My head was pounding and all the arguing wasn’t making it any better. Hours later we’d pulled off the road into a small, abandoned motel. What remained of our group was cursing their attackers, complaining about losing all their supplies, fussing about losing most of their weapons, and generally whining about fate and everything else that went with it.
Kiko, as leader of the group, finally got fed up and told everyone to “cerrado para arriba” and get some rest. He assigned a couple of guys to stand watch but everyone else was expected to find a hole and crawl in it for a while. Kiko grabbed my arm and pulled me up and when I was up grabbed the back of my neck and dragged me along with him. We got to one of the rooms and he unlocked it and then threw me inside, entered himself, then threw the locks.
I was tired but not too tired I wouldn’t fight but he just stood there looking at me. “Chica, tu es un pedazo de trabajo.” (Girl, you are a piece of work)
“So … you’re gonna tell me your story. Now.”
“What does it matter to you?”
“Let’s just say I’m curious.”
Emi, deciding there was no way out just got it over with by telling him, “My grandparents were Honduran. They immigrated … legally … after Hurricane Fifi wiped out their family’s holdings. My mother and her siblings were born in the States. My father was US military and met and married Mom in Florida. After the Donner Virus I didn’t have any real family left, got swept up by some people that were idiots and packed off to my relatives in Honduras that didn’t want me … hated me for whatever reason because of some family feud, learned to live on the streets when they kicked me out, worked enough to pay a coyote to get me back across the border only to get swept in by the Militia Border Patrol. Then got sold to you guys by one of the guards. The end.”
“Call it BS if you want to but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
“You gonna get a slap for that mouth.”
“Likely sooner rather than later.”
He snorted then pointed to my pack. “What did you get?”
Knowing he’d probably already looked I went over to the desk where the backpack sat, reached in and pulled out the canvas tote that had the guns in it. I took it over to the bed and put it there and then walked away from it. “Guns.”
“No kidding Sherlock. Where did they come from?”
“Because I didn’t want them found and used against me.”
“You took off. I sent Ricky to look for you.”
“I never saw Ricky. I decided to bolt, but not until the fire was almost on top of me.”
He stood staring at me and then crossed his arms. “Fine. What else?”
“Stuff to get rid of my stink and feminine stuff. You gonna make me share it with the other girls?”
He finally relaxed. “No. But don’t go bragging about it and causing trouble.” He reached into one of his pockets and threw a granola bar at me. “Found these in the truck. Eat. Wash up. Get some sleep.”
I did that all the while trying not to question why he never tried what I expected him to try. The other men rode whatever girl was free at any given time. Kiko … he was a mystery. He didn’t touch me, just threatened to slap me around; but threaten was all it he did. I hate mysteries but now wasn’t the time to solve this one. I went to sleep fully clothed trying to get used to the unfamiliar pokes of my hidden weapons and wrapped around my pack.
Hours later I woke immediately when there was a knock on the door and rolled off the side of the bed opposite the door. Kiko was awake as well but not as jumpy. A voice whispered loudly, “Kiko? Ricky, he’s done a runner.” I recognized the voice as belonging to a guy named Luis, one of the remaining gang members.
Kiko opened the door and cursed. “Meirda,” Kiko hissed. “When?”
“Had to be within the hour.”
“Maybe he just took his girl to spend some time relaxing.”
“Nah. Girls are all accounted for and his gear is gone.”
Hesitantly I said, “He was friends with Dern.”
Kiko looked at me sharply. “Cousin. Maybe he went back to look for him.”
I shook my head, worried that I was getting too friendly. But then again better the devil you know than one that might sneak up on you. “Dern … he …” I stopped and worried how to say it without getting the messenger shot.
“Spit it out Chica.”
Shaking my head and feeling ten kinds of fool for helping my captor I explained, “After you left, Dern came to the store with two guys I didn’t recognize. They talked about taking you out. Maybe Ricky did come to find me afterall, saw …”
“Eh?” he prompted after I slowed down, worrying about giving something away to Luis.
“I used what you left me,” I explained hoping he’d get the hint.
Thinking a moment Kiko nodded. “Bueno.” He scratched his chin then spit. “So Ricky was in on it or thought I’d think he was.”
I watched surreptitiously through the hair that had fallen across my face as Luis swallowed and realized that Dern and Ricky weren’t the only ones in on it. Two questions sprung to mind. Was the plan still in play and did Kiko see the possibility?