“When Vicente Mejia died, you inherited his job. You also inherited his deals.” Eldridge Hensley lit a cigarette with the stump of the old, flicking the butt into the dry bed of Sucker Creek. “We paid Mejia to let us land a few planes full of White Widow from Ontario at the airport while your outfit is tearing it down.”

Francisco Garza, supervisor for Norris Construction after the untimely death of that bastard Mejia in an automobile accident, was stone-featured. “For the same price?” he said.

Hensley laughed. “That money’s already been spent. You’re going to do it for free.”

“Considering what will happen if I get sent up the river for that,” Garza said evenly, “you’re going to have to do better than that. Mejia was an asshole and I owe you nothing.”

Hensley toyed with his cigarette. “I’m a big fish in a small pond, Garza,” he said. “I know things. I make it my business. It’s the only way to keep things smooth when some Johnny Law or John Q. Public decides to interfere with my livelihood.”

Garza was silent, expressionless.

“It might be one of my boys found some brake parts going through one of those Norris Construction bins that that two-bit county airport you’re tearing up, looking for scrap,” Hensley drawled. “How was it that Mejia died? Brake failure, wasn’t it?”

“Is that supposed to scare me?” said Garza.

“My boy was wearing gloves, too,” continued Hensley. “It’d be an awful shame if the law dusted them brake parts for prints.”

Turning away, Garza put his back to Hensley.

“Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to let my bird land until the runway’s torn up, and do a damn slow job of that, and you’re going to use your Norris Construction company car to help me move my product. And if you don’t…well, them’s the brakes.” Hensley chuckled softly at his own joke.

The small-time drug lord’s laughter stopped quickly when Garza pressed an old electric cattle prod to Hensley’s ribs and fired it. Sucker Creek was a corruption of the old French Soucher, but in this case it was awfully accurate. There was a shallow grave dug in the fields further back from the road–Garza had come too far, sacrificed too much, to let anything stand in his way.

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