Paulino lie on the cold tile dead and bleeding. There was no time. Xyla ducked into the apartment, threw open the closet door and grabbed her red duffle bag. It contained the following.
- A Browning Hi Power 9MM Pistol
- A Beretta 21A Bobcat “pocket pistol”
- Four spare magazines, two for each pistol.
- A pair of beat up jeans.
- A pink Hello Kitty tee shirt.
- A pink basic bra.
- A classic pair of pink cotton underwear.
- A little black dress. It’s single noticeable adornment the thick gold zipper that ran up the back.
- A black lace bra.
- A black thong.
- A pair of yellow converse.
- A pair of 5" black heels.
- A box of tampons.
- Shaving Cream
She threw the strap diagonally across her body and slung the duffle across her back. She summoned Tina and they made their exit. Speed was more important than stealth at this point. It would only be minutes before either a neighbor discovered Paulino’s body, or he would miss his check-in with Fulvo.
Xyla pulled open the vestibule door for Tina, who led the way across the street. They moved with purpose across black pavement, Xyla opened the driver side door and Tina jumped into the passenger seat. Xyla climbed in and tossed the duffle in the back seat of the Mustang. As she pressed the start button, Tina let out a whimper. “Sorry baby,” Tina said before she reclined the passenger seat fully so Tina, who hated car rides could lie down.
Xyla drove for a few blocks checking for tails, that would be the classic play for Fulvo, but it didn’t appear there were any. Convinced no one was following, she pulled over. She slid a new magazine into her pistol and pulled the slide back. She wouldn’t be caught ill-prepared again.
She got back on the road and decided that some aimless driving would be the best bet, at least for a little while. She pushed the voice activation button and when prompted by the tone, called Brian.
His familiar voice rattled through the car’s speakers, “Hey little sister.”
“Heeeyyy Brian, how are you?”
“Well, I’ve been shot at twice tonight.”
“I take it surveillance at Fulton didn’t go well.”
“You could say that.”
“Well, I told you a pink haired spy who drives a red mustang would stick out a little. Are you okay?”
“Yeah. Bri, they were in my building.”
“I got home and the guy own the hall worked for Fulvo. He tried to take me out.”
“OK, come in, we can get you in a safe house. You’ve done enough for the department.”
“No way, I’ll figure something out.”
She pushed the phone button on the steering wheel. She loved her brother, the cop, he always meant well. She just wasn’t going to take orders from a bunch of men in a safe house. She needed to make her own plan.
Ever since 9/11, with mostly federal money, NYPD had been hiring, spies, mercenaries and hackers to fight the war on terror. When it was time to do things that weren’t totally (or slightly) constitutional they’d hire a “consultant” to do it. Dozens of terror plots ranging from mass shootings, to bombings to hacks were stopped in various phases of planning and execution due to these hires.
Like any good tool, NYPD started to overuse it. What started as an effort at homeland security became and all-purpose tool. Organized crime became Xyla’s beat. She was supposed to operate as a spy targeting Ennio Fulvo. He was suspected of trafficking opiates into the five boroughs by way of the new Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. Xyla’s job was to find out whatever she could from a distance, no gang infiltration. It was a relatively safe gig — at least that’s what she thought before today.
Xyla decided she’d need to pay a visit to her initial informant and see what she could find out. That was tomorrow. Tonight she needed a place to stay. She was pretty sure she hadn’t been tailed, but she’d rather not spend the night alone. She glanced at Tina, the slumbering giant, and smiled. Tina was the most loyal body guard she’d ever known, but she was pretty useless in a gun fight.
Xyla summoned the voice dial on her phone again.
“I’m sorry there is no one named ‘Rolando’ in your contacts.”
Xyla rolled her eyes at herself, “Call Hurricane Tongue.”
“Calling Hurricane Tongue.”
“Well, you disappeared.” Rolando’s voice was warm and buttery through the car speakers.
Despite her current situation, Xyla smiled, “I know. I’m an asshole.” She glanced at Tina, “I had to get home, you know, for the dog.”
“Sure, you did,” he replied. Xyla could tell he was smiling.
“Listen, I need a favor.”
“Of course, you do.”
“I’m in trouble.”
“Can I come over?”
“No, not here. We’ll meet at my other place. I’ll send the address to your phone.”
“You got it.”
As instructed, Xyla pulled into the parking garage across from the building. Her car would attract attention in this neighborhood, either from Fulvo’s guys, NYPD or common thieves. A pretty white girl with a duffle bag would be a natural target in this neighborhood, but Xyla’s 200lbs four-legged companion ensured the short walk from the garage to the door of the building was uninterrupted.
She punched the access code into the building keypad. Rolando buzzed her in. She went upstairs quickly, quietly and carefully as she did in her own building earlier that night. She knocked on Rolando’s door. He opened in quickly.
“Oh hell no!” Rolando whisper-yelled, “You never mentioned she was coming!”
“She loves you! Don’t you T?”
Tina leapt up on her hind legs and hugged Rolando. He recoiled as she licked his cheeks, “Ah geez!” he yelped as he pushed her to back to all fours.
Rolando was only a couple of years older than Xyla. He wore black jeans and black tank-top undershirt. His build was that of an Olympic gymnast, compact, strong and perfectly defined. His eyes were round and soft within his angular face.
Xyla threw her bags on the floor and hugged him. “Thank you,” she murmured into his shoulder as she enjoyed feeling his powerful arms holding her tight again. “Of course,” was his quiet reply.
“This is quite a place you have here,” Xyla said, looking around as they broke their embrace.
The studio was tiny. A single fluorescent bulb glowed a greenish light into dingy beige room. A twin-sized cot rest against the wall. There were two plastic tubs, containing who-knew-what, against the window wall.
“No windows?” Xyla asked.
“I added these,” Rolando said wrapping the metal plates in the window frame with his knuckles. “A quarter-inch thick, bullet proof.”
“I know it’s not much. I only use this place when shit gets bad.”
“Take a shower. The towels are clean and I left some clothes in there for you. I have chinese and beer.”
“Thanks, Ro.” Xyla went across the room on her way to the bathroom and kissed his cheek, “really.”
She emerged from the closet-sized bathroom in a pair of Ro’s big thick sweatpants and over-sized black tee shirt. She even wore his black socks.
“Don’t you wear any color?” She asked.
“I’m the man in black.” He opened his arms in a gesture of humility, they both smiled.
They ate lo mein and drank Corona. Xyla went over what happened at Fulton and in her building. Tina ate left overs.
“So, what’s your next move?” Ro asked.
“Time to visit, Russo. Time to go on offense.”
“Didn’t you shoot two guys today? Kill one of them?”
“Like I said, time to go on offense.”
“OK, take the bed.”
“No, it’s your place.”
“Take the bed.”
Ro checked the locks on the doors and windows, then dropped the two bar barricades he’d added. In the darkness he made his way against the wall. He felt the warm wetness of Tina’s big face.
At least he’d snuggle with someone that night.