Thursday, March 31, 2016

Boystown: The Return (a novel)

Foreword, Prolog, & Chapter 1

By Ed Rogers

[Boystown: The Return is the sequel to Boystown[: The Cocaine Highway], chapters of which have been excerpted on Moristotle & Co. Both books are now available on Amazon.]

Foreword

F.B.I.: 199 Americans Kidnapped in Mexico in 2014

MCALLEN, TEXAS – Almost 200 Americans have been kidnapped in Mexico this past year; 79 of those kidnappings took place just south of the Texas border in the Mexican State of Tamaulipas, according to an F.B.I. interview with Breitbart Texas.
    While the Mexican government continues to praise their security campaign in Tamaulipas, shootouts, kidnappings, extortions, and highway robberies continue to plague the border state.
    In Mexico a person is kidnapped every six hours, according to the statistics published by Mexico’s National Citizens Observatory, a non-profit organization that keeps track of crime figures.
    Breitbart Texas met with F.B.I. Special Agent Michelle Lee, who spoke about the number of kidnappings in Mexico that the agency has investigated in 2014. While in 2006 the agency only had 26 kidnappings, so far this year the agency has looked into 199 kidnappings.
    “Kidnapping for ransom remains a very rare occurrence in the United States,” Lee said.
    However, in Mexico, kidnapping has become a moneymaker for criminals looking to make a quick profit.
    “In about fifty percent of all the kidnappings of U.S. citizens in Mexico, a ransom demand is made,” Lee said. “In those instances a financial gain is generally the motive and typically it is a crime of opportunity.”
    The agent advises to avoid displaying cash or other items that could make a victim attractive to kidnappers.
    Currently the U.S. Department of State has a standing travel advisory warning Americans about the security conditions in Mexico and warns them about traveling on highways at night and of the potential dangers in each state.
    The F.B.I. has a strong working relationship with Mexican federal authorities, including an elite anti-kidnapping unit that has allowed the agency to solve the majority of the kidnappings in Mexico, she said.
    In the other fifty percent of crimes where a ransom call is not made, there is some connection with organized crime.
    “In those cases you may have the victim involved in illicit activity, or the victim being related to someone who is involved, or in some cases it may be a case of mistaken identity where the person targeted was in fact tied to criminal activity,” Lee said.
    Regardless of the ties, the agency investigates all cases accordingly, with the victim’s safety as their highest priority, she said.
    Follow Ildefonso Ortiz on Twitter and on Facebook.


Prolog

Long ago in a world few today understand, I spent my youth running drugs out of a place that went by the name of “Boystown.” It set across the border from Brownsville, Texas, in Mexico. My business partner and friend, Antonio Espada, and I also owned and operated a house of prostitution, named the Golden Palace. All of the women, who worked for us, did so by choice, and we treated them like normal employees. The town was operated by the government and only working girls were allowed in Boystown.
    I know that today people in such an occupation are thought of as the low of the low. Even back then it was frowned upon. However, our generation looked at the world through a haze of smoke from the cannabis plant, while those around us used their cocktail parties to set their standards. The standard we set was very low. And prostitution was like the air you breathed, it was just there, and no one thought about it one way or the other. When you are young, most things are black or white. The grey area, where we find time to question right or wrong, did not exist. The C.I.A. was involved with the drug trade in South America, and after the army sent me to Vietnam I found they were involved there also. If our government didn’t know right from wrong – why did anybody expect us to know?
    About the time everybody started killing each other, Espada and I had gotten out of both businesses. Antonio and Carol Waters, the sister of my childhood friend Jay, who flew guns down and drugs back to the States for the C.I.A., married and moved to Texas. They adopted Pepe, the young boy who lived on the streets of Boystown until I took him in and gave him a job. Gina was one of our girls, but she was special to me, and after she left the business and I quit running drugs, we lived together for a number of years.
    As I say these things today, it’s hard to justify what we did in my own mind. How is it possible to justify such a crazy life to strangers? All I can say is, we saw no wrong in what we were doing. However, we could not see the future, and a lot of things have happened over the years, which we had no way of foreseeing. To us it was a job. We supplied a product, like any other business. And, in the upside down world of 1965-1974 we were the good guys.
    It wasn’t until June 17, 1971, after President Nixon declared war on drugs that things turned really ugly. The first casualty of war is “truth.” And the truth about the drug war is the government took marijuana – which no one who ran drugs wanted anything to do with because they couldn’t make the money on weed like they could Coke – and made it a big money product. The police and D.E.A. agents went after the low hanging fruit – marijuana. While they got their picture on TV pulling up some hippie’s plants, coke poured into the United States. Within a few years grass cost as much as coke, and the mom and pop runners like us were gone and replaced by cartels
    Between 1990 and 2002 Marijuana constituted almost half of all drug arrests, and, when these arrests reached 82%, the price climbed until a quarter ounce of weed cost as much as a pound did in 1965. Mexico has always grown some of the best grass I ever smoked. With a good product and high prices, the Mexican cartel grew fat on such an easily grown crop. Now, there is a war within the war and I’m not sure who the good guys are anymore.
    With so much money thrown around, it became the norm for the police to look the other way, which allowed non-drug related crimes to grow. Kidnapping of young girls to be enslaved in prostitution, and kidnapping rich tourists for ransom – these crimes grew larger each year.
    After Gina died, a long time ago, I walked away from Mexico and all its misery. I hid in Canada and settled into the rut of old age, content to live out my last few years in quiet contentment. However, the cartels wrapped their dirty hands around Pepe’s son and the web of drugs and death came home to roost.
   
