Pat Ruger: Caribbean Shuffle

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Chapter 35

We spent the night in the relative luxury of the Embassy. My sleep was interrupted by the sounds of shouting from outside. I peeked out the window of my second story bedroom and saw a crowd was growing. The clock said it was 5:30 — I had slept for 11 hours.

When I spoke to Amanda, she said a helicopter was going to pick us up in the morning. Suddenly I was hoping it was soon.

A rock hit my window. It didn’t break, I assumed because the glass was bullet-proof, but it was disturbing. I got dressed in the clothing I still had from the fishing boat and went to find Jimmy. He was up, immediately answering his door when I knocked.

“This doesn’t look good, Patty. How soon are we leaving?”

“Sometime this morning. A Navy helicopter is coming for us.”

“Are we in danger?”

I didn’t know how to answer that. “Let’s go find the Ambassador.”

We went downstairs and Pedro and Enrique were already up and eating in the kitchen. There were a couple of young women with them, as well as a Marine officer and a male chef, who was cooking away. The Marine was standing at attention near the back door.

“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about,” one of the women was saying. “I haven’t heard any gunfire.”

“That’s not very reassuring,” I said as we entered the room.

“Good morning, Mr. Ruger, Mr. Stewart,” the woman said. “Did you sleep well?”

“Pretty well, yes,” Jimmy answered. “You are?”

The woman came over and reached out her hand. “I’m Sally, one of the Ambassador’s aides.”

Jimmy shook her hand. “Call me Jimmy. Who is the Ambassador?”

Sally chuckled. “Mr. James Cargill is the American Ambassador to Venezuela. He likes to be called “Jimmy,’ too.” Sally was about 25, nearly my height, a plus size brunette and pretty. Enrique made her look downright thin. She extended her hand to me and said, “Mister Ruger.”

I also shook hands with her. “Please, it’s Pat.” She chuckled again.

Enrique spoke up. “You gotta try this food, it’s good!”

I noticed he was sitting at quite a spread — bacon, sausage, pancakes, scrambled eggs, toast and muffins. Instead of sitting down at the table, I went to the kitchen window. It was difficult to see much beyond the wall bordering the grounds.

“They only have rocks and bottles today …” The other aide joined me at the window. “I’m Nina.” She held out her hand about 6 inches from her body, since she was close to me. Nina was a light-skinned Hispanic girl, also in her 20’s, with short black hair and a bit too much makeup.

I shook hands and replied, “No assault weapons then? No grenades?”

“Not yet. I think we would have seen them by now.” She didn’t have a Spanish accent at all.

“Like I said, not very reassuring.”

The young aide leaned into me and I realized she had a very nice figure and she smelled nice. She pointed to an open space at the wall towards the back yard. “See that opening in the hedge?”

“Yeah …”

“That’s the emergency exit. There’s a tunnel entrance just past that opening in case there’s a breach. It goes to a private warehouse about a half-mile away.”

“How often have you had to use that?”

“Never, at least since I’ve been here. But we do evacuation drills once a month.”

Another rock hit a window, then another. I was nervous.

“Well, you seem to have attracted a crowd, I see.” We all turned to see an older gentleman enter the kitchen. He was impeccably dressed in a gray suit, yellow tie and shiny black shoes.

“Good morning, Ambassador,” Sally said cheerfully. It was odd to me how cheerful these people were, considering the circumstances.

“Good morning, Sally, Nina, Corporal …” He sat at the table. “How’s cookin’, Bobby?”

The chef smiled. “With gas, Mr. Cargill. With gas.”

“Excellent!”

“Mr. Cargill,” I addressed the Ambassador. “I’m Pat Ruger. That crowd out there is making me nervous.”

“Don’t be nervous, Pat. We’re safe. And by the way, thank you for your help yesterday. I know it was dangerous. I’m glad everyone is safe.”

“Everyone but me,” Jimmy added.

“Mr. Stewart. Yes, I’m sorry. I’m glad your injury wasn’t life threatening.”

“No worries.”

“Our facility is rock solid,” the Ambassador continued. “My understanding is that your transportation is on the way.”

“That’s good news,” I said. “Maybe I will have breakfast.”

“Please do, Pat.”

I started to the table of food. “Pedro, you’re awfully quiet.”

Pedro was chewing and stopped to smile. “Good food …” was all he could manage, and took another bite of bacon.

I sat down and built a nice plate of scrambled eggs, sausage and wheat toast. I poured a large glass of orange juice and took a big drink. It tasted freshly squeezed.

A large amount of gunfire erupted, sounding like it was coming from the roof.

“Sounds like your ride is here,” Cargill announced as a big thud shuddered the ceiling. “You boys better get up there.”

“Thanks for everything,” I told him and I took a big bite of toast and sausage.

“Follow me,” said Nina, who was standing at the kitchen doorway. She waited for us to gather near her and led us to a stairwell hidden behind a tall bookcase. I helped open the cabinet enough for our big man to fit and we followed her up to the roof, where our military helicopter was waiting.

Gunfire was heard from the street and was returned by the gun crew as we scurried to board. A bullet hit the wall right next to me and I hit the deck.

“Go, go, go,” someone was shouting and I felt the aircraft lift. In a few seconds we were out of range and heading north.

Jimmy slapped me on the back. “We’re finally going home!”

“Home,” I repeated, and fell back into my bench seat and buckled up.

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