[NeOPulP] Data Dump: Installment One

A brown Buick pulled up in front of a dilapidated house at the corner of Cherry and Violet Streets, on the north side of town. There were two people in the car. One was called Huey. The other one was Max. They were brothers, and neither one of them wanted to be where they were at that moment.

Huey and Max were in a particularly bad area of Houston. The condition of the houses was terrible. The whole neighborhood smelled like untreated sewage, probably because of all the untreated sewage. It had been a very long time since any real money had been spent on infrastructure, as evidenced by the crumbling pavement and the nonfunctional drainage. On top of all that there were residents in that neighborhood who would just as soon blow a man's head clean off his shoulders as they would sit down for a nice slice of pie. Huey and Max knew all that, and yet they got out of the Buick anyway.

Huey went around to the trunk of the car and opened with the car key. His breath made small puffs of frost in the cold winter night air. Max pulled a Colt 1911 A1 .45 from a shoulder holster concealed under his coat, while at the same time Huey pulled a street sweeper out of the trunk. They both chambered rounds and made sure the guns were fully loaded and that they had extra ammo. Then they walked side by side up to the collapsing porch of the house.

Huey took one look at the porch and decided it couldn't be the main entrance to the place. The porch looked as though one step onto it would have finished off the near state of complete collapse. He was right. Nobody had used the front door in a very long time. When they got close to it the cobwebs they could see between the screen door and the front door proved it. They needed another way in.

Max motioned left, and Huey shrugged before going around to the back of the house on the left side. Max went around to the back on the right side. Those sides happened to be on the north and south sides of the house respectively. They made the corners into the back of the square two story house almost simultaneously. They checked out the back porch, which looked sturdy enough. Likewise the back door looked like it was in good shape.

Huey looked at Max and gestured at the entrance. Max shrugged his shoulders and walked lightly onto the porch, somehow not making a sound with his cowboy boots in the process. He took one big step and landed a powerful stomping kick right next to the doorknob. The door frame splintered and broke and the door almost came off its hinges from the force of the blow.

Huey darted up the steps and into the open house, but he had to stop because it was pitch black. He took a small flashlight out of his inside coat packet and affixed it to a small mount on the shotgun. He cursed himself for not having done that before they ever approached the building. Max gave him a look that spoke volumes, and Huey was sure he would hear about the incident again, probably many times. Max always gave him a hard time over mistakes, claiming it was his right as the firstborn son.

With the flashlight firmly affixed to the shortened barrel of the gun, Huey took stock of the room. It was a kitchen, and it had been in use recently. Huey slunk through the room and the doorway on the other inside, stepping into a hallway that ran the length of the house. He walked right past the light switch, even though it surely worked. He figured there was no reason to light the place up like a Christmas tree considering what they were there to do. Huey looked back to motion Max forward, but Max was standing silently behind him.

To their left a staircase led to the second floor, and beyond that a doorway to the front room with a southern exposure. There were three doors on the north side, spaced out unevenly. The rear most door likely led to a dining room, the middle to a bathroom and the front to a sitting room. It was a common layout in homes from that period in the Houston area. They didn't bother with the doorways, but instead went up the stairs, Max in front of Huey.

There were only two rooms at the top of the stairs, one on the north side and one on the south side. Max picked the one on the south side, because the door was closed. Both of the men could smell a strong chemical odor in the air. They looked at each other and Huey shook his head, more out of disgust than negativity. Max took a step forward, grasped the door knob and opened the door. Inside was exactly what they knew they would find, what they feared they would find. Huey cursed loudly and Max sunk to the floor just inside the room. They both had hoped it wouldn't go down the way it did.

[To be continued...]

[NeOPulP] Discordia: Installment Eight

Chapter Eight:
Jesus’ Tale
Carlos Ruiz Mendoza loved his young son very much.  Members of a rival cartel murdered the child’s mother during a vicious feud in 1972.  For that reason Carlos sent little Jesus away from Medellin when the boy was only five years old.  Carlos feared for his son’s safety in a world where assassination and kidnapping represented a viable method of social advancement.  Besides the boy’s personal safety, Don Mendoza also recognized the liability factor of showing his love for the child.  Carlos knew that his enemies would use his love against him in a heartbeat if given the chance, and he could not take that chance.
Jesus grew up in Antigua, Guatemala with his Uncle Fernando.  Fernando Mendoza owned a multinational export corporation that shipped coffee all over the world.  Fernando was Carlos’ younger brother.  He earned his livelihood safely and legitimately.  Carlos knew that Fernando wasn’t cut out for the drug trade.  Because Fernando lived a normal life, his plantation in the Guatemalan highlands provided a perfect place for a young child to grow up.
The plantation occupied two thousand acres of prime arable land on the side of one of the three volcanoes in the Antigua area.  Armed guards stood watch at the front gate because of the bloody civil war that raged in the jungles, and elsewhere.  The guards helped guarantee the safety of the estate.  The plantation’s remote location and limited avenues of approach guaranteed the privacy.  There was only one small road in and out of the estate, and nobody entered or exited without permission.  The property itself contained dozens of small tracks and trails, for the purpose of transporting the coffee crop.  To a young boy, it was like a natural fantasyland.
