This is the sixth and final issue in Volume 3 of A Long Road to Fortune. It is titled La Costa Grande.
Liza stepped out of the marketplace, her rifle strapped and supply bag full. Her bag wasn't filled with supplies, but rather with anarchy. Making haste down to the zocalo, only Daniel noticed her. Naturally, he stopped and asked her why.
"Liza, are you ok? Where are you going?"
"I have to get rid of something." she answered simply.
Daniel did not want to impose much, whatever Liza did or wanted to do was none of his business. And although she was physically a daffodil, Daniel felt she could take care of herself.
"Just make sure to come back alive."
Liza nodded in response and one of the wall guards opened it for her. She was now cruising towards the zocalo. An unknown target in her wake.
Returning to guard duty on such a blazing hot day was of the devil, or so Jose Quintero thought. What he really wanted to be doing right now was drawing. He had found an old notebook and a pencil just laying around on the marketplace the other day. The old thing was covered in dust but it was nothing some blowing couldn't be rid of. It's been such a while since he really drew. As an artist, it was severely painful for him. Nothing brought him more satisfaction than creating art.
"Quiet day today." he said to himself out loud. It really was. No groseros were seen near the walls. Just a few in the distance here and there. He wanted to think it was beautiful, but that was a thought he would save for another day.
He could however see Liza walking down the zocalo through the scope of his rifle. He couldn't make her out very well but who else around here had such a beautiful head of hair? She nonchalantly walked past the groseros, their slow bodies not catching up to her. The ones that did catch up to her had the pleasure of meeting her friend the sharp rod, head on.
"What could that girl be doing all the way out there? I wonder if Ashton knows." he continued to ramble.
Unbeknownst to him, he was being watched through the scope of another rifle. A man wearing a white suit, accompanied by 5 other, heavily armed men wearing red bandanas, were just hiding in Jose's blind spot.
"Don Tucan is not going to be happy about this..." the man said.
"Saul, should we take them out?" said one of the men. This man was of average height, wore a pink plaid shirt and some black jeans. He was carrying an M60 and had a pistol holstered, along with knife.
"I suppose we should." Saul replied. "I'll let you have first dibs on the guards, Roberto".
"Ok. How about the one with the sombrero?" Roberto said, pointing to Jose.
"Go for it."
"Okay. Watch this. Perfect head shot."
The man proceeded to aim at the unsuspecting Jose. His head right on target. He pulled the trigger and Jose hit the floor.
What the hell had just happened? One minute, there he was standing on guarding duty. The next, a bullet grazed his head and he fell down from the wall and into the street within them. One his arms broken during the fall and the bullet had knocked him out cold. He was fortunate to still be alive.
Mr. Chet had heard the shot. He quickly ran down to the source with Mendoza. Soon both men spotted Jose on the floor. Seconds later more bullets flew and more guards fell. They weren't so lucky though. A bullet had gone through each of their heads. Mr. Chet observed the corpse of a woman and found the bullet nearly coming out of her skull through the other side of her head. He picked it up and showed it to Mendoza.
"See this? This is from a Merkel. When was the last time you saw one of these?" Mr. Chet asked
"Cartel." replied Mendoza. "We're under attack."
"Joaquin, get Jose some help and tell everyone to get ready. This is happening". Mendoza said. Mr. Chet nodded in response. He picked up Jose and ran back inside.
Pretty soon, Gustavo and Manuel joined Mendoza.
"What the fuck is happening? Who the hell could be attacking us?" Gustavo asked.
"The cartel Texta. The bullets that killed our guards came from a Merkel Model rifle."
That word sent a spiral of madness through Gustavo. He had been itching to blow off some cartel heads from the moment he was discharged. "I'm going to fucking enjoy this." Gustavo said.
"You see that Roberto? That's how you do that." Saul said with suaveness as he lowered his own Merkel.
"I got 4 so far. You only have one." Saul kept gloating. He laughed coldly at the fact that he had killed 3 people in less than half a minute.
"The rest of you, don't just stand there. You have walls to attack. They know we're here now, so expect them to shoot back." The rest of the men nodded. They all had the look of pure evil in their faces as they placed their red bandanas back on their faces. Soon all the other men men split up, leaving only Saul and Roberto.
"Should I go knocking on the front door?" Roberto asked.
"Hmmm. Why not? Go ahead." Saul nonchalantly replied.
"That's what I like to hear. Heheheh. Too bad I couldn't go after that cutie we spotted near the zocalo. I'd hit that very hard. I haven't had any in days."
"That's the reason I sent Leo after her. You're an animal."
"That I am. But damn do I regret not going after that."
Afterwards, Roberto put his bandana on and walked to the gate closest to the zocalo.
"Brat." Saul said after Roberto left. Saul was considerably old. He had to be in his late 30s and he did not like the way the sun felt on his bald head.
All the shooting attracted 6 groseros, all ready to get a piece of Saul.
"If you insist" Saul said.
He punched a grosero down and crushed its head with his nice leather shoes. He stuck his knife in the head of one coming for him from behind and lastly shot the remaining down with his silenced pistol.
"It's not los muertos we worry about now...". Saul grabbed his knife, put his gun away, and scrapped the bottom of his shoes against the ground.
All the commotion had already reached the marketplace. Mr. Chet had come in to find Francisco, Mario, the twins, Max, and Sandra all gathered in the marketplace square. Jose was already being taken care of by Gustavo's medics.
"So keep an eye on the walls. These cartel fuckers play dirty, and they won't hesitate to shoot you either. Sandra, take Max and hide. Guys, Juarez, Jaime, the rest of you. Take cover near the walls. Shoot to kill."
"Aww god damn it. I can't find the damn matches and now we have the cartel coming to ruin the day some more." Mario said in rage.
"Alicia, Manny. Go hide with Sandra and Max. This is going to be ugly." Mr. Chet ordered.
"Okay. But Mario has to promise us that he will be ok" the twins replied.
"I will just go hide already! I don't want those hijos de puta getting near you!" Mario answered, clearly angry. As usual.
Mr. Chet walked to the wall leading to the soccer field, backed up by Mario. Both took refuge behind some barrels as they watched the first cartel hit man come in.
"Is there anyone else with him?" Mario asked, his tone of voice nearly null. Mr. Chet shook his head in response but patted Mario, as if to tell him to wait.
The man was soon joined by another. From the looks of things, they were vested.
"Packing serious shit" Mario said. Mr. Chet nodded.
Upon hearing the news, Francisco ran to Yuri's room. There, she was sitting reading a book titled "El Club de la Buena Estrella". Francisco sudden barge caught her off guard.
"Francisco, what's wrong?"
"The cartel is attacking us. I don't know if they're going to get in but if they do. I'll stay here with you and surprise them."
Francisco had a genuine, reassuring look in his face. If he was to win Yuri's heart, the chance to do it would be during this peril.
Ashton and Valdez were making their way back to the marketplace slowly, chatting here and there.
"They way it works is, as soon as the grosero steps in it, its foot is snared. The pressure from the struggle pulls on the rope, which in turn pulls on a wooden block. The block drops and with it the zip gun's trigger is pulled, since it is tied to it. If the grosero is tall enough, it should hit the head and kill it."
Ashton was discussing his new grosero-killing trap prototype. If one of them were to ever sneak into the marketplace at night.
"You got some McGuyver stuff in your head, man. I'd hate to be on the receiving end of that thing."
"It's perfect. The prototype is by my sleeping spot and since no one visits me and none of the kids are allowed to go to that part of the marketplace, nobody will accidentally trigger it."
"Good thing you told me then. If would have set it off for sure."
The duo catches a glimpse of 2 men near the door. One of them decides to shoot at it with an M60, forcing it open. Valdez and Ashton are shocked to say the least.
"Man what the hell! They're going to bring the herd!"
Ashton could tell the men were from the cartel as soon as he saw them.
"Valdez, those guys, they are from the cartel. They want to kill us. I mean, why else would they force their way in like that?"
"Shit bro. Well, now that we have the upper hand on them. I'm going to cap them by surprise. Cover me from behind man."
"Very well." Ashton replied. He could tell Valdez sensed the fact that he didn't want to get his hands dirty with murder, so he opted to be the assassin here.
Still though, Ashton wondered when he'd find himself forced to pull the trigger on somebody.
Gustavo, Mendoza, and Manuel were waiting near the wall closest to the zocalo for any cartel members to show.
"Too quiet so far. Not good." Mendoza replied, holding his gun close.
"They might be expecting us. Can't call these fuckers stupid." Gustavo added.
"Maybe not. I bet I could go out there and surprise them. Maybe they want us waiting for them, like sitting ducks." Manuel said, observing the situation.
He got himself up from his cover spot and approached the wall. He softly leaned against it and tried to feel any form of pressure.
"Manuel, come back. I have a feeling something bad's about to happen". Mendoza said.
Manuel could tell nobody was outside, not even groseros. He could hear no noises or feel any sort of pressure. Perhaps it was time to return back to cover, inch to the action from there.
However, as he returned...
Roberto was right on the other side of the wall. He felt Manuel's presence and decided it was time. He pointed his M60 at the door and unloaded.
In seconds, the bullets tore through the door and destroyed Manuel.
"No! Manuel!" Mendoza screamed in grief.
Gustavo was only more and more eager to join in the fire exchange.
"You wanna play fucker? Well, you're about to be burnt."
Liza made her way down the Cesareo Ramos street until she reached the alley that lead to her house. She proceeded to slowly walk into it, killing a grosero resting there on the way. She began to clutch her supply bag, getting ready to what she came here to do.
Leo had been observing Liza from afar and watched as she walked down the alley. The man had a black beard and a small head of curly hair. His neck, of course, had the cartel neck tattoo printed on it. His mass was intimidating, despite being no taller than Liza. He was waiting for the right time to shoot Liza dead.
But she knew that.
- The book Yuri is seen reading is The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.
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