Pat Ruger: Caribbean Shuffle

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Chapter 34

“Perhaps we could avoid the irrigation ditch …”

“Very funny,” Jimmy replied dryly. “Everyone okay?”

“Seat belts would’ve been good to have, but I think I’m alright. Enrique? You okay?”

“Si, I’m fine. We shouldn’t stay here very long.”

“You’re right.” I tried my door, which wouldn’t open in the mud. I rolled down my window and climbed out. Jimmy did the same. The problem was Enrique, who wouldn’t fit through the opening.

I looked around the car, fairly stuck but the mud was shallow. “Try moving the car so we can open his door.”

Jimmy climbed back in and started it up. He put it in gear and the rear wheels spun in place. He tried rocking the trans — putting it in reverse, then drive, then back to reverse — but that didn’t work either.

“Hold on,” I said and managed to climb up the embankment. I picked up several corn stalks from our path through the field, about a dozen, and threw them down into the ditch. I slid back down the gully wall and proceeded to pack the stalks end first against the tire tread behind the rear wheels.

“Slowly, in reverse,” I instructed and stood next to the back door of the car.

Jimmy accommodated and the car crept up the stalks, slid back down, then up the stalks again. About the third time up, the wheels caught and the car lifted enough for me to open the door. Enrique jumped out and almost knocked me down in the mud.

“Sorry, I’m a bit claustrophobic.”

“No worries,” I replied. “Let’s get out of here while we can.”

Jimmy climbed out of the car and then up the far side of the ditch. “Give me your hand,” he said to Enrique. “Pat, you push from down there.”

“Thanks, buddy,” I said.

“Anytime.”

Enrique barely reached Jimmy but they were able to clench hands. When the big man couldn’t be pulled up, I gave a shove from behind and he was able to get a toe hold halfway up, then Jimmy finished the pull. They both fell over, but he was out of the ditch. I tossed my gun and the bag of ammo up to Enrique. Jimmy then reached for me and helped me up as well.

A shot rang out and we ducked down. There were a couple of cars in the corn field pathway we had made, and a few men were on foot, all with guns out. I retrieved my pistol and ammo from Chavez and we made a run for it as bullets hit the ground behind and next to us.

“Ah-h-h, damn!” Jimmy was down and in pain.

I motioned for Enrique to keep going and went back to Jimmy. Kneeling down, I asked, “Where are you hit?”

Jimmy sat back up, holding his shoulder, which had some blood flowing through his short sleeve on both the front and the back. I looked at the wound and he added, “All these years on the force and never got shot …”

“Relax, I think it’s through and through.” I ripped a piece off the bottom of his shirt and wadded it up. Putting the cloth on the wound in the front of his shoulder, I said, “Hold this here and let’s go.”

He nodded and got up. I helped him run toward Enrique. The police must have been crossing the ditch because the shooting stopped momentarily. We finally caught up to Enrique and we reached a dirt and gravel covered street. Before we could think, a blue Camaro pulled up fast and slid to a stop next to us.

Pedro leaned over and opened the passenger door from the inside and yelled, “Get in!”

We didn’t waste a moment and I climbed in the open door. Before the back doors closed, he was already pulling away.

“Can you get to the Embassy?” I asked.

“I hope so,” he replied. “Otherwise …” He didn’t finish the thought.

Pedro drove the beat-up Camaro down side-street after side-street, but I knew we’d have to come out on the main thoroughfare at some point. It reminded me of a few times back home when I was chased through the back streets in my own blue Camaro.

“Are you lost?” Jimmy yelled out. You could still hear the pain in his voice, and I’m sure the bumpy roads weren’t helping much.

“No, Señor. We’re almost there.”

As we made the next turn, we were bumped by a car and slid to the sidewalk, but kept moving. When I looked up, I could see it was an unmarked car with policemen inside. Momentum had pushed it into a fence in front of someone’s house. It backed up and continued the chase. As it approached again on my right, I rolled down the window and drew my handgun. Taking aim, I shot and hit their front tire. The car slid and spun out as I rolled my window back up and we sped away.

Another car blocked the next street and we turned left. A right turn at the next road put us back out on Avenida Maracaibo, far beyond the road block, but now there were a baker’s dozen of old, heavy, rusted vehicles behind us. More shots rang out and the back window shattered.

I could see the Embassy approaching fast and was relieved. “Into the driveway,” I said pointing to the wide-open gate. I could see 10 or 12 Marines just inside the fence, still on the grounds.

Just before we slid into the turn, a black police car topped with 60’s-style red lights cut us off, blocking our way, and we slammed into it. While the driver and passengers were still dazed, Pedro punched the gas and our wheels spun until they smoked. Eventually the other car started to slide and we pushed it out of the way.

As soon as we were able, Pedro turned into the open gate of the Embassy and the Marines lined up behind us. They closed the gates just as several cars slid to a stop on the highway in front of the compound.

We sat in the car for a minute and I was able to breathe again. I opened my door and the others followed suit. Climbing out, I noticed we were about 20 yards from the gate. I shook my head and sighed with relief.

“That’s some pretty decent driving, Pedro,” I commended. “You were a life-saver.”

Pedro beamed.

“What made you come for us?”

“I don’ know, just had a feeling you might need my help.”

“Well, I’m sure glad you did.”

“Gracias. Can I come to America?” He was nodding and smiling.

I put my hand on his shoulder. “I think something can be arranged.”

There were cars starting to gather at the Embassy’s entrance. Several uniformed men were yelling into the compound. The Security force held steady at the gate.

“Damn, this hurts!” Jimmy yelped as he got out of his door. I had forgotten that he needed medical attention. The Marines helped him out of the car and rushed him into the Embassy. We followed.

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