What if You were the Character Who was Offered Stolen Cocaine?
Fiction that brings us face-to-face with character dilemmas makes us ask tough questions — while causing chills to run up and down our spines.
Poor Arturo. As a kid he joined the Victor Boyz, a little known gang in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley while his dad worked construction. His friends Angel and a girl, Lil’ Jo, saw the gang as a road to riches and power while he saw it more as a collection of friends who banded together.
He worked alongside his dad and learned construction but growing into the wise and loyal man he became, he’d stick around the Victor Boyz. He liked Angel’s vision — hey, the gang could run some different businesses and profit from it. Angel was a small-time entrepreneur who wanted to open a string of legal marijuana dispensaries and hired Arturo and some of the other Victor Boyz to fix up his home as a marijuana grow house. Cool. Done.
But Arturo didn’t realize how much his friend wanted to become a big-time drug lord. That’s where the power was , as Angel saw it — and that’s where the dilemma lay. The mob was muscling into Angel’s vision of the dispensaries and hired the small-time gang-banger who had ties in Mexico and South America to get a shipment of cocaine into Los Angeles.
Legal pot was fine, but the lure of big bucks — into the tens of millions of dollars was being waved right beneath Arturo’s nose.
What would you do — with the chance of walking away pocketing millions with just one deal?
We see Angel, Lil’ Jo, and Arturo in the crime thriller novel Tom Stone: Day of the Dead sitting in a posh hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Angel’s being consumed by his vision and pursuit of drug money and Arturo’s getting cold feet over the final shipment.
Below the excerpt, Arturo faces another dilemma.
EXCERPT … Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead
Angel inhaled through a small golden straw, taking the rush through his nostrils and yielding to the euphoria. It was a night to celebrate in a way that he considered as obscene as possible — like a slap to the face of those who doubted and hunted him …
… Angel laughed. “You do this job with me and you can buy anything or anybody you want.”
Arturo listened quietly. “So what if we say no? What happens? You going to have us hunted down and killed?”
Angelino dismissed the fear. “’Course not, vato. You’re my friends, my homies.”
Arturo wrinkled his brow and commented. “Speaking of friends. What’s up with Sara? How come she’s not partying with us?”
“Don’t know. Busy with school I guess. I texted her the address but haven’t heard from her.”
“Careful, Dude. She’s going to get smart and leave you one of these days.” Arturo got up off the couch and walked to the window.
“What’s the matter with you?” snapped Angel. “You’ve been acting weird and shit all night.”
Arturo turned to Angel with eyes full of concern.
“What? You can’t believe this is mine?” asked Angel. He had purchased a few nights atop one of LA’s plushest hotels. From so high up, the view of Staples Center and surrounding movie theaters, shops, and bars made them look miniature.
“Jesus, dawg, you’ve got a warrant out,” cautioned Arturo. “DeVito’s guys are all over town asking a lot of questions.”
“Ask away, baby.” Angelino smiled.
“You shouldn’t be so out in the open, man. The cops are looking, too, and for the sake of your own ass it might be best if they found you before DeVito does.”
The comment pissed off Angelino. “I don’t need to hide. They want to find me? I’m right here with some of my best friends.” He motioned to the guns laying in the open. “And besides, they would never think to look for me here.”
“I’m just saying. Shouldn’t you celebrate after everything’s wrapped up?” Arturo spoke quietly.
Angelino smiled. “Tonight’s an investment. I’m showing appreciation for my two friends who will rake in tens of thousands of dollars. Like we’ve already discussed, all you need to do is drive a few vans from here to there. And then you stand around looking tough while I finalize the deal and collect my money.”
Lil’ Jo had no problem returning to reality. “I like the way you think, Angel.” She perched on the sofa, sitting on the edge of the cushions like she was eager to get going. “Hey? Did you really cut off Amman’s finger and toss him out a helicopter?”
Angel beamed with pride, like his name had been called for an Academy Award. “People talking about me, huh?”
“You’re a hero.”
Arturo spoke up, sounding disgusted. “What about Ramon? You kill him, too? Huh, Angel?”
Lil’ Jo waved off the question. “Ramon was a pendejo. We’re better off without him.”
“So what about us getting paid? When does that happen?” asked Arturo.
In Book 4, Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill we see Arturo back at the grow house. The circumstances are completely different this time. Now he’s the one in charge and he has the chance to sell off a half-ton of coke — one last deal.
What does he do?
EXCERPT … Book 4 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead
A musty odor greeted him, but he didn’t care. No one was threatening him. He felt like a man dying of thirst who finally came across an oasis.
Arturo went to the kitchen and reached below the counter to a cabinet door and opened it. He sank to his knees and grabbed a small, nickel-plated handle. He pulled it up and removed a section of the flooring. In between the joists, the bag was still there. He grabbed it, untied it, and counted the bills. Ten-thousand dollars. He heaved a sigh.
The money was still there, even after a few months. He set the bag by his knees and reached beneath the flooring again. He felt along and touched the pouch. His heart raced as he pulled out a kilo, one of five-hundred stashed beneath the floor. He saw the logo of the skull with the blood-red tear drop. The cocaine. Safe as well. What he hadn’t sold, he hid in the house. For safekeeping, a future investment. A time like now.
Now that Charles Scott was killed, he’d have to find someone to help him sell it off. Although, it shouldn’t be hard since the streets were crawling with drug-starved addicts. He could be swimming in money. It was enough to get out of Los Angeles and out of Zacatecas with his family. To go — somewhere safe and nice where people weren’t killing each other. But where would that be? And who would he have to inflict with the misery of addiction to make that happen?
Want to wrestle with the Big Questions and get in on an adventure?
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Check out excerpts for the Tom Stone novels here:
Book 3 Tom Stone: Day of the Dead
Book 4 Tom Stone: One Shot, One Kill — soon to be released