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Fiction Crime Adventure

Jim stared at his phone. What had Ada been about to say when the connection failed? He dialed her number again and it went straight to voicemail. Jim hung up, then swore and called her again. This time he left a message. “Ada, are you ok? Just kinda worried about you, kiddo. Please call me.” He paused, then added, “It’s your Dad.”

Jim put the phone down and tried to read an old issue of Time. He flipped on the tv just for company. His dinner, a cup of instant ramen and two microwaved hot dogs, lay uneaten on the weathered coffee table.

Ada called and Jim said in a rush, “Oh honey, thank God! I was so worried. Is there a problem at school? I told you not to take Geometry.”

Ada said, “Dad. Listen to me. There’s not much time and I need to tell you some things.”

Jim smiled. Was she finally going to come out to him? He’d known for years but it was taking a while for her to figure it all out.

Ada said, “Dad, remember that camp I went to last summer?” 

“Sure, Camp Willow Tree. You loved that place”

“It wasn’t an ordinary camp. It was actually a training academy for young special agents. Sometimes they need someone young to infiltrate a drug ring or bust stores selling booze to minors. I was recruited after I graduated high school and have been working for them ever since.”

Jim laughed. “Is that for one of your classes? Drama or something? I didn’t know you were taking a class like that!” He slapped his pajama clad thigh. That girl of his was hilarious.

“Dad. I’m serious. Please hear what I’m saying. I don’t have long. They’re sending a car to pick me up and then I won’t be able to talk to you for several months. I shouldn’t even be calling you, in case my cell is being tracked.”

“Wait, what?” Jim was sitting on the edge of the couch. “Where are you going?”

“I can’t tell you where I’ll be or tell you what I’m doing,” she said before he could ask.

“NO! You can’t do that!” Jim shouted. His heart was racing and his hands shook.

“I’ll be ok, Dad.. My mission won’t put me in harm’s way, or at least not much. Anyway, Dad, I love you and I will talk to you when I’m back. Probably three months.”

“But your classes!” 

“I withdrew from school last week. I’ll re-enroll next semester. This is more important than college. But the car is here and I need to go. Love you to the stars,” she said, echoing what he’d said when he tucked her in as a child. The phone went dead. 

Jim’s mind reeled. His baby girl working for the FBI? That couldn’t be right. She was just a kid! He couldn’t believe that she could be involved in something so crazy.

Three months passed, then four. Jim was almost crazed with worry. He wanted to go find Ada, but he had no idea where to look.

As a new semester started, Mondale College called him and asked him to come pick up Ada’s things from her dorm. He made the two hour drive, hoping against hope that there would be some clue there about where she’d gone. Ada’s room was as neat and orderly as usual, probably no clues here. But he systematically went through everything as he packed it all into the boxes he’d brought. He looked in the trash, in the pockets of every coat and pair of pants. He opened coursebooks and shook them. In Fundamental Geometry, a piece of paper floated out. 

It was a note addressed to him. It said, “Dad, if you’re seeing this, I’ve been gone a long time or I’m dead.. I hope it’s the former. I don’t want you to get involved, but I will tell you that I’ve gone to the place we always wanted to visit.”  

So she’d gone to Mexico, probably Tijuana. He wondered if she had gone undercover and something had gone wrong. Maybe she was mixed up with a Mexican drug trafficking cartel. He tried to swallow over the lump of fear in his throat. He tucked the note into his pocket and drove home. 

Jim immediately started to pack, throwing socks and shirts into a duffel as fast as he could. He went online and ordered a plane ticket from Wisconsin to Tijuana on a red eye. He had a few hours to kill, so he researched drug trafficking in Mexico on WIkipedia.

He found out that most of the foreign drugs coming into the US went through Mexico, including pot, cocaine, and heroin. Powerful drug cartels controlled the flow of drugs from other countries. Almost all of the cocaine in the US is from Columbia and most of that is funnelled through Mexico. Jim was terrified of whatever Ada had gotten mixed up in. 

