Authors: Don Donovan
guy have a name?" Silvana asked.
Logan, it was."
heart picked up its pace and she took a couple of quick breaths through her
mouth. A name.
what about Chicho? You got any idea who put him down?"
whatsoever. I didn't even hear about it till Saturday night. Far as I can tell,
nobody knows who done him."
Could he have done it?"
he could have. But why would he? Chicho was like the goose layin' the golden
egg, you know what I'm sayin'? He's losin' all kindsa money to Maxie and payin'
him off every week. Why would Maxie want to put the fuckin' brakes on
thoughts exactly. "I don't know," she said. "Maybe Chicho said
something to him. An insult, maybe. Guys have been smoked for a lot less."
I know. But it woulda had to been pretty bad to make Maxie take him out. Shit,
the dude just came up with two hundred K that me and Yolexis collected for him
Friday night. Came right up with it."
know Andrés Borraga? The guy who got dusted with Chicho? The guy with the
seen him around before, you know what I'm sayin', but I can't place him. I
didn't know his name."
see him Friday night when you went to the house on Tenth Avenue?"
he was there."
didn't recognize you? Didn't say 'Hi, Flaco'? Chicho didn't introduce you? Come
on! Help me out here."
tellin' you, no. I seen him when I went in, sittin' in the chair watchin' the
TV. He was like, 'Yo, dog', nodded at me, and went back to the TV."
he knew you."
he knew me. And I knew him. Just no names is all, you know what I'm
spoke. "What else you know about the Key West guy? Logan, I mean."
it, man. Just his name and he from the Keys. And him and Chicho were down.
Thass it." Flaco shrugged.
about the girl? Yanet Santiago. You know her from anywhere?"
shook his head. "Not really. I seen her once with another dude at a party
a couple of weeks ago, snortin' a little blow. I'm telling you, that bitch had
an ass on her! She was smokin', you know what I'm sayin'?"
believed him. Vargas gave her a short nod. She believed she'd gotten everything
she was going to get out of Flaco. For today, anyway.
She reached into her pocket and came out with a card. "Here's my phone
number, Flaco. Put it into your cell right now. I want you to call me if you
hear anything, anything at all about this whole fucking mess. Who did Chicho,
anything more on this guy Logan, anything about Andrés Borraga. Or Yanet
Santiago. Anything. You feel me?"
ma'am. I do."
if you help me, then I help you. That's how it works. It's a two-way street,
understand me? I can make things very easy for you around here. But I find out
you know something and are holding out on me, you
live to regret it."
head-signaled Vargas, who sucker punched Flaco in the gut again, sending him to
the pavement with a lot of hurt.
Monday, June 27, 2011
AMBO'S BAR AND GRILL
buzzed with activity. Cuban food
simmered back in the kitchen, its thick, zesty aroma blanketing the entire
place and leaking out into the surrounding back streets of Old Town. Mambo the
Third finished off his
the bar, downing the final forkful of yellow rice, watching anxious gamblers
surround the pool table, some of them clutching fistfuls of cash. They hollered
bets at each other while the players circled the table one at a time like
vultures, each seeking the perfect shot. The bar was full, attention turned to
flat-screen TVs, all three of them showing the Marlins game. A lively merengue
tune played through the house sound system, whose speakers pointed away from
the televised baseball.
noticed Logan enter and take a seat in a dark corner booth. Actually, all the
booths were dark, deliberately so. Everyone in the place was one type of outlaw
or another, and they didn't require a lot of bright lights on them while they
planned their jobs in those booths. That was Mambo's in a nutshell. Buried in a
quiet neighborhood for over fifty years, no sign out front, liquor license
grandfathered in, great food, a real grifters' gathering ground. Civilians not
signaled to the waiter for a beer as he took a seat. Mambo took one last swig
from his iced tea and came over to his booth. His cousin Big Felo went with
been a lot worse," he said. "But I'm still here."
stood and the two exchanged a hug. Big Felo greeted him with a silent nod and
an iron handshake, the hallmark of the bodyguard.
took a seat. He waved Big Felo away and said, "I heard about that
Chicho and what he did to you
guys, man. I also heard he got what was coming to him."
