July 16th, 2017
“Try not to make a scene. Act like ghosts, like we weren’t even here.” Apollo said.
Dion stood to his rear across a neon-sign. A strange design, it featured a man (presumably, a man) on the floor sprawled out with a drink in his hand. The club was called, ‘Tipsies’. Cheeky.
“I’ve never been to a club.” Dion said. His glossed eyes stared into the bright red and orange lights.
“You don’t drink, do you?” Apollo asked.
“Let’s keep it that way. Just do what I tell you and we’ll be good.” Apollo said and judging by Dion’s curious look – that inquisitive and wanting look – that being good would be anything but easy.
“The man we’re looking for goes by the name Mr. Lovinski.”
“Is he Jewish or Russian?” Dion got out of the car. The cold air struck Apollo, he rubbed the back of his neck.
“Why does that matter? He’s scum. That’s his breed and kind: s**t,” Apollo spat. “He was the son of a mob boss before he had the idea to kill the old man, now he’s the biggest drug player in this town. With that title comes some knowledge, I presume. The knowledge every single name of his LSD dealers.”
“Why’s LSD important?” Dion asked. “L-listen, I’m not into that kind of stuff. I don’t even drink,”
“It’s not for us, idiot,” Apollo started walking. “Every corpse related to the case has had LSD in their blood work. It’s the only uniting piece of our ‘vampires’ murders.”
“Oh, so he’s a junkie.”
“Maybe, maybe not. He loves using the stuff at least.”
“Then let’s get to it,” Dion took the lead and Apollo narrowed his eyes as he looked at the quick stride Dion walked with. They came to the bouncer who eyed them both. It was the worst time for Dion to cut in line, but he did, almost attracted by the sounds inside. The vibrations of loud hip hop. The happy screams of girls too drunk, or too wild as if to be drunk anyways. He pushed three people to the side. They fell to the floor, Apollo’s hairs from his arm.
“What’d I just tell you?” He slapped Dion across the back. “Don’t. Make. A. Scene,”
“Wha-?” Dion looked back. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t see,
It didn’t matter by. The bouncer grabbed him by the back of the neck and turned him towards him. He (the bouncer) cocked his hand back, his aim focused squarely on Dion’s jaw. In one movement – the twist, the clench, the thrust. A cross, aimed straight for Dion’s chin.
It didn’t so much as leave a dent. The bouncer struck skin, he touched bone and he had certainly attacked Dion, but it did nothing. He retracted his arm, surprised at first, then look to his hand. Two fingers were broken, the rest were red and swollen. He slunk away, against the wall, holding his hand.
That was it for security.
“Get in before the camera sees us.” Apollo pushed him in. The line behind Dion looked at the bouncer, then at the open door. They all flooded in.
The two fell into the crowd and squeezed themselves between the hot bodies so doped on ecstasy that the very look on their faces almost made the two Vicars high. Their pupils were so wide and exposed that they looked like black craters. Their bodies were hot and more importantly, unaware. People fainted left and right, to be stepped on later on. A young man collapsed near Dion, he caught him by the arm and found a nice seat to rest him. The druggie slunk like some kind of jello substance, to be absorbed and combined later in the cocktail of colors and flesh.
Dion looked away for a moment and turned back. He never saw the druggie again.
“Don’t waste your time on these idiots.” Apollo said. “Let ‘em kill themselves,”
“Why?” Dion screamed. “Why should I let them self-destruct?” The lights flashed red and purple across their faces, the noise of music vibrated their cheeks. After a while, even their ears seemed to break. They could only hear muffled bass.
“These people, they’re hollow.” Apollo shouted.
“They’re just having fun,” Dion said.
“And yet they’re hardly conscious of it. Explain that? Why would people so desperately try to have fun that they’d dope their bodies and yet in doing so, forget the whole thing even happened?” He said. “Because it’s not just about having fun, they need this. They need the moment and they need to forget it too until it becomes a hazy, comforting memory. Not too specific, not too accurate, just good enough for them to pretend it was something that mattered later on in their lives. They’re like fragile pipes, ready to break at any time. Too small and weak for any kind of pressure, so they do this. A small gesture to exhaust the building anger in them,”
“It sounds like you’re projecting,” Dion smiled. “And you’re panicked.”
