The Ultimate Revenge
Casa Tranquila lived up to its name. A house of tranquility. A place for seniors to live out their golden years in peace. Most of its geriatric residents were content to spend their remaining days playing Bingo, or wistfully gazing at photos of their grandchildren.
As Gustavo Fring approached the humble nursing home, however, he resolved to see to it that one resident would never know the meaning of tranquility. If the determined Chilean had anything to say about it, Hector Salamanca would pay exorbitantly for what he had done to Gus's hermano amado Max, from now until the day the old Don was wheeled out of the retirement home covered in a white sheet. A day that may not be too far off, now.
In the meantime, Gus entered Casa Tranquila intent on rubbing Hector's nose in the decline of the Juárez Cartel. He carried with him a red Sherpa bag.
The contents of the bag were moving.
In the nursing home commons room, a wheelchair bound Hector faced the window, gazing out at the expanse of New Mexican desert. His unwelcome guest approached him, scooted a chair in front of him, and sat down, placing the bag at his side.
"No doubt you've heard the news today," Gus began, as impassive as ever as he faced Hector. "Sancho Salamanca's body has been identified. I believe he was your only surviving son, was he not?"
Hector's bell did not ring, but his finger quavered over it with inexpressible rage.
"What you probably have not heard is how it happened," Gus continued. "Something unforeseeable took place at the home of Juan Bolsa. Who would have imagined that Sancho would just happen to be calling on Bolsa on the same night as the police raid? Such a pity. It must have been the will of Santa Muerte. Surely she judged it to be your son's time, wouldn't you agree?"
Hector looked as though smoke and lava may pour out of his ears.
"And so soon after the loss of your three nephews, too." Gus tsk tsked. "That leaves only your grandson Joaquin to carry on the family name. Terrible loss, especially for a paterfamilias such as yourself."
He moved the Sherpa bag to his lap and positioned his hand on the zipper.
"As for me, this cloud affords a silver lining. My severed ties to Juárez means more time and more profits to myself. Profits...to spend on frivolities."
He opened the bag. Out slunk an exotically marked cat, with a sleek amber coat, tiger stripes on the head and tail ends, and leopard spots in the center.
"Beautiful, isn't she?" Gus stroked the cat as it curled up in his lap, purring. "She's a pedigreed, third generation Bengal cat. The markings of her feral ancestor, but the demeanor of a domestic house cat. I call her La Tigra."
Hector's face twitched.
"A past characterized by untamed ferocity…now a harmless, captive animal. It seems to me you and La Tigra have much in common, 'Don' Salamanca."
The recipient of Gus's taunting huffed heavily. The entire white of his eyes was visible.
"You're jealous of her, aren't you?" Gus scratched underneath the cat's muzzle. She closed her eyes contentedly and tilted her head up. "You wish you had a kitty like mine. Your once-proud family has fallen to the brink of ruin. You are a lonely old shell of a man, tucked away in this assisted living home, entombed in your crippled old body, with no way of speaking save for that at the end of your fingertip, and denied even a single companion or pet."
Hector glared at La Tigra, but still did not acquiesce to Gus' desire to be looked in the eye.
"Do you want her?" Gus held La Tigra right under the front legs, picking her up and extending her halfway between them. "Only look me in the eye. Then tell me you wish this kitty were yours. Tell me in the only way you can." Gus glanced at the bell affixed to Hector's wheelchair.
A moment of silence passed…and then Hector responded with a flurry of shrill bell chimes.
Spooked, La Tigra wrung her way out of Gus' grip, treating him to a fair share of scratches in the process, and tore through the hallway of Casa Tranquila.
Without a word, or even a change in expression, Gus turned slowly towards the direction she had gone. He stood up, picked up the Sherpa bag, and unzipped it in preparation for catching the cat.
"Your day is coming. Yours, and all of your associates'," he foreboded. He walked away, stoically cradling his scratched hand.
If Hector were able, he would have smiled smugly.
Note: Hermano amado means "beloved brother." I know Gus and Max weren't literal brothers; I was referring to their status as "the Chicken Brothers," Los Pollos Hermanos.
Sancho Salamanca is a name I just made up. I envisioned him as Joaquin Salamanca's father.
Bengal cats are real. Look them up. :)