The motorcycle purred beneath him as he ripped across the desolate highway stretching off into forever lit only by the single light on the front of the bike.  The wind whipped his hair against the worn leather of his jacket, singing the sweet song of freedom past his ears.  His beard collected whatever unfortunate insects happened to be in his way on this still, cold Southwestern night.  The pistol in his belt felt empowering, assuring, like three and a half pounds of steel confidence.  

Hell was in his veins.

He played over how he was going to fuck up Rafael in his head.  He was pretty sure that there’d be at least one other hombre he would have to deal with, but he was a mean motherfucker and two greasy shit head Mexicans didn’t bother him.  They were just getting what was coming to them anyway.  Rafael wasn’t all that bad a guy, really; they’d palled around, partied a little, business a little.  What he was going to do wasn’t personal.  It was business, pure and pure.  If killing Raul meant that he and his boys would have a better position in dealing with the cartels coming up from the south, then Raul needed to die.  

The motorcycle growled along on its dire course through the night, when the rider saw the highway exit he was looking for.  He eased off the throttle and coasted down the off-ramp.  

Rafael’s safehouse was in one of those low-income housing developments that are usually situated right by interstates and power plants and garbage dumps.  Housing for the teeming masses of immigrants coming up to do the work that no self-respecting white man would be caught dead doing.   Each dumpy little home looked just like the one before and the one after.  The only difference was the type of truck parked out front.  In this case, the rider was looking for the house with the fixed up forest green Mustang in the driveway.  It was damn hard to see in the dark and he nearly missed it on his first pass down the cul-de-sac.  Just before he passed the correct house, he caught a glimmer of reflected green paint and pulled his bike to the side of the road.  He was careful to park in a place that would be easy to reach later should he need to make a hasty exit from the house.  He felt for the knife in his boot and checked his pistol to make sure it was fully loaded, not that he needed to since he loaded his pistol before he went anywhere, but it couldn’t hurt to be cautious.  

He walked to the front door, taking in his surroundings.  There were two more cars than he expected parked in front of the house, but that didn’t necessarily mean that there were going to be other hombres in there.  He could hear muffled Tejano music playing from the house.  He banged his fist into the door.  After waiting a moment without response, he banged again, more vigorously this time.  The volume of the music lowered and footsteps approached.  The deadbolt slipped back and the door opened with the chain still latched.  

“Si?” a voice asked.

“Hola, tengo un… uh… appointment con Rafi,” the rider replied.

“Por que?”

“Por drogas, amigo,” he said and held up a tightly wrapped package of cocaine in the crack of the doorway.  

In the recesses of the house another voice called out, “Quien es?” and then the door shut.  Through the cheap door and dry wall house, the rider could hear two men exchanging rapidly more animated words in what he guessed was Spanish, but he couldn’t make out any words clearly enough to be sure.  He assumed it was Spanish because, well, they’re fucking Mexicans and that’s what Mexicans talk.

He nervously stashed the drugs inside his jacket.  Not even a minute passed before the door swung wide, startling the rider.

“Yacob, where you been?!”

“Oye Rafi, que tal?”

“Oh you know, same old shit man, same old shit.  Come in, come in!” Rafael stepped back from the doorway and gestured for Jacob to come into the house.  Jacob peered into the house cautiously before stepping over the threshold.  Once all the way in, the door slammed and bolted quickly behind him.  

Jacob walked through the hallway at the front of the house into the back kitchen/living room area.  The room smelled faintly of marijuana smoke and the stale fast food funk emitted by reheated McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  A Mexican he didn’t recognize eyed him nervously and fingered the gun he obviously had stashed in his coat.  Jacob took him to be the one that met him at the door initially.  He had an extra special bullet for that motherfucker.  There was another man watched telenovelas intently.  He had anticipated only Rafi and maybe one other guy, but three hombres meant he still had three bullets to spare.  The odds were still in his favor.  

Rafael burst into the room behind him.  “Una tequila por mi amigo!” he yelled boisterously to the stink-eyed Mexican.  The man didn’t move.  “Hey, Pedrito, una tequila.  Ahora,” he commanded, a hard-edged tone underlining his words.

“Tiene una pistola,” Pedro said without taking his eyes from Jacob.

Rafael turned to Jacob.  “Shit, you got a gun, amigo?”

Jacob took the gun from his belt and waved in the air.  “Sure do.”  Pedro’s eyes lit up in alarm, but Rafael just laughed.

“You crazy!”

“I don’t go nowhere without it.”

“Shit man.  Pedrito, una tequila.  Por mi amigo.”  Pedro shifted his gaze between Rafael and Jacob, eventually deciding that it would be best just to get the tequila and shut up about the whole thing.  He walked off to get Jacob a shot glass and a bottle.  

