So it only took me 6 years...

Stages of the Con

Book 2 In the Harry Parnes Series follows "Call Me Harry" written way back in 2013.  So, when you've been in prison for murder for 14 years, the logical thing to do the day you get out is to rob a bank. Follow that up by running for Mayor of the city and the cartel you just robbed. Good plan Harry. After the shootout at the end of Harry #1, which left him wounded and recuperating, we open with a background drug war.

  •                    Chapter One:

  • Carlos and Pelon stepped out of the car into the hot New Mexico desert Sun. Carlos had driven. It would have been better optics to have Pelon drive, but young Carlos wanted to drive just because he was still in the honeymoon phase with his new black Lexus GS450.

  • The guys they had driven out to meet were already there, four of them to Carlos’ two.  Carlos wondered why they were all there, a whole litter of mutts instead of just two guys. Two guys would have been standard for a quick meet, a face to face communique, just a message he wanted them to deliver back to their boss.

  • Carlos had pulled up about 50 yards from the old Range Rover the others had come in, looking like it had been raised and tricked out for rough desert driving. Three guys stood out in front of it and one weird looking old dude with snow white hair stood at the back of the Rover.    

  • Carlos recognized the one in front as Curillo, a guy he had met back when he was a boy and his uncle Armando was still running things.  Come to think of it, it hadn’t been that long ago.

  • “Hey, you, amigo!” yelled Curillo walking toward them, right hand outstretched for a shake, left hand cupping his balls.  He carried a side arm under his left shoulder and Carlos surmised he had a smaller gun tucked in the back of his jeans like he had seen the man do before.

  • “How you been my boy? Joven, que pasa?”

  • Carlos took just a few steps forward wanting to meet the man less than halfway, sending the message that he had never liked him. That he outranked him. As he stepped away from his car a quiet breeze blew fine dust up around his and Pelon’s ankles. 

  • “Hey you lookin’ good boy! Sorry to hear about Tio Armando. It musta’ been tough to step into his boots. You feelin’ the responsibility yet, joven?”

  • “No mas joven. I just turned twenty.”

  • “Oooooh-mano, lo siento my man, not my boy eh? Exactamente tu tio taught you everything he knew, now you in charge. Perdoname!  Hey, I got something for yooou!” He dragged out the word “you” to sound more Mexican, more dramatic. Or maybe it was like he was talking to a little kid.

  • “I didn’t come here for nothin’ Curillo. We got business. Gotta be quick, I’m due back in town.”

  • “Back in Mesa Rock, ‘eh?  That shitty little town you call home.  Shitty little town you work out of, that fucking town. I keep telling Armando, now I tell you, move outta that village man, it’s not big enough for the business we need. It’s a village, not a city like, like Albuquerque where da dinero is.  You gotta go there man! When you Mejias gonna listen to me?”

  • “Curillo, I didn’t come here for drug business one oh one. I know what I’m doing. Uncle and I been doing good business in Mesa Rock since I was a kid.  Our street guys know their stuff, know the people, know their market and never get caught.” Carlos saw Curillo turning back to the other guys and raising his hands, taking an arrogant pose.

  • “Since he was a kid this one says!” as he turned around. Curillo was in charge of taking Carlo down to size on this meet and as soon as Carlos realized that he decided to go all out. Laughter all around from all of the men.

  • “I don’t like this much Carlos, be careful,” whispered Pelon from behind him.

  • “Hey I gotta idea,” said Curillo. The tall svelte guy dressed in snug black Levis and the white dress shirt was advancing on them; scrufty and somewhere in his forties. with short grey stubble, head shaved down to almost nothing, but with a little left on top. 

  • “I got somethin’ for you I tol’ you, this is a new delivery.”

  • “But I didn’t order anything. That’s what I came to tell you, we don’ wanna sell that stuff anymore in Mesa Rock. It’s shit. You give us the shit stuff. Customers don’t like it. We had two customers go toes up in the last 4 months that shit’s so dirty. Keep your shit. I came here to end our deal.”

