Excerpt from, Gringa – In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord by Eve Rabi
‘Gringaaa!’ Diablo yells.
I slam the door on his hollering. Bastard can go to hell.
‘Gringaaa!’ he yells again, and again, I ignore him.
Finally, Maria quietly enters my room, a worried look on her face. ‘Senorita please …’
‘Maria, you tell him …’ I wave my finger at her, ‘tell him my name is Payton, and not fucking “Gringaaa! Gringaaa! Gringaaa!”’
Before she can respond, Diablo storms into my room and of course, hears what I say.
‘Come to lunch,’ he says in a strained, but controlled voice.
I look him in the eye. ‘No!’
He stiffens. ‘Come to lunch.’
‘No! I don’t wanna eat with you, okay?’
He grabs me by the scruff of my neck and drags me out of the room to the lunch table.
‘Leave me the fuck alone!’
He shoves me into the dining room. It’s Saturday so that entire gang is there, in the mood to party and to be entertained. Watching Diablo drag me to the table sends a hum through the room.
Humiliated and seething, I sit down and drum my nails on the table. I don’t eat or look at him.
‘Eat!’ he orders.
I ignore him and drum louder, furiously.
A man named Norman, seated next to me, leans over and says, ‘Senorita gringa want Whisky?
‘Yes please, Norman.’
Norman pours the whisky and places the glass in front of me.
‘Thank you Norman,’ I say, bypassing the glass and reaching for the bottle.
Norman’s eyes grow huge when he sees me taking giant swigs from the bottle.
It’s awful. I hate whisky. Tastes like gasoline to me. ‘Damn!’ I say, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand. ‘This sure is mighty fine whisky, Norman.’
‘Eh, Senorita gringa, my name …’
‘Lemme pour you one, Norman.’ I top his glass to the brim and hand it to him. ‘Knock yourself out,’ I chuckle.
Diablo’s not smiling.
Yeah, I’m supposed to be nice to him now that the FBI is involved. Well, fuck the FBI and Fuck him.
As lunch progresses, I’m feeling a little more relaxed now. Warm in my toes and even a little confident. Well, they’re eating lunch and I’m drinking mine – whisky, Tequila and some other shit on the table.
After a few more swigs from the bottles, I cross my arms over my head and whistle Hit me Baby One More Time by Brittany bitch. Totally out of tune, but hey, who gives a fuck right now.
Diablo’s hairy face reveals little, but somehow I don’t think he’s comfortable with my drinking. Hell, I’m not comfortable with my drinking, but screw him.
They’re passing around pictures. Pornographic pictures and the conversation becomes steamy.
Usually, I pass on the pictures, but today, I snatch them out of Norman’s hand. ‘Lemme see that!’
I peer at the picture then burst out laughing. ‘That’s the fugliest flower I have ever come across,’ I say.
‘Eh, Senorita gringa, iiis not a flower, iiis a, how you say it…?’ He snaps his fingers.
‘Pussy,’ some other fucker calls out.
I peer at him. ‘What?!’ I snatch it out of his hands again. ‘Gimmee that.’ I stare at the picture. ‘Mm. Can’t be a woman’s vagina. It’s too fugly. Has to be a man’s.’ I hand him back the picture and go back to my neglected bottle.
‘So many Gringas,’ Antonio says, perving over the pictures. At the mention of the word ‘Gringa’, all eyes zero in on me.
Am I embarrassed? Hell no!
‘Hey, don’t look at me,’ I say and down another Tequila, whisky – whatever – I’ve lost track of what I’m drinking. ‘I don’t roll that way. Why don’t you ask the fugly asshole at the end of the table?’
There is a collective gasp in the room and all eyes dart towards Diablo, including mine. Now he’s gonna be really pissed. Great.
But his amused response in Spanish brings on some guffawing.
‘What? What did he say, Norman?’
Norman is pissed enough to explain. ‘Diablo say, is like a fucking a colchon sometimes. He say, is a big let down. And, Senorita Gringa, and my name is not …’
‘Colchon … mattress? He said that, did he?’ I let out a long, low whistle. ‘Well Norm, what the hell does he know, huh?’ I smile at Norman. ‘Can I call you “Norm?” I don’t wait for him to answer. ‘He don’t know jack. Foreplay – hell, he probably thinks it’s some kind of sugar-free chewing gum, or something to do with his car’s steering wheel. Huh, Norm?’
