I remember one occasion when I was a kid. My dad was out of the city, racing his car and he left Mia and I at our neighbours’ house, Mr. And Mrs. Flores, for two days. It was the weekend and Mrs. Flores was a very religious woman, so on Sunday she took us to the church with her. I was twelve years old back then and Mia was around six years old.
Honestly, I felt a little overwhelmed with the priests’ sermon about hell. In fact he didn’t skimp with words while describing in great detail what that place looked like.
Among other things, I still remember him saying that hell was a place of eternal suffering with no chance of redemption or salvation for those who were paying penance for their sins, adding that it was populated by demons that tormented the damned.
The priest was describing it like a domain of boundless dimension, scope and torment, the absolute worst-case-scenario, with fire and molten rock where the devil lived. Those were his exact words if I remember correctly.
Later, over the years, I’ve been seeing different drawings and pictures in books, cartoons, comics and movies in which the Devil was shown as a being or a creature who carries a trident, has flaming red skin, horns on his head, a black goatee beard, and a long thin tail with a triangle shaped barb on it.
I’ve been thinking about that memory while watching Ricardo pacing back and forth, making phone call after phone call, smoking non stop. And I reached the conclusion that that old priests words are the biggest amount of bullshit I ever heard in all my damn life. How could anyone actually believe it?
It is ironic if you think about it for more than two seconds, and I feel almost tempted to laugh out loud if every single muscle in my body weren’t screaming in pain. Why do I say that? Because I’ve seen hell with my eyes and had nothing to do with those popular beliefs.
Actually, Hell is a mansion located in Miami Beach made of pink marble and wood, surrounded by exuberant vegetation, exotic plants and palm trees, with two swimming pools larger than Lake Michigan.
Devil’s skin is not flaming red but more like tanned by the sun, he has no horns but the black goatee beard is there. He dresses in indecently expensive Italian suits, wears a gold Rolex and drives a yellow Pagani Zonda. The trident is actually a shiv, oh and he doesn’t go by Lucifer or Satan, he goes by Santos.
What a fucking irony. I bet his fucking mother never suspected what her son would turn into when she gave him his damn name.
As I keep watching Ricardo, smoking, lost in his own thoughts, I’m recalling all the things that took place over the last 24 hours. I don’t even know where to begin. It seems an eternity has passed since Hell opened up its jaws, swallowing us.
Rey lost himself completely and in spite of the fact the fucker wasn’t around when those bastards dressed in military clothes assaulted the mansion, he killed five of his own men just because they couldn’t avert what happened. Of course, he let Santos play with his shivs on them before he ordered Miguel to execute them. It was a bloody mess.
Rey made sure we were present the whole time, to watch Santos doing what he does better than anything else.
Ricardo wasn’t shitting. I’m not gonna sleep again, not to mention the fact that just thinking about food is making my stomach sick after witnessing five different ways to gut a guy.
Fuck! I’ve been in prison twice and I never saw anything like this or even heard someone relating such an atrocity, and I’ve heard a few horrible things. Shit! I’m just a naïve little shit playing with the big dangerous sharks inside a bathtub.
Ricardo stood at my side the whole time, his shoulder against my shoulder, his gaze flickering between Rey and Santos. I don’t even want to think about the things big dark guy has seen in his life. I swear I would have fainted if it hadn’t have been because he was all the time, standing at my side.
Okay, I may be a pussy, but I’m not made for this shit.
At least Rey didn’t allow the girls to be present, mostly because they couldn’t anyway. I don’t know what got into Rey at the last minute, but he didn’t let Santos touch Crystal, so the fucker turned his gaze to the only chick left, Sara.
The redhead is sleeping and right now she has running through her veins an explosive mix of painkillers, heroin and morphine. Sara is sleeping on her stomach though and she’s going to remember forever her encounter with the fucking Italian because Santos engraved his name on her back with one of his shivs while he was fucking her, and on top of it, he made Crystal watch him, which brings me to Crystal.
Crystal, she’s also asleep but in her case under the effects of the strongest sedatives Rey was able to find. She was in some kind of weird shock, with her gaze fixed on a spot only she could see, rocking back and forth after what she had witnessed.
