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I Am Santo

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He’d finally slipped up big enough. ¬†Dunnings and Willis had watched him deal for a while now and could have busted him on smaller shit, but they knew he’d be the shark that swam too close to shore sooner or later. They could see his fin jutting out of the murky waters of increasingly worse corners as he grew more intuition about where his prey swam, hobbled with addiction. And while he’d moved from misdemeanors to light felonies, he was in the margins and not worth the effort of true surveillance and paperwork. Basically, he had to be the villain and not just another bad guy for it to be worth the bureaucracy of making an arrest that would stick. But then it got personal. Willis knew the kid’s latest girlfriend, a cutie named Sonia Chavez that went to high school with him in Boyle Heights. She was a few years younger, but it didn’t matter, you love who you love and Willis had it bad for her. When Barry, a mess of an addict that had only been out of lock-up for a couple months, nearly OD’d while pretending he was a fish out of water and flopping shirtless all around the middle of sixth street, Dunnings never expected it would lead here. Now a chain of witnesses pointed at their shark in connection to one of Gorton’s pier catches, a cinderblock suicide named Joseph that happened to be Sonia’s kid brother. Gorton hated paperwork worse than they did, but this time the shark had bit off more than he could chew, not because the crime of selling was too great, but because he sold to the wrong guy for the wrong reason and then talked too much about it. When they picked up Barry, he couldn’t stop blabbing about how Joseph went swimming without him in “Tyrone’s ocean” and Willis knew the story, had attended the kid’s funeral to comfort his high school crush. Dunnings adjusted his belt as he stepped from their car, glancing at the late summer moon as it hovered in the smoggy dusk over Hazard Park. Willis looked over at Tyrone’s apartment building through slit eyes. Funny what makes a villain, Dunnings thought. It’s all about how long you tolerate them and not about the crimes committed. The two detectives pulled their badges and stepped across the street.

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