‘But Senorita gringa, my name is not Norm, it is not Norman, it is Lucas.’
I stare at him for so long, he flinches. ‘Lucas?’
‘Why didn’t you say something, Norm? Okay, I’ll call you Lucas from now on, Norm.’
Santana almost falls off her chair laughing.
I look at Norm. ‘Now, Norm,’ I point to Santana, ‘she’s probably laughing at what I said. Or she’s laughing at what the fuckwit at the end of the table said about me – the mattress – whatever shit …but, you ever seen a donkey laugh, Norm?
‘No, Senorita gringa. But my name …’
‘Never? Well, it’s your lucky day, Norm, cos you’ve seen it now.’ I jerk my head towards Santana.
Well, that magically erases the smile of donkey’s face.
‘You biiitch!’ Santana screeches, half out of her chair. ‘I fargin’ kiiill you!’
I smile and raise my bottle at her. ‘Take a “fargin” number and get in “fargin” line.’
Troy comes up to me. ‘Gringa,’ he whispers, ‘come, let me take you to bed so you can sleep it … ’
My eyebrows shoot up. ‘Take me to bed? Are you better in bed than your brother? Christ, I hope so, Troy!’
Troy turns scarlet and shrinks back, all the while glancing nervously at Diablo.
Diablo looks at everyone around him falling out of their chairs with laughter and his breathing becomes like that of an emphysema patient – raspy and labored.
‘He really is lousy in bed Troy. And you know what? I don’t like him. He’s hairy and yuuuuck! He won’t let me visit my … ’
Diablo slams his fist onto the table, rattling the table and animating plates, cutlery, glasses.
‘Fuck! Look what you did Satan – you nearly made me spill my …’ I jerk back and peer at the label on the bottle in my hand. ‘What the fuck is this shit? Anyhoo, you’ve made me lose count of how many drinks I had. Have to start all over again. In case I have to drive.’
Diablo suddenly whips out his knife and flings it ninja-style at me. I duck and it hits the wooden beam behind me.
‘Ooooh!’ I cry shaking both my hands mockingly. ‘I’m in trooouble now! Biiiiga trooouble.’
‘Go gringa, go!’ some of the men cheer.
‘Whoookay!’ I say.
Diago stands up.
I stand up too and look him in the eye, my eyebrows disappearing behind my spiky fringe.
Breathing heavily, he creeps slowly to me, but I’m ready for him. I kick back my chair and sidle around, using the table as a barrier between us.
‘Watch him move, like a … eh, what you say for walrus in Spanish?’
The men laugh harder. Even Christa laughs.
‘You will farkin’ die!’ Diablo roars.
‘And who’s gonna farkin kill me, huh?’ I ask, dancing on the spot. ‘You?’ I throw my head back and laugh.
More laughter around me.
Diablo runs to his knife, grabs it off the beam and runs towards me.
But I’m already out of the villa and racing towards the cliff.
‘I’m going to kiiiill you!’ he yells as he chases me.
‘Fuck you, motherfucker!’ I scream over my shoulder and sprint ahead. I don’t care if he kills me, I just don’t want to be assaulted by him. He’s super strong and I stand no chance against him if he does. I’ve never seen him run before and I’m hoping he’s out of shape and slow. Well, the big lunch should make him sluggish.
But to my dismay, I can actually hear his breathing. I’m surprised at my slowness. Must be something to do with the booze. I have to admit, I didn’t realize how drunk I was until I started running. Too late now.
I run up the hill and through the dense foliage, passing startled villagers tending the cannabis crops. They stop and stare when they see Diablo chasing a gringa with a knife in his hand. Behind Diablo are his family and just about all of his men, some on horseback and some on foot, not wanting to miss the moment Diablo finally kills the insolent Gringa.
‘Go, gringa go!’ I hear.
‘Go, Diablo!’ I hear Christa say.
I run faster than I ever did in my life.
‘You will die!’ Diablo threatens behind me, still brandishing the knife. His breathing is getting louder and I know I have to do something.