Jacob stashed the gun back into his belt and sat down at the table.  Rafael slapped him on the back and sat down next to him.  Rafi’s face took on a somber expression.

“I’m sorry about you brother, Yacob.  He don’t deserved what he got.”

“Wrong place at the wrong time.  Can’t change the past.”

“Si, that is so.  Are you wanting to get revenge on the pendejos killed him?” he asked while making air pistol motions at invisible bad guys.

Jacob threw a shot of Rafi’s cheap tequila down his throat and paused.  “Nah, I don’t think so.”  He took another shot.  A man was crying in the soap opera on the television.  Across the room, Pedro shifted his weight anxiously.  “Where’s your pisser?”

“Allá,” Rafael said and waved toward the back of the house.  Jacob stood up and left the room.  

The bathroom was decorated with a beach theme: shell shaped soap, ocean themed towels, starfish and some other shit all over the place.  He looked through the medicine cabinets for anything worth taking, found nothing, and took a piss.  He shook off and pulled his pistol from its spot in his belt.  He kissed the gun and thought, Here goes nothing.  

Jacob walked up to the kitchen table where Rafael was still sitting paying attention to a different show on the TV and threw the bag of blow down.  “All right.  Let’s talk business.”

Rafi looked up at him with mock offense.  “You are so sudden.  We will talk business.  But now, we are watching Sabado Gigante.  You like it?”

“Let’s talk business now.”

Rafi shot a look to Pedro and then back down at the drugs on the table and said, “Si.  Business now.  Sabado Gigante later.”  He took the bag over to the man on the sofa, bent down, and whispered something to him that Jacob could not make out.  The sofa Mexican stood and left the room.  “Mi amigo here, he is going to make sure you bring good stuff, ok?”

“Ok.”

With Pedro pacing around the kitchen and the imminent slaughter of the three Mexicans in the shitty little tract house in the middle of the god-forsaken fucking desert, Jacob was having a hard time keeping his cool.  The heft of the gun in his belt was calming, but his nerves were starting fray at the edges a little.  He was getting a little jumpy, a little tense.  He flexed his fists and fidgeted with his shot glass while waiting for the third man to come out of the other room.  After too much time passed, he started to get scared.

“What’s your boy doing in there, Rafi?”

“You wait.  I will check.”  Rafael stood and followed the absent man into another room.  Jacob looked over at Pedro.  He thought he had maybe, 30, 40 pounds and probably 5 inches on the dude, plenty to take him down with if he could get the jump on him.  He took another shot of tequila, pulled his gun from his belt and put it down on the table.

“That thing can be a real pain, you know?” he said to Pedro, but Pedro stared at him coldly.  The music played on.  “Hey, this is a good song.  Turn it up a little?”  Pedro still stares at him, not understanding the request.  “La música.  La volume mas alta,” he said while jabbing his upraised thumb into the air in a way that could be—rightly—interpreted to mean “up yours, buddy” just as easily as it indicated the direction he wanted the volume to go.

Pedro got the message and reached under the bar to turn the music up.  Apparently a fan, Pedro turned the volume up much louder than Jacob had anticipated, or thought he could tolerate, but it would suit him just fine.  Pedro started to bob his head to the infectious rhythm of the Tejano music blaring at potentially unsafe levels from the speakers in the house.

“Yeah, that’s good.  Nice and loud,” he screamed.  “You got ice back there?!  Tiene hielo, amigo?  I’d kill a man for a glass of ice water.”

Pedro nodded at Jacob and motioned for him to come behind the bar without taking his business hand from the piece barely hidden inside his jacket.  Jacob found a clean glass in a cabinet, placed some ice in, and then filled the glass with water.  A towel sat next to the sink.  He wiped his hands off with it, twisted it around his fists into a crude garrote, and wrapped it around Pedro’s face, filling his mouth with rag so that his scream would be muffled.  Jacob pulled the man to the floor and pinned his arms with his legs.  He shoved the rag into Pedro’s mouth so that he couldn’t spit it out.  His hand found the knife sheathed in his boot and cut a livid smile into Pedro’s throat from ear to ear, nicking bone.  It occurred to him that it was the first time he’d see Pedro smile.  Too bad.  He sat on Pedro until the man stopped twitching.  He reached for another towel to wipe the arterial spray from his face and hands.  He pushed the body behind the counter top so that Rafi would be unable to see it when he came back into the room.

He picked up his pistol from the table and sat back down.  He poured himself another shot of tequila, realized that the music was still blaring, that it was horrible, and he turned the stereo down.  He checked himself for any splatter he might have missed, but he was clean.  He sat down again and placed his pistol in his lap.  He scooted his chair in to hide the exposed weapon.

Rafael came back into the room a moment later.  “Ah, amigo, we can make business.”

“Good, let’s have a drink to business between amigos,” he said and raised his glass.