  • “Oooooh joven, you don’ wanna do that! You don’ wanna end our deal! Here’s the thing, I brought you a brand-new bag of the new ‘Flock’. See this shit man? It white as snow. Blanco Flock-o. Jus’ like onna Christmas tree! Here you take this. Consider it a sample, half. Ponzon, bring me that bag.”  His guy, a short 40 something big bellied caricature we knew from Harry’s early history came up behind him and handed him a big plastic freezer bag packed with white powder.

  • “Oh don’ be so closed minded. Come on up and see this, this shit is the bomb. Look at how blanco y puro.” He was walking toward Carlos with the guy called Ponzon behind him. Carlos heard Pelon’s feet shuffle in the sand behind him as he came up in back to stand close behind his boss. 

  • “Alto!” Yelled Pelon. “Stop right there. I wanna see what you all holdin’!”

  • “Oh, you think we come to shoot? I know you. You the one Armando call Pelon. The one with almost no hair left. You was with him, Armando Mejia a long time. Hey, you din’ meet my guys, how rude of me. This is Ponzon,” he gestured to the man right in back of him leaning slightly to one side which Pelon perceived as him putting on a posture to make it easier to pull a weapon from that side. 

  • “Back there we got Cujo. He drives for me. Named after that mad dog in that guy’s story, Steven King. Come up here, lay down your guns boys.”  The two guys did.

  • “Look here,” Curillo gestured for the short fat older guy he had introduced. “You  got your guy ‘Pelon’ and I got my guy ‘Ponzon’. “We got ‘bald’ and we got ‘fat-gut’. Maybe we should get some younger guys ‘eh!” he laughed a little too loud and long.

  • “So, who’s the asshole back by your car? The tall dude with the white hair?” asked Carlos.

  • “Oh, he don’ talk much. Not to you. That’s Dedado. He work directly for the boss, he don’ report to me, he jus’ along for the ride. The creepy guy way back at Curillo’s car wore a huge black cowboy hat and looked albino, almost transparent in the sun.

  • “The Boss, Don Diego?”

  • “Don Diego de la Vega de plata de oro, de sangre, del manos dedios y el Corazon del mundo. He prefers to be known by his whole name.”

  • “Well, Don Puto can take his shit back and ram it up his culo. I ain’t takin’ any more of your stuff. I got a line on a better supplier knows better what he’s doing.”

  •  Pelon was surprised and worried that this Joven would talk to a man who worked for Don Diego this way so soon after gaining power over his uncle’s business. He was surprised, but kind of liked it.

  • “I goin’ to pretend I never hear that joven,” said Curillo. No dis-respec’ for The Don, por favor. We jus’ talkin’ here okay? I got my guys; you got your guy. I got some ‘Flock’ for you at jus’ half price. We got our guns laid down; I din’ even axe you for yours. Maybe you jus’ take the Flock and go sell it and make double profit and send Don Diego the money and we be okay, ‘eh? We stay in business together and everybody be happy.”

  • “You happy,” Carlos pointed at Curillo, “He’s happy,” at Ponzon, then Cujo. ‘I don’ know the fuck if he’s happy,” he pointed back at Dedado as he said it. “But I am not happy. No mucho alegre. I said I want to cut this business off now!”  He noticed Dedado’s white haired head popped up when he raised his voice. From a distance it looked as if the man had no pupils in his eyes.

  • Curillo showed his anger. “This is a pain an’ you don’ wanna be a pain in the culo do you? You are pain in my culo I put a pain in your culo. Take the Flock!”

  • Curillo’s guy Ponzon threw the bag over to land at Carlos’ feet while the other guy called Cujo slowly  started to walk toward but around them. Carlos could feel Pelon tense up.  He gave them a wide berth and  set a suitcase with what Carlos surmised to be the “Flock” on the trunk of Carlos’ Lexus. He didn’t feel like now was the time to stop him.

  • “You guys talk jus’ like cops,” said Carlos.  “Tellin’ me, tellin’ everyone what to do. Jus’ like the cops or the Federales. Hey, you got badges?”

  • There was a short silence in the desert, a little breeze coming up, some fine sand swirling around the site of the meeting.

  • “Badges?” answered Curillo.  “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’ need no stinkin’ badges!”

  • Pelon, standing next to Carlos, furrowed his brow and looked at his boss.