    I LOOKED out the airplane window at Mexico City and knew I was home.
    Mexico was like a beautiful mistress who kept calling me to her bed, and even though I knew one day it would cost me everything, when she called, I couldn’t stay away.


Chapter 1. The Return

I watched the night rush past, the gloom lit only by the lighting and the strobe lights on the wings. We pushed our way through the dark rain clouds undaunted by nature’s fury. I was set on a course I’d been heading for all my life. Half blinded by the water, which ran across the windows of First Class, I could just make out the vapor trail off the wings. It had been a bumpy ride from the beginning. A large storm front covered an area from the Mexican border to Canada. It suited me to think of the storm as long fingers reaching from the hot plains of Mexico to the cold mountains of Canada dragging me back to her bosom.
    Ten hours before this fateful plane ride, I had stepped out of a hot shower and wiped the steam from the mirror. I had never got used to seeing the face of an old man looking back at me. I just shook my head, nothing to be done about it – if you live long enough, you get old. I had just pulled the brush though what little hair I had when the telephone rang, its sound in the quiet apartment shooting waves of fear though me. Chris had flown out last night. She was once more off to save the world...I worried when she took off to God knows where, because it was always in a dangerous location. This time it was an Indian Village somewhere south of Iceland. The only way to the village was by boat. She would leave from Iceland on a mother ship, which would hold fifty miles off shore, and a smaller boat would take them to the village. The whole trip was across open, iceberg-filled water – a four-hour trip.
    I ran across the hardwood floors, my feet slapping wet prints, which marked my desperate flight. I picked up the phone out of breath and with a pain tearing at my gut said, “Hello.”
    “Is this James Hamilton?”
    “Yes! Yes it is. Who is this?”
    The voice changed in tone. “James, it’s Pepe.”
    “Pepe?”
    “I know it has been a long time.”
    “A long time?” My head would not stop spinning. A voice kept screaming – Chris is okay, she’s alive, you need to take a breath. At last I was able to answer Pepe. “The only way I know you’re alive is when I get my financial report every three months.”
    “I know you have every right in the world to be mad and hurt, but I need your help.”
    “Does your wife know you’re calling me?”
    There was a pause and I started to hang up. “She knows, James. Our son has been kidnapped in Mexico City.” I could hear his fear. “You’re the only family I have. Will you please help me?”
    I stood in a pool of water, with no clothes – I looked out the large picture window at the park below and tried to piece together what Pepe was talking about. After all, I had never met his son.
    “What was he doing in Mexico to begin with?”
    His voice gave away how impatient he was. He had become a man that few people questioned, and I knew it was hard for him to ask for anybody’s help, especially mine.
    “He was in college, James. He and his girlfriend where taken off the street right outside of the school.”
    “I’m sure the police are involved – have they or you heard from the kidnapers?”
    Pepe sounded tired as he filled me in on the number of calls he and the Mexican police had made back and forth. The girlfriend’s name was Rebecca Holloway. The girl’s mother, Janet Holloway, called Pepe half-crazy with grief and ended their conversation saying she was on her way to Mexico City.
    “I thought about it James, and I have a flight out in two hours. I don’t trust the police and I am hoping you’ll join me in Mexico. I need you down there – you are the only person I can ask who knows how the game is played down there. I know I have no right to ask – but Manuel, or Tony, as we call him, is my only child.”
    “You’re my family, Pepe. I’ll be down as soon as I can. In the meantime, you stay on top of those cops. I’ll call you when I have a plan. Keep your chin up, we’ll get him back.”