Jesus grew up on his uncle’s land, untouched by the bloody civil war that took place on many fronts inside the Central American country.  He played soccer with the children of the Indian plantation workers.  He loved to run foot races through the banana trees, but most of all he enjoyed the game of hide and seek.  Jesus lived so happily, he thought he was the luckiest boy on earth.  He sometimes missed his father, but he was very young.  His uncle showed him enough love to make up for it.
Fernando employed the best tutors in Antigua to educate the boy.  Jesus spoke perfect English by the time he was eight years old, and showed great promise in mathematics.  The boy’s athletic abilities greatly impressed his uncle.  Fernando hired a full time physical trainer to teach Jesus all the best ways to exercise.  Some of Fernando’s friends worried he was pushing the young boy too hard, but Fernando knew better.  Jesus enjoyed the tutoring and the training because he had no daytime playmates.  His friends worked in the plantation during the day.
Jesus’ father rose through the ranks of the Medellin Cartel.  By 1981 Carlos Mendoza was one of Pablo Escobar’s chief lieutenants, and obscenely wealthy.  He decided it was time to reacquaint himself with his son, and introduce him to the ways of the world.  Carlos arrived at a small airfield on the coffee plantation in his private jet.  Jesus was finally reunited with his father after eight long years.
Success in the cartel changed Carlos Mendoza.  He completely bought into the ideology of the drug lords.  He believed that God intended for the cartel to exploit the resources they were given, and that the violence of the business was simply part of the natural order of things.  Long years of cocaine abuse and self-justification warped the old man’s thinking. 
Carlos’ Spanish heritage instilled in him a deep sense of familial duty.  He viewed the drug trade as a divine inheritance.  He believed that it was his responsibility as a father to initiate Jesus into the cartel.  The time had come for Jesus to become a man, and begin his apprenticeship in the family business.    
The father-son reunion took place on Jesus’ thirteenth birthday.  Carlos allotted twenty-one days for the task, and informed his son of the time constraints of their time together.  Carlos spent the next three weeks educating Jesus about the nature of the organization and the inner workings of the business.  He presented Jesus with facts about the cocaine trade.  Carlos lessened the impact of the more graphic information with his own brand of homegrown propaganda.  Jesus swallowed the lies he was told, because his father gave him the information.
Signs of insanity showed through in Carlos’ paranoid ramblings and deluded rationalizations, but Jesus didn’t recognize the indicators.  Jesus often fantasized about making his father proud while he was growing up, and he welcomed the opportunity to demonstrate his worthiness and his love.  Jesus’ unconditional love for his father blinded him to the moral implications of the things Carlos told him.  The teenager basked in his father’s attention, which was something he dreamed about his entire life.  He would have done anything his father asked.
Carlos and Jesus spent three weeks of pleasant mornings talking in the plantation’s dining room and library.  They went on long walks through the shaded coffee fields, and lounged around the pool during the hottest part of the day.  Carlos congratulated Jesus on his passage into manhood, and gave him rewards for being such a good son.  Jesus tasted alcohol for the first time, when Carlos opened a bottle of fine cognac for just the two of them.  It was difficult for Jesus to feel that anything was wrong in that atmosphere.
On the last morning of their time together, Carlos embraced his son and expressed pride in him.  He told Jesus that it was graduation day.  From that day forward Jesus would be a full member of the Medellin Cartel.  He quizzed Jesus about some of the finer points of their discussions, and all of the questions related to the cartel’s methods of dealing with their enemies.  The subject matter and the look in his father’s eyes frightened Jesus, but he answered all of the questions to Carlos’ satisfaction.
“Are you absolutely clear that the men who stand against us must be destroyed, at all costs?”  Carlos asked his son.
“Yes, father,” Jesus answered.
“Would you kill someone for our family, Jesus?”
“Yes, father.”
“Then come with me, son.”
The older man led them from the house to the garage.  They got into Fernando’s Mercedes Benz.  Carlos drove his son down a small gravel road that wound far into the recesses of the plantation.  The older man refused to answer any of Jesus’ questions, and admonished him to remain silent as they rode. 
After about twenty minutes they arrived at a small shack near the base of the volcano.  A man with a machine gun sat in front of the place.  Jesus knew that his Uncle Fernando never posted armed men inside the property.  He got a sinking feeling that something bad was about to happen.
Carlos gestured for his son to enter the shack, and Jesus did so.  Inside there was only a table and a few chairs.  Tied securely to one of the chairs was a man Jesus didn’t recognize.  The man had been severely beaten.  Both of his eyes were black, and swollen almost completely shut.  Dried blood was caked on his chin where it dripped down from his mouth.  The man’s lips were puffed and torn from being smashed between knuckles and his own teeth.  The man groaned when they entered, dimly aware of their presence.
“Look closely at this man, Jesus,” his father told him.  “We discovered that he gave information to a United States DEA agent.  They collared him six months ago, and to save his own worthless hide he betrayed his friends and family.  At first we didn’t know who the traitor was, so we fed false information to several of our people.  The filthy betrayer turned out to be this man.”
