Heeey! Well look who it is! Didja miss your friendly neighborhood narrator, the fantastic Mr. Geroge Evans? I bet ya missed me, didn’t you? Of course you did. S’okay, there’s no need to be shy. I’ll admit it: I missed you too.
I bet you’re all amped to know what’s happening with some of our favorite people, huh? I’m not gonna keep you waiting, ‘cause, after all, you know me—I’m a crowd pleaser. Also, I recently took up a side gig as a purveyor of spoilers. If you don’t remember everything we went over before, here goes.
Last we left off, our trio of high school grads and their resident college drop-out, Glenn, were headed their separate ways. The lady Alma Grey was bouncing around on buses all over the place, touring the great countryside in search of her long-lost brother Jake, whom she figured was all kinds of dead until Mr. Glenn Radcliffe found out otherwise.
Our boy Kody Lehane was headed on a little trip down Mexico way to find and make amends with the said lady, his former flame no less, after cheating on her something awful with her bestie of best friends, the lovely Miss Cris-don’t-call-me-Charisma Roberts. Of course, shortly after the affair, the boy wonder left his new sweet chickadee, Cris, to fend for herself as he departed to find the missing Grey siblings.
The gentlewoman in question, Cris, had managed to find a ride back home from none other than her sultry (not that much) older sister Emma, who for some reason managed to snag Glenn’s feisty and familiar little meow-meow, Bixby, along the way.
And of course, everyone’s favorite, slightly psychotic philosopher, good ole’ boy Glenn, was left cold in a mess of his own blood on a motel bed—abandoned for dead by his “friends” Cris and Kody, in order to escape Johnny Law. Man, those dudes and dudettes know how to make a mess!
Personally, much as he’s screwed things up, I owe it to my boy to show him some love after leaving him out of last season’s finale, so let’s add about three months to the clock and get started where he left off.
“The problem with doin’ things the way you’re taught is that you accept things the way they are.
Makes it all kinds of hard to see the things that need to change.”
– The Memory Book of Siggy Martinez
Three Months Since Graduation: Outer Region of Los Tios, Mexico
A youth with stormy hair and wild eyes sat waiting on the back porch of the bar on the outskirts of the desolate desert town, not too far south of the U.S.–Mexico border. He was young in years but old at heart, the boy named Sigurd Martinez. He gazed out across the barren landscape, scuffing his leather boots against the desert’s dirty floor. He waited for his brother to pick him up, finally allowed to go out on his first mission as part of the newly established trio. After all, he was the one who had done the legwork to put this operation together.
Only a few days past his fifteenth birthday, his maturity and mannerisms far outshined those of his unrefined older brother, Adelais. Siggy recounted all the factors and variables he might need to consider—all of the things he might need to know, although he himself was unfamiliar with such elaborate terms as “factors” and “variables.” A hard, quick life was all most of the townsfolk ever knew. But he was determined: he’d be the one to set the record straight.
“He—y, Siggy! Are ya’ nervous?”
A brazen, sometimes ugly, sometimes lovely dark-eyed girl knelt playfully behind him, leaning over him. A pastel blue sundress hung off her lean, hardened frame, deflecting the heat. Her sunburnt hair draped over Siggy, blocking all but her face from view.
“Lorena, hey. Me, nervous?” he chuckled, “Maybe just a little.”
“It’s all right little brother, everything’s gonna be jes’ fine. Adelais won’t let anything happen ta’ ya’. But here’s a little somethin’ for luck. Jes’ in case.”
She tied a blue kerchief around his neck as she took a seat next to him, sliding a comforting hand over his shoulder. Her feet dangled merrily in the sand beside his own. He let out a small breath, clenching his fist. Like she said, everything was going to be just fine. He cracked a smile, turning to her.
“I ain’t your brother, ya’ know.”
She stopped and cocked an eyebrow at him, to which he couldn’t help but laugh. She pulled him close and kissed his forehead.
He watched her as she stood and swayed back inside, each step whimsical yet graceful. The heat of her touch left him warmer than he liked, thoughts lingering to the flourishing hips of his adoptive, slightly older sister. She disappeared behind the thin sheet veiling the back doorway.
“Gonna build a better life fer all of us.”
Siggy scratched his head, his repose cut short by the sound of a rundown pickup truck barreling along the gritty path behind the bar. He rose slowly, anxiousness unwilling to relinquish its grasp on his limbs as beads of sweat trickled down his back. The truck’s driver slammed on the brakes, bringing the vehicle to a halt before him. His brother’s voice broke whatever spell anxiety held over Siggy.
