Translation-Chapter 8

Sunday, May 9, 2010 8:27 PM By crosswaysnet , In


Chapter 8 (Saturday, 10PM - Oak River Fellowship Distribution Center, New Kassel, TX):

Mitch finds himself transported to the darkened warehouse of the relief ministry his wife used to administrate. A security guard stumbles onto some sort of illegal activity and is abducted. Mitch sneaks into the departing truck and frees the captive at a weigh station. Mitch gives him the cash in his wallet and warns him to hide with his family for at least a week. Left alone on a dark stretch of highway, Mitch asks "Where next?"

(Granizaron Maria, llena de tolerancia, el señor está con thee. Mil bendecido del arte entre mujeres, y bendecido es la fruta de la matriz thy, Jesús. Maria santa, madre del dios, ahora ruega para nosotros sinners, y en la hora de la muerte. Amen.)
(Dios te salve, María, llena eres de gracia,el Señor es contigo.Bendita tú eres entre todas las mujeres,y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
Santa María, Madre de Dios,ruega por nosotros, pecadores,ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.
Amén!)

The TinMan was losing ground. Only twenty more yards to the safety of the trees. His spindly metal legs were being sucked down, farther and farther into the mud. Rusty joints screeched in agony as he desperately pulled against the mire. Behind, the steady rumble of the monster was growing. One leg - one foot - at a time pulled free and drug forward. The clay slurped and bubbled. The rumble became a roar. The ground began to shake. Now frozen in terror, the TinMan tried to turn around to face the doom rushing up from behind. He couldn't turn far enough to see the face of the devourer. A deep shadow came over him, then a shrieking to turn blood to water.
Mitch clasped his head to stop the sound. It was dark and cold. The shrieking continued for a moment then ended with a metallic slam. He tried to roll over on his bed. He slipped off onto cold concrete with a thud and a small groan. His cheek was hard up against the floor. With waking senses starting to report in, he realized he wasn't in the Colpoys' spare bedroom anymore. Mitch's whole body was stiff from the terror of the dream and stayed perfectly still, barely braving a breath.
Somewhere in the distance came the sound of footsteps scuffing along concrete. Cowboy boots - probably low-heeled ropers. The sound arrived at different times, echoing off unseen walls and a high ceiling. Everything sounded metallic. Has the beast swallowed me after all? Mitch asked himself without making so much as a whisper. His heart pounded a thundering drumbeat in his head.
The unmistakable sound of a diesel engine revving up told Mitch he was in a building or hangar, not the belly of the monster, unless that dragon is big enough to swallow highways whole, Mitch reminded himself. I wouldn't put it past him... The truck squealed to a stop and cut its engine. A door opened and slammed. Another set of feet, these in tennis shoes. Mitch heard them pad away into the distance.
A few moments more of quiet and Mitch had relaxed enough to take a deeper breath. Suddenly, a voice followed by a richocet of light from a dozen different surfaces. Mitch gained a flash bulb view of his surroundings - some sort of steel structure a hundred yards long, or more. Support beams going up perhaps forty feet, disappearing into more black. All around him were warehouse shelves, mostly empty. A door slammed shut ending the brief moment when his eyes were useful.
When nothing else happened for another two minutes, Mitch rolled over slowly onto his back. It was time to get his bearings. He flexed his hands and feet slowly, testing them. His left elbow hurt a little, like his cheek. Arching his back, he tested his hips and wiggled his head from side to side. All the parts were in their places. He felt his left wrist and his pockets - no watch or phone. He'd left those on the night stand back... there. Wherever here isn't.
Mitch felt urgent, but not panicked or rushed. Perhaps it was the thick blanket of black that soothed him. He'd never been afraid of the dark that he knew of. It was the best place to think. Just closing his eyes always helped Mitch to focus and visualize the real - the real . Even though there was no reason to do so in the inky darkness, Mitch closed his eyes out of habit. He mentally reviewed what he knew.
You're somewhere new, it's not familiar, and you have no idea why you are here. OK, that's stating the obvious. Mitch frowned at the blackness. What do you suspect? He ran through the possibilities, drumming his fingers silently on the concrete. 1) You've been kidnapped and dropped here; 2) You're dreaming; 3) You're having another psychotic episode and you're still in your bed at the Colpoys'; or 4)... What? sighed. Or 4) This is all absolutely real and you've been transported somewhere... for a reason.
He drilled farther into the logic of it, if 'logic' was even a useful word. What happens when you get 'transported' like this, Mitch? Something bad happens, that's what. Now his blood pressure was starting to rise. No, that's not exactly right. What is it then? Mitch took about ten more slow breaths trying to come up with the answer which seemed to be dodging him around the back of his mind. He moved the puzzle pieces around for a few minutes more, like sorting those magnetic letters around on a refrigerator door. Sooner or later the mind will come up with something just to give order to the letters.
When you get transported... Something worse is about to happen that you have to stop. That's it, isn't it?
