Some things come more easily in the darkness. Perhaps too easily . . .
André turned the pickup off the paved road and stopped at a closed gate. He rolled down the window, holding out one of his ID cards. A voice said, “Roger. I’m on the way.”
“Not a genus loci,” André said, rolling the window back up. “There’s a card camera and reader tucked away, so that the fire department and police can get in without having to call out a ranger. I don’t have quite that level of access.” An unspoken “yet” hung in the air.
Tay rustled in the back. “So that’s what the mysterious bag is for! A bribe.”
“No.” André frowned, glaring at the rear-view mirror. “I would never stoop to bribery while in the United States. It contains a token of my appreciation for Ricardo’s willingness to take a few moments of his down-time to open the gate for us.”
Lelia busied herself looking at the armored shin guards André had presented her with. Do not laugh, do not laugh. And what did he mean by “while in the US?” Does he bribe people elsewhere? I don’t want to know, I don’t think. How do these—Oh, that makes sense. The straps and material went around twice, so that all of her leg was protected, not just the shin.
Dust-softened headlights appeared, and a smaller vehicle rolled up to the other side of the gate. The gate opened, and André drove through, stopping just past a rumbly set of pipes in the ground. He rolled the window down again. A short, deeply tanned man leaned on the door. “Hola. Que tal?”
“Así así.” He turned around and with Lelia’s help, got the bag from the back seat and handed it to the ranger. “Un regalo pequeño.”
“Sir, your pronunciation’s still too Gringo,” the ranger chuckled. He caught sight of Lelia and the smile vanished. “Who’s that?” Continue reading