Apollo grimaced and walked towards the bar. He whispered something into the bartender’s ears that made her wide-eyed. She ignored the brutish catcalls of the drunkards falling from their stools and brushed away women passed out on the wooden counter with the pools of mixed fluids; vomit and drool. She led Apollo and Dion to a fleet of stairs where the flashy colors eased into a calm purple and blue.
It felt like they were entering a shark tank. The quietness did not help.
Deeper they ventured, past rooms that banged and beds that creaked and the sad laughter and moans and every now and then – a scream. They stopped at a pale man whose skin changed to whatever color the lights were. Like a chameleon. He was guarding the last stairs that led up, to a penthouse. He looked them up and down and nodded his head.
They took the last few stairs. They were narrow, they made both Vicars sweat, the color of neon lights faded near the top, as if they were entering some kind of dark hole. The digestive tract of a monster waiting, hungering.
They came to the top.
“I’m here to see Mr. Lovenski.” Apollo said.
“Who are you?” A second man guarding the door (which was nothing but a cheap satin curtain) to the penthouse said.
“I’m with the cartel,” He took out a wad of cashed rolled into a cylinder, as well as a little marking on Apollo’s hands. Three dots. They were just cheap markings with a tattoo, of course, but in the near darkness they were compelling enough. For idiots, at least.
“This is for a deal, you hear?” Apollo said. “The rest is in the car. Your boss should already be expecting this meeting.”
The man did not move, the tension grew in his eyes as he swerved them left and right.
“Do you understand?” Apollo screamed. “Muévete. Hijo de puta. O, te mato.”. He lifted the curtains, both entered. The long glass room was set before them, the beast waiting at the end of a table opposite the room. Dion stopped Apollo, he took him to the side, near the entrance.
“What the heck is this” He asked. “Cartel? Drugs?”
“I’ve been networking is all,”
“What about the money? What kind of job is this? What are you doing?”
“They money? I beat some drug dealers for it, nothing they’ll miss.” Apollo whispered.
“You what?” Dion clenched Apollo’s wrist. “Is that how heroes get things done?”
“It’s how I get my jobs done. Deception is a powerful tool, it’s not my fault you’re too stupid to use it.”
He yanked his arm away. Dion stood there, watching, regretting. Regretting everything. Regretting mocking Apollo when they first met, regretted climbing the stairs. It was the type of regret that turned his stomach, that made the confluence in his mind, like two opposite watter currents both running towards one direction and fighting against each other. Anger. Fear.
He turned away, looking at Apollo walking to the table.
“Beating up drug dealers, huh,” Dion said. He ran away.
At least Apollo figured, he heard the foot steps after all.
He found a seat in front of Mr. Lovenski, in front of a table with a stripper pole right center of it all. A woman was grinding her ass against it. Her face had shame.
“She’s a doctor five years into the job, can you believe it?” He spoke as if she wasn’t even there. Judging by the empty look in her eyes, she might not have been at all. “She bought a little too much cocaine than she could pay though, and here she is now to get an advance for her payment.”
Two bodyguards around Mr. Lovenski smiled. The two women around his arms pretended to smile, they put their faces down almost immediately afterwords.
“I’m not here to talk about what you do in your spare time,” Apollo said. “I’m here for the deal I spoke about.”
“Come on, you don’t even want to get to know me?” He said. Apollo eyed him, he was ashamed to admit that he was not ugly. Or greasy. Or hairy like the movies had painted villains to be. He was rather handsome. Sleek. Confident. It annoyed Apollo, like a painful cyst.
“I know enough,” He said.
“No one can ever know too much about another person,” Mr. Lovenski said. “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Juarez. What are you doing here this far from the border?”
“I’m just here to chart new territory, is all” Apollo said. “And I want to know how fast my product can run with your dealers.”
“Don’t get too angsty, you’re going too fast and hard for me,” Mr. Lovenski said. “No one likes to be sold to, but everyone loves to buy. So make me want to buy, Mr. Juarez,”
Apollo smiled though the veins in his temples bulged.
“Mr. Lovenski – Johnny, can I call you that?” Apollo asked. Johnny nodded. “I run a very tight schedule where a missed second might be life or dead, or the loss of millions that might as well be life and death. Now I am reputable, most of your dealers can attest to that. Your competitors can attest to that.”
“Yes, sure,” Johnny said.
“So I need you to understand, I really can’t waste time. I mean that with all due respect.”
“You’ve been very unkind,” Johnny said. “Both rude and impatient and I don’t like that. We haven’t even spoken for five minutes and you haven’t gotten to know me. What kind of rapport is that?”
“I’m terribly sorry you feel that way,” Apollo said.
“Oh, you’re very sorry,” Johnny said. He played with the gold rings on his fingers.
The smiles on everyones faces turned. The woman stepped down from her pole.
“Do you want a drink, Mr. Juarez?”
“No, I don’t drink.”
“They say never to trust a man who doesn’t drink.” Mr. Juarez said.
Two shot glasses of tequila were set in the center of the table. Apollo sighed and drank one. He closed his eyes but did not wince and when they reappeared, they seemed even more dire than before. More desperate, more dead (if that was possible).
“I just want to know if you can run my drugs and if so, who your best runners might be.”
“You need names of my dealers?”
“Our business is very particular and very cautious. That’s why we’ve been in business for so long.”
“Sinaloa, right?” Johnny asked. Apollo nodded. “I’ll have you know then that we deliver nearly a hundred kilos per week. That’s very good considering our size. We do it at high profit margins too, the market here is small but the people who buy it seem to be desperate for the stuff. LSD, mostly.”
Apollo’s eyes glistened. A sheen came to them, almost brighter than the very neon lights. A mistake.
“Can I have some names of your dealers? I want to interview them, at least your big haulers. For the LSD.”
“I thought you already interviewed some of them? They gave me your recommendation after all,” Johnny said. Apollo felt the sweat come on. Here in this tiny glass room, he was getting hot. The handsome man, the calm and sophisticated and ruthless man was making him sweat.
“We’d like to expand past cocaine and marijuana,”
The room went quiet. Both women left. They exited the satin, being led down the stairs by a man. The guards stared directly into Apollo. He felt their glare. He felt everything, even the muffled music and the light itself. He felt every particle.
“Do you think I’m a fool?” Johnny asked.
“What?” His face went cold.
“Do you think I’m a fool.” Johnny said. The two guards reared their hands into their pants.
“I’m not police, if that’s what you think.”
“What are you then?” Johnny lifted one hand, a pistol flashed.
“Are you suspecting me?” Apollo said. “I’m not police. I promise.”
“I know you’re not. Because I know every cop in this town, that’s what scares me.” Johnny cocked his gun. “Who are you?”
A girl came in and set down a drink in front of Apollo. The tap of the glass, the music all melded into a single medley of white noise. A loud, conquering noise landscape that hit his skin and made him red. He was hot. Intensely. He felt the girl dancing behind him, and the small wafts of air come his way. He looked at Lovinski and his smile and took a sip, then gulp of the drink.
“It’s a gift from me, even Jesus had a last dinner after all,” The barrel pointed down Apollo’s head. The cross on the man’s v-shaped shirt bounced around like a taunt.
“It’s good,” Apollo said.
He looked up.
“So how are we going to do this?” Johnny. Lovinski. Whatever-the-hell he was or is, said. “Want it quick to the head, or a couple of shot so your mother can have an open casket?”
“My mother died a long time ago,” Apollo said.
He matched his breath with his heart and took a careful eye at the trigger finger on Johnny. He heard the click.
He saw it press down.
He grabbed the barrel and pointed it up, the bullet shot into the ceiling.
Glass fell down on them.
Standing, he punched the first bodyguard, the right man in the jaw. The bodyguards head slammed against the back of the wall, blood streaked where his body dragged down.
Lovinski shot, he hit Apollo’s thighs. He smiled, pre-emptively. Apollo passed him, galloping off the table and towards the second body guard. He broke his face easier. Punching him, down with a hammer fist like a wild ape – and oh, the screaming of the women – and the screaming of Johnny as he unloaded a full clip into Apollo’s back, with shots so careless and wild that they ricochete’d more than struck. With shots, so bloodthirsty, that they left clouds of blood wherever they struck Apollo’s back.
