Episode 44: La Proxima Vez

The alarm beeps and Lana looks out the window from her workstation to see Raul’s Nissan Ultima come up the drive.  She sees Ramon get out of the passenger seat.  She notes the time, the vehicle, and the occupants in her daily activity log, then walks over to get the door, which she opens part way and puts a rubber stop behind it.

Hi, Lana.  Ramon grins at her.  Please state your business, Raul hears Lana say from behind the door.  We’re here to see you.  I’m sorry, but I cannot invite you in, Lana tells them.  Please leave now.  We need to talk, Ramon tells her.  They stare at each other.   Please wait in the car.  I’ll join you in a minute.  She closes the door.

Lana makes a quick note on the activity log: 2:46pm.  Stepping out.  D-Rn needs to talk to me.


Lana opens the back door of the Ultima and gets in.  Ramon gets out and walks around the car to sit in the backseat with her.

So you are not allowed to have guests?  Ramon asks her.  I have my instructions, she tells him.  I was hired to do a job, and I don’t take that lightly, Don Ramon. You work here alone with him, and yet Bettina’s father forbids her to come over, Raul says, adjusting the mirror so he can see her face.  I’m not Bettina, Lana replies matter of factly.  Ramon grins widely at her.  Lana, you are one of my favorite people. Thank you, she tells him, and smiles with her eyes downcast.

I heard about your new car, Ramon says grinning at Lana. Lana grins back at him.  It’s exceedingly abundantly above what I had in mind, Don Ramon.

Predators 2.  Ramon questions.  What’s happening there?  James, the band manager of SH5, is representing me.  So you’re going to be a movie star?  Lana shakes her head no.  I’m offering to let them use my name and backstory if Sam gets the role.  Why?  She knows how to handle herself, and she won’t let them dress her in the attire of a harlot or put perverse words in her mouth.  Ramon chuckles as he grins at her.

Lana, my fiance wants you for a sister.  And I’m going to do everything in my power to give her what she wants.  <Pause> RileyX needs to go back to Portland, Ramon tells her seriously.  Either you handle it, or I will.  Lana closes her eyes and rests her chin on her chest.  Bettina and Simon are plotting to set him up with your waitress Emilie, Lana replies softly.  Please let that happen.  That little boy needs a father.  No one says anything.

Lana gets out suddenly and opens the front passenger door and sits next to Raul.  I want to talk to you, she tells him.  Raul, you said the other day at lunch that you were willing to hire Rolf a replacement.  He nods.  Rolf and I talked.  I’ve been offered a plum assignment.  Senator Johns is running for President and he wants me to handle his security until he gets a Secret Service detail. Raul looks straight ahead as he digests this.  He won’t let you go, Lana.  Raul finally comments.  Everyone is expendable on the way to the top, Raul.  Someone will set me off.  Then you’re in jail again, Ramon tells her from middle of the backseat.  She shrugs.  If that’s the price to keep Bettina safe, then I’ll pay it.  She’s going to be working for his campaign.  He is not a godly man, Raul says.  But he fears God, Raul. And this country needs a leader that is as wise as a serpent.

Lana reaches over and clasps Raul’s hand.  I think you impressed Rolf with your offer, Raul.  He suggested that I ask you to find me someone from your organization suitable for my protection detail.  That you’d care enough to send the best.  I’m authorized to hire one more person besides Tim.

What skill set do you have in mind, Lana? Ramon asks curiously.  Someone who knows how to pick locks. The brothers exchange a look in the mirror.  I’d like to learn, she confesses.  There is going to be a lot of downtime on the campaign trail. It’s not so much that the Senator is in danger at this juncture.  Rather it’s about looking Presidential.

What are you doing this weekend, Lana?  Ramon asks her.  Bettina and I are going to a defensive driving class in North Carolina.  We won’t be back in time for church on Sunday, Raul.  Just you and Bettina?  Raul asks.  Lana is silent.  Ramon sighs.  So you want to see him with the waitress.   Lana nods.  Alright, I’m on it.  I’m glad you got a new car, Lana.  Just so you know, Jaxton Ayers transferred $52,000 to the redhead’s account, Ramon tells her.  Lana looks down and doesn’t reply.  What is Kostamo going to do about her?  Raul asks.  He told me that he’ll catch her if she falls.  I’m counting on you, Raul, as my get out of jail free card, Lana says, and then opens the door and heads back inside.


Well, brother?  Ramon asks Raul, as he turns into Highway 90.  I’d rather she keep working for the drummer now, he admits.  She likes you, Ramon tells him grinning, and Raul tries and fails to surpress a smile.  Has Samantha ever been inside that place?  Ramon nods.  She likes the floor plan.  It’s bright and open.  The kitchen is the focal point, where everyone gathers.  Lana has a little work station over in a corner that looks out the window at the drive, and there is an alarm that beeps once when a vehicle enters the drive and trips the laser diode.  Sam said that Bettina told her that Lana has a small bedroom upstairs, but Sam’s never seen it.  Give her a call on speaker.  Call Samantha.  Raul tells his phone.  Calling Samantha, the voice says back to him.  Hey, Raul.  Whatsup?  Ramon and I are driving back from the drummer’s.  Ohhh.  Did Lana let you in?  No.  Sam laughs.  I want to hear about this, but I’m walking into the lobby right now.  I’ll call you back in a little bit. She hangs up.

She calls him back five minutes later.  Are you still driving?  Yes.  Well tell me what happened, Sam says, grinning at her uncle who is listening in on speaker.

I told her that my fiance wanted her for a sister, and that I would do everything in my power to see that she gets what she wants.  That’s sweet, Sam says.  Did Lana talk to you on the porch?  She came out and sat with us in the car.  How did it play out?  We go up to the door and she opens it a crack, just enough so I could see her face, and she was very rude to me.  What did she say?  Sam asks.  Please state your business.  And I told her that we were there to see her.  And she told me that she couldn’t invite us in, and asked us to leave.  She was polite and respectful, but firm, Raul adds.  I told her that I need to talk to her and she asked us to wait in the car, and that she’d come out and join us, and then she closed the door on us, Ramon concludes.

How did the RileyX talk go?  She said that Simon and Bettina were working on setting him up with – who was it?  He asks Raul.  One of my waitresses.  The one with the toddler who Lana gave her tip money to at church?  Sam asks.  Yes.  Her name is Emilie, Raul says.  Are you going to stand down? Sam asks.  No, Ramon says whimsically.  Raul looks at him.  She and Bettina are taking a defensive driving class with him and the bald one this weekend in North Carolina instead of going to church with Raul.  That is untenable.  What are you going to do?  I’m going to burn his house to the ground, Ramon states bluntly.  That’ll get him home.  No one says anything for ten seconds.  Then torch his car too, so he’ll suspect his ex-girlfriend.  You are the woman of my dreams, Samantha, Ramon says with admiration.

Was Lana nice to Raul?  I was sitting with her in the backseat, and after we got done talking about this Emilie, she got out and sat up front with him and ignored me.  She likes you, Raul, Sam tells him.  He’s all depressed now.  She’s leaving the drummer to work for Senator Johns until he gets Secret Service protection.  Bettina is going to make him President.  You better nip that in the bud; that’s not going to end well for you, Raul, Sam says.  I got the sense that she’s doing it more to protect Bettina, Raul admits.  Lana co-opted him.  Ramon says.  She told Raul that the drummer was impressed with him, and recommended that she ask him for help.  That Raul would care enough to send the very best.  She said that she’s authorized to hire one more person.  Kostamo’s man Tim is already on board.  He’s wishing she’d keep on working for the drummer now.  Sam points to herself and looks at her uncle. Who nods.  I’ll do it, Sam says suddenly.  You would be the best possible candidate, Ramon says, grinning at Raul, but alas, Lana has other plans for you.  Oh really?  She’s going to make you into a movie star.  What?  I asked her what was happening with Predators 2, and her agent has instructions to see that you get the part.  Why me?  She said that you know how to handle yourself, and you won’t let them put perverse words in your mouth or dress you in the attire of a harlot.  Sam’s uncle chuckles silently.  Hmmpfff.   Sam grunts, secretly pleased.  So who are you going to have be her helper?  She wants someone who knows how to pick locks.  Why?  She wants to learn.  She said that there’s going to be a lot of downtime on the campaign trail.

See if you can talk her out of it, Raul.  I’m not going to be able to separate Lana from Bettina, Samantha.  She’s willing to go to jail to protect her.  She told us that someone will set her off, Ramon adds.  Do you have someone in mind?  Sam asks him.  Yes.  His quals?  He’s a tier one operator.  Active duty?  Yes.  And he’s in your service?  No, but he owes me one.  Why didn’t you use him against Kostamo then?  Samantha, I don’t have a death wish.  He would have killed me just for asking; Kostamo is a legend in their community.