I awoke to a stifling darkness, lacerated by a thin crescent of light. My world was spinning, and there was a hollow, metallic thrumming that pulsed through my head. I quickly realized it was the sound of a barrel as they rolled it off the truck bed and into the swamp. I listened for a second splash but heard none. Maybe they hadn’t killed her yet. The bullet wound in my back screamed when the stagnant brine leaked in around the dented lid. The pain cleared the fog, and as the barrel began to flood, so did my mind. Images of the night before flashed like lightning in the rusty confines. I saw Hector standing there, smiling. I saw Esperanza, tied and beaten bloody. I remembered the surprise as Alexi shot me in the back.
The barrel filled half way and stopped, I laughed in the blackness. Fucking amateurs couldn’t even bury a body proper. Alexi always was a second-rate hitter. I would have checked to see if the body was cold. I would have removed the legs, and I would have made damn sure that the barrel went under. That was their first mistake.
The bullet missed my lung and stopped when it hit my ribcage. That was Alexi’s second mistake. “Always finish with a head shot.” I told him in training, but in his arrogance he refused to listen. He had always wanted to take my place next to Hector, always thought he didn’t need my instruction.
I waited until I was certain they were gone and forced open the lid. My eyes burned in the sunlight as I worked my way to solid ground. The marsh sucked at me, wanting to pull me down into the salty darkness where I had put so many others. But I wouldn’t give in to the pull, I had a score to settle.
The crescent moon cast a thin reflection, like a spider’s web across the barrel of the shotgun, and I took a moment to appreciate it before I slipped into the Casa. I knew where the guards would be, because I had drawn up the security plan. Mistake number three. I took out the first two goons with the silenced shotgun and pinned the third to the wall with the Ka-bar strapped to my boot. That left five including Alexi, then there was Hector.
I slipped across the terracotta tiles to the moonlit veranda and relieved two more guards of their duties. I stopped to reload and noticed the hot patch of blood that was spreading under my shirt. The field dressing I had given myself was starting to give way to the pressure beneath. It wouldn’t be long before I bled out.
Alexi proved to be easier than I had hoped. I caught him with a prostitute, mid-fuck and shot them both before he could even register it was me. The last thing he saw was her head explode under him. Now it was just Hector and his personal bodyguards.
The two guys at Hector’s door were seasoned cartel muscle and one got a shot off before his face evaporated. I took it in the upper thigh, but it was clean, missed the artery. I tied it off with one of their belts and kicked open the door to Hector’s suite.
“Mary mother of Jesus!” he said when he saw me. His eyes were saucers, dilated with fear and drugs. He was in a red silk kimono with ten grand worth of coke spilled down the front. He had a small pistol in his hand, but the shock of seeing me took the wind out of him.
“Where is she Hector?” I said.
“The whore? My wife the whore is right where she deserves to be, where you should be you cheating bastard. You dare disrespect me after all I did for you? She’s in a fucking barrel in the basement.” He pointed the pistol and fired.
I felt the bullet rip through my cheek as it hit my face. The blast knocked me back, but I managed to pull the trigger and take off Hector’s head on the way down. From the carpet I could see the crescent moon peeking through the curtains as the darkness closed in on me. It was like I was still inside the barrel, right where I belonged.