The sound of a door opening. Light and a voice, again. Mitch rolled over quickly and scurried on all fours to the edge of the tall storage shelves. With his cheek to the concrete he crept until one eye could see into the larger expanse of the warehouse. Sneakers was heading back to the truck. A gruff voice behind him said something in Spanish. Sneakers waved his hand behind him and didn't bother turning around. The door closed, cutting off the light as Sneakers mounted the skid plate to the driver's door of the semi. Mitch blinked.
The cab light came on in the semi as Sneakers rummaged around in the sleeper section of the tractor. He emerged a few moments later with a box and a bottle. He shut the cab door and walked ten paces in the dark back to the door. Mitch counted them. The light flashed on again as Sneakers was silhouetted in the doorway. The shadow to Mitch's left was holding high a smoky amber bottle of scotch. Inside the room the other man - probably Ropers - was saying something like "¡Oh! ¡Usted trajo tan la buena materia!" Oh! So you brought the good stuff!, Mitch figured.
As soon as the door slammed shut again, Mitch hopped up to a crouch and began to work his way toward truck. He looked around him every other step. He could only make out the very faint glow of an exit sign dozens of yards away and behind him. Ahead was only a slight reflection along the concrete from a small light leak in the door on his right. He was thankful that he'd chosen the most comfortable walking shoes from C.R.'s pile. The soles were broken in and soft rubber. They made no tap or squeak. Mitch used his right hand to guide him along the long column of shelves.
About twenty feet from the door, Mitch started to pick up the sounds of conversation and the clinking of glasses. The two men were toasting something, but it didn't sound like a party. No music. Mitch reached the end of the last column of shelves. He could make out the Peterbilt emblem in chrome above the tall, square grill just to his left. Mitch quickly peered around to his right. The door to the warehouse office was outlined in soft flourescent. He leaned back on the shelves to collect his thoughts.
So, am I supposed to rescue one of these guys? They don't seem like the type. The sound, gate and attitude of Sneakers and Ropers told Mitch that these were two bad hombres. What am I here for? What Mitch could hear of the conversation behind the office door sounded like a discussion over numbers. Maybe mileage and weight. A few snickers. More clinking of glass and the sound of scotch burbling out of its bottle. The creak of office chairs and soft thump of shoes on a desk told him the dos hombres were settling in for a wait. Mitch decided to explore some more before something else happened.
As fast as he could still move silently, Mitch put himself on the far side of the truck from the office door. He worked from tire to tire to keep in the shadows. He paced off the length of the trailer - about thirty five feet. Peeking around the corner Mitch could see that the back of the rig was open on the left side. The full-length door swung around and out of view. It looked like another twenty yards or so to the end of the building. A massive motorized pull-up door as the main entrance. It was closed.
A step at a time, Mitch worked his way to the open door of the trailer. Scattered about were flatpack shipping boxes of some type and a couple of pallets. He couldn't see farther than a few feet inside. He lifted himself up on both palms to get a better look.
Still two feet off the floor and balanced at his waist, Mitch heard the crackle of a radio inside the office. A voice clearly said "entrega." Delivery. Immediately the two chairs creaked back to upright and the door opened. Light spilled under and around everything again. Mitch held his breath and dropped to the floor. Ropers was coming down the driver's side of the truck toward him. In three crossover steps Mitch made it around the corner of the truck to the far side. Ropers kept going. Another twenty paces and his boot soles scuffed to a stop. A click and the motorized door kicked into action. Mitch used the cover of noise to make his retreat. From the front bumper he saw Sneakers' shadow heading toward the big door. Mitch broke into something between a toe sneak and a full run. He pushed himself into the shadow of the first large steel structural support. He didn't make another move, other than the breath that came twenty seconds later.
The sound of another truck brought Mitch out for a peek. A large delivery truck was starting to back into the warehouse. When it was within a couple of feet from the first truck, the engine stopped and the big door came back down, screeching, but no faster than the motor would allow. It was the same sound that had shaken Mitch to the floor earlier. The metal panels closed the gap with the floor. Bam!
Other men were jumping into motion, giving orders to Sneakers and Ropers. When the driver reached the back of the second truck, keys jangled and large locks were unfastened. This truck had a roll-up door which was quickly thrown to the top. From the larger trailer came the sounds of boxes moving and others being assembled. Something heavy and soft was being relayed from the second truck in parcels. Funny what you can tell from sound alone, thought Mitch. But you've been trained for this. He didn't wonder why that was so.
With the bad hombres busy and making enough racket, Mitch retreated another three steel supports and came to an exit door. No exit light. He felt all around the door frame for any sensors or alarms. There were none. He felt for the handle and lock mechanism. Just a simple single-handled push button lever lock. Mitch debated whether to open the door...


***


Raul Falcon ran his finger between his neck and the scratchy polyester shirt the job required. He checked his watch - 10:15 pm. He wasn't due for rounds until midnight. In fact, his supervisor had explicitly instructed him to stay put in the guard house until then. It had been that way for each and every night of his two weeks on the job. Guarding the motorized front entry gate from 9 til 3. What was the point? It was keypad locked anyway, and he wasn't permitted to give out codes even if he knew them. Not that they'd ever been necessary. Total traffic through the front gate on his shift over the previous two weeks? Raul glanced at the log but didn't need to. He knew the answer - zero. A big, fat, "0."
The night watchman looked down at the book in his lap, "Stenography Skills and Court Reporting Basics." His left knee was the bookmark. Raul knew it was his ticket out of working class poverty. At the moment, welfare seemed more inviting than finishing chapter seven. He sighed and rubbed his face. He knew he'd finish the book. He knew he'd finish the next five required texts. He knew he'd pass the exams. He had to. Evangelina and the baby were depending on it. They were depending on him. His daughter would never need to know the tough barrios and violence he'd endured as a kid. But the transitional housing required him to be fully-employed or fully-enrolled. Even then, they had at most four years before they'd have to move. Raul Falcon was determined their next move would be to a safe apartment. Then to a real house with a real yard. No more housing projects. No more fear and hopelessness. It was a long drive up the Interstate to this distribution center, but they paid his mileage. They allowed him study time. They encouraged it. He picked up the book and tried to focus.
It was no use. At least not for now. Putting the book down on his clipboard, Raul grabbed his flashlight and keys. The fresh air would do him good. He would take the time to remind himself why he was putting himself through community college. Why he was sitting in a six by six box for most of the night, six days a week.
He had circled along the perimeter fence with its twelve foot chainlink and razor wire. He'd always thought that particular detail strangely out of place. It made the facility appear to be a prison or storage facility for expensive equipment. But this was a relief distribution center. Socks, gift packages, beans and rice - God knew what. It was in the suburbs. At a church. Raul shook his head, marveling at how whites who knew nothing of real dangers could be so paranoid. He was halfway back to the guard house, along the long wall of the main loading facility when he stopped. This was the darkest part of the compound, where the buildings blocked the perimeter lights.
It was a clear, moonless night with no humidity. The stars overhead were crisp and bright. They had color. Mon Dios, they are beautiful, he thought. Someday, I will lay in my own backyard watching them with my children. Maybe on a trampoline. We'll say the names of the ones we know and name the ones we don't. It will be beautiful. Raul remembered why he was going to community college. He took a breath and looked back at his little cell, stuck to the side of the main gate, close to a quarter mile away. A cell it may be, but it is my ticket out of a bigger prison. He set out to get back to 'work.'
Something stopped him. It was a zipping sound of some sort. Raul waited. He heard it again, then some sort of soft bump. From where? Now fully alert and fully the watchman, Raul followed his ears with his eyes. Another bump - from inside the main loading facility right next to him. He stepped over to the single-wide door closest to him and listened carefully. Definitely some sort of activity was going on inside, and no one was on the roster for work tonight. Construction was done and stocking of the warehouse had barely begun. He couldn't think of a single legitimate thing that would be going on in that building at this time of night. He pulled out the master access key and pushed it slowly but firmly into the knob. He turned it the same way.


***


Mitch's hand was on the door lever when it began to move. He jumped back and around the steel beam, staying in the blackest part of the shadow. The door opened quietly, letting in just a little violet mercury vapor light. A young hispanic man in uniform stepped in and closed the door behind him. Mitch could sense him stepping past, not two feet away, and toward the source of the noise. When the stranger was twenty feet ahead, Mitch followed.
There wasn't much to see, but every few moments a reflection from flashlights inside the big trailer gave Mitch enough view to keep up with his quarry. The young man was at the front of the Peterbilt looking both directions. Trying to decide what to do, thought Mitch. He's not one of them. He'd better choose carefully.
The security guard had made his choice and stepped over to the office, opening it. Seeing no one inside, he headed for the back of the tractor trailer, leaving the door open and light spilling everywhere. Ropers hopped down from the tailgate and was sauntering - more like swaggering - toward him. Mitch started to close the gap a little faster.
"Hello! I wasn't expecting any deliveries tonight," began the watchman. "Can you tell me who you're with?"
"Yes, yes, senor," said Ropers, not stopping. He was reaching behind his back. "I have papers right... here."
Up came a shiny revolver. Probably 44 caliber, thought Mitch. medium barrel. He could see the three quarter's profile of the weapon past the guard's left shoulder. Roper's outstretched arm covered half the distance between the men. There was no way he could miss at that range, and his arm was perfectly still. He's used to holding that weapon, Mitch decided, which meant he was used to using that weapon. The guard had stopped cold, his arms out and away from his body but perfectly still. He stayed under control.
"Easy, amigo. I didn't mean to startle you. I was just making my rounds. No need to get... bothered."
The hammer pulled back and clicked.
"Oh, I am not 'bothered,' amigo- just 'interrupted.' I do not like to be interrupted. You will not bother me long."
Mitch thought this was going to end very badly and very quickly. Suddenly a shadow came up from under the truck just a few feet ahead of Mitch. In a swift move, Sneakers popped up and took a swing at the back of the watchman's head with something blunt and round. Probably a flashlight.. Mitch dropped low and scrambled under the front wheels of the truck for cover. He wasn't noticed. He could see hombres one and two dragging the limp body of the guard to the back of the truck where an argument broke out between the four men in Spanglish.
"Kill him and leave him," came the flat reply from one of the newcomers.
"No, no... There will be others here in the morning," said Ropers. "Just load him up. We will deal with him elsewhere."
Mitch could see the four men duct tape wrists and feet. They swung the still limp body into the back of the trailer.
"Are we done yet?" said Ropers with some urgency.
"Twenty to go. make the call when to leave," said the newcomer, acting the part of jefe. "Just do your job and get out of my way."
Two more minutes of frenzied activity and the door was pulled down on the second truck. The four men headed back to the office to collect something. Mitch used the opportunity to sprint for the back of the truck. He climbed inside and searched for the guard. He found him propped up along the passenger-side wall, behind two rows of Whirlpool washing machine boxes, wrapped in contact plastic. Mitch shook the man's hand by the thumb - no response. He felt around to the back of his head. Mitch's hand came away a little warm and sticky. He put his finger to the man's nose and waited for a breath. He felt the warm exhale of air. The man was still alive.
Mitch quickly started tearing at the duct tape bonds and had him mostly free when voices emerged from the office and the lights went out for good. He thought it might be his opportunity to escape, but couldn't figure out what he would do with the unconscious weight of the guard. Should he wait or make a move anyway?
The decision was made by Ropers. The back door of the trailer slammed shut.


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