The rock pool! I know for sure that Diablo is no match for me in the water. Very few people are. I head for the pool.
Changing route confuses Diablo and for a few moments, the gap between us increases, allowing me some respite.
I’m desperate to reach the rock pool so that I can shake the enraged animal behind me.
But to my dismay and my surprise, he catches me.
‘Let go of me, you fucking freak!’
We grapple for a few moments, but somehow, I manage to break free. Minus my dress.
He’s holding it in his hands and I’m running in just my bra and panties. I don’t give a fuck though – too drunk to care.
I’ve never been so relieved to see the rock pool and I dive in and swim frantically. I don’t stop until I’m in the middle of the pool, then only do I turn to look back, expecting to see him close by.
To my surprise, he’s standing on the banks of the rock pool, with his hands on his knees, breathing heavily. Behind him a group of villagers laugh and point at me.
I do what anyone would do – I give him the finger.
He doesn’t react.
I play an air guitar and start to sing. ‘I win! I win! I win! Yeah! Yeah!’
He glowers at me and waves his knife threateningly.
I’m confused as to why he isn’t trying to get me, though.
Then I hear jeers from some of the crowd. Something about Diablo being scared of water. So that’s it – this brutal slayer, this nightmare of a monster feared by all, is scared of water? How bizarre is that?
‘What, Diablo, you scared of water, eh? You fucking baboon! Yes, you’re a monkey.’ I tap the top of my head. ‘Hee, hee, hoo, hoo!’
Diablo’s mouth twists.
‘You wear clothes and you walk upright, but that is the extent of your evolution – you’re still a fucking baboon. Get it? A baboon that allows men to do drugs in his home. You’re nothing but a pathetic murderer. You kill women – how tough does that make you, huh? What about children? You kill them too? Huh? I wouldn’t be surprised, ’cos you’re such a fucking coward!’
Nobody is laughing now.
Two of the men, start wading into the water to get to me, but Diablo stops them.
Someone hands him a lit cigarette and he puffs away, never taking his eyes off me.
The crowd hums.
‘Usted es un pesimo laicos, Diablo. How’s my Spanish, El Bastido?’ I ask proudly. ‘I learned that from the Spanish Dictionary of Dirty Words I brought in LA. Means you’re a lousy lay. Funny eh?’
‘Two minutes then it’s all over. Two minutes, then it’s finiiiito!’
His drags on his cigarette are longer now.
‘You should stick to her,’ I say, pointing at Santana. ‘She thinks you’re great. She’ll always tell you how fabulousa you are in bed and how you’re the greatest lover she’s ever had in her whole life. You like that, right? Egotistical bastard!’
Santana is fuming. ‘Shoot her Diablo,’ she hisses, circling him. ‘Pegarle un tiro!’
‘Me? I’ve had better,’ I jeer. ‘Ten times over. My boyfriends were soooo much better than you, El Monstero. You just take what you want, you fucking low-life. As for killing me – whose gonna kill me? You? Ha! You shot me, but guess what? I’m still here, motherfucker!’
I look at the crowd. ‘Eh, how do you say in “You’re a lousy shot” in Spanish? Anybody …?’
Of course, none of the fuckers have my balls right now, which emanates from the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed.
‘You shot me because I was a spy? What spy? Some intelligence you have there.’
To my utter amazement, he smiles. For a moment, I’m not sure if I’m imagining it. But upon closer examination, by way of an intense stare on my part, I see that he is indeed smiling – an undisguised, genuinely amused smile.
He looks at the others. They appeared to be just as surprised to see him smile and they too smile. Some of them chuckle. A few of them even laugh.
But not Santana and Christa. They are not smiling.
‘What d’ya want me here for, Diablo?’ I ask, feeling a little tired by now. ‘I don’t fit in here and I’m like, so not impressed by you or your crew or your tequila or your Ponderosa. Okay, maybe your tequila. But I’m never gonna like, marry you and be your wife and have your children. Lord no! I have plans for myself. I gonna like, fight bad guys one day.’
He raises his eyebrows.
‘Keep her instead of me.’ I say and point again at Santana. ‘She’s mucho impresso with you and your … your ability to burn down a village of defenseless old men and women and children with the strike of just one match.’
