Authors: Don Donovan
BOOK ONE OF
THE MIAMI CRIME TRILOGY
This book is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the
author's imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events,
locales, or persons, living or dead, is unintended and entirely coincidental.
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any
means not yet known, without permission in writing from Don Donovan.
Published by Don Donovan
Edited by Laurie Skemp,
Copyright 2016 by Don
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promise to you:
For all the guys in "H"
Monroe County Detention Center
Key West, Florida
Saturday, June 25, 2011
IGHT IN LITTLE HAVANA
Hot, and sticky. The kind of night that keeps people awake and makes them do
crazy things, and it egged me on toward what I had to do. I motored slowly
along Northwest Tenth Avenue, past some low-rent fourplexes mingled with small,
, one-story houses,
checking the addresses. A few of the houses, including the one I wanted, hinted
of lights behind closed front drapes. I checked the number of the coral stucco
house and parked, pointing my car toward West Flagler, the fastest way to I-95.
quite ready to get out of the car, I adjusted the holster in my rear waistband
and checked my gun. Even though it was matte black, it seemed to gleam under
the glow streaming through the windshield from the yellow streetlamp. Smith
& Wesson M&P. Compact, great balance, short recoil. Real stopping
power. One of the best .45 semi-autos out there. The final solution to a lot of
slid a round into the chamber and shoved the piece back into the oiled rig
under my black guayabera. It fit nicely against my thick build. I stood about
five-ten, but the line from my big shoulders to my waist was straight up and
down and it was all hard, no give. The guayabera was a loose fit, so there was
sat back in the seat and felt the holstered gun jamming into my lower back. At
that moment, my thoughts raced ahead.
If this shit doesn't go down well, I
could die tonight, in just a few minutes. I'm not doing this for any noble
reason, only for money. Money we risked our goddamn lives to get.
It was a stupid fucking shot to begin
with, that bank. I don't know why I let myself get talked into it. I never
liked those kinds of odds, those jobs. I like to come home after work, not wind
up on a coroner's slab with him mumbling shit about exit wounds and lividity.
But somehow, we made it out of there
unharmed. Damned lucky, we were. But here I am, risking my life a second time
for the same damned money.
Somewhere there's probably a name for
guys who do this, a name I wouldn't care for.
of the car into the damp night. If a breeze was coming off the ocean, it didn't
make it this far inland. I'd only taken a couple of steps through the barren
yard up to the house, and already sweat formed at my hairline and under my
arms. I dried my palms on my pants and lifted the back of my guayabera over my
rear waistband, exposing the weapon for easy access. A slender Latino answered
my rap on the door. The guy had stringy black hair and wild surprise in his
eyes, as though he'd just opened his door to Fidel Castro.
Chicho," I said.
of us moved. Chicho's black hair drooped in thin shocks over a sweaty forehead.
His flowered tropical shirt hung unbuttoned, revealing a stained wife-beater
underneath. Quick movement in his eyes from surprise to fear, pupils heavily
dilated. The stink of weed was all over him.
asked, "Aren't you going to invite me in?"
backed warily into the undersized living room, allowing me inside. A voluptuous
young Cuban girl with blazing eyes sat cross-legged on the cheap couch. I put
her at about half my own age, which would make her sweet sixteen. Her clothing,
what there was of it, showed way too much skin. No air conditioning in here,
just a sour mix of body odor and marijuana smoke. A music video in Spanish
blasted out of the TV.
place you've got here," I said, raising my voice to be heard over the
music. "Real stylish." A few drops of sweat made their way onto my
face. I wanted to dab at them, but didn't.
are you doin' here, Logan? How you find this place?" Chicho grabbed an
open beer bottle from the coffee table and pulled nervously from it.
know what I'm doing here. Hand it over." My voice steady, the girl
uncrossing her legs.
what over, man? Wha' you talkin' abou'?"
checked my watch. "It's closing in on four o'clock. If you're a good boy
and give me two hundred and twenty-five grand, I can be back in Key West for
breakfast. It'll be a nice drive, too. Sun coming up behind me, no traffic down
the Keys at this hour. Come on, Chicho. Put the two hundred and twenty-five
large in my hand and make me happy."
forced a smile, hoping I would buy it. Then a few jittery hand gestures while
he searched for the right thing to say. Already, this was not going well.
man, you know I don' have your money. I din take it. Musta been one of the
voice never shifted from its even cadence, showing Chicho I wasn't buying the
bullshit. Keeping it forceful, carefully carrying it above the volume of the
TV, but not shouting. "All I want is my two and a quarter. I'm even
letting you keep your share. I'm being the good guy here."
no, no, man. It was not me. It was one of the other guys."
of the other guys."
man. You know, like Shimmy. Or Zaz. One of them. They musta took it."
said, "Only problem is, they didn't take it. You did. Drove off with it in
your car while the rest of us, we all had to pile into the other car and get
the hell out of there before the law showed up."
I din mean to do that. Hey, I thought you were right behin' me, gettin' in my
posture relaxed a little. He looked like his confidence was returning.
"Well, I don' have the money. I was gonna contac' you to get my share. I
was gonna call you in the morning. I thought you had it."
corner of my eye snagged a glimpse of the girl fidgeting on the couch, her hand
surreptitiously sliding down between the cushions.