  • “Haven’t I heard this somewhere before?” he asked.

  • “It’s from a movie, Pelon,” whispered Carlos.

  • Then he took a long folding knife from his pocket, picked up the bag of Flock and jabbed it once, twice, three times into the bag and drew the knife down the whole length of the plastic; the white powder wafting out into the slight desert breeze, mating with the molecules in the air and falling to melt into the sand. 

  • “Oh, that’s not good, joven!” said Curillo. The guys behind him were tense.

  • “Tell Don Diego de la Vega de plata de oro, de sangre, del manos del dios y el Corazon that he is fired. I don’ sell his shit no more.”

  • “Okay, okay. Relax boys, I think they gonna go back to their little village, right Carlos? Little boy, little village.”

  • Carlos fought with his 20-year-old temper. “Let’s go Pelon.” The two walked back toward the Lexus.

  • “You make a bad mistake joven, I tell you, The Don will not be happy! Ees not too late, come to your senses joven!”

  • “No mas joven!” were Carlos’ last words to Curillo as he and Pelon got in the car, Pelon riding shotgun.

  • “This is goin’ to come back and bite you in the ass someday real soon,” Pelon said. “I knew Curillo when your uncle was running things.  Culo loco. I even met Don Diego one time. I never seen that guy Dedado but he looks like a pro, that albino cabron asesino I hear of for years, like a legend. El fantasma despiadado. You have bought yourself some trouble, Carlos.”

  • “From who? Don Diego de la Vega de sangre do chinga de puto etc etc? Don’ make me laugh amigo, this is just’ business, ‘posturing’ they call it.”

  • Carlos turned the key and swung the Lexus around on the dusty road to ride out of the desert and back onto the highway which would get them back to Mesa Rock. He talked;

  • “I don’t want their shit, I don’ need their shit, there’s always more shit out there and I got a line on where to get it. I wanna find a good reliable high-quality steady source. I got some ideas but we go outta town soon after we sell what we got left. We won’t miss a day of business in Mesa Rock. We may have to move our distribution point inside, closer to home. No need to go out to the desert to meet, we can get deliveries. Besides did you see those guys, fatgut Ponzon, y el perro Cujo? Whatta buncha assholes!”

  • “I know boss, but I been there with Ponzon, he’s short, like me, got a gut, but he can shoot, your uncle tol’ me he robbed a bank once, shot it out with four guys once, can be a mean fucker. An’ I don’ like the looks of that weird white-haired fucker.”

  • “Don’ worry. Let’s go back to town and have a beer. Gotta meet Lucinda at six.”

  • Carlos reached down to turn on the Sirius Satellite radio and kicked it up when the high plaintive sound of a blues harp married to a driving rhythm guitar shot out of the speakers.

  • “Oh man, it’s The Blasters!  I love this song!” Carlos began banging on the top of the steering wheel as the Lexus glided over the crest at the top of the hill. The sounds of “Goodbye Baby So Long” broke through the hot air.

  • So Long Baby Goodbye    The Blasters

  •  

    I know I've been foolin' myself too long

  •  

    I'm never right but always wrong

  • Goodbye, Baby, so long

  • It was then they heard the engine revving behind them and Carlos noticed the dust cloud in the rear view mirror.

  • “They’re comin’ up fast behind us.” Carlos told him.

  • Pelon turned around in the passenger seat and took a long look at the Range Rover barreling over the rise in the road they’d just covered, the car packed with four guys. Ponzon was riding shotgun, Cujo was driving and the two bosses sat in back. Curillo had talked like a boss, the right-hand man of El Don Diego. Dedado had looked like a silent boss, maybe something else altogether. The road turned to bumps and dust, the car was bucking and the shocks moaned.

  • “Drive!” said Pelon.

  •  

    The Blasters: You know

  •  

    You never let this thing catch on

  •  

    You never let me be that strong

  • Goodbye, Baby, so long

  •  “Get on it!” yelled Pelon.

  • “It’s to the wood. Lower center of gravity. Shouldn’t have brought the Lexus.”

  • No shit, thought Pelon. There was a lot his young boss didn’t know. The shrill sound of the Blaster’s harp solo cut through the hot thick air. Pelon was worried.

