THREE YOUNG SOLDIERS from the Barrio Azteca street gang stared dispassionately at the man lying face down on the beige carpet. One of the gang members had bashed him in the head with the butt of his 9MM pistol and the fallen man was not moving. Blood was oozing slowly from the head wound, staining the carpet.
The first soldier asked, “Is he dead?”
The one who clobbered him said, “He’d better be. I hit him hard enough.”
“Why do you think they paid us so much to clip this old guy? It was like taking candy from a baby.”
The first soldier asked pointedly, “Would you rather have to ice a Blood soldier or maybe a Crips captain?”
“No, man, I was just wondering. He sure wasn’t tough. No gun, no knife. It almost seemed too easy.”
The second soldier said, “I like easy. I don’t want nobody shooting back at me.”
The first soldier, who was twenty-one and heavily tattooed, identifying Barrio Azteca, told them, “We only finished half of the job. That white bastard we dealt with wanted the bitch killed too.”
“If she ain’t here, she ain’t here. We can’t ice somebody who ain’t here.”
“He’s not going to see it that way. He paid us for two bodies. He’s going to tell us to get it done.”
The third soldier said, “At least we got that vessel thing, although I can’t figure out why he wants it. It looks like something my grandmother used to grind corn in.” He was twenty, with numerous tattoos that identified his rank.
The vessel was made from rough grey stone, round, twelve inches across and six inches deep. Rather than corn, it had held sacred oil three thousand years ago.
“In a way, I’m glad the woman wasn’t here. I’d hate to clip a woman who looked that good.”
They had her picture, a stunningly beautiful Persian woman with long, raven black hair and haunting eyes.
The first soldier pointed out, “We can’t tell him that we only kill fat old ladies. He paid for her dead body and he’s going to shove on us to get it done.”
“If this vessel thing is valuable, why don’t we keep it and tell him the woman must have it? Maybe it’s something a museum would pay big money for.” Like the other two, he was heavily tattooed and battle scarred.
The first soldier asked, “Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a baby? If the white guy found out we kept it, his soldiers would come after us. Every time you try to think, stupid things come out of your mouth.”
The second soldier said, “Let’s get out of here and get this vessel thing to the white asshole. He’s going to give us a lecture about why we should have clipped the broad. Besides, I hate being around white people.” They were in the living room of an expensive home in Granada Hills, high-end furniture, deep carpet and costly decor.
The first soldier told them, “We’ll tell him that we’ll let everything cool down, then find the woman and make the hit. He’ll moan and groan, but there’s no other way.”
The other two nodded agreement.