Jim barely slept on the flight to Tijuana and was bleary and disoriented when he arrived. Now that he was there he had no idea what to do. It was midday, but he checked into a dilapidated hostel on the edge of town and tried to sleep. When he woke, it was night. Now that he was here he didn’t know what to do. Should he show Ada’s picture randomly throughout the city? It occurred to him that could be dangerous for Ada. He found a slumped, portly man sleeping in the common room and decided to take a stab in the dark. “So where would I go to get some cocaine around here?” he asked. The man started awake and said, “Que?” 

Jim didn’t attempt Spanish, and said in English, “Cocaine? Need some.” He mimed snorting coke. The man looked nonplussed but recovered quickly and his face turned dark. 

“You Americans and your drugs. You're the reason we have so much drug trouble and violent cartels in Tijuana. You want to come here and do your drugs and care nothing for the poverty that is all around you.” Then he switched to a more sly tone. “But I will help you. For a price, of course. My name is Jose.

Jose set off at a surprisingly quick pace and Jim’s legs stretched to keep up. They went through side street after side street  and Jim was quickly sure that he wouldn’t be able to get back without Jose, which he suspected was the point. He’d worry about that later. 

They arrived at a small, white church. Jose knocked on the door and it was opened by a slight man wearing a hat. “Si?” he said. In rapid Spanish, Jose conversed with the man. They laughed a lot and looked at Jim. Jim crossed his arms and said, “Come on guys, are you going to help me or what?”

They stopped laughing. “So you want to buy some coke,” the man said as a statement. “Yes, I can help you out. Please come in. But first, you must pay your guide.”

Jim fished some cash out of his wallet. “How much?” Jose looked at the money. “Should be $40 to get here.” He paused. “And $100 to get back.”

Jim stared, then shook his head and counted out $40. “That’s what you get until I get back to the hostel. Then the $100.”

Jose looked like he might try to take all of Jim’s money and run, but he nodded. “I’ll wait, Mr. American.” He sat down on the white washed steps. The slim man gestured to Jim to come inside. 

A few men sat in pews smoking fat, black cigars. Jim went to shake hands, but the men just looked at him. “Uh, I came to get some cocaine, please,” he said awkwardly. “And some information, actually. If that’s ok.” He fiddled with a button on his shirt.

“How much coke you want?” asked the tallest man. This was clearly a common occurrence. 

Jim had no idea. “Uh, like… the usual amount?” The man laughed and spoke in Spanish to the fellows next to him, who were clearly lackeys. 

The man opened a duffle from under his pew and fished out a ziploc baggie filled with white powder. “Here you go, champ. That’s… well, how much money you have, that’s how much it costs.” He laughed nastily. Jim reserved $100 for Jose, then handed over the $200 that was left. “That’s everything I have,” Jim said. 

The man laughed. “So what is your question? I will answer one thing for you if I can,” he said in a conciliatory tone.   

“I’m looking for this woman,” he said, and held up a photo of Ada on his phone. The men talked together in Spanish, and one of the lackeys disappeared. In a few minutes, a man in a dapper three piece suit came out onto the church stage and stood behind the podium. He said down at Jim, “So you are the one asking questions about a girl. Now why would you be inquiring about her?” The man rubbed the gun sticking out of his pocket.

Jim decided to be honest. “She’s my little girl. My only child. We lost her mother a few years back so I’m extra protective of her.” He straightened his shoulders. “I would do anything to find her.” Then he lied to protect her cover. “I don’t know what she’s gotten herself mixed up in, but I know her drug problem makes her do crazy things.”

“Look in Zona Norte. That’s where stupid American girls go to sell themselves for drug money. She might be working the street there. Bad, bad neighborhood, you should be careful if you go there.”

The next morning he took a cab to Zona Norte. He walked around and around, up side streets, down alleys, and past the women offering entertainment of the adult variety. It was clearly frequented by Americans because he was constantly accosted to partake.

Suddenly he saw her, his Ada, dressed as a prostitute. She looked haggard and skinny in a tight red dress and heels. He surged forward and grabbed her into a huge hug.

Ada squirmed away, saying, “Dad, oh my God, how did you find me? You shouldn’t be here! But I wondered if you would see my note and try to find me. I’m fine, I just couldn’t call while I was working for the Sinaloa cartel. I’m out of that now, thank God. I think I have enough information to convict a few of the higher level runners.” Jim just marveled that he had found her so quickly. The universe wanted them to be together.

Ada brought him to a cramped apartment and introduced her partner Ron Guzman, a burly bear of a man with thick black hair. He nodded at Jim by way of acknowledgement. They moved from the tiny vestibule into the living room strewn with papers and maps as well as coffee cups and fast food wrappers.

“Well, Dad,” Ada said, her hand twirling a piece of her hair just as she had as a kid. “Now that you’re here, you want to come to the border with us tomorrow? I got a tip from one of my informants that a big cocaine shipment from Brazil is on its way here. So we’ll be stopping vehicles randomly and inspecting their cargo. Sometimes they get lucky and sneak through. And sometimes we get the driver, who is just a lackey of the cartels. But we could get lucker and get a squealer.”

The next morning, he was strapped into a bulletproof vest and driven with Ada to the Mexico-US border crossing. It was slow moving as some of the vehicles were shunted to the side to be inspected. Ada and Guzman scrutinized them, especially the bigger trucks and busses.   

“I see a load of second hand backhoes coming through that I want to take a look at,” Ada said. “Something doesn’t feel right.” Guzman looked skeptical but waved the trailer to the side. The driver stayed put, hands on the wheel. Jim tried to stay out of the way as Ada walked around examining the machinery. 

She hopped nimbly onto the trailer and scrutinized one of the excavator’s yellow arms. “Find me a blow torch,” she said while scraping at the paint with the heel of her boot. “This is fresh.” Guzman shrugged and sent a man off to find one. 

The man came back and Guzman tossed the torch to Ada, who caught it nimbly. She fiddled with it, then an arc of flame spit out and she squinted at the light. Jim and Guzman watched from below. Ada braced her legs, then used the torch to cut a hole in the machine. She pulled it free with a grunt and looked into the cavity she’d opened. She reached in and picked up a package, which she threw down to Guzman. “One guess what this is.”

Guzman used his pocket knife to cut a slit in the package. White powder puffed out and Guzman turned his head. Jim had been leaning over to look and got a face full. “Oh shit,” Guzman said. His sentiment was echoed by Ada, who was clambering down.

“Hey buddy, why don’t you come down here and talk to us,” Guzman shouted up to the driver, who turned and slowly shook his head. “You need to get out, now,” Guzman said. The man stared straight ahead. “You do not want me to come up there and get you,” Guzman said.

Suddenly the driver turned over the engine and the trailer surged forward. Ada lost her footing and hit the pavement. Jim went over to her. She seemed more stunned than hurt. Feeling a mad rush of energy, JIm was positive that he could stop the truck. He ran like he had never run before and vaulted up onto the truck’s running board. The driver looked over at him, wild-eyed and stepped on the gas. Jim was nearly flung off, but held on and in an instant he punched the driver in the face as hard as could through the open window. Howling with anguish, the man stopped the truck with blood gushing out of his nose.

Jim opened the door and pulled the man from the truck, dropping to the pavement with him and landing hard. Ada and Guzman were staring open mouthed and responded with cheers and clapping. Guzman cuffed the man and said, now we have another link back to the Sinaloa cartel.” Ada hugged Jim tightly. “Not exactly the Mexican vacation I had in mind, Dad,” she said. “Now let’s get you somewhere safe to wait out that cocaine high.”

October 15, 2021 20:30

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1 comment

Amy Wright
14:22 Oct 20, 2021

This is pretty good if I do say so myself! Well done.


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