    I put the phone down, and in my nakedness I stood frozen in time. I stared out the window without looking at anything. I was almost afraid to move. I felt fate reach out for me and my old friend Death was close behind him. Across the grey sky V-shaped black dots flew in perfect formation – the geese had begun their annual migration. The summer was gone and winter was right around the corner – I could feel it in my bones. As the years had gone by, it seemed each day I found a new place that hurt. I guess it was the body’s way of reminding me of the past. Every fight, every fall – I felt the bumps and bangs as if it was yesterday. I never thought I’d hear myself say the weather hurt my bones. Hell, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to worry about such things. If not for Christina, I would have died long ago and the way I was headed, it probability would have been alone in a hotel room, someplace in Texas.
    After the shootout at the fishing village, the cartel that had wanted me dead lost interest in me. I spent the next few years in contentment. After my wounds healed, I stayed on with Gina. It was nice to live on a farm in Mexico and not have people trying to kill me. I thought the bad times were behind me – then Cancer took Gina in ’96. Her daughters looked on me as the ex-drug runner who lived with their mother. After her death, they sold the farm. Without Gina it stopped being a home away, so I moved from Mexico back to Texas, and temporarily took a room at the Royal Hilton. Pepe still ran my real estate business in California. We sold off most of our property before the housing market went into the tank. He moved the company’s money from housing into vineyards, and I had more money than I could spend in two lifetimes. Sometimes, crime does pay, but there is always a cost.
    Upon my move to Texas, I had intended to buy a home and start a new life. Somehow, I thought I’d find that bond that held Antonio and me together during the hard times in Boystown. I believe Carol thought that that bond had cost her her brother and her son, and she wanted nothing to do with a reunion. As long as I was in Mexico and Antonio in Texas, she saw to it that those good old bad days never had a chance to return. On their visits to the farm, Antonio and I would laugh and joke about events that took place at the Golden Palace. To look back through age and time, even owning a whorehouse and running drugs takes on a romantic aspect. The fear, shootings, cold sweats, and always the law – with time only the good times are remembered.
    Shortly after my move north, Carol and Antonio sold everything and moved to France. They said the move had been planned for two years. Hell, maybe it had been planned – funny I had never heard them speak about it.
    Pepe married and had a son – I never met his wife. Although her last name was Eirksen, her mother came from a high-brow Californian/Mexican family whose line reached back to the days when Spain ruled all the land west of the Mississippi River. It was never said out loud, but I didn’t feel like I would be welcomed into their life. It did hurt my feelings to know a stranger was the Godfather to Pepe’s son. Manuel Eirksen Espana would never know the long road his father traveled to reach California. Pepe would never tell his son about living in a whore house or that his mother was a whore who dumped him on the streets. There are things a son does not need to know about his father.
    That left my sister. She still lived in the Rio Grande Valley. However, she had sold the banks and the farm. There was nothing left of my family. My father’s dream of a conglomerate of bankers died with him. The last gossip column I read about my sister, she was working on her third husband. The only time I heard anything about her was when she married. And I read that in the paper. We never did reconcile, she wanted nothing to do with me, and that was just fine. Although, it was hard for me to understand her attune toward me. We were close as peas in a pod as children. Then my father disowned me and she turned her back on me also. After so many years, we were strangers – if I ran into her on the street, I wouldn’t recognize her.
    Anyway, I never moved from the hotel. Every day, someone cleaned my room, there was free brunch each morning, and a bar where I knew all the employees – why would I leave? – it was home. There was also a pool. After a long night of drinking, I’d allow the sun to bake the alcohol from my brain. I had a ritual; at least two hours in the sun before I ordered the first Bloody Mary.
    It was in June of 1999 that my life took a very pleasant turn. I lay on one of those light foldout chairs. It was flat and hung a little over the edge of the pool. I was close enough to the pool for my hand to easily reach the cool water. I liked to splash it over my body as I drifted in and out of sleep. I was in the sun so much, I looked like a blue-eyed Mexican. Hell, I spent most of my life south of the border, so in a lot of ways I was more Mexican than Gringo.
