SFCS: Chapter 1 – Appearances Are Not Necessarily Reality

As the motorcade speeds away from Santa Fe Plaza, those left standing there are dumbfounded. It’s almost an eerie silence for that moment. Then, the photographers from the two TV stations who showed up pull out their phones to make calls back to their respective assignment editors to drop the information on them. The handful of spectators in the plaza just went on about their day. It was as if that press conference was an aberration. Maybe it had the desired effect the governor hoped for, holding it on April Fool’s Day. Or maybe the people of Santa Fe just realized they elected an idiot. Time will tell.

The motorcade hits highway 475, and one suburban splits to the west, while the rest keep heading east. In that one suburban is Michael and Vlad. No words are being said. The ride is happening in total silence, with the exception of a few clicking sounds as Michael uses his smart phone. Finally, about 15 minutes later, the suburban pulls up in front of an adobe home on the northern edge of Santa Fe. Michael goes to exit the vehicle, and turns back, only to see Vlad hasn’t moved an inch.

“Are you coming?” Michael asked. There’s no response.

“Damnit, Johnny! Get out of the car!”


Johnathan Trejo was born and raised in the West Texas town of Brownfield. Talk about an infamous start. Brownfield has been well known through the years as having the highest rate of STD infection in the state of Texas. A couple of times, they even topped the national list! It’s like the town loves to share needles, or share…other things.

Johnny was born to a father of European Spanish decent, and a mother who was equally German and Irish. So yes, at his home, there would be one night that it was sausage and potatoes for dinner, and the next night would be paella.

The big problem growing up is the neighborhood he lived in. Both of his parents worked hard to pull in what little money they did. His father worked changing oil, while his mother was a teacher. There definitely wasn’t enough money to get them in to a more affluent neighborhood. So the Hispanic kids always called him “Wedo!” He was a second-class citizen in a second-class neighborhood of a second-class town.

Johnny storms out of the suburban without a word. He heads towards the front door of the house with Michael about 5 steps behind him. Once they get inside, Johnny doesn’t hold back.

“You told me we weren’t doing this no more! We were DONE!”

“C’mon, brotha! Are you telling me you’re willing to pass up an opportunity to pin one on my old friend, the governor? He wants to rough up his new city a bit. He’s used to Chicago. He got a similar feel in Albuquerque. He’s a damn fish out of water here in Santa Fe!”

“But why can’t we run this one legit?” asks Johnny.

“Maaaan, we’re running Arizona legit. But I gotta run one more up the flag pole. I’m sure we’ll have enough marks to cover the Fight Club series without getting caught.”

“I’m not going to do it, Mike.”

“Johnny, you are my best confidence man. I even resurrected a thoroughly backstopped character in Vlad just for you!”

Johnny fell in with Michael while on a gap year trip to Chicago. And when I say gap year, I mean he couldn’t afford to go to college, and some random person hooked Johnny up with a job outside Chicago in Schaumburg. You see, at that time, Michael was involved in running an entirely different wrestling promotion. Michael saw Johnny in downtown one day and just KNEW that Johnny needed to be the next breakout for the promotion. So, Johnny was dubbed “The Beast”.

But, during the touring this company did, Michael would find time to run some side work. The schemes he pulled were somewhere in that grey area between carny and criminal. Johnny’s ability to sway the crowds from the wrestling ring as The Beast showed that he had the skills to be a con man, so Michael used Johnny on some of these jobs.

But when that wrestling promotion lost steam and went under, Michael and Johnny working a job right under the noses of the Chicago police were almost exposed, and the two had to get out of town AND out of the state.

After some silence, Johnny finally spoke.

“So how are we going to pull it this month?”

“Let’s start with the Nate Ford,” Michael said, sly grin showing on his face…

Also published on Medium.

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