the Third was the same age as Logan, and with the same sturdy build. Bristling,
short black hair framed a handsome Cuban face. They'd known each other since
grade school, and while they weren't exactly best friends, they'd always gotten
along pretty well. The Original Mambo had taken over this place more than fifty
years ago, named it after himself — never put a sign outside — and
ran it the whole time till he damn near got himself killed in a gunfight in
here one night, a year or so ago. That's when the Third took over. He was no
wimp, but because of what happened to his grandfather, Felo was never too far
away, and always strapped.
looked into young Mambo's dark brown eyes. Deepset, a clear family trait, they
could look right through you. Right now, they smiled with approval that Chicho
had received justice.
wasn't pretty," Logan said.
never is, man."
waiter brought them each a beer, frosty longnecks. Logan took a soft pull at
his and set it down. His hand went inside his shirt and came out with a long,
little something for you," he said, and pushed it across the old wooden
continued smiling and peeked inside the envelope. "Looks like a pretty
decent score." All according to ancient Key West custom. You plan your job
in Mambo's, you cut him in for a taste. He stuffed the envelope into his pants
was," he said. "But I have bad news. Well, I mean, good news for me,
bad for you."
smile vanished. "What, man? What is it?"
over. For me, anyway."
What are you talking about?"
mean it's over. I'm done. Thirteen years in the life. Finito."
you mean you're just … getting out? Just like that." Mambo couldn't hide
gave a single nod, never taking his eyes off Mambo's. "Just like
one, it took it all out of me. We really stepped out of our league with that
bank, and I had a lot of difficulty up in Miami the other night. I don't want
to do it again. I don't even want to think about doing it again."
of your league? How was it out of your league?"
took another swig of his beer. "I mean, it was for more money than we'd
ever gotten. We'd never robbed a bank before. And that's a federal beef. Not
only that, it was a lot more dangerous, and a lot rougher." He didn't want
to go into the whole deal with the girl. He couldn't handle talking about it
reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a Cohiba. He took his time
unwrapping it and sniffed its entire length twice. He snipped the tip with his
gold guillotine cutter and lovingly examined the cigar one more time. Finally,
he retrieved his lighter and expertly twirled the cigar under the flame with care,
drawing deep, repeated puffs until the lighted tip was self-sustaining.
sweet smoke of the Cohiba did its job. His posture loosened and he said,
without smiling, "You remember back when we were in high school? I think
it was during our junior year. When they found those three dead guys from Miami
in the mangroves up on Stock Island?"
thought back to that time. The memory was not pleasant. Mutilated corpses,
do remember that. Weren't they … weren't they the guys who … who gang-raped one
of your cousins?"
nodded. "Little Danielita," he said, puffing again on his cigar.
"Fourteen years old. She was the pride of my grandfather's eye. He loved
her so much. And what those savages did to her still sends chills over my whole
reference to his grandfather in connection with this old incident pinned
Logan's eyes to his own. Mambo saw Logan's face go pale at the mention of this
event. It had worked its way into Key West legend, in the criminal community
anyway, where it was always known to reside out on the misty fringes of local
outlaw history, but never directly spoken about.
guardedly looked around, making sure no one was within earshot, and dialed his
voice downward. "He did it. He delivered more pain to those motherless
fucking cocksuckers than they ever thought possible before he sent them to the
fires of hell, where they burn today and where they will burn for all fucking
drank from his longneck and leaned forward, showing Logan he wasn't through.
knew my grandfather did it, even though there was no evidence. They never
pressed charges. They never even looked into it, because they all knew it had
to be done. After what those animals did to little Danielita."
said, "Yeah, well, you're right, man
Us Conchs, we take care of our own in cases like that. Nobody thinks twice
shifted in his seat to lean even farther across the table and said, "He
didn't like doing it, you know? And there were three of them to one of him. But
he came home that night and washed all the blood off himself and went to bed.