I guess I have no other choice but to thank Ricardo endlessly because he didn’t let that sick bastard near Hanna. I don’t think I have enough time to repay big dark guy for that though. Not that he was expecting for me to show him my gratitude; he did it thinking about Hanna’s life and not for my peace of mind. However, I said ‘thank you, Ricardo’. In response, he just narrowed his eyes, nodding ‘yes’. No more words were necessary; we both knew what we were talking about.
Of course, Santos paid Rey an indecent amount of money. It was his sickly way to compensate the Cuban after, in his own fucking words; he caused an irreparable damage to one of his goods.
In response, Rey just narrowed his eyes, gritting his teeth, but the fucker took the money, moving on. I wonder why Rey is so determined to please this fucker, allowing him to get away with such behavior.
If I didn’t know Rey better, I would say the Cuban read Santos’ acts as a lack of respect to him and I bet Rey was restraining himself as to not kill Santos for that. So why the fuck is Rey bowing his head to this crazy psychopath?
I delivered the message just like I was told and I swear a shadow of fear crossed Rey’s eyes. However it was only there for a second and then just vanished. Reynaldo Casamajor is a sick bastard who has been taking care of himself for years and I bet it’s not the first time someone sent him a warning.
I wonder who would be able to scare him?
Those fuckers, whoever they were, knew what they were doing. Each punch and kick caused endless pain, but didn’t cause serious damage. I don’t even know how I ended up with just a couple of broken ribs when I thought they were going to tear me apart. I guess if they had wanted to kill us then and there, nothing would have stopped them, that’s for sure. However I’ve been pissing blood and I’m not sure if my dick will be hard again after that fucking kick.
My body is a complete collection of bruises and like I said, every single muscle is screaming in pain, but that’s nothing compared to the pain and rage I’m feeling right now. And that thought brings me to Hanna.
My woman is missing. They took Hanna.
I don’t even dare to think about that, scared to death and unable to restrain my imagination; I’m getting ahead of myself, thinking about the endless possibilities.
I swear if those bastards touch her I’ll kill them with my bare hands. I know that like I know my name. Dominic Alfredo Toretto.
I suspect whoever Rey pissed off has to know about his business. And sure as hell, hurting someone closer to him would have been more effective if they wanted to provoke some kind of reaction.
Why did they take Hanna with them? At the end she’s just one of his dancers, isn’t she? Why not Miguel? Or Crystal? Why beat the shit out of me? I mean I’m just a nobody in this dangerous game. Did I become that important to him without even realized about?
“…Never bite the hand that’s feeding you…”
I can’t help but remember the words that fucker whispered to me, they have been echoing non stop inside my brain since I regained consciousness, that, and Hanna’s face. I swear I never saw her so scared, actually she was terrified.
However, there’s one thing I can’t push out my mind and is the fact Ricardo seems completely relaxed and in peace. That’s actually something I can’t understand. Fuck! Hanna is God knows where and here he is, smoking like she was sitting at our side. She may be in real danger or worse and this fucker is here, acting like everything is ok.
I swear Ricardo seems like he was expecting something like this to happen, and that’s only making me reinforce my suspicions that he knows much more than he’s telling. This fucker is hiding some intell; I don’t know shit and now more than ever I’m completely sure Hanna doesn’t either.
I saw his reaction when he knew Hanna had been kidnapped. Ricardo shut his eyes, cursing under his breath and then he looked at me, narrowing his dark eyes, like he was thinking over his options regarding me. I bet he was wondering if he could trust me for whatever he was plotting because as sure as hell, the fucker is plotting something. Hanna had his same gleam sparkling in her green eyes when she told me I was out.
All of sudden, Ricardo gets to his feet, gesturing to me, telling me silently to follow him. I oblige without a second thought. It’s the only thing I can do right now, I don’t like him one bit and the feeling is mutual. We don’t trust in each other either, but we have one thing in common; we both love Hanna and that fact is enough to make us stick together, at least for now, until we find where my woman is.
He has been making several more phones calls, speaking quietly in Spanish while driving to the downside of Miami. I could barely hear what he was saying or with who he was talking. However, one of the calls he made was to his wife, Elaine, telling her what happened, reassuring her we are still alive and kicking.
I swear, his tone of voice was nothing like I heard him using before. Who would have thought?
