A blazing yellow sun spies us from between a bank of clouds high in the sky. The road’s lights stretched out along the desert floor, flickering, fearing to sleep, anticipating this moment. The dust devils dance among the heat waves rising from the sand.
“It’s been how long, brother? Twelve years? The last time we witnessed one another was Rome. You were pointing your gun at me, running down a flight of stairs of abandoned buildings, behind back alleys of fish markets. I would have killed you if I caught you. But you got away? Disappeared on a busy street by the Trevi Fountain.”
“You vanished amongst a crowd of people. Despite your height, you could not be found. And there I was at high noon drifting through the crowd gathering for the feast of Saint Rosalie. What you did was heinous. Why you would do that to anyone, but especially family; an eternity of sorrows will never make up for it. I was shocked at what you had become. Treachery all for the love of money. All for the love of material possessions.”
“I kept it from the family. I told mom you ran away with a woman you planned on marrying; I told them her name was Lynn⎯I made up a name. I informed them you would let them meet her later on. Christmas, maybe Fourth of July at the family reunion. If I told mom, you stole her savings⎯tried to liquidate her stock, she might have had another stroke. I couldn’t allow that to happen.”
“Where did you go, brother? How long have you been here? A month. Two years. Did you disappear that day and come straight home? You knew not to let me know. You knew I would be looking for you overseas. You knew I had to spend more time with my wife and kids. So you knew you could slip back into the States and spend time with the family before I caught up with you.”
A vulture glides above, encircling us with its shadow. Something small and fast scurries along the desert floor, leaving a dust trail: lizard, prairie dog, spider, sidewinder. The sun is too bright to tell.
“Who did you end up working for, Caleb? No doubt it was Denzil.”
“If you know Luther, why do you ask?”
“You didn’t need to work for a criminal family. You had a family. If you had taken your time, you would have successfully made the money you have now. But instead, you had to steal and kill your way to the top. Bad thing about that approach, Caleb, it’s a fast and hard fall. Trent is the prime example. He’s rumored to be residing in Miami harbor, but no one can seem to find him. I’m sure you know all about this.”
“His wife and kids are in hiding, and the Drug Enforcement Agency won’t give them any peace. Trent’s wife can never enter the States.”
“And that’s our fault, Caleb?”
“She knew nothing of the business, Luther.”
“I’m not blind, Caleb. The $100,000 sports cars. The thirty thousand dollar dresses and suits. The month-long excursions to Cape Town, the Caribbean, and Colombia. The pictures of her and Trent having brunch on that three-tier yacht with Saint Bart’s port in the background. All before she dropped out of high school on her sixteenth birthday. She benefited from it all.”
“Don’t play with me, Caleb. You remember better than I do. The DEA won’t believe she didn’t help run the business in a million years. They want her for the disappearance of nine people. And if they add all the lives Trent is believed to have ruined, she’ll likely get the death penalty. Which is a given since you and Denzil want to keep her from testifying against you.”
“That’s why you’re in the States, isn’t it? It’s not about your blood family. Georgia gave you the slip in Europe. You’re never going to find her. I find it humorous. She’s been stomping those grounds four to five years before her twentieth birthday. She’s got at least a decade on you, Caleb. Prepare for the fall, little brother. Eventually, Georgia will get her deal. Interpol, Central Intelligence, the Federal Burea of Investigation will catch up to her first⎯if they haven’t already and have her in hiding. It’s you and Denzil they want.”
“You won’t have the luxury of dying in prison, brother if you can call it luxury. They’ll kill you before they allow you to testify. They have too much at stake. They will catch you. Time eventually runs out on everyone.”
“Walk away from that life, Caleb, or better, turn yourself in. Let mom live another decade or two, at least pretending she doesn’t wake and go to bed with a broken heart at the things you’ve done.”
I see the silhouette of two coyotes trotting across the road in the distance. They stop in the middle of the road with ears perked and look directly at me then move on. Our corner of the desert is quickly becoming crowded. But this is where Caleb wanted to meet; This is one of the few places he felt safe. One of the few places the authorities and his rivals could trap, capture, and possibly kill him.
I hear the chop-chop of rotors in the distance. I like to believe it’s the authorities, it’s most likely a rival family. Caleb’s bodyguards quickly move him into their s.u.v and disappear down a dirt road. Minutes later, a military helicopter flies by and keeps moving in the same direction as Caleb’s dirt road, and his entourage drove minutes earlier.
That was the last thing I expected. Are they in pursuit of Caleb’s entourage? Their cruising approach would lead me to believe otherwise. I want to pursue that dirt road, the entourage, that helicopter. But to what end? I think I got my point across. I would like to know what kind of relationship Caleb and the military have? Maybe he and the authorities have beat Georgia to a deal, and he’s helping them find her.