24. Jack/Ramon. R. ~1000 words.
Late afternoon in Mexico is golden warm and slow moving.
Late afternoon in Mexico is golden warm and slow moving. Voices bleed through the wall in a rumbling slur that would possess a lyrical beauty if Jack hadn’t spoken the language. He stretches out his legs and closes his eyes, intent on picking out as many recognizable words as possible. Interpreting the conversation isn’t easy; Ramon Salazar has invested in thick walls. It’s Ramon doing most of the talking now, the flow of his Spanish scattered with random gunshots of angry English.
A beer warms between Jack’s thighs. He runs the edge of his thumb against the smooth, wet lip of the bottle. Claudia had brought it to him; pressed it into his hand and let her fingers dance up his arm before she sauntered away. He’d heard her voice outside the window not long after, soft and ripe with excuses as Hector pleaded for her to accompany him. She had given in eventually, and the slam of the truck’s door and the roar of its engine had drowned out a crucial point in the meeting Jack was keeping tabs on.
He considers Hector’s girlfriend in the back of his mind as he breaks Ramon’s words down to what’s important and what’s not. Claudia is deadly beautiful, and Jack speculates, far more intelligent than Hector gives her credit for. By all rights she should have been Ramon’s girl, but Ramon seems to play it close to the vest, never keeping the same woman in his bed longer than a few days. A woman scorned is the least of his worries.
A chair overturns with a loud crack. Jack’s eyes fly open, his fingers itching for the gun he isn’t allowed to carry as the next sound he catches is the dull, meaty thud of a man’s body kissing the floorboards. Adrenaline pulses through him, then cautious relief as Ramon starts barking orders. Jack sets his beer on the floor with practiced calm and crosses a name off his mental list of the Salazars’ associates. The dealer’s death will affect the strands of the cartel’s web to Jack’s benefit; the fewer pawns in play, the fewer he has to keep track of.
Jack rises to his feet, and he’s halfway to the door when Ramon appears, cleaning his fingers with a rag that’s probably the dead man’s shirt. “I don’t expect you to help clean things up,” Ramon says. He pauses at wiping his hand long enough to gesture at the couch. “Go ahead, Jack, sit back down.”
The leather cushions squeak and sigh as Jack eases down again. Ramon quickly and efficiently wipes the last of the blood off his hands. He tosses the filthy wad of cloth onto a small endtable as if by casting aside the red sticky proof, Jack would believe nothing important had happened. Ramon either considers him too valuable to bother with grunt work, or not trustworthy enough. Jack can’t be sure of which. Outside in the hallway he can see Chuy and one of Ramon’s other boys carrying out the body.
“Hector’s not going to be pleased,” Jack says. He indicates the procession with a slight nod of his head.
Ramon taps his fingers against his hip and aims a frown at Jack. Perhaps pretending that nothing important had happened was expected of him. Ramon’s watch flashes gold beneath the unbuttoned cuff of his shirtsleeve, and Jack gets a glimpse of the same tattoo that’s newly outlined on his own forearm. “Hector,” says Ramon, “is not in charge of this operation.”
“Of course.” Jack nods and his eyes drift to the floor. Play the good dog. Don’t bark too loud, and only bite when they tell you…. The smooth wood glows orange in the sunlight, and he fixes his attention on a small dark knot. Light refracts off the bottle standing nearby, and it glitters and wavers along the grain like ribbons of honey as the liquid inside the glass settles.
Ramon’s footsteps fall hard and heavy, and Jack’s not entirely unprepared for the hand that fists in his hair to force his head back. He’s seen enough times how Ramon ensures that people know he’s the one in power. Usually one of Ramon’s lackeys does the posturing for him, but there’s no one left inside the ranch house. Jack suppresses the natural impulse to resist, the muscles in his jaw rippling as he fights to keep his body pliant.
“How long did you say you were going to stay with us?” Ramon’s hand tightens in Jack’s hair.
Jack’s nostrils flare as Ramon’s other hand cups his jaw and hard fingers dig into his cheek. There’ll be bruises later. “Until I’m sure everything goes according to plan,” Jack manages to say, raising his eyes to meet Ramon’s gaze without flinching. He can smell the iron stench of the blood drying under Ramon’s fingernails.
Ramon looks impressed. He loosens the force of his grip pats Jack on the cheek. Good dog. “You’re a strong man, Jack. What was it that got you here?” he muses. His dark eyes shift to the ink marking Jack’s arm, and then upwards to the bruises purpling the inside of his elbow. Ramon’s lips thin in a small smile.
When Jack doesn’t answer, Ramon’s fingers travel down to the pulse in his throat. “Ever suck a man’s cock to get your fix?”
“Of course not.” Jack curls his lip. He walks this line carefully. It’s a dangerous game. You slink onto your belly often enough and you wind up a bitch.
“Are you lying to me?” Ramon asks. He pulls Jack’s head closer to his crotch, and Jack flinches away from the thick line of Ramon’s swollen cock.
“No,” Jack answers. “Are you saying that’s part of the deal now?” He can practically feel the heat of Ramon’s cock burning through the dark denim.
Ramon laughs and shoves Jack away. He pats Jack on the cheek again. “Maybe later,” he says, and leaves.
Jack sits. Jack stays.