Monster Behind The Masks

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Chapter 19


AVA

I learned from my father. CIA spies are famous for moving freely throughout Europe on fake passports. But I’m not going to Europe. There’s too many of my dad’s pack of wolves to pick up my scent there.

I found it ironic while shuffling through SFO that I was as nervous about my Hispanic looks being questioned by immigration officials as the counterfeit document I clutched in my hand.

We stepped up to the security checkpoint podium. Maybe I’ll need to do something else to throw them off—fake a suicide or accident, or—?

“Ticket and I.D. please.” The burly uniformed guy glared at me over his eyeglasses. He wore the typical bright blue latex gloves ready for over-eager pat-downs. My real ID’s were stuffed into my socks. I handed him my phony passport and airline ticket.

Shit!

I rallied a smile to distract him from any hint I wasn’t who the documentation claimed. Out of nerves, I rambled, “I’m a U.S. citizen.” Why am I saying this as if I’m an illegal alien fleeing my own country?

My words were met with silence—too much silence as he repetitively stared at my passport, then back at me. Finally, he asked, “Any relation to Jerry García? I like the Grateful Dead,” without much personality or human touch.

Act normal. Look normal. Radiate confidence and wit. “No, but I was thinking of taking up the guitar and bringing him back from the dead,” I said, an attempt to humor him.

Instead, it made him seem colder. “Wait here, your microchip isn’t passing the scan.”

Double shit!

My boyfriend Chris, whom I both love and loath for his calm demeanor that could sleep through a bomb, wrapped his arms around me. “Don’t worry girl, everything will work out.”

“Easy for you to say, you have a legit passport,” I whispered back.

The security dude returned, “excuse me Ms. García, has your passport gotten wet, been left out in the rain or anything?”

Lucky me! I sweetened my smile. “Oh, yes,” I lied, the rainstorm yesterday came unannounced and I had left it outside in my open jacket pocket.”

The security man nodded, studied my credentials again, then to my relief said, “Go ahead Ms. García—but be sure to get your RFID chip reactivated before your next trip outside our borders.”

I raised my chin, almost skipping like a happy child while pushing my bags through the x-ray machine. Luckily, with so many people passing through the airport, no one seemed to be paying attention.

I turned just on time to see Chris being subjected to what looked like a karate chop to his crotch, and I cringed. What the fuck?

After we gathered our belongings I asked, “what was that all about?”

“Oh, they found a Chapstick in my pocket during the full-body scan.”

“Chapstick. Of course, always worth a ball-busting pat down—never know what one can do with lip shit.”

A chuckle escaped his lips, “Well babe, let’s get to our gate. Look, they didn’t even stamp my passport.” Chris pondered.

I rolled my eyes at his naïve remark. “They don’t stamp it until we enter Costa Rica. Mine’s not stamped either.”

I looked at the passport I held in my trembling hands and for the first time realized that running scared with a false document can be more daunting than staying still. The name glared back at me as if to say, ‘this is who you are now, don’t fuck up.’ Jamie García.

I like it, especially after the reference to the singer-songwriter with the free spirit. I imagined turning my new identity into a conversation piece with all the new Costa Ricans I’ll meet.

As we moved toward the jet bridge to board the airplane, an increasing excitement and sense of relief began to overshadow my fear. I made it through security!

Just before the airplane entrance, there was a split second of trepidation upon seeing two Latino millennials arriving at SFO being questioned and asked for IDs. The men interrogating them had three letters emblazoned on their dark jackets; ICE.

I nearly laughed hoping they would question me. I’d say, “I’m fleeing North America for a better life, Goodbye, Good riddance!”

Our seats were in the last row in the back of the plane, where the engine makes the most noise. Even while boarding, the auxiliary power unit hummed so loudly my own ears vibrated with it. Perfect. Nobody will hear us talking.

“How’d you get the fake passport?” Chris asked. “Online?”

“Heck no, I wouldn’t trust anything on the Internet. I have connections.”

“Connections?”

Shaking my head while tossing an incredulous look his way, I said, “Come on, Chris! I’m the daughter of a CIA agent.” The plane was not yet full, with nobody anywhere close enough to overhear. This didn’t stop us from whispering the entire conversation that ensued.

“Your dad…A CIA dude who tried to kill you for knowing too much—who killed two men then blamed and framed you and your friend Paige. You are running from him, he certainly didn’t help you—”

“No, but his brother has always cared about me—”

Of course! Your Uncle Rob. I should have known since he helped us break free from those scary dudes, to begin with,” Chris recognized, eyes wide while pressing his hands against my shoulders.

“Who else but my Uncle Rob working corporate espionage would know how to create an identity through thin air?” I laughed, realizing this just might work to keep me alive.

“Shhh…” Chris raised an index finger over his mouth while pointing to people putting bags into the overhead bins.

I heard each engine starting and the ignition fire up to a roar, so I was not concerned. I said, quietly, “Scary thinking what they’d do my Uncle if they found out he helped me get away.”

“Especially the tough guy with the weird tattoo looking like an all-seeing eye, the one drugging us trying to get us to join their underground operations…whatjamacallhim, Bob, Bret or whatever his name is.”

“That’s Bret Solomon. He’s known my dad for years, a former army buddy who now works for a trans-national defense contractor. And his partner-in-crime, he’s Bob something, big last name but acts like he has no balls.”

“Seems to have enough balls to me, he nearly crushed me trying to get me strapped to that table—”

“His freaking badge is bigger than his balls! The guy’s an idiot, works for Homeland Security recruiting his army of brainwashed youth.”

Homeland Security? But they protect our nation from—”

“Illusionary enemies made up by the CIA. Why do you think they’re after me? I’ve overheard too much through the years from my dad, who was typically few on words but would get so drunk he let secrets slip out.”

“But lots of people expose their secrets, conspiracy theories on the internet—”

“’Conspiracy theories?’. That term itself was invented by the CIA to cover up their atrocities, to discredit reality. Homeland Security has good, bad and ugly, and this dude is ugly.”

“Well, let’ forget all this, we are going to Costa Rica, a pristine land lucky enough to have abolished its army sixty-five years ago. No militaristic predators will chase us there.”

“They’ve had a President wise enough to break down their own wall with a mallet, symbolizing an end to their military spirit. Too bad U.S. is going in the opposite direction—”

Chris tapped my arm and pointed to the aisle. A flight attendant was walking toward us, looking me straight in the eye. “Excuse me, are you Jamie García?”

I tried for a resting calm face, “Yes.”

“There’s a gentleman on board to see you, says it’s urgent. Please follow me toward the cockpit.”

My hand went automatically to the fatty tissue between my shoulder and elbow, covering the bandage. Chris whispered, “you had it removed, didn’t you?”

“Yes,” I whispered while the flight attendant made her way toward the front of the plane. “My doctor cut it out from my arm.” We were referring to a tracking device involuntarily implanted just under-the-skin while we were guinea pigs for drug experiments conducted by my dad and his cronies to lure us into military madness.

“I have to go,” I announced as I stood and headed down the aisle.

“I’m coming with you,” Chris insisted. I was about to advise him to stay but he was hot on my heels, so close I felt his body heat against my back. My palms sweated and my heart beat faster as I made my way towards the front of the airplane, only grateful all the passengers were now seated so I wasn’t also fighting against a flow of people.

One man stepped outside of his seat to put something into the overhead bin, then apologized to let me through. “Oh, no problem finish what you are doing,” I said, only happy to delay any confrontation. Chris pressed against me, laying his hands on my shoulders. My sense of dread deepened as I anticipated being dragged off the plane.

The airline hostess greeted me as I came just shy of the cockpit, wondering who I’d find. “Just outside the passenger boarding bridge, Ms. Garcia. Please be quick, we are about to taxi to the runway.”

Before I even turned toward the airplane entrance, I heard Chris say, “Hello Mr. Ramírez.”