Next night, he was right back here, running this place."
can all learn a little something from him," Logan said.
puff, this one accompanied by a smile of satisfaction. "But you see what
I'm saying, right? Just because you put your life on the line to get justice,
that's no reason to get down on the whole thing. No reason to run away. It was
a risk, and you, you had to take it. You had to do what was right."
fidgeted around his side of the booth. It looked like he wanted to say
something, something really powerful after Mambo got all emotional dredging up
the memory of little Danielita.
he said, "I know. But it's more than that, it really is. The whole thing's
been wearing on me for some time now. And this one was … well, really tough.
Maybe it's because I'm not a kid anymore, I don't know."
nod and his eyes showed a glimmer of understanding. "You're a good man,
Logan. But if you really think you have to get out, then do it. I wish you
wouldn't, but you've got to follow your heart."
you see it that way."
smiled. "No other way
it," he said, taking another light puff on his cigar. "You're still
young. You've got a lot of life in front of you. What are you going to
uh, got a line on investing in a landscaping business." He didn't mention
Don Roy Doyle, who was in the back room at that very moment conducting Mambo's
a hearty pull from his beer, Mambo said, "Landscaping? You mean, like
there's more to it than that, you know, but right now it looks like a pretty
good opportunity for me."
nodded in great understanding as he reached across the booth and put his hand on
Logan's forearm. Gave him a couple of easy pats.
"I know you're
gonna do good, man. You put your mind to it, you're gonna do all right."
started to rise from the booth. "I've gotta be going now. I got some …
some errands to run." Mambo still had him by the forearm, gently pulling
him back down.
there's just one last favor I'd like to ask. If you have time, that is."
tiniest twitch flicked across Logan's face. A twitch of uncertainty.
"Well, sure, Mambo. Sure. What is it?"
need you to pay a visit to this guy, this guy who owes me money."
Nothing to it. Piece of cake."
course, sure. Who's the guy?" Logan reached for his empty beer bottle and
peeled back a shred of the label with his thumbnail. Mambo's eyes never left
Whitney." He took a major league puff on his cigar, letting the smoke
trail slowly out of his mouth in a thin strip, drifting toward the side of the
booth and out toward the pool table.
hand froze just before he could drink from the beer bottle. "Trey Wh —?
right. And he owes me eighty-one large."
a … a lot of money. But that shouldn't be any problem for him, right? He's a
Whitney. They've got millions."
He's a Whitney. And that's
exactly the problem." Mambo started gesturing with his hands. "He
doesn't think he should pay. He lost most of it on the NBA Playoffs, and he's
been trying to recoup it with big baseball bets, but he's been losing his
Mambo, I don't know. Can't someone in your family do something? Call Winston
Whitney or something?"
won't help. Trey's his favorite son, and he thinks the guy can do no wrong, you
know? I go to him with this and he'll brush me off. Ask me to work it out or
give him more time. Fuck that."
— I didn't know your family and the Whitneys ever, uh —"
business together?" Logan nodded. Mambo called up his most reassuring
voice. "Not very often," he said. "We generally stay out of each
other's way, but every so often, something like this comes up, you know, like
Trey placing bets with me, aaaand … "
now did Mambo remove his hand from Logan's forearm. Logan said, "Well,
don't you have guys, you know, guys who can collect these debts for you? Like —
like your cousin?" He gestured toward the big man leaning against the bar,
whose gaze was on the two of them at all times.
chuckled. "Felo? Hmph. He couldn't collect water from the ocean. He'll
kill you if you put your hands on me in a threatening way, but he doesn't have
the subtlety for this kind of thing." He set the cigar down in the big
metal ashtray on the tabletop. The smoke floated away from them. "There's
ten points in it for you."
figured Logan couldn't refuse. Even though he'd made a good score the other
night and had just announced his retirement, eighty-one hundred was still a
sweet piece of change for very little work, and Mambo was seldom so generous in
these situations. But Trey had to pay. He couldn't let him slide any longer. It
was worth the points to clear this one from the books.
it was obvious from Logan's demeanor that he didn't like the idea of jumping
into a potential shitstorm. Problem was, though, Mambo knew Logan couldn't say
no to him. They went back too far. Besides, it was just a debt collection.
said Logan. "Where can I find him?"