It was soft and gentle, full of love as he told her to pack all their things, cross the border to Mexico and to wait for us there. This fucker reminds me a lot of myself, when I was talking with Hanna on the phone. Who is now the pussy, huh, Richie?
We made a stop on our trip and Ricardo bought more than fifty hot dogs with all the extras, asking for a box to put them in. I frowned deeply, not knowing why he was doing that until I saw where we were heading.
This part of the city is where people live who have nothing more than the clothes they’re wearing. There’s a lot of beggars around, kids playing with things they found in trash cans.
I feel my throat closing with every second that is passing, watching these kids wearing dirty rags, their gazes glued to the car.
Ricardo gets out the car, whistling, calling all the kids. In seconds there are at least fifteen, surrounding the car. He turns his head to me, grinning and with that; he picks the big box, pulling out the hot dogs.
God, the kids’ eyes are sparkling like Christmas lights and I have to breath pass the lump in my throat, swallowing my silent anger, watching them. My heart aches painfully when I notice some of them don’t have shoes, but there’s something in their eyes. They are not sad or scared; it’s something else I can’t place.
I guess there’s hope still in hell, if a tiny ray of light in the form of a hot dog can light these kids’ faces even for a few minutes while eating something hot for the first time in days, if not weeks or months. This shit may mean nothing for most of us, but for these kids it means something.
Ricardo is talking with them, his tone of voice sounds once more gentle and full of respect while the kids are answering him between mouthfuls of their hot dogs. They aren’t intimidated by his presence or that dangerous invisible veil floating around him, quite the opposite; they feel more than just comfortable, even making jokes with him.
When they are done eating, Ricardo reaches for his wallet and pulling out a bunch of $20 bills, he shares them among the kids, giving instructions about how they have to spend them.
I swear big dark guy is an even bigger mystery than Hanna. He seems at home surrounded by these kids, laughing out loud with some of the things they are saying. Yet there he was yesterday night, watching emotionless as five guys were killed, not to mention he seems more than just comfortable surrounded by sick bastards like Rey and Santos. Who the hell is this fucker?
All of sudden, I notice someone tugging on my jacket. I look down, arching my brows. There’s a little kid, no more than six years, giggling. I can’t stop the grin on my lips, watching him when he tells me he likes my jacket. I don’t need to be told twice. In one second, I pull it out, wincing lightly ‘cause my back hurts like a motherfucker, giving it to him, watching how he tries the jacket.
My jacket, now his jacket, is ten times bigger than he is, but he still smiles widely, showing his front teeth missing, asking how it looks on him. I can’t stop myself and even though hurts like a bitch, before I realize it, I’m laughing, answering that he looks older, making him giggle and cover his mouth. Damn, these kids’ laughter is contagious.
I think I know why Ricardo took me downside, showing me these kids. They are similar no matter the city. I figure he needed to be with them more than air to breath. I have no other choice but admit to myself, I feel a little better now than I was feeling an hour ago. It’s a weird sensation, I know, but it’s like being surrounded by angels after what I’ve seen since I left the prison. I figure Ricardo feels like I feel right now; a strange warmness wrapping our souls.
Ricardo glances at me grinning and we get in the car, heading to the Southside of Miami. It seems he has some connections here that would help us on our search, at least that’s what he told Rey before we left the mansion. In response, Rey said ‘okay’ and headed to the airport with Santos. They are probably already flying to Mexico.
The Cuban doesn’t want to stay in Miami any longer and LA is not an option anymore. I bet he doesn’t feel secure anymore in the US, and since Ricardo assured him the Tijuana Cartel will offer him its protection, the fucker didn’t think twice.
However, before we split, he called me aside, whispering to keep my eyes open in Montenegro so as to not find more surprises on our path, adding that he would watch Santos. I narrowed my eyes but nodded ‘yes’.
This fucker is walking around with a bullseye painted on his head, and all of sudden the idea of sticking with him is not something I’m planning. All of sudden I don’t feel like fucking with Death anymore.
I only want to find Hanna and forget all this craziness that’s dragging us under so fast I haven’t had enough time to deal with one shit when I’m already immersed in another. Man, this damn tension is unbearable. I’m not sure if I’m going to see another fucking daylight. To hell with the fucking case!