“Sig, the hell you doin’ standin’ around? Get in!”
Siggy jumped into the back of the truck, holding on to the ledge as his brother floored the pedal. The red pickup hauled off as quickly as it had come. Siggy sat close to the rear window, dust flying up all around. A tan but relatively pale hand slid the glass partition separating him from the truck as a shaggy blond head poked out of the cabin to check on him.
“What’s going on, buddy?”
Siggy looked the man over, not overly fond of the new guy. Although, as usual, he couldn’t help but examine the man’s face. Something about those green eyes always stood out. Siggy shook his head.
“Hey, quit talkin’ to me like a kid. I’m only a few years younger than you.”
“Yeah, yeah. Just make sure you pay attention and don’t get yourself hurt.”
The smug grin the passenger wore hinted more kindness than his naïve frame implied—a stark contrast from the calloused driver sitting next to him. A sudden jolt lifted Siggy from the steely bed of the truck as they hit the gravelly, semi-paved road.
“Watch it, Ade! I’m sittin’ back here ya’ know!”
“Shut it, little brother! If you got an issue with my drivin’, walk.”
Siggy sighed, still clenching his fists. At least his brother was close by. Long as they had been together, Adelais had always been the law. Long as he was around, everything was all right.
“So, are you nervous?” the passenger called back to him.
“Ya’ serious? Just ‘cause this is my first time going all vigilante with ya’ two don’t mean I’m a punk. I deal with these guys same as everyone else.”
“Yeah, well I get the feeling that dealing with them is probably a little different than what you’re about to get used to.”
“If a city boy like you can manage to learn it in a few months, I think I’ll be okay.”
“My name isn’t City Boy, it’s Kody. Try to remember?”
Siggy rolled his eyes and turned back around, cacti and shrubbery getting smaller with the distance. Wind whipped his ragged hair about. He closed his eyes, sliding his hand along the holster on his hip. Guns were made for killing, and as far as he knew, he wasn’t a killer.
Monster butterflies began fluttering around in his gut as the truck slowed down. He waited for the loud thud of the truck door slamming before he tried to move.
“All right, Sig, out. Let’s go.”
Adelais peered over the side of the truck, his massive, sinewy stature obstructing all else from view. He scratched at one of the assorted scars blanketing his body as he waited.
Siggy sat in the bed of the truck for a moment longer, eyes locked with his brother’s. He tried to summon the strength to move, but it didn’t arrive soon enough. Adelais walked off. A hand reached out and clutched his own, helping Siggy out the back of the truck.
“It’s okay to be scared, man, this is scary stuff. Believe me; I’m not exactly volunteering to get shot up either. But we can’t just sit around and do nothin’, right?”
Kody helped Siggy stand and brushed him off. Back on his feet, Siggy found nothing but a small shack a few yards off in the distance. Being the only structure in the area, it stood out, but not as much as Kody with a bad tan in his urban cowboy attire. The city boy had packed some lean muscle onto his otherwise unremarkable body since he’d shown up, but he still wasn’t much to look at.
“I ain’t scared. I’m just…adjusting,” Siggy said.
“Hey, do what you do. Just hoping we can handle this guy. What do you know about him?”
“His name’s Alejandro Romero. He’s done about every nasty a bastard can do, an’ he’s worth good money.”
Kody scratched his head. “Romero…Romero…as in the Romero family you were talking about before?”
“That’s the one. No one messes with them on account a’ they’re crazy and dangerous. We’ll prolly get our asses handed to us.” Siggy chuckled, trying to calm his unsteady hands.
“Maybe. Although if we’re talking dangerous and crazy, I’d bet on your brother any day,” Kody smirked. “All right, Ade’s on point and I’m backup. Since this is your first time, gonna start you off easy—”
“Hey! Don’t go treating me like a kid! I can hold my own!”
Kody turned back, cocking a grin in Siggy’s direction. “I’m not sayin’ you can’t. That’s why I’m asking you to watch the truck. Make sure no one but us gets out. Can you handle that?”
“Yeah, city boy, I got it.”
Siggy watched as Kody ran off toward the rear of the shack, disappearing around the far side. Suffering from no over-indulgence of recklessness, Siggy remained near the truck, standing vigilant. With the burden of the holster weighing down on his hip, Siggy cautiously drew the gun, gliding his fingers along the cold, metallic surface of the old-fashioned six-shooter, just like one of his abandoned childhood toys. Hefting its weight from one hand to the other, he got the feeling playing with this wouldn’t be as much fun. He slid the weapon back into the holster.
