“Oh Jesus,” Nestor rolled his eyes in
The girl laid her arms catlike on Hernan’s
“I'm Ana,” she said.Hernan nodded his head yes and the girl
began speaking in Spanish. “Are you guys looking for a date?”
“No,” Nestor said lifting his sandwich for
emphasis. “Eating burgers.”
Ana smiled at Hernan, a dimple flickered
across her cheek and disappeared. Her teeth were small with the
bottom row slightly askew.
“You're cute,” she said, squeezing Hernan’s
arms. “And strong too. Look at that.”
“What part of Mexico are you from?” Hernan
“I'm from everywhere and nowhere.” Her
perfume offset the stale hamburger smell from inside their truck.
“Where are you from?”
“Durango,” Hernan said.
“Cool,” she said. “But where you’re from
doesn’t really matter. We speak the same language, right?”
Ana cocked one of her eyebrows up and
smirked at Hernan. She put the straw to her mouth and sucked up
some of her Vanilla milk shake. She let some of it drip on her lip.
Taking her finger, she wiped it off and held it in front of Hernan.
“Would you like a taste?”
Hernan sat transfixed. He didn't know how
Ana pulled her finger back and slowly
licked the cream off with a practiced intensity in her eyes.
“Well, if you do want a taste sometime.”
She reached into her purse and handed Hernan her card. “Give me a
Hernan could only stare as the girl walked
“My God,” Nestor said. “Bad news. But that
is an ass to die for.”
Hernan looked at her card.
“Can we call her?”
“She's a prostitute,“I know. I don't care. I'll have money real
. You have to pay
Hernan watched as Ana turned back and waved
“Did you hear what I said?
You’re looking at her as if she has a halo on her head. She’s
you about the wages of sin? That little
will be dead in five years if
she doesn’t get off the streets. Maybe less. And if she doesn’t
die, she will look like hammered shit. Trust me. Drugged out,
washed up, you won’t even recognize her. It won’t be
“I don’t care,” Hernan said
as he watched his angel disappear
the corner. “I want to see her again.”
Hernan paced back and forth on the
apartment floor. He looked like a restless tiger trapped in a small
cage. Holding up the card of Ana as he walked, he didn’t take his
eyes off the picture she had on the front. It showed her kneeling
on a hotel bed with her hands behind her head. A tight black bra
revealed ample cleavage. She had tattoos on both arms.
“Do you like girls with tattoos?” Hernan
“When you look like me,” Nestor said. “You
“Have you ever been in love?”
“Have you ever been in love?”
“That’s a stupid question.”
Nestor paused for a long moment. “I was
young and stupid once. A rich girl. Her father did not think I was
good enough for her. He was right.”
“How soon should I call her?”
Nestor looked out the window and just shook
his head. He wanted to give the young man a lecture on the dangers
of women like Ana but he stopped himself short. Let the boy have
His face cringed as the window shook from
the rumble of a pair of concrete hauling trucks passing by. Then
two car alarms went off. A couple argued a half block down. He
could see them in the distance, walking toward a car with blinking
lights. The woman pointed her finger in the face of the man and
poked him in the cheek. He didn’t fight back, just kept
“Whores are a vice,” Nestor said. “Just
like gambling. We have to save our money. As much as we can. We
have to set a goal. Say we'll do five jobs for Cisneros. Save up
twenty-five grand or so. Then we'll move somewhere else. Somewhere
cheap like North or South Dakota. Houses there are cheap. Cost of
living is low.”
“Yeah,” Nestor nodded. “It isn't as bad as
you think. They have snowstorms and it’s cold but peaceful. With
twenty-five grand, we can start fresh. A new and clean life from
“Do they have ducks?”
“Maybe we can get a house on a pond.”
Nestor stopped dreaming about a better life
years ago. But now, maybe, if they saved enough money, they could
make a getaway.
He looked at Hernan. He never thought of
someone else’s wellbeing in conjunction with his own before.
Hernan dropped to the couch and held up the
picture of Ana in front of him.
“She's a whore,Hernan stayed silent for a few moments.
Hernan dropped the picture of Ana to his
chest. He closed his eyes.
“You know how you told me that you always
had this dream where you're looking for your bike and you can never
“I remember the dream,” Nestor said. “But I
must have been drunk when I told you that story.”
“I have dreams like that too. The same
dreams over and over.”
“You’ll be having wet dreams about that
whore over and over.”
Hernan shook his head. “It isn't like that.
This dream. This nightmare is of me in a jail cell. It is quiet. I
mean, noise does not exist. There aren't any guards or other
prisoners. I can’t get out because there isn't a door. Just three
walls of cement. And bars in the front. But I look up at there is
no ceiling. I can see the stars. So I try to climb the walls but
keep slipping down. And then slowly, one by one, the stars all go
out. And then everything goes completely black. What do you think
“It means you’re losing your mind.”
“Sometimes I dream aboutNestor got up and took the briefcase off
last time I saw her. I saw her on that hospital bed. She didn’t
even look like my
anymore. Like someone else. I couldn’t stand to
see her like that. I stared at the silver wheels under her bed. I
thought about fast cars. Mustangs and Corvettes. Maybe I am
the coffee table. He opened it up and tried to attach the silencer
to the gun.