  • The Range Rover inched up on them as the road rose and fell, the Range Rover much better equipped to take the humps on the dirt road. Then Pelon, looking in the sun visor mirror saw Ponzon bring something up from the floor.

  • “They gotta shotgun boss, better hit it!”

  • “I am hitting it. No more to hit !”

  • By the time Pelon looked back again he only caught a short glimpse of Ponzon leaning far out the window on the passenger side and aiming the shotgun at them, at him, right down his side of the moving car. No sound, then compression and the feel of breaking glass on the back window then traveling through his window in the front. Shotgun pellets whizzing by their noses, then the pressure and an itch across his right shoulder and neck. Shot pellets blasted through the passenger side windows and danced around in the cab and across the dashboard.

  • Pelon didn’t feel much in the way of pain, just the surprise. He was shocked that dumb-ass Ponzon could hit anything ahead of him from a moving car. But Ponzon had a shotgun. Pelon felt his shoulder heat up and start to lock up, then a warm wet feeling down the back of his shirt.

  • “They gonna shoot again boss. Can’t you go any faster?” Pelon tried to hide the pain in his voice.

  •  “Not fast enough to pull away on this kinda road. Can you shoot back?”

  • Pelon tried to put his right hand under his jacket to get the .357 revolver he always carried but his arm wasn’t doing exactly what his brain was telling it to do. His fingers’ grip was weak, but he was able to pull the pistol out of his shoulder holster under his sport jacket but then dropped it on the seat between him and Carlos.

  • “Get it together, man! yelled Carlos. “This is what I pay you for!”

  • Shit! Pelon didn’t want to go down like this after all those years working for Carlos’ and Uncle Armando. Doing all the shit along with Fili Joe, the amazing disappearing Fili Joe who had vanished after that old bastard Harry Parnes had poked him in his eyes. He could sure use that big Samoan bastard’s help now, wished he was along. He and Pelon would always take up each other’s slack. But they’d expected no shit today, just a routine meet to tell Curillo and his guys no more deal on their shitty product, they were laid off.

  • They heard a sound like birds scrambling across the top and back of the car, tiny pellets bouncing off the trunk and roof.

  • “Fuck! Fuckers shot my Lexus!” Carlos was starting to panic and drive erratically, side to side on the dirt road.

  • Probably the best thing. Serpentine.

  • Pelon found he could now barely move his right arm. His shooting arm. His brain couldn’t reliably tell it where to go. He reached down and picked up the .357 with his left hand and cocked his arm back over the seat.

  • “Hey Carlos. Move the mirror.”

  • “What?”

  • “Move the mirror, the rearview mirror.”

  • “What are you talkin’ about? I can see what I need to see. They behind us, shootin’ at us. Do something!” The Blasters kept cranking as they opened up to full speed inside the wounded Lexus.

  •  

    Blasters: There was a cold wind blowing on the night we met

  •  

    The leaves fell from the trees

  •  

    You made a lot of promises I ain't seen yet

  • And I ain't gonna ask you please

  • Pelon said: “I will do something if you move that mirror. Down an’ a little to the right.”

  • “Crazy bastard.  All right, you mean like that?”

  • “A little more.”

  • Carlos adjusted the mirror. “How’s that?”

  • “I guess as good as it’s gonna get.”  Pelon gazed in the rearview, his left arm holding the gun upside down next to and just behind his left ear, the gun pointing directly over the back seat and out of the rear window.

  • “What the fuck you doin’?”

  • “We got flat road now, try to keep it steady.”

  • “What the hell you think you’re doin’?”

  • Pelon, looking in the rearview mirror, saw Ponzon reloading the shotgun. He tried to co-ordinate his vision in the mirror with his eye and his hand. He watched Ponzon pump the action and point the shotgun out the passenger window, leveling it at their car.

  • He held his hand as steady as he could on the crappy dirt road. “This will be loud.” He told his boss.  “Plug your right ear.”

  • “What?”