“What are you going to do to him, father?”  Jesus asked his father. 
The scene disturbed the thirteen-year-old deeply.  He had never witnessed human suffering before, much less intentionally inflicted injuries.  What his father taught him about enforcing the secrecy of the cartel made perfect sense when it was only talk.  He saw nothing right about the practice in reality, however.  It made him feel sick.
“It’s not what I’m going to do to him, Jesus.  It’s what you’re going to do to him.  End his suffering, son.  Take his miserable life,” Carlos ordered.  He pulled a small pistol from a holster inside his belt and handed it to Jesus.
The request sounded so simple, but Jesus didn’t know if he could do it.  It was one thing to talk about killing someone, but an altogether different thing to carry out the task.  His emotions seethed inside him.  The Catholic values his uncle taught him warred with the desire to win his father’s approval.  He could not bring himself to take the pistol from his father’s hand.
“What troubles you, Jesus?”
“You know I listened to everything you’ve told me for the past few weeks, but in church I learned that it is wrong to hurt people.  I don’t know if I can do something so terrible,” the adolescent boy confessed.
“Listen to me, and try to understand what I am going to tell you.  By taking this man’s life you will be freeing him from a life of pain.  No matter what sins this man had in his lifetime, he has had time to make peace with God by now.  You will be sending him to heaven, unless he is truly beyond salvation.  In any case, you won’t be committing an unjust act.
“If we let people like this man get away with informing on the families of the organization, then we are essentially allowing evil to take place.  Cartel members are tortured and executed every day in Colombia, and they are the lucky ones.  Others are kept alive in prisons so terrible they seem like hell on earth.  This man sent a number of people to terrible fates, but not openly, like a soldier would.  He did it through treachery and betrayal of trust.  His actions remind me of Judas Iscariot.  Taking this man’s life is not a sin, Jesus.  It’s the right thing to do,” his father lectured him.
The ideas all made sense again, when his father explained them.  Jesus took the pistol.  His father tapped a finger on the man’s temple, and Jesus understood.  He placed the gun beside the man’s head and pulled the trigger.  After the sound quit ringing in Jesus’ ears, he realized that in its place there was only emptiness.
The act haunted Jesus for centuries.  He never forgot that moment.  It was the moment when he lost his way.  All the regret and hindsight in the universe couldn’t change something once it took place.  Jesus hated the laws of nature, almost as much as he sometimes hated himself for the things he did.
After Jesus passed his “final exam” he left Fernando’s plantation forever.  On the day Jesus left, his uncle refused to look directly at him.  Fernando knew what happened, and he couldn’t bear to see the evidence of Carlos’ corrupting influence.  Fernando’s stance infuriated his brother.  A few years later Carlos ordered his brother’s execution, and seized possession of the plantation for his own purposes.  Jesus never found out.
Once the young Jesus settled down in Medellin he was totally immersed in the lore of the cartel.  He carried a gun at all times, and became a victim of the paranoia that infects drug dealers.  He attended low level business meetings for the purpose of learning proper etiquette.  He also witnessed several more executions, though he was not asked to pull the trigger again.  He became immune to the nausea he originally felt at seeing a man’s brains on the floor.
Jesus was considered an adult in his society, and he acted like one.  He found that he enjoyed the presence of pretty girls, and spent a lot of money keeping different ones around at all times.  Carlos viewed Jesus’ licentious behavior as a sign of weakness, and banned the presence of prostitutes in the Mendoza hacienda.  Jesus became highly skilled at hiding women in his private apartment, in stark defiance of Carlos’ wishes.  Sex helped him escape reality for a little while.
The Santa Lucia Preparatory Academy in Medellin welcomed Jesus into the student body in the fall of 1982.  Jesus never realized how much he enjoyed normal life until he moved home with his father.  Classes and homework appealed to him much more greatly than listening to old drug dealers tell war stories.  He encountered the beautiful daughters of wealthy landowners at his school, and the school immediately became his favorite place to be.  He even gave up whores, because none of them could measure up to the señoritas he admired during the day.
Jesus trained in the martial arts on a daily basis, and joined the track team.  He became very popular among the other students.  The girls wanted to be with him because of his athleticism and good looks, and the boys wanted to be with him to improve their own chances with the girls.  Jesus forgot all about his home life while he was at school, but the fantasy of normalcy would not last.
In the summer of 1986 Carlos sent Jesus into the Peruvian Andes to study special subjects.  An old Indian named Silvio, who was tough as nails, schooled Jesus in the art of assassination.  Jesus learned thirty ways to poison a man with readily available ingredients.  He learned how to throw any item that could injure or kill a man, anything metal with a point on it: axes, knives, forks, nails, needles and screwdrivers.  Silvio taught him how to fashion booby traps in nature, using vegetation, tree limbs and rocks.  Jesus developed a morbid interest in the subject, and was always hungry for more knowledge.
When the summer ended, Jesus was surprised to find out that he wouldn’t be returning to Santa Lucia’s.  Carlos gave Silvio complete control over Jesus’ life.  The old Indian was under strict orders not to release Jesus until his education was complete.  Silvio told Jesus that three months of playing in the mountains did not make him ready to hunt human beings.  Jesus protested strongly, because he missed the young girls of Medellin.
