4 – The Shop on Main
In Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico a young woman enters a shop on Main Street the same evening that Marian checks into her hotel in Juarez. The shop is closing, but the young woman asks the owner’s grandson Alberto for tobacco, which the shop sells. He looks up from behind the counter, initially smiles at the oddly dressed girl. She wears camouflage and black boots, a musty green army cap and over her left shoulder is slung an automatic rifle of some sort. Alberto frowns. Behind this woman in camouflage, two younger males enter, dressed exactly like the young woman. They are not military, thinks Alberto.
The woman approaches the counter. Alberto steps back against the wall of his grandmother’s shop, attempts to melt into it. He raises his arms, but the young woman sharply nods ‘no’ and gestures for him to put his arms down. He does. She leans her elbows on the top of the glass case, and extends her upper body toward him.
“Good evening, señor,” she begins.
“Good evening, señora,” he responds. He hears the tremble in his own voice. He clears his throat, ventures to look in the woman’s eyes. They are dark, glistening.
“You know why I’m here?” she says.
Alberto knows she is there to collect protection monies his grandmother owes the Los Zetas drug cartel. Over the last six months, his grandmother refuses to pay. Now her grandson figures this woman and her cohorts are the ones who break the front window of his grandmother’s store two times in the last month even though his grandmother is only able to afford haphazard taping of the broken areas rather than full replacement of the panes.
“Yes,” Alberto says, “I know why you’ve come.”
“So?” she asks.
Alberto shakes his head.
The two young men approach him from either side. He has no escape avenue, tries to raise his hands again in a form of surrender. Each man grabs an arm; one pushes Alberto’s shoulders forward so that his face smashes into the glass counter top. The glass cracks; blood trickles from a small cut across Alberto’s cheekbone. From the corner of an eye, Alberto spies one of the men pull a short axe from under the counter. Oh my god. The young man raises the short axe, an axe that has been in Alberto’s family for generations. As the young man lowers the axe toward Alberto’s right forearm, he swiftly turns the blade so that the blunt end strikes Alberto’s arm. The bone cracks. Alberto hears as well as feels the bone break in his arm. Even as the pain radiates to his neck, Alberto thanks God that the young man has not cut off his hand at the wrist.
The young woman speaks firmly, “You will pay, Alberto, or you will lose that hand next time. Yes, señor?”
“Yes, I understand,” moans Alberto, then faints.
2014 Copyright by Carley Eason Evans
All Rights Reserved