January 2, 2022


Previously: Filling in the Blanks

A/N - When the speaker's entire sentences are italicized, assume they are speaking Spanish.

Without even bothering to look up, Chief Bibiana Solís paused, her long-awaited glass of Spanish sangria less than an inch from lips.

"To what do I owe this dubious pleasure?"

Mayor Antonello Gomez was a tall, chiseled, polished specimen of a man who'd never quite caught her eye before.  Like Bibiana, he was native of Soleado Valle, and becoming its mayor was his lifelong dream.

He sat down across from her in the old dark café and waved down a server.  When a gray-haired man sidled up to their table, clad in all black, the mayor eloquently ordered, "Por favor, un vino blanco."

The server smiled politely, nodded, and walked away.

Gomez looked stunning against the burgundy walls, and yet still...nothing.  Bibiana's brow furrowed a bit, wondering why even now, amidst the candlelit tables and the lone guitarist strumming mournfully in the background, crooning over lost love, she still couldn't summon an ounce of attraction for this man, not even when he lowered his voice to a huskier pitch and spoke.

Laz Alonso as Mayor Antonello Gomez

"Bibiana, I need you to get rid of Daos."

The Mayor had two rules she respected: never bother with English if Spanish would do, and never take longer than need be to get to the point.

"You already know that's not going to happen," she replied, indulging her sip.  She savored the blend of dry red wine and tart orange juice.  "Too many have died in this town for that."

"We all know what it's like living in this town," Gomez reminded her.  "We all know Soleado Valle has always rested in the Shadow of Death."  He crossed himself, most likely out of habit.  "There is no need to bring on the likes of Daos."

"I disagree.  I need to know what's been killing our people.  I need to know so I can make it stop."

"We already know what kills these people, Bibiana!" Gomez rasped.  The server returned with a glass of chilled white wine.  The Mayor thanked him, tipped him with a twenty (which the server took as a cue to go away), enjoyed a polite, almost obligatory sip, and then turned back to the Chief.  "It has been that way for generations."

Bibiana snorted.  "We don't even know what 'it' is."

"It is judge, jury, and executioner," Gomez said, eyes glinting darkly.  "We don't need to know what it is.  We only need to know that it has purged our town of the corrupt and lowly as long as anyone can remember."

The Chief was amused.  "Has it?  It is true that our most corrupt officials died all the time back when the city was run from the old hall.  But you and I both know corruption never left this town.  It simply changed locations.  Now, your Chief of Staff can sleep with his favorite hookers every night of the week - on taxpayer money, no less - without any fear of 'divine retribution'.  You replaced the last police Ccief because he had a bit of a heroin problem, and everybody knew it.  But he lives to tell the tale, in his quarter million-dollar house in Azul del Sauce Court. Meanwhile, Celestino Ferrera was orphaned at six, shipped to seven different foster homes by the age of thirteen, turned to a life of drugs and drinking at fifteen, and died before his seventeenth birthday."

She turned back to her sangria, fuming now to the point she could barely taste it.  "There's a flaw in the executioner's judgement, Antonello.  The corrupt grow old while our children suffer and die."

"Drugs killed Celestino!" Gomez protested, exasperated now.  "Surely you have detectives smart enough to figure that out!"

"I don't need to detectives telling me meth killed a sixteen-year-old boy," Bibiana replied coldly.  "I need Daos.  You know I'm right about this."

The Mayor suddenly rose from the table, done arguing for the time being.  To her surprise, he switched to English.  "You know the last chief he worked under died, right?"

Bibiana, however, continued in Spanish.  "I'm from the Valley, remember?  I was born and raised in the Shadow of Death."


"A tearoom?" Dominador blinked.  "Seriously?  What, they don't have bars in Soleado Valle?"

"Tea's better for your health," Daos replied, pouring two cups of Earl Grey from the carafe he'd ordered.  "It soothes the nerves after a long day's work, and you don't have to worry about sobering up in time if you get a call in the middle of the night."

"I see your point," Dominador smirked, arms folded across his chest as though he remained unconvinced.  "So what's going on here, Daos?  How come were not tracing where the kid got the drugs?  Why aren't we hitting up bars and street corners?"

"Break out your laptop.  This isn't about drugs."

"Knew you were gonna say that," Dominador sighed, pulling his Acer from his satchel and switching it on.  "And what's with that mammoth-sized book you're thumbing through?"

"This is the written history of this town, covering its founding until about 1922.  Apparently Soleado Valle was founded in 1782 by the Spaniards.  Nothing remarkable, of course; it was never a large city and didn't have any special industry, no cotton or oil or anything like that.  There were some ranches, and a great wooden cathedral which burned to the ground in June of 1919."

Dominador raised an eyebrow.  "Let me guess, before it burned, lots of deaths?"

"The writer, Juan-Agustín Hordoñez, states the cathedral had trouble staying staffed.  If the priests weren't dying, it was the monks; if not the monks, then a couple of nuns.  Even the groundskeeper died.  They blamed it on whatever is going on at the time - disease, heat wave, drought.  But then the church burned, and a new one was built elsewhere."

"Wait a minute," Dominador stopped him.  "You said it burned in 1919?"  He started typing away on his laptop.  "Didn't Dani Reyes say the old City Hall was more than sixty years old when it burned in '83?"

Daos raised an eyebrow.  He looked back down at his book, turning a few pages.  "Yes.  As it turned out, the City Hall was built --"

"-- in 1921," Dominador finished triumphantly.  "It was completed that September."  He looked up.  "Wait...how does this help us?  And why are we caring about this town's history, anyway?"

Daos finally gave him a smile, a real smile.  "Baby steps, Ona.  Baby steps."

Next: Needs of the Many

1 comment:

  1. Laz Alonzo


    That was my ovaries exploding.

    I REALLY LIKE what you're doing with the place, here. I have no idea where you're going with it, but I'm locked in for the ride.


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