It wasn’t unusual for a car to need water when cruising up the mountains on the way to San Diego, but something about the scenario just tickled a nerve in Liz. The placement of the car and the sign was just too perfect. A man popped out of the Junjie and started waiving his hands. Liz moved her hand from the archaic MP3 player attached to the lanyard around her neck to the cannon that was holstered on her left hip. With a quick flick of her thumb, the safety was off and the gun was loose from the holster.
Elvis came through on the earbuds.
There always seemed to be a pissing contest whenever she came into any town or checkpoint that was tucked away from a major sprawl like San Diego. The freaks always wanted to come out and prove something to the tourists. The only thing that it proved to Liz was how small their dicks were. They were just a bunch of assholes who didn’t understand that a maybe a girl just wanted to get a shower and eat a candy bar before getting some rack time.
The assholes never understood. They didn’t even bother to try. There was a time and a place for the hardcore playtime, whether it involved a swelling cock filling her up, knife and fist play, or a simple game of show-me-yours-and-I’ll-show-you-mine. She didn’t mind either or even all of them within the same night, but when just coming off the road from a long haul was not the time to play let's-poke-Lizzo.
Liz could feel her muscles tense. If this was a power play of some nature, she didn’t want to be caught with her big girl panties down. She wasn’t in the mood to be gang raped by a squad from either the Bing Kong Tong or the 14K Triad. She definitely didn’t want to be shipped up to San Francisco to become part of a performing act on stage. It just wasn’t going to happen.
The grip of the PT145 felt comforting in her hand. The Asian who had gotten out of the Junjie was still trying to wave her over. The white tank top fitted him rather well. Liz hoped that the encounter wasn’t going to slip sideways. She wouldn’t mind a bit of the rough-and-tumble with the guy. He was slim, athletic and a ripe juicy piece of meat.
Liz let up on the gas and let the Chevy coast to a slower speed. The man flashed a brilliant smile that was too perfect. It had to have been sculpted in Los Angeles along with the rest of his body. Liz hit the brake and let the engine idle. A perfectly molded face along with two equally proportioned chocolate colored almond-shaped eyes came up to the passenger window with and smiled that scintillating smile that could only be bought in LA with two fistfuls of cash.
“Nǐhǎo,” the voice was laced with sweetness. The eye candy was starting to look like a good prospect, “Nǐ tīngdǒng ma?” Liz smiled her own crafted smile at the man and nodded. She understood all right. There was really only one reason that the Junjie was out on the side of the road. Liz shifted her weight making it easier for her to draw the Brazilian-made Taurus hand cannon.
“Nǐ qù shèngdìyàgē ma?” the honeyed voice asked. It wasn’t hard to guess that she was headed to San Diego. It was an educated guess on his part, it wasn’t brain surgery. Liz was getting that creepy feeling in the pit of her stomach. The flawlessly crafted Asian wasn’t coming over to her truck to play checkers. He wanted something more than a ride to San Diego.
Liz cocked her head sideways and looked into his eyes and nodded again. The doctor did a great job on him. He was just so piàoliang! It was going to be pitiful to mar the doctor’s work. Liz could feel the hammer beginning to drop but she didn’t know how many of the pretty boy’s friends were in the Junjie waiting for the signal. She tightened her grip on the handgun.
“Shì de.” Liz smiled at the pretty boy. The words tasted funny in her mouth. She hadn’t spoken Mandarin since she left Californian Republic of China. “Nǐ ne?” Liz brought herself into the game. The pretty boy wasn’t the only one who could play scorpion and frog.
“Hǎojíle!” the almond eyes widened as the word bolted out of his mouth loudly. Liz’s nerves switched from tickle to full awareness. That was the signal for the rest of his crew to come out of hiding. Liz heard more commotion from the Junjie. Three more sculpted Asian thugs jumped out of the wagon. Liz bit her lip as she locked eyes with the pretty boy at the passenger window of the Chevy – such a pity.
Things seemed to slow down, as they always did. The combination of training and tactical drugs rushing through her system allowed her encephala implants to slow the impulses being routed to her brain.
“Popcorn!” Liz blurted. She pulled out the Taurus and leveled at the pretty boy’s face in a swift motion. Her finger squeezed the trigger twice before she knew it. Duplicate holes appeared as the bullets ripped into the soft and beautiful face. There was a momentary confused look before he fell.
