much of a good – or bad – thing never leads to anything positive
and nothing is more pathetic than an old man with too high an opinion
of his own power... or prowess.
Fourteen: Mario's Heart Attack (We're surprised; we thought he
didn't have one)
got away from Omar, whose vileness knew no limit. He cursed her
again as though he were unaware of how repulsive he had become to
his goons bagged Susanna's body in black plastic Mario called Cecelia
on her cell to tell her that the job was done.
job is done. You never saw nothing, you never heard anything, and
you hadn't seen her for the past several days. Is that clear?”
was necessary to do what we did.”
ended the call. Cecelia sat at her desk, trying to remain calm.
Hernán appeared at the door. She looked up.
me a minute,” she said. She rose from her seat and went into the
restroom. She tried to catch her breath as she realized what she had
done. She then took the vial of cocaine from her purse and opened
it. Someone knocked on the door.
me alone,” she said.
another building Regina was working late at her desk. Daniela
entered with some photos. She explained that she had been in touch with the school and that Susanna did not show up as expected. Regina thanked her for her efforts.
after she had snorted her usual dosage, Cecelia called Mario to tell
him that the other girls would be asking about Susanna. He told her
to say that she had been sent away by his orders. She was to
transfer money as usual and the matter would be resolved within a few
months. She was not to worry because the body would not be found.
and Nieves were in the waiting room at the hospital. He looked at
Hernán's story on a tablet and he felt bad for Regina. Nieves began
telling him that Morales had been trying to reach him all day but he
hadn't answered his cell phone. A doctor came out to tell him that
Teresa was conscious and her vital signs were normal. They were
waiting for test results on Ximena because she was still unconscious.
Gerardo could not understand why Ximena had not awakened. The
doctor tried to explain that every person is different and Ximena was
a minor but Gerardo wouldn't let him finish.
was at the home of Nayeli, a mutual friend, who told him that Ximena
was in the hospital. She described what happened – giving her
opinion that Teresa had tried to kill Ximena – and then told him
that Ximena was alright. He wanted to go to see her but Nayeli was
rather cavalier about that. She took out a small ziplock that
contained white powder and suggested that they indulge instead. He
told her he wasn't interested and turned to leave. She stopped him
with a counteroffer that he looked like he wasn't going to refuse.
the hospital Teresa turned on the waterworks to tell Gerardo that she
had tried to make up with Ximena and they fought. She decided to
make it up to her by baking her a favorite cake. She started crying
again, saying she didn't know what happened and if anything had
happened to Ximena she would die. Gerardo wasn't falling for this
and he walked out.
addressed the rest of his reluctant harem, telling them that he sent
Susanna away. They listened in silence as he told them that they
could not do as they wished, but what they were ordered to do. He
was going to give them an opportunity to leave or stay. None spoke
up. His cell rang and he excused himself to take the call. He
reminded Noemi that he would not be home for dinner. “What do you
want now?” he asked, irritated.
know when you're coming home. Why are you treating me like this?”
I'm very busy; I have a lot of problems to solve.”
on the internet and see what is being said about our daughter. And
please stop bothering me.”
ended the call.
went back to the techie and handed him the phone. He pressed a
button on it and showed her the location. It could be a couple of
meters off, but there it was. She thanked him. He closed his
computer and told her to call if she had any questions. As soon as
he was out of the room she poured herself another drink.
went into Cecelia's office and sarcastically congratulated her on
getting him his pink slip.
was just thrown out, but you know what, sweetheart? You just gained
yourself an enemy. I will follow you around until the end.” He
got up and pushed his way past Hernán as he was entering, yelling at
him to get out of his way. Cecelia was not pleased to see Hernán,
whose story was the cause of the whole thing. This could have cost
her her career. He told her he had a list of names she would find
useful and she told him to hand it over. Further, that she should be
happy to have Pacheco out of the way. She said it wasn't going to
play that way.
not going to ruin my reputation for you,” he said to her.
therefore don't even think about fucking me again,” she said.
He turned to leave.