Bracing myself, I took a deep breath and turned, expecting to see my father. It would not surprise me if he had a gun pointed to my heart.

The eyes I met were indeed my father’s. But the smile and look of kindness were not. I let out a sigh of contentment as I ran into his arms, hugging him. “Uncle Rob!”

“Goodness gracious niece, are you crying?” My uncle placed a hand under my chin, softly lifting my face to his. A single tear squeezed out of my wild eyes, as I explained, “I thought you’d be—”

“Shhh…I know, and I’m not. I wanted to see you off safely, my beautiful niece. And Ava, I warn you, don’t come back.”


It won’t be difficult to never return even though I love beautiful California. I hadn’t been able to relax for years since the radical style of the American politic messed up my own father’s head.

The magical rainforest of Costa Rica changed that. I no longer have the constant ticker tape of thoughts charging through my head. I live and breathe by the wind, the waves and the wild things.

The wild things. I look around our tiny treehouse, a jungle haven set deep outside the small town of Cahuita on the Caribbean side. It’s constructed around a massive tree within a thick tropical forest, suspended in nylon straps tied around the branches. A mosquito net is the only thing separating our bed from the tree itself.

The sounds of birds, frogs, monkeys, sloths, and other creature’s burst in the misty darkness, drowning out the sounds of our lovemaking. Our very drunk lovemaking.

Something is missing within me making me sad. Chris said he desired me for many months, from the moment he laid eyes on me when I played a role in our escape from madness. I never gave myself to him—I could never let go.

The first time I make love to the man I’m falling in love with, I’m so smashed there are only hazy flashbacks of the intimacy we shared. We had stumbled back from the reggae bar last night, nearly falling off the rickety wooden ladder as we climbed up to our hideout—our exotic escape from the world and fell into bed in a mass of limbs and loud noises. Were the noises I remember ours? Or the critters in the tree?

This place is spicy. Sexy. The people we met at the bar so present, living in the moment. All night the words, “pura vida,” for pure life or “con mucho gusto,” which means with pleasure, infused the atmosphere. I was at ease. For the first time in my life, I felt something I never had. Gratitude.

Nobody is in a rush here—except me. Today I am in a rush to get out into the lush forest with my boyfriend and to get my hands on him again—with a clearheaded intention this time. I’ve been emotionally and physically numbed too long.

I look out the window and see Chris walking around the base of our treehouse. White, sandy beaches stretch ahead, the surrounding scenery— beautiful. It’s sheer bliss. I feel alive, awake and want adventure. I want to climb those mountains, feel the rainforest against my skin, do crazy stuff like have sex in the great outdoors. I slip my panties off for good measure, figuring my sundress is enough for what I have planned.

After grabbing my cell phone and a light jacket, I float down the ladder and call out to Chris, “Let’s go take a walk through the forest!”

“I thought we’d planned a beach day? Or zip-lining?” Chris is swiping his finger across his phone viewing photos. “Check these out!”

He has captured a sanctuary of waterfalls, flowers, amazing creatures, views and even what looked like a vulture. “Wow, that frog, it’s bright red and blue!” I squealed.

“There’s lots of interesting animals out there.”

“Let’s go find more!” I urged, racing into the thicket, mysteriously thrilling and alluring. The wilderness called, unraveling the passion within me. I was the queen of the wild things, beneath my sundress I was becoming as moist as the rainforest surrounding me.

I sense Chris behind me on the forest path, a mammal after his prey—a welcome thought to my repressed sexual desires. Deeper and deeper into the lush tropical tangle of green upon greens we move, trying to run as we trip over tree trunks. Gigantic ferns and mist-filled mountains swallow us into the jungle.

We stop, my eyes on Chris’s as he gently presses me against a huge tree, the bark spongy from the rains. He removes his hat, and I untie the jacket from around my waist, sweat pouring off my brow from our jaunt through the steamy forest. Chris drops both garments carelessly to the ground.

He kisses my eyelids, then my lips. The kiss continues onto my neck, my breast, down, down—desperate, achingly hungry. As his hands find their way under my dress, a loud groan escapes his lips, “Mmmm… I hope the lack of underwear is for my benefit, and not our furry friends.” Chris points behind me.

I turn and see dozens of white-faced monkeys peering at us, mocking us from their perch in the trees while rubbing plants all over themselves. A river rages just beyond, adding to the primal energy—drowning me in ecstasy.

Then another pair of eyes are watching, big, black and haunting. A large Margay cat lounges in a tree so nonchalantly it appears to have melted down a branch. The mix of danger and eroticism increases my arousal.

Not another human soul was within sight, but all around us, sounds of the wild blended with our moans, groans, and panting—echoing through the badlands. It was as if the animals were saying, “We’re here, welcome to our jungle and thanks for the show.”

Rather than the wild animals intimidating me, they become a turn-on. My screams are as loud as the howler monkeys and toucans. There was a rustling of leaves and little critters scattering in every direction. Eerie insect sounds added to the overwhelming magnetism—my carnal senses heightened to each one, A cricket? A moth? A grasshopper and Cicada? The forest and its inhabitants join our rhythm.

Chris whips his t-shirt off and I admired his tall, wiry physique. No bulging biceps or popping pectorals. “You’re beautiful,” I whispered breathlessly into his ear.

“That’s my line!”

While back in the states, I’d been more concerned with survival than accepting his compliments of my “curvaceous Latina body.”

A strange confidence suffuses me, running through my veins, pulsing my groin. I was a jungle beast, hungry for flesh. I felt empowered—dominate and desirable. There was a small clearing on the ground and I kick my soft jacket there to cushion Chris’s back.

After removing Chris’s boxers in one quick pull, I grab his manhood and pump it a few times before pushing him to the ground. We roll around panting, and he kisses me in places I’ve never been kissed, a praying mantis munching on its prey. Our tongues and groins become linked until I can’t take it anymore.

Mounting him, I slide his penis inside me and take control. “What if a poisonous snake joins us?” he gasps while groaning with pleasure.

“Be a brave boy! We are doing it with the bugs and beasts.” I ride him like a horse starting off slow, then alternating between a sultry grind and high-speed bounce. My braless breasts bounce out of my dress, flapping in the breeze with each rise and fall. He calls my name over and over, and I call his.

“You’re the best, Ava!”

“Jamie! Remember, I’m Jamie!”

“Fuck! Who will hear us, the animal kingdom?”

“Oh…Chris, you’re my animal!

In my ecstasy, I hadn’t even noticed when he lifted me, with surprising gentleness shifting my weight back against the tree. I again become a tree nymph animating nature. Swatting a swarm of mosquitos away, I was relieved we both applied repellant.

My legs wrap around Chris’s waist, and I loop my arms around his shoulders as he thrust into me again, powerful and forceful, pushing me into the tree. My body writhes and meets his with thrusts of my own. I didn’t want him to stop, and I didn’t care anymore about anything I left behind, the power over me released.

My fingers claw at him, pulling him deeper into me. Small growls escape between my gasps and our orgasms rocket through us—escalating through the jungle. Shudders wrack my body as I’m liberated — from oppression, from near death, from a life of capture by a beast more dangerous than any in this forest.

A contented sigh escapes my lungs. I give his neck a lick and a kiss, “Damn, I can’t get enough of you.”

Guttural laughter vibrates through him, “Yes and I can’t get enough of you either,” he admits before thrusting his still erect penis inside me again.

We take our time now, kissing and stroking each other. I run my hands through his hair giving it a gentle tug before slanting my mouth over his. Our lips and tongues prod and plunge, mimicking the languid movement of our bodies.

Finally, I unwrap my legs and unsteadily stand up, the tree behind me supporting my shaky limbs. And that’s when I hear it, the sound at once soothing and familiar—like someone blows across the mouth of an empty bottle. A low cooing.

My eyes follow the sound, and I see the noticeable white flash of the tail along the edge of the trail. And there, perched on a low branch is a white-tipped dove.

And I know I am home.

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