  •  

    The Blasters: You know none of us are gonna cry

  •  

    It wasn't even worth the try

  • So long, Baby, Goodbye

  •  

    There was a cold wind blowing on the night we met

  •  

    The windows were rolled up tight

  •  

    We both asked for something we could never get

  • Now I'll do the thing that's right

  • Pelon fixed his gaze in the mirror, steadied his hand as best he could and gently squeezed the trigger on the three five seven. The inside of the car exploded with sound, pressure around their faces and in their ears, instant ringing blocking out the rowdy tune from The Blasters via Sirius. The bullet from his gun had crashed out the back window toward the car in back. He saw the image in the mirror, his target the driver Cujo looking stunned, his head flung back and to the left, his hands on the wheel following, the car careening off the road at high speed.

  • “Jesus Pelon! What did you do? I can’t hear shit! Did you shoot out my back window?”

  • “I took out the car.”

  • Carlos steadied the car and started to calm down. “You took ‘em out?”

  • “Si.”

  • Carlos smiled then started to laugh, accelerating up the dirt road, asphalt highway in sight just ahead. He stuck his right hand up for a high five. Pelon dropped the gun on the floor at his feet and stuck up his left hand for his boss to hit.

  • “You son of a bitch Pelon you hit that car shooting back over your shoulder?”

  • “No, I hit the guy inside the car who was driving. I was aiming my gun hand back over my shoulder and straight out the back window. I couldn’t see a bank or ricocher shot, only the straight image I had in the mirror and thankfully I have a good spatial understanding.’.”

  • “You son of a bitch!” Then Carlos realized. “You shot out my back window!”

  • “Verdad. Mucho siento” said Pelon.

  •  

    Blasters: You know none of us are gonna cry

  •  

    It wasn't even worth the try

  • So long, Baby, Goodbye

  • “What I’m going to do with you?” The last strains of “Goodbye Baby So Long” faded out as the two men started to relax slightly, Pelon feeling warm blood running under his shirt.

  • +++

  • They were on the freeway now going back into Mesa Rock.

  • “You know that was tight, Cabron,” said Carlos.

  • “I know,” said Pelon.

  • “We could have used Fili Joe with those guys.”

  • Pelon looked hurt. “Well maybe.”

  • “Whatever happened to him?

  • “He disappear. After the thing with the gringo who poked out his eyes, he come home from the doctor, stayed in the motel a couple days and cried about how he couldn’t see jack shit. He was depressed man. Then he just disappear.”

  • “Well don’ take this the wrong way, but we coulda used him today.”

  • “Maybe you right. But boss, Fili Joe is all fucked up in his head now. And he was just gettin’ too crazy vicious even before he got his ojos poked out. Too mas loco.”

  • “You saw those guys today Pelon. They vicious. Don’ take this the wrong way, but I think I need to bring on another guy to help out.”

  • “But boss I think I do a good job for you! I made that shot….over my shoulder, saved your….”

  • “You didn’t save my life amigo, you saved yours. They didn’t want me, they want me to keep workin’ for them, sellin’ their shit “Flock” in Mesa Rock. They wanted to get you to teach me a lesson.”

  • “Yeah.  Ok, “ said a person had long time service and was finally ejected from that world. So I guess I’m out?”

  • “No Pelon, you are not out. Not even. We just staffin’ up.”

  • “For war?”

  • Carlos said nothing. Pelon thought about what this might be. But something else was weighing on his mind.

  • “Hey boss,”

  • “What?”

  • “What was that from? You said from a movie.”

  • “What was what from?”

  • “You know, the thing about the stinkin’ badges.”

  • “I tell you later.”

WHat this is all about

      

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."

 

        - Elmore Leonard

If you like the writings of Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiassen, George V. Higgins, Bud Shulberg, Dan Jenkins, Damon Runyon David Milch and John D. MacDonald, you'll probably like what I write.  I mention these great authors of Crime Fiction only out of deference. I am a new author and am not in any way suggesting I am as skillful or polished as the above mentioned greats. That's why when I write I just try not to take myself, and life, too seriously.

 

I want to present stories that have an element of realism and the traditional smattering of raw dialogue, violence and surprise plot twists that have traditionally inhabited the pages of crime fiction. And I want to do it with a sense of humor and in the way people really talk when they are among friends.  And enemies.