Close the door.”
almost slammed the door on his way out as her cell phone rang. It
was Alonso, summoning her. She said “Yes, sir,” ended the call,
and snorted some cocaine.
called Regina from her car.
I think I must be going mad.”
are you talking about?”
I called, honey. I know you have so many problems. Forget it.”
have you been drinking? Where are you?”
driving. I'm at the point of discovering what your father is up to
and I want you to be there with me.”
I can't just now. Mother, you don't have to do this.”
I have to. I'll call you later.” She ended the call.
and Mauro were in Alonso's office. He said they would need to
replace Pacheco, whom he blamed for the article about his marriage.
He blamed that for the issues with workers. He seemed to expect them
to think of a solution. Cecelia and Mauro talked about that on the
the same moment the local press had found out about Teresa and
swooped down on Gerardo like a flock of vultures at a corpse. The
receptionist, and the security guard held them back while the doctor
protected him as best he could be escorting him to Ximena's room,
away from the mob whose weapons were cameras, microphones, and their
was in Ximena's room, lying next to her on the bed.
never meant to harm you,” she said to her.
who had been staring up at the ceiling, turned to her and said,
“Don't worry, Mother. I'm alright. We're alright.”
said Teresa, stroking her daughter's face.
came in, followed by the doctor, who insisted that Teresa go with him
to her room. She got up, smiled at Ximena, and left with the doctor
and the IV pole she was attached to. Gerardo sat next to his
was so worried about you.”
your mother? Is she alright?” he asked, with a worried expression.
your mother do this?”
it wasn't her fault,” Ximena said, on the verge of tears. “She
just wanted to make things right. I said so many ugly things. It was
all my fault.”
continued to stroke her hair.
my love. Tell me what happened. We have to understand your mother.
She is very sick.”
have to be patient. I want things to be good. I want it to be good
for the three of us.”
continued to cry. Gerardo kissed her forehead.
was in the office very late. She called Gerardo's cell. He was at
home, sitting on the living room floor. He answered when he saw her
name on the screen.
I couldn't believe this happened. How are they?”
they will be alright. This was the worst day of my life. The most
affected was my daughter.”
was an accident.”
was a stupid move on Teresa's part.”
the end her intent wasn't carried out. This hatred she has for
me.... Can we see each other soon?”
I don't think so. It's so good to listen to you. Especially after
that press mob.”
can I see you?”
don't know. There's a war out there.”
was waiting for Cecelia when she finally left her office. He almost
begged for another chance. She told him he would have to help her
first. “If you help me, you can have me,” she said as she walked
away without a backward glance. His jaw had hit the sidewalk and he
didn't even realize that it was hurting.
picked up her purse and told Daniela she was going home to see her
mother. She got a surprise she didn't expect or perhaps even want
when Alonso appeared at her door.
are you doing here?”
came looking for my wife,” he said. The cheerful tone somehow
took her leave. Considering her attire she should have asked Scotty
to beam her up from a planet at war. After she left Alonso entered
and closed the door behind him.
no, after what happened last time I don't want to talk to you.”
do,” he said. “You're going to listen to me.”
Alonso, I have to see my mother. She needs my help. I'm worried
because she was following my father.”
is nothing new. They're fighting ever since I know them.”
talk that way about my parents.”
not? I have every right. Our parents aren't exactly a good
tried to leave her office but Alonso stepped in her way.
is this? You are gorgeous.” He tried to touch her face.
you trying to seduce me?” she asked. “Because you've lost
are impossible. When I've come here to put things right with you?”
really trying to put things right with me after... You know what,
Alonso? I don't know if we should continue together.”
do you want to say?”
don't know if we should continue together politically.”
are you saying?”
tired of telling you that I don't want to talk about this at this
moment. I feel deceived.”
think we have to talk. We can't go on like this. We have to talk
expect me to be calm after those outrageous things I heard in your
were talking about politics, not our life.”
is our life, Alonso.” She shook her head, took her purse,
and turned away.
I have a proposition. That we govern together. Regina, without you
I'm nothing. Politics means nothing to me without you. Of course
you are better than me. I'll fall without you.” When her
expression didn't change he gave up – or pretended to. “Alright,
go see your mother. We've talked.”
arrived at the location on her cell phone. A young man in a suit
stepped outside and saw her, then went inside where Mario had just
snorted cocaine (or something else) and got up from his seat to
escort two girls younger than his daughters to the orgy room.
Neither of them looked like she wanted to be there. They got to the
door and the suited man alerted Mario to Noemi's presence outside.
He shoved the two girls into the bedroom. The young guard was a
don't know what to do.”
her out of here. Sat anything you have to but get rid of her.”
then entered the bedroom and closed the door. He was drunk, high, or
both. His tie was loosened and askew. He stared at the two girls
and waved his hand, as though that were a signal for a specific
action. He may have thought himself a latter-day Caligula, but he was clearly past it. His eyes were sunken and hooded, as though he were Boris
Karloff in a horror film of the 30s. He drank directly from the
bottle as he watched the two girls do without him.
arrived home and heard an unfamiliar sound. He walked into his
daughter's room without knocking and caught her with Emiliano.
was still walking around with her eye on the cell phone screen when
two men in black with kerchief masks seized her and put her in the
back of the black SUV. One tried holding her mouth shut yelling
“Shut up!” as she screamed.
was indignant. He grabbed Emiliano by the hair and pulled him out of
bed, shoving him against the wall. The light fell in such a way that
he could identify him.
the governor's son, aren't you?” He was holding him against the
wall in such a way that Emiliano couldn't have answered if he wanted
to. He then turned around and grabbed Nayeli, dragging her out of
the room and closing the door behind him. Emiliano looked as though
he had entered hell.
called Gerardo and angrily told him what he had discovered. He
accused Emiliano of supplying the drugs and threatened to ruin
Alonso's career with headlines saying that Emiliano was getting high
with and consorting with a minor. Gerardo tried to get him to calm
down and consider what this would do to his daughter. Ignacio ended
the call just as Ximena entered the darkened living room. She asked
what happened and Gerardo told her.
the same moment Mario was plowing another woman's furrows with
drugged ferocity while the other young woman watched. Suddenly he
froze with a horrified expression on his face which suddenly looked
twenty years older. He then collapsed on his partner's body.
two prostitutes did not know what to do. One said they should call
an ambulance and the other reminded her they could be arrested. One
ran downstairs to the security guards.
persisted, but Regina finally told him she didn't trust him. He
asked for another chance and her cell began ringing. She reached for
it and he stopped her picking it up. He saw that it was Gerardo
calling and would not give the phone back to her. He accused her of
cheating on him with Gerardo. The phone started ringing again and
Regina reached for it. She demanded to know where Alonso had heard
this. Of course it was the photos of their dining together and she
explained that it was a coincidence that she ran into Gerardo the
night he – her husband – had stood her up. He demanded an
explanation and she told him that what he really wanted was an
argument. She demanded he give back her phone and he tossed it on
the desk, going on about phone calls at that hour. She finally told
him that her relationship with Gerardo was purely professional. He
had helped her with the drafting of a new law. Alonso – in his
usual Machiavellian manner of passive/aggression – was dismissive
and said he would go back to work.
the door closed behind him Regina picked up her phone and returned
two goons drove Noemi to what looked like a very dangerous
neighborhood, threw her against the metal gate of a building, and put
a gun to her head. They shouted threats, she screamed, and finally
the gunman ran back into the car and it took off, leaving Noemi in an
unfamiliar place. She appeared not to have her purse, but she did
have her cell phone, which she took out.
arrived home and unlocked the door. As it opened and the light from
inside the apartment fell on the carpet she saw two drops of blood.
She backed away like the hapless protagonist of a latter-day horror
film. As she froze in abject fright, Isela came to the door.
it's you, Mother.”
up with you? One would think you've seen a ghost.”
entered and looked around as she ascended the stairs.