Silvio finally lost patience with Jesus’ whining.  The old Indian told Jesus that if he could prove his worthiness, then Jesus could return to his soft existence at home.  He took Jesus to a hut high in the mountains, and left him there with no food or water.  Silvio agreed to send Jesus home if he could survive a week.
Silvio hid in the rocks two ridges over and watched.  On the fifth day Jesus failed to appear.  Silvio traversed the distance to find the young man unconscious, suffering from severe dehydration and hunger.  Jesus was so proud he refused to admit defeat, even if it killed him.  Silvio spent two days nursing Jesus back to health, and then resumed the young man’s education.
Physical training took on a completely different meaning under Silvio’s tutelage.  Every morning Jesus carried buckets of water up a steep trail that was almost a mile long.  He chopped firewood for over an hour almost every day.  He slept on a straw mat on the hard ground, and bathed in ice cold water.  The training was meant to increase his capacity to endure hardship and pain. 
Silvio constantly made conditions more difficult, because Jesus never seemed to tire.  The old Indian moved their camp back to the hut, seven thousand feet above sea level.  Jesus learned to collect dew for drinking water.  Silvio taught him that any moving creature constituted nutrition.  Jesus survived off of bugs and slugs for three days, while Silvio ate rabbit and venison.  The Indian considered the look of hatred in the young man’s eyes a good sign, but he didn’t take Jesus lightly.  Silvio slept with one eye open.
When winter reared its ugly head in June of 1987, Silvio told Jesus that it was time to return to Colombia.  Jesus rolled his eyes when he found out that Silvio was going with him.  Jesus frowned when he learned they weren’t going to Medellin.  The education had entered a new stage.
They traveled to the most dangerous area of Colombia, the coca rich region near the Peruvian border.  They passed through government checkpoints unmolested.  Money determined loyalty in the region.  Jesus father provided them with bank drafts to get where they needed to go without any problems.
The funds got them through the government checkpoints, but it took more than that to reach their destination.  The cartel employed leftist guerrillas to guard the coca region, and money didn’t mean so much to them.  Silvio and Jesus spent a tense day on the outskirts of a town called Putumayo, waiting for leftist soldiers to confirm their identities.  When the guerrilla commander found out who Jesus was, he offered the use of five men as escorts and guards.  Silvio refused the offer.
Life in Putumayo was very tense.  The threat of violence hung heavy in the air.  Everybody there looked for an opportunity to advance his or her own position by any means available.  Disrespecting or cheating the cartel was absolutely forbidden, but that’s where the rules ended.  Silvio and Jesus found lodging near the center of town.
Silvio explained, “Your father has high hopes for you, Jesus.  He wants you to lead the cartel one day, and his dreams for you don’t stop there.  He knows that to rise to such a position requires absolute ruthlessness, and that is something that can not be taught.  It can only be acquired.  You are here to acquire ruthlessness, Jesus.  I have given you the tools you need, and now you just have to use them.”
By that time Jesus no longer had any moral objections to his duties in the cartel.  The boy inside him no longer existed.  The man inside him wanted to take the world by the balls.  Silvio told Jesus he was there to eliminate members of a rival cartel trying to muscle in on the Medellin Cartel.  Jesus felt like a pit bull loosed from its chain.
Over the next six months Jesus tracked down the top eight representatives of the Cali Cartel in the region.  He killed them one by one without any hesitation or complications, even though each man was more cautious than the one before.  Jesus displayed a natural talent for assassination.  He came to be known as “Little Death” among the natives, because of his age and his deadliness.  When the last Cali representative was killed, Silvio embraced Jesus and bid him farewell. 
Silvio returned to his home in the Andes.  Jesus made the trip back to Medellin, where the cartel gave him a million-dollar villa for his efforts in Putumayo.  Jesus’ time with Silvio changed him so much that he no longer had any interest in school.  Jesus took his favorite girlfriend out on a date to celebrate his return, but he couldn’t relate to anything about her life.  He felt like a stranger in the normal world.  He couldn’t return to the home he longed for, because it vanished with his innocence.  He settled for a night with two of Medellin’s finest prostitutes.
Jesus rarely saw his father.  Carlos treated Jesus more like a project than a son, and Jesus knew that.  When Carlos showed up at the villa in March of 1987, Jesus knew life was about to change again.  The old man informed Jesus that he had been admitted to Louisiana State University in the United States, and that he would be attending in September.  Jesus mouth dropped open.  Carlos told Jesus the Cartel wanted him to be an attorney, and LSU was the easiest place for him to start.
It turned out to be true.  Carlos’ secretary purchased all of the necessary documentation in Medellin.  She submitted it all to the university, who had a hard time saying no to a valedictorian, and son of a Colombian diplomat.  Jesus thought she laid it on a little thick, but he was ecstatic that she had.  He couldn’t wait to get away from the atmosphere of fear and paranoia in Medellin.  His father ordered hits on six judges the month Jesus went off to college.
