disclaimer : I own nothing.


Houston, Texas 2023

There was a certain comfort in the early morning hours. Sometimes when you're in the dark outskirts of large cities you can sit and listen to the rustle of cars and life, see the blue and purple neon shining, yet still hear the wind whistling in your ears. All the good people are asleep; this leaves only the drunks, heathens and vagrants awake. The most conniving, yet paradoxically honest crowd on Earth.

Benicio sat on the hood of his car, his arms folded over his chest, his phone in one hand. He flipped through his inbox yet he'd had no new messages. He sighed. Tonight was dragging and he just wanted to go home now, to sleep in his own bed and wake up so he could make some pancakes and play some video games.

Immediately after relaxing his hand and looking away, the phone buzzed. He snapped it back towards him to see who'd sent it.

"When u coming over 2morro?" it read, coming from the sender Devon.

"Idk, like 1." he sent back, leaning back on his car and sighing once more. His phone also told him that the time was currently 2:36 AM, which meant the people he was supposed to meet were late by over an hour.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a pair of bright headlights making their way up the small hill into the industrial park he'd been waiting at.

They pulled up right next to his car, and two sickly looking men popped out, both skinny and pale with glazed over looks in their eyes. One was carrying an old suitcase, the exterior of it peeling off in chunks.

"Ben?" he said, pointing to Benicio.

"Yours truly."

"Ok, man. Listen, Felipe told me you had our cut, we want it first."

Benicio frowned, "Yeah, well I was told to get the product first."

The man shook his head and gripped the small suitcase closer to his chest, "Nah, I want the money first."

"Here's the deal; you show me that what's in that case is what I think it is, then I'll give you the money."

The man flipped open the case and displayed the three kilos of cocaine. They didn't look sinister, just like three bags full of sugar or flour. Seeing them like that, it was hard to believe that is was the substance men fought wars for and ruined their lives for.

"Fair enough." Benicio turned and went to his trunking, opening it and then throwing a sack at the men. The one with his hands free caught it and looked inside, nodding when saw Benicio had kept his bargain of the deal.

"It's good." he said to the one with the case.

"Now bring it to me." Benicio said, extending his hand.

Soon the suitcase was in his possession and he stashed it safely in his trunk, underneath and old tire and some dirty clothes.

"Pleasure working with you guys," he said, waving his hand, "But a word of advice. Next time, don't be late. And if you're late next time you work with me, well," he grinned and curved his hand into a gun shape, pointing it towards them, "Let's just say I won't be so lenient."

He got into his car and didn't bother to look back at them, instead he sped off into the night, happy to be returning home after a long day. He'd just been jerking those guys around when he threatened them; Benicio rarely brought a piece with him when he went on runs, since usually the mules he met were imbeciles or too naive to carry their own weapons anyway. Some of them were girls, obviously prostitutes, who didn't want trouble and just wanted their pimp's money. Others were blood debters, those who bit off more than they could chew from the hand that fed them. That's probably what those guys tonight were. They didn't need more trouble than anyone, and Benicio wasn't going to play the chump.

Despite his current job, he rarely thought of himself as being on their level. He was just a runner, just a courier for the other's. Barely even part of the game. More like an observer, a referee to run between teams. The job wasn't even as dangerous as it sounded, though he knew he could never let on to anyone about it.

But it was over now, at least for the night. Now he could go home to his own home, to his own bed in the middle of the lonely night. Of course he knew just as he was falling asleep his mother would be waking, rubbing her eyes and knocking on his bedroom door. Benicio didn't like to scare her, he knew she wanted him safe at home by a certain hour. After she knocked he would call out to her that yes, he was indeed home. He knew the sounds of her walking down to the bathroom and getting ready by heart; the shower handles turning, her blow dryer humming. They were comforting sounds to him, ones he'd heard since he was a little boy. By four o'clock she would be gone, off to her post as a manager in a twenty four hour diner.

Once he reached his own street he turned off his headlights, careful to not wake her by shining them through her bedroom window. He pulled into the driveway, and quietly as he could stepped out of the car, careful not to slam the door. He would leave the suitcase in the car, just for now, just so he wouldn't have to bring it in his mother's home when she was there. The thought of that disrespect made him blush with shame, being as she had warned him for many years to not turn into his father. Her disapproval was the one thing he couldn't bear.

Benicio slipped in through his window, which he left unlocked on nights like this. He shimmied out of his jacket and shoes and crawled into bed, lying there stiffly and staring at the ceiling. Tomorrow he would wake up and maybe make some breakfast, and after that he'd sign on to his classes. Maybe he'd turn in those papers he'd half heartedly written, wracked with writer's block and apathy. Then would go to Devon's house, and maybe they would screw, or maybe they would drink, or maybe they would just sit there and watch videos all day. Later, in the middle of the night he'd go out, meeting God knows who, and do it all over again. He sighed and closed his eyes, willing himself to go to sleep.

Across the hall Irene looked out her bedroom door, happy to have heard the noises coming from his room. He was home now, safe and sound in his own bed, in her line of vision once more. She breathed a sigh of relief, knowing she couldn't go check on him for another half hour, lest she be suspicious. She wanted to see his face right now, to know he was still breathing, but in the darkness of the hallway all she could see was the golden scorpion emblem blazed across his door.

To be continued.