The Sins of The Family; Chapter Three: One Last Stop

The Latest, The Writing — By on May 29, 2014 at 12:58 am

Chapter Three
One Last Stop

And I feel that time’s a wasted go, so where ya goin’ to tomorrow? And I see that these are lies to come. So would you even care?

-Plush, Stone Temple Pilots

 

 

“Honk three times.” Said Mattie

Alaric complied and the gate to Garcia’s Salvage and Towing opened inward revealing a darkened lot full of cars in various states of disrepair. The big Lincoln’s headlights played over row after row of old rusted vehicles as they rolled along, but the further onto the property they drove, the cars weren’t so broken down and their dollar values increased dramatically. They came to a stop at a large steel building and the gaping maw of a garage door. Inside, the shop was alive with activity as men worked disassembling all manner of cars and trucks. Alaric had heard of them before and seen them in the movies, but this was the real deal.

They were at a chop shop.

Inside, a small dark man in oil-stained coveralls chattered busily into a phone behind a desk. He gestured dramatically with his hands at the car then back to his desk, gestures that were invisible to the person on the other end of the line.

Mattie turned to his cousin, a look of sincerity and seriousness on his face.

“I know this is a lot to handle right now, and I’m sorry you had to see that ugliness earlier, but I promise I’ll get you home as soon as we get another car and I finish my task. Stay cool, I’ll do the talking.” Mattie exited the car as the man behind the desk made his way over, now done with his phone call. Alaric got out too and leaned up against the grill of the Lincoln.

“I do good work for you sir,” Crowed the little man as he arrived, wagging a calloused, bony finger at Mattie. “For Mr. Cantu of course, but that means for you too, and I feel like that work is wasted Mattie,” His words came out fast and hot, like heavily accented machine gun fire in the heat of battle. The irate, fast-talking little man made his way past Alaric and around to the rear of the car. “Jesus, you just can’t keep this thing out of trouble, can you? What the hell happened?” he asked, running his hands along the rear fender. He produced a small comb from his front pocket and ran it nervously through his hair that was a shade more salt than pepper. “Forget it, I don’t want to know, but damn look at all this work I gotta do, new quarter panels, trunk, lights, JEE-ZUS.”

He grabbed an oily red shop rag from his back pocket and cleaned his hand to shake Mattie’s. “Who’s this?” he said nodding in Alaric’s direction. “New guy?”

Mattie just smiled back at him, not saying a word. It was all he had to do.

“BULL-SHIT!” exclaimed the little man.

Just like that, Alaric became a lot more interesting than the shot up Lincoln. The man walked straight up to him, took his hand and shook it vigorously.

“Name’s Johnny Garcia and it is a pleasure to finally meet you.”

Still shaking Alaric’s hand Johnny leaned back and asked Mattie under his breath. “So, we know yet?”

“I’m taking him to Cantu now as a matter of fact. Got anything clean we can use to do that?”

Alaric shot a confused look at his cousin. He was under the impression that after this last stop he was going home.

“Yeah sure, gotta nice Cadillac around front, I’ll have the Lincoln ready in two weeks, I got the replacement bulletproof glass for the back window. Good thing you didn’t need it tonight,” quipped Johnny as he flashed a toothy, gold-flecked grin at Alaric. “The keys to the Caddy are under the mat, tell Cantu I’m hoping for the best.”

Mattie grabbed a blue duffel bag from the backseat of the Lincoln and tossed it to Alaric.

“Come on cousin, the night’s not over yet.”

The ride to Cantu’s house was a bit more relaxed. Riding in a car not actively being used for target practice has a calming effect, but there was tension between the two cousins. Mattie definitely had something to say, as did Alaric. He wanted no part in seeing his uncle, but after tonight he felt he might owe it to his cousin for saving his life. He also wanted answers as to how Johnny Garcia somehow knew him, but it was Mattie who spoke first.

“Before we get there, I have to tell you something, all right?”

Alaric nodded.

“Those guys tonight, the ones shooting at us, they were from the Suarez Cartel. I don’t know why they are after us so hard lately but listen, they were trying to kill us both Alaric, the both of us, you get me?”

Alaric nodded again, not really catching what it was his cousin was trying to say, but before he could speak Mattie started again.

“I’m no murderer is what I’m saying, I was protecting us and I just want you to know that.”

The two coasted along in silence for a moment as it all sank in, Mattie spoke again, breaking that silence.

“It wasn’t always like this, Alaric, never like this. This shoot-out Scarface shit, this is something new. Something has changed, and for reasons we can’t figure out, Suarez is after us in a big way.”

“I know they would have killed us, thank you, I never said thanks for getting rid of those guys, but I don’t know-”

“No you don’t know, Alaric,” interrupted Mattie “and I pray you never will. Look, you have smarts, and you won’t need to get your hands dirty like me, and that’s okay because we are who we are in this life. You either accept that or die a broken man. My dad told me that and I never forgot it. He’s a smart man, way smarter than me, and he thinks you’re something special, and I really hope you are. Things are getting rough for the family and we need something special right about now.”

“What do I have to do with any of this, Mattie?” Asked Alaric, confused anger caused his voice to tremble. “I was just after a bag of weed tonight and running into you was only coincidence, I don’t work for you or your father, hell it’s been a decade since I’ve even seen you.”

“That’s the crazy part,” said Mattie, raising his finger in the air. “He knew you were coming back. Shit, it’s all he ever talks about lately, but I can’t say any more. He made me promise and I agree with him, he needs to be the one to tell you.”

They pulled into an immense circular stone driveway in front of an impressive hacienda style home, hidden within the Castle Hills neighborhood on the North side of town. Alaric had never been to a house in this area before. Big houses and big cars were things that didn’t exist in his life.

“You know how I feel about him Mattie,” said Alaric, flatly. “It’s why I have no ties to our family anymore, it’s why I am alone.”

He shifted in his seat at the thought of coming face to face with Cantu, a man shrouded in mystery and somehow implicit in an ambush on a night long ago as he slept. Mattie sensed his apprehension and understood it. He tried to reassure him.

“He never forgot about you Alaric. He made me swear to keep my mouth shut and I have no desire to cross my father or go against his wishes, but you need to talk with him…you need to know everything. What you know, the truth about what happened back then, isn’t the whole story. You aren’t the only one who suffered loss that night, and you know what I mean by that. You just need to know everything, what really happened, before you decide where you belong.”

Know everything? Alaric rolled the words around in his mind trying to make sense of the meaning they held for him in this situation.

What more was there to know? The day he came home and found out for himself, that was when he learned everything about Cantu, or had he? This meeting, this confrontation with his uncle, if only for some sort of catharsis, was necessary. Mattie was right, he had to know the other side of the story, and if fate had conspired in such dramatic fashion to make this meeting happen, so be it.

Mattie wheeled the Cadillac around the side of the mansion to a large detached garage and parked. He killed the engine and waited for Alaric to signal he was ready.

Alaric drew a deep breath and pushed his door open.

It was time for a face to face with the man responsible for the deaths of his mother and father, or so he had been lead to believe, it was time to know the truth.

This was it, no turning back now.

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