Ricardo stops the car in front of a Spanish restaurant, asking me to wait for him inside the car, adding to not touch nothing while daddy is gone. Fuck you, asshole! I’m about to have a cardiac arrest and the fucker is walking around like everything is fine. How the hell he’s able to make jokes when Hanna may be dead? Fuck it!
I get out of the car, following him inside. He notices, but doesn’t say shit. I bet he didn’t expect me to do as I was told. It’s my woman who we are talking about here and he knows it too damn well.
We enter the restaurant and a woman greets us, asking if she can help us with anything. There’s a few patrons, eating and talking, ignoring us. Ricardo says a name ‘Gloria’. Bingo. The woman smiles lightly and turning on her heels, she gestures to us to follow her. We cross the main dinning room; heading to what seems to be a reserved area.
There are at least five guys playing poker and another woman sitting in a corner, reading a tabloid. Just like I suspected, it’s a cover. I bet this place is ruled by organized crime. Ricardo walks directly to her, and taking her hand in his, he kisses it. The woman, Gloria, laughs softly, telling us to take a seat with her, ordering something to drink.
We oblige as she gives me the once over, saying she knows me. In response, I frown slightly, trying to place her and after a moment, recognition dawns. Gloria was one of Reynaldo’s guests at his damn party. She winks at me; whispering red is her favorite colour too.
I chuckled at that, replying I bet she looks good in red. She laughs out loud and picking up a piece of paper, she writes something down on it and folding in half, she hands it to Ricardo, saying they are even now. In response, big dark guy grins nodding ‘yes’ and with that he puts it in his pocket as he stands to his feet.
We’re done here. I guess.
As soon as we get in the car, Ricardo pulls the paper out of his pocket, handing it to me. I heaved a heavy sigh, unfolding it, reading silently.
There’s an address written down and a name.
“Golden Sun Resort. John Smith.”
Neither of them makes sense to me, but the two words added at the bottom of the piece of paper send shivers up my spine, even though I have no fucking clue what they mean.
I don’t say anything, but glancing at Ricardo from the corner of my eyes, I notice how big dark guy is gripping the steering wheel so tightly, his knuckles turn white in one second as a deep growl escapes his lips. Then he punches it, cursing loudly in Spanish as he snatches the paper from my fingers and pulling out his lighter, he burns it in one second flat.
I narrow my eyes completely, tightening my jaw, asking him what the hell is ‘Operation Phoenix’? I wasn’t ready for his answer, and all of sudden I feel like puking my guts out when he replies through clenched teeth just three letters. CIA.
How the fuck did we end mixed with the damn CIA?
My mind is a chaotic mix of thoughts, ideas and suspicions. I can’t stop thinking about Hanna. Now I’m sure this isn’t an FBI case anymore, there’s much more shit under the surface and I suspect we have just started to dig. I don’t want to figure out where all of us are going to end up? Fuck, fuck, fuck!!!
I can’t help but think about my sister. It has been more than a week since the last time I talked with Mia, and all of sudden I don’t even know if she’s safe anymore. Hanna was the one protecting Mia and now Hanna is missing. Who’s going to take care of my sister? Shit!! This is getting out of control much faster than I thought at the beginning. Damnit!
I should have left the country when I had the chance. Now it’s too late for that. Shit, shit, shit!! We’re already dead!!
Finally we pull into a parking lot in front of ‘Golden Sun Resort’, an old people’s home. First kids from the streets, now old people. Damn! I swear this fucker seems one Sister of Mercy or one Sister of the Poor, traveling from one place to another, showing his support and love.
I glance at him from the corner of my eye and he grins devilishly. I bet he’s enjoying the fact that I’m lost right now. It seems to me Ricardo likes to work alone and he’s not used to sharing intell. Well, too bad for him, ‘cause I’m not going anywhere far from big dark guy until Hanna is back safe and sound, that’s for sure, and the best part is that without words, he’s already realized that fact.
We enter the retirement home and Ricardo pads directly to reception, and gives the name; John Smith.
The nurse glances at him and then she looks at me over his shoulder. She hesitates for a second, but then Ricardo leans his head, whispering something in her ear. The nurse flushes a little and smiling she points us to the back yard of the building, giving us instructions about how to find the place.