He glances at Santana as if seeing her for the first time.
Santana’s smirk disappears. ‘What? Don’t listen to her, Diablo.’
‘The only time you will ever get anything out of me El Stupido, is if you steal it from me like you did. Other than that, you have a hope in hell!’
Somebody hands him another lit cigarette and he smokes, looking blankly at me.
‘I hate piercings and you’re like a fucking tea-strainer. I dislike tattoos and look like a badly sketched road map. I hate hairy men and you have dreadlocks and a beard. Uggh! You need an extreme makeover, Amigo. Oh, and some serious exfoliation.’
‘And you …you need to put on some clothes,’ he growls.
I look down at myself. Crap! I become especially conscious of Tongue’s leering smile and quickly drop below water level.
Diablo picks up my dress and holds it to the skies.
I shake my head from side-to-side. ‘I’m gonna stay here forever now that I know you’re scared of water.’
‘My men, they are not scared,’ he reminds me. ‘They can bring you to me.’ Then he looks over his shoulder and rattles off in Spanish to the people behind him. I grow nervous. The bastard’s actually going to send his men after me?
But, to my surprise, the crowd starts to slowly thin. I stare, confused. What the hell’s he up to now? He turns and looks at me, and I realize he’s messing with me. He’s not sending them after me. I giggle, then float on my back, while he watches. I’m in no hurry to leave the water. I just wish he would leave, but remember to leave my dress behind or I’d have to walk back to the villa almost naked. Not a pleasant thought since the alcohol is wearing off and I’m developing a mother of a headache.
When I look back at him, he’s smiling at my antics.
‘You have cojones,’ he says. ‘No one talk to me like that.
‘Yeah, cos you’ll probably shoot them for telling you like it is?’
He thinks before he answers, ‘Si.’
‘Gosh, you’re such an arrogant prick,’ I say more to myself. I raise my hands in a surrendering motion. ‘Go ahead. Shoot. But please – I’d like to die with the first bullet, not the thirty first.’
He grins. Then his smile disappears. ‘You don’t like me?’
‘You like Him.’
“Him? You mean Austin? Eh …’
His nostrils flare at my response. ‘Why?’
‘’Cos he’s nice. He’s a good man – pleasant, intelligent, educated … a gentleman.’
‘He must be gay.’
‘He’s not gay! He just … dresses nice.’
‘He is your sister’s husband. How you do this?’
I drop my gaze.
‘He got a baby.’ His voice is edged with reproach.
‘You getting all moral on me? You?’
Cords appear in his neck.
‘What? You gonna kill him now?’
‘Don’t you dare. Be nice for once.’
‘Yeah, good, nice. You know …?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You don’t know?’
He shakes his head. ‘Teach me.’
‘Si. Teach me how to be good, nice.’
I stare at him. ‘Why? Why do you want to be nice now?’
He drops to his haunches and stares at the ground. Then he looks up at me. ‘Imatired.’
He shrugs. ‘This life. I want to be good. Teach me how to be nice Payton,’ he says softly. ‘I want to learn how to be good.’
His words surprise me. ‘Teach you how – that’ll take decades. I don’t think you’re teachable.’
‘Si?’ His disappointment is visible.
I nod but then I feel really bad. ‘You really wanna learn how to be nice?’
He looks me in the eye. ‘For you.’
He suddenly looks so vulnerable and sincere and even human, that I feel a little sorry for him. I don’t know why I’m feeling this way considering he’s such an asshole, but I do.
‘You swim good.’
‘Swam for University of California, Los Angeles two years in a row,’ I brag, treading water.
He nods and raises his busy eyebrows. ‘Time to go now,’ he says softly.
This is the first time we’re actually having a conversation and I realize I’m no longer afraid of him. If he wanted to kill me, he would have done it already. Frankly, if he kills me, he’ll be doing me a favor.
I slowly emerge from the water and walk up to him.
He helps me into my dress and steadies me when I stagger.
I giggle as I fight for balance.
We stumble back to our villa in silence. He walks me into the bedroom. I stand in front of my bed and look at it. The bed rises and hits me in the face – knocks me out.
To read more: