Lola stands next to Garcia while he mans the grill in their craggy square of backyard. The barbeque has just begun, and the women are clustered gossiping, while the men hold sweating beers. Lola prefers the periphery.
Business has been good lately in their tiny nugget of South Central Los Angeles, where a legit man has two choices: landscaping off-the-books for West Side white cash, or sweating through twelve-hour shifts at a factory in Vernon. Garcia does not make his living either way. If Lola were like the other women at her barbeque, she would spend her work day perched on a padded stool behind a dollar store cash register. But Lola is not like the other women in Huntington Park.
Suddenly: a sharp knock on the front door, probably a cop. Lola goes to answer it. The man standing there is Mexican, not Mexican-American, like everybody else here. Lola searches his face for a bead of sweat but comes up empty. She has never met him, but she knows his name. Everyone in this neighborhood knows his name. They call him The Collector, and he won’t give them long.