Across

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Summary

Across By Daniel A. Torres synopsis: The story is inspired by the real story of Daniel A. Torres. First US deported veteran in history to win Citizenship. Daniel was brought to the US as a minor illegally and joined the US Marine Corps as a citizen (at the time he was an illegal alien and joined with a fake birth certificate). Upon returning from Iraq he was discovered and eventually self-deported to France. Where he tried to join the French foreign legion. He was denied service in the legion and ended up in Tijuana Mexico. Where he completed a law degree and became a member of a grassroots group of deported veterans. Eventually becoming a US citizen and currently a law student in the US. The character arc is that of someone who tried desperately to belong to something greater than himself. First in society, then in a military setting, followed by a criminal cartel, a cult and finally a support group of people with the same values, code and ambitions. A slow decay of the ideals and code of honor instilled in the character, into the realism of survival through crime. Only to accept a balance of both in the end. It presents philosophical questions on religion, government, crime, murder, god, honor, sanity, identity and suicide.

Genre:
Drama / Other
Author:
Daniel Torres
Status:
Excerpt
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

Untitled chapter


synopsis:

The story is inspired by the real story of Daniel A. Torres. First US deported veteran in history to win Citizenship. Daniel was brought to the US as a minor illegally and joined the US Marine Corps as a citizen (at the time he was an illegal alien and joined with a fake birth certificate). Upon returning from Iraq he was discovered and eventually self-deported to France. Where he tried to join the French foreign legion. He was denied service in the legion and ended up in Tijuana Mexico. Where he completed a law degree and became a member of a grassroots group of deported veterans. Eventually becoming a US citizen and currently a law student in the US.

The character arc is that of someone who tried desperately to belong to something greater than himself. First in society, then in a military setting, followed by a criminal cartel, a cult and finally a support group of people with the same values, code and ambitions. A slow decay of the ideals and code of honor instilled in the character, into the realism of survival through crime. Only to accept a balance of both in the end.

It presents philosophical questions on religion, government, crime, murder, god, honor, sanity, identity and suicide.

“Kant only gets as far as Machiavelli allows”

-Daniel Aaron Torres.

Word count : 8408

CHAPTER 9
TO FIND ONE’S CALLING

The line was long and went well around the corner about 100 meters away. The teenagers around me looked like children. Everyone was nervous and exited. I wasn’t to be honest; it would be whatever it would be, I told myself. The university is known as UABC. Universidad Autonoma de Baja California. And the faculty I was applying to was law. I would try to become a Mexican attorney. Such the irony. After I got out of the four-hour test, I was told that it would be four weeks before I could receive my results. In the meantime, there were things to do. My high school diploma had to be translated and certified in order for the university to recognize it. I also needed to acquire my birth certificate and a photo ID. After getting all the paperwork ready. The answer came through. “ACCEPTED” big bold letters were staring back at me in the computer. Once again there was this faint feeling of purpose and direction. Much needed in my life at the time, over the years I have noticed that the worst mistakes are usually made when there are no goals in the horizon. A man should never be without one, that sensation of being lost is what has landed me in hot water one too many times. But give me something to do. Some sort of finish line to get to and friend I can run that marathon. When I told my family, they were obviously happy and impressed. My mother and father were exited as hell. My parents would often talk about how they wanted to study in the university. Of course, they started but never finished because yours truly would be coming into the world. So, for me to make the announcement of wanting to study a career was very exciting for them. Out of my entire family there were no attorneys so that added to the fanfare. I figured being a lawyer is like stealing except using papers instead of a gun. But there were other reasons as to why pursue a legal career. I liked reading and there was a lot of it, no math which is important since I can’t math for shit. And, also could work and study law at the same time in Mexico. It is one of the few careers where the curriculum is completed by credits not blocks of classes. It fit me quite well, about half of all students in my faculty were working day or night jobs and paying their own studies. My cousin Omar was at the same university in medicine and his brother Alfonso Jr. was in the accounting faculty on the far side of the campus. Their cousin on their mothers’ side was in the sports faculty. Lots and lots of cute college girls everywhere. In sharp contrast the law faculty was not pretty at all. It consisted of 5 two story concrete buildings with many cracks on the walls. Cracks the school would just cover over with plaster and paint. It turned out that the entire place was about fifty years old and condemned. When the day comes that an earthquake hits Tijuana, that place will stop being a school and will turn into a tomb.

The entrance to the faculty is marked by a small square with a statue of lady justice in bronze. Eyes blindfolded, balance in one hand and sword in the other. With one-foot stepping on the head of a snake and the other on the book of law. The biblical reference was not lost on me. Following that; three two story buildings one after the other. Four classrooms that could fit around sixty students each. Stairwells in the middle of the buildings. The concrete walls were all painted in a cream pink color and the doors were made of metal painted black. The windows where on the top part of the walls so you could not see out of them but the wind could still come in. These were barred with more black painted metal, so people could not break in and steal the projectors hanging from the roof. The chairs were a mix match of new and old, and the teachers desk probably forty years old. White erase boards and no air conditioner or heating. The only room that had air conditioning was the computer room which was located next to the mock trials room. Where we would stage trials and feel like real lawyers. There was lots of grass in the faculty. Another building had all the teacher’s offices and administrative staff. Most of the “garden” areas had tall trees where the students would grab some shade. Concrete round tables and benches littered in between the structures. Some metal benches here and there and of course the pets. Dozens of squirrels everywhere. We would feed them scraps and take pictures of the critters that ran around everywhere with complete disregard of people. It was the first and only place for that matter where I’ve seen squirrels get so close to people.

To the south side of the faculty was the medicine faculty. To the north economics and odontology to the east. A huge parking lot that was always full in the west side of the school. All those faculties together would make the west wing of the university. In the center of the university was the computer center, cafeteria, art exhibit, conference room and admin buildings. In the south wing flanked by a six-lane boulevard was the psychology and languages faculties. The school theater and faculty parking lot. To the east you could find the four-story tall library, business, arts and accounting faculties. Lastly in the north wing were the chemistry, engineering, sports faculties and the school’s sports fields. Every kind of sport you could ask for was practiced there. Beyond that lay the international airport and past that the Otay Border crossing.

Around this time I also went to both the Mexican army camp in Tijuana and the Mexican Marines navy base in Ensenada. Neither would take me, it didn’t matter that I was a veteran or I could ace every single one of their tests. Not even the tinnitus disqualified me because they didn’t test me for it. It was my tattoos that did it. Apparently in Mexico you cannot join any branch of the military if you have tattoos. The police won’t take you either. Is bullshit if you ask me, even after I told them my tattoos were military they did not care. I returned home and started getting ready for the upcoming semester. I thought by studying law perhaps there was a way to redeem myself. To serve my country in a positive manner. So, I set out to learn about the history, culture and politics of my home country. The united states had scoff at my service. Now I would serve Mexico. The country I belonged in, the country that I should serve. The year by now was 2012 and the presidential elections were in full swing. I began going to the city meetings of the Instituto Federal Electoral. The branch of the government in charge of the elections and the counting of votes. As a volunteer, I was trained on how to set up the voting booths and check the credentials of every person who arrived. How to shepherd them into the lines and make sure that everything went according to plan. We were even given classes on the civic duty and responsibility of upholding the standards of conduct expected of us by the nation itself. To uphold clean and fair elections. So, the democratic will of the people was safeguarded. Man, I ate that shit up, believed it, drank the cool aid and asked for seconds. But here is the funny thing about Mexican elections, is a sham, oh man it’s a big fucking sham. I was one of the people who would sign off to verify the counts were accurate. That the regulations were followed, except they weren’t. For starters the number of votes cast was much larger than the people signed up to vote. The ballots that were handed out on the booths were not the originals. They had no serial numbers like the ones shown to us at the Institute offices and you could just see they were colored photocopies of the real ones. When I tried to say something, I was just shut down by a couple of the PRI representatives. It was a shouting match in there. With people pushing and fighting and yelling, representatives from this political party trying to tear down the booth so no one would vote while representatives of the opposite party would punch and kick them so the people would vote. But it was their own people, once their political backers finished voting they tore down the whole thing saying that there were no more ballots. But I saw myself the boxes full of blanks under some tables. The PRI who would go on to win the election and it did so by applying all the dirty corrupt tricks you can think of. And some you would never think of. The PRI was buying peoples voting ID’s for a $600 pesos wall-mart gift card. Roughly $45 US dollars. The Mexican people of Tijuana would rather sell their votes for a week worth of food, than to choose for themselves who would govern them. To add insult to injury, when people went to the superstore to buy groceries, they found that the cards were empty, their elected president had sold them bad grocery cards.

Everyone was angry. People took to the streets in protest all over the country. Tens of thousands marched in every state capital and major city. I participated and photographed the one in Tijuana with a sign that read “Pena Nieto can’t read this” A stab at the terrible language skills the president has. If you don’t believe me just go to YouTube and search for “el ingles de Pena Nieto” and see for yourself. The newspapers wrote about it in the front page and so did the magazines. The radio dj’s aired their discontent and the television anchors criticized the government. But of course, nothing happened, there was no revolution, no armed rebellion, no stoning of government buildings or riots, no spring rains to wash away the parasites governing the southern country. People just marched and took pictures that gathered thousands of likes in Facebook. And one cannot change a country with likes. Nothing changed, all over the internet was evidence of the decadent corruption the Mexican government had employed during the elections. Everyone knew, but nothing happened. Because in the real world there are no heroes left. They’ve all been killed or bought long time ago. I thought in my young mind that perhaps there was something I could do about that. My plan was simple, learn how the system works and change it. Be the positive change that you wish to see, so in the fall when the classes started there would be a new mission for me. To better my country, that old dusty southern place with the mariachis and the cervezas and the carne asada. But before we go all Pancho Villa here there was another thing I had to do first, you see my itch needed some scratching. I wanted that rush of adrenaline on my veins and it had been sometime since I rock and rolled. So when there was an opportunity at real money. With real weaponry and a real challenge, there was no hesitation from me. I was to take down a group of kidnappers holed up in a ranch.

Oscar was a young and crazy motherfucker. The type of narco junior that wanted to fuck anything with a pair of tits and snort cocaine out of every stripper’s ass. I met him in Telvista back when he still was trying to be a law-abiding citizen. But the money and the whores were too much of a temptation for him. A “Narco junior” is not a real trafficker or Sicario. They usually are the offspring of one of them though. They grow up in wealth and the narco life style without ever really putting in work. The trust fund children of the cartel so to speak. Black hair, short and skinny, he was not intimidating at all. With a smile that betrayed his innocence and heart of happiness. However, his father was a high-ranking lieutenant in a cell of the Arellano Felix. Or at least what was left of it. The brothers have been long dead and defeated by the time I got to Tj. But the gangs still operating in the city liked using the name because in the 90’s it meant something, it commanded fear. They call themselves CAF (cartel Arellano Felix) but in truth there is no CAF anymore. Just small cells that kidnap and steal and deal. Sometimes trying to intimidate people for money, sometimes succeeding. His mother was one of the many mistresses that the man had. He had some serious issues because of it and was always trying to find ways to impress his father. The best and only way he could find to do so was getting into crime and making money for him. But of course, at the beginning he was not yet ready to pull the trigger so when he got a job that was too much for him, he came to me. We were to travel to the state of Durango, near the border of Sinaloa. There was a ranch about five hours away from Mazatlán. Where a cell of kidnappers kept victims while the ransom was paid by the family. How they knew that the person was there? Maybe they were the original kidnappers, maybe it was people from the Sinaloa cartel and rivals of his father and considered fair game to fuck over. I don’t know and I didn’t care, it was not my job to know. I got paid to do. The person we were to rescue had been taken along with the man’s brother. That poor fool was found dead in an intersection of Mazatlán when the family didn’t come up with the ransom money in time. The kidnappers had told them that unless they came up with the money in 2 weeks, they would not find the other one ever again.

The family did not have the money to pay the ransom. But they did have enough to get a couple of sicarios down there. They would pay us twenty-five thousand US dollars to bring him back alive. If we couldn’t bring him alive, they wanted proof of death of the men holding him and his body. But for vengeance we would only get ten grand. Still that was at least five thousand dollars I could make. Enough to pay the entire four and a half years of university. Oscar wanted the money to get to the USA. That’s how much he would have to pay to get flown into the country and get dropped off somewhere in the desert. From there a truck was to drive him to Los Angeles. Once in LA he wanted to sell coke and heroin for his family. Build a house near the beach and retire a rich man, at least that was his plan.

We drove all the way to Mazatlán. He picked me up on a brown old truck that had no AC. It was terrible piece of shit but at least we would attract no attention. The road is long and hot with dots of civilization every few hours. We passed Tecate, a small border town in the north of Baja California. Then we climbed the steep “Rumorosa” A mountain pass about an hour away from the capital Mexicali. The place is famous for being both dangerous and beautiful. Huge light brown boulders make up the mountain range. One hundred feet drops at the side of the road and little to no vegetation. I can admire the beauty of the place, but is a desert, and fuck the desert. We stopped for some drinks and snacks in Mexicali and crossed San Luis Rio Colorado. We were stopped at the checkpoints and searched by the soldiers but they found nothing. Everything you will need will be in Sinaloa I was told. Just bring some clothes in a backpack. The road continued parallel with the wall that runs in the US-Mexico border. Then we crossed the national reserve of El Pinacate. Another fucking desert people try to protect. Somewhere in this state and in some part of this road we were on. My father was detained for driving a truck with one million dollars’ worth of Heroin. My mind drifted to that moment so many years ago while my pupils stare into the horizon. A beautiful golden-brown tint over the baby blue sky, as Apollo drove off into the sunset. From the Mexico 2 highway we switched to the 15 and headed south stopping for food at Hermosillo. Sonora is another desert, a huge hot yellowish brown desert. Oscar was driving like a speed demon the whole time, pressing on the gas pedal and not going under a hundred miles per hour at any point. We were in a hurry for sure but for a moment I thought we were never actually going to get there. He had that young hot blood cursing in his veins. We passed Ciudad Obregon, Mochis and Culiacan. Oscar said that if everything went well we should take a couple of weeks to party in each one. Once in Sinaloa he told me why we were in such a shitty vehicle. The roads of Sinaloa are everything except safe. Robbers will show up in three or four trucks and surround a vehicle. If you’re lucky they might just ransack your things or charge an amount of money to let you go. Then of course there are those big macho men who want to prove how tough they are and end up getting the fuck beat out of them by four sinaloan men, holding gold plated .45 caliber handguns and gem encrusted ak-47’s. We just drove on without any incidents.

After arriving in Mazatlán, we were taken to a villa. Beautiful is not the right word to describe the place. It was opulent, on the way there we could see the little brick huts were poor farm workers lived. We passed people selling produce on those little plastic bags at the intersection. Meanwhile, hidden behind the forty feet tall trees and at the end of a single lane dirt road. A huge mansion with a dozen rooms. An Olympic sized pool, a dozen armed guards, beautiful women in bikinis, brand new Tahoe’s and hummer trucks. A full fifteen-man band playing corridos and a small fortune in drugs. Meth, marihuana, heroin, cocaine they had everything there. Before Oscar could open his mouth and start getting too fucked up to help me do what we came here to do. I pushed away the joint and in a deep serious voice told them that we weren’t there to get wasted. We were there to work, we were taken to a room with a couple of beds and the picture of Jesus on the wall. After twenty-four hours on the road we needed some sleep and the pillow made my eyes shut as soon as my head laid on it. About 5 hours later the band woke me up with the sound of brass and drums. In the kitchen Oscar was doing lines of coke and drinking beers with a couple of guys. I gave him a look of mixed annoyance and disappointment and asked him: “are you gonna be ready to go?” I hated the fact that he was being an idiot. But it was no time to get into it, with two sicarios standing there and whatever amount of coke was in his system I knew that little fucker was feeling brave and me bitching about it would only end badly. But I definitely did not want to take him with me in that state of mind. So I told them we needed a full night rest before heading out to the ranch. Also I would need the exact location of the place, a map of the entire area and a couple of ATV’s. After pouring myself a glass of water and grabbing some carne asada the people there were looking at me like I was some sort of alien.

“you don’t want any beer?”

“No” I answered

“get some coke, is good, gives you bravery”

“I don’t do drugs, besides I don’t need bravery, I got training and I got balls.”

“we have a map you can take if you want it” said one of the men there, probably on his thirties. Dark brown skin, big belly with a thick beard.

Oscar chimed in with every ounce of dumb he could muster: “I got my cell phone we could just use the GPS on it”

“If I remember correctly, you said that the place was out in the hills, in the rural areas, more than likely there will be no reception there”

“Yeah, is way out there, about 3 hours from here and to get there you will need to drive about an hour and a half on a dirt road” The fat man got this look in his face. Like someone who just smelled a fresh turd in the carpet and wonders which dog is responsible for the present, then he asked.

“Why you need two ATV’s? I can give you that nice hummer that’s outside. Besides how you gonna roll up to the ranch in a couple of ATV’s? they gonna know something is weird the moment they see you”

First off, I did not want to tell them my plan of approach. To be honest I didn’t have one because there was no recon of the place. Just a piece of google earth printed out. I also noticed the look of excitement in my partner when he heard “Hummer Truck” I knew I was going to have to babysit him the entire time and that he wasn’t going to be much of any help. But if I was going to do this it needed to be done the way I knew it could be done. So the best way to ensure that was to explain to them in detail why I was planning to take those two motorcycles.

“We are not going to roll up to the place in a hummer. I don’t want to roll up to the place on anything for that matter. We need the ATV’s because I plan to cross the wilderness in them. Hide them under some trees about three miles away from the ranch and hike the rest of the way. Once we get to about five hundred meters from the compound. I want to set up and watch them from afar to see how many people there are, and what we can expect. We will travel there at night. I want to be set up in a good advantage position before sunrise. That way I can have a full eight to ten hours of just watching them. Once inside I don’t plan to leave anyone else alive. So, if you have someone there working for you now is the time to tell me. I saw a couple of small ATV’s when we came in. A truck cannot be driven in the canyons; also, it draws too much attention but we will need it to get there. The ATV’s will let us move in and out faster if we need to make a getaway. After all we don’t know how many people are there do we?”

The real reason why I wanted the two ATV’s is because if anything went sideways. I didn’t want there to be only one way out of there. I needed options, because Oscar might act all though and macho but deep down inside, I knew he had a real insecurity problem. He would run at the first sign of trouble and leave me stranded for sure. I was pleased to read by the look on their faces that the two men were impressed. Either that or they thought I was crazy and didn’t want to argue with me. Unfortunately, Oscar had this look of laziness. for some reason he didn’t argue though and I was happy for that. But I knew he didn’t want to hike, he thought we were just going to roll up to the ranch and start shooting it out Rambo style. I might have been a suicide but if I am ever killed in a firefight it will not be because I was an idiot. It will be because my enemy is better than me and he deserves his victory.

We were given a 9 mm luger which I passed on to Oscar. Since my .45 colt was tucked in my back. Two AK 47’s with 6 full magazines for both of us, and a pair of binoculars. For food we had dried shrimp, some of the carne asada, pico de gallo salsa, a loaf of bread, about half a kilo of ham and cheddar cheese and 3 gallons of water each. Oscar also brought with him a quarter of an ounce of cocaine “for bravery”. We set off on the road with him on the wheel and me trying to memorize the area around the farm. Also the face of the guy who was kidnapped. Perhaps he would be a little disfigured from a beating. But with enough study you can still make out a person under a swollen face.

The road was a two-lane affair that cut straight through hills and forest. Winding its way up and down like a long black snake of asphalt skin. Green was everywhere. The entire trip filled with life and vegetation. Bird songs would rise from the branches and the road signs of caution would remind us of the cliffs and sharp turns ahead. Tall jagged peaks protruding from the sides of the road, completely covered in lush trees with the random spot of rock wall in between. The mountains went up touching the white cotton clouds on the baby blue sky. The place reminded me of those paintings of mountain ranges that hang in Chinese restaurants. Red dirt peeking out in between emerald colored leaves. At some points on the road there would be a knee-high guard rail made out of white stones and cement. You could stop on the side of the road and sit in them. Stare out into the green mountains and meditate, but we did nothing of the sort. Out on a curve there would be a power line running into a crevice. And a dirt road cut in the rock wall following it into who knows where. The air smells fresh and clean filtered by mother earth and kissed by the sunshine. I could feel the warm of the sun as I put my arm out the window. Beautiful place this part of Sinaloa. Far away from the cultural envy and machineguns of cartel soldiers. Hidden away from the brick hut poverty and drug routes. This part of Sinaloa I liked. Out in the wilderness away from the narco corrido bands. Up high in the mountain range where the only songs are those of bright colored birds and wind gusts. After crossing into Durango, we crossed the saddest looking little town. Nestled in the shadow of a sharp cliff mountain. Strewn to both sides of a road there is a conglomerate of cement and wood-built houses with rusted sheet metal roofs. A small restaurant and store at the beginning of the town for the traveler. A school with a basketball court and an old kiosk next to it. Then we were past the place, took us less than 30 seconds to travel the length of the small village in the hills. About thirty minutes down the road we found the entrance to the dirt path that led to the farm. However, the road was hidden behind a group of houses on the side of the main road. So we went back to a path we noticed half way between village’s. It was a dirt road going up and over the mountain into wilderness. The truck did fine but we would not be able to get far on it. We parked it in a space between hills and hoped no one would find it. From there we took the two ATV’s northwest thru the mountains. It took us a few hours and it was dark before we could hide them under some brushes. We had to dismount not only because we were close and I was sure the sound of them would carry through the canyons. But also, because we came up to a river. Just before finding the river there was a path that I was sure would lead to the farm. But I was afraid that if we took it we would be found. I wanted to approach the farm from the east and comb it exiting west. Make our way down the hill to the river and then backtrack east to the ATV’s and the truck. If for any reason someone decided to follow us. My thinking was that they would keep going west while we headed east. The river would hide our tracks. First, we climbed a mountain that ran parallel with the dirt road we found. At the top of the hill some five hundred meters away from the row of buildings that we assume was the farm. We found something unexpected, “they have an airfield” exclaimed Oscar. I couldn’t believe it. The last place I expected to find an airstrip was here. It was at the top of a mountain and about a quarter of a mile long. It wasn’t straight and it wasn’t even. With a fucking drop off to one side and brush to the other. Whoever was landing planes here must be the best fucking pilot in the world. That’s when I realized this were no ordinary kidnappers and this was no ordinary farm. They hadn’t told us the whole story about the place. That pissed me the fuck off. But in Mexico these kinds of information fuck ups, are the norm in the criminal underworld. No one wants to tell you the whole story. No one wants to tell you the details of the job. Everyone believes that by retaining critical information they have a leg up on you. Might be true if you are competing with the person. But when you are sent to rescue someone, it only means you are probably going to end up dead.

I had to quickly assess the situation. We had definitely not been noticed by anyone yet. We could turn around and leave if we wanted to. But I knew that Oscar did not wanted to. These were not some random kidnappers. These were well connected drug runners. Sinaloa cartel more than likely. But then, why would we be taken to a cartel safe house and be giving aide? Why get a couple of outsiders from Tijuana to do this? Was this an inside job? Were we supposed to fuck over the place and then get killed? It was too fucking shady for my taste. If we succeeded perhaps the men back in the villa would take the victim and claim the ransom money for themselves. If we failed, they could claim they had nothing to do with the thing. Either way we were more than disposable. More than likely we would be killed once we came back. Perhaps I’m already a dead man I thought. But somehow it felt like we had come too far and there was no turning back. The element of surprise was on our side and that made me feel a little more confident. We decided to push forward, I told Oscar to not shoot unless someone shot at him and to keep as quite as possible. If there were any guards, I would use my knife on them so not to alert anyone. With the place being so remote. I doubted anyone would be posted as a guard. We made our way through the south side of the road. I was glad that it was summer. That way there was no mud or rain to get stuck in. The night was bright and quiet, real fucking quiet. We could see with our naked eyes far into the distance and from an advantage point I made out the “farm” This was no fucking farm. There were about a dozen different buildings there. There could be a hundred men in this place. The kidnapped could be in anyone of the buildings. It was a fucking nightmare and I was in it. Yet, we got closer. Every inch of my body telling me to turn around and walk away. I was sweating cold and my left hand started shaking. I got scared, perhaps we would die here tonight, perhaps we would live and then be killed back in Mazatlán. Who the fuck knows? As we reached the first house. I could make out the contours, it was a square made out of wood and had a light blue roof. Well at least it looked light blue in the moonlight. Because we had no night vision and for that matter, we forgot to bring flashlights too. Yup, we were planning to approach at night trekking through the canyons and wilderness, and forgot to bring a flashlight. I felt like a stupid fuck. But then again, a flashlight might not be a good idea when you’re trying to creep up on someone. There were two trucks parked up front in a small clearing. That’s at least two men I thought, we went around and got close. There was a window and I could hear nothing inside. There was no light either. Either they were asleep or it was empty. We continued to the next building where we could hear a radio playing. This one was a little longer and had a light on inside and another one outside, in what I can describe as a porch. Again the second hut was made out of wood and I peeked through a window. “what do you see?” Asked Oscar but I quickly turned around and pressed my finger to my mouth. This motherfucker was scared too and I got nervous he would give us away. I peeked again and could see a large room with a makeshift kitchen. A small two burner gas stove and a couple of shelves. A table with three chairs. In front of the door there was a bed with a guy fully dressed sleeping on it. His boots where on for some reason. Like he was so tired he just plopped down and passed out. Beyond the bed there was a curtain. Covering a small compartment that I figured was a bathroom. Behind the small hut were two more little concrete houses about the same size as this one. About thirty meters away. I could make out the shapes but they were completely dark. Down the slope about 28 meters away was another house. This one with a small fence around it about waist high and a ten by fifteen meters square clearing in front of it. Behind that one, were another six small huts that I could still not make out.

The guy was by himself and did not seemed armed. I whispered into Oscar’s ear that we would enter here and try to get info on the place from the man there. I told him to be very quiet. I wanted to surprise him. If sleeping beauty there started screaming, I wanted him to bash him in the forehead with the rifle. That should keep him quiet long enough. We went up the stairs to the porch and I unscrewed the lightbulb next to the door. After a few seconds of silence, we went inside and I shut the lights. We walked over to the bed and I could hear him waking up. Before he could realize what was happening, I seized him by the shoulders and threw him on the floor. Straddling his hips and shoving the rifle into the back of his mouth. Sleeping beauty started gagging and I think the guy even threw up a little.

“Shut the fuck up and listen carefully motherfucker, that’s a rifle in your mouth, you make any sound I will blow your brains out do you understand?”

A garble sound came from his mouth and he spread his hands to the sides of his head. As if putting them up in surrender.

“We are here for ****** *********, the man you have kidnapped. You are going to tell me where he is and I won’t kill you. When I take the rifle out your mouth if you start screaming or giving me shit. My partner here is going to smash your head in, you understand? And no lying to me either motherfucker or else, you understand? “

With his mouth no longer being filled with the muzzle of an AK-47. The man on the floor started begging for his life. Asking us not to harm him, saying that there were no people kidnapped here. That they were just farmers and nothing else. But Oscar stop him right there when he said.

“Ni madres puto, no te hagas pendejo. Why do you have an airstrip if you are just farmer’s hu? Tell me where ****** is or I’m going to beat you to death right here”

The man kept saying that there were no kidnapped people there. That he didn’t know what we were talking about. Kept begging us not to harm him. But when he heard the name of the man, we were looking for the second time he paused. He flinched for a second, it was too dark to make out his full facial expressions but I knew he recognized the name. I would come back to that in a minute but for now I wanted to know how many other men where here.

“There’s no one else here, is just me, well there’s one more guy but his an old man. He sleeps in a little hut just over there, is a red hut you can see it from the porch. But that’s it, is just us two”

“He lying” said Oscar.

“I know, im going to kill him. This bitch aint gonna help us find anything and his lying to me.”

“Wait! Wait! Don’t kill me please, look you just here for the guy right? The fat guy? I know where he is, I can tell you, just take him and leave. Please don’t kill me”

“Where. Is. He?”

“Inside a room made of bricks with a metal roof. Behind this hut just over there” He pointed to the back of the house with his finger.”

“See? I fucking knew it, now I want you to hea…”

Blood splashed in my face and I could taste some of it in my mouth. A loud crack of a skull breaking. The man under me started jerking about like a fish out of water. Making a groaning sound that died out slowly. Along with the twitching.

“What the fuck man? I said in the loudest whisper my lips could muster.”

“What? He told us what we needed; you were not really going to leave him here were you?”

“What the fuck did you hit him with? I got some of it in my fucking mouth.”

“A hammer” said Oscar in a calm smooth voice. Either he had killed before or he was a straight up sociopath who felt nothing.

“Is fine, I just wanted to know how many more people are here. Cuz there’s no fucking way what he said is true.”

We checked the small house once I spit out whatever fluids were in my mouth. And behind that curtain that I thought was a restroom, were about two-hundred bricks of marihuana. All neatly stacked from floor to roof and packed tightly in plastic. Nice sour weed smell filled my nostrils and I wished I could just sit on that porch. Roll a fatty and play smoke rings while staring out into the stars. Oscar wanted to take one with us but I told him it was shitty weed. A lie of course, it was beautiful skunk but we couldn’t take it.

We went over to the hut where the recently departed mentioned our target was. It was a small storage shed with a lock on the outside. Made of red bricks and a metal roof like he said. The lock was not that strong so I took my knife and jammed it into the key slot. After a couple of tries the pins bent or broke enough to get it open just a bit. Not completely open but enough to slip the chain link off and open the door. The inside smelled like armpit and feces. Who knows how long those two had been in there, but must’ve been weeks or months. The guy was sitting on the floor with his back on the wall. Staring a thousand yards into the dirt five feet in front of him. The woman was traumatized beyond repair. She had those bug eyes that won’t blink. And dirt all over herself.

“We taking you out of here. Are you ******?? I asked expecting to grab him and be done. But as most of my plans throughout my life, it would not be that easy.

“No no no no” The woman started shaking her head and freak out.

“Who are you?” asked the guy from the floor.

“I’m here to get you home. Your family sent me, your name is ****** ********* right?”

“No, they killed him. He tried to escape and they killed him. We can’t leave, they will kill us. Please don’t make me leave. My family will pay for me, they will, they will pay for me. I can’t leave”

“We can’t take off, that’s what ****** and ***** said. They told us that we should run away from here. But they got caught and they cut them up. We had to see them do it, they made us watch. Please just go” Said the women, shaking, broken.

We weren’t there for them. So I would leave them there. I didn’t want to risk my life for a couple of poor souls who were beyond saving. The one we were looking for was already dead. I wanted to rescue them; I really did. But those two were so fucked up in the head. Covered in their own shit and piss, probably still remembering how the brothers were executed. I felt bad for them. Is always horrible to see people who have been broken, but I needed more information before letting them be.

“There’s not a lot of them here right now. I think there’s only six of them here. But there are closer. They come over when the planes arrive. There’re dogs too, they keep them inside of a red hut over there. If they find you, they will kill you”

“Do you know where the body is?”

“No, we saw them kill them. But I don’t know what happened to them”

I guess it was plan B. Too much to wish for a quick in and out. Murphy stuck his big fat head out and decided that the plan was not good enough. We knew where they were and how many of them there were. No need to go poking about the place. Rescue became vendetta and we set out for the first home. The front door was locked and the light came on when I tried to turn the knob. We froze. Oscar hid behind the corner of the hut as all of the sudden, there were footsteps coming from the other side of the door. Too late to try and turn back but still had to keep it quiet. We still had more huts to go. As the door opened I stuck my knife into the side of his neck and rip it out across his throat. In the movies whenever someone slits a throat you might see blood streak down to the persons chest as the victim faints immediately. But that’s only in movies. In real life blood burst and sprays out to everywhere. In real life the person screams and grabs their neck trying to hold on to life. They run and fall face first in the ground as they squirt spurts of thick red into the dirt. All the while you stand there paralyzed. Mouth open and legs stiff from the pure grotesque and miserable spectacle you’ve caused. So much for keeping it quiet, now there were lights coming on and the sounds of dogs barking. I burst into the house and caught a guy putting on his pants. A burst of the AK and he was on the ground wheezing. Fear and pain on his face, eyes wide open and tearing up, hands on his stomach as he contorts to a fetal position. There are certain memories of events burnt onto my brain, images, sounds and smells that will never fade. That moment when the guy was moaning on the floor with his pants on his ankles; blood pooling under him, mouth open but only a faint sound of wind escaping him. The smell of burnt casings and the feeling of a cold drop of sweat running down the back of my neck. That I cannot ever forget.

Another burst of bullets woke me up. Oscar was shooting at two buildings whose lights came on. He then shot at the wooden huts where the dogs had been barking. They quickly stopped and dropped silent. I taped him in the side of his arm and told him to follow me. We hid amongst some brushes on the west side of the buildings and kneeled down quietly. A mixture of sweat and night dew dripping down our necks. The path was in front of us and it lead to the top of the hill where they would be coming from. Down to where the kidnapped were. Two men appeared with rifles, there was also the sound of a radio. Someone on the line was asking what was happening. We needed to finish this quickly before more people from the town down the road showed up.

As they moved in front of us we emptied our magazines and both now laid on the ground. The entire place was now dead silent save for the intermittent static chirping of the radio on the floor. We took pictures with a phone to ensure our payment. And then ran down that hill as fast as we could without falling down. Which was difficult taking in consideration that it was nighttime. We came upon the river bend and headed east on it. Perhaps the atv’s were a mile away or maybe they were ten miles away. We couldn’t tell for sure. But we had to follow the river and hoped our luck held. About twenty or twenty-five minutes later we came to the bend. The river made a hook here and the four wheelers were on the far side of the bank. The water where we crossed was only knee high. And as I climbed to the bike I could see the lights of trucks flashing in the distance at the top of the hills. For a second I got worried as the atv’s would make a lot of sound. But at the same time we needed to get out of there fast. All of those concerns did not matter as Oscar turned on his and sped away towards the truck. Me following quickly after him.

We got going on the hummer truck and had an important decision to make. Should we head back the same way we came. Or head the other way towards Durango? Should we go back to the people that sent us? Could we trust we wouldn’t be executed if we did?

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