Chapter One - "The Take of Oso"

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Pronunciation Guide: 

Ludivina = Loo-dee-veen-ah

Benicio = Ben-e-see-oh

Oso = Oh-so


I didn't mean to cancel the patron.

"What the hell do you mean 'you didn't mean to cancel him'?" my uncle Benicio asks in a rabid tone, kneeling besides the man's lifeless body, placing the back of his hand on the man's neck, hoping for a pulse, a rhythm, a beat to return, to pump against my uncle's fingers announcing a key of life still playing on.

"I don't know," I say, with no mind thinking for me, in a full panic, with trembling lips, my toes pitapatting below me, stretching my shoes from their usual size. "He walked in, grabbed a beer, and then - and then - "

"And then what?" snaps my uncle. "And then what? I was gone for five minutes, Ludivina! Five minutes!"

My uncle bends down, dropping his ear over the man's nose. But still, nothing.

I don't know what my uncle is looking, or hoping for, because the hot lead went straight through this man's cranium, right over his ears, and it would only be a matter of time now before his blood ended up under the door, flowing past the boundaries of the store and into the community, announcing the location of the scene, the location of the murder, and most importantly, the location of the murderer.

"And then he reached for the register and I just reacted—I just reached for your gun," I reply, shivering from head to toe.

"But he doesn't have a gun!" my uncle then says, shuffling, desperately, through the man's winter coat, hoping, perhaps, to possibly find a gun in order to justify my actions.

Before I can let out another word, a wave of emotion rushes over me and tears flow out of my eyes like an easy, flowing river. I place my hands over my face because I simply cannot control myself.

It hasn't even been twenty-four hours, I think.

My uncle runs to the door and immediately closes it; then he walks over to me:

"We're going to fix this," he says. "Was anyone here when it happened? Did you see anyone around? Do you think anyone heard you? Shoot! Of course someone heard you! They must have heard the gunshot!"

"We need to call the cops and an ambulance," I reply—or try to reply, at least, in-between all the crying.

My uncle lets out a small laugh when the words "call the cops" fall out of my mouth.

"They are the cops," he says, in a stern voice, while looking down at the man at the same time.

"What?" I let out, confused—confused as hell.

"You've killed a Black Catz member, Ludy" says my uncle Benicio, dropping the news on me like it was a piece of gossip I should have been aware of through some issue of Vogue, or maybe through a curriculum handbook I was not handed when crossing over. "We don't have much time," my uncle then mutters—a mutter, I think, was not meant for my ears.

The mutter causes my crying to stop, or to slow down, even for a minute:

"What do you mean?" I interrogate.

"Ludivina—you killed a member of one of the most powerful gangs in this area," my uncle states, still bending over the man, still waiting for that one breath, that one beat—that one beat of life to insert into his symphony of hope.

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