Tip of the Week: The greatest piece of writing advice ever uttered, by Mr Elmore Leonard:
“If it sounds like writing, rewrite it.”
and now, part 2 chapter 3:
Miguel had spent most of 2001 and 2002 as a dishwasher in an upscale restaurant on Pearl Street, in Boulder. He didn’t care about the money because most of his income came from other sources, but he liked the sense of accomplishment of an honest day’s work and he needed the W-2 for tax purposes. He liked the simplicity and Zen of washing dishes: to take something impure and make it pure. A wrong to right. Dirty plates, glasses and bowls stack up, load them into the tray, pass them through, take the clean ones and run them out to their respective clean-dish stations. Also, he preferred to operate under the radar, and no one paid much attention to the dishwasher.
The day after the party when he’d kicked Tyson out of his house, Wiles confronted Miguel about what happened at the bridge. The conversation didn’t end well, and Miguel and Wiles terminated their association with each other after that, at least their direct association. They still did business together, but always through other people. Miguel drifted away from Brian, too. The shame of what he’d seen at the bridge; what he hadn’t told Maria, Theo, or anyone else– the secret he intended to lock away forever– overwhelmed him and he couldn’t look Brian in the eyes after that.
After the incidents, first cracking a beer bottle over Ray’s head, and then the one at the bridge a few days later, Miguel waited for Ray to retaliate. He had promised retribution at the bridge, but Ray Aguilar was patient. Ray might let years pass by. After a quiet period, Miguel decided that he needed to go out and find Ray and those other thugs collectively known as the North Side Mafia, and do something about it. This had been his other main activity of the last two years.
One by one, he and Theo (who rarely asked questions about their excursions) tracked down the men involved in Commerce City, and eliminated any they found. Most of the time they had no trouble because those they silenced were miscreants that no one would mourn. Finding Ray and his last remaining close associates turned out to be not as cut-and-dried.
Then, in December of 2002, a tip led them to C.J. Body Shop, a mechanic who had supposedly been working on Ray’s car for several days. A mutual friend had seen the yellow Mustang parked out front, and so Miguel and Theo stopped at a sandwich shop across the street for lunch. They ordered their food and took their seats on the restaurant’s patio.
“I thought you was gonna to shit your pants,” Theo said as he offered a bag of chips to Miguel. “Who woulda thought that black guy was gonna pull a baseball bat?”
While trying to find Ray, Miguel discovered that he’d alienated many former allies because of what happened at the bridge. The last house they had visited had been quite inhospitable. “You know I don’t like to run,” Miguel said. “Next time, I’m bringing something with us. Knife, or bat, or something. I’m not making that mistake again.”
Theo laughed through a mouthful of food. “The look on your face. I ain’t never seen you look like that before. You just…” Theo stopped mid-sentence, pointing at a Ford Mustang as it exited the garage of the mechanic. “Wait… shit, that’s the car right there.”
Miguel dropped his sandwich and grabbed his keys. “Let’s just wait until we see Ray.”
A few moments later, Ray emerged from the mechanic’s office and walked towards the car. Miguel bolted from the table, and Theo followed to the truck, eager not to let Ray out of their sight.
By the time they drove away from the sandwich shop, the Mustang had gone on through the light and then left at the next street. When their light turned green, Miguel drove to the same intersection, but proceeded straight instead of turning to follow.
“What you doing? We’re going to lose him,” Theo said.
“Don’t worry,” Miguel said. “He’s got to be getting on the highway.”
Miguel drove through the next light and glanced left. As he suspected, the Mustang had turned right and was now travelling parallel, one street over. The current street dead-ended at the highway’s on-ramp. As they reached the end, the yellow car crossed in front of them.
“I knew it,” Miguel said.
“Not too close,” Theo said. “This some video game shit right here. He’ll know your truck, right?”
“Don’t worry about it. I know what I’m doing.”
“You done this before?” Theo said.
Miguel laughed. “Nope. But I play tons of video games. I got this covered.”
Miguel tailed the car onto the highway, with the Mustang fifty feet ahead of them. He took care to keep a reasonable distance between them for several minutes, and kept a watchful eye on the Mustang’s rearview, to see if Ray’s eyes would meet his. They never did.
When they exited the highway and started navigating through side streets, a couple of turns later Miguel realized where they were going. “Ahh, shit,” he said. “I know where he’s headed. We’re going to Ray’s parents’ house.”
“Can you believe the stones on this guy? Staying in his parents’ crib, knowing half the city of Denver got beef with him. Damn, I woulda never thought to look here.”
“What do we do now?” Theo said. “I ain’t got a piece or anything on me.”
“We can’t run up on him just yet. We need to think this through. All we got to do now is come up with a plan, and wait.”