Life in the United States restored a certain amount of Jesus’ sanity.  Some world nations denounced the United States as a violent gun-toting society, but Jesus marveled at the peacefulness and optimism he encountered.  After a couple of months at LSU, Jesus wondered if he could ever return to the constant struggles of Colombia.  He found freedom and stability to be very agreeable.
Jesus should have suspected that there would be strings attached, but he was enjoying the experience too much to worry about it.  He forgot all about the cartel.  The cartel did not forget about him.  December 2, 1987, one of Carlos’ close associates in the states showed up at Jesus’ dorm room.  The man took Jesus for a ride in a Ferrari, and spelled out the hidden details of Jesus’ college experience.  The cartel didn’t really want an educated lawyer.  They wanted a hit man with a perfect cover.
The cartel had identified three high value targets in the United States that they wanted eliminated.  One of the targets was an oil tycoon in Houston, and another was a federal prosecutor in Miami.  The third target was a United States Senator.  The oil tycoon, Richard Putnam, stopped doing business with the cartel after he got rich, costing the cartel millions of dollars in lost revenue.  The prosecutor, Mark Ruben, was very outspoken about his intentions to pursue cases involving cartel figures in South Florida.  Senator Fenway spent most of the previous congressional term pushing for a war on cocaine.  The cartel held the opinion that those offenses warranted death.  Jesus had his winter break cut out for him.
Nobody in Colombia believed that Jesus could carry out the assassinations.  The highest leaders of the cartel assigned the contracts to Jesus in a surreptitious effort to eliminate him.  Carlos’ plans for his son came to light while Jesus was in Putumayo.  The plans concerned the big men at the very top of the cartel, and they didn’t like to gamble on their future.  They assumed Jesus would be caught, and spend the rest of his life in an American prison.
On the 15th of December, the oil tycoon answered a telephone call in his Houston office.  The phone exploded when he picked it up.  Law enforcement officials were quoted as saying, “This is a terrible tragedy.  Mr. Putnam was an upstanding member of the community, and a devoted father and husband.  We will find out who was responsible.”  Authorities found video evidence of a telephone company representative entering the building, but were frustrated in their attempts to learn the black man’s identity.  Little else of value to the investigation was ever found, and the case was never solved.
Two days before Christmas in Miami, Mark Ruben died of botulism.  The Dade County Medical Examiner ruled the death “accidental food poisoning.”  The bacterium was traced to green beans the man ate at lunch.  The concentration level of the organism in the green beans was incredibly high, and health officials were at a loss to explain how it happened.  Authorities expressed relief that the bad beans effected no one else.
Senator Joe Fenway and his family spent the holidays with his aging mother, at the family farm outside of Cedar Rapids.  On the second day of 1988 the senator boarded his private jet to return home to the nation’s capital from Iowa. Joe Fenway left to take care of business, but his wife and children were to spend another week on the farm.  One hour into the flight the pilot reported engine problems.  The plane went down over Illinois, and there were no survivors.  The FAA eventually blamed the crash on mechanical failure.
The three deaths propelled Jesus to the top of the list of the world’s most dangerous assassins.  Only two of the deaths were murders, but Jesus would never tell the cartel that.  The senator’s plane crash was a bizarre coincidence.  Jesus was still trying to figure out how to handle the senator when he got the news.  The crash caused Jesus to breathe a lot easier.  He already felt he was pushing his luck with the first two.
Within twenty-four hours of the senator’s death, and without telling anyone else in the cartel, Pablo Escobar put a hit out on Jesus.  It was the first of three contracts taken out on Jesus Mendoza’s life that day.  Francisco Ochoa, the manager of North American operations and Escobar’s second in command, took out the second contract, twelve hours before Pablo did.  Jose Villareal took out the third. 
Escobar and Ochoa wanted Jesus dead because they feared him, and they feared his father’s plans for him.  The young assassin had proved more dangerous than they ever expected.  The cartel leaders also feared the fallout from the assassinations, but that was secondary among their reasons for wanting Jesus dead.  Villareal’s hit on Jesus was just another bizarre coincidence.  Jose simply hated Carlos Mendoza.  It had nothing to do with anything else.  Jose wasn’t even privy to the information about the assassinations.
Jesus was walking down Chimes Street, on his way to get an early morning cup of coffee, when a crazed Colombian gang member drove down the street with a machine gun.  The hit man yelled as he rode up slowly on the street.  The hit man was sadistic, and he wanted his victim to see death coming.  Jesus looked up just as the man sprayed him with thirty rounds from the barrel of an Uzi.  Jesus went down bleeding from a dozen wounds, and the Colombian killer sped down the street screaming triumphantly.  The police pulled the gang member over for speeding three blocks away.  They discovered the Uzi and enough drugs to put the man away for thirty years.
A total of thirteen rounds struck Jesus.  Two rounds grazed the insides of his thighs just millimeters from his testicles, one on each side.  Two rounds grazed his hips, and the wounds were diametrically opposed.  There were six bullet wounds to the small strip of flesh that covered his ribcage, three to each side.  The two bullet wounds in his neck were slightly askew, but on opposite sides.  The final bullet parted the very front of Jesus scalp, right in the middle of his forehead, but the wound was so shallow it didn’t bleed very much.  Jesus picked himself up off of the concrete and ran back to his dorm room.  He was very freaked out, and his thirteen bullet wounds burned like bumblebee stings.