Chicho smile, this one even less sincere than the first. "Now that I think
about it, man, I saw Zaz take it. Yeah, Zaz, man. I saw him pick it up an' —"
. Like a little bump. Chicho didn't
make it. And it didn't come from the TV or the girl. Chicho jerked his head
around. It came from … from …
muscular guy in a bright yellow T-shirt burst out of the door to the bedroom,
pointing a shotgun into the living room. I dove to the floor by the side of the
couch, and the big gun went off, shaking the walls of the small room. The girl
screamed. The TV blared on, but I barely heard it over my pounding eardrums.
drew my weapon. Shotgun Man got off another round, this one blowing apart the
arm of the sofa — inches from my head — pieces of couch stuffing
flying around my face and fluttering down on me like snowfall in the woods.
Chicho ran toward the TV. I returned fire from the floor, catching Shotgun Man
jacking the slide of his big cannon. My .45 spit rounds into the center of the
yellow T-shirt, blowing apart his insides and flinging him backward through the
girl pulled her hand up from between the couch cushions, revealing a small
Oh, shit. Don't do it, honey! Don't!
raised the gun, pointing it at me while I was still on the floor. But I put one
in her head and one in her chest before she could squeeze the trigger. I saw
her head come apart, spitting out brains in all directions.
Jesus, did I just do that? She was …
now held a revolver he retrieved from the vicinity of the TV. Finally began
firing, but he was wild and I emptied my magazine into him.
Dumb fuck wasn't so stoned, he would've
A quick deep breath. I shoved a fresh mag into my gun and moved slowly around
the bodies and the blood toward the bedroom. Holding my weapon with both hands,
arms extended, I eased in. No one else in sight. Quick check of the closet, under
the bed, the bathroom, behind the shower curtain. Everyone dead and accounted
I wanted sat on the bed in plain sight, the open gym bag turned sideways with
cash spilling out of it. First glance told me it wasn't all there. No time for
a second glance. I stuffed the dough down inside the bag and zipped it up, then
hustled it back out to my car. Phones around the neighborhood were no doubt
lighting up the 911 line by now. A quick spark to the engine on my vanilla
rental, and up the dark street. Headlights off till I got up to West Flagler.
My fucking ears wouldn't stop ringing.
made the turn onto Flagler toward I-95, flicked on the lights, and slowed down.
My breathing returned to a semblance of normal. I noticed the traffic, a little
heavier than I would've thought for that hour of the night. Buses traveled in
both directions, picking up people — all Cubans, it looked like —
probably going to early morning jobs. Supermarket delivery trucks lumbered
around in their daily predawn activity. A couple of pimpmobiles zoomed past in
opposite directions, checking their traps.
reached for the fresh bottle of water I always kept in the cup holder and
opened it. A big drink soothed my drying throat. You never know when you're
going to need water in this climate, so I made sure there was always a bottle
handy. I usually went through about eight bottles a day to keep myself
hydrated, replenishing it from the two or three cases I kept in my back seat.
Even in this rental, I made sure I had enough water for this one-off trip to
I blended into the West Flagler streetscape, my mind went into review mode. I
had to admit, I didn't like anything about this incident. I worried my hearing
might not fully return. Oh, sure, I got the money — what there was of it —
and sure, Chicho and his pals got what was coming to them. It was, after all,
weren't the first people I'd killed, nor did I really give a shit about them,
but for the first time, I recoiled from all of it, all the mayhem. And of
course, my hearing. Not only that, but a tiny bit of me — a little of my
insides — began to rot. Especially because of the girl. The girl whose
mother will wake up in a few hours and wonder where her baby is, not knowing
she's lying in her own blood with two of my bullet holes in her and the back of
her young head blasted apart, spilling her brains all over the place.
when the mother gets the phone call …
But this deal about my insides
rotting away, it's like a sliver under your fingernail, you know? One day,
there it is. You don't think about it. You let it go and before you know it, it
becomes infected, and it keeps getting worse and worse. Like my insides are
going to die a little at a time until there'll be nothing left. I'll be as dead
as those three on the floor back there. I don't want that.
up through the windshield, I saw the moon shining through a clearing black sky.
I flipped off the AC and opened all the windows. Fresh air pouring in told me
the temperature had fallen a couple of degrees, and the ocean breeze finally
got there, whisking away much of the high humidity.
it couldn't blow away the choking tightness in my gut. My tongue rolled around
in my mouth, trying hard to cleanse it of something, I wasn't sure what. It
didn't work. I scraped it against the roof of my mouth, as if trying to
dislodge something that had been glued there. More rolling, more scraping, more
cleansing … nothing doing. Mile after dark, lonely mile, I couldn't get rid of
it. Couldn't hack it up, couldn't spit it out. Pain had me in its steady grip.
My hand clutched at my neck as I rolled through the eighteen-mile stretch of
mangrove-lined highway leading into the Keys. Radio music couldn't move my mind
off it. Swigs of water couldn't wash it out.
it felt like a big piece of rotting, unchewed food had lodged itself between my
throat and my stomach. I damn near puked.