It didn’t take long for Lil’ Loco to get from casa de cholo to my home. I’m willing to bet that he broke every speed limit along the way. It’s safer for him to piss off the local PD as a low-level banger than a goddess with a vengeance issue. At least it seemed to be an issue for everyone else.
As soon as he rang my doorbell, Dianna practically ran to answer it.
“Ah, gringa has herself a lady lover.” Lil’ Loco started to make kissy faces and wiggle his hips as he said it.
Dianna must not have been impressed because without replying, she balled up her fist, drew back, and punched him in the face. Lil’ Loco bent over, crying out in pain and bringing his hands to his face. Blood spurted from beneath them. Dang it, she probably broke his nose.
I crossed the room and caught her fist before she could punch him a second time.
“Dianna, he is a douchebag, but he is a douchebag that is going to help us catch your father’s killer. He can’t do that if you beat him to death. We will get them, and you will have your pound of flesh.”
“You broke my fucking nose!” Lil’ Loco screamed in broken English.
“Oh, relax, I can fix it. Just get your ass in here and stop your yelling before someone calls the police. Last thing I want to do is explain why I am entertaining bangers now.”
Lil’ Loco raised an eyebrow. “Last time I check, the great Athena didn’t explain herself to no man…or woman. You don’t think they would believe that I’m your Latin lover?” He wiggled his eyebrows and drew out every syllable of the word lover to make it sound dirty. Either he was going to have to learn better English or stop talking.
“Sorry, Lil’ Dipshit, you’re not my type.”
“Oh yeah? What’s your type? You don’t like bad boys?”
I let out a laugh before replying. It looked like I was going to have to hurt his feelings. Too bad for him, I had run out of fucks to give for the night.
“No, I much prefer bad girls. You don’t interest me. Now get in here. You are bleeding all over my doorstep. “
He did as I instructed and followed me from the front door to the kitchen sink. His nose was definitely broken. I grabbed a wooden spoon and handed it to him. “Here, bite down on this. This is going to hurt, and I don’t need you waking up the whole neighborhood.” Once the spoon was firmly held between his teeth, I reset his nose. The accompanying wail was dampened by the spoon, but still ridiculously loud. Who knew bangers could be such little bitches?
“Hold still and stop whining.” Men…geesh. I took out a bag of frozen peas from my freezer and tossed it to him.
“Put this on your nose. We have a lot to talk about.”
Dianna pulled up a chair within striking range of Lil’ Loco and just stared at him. I had been there. That dark place where all you could do was sit perfectly still and silent because any movement could cause you to break. Dianna breaking right now would be bad for our case and very bad for Lil’ Loco. It would be a mess if she killed him, and I would need a professional clean-up crew…again.
“Okay, tell us about the hit on the FED. Do yourself a favor and remember that he was her father and my friend. I am fiercely protective of those I care about, and someone took him from me…from us. They will die for it. If you don’t want to join them, I suggest you not act like a complete moron. Got it, pendejo?”
“Si. No bullshit. Your friend was getting too close to the boss. He don’t like cops, and he don’t like you, gringa. The boss had him taken to find out what he knew, who he told, and where you were. He is looking for you, mi amore, and when he find you…” He trailed his sentence off into a whistle.
“I am not worried about your boss. I have dealt with worse than him before and will have to deal with worse in the future. He will fall on my sword just as those before him have. Having goons to follow his orders won’t change that.”
“Maybe you’re right, but if I tell you more, you have to protect me, chica. I won’t die like your friend did. I…how you say…have to look out for myself.”
“I could just torture and kill you myself. I am sure Dianna won’t mind spilling a little blood.”
“Or all of it.” It was the first time that Dianna had spoken since she had sat next to him. If I didn’t get this moving along, she would kill him. Hells, I would kill him.
“I will ask this once and only once. How much or how little protection that I give you will depend on what information you give me. Do you understand?”
Lil’ Loco swallowed audibly. He was scared. Good, that would help him stay alive. He nodded in a quick jerk and kept his eyes trained on me. In his line of work, he was used to people betraying him to save their own skin. They hand over their comrades because they are afraid. I am not afraid, not of him and certainly not of his boss.
“Good, we understand each other. Now I only have one question. Where is your boss?”
“I don’t know, but I can tell you where his Lieutenants are. You get to them, and you will get to him.”
“You better be right.”
Lil’Loco gave me the names of all his boss’ Lieutenants. He didn’t know the mans’ real name, just that they all called him El Rey. I couldn’t stop the eye roll. Why did they always give themselves the most pompous names possible? So if he was the King, it looked like I had a date with the King’s men. Then we could have a royal assassination. The idea made me smile involuntarily. I was not sure if that made me one of the good guys or one of the monsters. Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between.
Keeping my word, I stashed Lil’ Loco in a safe house and called in a few favors to keep him safe while I hunted down his boss. I was finally able to convince Dianna to go home for a shower and a change of clothes. That’s when I found out that she was here on her own time and living out of a suitcase in some small motel. It didn’t take much insisting for me to convince her to stay at my place until we got the answers we needed. I had the extra room, and it would definitely make things easier if we based our investigation here.
Sometimes all work and no play was the only way to get things done.