Ricardo is walking ahead of me with long strides until he comes to a stop and turning his head to me he gestures to one old guy who is sitting in a wheelchair, a big oxygen cylinder at his side and the mask he’s using to breath is hanging from his neck. I blinked in shock, the old fucker is smoking?!
Ricardo heads in his direction and takes a seat on the bench in front of the guy, pulling out his own cigarette, and lit it up.
The old man lifts his head, locking eyes with him, grinning. “Time to pay the piper, huh?” the old man says, coughing. Ricardo shakes his head ‘no’, mimicking Mr. Smith’s grin.
“I need answers, lieutenant.” He says, blowing the smoke through his nose.
“Who don’t?” is his reply. Then he throws his cigarette, picking the mask, breathing through it a couple of times, looking at me. “Here’s the deal,” he mumbles through the mask. “Ask the right questions and leave me the fuck alone.”
Ricardo chuckles, shaking his head. “Ok, old man.” Then he turns his head to me. “Go ahead, Dom.” He says, taking a deep puff of his cigarette. I don’t need too much time to think about my first question.
“Operation Phoenix.” I said, taking a seat at Ricardo’s side, never lifting my gaze off the old man.
He chuckles and the motion causes him to start coughing violently. After several minutes, he finally regains some control and removing the mask, he speaks.
“Operation Phoenix was the biggest CIA fuckup ever, that one and their attempt to kill Castro.” He pauses for a second, inhaling from his mask and then elaborates. “It was a CIA operation that ran in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Their methods were similar to the US Army; the cordon and search in which troops surrounded a village suspected of Viet Cong activity, and then they interrogated and evacuated its population. But things got out of hand really damn fast and the fucking Phoenix turned into a bloody hell.”
Mr. Smith, which I seriously doubt is his real name, paused anew, staring at Ricardo’s cigarette. In response, he grins widely and lighting one, he passes it to the old man. He chuckles and then takes a long puff, coughing the smoke out.
“The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It’s not like we had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be to go into a village and just grab someone and say, ‘Where’s Nguyen so-and-so?’ Half the time the people were so afraid they would say anything. Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put common wire around his neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, ‘When we go by Nguyen’s house scratch your head.’ Then that night Phoenix would come back, knock on the door, and say, ‘April Fool, motherfucker.’ Whoever answered the fucking door would get wasted. As far as they were concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members. Sometimes they’d come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people.”
“Who trained those fuckers?” Ricardo asks, putting out his cigarette.
The old man knit a brow, grinning evilly, his eyes sparkling with pride, and taking a few long breaths from his mask, he chuckles, shaking his head. Ricardo and I cross glances. We are both thinking the same thing. One more time where no words need to be said.
“Once upon a time there was a soldier from Berkeley who was enlisted in the US Army at the age of 19. He had experience piloting commercial aircraft and had skills in sports and shit like parachuting. He was recruited by the CIA in late 1961 as a clandestine service field advisor. The kid, whose name was John L. Lee was smart with a 163 IQ. They trained him and sent him to Laos. At the age of 21, Lee had became one of the best assassins under the command of the CIA, and he was training teams of 3-5 black ops specialists who were experts in the ‘snuff and snatch’ or the same thing, assassinations and kidnapping. Those little teams were named after Project Pale Horse.” He pauses again, puffing from his cigarette, coughing one more time. When he finally caught his breath he looks at me.
“Have you read the Bible, boy?”
I narrow my eyes, staring at him as I nod slowly ‘yes’. He grins one more time, flashing us with that weird gaze, a mix of pride and dignity. I bet Mr. Smith was once Mr. Lee.
“The CIA-funded Black op project name was taken from there. Actually from the Book of Revelation 6:8.” He closes his eyes for a second, like he’s forcing his brain to remember something and all of sudden, he laughs. “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” He quotes in a solemn voice, closing again his eyes.
Ricardo glances at his chrono, sighing hard. His face shows concern for the first time. And now he seems lost in thought, probably trying to make sense of the intell this man told us.
At this point my brain is collapsed. There is a hell of lot of pieces missing in this damn puzzle, and the ones we have don’t seem to fit in any damn place. But there’s only one question I can think about, one that has been echoing inside my mind since Gloria gave us that piece of paper.
“What has the FBI to do with the CIA and Operation Phoenix?”
