Camera Obscura

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Chapter Twenty Seven

Larry whistled in surprise. “So that’s how Luis knows him.”

“I met him in Guatemala twelve years ago. I was teaching there. He was Mexican, but he had come to Guatemala to work, or so he said. Luis tried to make me see what Carlos was, but I was in love. I would not listen. Three years ago our younger brother Juanma was killed. Carlos was responsible. I’ve been trying to find a way to kill him ever since.” Her voice was hard but matter of fact. “But Carlos trusts no one. There are cameras everywhere in the hacienda. We are never alone, even in the bedroom. But someday soon I will find a way.”

“So you started feeding Luis information in order to get revenge.”

“Carlos must pay.”

“We’ve both got a score to settle, Marissa. We’ll make him pay. You can count on that, but we have to get away from here to do it. What is this place, anyway?”

“A rendezvous point. The drugs are brought here from many places, many sources. Carlos flies them into Arizona or sometimes New Mexico.”

“Any idea when the next one is supposed to go?”

“Of course,” she spat bitterly, “Son puercos gordos. They are pigs. They think women have no ears, no brains. Tonight they play cards and talk as if I’m not in the room. They will only miss me if I am not there to pour their tequila. Tomorrow they take the helicopter north across the border to El Arroyo Grande. A place called the Hermit Creek.”

“The Grand Canyon? Why not the desert?”

Marissa shrugged, “I don’t know. Perhaps the patrols nearer the border have become too aggressive. Pero quien sabe? Who knows?”

“There’s a lot a desert between the border and the Grand Canyon. If the drop is tomorrow, we’d better leave now, assuming you will go with me. Do you know what time tomorrow?”

“It is always just before sunset. But if I leave, they will suspect something.”

Larry grinned, “What could a woman do to spoil their plans?”

As they have been talking, a man approached cautiously in the dark. When he reached the car, he bent to look in the driver’s side window. Since Larry was looking at Marissa, he noticed nothing until the tap of the man’s gun barrel against the window made him freeze. At the sound, Marissa’s gun rose as if pulled by a puppeteer’s strings. Without hesitating, she pulled the trigger and the man fell back without a whimper, a hole drilled neatly in the center of his forehead.

Without a word or a glance at Marissa, Larry reached for the key and started the car.

“Do you know where these roads go?” he yelled her.

. Just get going! Rápidamente!

He backed quickly the way he had come until he found a spot that was not as rutted. He made a perfect three-point turn. The car wheels spun uselessly in the loose sand until they hit packed dirt, bit in, and finally thrust the car forward to speed toward the larger road in the distance.

Behind them, the gate of the hacienda flew open, lights blazed into the night, and men poured into the darkness, their guns already spewing lead in the direction of the fleeing car.

“Are they following yet?”


“How many so far?”

“There is only one car at the rancho tonight.”

“That’s plenty,” he grunted.

He drove without lights at breakneck speed for about a mile or so until a particularly deep pothole threatened to blow a tire. He slowed a bit, trying to avoid the dark spots on the road that would mean deep holes.

“I need the lights!” Larry shouted in a combination of fear and excitement. “I can’t tell where I’m going.”

“We will be at the main road in a minute or two. Just keep going straight.”

“The highway seemed a lot farther away than this.”

“Not the highway. They could follow too easily there. Up ahead is a farm road. It’s bumpy but it’s paved. . .almost.”

“I remember now. There. I see it. Which way?”

A derecha. To the right.”

After one gut wrenching bounce they were on the pocked pavement and heading farther into the badlands.

“Are you sure this is what we want to do?” Larry exclaimed, his voice laden with near panic.

Marissa was turned in the seat so she could look out the back window. The night behind them was alive with headlights and a spotlight that was weaving back and forth searching for them. They heard steady bursts of automatic gunfire and knew bullets were whizzing passed them, but soon it became more sporadic as the men following seemed to be saving their ammunition until they were sure of their quarry.

“Carlos picked this place because it is not far from the border. If we can keep away from them long enough, we can cross into the States.

“An imaginary line won’t stop bullets. I doubt it will stop those guys either.”

“It is our best chance.”

“The border it is, then.”

Bouncing through the night, Larry felt as if the car’s springs were gone. He was just glad they hadn’t burst a tire.

“We’ve been lucky so far. But I don’t know how much more this car can take. Are we almost there?”

Marissa turned from her lookout to scan the road ahead. Just as she did, a crack appeared in the rear window, shattering it as a bullet plowed through. She felt a stir of heated air as it passed her ear. Larry ducked instinctively at the sound, and the car lurched to one side as he pulled the wheel away from the path of the bullet. The front window spidered around the hole, making it a web of fractured safety glass.

“Shit!” he cried.

“Just ahead,” Marissa pointed. “Turn left at the next road.”

The car raced ahead toward the intersection that was almost invisible in the darkness. Larry saw the road and stomped on the brake, causing the car to fishtail violently, but he turned it into a skid that almost missed the road. He straightened their path onto the dirt lane and pushed the car’s speed again until they felt as if they were airborne.

Suddenly, a light pierced the night from above. The sounds of their frantic race were lost in the chop chop of a helicopter’s rotor, which grew louder as it gained on them.

“I forgot the helicopter,” Marissa groaned.

“Well, what now?” Larry said, fighting to keep the car on the dirt road.

“Just keep going. There are some arroyos ahead. Perhaps we can hide there.”

The light from the helicopter swept closer and closer as the sound grew almost deafening. The car chasing Larry and Marissa missed the turn at the intersection and skidded into the desert. After a moment it turned and sped back to the road and this time navigated the turn on two wheels and raced after the dark shadow that was Larry’s car.

“How far to the border?”

“It’s about ten miles from the rancho. We should be getting close, but getting across will not help us if we can’t lose them. There are patrols in this area, but they will follow us to hell if necessary.”

“I know,” Larry agreed, “I just feel better knowing it’s there.”

The light from the helicopter swept back and forth across the car. Gunfire popped all around them, kicking up little explosions of dust as the bullets dug into the desert floor. Several bullets strafed the trunk of the car, just missing the cab. Larry and Marissa ducked as if the shots were inside.

“Look!” Marissa said as she raised her head and pointed to a large black shadow ahead on the left of where they were heading. “Over there. The arroyo.”

Larry steered the car to the left off the road and into the desert. They bumped over cacti and rocks, swerving first left then right to miss the larger ones as they appeared.

“The car is getting very close.”

Just as Marissa spoke another bullet passed through the back window and out the front and she screamed.

“Are you hit?”


“Just a little more, assholes,” Larry snarled. “Just a little more.”

The car following them was barely twenty feet behind them and gaining with each passing second. Marissa could see three men in the car, the one hanging out the window of the front passenger seat was shooting almost constantly. Bullets kept pinging against metal. She couldn’t believe they hadn’t disabled Larry’s car. Why had they not aimed at the tires? She could only be thankful they had not.

As the other car plunged after them, Larry smiled wickedly and said a silent prayer that the driver was focusing on the car ahead of him rather than at the surroundings. Larry punched the accelerator, revving up their speed, and headed the car directly toward the dry creek bed. In only a moment they would plummet headfirst into the depths of the arroyo.

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