The more time passed, the more his fear gradually gave way to an apprehensive boredom. He blew air into his face as he glanced around, looking for anything worth looking at. Thoughts crossed his mind of what he’d do when he got back to the bar. So far, this job was the exact opposite of what he had expected. He figured it’d be something more like—
Several shots fired off. Instinct dropped him to the ground. An electric surge burst through him as he strained to see what was going on. Everything around him felt alive: the smallest drafts of wind, each tiny grain of sand, and an increasing appreciation for the weapon at his side.
Despite gunshots and elevated senses, no more signs arose of anything going on. No loud commotion or anyone running from the shack. Fear began to creep through him the longer each perpetual second dragged on. He wondered if anything had happened to his brother, or to a lesser extent, Kody. He caught his breath and drew his gun, creeping around to the side of the shack. He managed to peer into the window.
“That it, you sonuvabitch? And yer supposed to be some kinda badass…you fuckin’ pansy.”
Adelais fell back, hitting the ground hard, a small spattering of blood flowing from his mouth. He grinned, having taken the bandito’s gun with him. The muscular fiend built on decades of meager subsistence towered over Adelais, condescension filling his eyes.
“Like you know the first thing about us,” the bandito spoke. “You poor, ill-educated vagabonds hunting people for money. As though your self-righteousness makes you better. You may as well be government-endorsed slavers.”
Alejandro marched toward Adelais, dropping a knee into his gut as he mounted him. Alejandro wrapped his monstrous fingers around the back of Adelais’s collar, clutching it tight. The bandito pulled his wrists in and his arms close together, clenching Adelais into a cross-collar choke. The blood rushed to Adelais’s face, bulging the veins in his forehead. Siggy fidgeted with his gun, unable to get it out of the holster. His fingers kept catching on the leather. Finally ripping it from the holster, he aimed his weapon through the window and pulled the trigger. Nothing but a click.
“Ade! Watch out!” Kody shouted out from behind the doorway, unloading several bullets into a ratty couch and surrounding furniture.
“Adelais?” The bandito spoke. His snarling lips twisted into a sick smirk as he turned to see who fired at him. Adelais reached into his pocket and pulled out a syringe, uncapping it and jabbing it into the bandito’s neck. Alejandro recoiled onto his feet, grabbing at the syringe. He fell back, leaning against a table for support.
“Back off, Lehane! Bastard tried ta’ shoot me. I got this.”
Adelais kicked the gun back and leapt to his feet, planting his fist square in the reeling bandito’s face. The momentum of the swing carried Adelais with it, plowing him straight into the bandito and taking them both to the floor. Siggy, unable to hold his weapon, bore witness to Adelais’s relentless assault until Kody tried to pull the tyrant off. Looking up, Kody caught Siggy’s eye-line.
“Don’t just stand there, help me out!”
Finally snapping out of his daze, Siggy made his way into the shack, helping pull Adelais off the bandito.
“Ade, stop! It’s done!”
Adelais fought against Siggy as he held him back, giving Kody time to get rope and bind the bandito’s hands. The bandito lay restrained, though the rope was largely unnecessary as the man could barely move, much less run. Siggy let his brother go as all the tension he had carried with him finally began to subside. He let out a sigh of relief.
Free and clear of Siggy, Adelais lunged toward the bandito. He caught the side of the bandito’s face with a left hook, once more dropping him to the floor before turning around and walking out the door.
“Adelais, what was that for? He’s sedated!” Kody asked.
“A, the bastard tried to shoot me. Two, none of yer damn business.” Adelais wiped the blood from his mouth and knuckles as he made his way back to the truck.
“The hell was that all about?” Kody asked Siggy, while dragging the bandito to his feet. Kody forced the bandito along back outside to the truck. Siggy followed behind to make sure the bandito didn’t try to escape.
“With Ade? Who knows?”
Siggy and Kody, along with their bandito bounty, walked in the grueling afternoon heat back to the truck. Adelais waited in the passenger seat, repeatedly tapping his foot against the floorboard. Kody was the first to speak up.
“Hey, why don’t you drive, Sig? I’ll keep my eye on our bounty here.”
“You sure you’ll be all right?”
“Ade beat him pretty good. I mean look at his face—I’m surprised the guy can still see straight. If he can, anyway.”
Kody looked over the bandito’s face, scrutinizing it with what appeared to be a sense of familiarity while Siggy dropped the tailgate of the truck. He helped Kody load the bandito in before slamming the gate shut and moving up to the driver’s seat. The look on Adelais’s face made it clear there’d be no brotherly reminiscence down memory lane on the way back.