“You're doing it wrong.” Hernan got up and
attached the silencer to the weapon. He pointed the gun at the
“This is a good one,” he said.
“Take it easy with that thing.”
“I think I should call Ana tonight.”
Nestor laughed. “She doesn’t even know your
“I mean, I could die tomorrow. Life is
“Call her then!”
“Are you serious? It’s okay?”
“You have the money to pay her, who am I to
Hernan rushed to the phone with the card
and dialed. He waited and waited.
“Hi Ana. It’s Hernan. The guy you saw
eating a cheeseburger. You gave me your card today. Give me a call
He hung up the phone and jumped for
Gunshots rang outside their window. They
both rushed to look and saw an African-American man running down
the street. Clutching his chest, he dropped to the ground.
“Should we call the police?” Hernan
Nestor closed the window and pulled down
The phone rang.
Hernan did a somersault and sprinted toward
“The exhilaration that filled his face faded
Ana,” he said.
quickly into a sober expression. He handed the phone to
“It’s Cisneros,” he said. “He has a job for
Hernan stepped out of the shower and
toweled off. He put on his khaki pants and looped his newly
acquired leather belt through. Then he ironed his blue shirt once
more. He put it on and meticulously buttoned himself up.
Hernan stepped out of his room and saw
Nestor on the couch. “Dude, she's coming.”
“Yeah,” Nestor belched.
“You said you wouldn't be here.”
Nestor shook his head. “Fine. I'll go back
to my hole.” He took another swig of his beer.
“Do I look okay?” he asked, straightening
his shirt and adjusting his collar.
“You’re talking like a girl.”
“Do you have any cologne?”
“Cologne?” Nestor laughed. “You fucking
serious right now?”
“Yes,” Hernan said. He walked back to his
“Hernan looked at the top of his dresser. He
,” Nestor followed him. “She
won’t care if you smell like a burning Tijuana shithouse. The only
thing she cares about is the money you put on the
took out his wallet and dropped a couple of hundred dollar
“Like that? She said 'three roses.'”
“Well, at least you got that right.”
A knock at the door.
“She's here,” Hernan almost jumped up,
“Jesus.” Nestor walked into his room and
slammed the door shut.
Hernan opened the door. Ana wore a tight
purple dress that left nothing to the imagination.
“Hey,” she smiled as she entered the
apartment. She looked around nervously as Hernan closed the door
“Anyone else here?”
“Nestor,” Hernan said. “But he’s
“So I’ll guess we’ll have to be real quiet
then.” Ana talked fast and giggled after almost every
“Is that your bedroom?” Ana walked toward
the rear door.
“Yeah. I'll be right there.”
Ana walked into the bedroom and looked
around. She looked surprised at the lack of furnishing or pictures.
She saw the money on the dresser and dropped it into her purse.
“You know, I usually don’t take dates this early.”
“The morning is the best time. Trust
She stepped out of her high heels and sat
on the bed.
“Are you ready?” Hernan stood at the door
with a cooler in hand and a blanket under his arm.
They drove to the duck pond in Nestor’s
“What kind of music do you like?” Hernan
asked, shifting through the radio stations.
“Anything that sounds good.”
He settled on a ballad from a singer whose
name he didn’t recall. Ana started singing along and he wished he
could record her voice somehow.
They parked and they walked out to the
grass area. Hernan spread his blanket out.
“Sit down.” Hernan opened his cooler and
handed Ana a can of horchata.
“Okay,” Ana said, laughing softly.
“I hope you like it,” Hernan took out a
napkin and handed Ana a rock-shaped cookie.
“What is it?”
“It is a“No, it's fine. Thank you.”
. I also have
sweet bread, if you don't like that.”
He leaned back on the blanket and watched
the sunlight play on her hair as she nibbled on the cookie. She
looked like a doll with her ivory skin and pale green eyes. He
could not imagine her doing all of the things that Nestor said she
did to make money.
“I can only stay for an hour—”
Hernan didn't respond. He just looked at
her in awe.
“Not like I'm clock watching or anything.
We can do whatever you want.”
“You're so beautiful,” he said. ”I’ve never
seen a woman as pretty as you before.”
“Awwww,” she laughed, her cheeks turning
“I come here a lot. To think. Feed the
The ducks gathered near the couple but kept
their distance as if waiting for the green light from Hernan.
“My“That's not true,” Ana said. “I did a book
loved ducks,” Hernan said.
“They mate for life. They are loyal. Not like people.”
report once in school. They don't mate for life. At least these
mallards don't. They only live for three years. Their life is
short. They have to get all the pleasure they can get so they screw
around a lot.” Ana swallowed the piedra cookie and looked inside
Hernan's cooler. “What else do you have there?”
Dressed like gardeners, Hernan and Nestor
waited inside the white truck.
They had three days to perform the hit.
Nestor wanted to scope the target out for a day or two before they
made their move. He remembered that is how they did it on TV, and
it seemed logical. He wanted to be sure of his target's movements
He found the target, Lashon, to be a
dutiful grandson. Nestor watched as he helped the old lady into his
green Acura and followed them to a doctor's office. He helped her
out of the car and into the building.