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  • "Hey Sonny! You know that old guy who runs a business out of a warehouse on canal? Tomas Santiago?" the lieutenant called out. Sonny grabbed his coffee and sauntered into the lieutenant's office. "Yeah, what about him?" They had been watching his warehouse for weeks on a tip he was moving drugs through there but hadn't been able to catch him with anything.

    "Narco found three of his employees wearing the traditional Columbian neckties last night. They're over at the morgue. Why don't you take Jackson with you and afterwards follow through with the old man. Maybe something will shake loose. Two of the stiffs have the same last name: Miguel and Anton Rodriguez. Possibly brothers."

    Sonny waited while Jackson finished talking to one of her snitches. Bobbie Jackson was petite, black, attractive and mean as a snake. She had been Sonny's partner for the last umpteen years and he trusted her with his life - often.
    Bobbie hung up the phone and turned to Sonny, "Sugar, you got that evil look in your eye again. What did the big bad boss lay on us now?"

    Sonny told her what the lieutenant said and Bobbie got real quiet. "You know that might help explain why all my contacts are silent. It seems as if nobody is moving any product, anywhere. You think there might be a rival takeover playing out?" she asked.
    "Every time we've tried to talk to Tomas Santiago, his foreman Santos stonewalled us. After we leave the morgue, the lieutenant wants us to make another attempt to see him."

    The morgue was no different than the last time they visited. They both put a dab of vaporub in their nostrils before entering the autopsy room. All three bodies were prepped on different tables. The only thing strange was the tongues pulled through the slits in their throats.
    "Wait a minite" Bobbie spoke. She stared at the bigger body from several different angles. "Isn't that Santos?"

    They were quiet on their trip to the warehouse. Sonny was wrapped up in his own thoughts. He was remembering a night some seven, eight years ago when he had seen his first Columbian necktie. Some guy who was supposed to be in the witness relocation program. He, his whole family and the two marshals were found dead in his home. The man with his throat slashed and the others just shot. A family portrait with big X's on each face of the members. One son missing with a big red circle around his photo. They never found the boy.

    Sonny snapped out of his reverie as Bobbie pulled up to the curb. "Somethings wrong" she said. "It looks deserted". They tried the handle on the smaller opening beside the big freight doors. They were surprised when the door swung inward.

    "You're right. It has that graveyard feel to it." Sonny said as he cleared his weapon from his holster. Bobbie went right and Sonny went left into the empty warehouse. The last time they were there it had been stacked high with crates. That was only a week ago.

    They reached the inner office and Bobbie opened the door. It had been cleared out. Only a single table sat under an overhead light. Spread across the table were polaroid photos. The three dead men from the morgue; all with black X's across their faces. And another with a red circle around the face.

    The illusive Tomas Santiago. It seems either he was still being hunted or was dead somewhere. They only knew that he was missing.

    "I think I know who is doing this." Sonny said. He explained his theory to Bobbie about the teenager from long ago.

    "Do you know his name?" she asked.

    "His father was Walter Cummings, but the son disappeared with all the undocumented papers from the dead marshals. None of it was ever entered into the system." he said.

    "So, in other words, no?" she asked sweetly and then "Is this Vendetta just getting started, or is it finished?"

    "Payback's a bitch." he sighed...
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