Throw open my door.
“Now, Joanne!” I bark.
She throws open her door. Our guns in hand, she goes around the to passenger side of the Suburban and I take the driver’s side. In a word, we light the vehicle up. I shoot both the driver’s side window out and then the window in the back seat. I shoot the driver in the shoulder, and the gangster in the backseat in the face. He doesn’t even have time to go for his gun. I see another bald headed, tattooed man fall onto his lap. Half his head is missing. Joanne is a hell of a shot it turns out.
I can see that she’s shooting the gangster riding shotgun to bits.
“He’s dead, Joanne!” I shout. “Hold your fire!”
The driver goes for his gun, but I shoot it out of his hand. His shoulder is spurting blood. Opening the door for him, I yank on his arm, and pull him out. He spills out onto the pavement. He’s in so much pain, his facial muscles are contorting. I step on his injured shoulder and the scream he produces echoes throughout the valley.
“Joanne,” I say, “you didn’t happen to remember the duct tape.”
“In my bag,” she says.
“Good, girl,” I say. “Help me get him into the Volkswagen.”
She takes hold of his other arm, and together, we drag the short, skinny gangster to the car. Opening the back door, we stuff him inside.
“The tape,” I say.
She goes to the passenger side door, opens it, grabs the tape from her bag.
“Tear me off a long piece,” I say.
She does it, hands it to me. I wrap it around his ankles.
“Another,” I insist.
She hands me that one.
Grabbing both his wrists, shove them around his lower back. He screams again from the pain.
“Tape his wrists, Joe,” I say.
She scooches into the door opening and manages to wrap the tape tightly around his wrists. When it’s done, we both back step out of the car and stand up straight. I look over both shoulders to make sure we’re not being watched or followed. Thank God this is such a desolate place or we’d have witnesses up our asses.
“Let’s just go,” I say.
I go around the car and slip back behind the wheel. Jo gets back into the passenger seat. After putting her seatbelt on, she reaches into her bag, comes back out with another full magazine. Thumbing the pistol’s magazine release, she drops the empty mag into the bag, then slaps the full one in. She cocks back the slide, allows a bullet to enter the chamber. She thumbs the safety on while keeping the gun gripped in her shooting hand. My wife is taking no chances with this gangster…this gangbanger…even if he is tied up and bleeding all over Sean’s ride, not that Sean gives a shit at this point.
The car is still idling, so all I have to do is throw the stick into drive and pull away. But something hits me then. Something I should avoid, but on the other hand, cannot resist.
“Hang on, Jo,” I say, getting back out of the car, and walking to the shot-up Volkswagen. Pulling out my smartphone, I press the camera icon, snap a few pictures of the carnage. I then open the texts and send them on to Perez. My heart is pounding a mile a minute and I feel a wave of pure glee flow through my body. Maybe it’s the reckless thing to do, but it feels so fucking good.
Just to add insult to grave injury, I type, “Nice try asshole. You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”
Heading back to the car, I get in, set the phone in the console cup holder. I put the transmission in drive and pull ahead. I don’t drive fifty feet before I hear the phone vibrate and chime. I retrieve the phone while keeping my eyes on the country road. It’s a text from Don Juan. I can’t help but smile when I open it. But the picture he’s sent wipes that smile off my face, just as quickly as it formed.
It’s a photo of Joanne’s mother. She’s down on her knees, her body naked, her wrists duct taped to her ankles, a piece of the gray tape covering her mouth. Another photo arrives. It’s my son. He’s lying on a gurney, but he’s obviously not inside a hospital room. He’s inside what looks to be a concrete basement. His eyes are closed, like he’s unconscious and he’s hooked up to an IV. His face is pale and sickly looking under his black beard. Perez follows up with another text. This one only words.
“As you Americans like to say, gringo, right back atcha.”
My stomach goes tight and I feel a little nauseous. How the hell did he manage to steal two people right out from under the noses of both a major medical facility and a senior living facility? I guess if you employ the right people and spread around enough cash, you can do anything.
“What is it?” Joanne says. “You look like you just saw a ghost.”
She doesn’t know how close she’s come to the truth. Do I tell her what’s going on? That Don Juan has abducted her mother? Or do I let it go? Coming from the back seat, moaning. The gangster is coming around.
“Where are you taking me, gringo?” he whispers in a hoarse, painful voice. “When Don Juan finds out about this, he will kill you both. We are family. He will skin you both alive.”
Joanne turns quick, aims her pistol barrel at him.
“Shut your mouth,” she says. “You are in no position to make threats, young man.”
“Punta,” he says, “I will fuck you and skin you myself.”
“Tape his mouth,” I say.
Joanne reaches into her bag, pulls out the tape. Instead of tearing a piece off, she unbuckles her seatbelt, turns herself around, reaches into the back with the tape and wraps it around his entire head and face six or seven times. Coming back around, she drops the tape in her bag.
“That will quiet him down for now,” she says, a satisfied smile covering her face.
That’s when I suck in a deep breath.
“Joanne,” I say. “We gotta talk.”
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