“La Cancion de los Torturados“. The Song of the Tortured.
It’s been slow in coming, as Azzarello assembled his pieces, shuffling them quietly, moving the cards between hands, allowing only certain ones to be seen. As with the best of 100 Bullets‘ stories, we have come upon this place by strange journeys, though none more strange than that of the man who did the one thing he hated most in his life, and has been doing constanty, ever since.
When Lono left Miami, the night the Trust fell, the Minutemen fell, the death of America began, he was running away from someone. Now, the man he couldn’t escape has caught up with him at last. The burn has been slow, oh so slow, but the fire is caught and the blaze will envelop everyone. Because Lono is back.
Where we left things last month, Lono had stepped forward to stop Craneo from taking the orphanage’s girl-children. But Pico, who used to be Paulo, was creeping up behind him with Sister June’s gun in his hand. Craneo smirks this month, but only for as long as it takes for Pico to fire two shots: neither into the back of Lono’s head, but into the windshield of Craneo’s 4×4. It is as good as a suicide note: Craneo makes it plain.
Secrets start to tumble out as he drives away: the true owner of the gun, the fact that the DEA are down on this place, that Pico/Paulo has condemned himself, that ‘Sister’ June is not a Sister, and neither is she June. But Craneo is back, almost immediately, not only with men, but with the electricity severed, the mobile phone tower overturned. The first thing that is needed is for Pico to offer himself to be killed: Father Manny as good as sends him to his death, for the children, but when Pico shoulders his fate with an impeccable dignity, it is Manny who tries to stop Craneo from acting, blurting out that the DEA are here, that it’s over for Craneo and his organisation.
With June shooting from hiding, creating a temporary impasse, the situation is suddenly rendered chaotic when Lono attacks Craneo’s men, steals a truck, draws them away, to chase the DEA man. And though he is still washed clean of what he’s tried to escape, still dressed in white and not Hawaiian, it is Lono. The Dog is backed.
And he is captured and sent for torture. A torture that will not save anyone here, for their deaths and dismemberments will be used as part of that long, slow, killing process. They will all die: Pico/Paulo, ‘Sister June’, Father Manny, and it is that which terrifies him into racing away on a scooter, hoping to intercede, to prevent this in some manner. Because he knows Lono, truly knows him. He took Lono’s Confession. He knows that the Dog will sit and wait, bear any amount of pain, to learn what he can of you. To know how to strike back.
Azzarello began at the end, as he so often has. We know it ends with graves. We knew, whether we admitted it to ourselves or not, whose graves they will be.
It will not be long now.