The War of Summer's Ending

Chapter 28 - The Scene of the Crime

Place: Northern Coral Gables / West Little Havana
Time: December 10, morning

After sleeping (since they’ve been awake for almost thirty hours), the Brotherhood of the Willow piles into Jack’s car to visit the restaurant where the attack on Queen Espina occurred.

The scene: Banditos Bar & Grill, in northern Coral Gables, near the western end of Little Havana. According to sources within True Spring, Isabel Espina used to go there semi-regularly before her exile, even though it was out of her way, for their chimichangas with molé sauce. The first thing they notice about the storefront is the stickers for local businesses and causes which have been stuck to the front window, seemingly at random. Once inside, they can see that they’re being used to cover up bullet-holes. It’s cheaper than replacing the glass ever time the odd stray bullet comes their way.

While waiting for their food, they realize that the stickers are slightly foxed at the edges, indicating that they’re not recent. This would suggest that the attack did not involve gunfire, which is very odd, especially for members of the Summer Court.

The Brotherhood realizes that they need to find out if a server actually saw the attack, and if the Brotherhood can talk to him/her, without sounding really suspicious or scaring him/her off. First, they catch some easy Glamour by spooking a young woman on a date with her boyfriend with off-handed-but-clearly-audible speculation about the bullet holes in the front window. Then Jack, claiming to be a reporter, interviews their server, Carlos, for more details about the shooting. Carlos saw the whole thing happen.

According to Carlos, a pretty lady (Espina) and a few others (Ray, Selena) came in for the lunch special (chimichangas with molé sauce and Spanish rice) and sat down to eat like normal. were all in attendance. They were discussing something that involved a lot of what he assumed were codenames, like Abuelo Trueno and “Vichy Spring”, so he thought they were involved in the drug trade or something.

They were talking about a party, but they seemed to be throwing one for people they didn’t really like, which seems like a sure recipe for a bad party. Anyway, some weird-looking women, three of them, jumped the three of them as they were leaving the restaurant. (Most gang-related attacks are carried out by men, so that was odd, but not unheard-of.) One of the attacking women, the big one with the dark hair, hit the pretty one with a fireplace poker. The big husky one, she rushed up and grabbed the thin one from behind in a bear-hug and started crushing her. The older guy started running down the street yelling really loud. It looked like he was trying to draw their fire, but he did it a little too well: the Asian lady shot him before he rounded the corner, and he went down, though it didn’t look like it was a really bad wound.

That was when the cops started showing up. The attacking women appeared to flee on foot, which suggests that they must’ve been coming from pretty nearby. If they had any significant distance to go, they’d just drive. The motley thanked Carlos for his information, and Jack slipped him a twenty, and said that he’d offer the same if Carlos ever wanted to do another “interview”.

The Brotherhood pays for their food and leaves, and starts asking people if they’ve seen a group of women matching the description they’ve been given. After an hour-and-a-half of searching and asking directions from the right people, they find a ghetto-looking daycare center, with not-quite-copyright cartoon characters painted in a colorful if inexpertly-painted mural on the cinder-block wall. There’s a small playground full of rusty but well-used play equipment, surrounded by a high chain-link fence that’s clearly designed to keep people out as much as to keep the kids in. The flickering neon sign over the door reads “Maybright Daycare Center”.

As the Brotherhood of the Willow draws close to the fence, they hear a gaggle of off-key children’s voices singing a nursery rhyme:

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after.

As he hears the old song, Jack freezes in his tracks, seemingly paralyzed by some unseen force.