Josh Gets Busted (3/3)

Josh squinted in the cold air. “Do I know you?” 

“Don’t think so,” the Mexican said again. “But I know you.” He took a step toward Josh. “My name’s Carlos. Me’n my friends been watching what you been doing. How you been acting. So, tonight, me and you gonna have a little chat ‘bout your behavior.”

“No thanks.” Josh moved to step past Carlos into the parking lot. Carlos planted a glove on Josh’s chest and shoved. Josh skidded sideways and backward into a grease dumpster. 

Josh pushed off the dumpster and charged. Carlos stepped to one side and launched a roundhouse kick to Josh’s ribs. Josh went down in a heap. 

“What the fuck was that, kung fu?” Josh said when he could breathe again.

“Karate,” Carlos said.

“Since when do Mexicans know karate?” 

Carlos shook his head. “Man, you gringos don’t know shit. There were samurais in Mexico guarding a Japanese trade mission five years before your cracker-ass Pilgrims got around to starving to death in Massachusetts.”

“Bullshit.” Josh tried to push himself up to his hands and knees. A wave of pain hit him and he stayed on the ground, breathing in the stink of cigarette butts and rancid grease.
Carlos laughed. “Spend some time on Wikipedia while you’re healing them ribs.”

Josh tried to get up again, moaned, and collapsed back onto the greasy asphalt.

“You’ll want to stay down a while,” Carlos said. “While you’re down there, in addition to your little history lesson, let’s talk about how you’re treating women.”

“You mean that drunk chick? Man, you step into a casino, have too many drinks, you deserve whatever you get.”

“If it’s like that,” the Carlos said, “then how ’bout you get caught stealing, you deserve whatever you get? Like another shot to the ribs.” Carlos nudged Josh’s ribs with a steel-toed boot. 

Josh yelped. He tried to cover his ribs with his hands but the pain wouldn’t let him, so he lay flat on the pavement, breathing in shallow gasps. 

“You like that, pendejo?”

“Nah, man, not at all.”

“Didn’t think so,” Carlos said. “So while we’re talking and you can’t get up, remember I could be kicking the shit outta you right now.”

“Whatever you want, man.”

Carlos laughed. “That’s good. That’s real good.” He dropped down into a squat and spoke into Josh’s ear. “Lucky for you, gringo, I got shit to do tonight besides beat your ass. So I’m gonna make you a one-time offer. Take it or leave it. How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good,” Josh said. “Real good.” 

“You got no idea how good,” Carlos said. “I can tell you don’t know what it is to get your ass beat. Beat for real I mean, so you’re in bed for weeks, thinking about everything you done wrong in your life.” Carlos stood. “So here’s the offer. You give me what you took from that lady, plus everything else you got on you, and I don’t beat the shit outta you and sell your car for parts.”

“Deal,” Josh said. 

“Happy to hear it,” Carlos said. “Now listen to me.  There’s another part of this deal. Since I ain’t beating the shit out of you like I got every right to do, when you get home, I want you to think about what you been doing. How you been treating people. Ask yourself if that’s how you wanna keep going. You gonna do that for me?”

Anna said to Marcus, nursing his third club soda and lime, “This is Carlos?”

Marcus looked over his shoulder. “Yeah, that’s him.”

Carlos had swapped the Raiders jacket, jeans, and gloves for a black wool overcoat, a fitted black t-shirt, and black slacks with just a hint of shine to them. Square-towed cowboy boots had replaced the work boots. 

Carlos sat next to Marcus. The two slapped hands and bumped fists.

“How’d it go?” Marcus said.

Carlos looked at Anna.

“Don’t worry,” Marcus said. “This whole thing was Anna’s idea.”

Carlos nodded. “Got everything he had. Only had to pop him in the ribs once.”

“Too bad,” Anna said.

Carlos looked at Anna, dimples appearing like magic in the smooth skin of his cheeks when he smiled. “Where’s this Jackie at?” he said. “I’ve got her chips.”

Anna looked at her phone. “Aleksander say she change in her room and come down soon.”

Carlos said, “You got special agents running all over the place.” He looked at Anna. “Beautiful women, too.”

Anna said, “Aleksander is my husband.”

“He’s a lucky man,” Carlos said.

“Don’t worry,” Anna said. “I introduce you to Jackie, you like her.”

“When might that be?” Carlos said. 

“Looks like right about now,” Marcus said.

“You took your damn time getting out of that restaurant,” Jackie said to him. “That creep about ogled me to death.”

“Leo came in late. I got out as soon as I could. Anyway, Jackie, this is Carlos. He just finished his little chat with Josh.”

Jackie and Carlos shook hands and took a long look at each other.  

“Looks like you two are gonna be just fine,” Marcus said. “I’m going home. Geneva’s already pissed at me for being late.”  

“She doesn’t know about this little deal?” Jackie said. 

Marcus snorted. “Hell, no.”

Jackie mimed zipping her lips. “I’ll wait ’til we’re all old before I tell her.”

“Real old,” Marcus said, walking away.

Jackie looked at Carlos. “Don’t tell me you’re leaving too.”

“Nothing like that,” Carlos said. “I was going to ask if you wanted a drink.”

“I came down for a drink, but now I’m hungry,” Jackie said. 

“Let’s get something to eat then,” Carlos said.

“I see you two later,” Anna said, moving down the bar. 

“You wanna cash your chips out first?” Carlos said to Jackie, tapping his pocket.

“Is that your way of trying to stick me with the bill?”

Carlos laughed and pulled Josh’s tip money from a different pocket. “Nah, we’ll let Josh pay for dinner tonight.”

  The night after New Year’s Eve was always slow. Josh was rolling silverware in the empty restaurant and trying not to breathe any more than he had to when Marcus walked in.

“What’re you doin’ here?” Josh asked.

“Picking up my check.” 

Josh nodded. It made him wince. 

Marcus managed to sound concerned. “Something happen to you? Looks like you got drunk and fell down some stairs.”

“Not quite,” Josh said, still rolling silverware.

“What happened?” 

“Let’s just say instant karma can be a real bitch.”

“‘Instant karma’? That doesn’t sound like you.”

“Yeah. Funny thing is, I’d be alright if I’d listened to you.”   

“No shit?” 

Josh set down the silverware he was rolling. He looked at Marcus. “You were in on it, weren’t you?”

Marcus held Josh’s gaze. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Josh scoffed, then grimaced and stiffened when his ribs sent pain shooting all through his body. “The guy that cracked my ribs said him and his friends had been watching me. Said I needed to change my ways.”  

“Still don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Okay, fine, you know nothing about nothing.”

“I know you got a mom,” Marcus said. “Maybe a sister. Maybe one day a daughter. You want guys treating them like you been treating women?”

“Nah, man. Not at all.”

“Okay then. It’s not complicated. Don’t be an asshole. Golden rule and all that jazz.”

Josh nodded, made a face when the pain hit, and, moving carefully, went back to rolling silverware. 


Josh is officially busted…Slip me a fiver? I need to pay my rent.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash