Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Continued Chapter 33
Tomás wheeled his cab back over to the frontier and parked in the large lot right by the border that is reserved for taxis only.
“Señor, I am confused,” he asked Davis. “What are we doing here? What are we looking for? Are you and the Señorita in trouble?”
“Yes, Tomás, but we’re not criminals. It’s just that some people are looking for us.”
“Say no more, Señor. I think I understand. After all, I too, have in-laws.”
Davis let it go at that. No sense in scaring him away. Laura had already paid him for the full day.
“Tomás, I’m going to move up a bit closer and take a look around. Don’t leave.”
“Señor, of course not. May I come with you?”
“Sure, why not? Come on.” Another pair of eyes couldn’t hurt, Davis reasoned.
After Tomás locked up his taxi, the two of them walked up the ramp that crossed over the northbound highway leading to the Customs station. Every few feet a young peddler approached them, offering a variety of last minute shopping opportunities. Tomás shooed them away with a blast of rapid-fire Spanish obscenities. Many of these merchants were ten years old or younger, and were often the biggest earners in their family.
From their vantage point Davis and Tomás could look into the plaza on the U.S. side of the border.
“They’re still there,” Davis said dejectedly. He had been hoping that they had given up and gone away.
“Who is that, Señor?” He was scanning the crowded plaza looking at all the people.
“See those three men in dark clothing standing down there?” Davis said, pointing at Manny, Moe, and Chad.
“Yes, I see them, Señor. They look like The Blues Brothers.”
“And see those three guys in the straw hats and sunglasses?”
“Yes, I see them. Federales to be sure. Why are the Federales looking for you and the Señorita?”
Seeing the Federales made Tomás nervous. Maybe his two yanqui fares were into more than he first thought, but they didn’t look like drug people.
Davis continued pointing out even more people. “Those two men sitting on the bench by the trolley stop, and those two policemen standing next to the trolley? Do you see them, Tomás?”
“Yes, I see them all, Señor, and I ask you again. What kind of trouble are you in? I don’t want to get mixed up in no drug business. I have a wife and kids.”
“Let’s just say that it’s Family trouble,” said Davis, hoping that would calm down their cabbie.
“Ahhh,” said Tomás as he made a quick sign of the cross. “Tell me all about it. But, Señor, to involve the police and all those other men–and even the Federales? Her father must really hate you, Señor.”
“If only it were that simple, my friend,” sighed Davis.
Tomás was still looking across the border. He tapped Davis on the arm and pointed past the plaza at a large van parked near the Cambio.
“Do you see that van up the street, pulling away from the curb, Señor?”
“The black one, by the money exchange place? Yes, I see it. What about it?”
“Mules. It’s a pick-up van for mules.” His focus shifted back to the Mexican side of the border. “Uh-oh, look at these four. They are mules for sure,” he said, pointing at a group of people on the sidewalk approaching the Customs building.
Almost simultaneously three other men and a woman walked out of the U.S. side of the Customs area and started up the street toward the black van. Davis and Tomás were much too far away to hear what was being said, but they could see everything. As the four people crossed the plaza they moved closer together. The woman looked over her shoulder, concern on her face. She was looking back at a fifth person who was still inside Customs, being questioned by the border guards.
Inside the Customs building the fifth mule panicked as he saw his friends leaving him behind. He bolted and ran out of the building and into the plaza. The female mule, already on the U.S. side, stopped her escape, lifted her skirt, and pulled a pistol from a holster on her thigh. She fired three quick shots back in the direction of the border.
People in the plaza began to scatter like chickens. Davis could easily hear the gunfire. He flinched instinctively, and ducked. Tomás did the same, making another sign of the cross. “Que madres!” he exclaimed.
The female mule with the handgun and the other mules began to run up the street toward the black van. Two shots from the Border Patrol officers missed them. As the mules got close to the van, the rear doors opened and all hell was unleashed. A tripod-mounted .50 caliber machine gun inside the van began sending lead toward the border at a frightening rate.
The last of the mules, the one whose nerves had gotten the best of him, wasn’t agile enough to seek some kind of cover. He was lifted off the ground and exploded into a pink-and-white cloud as the .50 caliber slugs hit the packs of cocaine strapped to his torso.
The stunned Border Patrol officers and Customs agents, ridiculously outgunned, continued firing back with their handguns. Their efforts were futile.
One of the undercover Feds, who had been waiting for Laura, fell in the first burst from the van—as did Chad, his Harvey Keitel experience ending badly.
The scene went from chaotic to a screaming nightmare in seconds. Every armed person in the vicinity began firing—at the van, at the border, at each other.
One of the San Diego officers took out two more of the mules before hitting the ground with a bullet in his chest, courtesy of Manny, or maybe it was Moe.
The front window of the McDonald’s shattered into a thousand shards as the five-sided battle widened to include every human being inside the effective range of the van’s heavy weaponry. The two locals hired by Dominic hid behind the train stopped at the border.
High-velocity rounds from the van flew through the Customs station and pounded into confused tourists who were waiting in line to re-enter the United States. They were still clutching their large bottles of Kahlua and straw goods as they dropped dead on the concrete floor.
Other mules and assorted smugglers started to run in all directions on both sides of the border.
It didn’t take long for the railing, where Davis and Tomás were standing, to fill with tourists and Mexican peddlers. All of them watched, not believing it was real. It was too bizarre. “Maybe they’re making a movie,” someone said. Just then a stray round thudded into a tourist from Terre Haute, Indiana, who was on vacation—his last. Everyone on the ramp either ducked down or started running back the way they came. Davis and Tomás stayed where they were, taking quick peeks over the edge of the ramp at the carnage below.
With one last chatter of machine-gun fire the black van abandoned the remaining mules and sped away from the mayhem at the border. As it raced away one last lucky shot from a Border Patrol officer flew into the van and hit the teenage mule who was climbing up beside the machine gun. His dead body fell back out onto the street.
Despite the lingering screams of the terrified and the wounded, the plaza seemed suddenly quite silent.
The toll: eighteen dead, twenty-one wounded, two hundred seventy-five terrified to the point of soiling themselves.
Elapsed time from first shot to last: seventeen seconds.
Within moments of the last shot, sirens could be heard racing toward the border from both sides of the line. It was now an official crime scene. Nobody going in, nobody going out.
The U.S.-Mexico International border at San Ysidro was now closed.
Videotape from surveillance cameras at the scene would play around the world for days until some other bloodbath would occur, thereby giving all the world’s TV news directors an orgasm and a new lead story.
“Jesus Christ,” was all that Davis could say, looking at the scene spread out before him like some bloody diorama.
“Señor, let’s get away from here before we become official witnesses.”
They trotted back to the cab and headed toward downtown Tijuana.
“I don’t think the lady is going to like this,” said Tomás. He was still breathing hard. He had never seen anything like this before in his life and hoped he never would again.
“I think you’re right, Tomás.” Other than that, Davis was speechless. Up until yesterday he had never even held a gun. In the last twenty-four hours he had shot and killed a man and witnessed an all-out massacre at the border.
What a surprise! I’m lovin’ it, John