Siggy drove on quietly back to the bar, checking the bed of the truck every few minutes to make sure Kody was all right. He drove quickly, unwilling to entertain the thought of what would happen if a group of banditos caught them bringing one in—especially one as high profile as a Romero brother.
They made their way back into the outskirts of town and stopped near the dilapidated building that served as, among other things, the local jailhouse. Siggy looked over to Adelais, finding him absorbed in his own world. Instead, Siggy got out and helped Kody unload the now semi-cognizant bandito. They marched the bandito into the jailhouse. Once inside, Kody turned the bandito over to the acting sheriff as he sat to wait for all the paperwork. He nodded to Siggy, who then headed back out to the truck and drove it on through the town.
The place was rustic: a small, ancestral community built by the people who lived there. The town was quaint and off the grid in the shadows of the mountains, but had the necessities to get by. A small store, little church, a few homes—the essentials. Siggy pulled the truck around to the back of the bar, keeping it as much out of sight as possible as the brothers headed inside. The place was empty, as usual, but they called it home.
Lorena ran up to Adelais, giving him a bear hug. The impact of her body caused him to reel back under the pressure of her bantam frame. I dunno know why she even bothers, crossed Siggy’s mind. He continued to watch as Adelais waited for Lorena to let him go.
“Missed ya’,” Lorena said.
“Ended up bein’ a punk. Nothin’ ta’ go worryin’ about.”
“Think it’s up to me ta’ choose what I think about. And I didn’t say I was worried,” she teased him.
Adelais sighed, breaking her grasp and pushing her aside to take a seat on one of the bar stools resting behind her. He laid his head down only for a moment before a sturdy blow landed on the back of his head. He jolted up fiery-eyed and turned to Lorena, standing dominantly in front of him.
“Quit treatin’ me like I’m your little sister or something! This ain’t like me and Siggy,” Lorena shouted at him.
“Hey, I’m right here you know! And what does that even—never mind.” Siggy shook his head and walked off. He made his way through the bar, to the stairs before the kitchen. He headed down into the basement, where the brothers and their partner-in-crime lived. The basement was good enough for a pair of broke orphans, and more than they had ever had otherwise. Siggy lay down on his bed, closing his eyes, trying to recount his first mission and whether he’d think of it as a success or failure.
Didn’t get killed. Didn’t get anyone else killed. Caught the bounty. I guess this one counts as a win, he thought, but all this violence…this ain’t how life should be. There’s gotta be a way to make it better.
He sat up, seeing the urban cowboy’s Sketchers at the top of the stairs. He waited as Kody made his way down and took a seat on the broken-down bed across from his.
“Yeah, didn’t take long. Looks like they’ve been looking for Alejandro for a while. High profile, just like you said.”
“Maybe I can’t fight, but I’m not useless.” Siggy lay back down. He licked his bottom lip, his tongue riding the chapped surface from ridge to ridge.
“Nobody gets information better than you. That’s the word on the street, anyway.” Kody hesitated before continuing. “Speaking of, heard anything on what I asked you about before?”
Siggy canted his head, looking over to Kody from the side of his eye. Kody’s attempt at being casual stood out more than his mangled mess of scruffy hair.
“On Lorena’s cousins? No. Why don’tcha just ask her about ‘em yourself?”
“I have, but it’s not like we’re living in Tomorrowland here. It’s almost impossible to get any good info. And since my van’s dead, it’s not like I’m getting much further than a few miles without a good bit of cash-money.”
Cocking his eyebrow, Siggy sat up. “What’s Tomorrowland?”
“Ri—ght. Doesn’t matter. Just help me find them so I can get home, all right?”
“Won’t promise anything, but long as you keep helpin’ out, I’ll do what I can. Remember what I told you before, though—Jake left for a reason. If he’s stupid enough to come back, it ain’t gonna be pretty. Being Lorena’s cousin won’t protect him from Ade. Or Lorena.”
“Just find him, Siggy. Please.”
Siggy shook his head and sighed, seeing the resolve in Kody’s eyes. The city boy was as lost as everyone else. All so focused on getting to the next day, the next five minutes, so they could get whatever it was they wanted. They didn’t see the big picture. They were missing the point. But it didn’t matter.
Even if he was only fifteen, if he was the only one who could see what was going on around all of them—so be it. He’d figure out how to fix things and make them the way they should be—he’d be the one to set the record straight. Damp with sweat, he lay back on his hard burlap sack of a pillow and closed his eyes, sorting out details and planning for whatever would come next.