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Adventure African American Thriller


It lay across my chest like a moist log and I knew it was just Carman’s arm but it seemed to push down on me as I inhaled and it made me gag. I sat up quickly as the bile rose in my throat, singeing the sides, forming bitter spots in my mouth. It was coming up and I could not breathe. My eyes searched shadows with moonlight hard against walls and still curtains. Her eyes were wide and staring, mouth moving words distant; not understandable.

A little air, then a little more, then it closed off again. Alive, I thought with that air. I screamed silently and more air mixed with her words of are you all right? The corners of my eyes saw her but I knew I did not want to be there any more. 

A little air, then a little more and more came, the bile subsiding, the throat relaxing. I knew I should not lay back down, that I should get up and get dressed as her words rang clearly beside me, her warm hand smoothly rubbed in a circle on my back. I nodded, wiping foul tasting and smelling stuff from the corners of my lips.

‘Go back to sleep,’ I said to the hard light against the curtains. I laid back down, my back to her, my knees drawn up tight.

I knew water had stopped running. The light was in slits through little checks in the closed tall doors. The room was muted colours. Porcelain wash bowl with porcelain pitcher, a flower design of some kind half turned round. She came through the curtain from the bathroom wiping herself with a towel and beautiful to my eyes. I looked down at the crumpled and wet sheet.

‘How do you feel?’ she smiled at me with concern in her eyes. ‘You really scared me this morning.’

I thought, This morning? and said, ‘Just choked.’

‘Is there something wrong?’

I kept looking at the sheet. ‘Naw, why?’

‘There is something wrong. I did something?’

‘Naw,’ I said fast, too fast.

‘Why don’t you look at me?’

‘I just woke up. Give me a chance, okay?’ I spoke harshly, too harshly. There was something wrong, like he was in a play or somebody else talking to somebody else. ‘I don’t feel right.’

‘What is it?’

‘I don’t know. I’ll take a shower and maybe that will be all I need.’

‘Wait a little on the hot water. I just used a bunch.’

‘Yeah.’ I pulled the top sheet off and swung my legs off the bed as she approached, dropping her towel and taking my head in her hands. I pushed her hands away and moved off toward the bathroom feeling her eyes on my back. ‘Gotta piss.’

I stayed in the bathroom until I heard her dressing. ‘What’s for breakfast?’ I tried to sound jovial.

‘Whatever you want. Eggs, bacon, toast, coffee. Anything else?’ she asked. I was feeling a hurt in her voice.


‘I will go down and see to it. We are rising late, so the cook will have to make it all again.’

‘What time is it?’

‘A little after nine.’


‘Are you going anywhere? Something to do today?’

I smiled at the thought. ‘Yeah, the boat. Been away too long.’

‘I’ll go with you?’

‘Naw. Boring.’

She left without shutting the door. I heard the softness of her feet on the tiles. Somehow I knew she would be instructing to keep a watch on me.

As I closed the front door to the house, Bernardo, the watchman, came running up.

‘Capitan Brown, you need a taxi?’

‘Naw, man, I will walk.’

‘No Señor, it is dangerous. I call the taxi. Just stay here and I goes for him.’

Bernardo looked both ways as he began his exit from the door within the main gate. He closed the door carefully. I made my way to the door, opening it and looking out and up the hill to see Bernardo running, his gun poking through his shirt, stuck in his belt. I went out, crossing the street quickly and going down the hill, hiding myself from the watchman by pushing into a crush of people standing around waiting for a public bus.

It was hot and the people had individual odours. I felt free. Was it the odours? They were outside the compound and free. I was outside the compound and free. I breathed and was smiling and people smiled and nodded to me. God, I love this place, I thought.

A couple of blocks down the hill I re-crossed the busy street to stand with a another small group waiting for a bus. They were grumbling and a couple, who had watches, were pointing at the time and shaking their heads complaining to the others. I smiled at them and they stopped grumbling and smiled back, a few buenas dias came from them. Then, they resumed the grumbling, cabron and head shaking with Mexico and no es bueno through a lot of lips.

They suddenly were silent and looking down at the pavement. I saw an old chocolate and off white Plymouth slowly coming down the street, holding the traffic at bay behind it. It was crowded with men showing guns. They came alongside the group and stopped with one man turning his sunglasses toward me. The group had somehow moved to one side and I was standing alone. The man raised his head in an assessing way, his revolver slowly moving upward as I ran in front of the car and across the street. I could hear arguments and commands behind him as I pushed through the slowly walking lines of people moving up and down the pavement.

I turned once to see three men running after me as the car sped down ahead of me. I turned off the sidewalk and ran down an embankment of banana trees and underbrush. I slid on mud and tripped on rocks and jumped streamlets as a shot rang out behind me. I ran faster, tumbling and falling down a steep hill, ending up in a pile of garbage from a house behind a wall. I jumped up and ran alongside the wall, then down the embankment again where the wall stopped. At a small river I stopped and listened for them following but it was mainly quiet, just the murmur of people above and the swish of coco-palms overhead.