The old man snaps his eyes open, murmuring something under his breath and grabbing his mask, he takes several short breaths, cursing in between them. After a moment he removes it.
“J. Edgar Hoover attained extraordinary power while leading the FBI. He was frequently accused of exceeding and abusing his authority, using inappropriate methods such as blackmailing notable public figures in order to reach his goals. That of course made for many adversaries over the years, dangerous adversaries who have unlimited funds and even more unlimited power. And I ain’t not talking about the Mob or the US Congress. It’s not exactly a secret that since Hoover’s era the FBI has been secretly trying to fuck its younger brother, the CIA.”
I rub my forehead, sighing hard, recalling all the things I know so far. My head is about to explode just trying to put together the intell, but I’m overwhelmed by our current situation. There are millions of questions popping at once inside my brain and the more I think about the answers, the more I suspect Ricardo is one of the key pieces, if not the only one.
“Who are you, Ricardo?” I ask, getting out of the car. Ricardo rolls his eyes as he takes a seat on the hood of his car, pulling out a cigarette.
“Listen, Toretto, stop thinking about the things you don’t know and start thinking about the things you DO know.” He replies, taking a deep puff of his cigarette. “We’ll save time that way, you know?” Ricardo adds, drawing circles with the smoke.
“Fuck you, Richie!” I retort, slamming the door of the car closed. “I don’t know shit, man. All I know is my woman has been missing for more than 24 hours and maybe she’s already dead!!” I yell at him, kicking one of the wheels. Ricardo knits a brow, locking eyes with me.
“Hanna is not dead, Toretto,” he pauses, taking a puff of his cigarette. “Those fuckers won’t kill her, at least not now. We’re running out of time, but we’re on the right path.”
“What the fuck are you talking about, man?” I reply, narrowing my eyes. “Do you know who kidnapped her?” In response, he chuckles, shaking his head.
“Those fuckers who assaulted the mansion had military training, that’s why you’re still alive. ‘Snuff and snatch’, remember?” He blows the smoke, through his nose.
“Are you telling me the CIA has Hanna?” I ask him, my brows arching at once.
“I wouldn’t say those fuckers belong to the CIA anymore, at least I don’t think they are active field agents. The CIA wouldn’t kill an FBI agent in cold blood. Too much paperwork.” He replies, rubbing his chin. “I’m thinking about the old man’s words and that shit about teams of black ops specialists, working on their own. Those mercs have been running their own operations after the Vietnam War in other hot places like Chechnya, Iraq or Angola. I bet even the CIA lost control of their activities, not giving shit about their methods as long as they kept doing its dirty job.” Ricardo explains to me as he seems lost in thoughts.
“That doesn’t make sense, Ricardo. Why would one of those teams kidnap Hanna?” I reply, frowning deeply. “They were sending a warning to Reynaldo. What does Hanna have to do with that?” I wonder loudly. I’m trying my best here but I have to confess I don’t know shit.
Ricardo closes his eyes for a second, frowning deeply. He seems as lost as me.
“What if they weren’t after Reynaldo? What if they were after… you?” Ricardo says, looking at me, narrowing his eyes.
“Me?!” I blink in complete puzzlement. “I’m a nobody man. What the hell do I have to do with this shit?” I ask, my brows arching at once.
“Come on, Toretto, Hanna says you’re a smart fucker. Show me what you got in there. How you ended up mixed with her in first place?” Ricardo asks me, throwing his cigarette. “Why did Hanna send you to Lompoc?” I frown deeply, my mind racing.
“I was stealing trucks with DVDs and shit.” I answer, not knowing exactly where he’s heading.
“Wrong answer, man. Try again.” He said, his voice tinted with sarcasm. “Come on, Toretto. What was in that last fucking truck?”
I close my eyes, forcing my mind to think about what Hanna told me about that last truck load. And all of sudden, Hanna’s words echoed inside my mind.
“…I received a phone call, ordering me to abort the theft before it took place…. In no way could that truck be stopped or diverted from its original destination…. It wasn’t the first time that an FBI investigation crossed paths with another, by one unfortunate connection, but…the other didn’t belong to the FBI jurisdiction. I did what I thought would cause the least damage.”
