He hated to disturb her, but the call of nature was too great. He eased himself away from her and slipped out of the car, grabbing the pepper spray and the bottle of JD. He closed the door quietly and opened the bottle, swallowing the last of its contents. He decided not to indulge any further until this mission was accomplished, for her safety. He walked across the pavement to a row of bushes and relieved himself behind a trash can, tossing the bottle in the meantime.
“She likes you, you know that.”
Richard was adjusting his clothing, whirling to find a young boy standing behind him.
“You can have at her if you like. Even better, why don’t you run away with her? You’ll both feel guilty at first, but it’ll pass. It’ll be a whole new life for both of you.”
“Where did you come from?” Richard asked incredulously.
He looked around and saw nothing but the fifty-yard stretch of driveway surrounded by a metal barrier that led to shrubbery, treelines, and endless miles of rolling plains.
“The question is, where are you going?” the boy asked. He wore a faded yellow T-shirt with an indecipherable logo and brown shorts that matched the color of his bronzed legs. He stood barefoot on the muddy asphalt. “Are you going to dump her off in Houston? Do you think she’ll be there waiting for you next time, like Cindy or Gail? The Colombians will be able to smell her. First it’ll be an invitation for a couple of drinks, then some coke. They’ll get her drunk one night, wait until she passes out. You know the drill.”
“Agnes’ll send for her. Felipe’ll take care of her until then.”
“Without a chip? Come on, gringo,” the boy, barely four feet tall, sneered derisively. “Agnes and Sandra aren’t about to let her within a mile of Capitol Hill. Agnes is bad enough with her accent, naturalized or not. This girl’ll put Marlon Ritz on the front page of the tabloids. They’ll be looking for that green dot on her wrist, you know, even quicker than they’ll look for her ring finger. She’s not going to Washington, she’s going to the Galleria in Houston until they figure out what to do with her. Unless she goes to work for Felipe, without a chip, all she’ll get is domestic work or a minimum wage job, if that. She’ll be on the South Side before you know it.”
“Whatever it is, it’s better than what she left in Colombia,” Richard growled. “At least she’s got a chance here. She’s got family she can turn to.”
“If you go up that road, there’s nothing but violence, blood and death ahead,” the boy’s eyes narrowed with venom. “You can spare her that. You can have each other, all you have to do is walk away. She’s worth it, you know it.”
“I’m married to her sister. I’ll wait until hell freezes over before I give that up.”
“You’ll pay for it,” the boy pointed his finger at Richard. “You’ll both pay for it.”
The wind suddenly kicked up in a violent gust, hurling dirt, leaves and twigs across the pavement. Richard turned his face away, and when it subsided, the boy was gone. Richard looked around and saw the pack of dogs staring at him before they turned and headed up the highway towards Houston.
“Abaddon!” he heard the boy’s voice shrieking accusingly in the wind. “Apollyon! Destroyer!”
“Richard,” Isabel rolled down the window. “Are you okay? I fell asleep. Be careful of those dogs.”
“Did you see anyone else out here?” he returned to the car.
“No,” she replied, looking around the parking area once again. “Did you hear anything?”