In The Midnight Of His Heart
By AL BRUNO III
May 29, 1993
Hector Aznar considered himself a consummate businessman and as far as he was concerned he knew more about the art of the deal than any old white dude in a thousand-dollar suit. He'd migrated to Troy over three years ago; around about the time that the competition for control of the drug trade in New York City had started to get downright ridiculous. Things had always been tense but the arrival of the Russian and Jamaican mobs had strained things to the breaking point. In a little over a month Hector had two brushes with death and that had been quite enough.
Memories of those incidents still chilled him as he sat in his expensively furnished office making plans with his right-hand man Sefu. The two men where a study in opposites, Hector was short with lightly tan skin and a harsh face that long ago lost the ability to smile; Sefu on the other hand was tall and wiry, with skin so dark it was almost purple. His features were bearded and handsome but no less merciless.
Hector had met Sefu in the first few weeks of his moving here. At the time upstate New York had still been the providence of a handful of small-time operators, of which he found Sefu to be the most competent. Sefu accepted Hector's offer to join him and within a year the majority of the other small time operators followed suit. The ones that refused to join Hector died in ways that had caused even the most jaded stomachs to turn.
Over the past three years they had expanded from crack and coke to designer drugs and steroids. Junkies desperate to pay off their debts led to a branching out into fencing, prostitution and a stake in the still-fledgling black market for organ transplants.
There was a knock at the door, Sefu checked his watch, “That's Rodas.”
“What's he want?” Hector sat up in his chair, Rodas had been late in delivering profits for the last few weeks.
“He got those two deadbeat motherfuckers.”
Hector leaned back in his chair, Sefu stood to his right, one hand resting on the butt of the gun in his belt, “Send'em in.”
Rodas ushered a couple in at gunpoint. The man was stocky, with short blonde hair and one of those college-boy goatees that Hector found so irritating; the woman was skinny, she had almost no figure at all, but her face was cute and her hair was fiery red.
Even though he knew the answers Sefu asked, “Who're these two?”
Rodas shooed them both towards the desk, “These are the motherfuckers that stiffed me big time.”
“For how much?” Sefu asked.
“A thousand and a half.”
Both men's features darkened, Hector found himself getting angry on two levels- first off he was angry at the two heaps of white trash standing before him who thought they could buy dope on credit like it was furniture or something. But he was even madder at Rodas- a thousand and a half? How the hell could he let things balloon to almost two grand? Later on they were going to have a nice long talk. A talk Rodas might not survive.
Sefu glared at the two of them for a long time, “You take their car?”
“It's a piece of shit.”
“They sold everything they had already an they still owe.”
“Uh, excuse me, sir?” the male crackhead's voice was shaky and haggard.
“Did I fuckin' say you could speak?” Hector shouted.
“Listen to me, you have to listen to me. There's been some kind of a misunderstanding-”
“Shut up!” Rodas felled the man with a single swing of his pistol. He crumpled, his mouth drooling blood.
The woman flung herself protectively atop her man, screaming a chorus of No's and Please'es. Rodas tangled his hands in her hair and dragged her off. She fought like a cat, her long nails scraping the flesh of her captor's arms. It caught Rodas by surprise and it was all he could do just to keep hold of her. Hector chuckled, it was the most amusement he'd had all night.
“I can explain...” the male crackhead was trying to get back on his feet. His front four teeth were missing and his bloody lip was swelling.
“Fuckin' bitch! Stop scratchin'! I'm gonna- FUCK!”
“I can explain...”
Sefu shook his head. “The time to explain is over, just shut the fuck up and kneel there.”
“Please... I'll get you your money...”
His face and arms a network of bloody weals, Rodas let go of the bitch crackhead. She scrambled to her feet and looked as though she was going to throw herself at him again.
In that instant Hector realized that Rodas was going for his gun. “Hey!” he shouted, “You forgetin' whose house this is?”
Rodas sounded almost sheepish, “Didn't you see what she did to me? Lookit' my arms!”
“I don't give a shit. You kill them and I ain't never gonna make my money back.”
Rodas shook his head with disbelief, “Shit! You believe that this dumbass is really gonna pay us off?”
There was a glimmer of hope in the male crackhead's eyes, “I'll get you the money, I swear.”
The woman however seemed a little more grounded in reality, “What are you gonna do to us?”
