As far back as she can remember, Angelita has dreamt of escaping favela life and becoming rich and powerful. A chance came when she found a half million dollars worth of heroin in her murdered uncle’s bathroom. But how did it get there?
My name is Angelita – little angel. With seven brothers and sisters, Mama didn’t name me this because she saw something special in an only child; she thought I had an angelic beauty and a spiritual aura. Boy, did she get that wrong. Angel? No. Fallen angel? Maybe, sounds more like it. No doubt, I was always stunning, but to some beauty is of no importance – my papa was one like this. It was nothing personal with him; he’d been pretty much indifferent to how anyone looked and that included us children. In fact, the only thing he found exquisite was a well-delivered right hook in the cage … maybe Mama was his exception. As far as spiritual aura went, I suppose I was a pretty good kid; all the way up to four years old!
Perhaps this sounds like idle reminiscence. It’s not. As my thoughts run their course I sit with half my ass on the floor and my shoulder propped against a wall to keep from falling. One of my eyes has been destroyed by a paraffin-fueled blowlamp, the other stares down at my hand, watches my fingers try to stem the blood flow from the wound in my side – and fail. What’s left of the white T-shirt I’m wearing is drinking at the fluid like blotting paper, my denim skirt has ridden up over my thighs, life-sustaining liquid is pooling under my leg and as it cools against my skin, it thickens to black tar.
But the dead blood is all that is cooling; the heat in here is stifling and makes the smell of the already stinking hole that much worse. Cordite fills the air, but its odor is polluted by paraffin fumes, sweat, and even human waste I think. I can see the soles of Monica’s feet and parts of her open legs sticking out from under the pool table, but nothing else of her is visible. She’s wearing ultra-high heels that occasionally dance in spasm and wobble what little flesh she has on her slim thighs, but after what happened to her she won’t be going anywhere in a hurry, not without a body bag.
Enzo is sat in a seat in the corner. He’s in charge of the gang of foreigners we’ve just been to war with. In fact, we are in the back room of his café now. Enzo is supposed to be some sort of El Supremo, but he’s whined like a baby ever since his part in the firefight ended. Sadly, he’s still alive. Tony too, his second in command, he’s on the floor opposite to me, back against the wall and staring with that stupid smile on his face. He’s been gutshot, so I can’t imagine what he’s got to smile about. Other than the odd shuffle to ease his pain, he is unmoving and silent – but that smile. Please, God, his wounds are terminal. I so hope he and Enzo die soon – at least before me.
I shiver. Shock? Lack of blood? Anxiety for my unborn child? The dead family around me? I don’t know. I’m so weak it’s an effort to hold my head up. But then why would I want to? My head feels like the fires of hell have been visited upon it. No, I shouldn’t move. Nor should I think of the pain.
A stupid thought, considering what has happened, but I can’t help believing that if Chico makes a show everything will be alright. He isn’t here and there’s no realistic reason to think he will be, but I have to keep believing he might, or I lose. I’ll keep still, be patient, try keeping the hurt at bay by concentrating on what happened to get me here in the first place, flip through my life as if turning the leaves on a dog-eared old book.