Heroes Reborn - Book 3
Heroes Reborn - Book 3
James Dearing pulls his black, unmarked Crown Vic that couldn't scream cop any louder if it had sirens going up to the garage door and lets it idle. He wants Hugo Gallegos to know he's there. He wants him to know who's in charge.
Because he's been getting the distinct feeling that Hugo is forgetting that very important point.
Gallegos is standing at the back of the chop shop behind a torn-apart Mustang, ignoring him. Dearing gives it a few more moments, then kills the engine and steps out of the car, his holstered gun obvious on his belt.
"Lieutenant," Gallegos says, looking all surprised, like he's just noticed Dearing for the first time. He wipes engine grease off his hands with a shop rag. "I didn't see you there."
In a lot of ways they're opposites. Gallegos is a big guy, bigger than Dearing by a couple sizes. Dearing is all hard angles - lean muscle, flinty eyes, sandy brown hair. Gallegos is made of waves and curves. Rolls of muscle and sinew, long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, a swollen, bulbous nose from too many punches. Dearing can't tell if the guy should be a luchador or playing guitar for a mariachi band.
"We need to talk, Hugo." Dearing heads into the chop shop, eyes wary for any of Gallegos' crew, but the two men are alone in the garage.
"Detective Murphy tattled, didn't he?" Hugo smiles with too many teeth. Makes him look like a monkey. It's all a goddamn game to him. He doesn't get that if the wrong word ends up in the wrong ear, it all comes crashing down.
"You want to tell me the hell your problem is?" Dearing says, getting in Hugo's face. "We have an arrangement."
It's an arrangement that's worked out well so far. Dearing and his men give Gallegos information, Gallegos gives them money. It's that goddamn simple. Dearing does not, and will not, kill his own people.
Gallegos' smile somehow gets even bigger. "Big, scary policeman's grown a conscience. Fine. Don't do it."
For the better part of a year, Dearing and two of his men, Murphy and Evans, have had an arrangement with Hugo that's put a lot of money in all their pockets. Gallegos is one of Sinaloa's L.A. shot callers, a man who works the drug trade the way a sales exec copes with a flagging market. With marijuana next to legal and nobody doing cocaine anymore, the cartels have moved into cheap heroin, sending it up from Tijuana through San Diego to points north.
That's all fine and good. Dearing doesn't much care if a bunch of junkies who can't get their oxy move on to something uglier, as long as he gets his cut. But Hugo is proving to be an ambitious little prick. His request that Dearing, Murphy and Evans kill a Narcotics detective for him makes it apparent that their control is slipping. And they can't have that.
"It's not about conscience, you jackass. It's about exposure. Your money's good, Hugo. But it's not that good."
Hugo steps back, puts his hands up. "I get it, man. Too risky. Wish you'd reconsider. Be a shame if the press were to hear about our little arrangement."
Dearing stares hard at him. He knew this was coming. He has been talking about it for the last couple of weeks with Murphy and Evans. Taking bets on when Gallegos was going to snap and do something stupid. Dearing figured it would be today. Guys like Gallegos always pull this crap sooner or later.
"You're gonna wish you hadn't said that," Dearing says, stepping back and drawing his pistol.
Gallegos picks up a rag from the workbench, wipes grease and oil from his hands. "Oh, what, you gonna arrest me?"
"No," Dearing says and pulls the trigger.
Or at least he tries to. Searing pain engulfs his hand as dark blue crystals appear around the pistol and grow across his fingers like in a time-lapse film, encasing his hand in stone. The stone is cold, so cold it burns. He can feel his skin blistering. He cries out from the pain a