Latest Flash


Sometimes people surprise us. Sometimes they end up being who we thought they were all along.

In the Gutter, tragedy doesn't spare either outcome the heartbreak.

5D by Aurelia Lorca

5D was my cousin Dago’s nickname. He said that 5D stood for “Dave Da Dank Dealing Dago.” However, his habitual bipolar escapades, which frequently landed him in the loony bin or jail, prompted Scotch to claim 5D stood for “Da Dumb Drug Dealing Dago.”

Scotch is also now dead, but he was the one who called to tell me the cops found Dago’s body in a ditch next to the on-ramp for Nothridge, the shopping mall in Salinas.

I had just moved to San Francisco to become a writer and was living in a 450-square foot studio with a moldy bathroom, peeling paint, and bright red carpet. My phone was a wireless number, grey plastic with a movable plastic antennae I had to push down when not in use, and pull up to hear the other line without static.

Something was wrong. I could hear it in the way Scotch said hello. I did not want to pull up the antennae, Scotch’s words pillowed in fuzziness. He had to repeat himself three times before I wanted to understand.


 It was the only word I could muster.

It was a surprise to hear from Scotch. He was my ex-boyfriend, and I had not taken our break-up well. I keyed his car and then moved to San Francisco. I had only made amends very recently. We hung out the last time I was home for a visit, and I asked if he had seen Dago, how he was doing.

“Don’t ask,” Scotch had said.

What Scotch didn’t explain was that Dago had appeared in the parking lot of his radio station with an AK47, wanting to know if he was interested. Of course Scotch said no, knowing nothing good was going to come of Dago playing with machine guns, but he did not say anything other than “you’re a stupid Dago.” Scotch said nothing else because he knew that A.) Dago would not listen anyway, B.) Scotch was still outraged Dago would dare bring such shit to his work, even if it was in the parking lot, and C.) Dago had lost $800 worth Scotch’s weed two years earlier. And to date, he had only repaid about half of that. Dago was not the kind of person with whom you went into business.

“Why?” I said again. “Why?”

My hands began to shake. Though I had now pulled up the antennae, the static returned in trembling waves with my trembling hands.

“It’s Cooper Road. A popular dumping ground for bodies. Norteños. He was shot in the head execution style.”

“Dago isn’t crazy enough to mess with the Norteños. He does dumb things, but he’s not stupid.”

The shock mangled my words into a whisper. Dago was the first baby I ever held. Now he had been shot in the head, execution style, his body found in a ditch.

“Apparently he was. Are you OK?”

“How did you find out?”

“It’s all over town.”

“Are you sure? About the Norteños? I can’t believe he’d take that kind of a risk. He’d lose drugs all the time, but never from anyone who’d actually do anything about it.”

“Normally I’d say thanks for reminding me. But somehow that doesn’t seem appropriate right now.”

I hung up the phone and stared into the looping curls of carpet, swirls upon swirls of red and red and red. For the rest of the day I kept hearing Dago’s voice, “I went out like a G! They shot me in the head execution style!” 

Eventually we learned that Dago’s murderers were not Norteños but two white boy speed freaks: Up Chuck, a rich kid from Skyline Forest with a reputation for being a vicious crybaby, and Richie Acevado, a rat-faced, small-time dope slinger who had the tattoo “Ladies Love Outlaws” across his chest. 

One rumor had Dago pulling the AK-47 on Chuck in one of his meth-induced, manic bravados, so Richie murdered Dago to avenge the diss.  

Another rumor said that Dago had ripped off Richie for several thousand dollars worth of speed. Dago was known for “losing drugs,” but he was shrewd enough to never outright steal, especially from someone who might actually seek retribution.

Oddly enough, both rumors turned out to be true. At least, parts of them. Dago had pulled a gun on Chuck in typical tweaker histrionics. And Richie had been ripped off. Although a few thousand dollars of dope was chump change for a major player, it was all Richie had; and everyone in town knew he had been robbed. The potheads laughed, because they all hated tweakers, especially dealers. Hence, Richie wanted to demonstrate that he was nobody’s fool, and Up Chuck wanted to prove he wasn’t a pussy afraid of a manic, gun-waving idiot like Dago. So they both got Dago alone after a party, beat him up, and shot him in the head. But it turned out that Dago never stole Richie’s money. Up Chuck did, the whole thing a set-up. 

There were too many rumors. Too much speculation, Dago much too beloved. He did dumb shit, but he wasn’t stupid. He was manic, but never mean. Someone eventually snitched. Up Chuck and Richie pled guilty and got twenty-five years apiece.

A month after Dago died, his father got stomach cancer. My uncle told me not to worry—cancer would be easier to cure than a broken heart. Six months later, he had a quadruple bypass. For six years he walked with a stoop until his body gave out completely and he died.

Aurelia Lorca's poems and short stories have been published throughout the small press. She has two collections of her poems, Trills From A Numbed Tongue of Duhhhh, and Putting On My Red Shoes and Dancing The Blues (published by Ebullience Press). Originally from the Monterey Peninsula, Aurelia is currently working on her first novel, Six Cans A Minute, about the Andalusian immigrants who worked in the sardine industry of Monterey's famed Cannery Row.