“It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.”
Echols and his team drove a two-car convoy up to Liberty City. Echols drove his car with Sandra riding shotgun, Tillman in the backseat. Martinez and Parker rode behind them, carrying all the tactical gear they would need. Sandra blew cigarette smoke out a cracked window while Echols kept his eye on the road. Williams twitched and shook. Call it pre-raid jitters. Echols smiled and looked back at Tillman through the mirror.
"You ready, kid?"
"As ready as I'll ever be."
Sandra chuckled and said, "Don't worry, Dante. The guy we're going after is a real greaseball, but he's a pussy."
Tillman smiled to hide his fear. His smile turned wide and phoney. His fear extrapolated. Echols could smell it on him. His fear didn't jive with his image. Dante Tillman as a badass foot patrolman, busting heads and taking names. Something felt off to Echols. He couldn't shake the feeling all the way across town to Liberty City.
Classy Miami got left in the dust, Liberty City rose from the dust. High-end condos shifted to housing projects. Winos shuffled down sidewalks with bottles of T-Bird, junkies stood on street corners doing the dope fiend lean with drool ebbing out their mouth. Echols parked a block away from the house in a parking garage. He and the squad vested up, Martinez and Williams took shotguns. He bummed a cigarette off of Sandra and started his spiel.
"Guy we're going after is Raul Fuentes. He's a small-timer that got bumped up a notch when he killed three local dealers last month. Homicide is building a case against him, but I want to get him first. This guy is our problem, and we deal with him. We go in with Sergio walking point with his shotty. Dante I want you on the back door."
Tillman tried to look pouty, but Echols saw relief in his face. Echols shrugged and finished off his cigarette.
"Gotta start somewhere, rook. Let's mount up."
Sergio blasted the door off its hinges with the shotgun. He ran through, the three other narcs bringing up the rear. They cleared rooms while Echols broke from the pack and made a beeline to the back. Raul Fuentes in the backroom of the house, hands raised. On the table: Three bricks of uncut coke. Raul's eyes fluttered when he saw Echols.
Raul said, "The hell are you doing here?"
"Someone called in a favor."
The rest of the team shouted the house was clear.
Raul looked green. Raul said, "A favor? What kind of favor? Look, Echols... Whatever it is... I can pay you double. No, triple! Please!"
Echols leveled his piece at Raul.
"You shouldn't have killed those guys, Raul. They were with the right people. The Cartel sends their regards."
Raul started to beg, Echols yelled over his cries.
"POLICE! PUT DOWN YOUR WEAPON! THIS IS YOUR LAST AND FINAL WARNING, PUT DOWN YOUR--"
Echols squeezed the trigger. He shot unarmed Raul three times in the chest and face. Dying Raul flopped back on the floor and gasped. Echols took two of the coke bricks and tucked them down under his vest. Sandra gave him a conspirator wink's while Parker called the shooting in to dispatch.