Out West chapter 9
The Bakersfield chapel had been arranged for the viewing as the coffin was set upon their table. All the Hell Cats dressed in black and wore their leather kuttes. Shawls covered their faces.
Alicia Armas, Palma's longest standing girlfriend, couldn't keep stoic at the sight of Palma's corpse. Carolina was tasked with comforting her.
Though she stood stoic at the right hand of her MC godmother, Shelby was beside herself with grief and rage. She and Teresa walked to the coffin, each opening a small bottle of tequila. They each drank half a shot and put them into Palma's kutte.
Olivia Valdez led Chayo, Cricket and Mariposa to their fallen sister. Chayo and Mariposa each whispered a silent oath and placed a bullet in each of Palma's hands.
Cricket took a photograph from her kutte, and placed it next to Palma's head. It was a group photo they had taken when Cricket patched in. Chayo at her right, Mariposa at her far left, with Palma at her close left.
"Nos vemos al otro lado, Palma." Cricket spoke as Chayo and Mariposa flanked her sides. Once everyone was at their positions around the coffin and the table, Sabrina finally spoke.
"She came to us a delinquent and a runaway. When she had no one to call her own, we called her one of ours. And our club was made all the better," She took a steady breath and continued, "I've never had children, but I counted her as one of my goddaughters. Que en paz descansen, Palma, mi ajihada querida."
Outside the chapel, various members of the four clubs were present. All the members of the Hell Cats had come, but not everyone from the other clubs could come.
Needles arrived with his brother from Fresno. Coyote, along with three other members of SAMVEN, had shown up with Elmo. Mayans from Carson City and Oakland, including Marcus Alvarez, had arrived. Clay and Tig, along with Gemma and Olivia, had arrived to represent SAMCRO.
The heads of the Los Angeles and San Diego, Erica Roswell, and Eliza Rivera, took stock of the many bikers around them. Everyone stopped talking when the chapel doors opened, and the Hell Cats of Bakersfield carried out the casket to the hearse.
Before long, they were at the burial site. The Preacher man they had gotten spoke his piece. The heads of the Hell Cats charters each dropped a handful of earth upon the closed casket. Soon, every member had, before the gravediggers did the rest.
Sabrina approached Coyote and Cricket, and said, "We have to get going. Your father's viewing is soon."
Cricket nodded, and Sabrina leaned in, kissing her on the cheek.
"Muy pronto, ahijada."
SAMVEN had set up their viewing similar to the Hell Cats. Every Son present lined the coffin with a parting gift to honor their late Vice President. Coyote's gift was a silver dollar coin, on which he swore to protect and cherish Cricket for as long fate would allow.
Sharky, the Sage of the club, stood vigilant the whole time with Iron Man, and Swamp Man at the foot and head of the coffin.
Cricket had been allowed time to say her goodbyes privately, yet she pulled Coyote into the chapel with her.
As Coyote whispered something to Iron Man, Cricket wondered if she'd ever stop mourning the losses she'd suffered.
"Your hard ride is over, Dad. Say hi to Mom for me when you see her."
"How long do you need?" asked Sharky, breaking the silence after a few minutes.
"A few minutes," Coyote said.
The older man nodded and said, "Don't take too long. We need to mount up soon."
With a nod to his Nomad brothers, Coyote took his place next to Cricket. As soon as they were alone, Cricket pulled out the manila envelope, "Do you have yours?"
Coyote nodded, pulling out his own, "I couldn't bring myself to open it."
Cricket pulled out her own, showing it was not opened any more than Coyote's. "Me neither."
Cricket swallowed and asked, "Could you read mine? So it's not just coming out of me?"
The envelopes were exchanged and Coyote opened Cricket's first. When the letter was in his hands, Coyote read it out loud.
"Lorena, if you're reading this, it means I'm with your mother again. Though the actual act was just a formality. Part of me died with her all those years ago. Not a day went by when I didn't think about you or her. I'm sorry I didn't get it all right. I'm not proud of the man I became. I just pray that I can wash away the shame and disgrace before I go."
Cricket's heart was in a vice as Coyote read the letter.
"As for whoever you end up with, I hope he's a better man than me. You deserve the best. I'm proud of you, Lorena. With love, your father, Rodrigo Alvaro Perez."
It took Cricket a minute to get her bearings. But once she had, she opened Coyote's envelope. With his letter in hand, she read it.
"Coyote, if you're reading this, I'm dead. When you first came to Las Vegas, I never gave you much thought. You were green. There's no getting around it. Yet I see a strength in you and a desire for a family. I never apologized for the beat down I gave you. For that, I am sorry. You couldn't have known. That's why I held back. But by now, your face should be healed."
Cricket looked at Coyote's face. It had recovered mostly, but he still looked a bit like a humanoid raccoon.
"You're still handsome to me," Cricket remarked before turning her attention back to the letter.
"You have my full blessings, and a promise that I'll come back from Hell and kill you if my daughter ends up in Heaven before you. Take care of my girl for me, Emilio. Rodrigo Alvaro Perez."
Cricket lowered the letter and said, "Let's put my father to rest."
Hand in hand, they walked outside to the Nomad Sons, and Coyote said, "We're ready."
Amazing Grace was played by the military band. The soldiers in attendance folded up the American Flag and handed it to Cricket, who was held closely by Coyote.
The First Sergeant said, "On behalf of the president of the United States, the United States Army and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service."
Sharky then stood by the headstone to speak. He quoted from the Bible, spoke highly of Rodrigo, and called him a Peacemaker. He led the clubs in prayer.
And once handfuls of dirt were cast upon the coffin, shovels were taken by everyone to lay Rodrigo Perez to rest.
While everyone dispersed, Coyote remained at Cricket's side as she stood over her father's grave.
"How'd your dad meet your mom?"
"It was after his time in the Army," Cricket explained.
Coyote nodded and said, "It's going to be sundown by the time we get to Carson City. I'm going to need coffee. You need any?"
They stayed silent for a long time, before Coyote revealed what had been on his mind all day.
"SAMVEN voted Mayhem on the Vipers last night. And I'm guessing your club did too."
Cricket nodded, "The Mayans voted it too."
About that time, Clay and Tig walked over to them. Tig asked, "How're you holding up?"
"Ask me when it's over," Cricket replied.
Not much else could be, or really needed to be said on the matter. Clay shook his head and said, "Let's finish the funeral tour. We'll do the final ride after that, and then we'll have a wake in Yosemite no one will ever forget."
The sun rose when Pamela Gomez a.k.a. Palma was laid to rest in Bakersfield, California.
The sun was hanging high in the mid afternoon when Rodrigo Alvaro Perez was laid to rest in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Upon their arrival in Carson City, the sky began to darken as the sun started to set in the west.
The Mayans in Carson City held a viewing similar to that of the Hell Cats and the Sons of Anarchy to honor the late Heriberto Casares, their now former Secretary, who left behind a younger sister and niece to mourn for him. Sabrina was the first to approach Julia Moreno and her daughter, Yazmina.
While Clay and Tig talked with the local Mayan President and Vice President, a voice said to Coyote and Cricket, "Tu tienes mis condolencias muy profundo, Lorena." (You have my deepest condolences, Lorena)
They did not expect such a person to speak to them. Yet they still turned around slowly as to not show their evident shock. The founding President of the Mayans MC would not usually talk with New Patches of outside Mcs. Yet there he was in front of them.
"Eramos en clubes diferentes pero tuve respeto por Rodrigo." (We were in different clubs but I had respect for Rodrigo)
Turning his attention to Coyote, Marcus asked, "De que parte viene tu familia, joven?" (Where is your family from, young man)
"De Colombia. Nacio en Nueva York." (From Colombia. I was born in New York)
Marcus nodded in silent response. It was rare to find a member of an American motorcycle club who spoke and understood Spanish. "Tengo hablar con Lorena por un rato. No te preocupes, ella va a volver a ti pronto." (I have to talk with Lorena for a moment. Do not worry. She will come back to you soon)
While Cricket walked off with Alvarez, Coyote was left alone with his thoughts until he was approached by Gemma.
"How are things between you two?"
"All things considered, we're alright."
"You know, there's going to come a day, where you're both going to have to make some hard choices," the woman said solemnly.
"It's a long way back to Bakersfield and Las Vegas," Gemma said, before she leaned in and whispered, "April won't mind you two staying the night."
"Thank you. I'll keep that in mind."
A full moon hung over the night sky, and illuminated the cemetery where they laid Beto Casares to rest. It was uneventful. A prayer in Spanish was said, followed by filling the grave with dirt.
Alongside the other club presidents, Marcus and Sabrina watched the proceedings while speaking softly to each other.
"I spoke with Cricket, Sabrina. She takes after you in many ways."
"That's why they regard me as their godmother," She remarked, with a shake of her head, "They're going to have to carry a lot of weight."
"You think they'll hesitate?"
"No. But I don't know what'll happen after they take that step forward," She replied solemnly, "We won't know until after it happens."
"No, we won't." Marcus said before bringing up an issue rarely discussed between them. "How is it that a woman as beautiful and formidable as you could not find a man for herself? I doubt you had a lack of would-be suitors who tried."
Sabrina hoped her face was unreadable; she did not want to lash out at her brother, but there were things he did not know. "I chose this life for myself, Marcus. I do not regret them and I do not waste my time wondering where I would have been."
Normally the smell of fresh brewed coffee in the air wouldn't have worried Devante Cano. Then he remembered he lived alone..
He entered the dining room and was greeted by one of the three founders of the Juarez-Michoacan Cartel, and two ominous twins hovering around him.
"Como entraste a mi hogar?" he asked, reaching into his pocket, only to have a pair of guns aimed at him.
"No hay una puerta en México cerrada para mi, Devante," He replied, "Pensaba qué entendiste esto."
"Que quieres, Hector?" He asked, never taking his eyes off the twins, "Y por que trajiste tus sobrinos?"
Don Hector Salamanca sipped his coffee and said, "Nunca me importaron los clubes motociclistas. De repente, hay tres muertes sin razon para tres miembros de tres clubes y un pelea de ploma contra un otro. Problemas como asi son problemas por todo nosotros. Sin duda, ellos estan llamando por la venganza."
He leaned forward, "Entre nosotros, solo mis sobrinos y yo sabemos la pesa de la vida y la muerte."
"I know that weight, Hector," Devante replied, "But I have no reason to boast."
Hector rose from the head of the table, finished his coffee and set the cup back down on the saucer. "In two days, the clubs will expect all members of the Vipers and Cadena to be lined up in front of them. For your sake, you better hope that will be enough to slake their bloodlust."
Hector walked right by Devante with Leonel and Marco silently following their uncle.
A/n: Next chapter: The inevitable fate of the Vipers MC