* * *
I opened my eyes.
Damn, my head hurts.
I looked around the room I was in. I remembered the contest from yesterday – I had won. Ramiro saved my life from an insulin overdose. I knew I wouldn’t be finished with him.
Perhaps he could be useful.
I didn’t know how he would be useful, but I needed to get across the border – time was running out. Every day she remained there, was another day she could be discovered.
I saw the bag under the table near the door. My winnings and her salvation. I sat up and the room began to spin. Squeezing my eyes shut, I staggered to the table. I bumped into something waist-high.
I forced my eyes open. The bag’s zipper was closed and I knelt down to inspect its contents. It was filled with bricks of gold and sugar. I didn’t have time to count it, but I felt the heft of the bag… it had to be twenty pounds. My three pounds of sugar bricks were there – wrapped in plastic.
I heard noise outside my door. Two soft knocks sounded out.
“Señor? Are you awake?”
Ramiro had returned. I wondered how much of my winnings would be needed to buy him off.
I cleared my throat and responded, “Come in Ramiro.”
The door swung open and there stood Ramiro with a backpack slung over his shoulder and a paper bag in one of his hands.
Stepping through the door, he thrust the bag to me. “Eat this.”
I placed the duffle bag on the chair behind me and inspected the contents of the greasy bag he handed me. Eggs wrapped in a tortilla. I could smell the cilantro.
“Relax Señor, if I wanted to kill you, I’d’ve let you die last night.”
“I can’t stay here very long. I need to be heading north.”
He stepped towards me and said, “I can’t stay here either. Take me with you.”
He obviously knew I couldn’t say no. He had saved me life. “You can come with me as long as you want, but I’m not deviating from my plans. You better not slow me down.”
That’s reasonable. First we need to get out of here.”
“That gonna be a problem?”
“The boss lost a lot of gold on your win. He’s eager to recoup those losses. If we leave right away, we should encounter minimal resistance.”
“What’s the plan?”
Ramiro smiled, “We walk out the front door and don’t look back.” He turned towards the door, “Let’s go.”
I wasn’t sure why he needed to leave, but I would deal with that later. I slung the duffle bag over my shoulder, took a big bite of the burrito and followed Ramiro down the hall.