CHAPTER 35 – Fish Tacos
May 16, 1995 – 5:00 PM
The forest green van drove up to the middle of the block on 128th Street, adjacent to Regent Park. It was an old ’65
Ford Econoline. Very basic, no windows in the rear, it was the same model as Luis’s white Ford, but a year newer.
Slowing down to park, it was all the willpower Raul could muster, not to glance over at the man sitting in the driver’s seat of the Cadillac he just passed on his right. As instructed, Raul parked two car lengths in front of the brown El Dorado.
He knew on the careful approach, cheating by taking a quick glance through the rear window of the Caddy—catching a flash of the red bandanna—who it was that sat at the wheel of the parked car. Luckily, there was plenty of space on the street, so he would not have to endure potential embarrassment by trying to parallel park the big van.
Shifting into park, Raul switched off the ignition. He reached under the seat to grab a slightly greasy white bag. Already apprehensive as to what the next five minutes of his life had in store for him, his hands began to tremble. Setting the bag in his lap—he forced upon himself the impossible task of not checking the rearview mirror. Hoping a calm moment—a sip from his water bottle and a deep breath—would help quiet his nerves—it didn’t.
Raul did not need to open the bag. Printed on the white paper were colorful graphics: Rosie’s Best Fish Tacos. But 295
Raul knew the advertising was false, as he and the rest of Alonzo’s gang had scarfed down every morsel last night in Alonzo’s office. Tacos no longer occupying the bag—it was now filled with exactly two hundred, $50 bills. Alonzo had stuffed the bag, purposefully not neatly stacking the bills, figuring Reggie would want to count the money. He wanted this act to take as long and be as cumbersome as possible. In fact, many hours ago, when it was still dark, before he handed the bag to Raul, he shook it up one last time.
As told, Raul did not remove the keys from the ignition; both windows were lowered and both doors were unlocked before he stepped out. Alonzo had explained to him, ‘Get out and take the bag with you. Walk around the front of your van to the sidewalk. I want you to approach the Cadillac from the passenger side.’
Walking up to Reggie’s car, Raul felt his legs weaken; he slightly stumbled stepping onto the curb. Holding the bag with two hands—he shook—as if he had an advanced case of an essential tremor. Anticipating this, Raul had proposed that his brother carry out the transaction. But Alonzo, being the elder, always had the last word. Alonzo predicted that Raul would be extremely anxious. But, he felt, that was actually a good thing; it would feed right into Reggie’s overconfidence.
Raul recalled the early morning conversation…
‘Raul, he knows you. He’s seen you many times before.
We want him at ease. He’ll be way more on his guard if it’s a stranger.’
‘But Alonzo, Reggie is…’
‘I know, mi hermano. I know who he is. I know he murdered Oliver.’
‘Please, Zo! I don’t think I…’
‘Raul, it’ll be cool. Trust me, bro. Besides, I’ll meet Mr.
Washington myself, soon enough…’
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