Loud ringing echoed Liz’s ears from the concussive blast. The earbuds protected her ears from some of the force, but they weren’t as good as the Caldwell clamshells she had packed in the back of the Chevy with the rest of her gear.
The body seemed to flay away from the side of the Chevy in slow motion. Liz watched the look of shock spread to terror and then change to the realization that his chi was no longer going to be contained within the fleshy vessel he had paid so much money for. It was no longer beautiful. It was now just a pretty piece of flesh for the bugs to eat. She’d have to wash the truck before entering the Border Patrol Checkpoint.
His blood, bones, and crafted flesh were the only things of value. He put it on the line for what he thought was a milk run. He thought it was going to be simple. It was always supposed to be simple. The gang didn’t count on Liz suspecting. She was just a guǐ lǎo in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was the ticket to pay for his LA looks. Either that, or to pay off a debt to the triads.
Blood leaked out of his braincase out onto the rocky shoulder of I-8.
The other skinjobs just watched as their face man fell onto the side of the road. It took a moment for them to understand just what had happened. They were expecting tourists from Mexico or Arizona. They were usually easy marks. Liz was another story. She had been trained by the Ghost Shadows after she had been smuggled out of the Californian Republic of China.
“Aiya!” one of them screamed. “Bùhǎo! Bùhǎo!” Liz could almost agree. It wasn’t going to be good for them. She learned well from her masters and these skinjobs weren’t trained as she was. They didn’t have the instincts or the reflexes it took to drop in and out of the shadowy underworlds of Phoenix Metro or El Paso del Juarez. They belonged on a runway somewhere. Vegas would have suited them. She could see the one she had to drop dancing there.
They were running a scam that was predictable and played out. Liz could tell by their shock that they weren’t all that smart, just petty. They were nothing but living dead men feeding on the scraps that were left to them. Now that she had found them, Liz wasn’t going to leave the skinjobs to keep on feasting on the folks that happened to run into them.
“It starts.” Liz felt the words come out of her mouth but couldn’t hear them clearly. She let her training take over as she began to ascertain the surroundings to find the terrain’s advantage.
Zombie number one looked at Liz and then the body of his friend and looked at her again. There was fear in his face. Liz spotted the NP-20 in the skinjob’s hand. The odd thought passed through Liz’s mind as to how the shuàigē acquired the Police Pistol. It passed, there was work to do.
The second one was rushing alongside the Junjie trying to hide behind the vehicle. It wasn’t going to work. She had him spotted on the passenger side huddling by the rear axle. She could almost smell their fear wafting off of them now.
“And, so goes my life.” The ringing was starting to subside. “Perfect.” Zombie number three seemed to be the only one with a brain. He was heading off in the direction of the checkpoint, towards the Chinese soldiers who were defending their border.
Liz jammed the gearshift and threw the Chevy into park. The truck lurched as the gear was engaged. Skinjob one flinched. Liz smiled the smile that the Hǎi Shān had given to her. Her flawless teeth and sculpted lips that were made to make men feel at ease peeled back into a snarl as the skinjob stared on.
Panic was in the man’s eyes. Fear was in his stance. He didn’t know whether to run or raise the pistol in his hand. As Liz watched, she could see the dark stain start to appear in his crotch and run down his right leg. She had him. His mind had shut down. The doe-eyed stare was pathetic.
Two more shots echoed through the cab of the Chevy. The windshield spiderwebbed as the bullets went through the protective glass and into the skinjob’s central mass. A million cracks laced through the glass blocking Liz’s view, but she knew she acquired the target. His screams were enough to tell her that he was down.
Liz wrenched on the door handle and kicked the door open. Squinting against the shadows cast by the mountains, she could see zombie three running up the interstate. At least his flight instinct kicked in. Liz could almost respect that. She drew a bead on the runner.
A quick double-tap from the Taurus exploded into the air and echoed through the canyon walls. In the distance, she saw the runner fall.
“Three down. One to go.”
Liz dropped her arm and marched around the idling Chevy. Zombie one was whimpering from the chest wound. She looked at him. His eyes were glossy and staring off into the distance. He was already lost. There was only one thing to do for a wounded animal. Liz ended his suffering with one shot.
