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L. G. WESTLAKE
Hidden in the alley’s shadows, she waited.
Right on time, he appeared—the ex-member of the now
defunct 96 Cartel glided under the streetlamp at the crosssection of the alley and Central Avenue.
This wasn’t her first time to stalk prey. Wouldn’t be the
His sluggish gate and downcast eyes let her know he
was in no hurry to get to his deluxe accommodations at the
Motel 66 with its half-lit, blinking neon sign at the wrong
end of Central. She slipped from her hiding spot and fell
in step behind him.
He didn’t have a clue.
She’d come a long way from her days at a desk.
The telltale bump of a gun grip protruded from the back
of his shirt, the bulk of the weapon crammed in his sagging
jeans. If her target did exactly what he’d done for the last
four nights, she’d have that gun in her hand and this guy
wetting his pants in less than five minutes.
She wasn’t the most skillful stalker, but she was an
expert in the human behavioral science of scum suckers.
She was also an expert in ratios.
Current percentages favored her stepping out of the
upcoming altercation unscathed.
Just a few short months ago, she’d lived inside a cartel
compound for several days, learning what made drug lords
tick and what kept their rank and file loyal. Not many cops
got the opportunity she’d had at an insider’s view, and she’d
walked away from the ordeal knowing one big weakness all
96 Cartel members possessed—constant insecurity.
This one had a double dose. He’d been one of the lucky
ones to be released from jail because of overcrowding
conditions during a worldwide pandemic called COVID-19.
The five-foot-five or six-inch gangster had reentered freedom
without the refuge of his old cartel and their maniac leader,
El Padrino. Taking into consideration that he did not have
a safety-net brotherhood to call upon, and that he probably
suffered from short-man syndrome, she would use his lack
of self-confidence and the element of surprise against him.
For this event, she’d chosen to wear an oversized black
slicker, a wool cap, her retired black COVID-19 protection
mask, and the steel-toed boots she’d bought the day she
called Sergeant Caba and told him she wouldn’t be returning
to the Houston Police Department’s white-collar crimes
unit. Another lesson she’d gained from her short-term cartel
life—footwear made a difference. Standard accountant navy
pumps by day, and flip flops by night, were not appropriate
jiujitsu footgear when fighting on the streets.
The ex-gangster turned into the unlit parking lot of his
motel. Stopped. Straightened.
She pulled in the cool, dry air of the dark Albuquerque
Time to fly. She closed the distance. Sprang off her right
foot. Aimed for his back.
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