The image Jesus saw in the mirror weirded him out even more than being shot at.  He looked like a human connect-the-dots.  The wounds could have been a constellation of stars.  He could almost hear an astronomer lecturing,  “The thirteen stars of the Jesus Constellation represent the time when he almost got his balls shot off.”  Jesus came to the conclusion that something supernatural had happened to him, and he did it all by himself.
Once Jesus calmed down he pondered the implications of the attack.  He imagined that the attempt on his life would assure his eternal silence about the recent assassinations.  He assumed he knew too much for the Cartel to let him live.  It made him wish he had told the truth about the senator’s plane crash, but he knew it was too late for that.  The die had been cast.  Jesus knew exactly what to do.  The involvement of supernatural forces convinced him he needed to see a voodoo priestess.
Without a moment’s delay Jesus put some Band-Aids on his gunshot wounds, got dressed and went out in search of a voodoo priestess.  He parked his Toyota Celica in a legal student space, which meant that it was almost a mile away.  The long walk in the cold January air cleared his head.  He recalled the story of an old black woman named Camille Valoire who lived in Houma, Louisiana.  She was reputed to be one of the most powerful practitioners of black magic in the Northern Hemisphere.
The long drive to Houma on that gray winter day went by like a hallucination.  Some unseen force compelled Jesus to reach Camille Valoire immediately.  His will was not entirely his own.  Jesus had never been to Houma or the priestess’ house before, but he drove all the way there without asking directions.  He parked at Camille’s house and knocked on her front door.
The old woman looked like a voodoo priestess.  She had a tiny bone through the septum of her nose, and wild dreadlocks that stuck straight up from her head in every direction.  Camille appeared to have lived for centuries, so deep were the wrinkles in her face and hands.  She stooped so badly that she gave the impression that she was looking for something on the ground, until she never straightened up.  Her eyes were narrow, dark and penetrating.  She studied Jesus with them when she opened the door.
“You must be Jesus Mendoza.  The dark man told me you would be coming, and he doesn’t lie about those things,” Camille enunciated cryptically.
“I didn’t tell anyone I was coming here.  How do you know my name?”
“Don’t waste time on your doubts and fears.  What is the reason you came to see me, Jesus?”  The old woman hated to waste time.  She didn’t feel she had much of it left.
“I was shot thirteen times this morning.  I think you should take a look.  I believe I need the assistance of someone in your,” Jesus sought for the right phrase, “line of work.”
“Come in then, young man,” she invited him in and stepped aside.
Inside Camille’s shotgun shack it was comfortable and warm.  Jesus took off his coat while the old woman watched him intently.  Her gaze made his skin crawl, but the heat penetrated through the aching cold that settled into his bones while he stood outside.  He rubbed his hands together theatrically while he waited for Camille to say something.
“Aren’t you going to show me something?” she asked him impatiently.
Jesus took off his sweater and his shirt so the woman could look at the symmetrical bullet wounds.  Camille clucked in her throat at the sight.  She instructed him to remove the Band-Aids, and he did so.  The wounds did not resume oozing blood, and Jesus was glad for small favors.  She moved closer to him and touched one of the furrows in his side.
“You’re going to need to take off the rest of your clothes.  I’ll begin preparing for the ceremony immediately.  Once you’re naked, come into the back room,” she told him in voice devoid of humor.
For a second Jesus thought she was joking, or that she longed for the sight of a nude young male.  She left so abruptly that Jesus knew she was serious, and that his nudity wasn’t for her benefit.  He removed the rest of his clothes, and folded them neatly before tiptoeing to the back of the house.  The floor was cold on his bare feet, but the tableau in the back room chilled him in a different way.
The floor was covered in a large two-layered hexagram.  One layer was fresh chicken blood, judging from the bleeding chicken corpse Camille held in one hand.  The other layer was some unknown white substance.  At each corner of the hexagram a black candle burned.  In the center of the large symbol a much smaller circle had been drawn in a black powder.  The walls of the room were lined with shelves, and on the shelves were hundreds of jars.  Some of the jars contained items that alarmed Jesus.  He quickly averted his eyes from the jars.
The sight of Camille rattled his composure even worse.  She was naked, holding a headless chicken.  Her nipples were pierced through with human rib bones.  Though Jesus didn’t know the bones were human, the sight was disturbing enough.  Her breasts, free from the clothing, sagged almost to the floor.  Her pubic hairs were so prolific that the bush hung to her knees.  She had woven small bones into that hair also.  A large iron ring protruded through the hair at the level of her genitalia.  Jesus didn’t want to think about that.  Camille was busy painting symbols on herself with the chicken’s blood.  She didn’t bother to look at him.
When she was finished painting herself, she took Jesus by the shoulders and guided him into the black circle inside the hexagram.  A small bone materialized in her fingers, and Jesus had the sinking feeling she pulled it out of her long pubic hair.  She dipped the bone into the bloody neck of the decapitated chicken, and painted symbols on him as well.  She continued the process for another ten minutes, until Jesus was covered in symbols from head to toe. 