It looked like his spin was blossoming roses.
It didn’t stop him though. The bodyguard laid on the floor, motionless. His face looked like the jigsaw puzzle of what a face should be, all scrambled and turned around.
Apollo stood. Smoke came from his wounds, a healing factor that perhaps Johnny should have been informed about. A healing factor that removed every casing and bullet from his body, slowly pushing it out of open wounds and sealing the hole closed shut.
Lovinski tried reloading. He got halfway, Apollo stripped him of the gun before.
The women ran down, the Chameleon ran up with an uzi. Apollo threw the gun at him. The Chameleon fell unconscious.
Apollo held Lovinski by the neck.
“I can’t believe I lost,” Apollo cringed. “I can’t believe I lost my f*****g temper to you,”
Shaking hands tried to grab Apollo’s grip.
“What are you?” Johnny whimpered.
Apollo threw him onto the table.
“Give me a list of names of all your LSD dealers. Last name, first name. And tell me how much product each of these fuckers moves.”
“F-f-f**k you. I’m not saying s**t,” He muttered in a voice that flipped between low and high, broken pitch or eerily stiff pitch.
“You’ve got big balls,” Apollo smiled. “Let me see them for myself,”
He dragged his hand down, down…where they shouldn’t have gone, to do something that was far beyond torture. And Apollo’s arm tensed. And Lovinski felt ill. He felt sickly, then pained. So, so pained.
When Apollo revealed his hand, it was bloody.
“Aahhh,” Johnny muttered. Apollo grabbed his neck.
“You’ll lose the other one unless I get that list, you understand that, right?”
“Ahhh,” Johnny screamed.
“A normal man would have confused your stubbornness for honor,” Apollo said. “But I know it to be fear and confusion and pain.”
The man huffed. He struggled through, sweating, with veins bulging on his face. The doctor was crying in her corner.
“What else can I take from you?” His greedy hand wandered back down. “Don’t look.” Apollo told the whimpering doctor “I want this to be a secret between him and I alone,”
Lovinksi screamed. Pain found him. His legs shook, his body rattled and he was scratching at Apollo and trying to pry away from his iron grip.
“I’ve only squeezed it. You still have one chance to be a father. Start writing,” Apollo let go of his neck. He tried to find the pen and notebook in his pocket. Johnny scratched at him.
So he squeezed a little harder.
“Please! Please I beg you!”
He threw him away and used a napkin left on the floor instead.
“Pen. Pen. Pen” He was shouting. He looked around, everyone’s faces showed despair. Silent. Gasping, wide mouthed despair. “I need a pen you idiots!” Apollo wasn’t sure who he screamed at. Himself or the girls or the people below. The doctor came around, throwing it and rolling it on the floor.
It didn’t take long for Johnny to write. He clenched his groin the whole time, but wrote. Wrote like it was the only thing he was good at, like it was his calling. A real poet.
He pushed it towards Apollo.
“You know I’m going to f*****g kill you, right?” Lovinski said. “I’ll have you skewered. I’ll have your whole f*****g family murdered, you hear me?”
“Is that what you think? Or what you hope?” Apollo approached and knelt over him. “Live with this pain and this pain alone; you will never find me, you never knew me, you can never hope to even see me. Scream into the air, your impotent rage. It’s all you’ll ever be. Impotent.”
He took his masculinity from him, then and there. One swift grip. It was so shocking, so cruel that Johnny couldn’t even scream. His eyes simply quievered and his mouth was agape.
Apollo let go of him.
“I saved you the sin of having children. You should be grateful,” Apollo said.
“I’ll f*****g kill you.” Was all the neutered man shouted between his crying moans. His face tightened in pain. One of the girls was calling an ambulance. Apollo looked around, there were no cameras and he felt calm at last.
He left the glass penthouse.
He hugged the dark walls and steered clear of the light and found the nearest window to drop from. His bones bent and cracked when he landed. He was finally out.
Opening his cellphone, he noticed the blood at last. The bright red magnified by the light of the phone. He shook his head and searched for Dion’s name among the screens. He couldn’t help but be annoyed though, at the blood stuck in between his fingernails.
He should have put his gloves on first.
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