My hands were covered in mud and my clothes drenched in it and wet. I pulled my wallet from the back pocket and stepped into the river to wash everything at once. It was surprisingly cold and it shocked me into thinking about the rate my heart was already racing. ‘This is fucked,’ I said aloud, then looked around at plays of light on banana plant colourings and scraggly underbrush, and the stiff trunks of coconut trees. There was still steam lightly sifting upward from some mulched humps of rotting leaves. I washed a bit and started back up the hill. 

The people who saw me coming out of the growth did not pay much attention to my state. I looked like them, just wetter. Everybody relieves themselves and you are not to pay attention out of courtesy. The traffic had resumed on the other side of the street, so I crossed over and looked for a taxi or a bus. I smelled him before I felt the gun muzzle in my back and heard his orders. The gun muzzle was not a finger nor a pencil like in the movies. I was being pushed out into the traffic and saw the Plymouth spurt out and hit another car in its side, the other car’s driver’s eyes were wide as he jockeyed away from the guns poking out of the windows.

The Plymouth pulled next to us as the back door was opening. I was pushed inside and pushed away from those inside while being pushed by the one with the gun getting in behind me. The door slammed and they took off like a little kid with a prize. The car stank and I was scared. They were young and looked serious in sunglasses. There was a submachine gun and some machetes on the floor and they all waved pistols around. Nobody smiled. The man next to the driver was giving directions with waves of his revolver. Every now and then he would look back at me.

I slowed my breathing. I waited for a chance to do something. Women were bargaining for mangos at a stall, standing rigidly tall and proud in dresses with the backs unzipped and sweat sensuously accenting strong muscles. Maybe this is my last scene alive, I thought, but they drove on and I felt I had accomplished something by living a few seconds more. The man at my side started ordering me to do something but not knowing his dialect I did not know what to do. The man insisted, pulling off his sunglasses in frustration and looking into my eyes. He was very young and very angry. Then, he canted his head. ‘Spek Ingles?’ he asked in a humble way.

‘Yes. Ingles. I am, estoy Americano.’

‘Americano? Black … Huey Newton, Black Beautiful, Stokely. Africa bad. Ras. Bob Marley. Brotha.’

‘Yes, si.’ I was putting on a smile now. ‘Black is beautiful and the Black Panthers are my brothers and we are all brothers.’ I looked around at all in the car. They were all part black.

‘Brother. Black Panter?’ he started rapid dialect to the leader in front and the two on my side began looking at me differently, both taking off their sunglasses to assess me, then putting them back on and both looked toward the leader, who was talking back to the abductor.

‘W’as you in Oaxaca?’

‘Barco. Tenemos el barco aqui. Lo tomamos al Caribe.’

‘Ship. Cruiseship. No cruiseship Puerto Angel. No cruiseship Puerto Angel.’ He looked cross at such a lie.

Looking at each of them I said, ‘No. Nuestro barco with sails, velas. Schooner at ancla. Goleta at ancla.’

I started talking to the leader again, who nodded, and shook his head. They all started talking, including the driver, who was not particularly looking at the road. The leader pointed to the right with his automatic and the driver swerved partially onto the sidewalk and stopped. Everybody got out and I was pushed into a dark café with three tables and a few chairs. Everybody pulled a chair up and I was pushed down onto a plastic one that creaked. They sat with their guns in their belts. The leader started talking in an inquisitive manner to me in a vague pigeon language of one word phrases. 

‘Black. Bruja. Majica Negro. Santa Muerte. Blancos. Crazy man. Oaxaca.’

I looked up and saw a man behind the bar with no way to escape, which was obviously his wish. Behind him were dark and clear bottles. I raised my hands palms outward, then cupped one as though holding a glass. I gestured toward the man and bottles. They all turned and looked at him. 

‘Ron.’ I said, ‘Men drink ron.’

The abductor said, ‘You wants ron?’

‘Si.’ And gesturing for all to be included, I said, ‘por todos nosotros.’

They all laughed at my Spanish and the gesture. The leader smiled bashfully and nodded for the man to come over. He told him in soft dialect something and the man smiled anxiously nodding and sweating and ran over to the shelves on the wall returning with two bottles, one dark and one clear with cups on the tops. He was a round man with a large balding head and wide eyes. I took the rum bottle and unscrewed the lid, dropping it on the floor and started pouring the rich liquid into the cups. One of the young men put his hand over his cup to signal he did not drink. He looked over to me and placed a revolver on the table top. The leader berated him and he took his hand away. I poured a small amount and he looked grateful.

I finished pouring and raised my cup. ‘Viva Mexico.’

They frowned, spoke to each other than each smiled and raised their cups. ‘Viva Oaxaca.’