Rafael walked back over to the table and, still standing, poured himself a healthy shot of tequila.  He raised his glass, but paused before throwing the shot back.  “Where is Pedro?”

“El baño, I think.”

“Ah, yes.  Small… what is the word?”

“Bladder?”

“Yes.  Bladder.  Small bladder.”  Rafael raised his glass again, a smile wide across his face.  He poured the drink into his mouth, opened his eyes and stopped dead.  In the reflection off the light fixture above the table, he saw something out of place.  Slowly, he peeked his head toward the area behind the counter to see a large pool of blood seeping onto the kitchen floor.

Before Rafi had the chance to pull his gun out, Jacob put a bullet square into his shoulder, throwing him to the floor.

Jacob stood and kicked the gun away from Rafael.  Gripping his shoulder and tracking blood across the dirty linoleum floor, Rafael pushed himself away from Jacob.  But it was to no avail.  Jacob walked over to the prone Mexican and pointed the barrel of the gun directly at his face.

“Sorry, amigo.  It’s just business,” he said and pulled the trigger, spraying Rafi’s brains and hair and teeth all over the wall behind him.  Jacob walked over the stereo system and turned the music off.  

That left just one Mexican still standing by his reckoning.  He walked into the back room to see the third man laying on his back, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling.  The man didn’t even register Jacob’s entrance, just twitched on the bed.  His breathing was ragged and short, but he seemed like he was having a good time wherever the hell he was.  “Shit man, I don’t even know your name,” he said and put a bullet right between the man’s eyes.

Three bullets left.  Pretty good.  Now it was time to get the hell out of there.  

He put the pistol back into his belt and exited the back room to find a fourth man standing in the middle of the kitchen looking down at the corpses on the floor.  “Shit,” he said, alerting the new opponent that not only was the man that had just killed his boss still in the house, but was still in the room.  Jacob pulled his gun out and fired at the man, but he managed to duck behind the sofa, avoiding the burning kiss of the copper slug.  He ran off down the hallway toward the entrance.

Jacob cocked his pistol and followed.  He got through the open front door and saw the man pulling a shotgun from the trunk one of the cars in the driveway.  Outgunned, he ran and ducked behind the green mustang before the man could get a shot off.  He wasn’t fast enough.  The Mexican swung round and fired before Jacob was fully concealed behind the heavy-duty body of the old mustang.  He felt the myriad bite of ultra-sonic pellets of metal tearing into his shoulder.  It felt like bird shot, a feeling he knew well enough.  That he had a shoulder left at all was a pretty good indication that this guy had loaded his gun with inappropriate ammunition.  Fucking asshole.

The Mexican pumped two more shells worth of the small gauge pellets into the side of the ‘stang.  Jacob stayed hidden and tried to block the burning pain in his shoulder out as much as he could.  He reached over the hood of the car and blind fired once in the direction he thought the Mexican was.  He heard the bullet hit metal, and, while disappointed that he didn’t hear a dead Mexican hitting the pavement, made his point loud and clear that he still had some fight in him.  

He went flat on the ground to see if he could see the other man’s feet below the Mustang.  He saw nothing and laid still on the ground to try and listen for the crunch of shoes on concrete.  He heard the Mexican putting more shells into the shotgun, but he couldn’t see where he was hidden.  He thought he might have a clear run for his bike, and if he could put enough distance between him and the shotgun-wielding bastard, the bird shot he was loading would be much less of a problem.  Jacob kissed his gun, got into a crouch, and made a run for it.  He got about 10 feet past the end of the Mustang before he heard the Mexican curse.  He pulled to shoot, but Jacob dodged to the left around the corner of the house, toward his bike.  

He pressed himself hard against the wall of the house, waiting to see if the Mexican would be stupid enough to follow him.  He was.  The hombre came running round the corner like a hunter tracking wounded prey.  Jacob met him by shoving the business end of his pistol directly under the Mexican’s left eye.  Even if “Paco” here had a chance to get a slug off into him, he’d be deader’n shit.

“Drop the shotgun, amigo,” Jacob said.

The Mexican put the gun down on the lawn slowly.  In the distance Jacob heard sirens.  He looked around the cul-de-sac to see if there were any eyewitnesses standing around.  He figured he had just a couple minutes before this place would be entirely hostile to a man of his recent-history.  It was time to go.

“Sorry, bud, got to go.”  He pulled the trigger and the other man collapsed dead onto the lawn.  Jacob put his pistol back into his belt, flicked the blood running down his arm off his hand, and started his bike.  He roared off into the night and away from Rafi forever.  At the entrance of the housing development, he turned toward the highway only to see the red-blue flashing of approaching Police in his side-view mirrors.  And then he watched them pull into the housing project.  

He’d have to get his shoulder looked at, but things could be worse.