White-hot pain ran through Liz’s arm causing her to drop the Taurus. Quickly scanning ahead she saw skinjob two’s head pop over the roof of the Junjie. This one had the fight reflex.
“Zhēnde!” Liz screamed through perfectly sculpted teeth. “Tā mā húndàn!” she swore. Liz couldn’t believe the luck that the skinjob had. She couldn’t feel the dull ache yet. It was still sharp from the entry and exit wounds that were in her forearm. Through-and-through, she noted. She touched the wound tentatively and immediately regretted it.
Liz pulled the lanyard holding her MP3 player over her head and gingerly put her left arm through the loop of the nylon knit cord. She held the MP3 player with her teeth and tightened the cinch around her arm. Liz knew it wasn’t the best tourniquet, but it would do in a pinch
For the first time in a long time Liz could feel tears welling up in her eyes. She could hear the zombie scrambling around behind the Junjie. He was banging the gun on the side of the car. Liz reeled from the pain lancing her brain from the wound that had fortunately just destroyed the meat between her ulna and radius.
“Tā mā!” his voice carried over the station wagon. “Stupid piece of dì léi! Nǐ míngbái nǐ sǐle, duì ba?” Liz smiled through the pain. Telling the skinjob that she was going to kill him brought a singular enjoyment.
“Gāisǐ de!” she heard from the other side of the Junjie. Her smile broadened. His pistol jammed. The mystery was solved. The pretty pieces of flesh bought defective handguns on the black market. Amateur move.
Despite the pain, Liz started laughing. It started in her belly and worked its way up to a full roar. Somehow, somewhere, she had paid in karma to turn the tables her way. The only fighter in the group had his one shot and he had missed the mark.
“I am your death little man!” Liz laughed. “I am one of the wúshēng shāshǒu, and I will end you.” She approached the Junjie.
The last skinjob stood up and threw the NP-20 down on the shoulder of the interstate. His perfect face couldn’t quite do angry. He tried, but it was just wrong. He hadn’t learned how to use the newly crafted muscles in his face to perform on that level. The man tried to scowl but it came across like he was retarded.
“Nǐ piányí de jìnǚ!” the pretty boy spat. Liz only flashed her million dollar smile at the skinjob.
“The hell I am!” She continued to walk over to the man who was trying so hard to be intimidating. His face was just so silly. The eyebrow ridge and forehead came too far down on his head and the curl of his lips made him drool a bit.
“We’re done here. Nǐ tīngdǒng ma?” Liz looked the man in the eye working hard to keep her face straight through the pain and the work of comedy standing in front of her. “You’ve lost and I’ve lost. We walk away from this. No more sixes and sevens.”
The man slowly looked at the carnage around him. Liz waited for the understanding to sink into the skinjob’s brain. It was a good thing that he had a nice package in his lunchbox and some skills in displaying his looks. He could still learn a thing or three from a modeling coach.
“Shì de,” he finally said, nodding to Liz.
Liz turned and walked over to where she dropped her Taurus on the asphalt, carefully avoiding the bodies on the road. She really didn’t want to go into the Border Patrol Checkpoint covered in blood. It was never an easy explanation. There were always questions. Right now, she didn’t have the credible answers to give to the officials.
She leaned against the front of the idling Chevy and watched the sky flame up as the dwindling sunlight reflected off of the Pacific. The fact of the matter was that Liz truly loved California. It was just the people that made it bad. Liz glanced over at the last member of the gang and nodded her head towards the checkpoint.
He nodded in understanding and started walking.
He was an asshole anyway. Liz looked around and sighed.
“Another day in the life. Living the shàngdì sǐle dream.” LIz holstered her pistol and crawled into the Chevy. The combat cocktail was still running through her system. The blood was coagulating already. With a grunt, she shifted the Chevy into gear and headed for the checkpoint.
The skinjob was still running up the road. She pulled alongside him. Liz waited for him to look at her. She kept pace with him until he stopped. Liz leaned over and opened the passenger door and flashed her sculpted smile.
“Nǐ qù shèngdìyàgē ma?” she asked him coyly. He would probably be fun in San Diego.
“Shì de,” he smiled back at her and climbed in. Between the both of them, they could make a believable story for the Border Patrol.