The light strokes of the chicken bone on his flesh caused his penis to stiffen into an erection, and his face flushed a brilliant red.  Camille never looked at his sex.  The erection didn’t go away when she moved away, nor when she began to chant in guttural tones.  Jesus felt strange, like he wasn’t in control of his body.
As the minutes dragged on, Jesus became aware of a burning sensation in his loins.  He had never felt so sexually aroused in his life.  The arousal was concentrated solely in the touch receptors of his genitals, removed from the perceptions he received from other places in his body.  The old woman’s chanting sounded like a rhythmic love song, and Jesus could feel his organ throbbing in response to the uttered tones and underlying beat.
Camille’s performance accelerated quickly into piercing cries delivered with quick, repetitive bursts of air.  Jesus climaxed uncontrollably.  The sound pulled the seed from his body in long strings, which dangled to the floor.  The involuntary jerking of his hips caused the semen to land on the floor with purpose.  When Jesus looked down he saw pearly white Sanskrit writing.  A name had come forth.
The hexagram and the letters on the floor began to glow.  Jesus glanced up from the floor and saw that he was no longer in Camille’s back room.  He floated in black nothingness, standing on an unseen platform outlined by the six-pointed star.  The Sanskrit writing rose before him and twisted in the air.  Jesus imagined he could see millions of potential lives in the thin strands, but he did not anticipate what happened next.  The writing shrunk down into a tiny shape that hovered before his face.  Jesus thought he could see a tiny person.
The shape expanded rapidly, and inched away from his face as it did so.  The human shape became unmistakable.  As it continued to grow Jesus changed his opinion.  It wasn’t human at all.  It had horns and a tail, and it was looking directly at him.  The figure swelled until the humanoid was larger than any human, and then the expansion ceased.
“Why have you summoned me, Jesus Mendoza?” the beast asked him through pointed teeth.
“Actually, I didn’t.”
The beast laughed heartily.  He looked at Jesus with amusement and said, “My current physical manifestation grew from your sexual excretions.  I don’t know how this came to pass, but I know where it came to pass.”  The devil looked at Jesus flagging erection.
“Who are you?” Jesus asked.
“My name is Belial.  It was the name you wrote before you, the name with which you summoned me.  What is it you desire, Jesus Mendoza?”
“An old woman named Camille conducted a ceremony.  It was Camille who summoned you,” Jesus attempted to make sense of the situation.
“And yet she’s not here, and none of her essence was involved.  I am only required to ask you this one more time, and then I am free to depart from your command.  I find it hard to believe you desire nothing at all, Jesus.  What is it you want, Jesus?”
The old woman had given Jesus exactly what he asked for.  He asked for assistance, and that was what he received.  Jesus suddenly understood that Belial was offering to fulfill his desires.  Jesus speculated silently about the devil’s motivations, and then decided it wouldn’t hurt to ask questions.
“Will you give me anything I want, Belial?”
“Of course, Jesus.  That’s why you called me here.”
“What do I have to give you in exchange?”
“At last we are getting somewhere.  What I require from you depends on what you ask of me.  Terms are always open to negotiation.  I am nothing, if not fair,” Belial professed with a sly grin.  “Why don’t you tell me what you want, and then I will tell you what I want in exchange.”
Jesus wished he had known he was going to bargain with a devil.  He would have brainstormed in advance.  He wracked his brain for an answer.  “I want to be immune to assassination, and I want to be the best assassin who ever lived.  But I don’t want to be evil.  I want to use my powers for good,” Jesus threw in as an afterthought.  He did some bad things in his life, but he believed in the cause.  He never wanted to be a champion of evil.
Belial dropped his sophisticated façade and ranted at Jesus in contemporary English.  “Are you kidding me?  Are you mentally challenged?  You summoned me, a devil, to make a deal, and that deal is to be a goodie-two-shoes assassin?  You woke me up out of a deep sleep for this, you freakin’ schmuck.  You better be freakin’ kiddin’ me.”
“Don’t forget about the immune to assassination part.  Yes, that’s the deal I want to make.  What do you want in exchange?”  Jesus inquired cheerfully.
“Let’s start the bidding at, say, you burn in hell for a gazillion lifetimes.  I think I can hook you up for that.  Yeah, that sounds about right,” Belial answered sarcastically.
“I thought you were here to bargain with me, but I don’t think you’re even trying.  I mean, I’m ready to do business, but you want an arm and a leg for a two-dollar item.  Can I speak to your boss?”  Jesus demanded irately.  The ploy paid off.
“No, there’s no reason to speak to the boss,” Belial returned anxiously.  “I am sure we can work something out.  Your talk about goodness threw me off, but never mind that.  Let’s get down to business.
“First of all, I can not make you immune to assassination.  I can give you certain advantages to make it more difficult for someone to kill you, but I can’t make you invulnerable to attack.  Secondly, you’ve got a lot of work to do to get yourself back into the good, pal.  I can’t make you a good guy.  Maybe you should consider putting the brakes on murdering people.