I know why you're so worked up?”
nothing, Mother.” She looked around. “What have you done to the
must be work stuff.”
will you stop with these questions and let me breathe?”
me what's wrong!”
spotted Susanna's watch on the end table next to the ashtray. She
turned around and faced her mother.
killed one of the girls.”
It was your father, wasn't it? Of course it was.”
it wasn't. It was me. I killed her.”
looked at her out of the corner of her eye. She knew this was not
doctor had come to the motel and examined Mario.
a heart attack. He has to go to the hospital.”
he won't,” said the bald goon.
when he has another heart attack, just call the funeral home.”
gave Nayeli the third degree of his own.
imbecile drugged you, didn't he?”
Papa,” she said, not even facing him.
do you know this asshole from?”
a friend of Ximena's; that's how I know him. Will you let him go?”
going to stay here until your father decides he can go.”
phone rang. Gerardo was calling.
is happening, Gerardo?”
and Alonso will be at your house.”
going to have very long conversation. This kid is going to pay
bigger than any governor's kid ever did before.”
down. This is a very delicate situation.”
up with you? Have you been listening? This is the son of our
opposition and you want us to pretend to be courteous? Thanks,
brother.” He ended the call. He then told Nayeli that she would
have an 8:30 curfew.
told Isela that Susanna had gone to Regina for help and Mario had
arrived there. Susanna had come to her for help and she called
Mario. Isela was not surprised at what he had done. She said he was
a pig and the worst of all men. Cecelia was convincing herself that
Mario did it for her to protect her position. Isela had no illusions
about Mario and said so. Cecelia's willingness to delude herself
Mario had been brought to a hospital and the doctor came into his
room to inform him of his condition. He was to remain in the
hospital at least through the next day for tests. Mario denied being
a drug addict or an alcoholic. The doctor did not seem convinced.
Mario told him to do what he had to do but that all information must
remain strictly between the two of them.
knocked on Cecelia's door and thus met Isela for the first time when
she answered. He introduced himself as a colleague who wrote for the
political daily paper. Isela let him in, teasing that it was rather
late for looking for information. Obviously this lady knew nothing
of journalism or reporters. She led him into the living room and
offered him a drink. She told him that Cecelia was bathing but
should be out shortly. In the meantime she had information for him
but it would have to wait. He gave her his business card and she
said this had to be strictly confidential.
entered the living room on the tail end of that sentence and after a
slightly awkward moment Isela took her leave. Hernán wanted to know
more about her but Cecelia said that was a very long story that would
have to wait. Right now she was a little tired and “Do you have
something to tell me?”
and Gerardo went to Ignacio's house and heard his accusations. She
asked where Emiliano was and Ignacio told her he had him locked up in
an upstairs room. He had wanted to call the police but Gerardo
convinced him not to.
we can all be calm,” Regina said, “this situation is just as
disagreeable to you as it is to me. If you will allow me to talk to
my son. I assure you he doesn't deal drugs.”
of course,” Ignacio said, sarcastically. “He's a white dove and
my daughter drugged him.”
Gerardo said, sternly. “Let Regina see her son. We have to talk
you tell me how we're going to resolve this matter,” Ignacio said.
looked at him as though he had two heads. He already had two faces.
me, the only way to resolve this is for both of us to each talk with
our children. Or what do you intend?”
intended for your husband to show his face or does he send you to do
knew you would react this way. I'm his mother and so I am in
will be in charge when you explain to the press and all of social
media that your son is a drug trafficker who sells drugs to minors.”
you been listening, Ignacio?” Gerardo asked him. “You would be
exposing your own daughter.”
not now but in the morning you will regret what this does to the rest
of your life. We don't know who sold those drugs.”
want to see my son! Nayeli and he are the only ones who can explain
evening,” said Alonso, as he walked in. “Did you think my
security chief wouldn't tell me about this?”
nodded toward a man who stood there silently, like Oddjob in
Goldfinger. Regina looked at Ignacio despite that she knew
Alonso was spying on her.
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