Mexican Hat Trick
by T.S. O’Neil
GENRE: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare—south of the border.
Chapter 1 Chewy Mendelevich
Jesus Juan Carlo Rodriguez Mendelevich or Chewy for short was scared. The portly man sweated profusely in the noonday sun. His body generated rivulets of sweat that cascaded down his corpulent frame in continuous flows. Part of the cause was Torreon’s climate; the other was his nervousness. Chewy had scheduled the meeting at Casa Portofino, a restaurant in one of the more upscale and tranquil areas of the city. The neighborhood was a series of walled compounds, behind which sat multi-story villas protected by shotgun-toting security guards. Chewy waited under the blue canopy of the Mediterranean style white stucco building, hoping to see whether the man he was scheduled to meet arrived alone as was agreed. He was expecting a Gringo named Eddie Doyle, an emissary sent by the owner of the clothing company Chewy supplied.
Torreon was a dangerous place—there were over a thousand murders the previous year. Most were drug related as the Zeta cartel called it their territory and home—while other gangs disagreed. It was also the industrial heart of Mexico with much of the manufacturing scattered around the city in a series of walled and guarded industrial parks.
Chewy was the product of a May-September romance between a Jewish immigrant and a Mexican seamstress. His father, Isaac, a talented and well-connected tailor, had fled the Soviet Union in the early fifties. He had served many senior officials within the Communist Party ¬¬—a connection that would save his life. In the aftermath of Stalin’s death, a plot had been discovered to seize power by assassinating select high party officials. A group of Jewish doctors was implicated and vilified. Some were executed, others imprisoned—Isaac had been a non-practicing Jew, but nonetheless was swept up in the purge that followed. He escaped via a connection he had with a Mexican diplomat.
Over the remainder of his life, Isaac Mendelevich had grown a one tailor shop into a lucrative cut & sewn operation that employed over sixty seamstresses. Chewy had neither his father’s patience nor his virtue, but he did have higher aspirations.
For the past eleven years, Chewy’s company, Estrella de David S.A., had served as a foreign contractor of an American apparel manufacturer. The cloth was cut in El Paso and shipped to his Estrella Fabrica Una in Torreon—he only had one factory, but he could still dream big. His seamstresses rapidly turned the fabric into shirts and pants, he paid them poorly and reaped the reward. He had developed a pretty lucrative gig—the work was good, and Chewy prospered. He lived in a three level walled home outside of town, drove a late model Range Rover, and vacationed in a rented villa in Tuscany.
The Range Rover handled Torreon’s rough streets better than the Ferraris or Lamborghinis he saw in Italy—still, the Rover was not as stylish. He was originally pissed when he found out the Chinese had copied the storied vehicle and sold the counterfeit version, called the Landwind X7 for half the price of the original. But that anger gave way to grudging admiration after he involved himself in a similar pursuit.
Chewy dated the better-looking members of his staff—oblivious to the warning about fishing from the company pier—apparently, there is no similar expression in Spanish. The work was lucrative but limited. He often finished the entire consignment that the North American manufacturer shipped him in record time, which left him with an idle factory. He had plans for an early retirement to his own villa in Italy or along the Spanish Coast, and that took serious money.
Before his current girlfriend, Angelina, came to work for him—she had been employed for a short time in a factory stitching counterfeit shirts. The shirts were such good quality that they were often sold in the same retail shops that sold originals. She liked the work—the factory was in an old warehouse close to her home, the pay was in dollars, and they fed her lunch. Sure the work was hard—twelve hour days using old sewing machines, learning the strange stitching design and getting yelled at when she screwed something up, but they let her bring home the leftover tamales, and they paid her each day in currency.
On her one month anniversary a team from the Prosecutor’s Office arrived—all dressed in black military-style uniforms and carrying automatic weapons. The two Mexican Americans running the factory were summarily arrested—cuffed and stuffed as the gringos say, and carted off in a detention vehicle, not doubt to the infamous Gómez Palacio prison.
The gringos’ arrests left a vacuum in the market and after some subtle inquiries, Chewy filled it with a vigor. He now produced a regular run of clothing, in this case, a trademark known as Mountain Man (MM) and then produced a second line of high-quality fakes. The clothing line had a distinctive trademark—an inch high double M with crossed legs. The patterns were the same, and much of the output was repurposed seconds or new jeans made with locally bought denim. The quality of his counterfeits was high enough to fool the trademark inspectors and even some of the manufacturer’s investigators.
They filled a container of legitimate product for which Mountain Man’s in-country manager paid in cash a sum that was both gratifying and underwhelming. His shop floor otherwise idle, he would put his seamstresses to work with remnants and leftover sundries, to turn out another line of high-quality counterfeits. He knew others were doing the same. The fake jeans went straight into a shipping container that arrived on a regular basis—he assumed they were exported as he never saw them in the ‘Tianguis’ or local flea markets.
Chewy was initially happy. That together with what he was earning in regular work meant he was garnering over one-half million dollars a year. Still, it was not enough. The villa in Italy that he wanted costs over two and one-half million dollars and his prolific use of cocaine, 100% agave aged Tequila and high-class prostitutes, limited his ability to save. He needed, as the computer geeks say, a killer app—something lucrative enough to put him over the top. Two million dollars would get him there, and he figured that the information he had to share was well worth that price.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management. He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne. He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.
All are available on Amazon.com
Interview with T S O'Neil
Where do you get inspiration for your stories?
Real life. The inspiration for my latest book, Mexcian Hat Trick, came from my experiences as a trademark counterfeit investigator—an occupation I had for about five years after leaving the Army in 1993. I always wanted to write a book about anti-counterfeiting, because it is a very interesting field. I used to say it’s one of the most fun things you can do with your pants on, but I should probably change that to say it’s the most fun you can have as an adult. Trademark counterfeiting is viewed as an economic crime in most countries, but in others, responsibility for conducting raids falls to the country’s equivalence of the F.B.I. and it can be a pretty dicey business, as Organized Crime is sometimes involved. I wanted to write a novel about the investigators who scrutinize such activates, but I needed to up the ante a little bit by adding some murder and mayhem.
How did you do research for your book? I lived that life for five years, so I didn’t need to do a lot of research. Not much has changed in the game. I know Mexico somewhat as I’ve traveled there for both business and pleasure over the course of the last thirty years.
Do you have another profession besides writing? Yes, I’m a Cyber Security Senior Consultant.
If you could go back in time, where would you go? Well, if we could travel back in time, we would be limited into what time we could safely travel as hygiene didn’t really come into vogue until sometime after the Civil War when Louis Pasteur discovered the tie between disease and germs. So, if you were to journey back anytime prior, you would not be able to eat or drink anything because you would quickly end up with a case of dysentery or worse. Given that, I think it would be interesting to be around after the end of World War II when the country was cheerful and optimistic after defeating the AXIS powers and before entering into the Cold War.
What is your next project? I’m thinking about writing a Science Fiction novel about a dystopian future where the U.S. has fallen, and remains of the government and military are sheltering in a hidden compound somewhere in the Poconos. They are trying to resurrect the government by leaving their compound and rejoining other government elements now located in Alaska.
The author will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour