This week, I had a chance to try two new writing experiments. The first is the Mid Week Blues Buster. Fun prompt every week, it’s a song. Well, really a music video. It’s also for a longer submission, a flexible 500 words. See, some people say slushy, but it’s 100 degrees (F) here during the day, so there’s no slush to be found. As I slowly push into longer and longer work, it’s fun to see how things change, and different strengths and weaknesses get revealed.
If you get a chance, there are several good submissions on the site here. I hope that I’m not breaking any rules, but I’m going to cross post mine here.
My favorite thing about the rougher bars in Latin America is the violent press of anonymity wrapped in passionate music. Every time I find myself in the area, that’s where I go to forget the business at hand. Once you know the lingo and the locals, a guy doesn’t even stand out anymore.
I knew there was at least one newcomer who hadn’t figured it out yet, though, when the band started playing their “Americano” song. From my corner by the door, I could see a guy with glasses getting the tourist treatment. First there is a beautiful woman flirting, kissing him, and distracting him with whirling emotions. Next, the gang spins him up on stage for all to see. By the time they are done with him, the briefcase he had walked in with and anything of value on his person will be long gone, and his drink will have become a contaminated concoction of drugs that will rob his memories or even his sanity. Poor guy will be lucky to make it back across the border with all his organs.
Unfortunately, that guy is exactly who I am supposed to be meeting. Also, according to the contact that set up the meeting, the briefcase essentially is the job, since it’s supposed to have information and a device that makes the whole thing possible. The worst part, though, is that if he trips and falls into a shallow grave somewhere, he won’t be able to pay me. I can see the snatch of the case clearly, though the maneuver is hidden from the mark by spotlights and from the crowd by the distractions. With a crisp $100 bill in hand, I cut through the crowd and meet the carrier, surrounded by dozens of unseeing eyes. “Cambio?” I ask, letting him see the cash, at the same time clearly indicating that it is not a request. He nods curtly, and the choreographed handoff of the distrustful leaves me with the simple black briefcase.
Moving again through the noisy bar, I make my way out the alley door just as the host of the evening kisses the mark on the cheek and twirls him into the waiting arms of the original senorita. She will dance with him to the next song before she kisses him passionately until he runs low on air and then drags him through the cheering crowd toward the back alley. There, on any normal night, he would find himself the victim of her “boyfriend”, who would demand payment for her time. The game is based on easy targets and a lack of risk. Tonight, though, I drive the boyfriend away with a stern look. Having any other parties involved means they will look elsewhere for their easy prey.
She bursts through the door, his arms wrapped around her. I let them kiss for a few minutes. After all, he should enjoy himself a little while in town. When I interrupt them, her eyes widen when she realizes that I am not her partner, and that the night isn’t following their plan. Holding out my hand, I growl the word “Cartera.” She nods, handing his leather wallet to me before fleeing the alley. There’s no reason to hurt her, she probably really needs the money. Before handing the wallet and briefcase over to the mark, I pull out twice the money that I spent tonight, between the drinks inside and the briefcase. After all, it wouldn’t be right for him to get away with being careless completely.
Finally realizing his mistakes, he takes back his recovered possessions, and checks the contents of each there in the alley. Something in the case lights up the alley just before he closes the case and locks it again. As he determines that everything is in order, I smile at him disarmingly. “I believe that should confirm why you hired me. Shall we go somewhere quieter to discuss the rest of the details?”