Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Installment 2.16




SD-LA was rocked by convulsions when the announcement that the “Cartel” would no longer be entitled to do business in Cali.

Arms of the Cartel were completely eliminated from some districts.  Dealers were gunned down on their corners.  Couriers were intercepted and their goods stolen by competitors.

Many high ranking Cartel officials died well in advance of the actuarial predictions, often of medical “errors” and automobile accidents.

Deprived of its lucrative concession to “distribute” merchandise and the community policing concession, the Cartel evaporated overnight.

A development that stunned nearly all observers, a minor street gang seemed to absorb the large numbers of the dispossessed Cartel members.  The gang ruthlessly crushed the more older, more established rivals of the Cartel as they flowed into the neighborhoods where the Cartel had been eliminated.

The new gang quickly consolidated their positions and handily won the new “concession”.

Pundits were amazed that government officials were not targeted.  Of course a many were wounded and several died.  If more than a few of them were rumored to be greedy or bullies or used their position to extort sexual favors...well, those kinds of people have accidents too. 

Pundits assumed that the Cartel would extract revenge for being kicked to the curb.  The collapse of the Cartel was total and nearly instantaneous.  It defied all expectations.

***

A month after the new concession had been “let”, Denice had another meal in that same back room.  This time Jose was joined by an older gentleman who was introduced as Senor Largo.

“Tell me,” Senor Largo addressed Denice, “what do you think of people who sell the kind of merchandise we sell?  I want to know.”

Denice said, “I am sure I don’t know what kind of merchandise you are talking about.  But I am of the opinion that life can be pretty grim and if toking a little bit of weed makes it easier for a man to get through the day without hitting their woman or shooting up a store, then I think it is OK.  Look at us.  We are enjoying a bottle wine.  It is the same kind of thing.”

Senor Largo nodded.

“Your comment brings up a burning question.” Denice said.

“Bona-Brown made it clear that there will be no more corn coming in.  I look at the tax receipts and can see that the little bit of extra corn made a huge difference in business activity.  I suspect you saw increased sales…but I am just guessing.” Denice said.

Senor Largo looked over at Jose who said, “The last half year has been very profitable, even with the stresses of losing the concession and downsizing.”

“I am looking at the future and can see no way to avoid going into the ditch.  We will have walkers.  The number of deaths due to starvation will skyrocket.  People will not be productive on their jobs.” Denice said.

“This is not my town.  I am humbly asking everybody if there is any way to make the coming train wreck less painful.  I am asking YOU if there is anything I can do to soften the blow?” Denice said.

Senor Largo and Jose were clearly surprised.  The answer was as clear as the nose on Denice’s face.  It never occurred to them that the government might be clueless about how to address the problem.

Jose smiled a supremely ironic smile.  “The answer is the same one you gave us.  You need to reduce your ‘work force’”

“Beg your pardon?” Denice said.

“More than one third of SD-LA are recent immigrants from Latin America.  After watching their parents and children turn into walkers, nearly every one of them desperately wants to return to Latin America.” Senor Largo said.

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