Marco’s intel proved invaluable. The Sampas were convening an Encontro, they had much to discuss. All the crew bosses would be there, all Tomas’ sergeants, his major and minor crew members. It was going to be like shooting fish in a barrel.
Pauley and Stan took advantage of Vivian’s terra cotta roof, practicing walking across the slanted tiles. She also taught Stan a few colorful words in Portuguese when she slid down the edge on their first day of rehearsing.
Once they got the intricate dance timing perfected, the duo mapped out targets with Lenore.
“Tomas will be surrounded by lessor crew members,” Lenore spread out photos of potential hits. Separating out several men, Lenore stabbed each one with a burgundy nail. “These are the one’s Marco said were key, the ones Tomas relies on the most, and also distrusts the most.”
Pauley studied the photos, committing the faces to memory.
Stan sat in the living room, where he could still listen to the women’s conversation while he loaded rifle magazines with ball ammo. He finally agreed to Pauley’s insistance they keep the hit as clean as possible. They worked well as a team, they could make the shots and clear the roof under cover of the chaos.
Lenore would be waiting in the alley to take their guns, and the trio would go in separate directions, blending into the panicked crowd. Lenore could disappear through the back streets, using her old contacts to shield her until they could meet back at Vivian’s house.
Vivian hung back, watching their planning, but not willingly participating. Instead, she made sure her work tools were in order, and her deadly toxins mixed and ready.
“I could go in, pass through the dining room, a drop here, a stick there, and it would be over and done.” Vivian threw out the comment, not addressing anyone in particular. “There would be no blood, no… what did you call it, Stan? Collateral damage.”
Lenore gathered up the photos and carried them to Stan, leaving Pauley and Vivian in the kitchen.
“Viv, we’ve gone over this.” Pauley sighed, rubbing her temples. “Yes, your way is neater, quicker, but the hits make a bigger statement. Sampas don’t poison, it’s not macho.”
“That’s fine,” Vivian turned away. “I’ll be prepared when – not if, but when – I need to go in a finish this job.”
The next morning, before sunrise, Stan climbed to the roof of the building across from the restaurant and got into position, assembling their weapons. An hour later, just as the sky began to lighten, Pauley joined him. Taking position behind the roof wall, they waited.
Below, Lenore watched. Stan and Pauley would need cover and speed. They would pass off the rifle components to her, then Pauley would leave through the back of the alley, escaping through an unlocked door of an adjacent store. Stan, unknown in the city, would vanish into the crowd around the front of the restaurant, melding into the patrons exiting after the shooting ends.
Using hand signals, Stan gestured to Pauley as the Sampas gathered outside the opposite building. Once they had eyes on their four targets, Pauley took aim.
As Pauley’s first shot blossomed between the eyes of Tomas’ first sergeant, she moved with practised ease to her next position. A split-second later Stan’s target fell to the pavement, a red strain spreading across his chest.
By the time he hit the ground, Pauley’s second shot shattered the jaw of a third crew boss, his blood showering panicking patrons trying to escape the carnage. Stan moved into position for his last shot -Tomas. Pauley was already moving off the roof.
Placing the cross-hairs of his scope on Tomas’ left eye, at ground level the cartel boss grabbed a waitress struggling to break out of the crowd, pulling her in front of him.
Stan pulled the trigger just as Tomas ducked behind the girl. His bullet tearing open her shoulder. The bullet passed through also hitting its intended target, but only wounding him.
Stan couldn’t wait for another shot. He had to get off the roof. Tomas’ men had surrounded their leader, pushing their way away from the scene into a waiting car.
Lenore took the rifle from Stan when he reached street level. “Something’s wrong,” she said.
“Tomas,” Stan slapped the brick wall. “I wounded him, but… gaddammit! He got away.”
“You go,” Lenore pushed Stan toward the front of the alley. “We all meet back at Vivian’s house. She will finish this.”