Hector leaned back in his seat an steepled his fingers, he fixed her with his coolest stare. “You motherfuckers owe me what... almost two grand?”
“Fuckin' A right they do.” Rodas shifted his scowl from the red haired woman to the blood running down his arms.
“I got a friend in Albany. Used to be a doctor.” Hector spoke in a matter of fact tone, “When people need a kidney or a heart but they can't afford to wait for some fuckin' hospital to get around to them they go to him. For a price he gets them what they need- no questions asked.”
A knowing chuckle escaped from Rodas's lips. The male crackhead paled, the woman started sobbing again.
“All I need to do is send him just one of you and I'm paid off with interest. If I send him both of you...” Hector shrugged.
“You can't do this... you can't... I'll get you the money...”
“Please don't. Please don't. I'll do anything.”
Reaching into the lower desk drawer, Hector pulled something out and held it hidden in his hand, “Even if I wanted to help you out I couldn't. I got to send a message to all you worthless scumfucks that I ain't running a fucking charity here. And it ain't gonna be no easy death either, he ain't gonna put you to sleep like a friggin' dog- you'll be alive when he starts cuttin'.”
The woman covered her face with her hands and shook with sobs. Her boyfriend kept talking, “We can't just disappear. We'll be missed.”
“Yeah.” Rodas laughed, “I'm sure you two assholes have a lot of friends.”
“Nobody's gonna find you and nobody's gonna help you.” Hector said, then he turned his attention to the woman, “You. What's your name?”
She peered from between her fingers, “Me?”
“I asked you a question bitch!”
“I'm gonna do you a favor Angie.”
Lowering her face from her hands she looked at him warily, “What do you mean?”
Hector stood up and crossed from behind his desk. She was on her knees, and he towered over her, “I'll only send one of you to see my doctor-friend, the other one I'll let live.”
Angie and her boyfriend looked at each other. The tension in the room doubled, Rodas and Sefu watched the scene playing out before them with keen interest. Hector smiled thinly, he lived for shit like this.
“So what'll it be Angie?” he asked, “You or him?”
Struck speechless, her mouth hung agape. She tried to speak but no words came out, to Hector she looked like a dying fish.
“I'm not gonna wait forever. You got ten seconds to make up your mind or you both go .” Her head whipped up to look at Hector, she licked her lips as he began to count, “Ten...”
“Wait.” she pleaded, “Wait.”
“Angie,” her lover breathed, “He's just screwing with you.”
“Jesus, Jesus Christ.” her skin seemed to go a shade paler with every number.
“Listen, I'll call my parents, I'll get you the money. You don't have to do this.”
“I'll do whatever you want... whatever you want...”
“I can't- “
“Listen to me, please listen-”
“One.” Hector turned away from her, “Time's up, you both die.”
“NO! TAKE HIM! NOT ME TAKE HIM!”
For a moment there she'd almost earned Hector's respect, but this was better, considering what he had planned for her. “What was that?” he asked.
Her lover had recoiled from her as though he'd been struck. Tears streaking her face Angie spoke again, “Not me, you take him. I don't want to die.”
Hector spun on his heel, facing her again, “Stupid bitch, the countdown's over. You're both dead.”
“No! You promised!”
“That fuckin' deal's over.”
“You really want to live?”
“You willing to come and work for me?” Hector asked, “Pay off what you owe?”
“Work for you? How?”
“Doin' the only thing a fuckin' crack-addicted cunt like you is good for that's what!”
With slow measured steps Hector approached Rodas and patted him on the shoulder, “Show me how much you want to come and work for me. Come over here and suck my friend's cock.”
She stared at them, her eyes wide. Everyone in the room was watching her, even her boyfriend. Angie got to her feet, her legs shaking.
“What the fuck do you think you're doing?” Hector shouted, she flinched four steps back, “You're a whore, whores crawl.”
Lowering herself to all fours she crawled for him, her back heaving with sobs, “...thisisn'thappeingthisisn'thappeing...”
“Oh yes, it is happening.” Rodas grinned as he watched her trembling fingers working on his zipper.
Hector pressed the foil-wrapped condom he'd pulled from his desk into Rodas's hand, “Don't forget to use this, we don't know where the bitch's been.”
Returning to his desk Hector made two calls, the first was to Violet to let her know that a new girl was being added to her stable, the second was to Dr. Hatker to let him know that Sefu was on his way with a fresh 'donor'.