    I was an hour and a half into my sunning when I heard female voices coming my way. It was early and I was too hung-over to give a damn what they looked like.
    A scream, then cold ice cubes hit my back and suddenly I was underwater. Gasping and spitting, I broke the surface. “What the fuck is going on?”
    “Please! Help me!”
    It was one of the women – her leg, was caught in my chair. The more she fought, the more it pulled her down. I swam toward her and at the last second dove to the bottom of the pool and came up under her and the chair. I unfolded the trap, and a beautiful pair of legs swam away. I released the chair and it drifted to the bottom of the pool. My head broke the surface and I watched her swim to the ladder. As she pulled herself from the pool I was given a beautiful shot of long legs topped off by a perfectly rounded backside. She had my attention. Once more I dove to the bottom and brought the chair up to the side of the pool. I threw it out and raised myself onto the concrete.
    “What the hell happened?” The other woman, Janet Wilcock, spoke up, “I’m so sorry. I tripped and knocked my friend into you.”
    For the first time I took a good look at her friend. The red hair was wet and dripping down her back. She pulled her hair over her shoulder and wrung the water out. “Thank you so much for getting my leg out of that chair – I thought I was going to drown.”
    She had fair skin, almost pale – certainly not from Texas. She spoke with just a hint of a French accent. “It was my pleasure, Ms.—?”
    “Oh my,” said the other woman, “I’m so sorry, how rude of us. I’m Janet and this is my friend Christina Shipp. Chris is visiting from Canada. We met in college, at Northwestern as a matter of fact and—”
    Thank God, Christina spoke up: “I don’t believe we got your name.”
    “James Hamilton.” I put on the most charming smile I could muster. It hurt so bad I thought tears would run down my face, but I knew if she walked away, I’d never see her again.
    “Are you down here alone, Ms. Shipp?”
    “As a matter of fact, I am.”
    “Well, in that case, would you ladies do me the honor of having dinner with me tonight? I have a table in the main dining room and I hate to eat alone.”
    I never took my eyes off of Christina as Janet intoned, “I have a husband and kids I have to feed tonight.”
    “How about you, Ms. Shipp – do you have a husband and kids to attend?”
    A beautiful smile lit up her face and a twinkle came to her eye. “No, Mr. Hamilton. I am without commitment.”
    Janet began to say something, but I quickly interrupted. “Then, may I expect you around 7:30? They have an exceptional menu, I assure you, you will be pleased.”
    “Thank you. I’d love to have dinner with you, Mr. Hamilton.”
    “Please, call me James.”
    “Very well, James, I’ll meet you at 7:30 in the main dining hall.”
    She turned and took Janet’s arm. As they walked off, I knew Janet was having a fit. Her mouth was going 90 miles a minute. However, I was more interested in the redhead beside her. I knew Chris was in her forties – but that was a backside of a twenty-year-old girl.
    Chris stayed for three weeks and when she left I was with her. It was a wonderful life in Canada. Chris opened up a world I never knew existed. Her late husband’s family was very rich and he had been their only child. After his death in a plane crash – twenty miles south of the North Pole – Chris took over the money and the 140 charities that the money supported. Had it not been for a head cold she would have been on the airplane with her husband.
    We both carried a lot of pain from our past, but despite the odds, we had found happiness.
    I felt a shiver and looked around at the watery mess I had made. As I headed for a towel, I smiled and thought, She still has a nice-looking ass.
    I called the airport, and got a seat on a fight from Quebec to Mexico City, which did wheels up in three hours. After packing, I called our answering service and left a message for Chris. Although I knew it would be four or five days before she would be able to check her calls, I wanted her to know I loved her, just in case I didn’t make it back home.
    The sky turned dark and rain was on the way, my mood matched the weather.


Copyright © 2016 by Ed Rogers

2 comments:

  1. Finally got around to reading it. It looks to be a super read.

    Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve I finally got over to check it out myself.

      Delete