“Fuck!” I hissed, snapping my eyes open. “Those weapons didn’t belong to Reynaldo, they belonged to the CIA?” I turn my head, locking eyes with Ricardo who grins evilly.
“Bingo. Give the boy a cookie.” He replies, laughing. I blink in shock. I can’t fucking believe it.
“But, I didn’t know there were weapons there, man. It was an accident. My contact back then was the one marking the truck. I don’t even think that fucker knew there were weapons inside.”
Ricardo lit a new cigarette, taking a long deep puff, exhaling the smoke. “The CIA regularly smuggles weapons to countries it shouldn’t, and for people it shouldn’t, and if people in the US really knew just how much of it happens right on their streets it would freak them right the hell out.”
“Fuck, man!” I rub my head, my eyes moving in frantic action as my mind races in search of answers, to fill the holes. “Rey is working with the CIA?” Ricardo chuckles.
“No, Toretto, that fucker is working for the CIA. He’s just a puppet.” I frown, holding his gaze as he nods ‘yes’. “Take a look around, man. Where are we, Toretto?” He asks me, grinning.
“Miami?” I answer, leaning against the hood.
“That’s right, sir. We are in the middle of the Anti-Castro Cubans domain, Toretto. The CIA has been always strongly tied with them. In fact the three letters have been using a lot of them as assassins, spies, and all that shit, training them for its own purpose. All those Anti-Castro Cubans became US citizens in record time. Not even one of them have been repatriated in years, quite the opposite, they have been treated as precious possessions because they are really valuable. I’m sure you have heard about the raid of Cuba, more known as the Bay of Pigs when the CIA tried to kill Castro, failing miserably.”
He takes a new puff, blowing the smoke direction to the ceiling.
“Let’s leave our imagination flying free for a couple of seconds, okay?” Ricardo asks, drawing once more circles with the smoke. “What if the CIA has been using our beloved Cuban as an agent? What if they sent him back to Cuba with a secret mission? It’s not the first time an intell agency creates a ‘legend’ or a story, so that their agents can work somewhere. Just take a look at yourself, Toretto. The FBI did exactly that with you when they made you believe they kidnapped your sister so Rey would offer you his help to find Mia.” He explains, smoking. “What if he accomplished his mission and since then, they have been dealing together, selling weapons all around the world?”
“Ok, that’s explains Rey’s connection with the CIA, but why did they send him a warning? If Rey’s one of the CIA’s little dogs, why piss him off? I mean, Rey is buying weapons, using the CIA’s money.” I said, staring at Ricardo’s eyes.
“True, but think about this. Reynaldo Casamajor is a sick bastard who has been playing a double game. He’s buying weapons for the CIA, using his own connections, but he has been selling those weapons to other countries. Countries that aren’t exactly on Uncle Sam’s side, and apart from that the Cuban is extending his business, leaving the CIA out. I bet the three letters doesn’t like one bit when its dogs are shitting in the dining room instead of the back yard.” He chuckles, flashing me that evil grin.
“That’s why you brought Santos?” I ask, knitting a brow. At my question, Ricardo laughs out loud. “That’s how Rey is extending his business, dealing in drugs?”
“Hanna was right. You’re a smart fucker, Toretto.” He replies, still laughing. “We don’t want Reynaldo Casamajor in prison, Dom.” He adds, going serious. “I’m just using Santos in following our real goal here. We have other plans for Reynaldo Casamajor.”
“We?” Ricardo nods ‘yes’ slowly as he throws his cigarette. His expression hardens in seconds.
“Hanna and I, Dom.” Ricardo says deadly serious.
“Why, Ricardo? Why does Hanna want to destroy Reynaldo at any cost. What are the both of you hiding from me?” I ask, tightening my jaw, my hands closing in fists.
Ricardo heaves a hard sigh, shaking his head. “I can’t answer that question, Dom, ‘cause I don’t know her real motivations. If you want the answer to that question, then you should ask her, and good luck man, ‘cause I did and she sent me to hell.” He replies, letting out a heavy sigh.
“What?! You’re helping her and you don’t even know her real reasons?” I reply, moving backward just a step. Ricardo looks at me, his eyes flashing a cold gleam.
“I don’t need reasons, Toretto. I love her and that’s enough for me. I’m not questioning here or judging. I’m just acting, protecting the only person who gave a shit about me when nobody else did.” He retorts fiercely, staring at my eyes. “That fucker Rey is now exactly where we wanted them since the beginning and we’re not letting him go, Toretto. No matter what, that sick bastard is not gonna get out of this shit.”
I narrow my eyes at hearing his words. I’m not sure if I’m going to like what is coming. This never was a FBI case or at least, Hanna crossed the invisible line at some point. No wonder she was so determined to catch him even though she never planned to send the Cuban to prison in first place. Why, Hanna? What are you hiding from all of us, baby?
Ricardo clears his throat, pulling me out of my own thoughts.
“Listen, Toretto. From where I’m standing, you have three options, man. You can go back to prison, serving the rest of your sentence, eating shit and dying inside slowly, letting that fucking place kill your spirit. Or you can leave the country, crossing the border to Mexico. Elaine should be already there and she will help you, just like I was going to do.”
“What are you talking about?” I ask him, tightening my jaw. “What about my sister, huh? I’m not leaving her alone here. I don’t even know if she’s safe anymore now that Hanna is missing.” In response, Ricardo tilting his head to one side.
“Did you wonder why Rey couldn’t find your sister? I mean we already agreed that the fucker has a hell of a lot of useful connections.” He says, staring at my eyes.
My eyes open wide as my mouth hangs almost touching the floor. What the fuck…? Ricardo licks his lips, winking.
“Listen, man. Hanna may be a mess, Toretto, but The Ice Queen is a cold bitch and when she’s in, she’s all the way. I wouldn’t be surprise if Mia is already on the other side of the border.” He laughs, shaking his head. “Coño! I bet Mia has been in Tijuana since the beginning.” Ricardo adds, laughing harder.
Damn! I think my heart stopped beating and I’m not sure I’m breathing anymore. Jesus! I swear Hanna has a few explanations to give. Damn, that woman is gonna mean my death. They better don’t hurt her ‘cause I’m gonna beat the shit out of her as soon as I have her in front of me. Shit!
I’ve been worrying about my sister and Hanna probably took care of Mia in first place. Why the hell didn’t she tell me? Damn, I can’t understand it. Oh, hell, I do but the reality is too painful to even consider it for more than two seconds. Shit! I’ve been a fucking numbskull all this time, not trusting her. No wonder Hanna didn’t trust me either. Fuck it!
“And the third option?” I ask, hardening my face, holding his gaze. Ricardo’s laughter dies on his lips as he fixes his dark eyes on mine.
“You stick with me and we find Hanna, killing whoever gets in our way.” His voice sounds as cold as ice. His face hardens, completely emotionless. “We can’t trust anybody. We’re alone here, Toretto. So tell me, are you in? Because if you are, you have to be all the way. No doubts or we all end dead, including Elaine, Hanna and Mia.”
He’s not shitting around and I know it. Hell, if I’m already here, what’s the worst thing that can happen? I already faced the barrel of a gun on three occasions and I’ve been beating death. Fuck it!
“I’m not turning my back to Hanna, Ricardo, and I’m not going back to Lompoc.” I reply, putting as much determination as I can on my words, making sure he notices. “Let’s go find my woman.” I add, offering him my hand. Ricardo grins evilly, his eyes sparkling.
“Yeah, let’s fuck those fuckers.” He replies, shaking my hand.
“Ok, what now?” I ask, releasing his hand. Ricardo pulls out his cell phone, dialing a number, grinning.
“First we need a name, then we’ll see.” He replies and with that he starts speaking on his phone.
I close my eyes, leaning my back against the hood, wincing lightly. My back still hurts and I’m not expecting that to change anytime soon. I swear as soon as I put my hands on those fuckers they are going to know who Dominic Alfredo Toretto is. What I did to that fucker who was responsible for my dad’s accident is going to seem a scratch compared to what my mind is already envisioning.
I open my eyes, looking at Ricardo and he’s still speaking on his phone, but his face is unreadable. After what seems an eternity, he closes his cell phone, looking at me.
“I have one name, Toretto.”
My guts are screaming again and I can’t help but my heart is beating faster and faster, and all of sudden I have a bad feeling. I don’t like this sensation at all. A strong shiver of anticipation runs up my spine, waiting to hear the name.
“Ray Mathews, aka Snake.”