"Sparse and Molasses Slow"
His watch was showing five a.m. Two-and-a-half hours until sun-up, at that time of year. Cafe Rosa on the Poligono would open at six, for the basureros, who would have parked up the dump-trucks at the landfill-site out at the old quarry. You needed a strong stomach if you breakfasted with the garbage-men, but the places they used at the end of their shift opened early. One August in Sevilla, Martínez had worked on the black, taking a basurero’s shifts for a week while he got some cool-time on a camp-site in Galicia. An arrangement made in a Triana bar, with a man with dark ringlets, heavy gold chains and a matching incisor. Even the nights were sweltering, the gang of basureros hauled the dumpsters to the truck, pushing each wheeled metal container through crowds of drunk tourists enjoying the relative cool of the night. It was 40 degrees on the Saturday night and one of the other teams’ drivers had had a seizure right outside the Catedrál.
He’d waited the whole week for a contact. Between three and five, the hottest part of the day, on a cafe terrace in the Alameda, every day for a week. Service was fast. No other customers and the camareros wanted to be in and out of the sun as soon as possible. No-one came. Maybe it was a joke, or just a show of power. The two hundred euros he’d earned by standing in for the basurero paid for the coffees and occasional beer. It wasn’t about the money. It had been good to be part of a team, any team, after so long.
The Policia Local vehicle parked nose in outside the metal-working business was no real surprise. The night patrol finishing their shift by goofing off for a nap in their patrol car. More surprising was the Policia Nacional BMW beside it. Martínez hurried over to the Beamer and rapped on the driver window. The driver jerked awake, slid the window down
‘Looking for someone?’ Martínez whispered, as the one riding shotgun was still asleep. The driver scrabbled for his holstered gun. Martínez reached in with both arms and broke his neck. By which time the other guy had woken up and was pointing his pistol at him. He raised his hands and stepped back from the car. The Agentes Locales still hadn’t stirred. A brief glance in the rear of the BMW told him where the cash-box had ended up. The seats were covered in sandy soil. In an evidence bag beside it was a cell-phone. He ran to the rear of the car, heading for the passenger side of the Policia Local vehicle parked alongside. The occupants still hadn’t moved. “Shotgun” Nacional was struggling to get out of his vehicle and keep his weapon pointed somewhere in the vicinity of Martinez. Why hadn’t the Policia Local come out with their pistols at the ready?
The bulletholes in their heads told the story. The driver’s hand was still wrapped around his pistol butt. His partner’s gun was in his lap. Martínez jerked the door wide open and seized the weapon, firing straight through the vehicle, smithereening the glass on the driver’s side, before firing three more shots, downing the other Agente Nacional before he could even get a shot off. The policeman fell in a heap between the two vehicles. Which one to take? People had come out of Café Rosa, the owner and his wife plus the camarera, in early for when the garbage collectors arrived. They did not come out any further than the fence around the small terrace. Martínez checked what else was on the back seat of the Policia Nacional car. A few candy bar wrappers and a Guardia Civil ID. Rueda’s. He picked up the cell-phone, evidence bag and all, and stuffed it in his pocket. He hauled the other dead Agente Nacional out of the driver’s seat and took his place in the vehicle. As he pulled out, he could see the cafe owner’s wife, Rosa, with her cell-phone to her ear and her lips moving nineteen-to-the-dozen. He took a turn off the periférico and headed north on the back road to Villafranco, figuring the back roads wouldn’t be blocked just yet. If people didn't look too closely at the Beamer, he might get as far as Zalea or even Carretraca. He'd have to leave the vehicle a mile or two short and walk into either pueblo, as gossip and rumour could travel faster than anyone would think possible in a region where the internet was sparse and molasses slow and probably would be forever.
He wondered which of the Agentes he’d shot had left the pile of shit in his apartment. Whichever, it was a crude effort at disguising the break in as a simple burglary, Martínez reckoned. Puede ser, an anonymous call connecting it to the bloodbath at the Poligono might do him more favours than damage.