank you. She had looked around, asked the usual questions, gave her belated condolences about Chucho’s wife’s passing. Asked if he could recommend any good food stores in the area, she was just back in town for a bit to organize her dad’s place.
He had thought she was a good natured kid. Not a kid anymore.
He remembered her as a kid, chasing his boys around trying to beat them with a baseball bat during a stirring game of cowboys and Indians in which she insisted the bat was a necessary prop. She’d nearly broken Jorgi’s nose.
His neighbor, Rey, had been a single father to the girl and had more than one beer at Chucho’s house praising her humor and lamenting that he felt insufficient to raising a girl. She had gone into business with a friend after high school in California or some nonsense state. Rey talked less and less about her successes and more about her potential in a way that Javier recognized….sometimes you couldn’t say that you thought you failed your kids even when you felt that way. Something in your child not rising to their potential was a slap in your face, a judgment that was already passed and you weren’t allowed to argue against.
But Margie seemed nice enough.
She started by asking for some spinach and tomatoes to make a salad. Chucho had helped her collect them. Then she was coming by more and asking for this or that and started picking him extra. Preparing him food.
Now she had nestled into the role of field hand on the farm.
She had needed something to do and Chucho needed help and they got on well.
Javier appreciated Margie all the time but he often forgot about her because she was as commonplace as the newspaper showing up.
There was something to getting to pull up and see that woman in her jeans, knowing his Pop was looked after and in good spirits...something. Something he avoided thinking about and had no word for.
“Anything for dinner?”
“Casserole. Helluva vole problem in the far field.”
Javier nodded, assessing the sight of her. It wasn’t a crime to look.
“Oh, your friend stopped by.” She wiped a little sweat off of her forehead with her sleeve, “I sent him inside to wait for you, looked like he would melt out here.”
“Friend?” Javier’s head popped up from where it was staring at her ass, a look of mild concern on his face which she caught when she looked up at him and laughed.
“Don’t you have those?”
Javier tried to play off the concern and smiled, it was crooked, roguish, “I’ve heard about them. I think. Are those the ones you pay to get naked?”
She rolled her eyes, “Be serious. He had a suit on, looked like a cop. Blonde.”
She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, “Did you used to have the whole suit-and-tie get up?”
He referenced his uniform, “This not enough?”
She shrugged, “Just wonderin’. You got the shoulders for a jacket.”
Then she unceremoniously plopped the basket of carrots in his arms, “Also, when you go in, bring these with you.”
He scoffed, “That all boss?”
“No. I’m going to need you to come back out and make the rounds for the cabbages.” She held up a trowel menacingly, “This is not my farm Peña.”
He pointed to the long dirt road, “Well don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.”
She cocked a hip at him, “Do I need to threaten to tell your father about how you talk to me?”
Javier winked, “Just call me a bad boy and tell me how you plan to punish me.”
She tossed an under-grown and rotted cabbage bud at his head, “Your friend is waiting.”
For some reason before he went in the door Javier paused on the step.
His chest was tight.
Inside his father’s house, sitting on what had previously been his mother’s favorite chair, was Steve Murphy. Steve had put on a few pounds, his mustache was thicker and longer, and his suit was a little more expensive. He was chewing on gum with the distinct smelly tang of nicotine gum.
“Well, look what the cat dragged in.” Javier said by way of greeting, dropped the vegetables, and held out his hand to shake his former partner’s.
Steve smiled widely, genuinely, “Least I don’t look like what it threw up.”
“Fuck off.” Javier let Murphy pull the handshake into a hug.
After a moment Murphy inspected Javier and proclaimed, “You look good, Javi.”
Javier rolled his eyes, “You trying to get in my pants?”
Murphy shook his head with a smirk on his mouth.
“Can I buy you a beer?” Javier picked up his truck keys and nodded towards the door, which Steve took as the directive: whatever you’re here for not in the house.
Once they were at a local bar, off in a corner table, with a pitcher between the two of them, Steve looked around, “It’s nice here. Kind of reminds me of you, suits you.”
Javier shrugged, “I like it fine.”
But the tone he used was a little...dead. A little flat.
He liked it fine.
Javier sighed, Well, let’s get to it.
“You assigned to Texas?”
Steve leaned back in his chair and exhaled, putting a picture on the table, “Los Zetas.”
“Fuck.” Javier huffed and stared at the ceiling, willing the last few seconds of the conversation to re-write themselves and have Steve say something like No, just visiting.
Murphy shrugged, “You know, funny thing, when they said they would be stationing me in Laredo I had this feeling, right? Like the back of my head, like I was forgetting something. Or I couldn’t find the word. Bothered the ever-loving shit out of me. Took me three days, woke up in the middle of the night screaming Javier and woke up the baby.”
“Isn’t the baby...not a baby anymore? How fast do those things grow?”
Steve’s face broke into a smile and he pulled his wallet out, “We added one.”
He produced a photo of Connie, hair shorter, next to a much bigger Olivia who was proudly holding a new baby that looked just like her. The new baby had a large pink bow covering half its curly head of hair and a sweater on that said Mandy and it made Peña snort to hide his smile, “What did you have a coupon? Half off the second?”