“Those considerations aside, I can enhance your natural senses and abilities so that you will be very difficult to kill, and a very lethal man.  You could have hearing acute enough to sense heartbeats and breathing at long distances.  You could even have the ability to hear thoughts.  I can give you superhuman strength and speed, and the ability to track your quarry like a bloodhound.  I can also throw in the ability to heal from injuries at many times the normal rate.  How does that grab you?”  Belial concluded his sales pitch.
“So essentially I would be like Wolverine?”  Jesus asked skeptically.
“Wolverine is a cartoon character compared to what you could be, pun intended.  You won’t have adamantium claws, though.  Sorry.”
“I’m not going to sign over my soul.  I’ve gone a long way to being a bad guy, by your own admission.  I’m likely to go to hell anyway, so why don’t you just give me the powers?”
“Do I look like I’m new at this, Jesus?  You may have been able to pull that off, if you hadn’t already told me you want to be a good guy.  Most deals don’t directly involve the soul these days anyway, so I’m willing to work with you.  I’ll give you the powers.  You will be as close to invulnerable as I can make you, and damn near the deadliest human who ever lived.  In return, you will have to work for us for a specified period of time, doing what you do best.”
“That sounds way too easy.  I’ve always heard that you screw people with the fine print.  Will I be damned?  I mean, you don’t need me to bargain my soul away if I’m already in hell,” Jesus countered.
“You won’t be in hell at all.  In fact, to sweeten the deal, you can work in the United States exclusively.  There are enough people in Louisiana alone to keep you busy for a long time.”
“Tell me more about the work.  How long, exactly, would I have to work for you?"
“You’ll have to work for us until you turn thirty years old,” Belial answered earnestly.
“I don’t want to be evil.  I’m not going to be killing innocent people, right?”
“You mean you’re giving that up?  No, you won’t be killing innocent people for us.  You’ll be killing people who have sold their souls, or who have in some way been excluded from God’s good graces.”
“And just until I’m thirty years old, and I won’t be in hell?” Jesus asked.
“That’s right, Jesus.  You listen well.”
“Then let’s do it,” he told Belial.
The devil gave Jesus all of the powers they agreed on, but Jesus didn’t ask enough questions.  He didn’t know that there was a dimension where people didn’t age, and that it would take him thousands of years to turn thirty.  He was shocked to discover that he could live in one dimension and work in another.  He didn’t know the peril of meeting death while in the employment of a devil.  Those things were the fine print of his agreement.
Belial hopped around on his cloven hoofs in unfathomable glee.  He had harvested another sucker for the forces of evil, and quite a handsome catch at that.  He kept Jesus around long enough to gloat.  Belial celebrated his victory with an obscene dance, and then sent Jesus to Discordia, with everything they agreed upon and a few extras Jesus didn’t want.  Belial’s celebration brought the devil as close to happiness as a devil could get, but Belial rejoiced too soon.
God never liked to see a devil cavort in jubilation.  Though Jesus displeased Him, still the Colombian was one of His children.  He tilted the odds in Jesus’ favor in every contest and encounter the assassin faced.  The contracts Jesus was given invariably involved evil men.  God felt no conflict making things easy for Jesus. 
After two thousand years Belial was no longer laughing.  Though Jesus hunted down people for the devil, more often than not the assassin performed his duties in such a way that the souls of his victims sought God’s forgiveness at the very end.  Jesus became a holy assassin, and he strengthened his abilities with magic and practice.  Belial became obsessed with collecting Jesus’ soul, and heaped work upon the assassin.  With every mission, Jesus drew a little bit closer to his thirtieth birthday and freedom. 
Pan offered Jesus a resolution to that contract in one mission. Jesus leapt at the opportunity.  Belial was insane with rage, but unanimously outvoted by the old gods and other devils.  That was when Jesus became Louis’ bodyguard.
“Wake up, Jesus.  You need to wake up,” Michael said from the doorway of his room, where the Colombian had gone to sleep.  The priest saw a look of incredible pain on the assassin’s face when he sat up in the bed.  “What is it, Jesus?  Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.  I was just having a nightmare,” Jesus answered.
“What was the nightmare about?” Michael asked.
“It was less a nightmare than memories, really.  I was just dreaming about my past.”
“Oh.  I was hoping you dreamed about a coalition of evil forces that surrounded the fortress with thousands of well armed soldiers, and perhaps dreamed some way to deal with the situation.  Go look out the window, Jesus.”
Jesus jumped out of bed and headed for the window.  He cursed himself for not asking someone to wake him up.  It was dark outside, which meant he slept through an entire day.  One glance at the moonlit world confirmed what Michael said.  The fortress was surrounded by thousands of soldiers.  Jesus could see moonlight glinting off of metal and polished leather, and he could smell the rotten stench of the grunts.  Somewhere under the distant trees there was an ominous rumbling.  The forces of evil beat heavily on large drums, to strike fear into the hearts of the Pentacle’s occupants.
“My nightmare continues,” Jesus sighed.
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Related written works at Angelfire, Sex Symbols, Cymbals of Silence.Repent or Die