Everybody sipped the rum, shuddering and looked around the table. I said, ‘Capitan Brown.’ Pressing my two right hand fingers to my chest.

‘Capitan…’ the leader said to the others. They responded with assessing nods.

The leader poured his rum onto the floor, then the others did. He took my cup and poured it onto the floor also, smiled up at me and opened the mezcal bottle and poured it into my cup. He poured himself a good shot and passed the bottle to the others. The one who did not want to drink was the last to pour some into his cup.

‘Ahora.,’ The leader said, ‘real drunks, us. Al Diablo.’ And laughed a loud shriek, and they all started screaming then gulped down the cups.

I lifted my cup and downed it too. The mezcal was nice and simple and slightly burning. I had expected a tequila taste and actually raised my eyebrows to them and they responded by fighting to fill my cup again. The leader took the bottle and topped my cup, then his, and smiling at me gulped it all down. One of the boys called to the proprietor and he brought over a brown clay bottle.

When everybody was looking warm and relaxed I smiled at the leader and asked, ‘What do you want with me?’

He blinked a few times, bashfully. His eyes moved around the others and leaned over without a smile and stared into my eyes. ‘We wants money from you bruja. We knows you wid her in dat casa…’ He looked like he wanted to say more but his English was gone. His eyes wandered in a frustrated bouncy way.

I looked toward the doorway.

‘We no kills chu… she gives money,’ he was still grasping for English. ‘She money. All give money a la cabrona. Majica, no? Pow’rful witch, no?’ He smiled, drank a little, ‘Chu want go us?’

I was still on the witch part?

‘Vamos a jugar fútbol, amigos,’ the leader shouted. 

I mumbled, ’Futbol?’

‘Si. Yes. Ramon es lo mejor, best, in our pueblo. Come, you likes.’

We drove to a sandy soccer field with some kids running up and down kicking a ball. When they saw us getting out of the Plymouth, they stopped running and stared for a moment before running off the field. The ball was left and Ramon ran over and started kicking it up to bound it with his head over to us. Guero brought it up with his foot and pushed it toward me with his chest. 

‘Come on, Capitan.’ He was grinning broadly.

I responded with a kick that sent the ball back out to Ramon, who recovered it with a nod to me. We started a game of three per side and after about an hour my team of the leader and Guero won the game. The round clay bottle of mescal was produced and four of us sat against the Plymouth with Ramon continuing to play on the dusty field. The breeze had gradually become little whirlwinds forming at times. We sat in the lee of the car without saying anything about the wind nor dust.

The dust hid the two players for a moment and that reminded me that I was their prisoner, their kidnapped victim. I stood with the clay bottle, took a slug and called out, ‘Ramon.’

Ramon smiled and kicked the ball to me. I handed the bottle down and kick it back. Ramon stopped and looked back at our group sadly when the dull pops of an automatic weapon began its sputter and the dust began to shoot into the air near Guero’s feet. He threw his pistol down quickly and looked for a way to run but settled on seeing what came next.

From out of the shrubbery came four muscular men in black shorts and white guayabara shirts. They all wore the same type of sunglasses and I could not recognise their faces, but behind them strolled my Carmen talking to another man who I also had never seen before. Carmen waved at me and smiled warmly, showing her comforting brilliant teeth.

‘We die now.’ I heard the leader tell the others. I did not look back but I could hear sobbing from one of them. 

‘Die like men, cabron,’ he shouted to them. I heard his pistol discharge and the four men opened fire with me between everybody. I dared not move for fear of attracting bullets and when the firing stopped Ramon lay before me with five holes in the back of his shirt and a small pink drip line starting to spread. I turned and they all lay with their legs in front of them as though resting to tell some more stories but their heads were either turned down with chins on chests or the chin was pointing skyward toward a perfectly blue ceiling of heaven. The leader attempted to raise his pistol but didn’t have the time left on earth and his gun and hand fell onto his lap.

Carmen was holding me and talking about how she was so scared they had killed me. She had found out that they were here playing football and brought some friends to take care of the whole thing. She also said that she was starved and hadn’t eaten breakfast and smiled happily.

‘How did you manage to stay alive? The last ones they captured were skinned and left alive hanging from a tree Christ fashion.’ She put her lovely arms out and drooped her head to the side. ‘Can you imagine stripping the skin off a man?’

January 28, 2024 14:36

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1 comment

Trudy Jas
16:50 Feb 08, 2024

Hi, H.e. The Critique Circle has matched us up. I enjoyed reading your story. The description of the town, the people, the kidnapping, trying to ingrate self with the captors, all sounded very realistic. I wasn't clear on why Captain Brown was feeling "out of sorts" when he woke up and how that related to the rest of the story. I found him to be remarkably stoic. He was reporting what was happening, what he did, but not what he was feeling, or why he acted or reacted the way he did. I look forward to reading more of your stories.


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