Murphy punched his arm playfully, “We went back to get some medical paperwork for Olivia, thought we’d take a vacation, and before I know it I am outnumbered and I got a baby strapped to my chest on the flight home.”
He smiled and shook his head, “Still not sure how it happened.”
Javi sighed and sipped his drink as he looked down at the other photo.
At least he had already swallowed and it already burned.
He picked it up, looking at it, not offering an opinion, trying to turn off the part of his brain that was already running down a dozen What is it and Who was it and Why did it happen.
The silence was noncommittal. Steve knew he’d have to draw Javi into it if he wanted his help.
"Who was that?" Steve lit a cigarette carefully and sucked it in-- he wasn’t allowed to smoke at home, “Back at your ranch. I expected your pop but I wasn’t sure who she was. You never mentioned a sister.”
“She’s our neighbor.” Javi sipped again, holding it as long as he could, “Margie. Maria-Jean. Call her that she will kick your sack.”
Steve was chewing on that, “You two known each other long?”
“Always chasing Jorgi and I around as kids, but we gave up on her when we got bigger. She’s younger than us-- five years is a lot when you’re sixteen.”
“But at thirty-nine it’s just fine?”
“You got some sort of reason you’re knocking on my door being as gossipy as my grandmother?”
Steve tapped on the picture that Javi still had in his hand, “That used to be Miguel Juarez, he was a mid-level lieutenant in the Zetas. His wife had been picked up in Puerto Rico with some of the product on her, in fact, enough we slapped her with a muling charge and intent to distribute. He turned for us to get her out.”
“So they exterminated their rat.” Javi exhaled heavily. Made sense. The mouth gaped open with no obvious tongue, the body was gruesome-- the arms had skin, and it was obviously burned, but the body had been skinned. The face had cigarette burns on it.
Javier assumed there was an order to these events. Not one Miguel had relished.
"I take it you aren't here by coincidence?"
"Nuevo Laredo is becoming key to the operations of Los Zetas."
"Yeah...for years ever since the Zetas formed." Javi returned fire, "What's the DEA's sudden interest?"
"We believe they have some high level connections and we think that has to do with the new base out of New Laredo. We find out how high this link is we have half of hope of flipping it on itself and burning out the Zetas."
Javier looked unconvinced and Steve clamped his cigarette down in his mouth, leaning over the table for emphasis, “The Zetas are violent. Makes for headlines. We sit on our hands we look complicit, they want the Zetas taken care of or contained to Mexican soil.”
Javier nodded, “So they’re fine with it as long as it stays on the other side of the river.”
Steve held up his hands, “I know….I know. Listen--what you did in Cali...it’s the stuff of legends. More than half the guys in the DEA think you’re a god. You detonated a bomb. Told the bureaucracy to go fuck itself. It was a relief to the schmucks like us who are on the ground and see the hypocrisy and wish it would all just stop.”
“I sense a but coming.”
“But the rules don’t change. The governments didn’t fall, the stuff that was a problem before is still a problem now. You get a few years of some wet-noodle ass kissers in the power-chairs and everything gets fucking worse and it’s just….”
He sighed, “We need someone to help us sort out the good guys from the bad guys.”
“How do you do that?”
“You’ve done it before.”
“I nearly got arrested for treason.” Javier pointed one long finger at Steve before curling it around his glass.
“Washington was a traitor.” Steve didn’t seem concerned, not even a little, “A lot of people, including the regional superintendent, think you’re an American Hero. Depends on who is signing the papers.”
Javier exhaled and then chugged a beer and let it sit for a second, “Say it plain, Steve, let’s not dance.”
"You helped catch Pablo Escobar and the Cali godfathers and you grew up here….tell me if the situation was flipped you wouldn't be knocking on my door asking for help." Murphy shrugged, "You are good at this. I want you on it but I'm not ungrateful or unreasonable. You tell me you're out and I won't call you for anything except barbeque recommendations."
Javier was quiet.
Steve dropped cash next to the pitcher and finished his beer as he stood up to leave.
"No rush. Think about it. It's not a small ask and it's close to home which I know, in this case, may not be appealing."
"It's not close...it is home." Javier didn't look Steve in the eye.
Steve met the gaze and played his ace, “Do you really want these guys in your home?”
Javier came home late, rubbing the back of his neck, mind thick with the things Steve had said to him. Shown him. He didn’t like the feeling that those things were close to him again...he thought when he outran Escobar and the Cali Cartel that he had outrun it all. Now he felt like he was on a hamster wheel.
His father said his name with the same tone that implied he had done it twice already.
"Margie called and asked if I could spare you to help with her dish again. Damn thing goes out when the wind blows wrong, I told Rey to replace it."
Javier smiled a little and nodded, “Alright Pop, I’ll head over.”
“I’d do it myself but I don’t like the ladders these days.” His father settled on his recliner and grabbed the remote, “And bring her casserole dish back.”
Javier smiled, nodded, and grabbed a square orange dish before he headed out the back door and started walking the two miles to his neighbor’s house.
A/N: End Episode One. I had to drop it before I over-fiddled. MANY MOONS in the Making! Quite pleased.
Not Beta read, we die like Red Shirts.
Tags! Let me know if there's a problem with them, I try my best but >shrug<
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